“Now, Neal, I want you to ride the school bus straight home today.  Your dad wants you to start weeding the garden”.  Those were the words of my mother that spring morning in 1944 -  words that eventually were providential.


My mother and father both worked in town.  Sometimes, after school, I would walk the three blocks downtown and just “mess around” until closing time.  I would go into Dad’s office (he was the county clerk) and play with a typewriter.  Then I would go into my mother’s beauty shop and see who was getting their hair fixed and listen to the gossip.


I was in the third grade in San Augustine Grammar School at the time.  On this particular day, a friend, Donald Renfro, asked me to ride with him on his brand-new bicycle downtown after school.  He was persistent, but my mother’s words kept coming back to me, “Ride the school bus straight home today.”  So reluctantly I said,
“Sorry, Donald, I have to go home after school today.”


When school was over for the day, I boarded the school bus and got out at my home.  I was a “latchkey kid” at the time and did not know it. I began the unpleasant task of weeding the garden.  But I was still thinking about Donald’s new bicycle.  It was a really pretty Schwinn, bright red.  It even had a front fender light and a luggage rack.


My parents came home around five-thirty, and I noticed that they were rather quiet.  Finally, my mother said, “Come here, son, I need to tell you something.”  I could not imagine what news she had to tell me, but I went over and sat down by her at the dining table. She looked at me and said, “I have some bad news for you.  Your friend, Donald, and a Mitchell boy were killed this afternoon. They were run over by a pulpwood truck near downtown. Donald was giving the Mitchell boy a ride on his bicycle. They were both killed.”  



At nine years of age, I was somewhat confused by all this talk about death.  What did it all mean?  Why did it happen? And then it came to me - I could have been on that bicycle instead of Drew Mitchell!  And then it could have been ME down there in the funeral home, except for the fact that I obeyed my mother’s instructions.  “Take the bus straight home today.”  This is when I began to realize the truth to the saying “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.”  This should be  a warning to all kids - obey your mother. Whether you like it of not, you should do what your mother tells you. Sometimes, it seems that they receive special revelations from God himself.  I am not one to question things like that.