Everyone has a story, if we will only take time to listen.
When my late husband and I waited several months for a transplant in Florida, we heard stories from a lot of folks.
One of our favorite places to visit before Jerry was hospitalized was a pretty little town among rolling hills. Micanopy was about thirty minutes from the hospital in Gainesville. We enjoyed wandering through antique shops, talking with shop owners, and delighting in ice cream from a small shop on the main street. When Jerry got too tired, he would sit on a bench in front of our favorite store and watch people while I wandered.
The ice cream shop always pulled us in. One day while we were enjoying their delicious goodness, we met Cliff, who introduced himself and his wife, the woman we’d met several times before, as the shop owners.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“That’s a long ways away. Are you vacationing?”
Jerry answered. “No. I’m on the list for a liver and pancreas transplant at Gainesville and we’re waiting for the call.”
“Wow, that’s got to be tough.”
We continued the conversation, learning from Clifton “Hollywood” Harris that he was at that time the third-longest-running rodeo clown in the United States. A Texas native, he always dreamed of being a rodeo clown. While he competed in rodeo for awhile, he loved physical comedy and becoming a rodeo clown seemed a natural progression.
His eight-ish son, “Boogerhead”, (now Brinson James the Entertainer), strolled through the shop and we were introduced. Hollywood was teaching his young son to join him on the circuit, and the two were already a team.
“He’s been my sidekick ever since he was two years old,” said Hollywood.
Harris began his rodeo clown career in 1984. We met him in 2005, when he’d already been in the business twenty-one years. He said being a rodeo clown was actually more dangerous than being a bullrider, because his job was to distract the bull and protect the rider. Harris is regarded as one of the most innovative clowns in rodeo and was chosen to perform at International Finals Rodeos, both as a Comedy Act and Barrel Clown. He also won a record six events at the IFR Contract Act Show in Oklahoma City which included Comedy Act, Dress Act, and the Barrel Man Competition!
Below are two special pictures.
Below right, Hollywood and James Brinson as an adult performer. That’s one proud Dad!
I found Hollywood on Facebook yesterday and reconnected with him, telling him my memory of our conversation seventeen years ago, and what a delight it was to meet caring folks like him and his wife along our journey.
That day in the ice cream shop seventeen years ago we sat and talked for one or two hours. Cliff was gracious, humble, open–and in civilian clothing! We loved hearing about his career and especially his love for his son. He asked what kept us going in the face of a terminal illness.
Jerry shared with him that what gave us hope was our faith in Jesus Christ. Jerry said that whether he lived or died, he couldn’t lose. Either he would stay here with me, his bride, or he would be in the presence of his Lord and Savior. As it turned out, he went home to be with Jesus and I was alone–but not alone–because my God promised never to leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).
Everyone believes in something.
- It may be your own capabilities and skills.
- It may be that statement, “It’s all good.”
- It may be trusting that someone else will take care of whatever concerns you.
- It may mean ignoring the pain around you and hoping it will go away.
- It may be your financial security.
But when it comes to life and death, when it comes to real purpose and meaning in life, Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation we have.
As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:47-49
Where is your hope?
And when’s the last time you took time to listen to someone’s story?
- Perhaps after they’ve lost a loved one.
- Or had a career crisis.
- Or lost financial resources.
- Or love their work or family and want to tell you what brings them joy.
And when have you last shared your own story? I’d love to hear it.