Monday, June 18, 2018

Fish Story

Keeping the Faith

High school boys never run short of adventuresome schemes, especially during the summer when they have less structure and an escalated sense of entitlement to engage in mischievous conduct. Never is this mind-set more prevalent than in Miami, Florida. The ways of the water’s omnipresence magnify this attitude.  And for me, the surfing sub-culture, engrained from endless days spent at South Beach Pier, was a contributing behavioral adjunct as well.
In the tropical confines of August 1968 my good friend Mickey Schemer and I were finishing our routine football work-out in prep for the fast approaching camps when we would go our separate ways; he to local Miami Edison and me to a military boarding school in Tennessee. We were in search of that ultimate end of summer excursion that would allow us to blow off steam in the way only we knew how.  It would be the last time until Christmas break that we could push the boundaries of our experiences together.
The chances are if you are raised in Miami, you learn and grow to love fishing; whether it is with a pole from an Atlantic pier, or a long dip net with a lantern slung low from the catwalk of a bridge full moon at high tide on Biscayne Bay. Our plan had to employ the possibility of this sport in any form and it had to fit within our limited financial resources.
“Hey- we should- go to Bimini,” I posited in short breaths in Mickey’s direction.
It was via my experience at the boarding school that I learned of this beautiful treasure of an Island lying in our oceanic back yard. I had been a guest of a schoolmate’s family on a spring break trip that same year.
Mickey- ever the pessimist- stopped, his towel paused midway through his sweating brow. “Bimini? How the hell do you expect to get there? I thought you wanted to fish? Plus, there’s no way we can afford it,” he stated running the towel through the rest of his red hair.
“Come on man- where’s your head?” I asked. Then I argued we could do it and explained how.

On surfing trips to South Beach from our neighborhood, one would travel MacArthur Causeway with Government Cut on the right and Watson Island passing on the left. Invariably two residents of that island would visually stand out: the gigantic Goodyear Blimp and those flimsy looking Chalks Seaplanes. I had learned recently that one of those Chalk’s rust buckets could get you to Bimini in about a half hour and cost only $35 round trip! The scheme was almost complete, because getting a cheap motel room splitting the cost three ways would leave us ample money for shenanigans and hopefully some fishing. Our friend John Bernardi was the third and along for the ride.
My previous experience in Bimini had impressed upon me that the “almost anything goes” outlook on that tiny strip of land fit our style just fine. Late teenagers were welcome to belly up to the bar along with the most seasoned rummies. The natives were as friendly as anyone you would ever meet with an uncanny knack for always remembering your name. On Bimini you fished and partied. When you partied, you made new friends. What could be better. It took just a few days for us to make all arrangements.

The three of us had just finished strapping ourselves into the plane when the pilot turned from his seat in the cockpit to greet us. He looked like Humphrey Bogart straight out of “The African Queen” off a three-day drinking binge. Looking around the interior, the thought that one could stick their finger through the fuselage crossed my mind.  We had a loudly beautiful trip never feeling like we were more than a hundred feet from the ocean surface. I swear you could hear that amphibian’s every nut and bolt rattle in route. The take off and landing could by themselves have been the entire adventure we had been seeking.
My earlier experience on this spit of land found me enamored with the native guides who went by the names of the fish they would direct you to catch. “Bonefish Rudy” and “Blue Marlin Willie” are the two monikers that are seared into my memory.  I remember sharing a few Becks with those men at the Compleat Angler; purportedly the quaint tavern that Hemingway hung out in while writing “Islands in the Stream”.  Those guys were the ones that turned us onto the idea that catching on with a day trip did not always necessitate the exchange of money but sometimes being in the right place at the right time could garner a hospitable invitation. This idea became part of our plan as did the adoption of our own fish names. Thus, we became Mullet Mike, Jewfish John and Blowfish Brad.
Besides the unique guide naming practice, Bimini had other distinguishing idiosyncrasies. For example, the cocktail of choice for the locals was scotch and milk on ice; something we could never develop a palate for.  There was the End of the World Bar where we searched for Hemingway’s signature on the walls and ceilings, plus a blank space to write our own.  It was here we met two brothers: Matt and Brett Kirkland who were from Pompano, Florida. Matt was the oldest and about to finish at FSU.  He would complete Captains Certification by the end of the year. Brett was our age.  They chuckled when we introduced ourselves by our fish names and we struck an immediate kinship.

