Hi. Thanks for being here.
This is my unfolding story.
Here is what you might find to be circumlocution.
My parents were childhood sweethearts from Abilene, Texas who married young. Dad, one year older than Mom, had taken some business courses and established himself as an accountant for the El Paso Natural Gas company at its Farmington, New Mexico office. He and Mom started life there and, after two years, I came along.
My parents grew up as most smaller city kids did in the thirties and forties, comfortable with hearth and home, but far from wealthy. On my Dad’s side, the McNeelys had come from the Carolinas to Texas in covered wagons and were calm, respectable, and faced life with a twinkle in their eye. Mom’s Welsh forebears had a line of characters that produced in my Grandpa a rascal with a temper and a razor-sharp wit that could cut - especially when he tippled, which, I learned much later in life, was often.
Both of my parents were religious and set about to build a Christian nest. I am told they doted on me and, as i witnessed, three years later, on my sister, Debbie, and, after another three years, my sister, Pam. Debbie and I were born in Farmington.
I have a handful of vivid memories of Farmington: one having to do with a high chair at a hosted dinner at home and another of a bedpan I used on our driveway, much to Mom’s chagrin, and another of waiting at a train station with Mom for a trip to Abilene. My impression that the scenery was desolate - think Moonscape on a black and white TV - was confirmed in a family trip with my kids decades later.
My memories of that time are sparse because we moved to Pasadena, California when I was four. The move was life-changing. It was so my Dad could attend a church college founded by a charismatic Christian radio evangelist. Church life, good and bad, became our focus.
Pasadena was a great place to grow up even though our family started out having very little. Married students struggle. I have fond memories of mountains, palm trees, rich greenery, variegated flowers, the Rose Parade, and the moderate climate. I was less fond of smog alerts, traffic, and overcrowding - which was only beginning. I also have mostly warm memories of the private church school I attended although I can conjure up the sting of occasional swats. Punishment was rare for me - even in those stricter times. I was taught to be respectful and obey authority so I usually did.
I was blessed with a loving upbringing; Dad loved to play catch and shoot baskets with me and Mom spoiled me - even after she felt compelled to paddle with a hummingbird-like blur. She was a petite woman and I was determined not to react. It was a battle of wills and wood against gluteus maximus. Caring fastidiously for her home and offspring was Mom’s job. Dad’s job was to provide so he strived after work to pass the CPA exam and become licensed. I don’t remember a lot of public displays of affection or gushy sentiment, but we kids knew we were loved.
Watching my Dad play intramural basketball kindled in me a spark that became a flame. I loved basketball. I spent hours in our various driveways (we moved a lot, always upward) practicing alone, building skill on top of natural athleticism. I loved all sports, actually. Although some opportunities were limited because we kept (and still observe) the seventh day Sabbath, I was very fortunate to play high school and later NAIA college basketball at the church institutions where scheduling was compatible.
While I had a lot of friends, I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. Looking back, I realize a lack of mental toughness kept me from realizing the potential I had based on my physical skills. I took criticism too much to heart and was too critical of myself. I’m sure I had affirmation at home - my parents attended everything we kids did, but I don’t remember conversations about it. I envied the teammates that had Teflon foreheads so rebukes slid off and splattered on the floor.
My bedroom during my high school years reflected my interests. There was a big poster of Jerry West (the NBA logo) and a big poster of a motocross racer high in the air. (Another obvious interest was hinted at by the Florida pennant my folks brought back from a trip. Mom had colored in part of the girl’s swimsuit lest I develop a premature interest in those with cleavage. My Mom was lovingly and naively protective.) My best friend, Brian, and I pretended to be daring motorcyclists on housing development hills - he on his Honda 50 and me on my cast-iron Honda 90 that I tried to convert to a dirt bike. If I could get a little air, the earth shook when I clanked down.
The future was not discussed at home unless it involved end-time prophetic events which might blossom any day now. Our lives were intertwined with the Church where Dad and now Mom worked and it was taken for granted that my sisters and I would matriculate into the church’s liberal arts college where a career path within the growing organization would sort itself out. We gave no thought to career counseling or aptitude testing or interests. I probably wouldn’t have paid attention anyway; my goal was to play college ball.
The church’s emphasis on interpreting prophecy and doing the math to predict timeliness - without actually setting dates because no man can know the hour Jesus Christ will return except we can get real close, wink wink, and know it’s real soon - gave me a limited horizon. I just hoped for enough time to get married and, you know. That was three kids and five grandkids ago so, yeah, turns out I had some time.
Ingrained paradigms are hard to change. I own my choices or, rather, lack of choosing, but I wish someone had taken me aside and made me answer the universal question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I had no clue.
[Work in process - to be continued.]
Now you know what circumlocution means: the use of many words when few will do. So this wasn’t a complete waste of time.