The Bluford family all lived in South Arkansas and to the best of my knowledge never traveled much outside of Union County. There were two generations of Bluford’s who were faithful patients of my Dad (Pop), and then switched over to my brother Berry Lee (Bubba), when he joined Pop in their general medical practice. The Bluford’s were by no means one of the prominent families in El Dorado, but were average, hard-working people who were intensely loyal to the Lord Jesus, to each other, and to their doctors. Usually when you saw a Bluford anywhere in town another member of the family was close by.
I was introduced to most of them at Bubba’s office when I would visit there even before I became a doctor. There were so many of the Bluford’s one of them was likely to be in the office with some complaint on any given day. I was always impressed by their humble and grateful attitude toward the doctors and the staff. One frequently heard all of them say, “Yas suh, No suh, Please and Thank yah!” depending upon the situation or the question. I don’t think I ever met all of the Buford’s, but was closely associated with four members of the family, Mittie, Major, Willie and Sister Missionary Ruth Foster (as she was known within the family and her church).
After I returned home to establish a private practice in general surgery Bubba was an immediate referral source and many of my surgical patients were referred by him to me. He called me late one afternoon to say he had admitted Mittie Bluford to the ICU at Warner Brown Hospital. She had suffered with severe abdominal pain for three or four days, and now had nausea and vomiting with an extremely high temperature. Mittie was in her late 60’s, and had been treated for a number of years for hypertension associated with obesity. Bubba suspected gall bladder infection and needed me on stand-by in case the initial medical treatment was ineffective.
When I arrived there were at least six members of the Bluford family in the waiting room, but the only ones I recognized were Major and Sister Missionary Ruth. She was easily recognizable because in addition to her large size she always had on a red Afro wig which never seemed to fit quite right. I didn’t know the name of the church in which she was called as a missionary, but it must have been a Pentecostal church, because even in a conversation with her she would emphasize the things I would say to her by chanting such things as, “Yes, yes, or Thank yah Jesus or Amen, amen!” Her encouragement to my normal conversation almost made me feel like I was preaching, and it always spurred me to say more than I normally would. I’m sure if I had ever preached in her church her encouragement alone would have caused me to preach with greater zeal and fire!
Mittie was indeed sick, and her initial tests confirmed gall bladder disease, but we wanted to wait another 24 hours to let the infection subside, if possible. The following day she was getting worse so the decision was much clearer, and she needed an emergency operation. I told the nurse to call the family together at her bedside, and I would explain to Mittie and to them what needed to be done. The four members of the family whom I knew and several others I assumed were family gathered around her bed with Sister Missionary Ruth standing closest to me. I was sure they were all Bluford’s because they had their heads slightly bowed, and none of them had any questions which might indicate the slightest mistrust of me or of Bubba. Even Sister Missionary Ruth had her head turned more toward Mittie than toward me.
I directed my words toward Mittie so she could understand to the best of her present ability what was needed. She was very weak and not able to carry on much conversation. The only other voice beside mine which was heard over the next few minutes was not Mittie’s but was her sister, Missionary Ruth, and she was emphasizing what I was saying. The conversation went something like this;
“Mittie, you are sick- you are real sick.”
Sister Missionary Ruth: “yas Lawd, yas Lawd!”
“Mittie, your gall bladder is infected and the infection is real serious.”
Sister Missionary Ruth: “Dr. Mo, Dr. Mo!”
“Mittie, you have to have surgery right away.”
Sister Missionary Ruth: “Looka he’ah, looka he’ah!” (translated; looky here, looky here).
Mittie had no questions for me concerning the operation nor did any of the family members. I always knew this was a sign of total trust of the patient and family in the Lord’s power to use me, and I never took the trust lightly. When I prayed at her bedside for her deliverance and healing from this illness every one of the Bluford’s were also praying fervently out loud, so it was impossible to discern all of their words. I just know the Lord heard each one as clearly as if he were the only one praying, and it was a sweet offering to His ears.
At the operation I discovered her problem was a diseased and abscessed gall bladder which could be removed for a cure. When I saw what was wrong my response was, “Looka he’ah, looka he’ah!” not in jest, but in gratitude to the Lord for his healing, for Mittie’s trust in Him and in me, and for all the Bluford’s. I knew where they all were at the moment. They were in the waiting rom praying and thanking Him for healing Mittie.