“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 24, NO. 30 & 31 – ARLO JENKINS
By my friend, Ben
Hickory Ridge were one of them places where what were not knowed didn’t stay not knowed very long. It were. Some folks say as soon as the last drape and shade were opened and raised in town, there weren’t nothin’ what weren’t knowed by most everybody. They did. So the word that Anvil Jenkins had died got around fast. It did
Anvil were a right nice feller who lived in a big ol’ house on the lower edge of town. He did. His wife, Elsie had died some years ago. She did. They were quiet folks what mostly stayed to themselves. Some of that may’ve been cause of their son, Arlo. Arlo were an only child, an’ I reckon that might’ve been for the best. I do. Arlo were different. He was.
I first saw Arlo when I were in the seventh grade. He just showed up at school one day. He said he were from Ohio, an’ that his folks had moved to Hickory Ridge to be what folks called a lumber broker. He did.
Well, Arlo acted strange. In fact, Arlo looked a little strange. Now folks can’t help the face they got. But Arlo made his look different by the way he twisted his mouth an’ eyes. He did. At first I reckoned he were just tryin’ to fit in. I did. He would eat bark offen the trees. I even saw him eat little rocks. I did. When Ricky John Craven an’ Jackie Joe Monroe saw they could get Arlo to eat just about anything, they started payin’ him a penny to put on a show. They did. Then they’d laugh at him an’ call him names. They did. Thing were, Arlo didn’t seem to care. He didn’t. I told him once he didn’t have to do all them things, an’ that I’d see to it they left him alone iffen he wanted me to. I did. But he just laughed an’ ate a piece of bark. He did.
One day Arlo didn’t show up at school. I heard he’d been sent to some kind of school for what they called the retarded. Molly Franklin said her ma’d said he were cursed by God. She did. Then Julie Samson said that God had a reason for givin’ the Jenkins a son like Arlo. She said God don’t make no mistakes. She did.
I asked Ma about Arlo, an’ how folks get retarded, an’ all. An’ did she think God made kids like Arlo. I did. She said, “Benny, we don’t know why some folks are born the way they are. Some come from ma’s what didn’t have the right kind of food to eat. Some may’ve had other problems what caused their baby to be born the way they were. An’ some we just don’t know, it just happens.
“Do you remember when Daisy gave birth to that little calf?” I told her I did, an’ I reckon I’d never forget it. It had five legs an’ two heads. It did. Well they looked like heads, but they was all twisted an’ ugly. They were.
“Well Benny, your pa an’ me needed that extra cow real bad. We fed Daisy good food an’ took special care of her while she were carryin’ that calf. We did. But it died right there before out eyes. I reckon there were supposed to be two of them calves. But somethin’ happened inside of Daisy that put them together. So it died. It weren’t nobody’s fault. Things like that just happen an’ we don’t know why.
“When it comes to blamin’ God some folks need to do that cause they think they mighta done somethin’ wrong, but they don’t know what it is. Others find peace in seein’ it as somethin’ God gave them as a gift. Them folks like Julie find comfort in believin’ since God don’t make no mistakes, it was God what done it. They do. It helps them to deal with things what don’t have an answer, at least not yet.
“The thing is, Benny, what separates human folks from animals is that human folks can love an’ care for the children what don’t come out right. Daisy licked at that little calf, an’ I reckon somethin’ in her mighta hurt when it didn’t move. But she just walked away. Fact is, lots of animals kill their young what don’t turn out right. They do. God’s world is full of wonderful things. But things can go wrong. They can. An’ until we find out how an’ why, we just have to do what we can to love everybody. We do.
“I don’t know Anvil very good, but I know his wife, Elsie. I do. I talk to her on the street when I’m in town. I do. An’ I know she loves Arlo with all her heart. An’ I know it broke her heart when they had to send him away to that special school over in Mount Union. I do. An’ the next time you see her or Anvil, you be sure to ask about Arlo.”
I told her I would, cause even though Arlo were a sight peculiar, he never hurt nobody an’ he always smiled. He did.
