Do you recall the first exciting events of your life? The older I get it seems the clearer my past becomes.
One of my earliest memories of excitement was sitting in my French grandfather’s boat when he took me for a high-speed ride on Milton Three Ponds. The wind was blowing past my face, and his hair was flying back like strands of white string. The motor noise was wonderfully loud, and on turns the engine seemed to scream.
My second most exciting memory was making and walking on a pair of stilts. My cousin and I made them in my English grandfather’s tool shed in the back of the garage. It was raining outside that day, so we walked on them in our grandparents’ basement. My cousin bet me a buck I couldn’t walk down their cellar stairs with them.
The bet was on, so I climbed up the stairs and quietly opened the door to the den. It was easy to stand on them on the top step because the top of the staircase had walls on both sides. As I walked down the stairs on the stilts, the staircase opened up to the cellar on one side and a window on the other side. I lost my balance and headed headfirst to the bottom of the stairs, landing right next to the water meter. My cousin screamed, and in my excitement and recovery I recall my aunt commenting about her “dumb nephew.”
Driving my uncle’s truck on his property was more than exciting. I could barely reach the gas and brake pedals. To stop the truck, I had to stand on the brake pedal while not being able to see out the truck’s front window. I was really young, but my uncle was patient and very kind to teach me. My aunt reminded him in front of me that my dad might not like the fact that he had taught me how to drive so young. She was instantly forgiven by me because I loved being her dumb nephew.
The most exciting and yet frightening event of my early youth occurred on a boat with my sister, mother and aunt. We were traveling to visit an uncle who was serving his military tour of duty on an island off the coast of Maine. My sister had to go to the bathroom, so my aunt was watching me. I was standing on a large box under the stairs to the second deck. The box may have been for life preservers. I complained to her that I couldn’t see the ocean or what was going on because of the stairs, so she grabbed me under my arms and hung me over the rail above the water and asked if I could now see. I could see the water very clearly. She brought me back on the boat. When my mother and sister returned, I told my mother what my aunt had done, but she didn’t believe me.
I guessed that my aunt had accomplished her mission, and I kept her at a distance until later when I truly appreciated her sense of humor. I eventually realized her humor was much like her dad’s. Having to live up to the reputation of being her dumb nephew was easy and came natural to me. Much of my family has passed on, but their loving kindnesses and memories will never leave me.
Southwest Florida is flat, especially west of I-75. You can see for miles. When the winds shift during the summer, the clouds move in from the central part of the state, so it is wise to look up if you are planning outside work or fun events.
We have a beautiful walking/biking trail behind our Rotonda house plus two developments that have only a few homes in them. This provides for peaceful and safe biking or walking. I’m entering my tenth year of biking. It began as a way to help strengthen my injured left knee. It has become much more than that now. My goal while living in Rotonda was to bike thirty miles three times a week.
For tracking purposes, I credit myself with two aerobic events when I finished my thirty miles. Over the last fifteen years, I have averaged more than one aerobic event a day and it helped me keep off forty-four pounds on the average. I define an aerobic event as something I do for more than thirty minutes that makes me sweat and feel like I burned off some extra calories.
I prefer biking in the mornings, but church on Sundays is a higher priority. After church, I changed and ate a sandwich of whole wheat bread, sliced turkey, fat free cheese and apricot jam. I split up an apple and had a small scoop of fat free frozen yogurt for dessert. Then it was time to get the bike out and hit the road.
This Sunday afternoon I started out at a little after 1:00 p.m. It was partly cloudy, 92 degrees and humid, as it usually is during the hot days of summer. I stayed away from traffic and didn’t bike more than five miles away from home just in case I broke down or ran into seriously bad weather.
It was clouding up and I could see some light showers in the distance, but there was no lightening or thunder, and I seriously wanted to finish my thirty miles. At mile twenty-one, I saw light rain about a mile away. I had felt a few raindrops but decided that since there wasn’t any lightening or thunder, I would head to the west end of the loop around the Sands development. A few minutes later, I entered the park and the trail entrance. The rain started. The sun was still out, which made the large raindrops look like beautiful shiny bullets coming at me.
The trail was soon wet with rain. I felt my skull cap under my helmet getting wet. Thankfully, the wind was behind me, so I picked up speed and focused on staying out of the puddles. The water was soaking my long-sleeved blue biking shirt and my gloves. I felt it running down my back and into my shorts. The seat was becoming a sponge. My socks and shoes were quickly becoming drenched.
There was still no lightening or thunder, and I only had five more miles to go. I considered stopping and turning on my front and rear lights but decided I would leave the trail soon and be home before the rain hit the street I lived on. I hit the garage door button just as I heard the first roll of thunder. Timing is everything, they say, and that day I agreed.
The best I ever feel is when I bike up my driveway after finishing. My endorphins have kicked in and my joints are limbered up. I have no aches or pains or fatigue. It’s a wonderful feeling, and I work hard to enjoy it three times a week.
What a refreshing ride, I thought, and said an arrow prayer thanking the Lord for a cool, safe and wonderful Sunday ride. We have moved from Rotonda but our home there is for sale. If you want to see a nice home in a beautiful place to stay healthy, click visualtour.com/show.asp?T=3168681
When I finished my six months active duty training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I came home to Rochester, New Hampshire, to my wife, Lorraine, and little girl. It wasn’t long before we had a son. Our family was close and none were closer than my ten-year-younger brother and me.
He and I had fun almost every time were together. When I purchased a motorcycle, I gave him a ride in the field behind the house. Without me knowing it, he had slipped off the back and was hanging on by one hand. The field was wet and muddy, so by the time I realized it he was a muddy mess. We laughed as we walked to the house so he could clean up. Younger brothers are special, and he was no exception.
I eventually moved my young family to California for a career job with more upside opportunity than I could find in New Hampshire. My brother was still young and attending the same church that I had, but he hadn’t given his heart to the Lord as I had. We prayed, as did other family members, that he would come to know and accept Christ as his Savior.
We owned a duplex that we refinanced to reimburse us for the reconditioning costs and our labor, which helped fund our relocation to California. Eventually, my brother purchased the duplex from us for the balance of the mortgage and expanded it to three apartments. It had worked well for Lorraine and me and eventually helped him also.
Time passed, but we stayed in touch. He married and he and his wife visited us when we moved to Texas and again when we moved to Denver, Colorado. He was never far away and always in our hearts.
He and his wife eventually moved to Florida. We ended up living eighteen miles from each other. My sister-in-law joined the church we attended and committed her heart to Christ there. Years passed and her untimely death at age 56 naturally overwhelmed my brother. In the process, he turned to Christ for comfort and accepted Him as his Savior. He was baptized and attends a local church where he has found good friends who have become part of his life.
As my pastor would say, “The prayers of a righteous person are both powerful and effective.” We praise Jesus for never giving up on my brother and know that he will see his wonderful wife in heaven some day.