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Walter Albritton

May 13, 2018

 

 

Tribute to the mother of my children

 

            The cute brunette I sat beside in the first grade became the love of my life and my wife when we were 20. During our courting days I became friends with several other beautiful girls but my eyes were always on Dean. I always felt she was the one for me and now, after 66 years of marriage, I know I was right.

            Though we have sometimes been “mad enough to kill each other,” we have always managed to reconcile our differences. We believed we were meant for each other, so much so that it became our conviction that God made us for each other. I have read that anyone of us could be happily married to a hundred other persons, but I don’t believe it. Call it juvenile thinking if you will, but we believe it was God’s will for us to be married.

            Knowing that Dean will read this before anyone else does, I do not wish to embarrass her with a mushy tribute. But I do want my readers to know how I feel about the remarkable woman who was willing to be the mother of my five children, all boys. So what follows are some memories that hopefully will become windows into the true character of Dean Brown Albritton.

            We got into the business of childbearing quickly. Our first son was born in the eleventh month after our wedding. In those day fathers had to remain in the waiting rooms while their wives gave birth. I had no idea the excruciating pain that a woman experiences in delivering a child. Dean never complained about the anguish she endured, though years later she did admit that she was “scared to death.” Especially when the doctor explained that her first delivery would require a breech birth. Dean wanted eight children. She settled for five sons though she had wished for a girl whom we would have named Linda.

At the outset we had very few worldly goods. We figured we could make it by working hard and trusting God. Family and friends gave us a fine set of china and silverware as wedding gifts. Dean was proud of them. She used the fine china and silverware for special meals. But one day, when we were struggling to make ends meet and trying to feed four young sons, Dean told me she had sold both the china and the silverware. “We need the money for food and clothes for the boys,” she told me, and never looked back. How can you not admire such a woman?

Men are considered stronger physically than women and that may be so in some ways. But I learned quickly that in other ways Dean was the stronger one. When a child was in pain, sick with colic or an earache, I could take that child in my arms and comfort him – for a few hours. But I recall many nights when, after collapsing with fatigue, I would awaken hours later to discover that Dean had been rocking and caring for that sick child all night long. The strength of her compassion put me to shame.

I remember so many meals when the boys were growing up how Dean would insist that she loved the drumstick so the boys and I could enjoy the better pieces of chicken. She did not flaunt her unselfishness but it was quite transparent – at least to me if not the boys.

                In the early years of our marriage we shopped at J C Penney and Sears. As the years went by that changed. Dean delighted in finding thrift stores where she could buy things for herself at bargain prices. For many years I have been amazed to learn that she had spent only seven dollars for two lovely blouses and a skirt. One day she showed me a nice pair of shoes she had bought for four dollars while I stood there recalling that I had paid eighty-nine dollars for the shoes I was wearing. How can you not admire a woman who quietly refused to be a spendthrift so that the needs of others could be met?

                I am in awe of her when I consider how many shirts and pants Dean ironed for me the boys, never expecting or demanding recognition for her labor of love. Or how many meals she graciously prepared, often finding creative ways to make hamburger helper look palatable.

                In the early years Dean was “the preacher’s wife” and the mother of my children. That changed too. She became my partner in ministry, especially after I began to realize how valuable her support was for any success I achieved. For a while she left the preaching and speaking up to me. Then the Lord got hold of her and she became a dynamic speaker herself.

After years of serious Bible study, Dean became, dare I say it, a brilliant Bible teacher. When we have gone to meetings where we were both invited to speak, I have always begged to go first. Following her on a platform is not easy; she is a tough act to follow. She will have you dying laughing one minute and in tears the next, wanting to get on your knees and ask God for forgiveness.

While Dean has always been in my balcony, cheering me on, she is also a straight shooter. When she feels she needs to be, she is tough on me. Some Sundays she has graciously insisted that the sermon I had just preached was not up to par. She might say candidly, “You can do so much better than you did today. We must help you find more time to study so you can be at your best when you stand up to recommend our Lord.” Most of the time I had to admit she was right on!

Dean is one of the most positive people I have ever known. She never pouts. She is, to use a few biblical words, full of faith, hope and love. Those precious qualities constantly spill all over me. And I recall so many times when Dean patiently indulged my impatience so that peace might prevail in our home and our hearts. With a gift for always managing to see the bright side of every situation, she has been my chief encourager, always helping me believe that together we can make it through any touch situation. When it was time to pick up the pieces of failure, and start over, Dean always had a basket full before I got started.

It has been the high honor of my life to have been the husband of Dean Albritton, the mother of my children, and a remarkable servant of Jesus Christ whom I admire with all my heart. I am so blessed to have shared this journey of faith by her side.

                Now that I have retired again, at 86, this remarkable woman does sometimes forget that she is my wife and not my Mama. This morning, for example, she finished washing the dishes, marched into the den and said with authority, “Get up out that recliner, Big Boy, and grab that mop. Now that you don’t have to spend half your life at those church meetings, you can put those aging muscles to use around here!”