Sunday, March 28, 2010


I had the great pleasure of spending the weekend with my 92 year old Mother-in –Law. I can hear you from here. WHAT, the pleasure?!?!?! You know I have always been a guy who loves to talk to my elders. I love the stories of the way it was back when. I love the tales of no electricity, no indoor plumbing. The hard life of making it on the farm or land; I come from a long line of country people. Make no mistake I am very proud of where I come from. I love the fact that today I can grow a garden, fix a water heater, change my own oil in my truck and cut my own grass. But that is another story all together. Back to my weekend.

As I listened to my Mother-in-law I began to realize that age has another thing it does for you if you are pure of heart. And trust me my mother-in-law is pure in heart. My dad used to tell me there would only be 3 people in heaven God, Jesus, and my granny! Well I think there will be a forth at the table for sure. This is a woman who was born in 1917. She lived and worked on a dairy farm in Stanley Wisconsin. She tells of her life and how she walked, 100 head of cattle, 100 miles, on foot, to save them from a drought one summer. She tells, with great joy, about how “cows do not give milk, you have to take it!” She says they always gave her the cow that didn’t kick and she always got kicked off the stool and the milk went everywhere. She said the minute she could she went to college. Now it is 1929 roughly. She boarded a train in Wisconsin and rode to Atlanta Georgia. As a young lady of twenty something I am sure quite a feat for her day. Then she married and had 3 great kids and devoted her entire life to them and the church. Along this road there were thing that happened to her that were so difficult I cannot, and will not, share here as they only serve to prove my early statement about age and it doing something for you. As we sat in a restaurant last night having our own version of date night she was telling me more stories. Some I had heard before and others for the first time. I sat there and we laughed, and had a great time. After we got home and I got her settled, it struck me like a ton of bricks. When we were on the way home from dinner she had told me how her life was so blessed, and how she had always been so happy. WOW, I know what happened to this amazing woman. Here she is remembering her life without the bad stuff. Somehow it is like the bad times have simply been erased from her memory. She spends no time dwelling on them. It is like they never happened. May god give me the grace and wisdom to forget and forgive, more importantly, the people who have brought pain into my life. And let me say here the number is very few. I have been blessed to live a good, full and fun life. I guess what I really need to ask for is if I have brought pain and suffering into anyone life may they forget and forgive me.

So I guess I had better get up and make her breakfast she will be down in a minute. Also just heard from the wife she is headed home from her girl’s weekend. Looking back on this weekend I had fun, but I was shown a life lesson by her. Live right; think right and all will be right.


The Blessed Man

Friday, March 26, 2010


I bet, if you thought back, every one of us can remember that gift or present that we swore we would never forget. I know I can, it was a Get Away Chase game. I was maybe 8-9 years old and this game came out. It was only available at DX Service Stations. Remember Service Stations? I was under the impression that if this game was not mine, life as I knew it, would cease to exists. I was the typical kid as well. Swearing to behave until the day I died, I would keep my room clean until the new millennium. I would take a shower every night, which was huge for a kid my age. I think you get the picture I wanted this game. Now a bit about my mother; I loved this woman like all only sons love their moms. She was the light and breath of my soul. But, she had a side of her that I now appreciate so much. She was as slick as a Harvard lawyer. She always used the truth to her advantage by maybe not telling you the entire truth, so to speak. Here is a perfect example. Like I said this game was my current obsession. I knew the only place to get it was the local DX station, where my Mother brought gas and knew every person who worked there. So I knew I was a shoe in for the game. So when I asked her about the game she told me that the Station didn’t have any, and she was unable to get it for me. I almost died. I had dreams of blowing up the station and seeing all of these helpful, so they thought, people meeting their untimely demise due to the fact they didn’t save one game for their best customer’s spoiled brat. Every time I was with her, and we went there, I would ask about this game. They had the same answer, they were out and they were not getting anymore because it was a special only going on during the Christmas Holidays. I was crushed. Finally giving in to the understanding there would be no Get Away Chase game for me I went into a deep funk. Then my Mother used this to tell me how she was so disappointed in me for being so selfish. What did I think the poor little boys in China were getting for Christmas. I had often offered them my turnips or the odd squash dish when my Mother was trying to get me to eat. Well along comes Christmas morning and yep there it was right in the middle of the floor the “I couldn’t get it” Get Away Chase Game. After my initial euphoria, and once my heart started beating at the normal rate I asked my Mother how she could lie to me like that. And here comes the Harvard Lawyer part: “Son, I didn’t lie to you, I didn’t get the game from our DX station. I had to go over off Lamar to another station and get it. I never told you I did have it, I said I couldn’t get it from our DX.” Damn she was right. This was the first time she used the trick and was not the last until I was much older and started asking more pointed questions. This is one of the things I remember most about her was her utter joy of tricking the kids when so could use this strategy. She used to kill my younger sister all the time, using the truth but not the whole truth thing. I don’t think they ever caught on!!

