I want to tell you the story of how God has richly blessed me throughout my life
and got me through some difficult situations. First I want to give you a little
background. I was born on Easter Sunday morning, 1961 in Huntsville, Alabama.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy. CP is a birth defect which generally affect body
movement and muscle coordination. (As you can tell it has affected my walking
and my talking.) The story has been told that a doctor had them they could
take me home and make me invalid or they could take me home and make me independent.
Thank God they chose to make me independent.
We spent the first 7 years of my life in Huntville,Alabama while my dad was finishing up his ’s doctoral
work in Physics. Mom and Dad had met on the campus of North Texas State University in Denton,
I always wanted to paticipate not just be a spectator.
In 1968, my family and I moved from Huntsville, Alabama to Huntsville, Texas. My dad
finished the work on his doctoral degree in Physics and he began teaching at Sam
Houston State University. In those days there was no such thing as a special class
for people with disabilities. So I did everything all the others kids did including
It can be very difficult for me to meet new people and to have real close friends.
I had probably only had 3 really close friends during my growing up years. It was
not that I did not have a lot of friends. Being in the same school district for
all 12 years you end up knowing most of the kids but getting very close to people
could be challenging. One of the ways I tried to keep involved with the guys is
with a football prediction league. I would print up the schedules and hand
them out and they would turn them back in and at the end of the weekend I
would total up the wins and losses and then printing the standings and
the new schedules.
I was always involved in our church’s youth group. We did lot’s of stuff
Together. I think we went to Glorieta Baptist Assembly in New Mexico twice
while I was in Junior High. The first time we were going to see the commissioning
service for our beloved pastor Darryle Dunks as he went off to Tanzania to become
a missionary. A couple of years later the youth group went back. The big
story that year was that about 5 of our guys went hiking on Mount Baldy.
I think one of the guys got hurt and they had to send a couple of guys back down
the mountain to get help.
We also had lots of fun. One of our youth directors came up with the clever idea
of turning our fellowship hall into kind of a hockey rink. We used brooms
for hockey sticks and maybe something like a volleyball for a puck and we would
play hockey. I think we kind of had a mini-tournament the first night we did it and
I was the goalie for the team that won. But a lot of people weren’t very happy that
we were using the fellowship hall as a hockey rink.
One time I broke my one of my toes playing broom hockey but I did not realize it
until a couple of days later. I had made a request to be a delegate to the Southern
Baptist Convention when it came to Houston in 1979. My youth pastor and another
friend went down there on Tuesday, which is the day that most of the voting takes
place. We had to park our cars at Rice Stadium parking lot and then be bused to the
Summit where the convention was being held. The longer I walked the worse the pain got.
Finally by lunch time I was hurting pretty bad, so Gene just got us some box lunches
they were selling at the convention site. When the day was over and we had cast our votes
we made our way back to Huntsville. When we went to the doctor he said the toe was broken.
But my mom, dad and I had made plans to ride a bus the church had chartered down
to Houston to attend a rally at the Astrodome in conjunction with the convention
featuring Billy Graham. We went ahead and went but the guys on the bus had to carry
me to the top rafters od the dome to find a seat.
Trying to figure out what if anything to do about dating was very difficult. I was normally
pretty shy and bashful. l wanted what mom and dad had but had but had no idea of how to
go about getting it. There where very few if any disabled people in our school so I tried
a few times with a few girls with no success. I usually tried the anonymous love letter
and when I was found out that was the end of that. Sometimes I wondered if it was ever
going to happened for me. I mean hanging out with guys is great but sometimes you long
for more. The last time I tried it was pretty much a total disaster.
In high school, I was on the newspaper staff and in my sophomore year I participated
in our church’s speaker Tournament and won. Then I went to our associational
Tournament and won. Actually, nobody else showed up. So I got to go to the
State-Semifinals in Waco. In my senior year, my parents decided it was time
That it was time I learned to drive. My dad spent hours in our church parking lot
practicing and driving the mile to our house. I think the trooper told my mom to try
to keep me off the road for awhile Finally, the first day of college
I got drive to drive on my own. My poor dad if my memory serves me correctly
worked on five different cars from the summer of 1980 to the summer of 1985
a Nova, a mustang, a LTD, a Opel and the car I wrecked I really don’t remember
what it was. One summer’s night I met my best friend, Bobby, at his work and
we were going to drive out to his house to do something at his house. I got
significantly ahead of him and I was just leisurely making my way down a two-lane
highway and all of a sudden Bobby came up beside me and honked and sped on by and
I got startled and I swerved off the road and flipped the car and hit a tree.
But I walked away with just a little bit of a bruised hip.
I would keep looking for part time work during the my college years. One summer
I delivered tickets to some kind of circus or carnival to places all over the city and county.
The other thing that I did was I did security at our church. I would open the church
and get the air conditioning going and when the services were over I would close up
the church. We had two rather large buildings and two smaller buildings and a trailer.
I did not consider my academic career to have been very successful. Mom says that I
didn’t apply myself and she was right. I guess I just did enough to get by.
My grades were mainly B’S and C’s. I can do the basic add, subtract thing pretty
good but that algebra stuff escaped me. I have a hard time sticking to taking a
good set of notes. I just get tired and stop. A lot of people would suggest taking
a recorder to class.But who wants to listen to a boring lecture twice!! I was putting
my checkbook entries into Quicken about 4 years to get a balance before I discovered
I could actually balance my own checkbook.
When I graduated from high school in 1980, my intention was to be a education minister
In a Baptist church. After a year at Sam Houston, I intended to move to Howard Payne
and pursue a degree in Religous Education. At registration, I accidently double
booked a greek class that met 5 days a week with a kind of current events class
with the president of the University that you had take on Tuesday and Thursday.
When I got to the Greek class I realized my mistake and I was just discouraged
about the whole thing and pretty much wanted to throw in the towel but mom and
dad made me stay the full semester. It just wasn’t just the coursework that
made it difficult but I had friends at home for the first time in a long time
nd I found it hard to leave them behind. So when the semester was over I went
back home. I really had no plan for what to do with my life. I just started
taking the basics and eventually got a degree in Government.
After college, one of our good friends got me a job as a data entry clerk at
a collection agency. It was pretty basic data entry, put in new accounts
and post payments. My accountant mom’s probably going to put her head in
her hands and sigh, but I couldn’t grasp the concept of balancing the payments
with the bank deposit. Needless to say I didn’t keep that job very long.
It wasn’t necessarily that he fired me but they eventually had to take stop
letting me posting payments, then new accounts and it finally got down to
taking the deposit to the bank.
But that is not to say I did not want to work. From the earliest parts of my memory
I can always remember my mom and dad working very hard at work and at home and church.
My dad was the hardest working man I ever knew. My dad was a physics
professor at Sam Houston State for 32 years. He always was at work before 8 and
did not come home till after 5. His door was always open. He usually still had papers
to grade when he got home from work. When the he not at work he was always doing
something. Working in the garden, working on cars and working at church.
Mom also worked hard. Even though she always says she hates to cook and clean house
She always did a great job at both. But she had time to be our church’s financial secretary
and many other things.
So my desire to work came from the example of my parents and to show the world
what I could do.
In the summer of 1985, I walked into the office of my Texas Rehabilitation Office
the counselor said he had something he wanted to show me. There was a new program
starting in Dallas that trained the disabled to become computer programmers. IBM
had been sponsoring the program along with companies that had mainframe shops.
It turned out to be at El Centro College. It was a eight months of intensive training
And then two months of on the job training training. We decided that I would take the
bus to Dallas, spend the night with a dear friend and had my interview and I think
had to pass a test and then get back on the bus and come home. After a while, we found
out that I had been selected for the the course.
Mom and I went to Dallas to look for a place to live. After searching for a while
we settled for a roommate situation at what was called the Deaf Action Center. It
ended up that 3 other of the other students would also live there. I usually took
the bus and they took the handicap vans.
