Magazine Article

A Twist of Faith

No one has ever prayed for me

Phyllis Cochran
A Twist of Faith
Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Horns beeped. People yelled. “Get out of the road, Lloyd!”

Lloyd Harred’s family had serviced generations of townspeople’s automobiles. Seniors enjoyed reminiscing with him, but some of us younger women, working locally, found Lloyd distasteful. We went out of our way to avoid him. He embarrassed us with his loud declarations of adoration. His kindness might have been better received in a more suitable location than in the middle of the sidewalk on the main street where everyone knows everyone in our small town.

I quickened my pace when I spotted the grungy-looking man darting across the street toward me. Newly wed, I certainly did not care to hear Lloyd’s frivolous remarks. Hurrying up the walkway to the office did not deter him. I smelled oil even before I felt his arm around my shoulder. His well-lubricated clothing always left a lingering odor.

“How’s my favorite girl today?” Lloyd inquired.

“Fine,” I said rather abrasively as I squirmed from beneath his embrace and raced into the office building.

Lloyd, close behind, grabbed the door and followed me inside. He looked around the lunchroom for other women to annoy; finally he was asked to leave.

In His Defense

Later I recounted several of these incidents to my mother-in-law.

“Lloyd means no harm,” she said. “He’s a good boy.”

“Boy?” Lloyd was in his 30s, but my mother-in-law viewed him like one of her sons.

“Lloyd has had a hard life,” she added. “His father died when he was young. Lloyd was forced to quit school in order to take over the family business and support his mother and younger siblings. Did you know that Lloyd sent his younger brother, Tony, to college?”

“No, but I know Tony is a well-respected businessman.”

“If it wasn’t for Lloyd,” my mother-in-law asserted, “Tony wouldn’t be where he is today.”

No matter what my mother-in-law said in his defense, it did not change my opinion of the auto mechanic. I was young, impressionable, and overly concerned about what others might think of me. Lloyd was bothersome. To befriend him would cause gossip; so I ducked out of sight and outran him whenever possible.

A Softened Heart

Years passed. My husband and I were raising children. Lloyd married a lovely woman and became a father. Occasionally our paths crossed. Lloyd’s style never varied. Even in the middle of the grocery store with my young children, Lloyd came plodding down the aisle to greet me with a hug.

A few years later our middle child, Susan, at 9 years of age fell ill and died of a brain tumor. Wading through grief, I experienced deep sorrow. I turned to Bible scriptures, where I encountered Jesus and received Him into my life. Crying out to God for help brought comfort. I began to feel compassion for hurting people.

One of these people was Lloyd Harred. He met with mishaps and found himself struggling. “Lloyd may lose his business,” the townspeople explained.

“Lloyd offended me, but he doesn’t deserve this, Lord.” I began praying for the man with the scuffed-up boots and soiled clothing.

Praying for Lloyd

One spring I caught a glimpse of Lloyd in the parking lot. This time I did not outrun Lloyd, but allowed him to catch up to me. He threw his grubby hand around my shoulder. I did not move away. Before Lloyd could speak, I said, “Lloyd, I know what it’s like to face tough times.”

“I know you do,” he responded sympathetically.

Looking at this man’s grease-smeared face, I said, “Lloyd, God has taken me through some difficult places these past months. Now I’m praying for you.”

Speechless, Lloyd seemed transfixed by my words. His eyes filled up. “No one has ever prayed for me,” he said, walking quickly away.

Whenever I saw Lloyd on the main street in town, he tooted and waved. I would ask God to watch over him and his family.

Years later my other daughter, Kristen, now grown, dropped by my home after working in the local bank. “Do you know Lloyd Harred?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I’ve known him for years.”

I was surprised she didn’t remember Lloyd. I wondered what kind of a scene he might have created at the bank. Was she disturbed by this man’s behavior, as I had been at her age?

Kris told me her story. “Lloyd Harred came into the bank this morning,” she said. “I was waiting on him when he asked me my maiden name. Then he asked me the names of my mother and father. When I mentioned your name, he started to cry. Tears ran down his face. I didn’t understand. Then Lloyd said, ‘Your mother prays for me.’ ”

Phyllis Cochran

Phyllis Cochran is a published author and freelance writer living in Winchendon, Massachusetts.