In 1988 I moved to the Northern Michigan Sunrise Side. That move was the beginning of a geographic era for the Deaton family. No previous history there. But that region became strongly intertwined with my family.
My reason for being there was my first pastoral assignment: Huron Shores Church of the Nazarene in Oscoda, MI. Just a little over a year later, God saw fit to call my dad to pastor the next closest Church of the Nazarene to my north--Alpena First Church of the Nazarene. My sister and her family soon relocated to be near my dad and mom. I was ordained up there. That region is responsible for things like my first wedding, first funeral, first baptism, etc. I had opportunity to stretch myself and direct some teen camps and even served as District NYI President for a while. I became a published author while up there and through the ministry of my church I founded and directed a Nazarene Compassionate Ministry Center up there. My son was born up there. My dad died up there. After dad’s death I accepted the call to follow him as Alpena’s pastor. My mom stayed making me her second favorite all-time pastor. These are all things that become part and parcel to a person's identity.
I pastored there seven years (after having been in Oscoda for three) then moved downstate, but not before officiating my mom’s second wedding. She remained up there with her husband and my sister and her family. That kept our family, and me, tied to the region. Time went by and my sister finally moved away. Last October I co-officiated my stepfather’s funeral. Our family connection to the Northern Michigan Sunrise Side had dwindled to just my mom and one niece. Now, even that is changing.
I am writing this in a motel room. My wife and I left Wisconsin after Father’s Day lunch with my kids, to visit Alpena for what may very well be my last time. My mom is scheduled to close on her house sale this Wednesday. We are going there to help her with some sorting and packing in preparation for her imminent move back down state. After nearly a quarter of century--half my life--our family’s, “Northern Michigan Sunrise Side Geographical Era,” is over.
Reflecting on it, it occurs to me that while our family will no longer be part of the Northern Michigan Sunrise Side, the Northern Michigan Sunrise Side will always be a part our family.
What's the point? I guess there isn't one. I just felt like talking about it...