Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Last night was my claimed sisters 55th birthday. She loves Mexican food so we got together with others in the family and we threw a Mexican feast in her honor. She had said she wanted to do it at her house but we insisted it be at ours. We had all her chickens, read kids, and their significant others and spouses. We had our close friends and we had her Dad and his girlfriend, and at 81 he is always the life of the party. As the group gathered I realized this was going to be special and it lived up to my expectations.

As we held hands for the pray before dinner, which was given by my 93 year old Mother –in-law, it was so special. Before she prayed, I tried to tell my sister what she meant to me. And being the big goofy softie I could not get it out. But she is so special to me. Behind my wife, she is the most important woman in my life. Then we had what seemed to be a normal dinner. Seemed everyone loved the food and all were satisfied with the meal. We moved, as a group, to the den for the ceremonial singing and opening of the gifts. This was started by her oldest son coming into the room holding one of those stick-lighters and we all sang Happy Birthday. She opened her stuff got some cool things and then it happened.

I asked, her second son, to tell a story about a time his Mom got real mad at him. It snowballed from there. The stories that were shared were one of a family that has matured together and grow closer as the years have passed. They were stories of travels and trips. Of scary things that when bump in the night and the time when she had been dreaming about her oldest doing something and would wake up and ground him for what she dreamed about! We were all laughing and having a blast when her dad took the floor.

He mentioned they he had spent the entire 55 years with her except for maybe a year and a half. He said what a blessing it was to have lived with her for her entire life. He told about the time he had to give her a spanking. He took off his belt and told her “every time I hit this bed you scream like I’m hurting you!” He said he would hit the bed and she would scream like he was killing her. He said when he came out of the room the others were looking at him like he had killed her. Everyone was laughing and having a blast. He told a couple more stories like how he had roller Skates on her feet by the time she was one year old!! And others that brought down the house. Then he stood there and with a very shaky voice, closed with this. “I love you my angel and you have been a great daughter to me. I guess I’ll sit-down.”

If my Mother and Dad were here would they say that about me? Have I been a good son to them? As we reflect back on our lifes I think some time we only remember the good times or the bad times we never remember the normal times. I think the normal times are the ties that bind us. We all have times when we were king of the world. And we have all been on the bottom rung of the ladder of life. But the times in between, I think, are when we make ourselves the good sons and daughters. I think about my son. And really he has been a good son to me. He isn’t in trouble with the law. He has his own place, pays his bills, and is respected in his field. What else makes a good son or daughter? Will he take care of me in my old age; more than likely not? Will he be a success and not a burden on society; more than likely yes? And when you get right down to it I guess that means he is a good son. I more than likely have never told him that other than the day he graduated the Air Force. I think I will try to tell him more.

I wish my Mother and Dad were here. I would like to think they would be proud of me and what I have done in my life. I, like my son, have not been in much trouble. Thanks to my wife I pay my bills and hopefully am respected in my field. So using my criteria I guess I would pass.

May once in your life you hear someone say they are proud of you and what you have done. There is no warmer feeling in your life than when you have pleased the people you love the most.

Well what a blast we had last night. My wife worked her butt off and once again we had a huge party that was fun for all that attended. As we went to bed last night she said you know I think that one was special. I agree that one was special, just like her!! Think I will go in the other room and tell her she is a great wife to me. I think she knows, but I promise she will in 2 minutes.


The Blessed Man

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I have mentioned my Mother here on numerous occasions. With the recent passing of Mothers Day and my experience in church this morning I felt I needed another one about my Mother.

I, like everyone on the planet with a heart, thought about, and missed, my Mother deeply last weekend. I was blessed to be with my family and we celebrated the Mothers who were with us and, I hope properly, remembered the ones who are no longer here. I can remember many great things about my mother. How she taught me to love unconditionally and how sometimes you will get hurt; however, there are the times that this type of love puts you into a situation that simply takes your breath away. I have experienced both things in my life. And she was correct. Love with reckless abandon the good times truly out weight the bad.

