Is There More Than We See?

20 10 2019

During my sophomore year in high school, a new boy came in. His family had just moved Rock _nto the area from eastern Kentucky and I learned right away he was very shy. When he was called on in class, he would sit with his head down and not respond to the teachers no matter how much they insisted. I had a couple of classes with him and I could see it pained him to even be there. Being my roots were from West Virginia, we had some similar upbringing so I thought I might be able to talk to him, to reach out and become a friend. I tried walking with him after class and striking up a conversation, but it was the same as with the teachers. He would stare down at the floor and not say anything all the way down the hall. After a couple of attempts when the bell rang to dismiss, he’d shoot out of the room as fast as he could which I took to mean he didn’t want me bothering him. I took the hint and left him alone, but still I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him. Because of his isolationist ways, he was often made fun of which I was sure was making him feel worse about being there in the first place.  But there was nothing I could do so I left him alone and hoped he’d someday open and let people get to know him.

My junior year, I left the senior high and went to a trade school for that year. By then my attitude was a bit like this young man straight out of the Appalachian Mountains; since I was hanging with an older crowd, I didn’t feel a connection to my classmates and I didn’t want to be there. Returning to the high school my senior year, they allowed me to be an independent student where I only went to classes three hours a day and then would leave to go to a job. And who should be in one of my classes but the Kentucky misanthrope. Something had changed in a year’s time. If he was called on to read in class he would respond to the teacher’s command in a quiet voice and still with head down. Someone finally cracked the shell around this guy, I thought. Perhaps I can talk to him now. But like before, as soon as the bell rang, he took off before anyone could speak to him. Oh well, a little progress is better than none. Maybe by the end of the school year he’d open up even more. That wasn’t to be. Two weeks later he didn’t show up at school and it was learned he had run away and no one knew where he was. There were a few jokes told about him, but within a week he wasn’t even a thought as to whether he was alright or not.

Sometime later I was working the evening shift at a factory where I met this woman who was very nice and we took breaks together on occasion. Her accent told me she wasn’t a Buckeye and I learned she was from Kentucky and had moved there to support her family. I then learned the quiet, withdrawn young man was her son. She related how she had been in an abusive marriage and her husband, the father of the children could be cruel to them, especially the boy. This went on until the father walked out on the family and the mother made the move north. “He couldn’t understand why his daddy had to act that way and why all of them had to move away from the only home they had ever known,” she explained. “It was like he was getting punished twice for something that wasn’t his fault.” I think I was on the verge of tears. Here he was unhappy with life, the way it was handed to him and now he had run off and no one knew where he was. “Oh, I know where he is,” she added. “He got a bus ticket and went back to Kentucky and is staying with my brother.” “I miss him dearly, but when I spoke to him on the phone, he sounded like the little boy I used to know, happy and at peace finally.” “Isn’t that what every parent wants for their children anyway?”

“A mother is the truest friend we have. When trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still she will cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” Washington Irving

This dear soul reminded me a lot of my own mother. Raising me without the aid of a father, doing her best to protect me when I was abused by my great uncle, teaching and consoling me to the best of her ability and then letting me go when she knew it was best thing she could do for me. Oh, the sacrifices these dear ladies make all in the name of love. Like my mother, this lady was deeply in love with her Savior and they both spent much time in prayer for the children they cherished more than life itself.

“There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.” Boyd K. Packer

I never saw this Kentucky “Traveler of the Rock Road” or his mother again after I left that job, but I have a feeling things got better for them. I could see that when she spoke of how he was doing; her face would light up and her eyes would dance with happiness. You don’t get reactions like that if the situation is contrary. I also have a sense that it wasn’t long before this mother pulled up stakes and took the rest of her family back so they could all be together.

When this memory came back to me and I began writing this story; I didn’t really know where it was going to take me to r what I wanted to pass on to you good folks. I suppose it could be that we never know the complete story of what someone is going though and what trials they have had to suffer alone. So, before we make a snap judgement; we need to consider there might be more there than what meets the eye. Even Jesus taught us in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  I realize that’s an area I had to work on a lot. I pray that we all do. But in my mental vison I can still see that mother, worried and caring for her son, but joyous beyond measure that her child was finally happy. You know, that’s the kind of love God has for us. But that’s another story. Let me close my hodge-podge of thoughts tonight with this quote that falls into the category of “right on the money!”

“The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.” Jeffrey R. Holland

See ya next time.




One response

22 10 2019
Beverly Crane

Thank you for sharing this John. I always say, “Everyone has a story”. Never judge the cover until you know the content. I’m so glad this ended well because there are lots of run away stories that do not. Have a beautiful day my friend.

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