Archive for June 2014

My Blankie

June 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          June 30, 2014

 

                                             

 

There are some things that stay with you even though they don’t make sense. Kind of like that old TV that is sitting in the family room. It’s been a part of the family. You don’t just take a part of the family to the dump!

My “blankie” falls even more securely into this category. My blankie is my blanket. It’s been my blanket since…about August of 1979. I say “about” because I married my wife on July 28, 1979. She brought the blanket into the marriage relationship. It was hers. You know that saying, “What’s hers is his!”  I actually don’t know if that is a saying or not, but it should be.

Soon after July 28 “the blankie” transferred partial ownership to me. That means, it crept to my side of the bed at night.

There’s gold, and then there are those few things that are more valuable than gold. My “blankie” is threaded gold.

When we go on driving vacations I take it with me. I don’t take it places if I’s flying. I don’t trust the airlines that much.

I took it on a mission trip to British Columbia…three days drive away! I took it to Park City, Utah last summer.

I took it to camp where I was being the camp pastor. I needed some form of comfort in the midst of a multitude of middle school students, many whom were discovering that there was an opposite sex that could offer them a different kind of comfort.

I took it to Arizona and South Dakota. For thirty-five years it has just felt…right!

Now it is beginning to look pitiful, like the family dog that just lays around and whimpers. My blanket has a few holes in it, frayed ends, faded patterns, and stuffing that is settling in the same spot, like a middle-aged man whose body has decided to most gather around the waist and stomach.

The other thing that makes this unique…and weird, is that my grandmother made incredible quilts. Sixty years after the fact they are in almost-mint condition. They are warm and comfortable, memories for me of my Mamaw Helton who had “settler skills.” That means that she could have survived on the frontier is she wanted. Quilt-making was just one of her gifts. She could kill a chicken, clean it, and fry it up for dinner almost as fast as my Papaw could drive to the grocery and buy a chicken from the butcher. She kept the eastern Kentucky farm going that she and my Papaw owned.

I slept with those quilts as I was growing up. Somewhere along the line after July 28, 1979 I switched over to the “blankie.”

My wife sometimes thinks I love my blanket more than her. That’s not true! Although my blankie doesn’t kick me at night when I snore. She reminds me that the blanket was hers first, but I remind her that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

When I die I hope my blankie is still around. If so I want to it to be buried with me. I don’t want to have to worry about wearing a suit as I’m all laid out in the casket. When do I ever wear a suit while I’m laying down in this lifetime? My mom would never permit such a thing. I can hear her say, “It’s going to get all wrinkled!”

So just cover me with my blankie. Throw a tee shirt on me just in case chest hair is upsetting to some, but drape my tired perishing physique in my tired perishing blanket and let me rest in comfortable.

I know I’ll be walking the streets of gold in heaven, but if I get to nap in paradise I hope I can have my threadbare gold wrapped around me. It only makes sense. It fits…comfortably!…in my picture of perfection!

Pictures

June 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 26, 2014

 

                                                  

 

My home study is populated with pictures. Pictures tell of what was, and provide sweet remembrances of times gone by.

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a framed picture of my granddaughter when she was two, dressed in the same red dress with white lace that her mom wore when she was also two. Reagan is staring at my when a smile on her face. If her picture came alive right now she could get whatever she wanted from her granddad!

Above her on the wall is a picture of the Mason High School Girl’s Junior Varsity basketball team that I helped coach in 1997. I’m wearing a sweet looking pair of khaki shorts and eye glasses that cover about two-thirds of my face. Eleven girls separate me from Coach Don Fackler, who is on the other side of the picture. Don taught me so much about coaching, and I miss him terribly. I find his voice coming out of my mouth so often in practice and at games. The girls in the picture have gone on to be moms, coach other teams, and develop callings and careers that we would never have imagined.

When I turn around the wall behind me is covered with team pictures of other teams I’ve coached through the years. Each picture is now still life, but my mind is flooded with memories when I gaze at each one of them. I remember the goofballs, the boys who would make me laugh hysterically, and the head cases that kept me awake at night.

Good teams! Bad teams! Teams that worked hard, and teams that didn’t know how to work.

At the top of the rows of pictures is my youngest daughter’s college cheer squad from University of Sioux Falls. She cheered for the Cougars all four years she was there and only experienced one defeat in football, that being one year in the NAIA championship game. The other three years they won the NAIA. She looks so fit and pretty in the squad picture. I’m a little reluctant to remind myself that she is my baby.

There are no wedding pictures in my study. For some reason those are confined to the guest bedroom, like a different exhibit in the museum.

Pictures tell a thousand stories and cause my soul to chuckle in delight.

Life Ain’t Fair!

June 25, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 25, 2014

 

                                           

 

   Today’s mini-story is part of WordPress.com’s Writing 101 challenge for the month of June. Today the writer is to take the view of a twelve year old boy watching Mrs. Pauley being evicted from her house across the street.