The Kirkland brothers were fortunate to be staying aboard their father’s 41 foot Hatteras moored at The Big Game Club.  Mom and dad were, of course, bunked in one of the Club’s rooms.  We talked fishing over St. Pauli Girls and soon it was established that the scope of our experience was limited to the asparagus green waters in and around Miami.  We were well versed in Boston Whaler, working the bottom for red snapper and jigging for jack but had never been close to the blue water which can serve up big game fish.  Then the invitation came.
“Man, you guys gotta try trolling,” Brett proclaimed practically yelling, then. “Matt, can they go with us tomorrow?”
Matt showing added maturity was non-committal, “We should discuss this with Dad!” After more discourse on the merits of off-shore angling, the decided that we should just show up at the marina at 6:00am.
The Kirkland boys had planned to take the boat out for a few hours on their own as Dad had planned to bonefish in the flats for the day. When Mickey, John and I showed up at the docks, their father was somewhat cautious after looking us up and down.  He must have surmised we were not the drug running type and agreed to the plan. He also made Matt promise to keep the vessel close to the shore and limited the expedition to four hours. After some last minute gathering of provisions we pulled away from the pylons.
Never had I experienced the relaxing exhilaration of the constant rumble of the huge V8s coupled with the gentle roll of the boat through the swells. We moved back and forth, Bimini starboard, then Bimini port side. We looked to be riding the edge of the deep blue water, two lines outriggers only. Brett, acting as mate, kept working the tackle and riggings in a way that convinced us he knew what he was doing.
After about an hour and a half we were wondering if Brett really did know what he was doing. Mickey and I talked about Matt as Captain. Could he really read the instruments or were we just along for a nice boat ride? Nothing was happening. Our patience waned. Bimini always seemed to be within swimming distance a perception that staved off most of our insecurity. I moved up to the bow to catch some morning rays and soon dozed off.
Matt yelled out, “Fish on!” Brett was scrambling. I was out of position trying to get to the boat’s stern. Mickey was underneath in the cabin. John who was hanging out having a smoke was the boy in the right place at the right time. My thoughts were a mix of confused elation and maybe Brett and Matt did know what they were doing.  John grabbed the pole from Brett but the fight disappeared quickly and we learned we had hooked a small barracuda. Brett got him off the line at the boat and the fish swam away.
In an instant, we had learned our first lesson of off shore trolling: this type of fishing is no different than others. Patience and faith is the order of the day. The three amigos never left the back of the boat again, not even to take a leak!  We also learned that the first fish is always the most important.  It breaks the ice, so to speak -more importantly- we knew we were not going home without a tale to tell.
We hooked into a couple more cudas over the next ninety minutes and because we knew they would not end up on the dinner table, we let them go. We were close to the end of the trip and we were happy.  Our experience had been fulfilling in so many ways. Not many boys our age ever get the chance to fish off shore in these type waters in such a spectacular craft.
Then, this time something different happened. There was a loud unfamiliar “SNAP” audible over the thundering engines. Even before Matt could call out from the bridge, the large Penn reel started to scream “ssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”
