I can still remember way back in 1960-1961. At the time my father worked third shift. He’d come home around midnight and then the next morning get up and work on the ranch style house he was building for his family (5 children and a loving wife). During this time, we lived in the concrete block house that would become the garage when the house was done. It took a couple of years from start to finish because he did most of the work himself with help from my uncles and us kids. Of course we were assigned jobs like cleaning up the saw dust and pieces of cut wood, etc. But every once and a while we were able to use the hammer with some nails on something (under close supervision).
I believe I was ending the fourth grade when I didn’t do very well in the math department, which at the time were multiplication tables. Dad always pushed for us to do good in school since he wanted all his children to have better life than he felt he had; because everyone knew the only way to do that was have a better education.
During the summer months after dad and I would work on the house during the day, he’d knock off in time to allow us to go swimming at a local swimming hole next to I-75. The swimming hole was courtesy of Michigan’s highway department digging dirt out for the four leaf clover over-passes for M-46 and I-75. The hole filled with water from a natural spring and it was a nice 90 acre pond (or small lake depending on your point of view).
We would take a two by twelve board that we’d use as a diving board; wedging it under the back tire of our 1959 Chevy station wagon and a rock that was near the edge of the water. I’m not sure if I loved it because I learned to swim or I learned to dive with Dad’s help. But it was good, especially after working on the house during those hot some days.
Now getting back to those math grades. Dad put the law down, until I could say all my multiplication tables from memory up to 12, I couldn’t go swimming with him. I was devastated. He bought some flash cards and with mom’s help, for a couple of hours each day I would run the drills. “Two times four is eight. Two times five is ten. Two times six is twelve….” All the way to twelve and back again, over and over.
One morning at breakfast he was looking at me and chuckling. “You know, you were doing your times tables in your sleep last night. That’s funny but good.” Well, it seemed like an eternity, but after a couple of weeks I had them down pat, forwards and backwards. I was allowed again to join him in going to our swimming hole!
Now what’s this got to do with Emmaus, you might ask? Well, if you want something bad enough, if it really means something to you, you’ll dig in and do something about if it’s taken away. It took time, effort and commitment, but I did it because I wanted it. It was worth it. I didn’t want to lose the time we had together. It was fun and made me feel special. Looking back I know now that Dad loved me for the time we spent together and for the future he wanted for his children.
We need to do the same with our Emmaus community, take the time, make the effort or we’ll lose it. Let’s get back in the water.