Battleship Texas and my First Father’s Day

MY FIRST FATHER’S DAY (Written June 18, 2018)

June 17, 1973

Wendy was a 19 year old woman.

I was a 21 year old boy.

The doctor had said, probably the end of June or early July.

We had the final two names picked out; Ethan Tyler or Chelsey Morgan.

But, today, Wendy’s parents were in Houston to see us.

We couldn’t get to Garland for Father’s Day this year, so they came to us.

I looked forward to the visit, because they usually paid for stuff; meals, gas…Money was tight at our end.

Wendy’s mom hadn’t really warmed up to me yet…but we were providing the first grandchild.

The warming wouldn’t come for another few years.

Wendy’s dad, Blair had served on the Battleship Texas the last year of World War II, so we went to San Jacinto to see the monument, the battleground, and the historic battleship.

We walked that day…a lot!

This was my first experience of hearing Blair telling stories from his past.

Stories of joining the navy, being absent over leave when his friend , Odom, came down with the mumps while they were on leave. He just couldn’t stand the thought of going back alone.

So, when he went back, he was in his commanding officer’s office.

“…there are two outcomes of this I can see,” he was telling the young (not quite 18) sailor. “We can put you in the brig…or…we can put you on the Battleship Texas.”

Blair, as calmly and contritely as he could, his heart racing with the prospect, “Sir, I guess I will take the Texas!”

I was hooked on the stories.

Wendy was pretty weary by the time we got back to Houston. We made a stop at Woolco (department store similar to Walmart) before they packed up to go back to Garland.

Wendy and her mom went one way.

Blair and I went to the tools.

He was always building stuff, fixing stuff, so we were looking at an electric drill, and an electric circular saw.

I was sure he already had these at home, but I figured he just needed an upgrade.

We went back to the apartment, and Blair handed me the bag.

“Happy Father’s Day, Randy,” he grinned.

Seriously? I had never owned a power tool of my own.

I couldn’t believe it.

I hugged them both as they left.

Wendy’s legs were swollen from all the walking.

June 18, 1973

Wendy woke up early with “labor pains.”

The doctor said that they were probably false labor, so we didn’t go in.

They did not go away. We called him back, he said to go on in to Hermann


I had practiced for this…I knew the route… I knew that if you drove down Main St at 26 mph you could hit every light green.

“Ooohhh, another one,” Wendy cried, “HURRY UP! WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SO SLOW!!!!!?”

I tried to calmly explain my theory but she had no ears to hear. I increased my speed.

We arrived at the hospital, got checked in around 1:00.

We had gone through the Lamaze training, so I was supposed to be able to be with Wendy through the whole delivery.

The sent me back to the waiting room around 7:00.

Every show on tv that night had a woman giving birth, in extreme pain.

When they came to get me at a little after 9:00, the nurse led me down a hall, outside the nursery. I stopped, looking in the window, as a nurse walked toward me carrying a little naked baby with reddish hair, sticking straight out from its head.

I looked, saw the place, and mouthed, “Girl?”

The nurse smiled and nodded, and I thought, “So, Chelsey Morgen!”

That was a really good day!

I was still five years away from recognizing the One I couldn’t hear who was telling me in a language I didn’t yet know, “I know the plans I have for you…”

I called Wendy’s parents, and my parents, and they all drove back to Houston to see this first grandchild, the amazing Chelsey Morgen Epps!



June 13, 2016


The great thing about freedom is that, for the most part, we can freely pursue what we think will make us happy, as long as we don’t harm others in the process.

The bad thing about freedom is that it doesn’t always guarantee happiness.

Freedom doesn’t mean that you can never be offended, or that you can always have your way, or that you can keep others from doing what you don’t like.

Freedom is not always nice, or comfortable, or pretty.

Sometimes, you think you are free, but you are really bound in virtual chains. Chains that prevent you from doing what you really want, that keep you doing things you don’t want to do. Habits you can’t break, victories you can’t win.

There is, however, a greater freedom, a freedom to live. A freedom to rise above the chains, the habits, the losses.

Believe it or not, you were created for a purpose.

Live toward that purpose, you will find freedom.

The One that created you is the only One that can make you free.

Freedom. The ability to do what you were made to do, to be what you were made to be.

The freedom to really live.



I didn’t know I had a problem.

I had one all day job. She had sent me a text with access codes, so I headed to her house.

“Gate code 5081* Gameroom code 0219, Lockbox on porch 0219.”

I pulled up to the gate, checked the text for the code, and punched in the code : 5018*.


I did it again.


I had driven 45 minutes to get here. Come on!

I looked at the text.

Yeah, you probably saw it, right?

I reversed the last two numbers.

Lesson learned.


5081*…gate opened and I was on my way.

I pulled up to the house, unloaded my equipment, walked to the front door, checked the text and entered 2019.




I thought maybe it was just stuck. No luck.

I sent her a text. “Are you sure the lockbox is 2019?”

“0219,” she texted back.

Well I wish she had told me right the first time.

I checked the text.

She had.

I finished the job. It took me about five hours.

I got a text from a new customer who happened to own a house in the area, and he wanted a bid for window cleaning at his house. I told him I would go by on my way home, so he texted me the address.

“552 E Eldorado.”

I drove into the development, looked for 525, turned around twice wondering why he gave me an odd number when all the addresses were even.

I rechecked the text.

Yeah, 552.

Three times in one day?

Is this a new thing?

Is it old age?

Nah. It couldn’t be that.

Although…a lady at our church had asked me, “Randy! Why did you grow a beard?! Wendy needs to have you shave that off! It makes you look older?” She was cooking a pot of stew on the stove.

“You need to stir that pot,” I told her with a grin, “not this one.”

Maybe the energy to grow this scraggly beard is drawing important cells from my brain reserves….

Yeah! I bet that’s it!

Whew! That’s a relief!