Before Jesus came to the Litton house—we learned to speak of those days as B.C. (Before Christ)—my father was a hard fighting, hard drinking sailor. One day Dad came home under the influence of strong spirits and found my mother rolling out biscuit dough for supper. Dad yanked open the door of our short refrigerator and reached over it to grab yet another longneck beer. He popped the top off and took a deep swallow. My mother, frustrated by his drinking, suggested he go light on the booze. In a rare and very stupid moment, my father backhanded my mom. He then staggered into the bedroom and fell into their bed. Within moments she could hear him snoring. The sting of this slap could not compare to the devastation her woman's heart felt. I mean, she was cooking the sorry cuss's biscuits and he hit her.
My mother is not only a fantastic cook, she is an amazing seamstress. She quickly pulled the sheet tight around my dad and stitched it into a human cocoon. He looked like Lazarus lying in his tomb. Then she went into the kitchen and found her rolling pin. I don't remember the exact words she used, but they were something poetic, along the lines of, "You sorry S.O.B., you may have just gotten a sandwich out of me but I am about to get a meal out of you!" Then the beating began. Shouting, cussing and pleading, he was helpless to defend himself, bound up in that sewn sheet. Dad passed out only to come to from time to time with a terrible headache. He later said that when he woke up he wasn’t sure if he’d died and gone to hell.
The next day my father reported back to his ship and promptly checked himself into sickbay. Upon seeing this bruised and battered chief boatswains mate, the doctor said, "Litton, what in the world happened to you?"
"Oh, doc, I got in a fight last night with a bunch of Marines."
Diagnosed with a very bad hangover, and a well deserved domestic butt kicking, my dad learned a lesson. Southern women may be sweet and they may be great cooks, but they are resourceful when it comes to abuse. A stitch in time and a rolling pin can do more damage than the United States Marines.
In the remaining years my father gained a new respect for my mom and never mistreated her again. After Jesus came into the Litton house, He routed the demons and healed a host of painful memories. Today my mother still cooks for my dad, and we still laugh when we tell that story. I was a little boy that hot summer night in a Navy housing project, but I’m glad Jesus came and never left the Litton house.
(My parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. A living miracle!)