Moving Day – Part 2

Author’s note: If you have not read the original story below, please take a moment to do so.  It will help you understand this story.

Moving Day

I stood looking down the dirt road.  I could see that it had a bend in it that made the road disappear behind the trees.  Could there be something down there?

I had been walking the back roads of Mississippi for two days – not sure where I was going or what I would find when I got there.  But I felt a sense of comfort as if I knew I was going in the right direction.  I had just passed through a small town and kept walking along the paved road.  About a mile down the road, I saw a dirt road in my path.  As I took my first step on that old dirt road and the dust kicked up around my feet, I recognized the feeling – I knew I was being drawn to walk down this road.  After sizing up things, I knew that I could not ignore that deep prodding that led me to do His will.  I looked up, whispered a short prayer, and started walking.

Shortly after following the bend in the road, I noticed what appeared to be a driveway – it was hard to tell if it was still being used since the ruts seemed to have been there a while.  But I knew this was my destination and began walking – taking great care not to twist an ankle in one of the ruts.  It wasn’t long before I heard a dog bark and the sound of chickens scattering as if they had been suddenly scared.  With just a few more steps, I found myself in front of a house that was in desperate need of painting.  The car parked in the dirt yard was backed up to the few steps that went up to the front porch that ran the length of the house.  An old wringer washer was positioned on the far-left hand side of the porch where a clothesline on a pulley was attached so that clothes could be hung up to dry after they had been washed.   An old rocker and a couple of wooden chairs graced the right side of the porch creating an odd sense of symmetry.  But my main focus was on the little mutt barking at me from under the porch.  It was obvious he was not happy to see a stranger.  That’s when I heard it.

There are certain sounds that once you have heard them, you never forget them.  One of those sounds is the distinct noise a pump-action shotgun makes when it is being loaded.

I froze in my tracts and slowly looked up at the porch.  The barrel of the gun was pointed right at me and a young black girl was looking down that barrel with a sense of purpose that let me know she would not hesitate to shoot.

I slowly raised my hands and just as slowly sat down on the ground, “I mean you no harm.”

“What are you doing here?” she snapped back – the barrel of the gun followed my every movement.

I thought, “Lord, give me the right words.”  Then I began my explanation, “Ma’am, I was just walking along the main road when I came to the dirt road leading to your house.  I felt a tugging at my heart that I knew was God taking my hand and leading me to this place.  I know that sounds crazy to most folks but I truly felt God was leading me here.”

Slowly, the barrel of the gun came to rest on the porch and the young girl began to cry.  I didn’t move.  I lowered my hands while still seated on the ground.  “Why are you crying?” I asked softly.

“My husband woke up this morning and he was burning up with fever.  I can’t figure out what is wrong and he is just mumbling so I can’t understand what he is trying to tell me.  There’s no doctor for miles and even if there was, we ain’t got no money to pay.  I was kneeling by the bed just now praying and asking God to please help us – but I thought He had forgotten us a long time ago.”  She then raised the gun back up to point it at me, “Mister, if you’re telling the truth, tell me you can help.”

“I was certified as an EMT as a teenager and taught battlefield first aid in the Marine Corps.  If you will lower that gun and allow me to come and take a look at your husband, I might be able to help.  Please, trust me.  I will do my best.”

As she lowered the gun, she turned sideways and nodded toward the door.  I got up from the ground and walked to the steps.  I looked at her and smiled – trying to assure her that things would be okay. “Lead the way to your husband.”

The inside of the house was sparsely furnished.  As we walked through the kitchen, I noticed a little boy and girl were hiding under a rusted Formica topped table.  I gave them a quick wink and a smile as we headed to the bedroom.

He laid on the bed – his breathing seemed labored – even with his eyes closed I could tell he was in pain.  I gently touched his forehead and he was very hot to the touch.  I put my backpack on the floor and pulled the blanket and sheets down to his waist and began to inspect his upper torso and arms for any sign of injury.  I returned the bedding over his upper body and uncovered his feet and legs.  That was when I saw it.  I looked like he had a blister on one of his feet that was now badly infected.

