Let’s remember today the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy that literally saved the world from dictatorship. Many men laid down their lives for the cause that is known as D-Day. Let’s honor and respect the brave men who didn’t abandon their posts in Europe, the South Pacific, North Africa or any other American posts anywhere in the world and let us remember freedom and shun dictatorship!
Thirty-two years ago this evening, I graduated from Jefferson County High School in Monticello. As I look back upon the years, I think of what advice I would give myself if I could go back to that time. While it is too late for some of the advice for me, maybe some high school graduates just starting out can learn it and maybe even I can on some of it because it is never too late to set your mind to be what you really want to be.
The following list is in no particular order, other than the first one:
*In everything you do, put God (the one true God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost) first.
*Remember to pay your tithes and to save a little from each dollar you earn (this is something I wish that I had begun doing when I had my first job and had continued. I wish that I did it now.)
*Always exercise. I believe that if I had done this my entire life, I would not have the problem with my weight and would not suffer from congestive heart failure today because of it. Growing older is not for sissies and neither is congestive heart failure. Be a man (or a woman) and exercise and eat right.
*There are good habits and there are bad habits. Learn to cultivate good habits and shun bad habits. Fall into good routines, like exercise, church attendance, praying, reading and studying the Bible.
*Read good books and watch good movies.
*You are always learning, even after you graduate high school, college, grad school, law school or medical school. Never stop learning. Never stop writing down lessons you are learning.
*Always show your family you love them. Honor your parents, brothers, sisters, wives, children, grandchildren.
*As much as is possible for you to do, help others. This doesn’t mean letting them take advantage of you but do what you can to help.
*Add value to the lives of others and you will see what value is added to yours.
With just a look, she would make me feel like I’d had the worst whipping of my life, but with a soft word and a hug, I knew that she still loved me. I wish that I still had my mama with me and that I could celebrate Mother’s Day with her by giving her a rose and taking her to church with me.
There is no gift that I could give, however, that could match even a small percent of what she is receiving right now. Blessings are showered upon her each day as she rejoices in the presence of the King of Kings.
Jesus told us to not let our hearts be troubled that He was going to prepare a place for us. He had Mama’s ready on Jan. 16, 1999. Fifteen years and one week later, my daddy’s place was ready also. Their new homes were not built by just any laborer – they were built by the Master Carpenter.
I hope that, as everyone celebrates Mother’s Day this Sunday that they stop and remember all the good times they had with their mothers and how their mother sacrificed to make sure their lives were just a little bit better – or maybe a whole lot better – than theirs.
I loved my mama. I wish that I had told her that a lot more when she was on Earth. Man up, or woman up, and tell your mother that you love them, not just Sunday but every chance you get.
I began training for my current job well over 40 years ago. The training was rewarding at times and it was very tough at other times. Most of the people who have my job have a title in front of or after their names. They make more money than I do, even though many of them do not make a lot of money doing it. There are others who are like me and they do it without pay also. They are the brothers, sisters, parents, husbands, wives, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who do the job without pay.
They are the people who care for others, who drive them places, who take them to the doctor, who doctor and nurse the people themselves many times. They are the caregivers of the world.
I look at my church and I see quite a few people I admire because they are caring for others. I see a couple named Elvoye and Betty Thomas, who have been caring for family members ever since I have known them. Although many people would think they would be at a point where they needed the care themselves, they take care of Elvoye’s mother, who was one of the founding members of the church – in 1935. I see Janie Ruth Penny, who, despite her own health battles, is always at the side of her brother and her son because of their health needs. I see the pastor, his wife, sisters, brothers and brothers-in-law who go to the nursing home and watch over the pastor’s mother. I see people who work in the health profession who still have to go home and help take care of family members, who are struggling with cancer, blindness, dementia or a number of other problems. They do this for free.
I was introduced to tragedy at a young age when two of my younger sisters and a younger brother died. My parents set not only a good example of how I should deal with the grief, but a Godly example. I have a mentally-challenged sister named Abbie Gail, who is my heart and inspiration. She had to endure heart surgery when she was a child. My brother, Danny, has battled back from several physical ailments that would have kept a man of lesser mental and physical toughness down. My sister, Debbie, is one of the boldest people I know and she has valiantly fought a number of health battles.
Right now, I help take care of Danny and Abbie and they help take care of me. Our mother passed away in January 1999 and our father passed away in January of this year. They taught me and my siblings to show compassion to each other and to love each other and the only way we can do that is look towards who is the greatest Caretaker of all of us – God Himself!
While I may not have a title of doctor in front of my name, or a title or nurse, therapist or CNA, after my name, or any children who call me “Daddy,” (I am just a big brother who cares for my sisters and brother) God has given me the honor of helping care for my family and, because of it, I have received the greatest reward of all – unconditional love!
Day’s heavy boots tread across the sky,
Leaving footprints which then become twilight,
Then life, like the birds, takes wing and flies,
And the moon’s hair shines like gold, wearing stars as her highlights.
Dressed in darkness, her beauty refined,
She is the reason the heavens so shine,
I gaze onward and upward and my gaze longingly looks deep,
Like Frost, I reflect, “I have miles to go and promises to keep.”