One of the hallmarks of my parents’ parenting style was an optimistic attitude toward whatever life brought by quickly recognizing and consistently acknowledging God’s blessings. Their positive approach began long before I was born and continued for as long as I can remember. One dramatic example of such fortitude came during a near catastrophe just after moving into Tanner Manor when a fire, almost undetected, broke out. Instead of dwelling on the hassle of having to move out or the myriad of other inconveniences they suffered, Mom and Dad would immediately and forever after frame the story of “The Fire” in light of God’s mercy, miracles, and protection.
In Dad’s own words, this is what it happened:
“Another ‘blessing in disguise’ related to this home occurred right after the Christmas holiday. Early on the morning of the day school started for the New Year, Richard rushed into the bathroom where I was getting ready to hop in the tub and insisted that I come immediately and inspect a spot under the front stairway that was glowing red hot. I told him to call the fire department and get everyone out of the house. Miracle after miracle occurred with the major house fire that followed. Most importantly, no one was hurt. All of the school-aged kids were able to get out on their own. Athelia, with sixteen-month-old Daken under one arm and ten-week-old Scott under the other, was able to avoid the noxious smoke from the attic, which could have been fatal to all three of them. At that time of the morning, the city fire department was just changing shifts and so was able to send a double crew to extinguish the blaze, which had started from a gas fireplace that overheated and caused $4200 worth of damage. Our insurance paid for the repairs and painting, which we eventually would have had to do at our own expense because of the age of the house. And, fortunately, our old home (which was scheduled for demolition) was still available for us to move back into temporarily while the repairs were being made. We had so much to be grateful for!”
No temporal disaster was too much for Mom and Dad, and they had plenty. Their example has come in handy many times, but one time in particular. Many years ago, when my very active two-year-old son Craig broke his femur in a bounce house, he had to be in traction for almost three weeks. Friends and family were great to help Ken and me so we could be at the hospital by his side around the clock, but they also felt sorry for us. Their pity, although sincere, felt out of place to me. Certainly, this was a tough time, but, like my parents who had weathered worse storms, I felt certain God was with us. This was merely a test of mortality. Eventually, Craig’s leg would heal, but Ken and I would be forever blessed by many tender acts of service and strengthened by increased cooperation and love in our marriage and family. Just as my dad had once said, we had so much to be grateful for!
I'm the twelfth of 13 children. I was born into a poor family living in a big house on top of a hill in South Pasadena, California. We called it Tanner Manor, and these are my stories of growing up there.