Devotion to Mary

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

December 30, 2017

What Did Mary Really Know?

Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.

Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).

October 21, 2017

Wildfire Halted by the Prayers of an Old Lady

On October 14, 2017, a headline on a news website caught my attention: “As everything around him burned, one Napa man’s house somehow survived.” The headline — and the article that followed — was published on the website, a sister-site of the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s how the article began:

It was 2 a.m. Monday morning. Dr. Kenny Omlin of Napa was in the process of getting his family off their 11-acre estate as flames from the Atlas Fire rapidly approached. He opened his car door and saw his 80-year-old mother sitting in the passenger seat, clutching a rosary and praying.

“When I first saw her, I was like ‘Seriously?’ It’s the middle of the night, there are flames coming, and she’s just sitting there praying,” Omlin told SFGATE. “I didn’t say this out loud, obviously, but I wanted to say: ‘This is no time to pray. We need to get out of here.’”

Omlin was tasked with evacuating six people from his property, including his wife, his mother, his 84-year-old father, his brother who has Down syndrome, and his two children, a 10-day-old and a 20-month-old.

“We were right in harm’s way,” he said. “And it took us two hours to get off the property.”

Omlin and his family drove away as flames started to consume their property on Monticello Road, about a quarter mile from where the Atlas Fire started.

As he left, Omlin was certain that everything would burn.

After they escaped from the fire, the Omlins drove to the small house of their nanny, where they could stay until they figured out where they were going to live.

Two days later, Omlin was able to secure a police escort to return to his home to assess the damage. When he returned, he found that his house and the house where his parents and brother lived were untouched. “The only thing near us that was still standing was a vineyard down the hill beneath us,” Omlin said. “Everything else was torched.”

May 6, 2017

A Game of Chicken

Francisco and Jacinta Marto

When I was growing up during the 1960s and 1970s, every so often there would be a news report about a head-on collision between two cars that were driven by teenage boys who had been playing a game of chicken. The way the game was played was that the boys would get in their cars and drive at a high rate of speed toward each other. If one of the boys swerved to avoid an accident, he was branded as a chicken. There were actual head-on collisions that occurred because of boys who would rather die than be called a chicken.

There is a game of chicken that is taking place right now on the world stage — a game that could result in the death of millions of innocent people. The two men who are playing the game are President Donald Trump and the tyrannical ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

Last month, President Trump sent a message to Kim Jong-un that notified him that there would be grave consequences if he did not stop testing missiles and nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un immediately responded by threatening to wipe out the United States with nuclear weapons.

While the North Korean military does not yet have the capability to reach the United States with its intercontinental ballistic missiles, it has the ability to kill millions of innocent people in South Korea, a country that shares a border with North Korea. Kim Jong-un believes South Korea belongs to North Korea.

The North Korean military has the fourth largest army in the world, with more than 1.2 million men. The military is equipped with 70 submarines, 1,000 missiles, 20,000 artillery pieces, 400 patrol and missile boats, and more than 550 combat aircraft.

The capital of South Korea is Seoul, which is only 30 miles from the border that separates North and South Korea. With a population of more than 25 million, Seoul is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It is estimated that North Korea could strike Seoul within six minutes of launching an offensive.

July 25, 2015

The Key to the Side Door

KeyLast week, I wrote about an experience I had during the summer of 1974. At that time, I was 17 years old. I had a part-time job at the Ramada Inn in downtown Peoria, and one Saturday night after work, I drove to the Shrine Mosque in downtown Peoria to see if I could catch the second half of a show that featured a professional barbershop quartet. The quartet had won the previous year’s international competition of barbershop quartets.

When I arrived at the Shrine Mosque, it was intermission and the men in the quartet were standing outside near the back of the building, getting a breath of fresh air. After I introduced myself and told them that I had missed the first half of their show because I was working and that I had organized my own quartet in high school, one of the men invited me to watch the rest of the show from backstage. I gladly accepted and followed them into the side door of the building.

Years later when I thought about what had happened, two questions popped into my mind: Would the organizers of the show have approved of me entering the building through the side door to watch the second half of the performance, without first paying for a ticket? Did the men in the quartet have the authority to allow me to enter the building to watch their performance?

Regardless of whether they had the authority, the men in the quartet had the power to invite me to watch the show from backstage. Authority and power are two different things. The U.S. Supreme Court may have the power to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage, but they don’t have the legal or moral authority — either under the U.S. Constitution or under the laws of God. Our politicians may have the power to allow illegal aliens to enter into and remain in our country, but neither the Constitution nor any law gives them the authority to do so.