Well until two days ago this was by far the most memorable gift I have ever gotten. Then the following happened to me.

As we are lying in bed the other night the wife looks over at me and tells me I have a surprise being delivered the next day. Well the kid in me comes out and I start the assault of questions. She stands firm in not telling me and gives hints that are so wild I can’t even imagine what this could be. Well she falls asleep and I am staring at the ceiling and finally it hits me I know what it is. So we wake up the next morning and she says did I ever figure out what she has gotten me I say yes but I am not telling her since I do not want to risk messing up her surprise, or the embarrassment of being wrong! Well we are sitting at the table computers smoking and there is a knock on the door and she lights up light the sun coming up over the ocean. I got up and when to the door with her and I was more blown away than that Christmas Morning.

You see my surprise was an old recovered chair. Now how can this chair possibly be more important than a Get Away Chase game you ask? Well this is a special chair with a capitol S. This is the chair, I have seen my Mother rock all of my sisters in. This is the chair, I saw my Granny refuse to give up even after my Dad told her it was his! This is the chair, I tripped over while running through the house while being chased by my cousin and dropped the Pecan Pie I was running with trying to keep her from getting the first piece. This is the chair, I sat in when I was a kid while my Dad was at work and dreamed of the day I might be like him. This is the chair, I picked my Dad up from the last time I saw him alive and carried him to bed that night he was able to go and leave this painful world behind. This is a special chair. Well needless to say I was dumbfounded. I had hauled this chair around for 3 moves and always had it in the attic as it was in much need of repairs. My angel wife had gotten it fixed and recovered. As I stood there it was all I could do not to lose it. I was very moved as I am now as I write this. We put this chair in our office, which is the first room you see as you enter our house. It will always sit in a place of honor in our home. This will be the most memorable gift I ever receive. I have said many times here how special my wife is this story will give each of you a look into how blessed I am she has chosen to be a part of my life. I love her very much. We still have not been able to talk about the chair and might be months before I can truly tell her how much it has meant to me. But somehow I think she knows she is just that way.

I think I will go relive sitting in that chair and hoping to be like him one day. Still can’t say I have made it to that height, but at least now when I need to talk to him somehow I think I can sit in this chair and he might just be there. Now that is a blessing.


The Blessed Man


I have heard it said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Sitting around my dining room table last night the student was ready and the teacher appeared.

