Dicy McCullough: A special bond
I met Bobby Safrit a year and a half ago. Just out of the blue, one day he called and asked if I would be interested in playing the piano for his church. A mutual friend had given Bobby my name and number. I told him I would be willing to commit for a few months, but those few months have now turned into over a year.
Bobby is the volunteer music director at Franklin Baptist Church. It didnít take long to realize that he enjoys life, and squeezes every ounce out of every minute of every day. Heís had several careers, but probably the most exciting was when he worked as a Paramedic for the Rowan County EMS. Bobby loves helping people, and this position put him right in the middle of his element. He was with the Rowan County EMS for eighteen years and in his own words, ěWitnessed many miracles.î One of those was a car accident where the car was destroyed, and yet, the babyís car seat in the back had not been touched. After eighteen years of dealing with life and death situations, he was ready for a change, so when offered a position with Mid-State Metals, he knew the time was right.
Bobby met his wife, Betsy, when she was just 17 and he was 18. They dated for six years and married when Betsy graduated from college with a teaching degree. They both wanted children and were excited at the birth of their first child, a boy. Even though Bobby had given much of his life in service to God, he became angry with God when he and Betsy realized there was something different about their son, Justin. Justin was not developing like other children his age, and even his Nana Safrit became concerned because when she tried to read to him he wouldnít sit still for a story. Yet, it wasnít until kindergarten that he was diagnosed as intellectually disabled.
When Bobby heard the news, all he could see in front of him were the visions of things a father does with a son disappearing before his eyes. It was a slow process of coming back from this heartbreak, but slowly he began to realize Justinís life brought its own blessings. He credits Jtan Whisenant, Justinís teacher at Overton, for teaching him how to cope with everyday life. Not only was he taught academic skills in her class, but he was also taught functional ones as well.
When Justin was 5 years old, his sister, Tara, was born. As Tara grew, she became aware her brother was different. Even though she was protective, she would still pick at him as any sibling might. Tara says she didnít realize until she left for college two years ago just how much she would miss him. She then adds, ěJustin makes you feel good about yourself because heís always happy.î Over the years, Tara has helped her brother develop in ways that Betsy and Bobby couldnít.
Justin is now 26 and capable of doing many things, one of which is running the sound system on Sunday mornings for church services. He learned how to do this by watching his dad and gradually just took over. He does a good job, and everyone is proud of what he has accomplished. The only thing is, if you ever show him how to do something one way, you better make sure you donít make any changes in the way itís done. Change is hard for him.
As I was talking to Bobby and Tara after church a couple of Sundays ago, they revealed Justin is a volunteer fireman. I think in doing this story that was the biggest surprise of all. Bobby says Justin loves his position and is ready to go any time. One day when he was at church, the fire alarm went off, so he gathered up his gear and out the front door he went. The fire truck picked him up as it went by. What a testimony. No matter what our jobs may be, we all should have a willing and ready heart like this.
One of the reasons I decided to write this story was because of the relationship I saw between a son and his dad. Since Iíve only known them for a little over a year, I didnít know any of the earlier history. All I saw was a father and a son who not only loved each other, but also loved their church. Itís obvious Justin has found his place in this world through watching Bobby. Just like his dad, he wants to help people. His Nana Safrit comments that usually itís Justin who carries her oxygen when she gets in and out of the car on Sundays. Even though I now know the struggles they have faced through the years, and probably will face in the future, at the end of the day, what I see and what many others see, is a father and a son who not only enjoy life, but have a tremendous love for God, family, and their church. We all would consider our lives blessed if we could say the same.
Dicy McCullough resides in Salisbury and is the author of the childrenís book, Tired of My Bath. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.