God gives strength in times of despair

I wrote about this story several years ago. It is a story I heard in my teen years, but I do not remember its origin. I found some of my scribbled notes about this story that were packed away in a box of old correspondence. So here is the story.

Wynton and Mary were high school sweethearts. After graduation, they married and soon Wynton was called into the Army during World War II. Christmas time came and Wynton was in Europe somewhere and Mary back in the United States in their hometown. It was December, two weeks before Christmas and Mary was saddened she would spend their first Christmas apart.

Then one day in December, Mary received the devastating news that Wynton had been killed in the war. Mary was broken with an all consuming grief. She faced planning a funeral at Christmas time.

People began arriving at her home to offer their sympathies. Yet Mary in her despair found it draining to visit with the scores of people who flooded the house. So one afternoon, Mary decided to get away from the all the visitors. She slipped out for a walk in the cold afternoon rain, heading toward the old bridge down the road.

Many times during her childhood she had played on the banks of the river with her friends and watched as the bridge separated to let boats through. The bridge had been a stable in her childhood and something about it took her to a different place of long ago. On this day it seemed a temporary escape from the heartache and sadness that engulfed her.

She walked the road to the bridge although a light rain was falling around her that late afternoon. Once at the bridge, she leaned over and looked at the water far below. For an instant she though that death might not be such a bad option.

But just as those thoughts entered her mind, she felt someone near her. It was a man dressed in the standard uniform of the bridge tenders. She had seen that uniform many times through the years.

He said: “Come my child and talk with me. You need to come in out of the rain.”

He led her back to the bridge house, made her coffee and they talked. His kind manner led her to tell him about Wynton and their short months together. Mary told him of her sadness and despair and her seemingly inability to live on without Wynton.

He listened and finally said, “I understand your grief but the Lord will strengthen you.”

He walked her to the road and she headed for home.

On her way home, Mary noticed that her outlook seemed different. Her spirits were lifted and her despair was replaced by a new peace and new hope.

Wynton’s funeral services were over and days passed. The New Year came. One day Mary decided to go back to the bridge and tell the bridge tender she was doing much better.

When she got to the bridge, she asked the foreman about the man. The foreman could not place the man as an employee so Mary described him.

“We don’t have anyone by that description,” he said. “In fact, according to my records, there was no one that worked on the night.”

“But it was the night it rained … we drank coffee in this bridge house.” Mary said.

“I don’t know ma’am,” he said, “but no one worked that night.”

Mary remarried in time and through the years passed on that story to her children and grandchildren.

Each time she told her story she said: “I never found out who he was … but I am sure of who sent him.”

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:

cbrandon@plateautel.net