As normal the family had gather for dinner, but we were very blessed that we also had members that have been a little low key as of late. We have, like all families, our troubles and trials. One couple in the family has been working through a very difficult time. They have endured the death of parents and friends. Just when they were gathering themselves back to normal they find out the wife has Breast Cancer. What a blow! However, true to her style she faced it head on and has been an amazing trooper through all of the treatments. I can remember my Dad’s treatments and how he was, so we have been there for them, but not been in their business. That was what I found during my Fathers ordeal that I was willing to let certain people inside, but only in small bits, and especially on my terms. We all have tried to make sure we were there whenever we could be. The girls of the family have been especially keen to the needs of this very special lady as she fights this battle. They have been there through all of the hair loss, the weight loss, and the exhaustion of the treatments. We have all focused our attentions as best we can on her and tried without being invasive to be there at every turn. When she had her last treatment there is a bell ringing ceremony that was attended by the other girls and what joy it was in the whole family that she had made it through this rigorous exercise and came out on the other side stronger than when she started. She is a tribute to strength and endurance when it is all on the line. An amazing example of positive attitude and face to the sun tomorrow will be better attitude that I’m not so sure I could emulate if the shoes were on these weak feet I walk on.

As I sat next to her husband, a pillar of a man, and one I had admired long before the events of the last year. I suddenly became aware of his struggles and hardships and how he has changed though out this process. He has always been a man of the utmost character and class. Standing up for his beliefs in circumstances and situations, yet always being willing to listen and respect your opinion even if it was different than his own. I have learned a lot from this guy, but not until last night did I learn the most important lesson of selflessness and how to put the needs of the whole out in front of the needs of self. I believe sometimes things are shown to you because the powers that be know and understand you can’t handle the stresses that would accompany the lesson, if given to you. This I believe was shown to me last night. As we sat there talking about how he has been there and seen the all that his lovely wife has endured he has always been there never leaving her side. He tracked her temperature making spreadsheets to track it for the doctors doing everything humanly possible to make sure she was as comfortable as possible, what a man! I loved the way last night he called her his “partner”. You could actually feel the love and respect he has for her and the genuine joy he has found in this circumstance and how he has used that circumstance to make his relationship with his partner even stronger than before this tragedy. I felt the feelings coming back of the times I spent caring for my Father. I loved my Dad and did my best to care for him, as best as this son could have, I only hope I did an OK job. I cannot imagine trying to do this for my wife and partner. Last night, sitting at my dining room table, I realized that he was the teacher and I was clearly the student. I have learned a great deal from this guy, as I have said before, but this lesson is a special one. How you can be there for someone who is your whole world and still hold it in the road and carry the load and never even give the slightest inclination you are suffering is amazing to me. Strength, my friends, that is strength.

I now think, thanks to his example, I can be there for any of the family that needs me. I will call on this lesson I was taught last night. See my friends face, smile and be grateful that he was willing to share his experiences with me that I can move forward through the mire and get to the other side. Because that’s the lesson here, there is the other side. If we are blessed all is good and we continue on better people for the trials. If it doesn’t work out like we want, as in my dad’s case, we continue on knowing we were there, and did the very best we could to make sure they knew we loved them and care for them. I am so glad my friend has shown me there is always the other side. How special. So the blessing here my friends is being reminded to love to people in your life with reckless abandon. Kiss your partner every time you walk by them. Give random hugs. Tell them you love them as you sit there and watch TV. Call your folks tell them you love them.. Hug your kids even if they hate it. Someday they would give anything for a hug from you, I promise. What a blessing family is.

Think I will go give my partner a huge hug and tell her she is my world and how special she is to me. Hell I might even call my son and tell him as well. Guess I have learned a little something here!! I am going to make a conscious effort to make sure the people in my life that are important know it.

What a great lesson, thank you my friend.


The Blessed Man

Friday, March 19, 2010


I sometimes feel like all I ever mention on this blog are my Memphis family. But as I sit here and think that’s what is most important to me and they are a huge part of my life. This post is simply another example.

The family had been apart for almost a week. One group traveling to meet what we all hope will soon be in-laws. The other putting all of their energies into the building and getting ready of a couple of really wonderful chicken coops! Us just working head down and plowing through as I am about to go on a week’s vacation and had some things I needed to wrap up and took this week to try to get them done and with suppliers in town and wine dinners to go to it was a full week to say the least.

