“Miz Mo’, She Said She Saw You Kissing Santa Claus!”

Brother Mose Graham

Brother Mose Graham

Brother Mose was the central character of many of the interesting and funny stories of my childhood and youth. I spent so much time with him and knew him so well, that even now as I recount those experiences, I find myself laughing and enjoying them all over again. My sister Marilyn, her husband George and I are the only remaining ones in our immediate family who knew Brother Mose, and we love reminding each other about him and the impact he had on us. I know Cathy and our children have grown weary at times hearing me tell stories about Brother Mose and Sister Bobbie, but that generation has passed forever from the scene, and our children will never experience some of the good things that we did. Our children did know Lillian Singleton, and I have written some remembrances we all had of her.

Even though Brother Mose was hired to do yard maintenance and heavy cleaning in the house, he would occasionally answer the telephone, and some of his phone conversations were the source of unusual and often hilarious situations. Not infrequently he would answer the phone with the following; “Dr. Mo’s residence; Dr. Mo’s porter speaking.” I don’t know where he came up with that title, but Pop didn’t mind, and even on one occasion Pop jokingly introduced Brother Mose as “my Footman.”

This particular telephone conversation occurred in the early 1950’s when a recording was available of a hit song of Jimmy Boyd singing, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The record was so popular that the record stores could not keep up with the demand, and our local store, Samples Electric City was no exception. Mom had begun trying in the early fall to have the record available for the Christmas season and had placed her name on a long waiting list to purchase the recording. It was taking so long to get the record that she said she had forgotten about it.

Mom had a meeting scheduled in early December in our home with some of the ladies from the First Baptist Church, and she had asked Brother Mose to remain in the kitchen to help with the serving and clean-up. The telephone rang and Brother Mose answered with his usual greeting. The lady on the other end said, “I’m calling from Sample’s, and I have her record of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Would you tell her for me?” Brother Mose did not understand her message at all and said, “M’am, excuse me, what was it you said?” The lady politely repeated her words, but it still didn’t compute for Brother Mose. “Could you say that just one more time, please ’em (please M’am)?” Brother Mose was sure then what he heard but wasn’t sure how he would tell Mom with all those ladies present. Mom said he sheepishly came into the room and stood there for a few moments deciding how he would tell her. Mom said, What is it, Mose?” He said, “Mrs. Mo’ could I have a private word with you?” She was a little aggravated, but stepped into the hall way and again asked, “What do you want to tell me?” Mose said, “A lady from Sample’s called and said to tell you she saw you kissing Santa Claus.” Mom looked at Mose and said, “Mose, what in the world are you saying?” He repeated what he thought he heard, and suddenly Mom remembered her reservations for the record from Sample’s and had a good laugh. She said, “Thank you Mose for the message.” He seemed relieved that he got that potentially embarrassing message delivered in as discreet a manner as possible, and hopefully none of the church ladies would be any the wiser. When we got the record, I played it for Brother Mose a couple of times and told him I thought that the fellow was singing about Mom and how she got caught kissing Santa Claus. I don’t believe Mose ever thought it was funny and didn’t want me talking about it to anyone else.

Dr. John

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The Counsel of Tears

 

Image of tears

Throughout the years of my medical practice, I experienced the pain and anguish of many patients and their families when an operative report was not good, or when a person with a terminal illness departed this earth. I always had good intentions to bring peace and comfort where there was suffering, but like so many, I often was at a loss for words. I discovered early that the best comfort for most, was in just having loving and caring friends present.  A heart-felt handshake or hug says volumes to the anguished and the distraught. The Bible teaches us that we are ‘to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” As a surgeon with lots of experience, I trained myself to keep my personal feelings and emotions in check, and that strengthened my objectivity in certain stressful situations. Some of that attitude was also present in my personal life and may have been interpreted as a lack of compassion.

For most of our married life, Cathy and I have had a heart for helping to strengthen homes and marriages. We had some personal struggles early, and as our own marriage was made stronger by the love of Christ, we have desired to help others with similar problems. We have taught young adult Sunday school classes for a long time. That is where we met one particular couple that was only a few years younger. We had lots in common besides the Sunday school class; we were strongly committed to our marriages, our children were approximately the same ages, we desired to grow stronger in our spiritual lives and we wanted our church to grow stronger in its’ ministries.

He and I bonded quickly and soon became running mates as we began jogging together in the early morning hours before work. We stuck with our daily exercise schedule and continued jogging together for several years. As we huffed and puffed into better health, we shared a number of common things such as sports, church related issues, spiritual truths we were learning, and even advice to each other concerning common marital struggles. Our conversations were many, but were never too deep or heavy that we didn’t enjoy our morning jog. The relationship was one like brothers might have, and I always looked forward to awakening an hour earlier than normal, just to spent time with him. Unfortunately, his work responsibilities began requiring him to be out-of-town more often, and the few days he was in town each week or every other week, he needed that time at home. Our jogging times together came to a halt, but I continued exercising solo. At about the same time, I began teaching a senior adult men’s Sunday school class, so I didn’t see my friend for weeks if not months at a time.

One morning when I happened to be home with no surgical cases scheduled, we received a phone call from my friend’s wife asking if she could come over right away and speak with both Cathy and me. She was tearful over the phone saying their marriage was in a very difficult place, and she needed counsel from both of us. We prepared ourselves with prayer while she was driving over. She sat at our breakfast room table and poured out her heart to us with tears, telling us their marriage was in great danger of dissolving. There were some issues that seemed insurmountable and the separation that his work required at that time had only made the entire situation worse. The more she talked and wept, the more we were convinced that the problem was indeed serious.

As she was trying her best to tell us their problems without giving too many specific details, I was thinking about our relationship with them as a couple and my close friendship with him over the previous several years. It was as if a brother and sister-in-law were dealing with such a problem, and the longer I thought about my response, the less objective I was becoming in my heart. When she then paused and asked the question, “What do you think I should do?” I slowly began to respond with carefully chosen words and as much wisdom as I had for the moment. In the middle of a sentence, my emotions, which I had kept in check up to this point, spilled out and I began crying. The more I tried to talk, the less able I was to put sentences together. I finally said, “I am so sorry for these tears and my lack of ability to say very much at all.” She said quietly, “That’s ok, they seem to be helping.” I don’t remember any advice I was able to give her following that, but we did assure her of our love for them and that we would be praying that God would give her wisdom in taking the next steps toward healing. I do remember us telling her not to cross any bridges she could not get back over. We prayed for her and told her we would be available for any help we might give.

We learned several lessons that morning with our friend. Always be available for family or friends whenever difficult problems or tragedies occur. Before you counsel, prepare your heart with prayer and with fasting if there is enough time. Be sensitive that it is more important to listen than it is to talk. Avoid using clichés like “time will heal all wounds,” or “everything is going to be ok,” or even “God never puts on us more than we can bear.” There are some Biblical truths that are best left unspoken at times of great emotional distress. The most endearing help and comfort from God comes when loving family and friends come with a hug or a handshake, and often the best advice is expressed through tears and not words. With this particular couple I am delighted to report they were able to work through their problems to a resolution, and now 30 years later are still happily married with grandchildren. It is all to the glory of God!

Dr. John