The first 34 years
Rick was born in Toledo, Ohio the 23rd of October of 1942 as the second child in a family of 9. The severe family condition in which he was raised hindered his emotional and social development, and as an underprivileged child he was sent to Boys Town in Nebraska at age 12. He had good memories of this place doing well in his studies and excelling in athletic competitions. It was there that in his search for God, he accepted the Catholic faith, was baptized, and received First Communion. Although he was doing well at Boys Town, he had a deep longing for his family and wanted to be with them. He was able to return to his home after 2 years at Boys Town.
Shortly after his return home, the problems that caused him to go away resurfaced. At age 15 his parents took him to a farm in southern Ohio to an older couple who needed assistance with their farm. He lived and worked there 2 long years, and during this time he did not see any member of his family or was contacted by them. He was not able to attend school or saw anyone his age. His deep loneliness and desire to be with his brothers and sisters drove him to run away from the farm and return home.
Once at home, the found that his family situation had not changed, that the problems he had endured before appeared once more. He volunteered for the Army at age 17 and was in Germany for a while. Although he had frequent difficulties, he enjoy his time in Europe and hoped to return at a later date.
After his discharge from the Army in 1964 and returned to his hometown, he became involved with a woman who was expecting a child. Although he was not the father, he gave his name to her child. They were eventually married and had 2 other children. For Rick this union was one more source of rejection and pain. After several years of marriage, Rick was asked for a divorce, which was granted in 1976.
God’s love revealed
Rejection, loneliness, and more suffering than he could bear. He sought God’s comfort in prayer, in the Bible, and in the Charismatic prayer meetings he attended, Catholic as well as Protestant, at churches, in his work place, and at friends’ homes. During one of those meetings, he requested to be prayed for, so that he would not lose his wife whom he loved. The group gathered around and began to pray for him. He was surrounded by the love and presence of God, and caught in the Spirit he had a revelation of God’s immeasurable love for him in a vision.
An immense beach of white, pure sand appeared before him as the hand of God lifted between His fingers one small grain of sand from the beach. He sensed God speaking to him: “Do you see this grain of sand? This is how much you love your wife, but look at the extent of this beach. This great is my love for you.”
This vision and revelation of God’s love for him was a central and turning point in Rick’s life. He was so strengthened by it that his life would never be the same.
The best thing that ever happened
Renewed by the vision of God’s love for him, Rick continued to seek Him and His ways. In the spring of 1977 he learned of a non-denominational Charismatic church in the south end of Toledo, closed to his home. He went to their service for the first time on a Wednesday night not knowing that weekly services were on Thursdays. This is where we met, at the Church in Toledo on Lodge Street at the end of a Thursday night worship service. In talking about how we discovered this church, Rick and I learned that we both went there for the first time the exact same day, that Wednesday night.
Rick was divorced and so was I. I had 2 small children and was far away from my family in Spain. Rick was a very helpful friend and took care of some of my needs without me asking. One time, he bought tires for my car—I did not even know I needed them. We both loved the Lord and the worship services. We spent time together after the services and frequently went to the Christian coffeehouses in the area.
We were married at the Church in Toledo, a non-denominational church, on January 8th, 1978. Our marriage vows were later renewed in the Catholic Church on May 31 of 1985—after our previous marriages had been annulled. Again we renewed our vows by the Jewish rite on the 21st of November of 1991 at the conclusion of a marriage workshop we had attended. “You are the best thing that ever happened to me.” Those were Rick’s words to me.
Distressed, but no longer alone
Life is not perfect. He continued to experience difficulties, but I was by his side to stay. He did not forget his own children, however he sensed that staying away to avoid confrontations would be best for them. How could they understand? He was sometimes too forceful and appeared harsh to those around. His brothers and sisters in the Church in Toledo failed to recognize his pure heart, and we left. Ford Motor Company moved him from his material handler position to one he could not perform. He was sent home from work one day never to return. At age 45 strong and able to work, he was home on disability retirement from Ford. The Lord and I were with him through it all.
Life in Spain
Problems can work out for our benefit. The kids were grown and they had left the house. We both wanted to live in Spain where we could be close to my family. My parents and all my brothers and sisters loved Rick, and he felt that they were his real family. In August of 1998 we placed our house in Toledo, Ohio for sale, sold all possessions, and moved to Spain. After 2 years in Spain, we were able to purchase a beautiful home built on a hill in the country. Rick worked very hard to get everything in place. His creativity flourished as he converted the arid slope of our yard into a gorgeous garden. (View my experience taking over the work of the garden: Rick's garden). In our new surroundings, we spent 24 hours of the day together. Getting the new house ready, working at our small business, spending time with our newly found friends. We were truly blessed.
