This is not a typical story of triumph through faith or courage to overcome tragedy. It is not that dramatic. It starts in 1957 when I was born to an 18 year-old mother and a 21 year-old father in the Chitwood Clinic, located above the Belk Department Store, in Wytheville, Virginia. My mother was not a high school graduate. My father did receive his diploma, but only after he and my uncle threatened to throw the principal from a second-floor window.
Though, money was scarce, we had plenty. My grandparents owned a small farm and the table was always full. Later when they grew old and sick, they came to live with us in a small cinder-block basement. We lived there ten years until my parents could afford to finish the rest of the house. Six people sharing two bedrooms might seem difficult, but we never noticed. By some standards, we were poor – we just didn’t know it.
I grew up in church. I learned to love the Lord. My other grandfather guarded convicts by day, sunglasses and shotgun, but on nights and weekends, he was a Baptist preacher. He was the most dedicated Christian I ever knew. I went to the altar, at ten, to accept Jesus as my Savior.
I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I had no one to tell me what it would be like or help me along the way. I was searching for purpose. God was there. I became a teacher and coach. Teaching was fun. I loved the excitement of Friday nights. I loved being with my friends and often that involved alcohol.
On my own, I completely mismanaged my life and I was certain that I would grow old, alone, and empty. God was there. I met a waitress. She made me ask three times for a date. She had the most beautiful eyes. She had two children and three jobs. We added two more children. We agreed, very early, that if we ever became a family, there would be no hyphenated designations like half-sister or step-brother. We would be one family, everyone all the way in. She made it clear, we would be in church. I loved it. Drinking stopped. Friends changed. We weren’t invited to parties anymore, but we had more fun.
As the years passed, I went back to the altar to re-affirm what I had decided as a boy. The hardest part of salvation isn’t accepting the gift. It is dealing with the guilt and turning away from the sin. Six months later, I went back again, just to be sure. There is only one thing we must get right in this life. I wanted a double-dose.
It would be nice to tell you we have lived a charmed life since then. That would not be true. We have endured job changes, moves, sickness, and death. We are sinners. We do the wrong thing. We are just forgiven. We have been given grandchildren, laughter, sunshine, companionship, and love. We are the same as everyone else except for that Wonderful Savior who has chosen to be with us.
Now, here we are. Our hair has turned gray. Our kids have moved out. Yet, He is still here. We know there is trouble ahead. We know we can’t handle it when it comes. He can.
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”
― John Wayne
Friends describe me
big, intimidating, a teddy bear
Computer baseball, all sports.
Best advice I ever received
My worst subject in school
If I weren't a professor, I would
Wealth, Poverty and Politics by Thomas Sowell, Vince: A Personal Biography of Vince Lombardi by Michael O'brien
Eddie and the Cruisers Part II, Jeremiah Johnson, Chism
Green Mountain Breakfast Blend
Nobody knows I
do all the grocery shopping at my home.
My latest accomplishment
Fullerton Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2018-2019
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