While my mother attended Sunday school in a reformed Jewish synagogue in her youth, she and my grandparents could be best described as secular in outlook with little interest in religion. After graduating from high school, she attended college at the University of California, but had to drop out upon or shortly after her first year sometime in 1942 as a result of an incurable, deteriorating digestive health condition. She became an invalid confined to bed, unable to eat normally, and was on a rapid, downward trajectory as she lost weight and strength. Despite seeking help from the best medical specialists in San Francisco, none could be found that offered any hope of cure.
My grandparents had a successful millinery shop in the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco at the time. One early evening after the shop was closed for business, the bookkeeper came in to pick up the week’s receipt and purchase records. To her surprise, she found my grandfather seated in the back room leaning over his desk and weeping. When she tenderly inquired what was troubling him, he explained that his only daughter, my mom, was dying and that nothing could be done to help her. As I recall the details, this kind woman suggested that she had a book that could be of great help. Either that evening or sometime shortly afterward, she gave my grandfather a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and told him to give it to her and have her read it.
As I recall from my mother’s reminisces, she read Science and Health all afternoon with intensity and without interruption. At dinner time she realized that her strength and normal appetite returned. She came downstairs to the dining room and joined my grandparents in eating a normal meal for the first time in several months. She was cured and that was the end of the debilitating illness! I recall my mother telling me that my grandparents both wept with tears of joy at the dinner table that evening as they witnessed my mother’s complete healing. They all knew it was that the divine truth in that book that resulted in the healing.
This healing profoundly changed my mother, and she became interested in Christian Science. My mother’s healing was exactly like those testimonies in the “Fruitage” chapter of Science and Health in which healing resulted from reading the book. She soon began attending a local Christian Science church in San Francisco and became an active member sometime thereafter.
While my grandparents didn’t pursue any interest in Christian Science, I do recall that my grandmother had great respect for this healing religion. One time while riding in the family car with my mom and grandmother, I specifically recall a conversation in which my grandmother referred to a young child (who may have been a family member of a friend) who was quickly healed of a serious hand injury by vehemently denying its reality with a simple, childlike conviction. She exclaimed that this child was a “natural Christian Scientist”. Another time when I was young, I recall attending a Christian Science lecture at a local San Francisco movie theater with my mom and grandmother. I am certain that if my mother’s healing didn’t happen just as I have described, my grandmother would have had a very dismissive attitude toward Christian Science.
My dad had no interest in religion, but I do recall when I was about 5 years of age that he had an operation to remove kidney stones and being very ill-at-ease when he was away from home in the hospital. Some years later, my mom explained that his operation was unsuccessful, and his doctors wanted to repeat the operation. He was in such extreme discomfort that it only took gentle prodding to obtain his consent to prayerful treatment by a Christian Science practitioner; he was quickly healed and a second operation wasn’t necessary.
As a young child, I had no interest in attending Sunday School. I much preferred going on Sunday morning adventures with my dad. When I began to ask my parents “how do people know that there is a God?”, my mother knew it was time for me to attend. I reluctantly attended Sunday School at the 4th Church of Christ Scientist in San Francisco. I only regret that I didn’t immediately realize the tremendous blessing that this attendance represented at the time. Today, when I teach a Sunday School class, I love to tell the students that the best thing my mom ever did for me was to enroll me in a Christian Science Sunday School!