Sunday, August 15, 2010

Apologies and Concrete Turtles

Let me start this installment with an update on my friend in the CCU at St. Francis. If you’ve just happened upon my writings for the first time and you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you might want to read my previous two posts. As for my friend, at my last writing, things looked very much like he was going to pass on. I think I said something like “short of a miracle” or something like that. Well, two days after our prayer gathering in the hospital, he was breathing on his own, responding to people, and they have him sitting up in a chair occasionally. I guess God isn’t quite ready for him to go home.

Today, though, I’m going to change the subject just a bit. Yesterday (Saturday), I attended my family reunion in Muncie. Family reunions are interesting events and fodder for all kinds of funny jokes. I think Jeff Foxworthy has one that goes something like: “If you go to your family reunion to pick up girls, you might be a redneck.” Well, my family isn’t quite that “down home,” but it is true that not everyone knows everyone else. A stranger could easily come in and get a free meal and no one would be much the wiser.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to enjoy these events a great deal more. Learning about my ancestors and my extended family is starting to become a minor hobby, and this was a good chance to extend my knowledge. Only recently I’ve learned that my great, great grandfather, William (Billy) Terrell was a minister. He lived near Windsor, Indiana, but apparently he traveled around the countryside preaching in various churches. This would have been in the mid to late 1800’s. The Terrell’s are my mother’s side of the family, and the cool thing about learning this bit of history is that my dad’s grandfather was also a minister.

On to my two main points from the title of this little blog entry:

First, I ran into a cousin that I had not seen in about thirty years. We aren’t closely related cousins. I think he is the grandson of my grandfather’s brother. Scratch your head and think that one through. Anyway, we were around each other as teenagers, went to the same church, and were active in the same youth group. The thing is, I’ve always regretted some ways that I treated him. I was a bit insecure as a young person, and was often the butt of other people’s jokes, but with him, I could turn the tables and pour a little his way. At the time, I sort of thought it was funny, but I also knew on the inside that I was out of line.

He walked up to me and said, “Mike DeCamp!” and stuck out his hand. I didn’t know who he was, but when he told me I was both happy to see him AND again struck with my own guilty conscience. We visited for a bit, and later we were in the food line together. I decided to take the opportunity to apologize. “I think I owe you an apology,” I said. “What for?” was his reply. “I don’t think I was very nice to you sometimes back when we were kids.” He gave me a blank look. “You don’t remember that?” I asked. “Nope” he said. “Well, good. I’m glad.” Later, I got to visit with his mom, and I got to meet his wife. We had a nice visit, and I have a small load off my chest. Apologies are good for the soul.

Secondly, just outside the shelter we were using is a very old, concrete turtle. It sits in the middle of a grassy section now, but back when I was a kid, it was part of a sandbox play area. This little hold-over from another era has a fond spot in my memories. You see, when I was very small, say three or four years old, my dad used to walk me down Hackley Street to Heekin Park to play. Sometimes, he would even carry me on his shoulders. One of those trips ended at the turtle. At the time, it was an unpleasant thing, but now, as I recall it and think of my dad, it is a fond memory and a sort of connection to my father.

I’m posting the picture so you can see it, but imagine me as a four year old sitting in the sand underneath this turtle playing with some other kids. Well, one of those kids was a little girl who didn’t want to share a shovel or bucket or some other toy, and I got mad; so mad that I grabbed a bunch of sand and threw it in her face. Of course, like all little girls, she had to cry and run off to her mommy. My dad dragged my little behind out from under that turtle, gave it a really nice new shade of red with his belt, and off we went back home. It’s funny how I can be so fond of that turtle when it was such a traumatic event at the time.

I shared the story with my nearly eighteen-year-old daughter, showed her the turtle, and we shared a good laugh about how impossible it would be for me to get under that thing these days. Later, I took a long walk with my great, great niece, and we ended up at the turtle. (She is my brother’s, daughter’s granddaughter…another one to wrap your mind around.) A new generation gets to pass by a place that holds many memories for I’m sure an uncountable number of other people. I’m glad I got to share a visit to it with her.

I don’t know that I have a moral to this posting. I just thought I’d share these things with you. If there is a moral, I guess it would be to apologize when you need to, and hang on to your memories. And, don’t skip your family reunions!

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