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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: He was there, if only for a short time

Happy Father’s Day to all – and welcome to the “front porch.”

My mind cannot help but go back to some special times this Father’s Day 2020, although I suppose it’s no different from all the years since 1967.

But this week we go back, again – even as you will, too. And that’s a good thing.

When I was just a little boy, he was there.

“They say” that the tall, dark, handsome gentleman babied me a little too much, telling me when to go eat, when to brush my teeth, even when to go to the bathroom. I vaguely remember those days, and always fondly.

When my grandfather Preacher Miller and others were in a serious car wreck around 1965 on the road from Atlanta to LaGrange, he was there.

One of my favorite memories of him was our walking together up and down a few steep hills to Grandad’s house on Truitt Avenue on Sunday mornings. He and I would take that walk so the son-in-law could tend to the preacher’s injuries. It is my most vivid memory of this special gentleman who led me gently through the early years.

Whenever our Uncle Luther from out in the country needed his beehives robbed, he was there.

Uncle Luther never had a stroke of luck when he set out to rob the hives. The bees would send him scrambling across the yard every time, regardless of how much he bundled up and ‘snuck up.’ After a few stinging tries, Uncle Luther found it easier to find the phone and dial 882-6489 than to try to find some luck with his tribe of buzzing nemeses.

Whenever our family needed the best Brunswick stew around or the South’s best barbeque chicken, he was there.

Nobody could beat him in the kitchen, at least for those two dishes. His skilled hand in cooking was topped only by his dedicated hands as a nurse. He had no formal training in either trade, they just came to him naturally. It is all right that he did not hand either of those talents down to me.

When I made the decision to be baptized into Christ shortly before my eleventh birthday, he was there.

Outside the memory in June 1967 of standing with Preacher Miller in the baptistry at the church on Murphy Avenue, my next vivid memory of that evening was this gentleman’s sitting in the audience witnessing the greatest moment I would ever have.

When we all came back to church on the following Wednesday night – the baptism having occurred the previous Sunday – and I stood up to lead my first song, he was there.

The young guys from church always led songs on Wednesday evenings as we grew up; and the older generation who helped shape all of us in those days did not waste time giving each of us those opportunities. So, that next Wednesday I walked up front and took my turn with the rest of the boys, choosing that grand old hymn, “I love to tell the story.” I suppose it was fitting that this song was the one I wanted to lead in the very beginning. I am very satisfied that I’ve had the privilege of telling the story many times since that day, and I am very glad one special friend was there at the start.

He would not be there long afterwards, however. On the twelfth of December, 1967, he took his leave. I was only 11-years-old. I can say that I have never really had regrets, only special memories of those key early moments when he was always in his place. Eleven years pass quickly, you know, but those first eleven are the slowest you’ll ever have.

The man who was beside me during those times, of course, was my father. Some called him C.T., others just Dut. I am not sure why. I just called him ‘Daddy.’ 

Far back in my memories, Daddy was there in those early impressionable years.

I can say that deep down in my heart he remains today.

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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Ferris, TX 75125