‘Grab the rod!” Matt commanded from overhead. Mickey was there first. I always knew he was a better athlete than I. Faster and quicker, he would be named that same season “All City” at linebacker.
“Get in the chair!” Brett yelled as Mickey positioned the rod in place. The line continued to spool off the reel sounding as if a thousand yellow jackets were sprung from a nest between his legs.
“Keep that tip up!” yelled Matt as he backed down the big twin V8s coming to a crawl. “Whatever it is. It’s going down deep.”  I thought I was stoked because of our earlier experiences on this awesome excursion.  Now there were no words to describe the feelings and emotions and I was not even the guy in the fighting chair.
About thirty or forty minutes went by and Mickey was making progress.  The fish was coming back up. Matt caught sight of the silver flash beneath the shimmering Atlantic surface. He was now backing the boat up. “Brett get up here,” he commanded his brother. “Hold the boat steady and when I call you throw her into neutral and come on back down,” the future Captain gesturing as he joined the fight in the stern.
Looking down into the azure emerald waters Matt quickly turned to Mickey. “I want you to give me the rod. I think this fish is a tuna -a big tuna- maybe a record size. We don’t want to lose it,” he calmly explained.
Mickey was happy to turn the rod over; his arms so tight he could hardly lift them above his shoulders. Matt reeled and reeled again as the boat continued to ease backward. And then we saw it. It was the biggest fish I had ever seen. Not long, it was four to four and a half feet. But it was huge in it’s girth. I wondered, could it be pregnant.
“What is it?” John queried.
Mickey shot back, “It’s a big fish numbnuts!”
Brett from up top, “ I can’t tell but it could be a tuna.”
Then the fish started coming in and Matt was reeling for all its worth. “Brett Get down here and grab the gaff.” Matt barked over his shoulder as he climbed out of the chair. The boat was now drifting as the engines slow hummed. And Brett seemed to fly off the controls, his feet never appearing to touch the ladder rungs grabbing the gaff in one swift motion. Yeah – I thought to myself – he knows what he is doing.
We all managed to get the behemoth across the transom and we just stared at it for the longest time trying to figure out what kind of fish it was. It had the shape of a tuna but the look of a wahoo or so it seemed. All I knew was that it was big and nobody in Miami or Tennessee would believe this story.
The next most important learning experience from this adventure is: the last few hundred yards coming into the marina are the most precious moments of any fishing trip when you’ve got a big catch on board. The are always people waiting and watching to see what you have. Our chests thrown forward were busting out in pride. When we laid out our fish, it was identified by the experienced natives as a Kingfish. This beauty weighed in at 49 pounds. I remember someone saying it was only six pounds off the world record.  We had some of that fish for dinner that night. To this day, I have never tasted any better.
Our next and last day on the island we said our goodbyes and thanks to the Kirklands over some conch chowder in a little aqua green 80x80 cinderblock building named “Fisherman’s Paradise.” Contented that no experience could top the events of the last forty eight hours, we bid adieu to the brothers who themselves would continue on with their parents.
Mickey was beginning to be his pessimistic self, fretting about our flight back when Sammy, the owner of the place came over to our table. He nods to a lone man sitting at the table in the corner. Looking at us and in a low voice he asks, “Do you know who that is?” Seeing the quizzical looks on our faces he continues on before we can say no. “That’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr.  Go introduce yourselves.”

