In March, 1994, my wife and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to join the staff of Forest Hills Baptist Church. It was my second full-time position after seminary and would be the place where I would serve for the next six and a half years. Because we were a young couple serving in a very affluent county, we knew when we arrived that the search for a new home would be a difficult one, despite the best efforts of our new church family to help us find something. So, the leadership of FHBC graciously allowed us to live next door to the church in a house they owned and used for their youth.
So, that Spring, Sarah and I found ourselves living in a “mother-in-law” apartment on the end of the “Youth House.” Ninety percent of our stuff was stored in boxes in the garage of that place while we carried out the search for our home.
It was not unusual for youth to come roaming into the house on Wednesdays or Sundays and wake us up or, worse yet, catch us walking across to the laundry room with minimal clothing. After being there for about a week, Dr. Winfield (Jerry) stopped me as I was leaving the office to walk across the parking lot to go home. He said, “Hey, I know this situation isn’t ideal for you guys but we’re going to work on some more privacy for you. I’ve contacted Martha to come over and do some blinds for you on the windows.” (to this point, they had been uncovered).
It was the next day that I met Mike and Martha Hight, a sweet couple from the church who owned a window treatment business. They hung our blinds and just a few weeks later, Sarah announced to me that we were pregnant with Harrison. (You make the connection). I promptly found Martha and Mike that next week and told them they were primarily responsible for this amazing news. Their blinds were wonderful!!
Mike and Martha adopted us that day. We were far away from family and on the verge of our first child. It was the Hights who kept Harrison on his first night away from us while we were on a youth trip. It was the Hights who kept he and Abby while we were away on many date nights and student trips. It was the Hights that Harrison named Meme and Andaddy. They have been huge blessings to my family ever since. Meme, to this day, calls me “Three”–a reference to the fact that I am Ridley Harrison Barron III–and her “surrogate son.” They are a constant reminder of the way that God provided for us at a special time in our life.
Mike died last night after weeks of battling his health. I like to believe that he and Sarah are catching up and planning for the arrival of their loved ones who will follow. But for my sweet “mother”, life as she has known it for the last 43 years, has changed. The one she has shared so much of life with for so long is gone. Today, she begins a new, very different life. So it is with anyone who has walked the strange reality of losing a loved one.
And after 16 years, life has come full circle. I get my chance to be there for her.