By Judy Brandon
My great uncle Harris never married and lived all his adult life alone. During his lifetime, he existed only on the bare necessities. It wasn’t that Uncle Harris couldn’t afford a comfortable lifestyle, and it wasn’t that he didn’t have an income.
Harris just didn’t believe in spending any money. He was thrifty in the greatest sense. In fact, some might have characterized him a miser.
At his death, this sad fact became more evident with the array of worthless possessions that cluttered his house and a bank account that reached far upward nearly breaking seven figures.
Harris was a peculiar figure from the beginning.
After coming home from World War I, he cashed in all of his soldier paychecks and bought government bonds. He put the bonds in an old trunk, locked it and for years carried the key around his neck on a string. His collateral included farms, nice brick homes, and acres of rich rice lands he rented out to the farmers in the countryside.
My great uncle had dual vocations.
Harris was a builder during the week and a barber on weekends. He ran the “OK Barber Shop” where he cut hair for 25 cents.
When Harris contracted to build a home, he never subcontracted the work. He did everything from pouring the concrete foundation to the electrical wiring just to save money.
Harris continued his building endeavors until his late 70s.
Harris was definitely a “do-it-yourself” man.
He overhauled his own cars because he thought mechanics “were crooks,” to quote his own words.
In addition, Harris resoled his own shoes with soles bought from the dime store.
The year America faced the Cuban missile crisis, we dropped by to see Uncle Harris. Several months after the crisis passed, the talk of distrust toward the Russians and Castro was still evident in the national news and among the people in the nation.
Uncle Harris’ 10-room house with its bare furnishings was cold and bleak. We could barely see because of the 25-watt light bulb that hung from a long cord in the living room.
It included an addition he called a “washhouse.” We thought it unusual because he didn’t even own a washing machine. The addition had a concrete floor, was partially in the ground and had cinder block walls that were two blocks thick.
Uncle Harris claimed the addition was for laundry, but his conversation was filled with the threat of nuclear war and precautions to escape its damaging effects.
When we left his house that day, Mother and Daddy agreed Harris had not built that extra room for a washing machine. He had built it out of fear and his attempts to control his own mortality. He had always been a self-sufficient man.
Mother and Daddy had talked to him on several occasions about his soul and his spiritual condition.
His response was that he had no need for all that religious stuff. He could take care of things by himself. Now with the “washhouse,” he had a man-made way to try to save himself.
Yet, my parents thought his washhouse was a tangible sign of the impending storm that was brewing in his heart as he approached 85. Could he face death on his own?
Well, we didn’t have a nuclear war, and Uncle Harris died of natural causes about 20 years ago.
None of us knows when life will come to an end. Each must someday face his or her eternal destiny.
But one thing is certain: it’s not our provision that will determine our spiritual fortune. It’s the sufficiency we find in Christ. For my great Uncle Harris, he thought self-sufficiency could get him through anything.
I just wonder how he has fared in eternity.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org