And that is exactly what we did and Mr. Powell asked us to have a seat and join him! We spent our last thirty minutes on Bimini sitting at a table with a US Senator talking politics.  We did not know what we were talking about but it made sense. When we said our good byes his last words to us were, “Keep the Faith Baby.” And that is no fish story!

Writers Notes:

I recently read Eric Metaxas’s book “Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Profit, Spy” about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a remarkable biography of this German Lutheran Pastor who resisted against Hitler and the Nazis to the point of helping to plot the fuhrer’s assassination. Bonhoeffer's brave stance ultimately cost him his life.

While reading this book I discovered a remote connection with this Godly man. In the book it describes Bonhoeffer's travel as a newly ordained minister to America in the early 1930’s. It was at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power. Metaxas writes about how the young German clergyman was taken with an African American Preacher at a Baptist Church in Harlem, NY. That Pastor’s name was Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

It must also be noted that this short story is not a work of fiction in that the events, as mentioned in it, did actually happen. The original manuscript was written in November 2005. I have changed some names and some recollections are blurry after a half century has passed. 

My friend Mickey passed away in February, 2010.

Amen and Shalom Brother.
Bradford Bosworth
June, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pang Pong

Wanna play some Pang Pong?

“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”                                                                          Romans 8:22 (NKJV)

Creation Groans

It sure appears to me that the world I live in is writhing and contorting. If the world were an adolescent, it would appear as one squirming in his chair having the overwhelming urge to pee. Being too embarrassed to raise his hand in the middle of class to ask to go to the bathroom, he would rather tough it out till the bell rings and then sprint down the hall to the boy’s room. Oh damn! I have not been politically correct. I was supposed to write that description as he/she and the boys room should have been described as….err… what: the unisex room or transgender room? Now I have the urge of pulling the paper out of the typewriter, crumpling it up and throwing it at the wastebasket. Except this is not a typewriter!!!! Uggghhhh! Let the groaning begin.

Our scripture from the eighth chapter of Romans contains the word “pangs.” It is found in some classic translations including the New King James Version quoted above. In today’s world, the word “pangs” will likely not be recognized and even thought to be a typo by many readers. I also submit that by the next century the word might have already passed away from our spoken language. However, it is Webster’s second definition of the word that sums up the vibe of this “Pang Pong” post.


Definition of pang
1: a brief piercing spasm of pain, the pangs of childbirth.
2: a sharp attack of mental anguish, pangs of remorse, a pang of guilt
    a pang of disappointment.

One thing I am certain of in our society and culture today is that there is a load of mental anguish whirling through our populace no matter what side of the political spectrum you may reside. When I begin to get caught up in the spin cycle of disappointment, I know that I must do some self-examination. I must refocus my attention on the Truth. I have many places that I can consistently find truth but the first and foremost location is in the Word.

Kilauea Burps

Allow me to put forth wisdom and guidance from the Word that helps me make sense of the creation groaning and pangs concept. In layman’s terms, ‘you can’t have it both ways’ sometimes expressed as, ‘you can’t have your cake and it too.’ (See Matthew 6:24, re serving two masters). First it is my human nature to want to depend on and be fueled by my will (ego driven) which is of this world and finite. By personal experience and a lot of faith, I am assured that when I align my actions with God’s will, the distressful pangs will roll away. Relying on the Creator of the Universe, I am now fueled by a groan-free infinite energy source.

What is happening in our country now, playing out on the political stage is a magnified manifested representation of what happens individually to us all. We can rely on our will fueled by the ego pushing God aside or we can search daily for the divinity within and rely on His will to guide us. To the extent we rely on the ego we will experience pangs of dissonance for the divinity within is our constantly burning eternal pilot light. As spiritual beings in a material body and world, we are continually engaged on one level or another in an internal battle between what is Truth and what is illusion. To the extent which we are fooling ourselves, beholden to our material delusions, will we be groaning. The house and kingdom divided cannot stand (Mark 3:24-25).

Which way do we choose?

The book “A Course in Miracles” frames our daily choice this way: “Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God?” We have this daily choice to make. To the extent that we land on the ego side of the net we will find ourselves playing Pang Pong.

Father God may it start with each of us individually choosing to be Host to your Son, so our growth pangs will come only from growing in Your Love.

Bradford Bosworth
June 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

3 in the Tree

                                                                    Old Red Truck

It looked like a scene right out of "Ice Road Truckers!" Only thing is, it was the beginning of summer.  My neighbors were beginning to emerge from their houses with a curiosity that seemed to ask, "Have I seen this episode before?"  You see the extraction of the old red truck from my backyard at first appearances was overly dramatic.  It's slow emergence from the darkness under a winches' pull into the flashing emergency lights and steady rain was a perfect metaphor for it's former owner's (that would be me) life. This decade long restoration project was making a dramatic exit from my possession.  It was liberating for me to know it was leaving at just the exact appointed moment going exactly where it belongs. Our Creator never disappoints!

I bought the old red and white pick up almost 10 years ago. I was working for a metal stripping company called Eco-Clean. One of its spin off businesses was a powder coating shop which I managed for them. We did a lot of work for classic auto restorers. I came across this attractive old Ford with the standard transmission, a classic “three in the tree.” I guess you could say the red truck turned my head. I’ve always had a weakness for redheads!

