A Lantern In The Darkness
By Steve Tweed
Folks, meet Tommy. He’s one of the new faces of hope; A reflection of Old Appalachia in this writer’s opinion.
At 23 years of age, the first thing you will encounter are his youthful outlook, exuberant personality and infectious smile. He always looks a person on the eye when speaking and is rather direct. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t use tobacco or have any bad habits.
As a Detention Officer with the Madison County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office, he is committed in serving his community while furthering his young law enforcement career.
Tommy is hearing impaired and speaks with a speech impediment but they do not stop his determined will. However, all of those positive attributes betray the dark side of Tommy’s upbringing.
Like so many young people in todays world, Tommy comes from a broken home, his parents divorcing when he was a baby.
At the tender age of two, his mother’s then boyfriend beat Tommy with a baseball bat. As far as Tommy knows, nobody even bothered to take him to the hospital. Nobody even considered that their might be a problem until Tommy started school.
He says “The teacher would say something and I would say ‘Huh’? ‘Huh’?”
His mother gave up custody of Tommy and his siblings to their father. In spite of all of these revelations, they did nothing to stop Tommy’s parents from using drugs & alcohol or prevent them from committing crimes.
He drew inspiration from his paternal grandparents, particularly his “Papaw”, who taught him a love of hunting, fishing and gardening.
Although heresy in some circles, Tommy hates tomatoes but says “I love watching them grow”.
On May 21, Tommy will marry Morgan, his childhood sweetheart. They are building a “Tiny Home”. Morgan will receive her degree in Accounting and Tommy will start trying to further his law enforcement career.
When asked how he could overcome such adversity with not only a positive outlook but success as well, Tommy simply quotes his favorite Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 13, Verses 11 & 12:
‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am also known.’
“For me, that means I am a grown man and I need to act like it. I do not have to be like the bad people who have affected my life. I will be a good husband and father”.
Given his track record, I have no doubt Tommy will be those very things.