Friday, July 5, 2013

Roy's Wheat

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." - Galatians 6:7

Turns out that the side effects of too much sleep, inhaling too much smoke, and eating just plain too much on Fourth of July makes the Fifth of July National Cranky Mother’s Day.  So, I need a diversion, or a time out, or both, and maybe a nap.  I decided to write this instead. 

My stepdad, Roy, died when he was 36 years old of alcoholism.  More specifically: cirrhosis of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism.  I believe that’s exactly what the death certificate said.  Odd that I still remember that.  I can still picture the document.  He was, however, the best stepdad I could have asked for and he loved me.  A lot of my favorite childhood memories involve Roy and his family and all the stuff we used to do together. 

Lately, I’ve had several dreams about Roy.  Now I have weird dreams all the time, but not usually involving people I know.  When they are about actual people, I can really get upset over them because they seem so real.  Anyway, a few weeks back I dreamed I ran into Roy in a grocery store.  He was buying dog food and wearing his red baseball cleats.  I kept telling him how much I missed him and that I hadn’t seen him since he died.  He just kept acting like he had no idea what I was talking about.  And I woke up nearly in tears.  This November 20th will be 17 years since he died.

Now back to real life….

Roy’s family was full of farmers.  His dad raised pigs.  His sister raised cattle.  We had horses.  We picked pecans.  We fished.  We always lived in town, but Roy would plant wheat in our yard.  Usually out by the alley behind and around our redbud tree in a little patch.  It was always shocking green compared with the rest of our grass and I liked to pick the heads of wheat when they finally matured.  I remember hulling out the wheat seeds and sprinkling them around. 

Then one year his family raised a whole field full of wheat.  I remember playing in the back of an old farm truck full of wheat, running the seeds through my fingers.  I also remember we ground some of the wheat with a hand grinder.  I don’t remember what we did with the ground wheat, probably fed it to the pigs, but I remember my hands hurt. 

So, when I think of wheat, I think about Roy.

Three years ago, I had a couple of wheat plants come up by my back porch.  Must have been planted by the birds.  But I thought of Roy.  This was my first wheat crop:


I don’t know why I kept the seeds.  Nostalgia, I guess.  Maybe I thought I’d plant them and didn’t, but they’ve been in my laundry room ever since.  I ran across them every now and then.  And I thought about Roy. 

This year I am the same age that Roy was when he died.  I’m not a drinker.  Now that doesn’t mean I never tried a beer when I was younger, or that I didn’t send my husband to the liquor store for whiskey when I was sick of coughing last winter, but I’ve never acquired a taste for alcohol.  I even choose the grape juice at communion.  I have Roy to thank for that.  Living with an alcoholic for 10 years of my life pretty much snuffed out any alcoholic fantasies I might have harbored.  In fact, I find myself suspecting all people who drink of being alcoholics and wondering if it might kill them.  What would their children do without them?  How would they die?  In a car crash?  In their sleep?  Would they kill someone else?  Do their family members know how serious drinking is?  Do they?

I get through holidays, family gatherings, stressful times, relaxing times, and most generally every day of my life with nothing harder than lemonade.  Why can’t they?  Why couldn’t Roy?  And they drink in front of their children. 

I was one of those children.

He’d still be alive today if it weren’t for beer. 

Cases and cases of beer. 


This year I have 11 wheat plants that I’ve found in my yard.  I’ll probably collect their seed heads yet again.  This time, though, I think I’ll plant them in my garden area for next year.  Roy’s life was cut short by his habit, but the seeds he sowed into my life are evident every day.  I hope I’m as patient, kind, involved, and hard-working as he was, or at least I hope my kids see me that way, because that’s how I saw Roy.  I saw though that Roy had a character flaw that was a dark shadow on all things about him that were good, and I couldn’t fix that about him.  I hope my children see nothing but sunshine when they think of me! 

Am I in a better mood now?  Probably not.  But my focus is on “reap what you sow”, so I vow to be less cranky and maybe try some sunshine! 

Thanks for the therapy.  I hope I didn’t drive you to drinking!


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