The class started in late August. There were 21 students in the first class. We were in
Class from 8 to 5. We were still using green screen terminals instead of PC’S.We had
access to no other computers so we basically had to wait until everybody was done
before we were able to move on. The class was divided into quarters and at the end of
each quarter we had to sit for interview with members of the BAC. The business advisory
council was made up of representatives of the companies that sponsored the program.
They then made recommendations of if they thought anybody needed to stay or go.
Our teacher was Louis Perkett. He was a former programmer who taught us the ropes
of being a cobol programmer. He did a great job.
At the end of the eight months we were given an opportunity to go work at one of the
Sponsoring companies for two months. Because I had a friend who worked for Texas
Utilities, that was my first choice for where I wanted to do my internship
and that is where I ended up.
When I arrived at Texas Utilities, I was assigned to work in the Corporate Applications
Department. They basically handle accounting side of the business. That covered General
Ledger and common reports, which included all of the basics reports like Balance Sheet
and Income Statements and other summary reports for the General Ledger. When I arrived
there, They were bringing all of the accounting systems from all the divisions
into one central place and then using the data from the unified system to pus the data
back out to the individual divisions to create their individual reports. The first project
that I worked on was to create posting transactions from one of the companies. The report
from that first program had to be carted around on a dolly. It was printed on the old green
At the end of the two months internship, Texas Utilities did offer me a job and I
did accept it. One of my friends and I went looking for a new place to live. I ended up
moving out to 635 and LBJ. It ended up being about 12 miles from home to work.
But I became very adept at using the back roads to get back and forth. So I took
a couple of weeks off and on August 11, 1986, I started to work at Texas Utilities.
Over the next few years I would work on a lot of different things. I continued to work
To work on the common reports and work on the Responsibilty Accounting system. I
believe on the first major project to use at that time the new mainframe Database DB2.
sometimes the smart guys would figure out how to do something cool and then give
it to the programmers to tweak the code to create the variations. I know we had to go
to the Mesquite Data Center to work on Saturday. One Saturday i wrote a program
to send reports to 50 different printers based on a record in a table.
After a couple of years they gave me a project to manage. I created what we called the Mortgage
Accounting System. What it did is extract data from five different construction
systems. These basically represented the construction dollars spent for the month
and then based on what kind of expenditure it was the cost where allocated to the
mortgages of four different companies. We met with the users to discuss what the
system would do. I did all the design, I wrote all the specifications and got them
approved. I wrote most of the programs. We put it into production and it ran for five years.
But I was real lonely. The people in the in the class were real nice but no real
dating prospects. Mother has always suggested trying to go to church and Sunday
School to meet people. I tried some but never had a whole lot of success. That is
not to say the guys at work were not good to me. They were very good to me.
But finding stuff to do at night beyond housework, TV and going to movies
can be hard sometimes.
In late 1987, my daddy’s sister suggested that I try to begin a friendship with a girl
she had known from her Seventh Day Adventist church in Weatherford. Her name was
Jackie James. She also had CP also and was in a wheelchair. She was able to walk
a little with crutches. I got her name, address and phone number and like the coward
I am, I wrote her a letter. In a few days she responded. that she would love to meet
and get to know one another. We agreed to get together. So on New Years Day we met at
a restaurant near where I live.Both of us thought the first date went ok so I started
going over to her place some to visit. She had come to Dallas to try to learn to drive
but she had been unsuccessful. Most of her family was in Fort Worth. She had spent
a lot of time in a little town southwest of Fort Worth called Keene. She had been befriended
by a lady in her childhood and spent a lot of time in Keene, which is about
30 miles southwest of Fort Worth.and went to high school and college there.
Both Jackie and I both thought the first date went well and as the next few weeks rolled into
months we began to spend more time together. In the beggining she lived about 3 miles from
downtown convienently on the way to work. After 3 or 4 months she got a chance to move to
a nicer bigger place and so she moved. We did like each other and enjoyed each other’s
company. But on occasion we did have disagreements and that was something new to me. My
mom and dad really never fought much at all. I can only remember one major argument
during all the days I was at home. Usually when I was with my friends, most of the
time I just went along for the ride and we mainly did what they wanted to get done.
I was never the one to want to cause waves. The kids at school at school knew one
sure fire way to get me upset was to tell me they were mad at me.
But on the other hand it was nice to have someone to share your life with. By April and
May we were already thinking about getting married. That was kind of quick but I think
we both wondered if we would get ever get another chance. So the first thing we had
to decide where to get married. Jackie wanted to get married at least near Keene or
at the large Keene Adventist Church. We did look at all the smaller Adventist churches
around there. There was another small detail that stood in our way. I had to become a
Adventist to be married in a Adventist Church. I knew Jackie would never become a
Baptist and I knew the odds of a mixed marriage working were not very good. I read a
couple of books and a friend of Jackie’s took me thru a series of lessons of Adventist
doctrine called the Revelation Seminar.
In a couple of months we decided it was time to get engaged. It was not how it is portrayed
in the movies but we negotiated and decided everything together. She helped me pick out the
bring and decided how we wanted the proposal to go. I mean what fiance in his right mind would pick
out a engagment ring on his own. So what we did is we took a carriage ride thru the West End
and I ask her to marry me and she said Yes!! Her mother was visiting and I ask her for her hand
in marriage and she said ok. So we started to prepare for the wedding. We set the date for January 1,
1989. Exactly one year from date we started dating. I finished the Revelation Seminar and
decided that I wanted to become a Adventist. For me rightly or wrongly, it really
wasn’t about proving about whether Adventism always lined up with my personal view of
scripture. It was about learning about how they came to their conclusions. So in the fall,
I was baptized and became an Adventist.
So did I have any second thoughts about getting married. I had a lot. We were so different.
Finally, I needed to take a break. So I went to Huntsville by myself for the weekend
and talked to Gene, the youth minister at my church and my parents.I think in my heart
I knew it was a bad idea. But I also wondered if I would ever have another chance.
But in the end it was enough that someone loved me enough to want to marry me.
I knew it not going to be easy but I thought some how we would make it work.
So on January 1, 1989 we got married. It was a wonderful day. The guy who would
have been my best man, Bobby McBee, was in the Air Force in Korea at the time,
so I chose to have two of my closest friends from the computer class to stand in
for him. Jim Daniels always had a encouraging word and big smile for me.
The wedding was beautiful. Jackie walked down the aisle on her crutches and then
they raised her on to the platform for the ceremony. The only major problem was
that when we got back home to Dallas, we had a car load of gifts to unload and
nobody to help us. So we spent a couple of hours of our early married lives
unloading the car. Jackie would hold everything she could hold and I would push her
into the apartment. We had to be on the plane for Orlando the next morning for our honeymoon.
We had a wonderful hotel room. I nearly blew the whole trip because when we got to the car
rental place I could not find my drivers license. After a little while we found it. The other
major hassle was getting the rental agent to put the spinner knob on the steering wheel.
We went to Epcot and both rented power wheelchairs for the day and had a wonderful day.
Jackie and my mom had found a apartment near where I was living before we got married.
It was very unique in that in the kitchen it had a large lower cabinet where Jackie could
put and get at all the dishes and silverware. The washer and dryer were outside and
she would have to wheel up into the doorway and then stand up and stand up and balance
herself and then put the clothes in. A lot of the time I would walk about 60 yards down to
the bus stop in the morning and then climb the hill from the bus stop at night.
Jackie didnt like to cook so we got fast food mostly.I would go home and we would
decide what we wanted to eat and then I would go out and get it. I would generally
go to the store about once a week to get the stuff we really needed. Jackie and I
would go to church on Sabbath and then usually go out to lunch with friends afterwords.
I think sometime in 1989, the Texas Utilities representative to the Business Advisory
Council of the program I was in, Bill McMullen, came by and told he had been
ask by a friend to go to Washington to speak before what I think was the Presidential
Commission for the Employment of the Disabled and he wanted me to come along and speak also.
So Bill and I flew to Washington and spoke before the committee. It was
a great experience.