May 20th of 2003 was not the end, but his step into eternal life. It was a busy morning. We went to the post office, to have the lawn mower blade sharpened, and to the farmers market. After dinner, while putting dishes away he felt dizzy and sat down. He told me to touch his chest. It felt as if blood was gushing through. I felt confused and went to find my purse. “May be we should go to the emergency room.” He said. “Yes I’ll get ready.” I responded and went to our bedroom to change my clothes. He followed me. “I am not feeling well.” "Lay down and I will call for help.” I was dialing the number… I tried to revive him, to keep him breathing. I heard myself pray: “Come Lord Jesus.”
Beyond the Grave
His body is buried in my family’s grave in our town’s cemetery. But Jesus Christ has promised: “I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to Myself, that where I am you might be also.” As I cried by his grave a few days after his death, I “saw” with my spiritual eyes Rick sitting and Jesus standing by his side. Rick was smiling; with the smile of a child who is content and feels good about himself. Jesus was standing next to Rick with his arm over his shoulders, as if he were saying, “This is my friend.”
Because Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live,” I believe that Rick's death is not the end, but a change in his dwelling-place. I know Rick is now healed and fulfilled in his everlasting home in Heaven, and there we shall meet again.
Partial autobiography written by Rick
This is an autobiography of the life of Richard Kelsey. I am writing my story because I might help other people write there own. For in writing my story, and I have written it before, it has changed. And the changes that took place I will try to tell as I write, for as I am changing I am getting better, getting more healthier, becoming more of the person that God created me to be, not the person I had become. Now this is a note to my family, I don’t want them to feel bad when they read what I have here for this is my outlook of the way things are. If they can read this it just might help them to understand me.
I was born in Toledo Ohio on October 23, 1942. I do not remember much of my life until about the age of 12. Or should I say have any good memory’s until I was 12 for it was at that age I was sent to Boys Town Nebraska. I was sent there because, at that time I was called an under privileged child, today the term would be an abused child. I was the scrape goat for all that went on in the family, all that was bad. Now I was not the perfect child, but some what of a normal child as I could be, being beaten whenever my dad got drunk or felt like it. My dad quit drinking while I was in Boys Town but it was too late to help me, for I already hated him, and it was not until many years later that I realized I did.
I was doing bad in school and always getting in trouble. So being in trouble at school and at home I had a probation officer and a social worker. I had to go through tests to see what was wrong with me. I went to a psychiatrist to be examined. They found nothing wrong with me, but they wanted my mother and father to go. That was the end of the examining, for they would not go. I had this case worker who took a liking to me. She thought it was best for me to go to Boys Town. I had no choice in the matter. But little did I know at the time it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me for going there actually saved my life. For if I had stayed in that home environment I probably would have been a criminal or wound up dead.
I was a confused little boy who needed help and it was there that I found it. It was not in the way most would expect for there I found peace of mind and soul. I discovered that I was smart and passed in school. I found out I had a lot of talent. I was good in track and basketball. I found the Lord cared for me. It was there that I accepted the Lord. I became a Catholic and received my first communion. I was in church every chance I could get, ever time the doors were open. Well I was there two years and I graduated from the 8th grade.
The rules were you could not go home for a visit until you have been there two years, so I was ready. I went home to visit and it was nice being home with my family. So I thought every thing was going to be fine, I was treated so good. I refused to go back there was nothing they could do, they could not force me to go, it was the my social worker who got me into start and I was not forced to go.
Well it was no time and everything was the same as before. My dad quit drinking but he did not change much, for his upbringing did not include much love, so if you don’t know how to love how can you give something you don’t have? For I remember some of the stories he told the family. For he was abused as a child too. Now some would say abused come on how can this be. But the thinking at that time was” a child was to be seen and not be heard” and plenty of other things like that. I am not going in to my fathers problems for now but, if someone is treated wrongly you must call it what it is abuse.
So things did not change much for me I was still the family scapegoat. Now I must explain what a scapegoat is, in a dysfunctional family. It means all the family problems are put on this person, in this family it is me. Now this person cannot be around or that scapegoat reminds them they have problems. Now the family dose not want to be reminded that they may problems so the person must go.
Well I was on my way to a farm in Macthenville, south of Toledo way south. On this farm I had no contact with other people except people who came there to do thing like baling hay or the veterinarian. We did go to town about once a month and I got 50 cents to spend wherever I felt like spending it. I have no idea how long I would have stayed there if I had not gotten into an argument with the woman owner about raking leaves, I had outgrown that kind of work. They were suppose to give me money to go home any time I wanted to, but they refused to. I just packed my things in an old box and set out hitchhiking to my home.
Well did I get a surprise when I got to my house. The house was all rundown, nobody had lived there for a long time. You know the old joke they like you so much they did not even tell you where they moved. That is what I felt like. I had to ask the neighbors where they had moved. Well I tryed to go back to school but could not cut it. So I got a job working in a restaurant. Did this for a while. Tryed to go back to school and could not make it again.
