A Sea of Glory


I opened the door,
And my eyes plunged in
To a sea of glory.
Wave upon wave they swilled with delight.
A smile creased my lips,
Delight whispered to my spirit,
Thankfulness infused my soul. 

Those breakers of blue against the foamy rich green.
The roar of the waters came suddenly
In the voices of cicadas and songbirds. 

My morning swim during hot summer days,
Easing into fall, until the frost evaporates the sea. 

Mariners take delight and comfort in the ocean,
Yet none experience such wonder as this. 

A Christian’s Life Is not in Vain


There is an abundance of talk in our day from Christians about us “fulfilling our destiny.” That is a buzz phrase used by certain groups, and its use tends to frustrate me. 

My destiny is already sealed. If you are a Christian, so is yours. God had us in mind and knew our end before we were born. Before there was a heaven and an earth. 

Consider Romans 8:28-29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

It is not my intention to get into a Calvinistic debate over the above 2 verses, but at the same time, it is challenging to explain what they mean other than God is omniscient, and He knows our “destiny.” And has known it since before there was an earth. 

This is not the point of this. Rather, the point is that it is so easy to get distracted, to chase spiritual rabbits through briars and down rabbit holes, to focus on something other than what is actually important. If you are out chasing your “destiny,” you are like the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, who desperately wanted to obtain something they already possessed, but did not understand it. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 12-19, we see Paul reasoning with the Corinthians about the resurrection. Remember the determining factors for salvation? We must believe that Jesus is God’s son, and that God raised Him from the dead. 

In verse 17, Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” 

Jesus dying on the cross for us, and then being raised from the dead settled the matter. That is our destiny. But if you do not understand that, you will find yourself on a program of works to obtain it. 

No one wants a faith that is vain. No one wants a life lived in vain. People find themselves searching for something. “It is just out there a little farther,” they reason. But they never get that little farther, for something else comes along, and it is just a little farther more. As in the movie National Treasure, the solving of one clue, or one key, simply leads to another. 

Are our lives something that needs to be worked out, being led by the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, to make us more like Christ? Certainly. However, that is a much different thing than “destiny.” 

Someone associated with a well-known church on the west coast has come up with the idea of marketing “destiny pants.” Apparently, wearing this clothing helps you reach your destiny. They are will designs, tightly-worn, and rather expensive. Still someone else gives readings using “destiny cards”, or tarot readings with a Christian spin. 

These are pop psychology at best, but really nothing more than new age/occultism. 

Paul’s reasoning was directed to some people who were believing there was no resurrection. They believed that what people did while alive on earth was all there was, so they preached being good people for the sake of enjoying life now, to obtain all they could. 

He concluded this section with, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 

It is a necessity as a Christian to believe in the resurrection. We cannot be saved unless we believe it is true. Because of this, our lives should be spent in service to God, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Or as Paul called it, our calling. 

Perhaps that is what those who preach and teach on “destiny” refer, although the word “destiny” is not used in the Bible. If so, I believe it is an attempt to repackage, to re-sell, to re-design something, perhaps to make it more palpable. 

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our service to God and our going to heaven has always been the focal point of Christianity. Remember when the disciples returned to Jesus, rejoicing that they had authority even over the demons? Jesus told them not to rejoice in that, but to rejoice that their names were written in the book of life. 

Paul said that he preached Christ, and Him crucified. That is the gospel. 

There are certainly plenty of important ancillary subjects and topics to teach about from the Bible, but that is what they are. They support the teaching and preaching of the cross and the resurrection. 

Jesus died and took our place, and He was raised from the dead likewise so that we can be as well. These are the focal points of a Christian’s life if the life is not to be lived in vain. 



mouseThe mousie ate my tortilla chips,
But left a little cheese.
He also gave some pesky fleas,
From his back and from his hips.

I could not thank him nearly ‘nough
For causing me to be fitfully gruff.

My wife, she laughed and clapped with glee,
To find me in an upset state
With little food left on my plate
So small, too small to see.

I then determined upon that mouse,
To rid forever from my house.

I thought in future years I should rejoice
To think of that gray schemer,
And how I became a rodent dreamer,
And lifting loudly in baritone voice,

That I was sole cause of its demise,
Withholding nothing from family’s eyes.

I set half dozen cunning traps,
And woke up startled late one night,
To find caught villain in such a plight.
My wife, she begged, asking, “Perhaps,”

I might release it out the door,
Or at least take to neighboring pet store.

