Praying for Lindbergh

One of the projects I’m working on is compiling the autobiography of my grandma, Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis, who died when I was 13. She’s a hero of mine, and I’m touched by her writings. She wrote enough stories and letters about her life to fill a book, but never compiled it into one work. I’ve already hit 50,000 words, and there’s a lot more to compile. Anyhow, here’s a sample she shares about the night Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight in a one-man plane. She was a young girl at the time, and was staying with her Grandma, Louisa Watling Jex.

 

I was at Grandma’s house the night Lindbergh flew across the ocean. I still remember her prayer that night. As she asked a blessing on the food, she also talked to the Lord about watching over this brave boy, alone over the great ocean. “Please help the young flier Lindbergh to get across the ocean in his plane,” she said, “and help him to return safely.”

I can still see the tears rolling down her cheeks. I marveled that she could care so much about someone she didn’t even know.

I felt so sure Heavenly Father would watch over that plane, even if he had to reach down from heaven to hold the plane up in case the pilot got sleepy.

That night Grandma made me a little nest on my side of the feather bed. She always made a little round place just for me, so I wouldn’t fall off the bed and so I would not roll onto her side. Then she explained to me how big the ocean was and told me it had taken three weeks for them to cross it in a boat, and here was this boy all alone with no one to keep him awake. We talked awhile about how hard it would be to guide a plane when it was dark, with no lights, and all that water under him. If he went to sleep the plane would fall in the water, and there would be no one to get him out. He had to stay awake many hours and there was no one there to help him, or to wake him if he got sleepy.
“He’s such a boy,” Grandma said.

Nobody could have been happier than we were when we got the news that Lindy had landed safely. I brought in the paper that showed him getting out of his plane. All the people were crowded around so glad to see him. That night when it was my turn to say the prayer, Grandma said, “Remember dear, to thank Heavenly Father for taking that boy safely across the ocean.”

I remembered. I knew Grandma’s prayer helped him, and the prayers of many others.

Writing to Make People Happy

Probably my biggest role model as a writer is my Grandma Curtis. She never wrote a full-length book that I know of, but she did publish a few articles in local magazines and newspapers. I think the thing that influences me the most about her writing was her passion for doing it. The only thing that surpassed her passion for reading and writing was her family. I suppose it was her family that kept her from becoming a professional writer. Some today would have said that her family was a distraction from her writing – and maybe it was. But there are things greater than writing, and things greater than the fulfillment of dreams, and family is one of them.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet from her life history:

On May 7, 1920 my brother David Irvin was born. The Lady that came to help mom, a Mrs. Sorensen, wrote a poem and read it in Sunday School. It went something like this, “The father’s eyes did light with joy… when first he learned it was a boy.” She game Mom a copy of the poem, and Mom read it to everyone who came to see us. She loved poetry. Maybe it was way back then that I first decided I’d like to read and write magic kind of words to make people happy… to be a writer.

At first I didn’t take much note to this, except that it was one of the first times she felt like she wanted to write. Then I re-read the last part. She wanted to write the “kind of words to make people happy.”

That got me thinking about the rest of her writings. Throughout, there is always an element of innocence, of an almost naïve optimism that some today would criticize as amateur and childish. But I’m not sure her intent was to impress the writing community. I think she was living by her motto of writing to make people happy.

What a powerful motivation! What a great approach to writing! I wish more authors wrote to try to make people happy.

Think about it. Why do you write? What is your motivation?

My Grandma: On Writing

My Grandma: On Writing

My Grandma was an amazing woman.  She died about 16 years ago, but she left some tapes behind for her posterity.  She was a writer, and a very talented one.  Here she speaks about it, and though writing is the subject, her words can apply to any art.

I have the same feelings toward music.