Dicy McCullough: Reconnecting with old friends
By Dicy McCullough
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY - I've known Stan and Grace Stodard for more than 30 years, meeting them through a mutual friend who lived in the same neighborhood on Young Farm Road. I lived a few miles away on Old Mocksville Road, at the time. Once I moved to Bear Poplar, we lost contact except for seeing each other at the grocery store or the doctor's office. Grace works for Salisbury Dermatology.
Stan and Grace are members of Franklin Baptist Church, so when I began playing the piano there three years ago, it didn't take long for us to renew our friendship. After a few hugs and hellos, we picked right back up as if we had talked yesterday.
About six months ago, they gave their testimony in church, revealing things I never knew before. I always saw both Stan and Grace as hard-working, caring, Christian people who always enjoyed having a good time with friends and family. Even their youngest daughter, Christie, said, "We had lots of fun growing up. I especially remember the fun we had riding four wheelers and playing in the snow."
During their testimony, however, I saw a more vulnerable side. Stan shared information about his military service in Vietnam and how he saw things no one should ever have to see. Even to this day, it's obvious those memories still bother him. As he was talking about his time in Vietnam, the church was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop.
Stan gives Grace the credit for helping him through those first years after Vietnam. They became sweethearts at North Rowan High School when Grace was a freshman and he a junior. Before he left for Vietnam, it seemed natural for Stan to propose, so as a freshman in college Grace proudly wore a diamond that year. Two weeks after Stan returned, they were married.
When daughters Christie and Sherri were small, Stan remembers a time an argument arose. Instead of working things out, he decided to leave. Without saying a word, he packed his bags and began throwing them in the car. Not realizing Grace was getting the girls ready, on the last trip to the car, Stan opened the door only to see them sitting in the back seat.
Stan asked, "What are you doing here?"
Grace said, "If you're leaving, I'm going with you."
What was Stan to do, but unpack the car and go in the house?
Laughing now, they realize that became a turning point in their marriage. Grace said, "It showed the determination we had for working things out, no matter what."
Within a year, they moved to Young Farm Road. Searching for a church closer to their new home, they visited Franklin Baptist Church and have been members ever since. Always an encouragement to others, in the last 10 years they have relied on the encouragement and prayers of others for them.
Stan began having back problems about 10 years ago, enduring several surgeries to correct the problem. Instead of correcting the problem, the surg1eries left him in tremendous pain, unable to do simple tasks. Finding a new doctor in Charlotte, he agreed to have one more surgery this past May. Stan says he feels the best he's felt in over 10 years. As their marriage turned a corner so many years ago, hopefully with the latest surgery, Stan's back pain has turned a corner, too. While visiting at their lake house a few weeks ago, I saw a glimmer of the old Stan I used to know.
Not too many years ago while looking for a lot on High Rock Lake to park a camper, Stan and Grace believe God opened the door for them to buy a house. Spending six months at the lake each year, they enjoy keeping their home open for fun, fellowship and renewing of the spirit. Grace says, "I want people to come so we can love on them."
It's been great getting to know Stan and Grace again. The day I spent with them a few weeks ago at their lake house was especially fun, and although a sunny day, it was a little too chilly for me to take a boat ride. Next summer, when it warms up, I hope to get invited back (hint, hint). Maybe Stan will even trust me to drive the boat. Now that would make for a lot of fun and laughter. Just the way Stan and Grace like it.
Dicy McCullough's books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Contact her at 704-278-4377.