I thought the truck needed restoring and I was just the guy to do it. Problem was, it wasn’t the truck that needed restoration. It was me. In a matter of months, I found myself at the low -drop off- point. I was dropped off at a rehab facility. My characterization of the place at the time and still today is that the facility was a cross between “Shawshank Redemption” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I was finally and figuratively beaten into reasonableness. I was willing to listen and take suggestions. I had become teachable, a critical characteristic of those desiring to find some humility. I entered a program of recovery characterized by meaningful fellowship, mainly with other men who had the same problems as I. The recovery fellowship led me back to my Christian faith I had only mostly given lip service to.

I learned that sobriety meant becoming comfortable in my own skin. That the state of serenity characterized by sobriety is the same thing I had been hearing in Church my whole life. It is the same peace the Christ teaches and is a representative of. It is the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Back to the truck, well, I never got to it. I have been too busy attending to my own restoration. In the past ten years I have experienced losing a home to foreclosure, separation then divorce, bankruptcy and through it all I am stronger in my faith and most days more comfortable in my own skin. I am still sober! Praises due here.

Patrick with Eli's Old Red Truck!

It is time for someone else to restore that old red truck. I put it up for sale recently. Do you know what? It is one of the most glorious experiences I have had lately. That truck is going exactly where it belongs! Patrick, the young man who bought it, has a stable of Classic Autos he and his dad have rebuilt. But before we came to a deal, I asked if he planned to fix it up and sell it? He said no. He will give it to his son Eli and they will rebuild the old red truck together. We had a deal!

The best part is, the boy, Eli, is eight years old! I asked if he planned to teach Eli to drive in the old red truck.  Patrick said that it is exactly the plan.  It was the same way he had learned to drive with his father teaching in an old pickup with "three in the tree." To my eyes and ears this was the picture of our Father’s glorious grace that surrounds us all. One more thing. There has been on the dashboard of the old red truck a Crucifix with magnet made from Arizona desert cactus. It was a special gift to me and has been on the dash all through the trying years. I asked Patrick if he wanted me to remove it? He said that he wants to keep it there. 

Hallelujah Brother!
Bradford Bosworth
May 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sweet Soul Music

The Joyful Content of Our Lives

The Queen of Soul

As of late I have come to some convictions about my life here on Earth. These convictions are mostly born of and driven by a decade long journey into sobriety and a growing faith in a triune God as represented in the Gospels and teachings of Christ Jesus. These convictions are that my purpose here on Earth truly, is only to provide joyful content and that content is derived from the objective daily pursuit of growing my relationship with my Creator, the Source of all that was, is and ever shall be. So for today, with one more step, I will attempt to further fulfill my purpose here on Earth.

I want to dwell on one Miss Aretha Franklin. This lady with Mississippi roots born in Memphis, Tennessee began in earnest her life of creating scintillating vocals in and throughout the soul music genre by singing in the gospel choir of her father's Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. I do not recollect the exact circumstance or timing, but I remember her recording of "Natural Woman" being spiritually moving for me. It has always epitomized the essence of "sweet soul music." Her life's artistic accomplishments as far a providing content would most certainly be pleasing to our Lord/Creator.

Natural Woman

Stop and consider for a moment how far and wide Miss Franklin's soulful voice traveled around this globe we inhabit. Ponder how deep her notes penetrated across cultural lines and barriers or how thoroughly they permeated people's daily emotional experience. Consider the distances in miles and social strata from the dirt roads of the deep south and the industrial inner city streets of the Midwest's Motown stages to metropolises like Amsterdam and Melbourne half way around the globe. God's is happy when we bring joy (content) to our immediate neighborhoods. Imagine the size of His smile when our joy spreads around the globe!

