By Del Starr, All Rights Reserved, Submitted May 20, 2015
“I’m not being judgmental, your own words condemn you!”
A tear slid down Dianne’s cheek as she reread the all-too-common words one more time.
Dianne had been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist internet forum for about four years, and though words similar to this were spoken often to her, she never escaped feeling the pain.
Dianne had come to trust upon Jesus wholly for her salvation in Christ. She held on to promises given her by the Bible, which had become her favorite book. The forum provided opportunities to share her love of the Lord and interact with other believers, now that her health had deteriorated to the point that she was nearly housebound.
The other person surely did not know what Dianne’s life had been. He didn’t realize how far she had come to the Lord. In his eyes, Dianne was condemned to hell because she did not believe that there was anything that she must do or believe to be saved except to believe that Jesus had died for her and to trust in Him.
A favorite passage frequently rang through Dianne’s head:
“Nothing in my hands I bring,
Strictly to Thy cross I cling.”
(From “Rock of Ages,” by Augustus Toplady)
Chapter 1, Born Backwards
A light drizzle fell that early May morning, as the car sped down the Oregon mountainside to the hospital. George’s daughter-in-law, Grace, had gone into labor and he was intent upon maneuvering the vehicle as rapidly as possible through the crooked turns. Just a moment more. There it was ahead of him now. George breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled alongside the curb at the hospital.
Attendants rushed to Grace’s side and ushered her into the hospital where she spent the next 23 hours in hard labor. Anesthetic finally became necessary as it was obvious that the baby was going to need assistance to enter the world.
When Grace awakened from the anesthetic a tiny baby girl was placed in her arms and together they fell asleep once more. Ten days later Grace and her daughter, Dianne, were allowed to return home.
Home? Well, it was the closest thing they had to home. Grace was living with her now ex-husband’s parents, George and Ruth, who had sent for her and taken her into their home when Grace’s husband, Donald, had abandoned her in California.
The baby was a fretful child. Many nights Grace walked the floor with Dianne as she cried through a bout of colic. Grandpa George seemed to have rapport with the baby for sometimes be would get up in the night and take Dianne from Grace and cuddle her close to him. With a whimper, Dianne would snuggle against him and go to sleep.
When Dianne was three months old George and Ruth moved their family, which now consisted of then youngest daughter Lorraine, age 13, and Grace and Dianne from the mountains of north central Oregon to the valley of southern Oregon. Here they purchased a few acres and began building a home, using some savings bonds that belonged to Lorraine to finance building the house. The first few months they lived in a tent on the property but the weather was good and it seemed more like a camping trip than a necessary home situation.
When the new home was nearly ready for habitation, George decided that it would be better to sell it and build another. This way he would be able to replace Lorraine’s savings bonds and have capital to finance them until he could get established. So the family continued to live in the tent for a few more months until the second home was built. There was indeed rejoicing on that day when George, Ruth, Lorraine, Grace, and Dianne walked into their new home and began to arrange their furniture and set up their own bedrooms.
World War II had its grip on the world and linoleum was impossible to obtain. Carpeting was unheard of and so it was decided that the living room floor should be painted.
George had built a large room above the main house where Ruth could have her sewing machine and her books by Ellen G. White that she loved so much. She had a bed where she could take a midafternoon nap if she desired and it was to that large room that George sent Ruth, Lorraine, Grace, and Dianne on the night that he decided to paint the living room floor.
About two o’clock in the morning he finished his project, stood back and looked at it, and determined that he was going to wake up Ruth so that she would be able to see the finished product.
Ruth came down the stairs and stood at the kitchen door. Somewhere between humor and horror, Ruth managed to blurt out, “OH, GEORGE!” For all over the floor George had placed a design of letters, numbers and figures in the gaudiest fashion. George, of course, thought that he had accomplished more than just painting the floor and had given it some character to decorate the home. It was a couple of years before linoleum could be purchased to cover the floor and ten years and a new home later, Grace and Dianne returned to the old home, pulled back the linoleum, and took pictures of George’s handiwork. It was a fond memory for all.
Times were slender but not rough for the family. Ruth grew a garden and canned, George built houses on contract labor, Lorraine attended the Seventh-day Adventist school, and Grace cared for little Dianne, who basked in the attention of them all.
Grace had met Dianne’s father, Donald, when she was a young teacher. She had gone to the town where George and Ruth lived, and lived in their home while she taught school. Donald was in the Army but Ruth saw Grace as a nice young Christian SDA girl and when Donald came home on leave, she encouraged a romance between Donald and Grace.
Donald and Grace were married and Grace accompanied Donald to New Jersey where Donald was stationed. Grace was so proud of her soldier husband and with pride she would hang out his uniforms on the line to dry so that all the neighbors would know that she was married to a soldier. The year was 1944 and Donald had answered his country’s call to service by enlisting.
When Grace was about three months pregnant with Dianne, Donald was transferred to California. In the town of Watts, he found a USO club where he told Grace to stay while he conducted some military business. Grace waited and waited. Morning turned into afternoon and afternoon into evening and Grace still waited. It was time to close the USO club for the night and still Grace waited.
The director of the USO club suggested that Grace accompany him and his wife to their home for the night and Grace thankfully accepted. The night turned out to be several weeks as Donald did not come back for Grace. He had taken their car and all of Grace’s clothing and personal belongings and disappeared.
Grace was fraught with frustration as she anticipated her future She had no way to earn a living since it would only be a few short months until her baby was born, and her family was far from even having enough money to be comfortable. They lived in Washington State and Grace did not want to call them either to ask them for financial help which they could not afford or to let them know that she had been abandoned and was now alone in a strange town.
