I got one of the biggest scares of my life today. You’d have to see my office to understand the layout but, it started out as a one car garage. The walls are painted red, a concrete floor overlaid with beautiful bamboo wood and sleek white bookcases anchor my desk. But that white metal garage door attached to a steel pulley is a dead giveaway of this room’s origin. Random me loves it because I can work all day outside while I’m actually inside. Whether pouring rain or saturated with sunshine, I have the best both worlds! But, as with every good thing, disadvantages do surface. The negative with my inside/outside area is-I can’t hide. Don’t go self righteous and act like you’ve never done it and PLEASE do not assume that because I’m a preacher’s wife, it’s okay for you to do something, but it’s shameful for me. Sorry for the soapbox rant, but double standards are one of my pet peeves.
When inside the house, you usually an opportunity to see who is about to come calling & if you don’t want to be called upon (don’t tell me that you’ve never peeked through the blinds and spotted someone at the door with a satchel of something you don’t want) before you can say Jehovah Witnesses again? You drop to your knees, crawl to the TV, turn it off, toss the kids in a closet to play hide & go seek, then retreat to the bedroom hideout! It’s okay to be sneaky, but never necessary to be rude!
Well, I’ve found-that when you’re sitting outside while inside, you can’t do that easily. Drive in my yard most days that I’m working and I’m a sitting duck. If I attempt to put the door down, you’ll suddenly see a white garage door appear and if I leave it open and go inside..well, seriously, think about it. You drive up to a house and the garage door is open, but it’s not a garage, it’s a room. A bright red room with a computer, books and cat who’s just had kittens. Either leave my stuff up for grabs (not that I think my friends would be so bold…OR..you’ll leave wondering why I never told you that Jeff Foxworthy and I are relatives. AHA! Funny girl, aye?
This morning, a Union County Highway Patrol car came barreling down the half mile lane to the house. As I realized that it was a patrol car, my legs turned to spaghetti and my heart dropped to the tips of my toes. I’ve watched 48 Hours enough to know that Highway Patrol don’t just stop by for a glass of sweet tea.
I approached the car swallowing a thick, cottony film coating my throat and braced myself for the tragedy ahead of me. I’d just spoken to my Chipper moments before, Jena was in class and Tammy was watching COPS, so I knew the visit had to concern our twenty seven year old son, Joshua. The man didn’t smile or say hi. He was expressionless as he handed me a sheet of paper. You know this person?
My head was spinning so violently that I couldn’t focus on the words, let alone a name. Glancing at the mumbo jumbo, I choked out, You’ll have to show it to me, I’m rattled. When his finger guided me to the left top corner, the Hispanic name GONZALES leaped off the paper causing my heart to climb back up to its rightful position with one giant jump. No sir. I sighed with relief. This your house? Is this the correct address? His finger moved over the computerized information. Yes sir, but I don’t know the man.
By now I was collected enough to assume Mr. Gonzales had given a bogus address and for some reason Union County was looking for him. I knew the officer might ask to search the property and honestly, I wasn’t keen on Marshall Dillon taking a hike on the 57 acres, so when he repeated the questions to me once more, I responded in a more calm, cool and collected manner. We’ve only been here for a month and can’t say for sure who may have worked on the farm in the past but I don’t know anyone by that name. He took the paper from my hand. Thank you ma’am. Sure is a beautiful morning, isn’t it? I bobbed my head; it is, indeed. The officer began telling me about folks he knew in the area and his nearby town, but it was what he DIDN’T SAY that I heard loudest and clearest of all.
GOT ME TO THINKIN about our dear friends, Heyward & Susan, who got one of these visits at 5am one morning. But, the name on the paper was that of their beloved, nineteen year old son, Sheldon. I’ll never forget the visit I had with Susan after Sheldon’s death. Chills ran down my spine as she recalled peeking through the frosted glass of her front door and realizing it was an officer’s silhouette. How her blood ran cold as she went to get Heyward out of bed before opening the door because she “just knew”. She wept, telling me how their world changed in the few moments of an unannounced visit.
Sometimes we need to be abruptly reminded to thank GOD for every day we have to spend with those we love. None of us know what the next fifteen minutes will bring, let alone tomorrow, next month, next year. Life is a gift but it is so very fragile and as I get older, I’m understanding that more.
Last month, Sheldon’s brother in law, a police officer, was shot & died instantly. His mom had spoken to her twenty nine year old son less than an hour before the shooting took place. Matthew’s five year old daughter will grow up without her daddy, his big sister won’t share holidays with her little brother and his dad will forever grieve the loss of his only son. An unexpected visitor came calling. That is the reality of LIFE and of DEATH.
I’d like to thank Mr. Gonzales for borrowing our address. I might even give him a hug if he happened to show up soon because it was time for me to remember how blessed I am, not tomorrow. TODAY. I’ve been so busy the past few days, I haven’t had time to send my Joshua a text message. On second thought, I think I’ll give him a call.