The race was on, and this time the better man lost. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the race started in the fall of 1986, and apparently I was the tortoise, but unlike the fable, I was the tortoise that lost. Shoot, I didn’t even realize it was a race until about four years ago when Alexandra enrolled in Evangel University. Then I knew that I must finish the degree that I started in 1986, and I must finish before she did. However, I underestimated her drive and determination. Despite losing a semester to UAA, despite having to dissect a pig on the back deck in the middle of summer, and despite working several jobs, acting, dancing, traveling to Africa, around the states and more, despite all of it she still finished and she finished way ahead of me. Alas, I will finish, and I will finish strong, but I will not finish before my daughter and I could not be prouder to lose this race. If I had half the drive and determination of my daughter, I would’ve finished my four-year degree in two years circa 1988, with a 3.8 GPA. Instead, exactly like my actual physical running, I am a plodder, one foot painfully and slowly in front of the other, sweat pouring down my face, pain shooting through my well used knee joints and degenerative lower back. It is not pleasurable, but it is doable, unless calculus is involved.
We had the privilege of witnessing her cross the finish line, the first grandchild to do so. The trip was a collage of memories as Alli attended the same university that Tracy and I met at, Evangel. Except when we attended it was a sprawling college, with classrooms scattered throughout old military barracks. The last one in class had to sit by the 1950 steel radiator heater, boiling as Mrs. Fletcher explained the difference between a debit and credit and espoused the beauty of accounting. It is much different now. There are no barracks, there are only beautiful new buildings, all climate controlled. I hear there is even a state-of-the-art library. Rumor was there was a library when I attended, but I am unable to verify such details, perhaps an indicator as to why I am still racing. The dorms remain the same. In fact I think they have the same carpet from when we attended, unless someone else spilled some RC Cola between the fake plant and glass panel of the main entry just outside the Mrs. Pac Man game table.
While back at the inception of the Godfrey 10, we took time to visit our very first home, the one we purchased for $43,500 soon after we married, while Tracy finished her race, long ahead of me. The house looked older, smaller, and perhaps it was now part of the “hood”. I don’t remember it that way. I wished we could’ve peeked inside to see if the marble tiles and white Berber carpet still styled the living room.
Throughout the trip, the memories kept smacking us across the face; the Old CD store where you could buy and sell CDs, and not the financial kind. The very first Subway sandwich shop I ever ate at, the lake, Steak and Shake, Sonic, my old employer Bass Pro Shops and the ever-growing Battlefield Mall. It was all so old, and there was so much more than I remember. It was impossible to not flash back to those late night Taco Bell runs, and $1 movie nights with my then girlfriend. We were young, carefree and ready to take on the world. We just did not know what that meant. I am glad that the Lord guided our paths, even when we thought we were driving. I guarantee this, in the late 1980s I never imagined our journey would involve eight kids, but I also guarantee that I would not want to have it any other way.
It is fitting that Alli finished her first race, where Tracy and I began ours together. One cannot ever imagine where they will be thirty years later. I can only pray that her next race is as exciting and awesome as ours has been. And with her drive, ambition, smarts and thirst for life, I have a feeling she will not lack for excitement. I will always pray that no matter what she does, she does it in God’s will, and with God’s wisdom, help and guidance, for outside of that the race gets very difficult, and it’s already difficult enough. Although I did not finish that part of my race in 1990 like I was supposed to, I will promise you this, I WILL finish my degree before my first grandchild finishes their degree, if we ever get one. If I don’t, meet me at Steak n Shake in Springfield Missouri, on their graduation day, and dinner is on me!
Two generation of Chapel attenders, errr at least 1 and 1/2 attenders. Someone missed a few chapels.