As the years passed I reckon me’n most folks forgot about Arlo Jenkins. We did. I knowed his ma’n pa went to see him once a month or so. I did. I wondered what it were like when his pa told him his ma’d died. I did. Now that his pa were gone I wondered what Arlo were gonna do, iffen he were still alive. So I reckoned I’d drop by the funeral home where Anvil were to be laid out an’ see iffen anybody knowed about Arlo. I would.
Well, there were some folks there, but they all seemed to be town folks. They did. But over in the corner near the head of the casket sat a tall, stringy-looking man. He were just sittin’ there rockin’ back an’ forth with his hands on his knees. He were. I knowed it were Arlo.
I went to him an’ bent down so’s he could see me. I did. He looked up an’ his eyes brightened a little. They did. He said, “Benny, Benny Harrison! I remember you from grade school. Benny, my pa died. I ain’t got nobody no more. I’m all alone.”
I didn’t know what to say. An’ I wondered what ma would do. I did. Then I put my hand on Arlo’s shoulder an’ said, “You ain’t alone Arlo. I’ll come to see you when I can, an’ I reckon iffen I tell folks at church about you, they’ll come an’ see you too.” Arlo looked at me an’ started to cry. He did.
I knowed one thing for sure, God didn’t do this to Arlo. All God could do for Arlo were what folks what cared could do for him. An’ I knowed that’s what ma would say. I did.
CONCERNS: Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, has had a stroke. She is recovering at Va Baptist in Lynchburg. Martha Foy’s mother is having some health issues. Martha’s friend, Lauren doesn’t have cancer, but they still don’t know what is wrong. Connie Crites’ brother (cancer), Jim Hunter continues to improve, Stephanie Dixon’s boss’s son, Grayson, has serious eye damage from an accident. Del Bolin’s friend, Sharon, (cancer) also one of his students has a brother-in-law, Billy, who also has cancer. Billy’s wife is pregnant. Jenn McCready, a therapist in Del’s office has permanent eye issues. Mark McRoy’s friend, Ken Teatino is being treated for lymphoma. Helen Nicklas and Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUG. 20-25
Monday: Psalm 16:1-11
Tuesday: Matthew 20:1-16
Wednesday: Amos 3:12-4:5
Thursday: Hebrews 10:19-39
Friday: Ephesians 5:3-20
Saturday: Psalm 148:1-14
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUG 27-SEPT.1
Monday: I Peter 1:13-25
Tuesday: Psalm 95:1-11
Wednesday: Matthew 14:13-33
Thursday: Romans 12:2-7
Friday: I Timothy 1:12-2:7
Saturday: Psalm 116:1-19
Our thanks to everyone who came to the building Saturday and cleaned the hill behind the annex, cut wood and painted. There’s more to be done, but it’s a great start and it will look so much better for the upcoming Bar B Que.
Today, August 19, is Super Sunday. These are the days we can all be together and enjoy each other’s company and a good meal in the annex.
SUPER SUNDAY EVENING
After Super Sunday, The Alberts have invited us to their home on Smith Mt. Lake for a cookout and fellowship. Come after 3:30 PM and enjoy the friendship and the lake.
THE BAR B QUE
We call it a “pig roast” but there will be beef, pork and chicken, as well as a surprise from Chef Jeff. It will be on Saturday, September 1. A sign-up sheet is on the table in the foyer. The time of the meal will be announced when we determine the best time for the most folks.
Stephanie will be going to work at the Ezell Clinic in Guatemala. She will be leaving on Friday, Aug. 31 and be gone a week. She may have room for small personal items such as tooth brushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. See her about that.
Thanks to those who prepared the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday. This is a very rewarding work and is really enjoyable to do, as those who do it discover. We will be going back, both on Wednesday evenings with the young people, and on Sundays with adults. Martha Albert will let us know when.
Those who have gone to the Ronald McDonald House and took the tour are always amazed at the amount of aluminum (and steel) pull tabs which are collected across the Roanoke Valley in support of the house. They are recycled. So keep bringing them in.