Timing is everything and the time is right. Winter is setting in and I find myself unfettered by many of life’s normal distractions. Yes, the time is perfect. I will now take the bull by the horns and concentrate on this project that I have been putting off for far too long.
I have decided on this title, not because it is descriptive of me but because that is the vision I want you to have of me, as you read these events of my life. Time has had a wonderful affect on my memory. The unpleasant periods have faded and the good times have risen to the surface.
As absurd as this may sound and as ridiculous as I feel for even saying it, I’m convinced that I’ve survived because of the prayers of friends, relatives and especially, my Parents. If you want proof, I can’t give it to you. It’s just this gut feeling I’ve always had … I could always feel it! It was never an overwhelming feeling. It was always very subtle, always in the background and although my Parents are long gone, that feeling still remains. I didn’t intend to, but now I’ve got to tell you about them.
My Parents were simple folks. My Mother was a Farmer’s daughter, didn’t have a high school education and never drove a car. Her whole life was centered on raising her two sons, my younger brother and I … And we were her life! My Father was a Methodist Preacher and we moved a lot, starting from the Outer Banks. He was the most religious person that I’ve ever known … He lived what he believed. I don’t think Dad ever requested much of God for himself, but I do feel that I was a beneficiary of their relationship. Someone or something has been watching over me, protecting me and to some extent, guiding me. I’ve never felt “called” or “led” to do anything and I’ve never had any major spiritual awakenings, but I do feel that I have lived for a reason and have been blessed with many good friends and a loving family.
As a child, I remember the frustration and disappointment I felt for having to move so much. Making friends and then having to move away was always devastating, but my Brother was always there beside me to ease the pain. We became each other’s best friend. In later years, we even double-dated.
Frequently changing locations was surely not the wishes of our Parents either. During his career as a Minister, Dad had to move twelve times and preached at forty-seven Churches, and I could see the anguish and sometimes the anger that he felt. He may have been bitter inside but after he’d calmed down some, he’d try to comfort us with “Its God’s Will” … But that that didn’t help much, our Mother still cried a lot. She became very withdrawn. I don’t remember, maybe she always was, but constantly moving certainly didn’t help her mental health much.
When my Bro and I became teenagers, she got to the point of not even unpacking much of our stuff, because she knew we’d soon be moving again. When that empty nest came, she didn’t complain much because she knew it was coming, but she held on to us just as long as she could. The best way she could deal with us leaving home was with heavy medication. If her Doctor wouldn’t give her the pills that she wanted, she’d go back to an old one who would. From the time that Bro and I left home until she died, she was mostly in a prescription drug stupor. As with most cases, the drugs didn’t cure anything, they just relieved the hurt a little and covered up some of the symptoms.
Dad dealt with his frustrations differently. He talked to God a lot. After Mom died, I’d constantly catch him singing hymns in the middle of the night … But his dealing with stress went much deeper than that. I’m convinced that he received much of his enjoyment in life from helping others around him and from performing simple tasks. Bro and I could always tell how much stress he’d been under by the size of his woodpile. When his burdens became heavy or he got mad, he’d go get his axe and generate a brush or woodpile. In no time, he’d be content and I’d hear him start singing again.
I didn’t inherit much of his goodness, but I’ve learned that the simplest manual tasks are the most rewarding and that anything given with love will be returned many times over. I’ve found it to be exactly as he said…
“Son, I just can’t give anything away,” he’d say. “It just keeps coming right back to me.”
That was a mighty powerful declaration, especially for a poor man like him to say. Even now, I find that simple statement to be true. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not suggesting that we give it all away … But when I give something without expecting anything back, it seems that almost immediately, something better takes its place.
All of us are unique. Each of us has traits that make us special. When I was younger, I was labeled by some as being immature. It felt like a putdown then, but now that I’ve become wrinkled and gray … Hearing descriptive terms such as that just brings a smile to my face and I just lean back in my chair and start remembering…
Yes, I’ve pulled a multitude of pranks, but it was not just the attention I craved. It was also the immediate benefit I received of creating delight from the ordinary and generating excitement. I must admit, it was always a thrill to walk into a gathering and hear the hushed voices of “That’s the guy I was telling you about!” “You’d better keep your eye on him!” and “There’s no telling what he’ll do next!” This book will shock many, but others will say … “That damn Bryan! I knew he’d do it! “
When I go back to my old stomping grounds, I constantly hear the same complaints of … “Things aren’t like they used to be,” and “We don’t have fun anymore.” I can’t put it off any longer! These happenings must be recorded. Otherwise, they’ll be forgotten and lost forever. I’ve received too much joy from life not to share it. I intend to relate these incidents using my best and most straightforward recollection, and without much effort in cleaning up the language.
Originally, I intended to immortalize all those involved by including their real names, but finally made the decision not to take too big of a gamble. I really don’t want happy homes to be broken up or children disowning their Parents or Grandparents.
Maybe I should’ve taken life more seriously. Who’ll be the judge? I do know that I’ve been happiest when bringing excitement, joy and laughter to those around me or when making their lives a little easier.
Sometimes, I think of life as a garden which flourishes when ample manure is applied. I’ve become convinced that when spread with care, bullshit can make life more interesting and actually fuel morale. Be assured, there will be many examples of it in the following pages.
This has not been an easy task. Writing does not come easy for me. I’ve had to fight with every word. Regardless, it’s time to get on with it … So I present these memories to you and for those generations to come, to know where this ole man has been and just a hint of the enjoyment he has received.
Here, put my shoes on. Go where I’ve gone. Do what I’ve done. Now let me find my chair and I’ll rock while you read.