It was just after graduation from high school. I had an awesome senior year. I never did become a star at football. I like the “family feel” of the team. It’s like a community! Coach awarded me the mental attitude award. I remember my parents thinking it was a big deal. The coach said, in front of the whole auditorium, it was the best award, because there is “life after football.” Whatever.
I applied to Tri-State University and got accepted. My grades weren’t the best in high school – but good enough to get in. During my senior year, I met Mr. Milton. He was teaching a criminal justice class at the police station in Kendallville. It was only for seniors. We got “release time” for a whole afternoon, a couple of days each week, to go to this class. It counted for college credit, too. A girl in my class talked me into it. I liked getting out of school for “release time.” It’s the main reason I went.
Mr. Milton took a liking to me right away. It wasn’t like there was a lot of competition. Most of the kids who took that class weren’t bound for college. They were headed for the police academy. But not me. College was always my option.
My parents have a lot of education. My mom has a master’s degree. She’s a teacher in a preschool. My dad has two doctorates. He jokes about it – says he’s a slow learner. He does have ADD. That’s where both my sister, Laura, and I got it – from him. Laura has her master’s degree in special education. Yeah, college, from the beginning, has been on my family’s agenda.
I don’t know if Mr. Milton had some influence with my acceptance to Tri-State or not. When I met him, he was an attorney who taught high school kids on the side. Later, I learned, he had a job offer to teach criminal justice at Tri-State. Anyway, I got accepted.
I really wanted to go to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Some of my friends went there. I thought we could really party. My parents thought that, too. They figured I needed more structure. They met Mr. Milton and he told them he would be my advisor. Tri-State was more expensive, but they wanted to make sure I finished. They thought Mr. Milton would help me through.
The best part for me was that Tri-State had a football team. Being a smaller school, I had a chance to make the team. Ball State was huge. The competition would probably leave me behind. It seemed like a good choice. It was closer to home. I wasn’t sure how it would feel being further away. Besides, I knew the Tri-State campus. During my high school basketball days, I went to Tri-State basketball camp every summer. One year, I went to three camps in a row! I wonder where I picked up that over-achiever mentality?
It was great to graduate. I liked DeKalb High School in a lot of ways. It was a good school for me. I made a lot of really good friends there. Nick, Nate, Mackenzie, Tommy – dozens more, even a few girls. Yeah – these will be my best friends forever. Yeah, these relationships. That’s what life’s all about. But I’m ready to move on.
I got a job at Home Depot and I’m working on my parent’s farm. At Home Depot, I stock shelves and help customers. I’m learning about construction. I like being involved with people, and the variety of jobs. It doesn’t get boring. I go to the gym and lift weights every day. On the farm, I’m helping in a lot of ways, too. The farm is a great place. I shot my first deer when I was 9. I’ve gotten several since.
I’m a little nervous about going to college. But I’m excited about playing football. I’m reporting to football camp on August 1, so it’ll be a short, busy summer. I’ll earn as much money as I can. I’m ready for that.
My dad left after my graduation on another trip. He travels a lot, helping churches. He’s called the “Church Doctor.” He knows a lot about all kinds of churches, and goes all over the world. He’s written several books. I have them all, but I’ve never read any of them. I don’t like to read. I read just what I have to, to get by in school.
My dad’s in England right now. Some friend of his – a pastor named Walt from a huge church in Phoenix – suggested he go and check out what’s happening with Christianity there. It’s supposed to be a big deal. Attracting a lot of young adults. If it is, I’m guessing they don’t have much to do. Maybe they’re so bored they go to church. My dad took four pastors with him. A medical doctor friend of his helped pay his way. Imagine that! This doctor operated on my dad’s sinuses a few years ago. It turns out he’s a Christian who’s excited about missions – reaching new people. So he helps my dad, financially.
My dad raises his own salary. What’s up with that? He works way too hard, in my opinion. His Board of Directors sets his salary and then he has to find people who will support our family. He’s been doing this for years – before I was born. It’s weird. It seems like begging. I can’t believe people do it. Maybe they’re just rich and can’t figure out what to do with their spare money. I don’t have that problem. That’s why I’m working my butt off.
I am really liking my two jobs, though. I like seeing some money in my bank account. I need to buy some clothes. My mom’s off for the summer from teaching. She’s very supportive. She does all the shopping in our house – except for farm stuff. She’s a good cook and you can tell she loves me and my sister.
My sister’s in her last year of college, starting this fall. This summer she’s working at Bob Evans. She’s a hard worker,. We go there and eat. We take my grandparents. I’ve never eaten so often at Bob Evans before. My parents and grandparents give her huge tips – about as much as the meal costs. They’re generous people.
“What you doing, Jon?” my mom asked as she came into the kitchen.
“I’m making a sandwich. I’m taking a little break before I go out and mow the field across the pond.”
“Your dad’s coming home from England tomorrow night. Think you’d like to go along and pick him up at the airport?” she asked.
“Yeah, sure,” I said. “Maybe we could stop and get a burger after we pick him up?”
I’m always hungry. I could never guess what my dad would report about what happened in England. I couldn’t imagine how it would reorganize my whole life four years later.
The J-Dog Journey:
Where Is Life?
by Kent R. Hunter