Jean Souter


In November I began ‘purging’ long forgotten boxes under my bed, which contained items belonging to my late husband Will.  I viewed them again and asked my son if he was interested in a ‘stroll down memory lane’ to keep! He came one day and together we held and touched these items, which brought sharp awareness of a vital and important man in our lives.  We laughed at what I had saved – some assorted bow ties, which made Will look like he was full of fun; some odd and dated eyeglasses, from heavy black frames to no frames at all; some cigarette lighters, attractive and useful; and a few leather wallets, all the same tri-fold style each of which he carried for many years before it was replaced.  We found one that I decided dated back to when he served in the army from 1941-1945, the Second World War.  There were enclosed pictures of his parents, his married sister, brother-in-law, and two beautiful nieces.  Dave, my son, agreed on what he would take as his mementos of his dad.  I emptied the wallets, saving the pictures to have copied.  As I looked closely I saw a negative, which I had not noticed before.  I looked at it and did not recognize the person, a young man in uniform sitting on a bench in (it seemed) a very warm climate.  I didn’t look at it like a girlfriend. I thought it might be one of Will’s buddies in the war.

Next chapter!  I took the negative to WalMart to have it developed, and reluctantly gave it to them.  I was certain they would lose it.  Do people still use negatives?  During the next few weeks, I called several times to see if the photo was ready.  They couldn’t locate it.  Well, after six weeks of anxiety and thinking ‘it’s gone forever, I’ll never know…’ my aide and I decided to try once more.  Lo and behold, we watched the clerk as she took the envelope from a pile and gave it to us.  I waited until we got home so I could view it under my magnifier.  Well, tears came to my eyes as I saw my husband’s photo as a 22-year-old stationed in California (before he was in my life) smiling broadly, young, alive, and reaching out to us after all these years!
“Surprised By Joy” as Rev. Bob said!  Surprised by God’s gifts!

-Jean Souter
2016 Stewardship Award Recipient