The USO club director, Andy, finally insisted that Grace call Donald’s parents and let them know of her circumstances. George was quite worried and upset and called Donald’s commanding officer. He learned that Donald was fine and completing his tour of duty. George requested that Donald call him.
Both George and Donald’s commanding officer insisted that Donald return the car to Grace, and George sent Grace some money so that she could drive back to the mountain home of George and Ruth. It was a long, hard trip for Grace but finally she arrived where George and Ruth embraced her and took her in as their own daughter. Grace began to call George and Ruth “Mommy” and “Daddy” just as did their other children. They loved Grace and she loved them.
Now they were all living in the valley of southern Oregon and life was getting better and easier. Little Dianne grew and was a healthy and robust child. She had a sweet temperament and the family doted on her.
However, Grace knew that it was time for her to become self-sufficient.
Grace had not completed her teaching certificate before she began to teach school and now George offered to send her to Walla Walla College to continue her courses so that she would once again be able to teach school.
Little Dianne stayed with George and Ruth while Grace attended school but when Grace received her first call to teach again at Klamath Falls, Oregon, Dianne went with her. Dianne was nearly four years old by now and enjoyed being in the school with her Mommy.
Klamath Falls was a small Indian reservation town and it was safe for Dianne to wander about by herself. Many times she would attend school with the rest of the kids, sitting at a desk and pretending to do her schoolwork but at other times she was cared for in the home of an older lady whom Dianne called Grandma VanTress.
Elder Adriel Chilson was the pastor at Klamath Falls and he and his lovely wife, Wini, a great-granddaughter of Ellen White, became fast friends with Grace and little Dianne and many times would invite them to the Chilson home to eat with their family. Dianne began calling them Uncle Adriel and Aunt Win.
Klamath Falls was cold during the winter, with lots of snow. It got deep that year, coming up to the level of the merry-go-round at the school. When it was time to go to the store for groceries, Grace would bundle Dianne up and put her on a sled, pulling her behind her to the store.
Dianne erecalled that year not too long ago. She remembered her dog, Barney, the toboggan rides down the hill by the school, and the nights when she and her mother would sit on the woodpile out back of the school where they had an apartment, looking at the stars. She recalled telling her mother that someday she wanted to see a real live Indian. She did not recognize that she was playing with Indian children every day,
One incident in particular, Dianne remembers with hilarity. Grace had purchased, about a week before, some underwear for Dianne. They were the kind where the tee shirt buttons into the panties to keep them from separating. One morning Dianne called out to Grace, “Mommy, my underwear has holes in it.’ Grace was horrified! They were brand new. They couldn’t have holes in them! She insisted to Dianne that they did NOT have holes in them but Dianne was insistent that they DID have holes in them Grace asked, “What holes are there, Dianne?” Dianne meekly said, “Buttonholes.”
Grace was concerned about trying to teach school and take care of a young child and when the year was over, she returned to the valley of southern Oregon to George and Ruth’s home, where she shared her concerns. The family decided that perhaps it would be better for Grace to consider baby-sitting at home until Dianne was old enough that Grace would not have to worry so much about her while she was teaching. George built a small home for Grace and Dianne on his property, very near his own home.
Dianne’s dog, Barney, also moved into the home. In the backyard was a huge weeping willow tree under whose branches Dianne would play Once again life was good and Dianne was secure with her family surrounding her.
In the garage of Grace and Dianne’s new home, George set up a ping pong table and very often the members of the church would get together and play games. At George’s house was an area in which to play horse shoes, they played “Rook,” and sometimes would go to Grace and Dianne’s where they would play ping pong.
Barney enjoyed having company. He would sit on the steps that led into the garage and watch the ball go back and forth between the players, but some people would tease Barney and poke sticks at him. One night he was nervous as the game was being played. One of the men walked up from behind him and Barney did not know he was there. When he reached out to touch Barney, Barney whirled around and bit him on the band. Not a word was said but the next morning when Dianne got up she no longer had a dog
Grace and Dianne lived in the little house for about two years but Grace could not earn enough money by babysitting to support herself and Dianne and soon realized that she needed to return to teaching. Once more George provided the money for Grace’s tuition while Dianne stayed with Grace and Ruth in their home.
George and Ruth’s daughter, Lorraine, was now eighteen years old and on her way to becoming a teacher herself. Ruth had been a teacher and encouraged Lorraine. Dianne loved Lorraine and followed her everywhere Lorraine would allow. To this very day Lorraine is Dianne’s ideal.
George and Ruth decided that it was time to find a different piece of property. Where once they had been living in the country, the town had built up around them and they had built several homes on their own property. The ten acres now had two streets with homes on both sides.
They purchased five acres about six miles from town and again began building their own home. It was a large, airy home with a beautiful setting and Dianne had her own bedroom now.
Lorraine married about this time and Dianne was alone with George and Ruth. They were so good to her. They were honest and fair and instilled good values in Dianne. Christ was very important in the home, and Friday nights would find the little family in the living room playing Christian records and reading or just talking. Sabbath mornings they were always in church. Usually George and Ruth would either have company for Sabbath dinner or would be guests in other homes. The church family was very strong and every member of the family felt a part of it.
Dianne began attending the local SDA school, where she was an excellent student and was well-liked by the teachers. Her mother was teaching school on the coast of Oregon and would come home as school leaves would allow but Dianne was secure in her grandparents’ home.
When Dianne was twelve, George and Ruth decided that Grace either needed to take Dianne with her or they needed to make a permanent arrangement for Dianne’s care. They proposed to Grace that either she take responsibility for Dianne or let George and Ruth adopt her. Grace opted to take Dianne with her to her next teaching assignment. Dianne was now in the sixth grade.