Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging


October 2013

The Power of a Grateful Heart–Observation Gratitude


Some people are like action figures, they explore their world from the time they first climb over the bars of their cribs and tumble out on their heads. They go through life climbing trees, riding bicycles up ramps, speeding off on a four wheeler or motorcycle, jumping out of airplanes, skiing down black slopes, slalom water skiing, learning to fly, you know the type…and I married one. Other people grow up observing, they watch their brother fall head first from his crib, ride bikes behind other folks avoiding the holes they run into, ride up in the plane to watch their spouses jump out…you got it, I am more observer than action figure. I do things and even take chances, but not without first observing the course and considering the outcomes. My husband commented the other morning when I was driving that I take caution to a whole new level, but once I am on the Parkway, “Katie, Bar the door”, cause I travel fast. Perhaps because I have spent a lot of time in corners at parties watching is why I write to share my observations of the world and the marvelous people assembled here.

Frankly, I have always wanted to be a wild adventurer and love to read about them. Hey! I even married one. Even when he broke his neck on a sandy beach at Keystone Lake in 1972, he did not give up skiing. And who goes to seminary at age 42 after walking on the darker side in private security and private investigation…beginning the grand spiritual adventure that brought us to this place in preparation for the greatest adventure of all…going Home! Along the way, I have had so many opportunities thanks to my man to meet and come to love some of the most wonderful people in God’s world and I have experienced heart wrenching pain as I walked with my man in ministry. Along the way, I have observed and internalized and I am so thankful God gave me all these opportunities, so thankful he made me an observer and that he gives me words to share about all my adventures as one of his who watches, prays, and writes it down.

So thankful.

Are you an Action Figure or Observer?

Blessings on this first day of November, 2013.


All Saints Eve

imageHalloween (All Saints Eve)

The weather man predicts with his maps, instruments and knowledge that we are in for a rash of storms on this October 31, 2013 in Kentucky. A little unusual for this time of year but what isn’t unusual about the weather? It is usual though that about this time every year a final burst of wind, a windy day, rushes in and down come the leaves. Suddenly, houses, animals, etc. appear where before they were hidden. The landscape changes our view of things. So it is in my life, as well, clear the clutter and there is that thing I thought I had lost or had hoped I had lost.


Storm clouds gather, a final burst of power
Lightening, thunder, distant rumbling from the heavens
Uneasy stillness, waiting as they glower
Watching as mid-autumn kneads her leaven
In a rush to end October and usher in November
Her power strips bare trees and forests everywhere
Opening clearings to our eyes, to contemplate, to remember
to reveal what is hidden, all that has been smoldering there.

So it is on this All Saints’ Eve, a burst of storms
ushering in November, preparing our hearts for thanksgiving
stripping us bare, opening clearings, sounding alarms
Calling us to remember all that makes life worth living
Thirty days to view the vistas God strips bare so we can see
Thirty days to contemplate, to listen and remember
All we’ve hidden behind the foliage and set it free
On the wings of thanksgiving to usher in December.

Happy All Saints Eve and get ready for THANKSGIVING!


Go Blow Your Horn for God

imageNothing like looking at a picture of the people you graduated high school with…50 years ago to get one thinking about time travel. I mean where on earth did all that time go? Who is that old woman in the mirror? How did I come to have a son who will be 48 years old in January? Not to mention his siblings who are all in their 40’s. Honestly, in my head I do not feel like a senior citizen. I feel like I have been catapulted to 2013, but in moments of sanity, of which there are few, the truth sinks in and the memories of a lifetime swell up.

On good days, I remember going away to college for the first time, to Oklahoma State University. I remember meeting Terry there and falling head over heels in lust, followed by a love that has grown through out the 49 years we have been married. I remember the births of my children, their growing up years. I remember my Aunt Agnes, who came to me in 1974 and offered to pay my tuition and books to attend the University of Tulsa and finish my education, which I had abandoned when I married and had a family. I remember so many good times, but then….

On bad days, I remember the difficulties Terry and I experienced in our marriage and with our finances. I remember clearly every time I yelled at my children. I remember my Dad’s illness and death. I remember the loss of Terry’s sister to cancer. I remember coming to a point after I had finished my education at TU, had a Master’s Degree and an excellent job, when I considered ending it all. But then….

