By Judy Brandon: Local columnist
A former student of mine who was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base told me this personal story. I tell it again because many readers have found it to be a story of inspiration.
Auntie Mille, a single mother with two children, struggled to make her meager income meet her little family’s needs in the late 1950s in south Louisiana. Mille’s sister was killed in a car accident, leaving five boys and three girls motherless.
Mille took the children in and raised them as her own. Life was difficult for this African-American woman. It was quite a commitment to take in these children.
She had little but assumed the position of legal guardian and began to stretch her few resources to be fair to all the children.
An unexpected surprise came one day. An insurance company notified her that her sister had a life insurance policy. Auntie Mille, now the children’s legal guardian, collected the money.
What would most people do with that money if they had taken in eight children? Use it to add two more bedrooms and another bath? Use the money to pay for the extra food?
Auntie Mille made no excuses. She collected the insurance money and invested it, with little knowledge of portfolios or money markets. The money grew over the years.
In the meantime, the children shared bedrooms, couches or mattresses for sleeping. They passed down dresses and pants from child to child. Shoes were resoled with cardboard. Mille kept them in school, and each Sunday the crew took up an entire pew in church.
When the first boy of the eight children graduated from high school and then married, Auntie Mille handed him an envelope. “Here is a little money to help you get started,” she said.
The young man thought it might be a small cash gift. He thankfully took the envelope and opened it. Inside was a bankbook. On the account balance line was written $20,000.
Then when each child, including her own, left home or got married, she gave each $20,000.
My student friend told me he had married, enlisted in the military and put the money away for his own future children.
Auntie Mille could have spent the money to make her life easier. Yet, she was a good steward, handling the money wisely and fairly. Because of Mille’s wisdom, a gift from the mother the children barely knew made a difference in their lives years later.
God requires us to do the right thing. “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
By taking in the children, she showed mercy. By not touching the insurance money for herself, she acted justly. As she raised those children in the midst of difficult times, she walked humbly with God.
Auntie Mille never won an Oscar, or made the headlines of any major newspaper. But what will stand the test of time — best supporting actress in a Hollywood film or best supporting actress in real life?
Auntie Mille’s award will be given and recognized center-stage in eternity. What accolades await her?
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: