Official publication of the Texas Junior Livestock Association

What Are Your Dreams?

By Cherie Carrabba Bright

The River 

You know a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows. 

And a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes. 

Trying to learn from what’s behind you and never knowing what’s in store 

Makes each day a constant battle just to stay between the shores. 

And I will sail my vessel ‘til the river runs dry. 

Like a bird upon the wind, these waters are my sky. 

I’ll never reach my destination if I never try, 

So I will sail my vessel ‘til the river runs dry. 

Too many times we stand aside and let the water slip away. 

Till what we put off ‘til tomorrow has now become today. 

So don’t you sit upon the shore and say you’re satisfied. 

Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tides. 

- Garth Brooks, song “The River” co-written with Victoria Shaw

Garth Brooks released “The River” in April of 1992. I remember because even though he was in Junior High School, this became Ryan Rash’s favorite song, and it remained his favorite song for several years.

Both of us love the lyrics to this song because they are about never letting go of your dreams. I believe that all of us can learn something from these lyrics. Garth Brooks and his co-writer Victoria Shaw made some profound statements about our dreams.

First of all, we need to clarify my definition of a dream because it may not be the same definition that you have. I like Denis Waitley’s definition. “A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”

The song “The River” talks about our dreams changing. Do our dreams change? Absolutely! What may have been a person’s dream when he or she was 20 will change or it will evolve into an even bigger dream. I know that from my own experience. And as we mature some dreams are replaced by others as our priorities change. Another thing to consider is the fact that most of us do not dream big enough. Josie Bissett said: “Dreams should come a size too big so that we can grow into them.

As human beings, we truly are followers of our dreams. Those dreams may take us far away from the familiar places where we grew up or they may take root in the communities where we were raised, and hopefully, the entire community benefits as we develop those dreams. I have a close friend in Crockett whose dreams have impacted more people than he will ever know.

My friend, Dr. Patrick Walker, has contributed to almost every phase of community life. Patrick grew up in Crockett. He describes himself as a “nerdy kid,” but I have reason to doubt that.

Patrick is, without a doubt, one of the most intellectual individuals I have ever known. First of all, he is naturally a very smart person, but he is also one of the most competitive people I have ever known, so he works at knowing more than other people.

If we are going on a trip, he will research the place we are to visit until he knows most of the basic facts about that area. If there was a battle in that area, he knows the generals, the important figures, the facts about the causalities. He has done his homework prior to our departure, and he does his homework every time in most situations.

Patrick graduated from my alma mater, Southern Methodist University, and then he went to medical school at the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston. There he developed a rapport with his professors that has lasted all these years.

He is truly a remarkably gifted surgeon. But he is also extremely knowledgeable about the research and new techniques being developed in the surgical area. He is the only small town surgeon ever elected to the Board of the prestigious American College of Surgeons. He is well respected in the medical field, and he lectures all over the country. He has had many opportunities to practice and teach in large medical schools and hospitals. He may, one day, take one of those opportunities, but he has been in practice in Crockett, Texas for more than 30 years.

Before Patrick graduated from UTMB, he was offered a position to become part of the UTMB staff, but he turned it down to return to Crockett. He wanted to come back to Crockett, and there were many reasons. His mother and father lived here, but that was only part of the reason.

First of all, Patrick’s family moved to Crockett from the Houston area when he was nine. So he spent the majority of his childhood in this small East Texas town.

After the Walkers moved here, their home was destroyed by a fire, and his family lost virtually everything. He told me a story about it one day, and I won’t ever forget what he said: “We lost everything in that fire,” he told me. “The people at the church and throughout the community gathered clothes and a lot of things that you don’t even think about being a necessity until you lose everything. I remember that one of the families at the church bought me a belt. Do you remember the kind that had small colored beading on a large part if the belt? We use to call them Indian belts, but I don’t know if that was their real name. That belt was the thing that I treasured the most after the fire.”

“I remember thinking what a great place Crockett was and still is, and I wanted to come back here when I graduated. I wanted to be part of a community where people were thoughtful enough to give a kid an Indian belt that made them feel special.” he said.

That was only one of the reasons that Patrick Walker returned to Crockett. He was a dreamer, and he had big dreams. He had a vision of what the community could become in areas that he felt were undeveloped. He wanted to help young people develop an interest in medical careers, so he founded Medical Explorers, a group for high school students who are interested in careers in medicine.

He had become an Eagle Scout while growing up in Crockett, and he wanted to give back to Crockett’s scouting program. He did that for many years.

He wanted this community to have a hospital of which it was proud. He, and the physicians who were here when Patrick was growing up, banded together. They took an almost defunct rural hospital and a Houston County Hospital District Board that had never had dreams the size of Patrick’s, and they went to work.

They applied for grants from the Federal and State government, they recruited first class physicians to Crockett, modernized the hospital, built a Woman’s Birthing Center, a new Operating Suite, a state of the art Radiology Suite, and a new modernized Emergency Room. At one time, under the guidance of Patrick and fellow physicians on staff here, Crockett’s hospital was a Level II Trauma Center, and that was a huge accomplishment for a rural hospital in East Texas.

Along the way, they were sidetracked for a number of years by allowing a large regional chain of hospitals to take over the management of this hospital in Crockett. But they didn’t quit. They fought back and regained control of the hospital. They ran it independently until they found a hospital group who they felt had the same vision for a medical facility in a small East Texas town that the doctors here had.

He was instrumental in developing the Carl Murray Free Medical Clinic, a clinic open to those who cannot afford health care. Local physicians, dentists, and optometrists gathered together, and along with the First United Methodist Church, they took an old church building and turned it into a clinic that provides health care for those with no insurance and few resources. The clinic is open one or two nights a week, and it is staffed by our local health care professionals who donate their time to this endeavor.

In addition, Patrick Walker loves the arts and believes that they have an important contribution to make to a community and the young people growing up in a rural area. Shortly after returning to Crockett, he and a high school friend of his, Bryan Lake, as well as a group of about ten Crockett citizens founded the “Pineywoods Fine Arts Association.”

They began seeking grants and community support to bring a first class arts program to town. They have accomplished their goal. They have brought a variety of programs including plays, musicals, ballet, and musical concerts to town. Our concerts have ranged from “The Irish Tenors,” to Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn performing here at the Crockett Civic Center. There is no way to calculate the impact that the Pineywoods Fine Arts Association has had upon the citizens of East Texas.

After they had the Pineywoods Fine Arts Association up and running, the core group which included Patrick founded a Summer Arts Camp for students in Houston County. This camp encourages the talents of young people living in Houston County and is recognized as a leader in its field.

There have been many years when Patrick was the only surgeon on staff at our hospital. That translates to being on call almost every day.

After reading all of this one might think that Patrick Walker has never experienced anything but success. That is not true. He, like all of us, has had his share of failures and disappointments. He has failed, but he never quit, and that is what it requires to make dreams come true.

Patrick knows, first hand, the meaning of the line: “I’ll never reach my destination if I never try. So I will sail my vessel till the river runs dry.” Knowing that has kept him in good stead and it has made him determined to keep trying even after bitter disappointments.

The thing that I hope that you take from this article is the amazing amount of influence one person, working in concert with others, can have upon a church, a community, a region of the state.

Patrick has not only impacted Crockett and Texas, but in his work with the American College of Surgeons he has had an influence on hundreds of surgeons throughout the country.

Patrick Walker has never had small dreams. His dreams have always been ones that have encompassed several areas of community involvement. He allowed those dreams to guide him and to drive him, and this town, as well as all of East Texas, is so much better because of that one man’s dreams.

So what’s your dream? Grab on to it, develop it, flow with it, but never, never quit. You too, have a valuable contribution to make to the world, so keep that in mind. And always dream bigger than you can even imagine.