Instead I grabbed my hammer bold,
With hatred in my eye,
Then wife and children began to cry,
Yet I inclined to be so cold,

That though the mousie stood so brave,
I would send it to a smashing grave.

Alas, I relented, let go of wrath
The mousie seemed to understand,
How my resolve was undermanned
When I loosed it on freedom’s path.

It’s a day over which I eternally brood,
For that mousie continued to eat my food.

Apostrophe to a Companion


Always beside me, there you are;
And have been since my earliest memories.
You discover new ways to keep me young –
In mind anyway.
You make every experience appear to be a first time.

You evoke a smile, a laugh, a cheer, or a groan of anguish,
A clap of the hands or a wringing of them.
You compel words to project from my mouth,
Or me to rise to my feet.

You are my oldest companion.
You cheered my successes,
And challenged me to rise from defeat,
To attempt again.
You allowed me to believe I was pursuing you,
All the while you pursued me.

As I age, the memories of my youth with you
Bring nothing but pleasant thoughts, a slight smile.

And as I observe your touch on others,
I find that I am really cheering you, not them.
You keep me young,
You fan enthusiasm,
And I get to to tell others of all our experiences together.
Truly, you keep me young.
I want it to remain this way until my final second arrives.

Mr. Cartwright and the Cat

mountain lion

Three houses down from us lived an old, ornery man that none of the neighborhood boys would talk to or even approach. The rumor was that he kept a loaded shotgun standing in a corner of the porch, and that he had promised he would shoot any child who stepped a foot on his property. There was a lot of wooded area behind his land, and we liked to play there when possible. 

A crumbling fireplace chimney adorned one end of the ramshackle place. Every boy in town at one time or another had attempted to throw large stones into the leaning brick structure.  

My brother and I walked to his place, intending to do what everyone else had failed at miserably over the years. This day when we arrived, however, we heard the sound of a ringing phone emanating from inside the house. The ringing was nonstop, and we did not see our nemesis, Mr. Cartwright. 

After throwing a few rocks, we heard a faint cry coming from the porch, and then what sounded like a growl. 

“Sounds like he’s hurt,” I said. My brother agreed. 

“We can’t go up there,” I continued. “He’s threatened to shoot any child, remember?” Again, my brother agreed. 

The phone continued to ring. Again we heard a faint cry. 

“Sounds like something crying for help,” I said. “Can you understand it?” 

My brother could not. 

“I’m going up there,” I announced. “He may be hurt.” 

“Don’t,” replied my brother, a look of fear in his face. 

But I started into the yard. My brother did not move. 

The phone continued to ring. 

Next came a sharp growl. 

Then came another cry, and this time I could discern a little. 

“Help,” a weak voice called. “Help…me…please.” 

I moved closer. Before I saw Mr. Cartwright, I saw the cat. I believe it was a bobcat. It was huge, too big for a regular cat. It also had a giant mark on its head—maybe a scar, maybe a fresh wound, I could not tell. 

I also saw Mr. Cartwright, lying on the porch floor. The cat was sitting there beside him. It had obviously attacked Mr. Cartwright, who had blood running from his head and what parts of his body I could see. 

I stopped dead in my tracks. Then I turned and ran back to my brother. 

“Give me as many rocks as you can,” I said. “And then go back and get some help. Get some rags as well. Mr. Cartwright is hurt.” 

My brother stood motionless, fear festering in his eyes. 

“Now!” I yelled. “Rocks! Help!” 

I put as many rocks in my pockets as I could carry, and then I slowly approached. 

The phone still rang. The cat was still there. Mr. Cartwright still cried out feebly for help every once in a while. 

I pulled the biggest rock from my pocket that I could, took aim at the cat, and I hurled as hard as I could. It went wide to the left, but it startled the cat momentarily. It looked at me menacingly. 

I threw three more, and I was finding the range. 

A glancing blow to the side made the cat take off, but he was not happy about it. He growled numerous times. 

I made it to Mr. Cartwright. He did not seem to be much aware of who I was or of anything else going on. However, he asked me to answer the phone. He said it was bothering him immensely. 

I went inside. I expected some creepy old place, but it was a normal house. It was a house a man lived in alone. There were not many decorations in it, kind of plain. 

I answered the phone, and the voice at the other end said, “Where’s my dad? Is he okay? I’ve been trying to call him for over an hour, and he hasn’t answered.” 

I explained as best as I could what I believed had happened. The voice at the other end—it was a woman’s voice—said she would be there quickly. 