As we stood in church this morning, the congregation singing here favorite song. I was taken back to that church she literally drug me to every Sunday and Wednesday evening. I saw her standing next to me, her very best dress on singing in her pseudo alto voice trying her best to make sure she sounded perfect. I never knew what a beautiful voice that was until it is no longer here for me to hear. I wished she had been there this morning to sing with the group. It would have been the sweetest thing my old ears had ever heard. Somehow I know she was there singing her heart out I could almost hear it. Well as I stood there fighting back the tears, as I am now, I thought of all of the things she has given me and wondered, almost aloud, if I had ever thanked her for them.

She taught me to always tell the truth. I can hear her now “if you always tell the truth the stories are always so much easier to remember.” Wow was she ever correct. I can remember a couple of times in my life when I made a decision the stray from this advice and it has always cost me a small piece of my character. A very high price to pay for a moment of uncomfortablity, I promise you.

She taught me to cook. The joy and the goods times I have had either, around a campfire or a stove cooking have been the shaping moments of my life. I have met more great people and done what little in my life might be called good while cooking for either me or others. Cooking is a huge part of my life.

She taught me to be forgiving. I can remember times in my life when people have dealt me a devastating blow. Others might have made it their lives goal to see the perpetrators brought to some form of revenge or justice. I simply forgave them, and moved on with my life. And because of that, I have found a life I could have only dreamed of. The perpetrators; all have had tremendous tragedy in their lives. Was I glad to see it, absolutely not. Is it the old as my mother said “What comes around goes around” No doubt about it.
She taught me how to laugh. I have spent the better part of my life laughing. If laughter is the best medicine I will never be sick. I try my best to laugh out loud at least one time every day. I can remember we laughed to a point my dad would worry about us. I looked forward to every Saturday of my life. That was the day my mother and I would go to the store. Fred Montesi’s; we would spend hours in that store shopping and looking at all of the new stuff. We would always sneak off, or so we thought, and get something to eat and sit there and laugh like we were kids. My then wife and dad thought we were as they said “touched in the head”. But something told me they were always jealous we didn’t take them along. Sadly they didn’t know how to laugh and mother and I did and we did at every opportunity. I can remember one evening my best friend was leaving the house. I told my mother he was leaving and she needed to tell him good bye. She said, she was not going to do that. I calmly walked into the kitchen picked her up walked out onto the front porch and told her to tell him good bye. She, very sarcastically, said GOOD BYE!! I then dropped her into the boxwood bushes in front of the house and came back inside. She was laughing lying in those bushes I was laughing laying in the living room floor and my dad was looking at me like I had lost my mind. We laughed about that one thing up until the time she died. My friend, who I still have lunch with once a week, remembers it as well. That was my mother. Thanks Mom for all of the life lessons know I missed a few but I think I got the big ones.

As I sit here and write this I also wonder what I am passing on to the next generation. What example am I setting? Does my son have anything to remember like I do? Will his memories be all dark and coldly because of our relationship? Have there been good times for him? As I sit here and try to think I am not sure. What an embarrassment from my stand point. Where is the disconnect? When did family stop being fun and start being a job? Was it when we,(that being my generation), started trying to make sure our little angels didn’t fall and hurt their knees, and that everyone gets a trophy even if they suck. My son didn’t have to cut yards to make money. I am just glad I grew up where I did and with whom I did.

Well Mom I miss you. I miss you every time I walk into a grocery store. Every time I hear one of those songs you loved to sing in church. Every time I stand in front of my stove or over a grill and smell the wonderful aromas and wish you were here to tell me what it needed. Happy belated mother day my angel I know dad got you something special.

Well I guess I had better start thinking about dinner tonight that should cheer me up. Something country sounds like the ticket. Think I will see if my son is free tonight. Maybe it is not too late to start making a few memories.


The Blessed Man

Sunday, May 9, 2010


As I have written here, the purpose of this blog is to try to explain how blessed I am. Rarely when I sit to write do I not have the word for the post. That is the case here. I will simply relate my story, and then try to name it.

We were out to dinner recently with friends. He a very successful businessman, she runs the household business. They are truly givers, not only to their friends which I am a receiver of at times, but also to the community as a whole. They have 3 fine children, all are upstanding grownups who are fully involved in their own lives and still have a strong sense of family.