A number of people came into my life each bringing hope and that hope was in Jesus Christ. Oh, I had walked the aisle, accepted Christ, been baptized (twice actually, another story), and yet I had not really committed my life. I had never surrendered myself. I could quote scripture, but I never really let it penetrate my facade. Seeing and knowing people of faith, the palpable sort of faith that shines through even when life gets pretty dark led me to pull off the road on the way home one night and surrender my life to Christ. “Be Still and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10] those are the words I heard, a whisper in the darkness. I was like Elijah in the cave, expecting God to be in the wind, the earthquake, the fire..but instead, He whispered.

As I indicated above, I still battle the bad memories, mostly of my own sins, but I know when they happen that God does not send them and I can say with conviction, “Away from me, Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ.” I can also take those sins, those times that mock me and use them to help others, to point others to hope in Christ Jesus.

So 50 years has past. And yet, I feel that each day God gives me opens new adventures, new chances to grow and to serve. I cannot blow my horn for anything I have done in this life because I would have to list all my failures in another column and believe me that would take the wind out of my horn.

I am not wise, I am not strong
I am not able to influence the throngs
The good I’ve done doesn’t change the wrong
Everything I am, the words to every song,
proclaim The Lord to whom I belong.

In a Bible Study almost 30 years ago, I memorized Jeremiah 9:23,24:

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

And today, contemplating the 50 years since I graduated from high school, the verses I encountered were in The Message from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

So whatever God wants to do with me, I am his and I am going to blow my horn for God.


Within, The Strength of Nails


Years ago I did the Children’s Sermons at the church we served. I used many object lessons to relate the Word of God to youngsters. One Sunday I used a paper straw and a nail. First, I handed one of them the paper straw and asked, “Can you bend the straw?” Of course, he bent it easily. I let a couple of other kids try and again the straw bent easily. Then I inserted a nail and asked then to try and bend the straw. After several tried, some with great effort, they acknowledged that, no, the straw with the nail was unbendable, except, of course, where the nail did not reach. Kids are quick to pick up on things.

I told them, “We are like the straw, weak and easily bendable, without Jesus, but when we asked Jesus into our hearts, he comes and is like the nail. He helps us be strong, except as you said, where the nail doesn’t reach. We still look like the straw, but inside we are strong, because Jesus lives in us and He is strong.”

Today, I feel like a straw easily bent. Suffice it to say, I am struggling with a touch of melancholy, but I know that the One who resides in me is the One who has overcome the world.

Whatever troubles or trials inside or out, He has conquered them. Within me is the strength of nails, three gruesome Roman spikes, splattered with the blood of Christ. Within me is the Love of God that endured the cross so that I could be set free from this body of sin and death. Within me is the Power that raised Christ from the dead. Within me is CHRIST, the hope of glory.

And He is available to all who believe and invite him in. My prayer is that today I will be thankful for the strength of the nails within and that those souls I encounter here on this meager blog, at church, in the world will acknowledge that strength in their own selves or invite Him in to reside and strengthen them. Amen

No Wedge

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:3, 38, 39 NIV)


There is no wedge
sharpened to an edge like steel
There is no wedge
driven by the forces of hell
There is no wedge
no hateful vengeful heart
There is no wedge
that can rip us apart
There is no wedge
with syrup dripping
There is no wedge
that can cause a ripping

We lift our eyes; We see his face
We feel the wedge, our sin and disgrace
His love holds us firm through time and space
For we are bound in Christ’s embrace
held by his love and the strength of Grace.

Fowl Play–Chapter Fifteen


Chapter Fifteen

Lydia Brownfield did not go easily into the night. Nor did she welcome the bold woman who wheeled into her room, uninvited, unannounced, and intrusive. How dare someone enter her dismal sanctuary without requesting entrance? It did not matter to Lydia that such a request would have been refused. So what? She desired no company, did not expect to be cheered or entertained; Lydia desired nothing more than to explore in her able mind—her last fortress, her Alamo, the only part of her that remained fully functional—how best to terminate her existence and vaporize. She clung to this privilege with as much determination as the wounded Jim Bowie clutched his famous knife, his back against the wall as the forces of Santa Ana burst into his room bent on destruction. Die she would as Jim Bowie had, but neither amyotrophic lateral sclerosis nor any other would destroy her without her choice and without a fight.

Lydia had long thrown out any hope of afterlife not favoring an encounter with the Christ or the devil, but choosing to believe in instant oblivion. To Lydia death meant complete release into a great nothingness. She nursed the thought plotting how to best maneuver a quick departure on her terms.

Interruptions to her dark reverie released her greatest venom, which turned now on the rude young woman who entered her room without announcement. Little did she know this intruder would challenge her suicidal meanderings and send her mentally fleeing for her life, resolved to live, a decision that mocked the world view fueling her anger and molding her suicidal ambitions.

