By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As people are winding down their gift-buying for the Christmas season, one gift for many of us is one that was a bit early.
Much like the birth of the Christ child in humble surroundings, so was the birth of this female child just three days before Christmas. Her life since has resembled that of His testimony - not so much as with the prestige or controversy that the Savior brought to the inhabitants of the Earth, but one of humble submission to God’s guidance and direction.
She follows the scriptures in her daily activities, lending her heart out to anyone in need. But, with that help also comes conditions that are expected to be upheld. Although never raising her voice, reprimands are clear-cut and firm, but always overladen with love and concern.
She has dedicated her life on Earth to service for others, whether it be in her church or her community, with family or with friends. Although a resume might lack in her public employment, this woman has always worked. Her resume includes raising her own four children, doing bookkeeping for Hedrick Hardwood Floors - a business begun by her husband Bill, serving for years as director of Sinking Creek Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School and directing the Christmas plays, Sunday School clerk, and Sunday School teacher. Had she ever sought public work, she would have been an outstanding business woman and her dedication to her church activities would easily win her the Volunteer of the Year award, hands down.
Although Dessie Caldwell Hedrick will celebrate her 81st birthday this Sunday, Dec. 22, she still cannot be termed as “old.” It was comical, even until a few years ago, that Dessie would say she had to go visit someone and “have to take care of the old people,” even though she was past 70 years old herself. But Dessie has always been young at heart.
Even now, she cooks breakfast for her family each morning as well as for family gatherings for birthdays and other special occasions. Even in her early 70s, she traveled to visit family and friends, driving those without transportation to their needed appointments or visiting the sick. It has been her joy to go back into the wooded area behind her house to enjoy the beauty of nature and while others took refuge inside their homes with air conditioning or fans, Dessie would be outside, basking in “this beautiful day the Lord has given us.”
The sound of her mini-van traveling up the road serves as timely as an alarm clock on Sundays, marking the times when church is ready to start and again, when the services are over. As she drives en route to church her attention is focused on the roadway, but if she notices someone outside their home she smiles and waves.
If she ever stops to visit, even in passing, you can rest assured that the conversation will not end without her classic comment, “I’d like to see you in church.”
As her night vision decreased over the past several years, she has sacrificed attending Wednesday night services. But while she is at home during those times, she is inevitably reading her Bible or doing something that exemplifies her faith in God.
She has served as a role model to family and friends, always friendly and caring. Although she can be credited for giving birth to four children, she has served as a mother figure to nieces, nephews, cousins and even her brothers and in-laws. To try and count the number of good deeds that she and Bill — her husband of just 10 months short of 50 years — would be impossible. But the legacy that she has carried throughout her long life is the same — one of steadfast faith in God and believing in the good in people, intermingled with common sense and solid advice.
Whether the timing of her birth so near to that of the Christ child is a factor in her personality could perhaps be debated by great scholars and philosophers, but it is obvious that the choices that she has made in life have undoubtedly been influenced by the Savior to which her life has been dedicated.
Happy Birthday, Dessie! Your birth is a pre-Christmas present that has continued to give to the many people who have the pleasure of knowing you.