“What do you have in the way of first aid supplies?”  Her reply that all she had was a couple of old band-aids was not helpful.  I quickly reached into my backpack and got a pen and my little notebook.  I made a list of things I would need and then got my wallet out.  I pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and handed the list and bill to the young girl.  “Take your children and go to the drug store back in town.  Get these items and get back here as fast as you can.  By the way, what’s your husband’s name?”

“Charles.”  And with that, I shooed her out the door.  As she grabbed her purse and the children to head out the door, I went to the kitchen.  In the sink were two pots that would serve my purpose.  I filled one with cold water and one with hot water.  A quick search of the cabinets and I found nature’s antiseptic – apple cider vinegar.  I poured some in the hot water and grabbed some paper towels before heading back into the bedroom.

“Okay, Charles, I am going start helping you feel better,” not even sure if he was hearing me or not.  I put a paper towel in the cold water and folded it – placing it on his forehead to start reducing the effects of the fever.  I then turned my attention to his infected blister.  “Charles, this may sting a little but it will start killing the infection.”  I placed a paper towel under his foot and then began washing the wound with the hot vinegar water.  He moaned and tried to move his foot.  “I know – it hurts,” and I began blowing on the wound as I washed it to ease his pain.

It wasn’t long before his wife had returned with the supplies I needed.  I finished cleaning the blister and then placed a good amount of antibiotic ointment on it.  I created a dressing with some gauze and tape.  I had his wife bring me a glass of water.

“What’s your name?”  Lily introduced herself.  “Okay, Lily, help me sit Charles up so we can get him to take two of these Tylenol.  That should lower his fever.”  With some coaxing, Charles took the pills.  We laid him back in bed and I replaced the cold paper towel on his head to speed the process along.  I placed the sheet and blanket over his legs and began gathering the pots and remaining paper towels.

“I’ll wash these up for you,” but Lily took them and told me I had done enough.  I gathered my backpack and went out on the front porch and sat down – my feet resting on the first step.  In a few minutes, Lily came outside with her children in tow.

“And who are these little cuties?”  Lily introduced Charlie and Violet.  “Well, it is my pleasure to meet y’all.”

“Mister, here is your change.”

I fished into my backpack, “Lily, in a little while, Charles will be coming around but make him stay in bed today and rest.  Change the dressing on his blister at dinnertime and again when you go to bed.  If his fever returns, you can give him another dose of Tylenol in six hours.  By morning, he should be back to normal.  While he is resting, take Mr. Charlie and Miss Violet to the grocery store in town and let them pick out their favorite foods.”  I handed Lily another hundred-dollar bill and began to walk down the steps.

“Mister, I can’t take this,” she protested as I continued to walk away.  I smiled to myself and began to sing.

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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    • Laura – Thank you for reading and your kind comment – these are the seeds of encouragement that help me continue writing.

  1. Len, I just read both parts of your story at once. I don’t know exactly what I expected on this Friday morning, but being moved this way, this much, was not it.

    Thank you for writing these stories. Thank you for sharing them. And thank you for giving me exactly what I needed this morning, even though I had no idea I needed it.

    I know this part is well covered. But God bless you.

    • Mark – I am humbled by your kind words. I write to touch the emotions we sometimes bury because we are afraid to face them. I hope I touched your soul in a way that you grow. May God bless you and keep you safe.

    • Len, this is it: “The emotions we sometimes bury because we are afraid to face them.” The world that opens to us once we do face them is nothing short of miraculous.

      Thank you.

  2. Len, what an amazing story! I feel like I was right there. Sometimes, there are no coincidences. At that moment in time, that is where you belonged, not only to offer your skills but your enormous heart. Thank you for this.💖

    • Darlene – I love writing in first person because, with the right words, you can draw the reader into the story – they become the main character and see, smell, hear, feel, and taste everything as they read. Thanks for your kind comment.