It was a child’s romance. A romance perhaps brought into full bloom by trauma and the need to escape it somehow. Fresh from the military that tortured him, Jack’s path beckoned him strongly to dissolve himself in marriage. A sudden formal engagement and the promise of the life he had never known seemed right.
The only job Jack had was performing songs learned from warm and scratchy vinyl recordings.Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, Carolyn Hester. The job at the YMCA for youth was better right awaythan the red line brig in Spain and got Jack the attention he craved.
The romance began with a girl from the YMCA gig. Jack was living in the basement with his mother and her Swedish 3rd husband who were upstairs. Relegated to the room with a washing machine that supplied needed noise for Jack and his girl friend. This living arrangement was to be endured till the marriage anticipated, but the engagement ended as quickly as it had begun. She kept the ring and never came back. Jack’s beloved disappeared. Jack frantically swam through all the places she should be, and finally, a good friend told him: she had run off with an actor from the famous Guthrie Theater. She was gone. Most likely living with the actor. A pattern Jack observed when at the YMCA gig, she dumped the guy that brought her there. Foolish Gator forgot that.
Stunned again by sudden betrayal, Jack went deep into the rabbit hole and gave up the promised good life and got involved with another vet who hooked him up with some heroin smugglers in California. Money, a mansion in the hills of Berkeley and using his Military skill set, Jack became a member of the air force of drug smugglers. Mexico to the California desert. Heroin gave Jack relief from all the pain of his life. The poppy blooming in Jack’s core became the path to victory. No back pain, no mental anguish, no fears. Just nirvana and complete oblivion. Most of all, no pain from the betrayal of love.
Deep into addiction, a voice entered Jack’s room in the mansion. Five simple words: “Life or death, choose now” The stupefied Gator chose life and was instantaneously delivered from the death path. No withdrawal. Of course, the swell new job was over and the usual reaction was another betrayal and a narrow escape. Jack had no idea where the voice came from. Decades later it became clear that the lover of his soul, Jesus was wooing Jack to life. So, Jack left the flying close to the ocean trade, still alive and another life came upon him. A brief stint at a commune in Oregon, then back to home and the ’40 acres of musicians’ neighborhood. Some time in another commune, and then with his own room near the cafe’ (everyone in his building worked there) He also a was another musician on the acreage mentioned, did a little touring. He sold his truck with the camper and was given a lead to railroad track work and finally, it brought the money and credit he needed. The city gang was left for the railroad gang, but Something was awry and had to be done for freedom from the inside pain upon him again. Never trust your heart to another. That was entrenched into Jack’s very being, trauma of the past.
Through a old city friend, Jack found his fiancé locked in a mental ward downtown! Jack knew her family and the girls father was a well known pastor at the big downtown church. He used her father’s name and bluffed his way in posing as a youth pastor to see her. She was heavily drugged and overweight, groggy but she came into focus for a short time and asked Jack “why are you here?” ‘Because I love you!’ came quicker than thought, and it was over. The hurt, the rejection, the betrayal. Better than the heroin that never lasted and had blinded Jack to the fact that his miracle of deliverance was love, not hiding in drugs. This was Jesus seeing and telling Jack what Jack really was. Then the light grew slowly but surely. The Lord had plans of more deliverance to take Jack to places he could not imagine. Places of trust. Real fulfillment. Real music with love.
‘Never betray the sword, never betray beauty, and never betray a friend’. It’s a good way to see the life we live as men and warriors of the Word. Freedom from fear and self hatred is a special gift that can only come from our Lord and Savior. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator