Sunday, August 30, 2015
A Whistled Testimony
Scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook this afternoon, I saw a video of "Why Me, Lord?" performed at the Grand Ole Opry. It brought back a sweet memory of going to Clark's department store on Ashley St. with my daddy. He asked the clerk behind the counter for an 8-track tape by Kris Kristofferson saying "Kris Kristahfahson."
He took the plastic wrap and thin cardboard sleeve off and pushed the cartridge into the after market 8-track player in his red 1965 Chevy pickup with step sides and a tailgate which closed with chains. I loved that truck and I loved my Daddy. He whistled in perfect pitch to the heart tugging lyrics, equal parts regret and gratitude.
I watched and listened, mesmerized as we rolled down Jerry Jones Road toward the Phillips 66 station he ran on Baytree Road. At home, there was fighting, cussing, and carrying on, but the atmosphere of this truck cab sanctuary, filled with cigarette smoke instead of incense, was different.
I realized the day he bought that tape and I first heard "Why Me, Lord?" it was his testimony. We didn't go to church and I didn't know the word testimony, but my little girl spirit recognized one all the same.
When you live in a home full of uproar, you listen and observe a lot more than you participate. It's safer that way. Daddy never shared a testimony in the traditional sense, all remorseful and crying in front of a bunch of people who act like they're stunned at what they're hearing, knowing they've done many of the same things, but after years of hard living--heavy drinking, smoking, swearing, bootlegging, womanizing, at times violent--a strange calm settled on him.
It was the kind of peace only the Lord can bring to a tormented soul.
I'd heard a penitent heart cry to the Lord in his own quiet way, humbled, going to the only Source of all he needed on this earth. Nothing else here brought him any level of peace that I'd noticed. I learned as much about the Lord that day after a trip to a discount store as one could have learned in 10 years of churchin', my age at the time.
Daddy's time was drawing near and Jesus, ever merciful, received him home the year following the song's release, 1974. Here's his testimony, another man wrote it and sang it. Daddy whistled it and I can still hear the trills if I listen closely.