Rose Hayes Swope: Lovely! That is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Rose. She is as beautiful as a rose in full bloom. That might be because she allow Christ to work in her and He formed every petal as a work of art. I also see gentleness, acceptance, love, compassion, empathy, feistiness and even more love. I am blessed to have her in my life. Thank you Rose for loving me.
Eastern Kentucky after the depression: “My journey as a Christian” 1940-Present
Mother was an Irish Catholic and married outside the church to a Scottish Baptist. The nearest church was 25 miles away which was a hard travel in those days. My dad was an “old regular Baptist”. They were opposite extremes. The old regular Baptist didn’t have bible school or anything for children so there were Missionary Baptist that would come into town and did bible schools at the schools during the week. And they would have bible school on Sundays and pick us up in a van and during the summer they would also have Sunday school. I did that until the 8th grade, I didn’t convert to Christ but I believed in prayer. Mom, being a Catholic, relied on prayer and so I believed in it too. I remember once, I dropped a key in the creek and it was stuck between some rocks. I had worked, worked and worked to get it and it would not come out. I remember getting out on the bank of the creek and praying and when I went back it came out real easy. So I really believed in prayer after that.
My dad continued to go to church but because of the distance they only meet about every 3 weeks and didn’t have anything for children. My mom would go with him but they never discussed with anyone that she was Catholic. Mom would sit there and listen to them disgrace the Catholic Church and never would say anything. She was a meek but knowledgeable lady. She came from a family that had money because her father was an engineer on the railroad. Both her parents were dead by the time she was 25 so she would have to go to work, instead of going to college. She worked at a bank which was progressive for those times. When the brother that she lived with in Summerset got married, she left and came to Lexington to work. She worked for a nice clothing store and loved clothing when she saw that Mary Breckenridge (pioneered in mid-wifery) needed a secretary. People would come from England to Eastern Kentucky to learn to become mid-wives. My mother said nurses would ride horse back to the homes and deliver the babies. After about 18 months my mom came by bus to Knott County and my father met her on horseback and that was the beginning of my story.
My dad built our home, a modest log cabin, on the farm where he was raised on and all it cost him was my mom’s last $25, which paid for the stone mason to build the fire place and well. After I finished grade school my mother bought an old typewriter and got her typing skills back up and applied for a job at the extension office so that my brother and I could go to the boarding school. Without her willingness to do that I would not
have had the privileges’ that I had. And that was a real turning point in my life. My class mates and I were like a big family and we learned a lot of things . We were able to have jobs for about 10 hours a week and I learned a lot of different trades and some from the Irish heritage. My mom’s parents were married on the boat coming over to the U.S.A and they were Scotch/Irish.
I applied for Berea College and I was boarder line being able to attend. In high school, I wanted to study home economics but my mother wanted me to study Latin. But I saw it as a dead language so I didn’t see any point in memorizing it. I got a D in that class and that hurt my score to get into Berea College. The woman that ran the boarding school fought for me and I was able to get into Berea College. I graduated high school in the summer of 1958 and I had to take a course in English. That was another turning point in my life. I still had not accepted Christ but I would go to church on Sundays at the Methodist church. I’m made up of all these doctrines, a little bit Baptist, a little bit Catholic and little bit Methodist, then later the Christian Church. That summer there was a girl at Berea taking a summer coarse. Her parents had attended college there but she couldn’t attend because they made too much money but she would come take courses during the summer. There was a revival going on at the Baptist church and she influenced me to go and that right there is where I became a Christian. God had it planned out for me. [I sit there as tears are running down her face as she remembers that moment] All the way through college I wanted to be an extension agent. My clothing teacher wanted me to go to teach at Pine Mountain Settlement School but the school was in nowhere land and I didn’t want to go there but I had the opportunity to go back to Hindman High school, where I attended and teach. But I really knew that teaching wasn’t what I wanted to do so I graduated with enough points standing to be able to get into graduate school at UK. I got a job at the extension office, which is the job I really wanted. But this didn’t come without hard choices. I had to choose from 2 different counties one being Lee County and one being Powell County. Of course Mother had been praying through all of this. I found myself a place to live, which was also a hard choice, but found a room to rent in a home that belonged to a woman in town. Because of her I am in the Christian Church. Beulah was like a second mother. Every day I would come home from work and she would have tea fixed. We’d sit down and she’d ask, “How was your day?” and I would tell her. I would pray and write down everything that was bothering me and put it by my head board at night and then I could sleep. Every morning when I would get up I would pray and things got better. Things continued getting better! I had an old Chevy II but it was in bad repair so I purchased a Turquoise Oldsmobile and I thought I was flying high. This was the 2nd car I ever owned. Every morning the girls and I would walk across the hall to have coffee. I was sitting back at my desk and this guy comes in. I didn’t know who he was so I asked “Can I help you Sir?” and He said “Yes, I’m Bill Swope, you can help me by giving me a date.” I said “I don’t know you Sir!” [As she laughs at the memory. And we both agree he was bold!] And so I said I would have to check my calendar and get back with him. I told the girls and they encourage me to go out with him. So I decided to go out with him but I was going to pay for my own way and I would have no obligations to him. The only thing to do at that time was to go to the Natural Bridge and go square dancing and that began our relationship.
