The title to the email was “Nice Family” and the content was limited to a picture. I guess you could say it was picture perfect. Oh sure, I could have looked a lot better, but it is what it is. It was picture perfect in that no one had his or her eyes closed. My youngest grandson wasn’t holding up two fingers behind his sister’s head and with the exception of my niece’s daughter whom is also one of my grandkids, everyone was present. After all, she never had the privilege of knowing my brother and I’m the closest thing to a look-alike that can be found. When it comes to granddads, I’ll have to do. Of course, the missing granddaughter had a legitimate excuse to miss my retirement party. She was with her dad at Disney World. How was a retirement party for granddad going to trump that? It didn’t and truthfully, I might also have opted for the roller coaster over the bread pudding, but only barely. The bread pudding was really, really good. It is the only Baptist function that I know where the “sauce” made it into the “sauce” and no one seemed to mind.
I mentioned the retirement party a couple of days ago in my blog. It proved to be day one of what proved to be a weekend of non-stop activities. My son mentioned to me after the party that several funny things came to mind that he would have liked including in his presentation, but with only three minutes allotted, he simply didn’t have time. It obviously was less embarrassing for me. He shared with me the extra content. It all related to my work and it was really funny, but I was better served that he left that part out. However, if you want a laugh, you can ask him or me in person and you’ll get the Paul Harvey version or the rest of the story. It is good for a laugh. It will never make it into print.
Instead of returning home after the retirement party, the General and I headed to my son’s home. The following day was a big day. My two grandsons were being baptized and they had invited granddad the privilege of baptizing them. I was delighted with the opportunity, but I was also a little anxious. Where I go to church we do seasonal baptism. It is all done outside in the creek and I don’t recall that we’ve ever had a baptism in January. July on the other hand is a great time of the year if there is water in the creek. Consequently, I wear jeans and a shirt and I get soaking wet as well. Somehow that seemed a little inappropriate inside the church; particularly when you’re expected to join the congregation in short order. I had been invited to preach that Sunday, so soaking wet wasn’t going to work.
I almost pulled it off without a hitch, but it wasn’t flawless. I had borrowed the General’s brother’s waders and robe to use for the baptism. He is pastor of the First Christian Church in Johnson City and they have a baptistry in their church. Of course, the way I see it, baptism in the creek is safer than in his church. In his church, you have to climb a ladder to get up to the baptistry. That doesn’t seem particularly safe to me. I know that only because I borrowed the use of his church’s baptistry once. It was one of those years when the creek was dry in July.
It was important to me not to show up at the First Baptist Church in Sealy looking like a hick preacher from the country. I needed the proper outfit for baptism. My younger brother from Oklahoma will bemoan the “dress for success” reference. I tried on the robe on Saturday night to see how it looked. The robe was white and had Velcro to ensure water didn’t get inside your sleeves. Actually, it looked really strange on me. I could have passed for an angel or an Episcopal minister. I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking””Either would be a marked improvement”. You’ve got a good point.
Craig saw me and said: “No dad. That isn’t going to work. Brother Robbie wears a swim suite and T-shirt.” And all this time I feared I’d show up looking like a “country hick” preacher. During my childhood and adolescent years, I never went to a church camp where the boys and girls got to swim together. Separate times were allotted for each group to be at the pool. There was no way I was wearing a swim suite into the baptismal waters.
Okay, so the compromise we reached is that I’d wear the waders and a short sleeve shirt over my clothing. To be on the safe side, I took the robe to church with me just in case I changed my mind. I shared with the pastor that I had brought borrowed things to wear. He said, “I never bother with any of that. I just wear a swimsuit and a T-shirt”. I didn’t tell him, but I wasn’t going there. I’ve seen a lot of baptisms and I don’t recall “dressed for swimming” as ever being the order of the day.
Obviously, I didn’t think it through. My dress shirt had long sleeves. I had the waders on. The sound of the first hymn had already begun. I had to hurry. When the hymn was over, we were supposed to be in the water. So what did I do? I hurriedly rolled up my long sleeves so they didn’t protrude out beyond the short sleeves. Perfect, I thought to myself.
Like I said, “I hadn’t thought this through”. The discovery I subsequently made is that the left sleeve of my long sleeve shirt was soaking wet. I attempted to squeeze as much of the water out of it as possible, but it was soaking wet. When I put my sport’s coat on over the wet sleeve, I had the thought that in short order, it too would be wet.
Fortunately during the sermon I didn’t have the sense that water was dripping out from under my coat sleeves. Following church, Craig and Becky hosted family members who were in attendance for the baptism for lunch. The group of family members in the attached picture was dwarfed by the size of Becky’s extended family. I did share with some of her family members that anytime you add forty or fifty Lutherans to the congregation at a Baptist Church, you’ve got a better crowd. They just smiled.
Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Becky’s family has integrated our family into their larger family group. They are delightfully kind people. I even got an invitation to come for a family fish fry in August. It is the one-day that the Lutheran group will miss church all together. After all, you’ve got to get an early start if you are going to get the prize for catching the most fish. Of course, that won’t impact me because I don’t fish. I’m simply going to show up at the end of the day to enjoy the camaraderie and fried fish.
All My Best!