Was it spring or fall? Small children don’t have the sense of the seasons as we older types. I don’t remember it being extremely hot or cold as we all loaded into my dad’s ’47 Plymouth early one morning. This was an adventure like the one the year before when we all went to Jekyll Island for a week. Yet this was somehow different. We did not take my goldfish to Jekyll. Transporting goldfish was tricky, in those pre-ziplock days. My mom picked up the bowl and carefully made a place for it on the back floor of the Plymouth.
When my Dad was young–maybe five or six–his family moved to Memphis, TN. His father, my grandfather, worked as a travelling salesman for the Columbia Ribbon and Carbon Manufacturing Co., and he’s been sent there by the company. I’m not sure why, but they were only there for about a year.
Back in 2002, Dad was telling me about something that happened while he was in Memphis. Maybe it’s the nature of being five, or maybe something significant was changing for him that year. For whatever reason, he said, he thought about Memphis quite a lot.
My Grandma had her own way of seeing the world, her own way of seeing me. I remember her as an unassuming woman—not someone you’d call a philosopher—but she carried inside her a powerful, persistent, and positive way of looking at the people around her; and when I was with her, I couldn’t help but see things—see myself—in the same way, through the secret decoder, held up to the light.
I’ve always understood the stories of the Bible to be stories of faith, not not stories of history.
There was a third man, who perhaps made many errors in performance but whose effective life was devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when ugly forces were loose in the world to utilize those fears. This man was hated by the few. When he died the people burst into tears in the streets and their minds wailed, “What can we do now? How can we go on without him?”