I can remember when I was younger my Mother rushing us kids off to bed as it would approach the time for my father to come home from work. She would hurry around making sure we were as clean as you could get a 9 or 10 year old boy to be and as settled as you could get 4 children under 14 living in 900 square feet. My bedroom was directly off the kitchen if you could call it that. My room, since we had 3 girls, and one boy, was kind of a catch all with a small twin bed in the corner. I can see my Mother sewing machine, the ironing board and iron and large laundry basket always over flowing in the other corner. A small desk nook built into the wall over flowing with papers and coupons and recent newspaper recipes my Mother was always going to organize. Then there was the book shelf straining to remain upright under the weight of all of the Harlequin romance novels. My lord my Mother read those things until the day she died. I can remember they would come in the mail and the minute they did forget it she was in the bathroom and untouchable for hours on end. I think that is why to this day I get a special joy out of peeing outside!! My sister, bless their hearts were not so lucky!! The hard wood floors were old and creaked when you walked so I could never get out of bed without alerting my Mom. I can remember my Dad saying “she could hear a mouse peeing on cotton” and I believe she really could. Anyway back to my story. She would hurry around getting everything just right so when Dad walked in the door it was their time. After she herded us cats into our areas she would put on the coffee pot and get ready for his arrival. I can remember smelling that coffee as it started to perk. Listening to the gurgle of the pot and starting to smell that wonderful aroma of the Maxwell house “good to the last drop”. My Mother swore she could tell the difference in brands. The aroma, of that coffee, hung in the air like clean crisp smell of spring after a rain, there was, and still is, something about coffee brewing that is a comfort to me. Then it would happen. I could hear the car pull into the driveway and the ole man get out. Then the front door opens and the same thing ever night “How was your night?” He would bitch a little about work and then they would sit-down around that kitchen table and solve all of our family problems and situations while talking and enjoying that coffee. My Mother hanging on his every word and him always taking the time to make sure her world was talked about first and she was always put in front of whatever he had to talk about. I feel a sleep listening to the muffled conversation and slept the sleep of the righteous knowing all was right with the world, or at least my little corner of it. I had no clue there we people living in bigger houses or people whose dad only worked one job or any inclination I was needing or wanting in anyway. I always slept better after Dad got home.

Well as the Memphis family gathered last night we all took turns telling of our travels, escapades or anything else that might fit. Our conversations when back and forth across the little open fire pit, the story of the room that was not quite right, the pictures of the new baby chickens and the details of a wine dinner back and forth each of us acting like my Dad. Listening as if the other persons story was more important than our on but knowing we would get our moment in the spotlight. We then sat down to a wonderful meal and a brief card game. Again all was right in this blessed man world.

I came home and as the wife got Mama-in-law settled and I was still trying to get a much older boy as clean as you can before bed, it struck me. I was back in that bedroom of my youth. Yes, the one you could cuss a cat in without getting hair in your mouth. This time however, sadly, there was no coffee brewing or muffled voices of my parents. What I would give to hear that again. However, my Memphis family we were all home, each in our homes each back in each other’s lives and all was right with the world. I now know there are people who live in bigger houses than me. There are people who have more money than me. But, I am blessed to know, none of them slept better than me last night. My family was back together and safe. What a blessing.

I hope you have people in your life that mean what mine means to me. It is so special and such a blessing you cannot imagine the blessing.

Think I might just go make me a cup of coffee and remember my parents for a minute, God I miss them. But all is good, going back to be with the family again tonight can’t wait to hear about everyone’s days and the plans for the coming weeks. What a blessing. I believe I will take a special bottle of wine tonight in honor of my Mom and Dad and silently thank them for all of the wonderful nights of sleep they allowed and afforded me during my youth.


