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Adventures of the Traveling Rat

Those of you who take the time to read this little section should be assured that all the events I write about are 100% true. I don't know what it is, but trouble just seems to follow me wherever I go. Sometimes I wish I was making this stuff up. -Matt

A Trip I'd Rather Not Have Taken

This story is very difficult to tell, so please just bear with me. It was back in April and my spring break had just begun. My first day off of school was Friday, and it was Good Friday. There was nothing good about this Friday, in fact it was one of the worst days of my life. I was woken up several times in the morning by the phone, but was too tired to answer it and I kept getting messages from my aunt that told me something had seriously gone wrong. Still, it was the first day of my vacation and I just couldn't get myself to answer the phone. After finally getting back to sleep for a while, the next time I woke up was to the cries of my mother. It didn't take long to get the hint that my Uncle Roger had passed away. Listening to my mom's phone conversation though, I knew something was seriously wrong and that his death was anything but natural. The next three hours until noon were spent sitting in my mom's room trying to comfort her, and deal with the shock and the dreadful news we had just heard. Those three hours seemed like a lifetime, as my mom kept crying and shaking her head saying she didn't want to go through with it. I had been through two deaths in the family, but nothing could've ever prepared me for what I went through with this. Finding out a family member is dead is bad enough, but finding out they were murdered makes it ten times harder to deal with. His body had been found in his house after he didn't come to work for two days. He was beaten to death by a person we have yet to find out about to this day. His life was taken away from him, and all for nothing too. It's times like these in which all you can do is pray, and we prayed a lot that day, together as a family. Words cannot even describe the pain of that day, and the pain that still remains. Writing about it now, three months later, still brings tears to my eyes. My uncle and I were never very close. He lived in Kansas so we hardly ever saw each other, but when we did it was an adventure. My uncle was not the least bit typical. You could say he was a genuine article. We used to get a kick out of him, especially at Christmas when he'd sign his full name on cards (like we didn't know who it was from) and would give us kids toys even when we were too old for them. My uncle was a people person, and worked at McDonald's as a second job just so he could talk to people. As he would always say it, he worked Maintaynance at Mack-Donald's. One thing that is comforting is that Roger knew the Lord, and is now in a much better place.

My mom left on a plane that night, leaving me in the house alone. A bunch of my friends came over, and though I didn't want to see them at first, I was glad they came because it kept me from going crazy. They were really there for me, and I'll never forget that. They let me tell them what I wanted and didn't push me into talking about it when I didn't want to. Meanwhile, at the Blatimore airport, my little brother locked the car door with the keys inside it, starting our string of terrible bad luck that would follow through the entire trip. This left my mom without her carry-on, and my dad and brother had to get a locksmith. My mom had to fly by herself because I couldn't get a ticket, and she ended up getting stranded in Chicago with none of her essentials that she had in her carry-on bag. My mom showed some real strength and courage with being stranded in an airport by herself with the heavy burden she had weighing on her heart. After Easter, my dad and I flew out to Kansas City. On the way to my aunt's house, my (other) uncle started giving all the details on what was going on, and it was there that reality of the whole thing sunk in. I couldn't hold back the tears as we rode home, because for the first time the whole thing sunk in. Once we got to the house, I found my mom in a total mess, still crying like the day she first found out. This trip was no vacation, and my time was spent running around, getting ready for the funeral sevices. The first service was at Mid America Nazerine College church and the turnout was unbelievable. I never knew that Roger had touched so many lives. So many people were there, from street bums to CEOs of companies. My uncle talked to everyone and touched the lives of so many people. Everyone kept coming up to me telling me how much he had meant to them. People that had worked at McDonald's with him 20 years ago showed up, as well as all his fellow employees, ministers and friends. I helped out with the service, and my dad spoke a very touching sermon. It was so hard being up there in front of everyone, but God really gave my dad the words to share. The next day we headed to South Dakota for another funeral service and the burial. The second service was a lot smaller, but just as emotional. The whole time we were there we were pretty much speechless. I was able to spend some time with my mom driving around the town where she grew up. After driving clear back to Missouri, my dad and I left to go home so I could go back to school. Some spring break that ended up being. After some time a pulled up asking for my dad. Our friend had gotten into an accident and we had to change the tire. Of course, we couldn't find the key to pop the hubcap so it was even more difficult, plus it was pouring. We then had to ride the donut all the way home. It was not too much fun. My mom came home a week later, and the airport bad luck struck again. She dropped my dad off at Oriole Park to pick up some tickets, and then got on the highway by accident. Dad then began to panic, thinking something had happened to her, and had the cops put out an APB for her. By a miracle, my mom stopped at a gas station to call and my dad came pulling up with a cop. My dad was never so scared in his life. This wasn't all the bad luck we experienced, either. At a Cracker Barrel, my dad and I got a couple presents for my mom since it was her birthday, and we put them in the trunk of the rental car. We forgot all about putting them in the trunk and had my mom return the rental car. The next person to rent the car was a Royals baseball player, and jerk never returned our gifts. When things are going bad, they're really going bad. Throughout the whole ordeal, our family was really brought a lot closer together and to God. His grace was the only thing that got us through. This is a cruel and heartless world, but we can't give up hope. Never give up hope, because no matter how bad things seem, God is still there and He's sent His Holy Spirit to live in us. My uncle did all he could to help people out, and even though he was robbed and taken advantage of time after time, he still continued to be a servant of God. He lost his life because he gave too much, but he never gave up hope. He knew he had nothing to fear because he knew where he was going. It's hard to understand why God let this happen, but we can never begin to understand His awesome plan. Good has come out of this awful situation and Roger is home now in a place free of ridicule, and never again will anyone take advantage of him.