 

Mrs. Pauley baked me the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. She’d see me across the street and shout in that sweet high voice of hers- as sweet as her cookies, in fact- “William, I got too many cookies! Can you take a few off my hands?” She made me think I was doing her a favor.

Then Mr. Pauley died out of the blue. I could hear him coughing all hours of the day, and then he was gone. He was a hard-working hard-talking man who didn’t deserve Mrs. Pauley, but she was his anyway. He treated her poorly, and I could tell from my distant stoop on the other side of the street that she was afraid of him.

They had six sons…all grown up and gone. Three were wearing uniforms like my G.I. Joe play figures. One disappeared right after he got out of high school and had never been seen of again. One was a low-life living in jail, and the last one lived in a big city somewhere. I couldn’t figure out why none of them came home to check on the one who birthed them.

And then a Cadillac pulled up, followed by a police car, and I could hear Mrs. Pauley crying “Please…no! Please…no!”

I saw the man from the Cadillac, who was wearing a suit that looked all snug and proper on him, hand Mrs. Pauley a piece of paper and then her head dropped like she had been cursed or something.

I knew it wasn’t good, and I could tell God wasn’t in it either. My Sunday School teacher had taught me how to see what was good and what was of the devil. This was of the devil, and I watched…wishing I could do something, but I couldn’t. When you’re twelve it’s hard to help elderly women who have had their hearts broken.

I knew this was worse then bad. I crossed the street and went up the front sidewalk. I didn’t know what I was doing, or what words I might spit out of my mouth to make things all okay, but I quietly approached.

One of the policemen asked me what I wanted and I said I wanted to make sure Mrs. Pauley was okay. At that moment her eyes looked up from the depths and met mine and  she said, “William, I guess I won’t be baking you any more cookies.”

And then I knew she was leaving, that life isn’t fair even to those who deserve a double portion of blessing. The sweetest sometimes get handed the most bitter verdicts.

All I could say was “That’s okay, Mrs. Pauley!”, and we stared at each other for a long moment before the man in the suit started reading her more of his paper of bad news.

That day I lost some faith in mankind and became cautious and questioning just as I was entering adolescence.

Fear Landscape

June 25, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     June 24, 2014

 

                                       

 

Even though I’m sixty I’ve been reading the book Divergent. It’s more of a novel for young adults and teens I think, because there are less words of each page to give the reader the illusion that he is reading a lot.

One of the sections of the book deals with each person’s “fear landscape.” A fear landscape includes all of the fears that the participant faces in his life…from bed bugs to being kidnapped.

I won’t go into the book any more than that, but it did make me think about what my fears are, and what my fears aren’t. I’ve come up with a short list.

I am not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of dying in a way that people laugh. Like the guy who fell into a large vat of wine and drowned! Some might enjoy dying in such a way, but I don’t really care for wine. It would be second on my list to having a truckload of manure mistakenly dumped on you and then suffocating! Death for me will be a welcoming into heaven. The way I die causes me to worry!

I’m also afraid of spiders and snakes. Don’t ask me why…I just am! I am thankful that God has not tested my faith by telling me to handle rattlesnakes. I might be tempted to renounce my faith, or at the least have a fake fainting spell. I know that the Apostle Paul had a viper wrapped around his arm one time on the island of Malta, but I’m not the Apostle Paul. I’m the Fraidy-Cat Bill!

I’m no longer afraid of school principals. That means that at one time I was. My grade school principal’s name was Shirley Morton. He’s the only man I ever knew named Shirley, but he was to be feared. I experienced his paddle one time, and my butt sizzled for a week. Whenever I saw the movie Airplane, and heard that one verbal explain where Leslie Nielson says, “And don’t call me Shirley!” the memory of Shirley Morton’s strong forehand with his paddle would come back to me. Perhaps my fears subsided when I got elected to the school board and found out the principals put their pants on just like I do (the men that is).

I’m also afraid of Indian food. I had a roommate my first year in seminary from India, and Bontha lit me up with his Chicken and Curry dish. I would start perspiring just thinking about it. We have a few Indian restaurants in our city, but the scars from Bontha’s cooking are still pretty vivid.

One last fear! I’m also afraid of Oakland Raider fans!

But I think that’s normal!

Lost and Found

June 24, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          June 23, 2014

 

                               

 

My life has been filled with lost opportunities and blessed findings. Once in a while the lost comes back to be found.

Or, better yet, the lost is waiting to be found…like the lost and found box at the middle school that is filled with all kinds of coats, hats, watches, and bracelets. Each was forgotten for a while, left to sit until a stranger found it.

There are people who are a part of our lives who disappear around the margins because we forget, we become disengaged and focused on other things and people. And then, later, when we remember, they are no longer there. Neglect has a way of turning friends into acquaintances, and acquaintances into those that we lose track of.

