“He said a bad word!” - Carolina Country

“He said a bad word!”

(In loving memory of Frank Ray Sawyer)

As a little girl growing up, most of my favorite memories are of my Papaw Frank. There is one memory in particular that always makes me smile when I think about it.

My Papaw Frank kept me through the week while my parents worked. I suppose I was around 4 or 5 at the time. He was a good Christian man and always set a good example in front of me. He tried to teach me right from wrong. One of those lessons was about how I shouldn’t say “bad” words.

Papaw was a deacon at Pine Grove Mountain Union Baptist Church. Many Sunday’s my mother would get me all dressed up in a dress my Mamaw Lola had made me. We lived close to them and she would take me to their house on Sunday mornings. Papaw never drove, so when it was a pretty day he and I would set out walking to church. I remember him holding my hand as we walked. The church was only about a half mile at the most from his house. Oh, but how I enjoyed those walks with him.

After we had gotten to church one Sunday, it was time for preaching to begin. The preacher’s sermon that day was on “hell.” So of course while delivering his message, the word “hell” was spoken. Apparently I remembered Papaw’s lesson about the “bad” words. When I heard the word, I stood up and announced to everyone at church …” He said a bad word,” while pointing my finger at the preacher. Some of the people at church began to chuckle. I didn’t understand why and Papaw Frank smiled at me and told me it was okay. On our walk home, he explained to me about why it wasn’t a bad word when the preacher said it.

His example and the lessons he taught me are a big part of why I accepted Christ at the young age of 13. He was unable to go to church at that time because his deteriorating health. But I couldn’t wait to get to his house that day and tell him the good news. It wasn’t very long after that, he passed away. Even though I am a grown woman and a grandmother myself now, I still remember him. There is a part of me that will always miss him, but I know I will join him again in heaven one day, where there will be no “bad” words ever heard.

Rhonda Sawyer Testerman, Warrensville, Blue Ridge Electric

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