Driving up the steep ramp onto the USS Alabama Battleship is something that never gets old. My son Eric Erdman has played on the deck of the Battleship many times and it continues to hold a place of respect and honor for me as men once fought for our freedom on this vessel and some lost their fight. I can feel the presence of greatness that lives here.
The event on the battleship that night was a gathering of people connected to Lifelines Counseling Services of Mobile. This program provides family counseling, rape and injury counseling, marriage counseling, financial counseling, pretty much any help like that you may need. I met people who served in different capacities for this wonderful service. There were officers and board members, speakers, counselors, office personnel, retired workers and contributors in attendance who proudly serve our community via Lifelines Counseling. I cannot recall ever meeting a more excited, eager group of people. I listened to them toast their success and honor certain ones in the group for going the extra mile. I listened as they said they had served over 19,000 people in need in our community last year. That is impressive.
We all have burdens on our shoulders, some greater than others and sometimes the load breaks us down and slows our pace. What a blessing to have people available to help us get a perspective on things and look to the promise of tomorrow with great anticipation. Often we feel like pack mules our load gets so heavy; these are the people who lighten that load while lifting our spirits. Counseling when its needed is as important as food when we are hungry. Food restores our bodies and counseling restores our spirit and our joy. It feels so good to know these services are available to those who could not otherwise afford it. Having the opportunity to meet some of these delightful people at Lifelines Counseling of Mobile was an honor.
They had Eric start off at the bow of the ship where a “toasting” area was set up complete with champagne, finger foods and smartly decorated standing tables. (Beer was also available). Eric played soft, mostly instrumental music for this meeting of new arrivals. After the toasting was done and things were ready on the stern side of the ship, it was announced that dinner was ready and everyone made their way to the other end. Eric broke down his PA and gear, loaded it on a dolley and we rushed to the other end of this mighty ship to set up for the main show.
No one actually danced, but a few of the ladies began to feel the music in their hips and feet as they stood and talked. One person stood out in the crowd, she was a beautiful lady in white slacks who came to tell Eric how much she enjoyed the music.
At the end of the night, it was fascinating to me as I watched them breakdown the dining area. There was fine china, magnificent centerpieces, including a chandelier on the main table up front. One table featured cobalt blue stemware that I would love to have taken home with me. Everyone there was given original pieces of art created by local artists (paintings were given to me and Eric as well).
Many people came to speak to Eric about how much they liked his music. Several asked for business cards for future opportunities.
Now we were done and had the PA and guitar all packed to go. We waited for a van being packed with so many items that had been used that night and that was now blocking the path to the ramp. As we waited, I looked upward. The skies were so fabulous I felt like I could almost see heaven. Then as I looked around, the water glistened with the light of the moon hitting each tiny wave and ripple. The brightly colored lights on the RSA building downtown screamed “look at me” and the incomparable battleship, on whose deck I stood, stole the whole show.
Here I am just a girl from Alabama. Here I am in a town that is growing, improving and is filled with great people. Here I am standing on history with beauty and greatness all around me. I am so proud to say my name is Juanita and this is my world!