You are Velvet – A Lesson from my Great Grandfather
James William Whiting is my paternal great grandfather, and because he was beloved, there are several stories about his personal generosity that have been recorded by others, but today, on day #2 of the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative, I wanted to make sure he is remembered by me.
One history records, “At his funeral services…many who came to pay their respects mentioned that they had been the grateful recipients of his generosity by way of a load of coal, groceries, or other goods sent from the store-boxes of groceries he had hauled to them at night so no one would know. He didn’t want them to be embarrassed that someone was bringing them groceries.” Not even his own wife and daughter were aware of this until his funeral.
You Are Velvet
One of my favorite stories about Jim was recorded by his niece, Tess Child Tyler about an experience she had in about 1929:
My most poignant memory happened when I was fifteen years old and I was in trouble (pregnant). My family was ashamed, disappointed in me, and angry. My whole world had collapsed, so it seemed. Uncle Jim came to see me. He brought me a set of silver with the knives glowing with green pearl handles. When I began to sob, he put his big comforting arms around me, pulled me down on his lap and said, “When cloth is stained, you try to clean it up. If the cloth is calico, the stain remains and the material eventually rots. If the material is velvet, the stain can be removed and often it leaves the cloth more beautiful. Tessa, you are velvet.”
This non-judgmental and compassionate response to a young woman who was embarrassed, ashamed, and hurting is similar to the one the Savior himself gave to another young woman: “Neither do I condemn thee” (John 8:11).
Sometimes, when I do dumb things, I like to remember this story. I never knew my great-grandfather, but his son, Harold, (my grandfather) is one of my heroes. He showed me by the way he treated me (and all of the women in his life) that he considered each of us to be “velvet.”