Saturday, February 23, 2008


This is just a simple story from my life but it is one of those memories that is burnt into my mind and is still crystal clear now in my middle years. I'll explain why but first some background.

My father was a pretroleum engineer and we lived all over Oklahoma as his career developed. Around 1971/72 he was looking for work overseas. He had prospects in Adelaide, Kuala Lumpar or Stavanger, Norway. We ended up in Norway and I spent my last years of high school there. It was there that I found my first love, a tall, smart, slender girl with hip length auburn hair. Her name was Macae and her family came from Smackover, Arkansas but she had lived for some time in Libya and gone to school in Geneva.

Now I had had other girlfriends but this was that first love we all experience; the newness of it being overwhelming. This was the one I wanted to grow old with. Once we graduated she went to Monroe, La to attend NE La State. I went back to Oklahoma City and lived first with my friend's parents then with my aunt and uncle while figuring out what I wanted to do.

My Dad had never pressured us three boys into any any career path. He asked me before I left Norway, in August of 1973, what I wanted to do. I told him I was going to the Gulf Coast and get a job offshore. I remember him hestitantly saying "ok... but son that is a hard life and you don't know anything about that kind of work." My disposition has always been that all I need for motivation is someone to tell me I can't do something.

I stayed in Oklahoma City until October. During that time I was on the phone with Macae every night. One night, in late September, she called and was crying and when I asked her what was wrong she said Jim Croce and Maury Muehleisen had just been killed in a plane crash outside of Natchitiches, La. I was speechless. Stunned. To this day I think of him as one of the best songwriters there was and I admired that he was a simple guy that would just get on stage, just him and Maury, and do their thing. Two bright talents taken from us way too soon.

Now I bring this up because Jim Croce ties all of this together.

It came October and I had been working delivering flowers for a wholesaler in downtown OKC and it wasn't exactly the type of job futures are made of. So I packed what little I had into my VW bug and with about $120 in my pocket headed down to Macae's. From there I would be within a couple of hour's striking distance to the coast.

It took a couple of weeks but Macae's cousin worked out of Grand Isle and he fixed me up with a job and off I went. Two days later I was doing contract maintenance work 26 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico in Conoco's West Delta field platforms. I had spent my last bit of money on work boots, gas for the VW, a loaf of bread and about a dozen cans of tuna.

Several months went by. It was a tough place for a clueless 18 year-old. There is a song by Jackson Browne called The Pretender and there is a line in there: "I had no sooner hit the streets than I met the fools a young fool meets." That would be Grand Isle La.

It was sometime around April 1974 when I went to the phone booth a mile or two away from the company bunkhouse I was staying in. It was around 9:00 PM and was raining. I dropped in a nickel to get an operator to connect me long distance and called Macae. The conversation was harsh. She had met someone and it was over between us. I took it well but what especially hurt was when she said something like "..and I certainly wouldn't marry you." Boom!.. right through the heart.

So I attempted to remain stoic and I wished her happiness and hoped she had a good life. I just wanted her to be happy. When I hung up the phone I guess the operator had been listening. She said " hon I get off at 11:00 if you want to come up the bayou and pick me up at the office in Golden Meadows I'll let you cry on my shoulder". I told her I appreciated her concern but I just wanted to be alone. There I was... feeling like a fool in the rain. Seemd kind of appropriate at the time.

Now the clincher. When I got back into in my VW bug this song began to play as I drove away.


nanc said...

i left a very long comment here a couple of days ago and after i submitted it, got an error message!

and, it was quite touching.

you're one of the good guys, iopian - it shows in your sentiments.


IOpian said...

I wish I could say it has always been that way but it hasn't. I feel I have a short time to do a lot of repenting. I have mellowed but I can turn on the old me at a drop of a dime. I know that if I ever caught someone harming a child or the elderly I would beat them to near-death on the spot.

I became a Christian right around the time I am talking about in this post. I wasn't all that good of one but it is a growing process. I don't believe in religion for myself but if others choose that path, good for them. It's the destination that matters and God didn't intend for us all to crowd into the same bus for the journey. But one thing for certain is that I have had experiences that have proven to me that Jesus keeps me around for some reason and I have no idea why but he has gotten me out of some interesting situations.

In one case, late at night, I drove through a herd of cattle on a bridge and someone was actually there to see it happen. I did not hit or touch one single cow. We still talk about it today 30 years later. There are many such episodes.

So as hard-headed as I can be I came to the conclusion that Jesus is not just my savior but my personal friend that writes me letters on my heart to stay in touch. Somtimes I'm not very good at writing back.

Now that I'm old I just want to view the world like he does. He's like the father a kid wants to be like. I fail as many times as I succeed and when I fail he gets a chuckle out of it just like a loving father smiles watching his 1 year-old fall on his butt learning to walk.

I have long since passed the stage where I think I can change the world. But the one thing we all can do is plant seeds in others minds and let them manifest in their own time. It won't save the world but it may save that person.

Take your favorite troll... I think she is young and searching, she doesn't like herself at the moment and she is like that scared little child inside of all of us wanting to belong and accepted. If she didn't want to change why does she come to your place for her daily spanking ? So the thing is to not drive her away but to plant ideas and let them soak for a while. And she will struggle and try to defend her position but chip by chip the facade comes down and in her own mullings when she 'grows up' she will look back and think... ya know maybe they were onto something.

Which is why I blog. I have no intent to put up ads or let it become my day and night desire. Though I work out of my house I just don't have the time. But one thing that gives me satisfaction is to comment on those places you and I comment and see it either tone down an obnoxious troll or change the direction of the discussion. Then have someone repeat the idea in their own words later. For all of us that is a certain power to influence one another and slowly change the view of other people. Which is what Christians are suppose to do.

Unfortunately too many use the 'in yer face' approach where they believe their bus is the only bus and that defeats the mission. Like a plant, you don't dump a lifetime of water on it but instead water it only when it needs it to make it grow.

This is my purpose the last decades of my life.

nanc said...

i love Yeshua also.

i'm believing my troll, as you put her - was beginning to see the rest of us for who we really are and it scared her.

she's on my heart everyday.

remember, iopian - there are none righteous, no not one.

there are however, good people and bad people, christians and non-christians. i'm pleased to be in the midst of believers.