A review of the last thirty columns told me something about my life – I write too much about me and the last seventy-eight years. This poses a problem. Since I only know about myself (what I’m willing to admit) and about our marriage of fifty-eight years, and about the birth of three sons, and then the adoption of three daughters, and the developing saga of eighteen grand-children, and nine great- grand-children, and being a local minister in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee and serving as missionaries in Europe and Canada, and spending twenty eight years on the speakers tour, authoring 39 books and producing my own tapes, video and long play albums and while I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, I was reared in Miami, Florida by godly parents and I have written columns for 32 newspapers in the past ending up in Lake City Florida, and now writing to you in a weekly column in the Lake City Reporter. There’s not much else to tell.
I see writing in a different way than some do. Writing personal things is really not about me. Most of you don’t even know me. You wouldn’t recognize me on the street – but that’s not the point. I have always believed in parallel writing. When I find something in life, whether in mine or others, and I surround it with a story of humor or sadness, with a scripture or two: When you read it, you’re not thinking about me, but you tend to apply it to your own life. That’s the secret of parallel writing. When I talk about me, you think of yourself. When I write about my mother or loved ones, you think of yours. The joys, the sadness, the good, the bad, the saint, the sinner – while I’m writing it, you tend to apply it in a personal way. If there is no lift from the writings or any laughter or tears to be shared, then I’m wasting your time and you’re wasting mine!!
I met Ann on a blind date. She was tall and graceful. We went to a movie. The girls I had been dating were fun to be with. I was experienced in the wonderful art of “smooching”. Ann was different. As we sat in those lush opera chairs, I slip my right arm behind the seat. Gradually, I inched it up until it fell around her shoulders. The response before was always good. The girl would just snuggle up close to me and that began the evening enterprise. Ann was different. She moved without hesitating and took me by my wrist, leaned forward and pulled my arm back in its rightful place. Then she said in a voice that could be heard by all who were around us, ‘DON’T!!!”. Those sitting near just giggled and pointed and snickered, and one chuckled and said, “She got you, boy!” I was sitting on my neck, looking up at the profile of this beautiful woman and thinking, “How’d she do that?” Later that night, we stopped in a spot over-looking the Miami River. I kept picking at her, wanting to hold her hand, to hug and get on with the smooching project. She turned toward me and looking straight into my eyes, she said, “IF BEING WITH ME IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, TAKE ME HOME”. I thought right then, “you shamed me, humiliated me, embarrassed me before others . . . I’m going to make you pay, I’m going to marry you!” She was a keeper and still is.
Years ago I heard a story of a man who was being abused by the boss. He was on time every time and often worked overtime without pay. He was being abused, under appreciated and without recognition. Yet he just quietly endured the daily situation. He didn’t have the courage to face the boss and ask for what was justly his, a raise in pay.
Now his decision was made. He said to his wife, “Tomorrow I will go to the office and face the owner and make my case.” When he arrived home from work the next day, he kissed his wife, hugged the kids, and they all gathered in their usual place around the oval table for supper. Silence ruled and the tension grew. The meal finished, he placed his napkin back in its holder and said, “Today, I faced the boss man. I had been repeating the scripture in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might”. A strange peace came over me and I asked for the raise that I felt was fair and due. His response was shocking. He said “Yes” and more than that. “All overtime pay will be at double salary”. The kids cheered and the wife cried and they were happy. Then he noticed a slip of paper that was hiding under his plate. It read “Darling, I’m so glad you got the raise. You deserved it and more. I love you.”
As the wife got up to clear the dishes, another slip of paper fell from her apron pocket. He picked it up and read, “Darling I’m so sorry you didn’t get the raise. You deserved it and more. I LOVE YOU ANYWAY.”
Just continue to read my column and when I get a bit too personal just “love me anyway.”