November 1, 2014

An End-of-Life Experience

deathcertificateYou may have heard about the incident a couple of weeks ago (October 22) in Ottawa, Canada, when a Canadian soldier was gunned down by a homegrown terrorist, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.  The soldier’s name was Corporal Nathan Cirillo, and at the time of the incident he was on duty as a ceremonial guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial.

At the time of the shooting, Cirillo had a standard-issue firearm that, in accordance with standard guidelines, was not loaded with ammunition.  Although five bystanders provided assistance to the wounded soldier, he died shortly after he was shot by the terrorist.

Prior to the shooting, a woman named Barbara Winters had walked by the war memorial on her way to a meeting.  She was early for the meeting so she decided to stop in front of the memorial and take some pictures.  The sun was shining and she wanted to capture the beauty of the memorial site and its honor guards.

After Winters finished taking pictures, she continued walking to her meeting.  While she was walking, she heard the gunshots fired by the terrorist.  She immediately turned around and saw that the solder had been shot.  She then rushed over to assist him.

By the time she got to Cirillo, there were four other people working on him to keep him alive.  She slipped in between two of the people and knelt down near Cirillo’s face.  She loosened his tie, said a prayer, and leaned over to talk to him.

During an interview that was conducted later in the day, Winters told the reporter what she said to Cirillo:

I told him he was loved, that he was a brave man, and that he was a good man.  I said, “Just think of what you were doing when this happened.  You were honoring others.  Just think of how proud that will make your family.  Your parents are so proud of you and your family must love you so much.”

April 5, 2014

Dealing With The Dirty Laundry

Laundry RemovalI was born on the same day that my grandfather, Harry LaHood, was buried.  My grandfather died on May 17, 1957.  My mom and dad attended his funeral Mass on May 20, and then went to the cemetery for the burial service.  Mom’s contractions had started earlier in the day and became more intense while she and Dad were at the cemetery.  After the burial service was finished, Mom told Dad that she needed to go to the hospital.  I was born later that day, and Mom gave me the same name as her father.

My grandfather was only 49 years old when he died.  Prior to his death, he had been treated for what was then called “hardening of the arteries.”  Today, his condition would be diagnosed as blocked arteries, and he would be a candidate for either bypass surgery or the insertion of one or more stents in his arteries.  Unfortunately, at the time of his death, no such procedures were available.

Prior to experiencing problems with his heart, my grandfather owned and operated a retail store that was located on MacArthur Highway in Peoria, Illinois.  When his health began to deteriorate, he closed the store.  After his death, my grandmother, Cecelia LaHood (Grandma Ceil), was left with the empty commercial building that her husband had built for his store.

Shortly after my grandfather’s death, a local businessman from the Lebanese community approached my grandmother to inquire about the vacant building.  (For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Nick.”)  Grandma Ceil knew and trusted Nick, because she had grown up in the same neighborhood as his relatives and was very familiar with his family.

When Nick met with my grandmother, he asked if she would be willing to rent the building to him.  He told her that he wanted to use the building as a new location for a coin-operated Laundromat.  He already had one Laundromat that was fully operational and was generating income for him and his family.  Up until that time, Grandma Ceil didn’t know anything about the Laundromat business.

March 29, 2014

The Burial of a Loved One

Burial of JesusWhen I was 13 years old, a cousin of mine died as a result of a tragic accident.  He was 11 years old at the time of his death.  The day after he died, my parents and I went over to his parents’ house to visit his family.  I went with my parents because I had been a good friend of my cousin and still was a good friend of his older brother.

While my parents were in the house, my cousin’s brother and I sat outside on lawn chairs in the front yard.  I tried to keep a conversation going, but there were several times when he stopped talking, put his hands over his face, and cried.  Every time he cried, he said, “Harry, I hope this never happens to you.”  There was nothing I could do or say to comfort him.

The following evening I attended the visitation with my parents and some of my brothers and sisters.  When it came time to end the visitation and close the casket, the funeral director announced that the family of my cousin was going to stay behind to view the body one final time.  When all the friends and other relatives of the family left the room, I stayed behind and walked up to the casket with the parents, sister, and brothers of my cousin.

My cousin’s mother stood in front of his open casket for an extended period of time.  Tears flowed down her face as she looked at her son for the last time.  As she was getting ready to leave, she put her hand on his chest and bent down and kissed his cheek.  After she kissed him, I heard her whisper, “Rest in peace, rest in peace, rest in peace.”

She kept saying it over and over through her tears: “Rest in peace, rest in peace.”  She didn’t know what else to say.  My uncle lovingly placed his hand on my aunt’s shoulder and said, “We should probably go now.”  She slowly turned away from the casket and allowed her husband to lead her out of the funeral home.  The rest of us silently followed them.

