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Farms and old green trucks…

It’s been a productive weekend. I hope it continues into the weekdays. Since they took my PICC line out I’ve experienced the freedom to sweat like everyone else. Believe it or not, I enjoy it. I get to work outside in the garden and go to the stables most days. I’m close enough to the house that I go in a cool off when it gets too much.

There’s something about the physical labor that calms my spirit and reconnects me to the things that are truly important in life. I pray a lot when I’m doing manual labor. We have a friend who calls it ‘dirt therapy’. I’m sure many of you understand.

I was telling Margaret this morning that I’ve been unusually nostalgic lately. It seems to be directly proportionate to the gratitude I feel. The more gratitude I have, the more reminiscent I get. I’ve recalled memories I haven’t thought of in years and I’ve noticed changes more acutely. Maybe it’s simply coming up on the ‘Big 6-0’. The reason isn’t important. It’s good to be reflective at times. My wife says it’s just because I’m getting old. I didn’t hesitate to remind her that she’s not far behind me. My bad…

I grew up in Fort Worth, but I spent my summer vacations with either my Uncle Carl on his ranch in South Texas or on my Uncle Roof’s dairy farm just northwest of Fort Worth. I may live in the city but I’m just an old country boy at heart. That’s one of the things I love about living on the westside in White Settlement. It has a small-town feel despite being a part of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Texas. The real estate developers saved the westside for last, I guess. Urban sprawl has favored moving north and south. The eastside is hemmed in by the ‘mid-cities’. Unfortunately, I spied several new developments on my last drive through the western edges of Tarrant County. It’s a little scary…

I don’t remember my childhood like many people do. I had a counseling professional tell me it was probably related to some trauma during my youth. I must’ve been abused in some way. I didn’t think that was the case, but I gave it serious consideration. The only thing I could come up with is the one time my Grandmother, who never engaged in corporal punishment, gave me a spanking because I was playing with matches and almost burned the carport down. Now that was traumatic…

I suppose that’s why I’ve come to cherish the memories when they come up these days. Unlike my right-wing friends, I don’t long for the ‘old days’, but I appreciate the little things I remember. One of my earliest, and favorite, memories is of my father’s 1951 Chevrolet pick-up truck. Trucks like that belong on a farm.

The truck was Hunter Green and had wooden side-boards so it could haul more papers. My dad had a third job ‘throwing’ a local paper called The Shopper on Saturday nights for a Sunday morning delivery. He’d often go straight there from his second job at a Striplings, a local department store.

I remember Dad coming home exhausted, around four-thirty or so on Sunday mornings. He’d crawl into bed for an hour and then get up, get dressed, and take the family to church. Sunday lunch always followed, and it was always a time to get with another family from church for lunch. If we were lucky, we got to go to Wyatt’s Cafeteria and eat out. It always seemed like a real treat, although I’d give anything to have Mom’s homemade Sunday dinner again…

Dad usually took a nap on Sunday afternoon. That meant I could turn on the matinee of old horror movies that came on every Sunday. There were always two of them and I hated to see the second one end. It meant that soon Dad would get up, pack his suitcase, and leave for the train station. Our primary income came from his job as a traveling auditor for the FW&D Railroad. He would take the train to wherever he was going along the line, work for the week, and return on Friday night in time to work his other two jobs on the weekend. The only thing I liked about his job was the occasional visits to the trainyard and the gift he brought me each time he was away.

If there really is trauma somewhere in my young life it had to be one Saturday evening when Dad was leaving to throw papers. He hugged and kissed my mother and I and headed out to the truck. I don’t remember the details and I’ve relied on my father’s telling of the story over the years. Apparently, I broke away from Mom, little legs pumping as fast as they could, and launched myself around my father’s legs. “Please don’t go, Daddy, please don’t go!”, I pleaded as tears ran down my face.

Dad picked me up and hugged me until I stopped sobbing. “I love you, Daddy”, I cried over and over. I eventually calmed down. Dad was late for work that Saturday night. He quit his job at Stripling’s on Monday. He continued to throw papers since he was gone while I was asleep. Not long after, he received a promotion from the railroad and only had to travel occasionally. He was home most of the time and I loved it.

What I didn’t know, until I was well into adulthood, was that my father worked so much so he could pay back my grandmother for loaning him the adoption fees for me. My parents couldn’t have children and wanted them desperately.  My sister and I were both adopted. My dad always told me that we were special because we were gifts and were chosen to be their kids. We were ‘handpicked’! He couldn’t stand to be away from us after that Saturday night so long ago.

Dad’s been gone since 2002 and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. He’s the one that showed me what my Heavenly Father is like. His love was truly unconditional. Boy, did I test him through the years!

I wish he could see just how wonderful my life is today, despite the difficulties of my past. I’m sure he can. I love you, Dad and I hope I leave a legacy, as you did…

I guess that’s the trauma the professionals talk about. If that’s the extent of it, I’m a truly blessed man. Thinking about it today, I can’t help but pray ‘thank you’ over and over to a mighty God who has shown me so much grace. How can I refrain from loving others after receiving so much love, mercy, and grace?

Anyway, I’m just sitting here enjoying the cool of the morning and enjoying the memories. I still dream about that old green truck. Maybe one day I can run around on the farm…

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