I would like to share with you all this little story.
Yesterday (Sunday 24th May) I was out walking with my two sons, Adam (12) and Lewis (9).
It was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in sight, we had just come down from the moors and were heading towards a very old and quaint church. I have visited this church and its graveyard many times, it is secluded and miles from anywhere. Sometimes I go there to sit on a bench and read a book in the sunshine, it really is peaceful and relaxing. On one occasion I fell asleep, I awoke wondering where the heck I was!
As we approached the churchyard, my boys, who don't like these places at all, said 'Dad we're not going in here are we?'..... 'just for ten minutes' I replied, at this Lewis crossed his arms over his chest, emulating a corpse and cried 'BORING!'
We sat on the bench in the churchyard, picture the scene; the grass was covered in lovely yellow buttercups, dandelions, the last of the spring
bluebells and a variety of other wild flowers, it was a myriad of colour. The only noise came from the birds singing, all was still, the only movement was the butterflies fluttering by, all this and the warm midday sun beaming down. Bliss!
'Right dad, ten minutes are up!' this was Adam, both boys stood up to leave, I wanted to stay and finish a book I was reading. I had a plan! 'OK boys, let's play a little game....I've got 50 pence here, and I'm going to give it to whoever can find the inscription with the oldest person on it, you've got ten minutes' ....it worked! their eyes lit up and they both set off in opposite directions. Back to my book. Ten minutes later they returned, Lewis won the 50p, he found someone in their 100th year. Adam wanted to continue.
'OK boys, 50p to whoever comes back in ten minutes with the best Christian name inscribed on a gravestone'. Back to my book. Of course Adam won the 50p! I liked the sound of Amos Todd. Believe me, they wanted to continue with this game (the financial reward had a lot to do with it!) So we played a few more rounds. Back to my book.
After they had both won a quid (one pound sterling) it was about time to go home for Sunday dinner (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!) 'can we have just one more go dad?'.....'OK, go and find out the youngest person lying in the graveyard'. I'd finished the book by now and was just enjoying the sunshine and admiring the hills. They both returned early, 'Dad, come and look at this gravestone we've found'. I followed them. Their discovery was a large gravestone no different from any other in looks, it was the inscription what made it unusual, it read as follows:
'In Affectionate Remembrance of our Beloved Children
Ada Clarissa died 2nd Jan. 1871 age 2 years 6 months
Mary Jane died 13th Jan. 1871 age 7 years 2month
Lydia Ellen died 14th Jan. 1871 age 3 years 9months
Edwin Daniel died 23rd Jan. 1871 age 5 years 5 months'
The next paragraph was a little blurred, but became clearer after I had dried my eyes...
'HERE LIE THE SWEETEST BUDS OF HOPE,
THAT E'ER TO PARENTS WISH WERE GIVEN,
IF YOU WOULD KNOW THEIR FURTHER GROUTH,
PREPARE TO SEE THEM BLOOM IN HEAVEN.'
Lewis broke the silence, 'Isn't it sad dad?' I couldn't reply. My thoughts were for the children lying there, of the future that they should have had, then I thought about their parents and what they must have gone through. The mother, Mary Ann Stephenson, died herself 3 years later age 38, the father, William Stephenson, lived until 1913 age 79.
So that's the end of this little story.
I suggest we all give thanks to God, however you may perceive Him, for our children.
Oh, by the way, I gave them both another quid for finding that gravestone!
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