Tony A. Smith

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Unrecognizable

Two Boys Bikes

We were the best of friends growing up on the south side of Oklahoma City.  Kevin’s dad worked with my dad down at the steel plant in the city.  During those burning hot Oklahoma summertime days we’d always be over at each other’s house playing baseball and running up and down the concrete creek beds on our bicycles.  Neither one of us liked to wear shoes in the summertime so were always getting stickers or blisters of some sort on our shoe-less, dirt blackened feet.  Kevin and I both had one of those long banana style seats specially fitted for our bikes.  Then we added colorful plastic streamers for each handlebar.  Finally we’d grab a few clothespins from the clothesline and pin them to the back wheels of our bikes with a few bubblegum baseball cards.  That would give us the true to life sound of a motorcycle as the spokes of our wheels strummed the cards like a drum.  The only thing missing to make us official motorcycle riders were the helmets.

Even though Kevin and I went to the same elementary school for years, we never saw each other much at school.  As some might say -“We were in different classes together.”  The summers passed us by as did the years of growing up together and soon we were in Junior High School.  Have you ever wished you could go back in your life to some specific moment in time to change something you did or didn’t do?  Something you said or didn’t say? I do!

One day I happened to pass Kevin in the hallway during our ninth grade year.  He pulled me to the side and asked me if I could help him sell donuts for the student council in the hallway between classes the following week.  I thought that would be a neat experience so I agreed to help out.  It was during that time that I realized Kevin really had a difficult time in school.  He couldn’t really calculate properly.  He couldn’t do the basics of adding and subtracting properly so he asked me if I would help him out during that time to get through his shift with the student council.  He did seem pretty desperate when he asked me to help out.  I never knew before that he struggled so much with school work.  I later found out that the reason I never saw Kevin much in school was because he had been taking special education classes all those years.

Then one morning before classes started I was sitting in the lunch room at a table with some of my friends playing paper football.  Kevin walks by with a big Bible in his hands.  Joe, another friend of mind starts mocking Kevin as he passes by.  “Hey Bible boy” “What are you doing with that Bible?”  “I didn’t know special ed kids could read.” he says.  I could see the tears start to form at the corner of Kevin’s eyes while I just sat there with my mouth shut pretending I didn’t even know him.  The bell rings for classes to start and the kids in the lunch room start to shuffle out.  I hang back to the be the last one out the door before Kevin.  Kevin just stares at me bewildered and says “Why didn’t you say something?”  “You acted like you didn’t even know who I was?”  “Kevin, why do you carry that Bible around?”  I said.  “Because that’s all I know to do.” “The kids here are always picking on me.”

It was in the middle of my ninth grade year that we moved twenty miles to the west of Oklahoma City to a new town.  I never saw Kevin after that except for one more time during our senior year of high school when he dropped by to watch a Oklahoma Sooners football game with me.

Then one day I got a phone call from Dad when I was away at college my freshman year.  He told me that Kevin had just died in a terrible construction accident in Oklahoma City.  He had been helping unload some construction material when an overhead power line snapped into and fell on top of his truck.  He stepped out onto the ground and was electrocuted by the live wire.  His body they say was burned and charred beyond recognition.  It was “unrecognizable”.

Yes, I do wish I would have said more.  I wish I would have done more back then.  But for my friend Kevin – I waited too long to tell him I was sorry for not recognizing him that day.  Kevin,  I really am sorry.


9 Comments

  1. jjspina says:

    Oh so sad. We never know if there will be a second chance to do good. 😢

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes that is so right Janice!

    Like

  3. HI Tony,

    Wow – what a powerful and thought-provoking post. It made me think of all the missed opportunities in my life where I should have done or said something and I didn’t. It inspired me to try and change how I act now.

    Nancy

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I appreciate you stopping by today Nancy! Yes – we never know when our missed opportunity in life may be the last chance we have to make a difference.

    Like

  5. tabitha59reachingout says:

    What a sad story. My heart goes out to you, Tony. I think we all know what it’s like to regret our words and/or actions. The Lord sees your heart too, and He knows how sorry you are. He is compassionate and forgiving. Blessings on you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Karen Foster says:

    This post resonated with me. I remembered it long after the fact and shared with my husband. Thought you might like to know…your words made an impression.

    Liked by 1 person

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