Like most kids growing up, I loved visiting my uncles and aunts. Not really to hang out with the adults, but to play with my cousins.
There was this one cousin who was not my age, but I really liked her. I think I was about 10 or 11 at the time and Laura Ann was 2 or 3. So it’s not like we played at my level. We didn’t climb trees or ride bikes. Whenever we visited, Laura Ann and I had endless tea parties and played make-believe with stuffed animals (All with names of course. It was very important to get the names right). wow, that child had a LOT of stuffed animals and toys. It never really occurred to me to ask why she had all this stuff. I guess I just figured they had more money than we did.
Laura Ann was a very sunny child. Cheerful and sweet, gentle and so much fun to play with.
My parents lived about 3 hours away from her parents so we didn’t see them all the time, but I do remember loving it whenever we got to visit. The house was one of those big, old 1920’s era stone structures on a quiet street in the suburbs of Birmingham. I adored the high ceilings and hardwood floors.
When I was about 12 or 13 I remember being really mad at my mom and dad because they were preparing for a trip to Birmingham to see Laura Ann’s family and they wouldn’t take me and my little brother along. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t come too.
Finally, to shut me up I think, my mom told me that Laura Ann was sick. Really sick. Something called leukemia. That’s why they couldn’t take me with them.
“Was it catching? is that why I can’t go?”
“No honey, it’s just that we are gonna be spending our time taking care of your Uncle and Aunt and we need to be available to help them.”
So Steve & I stayed at a family friend’s house and had a grand time in their HUGE rec-room all weekend while my mother and daddy went off to sing at Laura Ann’s funeral. I don’t remember knowing anything about Laura Ann dying until my mother got home and handed me one of Laura Ann’s stuffed toys.
Later I found out that just before her final hospital stay this tiny little, cheerful 4 year-old had gone around her playroom pointing to her toys and naming off names of friends and relatives. Her poor confused daddy followed her around the room and his breaking heart thought that Laura Ann was confused about the names of her toys. But gradually it dawned on him that she still knew the names of each toy, she was telling him WHO she wanted to give each toy TO.
Laura Ann had been told that she was going to the hospital again and that this time she might be coming home or she might go to see Jesus. And she understood. She wanted her toys to be taken care of so she made the child’s equivalent of a will the only way she knew how: She took her daddy round and round her play room naming off the final destination of each toy till he got it right.
As a child I marveled at her unselfishness. As an adult my heart just breaks for her daddy. What must it have cost him to memorize that list?
Laura Ann has, almost my whole life, remained the perfect example of childlike faith and trust in God. And acceptance of HIS goodness.
God please help me be like her.
I got a bunny by the way. It’s named Laura Ann. I hope she didn’t mind my changing the name.