6. The dawn of the huggers.

Now, I’m not dissing on people that have weight issues.  I struggle with my weight.  As I type this, I am thirty some odd pounds over my ideal number.  I know I need to put down the chicken tenders and the Peanut butter Oreos.  And I will. Tomorrow.

But Brother Marty was huge. Sumo wrestler huge.  I mean HUGE.  He was so massive that I know my eyes totally bugged out when I first shook his hand.  But he didn’t just shake my hand.  No. He wrapped his tree trunk arms around me and smothered me in a big, goofy, grizzly bear hug.  I was stunned…and somewhat mortified.

And within that hug lay an omen. It was the foreshadowing of things to come… the inauguration of the era of the invasion of personal space. In saying fare-the-well to Dr. Mathews and his friendly monkey, our church had apparently closed the chapter on formal handshakes and civilized greetings.

A new day had dawned, and we were now huggers.

Like it or not.

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5. The Meeting of Brother Marty.

I can’t remember when they found him.  Was there snow on the ground or was it Spring?  It was so long ago.  But I remember it happening.

I remember him coming home from the trip.  I remember the smile on his face and how he hugged me.  Hard.  It was as if all of the pressure and torment of the past 18 months had just evaporated with one significantly solid embrace.

He couldn’t tell us anything, yet.  But it wasn’t long before Brother Marty and his family were in town checking us out. They were coming from a small town in Kentucky and this was a BIG move for him.  Geographically and Career-wise.

BIG move.

I remember that Sunday at church…how excited we were. Yet forbidden to act with any extra enthusiasm.  No one could know what was going on.  We were to be seriously secretive and covert.  It felt important being a part of the inner circle. Knowing.  I do remember that.

After church, we sneaked off with the Search Committee and Brother Marty’s family to have lunch.  We met.

He was fat. And he smiled a lot.

I mean FAT and A LOT.