“A LIFETIME OF STORIES”

A few days ago I was remembering the good times and the hard times of the past.  I thought:  “I must be ancient.”  But, I know that’s not so.  Each morning I look in the bathroom mirror to shave and I ask myself:  “Do you see any change since yesterday?”  The answer is always “No” so I guess I must be as young as I feel.  I’ve been looking in that mirror for a long, long time.  Some of the things I remember:  Pearl Harbor attack, Korea, Vietnam, man walks on the moon, and all of the armed conflicts across the world.  I also remember the great events I have experienced.

I remember something that happened one Christmas when Pam was very ill.  She had made a friend while she was in the hospital in Houston.  This friend lived about 40 miles from Jasper.  Her church had a Christmas program each year:  “A Living Christmas Tree.”  The Christmas tree was built in tiers and reached almost to the ceiling of the church.  The choir filled the tiers and the star singer was perched at the top of the tree.  Great program.  We left the church and drove way out in the “boondocks” to a lighting display.  It was really great, especially for Lyndsey at her age.  But I didn’t really enjoy it.

My headlights began to dim on the way to the lighting display, so when we got there I turned off the ignition and tried to restart it.  CLICK!  CLICK!  CLICK!  It was not a real comforting sound.  I really, really don’t have the faintest idea of where I am. Now for a little background.  We were at the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi one year.  We love to sit on the beach or around the pool and “people watch.”  Pam and I have been doing this for a long time, and we really know how to do it.  There was a young couple with a small child.  They were very protective parents and if water splashed in the child’s face, both parents were in the wading pool.  They had no fear when it came to saving said child who didn’t realize he was in trouble.  This happened so many times that the dad finally dropped his shoulders, raised his arms to shoulder height, and let them dropped against his hips.  I think this means either “I have just about had it.” or “That’s all I Need.”

Now, back to the Christmas story.  After a few clicks, being the auto mechanic I am, I determined there was a problem.  Right?  Pam is ill and tired by this time and she probably wanted to hear some words of encouragement from her hero.  I am able to do that most of the time.  But, this was an exception.  I stepped out of the car, lifted my arms to shoulder height, let my hands drop to my sides, and said:  “THIS IS ALL I NEED!!!” 

We got help from the friend’s dad.  The alternator wasn’t working, so we drove back to the friend’s house in town.  That was a real fun trip too.  We would turn the headlights on long enough to get a reasonably idea where the road was and then drive from memory.  It wasn’t quite that bad.  We could almost see the road without lights.

We had fellowship with the friend’s family and the pastor of the church.  After some good food, we borrowed the friend’s car to drive home, with the intention of coming back the next day for my car.  It was already the next day.  It was after midnight. 

This was my first experience with a foreign auto with a manual transmission.  Manual transmissions I knew…..but nothing foreign.  It didn’t matter whether it was manual or automatic.  It was foreign.  When I was growing up it was either Chevrolet or Ford.  I eventually found the right place for the ignition key.  Next, I discovered the headlight switch.  If there was a dome light, I never found the switch.  By this time I was really having fun.  This was my first time to read the knob on a gear shift using the braille system.  You know.  The knob has little lines and letters on it. 

We made it home okay and I returned for my car the next morning before the family was awake. 

Sometimes we try to carry all of our burdens alone.  When Pam needed me that night, I let anger and frustration take control.  Isn’t it simple when we can look back and see what we should have done in such situations?  Instead of slapping my hands on my hips, I should have looked to heaven and said, “Lord, I need a little help here.”  I don’t remember at the time but I may have been angry with God for letting that happen to me.  I’ve learned over the years that God wants a major part in everything that happens to us.  He wants to be part of the hard times and the good times.

I do much better now, but this experience caught us at a time when we were really struggling.  I have learned much since that time.  The harder the experiences, the more our relationship with God grows.  So, thank God any way for the hard times as well as the good times.

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