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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: This life story begins in 1973 (kind of) – part 2

Tragedy has no By-Pass

Good week. Welcome to the “Front Porch.”

I am sure I should begin this piece of history in the beginning of the summer of 1973. It is probably best that we begin there anyway, because to go back a step or two more takes us to the fall of 1972 and winter of ’73, a period when life rolled in unmercifully. Oh, we will go there eventually, but not here at the start.

It is funny that you do not remember much of it, not the details, except that in the fall my mom had surgery for breast cancer.

By February of ’73, the tumor had gone to the brain. From there, I do not remember the day when I realized that life was about to roll in like a storm wave.

Maybe that is why the Lord offered us the summer of 1973. One thing I have learned is that the Lord always seems to follow some rough patches of life with some smoother ones.

You understand.

My junior year, 1972-73, I had worked in a shoe store making a buck and a half an hour. It was a nice job, and I had a co-worker and nice lady named Ms. Billie Wilkinson who kind of took me under her wing and became an encouragement.

She must have been about forty then, about the age of my mom, because her daughter Mona was a year older than I.

Of all the years I’ve written, I am not sure I have ever written about her. She was a bright spot for that job at the shoe store, because she was one of those truly good people, one of those balcony people who pass through your life and then is gone leaving only good, pleasant memories.

After I married, the amazin’ blonde and I did go see her and her husband one time and had supper with them. I wish we had done that more often. By that time, she had a tragedy of her own, as her daughter had been taken away in a car accident coming home from work one day.

There is a great deal of tragedy already in this opening to 1973, even in the short memory of Ms. Billie. Sometimes the more we try to get around it, the harder it is.

Nineteen-seven-three is a year of Realism, that is for sure. We have been studying Realism as of late in class; and 1973 is a real-life, breathing example of it.

It is a period of life just as it is, no sugarcoating and no sidestepping it, but there would be an escape, too.

The escape had its own flavor of Realism, but it was of a different kind, a better kind. You’ll see.

I try to remember how sixteen-year-olds think – since I am again standing in front of them – as I was sixteen at that time and not going to turn seventeen until August.

Somewhere amidst Mama’s surgery and then her decline early in the winter, I decided I wanted to get a “man’s job.” Not that working in a shoe store was not a man’s job – well, no it wasn’t, at least not like the one that the Lord set before me in June of ‘73.

P.S. Stay tuned for Part 3. We’ll meet somebody unlike you – or I – have ever met before. Trust me on this one.

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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