THE BEST KIND OF FRIENDS!
To be honest, it almost seems like it’s an epidemic. But perhaps I am just finally arriving in that section of life where this seeming epidemic is just another day in the life of others.
We all supposedly learn things along the way of our path through this life. And true, the things learned by individuals will be as diverse as is the entire nature of everything that lives, be it man or beast or fowl or fish or… well, you get the diversity concept I’m sure.
I have told this story before in more general terms as it applied to the person being written about. But, this time is the first occasion that I recall where I am going to detail out some thoughts that have been previously held back. Why held back? Well, the psychology of that presentation would probably be better made in a lecture room by someone way smarter than the getting older man currently typing on these computer keys. However, suffice to say “Pride” is always lurking somewhere in the background. Possibly and more likely? Lurking in The Foreground. See? That’s a better acknowledgement of Pride already!
It was Super Bowl Sunday 2017. I decided, with the female encouragement that abides inside my home, to go out and watch the big game at The Farm with my Mom and the others who also be there.
However, the primary focus of this journey really would take place some twelve miles prior-to us arriving at The Farm. This would be a much bigger event than the Super Bowl from my perspective.
At the north end of Earth, still that little town in Texas, resides a Husband and Wife that I have known all of my adopted life. So, since 1965 I have been blessed to have these two folks in my life in such a way as to say: “They have been a very real part of the tapestry of my life.” Harold and Faye Miller.
On the trip from Slaton to Earth and then on out to The Farm were three travelers. My wife Karen, my good friend Max Jackson (89 years young) and myself. Yep, that’s three. I had decided, based upon some news I had received just a couple days earlier, that we would be stopping in Earth to visit Harold and Faye. It just so happens that Max had also been an Earthling back in the early 1970’s and he had mentioned to me that he and Harold had been friends for a very long time. In fact, Max says that Harold was the first person he ever met in Earth in the 1950’s and that it was some years later before he decided to move to Earth and run one of the local gins there. So Max, Karen and I headed for their house that Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. But I wanted to be sure that it was okay to stop and visit prior-to our arrival. While stopped at the McDonald’s in Littlefield for the required break-in-travel action, I called the Miller home to be sure we were not going to burden or overwhelm them if we stopped in. Faye answered the phone and I could tell she was excited to hear that we would come see them. So, thirty minutes later we were parked at the Miller home.We arrived around 4pm and I did not plan on staying too long.
If you were raised in a small community town you may understand this next part a little better than those who grew up in larger towns or cities. I often tell folks when discussing my childhood that I was “Raised by a community”. I guess I could say I was “Community’s Child”. That is in fact very much the truth. And the Miller’s are a perfect example of what I am saying.
I knew Faye Miller because she went to church where my family did there in Earth. She was ALWAYS very sweet and kind and genuine with her time spent talking to me. Harold went to a different church there in Earth. However, with him being the Postmaster in Earth and my Grandparents owning a business there too, I was often permitted to go to the Post Office and, knowing the special secret combination of the lock on the mailbox, I would get the mail and deliver it back to the store. I never made a trip inside the Post Office that I was not greeted by Mr. Miller. I never called him Harold until we became friends much later in life. So, while my relationship with Harold and Faye Miller was mostly a simple childlike acquaintance, they both were very kind from my very first recollections.
Harold Miller became very instrumental in my life as I became a teenager. I had been ravaged by the disease of R.A. and Mom and Dad and Granddad Maxcey had driven me to various locations all over the area for the joy filled fun of spending time in a Doctor’s office. But, it just so happened that while at one of these Doctor visits in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the tumblers of life aligned and Dr. Metcalf, a man who looked more like he belonged on a horse in a pasture chasing cattle rather than the white cloaked Dr. behind a desk, brought up the topic of… Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Cripple Children in Dallas, Texas. If memory serves this was sometime in 1972.
There is much I do not know or understand in the events and workings of the “how it happened” that made possible the very first trip to that Dallas Hospital. But, I do know that the men that met at the Masonic Lodge there in Earth in conjunction with an Amherst, Texas Doctor who happened to be a 32nd Degree Mason met with me and my parents to confirm certain qualifications that were required to be met for acceptance to the Scottish Rite Hospital. The man that got the ball rolling with the Masonic Lodge in Earth was… Harold Miller.
I remember there was one thing that worked to my huge dis-advantage. My age. I was almost too old to be taken at the Hospital. It is just a Rules thing I suppose. However, only a few days, like 3, before my next birthday that would have assured the disqualification, I was being poked and prodded and x-ray’d and talked to and… being made a patient of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Over and over that day at the Hospital there would be different members of the various staff ask me “What are you doing here today? The Arthritis Clinic is not for another week.” I don’t think Mom or Dad realized at the time that some very blessed forces were at work during those moments and days. Because by all rights I should not have been there on a day when the Doctors were only seeing children with severe mental disturbances and illnesses. Okay, who knows… maybe they thought I did fit the mold for that too.
In only a couple years I would spend the better part of my 16-year old life in that same Hospital. Staying over 5-months and then Two New Hips later, in the summer and fall of 1974, all the efforts that had been made way back home in that little town of Earth, Texas, and as result of the servant’s heart of Mr. Harold Miller, a young man was permitted the opportunity to one day have a life that would have never been possible without them all.
This morning the phone rang. It was a message from my Mom letting us know that Mr. Harold Miller had passed away from this life only hours earlier. Colon Cancer. Discovered only a couple weeks ago when the Doctor then let Harold know “You have two to four… maybe six weeks.” It was just under two weeks that transpired from that statement to today’s conclusion.
Super Bowl Sunday 2017 Max Jackson, Karen Branscum and myself stopped in to visit Harold and Faye Miller. Our stay was fairly brief, mostly for Harold’s benefit.
As we exited the house after having said the things folks say in these situations, I lagged behind until everyone had made it outside. It was just Harold and me. I stopped to look him in the eyes and told him that I loved Him and Faye and that I had never forgotten all the blessings of life I have been provided as a direct result of his loving concern all those years ago. As I turned to leave he said: “I’ll see you in our New Home.”
And I thought as I walked away… “Lord-Willing, Indeed You Will!”
We went on out to The Farm where my very good friend Brad Freeman was visiting with Mom while awaiting our arrival. We all watched that super crazy game and stuffed ourselves on sausage queso and pigs in a blanket and chips and dips and most of all… Memories.
There are so many people that have been interwoven into the man that I have become. Good people. I sincerely hope that one day there will be someone who can recall a part of me that was beneficial to them and their life. But, I am in no rush for that to happen at this moment. I will let tomorrow take care of itself, just as it always has thanks to folks like Harold and Faye Miller.
It was only a few months after being released to go home, after those surgeries in 1974, that I found myself back in Dallas for the groundbreaking event being held for the New Scottish Rite Hospital that was being prepared to be built. I was the Patient Representative and as I remember I gave a little talk and read a poem. There were several dignitaries there that day. But, the people that were the dignitaries of my life resided in the region of West Texas I still call home.
Harold Miller, Thank You and Rest Well My Friend.