At the moment Amy pushed into the room, however, Lydia had yet to entertain any purpose for her life to continue let alone any thought that life even in her useless body would be worth defending. And so, Lydia reacted as she did with any person who dared cross her threshold.

In a voice brittle with anger but hardly the thunderous one she intended, Lydia ordered Amy to leave. Turning her head on her pillow, one movement that still remained within her control, she first faced her tormentor and then, with a bolt of will that sapped her energy, swung her face away. In her mind she had pivoted on her toes to present a cold unyielding back and marched away. In fact Lydia could not escape. Even though she continued to murmur, “Go away!” “Get out!” Lydia’s voice eventually collapsed as her lung capacity could no longer support both breathing and voice.

Amy met her eyes and smiled. Without responding to Lydia’s commands, she opened her violin case, checked the tuning and began to play. She ignored the thrashing of Lydia’s head on the pillow. Her concert continued for well over an hour. At the conclusion, Amy replaced the violin in its case, smiled at Lydia, whose hair was now matted to her skull with perspiration that dribbled onto her face unabated.

“Oh, my,” Amy said, “you do need to wipe your face, that must be very uncomfortable.” Amy rolled closer to the bedside, pulled up and ran her fingers through one of the trivets of sweat. She lifted her finger to her mouth and tasted, her smile wide and her eyes full of mischief.

Lydia furrowed her eyebrows unsure what to make of this action. The dark tones of the music still haunted her mind. Amy turned to the night stand and opening the top drawer and produced a small washcloth. Gently at first she wiped Lydia’s brow, checks, mouth and neck, before grasping the helpless woman’s nose and forcing a wad of the cloth into her mouth. Lydia’s widening eyes, the fear, prompted an even brighter smile from Amy. She held on though Lydia shook her head as violently as she could until Lydia passed out, then she withdrew the washcloth and her fingers caressed it.

The moistness intrigued her so she dabbed it with her index finger, lifted it to her nose, sniffed and then tasted. The fragrance, the sweet saltiness confirmed her suspicion. It was blood. Finding Lydia’s face again, Amy dabbed around her nose. A tiny breath of air escaped Lydia’s nose. Lydia’s breathing had resumed.

“Later,” Amy whispered. Lydia, though conscious, maintained closed eye silence quite unable to get her mind around what had just happened. Had she imagined it? No, she could not accept that. This phantom, this purveyor of musical dirges, had meant to kill her, but why? What possible purpose could there be? What had prompted her decision to withdraw? And why most of all had she, Lydia, struggled so against death. Why, indeed had she, just before the momentary blackness, longed for absolution; why had she of all people felt a need to be right with a Creator in whom she had no belief and no confidence?

As Lydia feigned unconsciousness, Amy settled onto her scooter, retrieved her violin and with the bloody washcloth in her lap retreated. At the nurse’s station she paused and handed the washcloth to the charge nurse explaining that Ms. Brownfield had become quite agitated, muttering all sorts of accusations and had in the process developed a bloody nose, which Amy had attempted to abate. Unfortunately, Ms. Brownfield fought against her touch, so Amy thought it might be best if one of the staff checked in on her.The nurse behind the desk nodded understandingly, but with a sag of the shoulders that suggested she might prefer to be thrown into a pit of vipers rather than enter Lydia Brownfield’s room.

Still as Amy moved away, she heard the nurse plodding down the hall. The exhilaration flooded her senses but she permitted only a small giggle to emerge. Patience, she cautioned herself. I must not rush.

There are so many here who need to be set free. Perhaps on her next visit to Lydia’s room, there would be no hesitation, and she would escort Lydia across the bar. Perhaps, not. Lydia certainly wasn’t going anywhere yet.

Unforced Rhythm in the Dance of Life

image“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

When God was handing out athletic ability, gracefulness, and rhythm, I was dropping the ball, tripping over my own two feet, and dancing to the words not the beat of the song. . .not to mention singing either flat or sharp. I just did not find the fun in running, hitting, or catching and though I longed to dance never really grasped the rhythms of it all. I have been clumsy and awkward most of my life, including having an eating and drinking disorder–I spill or drop food on myself often. I have envied, yes, yes, I know that envy is sin, especially the kind that turns to coveting, actually hoping the graceful fall. So easy to fall into the trap of coveting and so very wrong.

