Have you ever sat down with a cup of hot coffee and reflected on your life? Go ahead; raise your right hand if you have done it. If you are looking in my direction, you will see I have my hand lifted high. I admit I have had many of those melancholy moments.
No, I am not planning my eulogy, but at sixty-one years and nine-plus months of age, I look back from time to time. What is the catalyst for my latest round of self-examination? My mother passed away last December 14th. My wife of over forty years has two different types of cancer, both stage III.
One of the first things I do when reflecting is thinking about where I have been. Growing up as a military brat during the Cold War and Vietnam War gives me a different perspective than many.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my childhood. It was fun and different. I lived many places. My laundry list of locations I had lived before I reached adulthood include:
- San Antonio, Texas
- Bowersville, Ohio
- Greenville, South Carolina x 2
- East Saint Louis, Illinois
- Glendale, Arizona
- Sequin, Texas
- El Paso, Texas
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Bebe, Texas
- Schertz, Texas
- DeSoto, Texas x 3
- Arlington, Texas
I also attended eight schools for my twelve grades of public school. The schools were in Arizona, Texas, and New Hampshire.
The advantage was getting to see and experience much of this great country called the United States of America. The disadvantages were a lifelong feeling of not having roots and not having a real hometown. I even felt an outsider at my high school where I attended from the middle of the ninth grade through graduation. I sometimes still feel that way when some of use gets together for a Saturday evening meal.
Other times I think back to winning the military draft lottery when we use to have such a thing. I had a twenty-five draft number. It was a one of those pivotal moments in my life. It meant I was going into the US military. I had the choice of going immediately or going later. I could have gone directly by enlisting or just waiting to be drafted.
The Vietnam War was winding down at that time, but they were still sending combat troops. They would do that for another eighteen months after I graduated high school.
I selected another option. It was to defer my military service. I did this by joining the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in college. This lead to me being commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army upon college graduation. It guaranteed I would graduate from college on time and serve in the military.
My laundry list of places lived and worked since I married in 1974 include:
- DeSoto, Texas x 4
- Fort Riley, Kansas
- Fort Benning, Georgia
- Fort Lewis, Washington
- Yakima Firing Center, Washington x 2
- Camp Pendleton, California x 2
- Fort Irwin, California x 3
- Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
- Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, California x 2
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Decatur, Georgia
- Clarkston, Georgia
- Bogalusa, Louisiana
- Jasper, Texas x 2
- Buna, Texas
- Denison, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- The Colony, Texas
It also leads to three other items. First, it took me to Fort Lewis, Washington. There I attended First Baptist Church of Lakewood. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at Lakewood. I believe it was a providential appointment.
Second, it provided me with the G.I Bill educational benefit that I used to get my master’s degree. It was God’s finance plan.
Third, it provided the G.I. Bill house financing benefit I used to buy two homes. I doubt I would have ever been able to purchase a home with the 20% down payment requirements in place in the 1970s and 1980s. It was God’s finance plan, part two.
I think back about choices I made like marriage and the birth of three children. I reflect on attending, graduating from seminary, and serving six churches over an eighteen years period.
I look at leaving the full-time ministry and retraining for work in the information technology field. The Hazelwood Act paid for my retraining in IT. Another benefit of serving my country and being a Texan.
Sometimes I think of how I could have been a better husband and parent. I think of the poems, short stories, non-fiction, and books I have written.
No, I don’t have regrets. You cannot change choices, so any reexamination isn’t the right thing to do.
I also think about the future. I‘ll write about that on another day.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.