Its hard to live as a child in abuse. Its harder yet to be abused at home and be abused at school and abused by friends. But, God was looking out for us. With dad’s insurance money he bought a little house at the bottom of a hill with some really awesome neighbors. True Christians if I might be so bold. Or saints who saved a few. Either way, it was a blessing to have them start knocking on our door at an early age and want to take us to church with them. They were the type that heard the shouting and the abuse and instead of pointing blame or fingers, they simply kept their views to themselves and asked and invited us to church faithfully. Without fail, they would be so very kind to us. Deep down they knew what was going on and so they would take us out to lunch after church and take us to Davenport Iowa to shop and kind of while away one day a week. After we got back to home, they would invite us out to Sunday evening services. Usually we would go, and gladly anything to get some reprieve.
So, needless to say, childhood was a blast. I mean that not in a sense of wonder and innocence but that it asked greatness of us in a hurry. Not greatness in what we were able to accomplish but greatness in learning to deal with difficulties. We were encouraged to be hypervigilant and aware at all times. Well, I can’t speak for others but I was. I was taught to watch situations closely and then to read them to see what happens next. I picked up art, music and strategy. I picked up human motivations. I learned a deep seated ability to spot the shift in dynamics. I learned to read the weather of a situation. I quickly grabbed ahold of common sense and made sense of it. Combine all that with a strict Baptist upbringing and VOILA!!!! Me!
In many situations throughout my life so far, life has demanded a wide view and quick response. Once on a Sunday afternoon, my uncle Butthead and dad and I were sitting and watching out the window when a semi and a little car have an accident and the semi crashes into the side of the ditch. WHOA! the guy gets out running and screaming and acting like a lost, dazed person. The other driver gets out of the car in the opposite ditch and is trying to tell the guy he is ok. Craziness. So, my uncle and I run out and offer up a little calm and help and a telephone to make calls with. You know, the kind with cords and connected to the jack? yeah those days. Back when breaking down out into the country and middle of nowhere at whatever time would yield a moderately friendly person warily watching as the person used their telephone. I kind of miss those days. Those days without cell phones and good people. Now almost everyone has a cell phone so many rarely even stop to see if someone is ok anymore. But I will always remember living in the country and opening the door to strangers in need.
In another instance, there was a giant hill with falling rocks on it and some construction company was doing work at the top. We just arrived at the location when two friends and I spot the dozer tumbling down the hill. We back up on the highway and head down the hill to block off traffic for a bit so whatever happens can happen without anyone else getting injured. I just never knew when I would be called upon to use my quick skills to help out.
One time I watched as a guy beat the snot out of his girlfriend. I didn’t do anything about it and kick myself some about that. Then shortly thereafter, I was at a kegger and saw the same thing go down. This time I stood up for the lady and blocked the guys punch. Then I somehow got courageous enough to stand toe to toe and stare him down without having to fight him. OOOOHHHH I really got lucky to get out of that one in one piece, but I had at least responded the right way this time.