Shortly after I went to Detroit for some training on how to deal with inner city and poverty kids and while I was gone he sent me flowers and gifts, he was really romancing me and awaiting my return. That July we would be married. We didn’t go to church for a while because he didn’t go to church and later I had a miscarriage. That is when I was asked to come back to the Christian Church and we started going there. I taught Sunday school and 5 years later we had our son. I was commuting between Powell Co and Lexington for 13 years and then the Lord had another plan for me. My job moved from Clark County, where we built an excellent program at the Extension office. God keeps working things out. I was able to move my mom who was failing mentally close to me so I could care for her.
Bill worked as a nurse in the day and then ran the boat business at night. Our son still has that business in Winchester. Bill retired when our son was 9. He would move boats from state to state and one trip he had a cerebral hemorrhage. I was sitting in the chair praying over some hard issues and I had a vision of him going over in a ravine so I stopped praying and asked the Lord, “Don’t let that not be the answer” and then I got the call. Bill had the hemorrhage and had been swerving on and off the road at the same time I was praying. [Tears running down her face as she remembers] I then took a cargo plane to Las Vegas to be with him. The doctors didn’t give much hope but the Lord continued to answer prayers.
We came back to Winchester and while I worked the men from church came to sit with him. He was in and out of consciousness for 2 weeks. He woke up and said “I’m Home!”
But he never was quiet the same. He had many other medical issues and several near death experiences. We would pass the time by me throwing him a kiss and him throwing me one back. That seemed to give him peace. We just couldn’t give up on him. “I’m a control freak. But God healed me of that. I now know I’m not in control, I know who is in control”. He has humbled me! I told my son one day that God put me through all this just to humble me. Instead of taking him to Hospice we were blessed with a nurse to come to the home. God kept taking care of things. The cancer had gone to his bones but the Lord provided what was needed to keep him fairly comfortable. We were married 47 ½ years.
That has been 3 years and I am still healing. But God is good! Shortly after Bill’s death, I talked with Vern Mohr and that is when the Care Team got started. We would provide food and care for the people at church. Vern was the Leader and I was the food chairperson.
I have lost 7 members of my family in the last several years and it’s been hard. But my son and my grandchildren are still here. I thank God, He still has me here for a purpose. [Tears still streaming] I have a journal where I keep a list of those I know who are in need and I pray for them daily.
I now do watercolor painting.
This is something that I have always wanted to do. One summer before my husband died I went to UK and took a drawing and painting class. I meet a friend in class and we became very close. I have since lost her to cancer also. I’ve been painting for 10 years. [More tears] [We discussed briefly those tears. Those tears are for cleansing. Then she began encouraging me. She shared that she believed that I had a God given gift of empathy, not everyone has that gift, she says.] I know what my gifts are and I’m happy doing it. It’s clear to me. It’s listening, service, caring and counseling and yours are too [she says to me], I can tell.
I recently was able to go on a life dream vacation to South America and the Panama Canal. That is a place that my father traveled and always spoke of. I dreamed and God made it happen. While I was on the cruise the locals would ask, “Where are you from?” and I would answer, “I’m just a poor girl from the mountains”.
God humbled me once and I don’t want to be humbled again. [And she laughed] I know where my roots are. I know who I am. When we are professional and people look up to us, we get caught up. And when I was no longer in that position, I had to find myself. I feel comfortable in my skin now. I know whose I am, I know who I worship, and I know what I believe. Every morning I just say, “God whatever you want me to do. Whatever and where ever”.
One of the things that I have always said to myself a lot through all the times of struggle is this…..
“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into heart of the sea and though its waters roar and foam and the mountain quack with their surging.” Ps 46:1-3
I would say this over and over and over again. I also memorized…….
“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God and he will give you peace that passes all understanding. He will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
We get so anxious when we are control freaks. “Why can’t I fix this?” “Why can’t I control this?” And I learned it’s not in my power, it’s in His power. And He has to work through us. We are his hands and his feet and his mouth piece.
[We discussed God’s timing being perfect. We have to stop trying to control it. Make things happen when we want it to happen. Stop trying to always fix things.]
I’ve learned that I can’t change things. I can’t change people but I can pray for them. God has the plan!
I am moving on………………whatever God has planned for me next! I still remind myself daily who’s in control of my life. Christ who gave His life for me, and by His grace I have a home in Heaven.
Humbly, Rose Hayes Swope
Lord I thank you for putting Rose in my path. Be with her daily as she serves others and encourages them to draw closer to You. Amen!