My parents arrived shortly thereafter, and we took care of Mr. Cartwright. His daughter also arrived in about half an hour. 

Mr. Cartwright recovered, and fortunately for him, the big cat was also caught and killed and tested for rabies, which it did not have. 

His daughter told me that she was told I had probably saved his life, and that the cat had the intention of killing her father. She thanked me profusely. 

None of the neighborhood boys was ever allowed on Mr. Cartwright’s property even after that. None, that is, except for me. He did not know how to act around kids, though. He was really not very nice even to me. 

When I got into my teenage years, I seldom went to his property; likewise, he never sought me out. 

When he died, I attended his funeral. I did not cry. We were never close. 

However, he left me twenty-five dollars and a shotgun in his will. 

I made up my mind before I became an adult that I did not want to be like Mr. Cartwright. I figured it would be a really hard life not to like anyone and not to be friendly towards people. 

I guess that is really the life lesson I learned from associating with him. I am grateful for that. Still, I felt sorry for him, once I realized what a lonely person he had to have been. And for whatever reason, how he was bitter about something, something he never shared with me. 

I think back about his life. I am glad I saved it because it was the right thing to do. But I have wondered often since that time whether it was worth saving. It does not seem like it did him much good. 


Road construction everywhere?


Where is our state getting all this money for road repairs? 

To hear the state leaders tell it, we do not have enough money to pave a gravel road, let alone seemingly shut down a large percentage of roads for repair. 

However, whenever I have driven in the state for the last few years, I always run into construction. The interstate that runs past my town, maybe at most a half mile from my house, has been under construction for a number of years.  

Prior to that, a large segment just a few miles south of here was under construction for years. 

The section that runs through the state capital was closed recently. Right through the heart of downtown, and it was not just for a day or two. 

Seriously, where is this money coming from, since we have been told numerous times that we do not have the money for road repairs. 

It is not just interstates, either. It is all kinds of roads. 

A couple of years ago, the state road that I usually travel when I visit one of my daughters was closed because of bridge repairs. No big deal. No one wants to drive over a dangerous bridge. 

But earlier this summer the same road was closed again, and this time for a longer stretch. I could neither take that road or the usual alternate U.S. road to get to my daughter’s house. A map could not have helped, either. Fortunately, my son-in-law gave me clear directions using county roads. 

I took my son on a day trip a couple of weeks ago. We came home on a U.S. highway. There was major construction, with detours, in two places. One of the construction sites delayed us nearly an hour as we waited in non-moving traffic. 

Our state gas tax went up this year. Its purpose is road repair. If I heard the report correctly, it is going to rise every summer for the next decade. All for roads. 

To say I do not get it is an understatement, but it is probably not what you think. 

My problem is not roads being repaired. I rejoice when we have good roads. What upsets me is that there apparently is little or no coordination between agencies about when roads are going to be under construction. 

I understand road repair has to be completed while the weather permits, but if something is going to be closed for just a couple of weeks, or even a month, cannot that repair be done at a different time than a road in the same area? 

Why close down more than 1 artery at a time? 

The amount of road work being done does amaze me. For some of the roads, like my local interstate, someone is going to have to convince me that this particular road, which traverses the state completely from south to north, will ever be completely open. I do not think that travelers on this road will ever be able to make it through our state without a delay of some kind. 

I think that leaves a bad taste in passerby’s mouths. 

I am ready for a road construction holiday. 

A leisurely trip through the Bible


For most of my adult life, I have made reading the Bible a part of my regimen. 

The past 2 years I have read it completely through 4 times, and the New Testament more times than that. I have accomplished this by reading a set number of chapters per day. Reading 4 chapters per day, I can read the Bible through twice in a year. 

For quite some time, I have been reading 5 chapters per day, usually one of the first things in the morning. It has simply become a habit, a good, commendable habit. 

I do not use this preface to commend myself, or to brag. On the contrary, reading the Bible has done the opposite. Acts 20:32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” 

I can testify that reading—and doing—the word of God has built me up. At the same time, it has helped tear “me” down, helping me to get rid of old ways, old thoughts, old desires, none of which have profited me previously. 

Beginning reading this time, I decided to take a different approach. I love to take leisurely drives through the country, soaking in the atmosphere and the scenery and the people. That is the approach I have taken through the Bible this time. While continuing my regular reading schedule, I have decided to lay aside any preconceived notions of what the Bible says or means. I am merely taking it in as it passes. 

