What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
Before my dad gave his life over to God, he was pretty difficult. One of those snapshot memories I have took place when I was about three. We lived in a trailer house in a southern Minnesota farm town. Dad worked in an auto repair shop doing body work on cars. Mom stayed home with Sandy and me. My memories of the trailer are sketchy, but again, there are some snapshots in my mind that have stayed sharp and clear.
On the day of this event, it must have been either a Friday or Saturday late afternoon. Dad was a weekend beer drinker, and would come home drunk and angry. This would have been 1949 into 1950. He’d been in a submarine during the war, and he came home wanting nothing to do with God or any form of religion. Some of this I’ve pieced together from hearing Mom talk about it, but my memory is very clear on this part of the story:
Mom called us in for an early supper, wanting to get us fed and in bed before Dad got home. He had very little patience with small children, apparently, on his weekends.
Mom had fixed us boiled eggs, chopped up with butter and salt and pepper. To this day I love eggs prepared that way. There was probably bread and butter, and milk to drink. I don’t remember that. After we ate, I remember Mom helping us wash hands and faces and hurrying us into our pajamas, tucking us into bed with strict instructions to go right to sleep.
But it wasn’t completely dark outside, and sleep was elusive. I remember hearing the door open and close, and the sounds of Dad’s heavy tread on the kitchen floor. I remember him being loud, but I don’t remember words. He tended to set things down pretty hard, and I remember the sound of his lunch bucket slamming down on the table or a counter top.
I remember his loud voice, then Mom’s quieter one. However, both of them raised their voices a little at a time, and soon they were both shouting. I wrapped my head in my pillow, because I hated when they yelled at each other.
And that’s all I remember. Eggs, fear, and falling asleep to their fighting.
Now, I want you to understand that this story had a wonderful ending. My dad changed when he yielded his life to the Lord. He was always an opinionated, outspoken man; however, his life did a 180 when he decided to respond to what he knew was God’s calling on his life. When I was five, we moved to Minneapolis so he could attend Northwestern Bible College. When I was ten, we moved to Oregon where he attended seminary and became the pastor of his first church.
Sometimes I think about how different my life would have been had God not been patient with my dad, if Dad had just continued on the path he’d chosen when he came home from war.
And I am thankful.