I think one of the first big events that came along is that we bought a timeshare.
Yes we got one of those letters in the mail where if you go listen to their presentation
you get a free gift. I think my parents had done the same the year before and bought,
so we knew what we doing and we ended up buying. Our Home property Was on Grand Caymen
so we thought it would be a safe investment. In the beggining you alway feel guilty
but in the long run if it makes you take a vacation every year it is well worth it.
We made trips to Cape Cod(trying to drive out of Boston’s Logan tunnel on a friday
night was kind of a scary thing). We also had a beautiful cabin in the woods in
Northern Virginia and we made a couple of day trips in to Washington. We also
had a trip to Southern California where we spent a couple days with some friends
of Jackie’s around Arrowhead springs and then we drove down to San Diego where
our resort was.
Jackie began to have some pain in her right hip. I had already began to have pains,you name it, hips,
knee, feet, wrist. So we went to my orthopedist try to figure out where the pain was coming from.
What we found is that Jackie had a problem with her hip socket and the ball joint needed to be repositioned to work properly. They said that surgery was the only way to correct it. After careful consideration, she decided to have the surgery. In early November 1992, Jackie had the surgery and she spent nearly six weeks in the hospital and the rehabilatation center. I think I only missed 3-4 nights of not going to see her.
Then she spent about 4 weeks with her sisters before she was able to come home. It took her
about a year to get back to full strength.
But Jackie was very lonely being home by herself. So her and her sisters came up with
the idea of getting a dog. At first, I wasn’ t that crazy of getting a dog because it was just
something else to take care of. But eventually I came around. Every once in a while
I would take her to Fort Worth to spend time with with her sisters and they went to the
pound and came home with a small blonde poodle and she named her Peaches.
Back at work, after about 2 or 3 years I got promoted from an Associate Programmer to a
programmer. I began to work on the old construction systems and the transportation systems.
I worked with a couple other programmers to put together the first in production property tax
and every year it seemed we had to make to make changes. I think one of the first years I was
working on the property accounting for utility poles and the process ran for hours because it was
Like I said I was having arthritis problems really all over, my hips, and even my hands sometimes.
When I first started working, our building was about a block away from the Plaza of the Americas
and most days I would walk over using the skybridge and get something to eat and then walk back.
I had a couple of broken toes during the early 90’s and they ended up putting me in a cast for extra
protection and a walker to help with my balance.
Daddy began to have some trouble with his hands and he could not hold his textbook in his hands.
His handwriting which was bad anyway was getting worse. Mom and Daddy went to the doctor in Huntsville
and after examining him, he sent him to Houston. What they found is that he had a form of Parkinsons
Disease characterized by hand tremors, slow moving shuffling walking and dementia. Dad continued
to work for 5 more years but his work became increasingly more difficult.
Jackie was having a lot of fun with Peaches. She would follow Jackie all around the house and we
would try to take her where ever we went including we shouldn’t have including the mall. Jackie
did try to work some but finding good jobs was hard. But she did land a job at xxxxxxx Healthcare
for awhile but got layed off a few months later. Most of the time she would use Dart Handirides
van to get back and forth although sometimes I would take her.
It had been Jackie’s dream to buy a house. We had lived in a 606 square foot, one bedroom
Apartment for about nine years. I guess I was worried about how much we could afford. We
We started looking and we got hooked up with a real nice real estate agent who helped us investigate
All of the options. We talked to some builders who would build us a house and we also looked at existing
Homes. We ended up settling for ended up settling for a 3 bedroom, 1 bath house in the northeast
part of Dallas. But there was a lot of work we had to do before we could move in. We had to
Put in 3 ramps, change about 7 doors from 2’0 doors to 3’0 doors. We put in a whole set of
kitchen cabinets with a new dishwasher and disposal and a table height bar to sit at. Bur at the end of
July of 1998 we moved into our new home. Peaches had a big back yard to play in and we built
A patio out back for us to enjoy.
I began to have trouble with my back and they finally did a bone scan and we came to the conclusion
That I needed to start using a scooter at least at work. We attempted to put a lift in the trunk of our
Car but we did not have room.
Some time late 2000, my boss ask me to become the programmer in charge of Electronic Data
Interchange. EDI sets standards of how companies transmit data from one company to another. For
Example one company can send a purchase order electronically to another company the it could
Produce a invoice and send it back, without a human getting involved. But in order to start working
on EDI ,I had to make two trips to Tampa. The first trip was a quick two day class, the basics
structure of EDI, the various different transactions you could sent by EDI (purchase orders, invoices, etc)
and how to read the manuals to get the information you need. The second trip was a full 5 day class
in from mapping that Data to the transaction to interpreting the output of the EDI translator step.
The people who know me best know probably of the worst problems I have is not being able to go to the
bathroom in a hurry. I hate to slow people down. But sometimes it takes a while to get started and to finish.
I am sure that Jackie thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in her bathroom while we were dating.
It was not unusual for me to spend 30-45 minutes in the bathroom waiting to pee. My biggest terror in life
is that get to a important place and not be able to go to the bathroom. So I was petrified that I would miss
enough class that I would not be able to do what do I needed to do. But I eventually decided that if I didn’t
Take advantage of this opportunity , that it would limit my ability to go forward in my career and life.
Going along with on the journey was Susan Turk, who was being trained to be a lead on the client
Side, talking with the vendors and setting them up to send and receive data. She was also the person
I would call if a program went down and I could not figure out what the problem was. The other
person who went along was Jack Love, who was to be my backup on the production support team.
He was a member of a later class of the Computer Programmer Training for the Physically Challenged
at El Centro College. He had a kidney transplant several years earlier.
I really don’t remember much from the first trip to Tampa so it must of went pretty well. I am pretty
sure we left on a Wednesday and came back on Saturday.
But the second trip, I did run into problems. We flew down on a Saturday and I did ok that night but
Sunday and Monday night I trembled all night because of the fear of not being able to go to the bathroom
when I needed to .I ended up teaming with Susan on the lab work so that made it a little easier.
1 ended up with a bout of constipation and diarrhea, but that could have been because
Of what we were eating also. But somehow with God’s help we got through it and got home safely.
When we got back I started fielding night time call when they had problems with EDI. Most of the problems occurred when a transaction had a bad vendor number. The translator would say ‘ I have
a bad vendor code and I am going to stop now‘ and do what we call in the trade ‘a abend‘ or a abnormal
End..We would have to delete all the transactions that had been transmitted and then restarted the job to finish the processing. I would have to fix a job probably a least once a week. So I began to think about ways to fix the problems with out having the program stop. I figured out how to load all of the possible vendor codes into a table and then I would validate the vendor number and if we found a bad number the
whole transaction was written to a separate file and Susan would fix the problem the next day.
We still had a problem. When we tested a clean file without errors, the output file did not look exactly
the input file. So we had to write a program to put each segment on one line before the program and then
After the program we had to put the segments back end to end. It really cut down the abends from
About one a week to about 3-4 times a years.
Then came a new bundle of joy came into our lives. We were out going some where on a rainy wet weekend
afternoon when we saw this small little black puppy running around the front of house on the next
block over from where we lived. It was too bad to let a puppy run around in that kind of weather and
so we picked her up and took her home. I am sure we put some flyers up at least in the neighborhood
and nobody claimed her. So we named her Scarlett. Just after we moved in we had the exterior door replaced because they were in bad shape and they needed to be replaced , so we put a doggy door
In the back door so Peaches could go out when she needed.
Jackie and I were concerned about how long I would be able to walk. I had continued to have
Arthritis problems. So we went to see the orthopedic to see what I should be doing. I guess he took
It more seriously than we expected. He sent me to another doctor he repected and then I went to
The Human Motion and Performance Laboratory at Baylor. They analyzed my walk. I was not prepared when the doctor made his recommendation. First of all when I arrived at the clinic, without any explanation
They took me to the x-ray department and started taking picture and I thought they would never stop. I
think they probably took 10-12 pictures. So when I got back to the room I was really scared. When
The doctor came in what they were recommending was for me to have up to 4 surgeries. First
They would cut and straighten the right femur. Then the would fuse my right ankle into place.
