I would get soooo excited over going to the picture show. We’d see Roy Rogers, Randolph Scott or Audie Murphy. What a “big event” for a young lad. But as the years roll irrevocably on, I remember the walk to town with my brothers, the laughter and shoving matches on the way home, more than any movie.
I run into former high school classmates and they will invariably bring up a football game I played in back in the early ’60’s. And rightfully so. Those games were “big events” whether you were a struggling sophomore, up and coming junior or seasoned senior.
We had pep rallies. Red and Gray dress day. Floats at homecoming. Grown-ups during the week would pat you on the back and remind you of what a win Friday night over Grove High School would mean to them…..and to the whole town!
It was all about the game!
But for the life of me I can’t remember one play in one game over the four years I suited up against E. W. Grove High School.
I remember Johnny Stoker staying after practice, working on his place kicking. I remember Wesley Beal’s steady leadership. I remember how much fun it was to be on a team with Eddie Carden. I remember the resolve of Joe Wilkinson. I remember Johnny Smith was a serious football player. I remember animated talks with teammates about Miss Polly’s English class; the food in the lunch room; who was prettier, Donna Leatherwood or Cynthia Wheat……
It was the same in basketball. We won lots of games for sure. But I mostly remember Martin Paschall beating time on the locker room door and singing Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” danged near as good as Roy could do it.
And I think it was Martin’s idea to stop up the drains in the shower. We’d fill that whole room with about six inches of water, get a running start and dive on our bellies and slide across the floor.
We’d walk home in the semi darkness discussing the weather, baseball, the Coaster’s new song, what it would be like to live in Memphis and whether it would be turnip greens and cornbread for supper….or pinto beans and cornbread. We didn’t talk much about where we’d been or where we hoped to end up.
Marriage is about as “big event” as it gets in life. And I’ve got to be careful here. I do remember the wedding and the honeymoon in St. Louis watching the Cardinals play. It was a special time for sure.
But you know the image that sticks in my mind. We stopped back by the house to change clothes. Leon got to telling that story again about being captured by aliens. He described the revolving bright lights, the spaceship, the metal cap with all the wires hanging out, he even included a few of the questions the graveled voice leader asked….
Now, this wedding just ended! Cathy was officially a member of the family. We had seated ourselves around the kitchen table for a moment of bonding before we hit the road. Cathy is staring at Leon with a look of wonder, shock, amusement, disbelief, bewilderment, incredulity…..
Talk about priceless!
I was privileged to see my oldest son, in one of his first college baseball games, get four hits and throw out a runner at home plate. Whew, for a father/son duo, it doesn’t get any “bigger” than that!
And I appreciated the moment. But what I really REMEMBER was going to the restaurant afterwards. We celebrated over barbequed ribs. But the talk wasn’t on baseball. And it wasn’t loud or braggadocios. He quietly and sincerely thanked me for all the times I had “been there” as he was growing up.
I’ve stood on the precipice and peered over into the marvelous and matchless depths of the Grand Canyon. It is as spectacular as everyone says. But I remember the small Indian girl, whose beautiful black eyes literally sparkled when I pulled a quarter out of her ear. Her laughter follows me to this day….
I’ve taken children and grandchildren to Disney World. And believe me, the magic is not the Kingdom.
I’ve never claimed to understand all I know about life.
The “big events” in everyone’s pilgrimage are just that. Big and meaningful and memorable and cherished and oh, so special……
But I’m telling you this morning, that just maybe—real, deep, profound life is the part that happens in between the big events.
It’s something to think about.