Brother Mose Serves The Garden Club

 

Welch’s Jelly Glasses

Brother Mose

I have written several stories about my wonderful childhood friend and teacher Mose Graham. In the racially segregated 1950’s one almost always addressed a Black-American by his first name and seldom ever used the courtesy titles Mr. or Mrs. Our family loved and respected Mose Graham so much we always called him “Brother Mose.” I never heard anyone ever address him as Mr. Mose, and I feel certain he never heard it either.

His responsibilities at our home included yard maintenance and heavy-duty housework such as moving furniture or any objects too heavy for Sister Bobbie and generally assisting in any inside work Mom thought necessary. He occasionally would stay after hours to guard my sister Marilyn and me when needed, but this was rare. In remembering his activities and actions Brother Mose never sat in any chair in the house except in the kitchen while having lunch. He never even considered using one of the 3 bathrooms inside the house, but he and Sister Bobbie had the use of a small room attached to our home which we called “the servant’s quarters” which contained a bed, a chair, a small lavatory and a toilet. They used the servant’s quarters for short rest periods during their workdays which was usually 7-8 hours.

As a young boy I never understood why Brother Mose wouldn’t use a bathroom in our home or sit beside me at the table when I was eating alone in the breakfast room. On many occasions while having his meal in the kitchen I invited him to join me at the breakfast room table, but he politely refused by saying, “That’s alright Master. I’m jes’ fine right here.” He and Sister Bobbie called me “Master” not because they were ordered or I demanded, but because they loved me  and had given me that moniker much like a nick-name. In the beginning I was embarrassed by the name but accepted it as a loving name from them.

When Mom would have a social event at our home with ladies from her garden club or from the church she depended on Brother Mose to arrange the furniture and make certain everything was clean and orderly. As the ladies arrived he remained in the background and usually in the kitchen while they were there just in case Mom needed any extra help. He never mingled with the ladies nor interacted socially with any of them although most of them knew him by name. He never wore a special white jacket for any event, but always his usual work clothes, and the picture above is how I remember he dressed every day. He liked suspenders, and I don’t recall him ever wearing a belt.

On this particular occasion Mom had invited her garden club to our home for their monthly meeting. I assume the meeting place was rotated to the homes of the members, because she didn’t have the garden club in our home very often. As the ladies arrived Mom had some cookies and small cakes on the living room table where the meeting would occur but did not have any drinks on the table. When she asked if anyone would like a drink the first lady responded with, “I would love a glass of water”, the other ladies responded in kind. Mom went back into the kitchen and asked Brother Mose if he would bring a tray of glasses of water for the 8 ladies in the living room. “Yes’um, I’ll be glad to.”

Mom noted it took Brother Mose an unusually long time to bring the water but didn’t go back into the kitchen to check on his reason for delay. When he finally arrived in the dining room with the water Mom knew the reason. She said Brother Mose had gone into her cabinet and found one of her large Sterling silver trays, but when he saw the tray it needed cleaning, so he took the time to completely clean the tray with silver polish. Right in the midst of the beautifully polished tray were 8 of what Brother Mose considered our finest serving glasses, Welch’s Jelly glasses! In those days Welch’s Grape Jelly came in a colorfully decorated glass so when the jar was empty, it could be washed and used as an orange juice glass for children. My sister Marilyn and I loved having our juice each morning in a Welch’s glass.

When Mom saw the glasses she quietly and politely asked Brother Mose if he would exchange those colorful glasses for plain glasses which the ladies would prefer. I actually believe they would have enjoyed having their water while looking at those classic Disney characters, and might have even compared characters with each other. Brother Mose was so beloved by all of us Mom never corrected him in his choice of glasses, and he probably continued thinking he was serving the ladies with our very finest. He was such a kind and unpretentious man!

Dr. John

 

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My Forever Friend Pastor Tyrone

Pastor Tyrone and Alisha

 

There are some men whom you meet for the first time you just know they will become a great and forever friend. Such was our introduction to Pastor Tyrone Thorpe and his wife Alisha in 2014 at a marriage seminar in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Cathy and I were invited along with our wonderful friend, Carolyn Lilley to assist in a marriage seminar to strengthen believers at 15th Street Baptist Church in East St. Louis. Carolyn, Cathy and I are members of First Baptist Church, Branson, Missouri, and our church has had a mission’s relationship with 15th Street Baptist and their pastor Andrew Prowell for at least 10 years. We had done 2 marriage seminars in previous years in their church and were purposing to make this teaching seminar an annual event. At this particular seminar Pastor Prowell’s brother, Tyrone Thorpe and wife Alisha were in attendance, and we were introduced. At the time Tyrone was serving as Deacon in another church, and he and Alisha were not regular attenders at 15th Street Baptist.

