When we lived in Bloomington, Illinois, 1968-1972, I had little interest in having children. I saw enough of children each day at school! But our friends Martha and Harry McDonald did have a child that appealed to me—their 6-year-old daughter Lisa.
When my third grade students made mobiles, I made one that I gave to Lisa, who was home sick. Martha was a nurse and Harry was a grad student, so Lisa was sometimes a bit adrift in their busy lives and also had some health issues. I enjoyed paying attention to her, whether at church or when our families got together.
We had moved from Boone, North Carolina, to Bloomington in 1968. When he finished his Ph.D., Harry and Martha moved to Boone! He taught at Appalachian State University there and they were active in the Boone Church of Christ where Steve had preached for 15 months.
The Boone church invited Steve to preach in a “gospel meeting” for a long weekend, and we loved visiting with the McDonalds. By then, Mac had joined their family and we had toddler Josh. It was a grand reunion time.
Sadly, before long Harry, only in his 40s, passed away from cancer. It was a traumatic time for all. Steve and our friend Mike Olberding went to the funeral in Boone where a large crowd paid tribute to Harry’s life.
Martha stayed in touch, even as she moved to Arkansas and married another fine man. Eventually we stopped hearing from her.
A few years later, I was reading my Christian Woman magazine and saw that the new health column was written by Dr. Lisa Whiteaker, a dermatologist in Nashville. I stared at the small picture and saw a great resemblance to the 7-year-old I’d known in Illinois. The blurb about her indicated the church she attended in Nashville, so I left my name and phone number with the church secretary, asking Lisa to call me.
When she called, I began hesitantly, not sure she would remember me.
“Of course I remember you!” she answered. “You had us over for supper and served chili with Fritos. I thought it was the best ever, and I still eat Fritos with my chili!”
We had a pleasant conversation, and I learned that she had two little boys. I was sad to hear that Martha and her husband had passed away. “He was so good to her,” Lisa said, “and she had a great life with him.” Always good to know.
Lisa and I haven’t tried to keep in touch. I saw in the magazine that she’d moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, with a different dermatology practice. She lives there with her husband Larry and her two sons, Nathan and Daniel, and they are active at the Collegeside Church of Christ. Harry and Martha would be so proud of her.
I often think fondly of our dear friends, the McDonalds, and the richness they added to our lives.