The Early Years
According to my mother I was born in Sunbury, PA on a very rainy morning, and she was
hoping I would be born soon because she was very tired and wanted to rest. It was September 27, 1942,and I was born when doctor's still made house calls to deliver babies. So I was born in our house, and I don't know the address.
You can read the history of Sunbury and and other pertinent facts here.
I don't remember anything about the first eight years. I know now that I had an older sister Janice and an older brother Paul who was born with cerebral palsy. I also know now that my father, Paul Lester Shaffer, was a truck driver who was never around except to visit my mother, sire another baby and go back on the road. Beside me, my mom and dad had five other children together before they finally divorced. After me Donna was born, then David and finally Michael who was three months old before mom adopted him out because she couldn't keep up with all of us and work a job! To the best of my knowledge, my father contributed little, if anything, to our family in the way of financial support. I guess I'll never know one way or the other, but his lifestyle strongly suggests that he did nothing.
My first clear memory begins when I was eight years of age. My father decided that he didn't want my brother Paul and I anymore. I don't know how he picked us. Perhaps it was random
or perhaps he had some specific reason, but whatever it was I never found out. He took Paul and I in his truck without telling our mother, and drove to Michigan where he dropped us off with a family that didn't want us and left, never to return. I don't have any memory of how Paul or I felt then but I am sure we were frightened and hurt inside. I know that I carried hatred for my father in my heart for 23 years from that time, and thought how much I would like to severely beat him if he ever came to my door.
Anyway, there we were in Michigan far from our home and mom in Pennsylvania and with no
idea what was going to happen to us since the family we were left with didn't want us and treated us in a way to let us know it. Shortly after that a couple came from another place in Michigan
and took me with them because they wanted a son of their own. Somehow our mom found
out where Paul was and he was able to return home. It took my mom about a year to find me
and that year was a special one for me. I was living with people who really wanted me and cared about me, I was the only child in the house, it was on a farm, and the people's names were Pearl and Bernard Good which was quite appropriate because I remember them as "good" people.
They were kind and a little strict but it was a good life. They were Catholic and so they sent
me to a Catholic school, and the only thing I remember about that was when I was being bad the
nuns would hit me with hangers made of wood. I didn't want to return home to the same poverty, crowded quarters, and struggle my family always lived under, but when mom found me the Goods drove me from Michigan back to our house in Pennsylvania and life picked back up where it
left off a year earlier.
This is my older brother Paul who was born with cerebral palsy. In the picture above he is the second person from the top in age order. Janice is the oldest and I came in third. Paul had to learn to how to walk because he couldn't do it at first, and later he had braces that would support him while he learned
to walk. He was put in the Good Shepherd's home in Allentown, PA for a while and learned how to walk without braces. He would walk with his toes turned inwards, but he could walk nonetheless.
A big highlight in Paul's life was when he had the opportunity to present a picture he drew of actress Debbie Reynolds to her personally. She was an actress he had a crush on, so he was very excited about it. We still have a picture of that presentation.
Paul had a rough life, as you can imagine. Some of the kids in our generation would mock him or make fun of him, and one time we were out trick or treating and they took away his candy. As he got older he got bitter for a while and allowed things to make him that way, and then finally he began to enjoy life near the end. I spoke to him about the Lord, but to my knowledge he never turned to Jesus for salvation. I really hope I am wrong on that point because he suffered so much in this life. Paul died suddenly in Florida where he was living with our younger brother David and his wife. Our children grew to love him, and they miss him even though it's been a while since he died. It is a sad thing to me that he could have had so much more happiness in life if only he had turned his life over to the Lord. So many other people suffer needlessly for the same reason. I pray someone who reads this would benefit from what happened to my brother and trust Christ to fill your life with his loving care. We don't know how much time we have left. Receiving Salvation from God is the most important thing anyone could ever do in their life!
If you haven't done that by now, please, for your
own sake, please ask God to forgive you today!