From Dad’s old scrapbook….The photo that appeared in The Herald News, one of the biggest daily newspapers in New Jersey. The trail to Eagle Scout was a rocky one. It was by no means easy, but I learned to persevere and to believe in myself.
The Rocky Road to Eagle Scout
By Richard Mabey Jr.
There lies within my heart, a quiet fury. It is a low burning flame, which when fanned by obstacles and roadblocks, simply burns brighter and hotter. Such is the case with the rocky road of my goal to become an Eagle Scout.
Throughout my entire year of seventh grade, at the age of 12, my feet never touched the ground. I battled a severe case of rheumatic fever. The dreaded strep had attacked the inner chambers and valves of my heart. The remedy, back in 1965, was strict bed rest.
That year, I endured four long-term visits to the hospital. Reverend Duitsman, my minister, once shared a deep truth with me on one of his many visits to see me while I was in the hospital. I remember that he told me, “ask for healing, ask the good Lord for healing. If it’s His will, you’ll heal.”
And pray I did. I prayed unceasingly for the Lord to heal me. In the summer of 1966, my cardiologist, took me off of strict bed rest. All the while that I was bed restricted, I mainly read two books: the Boy Scout Handbook and the Holy Bible. I dreamt and dreamt and dreamt of one day becoming an Eagle Scout. But what were the odds for a kid who was left with a damaged mitral valve, to meet the hard, difficult and rigid requirements to become an Eagle Scout? Probably a million to one.
Back in 1967, there were no alternative Merit Badges for the required Merit Badges for Eagle Scout. In order to earn Eagle Scout, a scout had to earn 21 Merit Badges, and do a big community service project. I had a really tough time earning the Physical Fitness Merit Badge, the Swimming Merit Badge, and the Lifesaving Merit Badge. There were no alternatives to these three Merit Badges!
It would take reams of paper to tell the story of how tough it was for me to earn, just those three Merit Badges alone! But, I was determined! The fury burnt in my heart. Nothing was going to stop me. I would have walked on cut glass to become an Eagle Scout.
I remember my Eagle Scout Dinner like it was yesterday. My girlfriend Penny came to it. She didn’t know much about scouting. I think that she was amazed at the dignitaries that came to my Eagle Dinner and gave speeches of congratulations. I think it left her feeling very proud of me.
Often times, I would honestly wonder what it was that Penny saw me in. Penny was outrageously beautiful, exceptionally intelligent, and fairly athletic. It’s only recently that I realize that I really did give her reasons to be proud of me.
It’s only most recently, that I’ve come to realize that she loved me more than I ever thought she did. Penny often told me that she saw a rare strength in me. That she saw me as a rock that was securely anchored. So anchored that nothing could sway the strength of the rock.
At 62, I realize now, I should have fought harder for her. But at 62, it’s too late. The ball game’s over. Penny’s in Heaven and I’m here on earth struggling, to convince even just one book publisher that my book could make a ton of money for them.
At 62, I try to recapture that fire that burnt in my heart when I was a scout in Boy Scout Troop 170 and had a furious desire to become an Eagle Scout. I’d be happy to be able to just rekindle half the fire that I once had burning in my heart and mind.
Somehow, someway, I know that I will soon find the match to relight the kindling of the flame that once burnt brightly and fiercely in my heart and mind. And, I know deep in my heart that somewhere out there, there is a book publisher, who will see my book as worthy of publishing.
Please, no matter how low the flame is burning in your heart, find your own way to fan that flame. Nurture that flame. Fuel that flame, so that it once again burns brightly in your mind and in your heart. Never give up on your life’s dreams! Never give up!