Social media fabricates an atmosphere of connectedness. We are friends with those that we haven’t seen since high school. We comment on a one sentence post and, for some reason, think we are still connected.

In our culture of instant messaging, ironically, it is easier to be lost.

The answer may not be in how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers we have, but rather in having a few friends that we deeply invest in. we seek to find them deeply. The quality of our relationships is much more valuable than the quantity of our relationships.

I think about my life. Who is it that would be greatly effected if I lost my friendship with them? The list gets whittled down quickly, and it is in that downsized list that I find those that I must not lose.

Church Softball League

June 21, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     June 20, 2014

 

                                     

 

Depending on who you talked to God was in it or grieved by it!

The Independent Church Softball League was canceled after the sixth week of the  season. Some said it was long overdue; others said it was a sign of secular humanism’s takeover of the world. Y2K was linked to it by some since most churches are about twenty years behind the times anyway.

It started with the Freewill Baptist Church Flames, who protested the fact that the Brethren Church Brethren were permitting a woman to play on their team. The Flames did not believe freedom extended to the opposite gender when it came to church softball. It did seem kind of odd that the Brethren would be the only team to have a female put a glove on.

The disagreements between league congregations didn’t end there. Torrential rains canceled all games during the second and third weeks of the season. It was either forget about them or plan for a few to be made on Wednesday night. The Apostolic Holiness Church could not allow that to happen. Many in their church believed that Jesus was going to come back soon…and it would probably be during their Wednesday night prayer meeting. Not many from their softball team attended the prayer meeting, but if Jesus did return on a Wednesday night, and they happened to be playing softball they were certain there would be eternal consequences. The Nazarenes weren’t too high on the idea either, but their make-up game was to be against Mercy Bible Church who hadn’t won a game since Jesus was here the first time. The Nazarenes couldn’t let a sure win slip through their fingers, all because of it being a Wednesday night.

And then there were the Independent Irregular Baptist Church, who no one much cared for. They voted not to let a new church join the league because several of the players had hair that came almost to their shoulders. They forfeited their game against the long hairs rather than be tainted by the association. Brother Rice of the Irregulars stated that long hair was the working of the devil, getting men to take on feminine characteristics. To quote him: “You let one little thing pass, and pretty soon a tidal wave of paganism starts arriving every Sunday to the church.” The manager of Mercy said he thought Brother Rice was splitting hairs.

The final straw of dissension amongst the league’s members was when a visiting evangelist for the church of the Flames was asked by his hosting church to give the prayer before their game with the Second Street Wesleyan Church team, and he preceded to pray that the Wesleyans would turn away from their wicked ways and be saved.

After long loud debate and accusations the league disbanded. Some of the best players from amongst the teams got together and made a new team that was sponsored by Rosie’s Bar and Grill and played in the City Tavern League. Most of them rediscovered that playing the game is fun!

Our Father

June 20, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 19, 2014

 

   (I’m doing a month-long writing test with WordPress.Com. Each day we are given a different assignment. Today’s was to open a book to page 29 and write a blog about the first words you see. In fact, we were to write it in letter form.)

 

Pops!

I know it’s weird, but Your name came up in my reading today. Who would have thought your name would be on page 29 of the novel Divergent!

Crazy!

Actually it was “our father” in the second paragraph that got me thinking about you. Since you celebrated your eighty-sixth birthday yesterday perhaps my eyes focused more on finding those words.

I thought I lot about you. The Omaha Steaks should arrive in a couple of days. Living in Colorado so far away from your place within a stone’s throw of the Ohio River makes me a little sad. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with you. Omaha Steaks are about as fitting a tribute as I can find.

Your hamburgers are still the best IN THE WORLD! I have not found any one who can contest that claim. It’s a family memory. My kids miss them just as much as I do.

My sister and brother will always remember special things about you when we say those words: Our father!

We will always remember your tendency to think before you spoke. It was as if you were sorting the words in your head like Scrabble letters, looking for the right combination that would be clear and wise.

Let’s be honest! Mom used up most of the words that were spoken in our household each day, but, Dad, when you spoke it was listened to. Not that we didn’t listen to Mom…just maybe a little less attentively.

That’s another thing that we will always remember about you, Dad! How you honored Mom, especially in the last few years of her life when she was uncomfortable, confused, and sometimes demanding. You sat by her bedside, fed her dinner, changed her when she soiled herself, and listened carefully to the mumbled words she would speak. Your love for 65 years was evident.

Continue to know that your children and grandchildren love you deeply. I wish I was sitting on the couch with you today watching the Reds on TV, talking about Kentucky basketball, and stories that have been told and retold.

We love you, Pops! Your the best!

Fed Ex me a hamburger, would you?

 

Your Son,

Bill Wolfe