I had a friend and he suggested we sigh up for the Army on the buddy plan. While I was taking the oath he was getting paid $50.00 for getting me signed up. The Army was a good thing for me. The main thing was I got my drinking out, well most of it. I know that if I had done the things that I did in the Army I still would be in jail. I was in the Army for 3 years. I did not have any trouble until I was in advanced training. I was in training to be Airborne when on my qualifying jump I broke my ankle. While in the convalescence unit I had a run in with a second lieutenant and he saw to it I was on orders, and it was to where I wanted to go any how, to Germany.
It was there I got in to my heavy drinking. I never had any money for I spent it on drinking. It was there that I also started the fighting. I would fight at the drop of the hat the saying goes, but true for me. I would fight anyone. I even got on a job picking up trash. This allowed me to drink even in the day time for we dumped the trash off post and in Germany they even drink during work. This I did.
Well being in this headquarters company I had a pass so I could go off post whenever I needed to. I could come in at most any time. One time I came in so late and I did not come in through the gate like I should have and the company was having a surprise inspection. I was so drunk I walked right past the company commander. They busted me down to an E1, kicked me out of the company and put me in the Infantry. I only had 3 months to go before I was to get out of the Army busted down to E1 when I was up for E4 really hurt. Well the whole post was put on orders to go to Vietnam. We all were extended for 1 year. We were preparing to go when they looked at my record and they didn’t like what they saw so they gave me my discharge instead. I had a general discharge, it says it I have no problems for 1 year out side of the Army I would get an honorable discharge.
I went back home to Toledo Ohio to my house when I got there they had moved again. I found out where they moved and stayed there for a while. I got a good job at Doehler Jarvis so I moved out on my own. I meant a person how worked there at Doehler, he had a room to rent real cheap. I had no car so I could ride to work with him. He would stop at this bar to cash his check so I was with him, and he was there to do some picking up of available woman. Well I picked up the bar tender he want with another. His wife did not like it one bit when she found out. He was getting a divorce so I had to find a place to stay so I moved in with the bar tender.
So we began our marriage she was pregnant which I already knew when I met her. When she had the baby I was as proud as any dad and I gave him my name. We had another boy 1 year later and another girl 3 years later. All this time not even thinking of legally getting married. Then one new years party, it was January 1,1972 we were at my sisters house. My sister said it was time to go for she had to go to church early in the morning. This lead to a discussion of what it meant to be Christian. As the discussion went on I knew that I was not right with God. She lead me through the sinners prayer using the 4 spiritual laws. I went out feeling like a new man. I began to read my bible, I had a real hunger for the word of god. Well, I felt we should get married to her for no one knows we are not really married. We went a justice of peace to have a secret marriage, not a real marriage yet. It did not get better for our relationship if any thing it got worse. So one day she left with the children. I thought she needed some time away from me and then every thing would be all right.
I was at work on brake one day when a friend asked me what was wrong with me, I started crying right there in the brake area. He asked if I wanted to go outside and all at once there was 4 or 5 other people praying for me, I felt real good after that. My friend said their was a prayer meeting upstairs in the last locker room, I had never heard of a prayer meeting up there and I went. What happened I was not expecting. We were standing in a circle when Eric Colman laid his hand on my head, I was slain in the spirit.
Now I did not know that it was told to me later, but it was great. I do not know how long I was slain but at that time I had a vision. I saw the most beautiful beach I had ever saw, all white sand, bright white sand, with the blue water braking on it. Then I saw a hand come down and pick up a grain of the sand, I just knew it was God and he said this is how much you love your family, and this is how mush I love you waving His hang over all the sand. Right then I felt a warmth like nothing I ever felt. I really felt His love felling me over flowing me. I was at such peace and knew every thing was going to be all right. My idea of all right was I was going to get back with my family. I want on praying and believing to that end. I found a group of charismatic catholic that met in an old barn. They had a meeting every Saturday and I was always there.
Well time went on and I had to face the truth my idea of how it was to be could not happen for she was living with someone else. So she filed for divorce, I would not file for if Jesus was going to work in my life I could not do that. The divorce was final and I moved in with my mom and dad in Toledo. It was something else here I am now a real Christian moving back in with the family that had rejected me so many times. I was not aware of this fact, that they sent me to Boys Town they sent me to the farm I went to the Army and each time I came back home, why?
It was during this time at home again I realized that all I wanted was for them to love me, accept me for who I am. Here I was an adult and still feeling like a child needing love and acceptance. God did move in ways I did not plan or ever hope for, not all things were resolved but it was a start. During this time I found a church it was called the Church in Toledo a charismatic church. The first time I had gone to a meeting I did not know that they met at different times than most churches so I missed the meeting. It was on Sunday I went to the first meeting and it was great.