This month’s column is personal reflection of life’s journey. Please forgive the privilege to share,
but I expect anyone can relate.
Summer is a familiar experience for me and my wife, Sylvia, as we have birthdays just a month
apart. But these this year are milestone birthdays as we turn 80. This August also makes us just
a year short of our 60 th wedding anniversary.
Looking back at the year of our births during WWII in 1943, circumstances then set into motion
how our lives came together even though it all began with us being 2,650 miles apart
–completely across the entirety of the United States.
All kinds of things in the lives of our parents would develop over the ensuing 16 years that
brought us together as high school juniors in Monroe, Louisiana. In all the decisions that they
would make in pursuing, first our fathers’ places in the military and later, their careers, any one
of them made differently would have resulted in us never meeting.
And none of our children would have ever been born. None of our careers nor our roles of
community service that would mark a central part of the 60 years of our story together would
have ever happened.
In my case, the first thing that would set my life into motion occurred when the Navy ship my
dad was assigned to would be delayed in its completion before entering the war in the South
He was one of the nearly 300,000 sailors stationed at the Farragut Naval Training Station near
Sandpoint, Idaho. The months-long delay in the ship’s construction meant his wife could join
him there and that resulted in their trying to have a baby. They made that decision even
though, like all the other American men in uniform across the world, his life would be at risk
once he sailed away.
So, I entered the world there in the base hospital on August 17, 1943.
Upon his return at war’s end, he resumed work with his previous employer – an assignment
that would send us, first, to Memphis, Tennessee then to Jackson, Mississippi, next to
Shreveport, Louisiana and finally to Monroe where we moved in the summer before my high
school junior year.
Any of the steps along the way, had they taken us in a different direction, would mean I would
have never met Sylvia.
In her case, there are similar experiences. Her father as an agriculture teacher was a member of
the draft board in the South Carolina jurisdiction where he lived with Sylvia’s mom. Determined
to somehow get into the war as well but having fairly bad eyesight, he memorized the eye
chart, drafted himself into the Army Air Corps and joined one of the pilot training programs.
As all those steps were being taken, Sylvia was born in Charleston on July 15, 1943, across those
2,650 miles from where I arrived in the world a month later.
Although the war ended in 1945 before her dad completed his training, upon being discharged,
he went to work with Delta Airlines in various roles. He and his young family would be moved
to Montgomery, Alabama, then Atlanta, Georgia and finally to Monroe where Delta was first
launched as a crop-dusting business years before.
Again, all along the way, any choice or decision they made could have resulted in either Sylvia
never being born or her family living somewhere other than where I discovered her in home
room at Monroe’s Neville High School in 1959.
All the above could be dismissed as happenstance and not really anything remarkable.
However, Sylvia and I were reared in Christian homes. As such, we came to a knowledge that
our lives are not the result of some sort of coincidence. We believe divine providence shaped it
all for us and, despite being undeserving of such blessings, we give thanks on this occasion of
our 80 th birthdays.
If you made it this far in our story, thanks for caring. I’m sure your own is just as engaging.