As an example of the family instincts that run through this family, a brief story before the real story. The middle daughter is married to a fine young man. His parents are only children and the daughter’s husband is an only child. Not a lot of family to get together. Well my friends have now adopted them and all of the traditional family holidays are spent at my friend’s house as if all were related by blood. My friend’s son is married to a beautiful young lady; they have just recently had the family’s first granddaughter. Now they are expecting the second granddaughter! Every Sunday is family dinner at my friend’s house. Everyone comes and they simply enjoy each other’s company, starting the week off with the wonderful support and love of family. Needless to say, these are special people.

Now to the real reason for the post; we were having dinner the other night and I could tell my friends wife was not her usual self. We asked if she was feeling well and she said not at all. Seems their son is moving away and they will be losing their granddaughter. They are not moving far. They are just out of the state. My friends tell us they can’t say anything about the move. All they are saying is how truly sadden they are that their son’s family is moving away taking their granddaughter from them. I sat there listening to these two people talking and started to understand the power of family. Can you imagine every Sunday for the last 11 months they have played with this wonderful baby and now their Sundays will have a big giant hole in them. I don’t want to take anything away from the other members of the family who will remain behind but I am telling you the Sunday evenings will not be the same. What is it about our kids, kids that make us turn to putty? As this is something that I have yet to experience so I have no clue. As I watched these two loving people talk about this situation you could feel the heart broken sadness in their voices. They held stiff upper lips and tried to make sure they supported their son’s decision to move but it was as clear as a bell that they didn’t want that baby moving. Now I will mention the kicker of the story. The son’s, wife’s family; Yep, they live where the couple is moving!

Here is where I think I have even more respect for my friends. They didn’t one time even mention that might be a factor. What class. How easy would this be to just heap blame on the daughter-in-law for moving but not even a peep. They just talked as if it was something that needed to happen and they would just start trying to get back and forth whenever possible to be with their little angel from heaven above.

As my friend’s wife sat there at the dinner table telling us about the baby moving she shared she felt like she was losing her grandbaby. What must that feel like? For the last 11 months every time his son wanted to go out or do anything I feel pretty confident that they simply called and they had a babysitter for free, a babysitter that would gladly keep that baby over night and even for weekends or whenever was needed. Now do you think you could get attached to something you kept like that? I think that is an understatement, at the very least judging from my friend’s comments.

Well there you have the situation. What is the word you title this? Grief? Snatched? Abandonment? Crushed? Heartbroken? Devastated?

Not sure what I’m going to call it. I just know that there is a tie that binds families together and that tie is stronger than anything I have yet to see or feel. I know if I lost a member of my Memphis family to a move I would be devastated. It would change my entire mental outlook. It would affect every facet of my life, from my work, to my social life, to my sanity.

I am sure my friends will be just fine. This is a simply bump in the road. Besides, they still have 2 daughters in town and the Sunday dinners will still happen. The only thing missing will be the pitter patter of little feet. A sweeter sound I am sure my friends have never heard. And silence like none other as well.


The Blessed Man

Saturday, May 8, 2010


What a word. There are a lot of meanings and applications for the word as well. I can remember my Dads treatment of my Mother. If ever a man idolized a woman it was this relationship. I can remember anything my Mother even mentioned she liked, thought she would have enjoyed, or remotely desired she had within weeks. Watching this behavior of course was influential, on me, to say the least. I also learned much later in life that there were some bad results from this undying love. Debt is the first thing to come to mind, but my Dad didn’t seem to care and we were really none the worst for his total dedication to my Mother. He even would go out on limbs and try to get out in front of her wants. Now it has to be said here I can’t remember my Mother being a needy woman. In fact, I can remember her trying to curtail his gift giving to something manageable. He loved to buy, sell, and trade jewelry. My Mother loved the jewelry, but there were limits even for her. I remember the first ring he bought her. It is a beautiful fish tail diamond ring. It was always her favorite and there was one rule. He could never trade that one. It was special. My wife now wears that one and every time I see it I think of my Mom and Dad and the special relationship they had together.

While sitting around my dining room table the other night we were winding down and talking over one another, as we often do, and there was something said that sparked this post. My claimed sister has a daughter my claimed niece, I guess! She is dating, what we all feel like, is one of the most special young men we have met in a good while. He is a pilot with an airline. He is stable, smart, and caring especially where his girlfriend, my claimed niece, is concerned. Her Mother sitting at the table said something I have heard in the past, many times, but it was just said at the right time the other night. She said “watch how your boyfriend treats their mother. That’s how they will treat you.” WOW how revealing a statement is that. If this is the case then how was my father, as a teacher, and how am I as a teacher to my son? As I said in the opening there was no better teacher than my Dad. I would like to think I treat my wife special. She really doesn’t want for anything I know of, and if she did I am afraid I would do anything to get it for her, save going into debt. We have had this conversation and if I when into debt it would do more harm than good, which is a good thing.

