Thursday, December 14, 2006
This is a long post folks, Sorry for being slow
I wonder how this day will go. Woke up at five this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so am up. Fixing a big pot of coffee. Been drinking a lot of coffee lately but need to slow down because it ain’t cheap and we ain’t rich. Yesterday was a fairly good day with only one slowdown which wasn’t bad and was when I laid down for an hour or so. Might of just been a fatigue thing, I don’t know.
Calling up folks in Toledo to give them our new numbers and get addresses so we can mail cards and letters out revived many memories. They were on my mind this morning and influenced my dreams last night. It feels kind of strange here in Stanton to not have someone who needs my help but my hands are full as it is. In Toledo there wasn’t a world of stuff that needed to get done, I was mainly a house husband while Cherie worked so had plenty of time to devote to others. Here things are much different. Helping others gave much value to my life.
Right now I’m getting a bit confused as I write so I’ll go see if the coffee is ready.
It is now 8:20 tonight. Let me try to reconstruct this day. I know I got the screen door for the kitchen installed. I was looking at how to put a door closer (The thing that makes the door close without slamming. Not sure what it’s supposed to be called) on the office screen door. This is a wood door that has been cut down to fit the five foot ten inch tall doorway so making this closer fit will take some southern engineering. No problem, it’ll fit in with the rest of the house.
As I looked at the door and contemplated how to get this done a car pulled into the drive. I didn’t recognize the car but was pretty sure who it was. Sure enough it’s the pastor from the First Baptist church we’ve been going to. Steve, the Sunday school teacher, or the pastor, I’m not sure now, mentioned that someone would drop by with a gift or something. Cherie had gone to Midland to do her laundry and I know she wanted to be here but that’s OK. I couldn’t remember the pastors name so with an apologetic explanation asked. It’s Dave. I repeated it in my mind over and over as I do to remember things and connected it with a mental picture of David from the Bible. That’s a technique taught me at the Brain Injury Institute in St Louis and it has served me well.
Dave seemed a little uncertain to me, kind of like he was not sure how I would respond to his dropping by. Now I know it’s not always good to try and read a person like that but it’s my journal and I just write what goes through my mind, right or wrong. David went to the passenger side of his car and got out two plastic storage things, you know, like Tupperware. One was filled with a powder and as he handed it to me he said it was a hot chocolate or coco mix his wife makes. He said he didn’t know if I liked that kind of thing but that it was real popular and she makes it for all kinds of things. Dave reached back into his car and said he didn’t know what our water situation was so he brought two bottles of water.
I invited him to come into the house. I was anxious to show him around and probably seemed like a child showing his things to someone he met at school. I wanted to impress him, I wanted him to like who I was, I wanted to be accepted. I showed Dave our kitchen such as it is, telling him that we had given away the stove and other things to Chuck, who had helped us so much moving things last July. This was to explain the lack of a stove and cabinets but I told him we got a whale of a deal at the Habitat for Humanity’s Restore on a microwave oven combo with a counter top stove. “I’ll have to build a cabinet to hold it and run some 220 volt wiring for it” I explained.
Then we went into the hall and I pointed out the bedroom which was clearly visible as there’s no door and said “That’s our bedroom” (as if he couldn’t tell) “But I won’t tell Cherie I showed it to you”. I did. Quickly moving on I took Dave into the back room all the while giving him a non stop commentary on everything I pointed out to him. Pointing at the carpet I explained what a good deal we got on it because some had ordered it but never picked it up. “It’s amazing Dave how close a fit it was, almost like it was ordered for this room. That’s the way things seem to work out for us. Boggles my mind” I explained. I showed him my woodcarving tools, telling him stories about my life nonstop.
We made our way into the office area and there it got worse regarding my running on. I showed him the “Hand of God” carving I made as I was recovering (If you want to call it that) in St. Louis. Wow! He said and I was pleased to see he was impressed. As I rattled on nonstop the poor guy finally reached for a chair to sit down. Then I realized that I was not being a good host but was just talking about myself. Slowed me down a little. We sat and talked with Dave actually being able to say something other than responding to whatever I said.
That was good. I had told him just about my entire life story by then so he shared with me how a traumatic event that threatened to ruin his life through paralysis. It was a turning point for him and was the main motivator for him to go into the ministry.
