During the past week, I heard different conversations where folks were talking about special memories. Everything from high school football games to graduations and weddings.

Friday night, I had the rare occasion of experiencing “me” time and started reflecting and thinking about special events from my own life. Some brought joy, others sadness. However, it was nice just to take a break and remember the different events that have shaped my life. Reflection can be fun and sometimes, before you know it, you are smiling and do not even realize it.

A little more than a month after returning home from a deployment to Iraq, I was driving to Brownwood from Bangs when my phone began ringing. The voice on the other end asked if I was driving. After my response, I was told to pull over. Because of how abrupt my dad sounded, I complied and pulled over. The next four words he spoke caused an instant memory I will never, ever forget. He said, “Your brother is dead.”

I distinctly remember my hands shaking and sitting quietly for several seconds before I was asked if I was OK. I quietly said I was fine and without further conversation, hung up the phone. Because I had never experienced the death of someone so close to me, I did not handle the situation well. I began crying and punching the steering wheel and dashboard with everything I had in me. I was lost. I was angry. My baby brother was gone.

What made it worse is that I was in Texas and he was in Florida. The emotions continued to be overwhelming and my best course of action was to call my wife, as her soothing voice, immediate prayer and words of encouragement would be calming. What most people don’t know is that I didn’t meet my baby brother until I was 20 years old and he was 15. We made up for a lifetime in the first summer we were together. We were polar opposites, but grew to be close and a bond was formed that could never be broken. I love him and miss him daily. I pray that his son will grow up and know that his daddy was a man who was a protector, a giver and loved him wholeheartedly.

With death comes new life, which took me to an earlier memory. Remembering the day my second oldest daughter Jordan was born was such a sweet experience that nothing could ever top it.

Sitting in a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri waiting for her arrival was unnerving. I was excited, and quite frankly, impatient. At some point, we were told Jordan would have to be taken via C-Section.

Of course, I was the stereotypical dad pacing and showing my impatience. I was “scrubbed up” and placed in the corner of a room while the medical staff began the process of bringing my daughter into the world. It didn’t take long before I knew she had made her entrance. To put it mildly, she had extremely healthy lungs. Then, something happened. A nurse placed Jordan in my arms and the crying immediately stopped.

This sweet beauty had her eyes opened and just stared at me. That is a moment in time I will always carry with me, and every time I look at Jordan, I think about that day. I will forever be grateful for that day.

Like I said, memories can force a flooding of different emotions, but, at the end of the day, those memories are part of our DNA


Rick Phelps is the news director at KOXE-KBWD radio and a former staff writer for the Brownwood Bulletin. Comments may be emailed to news@brownwoodbulletin.com.