His Hand Upon My Head

Written by: Rev. David Slauenwhite

His visits were always exciting to us kids. Empty pop bottles were stored until he arrived. Then we’d load them onto my cart to be pulled by him, surrounded by us, to be cashed in for candy. In the early 1950’s, that was big in this small boy’s life. I’ve never forgotten walking to the store, for he was deformed in his feet resulting in a slow and awkward gait. He was my grandfather.

He had no wealth, no car, no importance in his community, no remarkable traits, no special job, no accomplishments. As I understand it, he got his house, with no running water or electricity, by moving in to care for its dying occupant, who rewarded him with the property at the end. Though forgotten by his community, my father gave me memories of him.

As a ten-year old, my father played poker with his Dad and neighbors. The home was known for Saturday night parties to forget the poverty and pain of scratching out an existence during the war. During the two world wars, our name had changed from Schlagintweit to Slauenwhite along with a claim that we were of Dutch origin. My father was shocked to learn later in life that our ancestors came from Deutschland (Germany) via Holland to Nova Scotia. Being Deutsche was not the same as being Dutch.

My grandfather worked hard. On deformed feet he walked to the mill to labor for the pittance given in those days. Somehow, he saved enough to buy a radio, the only one in the community. Proud to possess such a wondrous instrument, he would open his window wide, turning up the volume so neighbours could hear and envy him. Everybody has one sin that so easily besets!

One day a Pentecostal preacher came to hold evangelistic meetings in a rented room. Few came and no one was converted. Discouraged, he decided on a last meeting. If none responded, he would leave town. My grandparents were Lutheran, though they never went to church. In God’s province, they went that night and my grandfather became the reason for the meetings to continue and for a church to be established. His conversion also moved the meetings to his house. Saturday night poker became pre-Sunday prayer meetings. For some years the church met and grew in my grandfather’s home. From the Slauenwhite family, several in the next three generations became Pentecostal ministers.

But I have one memory of my grandfather, Harold Slauenwhite, that is very personal and meaningful. I was ten years old. Startled, I watched my father cry as he hung up the phone and quickly gathered us to drive to Liverpool. I knew Grampa was sick but now it was serious. Arriving, we children joined our cousins in my aunt’s home. Soon, I was taken to my grandfather’s house. He wanted to see me. He was in a bed set up in the dining room. His family, gathered around him, was crying. He was calm. I stood beside Grampa. He spoke with me about his pride in me, his love for me, his hopes about me. Then he placed his hand upon my head. With his other hand reaching up, he prayed and pronounced his blessing upon me. Never have I forgotten it! He died singing, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.” Neither will I.

David is happily married to Carol, two children, a daughter-in-law and three grandkids all of whom are now teenagers. He comes from a rich Pentecostal heritage from both his father and mother’s sides. David and Carol have pastored churches mostly in the Maritimes, one in Ontario and was a missionary to Zambia. David also served as the district superintendent for fifteen years. Grad of the old Eastern Pentecostal Bible College and Dallas Bible College; with some studies taken at Acadia. David enjoys reading, classical music, walking along shores of lakes and ocean, playing rook, he loves ice cream (which is bad since he’s a diabetic), and now as a senior he specializes in having naps.