As I have aged I have not become any less awkward, but I have learned to enjoy some sporting activities, even some as a participant [tennis]. I took lessons which helped. And yet, the truth is physical grace lies outside my purview and that is okay now. I am not the scrawny kid chosen last for the team. God gave me other abilities and I am still learning the grace of those rhythms.

I am also still learning the Rhythms of God’s Grace, that fill me, lift me and give me peace. The world is a tiring place, full of responsibilities, chores, physical deficits, mental, financial, relational challenges, full of fun stuff that tasks physically and mentally as well. Face it! We’d be Super Heroes, if we didn’t get tired.

God promises that if we keep company with him, which should be easy for us Christians, since the Holy Spirit lives within, but unfortunately I still try going my own way only to plunge into a series of missteps, fatigue and often depression. Why? When as The Message puts it God desires to lift my burden and give me rest, if I will

Come away with him
Walk with him
Work with him
Watch how He does it
And He will
show me how to live freely and lightlyIn other words, if we put our feet on God’s feet, He will guide us through the rhythms of the dance of life effortlessly no matter how graceful or in my case not graceful we are.

Fowl Play–Chapter Fourteen


Chapter Fourteen

None of the Early Birds actually knew Milo Grant, but that did not dissuade them from attending his funeral service. Heritage Village provided a van service for group activities off campus and funerals fell in that category. Agnes, who usually welcomed these group trips, even if they only went to Walmart or Kroger’s, found the idea of a senior field trip to Bartlett and Hall’s Memorial Chapel to say “good-bye” or in her case, “hello and goodbye” repugnant, but still didn’t want to turn down a Senior field trip.

With any luck they stop at Shoney’s for lunch on the way back. Ruth thought Agnes’ notion that to attend a funeral just to get out was silly; poor old Milo didn’t have much family according to the gossip. The group from Heritage Village would be standing in for relatives long passed. Besides Ruth and Thelma Louise had met him during the brief time he spent in their wing of the Village. Neither the Reverend nor the Colonel had met him and the Colonel flatly refused to consider paying final respects to a man who he had no knowledge of.

“Perhaps he wasn’t even worthy of respect.” The Colonel asserted, “That would just create some bad Karma.”

“Did he say bad caramel?” Thelma Louise barked at Ruth.

“No,” Ruth replied, lowering her voice in hopes that Thelma Louise would get the hint. She spelled the word, “K-A-R-M-A.”

“I don’t think that’s right. I think it starts with a “C” and ends with an “L”; it usually goes bad when you overcook it.”

Thus engaged neither Thelma Louise nor Ruth followed the discussion that ensued between the Reverend Henry Porter and Colonel Henderson Wilcox about reincarnation and the after life. Agnes envied them their oblivion, but found no good reason to join in either conversation. So after a few minutes, Agnes set out for her apartment.

Approaching her door, she met Pauline Pettigrew carrying Peaches, the toy poodle, her daughter had brought her. The woman looked distraught, so Agnes had no choice but to stop.

“Something wrong, Pauline?”

“It’s Peaches.” Pauline regarded the poodle that looked perfectly fine to Agnes, not that she knew much about poodles. He was conscious, a trifle wiggling and, Oh, My! Agnes thought, as the air filled with a distinctive odor, very flatulent. Pauline caught the look on her face, before Agnes could hide it.

“That’s the problem! She passes gas all the time. I will never be able to entertain again!” Pauline groaned. Agnes didn’t try to keep up with Pauline, but she doubted much entertaining went on in Pauline’s apartment. Too small for one thing. Four people in any of the apartments constituted a crowd. More than that and the living area started to look like a can of sardines.

“Could be her food.” Agnes offered, then before entering the world of canine dietary needs, an area about which she knew not one thing, decided to change the subject. “By the way, Pauline, we were discussing attending Milo Grant’s funeral. Are you going?”

Pauline looked up at her with a baffled expression, wrinkling her nose as another whiff of poodle gas entered the atmosphere. “Who is Milo Grant?” Pauline asked.

“A resident in the Hospice Wing. He passed yesterday and the funeral is tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.”

Pauline brightened. The prospect of a funeral lifted her spirits pushing her concern over her dog’s flatulence to the far corner of her mind. Agnes stifled a smile when Pauline’s voice rose to full political bravado.

“Oh, my, but of course, I try to uphold my late husband’s concern for all the people, both big and small. I certainly must extend my condolences to the family.” She looked down at Peaches. “I’ll just go call my Clarice and have her keep Peaches, while we’re gone.”