Then if I wasn’t balanced they would do the same thing to the left side.
For me this was a lot of time in hospitals and I am basically afraid of hospitals. I had not spent a night
In the hospital since I was about a year old. I might be not able to work for a long time. I was hurting
some but in general I was doing ok. I have to admit, It did give me chills up my spine to see Mom and Jackie
watch me walk upright for the first time. But at what cost. Jackie kind of was in favor of doing it and I
think mom was a little skeptical about it. But in the end , it just wasn’t worth the risk.
We became good friends with a neigbor lady named Zahra who had two kids named Adrian and Claudia. She helped us lay tile
in our kitchen and in our bathroom. We had some bushes along the back fence and she would help us trim that.
They began to want me to take on more and more reponsibilty at work. Our group was responsible for the ‘lights on’
part of our organization. That means we were responsible for keeping the production systems up and running and
another group was responsible for projects or upgrading the systems. They wanted me to begin to take a turn in the pager
rotation. There were some systems that I had no Idea how they worked. Most of the systems I had worked on
were relative small systems with small programs that were relatively simple. But we had at least one system that
there were plenty of large programs with very complicated processes. In most cases I could find the field and find the line of code
in the the program where it went down, but I could not necessarily get to ‘how do we get to a solution’.
So I told my boss all this. I guess I am too upfront with people about what I can and can’t do. Better to underpromise
and over perform than vice-versa. But he wanted me to try it and So I did. It was hard and when I got into trouble
I would call in some help. The other part of being on call was that you had to prepare a report of the days problems
and report them to the Daily Operations Meeting. This is where all the Network and Production Control personell got
together and dicussed the events of the day.
Some time when we got home from going somewhere we would let Peaches and Scarlett get out and play in the front yard.
But on occassion they would get out of the front yard and go running down the street. We would have to get in the
Car and chase them down. Sometimes they would get as far as the alley behind the neighbor across the street and we would
have to get in the car and go get them. Usaully every other Saturday I would take them to get a bath.
But one day this lead to a tragedy. We had started when I’d leave for work I would let them out to play in the front yard
and in a little bit she would get them to come in. But one morning I had let them out and when Jackie went to call for the
them and they did not come. In a little while, a man came carrying Peaches in his arms. She apparently had been hit by
a car and nobody stopped. Jackie called me and I rushed home and she was barely alive and we rushed her to
the vet and he tried some heroic measures but she was gone. We brought her home and a couple of her sisters
helped us bury her in the backyard.
In late 2003 and early 2004, We had begun to hear rumors about outsourcing. It just seems part of the regular routine
these days for CEO’S and Board of Director’s to investigate ways to make more efficent use of their organizations
and to be more profitable. I think in May and June the rumblings became stronger and in late June they announced
that they had formed a joint venture with Capgemini to create Capgemini Energy. The idea was to use our Information
Technology and accounting Deparments to go out and solict business from other energy and utility companies. They
also announced that their would be layoffs in October of 2004 and February of 2005.
Jackie decided she wanted another dog. So the next time she went to Fort Worth she came home with a new solid
white chihuahua and she named her Gracie. She would stand on the couch in front of the big window in the living
room and bark for hours. Jackie would tell her to shut her and I would tell her to shut nothing seemed to calm
her down. Scarlett and Gracie got along pretty good.
My boss, Perry Woodard and I started working on a resume. I figured it would be easier to do a resume while I was there
than after because a lot of programs and projects I had worked on were right in front of me. Finally on October 13, 2004
Perry Came and got me and we went to personell and they layed me off. I got a pretty nice severence check about $2000
a year for 18 years.
So I was out looking for work again. We called what was the Texas Rehabilitation Commission(now Texas Department of
Assistive and Rehabiltation Services and set up a appiontment. I began to post my resume on the internet and Talk to
some recruiters on the phone. I thought this was going to easy. Boy, was I wrong. First, some people would just hang
up when they heard my speech impediment.The second part was that I was unable to pass the cobol exams they required
you to pass before they would even talk to you. I eventually bought all the books that I would need. I did go thru the
process of getting back into the DARS system and we set about up with the job counselors that they were working
But as the job stuff was getting set up two other tragedies occured.
The first one was that Gracie got loose from me at the Petsmart and ran off and we never found her. What happened
was I was taking them to the groomers for their bath. They were both alway very excited and going to the groomer.
I think Scarlett was just happy to see other dogs. But Gracie was very nervous about going. We had been having
trouble keeping a collar on her. Just as I got to the door, One of groomers came out and tried to get them. But
Gracie slipped out of her collar and ran into the neighborhood across the street. We looked and we looked but
we never found her. Jackie put a ad in the paper and we put up flyers in the neighborhood. For a long time I
would make regular visits to the Mesquite and Dallas pounds in the area until I left town.
In January of 2005, Jackie and I decided to separate.We had been having problems from the very beginning and sometimes
you give up working on your own stuff. It took about a month for Jackie to find a place in Fort Worth to live and move out
but around her birhday on February 11 she moved out. We decided to sell the house and I came to the conclusion that
the best place for me to be is Stephenville with mom and dad. Dad’s Parkinson’s was getting worse and I thought I
might be of some use to them while I was off.
So we decide that the house needed to be sold. My original idea was to call Homevestors- The we buy ugly houses people
but Jackie Wanted to give our realtor from when we bought the house a chance to sell the house. It was on the market
for less than 90 days and we almost got our asking price. It was pretty lonely being there in the empty house with
a lot of the furniture gone.
I had been meeting with my Dad’s brother, David and his son, Brian to work on my my resume and brain storm job ideas.
They ended up moving all my stuff to storage while I looked for work.
So in May of 2005, I moved to Stephenville, Texas to live with my mom and dad. I got hooked into the DARS office there. In the Texas System, the counselor
does not do the Job search. They hire specialized people to do the actual job search. I can remember them hiring and letting
go of two job coaches and we were working with a third.
I needed something else to do to be constructive with my time. Generally, I would go to the Episcopal church in the morning and
go with mom to her Baptist Church on sunday nights and Wednesday nights. I would play 42 with a group of mom’s friends
from church and sometimes go watch their softball team play.
I got connected in with Dr Joe Priest at the Laboratory for Wellness and Motor Behavior. He had established a
program at Tarleton to examine what aerobic training could do for the physically disabled. I would go up there
and ride their bikes for about 30 minutes 3 times a week.
Actually I was already sold. I had gained about 40 pounds between the time I left Huntsville till about 2003.
I am ashamed to admit it but I had got up to 162 lbs before stopping. I guess that’s what a couple of
(Jack in the Box double cheese burgers??) and chocolate shakes do too you after awhile.
I was on blood pressure medicine. But several years earlier I had decided I wanted to buy a exercise bike. I
would ride it almost every day and I started using Slimfast stuff and just eat more sensibly. By the time
I got to Stephenville I was back into the low 140’s.
On the job search, it really wasn’t that I was not talking to people. Between October 2004 and August of 2005
I accumulated 1500 emails and probably talked to 200 recruiters. I had a few interviews. I had one in Dallas
and one in Stephenville at Tarleton. I even applied for jobs around Stephenville that I thought I could do
but would not pay a lot of money. I just needed to find something to occupy my time and bring a little money
in. But I could not find even find a simple job.
In February of 2006, I kind of fell off the side OF Mom’s sidewalk and hurt my right heel pretty bad.
I rested it for a few days and then I decided I needed to see an orthopedic before it got any worse.
When I saw the orthopedic he said that I had a problem in the tendons surrounding the ankle and
that the best way to stabilize it was to put it into a brace and do some therapy. Then in couple of
months they would put botox injections into the tendons and then do some more therapy. So I got to
know the therapy place real well.