At some point in all this Dave said something like “I don’t want to step over my bounds” or “I hope you aren’t offended” and after hearing a reassurance from me offered to help us with getting a hot water heater. This type of statement or fear that I would be upset at some kind of charity had been repeated several times during our visit. I wondered about that and still do. It was almost like he was afraid I would be terribly offended or jump down his throat at his offer to help. Later on I mentioned this to Cherie and said “Maybe it’s a cultural thing down here”. “What do you mean?” she asked. “you know the Texas attitude. You’ve seen it in me. The old “I don’t need anybody’s help, I can do it myself” thing”. That she understood.
I explained to Dave that being homeless and helpless had taught me to swallow my pride and finally to ask for help. I also mentioned that I help many others and when they give me a hard time about it (Mostly Wayne) I would tell them that by not allowing me to help them they were robbing me of a blessing. This helped Dave relax a bit.
Fact is we are grateful for the help. I didn’t tell Dave about our experiences with asking for help from other churches cause that wouldn’t have helped. I suspect he will read this but that’s fine as this blog has turned into such a powerful way of communicating. One church was the Assembly of God we had gone to visit after reading in the Toledo newspaper about the pastor dressing like a homeless person and standing out in the middle of the street as the congregation came to church to make a point about helping the unfortunate. I thought “This guy can understand us” and suggested we go visit. I asked to see the pastor after that. He set a time for a few days later. When I went in I had prepared a paper telling of the issues that come with brain injury and gave it to him. He briefly read it and, handing it back to me said “If you want food we give to the kitchen for the poor. We don’t do anything here so they can help you”. I hadn’t asked for anything. By this time I was with Cherie and had no need for food. He had presumed I was a “bum” and basically showed me the door. I was shocked. I remember coming over to this church with Ron Charles, the pastor I helped found New Life Assembly of God with, and looking at the geothermal unit they were putting into this building when it was being built in the early 80’s. This rejection really caught me by surprise.
In fact I had called New Life several times but they never returned a call. This is the church I helped found and build. Then there was the Cedar Creek fiasco. Type in their name on the search engine at the top of this blog to read about that. That rejection hurt both Cherie and I so deeply that we are afraid to open up at all. In fact it soured us so much we pretty much stopped going to church though we did attend one a little.
I wanted to get this done but am so tired I won’t be able to so I’ll finish it tomorrow. There is so much good about Pastor Dave’s visit that I want to put down that I will finish this when I am a bit sharper.
(Other points I want to cover. The electric bill and the pecan show)
Oh well, I didn’t get back to it like I wanted. Nothing unusual there just the normal frustrating lack of follow through. I guess to sum up Dave’s visit I’ll say this. It was refreshing to not be treated like a freeloader looking for a handout. Quite a turnaround from what we experienced in Toledo.
Yesterday Steve, the Sunday school teacher, stopped by with about six or seven bags of food he and his wife picked up for us at Walmart. He had called first to make sure we were there. I told Cherie he would be here in a few minutes and watched her go into panic mode as she rushed to get presentable. When we came in with the food I could see how much it touched her, she almost cried. This is such a turnaround for us. We didn’t ask for a thing but look what they did. Go figure, Christians acting like Christians are supposed to. We’re not used to that. Perhaps it’s because in cities like Toledo there are so many asking the churches for so much but I don’t see that as a justification. I remember Donna at Cedar Creek (A large multi million three thousand plus member church located in one of the richest suburbs of Toledo) complaining that the police directed some in need to them.
Anyway Steve couldn’t stay and visit but he did invite me to the Wednesday night program they have at church. Cherie wanted to go but her nosebleeds were really going strong. She apologized about a dozen times as she often does and I reassured her it was ok as many times.
Wednesday morning I went to the pecan show that was at the community center. I came in and Sonia, the extension agent clerk or something, greeted me and showed me where to set. She got me coffee and treated me like a honored guest. I guess I’m not used to that either. I sat down and they brought me a plate of pecans that were cracked already and I set to shelling them. There was a crowd at the other row of tables but only one guy named Raymond at mine. He was from somewhere south of here but I don’t remember where. We only talked a little as he was busy shelling, answering his phone, and visiting with others who were friends. They talked about hunting, football, going to Mexico, and everything but pecans.
I let him know I was new to the area and new to farming so was mostly there to learn. He had a little advice to give but mostly pointed to the guy with a computer who was weighing pecans and said “That’s the guy to talk to about pecans. He’s the man”. That was probably good advice but the guy, who’s name I think is John, was pretty tied up with this show.
