Friday, September 27, 2013

Light one shoe

“How Davy Crockett almost got me killed

    Sunday of last week, I had an epiphany. I haven’t had all that many epiphanies, nor am I perfectly clear as to what one is. But, I like the sound of it.

I was in church when it hit. I was listening to the story about Isaac and Jacob for the 15 millionth time. (I was practically born on a church pew during a time when adults didn’t even try to make church interesting.)

Anyway, I was thinking about Isaac and Jacob being lousy fathers, and that got me daydreaming about the time I thought my dad was gonna kill me. Dad never came close to killing any of us, but we always believed it possible. We were kids.

I’ve told the story to you a time or two, but this time is different, because of the epiphany. The story takes place on a Wednesday night a few decades ago. The Hayter kids were on the floor in front of the ol’ 18 inch RCA. We were watching either, Davy Crockett or Elfego Baca, two of the greatest shows in the history of mankind.

Mom had already yelled at us about 100 times to get up and get ready for church. Church on a Wednesday night meant only 15 minutes of Disneyland, no Wagon Train, and no Ozzie and Harriet. It was our attempt to stretch the 15 minutes of Disneyland viewing that made Mom yell so much.

After Mom’s hundredth yell we were expecting maybe two more. They never came. Dad suddenly appeared from a poof of cigar smoke. He turned off the TV and said, “Everyone in the car.” Said it in that low, scary Daddy tone.

All I had on were shorts over briefs. I ran into the bedroom, found my jeans, grabbed my shirt and shoes and socks and managed to dive into the backseat as Dad was backing out.

Dad hadn’t driven a half of mile before I realized I was missing a shoe. Dad’s yelling at us for being bad kids, and I was light one shoe. I gave Dennis the sign language for “What should I do?” He gave me the signal for “the moment the noose tightens.”

Jill whispered the stupidest thing in the world. “Tell Daddy.” He’s telling me what jerk I am, and I’m supposed to stop him to tell him I forgot my shoe? I did the only feasible thing I could do. I prayed for a wreck.

The minute the car rolled to a stop in the parking lot, Dennis and Jill were out and sitting in their classroom. I was trying to outwait Mom, but it was impossible. That woman! When I finally exited the car, she instantly noticed my leftward slant. I begged her not to tell Daddy. I’ll just tell people I stepped on a nail.

Mom summoned Dad, and when he saw me, I started bawling. It was one of those can’t-catch-your-breath cries. All Dad said was, “Get in the car.” I interpreted that to mean, “I can kill you right here, but prefer the car.”

Ever since that moment, I thought what a wise Father would do. A wise Dad would say, “Son, get in the building. If anybody asks about your shoe, you tell ‘em the truth. Your punishment will be their laughter.”

If that thought ever hit Dad it didn’t stick. We got in the car and he drove me home. On the way, he said one thing, “I can’t believe you’re that scared of me.” When we got home, he split a Pepsi with me, and we watched Ozzie and Harriet before returning to church for the rest of the gang.

It was the nicest I had ever seen my Dad. He didn’t even act ashamed of me. And that was the very moment during my daydream that it came to me. The epiphany. The whatever.

Daddy wouldn’t let me go into the church building and lie about the shoe, nor would he let me go in and tell the truth about what happened. He was too ashamed for people to find out how frightened his children were of him. That was his epiphany.

I’d like to say that everything got better after that between Daddy and the rest of us. Oh, maybe it did for a couple of weeks. I can’t remember. I do remember that none of us were ourselves around Daddy. The man had too many problems and too much on his mind to maintain a good mood for long.

And, that was pretty much my attitude toward God during my youth. From what I was hearing from the pulpit, God hated me when I was bad and tolerated me when I was good. No wonder no one smiled in church.
1954 Before Big Al was born.
 L to R: Larry, Susan, Dad with me
Mom with Jill, Lynda and Dennis

I wish I had been made aware of the times it’s mentioned in the Bible about God loving children so much. We used to sing “Jesus loves the little children…” but I saw no sign of that.

Now I have biblical evidence and physical evidence. One piece of biblical evidence is found in Matthew 18: 10. And the physical evidence is proved by the fact that at the beginning of the 21st century, God allowed the invention of the DVR. 

end and

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