"The end is the eternal beginning for some, and for others it is yet the eternal ending."
My grandad used to say that to my Daddy back when I was a little kid, and then he would take out his Bible and read from it. My daddy always got mad and left, dragging me along to the truck. Momma always cried when he did that, and looked back at grandad as if to say she was sorry for the mean things daddy said. So that's why we didn't visit Grandad and Gramma very often.
One of my earliest memories from back home is the day I came home from my first day of school just in time to see Momma crying on the sofa, and hearing Daddy slam the back door as he left. I asked Momma what was wrong but she couldn't answer for a little while 'cause of her crying. When she was finally able to answer she told me that my Daddy was mad at her 'cause he caught her reading her Bible, which he had told her not to do as long as she lived under his roof. But she told me she wasn't sad that she had been caught, she was sad because he had thrown her Bible into the wood stove. I knew Daddy would come back because he always did. After several minutes I heard a funny noise coming from Momma, and when I looked at her she burst out laughing until she cried. I was puzzled. My Daddy took her Bible and left just now, and she was laughing? My six-year-old mind was boggled. She laughed until she coughed and had to stop. When she finally caught her breath she looked me up and down and then pointed her finger at me and said, "You wore that to school," more as a statement then as a question. I nodded a bit sheepishly. I was wearing my cowboy hat, my cap-gun, and my red bandana. I distinctly remember Momma telling me not to wear those to school. I also remember sneaking around the back of the house and climbing through my bedroom window to put my cowboy paraphernalia back on, and then sneaking back around before trotting off to school. The punishment for my bad behavior was a spanking and then a hug and a kiss, and I was relieved to know that Momma was not going to take my things from me.
I remember that it wasn't strange for my Daddy to leave in a huff and take the truck for a few hours. I also remember that Daddy always came back sorry for the mean things he said, and he would hug and kiss Momma and me and ask us to forgive him.
But this particular time it was different. When my Daddy got back that evening he stepped out of his truck with a whole different look on his face from anything I had ever seen. It was firm and serious, and to me it looked angry. Momma took one good look in his eyes from the kitchen window and then said "Go! Run and hide out in the bushes! Whatever you do, don't let your Daddy lay one finger on you." I ran as fast as my little legs would take me. I ran 'way out in our fields and crouched down between an old shack and a cedar bush. I was scared stiff, wondering why Momma had told me to run. I thought maybe Daddy was so mad that he wanted to kill me. The thought hurt as well as scaring me. I wondered if this was how Jesus felt in the story Grandad had told me at our last visit, the story about how one of Jesus' friends betrayed Him. I knew that this was different because for one thing it was my father that (I thought) was going to betray me, and another thing is that I wasn't Jesus, and there was nothing I could do about this. Suddenly I heard someone running up, and in almost frantic fear I gripped my little cap-gun in front of me with both of my chubby hands. When they poked their head through the bushes I couldn't even scream, being all tensed up with fright. But the fright didn't last long seeing as it was only my hound, Buckey. I wondered if Momma was okay. I was still a little bit shaken up from the scare Buckey had given me, and didn't feel brave enough to go back to the house. Suddenly I remembered a verse that Grandad had read to me, one that said "No man can come to the Father, except he come through Me." I realized that I needed to pray to Jesus to have His Father make my Daddy love Him. I knew that if Daddy loved God he wouldn't say such hurtful things to Momma, and maybe he would even enjoy visiting Grandad. So I prayed. I think that was the first time I really meant what I said to God, and understood what it meant to pray. I decided that I needed to go back to the house and make sure Momma was okay. As I headed back I felt like I was doing what God would want me to do, which was to stand up for my mother. When I got to the back door I gently cracked it open and peeked in, and I saw my parents sitting at the kitchen table together, holding hands and talking over a brand new Bible. Daddy saw me first, and he ran over and hugged me real close. I remember him crying into my hair and saying "Son, can you forgive me, can you love me?"
Later Momma told me about how Daddy had started driving, and how suddenly he felt like God was telling him to get a Bible and go back home to Momma and read it. He said he went straight to the drugstore and bought a King James Bible and turned around to come home. On the way back he stopped out in the field and got on his knees and prayed like he never did before, asking God to forgive him for running for so long. I know God answered his prayer, just like He answered mine that day. Momma said she had made me hide because a while back he had threatened to take me away if he caught her teaching me about the Bible.
We got to visit Grandad twenty-five more times before he passed away, and my Daddy held his hand until he took his last breath. Grandad's last words were "The end is the eternal beginning for some, and for others it is yet the eternal ending. This, my Son, is the dawning of my eternal beginning."