Pauline fluttered off cooing to Peaches about the appropriate attire for a funeral. As Pauline prattled away, Agnes wrinkled her nose noticing the fetid smell in the air. For sure, either Peaches, Pauline or both were polluting the air. Inside the apartment, Agnes eyed the lounge chair lustfully, but headed for the computer.

The size of the chicken population necessitated further investigation. For one thing Agnes wanted to explore garden enrichment with chicken litter. As she brought up her internet service, she debated as to what words to use in her search for information.

The dancing line on the Google search bar begged her to enter something. Dropping her poised fingers to the keyboard, she entered “Chicken excrement as fertilizer”, Results 1-10 of about 5,160 sites included such as “Methane Digesters for Fuel Gas and Fertilizer” which dealt with fresh excrement plus bedding material and “Pay Dirt” a look at a new type of chicken dropping pit. My, My, Agnes thought, who would ever image that chicken droppings would command over five thousand web sites?

A laugh surfaced, breaking out with unexpected power. Clear as the sound of a train in the night and passing as quickly she heard Howard’s voice, “Looks like chicken manure is a deep subject. Better wear boots, Aggie.” Her hand shot to her shoulder, half expecting to grab his hand and scold him for reading over her shoulder. Agnes rubbed the spot, feeling a wave of loneliness or maybe just a longing. During the first year after Howard’s fatal heart attack, episodes of sensing his presence or hearing his voice, visited her regularly, but with time fewer occurrences dogged her steps.

Since she moved to Heritage Village the hauntings diminished drastically. She couldn’t remember if Howard had drifted through even once until today. A quick glance around the apartment reassured her that no ghosts, including one as wonderful as Howard lurked. Though the tenor of his voice hinted at mirth—teasing her in a way he had done a thousand times during the nearly fifty years of marriage they had shared— Agnes shivered, sensing his passing through as some kind of omen, a warning.

Turning back to the monitor, she shook off the feeling and scrolled through some of the websites finally choosing to take a virtual tour of a large chicken farm as they collected chicken droppings and rice husks from the floor of a massive chicken coop, bagging it for fertilizer purposes. The sheer magnitude of the product echoed Howard’s words, because at times the workers stood ankle deep in dung.


​Helen Marcum entered Mavis’s office without the benefit of announcement or knocking. Mavis cringed. Even though her door was open—a fact Helen pointed out to her, when she indicated, a knock would be appropriate—Even so noted, Mavis felt as if she had been blindsided—again.

Helen was unapologetic, but there was an air about her that Mavis could not identify, the set of her shoulders, the crinkle of fine lines around her mouth and eyes. That was it! Helen’s eyes while bloodshot expressed a sad weariness unseen by Mavis on any other occasion. Her hands clutched something that Mavis could not identify and Helen appeared preoccupied with it and her hands. Mavis recognized a gravity in Helen’s emotions, a weight of sadness, disappointment or something akin to those feelings.

So intrigued with sizing up Helen’s demeanor was Mavis that the silence between them lingered for several moments.Ordinarily, Mavis would be pushing the conversation along eager to get her thorn in the flesh removed and out of her office as quickly as possible.

Helen spoke first, raising her eyes from her hands to meet Mavis’s gaze. They were rimmed in red and a pool of tears—another first, Mavis noted—threatened to spill onto her face.

“I have come to report a theft.” She placed the object in her hands on the desk. It appeared to be a soft sided fake leather pouch for glasses.

Mavis reached across to pick up the case; she turned it over in her hands noticing a clip on onside to secure it in a pocket. The object perplexed her. It appeared empty, but as if that were not obvious, Mavis squeezed the case opened and peered inside. Quite empty, she thought and her audible words echoed her thoughts.

“It’s empty. Did someone take your glasses?” Even as she said it she realized that was absurd. Helen didn’t wear glasses—at least not as far as she knew. Mavis had never seen her even use a pair to read. Mavis braced for Helen’s retort, but none came.

There was a tremor in Helen’s voice when she responded. The sound in any other voice would have catapulted Mavis around the desk to wrap a comforting arm across her shoulder, but with Helen the effect cemented her legs to the floor. For the first time in ages that she heard every word Helen spoke. Usually Mavis was so busy planning her response to Helen that she only half listened to anything Helen said. The tremor in Helen’s voice had the same effect on Mavis that a teacher who whispers has on an unruly class. She settled back and listened. Helen had her full attention.


While Helen explained why the theft of Milo Grant’s glasses upset her so deeply, life went along as scheduled in Heritage Village. Frank and Otto completed the chicken coop and pen. The Reverend and the Colonel discontinued a discussion that had become heated and were playing bridge with Thelma Louise and Ruth.

