The Follower: Chapter one
From time to time, I tire of politics and current events. I have tired of puppets and have begun to ignore them. As dangerous as they are, I have to let go for now and try something new. I plan to write about my life. Throughout this year, I plan to write a few chapters and continue this story.
1961-Morristown Tennessee is home. Born and raised until we left for Thomasville NC. I don't remember a lot and I suppose that is normal. I grew up in Thomasville NC. My father on his 4 or 5th job now, has gone to work for Thomasville Furniture. We rented a small home on Elliott Street. Doak Park was nearby, Doak Park was a city park with basketball, swings, tennis, and baseball. How I loved baseball growing up and, with other children in the neighborhood who became friends made growing up a little easier. A great time to be a kid I think but, also a hard time to be a kid. I want to save those stories for the next chapter. My father had finally found a job he could hold on to. It's 1966 and after 2-3 years of renting my parents bought their first house, 400 Spring Street. This home was in really bad shape and needed tons of work. My Mom and Dad did a lot of the work that they could and, created a beautiful home for the next 10 years.
Three gentlemen came to our front door. Dressed in business suits I remember, my father greets them at the door and calls for me. " These men are here to see you, Reed, my father said." We sat down in the living room and oblivious as to why they were there, they start to ask me questions. I don't rightly remember the questions except for one, " do you believe in Jesus Christ, do you take Jesus as your savior?" Not knowing what else to do, I simple remembering nodding in agreement, and told them what they wanted to hear. A few weeks later, I was baptized at The First Baptist Church. I have fond memories of this church, many friends, fun, RA's. Today, I think back to that day the three men came to see me and wondered why at such a young age would someone be asked to make such a profound statement of belief?
Fond memories of our church in Thomasville NC, but to look back on my memories of Church in Morristown TN was another story. When I was 4-5 years of age the memories of church are still with me. One has to ask how can memories of such a young age stick with us all these years? Does something horrible or wonderful have to happen to impregnate these memories into our brain? I remember being beaten in church, yes that's right, for whatever reason, my father thought I should be able to sit still for one hour. Sit still and listen to the pastor preach unknown and at that time uncaring words of wisdom, after all, I was just four, On more Sundays than I can count or remember, after the sermons, I would be taken to the deacons room and beat with a belt for not sitting still. In my later years, I would wonder why God would allow such a thing to exist in his church? This was long before the Catholic Church was forced to admit to the assaults of children.
After moving again, to Appomattox VA our family settled down in a small rural town at the age of 13. Another town and another Baptist Church. You see my father could not hold a job but somehow had managed to hold down a job with Thomasville furniture for the last 15 years. The move to Appomattox was a promotion, a move up. In the first 16 years of my life, my Dad had been fired from 6 jobs. An angry man, a man who abused my Mom and my sister. I was lucky for the most part, he left me alone, most of the time. Church in these years was not of anything particularly worth remembering. My friend Bill and I spent our time playing ping pong in the student center, our parents thinking we are sitting in the balcony. One day my Mom and Dad brought us all together and we talk about moving from the Baptist Church to the Episcopal Church. Evidently, a group of women had come to the house one day and, asked my Mom why we were not in church, Something happened and I am not sure why but, we left the Baptist Church and began a life in a new Church. Good or Bad my parents have made sure we attended.
Saint Ann's Episcopal Church was a great Church with fond memories. Our pastor worked on VW's and I use to go over to his house and work on cars with him. This is where I learned to work on VW's and established a love for the Karmann Ghia. I was an altar boy, I read in Church at least one time and, attended youth group. I was still not particularly religious it seems but, still a part of the Church.
At the age of 18, I am off to college and failed miserably. This high school life of just being passed along, parents more concerned with fighting each other than raising children took its toll. The moving from Morristown to Thomasville to Appomattox was detrimental to my sister and I. Constantly having to fit in, to this day I believe if we had just stayed in NC until we graduated from high school, life for my sister and I would have turned out much differently. Age 20 my parents divorcing, my father fired yet again and the Church became a thing of the past. Living on my own in a trailer, in a campground, the day came, it was time to leave. I left Appomattox with a pick-up truck, a bag of clothes and, a tent. A new life before me, a poor life, an uneducated life, but God, thank-you for giving me the tools to use my hands. I was fortunate to have the ability to work with my hands. Living in a one-room boarding house in VA Beach on Pacific Avenue, my first job was rebuilding starters and alternators, on a night shift for a small business. Later on building shipping crates for equipment headed to Saudi Arabia. Moving in and moving out with housemates, and for some time living in a tent again. I would only see family once a year, Christmas time was nice. My Mom had gone on to remarry a good man, my Mom went on to build a successful real estate business but never knew how I lived or struggled, never asked. My father living the life of a bachelor, a ski instructor, fired yet again from another job in sales but, he did manage to continue with ski instructing and living off his parent's money until of course that was all gone. I did not see my Father much and for many years.
When people ask me why I am, who I am, I generally don't have an answer. Reflection has been the key to resolving my inner demons I think. The whole "an unexamined life, is life is not worth living." Don't get me wrong, I still have demons but unless you can identify them, you cannot be rid of them. Some demons, I don't want to be rid of and some I have yet to identify in a meaningful way.
I had presented forgiveness to my father and I never told him how disappointed I was with him. I just let it go and did the best I could to make sure he had a roof over his head. Somewhere along the way I think, God has guided. Somewhere along the line, I chose not to be my father. I chose to apply what I had learned from the bible in my everyday dealings with people, but mostly I had become fiercely independent. I had, through life's experiences learned, I could only depend on myself. This independence I think created a part of me where it was hard to make friends and trust others. This life also created the idea that if I can make it anyone can. The fact is, this is not true. Some will not make it in life, some will fail, some will simply not have the brain power to succeed I think. It is this population we need to care for. Some, like my father, possessed the ability to succeed (college educated mind you) but chose to abuse the system, take and not give, me first, cheat welfare, cheat insurance companies, cheat on others, cheat himself of a blessed life. If there was one thing Dad was good at, it was scheming for the easy money. In hindsight even this, he was not good at I think. Dad was often caught in lies and deceit. I wonder, why do people behave in such a destructive way? I had every opportunity to turn out like my Dad and God had other plans.