Jim Terry
Precious memories -- Part 1
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By Jim Terry
May 30, 2015

One of my favorite hymns is the old southern gospel "Precious Memories." That seemed to be the theme of a road trip my wife and I returned from a few days ago as we drove from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina and back.

A couple months ago we received an invitation to a retirement celebration for a former neighbor who had moved to Charlotte in 1987 to join the staff of a church. After a few years he was led to plant a church in the suburb of Weddington and twenty-five years later, he, the only pastor of First Baptist Church of Weddington was retiring.

Pastor Bill Fogarty, wife Zana, and their three sons, Brad, Daniel and Steven, were our next door neighbors for thirteen years in Dallas. Our youngest daughter and his children were fast friends. The oldest son, Brad, an evangelist whose message is aimed mostly to youth, assisted in the marriage of our daughter. He is as close as she ever came to having a brother.

And the younger boys, Daniel and Steven, who we watched grow from infancy are now responsible adults, no longer the cotton haired kids we remembered looking for bugs or chasing one another. Daniel who is married, with a beautiful little girl of his own, heads up an organization in Charlotte which provides beds and furniture to children of families in need. Steven, the youngest, works for a fast food company which is closed on Sundays.

We hadn't traveled in awhile and decided to drive to Charlotte to help celebrate Bill's retirement. However, we notified the organizer of the event not to tell anyone we would be coming. How about a surprise?

We arrived in Charlotte after a mostly uneventful drive to have our car die in the hotel parking lot. It was a rental car. We called the company; they sent a wrecker to tow us to the nearest office at the Charlotte airport where we received a replacement car and were soon on our way.

Two hours with a tow truck driver in heavy traffic going across a city the size of Charlotte to the airport on a Friday night was not how we had intended to spend our time on this vacation. However, the driver was friendly and a jolly fellow, and delivered us and the disabled car safely.

Over the years, we have maintained contact with the family. They came back to Dallas a few times and our neighborhood group would gather for a reunion. And the kids stay in contact through, what else, Face Book. So, it wasn't as though they had moved to the other side of the earth. Although we neighbors knew Bill and his family were acceding to God's call, we all felt a great void when the Fogartys moved away.

The hall was full when we arrived at the retirement reception. Pastor Bill and his family were greeting the celebrants when one of his sons took notice of us. After hugs and tears and blubbering by the women, we visited with and met members of the family we had never met: a daughter-in-law and a passel of grandkids.

We attended their church Sunday and visited with them most of the day, catching up on the past twenty-five years and recalling memories of the things our kids did thirty years ago, and the great group of neighbors we had back in those days when we were younger, full of vigor, with darker hair and a long life ahead.

Although Bill is retiring as pastor of the church, his ministry is not finished. Bill has a background in ministering to public safety workers and others in crisis situations which he will probably continue.

And what of First Baptist Church of Weddington, North Carolina? Twenty-six years ago the church didn't exist. Today, thanks to a Georgia boy, who migrated to Texas for a season, then followed God's call to North Carolina, the First Baptist Church of Weddington, North Carolina is a thriving, growing church filled with friendly, Godly people.

As we left Charlotte and headed back to Texas, we reflected on how beautiful our country is- from mountains and flowing rivers to plains and farmlands, lands we had not explored up close in many years. Flying across the country is not nearly as refreshing as driving through it where you can smell the smells of the earth, the flowers, feel raindrops and meet interesting people.

We also reflected on those wonderful long-ago years in our little neighborhood with those good neighbors and how special those times were.

John Steinbeck wrote, "We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

And this trip took us to a place where our souls were flooded with precious memories.

Next: Precious Memories- Part II-Unseen angels

© Jim Terry

 

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Jim Terry

Jim Terry has worked in Republican grassroots politics for 40 years. Terry was an administrative assistant to a Republican elected official in Dallas for twenty years. In 1996, he ran for and was elected to Justice Court 2 in Dallas County where he served eight years. Contact Jim at tr4guy62@yahoo.com

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