Do not misunderstand. I am a serious Bible student. I want to discover things that have been hidden in plain sight to me, but without inventing new ideas or philosophies about what the Bible means. 

I have to confess I am enjoying this approach, just as I love driving trips through the country, even though I may have seen the same things many times over. 

I suppose as much as anything, the leisurely approach—which will undoubtedly go away after I complete this round—has taken self-imposed understanding of scripture off the board, and gotten it out of the way. 

I remember, at ages 16 and 17, the very first time I read the Bible. It filled me with awe, with amazement. I had been raised fairly much as an unchurched child, except for one year when I was in the first grade and learned some Bible stories I have never forgotten. 

I am being suffused with that same type of awe and amazement again. Sometimes I still say, “I do not understand this part,” just like when I was 16 years old, but I always follow it with, “but I am going to take it as truth, even if I cannot explain it or understand it.” 

You may want to take a leisurely trip through the Bible as well, especially if you are an older, long-time Christian as I am. You likely will enjoy it. 


The joy of being healthy; the anguish of not


Who would not want to feel well? Who does not want to be healthy? 

Living a healthy life is a pleasure. Rather, I want to say it is a joy. 

Who in their right mind would enjoy a headache, a cough, a fever, congestion, arthritis, unrelenting pain, sickness, or anything other than that would make him or her feel less than his or her best? 

Some people who have lived generally healthy lives seem to have little or no tolerance for those who suffer, especially those who suffer chronically. At least until something debilitating strikes them as well, and then they become experts on the affliction. 

I have been like that at times in my life. In my youth, the concept of sickness or pain somehow did not register with me. At least not in a prolonged sense, or from an aspect that I could not see it as anything more than a very temporary setback. 

Nowadays when I walk up or down stairs or for longer distances on a flat surface, and I am free from pain or discomfort, it makes me happy. I think about (no kidding, I actually think about it) how much freedom I am experiencing to be able to do that. Sometimes I give a little skip, but I am always joyful about it and give thanks. 

For the past 25 years I have been afflicted on occasion with gout. It struck me at a time that it strikes most men who have it—in my mid to late 30s. 

It actually took quite a while to understand what was happening. The first time it happened I just thought it was a case of tendonitis in my Achilles tendon. After it did not go away for 9 weeks, I went to the doctor. He told me it was likely gout. 

I ignored it generally, and every once in a while, it would flare up in some degree or another. However, I have had ugly, horrible cases that have confined me to bed or to the couch, being nearly incapable of walking. 

The last huge, debilitating case I had was 3 years ago this coming Thanksgiving. My knee swelled up huge. I went to immediate care, which misdiagnosed it, had an MRI completed, was told I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and then I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon, who correctly told me what it was. 

This was the worst case I ever experienced. It took me nearly 3 months to recover completely. I walked with a cane for weeks. 

Since that time, however, I have changed many things. I have lost 40-45 pounds and kept it off, I have changed some eating habits, and I am fully aware at all times of what goes into my mouth, especially for sugar and protein content. I also drink water all the time, something I have not done most of my life. I flush my system intentionally to keep those toxic buildups at bay. 

It has worked, and I plan on keeping it that way. 

For me, pleasure and joy come when I can walk without pain, which is most of the time nowadays. 

Now I can nearly always walk freer and without pain, excluding the pains that simply come with age. I have had a couple of minor flare-ups in my heels, and I have always been able to trace it to something I overindulged myself.  

At the time of this writing I am experiencing a minor flare up, and it was too much cherry cider that has caused it in my left Achilles. It is near its end, and it has not prevented me from doing whatever I want to do. 

Now, I can empathize much better with people who suffer regularly from some disease or condition. Pain and sickness affect us mentally and emotionally in a much worse way than many people realize. At some point, most people who have a prolonged pain or illness ask, “Am I going to be like this forever?”  

There have been times I felt so hopeless that I cried. 

I feel people’s needs greater the longer I live. Like everyone, I have known people who have battled cancer. My father suffered for 2 months before he passed. Others have endured prolonged illnesses that involved a considerable amount of pain. Still others have suffered through incurable diseases, some of them fatal, others not. Some have had terrible, painful accidents. 

These are sad conditions, but I say that I truly understand, and I feel for them, and it upsets me.  