One morning in April 2006, daddy was sitting at the kitchen table after breakfast in his wheelchair and
sometimes he would think he was going to get up and go about his business. Neither Mom nor I were watching
him and he fell down. After a while we could tell he was hurting so we took him to the doctor and they
confirmed that his hip was broke. So we took him to the hospital and they admitted him. They did surgery
in a couple of days. Then they took him to the nursing home. He begin to get better slowly.
Then one day mom had some chest pains? I rushed her to the hospital and they found that she had pluersy.
She spent a couple of days in the hospital. So I had to run back and forth. I would try to go feed daddy
at the nursing home and then got try to help mom do what she needed to do. There was about 7-10 days were
mom could not go to the nursing home and you could tell that he could not understand why mom wasnt there.
Mom eventually got better but then Daddy began to have trouble swallowing and then he was choking when he tried
to eat. I am not sure that mom or me actually saw him choking but it was reported to us. They started Daddy
on hospice care. On June 7, 2006 Dad’s two sister’s Jenny and Ann came from Weatherford to see Dad. They ended up moving us to a private
room to give us more privacy. Mom’s sisters Judy and Jeanett were also there. I was getting tired and I think
this was the third time I had been up there that day. So I went up beside him and kissed him on the cheek and hugged
him and went out to go home and by the time I got back to the central nursing station a nurse caught up with me and
told me to come back to the room and they told me he was gone. I sobbed by His bed and then we sang a few hymns and talked
for a while and went home.
I want to say a word about Mom during this time. The strength and courage that she displayed in taking care
of my dad was truly amazing. She got him up and fed him and dressed him and put him down for his naps. She walked
him around the block and that was not a small city block. She showed what true and unselfish love are all about.
The funeral was wonderful. My sister and her daughter came and several other people from Huntsville came. Daddy’s
sister Ann and one of mom and dad’s friend from Huntsville spoke. But I guess the best of the new traditions they
have these days is the photo montages they do. It brought back a lot of old memories.
One of the other things I was doing was going to see a lady in our church named Jane Moon. Actually it started
by her asking me to come pick her up for church because she had no other way to get there. When we got back to the house
I would go in and she would fix me some tea and we would sit talk for a while. Then I started to go over to her
house in the evenings and we would watch tv together or talk. She used a walker when I first went over there. Then her
doctor told her she needed to started using a wheelchair. She was stubborn like I was but she eventually started
using it. There was one night that we went to a wedding and I think we were out till 11 or 12. When we got home her
cat decided she wanted to get out and roam around and Jane did not want her to do that so we were out in her front
yard chasing her and Jane fell down. I knew that I could not get her back on my feet by myself so I went inside
and called 911 and the ambulance came and the emts and a neigbor help us get the cat back in the house and then
they took her to the hospital and I locked up the house and then went to the emergency room to make sure she was
ok and give her the keys to the house.
I did a couple of other things while I was there. One day a week I would be a driver for Meals on Wheels. I
would do the driving and somebody would take the food to the door. The other thing I did is go to Dublin
which is about 13 miles west of stephenville and volunteered at a place called Dwelling Place Ministries.
This was a place where battered and abused women could find help. There was a craft store where they sold
thing from many different vendors and there was a diner that employed some of the women that were being helped.
On July 3, 2007, I got a call from Bender Consulting. Bender is a company that specializes in the placement
of people with disabilities in areas of information technology, finance, accounting, human resources, engineering
and general.Bender had got me a interview with Service Corporation International with the Network Manager. They
wanted me to be in Houston in two days. I quickly made a reservation at the Hyatt Regency downtown for July 4 and
started to get ready to leave because I had to go down there the next day.
I did leave for Houston the next day. I guess it was kind of scary trying to drive in and change highways 3 times
before getting into downtown. This was the second longest road trip I had ever taken alone in my life. I will admit that
the freeway systems seemed to be a lot bigger than what I was used to in Dallas or Fort Worth. But I finally made
it to 45 south and was going to get off at Allen Parkway. But Allen Parkway was closed and I think I got off at the next exit.
I was going to get off and go down where the office was so I would know how to get there the next day. So I drove
around a little bit and went to the hotel. I got a good night sleep and the morning was pretty uneventful except
for a some trouble with spascity in my hands was keeping me from buttoning one button on my shirt. Sometimes that
button just wont go through the hole. But somehow I managed to get myself put together and checked out of the hotel.
I had some time to kill so I drove around a little while.
I arrived at SCI about 15 minutes before the appiontment. The steps up the front entrance was a little treacherous.
There were 12-15 steps with a rail and then 3 steps without any help. But I made it up the steps and into the
building. I told the security guard that I was there to see Mr. Brown. She called up to his office and
he wasnt there so I waited. He called back in a few minutes and told the guard he was there. So I went up to
the third floor and found his office. He came out of his office and greeted me and ask me if I wanted something
to drink and I said and we went into his office and sat down. After some chit-chat, he told me about the job.
Bender had told me basically nothing over the phone. What the job duties were was to keep the network monitoring
systems up to date. The network monitoring system are used to tell the network group where the problems in
the network are so they can address problems quicker. My job was to keep the various systems up and running.
He ask me if I thought I could do the job and I said I could. He indicated to me that based on what he knew
at the time I was the leading candidate for the job. But it took nearly 4 weeks to get that that confirmed.
I got on I-45 and headed toward Huntsville. I was going to spend the night with my sister Tina’s before heading
back to Stephenville the next day. It came one of those late summer thunder boomers just as I got to Tina’s and
so I had to wait until the storm let up. The next day I got up and drove home.
We began to talk about the process of moving to Houston. About a year before this we had moved what I had
in the storage locker in Dallas to a place in Stephenville so we could go through all of it. Mom had convinced
me to sell or give away because even if I found a new job, it really wouldnt be worth paying to have a truckload
transported somewhere. We came to the conclusion that I should just take what we could get into mom’s and my car.
She started talking with a friend from just north of Houston who happen to know a leasing agent in Houston.
Around August 1, they called and told me that a job offer would be forthcoming. Around August 8th they called
and told me I had the job.
The way Bender sets thing up is They go out and talk to companies about hiring people with disabilities. Then
the companies tell Bender what openings they have and Bender goes out and finds a person who they think
can fill the position. When they think they have someone who can do the job they go for a interview.
If the company wants to hire them, there is usually a contract between Bender and the company. The person will
work for Bender for six months and at the end if the company wants to hire you they can.
But there was a twist I had not been told. I would have to make a 24 hour trip to Pittsburgh for a day of orientation
before I started to work. This is something I dreaded because of my problems with bathroom issues. They at first
wanted me to do a layover in Washington each way. I was not sure I could do that and I them that and I thought
I might cancel the whole thing over this one issue. I had already explained all this to my current job coach, Larry
and he stepped in and explained it all to Bender. They called back with a direct flight to and from Pittsburgh. Mom
encouraged me to at least try. I was still nervous but I decided I might not have another chance. So I took
So on August 16, I drove myself to Irving where DFW Airport was. Mom and I decided that the best thing
for me to do is to go to a sleep and drive Hotel by the airport the night before and leave the car at the hotel
while I was gone. I did get lost but I am pretty good with a map and I found my way to the hotel. I slept pretty
good that night and I got on the shuttle and went to the airport. Actually it went very smoothly. I found a skycap
and showed him my ticket information and he took me to the gate.The flight was pretty smooth and when we got to
to Pittsburgh, I found another skycap to help get my luggage and take me to the hotel phones and call the hotel
and told them to come and get me. I got to the hotel and got set up. It was a very nice hotel. It didnt have a restarant
but it did have a place to buy to buy things like tv dinners and ice cream which I thought was a little strange.
