A couple of weeks ago I shared the first third of a letter my mom, Juanita Cannon, sent to me 25 years ago while I was pastoring in Southeastern Ohio, on the West Virginia line.
It included entries from a hit-and-miss diary she had kept of some of my early childhood angst, which many have shared with me that they enjoyed reading.
After taking a brief break to pay a well-deserved tribute to my friend and Bradley coach Don Burke, I'm returning to mom's letter today.
Just a brief reminder, I was born just eight days into the 1960s, while General Dwight D. Eisenhower was still president of the United States, but only for a few days as John F. Kennedy was sworn in a couple of weeks later.
We lived on Meadow Lane, between Gilliland Peach Stand and the Shake Shack, when Waterlevel Highway (U.S. 64) was just a two-laned road. My parents had moved there a couple of years before my birth and stayed there until 1977.
We moved to Laurel Drive N.W., which I just closed on purchasing earlier this week, the summer between my junior and senior years at Bradley.
Two weeks ago I shared what she wrote about my first 18 months, during which I reportedly had an inclination for climbing. Today we will cover the next two years of contrivances:
• "Aug. 23, 1961 — Degee (my oldest brother Daryl) watched Joe this morning. While Degee was getting more oil to go in the lawn mower, Joe stuffed the oil hole full of gravel. (Why would you leave a 20-month-old alone in the gravel? Of course Degee would have been about 13, and we all know the brain shuts down for a few years at that point in life).
• "Sept. 4, 1961 — Darline (Bell, my sister and mom of Galen, Valerie and Vanessa Bell) left for Bob Jones University today. Joe walked through a pan of blue Kem-tone paint. (Now we know where the Blue Man group got the idealfor their show.)
• "Nov. 3, 1961 — Joe got into the Crisco and rubbed it all over his face for cold cream. (Had to protect my future Santa cherry cheeks)
• "Nov. 13, 1961 — Joe is having one of HIS days. He polished his white shoes with black shoe polish. Martha (my older cousin) found him with a bottle of furniture polish to his mouth, ready to drink it. He ended the day by falling on the floor furnace and burning his leg and hand. (Unfortunately not my only encounter with that metal grate-covered fire pit in the middle of our hallway.)
• "Nov. 14, 1961 — Joe's leg hurt from the burn until I've had to hold him most of the day.
• "Nov. 15, 1961 — Still one of Joe's days! He pulled metal stripping off the bathroom wall and it with long nails. He threw his doll (I'm sure she meant a manly G.I. Joe figurine) in the bathtub — clothes and all.
• "Nov. 16, 1961 — Joe was fairly quiet today. Martha kept him while I shopped and went to Council meeting. He broke 2 dogs (I'm assuming she meant ceramic dogs — I've never been cruel to animals).
• "March 8, 1962 — Joe got up fussy. Gene (my dad) says I'm in for a day. 9 a.m. while I'm talking to Wanda (Tomlinson-Edwards, I assume) on the phone he unrolled the Concentration game, poured catsup in the plum jam.
• "April 9, 1962 — 2 years, 4 months — Joe put a candle on the bed and jumped over it, said 'Joe, be nimble.' (Sounds like signs of early intelligence to me. This is my favorite entry in mom's dairy.)
• "April 15, 1962 — Joe ate 10 or 15 vitamin pills. Also walked on the jonquils and tulips that I thought the pups were tearing down. (I bet I got cherry cheeks for that. I think it was really those dogs paying me back for breaking two of them.)
• "May 7, 1962 — Joey rode tricycle alone for first time. Of course, it wasn't the little one, but the larger one in the rough backyard. (That was the start of my rugged-outdoorsman activities.)"
That brings me through my first 2 1/2 years. Next week we'll finish the letter with some more preschool pranks and a big sign of maturity from my early teens.
I hope you enjoyed this stroll down Memory Lane, none of which I recall. It's an effort to give you something to briefly take your mind off of the craziness going on in our country.
Always remember, the Lord sees all, including the things we think no one else sees.
Share a smile and show love and understanding for those you encounter this week, whether they deserve it or not.
My mom loved me no matter what I got into and the Lord never turns us away, but is always there with open arms when we think we are unlovable.