It is hard to imagine a distance greater in culture and language than the expanse between the roots of deep south cotton field Gospel music and the passionate Italian origins of Opera. Well, thirty years after bursting onto the music scene in America as a twenty something "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin bridged a gap spanning four centuries. With short notice she stepped in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and performed the aria "Nessun Dorma" during the live worldwide telecast of The 1998 Grammy's from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was nothing but a miracle full of Grace. Her recorded performance of "Natural Woman" decades earlier had been spiritually moving but watching her transcendent performance on live television shook me to the bones. If providing joyful redemptive content for our world is our purpose here, then Miss Aretha Franklin you have set a standard to strive for.

Take a moment and experience Aretha's soulful performance of " Nessun Dorma."

Pure Grace

Amen Soul Sister
Bradford Bosworth
April 2014

Friday, March 9, 2018

It's Okay to Go.

Notes from Wesley Meadows - Part two of a two-part series.

I have come to believe that indeed my life has been one in two parts. The first part are the years, or days or hours where I think I am in control. The more I think I am in control, the more chaotic life happens. It is at my point of surrender- the second part- of letting go and letting God, when I come to the oasis of peace in a dessert of bedlam. Now, the wilderness places are fewer and farther between as my relationship with our Creator grows.

I had the wonderful blessing just a couple days ago to be a present and supportive witness as a sweet soul made her final surrender into the eternal arms of the Maker. (See:Part 1 Notes from Wesley Meadows.) I have never been in this position before of sober mind. I was humbled to have been invited into a place, an inner sanctum if you will, of pure grace.

The journey began with a phone call from my sweet friend fiancĂ© Patti. Her mother Pat’s health and condition was in steep decline. Patti, being a week out of a rotator cuff surgery required arm sling, did not need to be driving solo for six hours. I became her partner for the sojourn. From the moment we hit the road in the driving rain, a lingering question echoed in my mind, “How long?” And a lingering answer kept following it, “Not for you to know!” Still my need for control forced me into possible future chain of event scenarios. Again, I had to surrender and turn it over to Abba. It will be according to His will. It was in this place of the obedient present moment where I would experience educative wonders in the everlasting.
Wesley Meadows

Toward the end of our first afternoon with Miss Pat I was invited to read to her. Patti gave me her copy of “Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. It was bookmarked at a section titled: Relinquishing Fear with a heading “Perfect love casts out fear.” It is a direct reference to one of my favorite pieces of scripture, 1 John 4:18-19. I began reading to Miss Pat. I knew she could hear me.

It has occurred to me, there were times when Miss Pat appeared to be struggling, perhaps in pain, perhaps in the decision to let go and leave her loved ones in this world. On occasion a nurse would bring a small dose of pain medicine. I had a feeling that she was stuck in a should I stay, or should I go dilemma. But what do I know? I have never been in this place before! After a very long day we said goodnight to this lovely Christian lady born and raised in Texas.

When we arrived at Wesley Meadows on Wednesday we found Miss Pat’s room had been rearranged. Her bed which had been flush to the far wall was now protruding from the wall. This way the family in the room could gather around her. The hospice folks at this facility knew what they were doing. I took it as a sign. I was able to take a different position when I read to Miss Pat this time. I chose to read from “The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond. It is a wonderful treatise on Paul’s 1 Corinthian’s 13.

During our time with Miss Pat there were instances when she would make verbal proclamations. Two times stand out for me. Once we heard her say something that sounded like, “I got to get out of here.” I could only imagine her beloved husband Bob, Cindy and Patti’s father, standing just beyond the precipice hands outstretched. Another time we heard Pat exclaim, “Oh Shit!” Her outcry transformed a somewhat somber mood into a realm of heavenly humor. Family remarked it was an expression seldom heard. For me these words carried completely to my heart. My late mother Jeanne was very fond of this expression. So fond, she had it printed on a golf ball she used exclusively for putting. I could very well see Mom, a coaxing angel on the other side of the threshold, calling out to Miss Pat.

The sun was approaching a golden Mississippi sunset and I was anxious for Miss Pat. My perception was that she was struggling to let go. Just in the past two weeks I was involved in a discussion with my good friend Chuck whose mother was in a similar circumstance. I had asked him what he thought about the idea of saying to her it was okay for her to go. He said he had been thinking of doing the same. I decided to call my friend and found a quiet breezeway with some rocking chairs. In our conversation, he said to me that the family along with their Pastor had told their mom it was okay. Immediately after Chuck and I ended our conversation, Patti came to sit next to me. She and Cindy had decided to stay overnight with their mom. Patti, as well, let me know that Miss Pat's girls had let their Mom know it was okay.