The Blessed Man

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I really haven’t talked a lot about my Dad in this blog but I think it’s time I did. He was the hardest working man I knew. He would sometimes work 3 jobs near Christmas so he could provide for us kids whatever the current have to have thing was. He always wanted my Mother to be a stay at home mom. And she was until us kids were either, out of the house or in High School. I can remember when my Mother told him she wanted to work. It was like he had failed at being a provider. He had a lot of trouble with it until Mother started buying her on Romance Novels, which she was addicted to that he realized maybe this working thing wasn’t a bad idea. He was a DI for the 101st airborne during the Korea war. He was 5’ 10” of romping stomping do what I say or it’s not going to be pretty guy. I can remember whenever we would get out of line the famous you wait until you Father gets home line. Man then you spent the rest of the afternoon waiting until he arrived and were in a blind panic until you knew she wasn’t going to rat you out and you would live to see another day. I also remember having to be so quiet during the day. He worked for a large airline for over 38 years. He also played in a band at night. His shifts were all over the place. Days, early morning, late afternoons, evening, and even mid nights so he sleeping habits were about as set and wet concrete. He always looked tired and seemed to live on hot black coffee and cigarettes. He was always in his underwear, and didn’t care who came to the house he was still in his underwear unless my mother just put her foot down, then he would put on the ugliest shortest the world has ever seen. I think he got those shorts out of the trash at least 10 times before my mother finally took them to a neighbor’s house to throw them away!! So as you can see he was a character to say the least. He was am man of much love that always showed it but never said it. I think that might have been his army training. I’d hear him tell my mother so many times it was drilled into my being that that is how you treated your mate in life. He loved her beyond anything I have ever seen. He would buy her anything and everything she ever even mentioned. This is another habit I picked up and wished I had not. He would go into debt for anything she wanted and it took me almost 40 years to figure out that was not the smartest way to show you love and commitment. But he was a stand up guy to say the least and there is not one day that goes by that I don’t miss him to the point of pain. It is said you become a man the day your Father dies and no truer words can be spoken. I almost beg him for advice sometimes when I am having difficulty with anything in my life. Man I miss him right now. I can hear him saying no body reads that stuff why you writing all that mess about us. What a guy.

I say all of that because yesterday I had an amazing thing happen to me. I really have no bad memories of my father than the one or two times maybe he had a small battle with the alcohol, mainly beer for him. But they were rare to say the least. I think they come to mind because they bothered my Mother so much. But he was able to break out of the bonds every time and cold turkey at that. He had amazing will power over everything in his life, but I digress. There is one thing that I didn’t realize meant anything to me until yesterday. You see I went to watch my son, he was in a professional competition and I was there of course. I have always been there through his basketball. I can remember when he lived with his Mom driving two and a half hours to watch a forty five minute game, but I was there. When I was younger I played every sport that would have me. I played Football, Baseball, Basketball, Softball, Bowled hell I even played tennis for a brief period of time; Get this I was even in the Chess club for Christ sakes!! I say all of that to say the reason for this post. My Father never saw me compete in anything I just mentioned. I always blew it off when I was a kid understanding he was either working or sleeping from the two or three jobs he always seemed to have to support us. However, yesterday standing there watching my son it all came rushing back to me and I almost started crying. I felt like some kind of retard standing there in a room full of people, that were having a blast, fighting back tears. I guess I wanted him to feel what I was feeling that he never did. That sense of pride of watching your off spring growing up, competing, just enjoying the simpler things of life. I think in a small way it validates that you were an OK parent because your kid is doing something that is fun and enjoys. I was watching my son as he was in the middle of the competition always looking to make sure I was watching and paying attention to his every move. And the second it was over he came straight to me and was asking what I thought and did I think he did Ok? It was all I could do to hold it together to answer him. I was too busy missing my Father and wishing I had had this exact moment with him.
Wow as I sit here writing this I’m tearing up again; so I guess this really did mean a lot to me.

