In this picture, I am about 59 years old. As I write this, I am 60.5 years old. I was born at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital aboard the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base on January 18th, 1954. My mother was a “local,” Vivian Inez “Mickey” (Morton) Gibson, and my dad was a young Marine, Billy Gene Gibson. There was about 14 years difference in their ages.
I attended Swansboro Elementary and High School and graduated in 1972. I then went on to college, attending first UNC-Chapel Hill, then Campbell College, and finally UNC-Wilmington, graduating from there in August of 1976. I didn’t attend graduation the following year, or get my diploma for several years, although I eventually sent for and received it.
I joked about spending my retirement in my early years, and that apparently is how things are working out. I have been employed at Fayetteville State University since August of 1995, originally teaching faculty and staff how to use various PC applications, and then as the Webmaster (later Web Developer) and Blackboard (LMS) Administrator since 1998. I played alot of tennis, even teaching it through the Onslow County Rec Dept. for both children and adults.
My mother died on December 16th, 1980 of Leukemia. I was 26 years old at the time and thought this was normal. Having lived as long as I now have, I know she was taken way too early… but not really. I recall that it was a cold windy day, the day of her funeral. The funeral service was performed at Jones Funeral Home in Jacksonville and then the procession drove to the family cemetery near Swansboro for her burial. I recall a black policeman, one of two officers, whose task was to leap frog with his partner and stop traffic in Jacksonville for the procession. As the hearse and the vehicle I was riding in approached the black officer, he would doff his cap, bring it to half-staff, and snap to attention. It’s the little things you remember, and this special act of respect, by this officer, was appreciated to this very day. What is that, almost 34 years ago?
A year or so before my mother’s death, I had felt the call to return to school, seminary, to train to be a youth minister. I had gotten a “wait” reply, and then with my mother’s illness and death realized that if I had gone earlier, I would have had to stop my education.
But, here is where I make a big mistake. I had written to several seminaries and I think Southern Seminary, in Louisville, KY was the only one that had responded. I had filled out the application and been accepted and one afternoon I was on my knees praying just inside my front door at 204 Johnson Blvd. in Jacksonville, NC when God told me to “wait”. It caught me by surprise, and a stopped and then here was the error,… “but God, everything is ready and it is just two weeks before the semester starts.” (or something to that effect). How many Christians have made that same error? Trying to explain to God why things should be other than what He wants.
So, I packed up my belongings and headed off to Louisville, KY. I attended Southern Seminary for a couple of years, floundering, and eventually switching from MDiv (Youth Minister) to a Masters in Social Work program (brand new). I eventually left with about 56 hours of graduate work and headed briefly to Lineville, AL (S.I.F.A.T.). This time encompassed the 1984 Summer Olympics. And somewhere during this time, people playing tennis started saying “my bad” after they had made an error. I thought it sounded very “back woods” and didn’t pick up the saying.