God doesn’t put that much prep into something that is insignificant.”
— Shannon L. Alder
I found the street in Sioux City and began looking for the house I hadn’t seen in over a half century. And just like that, there it was. We had lived there when I was in the first, second and third grades, before moving to Oklahoma City where I’d be in the fourth grade, playing right field for my school team, the Red Foxes. My first and last year of baseball. Something about talent.
We moved one more time, back home to Little Rock, because Mom told Dad she was going with or without him. I don’t know what that would have meant for me and my two brothers, and thankfully never had to find out as Dad loaded us up again one morning and headed southeast.
As I stared at the house in Sioux City, I wondered how different my life would have been had we stayed. I thought of the girl sitting next to me, KM, my wife now of 41 years, and how we of course would not have met.
That’s life. One day you decide to turn right instead of left and the future becomes totally different.
But we did meet, and in 1980, I took a walk toward her down the red-carpeted aisle of St. Andrews Cathedral in Little Rock.
After we correctly repeated all our lines back to Father Royce Thomas, as the late-great Reverend Jim Workman (representing my Methodist half) looked on, we kissed, turned, and walked out, at a quicker pace than we had entered. A photo was taken at just the right moment to catch my lips form the word, “Whew.”
From there we moved into the back seat of my father’s black Olds 98, which he no longer needed after his heart had given out three months earlier, on a night I still see clearly, watching my brother Dean try desperately to bring him back. But he couldn’t. The Fates were at work again.
Three months later was a happier night, with Dean as my best man, not to mention chauffeur of the 98.
He drove us across the river to the parish hall of Immaculate Conception, where KM had gone through the eighth grade before entering Mount St. Mary’s in the late summer of 1971. At about the same time I was getting off a bus, not far away at Catholic High.
Credit the Fates again, because with the five month difference in our ages she could have been easily placed into the class ahead of me. With that December birthday of hers we may never have met. But that was an easy fix. After all, they’d managed to get me to that very spot, via Iowa and Oklahoma years before.
I almost didn’t get into Catholic High at all. I have a 1971 letter from Father Tribou, the principal, to my parents, in which he basically said thanks but no thanks. Something about there not being enough room.
But Mom, who was a force of nature in her own right, called my grandfather, who had among his impressive credentials, a former presidency of Hendrix College. In a letter to Father Tribou my grandfather wrote what a fine young man I was and that he was sure I would be a credit to Catholic High (I’m reminded here of the wisdom of George Costanza, who once said to Jerry, “Remember, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”)