I remember the severe gout attack a number of years ago that gave me what is I discovered is called arthritic insomnia. I accumulated a grand total of 8 hours of sleep during a 5-day period. Eight hours, that was it. I lay on the couch and stared at the ceiling. I did not want to watch television, I did not want to read (something that never happens normally), and my mind could not clear itself of trying to get rid of the pain, which it could not do. The pills I normally took to relieve me of the pain and swelling had no effect. 

So again I ask, who would not want to live well? 

Being healthy—without pain and without illness—is truly a pleasure. It is a joy. 

I hope today finds you healthy. If not, I hope you will be very soon. 


Fresh Buds Late Summer


Nature blooms new each spring;
School sprouts fresh buds late summer.

Thoughts meander through minds
Of students and teachers alike:
Will I like them, and they me?

It takes merely days to grow new relationships
From the buds of the new year’s beginning.

Friendships renewed,
New ones formed,
Some gone forever like last year’s leaves,
But each moves forward with new growth
That will come these next 10 months,
In some more than others.
Maturity likewise.

The environment will have its effect:
Changes at home,
Some for good, others not.

Besides the classroom and the learning,
Athletics, art, music,
Clubs, vacations, and sickness
Will leave marks as well.

In the end everyone will change.


Being led around with a hook in the mouth


As is my wont, I took an extended drive through the nearby rural areas of my state recently. Having a need to answer the call of nature and fill up the tank with gasoline, I stopped at an ancient store and gas station on the return trip. 

Upon exiting the establishment, and attempting to dust myself off and hopefully to remove the smell of the brine from the pickle barrel, I encountered three idlers on a bench just to the right of the door. Apparently, I had ignored their presence on the way inside (the call of nature being extremely loud and clear when I stopped and rushed into the store), one of them verbally accosted me. 

“Must be a city slicker,” said the man on the right end. “Too good ter even say hello to three gents. How’s it going, sonny?” he demanded. 

“Sonny?” I returned. “I bet I’m older than you. You in your fifties?” 

“Younger than that,” he replied. “Won’t be fifty for two more years.” 

The man beside him said, “Don’t be payin’ no attention to Turk. He can’t see much, deaf as a door hinge, and he’s overdue to eatin’. He can’t see you’re older’n him. Now Emerson here,” he pointed to the man on his other side, “he’s as contrary as they come, but he likes it that way.” 

I smiled. “Pardon me for being rude. It was unintentional. You see—” 

“Yeah, I seed it,” the man in the middle continued. “When it’s time to go, especially at your and my age, there’s not always a lot of time for palaverin’. Where you from?” 

I introduced myself, gave him a brief background, and shook his hand. 

“What’s up with Emerson?” I inquired. 

“He’s just that way,” said the same man. “Wasn’t like that all his life. In fact, when he was younger, he was nearly completely the oppsite. Had a bad experience. Ruined him for conversation and such.” 

“Don’t go telling my life his’try,” bellowed Emerson. “Anybody’s gonna tell my story, it’s gonna be me. I doubt if you’re in’trested, are you?” the inquiry was directed at me. 

Always looking for new fodder, I pretended to mull it over for a few seconds, then told him I would be happy to hear his story. 

“All right, but don’t be int’rupptin’ me, you hear? I’ll tell it my way. If Charlie tries to c’rrect me, don’t be payin’ him no mind.” 

Charlie was obviously the man in the middle, and apparently the most talkative of the bunch. After I agreed to Emerson’s terms, he remained silent for at least 5 minutes before commencing. 

“Well, Charlie ‘uz right,” he finally cranked it up. “I’m an ornery cuss nowadays, but up ’til my mid-twenties, I ‘uz the quietest, meekest person ’round here. Helped ever’body I could, never telled no one no when they asked. Ever’body liked me.” 

“That’s right,” said Charlie. “Nobody ever said a bad word ’bout Emerson. Never!” 

“Shut up!” Emerson snapped. “This here’s my story. Let me tell it ‘thout any intaference from you.” 

Suddenly, Turk shouted, “A woman done ‘im in, that’s all! Heartless woman. Never loved ‘im!” 

“That’s ‘nough,” Emerson turned to Turk. “Don’t ya be talkin’ ’bout the love a my life!” 

Turk drooped his head and shook a little bit. I believe the shaking was a permanent fixture, for I had noticed it previously. 

Emerson continued after a pause of another 2 minutes, “I ‘uz 20 years old when I met Doris Anne. She ‘uz the most prettiest girl ev’r born ’round here. A livin’ doll, she ‘uz. Wasn’t she beautiful, Charlie?” 

Charlie nodded agreement. 

