Orphan Survival Stories Index |
I have attended a few weddings in my day. I was the "Best Man" at two or three of them. But the wedding that meant the most to me was the last wedding that I attended. It was the wedding of my orphan brother, David "Freddie" Hutchins.
David and I were raised together at the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida.
I have never been much of an emotional person. I guess the orphanage hardened my spirit when I was just a little boy. But David's wedding really broke my heart. That wedding had to be one of the saddest days of my life.
My wife and I drove from Brunswick, Georgia to the small church located in Callahan, Florida. When we walked into the church and I asked someone to direct me to where David was waiting, they pointed to a small room located near the back of the church. When I walked into the room, I saw two men sitting down on several chairs. I looked at them and stood there wondering where David was.
"Hi David," said my wife, as she walked toward one of the two men.
I just about fell over with disbelief. David had been battling cancer for several months. I had driven to his home every two weeks, for almost four months, to visit with him. Yet in just two weeks I could hardly recognize him.
When the wedding began David could not stand up by himself. He was supported, the entire time, by his new wife's brother, even when it came time to put the ring on Chris's finger. David did not have the strength to push the ring onto her finger. I sat there almost in a comatose state of mind. Tears flowing down my cheeks like a raging waterfall.
During the ceremony I watched David's frail body as it leaned and wobbled from side to side. I watched his jaundice, yellow face as he looked at his new wife and tried to smile. I closed my eyes and I remembered back to the little boy that he was when he and I were in the orphanage together. I thought about the times that his real father had come to the orphanage to see him, always appearing in a drunken state. He would pick David up by the throat and slap him across the face, over, and over, and over again. David would just smile and then look over at me. He was so proud that he had a real father.
I thought about all the times when he had been locked in the hallway closet for hours at a time, sometimes even for a day or two, the entire time receiving neither food nor water. I remember sliding crusts of bread underneath the bottom crack of the door so that he would have something to eat.
Every time that I would open my eyes and see David and Chris in the front of the church, I would see that innocent little boy. It took everything that I could do to keep from leaving the church.
About a week later David was taken to the hospital. I drove to Jacksonville to sit with him while Chris went to get something to eat in the hospital cafeteria. I stood beside his bed and we talked. Once in a while David would look up at me and say "Roger, I just want to die. It hurts so bad. I just want it to be over with."
I just stood there totally speechless, rubbing his arm, back and forth.
Late that evening I returned to Brunswick. Even though it is only an hour drive, it was one of the longest and loneliest drives that I have even taken.
The next morning my brother David died. Chris, his wife, the one who truly loved him, had never left his side.
It was many years before David started to settle down. He had worked many jobs during his lifetime. He had traveled thousands, upon thousands, of miles searching and trying to find himself. Even in the end, like most orphans, he was still not sure what it was that he was supposed to be searching for. That was always the mystery for most of us children from the orphanage. We searched most of our lives, high and low, always looking for something that was really invisible.
David and Chris had a beautiful home in a very peaceful neighborhood. Both had new cars. A new boat was in the process of being delivered when his cancer appeared from out of no where. David had just begun to realize that he had found what it was that he was searching for all those years.
Even though he and Chris had been together for a few years before they were married, David was always unsure of himself. He was not convinced that he was entitled to such a life. He was not sure that anyone could truly love him - that there was someone on this earth who would stand beside him, no matter what. David had never known the meaning of "unconditional love."
One day, while visiting David, we were sitting at the dining room table. I was drinking a cup of coffee. He looked up at me and he said "Roger, look at me. This is my chair. My very own chair. This is where Chris and I eat our dinner. For once in my life I have a real place to sit down. I think it's time for me to be happy."
"David, are you really happy?" I asked him.
"Chris makes me happy. But I am not sure if I make her happy. She has done a lot for me." He told me.
I just sat there staring at him.
"That's all gonna change as of today." He said, as he got up from his chair.
"Good for you," I told him, as we smiled at one another.
During the last five months of David's life, he and I discussed many things. He told me that he felt that he was really and truly loved by his church family, but even more than that - that he had found, and felt God's love through the people, the pastor and that gentle touch even on his death bed.
I am sure that when David left this world, he looked down and saw his wife standing there crying. I am also sure that he smiled and that in his heart, he finally realized that there were many people on this earth who really, truly loved David "Freddie" Hutchins.
David "Freddie" Hutchins
David "Freddie" Hutchins