May 15, 1974 was a turning point in my life. That Wednesday literally changed not only the summer of my seventh year, but when combined with the day and weeks that followed played a major impact on making me who I am. The anniversary of that day came and went this past Friday, I spent a few moments reflecting on that day. I wanted to share my reflections with you.
That mid-week day started out like any other school day. My brother, Doug, and I finished our breakfast (either cereal or a pop-tart along with a glass of milk or juice) and headed out the door. Mom stayed at the house taking care of my baby brother, so we walked as we did everyday to wait for our ride to school. Coach Rick Bird was our ride to school. Rick was the preacher's son and was soon to marry one of my Bible Class teachers at church, they had asked me to be their ring bearer.
Two weeks of school remained before summer break. That summer had great promise. We were going to travel out West, we were going to see the Grand Canyon and maybe California. We had even talked about an excursion into the southern part of Canada. We were also getting a Color TV! Summer was beckoning, but we had to endure the last few days of school before all those magical moments of Summer could come true.
While we waited for Coach Bird, we played our usual games: floating leaves in the street gutters, bouncing loose road gravel down the road or splashing them in a puddle, or watching ants scurry to work to rebuild a foot-sized section of their anthill. Doug was looking for something to float or toss when he found a treasure – a steel ring – not a shower curtain ring mind you, this was one solid piece that rang when you dropped in on the concrete curb. After investigating it, he asked if I wanted it. The ring was cool, but if Doug who was 5 years older and a wise 13 year old wanted it, I was not going to fight him for it (at least not before school). I said, “No.”
What happened next set up a chain of events that neither Doug nor I will ever forget. He decided that the ring was of little value and checked out its aerodynamics by tossing it as far as he could across the road into the yard on the other side. I could not believe he did not want such I treasure! Now I wanted it. After a short altercation on the seemingly invalid point of my originally not wanting it, Doug said, “If you want it that bad, go get it!' I did. I looked both ways, crossed the road and went after my treasure. After looking and not seeing it, I looked at my brother for help. He said something about going to miss our ride, so I started back across the road. Here is where my memory gets a little fuzzy I recall this in slow motion. I looked to the left – no cars. I looked to the right – two cars, the last a little red hatchback. I took off, forgetting to look back to the left. That was my mistake. A mistake that would change my summer, my family's summer, and ultimately much of my life.
To be continued . . . tune in tomorrow.