I did not plan to stay but went out to pick up dinner. When I returned, Elizabeth was in the room with Patti and Cindy. Multi-generational agape love was once again flowing there. We began eating our dinner. Suddenly, the room became quiet except for the whoosh of the oxygen system. The three women, in unison, gently and softly moved to Miss Pat’s bedside. Patti was up on the left caressing her mother’s forehead. Elizabeth was kneeling waist high, also on the left holding “Grandmommie’s” hand. Cindy was on the right-side shoulder high caressing her Mom’s hair. I do not know how long. Time stood still. All I know is it is the most beautiful scene I have ever witnessed. I am assured Miss Pat knew it was okay, smiling ear to ear as she walked into the arms of Bob Young and our heavenly Father.

Miss Pat's Obituary

Amen Sisters

Bradford Bosworth
March 9, 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Notes from Wesley Meadows

Part One of two parts:

A Transitional View

(Author’s note: This post is from excerpts of a journal began the morning of March 7, 2018)

I am sitting in a chair facing a bed in which lies the 83-year-old mother of two daughters. This lady, who is as well a great grandmother, is living out her final days here in a facility I have always referred to as a nursing home. Nursing homes have never been a place that I looked forward to visiting, but as I am ever nearer to a similar consequence for myself, I am okay with it now. I am here in this room now visiting Miss. Pat with her daughters Cindy and Patti, my future bride.

Cindi, Patti and Miss Pat, (2nd Trip)

I have been to this facility just outside Memphis, Tenn. twice before. The first time - six months ago- was to meet Miss Pat for the first time. The second time was to express to her that I wanted to marry her daughter. The first time she initially did not recognize youngest daughter Patti. The second time at first, she did not recognize Patti or me. This time she was not conscious enough converse with any of us. It is my first experience seeing someone in the transitory life stage knocking on heaven’s door. And there is no doubt in my mind she is readying for the entrance through heaven’s gate. I know and love her daughter who I am assured was raised by Godly parents!

When a visitor turns into this senior living facility, the sign at the entrance - Methodist Senior Services- leaves no doubt about the guiding principles that provide the underlying foundation for the care administered behind these doors. Here the attention to residents is Gospel driven. Upon entering the front doors in a few steps on a table directly ahead, one will come face to face with the Word of God. On this day it was opened to John’s Gospel 10:25-11:30. The staff informed me it changes whenever one of the residents stops to turn the page.

As a sign of what is to come, I was walking down the hallway to Miss Pat’s room and inside a residence a few doors down I noticed a man solemnly gathering and packing belongings up. Then a bit later, I walked by and he was sitting holding a personal item in quiet reflection. Even later I met that man with a cart full of clothing. I held the front door for him and we had a revealing conversation filled with hope. His name is Doug. He was clearing out his sister’s room. Betty had passed the day before yesterday. Doug knew she was in a better place. Just a few hours later I was standing in front of Miss Pat’s bathroom mirror and noticed a picture fixed to the corner of the mirror. In that picture with Miss Pat was Miss Betty who had been a close friend. I no longer believe in coincidences.

Miss Betty, Wesley Meadows staff member, Miss Pat

A late afternoon moment of pure grace occurs when Elizabeth, Cindy’s daughter and Miss Pat’s only granddaughter arrives from her work. NOW there is multi-generational love flowing in this room. This agape is crystalline and many faceted, like a rare and precious gemstone. And “grandmommie” recognizes this outpouring as if yellow roses and angels for she almost sits up in bed, eyes wide and arms outstretched

There are many questions that arise and many decisions that need to be made, or not, during this world’s end of life process. Both of my parents died suddenly without warning, so at this place, I lack experience. I am unqualified to act. But by witnessing two daughters- who for their day jobs are nurses- at vigil with their beloved Mom, I realize that Love is the only qualification needed. It is the same redemptive love of Christ that can flow through us all.

“Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die -ever.” (John 11:26) HCSB

Amen Miss Pat

Bradford Bosworth
March 7, 2018

Writer's note: Miss Pat walked through the gates of Heaven approximately 10:40 est on March 7, 2018. Part two will tell that story.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A River Flows From Within

Heavenly Question Marks
It was only a little over six weeks ago when the first major Atlantic Hurricane of the season hammered the coast of Texas and wreaked havoc in the Houston area. The wettest tropical cyclone on record in the US dropped over 40 inches of rain in a four-day period. Massive flooding caused death, destruction and heartbreak for thousands of people. Harvey, as the storm was named, started a pattern where over the next few weeks three additional Hurricanes would form and either threaten the United States or make direct contact on Florida and Puerto Rico.
Houston Flooded
As we approach the second half of October, the colorful peace of autumn has settled in as a welcome contrast to the fear filled chaotic atmosphere of early September. The mood in this flood ravaged city is rising due to recovery and the march of their beloved baseball Astros toward a World Series birth. I am reminded of a providential day at the end of August.
It was 6:30am on Wednesday, August 30. I was one of five men sitting around a table at our local Chic Fil A. For about seven years now we have been getting together every other early Wednesday morning. We talk about what is going on in our lives, we read scripture, study devotionals and pray. We call ourselves BIC (Brothers in Christ) Reunion Group. On this particular morning, brother Monte suggested that we engage in some serious servants’ work pertaining to the crises in Houston from Hurricane Harvey. Local broadcasting powerhouse WSB was conducting a -water drive- to collect donations of bottled drinking water for the Houston populace which was suffering for vital clean uncontaminated water.
WSB donation center
Being recently retired, I had time and a pick-up truck available. Brother Monte being his own boss had time. Our BIC brothers ponied up some financing. So we collected enough to stock up my small bed Ford Ranger.  Monte and I surmised we could meet in an hour, stop at the local Costco, deliver to the TV station and be free for the afternoon. But, we learned again the best laid plans of mice and men according to the great poet Robert Burns, "Gang aft a-gley."
Monte decided to post on our Smyrna First UMC and Smyrna Walk to Emmaus Facebook pages what we were doing and invited folks to participate.  By the time I got to Monte’s house he had received notification of support for a second truckload of water! At this point our effort began to take on another feel.  All of a sudden the divine intervention of amazing grace began to rain down and flow through the relief effort. At the TV Station the organizers were overwhelmed by the response. They had to summon additional tractor trailer transport. By the time we had finished delivery of the first load, we had social media commitments for two more loads. Have you ever heard of “Fishes and Loaves?” I now know firsthand the meaning of that story.
Water for life.
Our Creator continued to place little miracles in our path. A couple from our Church called to say they had a bigger pick-up available and we could consolidate the final two of four loads into one. This gift allowed Monte and I to complete our work before the crush of Atlanta rush hour. We delivered enough bottled water to place one each in the hands of 4,000 residents! Perhaps the most gracious moment of the day was during the assembling of our final load outside Costco. As I was handing cases to Monte standing in the truck bed, a kind gentleman approached.
Father Tannous

He asked, “Is this water going to Houston? I have relatives there."
We replied, “Yessir.”
He then began picking up cases to help us. Over the next few minutes this meek man dressed in black showed us another example of the body of Christ. When we asked his name, he told us that he was Father Tannous and invited us to: Father Tannous' Church

I constantly marvel at how God places juxtaposition, contradiction and divine paradox in our lives. Sometimes these are front page news stories, situations, people, places and happenings that dangle a heavenly question mark in front of our eyes. Here was a city, Houston, overrun with water, people flood forced from their homes. But they were desperate for good water, the water that quenches a thirst, water to cleanse the heart. And so it is with all of us. We, the world, desperately thirst for the true Living Water.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38
Bradford Bosworth
October, 2017