One of the landscape jobs obtained when my little landscape business was operating was taking care of the indoor plants at a local Rome restaurant. One of the nice perks of this job was free coffee whenever I came in to work the plants.
Usually, this was drunk before starting to water and care for the indoor landscaping. On this particular morning with my cup of hot coffee in hand, I was searching for an empty table when my friend, Ed Perkins, was spotted sitting by himself eating his breakfast. Ed is a member of our church in Cave Spring and was one of the oldest members, probably in his mid-80s at the time. Usually, I let folks alone who are having their meal and speak to them after they are finished. If that had been done that morning the marvelous story that he shared with me — a story of Miss Martha Berry that is not in any history book — would have been missed, which would have been a shame. My life has been made just a little richer because of knowing this story.
Here is the personal story that he shared with me:
I was from a large family on a farm near Cave Spring. One of my younger brothers, a toddler, was involved in a serious accident. There was a fire in our house and the little fellow was seriously burned. The injury was life-threatening; however, he survived, only he was seriously disfigured when the flames injured his upper body, particularly his face. Even his arms were scarred. The accident seriously affected his life because of his changed looks people just did not accept him as they would a normal looking individual. When he became a teenager and was trying to find a job, the only one that he could locate was as a gate keeper at the Berry Schools.
One morning when my brother was on the job, a large chauffeur-driven automobile stopped at the gate. My brother waved the car on through. It continued on perhaps for 100 yards or so along the road into the school and stopped. It then backed up to the gate. The back window rolled down, and a lady stuck her head out and said, “Young man, doesn’t it bother you to have your face disfigured like that?”
My brother, probably because of his injury was quite shy.
He hung his head, looked at his feet and replied, “Yes ma’am.”
After hearing his quiet reply, the lady continued, “Well, wouldn’t you like to have it fixed?”
“We don’t have the money,” came the reply from the young man.
“But if the operation was free, wouldn’t you like to have it done?”
“Yes,” came my brother’s reply.
The lady in the back seat was Miss Martha Berry. After meeting my brother at the Berry gate she contacted both a plastic surgeon in Atlanta as well as my parents in order to get their permission for my brother to have his face operated on.
Not long afterwards the operation was performed and was very successful — it completely changed my brother’s life!
Looking up at my friend’s face because of the sudden change in emotion in his voice, I saw that he had tears in his eyes. Mine were admittedly a little moist also! After he regained his composure, he continued:
The operation completely changed my brother’s life! Miss Berry had built a wonderful bridge that allowed him to cross over from his job at the gate into the college where he became a member of a class and isolated no longer. He became just one of the students. My brother eventually graduated and made a very successful life for himself as an adult. Miss Berry saw his need and did something about it even though she did not know him. That same thing could be said about her in so many different ways. She saw the needs of the forgotten children of the forgotten pioneer farmers in the area, who could neither read nor write and who knew little and mostly nothing about what is in the Bible or of God’s love. She is certainly a good example of Christianity in action.
It just had to be the very best day ever in the life of Ed’s brother the day that Miss Berry had the chauffeur back the car up so she could speak to the young man at the gate.