A guy from Bender called and said that he was going to pick me up a little early and we were going to go by a lab
and get my blood work done before the class began. Darren and his wife picked picked me up on their way in. We got
got to the lab early but we weren’t the first ones in the building so we had to wait. When we got through we
made our way into the office.
wE arrived and went up to the office. Darrin brought my luggage up and I was carrying my Capgemini Energy folder
into the office and Darrin ask me if I wanted to put my folder in the outer pocket of the suitcase and I stupidly
said yes. The orientation was led by the President and CEO, Joyce Bender. I would love to tell you that every was
wonderful and they ooo’d and ah’d at everything I did or said. But unfortunately it wasn’t that way.Actually she
called me out individually 3 times. Once it was about the not taking notes,the second was something about table
manners and getting people to want to spend time with you outside the office. But other that the day went ok. The only
time I tried to go to the bathroom was at noon for about 20 minutes and went a little. I had a little water at mid-morning.
We got thru about 4 pm and they took us to the airport. We got to the airport and I found a skycap and she took me to the
gate. When I got there I that I saw that I had about a hour till flight time so i ask her to take me to the bathroom.
She was kind of upset and I got out money for the tip but when I arrived at the the restroom I just got up and ran into
the bathroom without giving the skycap her money. So there is probably a skycap who is very unhappy with me in Pittsburgh.
I did go almost immediately and managed to get back to the gate by myself. I checked in and was told I could actually
get on an earlier flight.
So I got back to DFW and then back to the hotel and drove home the next day. Around that time Mom’s friend from the
Woodlands called and said that they had found a place that might work. It was just inside the 610 loop at Westheimer.
I did not understand really what she was saying but I can walk 3 feet out my back door to my car. It was a little pricey
but to be 20 minutes from work it turned out to be well worth it. The only catch was that the apartment would not
ready until September 15. So their solution was to stay in their guest suite. It was hard to believe that in one
week I would be leaving for Houston.
It was decided that I would take a carload down on August 25th and then mom would bring another carload around
when I moved into the apartment. So we packed up my car mainly with things that I would need for the
3 weeks in the guest suite and we had some room for stuff that I would need in general. So on Friday August
24, I left Stephenville with the car loaded and heading for Huntsville to spend the night.I had enjoyed my time
in Stephenville and happy I was there to to with Mom and Dad through the final days of Dad’s life. I had made
a lot of new friends but I felt it was time to move on.
Tina had called and said that they were going to induce labor on my niece on that day so she would be at
the hospital. So when I got to Huntsville I went to the Hospital. I think I stayed up there maybe 2 hours
and visiting hours were about to be over and the entrance where I came in was fixing to be locked and if I
stayed it would be a much longer walk and I decided it was better to go to Tina’s and relax. Tina told me where
the spare key was but when I got to the house it was so dark that I could not find it. So I drove out to my best friend
mom’s house and spent the night with her. She feed me breakfast the Saturday morning. I Went back to the hospital
to see Krystal and the baby. They had already gone home so I went back to Tina’s to at least give her the gift Mom
sent. Tina wasnt home but I did figure out what she was saying and I opened the door and left the gift.
So I left Huntsville and headed for Houston and arrived close to the apartment about hour before I was
to supposed to check in and I drove around until then. When I arrived there was named Heather to help me
get settled in.She tried to see if she could do something about my move in date but
she found that they were still working on it and there was very little that she could do about it.
I had bought a rolling walker and I used it to move what I was going to bring in to the
guesthouse. When I arrived I found that the phone was not working so I went back to the office
and told her about the phone .It took nearly a week to get it fixed but Heather got me a phone. The guest
house was a basic hotel room with with a refrigerator and a microwave oven. I went to the grocery store
and got some basic stuff and I was all set to go to work.
I guess the first thing I learned was where to park. I found out that I was supposed to park at the back
door where there were handicapped parking. I got a temporary badge and went up to the third floor and Kevin
was there and helped me get settled. Actually the first few days were about getting my security set up
and I did a lot of reading in the basic network area. I had not done any thing like this before. In
a few days they would give me my first application to learn. Kevin told me that I could not break anything.
He wasnt exactly right about that. I would break it many times and then I would have to re-install
the software time and time again. So I began to log in to the product and began to clean it up some.
We deleted a bunch of stuff that was old and put some descriptions to be able to categorize and find
At lunch I Would walk over to the deli in the other building and get some lunch and walk back. After
a few days I began to realize that by the time I got back to the office I was becoming quite dishelved
by the time I got back to the desk. I told mom about this she called Larry and he offered to drive my
scooter down there. So he left from his home in South Dallas and drove a carload of stuff came to
the guest house about 7am one morning and unloaded some stuff and followed me to the office to leave the scooter.
I can remember that I had a difficult time getting into the right lane to get off.
The other big thing I had to get done in that first few weeks is to buy a few necessary pieces
of furniture. I had to have in order to make it through the first six months until I knew I had
a permanant job. I had to get a bed, a recliner and a new computer. The bed and recliner were
pretty easy, although shopping alone is never much fun. The computer I think I looked for
a long time but I think I just ended up buying something to get it over with. Again, I used
the walker to get the stuff from the car to the guest house.
Finally on September 14, my new apartment was ready and mom came from Stephenville to help
me move in. I had the bed delivered on Saturday but I had to do the chair during the week
and Kevin let me off to get that done. While mom was here I sat down and put my computer
together by myself.
In October, I decided I needed to have another set of botox shots. I think I tried to call
the orthopedic department at Baylor. But talking to the front desk, I really could not
describe it well enough for them to understand what I was saying to help me. So I decided
that I had to go in and tell a orthopedic what I needed to do was go in and talk to a orthopedic
and tell him what I needed. So mom helped me write a brief summary of my history so it would be clear
what I needed. The doctor I saw really had never seen what was done to my ankle but he quickly figured out
what was needed. It was amazing to me how big the clinics were here. It was about 100 yards from end to end.
So he made me an appiontment to see a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation guy. He reviewed my case and
set me up for shots in the next couple of. This round was only 3-4 shots and that was followed up by
4 weeks of therapy. We tried to schedule it either first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.
The other strange thing that happen was there was a therapist who insisted on calling me by my legal first
name which is Leslie. I kept telling her that I wanted to be called Clint. She seemed like she just ignored
what I was saying. I got so aggravated I finally saw the first therapist and had her tell the
other lady to call me Clint.
I went to Second Baptist a few times and took mom there when she came to help get me set up.I went to
Sunday School a few times and attended a few events.There were a few people that really tried to communicate
with me. I also visited some of the Episcopal Churches around where I lived and finally ended up at the one
closest to the house.
On the weekends, generally I would clean house and wash clothes and bed linens on Saturday. If I get
through with the housework in time, I will go to the movies. The theatres in Houston are huge compared
to the small theatre that was in Stephenville. The rolling walker I had bought in Stephenville really
came in handy. By the time you buy your ticket, go through the ticket taker and concessions and get
to your seat it would be about 100 yards.
Finding a dentist was not a easy task. With the spasticity that I have in my body, I had a problem
with grinding my teeth. I had always dreamed that a dentist or hygenist run out of the room screaming
after looking in my mouth. After I got my job in Dallas, I started to go a dentist across the street
and saw what was happening and he personally researched the problem and came up with a solution. He
capped 12 of my front teeth and put a metal partial over all my teeth. It cost about 12,000. We tried
to file it under my medical plan because of my disability but they refused to cover it.
The first dentist I went to in Houston said that he wouldnt even touch them until a prostodontist
capped all my teeth and made new partials. I thought that was crazy but as usual i just kept
my moUth shut, let them clean my teeth and left. When I got back to the office I sent a note to mom
and she called the dentist who had been seeing me in stephenville and he said it was crazy. I ended
up sending a letter to a few dentists but never got any response. So I ended up just making another
appiontment with another dentist and he looked at the situation and said he would just said everything
was and he said that he would just monitor the situation.
I had to do a couple of car repair stuff right after I got there. Mom had decided that she wanted to buy
a new car and my car had a few more miles than her’s did and so I took mom’s car and we traded mine
So I had to get my brakes fixed. Then one morning my car would’t start. It wouldnt even turn over. So
I called the Firestone and had the car towed over to there. Naturally it started right up when they
got it to Firestone. But they poked around around and said I needed a new alternator. I have a confession to make. One of my bad habits is sometimes when
I run out of hands I put my keys in my mouth. If anybody didnt know this, keys and saliva do not mix.
