Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

November 24, 2011

Aunt Ophelia

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

When my family was in the grocery business, a special customer was Aunt Ophelia.  At that time, I believe she was the oldest person I knew.  She had lived in the community all her life.  She was the daughter of a former slave, and she had spent her life serving others.

Aunt Ophelia had known our family all her life.  At one time she cooked for my grandparents.  She had cared for my father when he was a boy.  She was as close to our family as any who were blood-kin.  She would come to the store to purchase a few bare necessities.  I  knew she had very little money, and I really don’t know where she got what little she had.  As she would pick up a few items, I would notice my mother and father.  They would get something from the shelf or my father would cut a piece of meat, and they would lay the items on the counter where she was placing her few items.  She would often say, “That’s not mine.”

My folks would respond, “Yes, it is.”  I observed a pattern that they always added to her grocery list and did not charge her for those items.  I even believe my folks did not add correctly when Aunt Ophelia got ready to pay.  They knew she could not read, write, or add.  She could count the money, but was not able to add up the cost of all the items.

I don’t know if my parents inherited this practice from my grandfather or great-grandfather who had owned the store in the past.  What I do know is the response that always came from Aunt Ophelia when she was the recipient of their kindness.  “Thank the Lord!”  She was always so appreciative to my parents, but I knew she  genuinely felt that God was providing for her needs, and she was giving Him thanks.

Whenever I was at the store working and she would come, my folks would instruct me to take Aunt Ophelia home and help her get her things into the house.  It was always a pleasure, even though it made me uncomfortable.  Aunt Ophelia refused to ride in the front seat.  She always rode in the back as a result of the cultural heritage in which she had lived.  She would talk from the back seat to me, and she always talked about how good God was.  As a teenager, I was polite but not very responsive to her witness for the Lord.

Her dwelling was a small shack.  There was no running water or electricity.  It was available, but she obviously could not afford either.  The small two rooms were always very dark as there were no glass windows.  Shutters opened to allow air and light in from the side of her hovel.  I would often fill her kerosene lamps and help in any way.  And constantly, as if they were the only words she knew, she said, “Oh, thank the Lord.”  She was so grateful for all that was done for her that she praised her God for providing.

It would have been easy to say in a cynical way, “Aunt Ophelia, it is not God providing for you, but my folks.”  But even as a snippy teenager, I could not say that because her spirit so penetrated my heart that I knew how she loved God and gave praise and thanksgiving to Him for all she had in life.

To this day, I believe she is the most thankful person I have ever known.  You can sense whether thankfulness is genuine or simply a word of habit.  Aunt Ophelia’s words of thankfulness were genuine.  She had so little, but she had that attitude of gratitude.   Most of us need to have that spirit of Aunt Ophelia.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.”  (Psalm 118:1)  “O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”  (Psalm 30:12)




  1. What a beautiful story. Love it!

    Comment by Pretty Lady — February 5, 2010 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  2. Lawson,

    I am so glad Carol told me of your blog. I so enjoy it. God Bless!

    Comment by Susan Phillips — February 5, 2010 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  3. I enjoy your blog so much! I shared this story with my Sunday School Class and they too were blessed by it.

    Comment by Margie Warsing — February 15, 2010 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

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