I’m reminded of the fiery sermon title by the black preacher, S.M. Lockridge, five powerful words. “It’s Friiidaaaay! But Sunday’s Coming!”. All seemed hopeless and lost on the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, new life was coming on Sunday!
… It’s Good Friday, April 8, 1955, Saint John, New Brunswick. The circumstances weren’t ideal, and the setting remains a puzzle. However, my birth on that day heralded a new start for my father, age forty-three, a “second” daughter and the beginning of a second family. Another chance. He’d had one child over twenty years before, but they were permanently estranged.
Maria had met Russell when he was struggling to survive a long and painful divorce (caused in part to his drinking). Her side of the story is that she felt so sorry for him. He confided to me that she had surely “saved” him. In any case, a pregnancy resulted. My mother’s Acadian family, living in Northern New Brunswick (Campbellton) and across the river in St. Francois, Quebec, had no knowledge of her unborn child.
The father of her unborn child was a ‘Divorced,’ ‘English,’ ‘Protestant .’ The news would disappoint the entire family. So, Maria didn’t tell them.
The reason for travelling to the other end of the province to my father’s family remains a mystery. The failure of his first marriage had caused some distancing from them as well. But, like the wise men who followed a “sign,” my parents had somehow been directed to visit his hometown. It was the only time in my growing-up years that they did.
My mother knew she was going to have to eventually face her family. She must have sensed that my father had not exercised himself from his demons. On this day, no one in my hometown would have knowledge of my birth. Had keeping me been a last-minute decision rather than having me adopted? After nine months, my parents still hadn’t settled on my name.
It was Good Friday on the church calendar, but not a very “good Friday” for the prospects of this newborn. However, in a few days, my father’s family would be gathering with my parents. Dad’s cousin, Doris Langille, would be one of them. “A Place at My Table” talks about the friendship between Doris and my father, whom she described in his younger years as “Hollywood handsome, and full of fun.”
There’s no way my mother’s soft heart would allow her to give me up. My father would have wanted to do the “right thing”. So there I was, welcomed with open arms at the family gathering.
“A Place at My Table,” recounts how, at the age of fourteen, I discovered the existence of my father’s cousin Doris… how I’d written to her and took the train ride to visit hundreds of miles away. Assuming this was our first meeting, she informed me that it was not. After being like a sister to my father, her life later took her on a very different path than his. As well, she’d become a Believer.
One person at the family gathering threw a sarcastic remark her way. (I can’t help but assume it had been my Dad.) Feeling humiliated and discouraged, she made her way to a darkened bedroom, where the newborn “Susan” lay.
“I started to cry and wondered, what will ever become of this child?” “I took you in my arms and felt that I should pray for you…” Doris held a one-minute baby dedication, “God, bring someone into Susan’s life so she will come to know you.”
My “Good Friday,” arrival into less than ideal circumstances, held prospects for a potentially dark future. However, my “Sunday” was coming because God had intersected an “accidental birthplace” with one of the Godliest women I have ever met.
You might feel stuck in a “Good Friday” of hopes that have died. Perhaps you find yourself mired in a “Silent Saturday” where it seems like God is aloof and not answering your prayers. But, like the preacher, I’ll repeat your Sunday is coming! He may use the most unlikely circumstances to change your life around.
On the other hand, be the “Sunday answer” to someone’s life. Doris never knew what her one-minute prayer accomplished until I looked her up fourteen years later. (How that came about is another story in my book, how my father’s hurtful remark to me started a chain of events that led me to Doris). Be the “Sunday Person”.
“It’s Friiidaaaay! But Sunday’s Coming!” Can I hear a loud, “Amen”!!
* The Pitre family found out about me about six months after my birth. They adored me and unconditionally loved my father.
My Table Talk blogs come from a passion to connect. The stories in “A Place at My Table” will inspire! Tap photo for your copy.