But somebody(probably Dad) taught me that they way to fix it is to spray wd40 on the key and jiggle it
around in the ignition and it will work. I have also learned that if you will rub the key ON something for
a while and it will eventually start.
Around that time, Kevin(my boss) ask me to prepare a presentation to show his boss and his boss’s boss about what
I was doing. I was essentially building my own department. I was eventually would be in charge of all the monitoring.
So I used Powerpoint to build a presentation to give them a basic vision of where we thought the monitoring was
going. But Kevin and I never discussed who would give the presentation. We got it together and scheduled
it and when we got to the meeting Kevin got up and started making the presentation. Now actually this was ok with
me. Even I didnt really want to get up and stumble and stammer for an hour and I knew that Kevin would
still answer most of the questions anyway. I am also sure that I did get credit for preparing the presentation.
So in the long run it turned out ok.
I did not go back to Stephenville for Thanksgiving & Christmas to see mom. It has taken me about 6 hours
to get from Houston to Stephenville and Mom and I talk a lot on the phone. I also know what Holiday
traffic is like and it just wasn’t worth the problem. I jUst stayed home and watched tv and went to
When I have needed help, I would tell Kevin and he would make sure I got what I needed. My shower wand disconnected
from the flang. I went into what I thought was our apartment office and told them about it. But
nothing happened. I told Kevin and he had Shawn to go look at it. he couldnt figure it out
so when we got back Kevin had him call the apartment office and threaten to call a plumber
and send them the bill. They told him that we were calling the wrong office. I was going to
the office where the guest suite was instead of where the apartment was. They were two properties
owned by the same company. They repaired it that day. When I bought a new TV and dvd, Kevin sent
JR Jaramillo over and hooked it up for me. When one of mom’s best friends offered to bring my big rolltop desk
Stephenville to Houston, JR came over moved and moved it over to where I wanted to put it. It came in three
pieces, two pieces that had drawers on both sides and then the top had the desktop and the rolltop. It
was amazing watching him balance the top on one set of drawers and moving the other to a new place.
In the spring of 2008, Kevin ask me to install a new version of the first software I put in. I figured
it would be a good learning experience.I thought that I would have it installed in a half day or so and
life would go on.It did not turnout that way. I didnt have a whole lot of help. Kevin keeps the guys running
and I barely got out of them what I needed to do my job. For the first few weeks I did not understand
that the place where you set up to monitor a individual application on a server had been moved from the server
to the website and it kept confusing me. I think I even argued with a technical support guy at the
company for awhile before I realized my mistake. I found that when I put a application into the system to be monitored
the system would go haywire and I would end up reinstalling the software and put in a application
it would go down again. I would call and email technical support and they would tell
me various things to try. After about two months they told me that they had other reports
of the same problems. So we had to wait for a new release of the software to come out. Actually it
took 2 releases to clean up the problem.
I will admit that there have times in my life where I have been a loner and loudly
proclaim my ‘man is a island’ mentality. When Jackie went to see family sometimes
I would take her to her sister’s or her mother’s. It wasn’t that I did not try.
Two of the guys from the computer class were in my wedding. Todd got his
job in downtown Dallas and we would meet at the Plaza of the America’s.
He was a wheelchair basketball player. Eventually he got recruited to play
big time college wheel chair basketball in Ohio. Jim Daniels, my best man went
to work for IBM and worked in Far Northwest Dallas and as far as I can remember
he drove all the to Southwest Fort worth where he lived. In the early part of our
marriage we used we would spend a lot of time after church with a couple from
or church named Randy And Cozette. He did my bible study when I became a Adventist.
But after a few years they got a divorce. They both were around for a while.
Randy came over and would cut our hair for a while but he ended up leaving
for a job. The last real attempt at a friendship in Dallas was with a guy I
had met in my confirmation class at Church of the Incarnation named Scottie.
I guess the one memorable outing we had was I went back to Dallas for a couple
days vacation and Scottie met me at the Chevron/McDonald’s near the church in the
middle of a pretty severe thunderstorm and we talked for about an hour.
But in all honesty the ‘man is a island’ routine was a defensive posture to
shield me from people. Nights and weekends were lonely. You can only watch
so much TV and go to so many movies. Mom and Dad were involved in many things
and when they were watching tv they usually had a book in their hand. But while
I was in Stephenville I began to reach out a little and when I got to Houston I wanted to
continue that progress. Mom had suggested that I go to a Baptist church and get involved in a singles
ministry. I did attend Second Baptist for a while and attended a few social events. But
I guess I always knew I would end up in a Episcopal church. I visited several of the
churches in the area and ended up at St. John the Divine near the house. It usaully
takes me most of Saturday and some on Sunday to clean house.
When I got to Houston, I had to essentially start over except for Kip and Andy.
Kip has been busy working on his business and Andy and I work just beyond the distance
that would make a lunch date reasonable.
I guess I had never really paid attention to Hurricanes before I came to Houston.
I had riden out a storm by myself back when I was in college. We were living in a
apartment while mom and dad built their second house. The only major problem
was that there was a leak in my bedroom. Mom and dad were gone at the time and I
could smell something bad coming from my bedroom.I told myself you are going to get
it when mom and dad get home. But I somehow discovered that I had wet carpet.
I guess I was letting Mom and Kevin watch the gulf for me and on Monday night
mom said maybe I should top off the tank in case I needed to leave. On Wednesday
I decided to pack a bag just in case I needed to leave. On Tuesday and Wednesday
the projected path had it going in South of Houston and going up towards Stephenville
and so I thought maybe I would go to Tina’s. But on Thursday the track seem to move to the
North and thru Houston and Huntsville. So since I hadnt been to Stephenville to see
mom in more than a year, I decided to go to Stephenville. I hate to get on the big
freeways, I decided to take the surface streets(Westheimer) all the way to far east
side of town and then get on the highway north that would take me to Stephenville.
I stopped after a couple of hours and eat at a McDonald’s in Calvert. When I had gone
through Waco, I began to notice that my air conditioning was blowing hot air. I could
not figure it out so I rolled down the windows and moved on. I got to Stephenville
about 4:00pm. Mom was volunteering at the hospital and she wanted me to call her and I
she thought I was late. Mom got home and she fixed me a sandwich and I went over to see
how Jane was doing.
The next day mom called a couple of people about mechanic recommedations to look at the air
conditioning. She called serveral people and we finally ended up calling a friend of Diana’s,
mom’s sunday school teacher. He came over friday night and he hooked up his gauges a
when he got through he said that everything looked ok. He got into the car and worked
with the intruments and came to the conclusion that the reason why it was not cooling
was that a button was not pressed.
When the storm started we discovered that mom’s cable system was carrying the feed from
Channel 11 in Houston, which is right next door to where SCI is. So I could keep tabs
on what was going on near where I worked. Mom and I watched parts as parts of Allen
Parkway was under water. I actually felt kind of bad being out of harms way while people
I care about were in harms way.
On Sunday I went to the Episcopal church in the morning. It was Rally day that weekend.
They actually call it St Hamburger’s Day at St Lukes. So I got to see a lot of people
that I went to church with in Stephenville. In the afternoon we called a neighbor
Barbara to check to see how the apartment fared. Incredibly lights had only flickered
and everything else was fine. I called Ramsey to make sure they ok. They were all right
but they did not have electricity. But by Sunday afternoon, I was ready to go home.
I think Friday afternoon they had canceled work for Monday. Mom and I get along ok
but I do like having my own place and being able to do stuff on my own. But mom
wanted me to stay until Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, Mom and I went to The Fitness
Center and she attended a class and I rode a bike. Then in the afternoon we went
to Walmart to get me stocked and prepare just in case it was hard to find stuff to
eat for a while.
so on Wednesday, I got my stuff together and headed back to Houston. The trip back
went a lot faster. It took about 6 hours and I went all the way back in on the freeways.
