This story is about “Fifty-Sixth”. Fifty-Sixth Street is its proper name, but to me personally it’s memory lane. I was reminded the Saturday winter morning I walked down my memory lane.
“I’m late – I don’t have time to bring you back!” my wife said apologetically on her way to work. “That’s alright, I’ll walk back,” I answered, “I’ll do that instead of going to the gym.”
The Seventy Six gas station, where I get my truck worked on sometimes, is a couple miles north of us on fifty-sixth. My brakes had been screaming at me for a couple of weeks before I finally made time and gave in to the shrill demands.
I sipped my coffee from the old but hefty insulated mug I got from the kids several Christmases back as I hoofed it back south on fifty-sixth, the sun just beginning to crawl up the west side of the tan stuccoed walls flanking the road, my side still enveloped in forty-four degree shade.
I thought about the stretch of pavement when it was a dirt road, long before anyone ever heard of a “Loop 101”. This once dirt road would grow into a two lane blacktop and eventually a four lane with a center island that feeds the giant circle the wraps around the sixth largest city in the U.S.
I gazed over the aging neighborhoods on both sides of “Fifty-Sixth” that I’d helped build like Henry Ford did cars. I can’t remember now exactly which roofs I fell off of, or the single stories I jumped off of while racing my co-workers to the roach coach, (lunch truck). The scars from the sharp end of the sixteen penny nails on my chest that slowed my fall from two stories up that ripped me open are almost gone now. I did dumb things on and around that street, lived like hell is an understatement.
I can’t recall either which house was the last one I worked on with my hands before they made me the boss. I walked past the apartments that used to be called Arabian Trails, named for all the horse farms that are now streets and houses as far as the eye can see. I recall a night there, lonely, divorced, my business decimated by the IRS, my face in the filthy and worn out carpet, my pride finally surrendered to God’s last move and firm affirmation of, “Checkmate”.
By the time I got to the high school the sun flashed through the fence pickets like a strobe light, every four inches, a flash representing every memory along “Fifty-Sixth”. I thought about Kenz and Ali’s graduations on that field, the same field I coached them on. I remember all the girls, good girls, and my wife’s wisdom to know that coaching was my calling at the time.
A couple blocks from my street I crossed over to the sunny west side, knees aching and nose running. I punched in the code to the gate and the voice crackled from the tiny speaker, “Access granted. Please enter.” That old road has played an integral part in my life, but it’s not the physical roads we travel that really matter.
Although I live in the same area, I’m not the same person. Traveling up and down on “Fifty-Sixth” reminds me of the power of God to change lives. As the big gates to my street and house swung open, I thought about this road of life and my eventual destination and the pearly gates that await me. I smiled through watering eyes at the thought of my Father’s voice, “Welcome home, son.”