Roy Exum: Three Words & A Kiss

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A little girl once asked the late Walt Disney if he still drew Mickey Mouse cartoons. He laughed and told her that now his empire had gotten so huge, he no longer had time. “Well, do you pick out the movies you make?” she asked and again he laughed, shaking his head “no.” She asked him more questions, getting a negative response each time, so finally she put her little hands on her hips and demanded, “Then tell me what you do!”

The fabled Mr. Disney pulled her into his lap and told her he would tell her only if it would be a secret. The girl agreed and he whispered, “I go from one project to another all the time. I’m like a little bumble bee, taking pollen from one flower to the next. That’s the way you have a pretty garden!”

In the spirit of taking pollen from one flower to another, I want to be a bumble bee in passing along a touching story my Texas pal, Sandy Pohfal, just shared with me. It comes from a very gifted pastor in Searcy, Ark., David Mathews, who serves the Downtown Church of Christ, confirmed to Sandy the story is very true and that he first wrote it in 2001. I was deeply moved by it and I hope you will be, too.

* * *

ONE NIGHT. ONE KISS. THREE WORDS.

By David Mathews

My parents had the perfect marriage, or so I thought. But one day in the 60's changed that thinking. It was 1963. The Dodgers won the World Series over the hated Yankees. My Texas Longhorns were 11-0 and beat Roger Staubach and Navy in the Cotton Bowl, and were crowned the national champions. Life was pretty good for a 13 year old living in Texas.

Then that fateful night arrived. The day innocence was shattered - the moment in history when I discovered fairy tales were exactly that - fairy tales. It was the night an appalling truth crashed upon me. Mom and dad did not have the perfect marriage. In fact mom and dad hated each other.

I do not recall what they argued about that night. But I remember enough to know that I wish I had never been born. And the fighting intensified as the weeks went by. And finally, Dad moved out. Writing this, I wonder if parents really comprehend the impact that those words - "dad moved out" - have on a child, even a child of 13?

Why? Why can't they just love each other the way I love them both? Why can't they forgive, forget, and start over? And why is God doing this to me? Why doesn't the hurt go away? And why can't my daddy live with us? Parents at times forget how bad kids can hurt. But sometimes parents remember. It was a Sunday. Dad called.

"You guys want to play golf?" What a dumb question!

Dad, don't you realize that all I want to do is to be with you? Ever since you moved out, life has taken a tumble. I have pimples, I'm fat, and all the girls laugh at me. I have one friend in the entire world, and he's kind of weird, too. I don't care about my grades, yet I do care. I miss you dad. I'll do anything with you.

Sure, Dad, we'll play golf with you - my brother, sister and I. And so the four of us played, but didn't talk much. But darkness came much too soon, and as much as I dreaded it, we were headed home.

"Thanks for taking us dad. Do you have to go so soon? Please stay a few minutes. Mom is not home. You can leave when she gets here. Please dad."

So he stayed. We drank ice tea. But mostly we sat, dreading the coming separation. And mom walked through the door.

To understand the impact of that night, a few painful facts need to be known. They had been living apart for a few months, but had been separated for years. They had not kissed, or hugged, or held hands, or slept in the same bed for years. They had not, at least to my knowledge, used the word 'love' to each other since I could remember.

Whether she knew it or not, Mom was about to give my sister, my brother, and me the greatest gift imaginable. It was 10:00pm when she came in. She announced that she was going to bed.

"Goodnight, Ann. I love you." And she kissed my sister on the cheek. "Goodnight Richard. I love you." And she kissed my brother on the cheek. "Goodnight David. I love you." And she kissed me on the cheek.

And she paused. We sensed she was not yet through with the goodnights. But there was only one person left in the room. He was sitting in a big chair to my left. And though it has been 35 years since that night, I still can see his face, and hers.

She walked over to him. Without a word, and with compassion and love and tenderness like I had never seen before, she kissed her husband, our daddy, on the cheek.

"I love you, Tom."

And she left the room. Dad said goodnight to us and left. No one mentioned the miracle we had experienced. The next day, dad came home to stay. And for 27 years, they held hands, and hugged, and kissed, and loved each other with the love of the ages.

And why? Because one woman decided to love, and forgive, and forget - decided to start all over. Because one woman saw the hurt and the pain three children were going through. And because one man decided to accept that unconditional love and to give it back.

Years later, mom had breast cancer. They were both old by then. I came into the hospital room after traveling all day to get there. As I walked into the room, there was dad sitting in a big chair to my left. He was holding his bride's hand, and stroking her hair. And my mind raced back to that fateful night, when love was reborn.

One night, one kiss, three words.

Thanks for the gift, mom and dad. I love you.

* * *

Since this story was written, David’s father has passed away but his mother still lives in Houston. David, who now has four children of his own, has a book that will soon to be published and the story you just read will be included. I’ll make sure to let you know how to get a copy.

royexum@aol.com



Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: New Schools On Agenda

Hamilton County School Superintendent Bryan Johnson confirmed on Wednesday that a plan for several new public schools will be included on Thursday night’s School Board agenda. Hamilton County has fallen woefully behind other metro school districts in the state and, with an estimated $340 million in deferred repairs, upgrading facilities - that now average over 40 years old - was ... (click for more)

Shaw Industries To Invest $42 Million At Decatur, Tn., Plant

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Shaw Industries Group, Inc. officials announced Friday that the floor products manufacturer will invest $42 million to upgrade its yarn facility in Decatur. Shaw plans create 75 new jobs in Meigs County as part of the investment. “I’d like to thank Shaw for its continued ... (click for more)

$125 Million County School Building Plan Includes Shifting CSLA To Tyner Middle; Combining Tyner High/Middle; New Harrison Elementary, New East Hamilton Middle

Hamilton County School officials on Thursday unveiled a $125 million building plan that includes moving the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts to the current Tyner Middle School, which will undergo a major renovation. Tyner Middle will move across the street into Tyner High School. Both Tyner buildings have been under-utilized for a number of years. There will also be ... (click for more)

Baylor Wins State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – There were tears on both sides of the court at MTSU’s Murphy Center Thursday afternoon. There were tears of relief and joy for the Baylor Lady Red Raiders while the tears for the Briarcrest Lady Saints represented heartbreak and disappointment. Such is the case when two really good volleyball teams meet for the second straight year for a D-II Class AA ... (click for more)

Lanters Are Latest Sister Acts Leading Lady Flames Teams

When one looks back on the success of the Lee University women’s soccer program over the past 16 years, it is easy to see what sisters have provided. Records show the surge began in 2001 and continues today with senior Summer and freshman Anna Lanter (former Soddy Daisy High School standouts) helping spark the Lady Flames to a current 8-4 overall mark and 7-2 in the rugged Gulf ... (click for more)