I always close by telling you where the blessing are in the story so here is what I think about this one. I was blessed to have the special Father I had, he always provided anything and everything we ever needed. He loved us and tried his best to make sure we were safe and comfortable. So that’s one blessing. I was super blessed to have shared with my son hundreds of times where I was there in the stands supporting him. Be it sports or professional I have been there. There is one other thing I found interesting yesterday. I think I was the only parent there. I guess you never to get old to support your kids. And please know every time you watch them it means something to them even if they don’t act like it now. I have some dear friends who never miss a chance to support their kids. Like me they will drive hours to make sure they are there to support and cheer. I only hope their kids understand what a blessing it is they are there.
Well I rarely write about things this close to home but somehow now I feel better about my situation. I understand my father couldn’t be there. I only wish for him he could have the feeling in his heart I had yesterday and the numerous times I have watched and cheered my son.

Well there you have it, a post for me. I think it is time to go and tell my dad I love him wouldn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Love you Dad and miss you madly….


The Blessed Man

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Most of the posts here are about my blessing and how they affect my life. This one is a mixed bag as you will see. Within my Memphis family there is a couple who are closely related to some, now, very famous people. One of my best friends in the world has an aunt, whom I love dearly, whose daughter has recently become a national hero. I have to tell you, I’m a big believer in the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, as in the case of the Grandfather in an earlier post. I believe this very strong and compassionate woman has had a wonderful effect on her now famous daughter.

Now for the reveal, I sat on the edge of my seat watching the Oscar’s the other night. Now if you knew me you would know I have not seen a movie in a theater since my son and I saw one of the Lords of the Rings movies eons ago. So why in the world am I glued to the Oscar’s; because the Best Actress award has got to go to Sandra Bullock? You see, she played my friends daughter in the Blind Side, that’s right, I in a very roundabout way I know Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy and Michael Oher. See the woman I was talking about above, is her Mother. I am blessed to have shared many a dinner and spade game with Leigh Ann’s mom.

The story of Leigh Ann and her unyielding faith in Michael and her beliefs that he needed and deserved a loving and caring home, and she was willing to risk all things to ensure it was provided is a story for all time. I am embarrassed to tell you I have not seen the movie. I have heard about it from all my friends and how most of the men friends I have will admit, at the very least, to tearing up during the movie speaks volumes for it. You see I have been blessed to be at Christmas and other holidays when the Tuohy’s would be in attendance long before the notoriety and fame. Michael was a perfect gentleman, quiet and always polite. There is absolutely nothing about this family that is fake or unreal. Even Sean who has had a bit of fame before this, as a stand out player for Ole Miss back in the day, has always been so nice to me that is says a lot about the family. So you see I saw the movie before it was made. I was so blessed to have crossed paths with this special family during times when no one was watching. Like my father, and others, has said Character is what you do when no one is watching. I saw this when no one else was watching.

So as I close I will repeat. Leigh Ann is a special lady, Sean a special guy. I have to think the Mother has had a huge influence on her and her choices in life. A strong Christian woman who has a zest for life and a heart simply made to love. When this special lady hugs you, you feel it all the way to the core of your soul. She has a very special place in my heart. Aren’t we blessed when we are raised by loving and giving parents who teach thinks like love and caring for others no matter what they look like? Now remember this was a long time ago when it was not a popular belief. How special is that?

So once again the blessed man has seen something that points out how blessed we are to know people that are larger than ourselves and have beliefs they are not afraid to act on and do things that might not be the most popular. I only can hope that one day the young man that carries my name would be willing to do something that might affect someone’s life in a good way. I wish for us all that we have the vision to see these opportunities as they are presented to us.

Well I am so glad Sandra Bullock won. In some small way that means I won; because I know these special people and have been blessed to have known them for a long time. We need more people like them in the world.

Well guess I need to go get this movie. I have read the book so I’m hoping that gets me a small reprieve. Congratulations Sandra Bullock rarely do you get the chance to play a real person who has such a wonderful gift. I only hope she got to know Leigh Ann’s Mom because without her we would all have missed this wonderful story.


The Blessed Man