Douglas Howard

My Life: The Early Years (part 3), by Doug Howard

As I have mentioned previously my early years were filled with lots of illnesses and hospital stays. Upper respiratory problems plagued my existence. I am yet not free from the burden of illness, although breathing problems are just one of the number of illnesses I deal with now.
I recall periods of Gods Grace, however, in the midst of the fog of all of the sickness and suffering I experienced as a child. I mentioned in a previous posting a devout Christian man named R.C. Whorley who came to the hospital to pray for me when I was close to death at th age of about six. He came at the behest of my grandmother Katie Bowlers who was a member of the same church as R.C. All of the grandchildren called Katie Nannie as that was what she was to so many of us growing up. I recall with loving vividness those times Nannie would come to visit me at the hospital when I was ill. Typically the hospital would not allow families to bring in food from the outside to patients, however there were times when Nannie would bring me some of he home cooking right to my room. One of her remedies for any illness was potato soup she devotedly prepared for those who were ill. I was the proud and grateful recipient of that particular “medicine” on a number of occasions as she would confidently walk into the hospital room, smiling from ear to ear, knowing that what she brought would indeed make me feel better. Although I am not sure of the actual curitive powers of her food at the hospital those times when I was quite ill, I am sure that the love for her family she provided was genuine and indeed made me feel better even for a short period of time.
Love is the cure for all of our illnesses, whether the illness is physical, emotional or spiritual. The love of God through our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus has cured many cursed ill souls over the centuries, the only cure one needs for salvation. As the old hymn goes, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!”
I always felt the love of family, for the entirety of my life. That was never lacking ever. I suppose there were some form of emptiness I experienced in my early years due to all of the illnesses I encountered, such as interaction with my peers, people my own age. I was surrounded by adults almost exclusively during the formative years of my growth and maturity. I never recall making a snowman during the winter months with my family and friends which is a typical childhood activity. In fact I do not recall having many friends at all before my teen years as friendships are often formed when one attends school. I missed all but 40 days of my second grade school year thus I had to repeat that grade before matriculation. During my time at T.C. Miller Elementary School I missed many days of school, so much so I had a tutor on a couple of occasions to hopefully keep caught up with my studies, which is hard to do when you are sick. Nevertheless its difficult to make and keep friends when ill and away from school so often. Rev. Rusty Cheatham, Pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church in Appomattox, Va., who has been counseling me spiritually for the last year due to some trauma in my past, the effects of which have recently resurfaced, says that my emotional being and my normal maturation was stunted due not only to trauma I experienced early I my life but due as well to all of the illnesses I have experienced. When I consider this intellectually and introspectively it makes sense to me. Missing out on the normal rudiments of childhood can indeed effect ones future life in very profound ways.
I fondly recall my mother’s youngest brother, Robert Scott, came to visit me at the hospital on a couple if occasions. Uncle Rob did I not travel as a rule but my sister and I had a great relationship with him as we traveled to my grandparents home in Clay County, West Virginia each summer for two weeks without fail. Rob lived with my grandparents, his parents, since returning from Viet Nam in 1968. He always looked forward to seeing us and we him. His death in 1986 from cancer due to his exposure to Agent Orange was quite traumatic for the entire family. For me, besides my paternal grandfather who passed in 1973, Uncle Rob was the closest relative to me to have passed to that date. Thus one can imagine how difficult that experience was. I was never quite the same after that funeral.
I mentioned visiting my grandparents at their home in Enoch, West Virginia each summer. Indeed that was the highlight of my year! On occasion Mom and Dad would ask us where my sister and I wanted to go for summer vacation and without fail we would joyously select our grandparents home. Burt and Glada Scott were two of the most loving and Godly people one would ever want to meet. Some of my fondest childhood recollections come from visiting with them. As far back as I can remember they were a vital part of my life, relationships without which I would not have some of the positive traits I exhibit now. Love of God and of family were instilled within me from my interactions with them; if there is anything good or positive in my life in terms of traits that I may exhibit, I receive those honestly from them.
All.of the good and wholesome relationships I had in my early life was by Gods Grace.

Doug Howard
DOC #1051074

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