My son is the product of a divorce. He lived with his Mom most of the time only coming to me when she was either too sick to take care of him, or when he was to wild for her to handle him. So I have not had a lot of time to show him how to treat someone you say you love. He is now 22 and has been in a couple of relationship. I also know how he treats his Mother. I am sad to say I don’t think I have done a very good job. I could blame it on the situation or a million other things, but I will not take that road. It is still my fault he will miss the joy of a special relationship unless there are some changes in his life. I know this is a little strong to say he will never be in a special relationship but he is more about him than the team in every circumstance I have ever seen him face. I was never able to get across the philosophy of, there is no I in team. He takes the Michael Jordan stand; there is no I in team, but there is ME. And any special relationship is a team. I think about the relationships I see now and how they all show this characteristic. In my Memphis family every relationship is a team effort. From my members going though the Cancer together, to the ones going though the graduations and the birth of their first grandchild, to the ones who have seen a special young man rise like a phoenix from the ashes of a broken state to become something we all knew was there and are so proud of today. But each required a team effort. I can remember whenever my Dad would be down and he struggled a lot with that my Mother was always there to make sure he knew she had his back and would do anything to make sure he pulled out it and he always did thanks to her. I can remember when he died she never ever saw another man for the 22 years she lived until she rejoined him 2 years ago. She always said there would never be another Bill. What a statement of treatment.

The new parents–to-be reflect the same philosophy. The new Dad treats his wife exactly like he treats his Mom. He loves her and always shows concern and care in every situation I have every witnessed. So I guess it is true. Watch how they treat their Moms ladies.

Well as I sit here and write this I can only hope my claimed niece can see and takes the time to enjoy the very special treatment she is receiving from this very special young man. Is this an endorsement of marriage? Is it my area to be in, NO? Not my place. Would it make me mad, no? All I want is for her to be as happy as I am in my life. Or as happy her Mom is in her life; or as happy as all of my Memphis family always seems to be. Do we have our moments, of course? Do we love our way through them absolutely, team. What a blessing for me to be in this place, at this very special time. I love my life and I love my family and friends.

Think I will go and tell my angel of a wife how much she means to me. Give her a hug and absolutely get lost in the moment. And as I hug her thank my Dad for showing me how to do it. And thank my Mom for showing me how to allow it. I miss you both every single day.


The Blessed Man

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


With the announcement of the addition to my Memphis family, and the surreal events of today with my son I got to thinking about Fathers. All of us have crossed paths with different kinds of Fathers, Dads, or Old Man whatever’s your pleasure.

I can remember, in my growing up years, my running buddy’s Dads. There were four of us that ran hard together. There was my best friend’s dad. He was a legendary golfer locally. He worked for the phone company forever. I’m not sure he didn’t help Alexander Graham Bell in his shop!! He was one of the funniest people ever. We would go over there and sit around talking to him and he would cuss around us and treat us like we were grown up. Until we did something stupid, which was quiet regular, and then he would lower the boom on us. Then there was the other Dad’s; One, a Yellowstone drinking man that could fix or build anything. He worked at a shop or manufacturing somewhere I think maybe a truck line or something. We built 2 houses over 3 summers at the lake for this dad and he worked us to death. He was always working if not he was always drinking that damn Yellowstone. And it bares mentioning here he was riddled with arthritis in his knees and feet. I never once heard the man complain about it either. And for the record, yes we got into the Yellowstone one night while they were at the lake and we all paid of it for a couple of days. I do not drink bourbon to this day because of that faithful Saturday evening! Then there was the guy whose Dad died while he was very young. He lived with his Mom who was special to say the least. Then there was me. I have written here numerous times about my Dad. He was a drill instructor for the 101st Air Borne. He was a man of few words. He was a disciplinarian of the highest regard. He, like the other Dads, loved his wife and wasn’t afraid to show it even in front of us kids.

