My parents and most of my relatives were very religious people. All of my grandparents and several of my aunts and uncles belonged to the Primitive Baptist churches in the southern Virginia area. That may be a Christian denomination with which you are unfamiliar. It is characterized by no music in the church, no sunday school, no choir, just very plain and simple. The preachers are not called ministers and they do not go to college to become preachers. The preachers feel the call from God and they know that that is their calling. People who join have some kind of sign such as a dream that makes it clear to them that God wants them to join the church. At the conclusion of a Sunday meeting a prospective member will walk down the aisle to the front of the church and announce that he/she wants to join. That person is usually very emotional and may be crying and finding it difficult to speak. A discussion usually follows and the people may hear what made this person know that joining was the proper thing to do that day. There have been instances that were not convincing and the person was denied membership. If the member is accepted then there is great rejoicing and lots of crying and hugging. Daddy had this experience several years before he died. I was living far away and I did not know he was going to join. He didn't either until the preacher was about done for the day. Then Daddy became very weak and stumbled down the aisle shaking and crying as he explained why he knew he was supposed to join that day. He was accepted and he was changed in many ways after that day. Daddy was always a wonderful and very kind man. He would give a person in need "the shirt off his back". He was baptized in a creek far from any city or town and the banks of the stream were lined with well wishers. It is a very joyous occasion when a Primitive Baptist member is baptized. Much crying and hugging took place there.
Several years later Daddy had pains in his chest. The doctor told him he had a weak heart valve and that it should be replaced with a pig's heart valve. Daddy felt that God would take care of him and surgery was unecessary. Mother begged him to get the surgery. He finally gave in and the surgery was scheduled and was to take place in approximately three weeks. It was springtime and their was a drought in the Roanoke area.
Daddy had made the two acres surrounding the house very beautiful by planting many wonderful shrubs that had grown very large. Daddy was gifted at landscaping and the two acre yard was a virtual show place. Mother's large flower gardens added to the beauty of the place. People would stop and want to take pictures of the landscape. The magnolia trees had become quite large and were beautiful to see. On one occasion a wedding party stiopped and they got my parent's permission to have their pictures taken on the grounds.
The drought was bad that year and some of the beautiful shrubbery was turning brown. Daddy had a lot of muscle and he would carry a five gallon bucket of water in each hand and go up the hill from the back yard water source to the front yard to water his boxwoods. The shrubs were so important to him that he wanted to continue despite his heart problem. I was visiting at that time and I begged him to stop. I have never had much muscle and he would not let me help. He felt that God would protect him. If he died then God wanted it that way. He seemed to be OK when I left and went to my home. On Mother's Day that year he was sleeping while sitting up in a comfortable chair in the den. Mother was watching TV. She looked over at Daddy and he suddenly made a little gasping noise and stopped breathing. He died in his sleep. Mother grieved long and hard. There were many people including Primitive Baptist church members at his funeral. There were relatives there whom I had not seen in so many years. Mother had hoped for so long that God would give her a sign that she should join the church, but it never happened. One of her brothers became a Primitive Baptist preacher and he baptized many new members. He still preaches at many churches in the south central Virginia area. Mother died in May of 2005, many years after Daddy died. More about her in another chapter.
I wanted to become an architect. There was a pre-engineering program at Roanoke College and I chose courses that would enable me to transfer after two years to Va. Tech and become an architect. I made all A's and B's (mostly A's) during my freshman year, except for chemistry. I was not ready for college chemistry. I talked to the chemistry teacher and she understood my problem but she could not do anything for me. I received C's in both semesters of chemistry but I knew almost nothing about chemistry when the spring semester ended. Not having had the high school prerequisite chem course made it almost impossible for me. I felt the C grades were a gift. I was very grateful, but I felt guilty about it. I made many new friends while in college and we visited each other's homes and we played golf and went bowling many times. Good friends. I had a crush on several girls while in high school and during my freshman year of college but I was too shy to ask them for dates. I had my first date ever during my sophomore year of college.
One Saturday night I had to stay after hours at the super market to help with the mopping detail. Every aisle had to be clean and bright before we went home. I was so tired. I had not been on mop detail before. I got in my car and headed home. I thought my strange feelings were due to my fatigue. I turned a corner and collapsed at the wheel. I did not remember anything after that until I was awake and my parents were standing over me and a crowd of men were behind them. Several cops too. I had had a hypo. I never straightened the wheel after the turn so my car went off the road and down a steep hill into a creek bed. The car went between two vertical posts that were supporting a huge bill board. The people were measuring the distance between the posts and the width of my car and they said the opening was about two inches more than the width of the car. How could my car have passed between the posts and not touch either one of them??? I was not hurt and the car did not have a scratch on it. The guys standing in back were from a bar across the road. They had seen my car leave the road and they found my parent's phone number in my wallet. Everyone but my parents thought I was drunk. I had never been drunk in my life. I had never tasted alcohol. My parents told the cops about my diabetes. I really don't think anyone there believed their explanation. There was no ticket though and a big wrecker pulled my car up the hill later that night, or on Sunday. I was back at college Monday morning. It was like the whole thing was just a bad dream. I have never had another car mishap due to my diabetes. I had many hypos during my early years during my sleep or after a lot of exertion. There was no way for me to test my blood sugar before starting home that night. Glucose monitors were not available until many years after that. I had to go by the way I felt. It was that way for about 40 years until glucose monitors became available in the 1980's. My parents thought that God had protected me and that was why I was not hurt. I wasn't too sure about that but I was certainly happy about having my car back and going to classes Monday morning. I never missed a class during my four years of undergraduate work. I never had a bad hypo on campus but I had many lows and had to eat sugar from a small container in my pocket. There were no glucose tablets for a long time to come. Sugar worked very well.
I remember having lows during tests and my teachers never let me take a make-up test. I took my test with my class or not at all. I had a low during a calculus test that was so bad that my vision ws blurred and I could not read my test paper. My teacher would not believe me. That was the only math test I failed in college. There were only three tests and a comprehensive final exam in each math course I took. My failing grade on that test resulted in a B grade for first semester calculus. I made A's in all of my other math courses in college.