Friday, November 23, 2007



I grew up as a preacher's kid. I was around people all the time. Dad always seemed to praise the Lord, although I sometimes wondered what he had to be thankful for. There were weeks when we had $12. to feed all five of us. But we had a roof over our head, always. And we had lots of friends. Sometimes Jim or someone would bring a bag of groceries.

But I was restless. There was a world out there - just waiting for me! I wanted to do things! I did things with some other guys on the cable access channel. I could see myself making it big! Maybe a rock star! Yeah! That's what I want to be. Someone! I talked about it enough. Dad and Mom saw me on cable TV. My voice made me a natural to be an announcer. I was sort of the emmcee of the show we guys put on. "Question authority" was our theme. And yet, I was me, not someone else.

I got up my nerve and went to talk to Dad. He wouldn't understand. Not at his age. But I had to try. I walked into the living room at our house. Dad was there, sitting in his recliner.

"Hello, son," said Dad.

I sat down across from him, and waited.

"I know what you're thinking," Dad said.

"No, Dad. You don't know what I'm thinking. I know that you're thinking how will you ever live it down if I go to the Big City and make a success, become a Star! You want to keep me here at home where you can tell me what to do."

"Well, son, it's not so much what happens to us. We'll get by, as we always have. It's you. You're going to face tough choices. The Big City has many opportunities. But some are good and some are bad. It may not be what you expect to find when you get there."

"Dad. Don't you always preach that 'all things work together for good.'"

"Yes. But that's when you love Him and ask for His guidance for life. And if you 'screw up,' He is always there to help you get it all back together again. He is the Father who loves you."

"Dad, I do love Him. It's just that I can't live your life. I've got to go to the Big City and make a life of my own."

Mom came in from the kitchen. She stood and listened.

"Norton." Dad put his hand on the recliner and slid himself up on the edge. "I'm still worried about you when you meet the raw life of the city. You've been sheltered even though you don't think so. When you meet with wickedness in the flesh, it could petrify you."

"Dad. This is a college town. This is the big University. Everything happens here. What could be different in the Big City?"

"There is a difference. The students come here to learn and prepare for the future. They may make some mistakes, even serious mistakes, but it's nothing to compare with those who scam and destroy. Some will seem to be your friends as long as you have a dollar. But when you are flat broke, they will dump you in the trash can. And there are pimps and sharks and gangbangers."

"Dad! Give me some credit. I have enough sense to take care of myself. I'm not a baby anymore."

"Norton. Remember we love you. You always have a home here. No matter what happens, you can always come back home. When you need help, we are always here for you. May God protect you."

"Dad. You're loading guilt on me again."

"Norton, that's not what I am doing. We want you to know that we really do love you and care about you. But sometimes you should feel guilt. It's a warning, like when you touch something hot and it burns your finger. Everybody has a conscience. When you do something wrong, your conscience makes you feel guilt. It's supposed to be that way."

"I love you!" Norton hugged Dad and Mom. Then he went out the door.

It would be some time before they saw each other again. Dad was moving to Northern Ohio. Norton was moving in with some friends and staying behind. Later he intended to try to get to the Big City.

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