Spring break offers microcosm of life

Published 12:45 pm Saturday, March 26, 2022

My column last Saturday was more than just a fun exercise in creative writing for me about a wonderful, romantic, fantasy Spring Break … it was a microcosm of my life.

Every day I give my life totally to God, therefore in faith believe that whatever happens to me is God’s will.  That is somewhat effortless to do when all is well – much more difficult when stuff slams me right between the eyes, knocks me to the turf, and apply when I can’t discern why something has happened…thus trust, and that word, “faith.”

No one has ever truly known me (including myself) as I am a complicated piece of wonderful work created by God, formed by my childhood with three older sisters who ignored me, Gert (mother) RN, always at the hospital, daddy not well, so took care of and entertained myself, becoming independent, introverted, figuring stuff out by myself, fixing most anything I tore up etc. because there was no one to help me.

With sisters daily reminding me that I was stupid, didn’t really try in Catholic School (what was the point), but was athletic, Captain of our extremely small school and basketball team, we never won a game my junior year, but I averaged 13 points a game before the three-point shot, and astonishingly (to this day) was selected to the All-Conference Team. 

The nuns, however, saw my potential, worked with me, and Sister Wilma (hero) made certain my college application was in order, graduated high school (whew), was accepted to Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO), near home, on probation.  Then daddy died that summer, thrusting me deeper into my own world, kept everyone at a distance, afraid to make friends to avoid getting hurt again, and nearly flunked out. 

Keeping mostly to myself, others judged me as aloof, snobbish, unfriendly, I dated, but if any girl got too close to my heart – ran to protect myself and was miserable. Along the painful way found God (who I never knew all those years in Catholic School), made my grades, Pi Kapp Alpha (like the nuns) saw potential in me, pledged (swell move) graduated…right into the US Army, Vietnam War (July 1969-July 1970) should have been dead so many times…but God had other plans for me – then life, three wonderful sons, divorce, to wonderful Oxford, worked with our fantastic Ole Miss students, and after 20 years of college, three other degrees, completed my Ole Miss Ph.D., (highlight of my life).

In 2011, God tested my faith by turning my world upside down just as I thought things were finally sorting out – engaged to a lass from Scotland with plans to move there forever, then forced early retirement because I could barely walk, both hips replaced, between those surgeries, much PT, procedures to repair torn retinas, loss of vision in right dominant eye, two gall bladder surgeries…and fiancé broke our engagement…. 

But like, Job, I ran to God and he awarded my faith by showing that fiancé (professed atheist) and I were way unevenly yoked (whew); thanks to wonderful medical professionals (then and now), hip surgery was a breeze and I could walk again without pain (whew); whatever “broke loose” causing the occlusion in my eye had a 50% chance going instead to my brain killing me instantly (whew); my introverted self has finally found peace in retirement; faith is nourished every day at Mass where I find contentedness in helping setup for Mass, organizing the church, peace in front of our Lord for hours, out of the house; and God sent a wee black cat, Jag (Jaguar) for me to adopt that I did not want, Jag benefits from my philosophy of life by being the most unrestricted cat on this planet, allowed to come and go as he pleases, which pleases me and our relationship is way swell…because he own and has trained me well.  Love Jaggy!  Unreal….

This pandemic forced me deep within my foxhole where aside from Mass and groceries mostly stayed home, and with all the COVID variants out there, still don’t want to travel, am maintaining my introverted lifestyle by keeping below the radar and away from folks as much as possible…easy to do as an introvert. 

No one wanted to hear what I had to say growing up, so never learned to talk properly, formed words, but had trouble getting them from my brain and out my mouth.  So appreciative to the Oxford Eagle all these swell years permitting my words and thoughts to mesh, shared here – allowing me a Spring Break in writing…now, if only Jag hadn’t awakened me from that dream on Ilse d’ Renaud, I would have gotten that gorgeous, French red head’s name and number….  

Because of all the above, I am way laidback, was judged so don’t judge, misunderstood so accept everyone as they are, never pressure anyone, force anything, any situation, forgive and pray those who hurt or don’t like me, just let life happen as God wills, and go with the flow.  God is great, I am swell, and way at peace.  Prayers to Ukraine!

 

Steve Stricker is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus and received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss.  He can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.