Pauline combed through her closet looking for an appropriate dress for Milo Grant’s funeral. Peaches scratched, yipped and in general protested the fact that Pauline had shut her onto the balcony of her apartment. Agnes Webster scrolled through the chicken manure websites printing information about using rice hull litter in the coop and roost, cleaning the area and creating a compost pile with the hulls and droppings for use in the garden and Amy Davidson motored down the corridors toward Lydia Brownfield’s room.

The shadows of individuals Amy encountered in the hall spoke as she passed and Amy smiled cordially at each one. Some of the voices were becoming familiar in the way of casual acquaintances. Amy catalogued them in her memory banks based on the height and breadth of their shadows and the tenor of their voices. Voices were like fingerprints to Amy, no two alike. She arranged them as they passed. Long, lean, baritone with a Chicago accent. Big all over, with the gush of breath that accompanied a lateral lisp. For a few she could even assign names based on their voices.

All in all Amy felt pleased with her accomplishments in the few days she’d been at Heritage Village. Dear Mr. Grant had departed, if not on the wings of a dove, at least on the strains of a waltz. Like her mother there had been no reluctance, no hesitation at the door to eternity only the hint of catching one last glance before the portal closed behind him.

Lydia Brownfield might prove a more reluctant traveler. Evidently, though paralyzed from the neck down, she could still communicate verbally. That fact alone heralded adventure. The disease had trapped Lydia’s mouth and mind in a useless body, and the steady decline would within days, months, in slivers of seconds possess her mouth before her mind. ALS ravished its victims sucking every possible movement until the brain alone, the intellect, the personality, the essence of the sufferer remained, but without a single avenue of expression.

Amy shivered in anticipation. Lydia could prove to be an exciting person to usher. The thought titillated Amy. She inhaled sharply, considering her mission.

A challenge would make Lydia’s swan song more thrilling and the finale would be to die for. Breathing deeply, she pushed into the room without benefit of knock or announcement.

This would require a perfect performance. Amy squared her shoulders and advanced.

“Mothers, Would You Let Your Fifteen Year Old Join the Carnival?”


Some stories people tell are just too good not to share. On Sundays, Terry and I go visit some folks from church who are no longer able to attend worship services. We visit for a short time, serve Communion, and pray with them. It gives us an opportunity to check in on them and to include them in the life of the church. On more than one occasion we will be entertained by their life stories. Today was one such occasion.

One of the people we visit launched into a story that will make most mothers cringe. When he finished 9th grade, he left home and headed west to find a job. He did not run away. His family simply did not stop him. This would have been in the 1930’s. His only opportunity for work near home was as a farmhand at 50 cents a day. He set out to find something better.

When he reached Denver, Colorado, having worked odd jobs since leaving Kentucky, he saw a Carnival setting up and a Help Wanted sign posted. He strolled up to where they were erecting the tent for Side Show and after watching for a few minutes he determined who the boss was, approached him and asked for a job.

“You able to travel?”
“Yes, I guess I am, if you mean traveling with the Carnival..couldn’t go far on my own.”
The Boss chuckled, then asked
“How far?”
“Guess about anywhere in the States, not overseas.”
The Boss looked him over carefully, assessing his long lanky frame and probably his character in that slow look. If he thought this is just a kid, he didn’t say it.
“How long you aiming to stay with us?”
“All summer, till you close for the winter.”

That settled it. He went to work at 15 years old for the carnival traveling from Denver clear up into Montana and then back down south, breaking it down for the last time in Oklahoma City. He worked setting up tents, driving the stakes into the ground and as a ticket taker for the side show. He said at every stop, he wrote his mother a letter, picking up letters from home along the way. In Oklahoma City, he parted company with the carnival and headed home to Kentucky. He said a lot of the family back home had a hard time believing his mother had let him go.

Listening to his story I kept a running commentary in my own head..His parents let him go…a 15 year old…ON HIS OWN with no support from home…he JOINED a CARNIVAL, that’s rough stuff..but also, he found a job, he supported himself making a dollar a day, he wrote his mother at every stop and he returned home, where he went on to join the army. In fact, he was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He returned from service, married and raised a family. He and his wife are strong Christians and have been married 60 plus years and his children also built good solid faith filled lives and families.

The times were different, but so were the people. Makes me wonder if more 15 year olds joined the Carnival…NO NOT REALLY! But it does delight me that I have had the opportunity to know someone who did.

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