Sometimes, people come into our lives and make such a difference that we are never the same. Occasionally, it is not an individual, but an entire family. Even though we may not be related to them, we come to see them as being a part of our own. Here in the South, we even make them honorary aunts and uncles. When I was growing up, the Crawford family was that kind of family. They came into the lives of my family when I was just a toddler, and to this day, they remain forever a part of the fabric of who I am.
When we first me them, Bill and Nita Crawford had three children. Their oldest, Wynne, was in college after having graduated high school at the early age of 16. Nilha, their middle child, was in high school, and so was Trent, their youngest.
When Wynne was home for breaks, she would babysit my big sister and me. (My younger brother wasn’t born yet.) Nilha was often a baby sitter as well. They would even load us up into the backseat of their cars and take the two of us to Montgomery to see a movie. I saw countless Disney movies with the Crawford girls. I also remember Nilha taking us all the way to Montgomery just so she could buy us some bublle gum ice cream. Nilha was even my first fiancee, but that is a story for another time.
Trent was there for me in a different way. If I ever had bike troubles, I knew Trent could help me fix them. On more than one occasion, Trent put a wayward chain back where it belonged so that I could return to terrorizing the neighborhood.
Uncle Bill may not have taken me on my first motorcycle ride, but he took me on the first one that I can remember. Late one morning, he came and picked me up, and I sat behind him on his Goldwing as he drove around town. He took me to lunch, and we had Reuben sandwiches. I must confess… I don’t like Reubens. I have never liked them, but I ate mine that day anyway… after all, Uncle Bill was eating one, and Uncle Bill was cool! He drove a motorcycle! Plus, he had an old Model A Ford in his garage. Of course, at the time I didn’t think it was cool to have an old car like that. In fact, I told my mother once that I thought a doctor should be able to afford a nicer car than that.
My Aunt Nita has loved me in more ways than I could ever tell you. Even when I was a small child, she always took time out of her day for me. She would play air hockey with me, and sometimes she would even let me win. She talked with me, and, more importantly, she would listen to me.
When I was just seven, she shared about Christ with me. Together, we knelt by the couch in their den where we prayed. She introduced me to Jesus.
The stories that the Andress family and the Crawford family share are too numerous to tell here. I think they could make up a book if I tried. But tonight, I can’t begin to try. Tonight, my heart is sad.
My Uncle Bill had surgery this past week. As I understand it, he was having a heart valve replaced. Technically, the surgery went fine. As the week went on, it became clearer that Uncle Bill just wasn’t recuperating the way we had hoped. This morning, at about 6:00, my Uncle Bill passed away.
He told Aunt Nita before the surgery that he was prepared… that he was ready if something were to happen. He went on to tell her that he sure would enjoy spending several more years with her if the Lord would just let him. The Lord had other plans.
God has been glorified in the life of Dr. Willis V. Crawford. He used his medical practice as a ministry, and I am sure many lives were impacted as a result. He and his bride raised three wonderful children who all love Christ. He and his bride shared a lifelong marriage that was an inspiration to many.
Bill Crawford touched many lives, and there are countless people who will be forever different because of him and his family.
I know. I am one of them.