Several personal qualities Cathy and I immediately noticed in Tyrone were his infectious smile and his exuberant joy in the Lord. He seemed to be continuously smiling and praising God for everything to the extent it initially seemed disingenuous. The more we were with them convinced us he was for real. His obvious love for his bride Alisha was genuine, and we were thrilled having them at our marriage conference. They had been married for 3 years when we first met them.

Before the conference was over the Thorpe’s spoke with us about the possibility of returning the following year to participate in a conference they would organize and manage, and we readily agreed. We believed their enthusiasm and energy was just the spark we needed for a very special meeting.

Throughout the summer and fall months we stayed in touch with the Thorpe’s anticipating either a spring or early summer marriage retreat, which they would plan and coordinate. They set a date which was compatible with our schedule and made more complete preparations for the seminar which included several other couples which would be in leadership roles. We agreed to be in prayer together for God’s hand to be on the conference, and because we were separated by such a distance a conference call prayer meeting was scheduled for every 2 weeks for 2 months.

What an experience the conference call was for Cathy and me since we had not been part of such an event! There were at least 6 people on-line each time, and each was respectful of the one who was praying. It was thrilling for Cathy and me to be part of such a diversified group of believers whose sole purpose was to ask for God’s blessing to be upon the marriage seminar.

The seminar was so well planned by Pastor Tyrone and Alisha it was by far the best marriage enrichment we have ever been fortunate to attend. A highlight for us occurred on the evening prior to the start of the meeting when Cathy, Carolyn Lilley and I joined Pastor Tyrone and Alisha for supper at the Golden Corral in Belleville, Illinois near the Thorpe’s home. Our enthusiasm in that restaurant was fueled by the Thorpe’s, and especially Tyrone who seemed to witness to everyone present in that place. It was there I was especially drawn to Tyrone’s love for Jesus and his sincere desire to share the gospel with everyone.

Tyrone had been delivered years before from the deadly trap of alcohol, drugs and the life-style they create. His life was a total wreck, including breakup of his marriage and family and resulting in a prison sentence. By his testimony of hitting rock bottom and being homeless, his deliverance by the Lord Jesus was dramatic and complete. He had an intense and abiding heart interest for men and women, who like himself were trapped by their sin and circumstances.

In addition to his deliverance from the deadly trap of sin, he was delivered from the initial effects of a head and neck cancer which had possibly resulted from his life-style choices. He received multiple irradiation treatments followed by chemotherapy, and for more than 5 years seemed to have been cured.

At some point following all of this, he met Alisha who was working as a nurse at the VA Hospital in St. Louis where he also worked. They began dating and decided it was God’s will for them to be joined in marriage. Alisha had endured the harm from an abusive husband in her first marriage and through her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus had become a strong and faithful witness for Him. Tyrone and Alisha were made for each other and were married in 2011. Together they developed a ministry of hope and encouragement for any person who had been damaged by sin and their poor life-style choices. It was 3 years after their marriage we first met them.

The final chapter in Tyrone’s earthly life began in mid-2016 when he developed increasing symptoms of severe throat pain and difficulty in swallowing. He phoned me on several occasions, and we prayed together for each other. I was having increasing symptoms of heart disease and growing progressively weaker. Our times of prayer together by phone always encouraged me and drew me closer to the Lord Jesus which I heard in Tyrone’s voice. He began the testing process which resulted in recommendation of a major surgical procedure to remove the recurrent head and neck cancer.Near the same time I was recommended to have open heart surgery.

As it turned out, our surgical procedures were on the exact same day, December 1, 2016. Tyrone was operated at St. Louis University Hospital, and my procedure was done at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Had they not been on the same day, we would have been present at each other’s hospital.

Tyrone’s operation for complete cancer removal was not successful, and he grew increasingly worse from the cancer. Alisha faithfully cared for him day and night, using her nursing skills and doing many things which would normally be done by other health care providers. We stayed in touch as much as possible, and I gained enough strength for Cathy and I to travel to St. Louis to see him in the hospital in mid-April. He was so weak and couldn’t talk because of his tracheostomy, but we saw that special twinkle in his eye and felt the mutual love in the handshake and ever-present smile. He was surrounded by family members, but we were able to stay for several hours, and especially giving time for Cathy to spend together with Alisha. I was fortunate to have about 30 minutes alone with Tyrone and Veronica his lovely daughter from his first marriage.Veronica lives with her husband and children in Tampa, Florida, and she is a wonderful example of a Christian witness similar to her Father.

My brother Tyrone departed this life on April 26, 2017 at age 60 years, and his spirit was immediately taken into the presence of His Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. I can only imagine the reverence and awe he experienced and can also visualize the enormous joy and gigantic smile which is now continually on his face. I miss him very much but am confidant I will see that smile and sparkle in his eye once again. (I Thess.4:13-18)

Dr. John