March 22, 2014

A Heart-Wrenching Experience

Pieta - Jesus and MaryI’ve previously shared some of my experiences in growing up in a family of 17 children.  All of my brothers and sisters are still living, except for Kathryn Mary, my parents’ 15th child.  At the time of her death, Kathryn was 13 months old.

Kathryn was born on September 13, 1972.  Within a couple of days of her birth, her doctors discovered that she had Down syndrome and a heart defect that was going to eventually need to be corrected with open heart surgery.  Unfortunately, she never got to a point where she had enough strength and stamina to withstand a surgery.   She was so weak that she was never able to turn herself over or crawl around on the floor.  She gained very little weight during the 13 months that she was with us.

Kathryn died in the early afternoon of October19, 1973.  At that time, I was 16 years old and was a sophomore in high school.  I knew something was wrong when I came home from school that day because my dad’s car was parked in the driveway.  There was no reason for him to be home from work at that time.

When my brothers and sisters and I walked into the house, my dad gathered us together and told us that Kathryn had passed away earlier in the afternoon.  He told us that Mom was in our parents’ bedroom holding Kathryn, and that she was having trouble accepting Kathryn’s death.

I don’t remember how many of us went into the bedroom to see Mom, but when I went in, she was still holding Kathryn in her arms.  She was refusing to acknowledge that Kathryn had died.  She kept saying that Kathryn was only sleeping and that she would wake up soon.

Kathryn’s death was not unexpected.  There was one evening earlier in the year when she had died and was brought back to life when my oldest sister, Mary, administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  After that, Kathryn had slowly gotten worse.  As a family, we had prayed that she would be miraculously cured, but our prayers were never answered.

March 15, 2014

The Queen of Martyrs

crucifixionAbout 15 years ago, I met a couple whose 20-year-old daughter was instantly killed when her car was hit by a train.  She died five minutes after she walked out of her parents’ home.  She was on her way to class at Illinois Central College.  When she left the house, her mother told her goodbye and told her that she looked beautiful.

The young college student obviously had not seen the train prior to crossing the railroad tracks.  She lived with her parents in a rural area and there were no flashing lights or gates that came down when a train was approaching.

When I met the parents, the father of the girl seemed like he was getting along alright, but the mother was still completely numb.  Even though it had been more than a year since the accident, the mother continued to visit her daughter’s gravesite every day.  Most days, she would spend more than an hour at the cemetery crying.

About eight years ago, a young man whom I knew died from an aneurism in his brain.  At the time of his death, he was in his early 20s.  His mother had so much trouble dealing with his death that she was put on medication to help her cope.  The last I heard, she was still taking medication to manage the ongoing depression that was caused by the death of her son.

Whenever I think of the fifth of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the death of Jesus on the cross, I think of the two women I just mentioned.  If you ask a mother about a child she has lost, regardless of the amount of time that has passed, she cannot help but relive the suffering she experienced when her child died.

We know from Saint John that Mary was at the foot of the cross when her Son was crucified: “Meanwhile, standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.”  John 19:25.

March 1, 2014

An Unplanned Interception

InterceptionI’ve written before about how I broke my leg when I was a boy.  The events leading up to my broken leg began during the summer of 1967, when I was 10 years old.  While holding onto the end of an old rubber garden hose, I climbed the weeping willow tree in the back yard of my parents’ home.  When I got about 20 feet high, I climbed out onto a thick branch and tied the end of the hose to the branch.

Of all the summers I went through as a boy, the summer of 1967 was the most memorable.  In May of that year, when I turned 10 years old, my dad bought me something I had begged him to get me for three years — a BB gun.  That summer, I built a tree house with a friend of mine.  My favorite television shows were Tarzan, Zorro, and The Lone Ranger — great shows for a young idealistic boy who wanted to grow up and save the world.

The hose lasted until September 3, 1967.  I remember the date because that was the day the hose snapped while I was swinging on it.  It happened on a Sunday morning.  I got dressed for church early in the day and was in the backyard swinging around like I was Tarzan.  When the hose broke, my body was flying sideways through the air.  When I hit the ground, I heard the sound of a stick breaking in half.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a stick that broke.  It was my left femur (thigh) bone.

I immediately called out to my younger brother Carl who was sitting on one of the branches in the tree: “Go get dad, I think I broke my leg!”

Moments later, my mom and dad came rushing out of the house to see what had happened.  Within minutes, my brothers, sisters, and several of the neighborhood kids were all standing in a circle around me watching what was going on like it was a sporting event.

My dad told my oldest brother, Jerry, to run and get a five-foot-long countertop that dad had brought home earlier in the summer from one of his job sites.  When Jerry returned with the countertop, dad put it on the ground next to me and he and Jerry gently slid my body onto the countertop.  Then they carried me over to the station wagon and, after folding down the second and third seats, slid the countertop (and me) into the back of the station wagon.