I grew up In Haworth, NJ, a quiet suburban community located near the New York border. We were a typical family who lived in a comfortable, good-sized home with a spacious back yard. We were also a church-going family and my father Harold Cundall made a respectable living working for ATT. However, in July of 1944, my father was diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent away to recover in a TB sanitarium in Lake Kushaqua, NY in the Adirondacks. Little did we realize that he would remain there for the next two years and three months. As a family, the question would naturally arise, ”How will we survive with our father no longer working and providing for us?” As a young girl of 15, I knew enough about life that it was a major cause for concern for my mother and family. But to make matters worse, when the doctors came to our house to examine us the following month, they discovered that I had a shadow on my lung. Tuberculosis is never healed, only arrested, and because of that they ordered mandatory bed rest for me for an indefinite period of time in my home.
My everyday routine was simple: a two-hour treatment from 10 AM to noon, time out for lunch, and then another one from 1 to 3 PM, lying motionless flat on my bed. This would go on for more than ten months. I was only allowed to get up from my bed to utilize the bathroom. My mother would bring me three meals a day and leave them with me and go immediately downstairs so that her health was not jeopardized. It could have been a very depressing and discouraging experience. But the Lord was with me and I made the most of it. Even though I ate by myself, I never felt alone and used my time in the best way I could. I would listen to the radio and keep up with the latest news and sports programs of the day. I would play my record player and memorized words and music all day long. One time, I made a balsam airplane, using a large piece of plywood as a table top where I did all my work. I read every mystery book that was ever printed. And from my bed, I would look out from my third-floor window and watch the clouds and weather or carry on a conversation with the neighborhood kids who came by to chat from below. I was happy, busy, and content and I never complained. The Lord was good to me and it was a good reminder that we don’t need a lot of things to make us happy – the Lord is our portion.
One of the things I loved to do was to write. I wrote regularly to my father in the sanitarium. I would also write to my cousin in the Marines and to other friends and family. My greatest enjoyment I had however was writing to someone that I had never met. Before I was confined, we had a pen pal writing assignment in our school in which the whole class was given the name and address of a person who lived somewhere else in the country. I wrote to a boy by the name of Aubrey. At first, I never heard back from him, and when I did it was only on occasion. But when I was recovering in my room, I began writing to him again on a more regular basis. I had a lot of time on my hands and I wrote many, many times hoping for the time when we could actually meet face to face. My writing to him never stopped and in the spring of 1945, after more than 10 months in “solitary,” I was released to resume normal activities. I kept writing to Aubrey while he served in our nation’s military. When he had a three-day pass in December, 1945, we met for the very first time and fell in love, although that process had already begun through the mail. We later married and raised a family of two daughters here in Haworth, where we lived until his home call on January 1, 2016.
During that time of testing in my life, I learned the very valuable lesson that “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). The Lord faithfully provided for us during this time in our family history. I also learned that despite the hardships that all of us may go through, that the Lord can bring good out of it as He did in my situation, by providing me with a husband through a friendship that was cultivated from my room. •