MY STORYIn my life I’ve been a curb hop, (if you know what that is you are probably as old as I am) baker, cook, shipping clerk, carpet salesman and installer, appliance salesman, furniture salesman, office manager, roofer, carpenter, painter, pastor, preacher, husband, father, and friend. I even managed a pig farm for four years. In the past 46 years I pastored three churches and was an assistant pastor before that. I have been married for 56 years. (2016) My wife and I have one son who came into our life 49 years ago when he was five days old. We had a home in Virginia where we have lived for 30 years and pastored Grace Fellowship Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith. From 1993 to 2015 I worked as Accountant for a small corporation in Front Royal VA.
I received 9 years of elementary and high school education. In 1965 I received my General Education Development Certificate(GED)from the state of North Carolina. This test was also given to 100 High School Seniors. I received a percentile US rank average of 85 in 5 subjects. I received an Associates Degree in Accounting from Lord Fairfax Community College in 1993, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
MY DADMy father was a textile employee, a carpenter, and a real good block mason. As a kid I can vividly remember that he worked long hours with little rest. He usually worked what was called the graveyard shift (third shift from 10 to 6) and then worked morning and afternoon hours in carpentry work (When he worked). Sometimes my mom and dad worked on different shifts and we kids, my two sisters and me, had to wake dad up to go to work. I can still recall how difficult it was to get him awake. I worked with him a lot. I got my work ethic from him as well as learning a few things about carpentry. I have a scar on my left thumb which I got trying to use a handsaw while holding my thumb to the saw to keep it steady like my dad did.
My dad served in the Army during WWII in Germany. He was an alcoholic. Often he would be gone for weeks at a time then come home intoxicated and abusive. I was frightened. Many times I would run and hide. We didn’t have indoor plumbing in those days. Sometimes I would hide in the outhouse; sometimes under the bed. Often there was nothing to eat in the house. My mom had to borrow enough change from a friend to get us a can of soup so we would have something to eat. Dad died in 1968 from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 44 at the time. Someone found him on the side of the road. No foul play was indicated. After many years of night mares and anxiety I can now live with the negative memories my dad left our family. I don’t remember too much about my dad’s people other than his mother who lived with us for a while when I was a child.
MY MOM AND HER PEOPLEMy mother was also a textile employee. She taught me how to love and to be loved. Mom has been dead only a few years. The last years of her life were of poor quality due to a stroke. I know more about my mom’s people, especially her parents and siblings. Her dad, my grandpa, was a hard working farmer, as was my "granny". They raised eight children. They also raised garden vegetables which fed the family in the summer and prepared canned vegetables, fruit and even meat to sustain the family during the winter months. Grandpa was a good and honest man. I have vivid memories of seeing him knelt beside his bed in prayer before retiring for the night. He could neither read nor write. He signed documents with a simple x. I loved my grandpa very much.
My grandmother was educated. I think her marriage to my granddad was arranged by her parents. Grandpa had been married and his wife died. Granny wanted to be a nurse but was not able to fulfill her dream. That sounds strange when I remember how many of her family members she nursed both physically and emotionally back to health. She was primarily responsible for my introduction to the faith. She was in her nineties when she died. She was a wonderful lady. I am indebted to her. Her last years were not the best because of a stroke as was her mother’s last days, my great-grandmother, we called her "grandma".
My great-grandmother could neither read nor write but she could count. She believed what I came to believe was and is the truth. She was an encouragement to me to do the same. I recall as a child visiting her ever so modest home and reading to her from the Bible. As a widowed mother she raised a mentally challenged son who lived with her until she had a stroke and had to be taken care of herself. She died in her nineties. She was precious. I hope to meet her, my granny, grandpa, and my mother in God’s great kingdom. My son is a fifth generation believer.
When I was age of eleven my mom left my dad. Mom had left him a number of times before that but this time she determined it to be for good. He could be very abusive and completely unpredictable when he was drinking and she took the brunt of the abuse. Dad made promises to Mom which he may have intended to keep but didn’t. She tried once more to live with him but nothing had changed despite his promises. He had a drinking problem and failed to address it.
In order to understand why my mother kept returning to an abusive situation with my dad you would have to understand what it was like in those days for a single mom with three kids, living in the South. Her education was limited and her only marketable skill was being able to work hard which she did. She had very few options.
BACK TO MY DADI loved my dad. I was afraid of him part of the time. Can you understand that? But there were times when he would put his hand on my knee and say, “You’re my boy” as we traveled down the road. My heart would swell with pride. I worked with him in his carpentry work as a child of seven to ten years old. When he would do masonry work I would mix the “mud” and carry cement or cinder blocks to him. I have some good memories.
He had a problem he never learned to control. He was likeable when he wasn’t drinking. He had a good heart. It’s such a shame. I grieve the loss of my dad. It was a loss as well to my two younger sisters and yes, my mom. He died at the age of 44 with so much possibility before him which was never realized. The tragedy so far as I know, and my knowledge is limited; is that he died without Christ. He died in the winter in a ditch, cold and alone. But I must remember that was his choice.
For a short time in the mid fifties there was a semblance of order in our lives. Dad even attended church for a while. It was during that time that I started going to church where I was introduced to the great truths of the Bible. I decided I needed to be baptized.
I was baptized in a river behind an Advent Christian Church in the hills of North Carolina. It was such a grand day. Not long after I was baptized my dad started drinking again so Mom decided she had finally had enough, after years of abuse. Mom had nowhere else to go, so she left Dad and we moved in with her parents, my grandparents, granny and grandpa.
MY GRANDPARENTSMoving in with mom’s parents was probably one of the best things she could have done. It was actually the only thing she could have done. I know it made life very difficult for my grandparents. Their house was small. It only had two small bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and a large kitchen. Mornings centered in the kitchen not to far from the wood cooking stove. Granny was a terrific cook. She could make the best home made biscuits you could find. I was able to roam around the farm and the woods around the house. Actually this was some of the happiest times of my young life.
My grandparents had a piano in their dining room which my aunt (Mom's sister, Dolly) could play rather well. I later learned that my mom had purchased this piano while my dad was in the Army in Germany. My aunt played songs without the music; “by ear” we used to call it.
One day I suggested that we sing “I’ll Fly Away”, to which granny replied, “We don’t sing that anymore”. (The song was about what happens when a person dies.) You can imagine the questions that conjured up in my young mind. Why not sing “I’ll Fly Away”? What’s wrong with that? Gently, granny gave me some basic, fundamental, biblical data which sounded logical to my young mind. If it didn’t make sense I found it hard to accept. I think that was when my Biblical training began.