After all the pecans were shelled I wandered over and looked at the hundred or so plates of pecans. Each was labeled where it was from and what kind of pecans they were. There was a big plate with unshelled nuts and a smaller plate with the shelled ones on top. It was an education to see all the different types and different conditions they were in. Most of the pecans were named after different Indian tribes like Choctaw, Kiowa, and others I don’t remember.
There was a big fella who was fairly active that I overheard telling another that he had something like three thousand acres or pecan trees. Catching him not in the middle of a conversation I introduced myself and explained I was interested in getting into the pecan business. He sat down and we talked a bit about this. He gave me lots of information, some of which I remember. Should have taken notes but that would have been awkward. We talked about water, pruning, Zinc (Pecans need allot of it), and then he said that Texas A & M university had a class they put on in San Angelo specifically about pecans. The next one starts in January. He said they were not expensive, something like $150 bucks.
That’s out of reach for us now but I need to get with the VA and see what they offer in the way of support for this. I know I used up my GI bill on college in the 70’s but there are many programs designed to help Veterans go into business. When things settle down here a bit I need to get on the stick and research this. In fact I will call the VA hospital to see if I can set an appointment with someone who knows this stuff. Maybe there is a VA rep in Midland I can see. Don’t know but it’s right before Christmas so I reckon (Hey! There’s a Texas type word. See, it’s rubbing off) I’d be better off waiting till next year.
I’ve been working outside most of the morning. Cleaned up the pack rat nest stuff from the back yard and burned it in the burn barrel. Then I went to look at the Yucca plants that are out in the small patch of mesquite trees out back. Come to find out pack rats (I found out that’s the type of rats we have here) had dug out quite a nest so I took the hoe to it and scared up one rat.
The yucca’s have seeds on them so I’m going to get some and see if I can get them started. That would be the first plant planted by us if they come up.
I got worn out by 11:30 so came in to rest. Bumped my head on the clothes line hard enough to make it bleed. That’s a problem with wearing a hat, at least for me. I don’t see something coming just above eye level so run into it. That hurt so I got the hack saw and cut the protruding bolt I ran into off. Cherie babied me and told me I got to quit doing that. “That’s the side you’ve got dead spots on. Don’t do that anymore” she said as she stroked my head. Can’t argue with that.
Well I wandered off like I do and didn’t talk about the Wednesday night church service or program. Not sure how to label it cause there’s lots going on. They start with a meal. It only costs a dollar but I only have one and didn’t want to spend it. I finally went up and got a small plate after everyone else had gone through the line because, well I didn’t want to look bad after so many encouraged me to go get some food. Besides that the desserts looked good and that’s my weak spot.
The table I sat at had a Sunday school teacher that teaches the forty to fifty year old group, Darryl Bradshaw (my cousin), and also Rita. Rita is Billy Pinkerton’s daughter. I had met her back in 1978 when I went to this church after getting out of prison. I remember meeting her one time but I wasn’t sure if this was her. You know, the facial recognition problem that comes with the brain injury. I apologetically asked if she was Billy’s daughter and then asked what her name is cause I couldn’t recall that either.
The Sunday school teacher wore a cowboy hat and has that rugged type of look and personality. We got into a conversation that was started by Rita’s asking when I became a Christian. When I told how I got religion in prison he said he worked with some who had also done time and were overcoming the demons of drugs and things. Daryl came to the table about then and sat down but didn’t have much to say. I tried a little to engage him in conversation but he wasn’t so inclined. It may take him a while to be comfortable with me or that just may be his personality. I really don’t know. I tend to assume folks don’t like me or suspect me of something when I really am clueless. Part of the low self esteem or paranoia that was there when I woke from the coma. Actually I was pretty paranoid just before the accident because of the massive amounts of cocaine I had been doing but don’t think that stays with you when you’re clean.
After the meal the kids went off to choir practice, the Sunday school teachers went to something they do together, and they had a church business meeting in the hall we ate in. I stayed for that. It was interesting for me and a bit refreshing. They put out a complete financial statement listing every business and money transaction and the various bank account balances. The churches we know in Toledo are much less open about their money. Cornerstone, where pastor Pitts (I call him pants after he was caught flashing cars with his pants down) is, just puts out a pie chart once a year. There is no doubt in my mind that he has lined not just his pockets but those of his family with the wealth of his church.
This is such a change for us here. A good one. I’m getting tired now. Cherie has dinner going so I think I’ll get this posted on the blog before I forget.