Lucy Strong- Part 1
“These things I have spoken unto you,
that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.”
“Lucy, Lucy!” “You best hurry up now and get that hair brushed and your Sunday shoes on. Daddy is ready and I’m not waitin’ one more minute.”
Tailoring to her Momma’s every commands, Lucy ran barefoot with her needle point hair brush to the small bedroom she shared with her sisters Susan and Carol and desperately sifted through the modest pile of shoes they shared. There was no other way than to mind Momma, and the girls would never disappoint their Daddy.
Lucy grabbed her tan, ankle strapped flats, gave her long, dirty blonde hair one final tuft and clasped her shoes on quickly.
Daddy always looks so handsome, Lucy marveled to herself as her father, a Baptist Minister himself, strolled by in his neatly pressed gray slacks and matching Fedora hat. His look was always pristine and his manner precise. Yet the perfection of his outward appearance was mere crumbs compared to the love and joy that perfected the voice of his heart.
Never the mind, though, because as gentle as this tall slender minister was he still carried the uncountable expectations of a southern preacher and Lucy was all too aware of it. While her thoughts danced with the beauty of shoes and the lace around the edges of her puffy church dress, her mind knew well enough to hurry to her spot in the sanctuary.
It was not far to go, and maybe that was always the reason for the delay. The church lie merely twenty feet down a narrow brick hall from her home. It was not at all uncommon for churches to be connected to a preachers home and in many ways it was a feeling of pride for Lucy that her Daddy served the people and the Lord all within the footprints of her own story.
Squeezed into their pew, Lucy and her sisters giggled and tucked their dresses into the meeting seams of one another and quickly silenced themselves by the hard stare of Momma. There was not a look graver or more defined than Mommas. She was truly the head of this family and though it appeared that the minister was in charge, the true leader sat in exact position in the front pew; at the helm of her husband’s words and the thumb of her daughters every move.
“Open your bibles to Luke 4:13” Daddy carried on, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. A season. A season can be a lifetime or it can be a day” he gesticulated with great concern of each word.
“You must choose to not give your heart to the devil but to the Lord.” Daddy announced as he voice continued to rise,
“and as it is written get behind thee and serve and worship him as all the kingdoms in the world can not be given by the Satan of temptation!” he ended with a great bony thump to his pulpit.
“Hallelujah Reverand Strong!”
Fervent hope with joyous praise filled the small Baptist steeple as the young and old stood in immediate song and hand waving. For Lucy, this was always the best part. The music.
The front doors to the small brick church opened in melody with the early Alabama sun and a sky of floating cotton from the neighboring fields.
Lucy grabbed her sisters hands and began to run out the doors, passing Ms. Turner, whose husband had died most recently, and would surely grab Momma’s attention long enough for them to sneak by.
This day was made for her: the sun, the happiness of those around her, her perfect white dress, and her golden blonde hair were all set to play the part of divine pleasure…especially in the knowing that the ice cream truck would be rolling down the dirt road any minute and Mr. Slip would have a perfect scoop of that sweet vanilla ice cream just for Lucy.
For Lucy, every day was a day to be on stage; To be an actress; To be adored and to adore.
The afternoon Birmingham breeze lifted the spirits of neighboring children as the smell of homemade butter biscuits, collards, and baked chicken wafted through the air noting the delicacy of Sunday dinner.
“Lucy, come on child. Get in this house and get yourself cleaned up and get to them dinner chores,” momma bellowed from the small front window.
It was Lucy’s job to prepare the table and drinks, her job to clean up after the meal, her jobs…chores were many. She was the oldest, and her dreams of love, and of shoes and dresses were quickly put to bed with the reality of being the oldest daughter of a preacher- a little white girl in the deep south of Alabama.
And so just as the morning began in the flight of a dreamer’s imagination, the afternoon ended in a stalling of chores and discipline.