It was kind of scary doing the 290 TO I10 exchange, with about 4 lanes left side merging
with 4 more lanes and needing to get off a couple exits down the road. When I got home
everything seemed to be ok. I called and checked on Ramsey and they were headed to
Kerrville because they were still without power. So after awhile I went to Target
and looked around. At least they had Hot Pockets. I can survive.
We had learned in late summer that in October, our church in Huntsville, University
Heights Baptist Church. I have seen this church grow from a small country church into
a large thriving church. Even though it is hard to get up the enthusium to go anywhere,
in the end I knew I had to go. Mother and I were talking and I ask her if she knew where Bro. Diehl was.
He was the pastor when we moved our membership to UHBC in 1969. Mom said he was
living across the street from a friend of hers. So when I got to Huntsville
on Saturday, I went by to see Norman before I went out to Tina’s. I had not seen
Norman in probably 10 years. He had been preaching in some of the smaller churches
in Huntsville since coming back to the area. Norman had polio when he was a teenager
and walked stiff legged. He had been widowed twice. His first wife had died
of cancer. When I knocked on the door, woman came to the door and I ask her
if Norman was there and she ask who I was. I think I told her I was an old friend.
I think he must of heard somebody talking and he came around the corner in a power
scooter. We hugged and then set in his front room which was his office and talked.
He had just retired after 50 years in the ministry. We talked about the old days.
When we got to Huntsville we ended up joining First Baptist. After about a year
Mom had to go to the hospital for some major surgery and she called Norman and
ask him to come see her. He did and soon after that we moved our letter
to University Heights soon after that.I ask him if he was going to be at church
tomorrow and he said he was. I said my good byes and headed for Tina’s.
Mom had come down on Thursday to stay with Tina and see Krystal and Kyla. Tina had
not been feeling to well lately due mainly to allergies. Dad had had problems in Alabama,
but when we came to Texas, Mom, Tina and I started having problems. Tina eventally
got up and we sat on the back door and watched her dogs play. She has 4 wiener dogs
a german Sheperd and a mixed breed dog. Tina found one of hers dogs dead while we were there.
After a while, I decided it was time to go to Bobby’s. It was dark when I got there
and Bob, Stephen, Edith and Daniel all came out to meet me. We dragged all my
stuff in. As soon as they could get some light on the subject they started looking
for gray hairs. I have a few. We sat around the living room and talked and
watched a football game. In a little while we went to bed.
In the morning I got up early thinking I would be better off if I went to town and got
some food on my stomach before going to church. I thought Bobby was going to stay in bed
and not get up till just in time to get the guys up for church. On the way home that night
i rememebered that he said he was going to get up and make breakfast. I called him when
I got that night and apoligized. WheN I got to town I stopped at McDonalds and got a couple
of breakfast burrutios and went on to church. I found a decent parking space and got
out my walker and headed to the Sanctuary to see who was already here. I talked to
a few people. Barbara Goodwin tried to get me to go the Senioir Adults Sunday School
class but didnt really want to go. So I wondered the foyer of the sanctuary.
Al Goodwin tried to give me some grief about the Cowboys. But what else is new. We have been having
The same conversation for the last 30 years. Ever since the late 70’s(the luv ya blue era
in Houston there has been a feud between some dead end Oilers Fans and the Cowboys fans in the
area. I was kind of shock when I went to Academy to look for a stationary bike the Texans,
the Cowboys and the Titans kind of got equal billing.
After that I decided I wanted to take a tour of the campus. In the old days it would have
been hard to get my walker around the place, but now they had side walks going every where.
I went by the old education building and there was a bounce house that the kids play in.
Then I came upon one of the temporary buildings that was built right after the church
started building on this site. They built one beside the Sanctuary and then the one in back.
This building holds significance for two reasons. Dad spent a lot time working on building
this one. I think Dad took a summer session to finish it. The other thing is that this
building is where I first came into the youth group. In fact, a picture from inside
this building of me, Mike and Buddy in Sunday School made the anniversery bulletin.
I noticed that there was a new exterior flight of stairs that was went up to the baptistry
lofts. I went around the corner and passed by where Johnnie Stewart, our church secretary
had her office and Mom did most of her work as financial secretary from the front office.
I walked around to the front of the old sanctuary and came to the beautiful doors which
my uncle Kenneth had built about 20 years ago. Everything Kenneth builds is of the highest
quality. I opened the door and I am not sure what I saw but I didnt think i would like
what I saw. It was part of the youth ministry now and I think they had tore out the
front half of the sanctuary where the pulpit, choir loft and the baptistry out and maybe even mom’s and Johnnies office. I decided
I didnt want to see what they had done to it, so I just closed the door and went on
and made my way back toward the Sanctuary and stopped in the pass thru between
the two education building and talked to Phil for a few minutes.
Soon after I got back to the worship center,mom and Tina came in and I showed them
the picture of Buddy, Mike and me. There was also a picture of Tina with a group
of girls. I orginally thought that it was of a singing group back in the early 70’s.
But after a little while I decided that it was a Girls in Action “Coronation” ceremony.
Soon, Bro. Darryle and Bren came in. For a lot of us who were there, Darryle was probably
our favorite pastor. He was a great preacher and teacher and just a all around wonderful
man. We also loved Bren, his wife. After they decided to come back to the states, he became
a Senior Adult Minister at Green Acres Baptist in Tyler. Their son Brian, who was probably
7-8 at the time they were there.
Since Mom, Tina and I were in church together for the first time in a long time, I
fully intended to sit with them but I saw Mike and decided to follow him into church
and talk to him for a while. He has been working at the prison and has two teenage
sons and we were sitting behind them. It became time for service to start and
I saw one of the ushers, that I knew and ask him to find mom and tell her where
I was. I realized after he left that it would too loud for her this close to the
stage. Bro Rogers preached a challenging sermon and the service was wonderful.
Some of the old timers may have prefered to here from Darryle but nobody can
fault a preacher for wanting to preach his own sermon on such a important
After church, I saw Felicia Feazall and Marliyn Batterton. Felicia
was a member of the youth group who was probably about the same age of
Bobby or maybe a little younger. Marilyn had been in Mom’s Sunday School
Class When she was teaching Married Young People back in the 70’s and
she was married to Terry Batterton. Both of their parents are long time
members of UHBC. I found mom and Tina and we sat together for dinner.
We talk to Barbara Larrison and mom caught her up with the coming and
goings of Judy and Kenneth.
We then went back over to the church and they had a slideshow of pictures
of events throughouT the years. There was a picture of mom and dad from
the early 70’s. There was a funny picture of Johnnie Stewart with a big boufaunt
hairdo from that time period. After that Richard gave time to each of the former
pastors to say something and pray for the church. There even was a pastor
from the 60’s there that I had never met.
After the service, we talked to Darryle and Bren and she showed us a picture
of Brian with his family. We were talking about when Darryle brought mom in
as financial secretary in the early 70’s. Mom help bring the church financial
systems from the little country church setup to a modern large church system.
About that Johnnie Stewart came in. I had not realized that Johnnie had not
been there and it wouldnt have been a reunion without the secretary that had
served the church for 30 years.
After that i said goodbye to mom and then walked out to my car with Norman and his
wife. He was teasing that I needed to get me a wheelchair and something to carry
it around in. Norman turned out to be a little bit of a prophet that day. Less
than sixty days later I would driving a van.
I have found in that when I have acted out of fear and worry, problems will naturally follow. But when I have acted out
of courage, hope and love, I have been blessed through those experiences.
It would have been easier not to write and talk about my experience. For many years,
I really didn’t like to get to know people because it was easier to just stay locked in my own world. But to not give other people a little glimpse in to my journey may cause somebody else to miss a opportunity on their own lives. How can people dream about the impossible when they don’t know what is possible.
When you get to the end of your life all you will remember is the investment you have made in other people lifes