I never knew my great grandfather, Isaac Freeman Wood. He died in 1921, thirty-four years before I was born. I learned a little about him and his family last week at the one-hundredth Wood family reunion. I attended the reunion for the first time since my childhood. Grandpa Isaac lived and died in the Stedman Community, in Haralson County, Georgia. He was buried near there, in the cemetery at Poplar Springs Baptist Church, which was where the reunion was held.
Grandpa Isaac’s father, James P. Wood (my great-great grandfather), owned and operated a grist mill. As most boys would have back in those days, Grandpa Isaac and his brothers helped their father by working in his mill. One day their father sent Isaac and his brother, Littleton, to town, to deliver a load of freshly ground meal. While they were gone, a lady brought corn to the mill to be ground and, evidently, their younger brother, Lafayette, went to visit a friend. Late in the day, a severe storm blew in with high wind, hail, and quite a bit rain. As the water rose, the creeks quickly flooded their banks. The lady who had come to have her corn ground, feared she might not be able to cross the creeks and make it back home safely. My great-great grandmother, Rebecca Wood, felt sorry for the lady, so she encouraged her to spend the night there with them. She assumed her boys would not attempt to come home, so she told the lady she could sleep in their bed. With eight children in the family, several usually had to sleep in the same bed. Normally, Isaac, Littleton, and Lafayette slept together. Isaac and Littleton usually slept side by side, with their younger brother, Lafayette, sleeping crossways, at their feet.
As his mother had expected, Lafayette did not come home that night, however, in spite of the bad weather, Isaac and Littleton did. It was late by the time they made it home and everyone was in bed asleep, including the stranger in their bed. Not wanting to awaken everyone, the two boys eased in the house without lighting a lamp. When they reached their bed, they assumed the person sleeping there was their little brother. The woman was on Littleton’s side of the bed. Littleton, thinking she was his little brother, nudged her to move over. She didn’t move enough to give him room to get him. Being tired, sleepy, and short on patience, he pounded on her shoulder until she quietly moved on over. The two boys crawled into bed with the strange lady between them. Early the next morning, before the brothers awoke, the lady eased out of bed and left for home.
When Isaac and Littleton woke up they found themselves in bed alone. When they got up, their mother laughed at them and said, “You boys slept with a strange woman last night and didn’t even know it!” Littleton said, “Well, I’ll bet she has a sore shoulder this morning because I really pounded on it to make her to move over out of my place.”
Those boys simply thought they were getting in bed with their little brother and didn’t know the difference until their mother told them the next morning. I do wonder what that poor little lady must have thought. In the darkness of night, it is hard to tell who is who. I am reminded that God always recognizes us, even in the darkness, and that we can recognize him in the darkness as well.