“And wouldn’t ya know it, I fell in love ‘ith her the first time I ev’r talked to her. We were the same age, in the same class in school, but we nev’r talked then. I ‘uz a little shy, and she had her pick a boys. Don’t know why she decided ta like me. Wasn’t til a couple a years after school ‘fore she noticed me.” 

“I know why!” yelled Turk. “She wanted yer money!” 

“Well, that may be,” Emerson nodded agreement, “but she loved me. And I loved her. I did anythin’ for Doris Anne. Anythin! She wanted ta go ta a movie, I took her. She wanted ta get some new clothes, I took her. Anythin’ she wanted, I ‘uz more’n happy to get for her. 

“I tell ya, she ‘uz the sweetest thing ’round. Bes’ dancer, bes’ kisser, bes’ ever’thin’. I ‘uz in love for the only time in my life. Only time! But nev’r more! Nev’r more agin’ as long as I live. Ain’t no woman nor no man ev’r gonna tell me how ta live or talk or do anythin’ ev’r agin.” 

Emerson paused here. After a couple of minutes, I decided he had stalled his engine and I was about ready to leave, but he turned over his motor and cut right in again. 

“Ev’rbody ’round here said she led me ’round like I had a hook in my mouth, and she had a string and pulled me ev’rwhere she wanted to go. Mind you, it was true, it was. But I din’t care. I thought I knew what wuz happ’nin’, and I liked it. 

“Bein’ led by a hook in the mouth! Ev’rbody said it. Charlie said it, Turk said it, Jim Cooper said it, Harley Porter said it. Ev’rbody said it! And they ‘uz makin’ fun a me. 

“Two whole years Doris Anne and me ‘uz a couple. We ‘uz plannin’ on gettin’ married. Big plans! Church wedding with all our friens invited. Punch and cake and dancin’ after’ards. Big plans!” 

Here Emerson paused again. I opened my mouth to ask him a question, but he prevented me. 

“I said no in’truppin’ me, din’t it?” I meekly nodded and smiled a little. 

Four days b’fore the weddin’, Doris Anne decided she wanted to go fishin’. She loved to fish. That ‘uz one of the things I ‘dmired ’bout her. A country woman. 

“Well, we took off walkin’ down the streets to go the fishin’ hole. Of course, ev’rbody ‘uz yellin’, ‘Bein’ led by a hook in the mouth!’ at me. Din’t make me mad, though. Doris Anne din’t care, either. 

“We got ta the fishin’ hole and set ta fishin’. I’d caught some blue gills and a sunfish, but Doris Anne hadn’ caught nothin’. I could tell she ‘uz getting’ frustrated. She yanked in her line, checked it, and then whisked it ’round her head a couple a times, and then cast it out…or so she thought. 

“I turned ’round while she ‘uz whirlin’ the pole, and when she cast out, the hook went d’rectly inta my mouth and came out my cheek, where it got stuck.  

“Nat’rally, I reacted, got up and I hit her in the jaw with my fist. Knocked her out cold.” 

Here Emerson paused again, but I was not about to attempt to jump start the story again. The interval seemed like an eternity. I know it was over 5 minutes. 

“And that’s what happ’ned ta me, and the love a my life,” said Emerson. “Questions?” 

I jumped in, “So she left you when you hit her?” 

“No, no, no. That’s not it a’tall,” replied Emerson. “She din’t leave me. No, no! When she came to, she said she ‘uz sorry, but I told her I’d had ‘nough. 

“I told her I now un’rstood what the town mean by me bein’ led by a hook in the mouth, and if that’s what our life tagether ‘uz goin’ to be, with her draggin’ me ’round with a hook through my jaw, and her yankin’ the line ev’rytime she wanted me ta do somethin’, then I ‘uz callin’ off the wedding, and I did. Shore glad I figgered it out b’fore the wedding, and not later. 

“I made up my mind no one ‘uz going to do anythin’ like that ta me ever agin. Imagine! She led me out ta the fishin’ hole just b’fore our wedding just ta get that hook in my mouth so she could a ruled ov’r me all our lives.

“I ain’t never let anyone ever tell me what to do since then. I’m my own man, I am. I still can’t b’lieve how ignorant I ‘uz ’bout what ev’rbody meant, but I ‘uz too stupid to understan’.” 

I decided I had heard enough, and after thanking Emerson for his history, resumed my journey home. On the way, I recalled some of the students I have taught who, upon engaging with their first love, temporarily walked through life with hooks in their mouths.