Testimony, Part V

Continued from Testimony – Part IV.

For as long as I can remember my mother, brothers and I enjoyed singing together. We sang popular songs, musicals and country. We spent a lot of time traveling as a family with dad driving and the rest of us singing.

So, it was not uncommon for me to start singing an old favorite from that period, even in front of coworkers.

I did not think much of my voice because, though I had the occasional compliment, my music teacher in college told me I could not sing.

Then one day one of my coworkers asked me to sing at their church, a church I never heard of before. I asked why they thought I should sing. They said I had a beautiful voice.

A few weeks, and many panic attacks later, I sang a solo at a small Baptist Church in the middle of nowhere.

I loved it!

Three years earlier, I had just moved in with my parents for the first time since college. I was backup caregiver for my mom. And I was searching for work. I loved teaching, but no teaching jobs were available that fit my certifications. So, I found a job working for the agency that was helping my mother, the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments.

I’ve worked there since, almost all of my time in the Area Agency on Aging. But when I first started, I was helping my dad.

I was emotionally and spiritually raw from losing my church. I tried to return then to my home church, but it was so difficult to face the people I grew up with, was called to the ministry in front of, just to return as a failed, broken man.

And I was gaining weight at an alarming rate.

Meanwhile, my mother continued her steady decline in her battle against diabetes and multiple sclerosis. My father was going downhill even faster from all the wear and tear, love and emotion of caring for his mate of so many years.

My father is a testament to caregiving. I have never met someone so generous and kind, loving and giving as my father. I will never be able to live up to that example.

My mother cherished him right back.

But she was dying, a slow, long, terrible death.

My mom was one of the most intelligent people I ever met. She went through college after seeing us all through middle school. She graduated with a teaching degree the same year I graduated high school. She taught science. And she was not an easy grade.

She loved music, and movies, and sunshine, and musicals.

She loved to sing.

She loved her grandchildren.

And after a few years of advanced MS, she could no longer hold them, or even remember their names at times. She started to get confused, and scared.

It was too much for me. On January 1, 2010, I moved out, a failure at caregiving, a failure at marriage, a failure as a pastor, but not forgotten by God.

At this time, I was beginning to lose weight and in the coming months lost over 100 pounds, mostly through working out at least two hours per day and following a weightlifter diet.

As Mom was dying, she asked me to preach her funeral. It was a terrible, awful request. But I conceded.

She died in January 2011. She lived just long enough to hear a new voice arise in me.

The next month, I sang in my first musical at Duncan Little Theatre, playing Reverend Shaw in Footloose.

But later that year, all the weight returned.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. – James 5:13 NIV


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