As I was trying to get my day started after the session with my son today I wondered out loud where I when wrong. What was the lesson I missed from my Father. Did I miss it from one of the other Dads I had grown up around? Why am I having this much trouble getting a bright young man to see reason? I tore through my memory banks trying to remember a time when I was like my son. My Father would never have put up, for one second, with the behavior I was faced with today. Why do I allow it when he didn’t? I looked back and thought of all of the times we messed up. And believe me there were numerous, and we always took responsibility for our actions and took whatever happened like men. We never hid behind this life hates me and I need a break BS I heard today. Where is the disconnect?

Do we parent like our parents? The answer would be no. If I did I would be in jail tonight for the beating of my son! Are we a blend of the father experienced as we grew up? I’m not sure. Then the twenty four thousand dollar question, what makes a good father? Of course that depends on to whom you speak. If you talk to my son I feel quite certain that my name would not be first on the list. If you talk to me I’m not sure mine would be either. Of my running buddies 2 have kids and they seem to have turned out OK. Now we still see each other and they have their moments as well. So we are back to the original question, what makes a good dad? My son tells me it is not the same as when I was a kid. I’ll give him that. Have times changed so drastically that we need to retool the way we parent? What’s wrong with asking for results? What’s wrong with holding children responsible for their actions? What’s wrong with asking your children to be a part of the family? One thing for sure the questions are far beyond my mental capabilities. Times like these are when I miss my Dad the most. What would he say? Would he remember me as something that might even resemble my son? Surely that’s impossible!

With the new addition to the Memphis family we welcome another new Father to our ranks. Here is a young man I have been impressed with since the first night I met him. I have had the pleasure of watching this young man graduate college with the first international MBA granted from his school. This young man put together the program and then executed it to completion. He now is an important team member of an international division of a fortune 500 company. I happen to know some people who work at the same company in other capacities who know him and they always speak highly of him. He is well on his way to becoming a huge success.

Now let’s turn to this young man’s Father. Like my friends above, his Father died when he was a very young man. He was raised by his Mother and other family. He is a very gentle spirit. A more loving and caring person I would challenge you to find. He has worked hard to ensure his family was taken care of and that his wife was able to remain home with the kids. He is a huge part of all of his children’s lives. He takes care or at the very least shows true concern for all who cross his path. He always wants to make sure all around him are happy and fulfilled. What a great example for our new father, to be reared by this great man. As the excitement was fading a bit after the big reveal the other night I slipped up next to him and told him he was going to be a great dad. He looked me in the eyes; his still had the remnants of the joyous tears of celebrating the good news and told me, if he was half the father he had he would be a huge success. WOW, what a thing to say. Is there a higher compliment in the world than your son wanting to be the dad you were to them?

So we still have our conundrum what is a good dad? It needs to be said here that I know there are fathers who abandon their kids and responsibilities. There is nothing lower than a man who will not take care of what is his. I do not put myself or anyone mentioned in this text in that group. I am talking about the endless task of being a dad. If you are not there you can’t be a dad.

Well this is much longer than I had planned. And we have not solved a thing. I guess each of us just do the best we can do. I only wish I had a bar or measuring stick to show me how I’m doing. When you compare yourself to the ones you see around you it might scare you when you do not measure up. I guess I will just do the best I can and when I get to see my father again in the end I can only hope I did ok. Strange 24 years after his death I am still trying to make sure he is proud of me.

My wife and friends tell me I do fine, I’m not too sure. My son is not in jail; he has a steady job, pays his bills. I guess maybe there are worst dads out there.

Better go sit in my Dad’s chair maybe that will help.


The Blessed Man

Sunday, May 2, 2010


There are times in your life when you get to see something you have always wanted to see. There are the vacation things. I remember when I was in the boy scouts and we drove or shall I say rode 2 old buses cross country to the Grand Canyon. We hiked down the canyon and spent the night on the canyon floor sleeping next to the Colorado River roaring next to the camp site, an awesome sight for this 13 or 14 year old young man. I looked forward to seeing that place for the entire five days it took to get there. Then there are the family things; I will never forget the feeling I had the day I watch my son march around the parade grounds of Lackland Air Force Base and graduate an Airman in the United States Air Force. I still get chill bumps and my eyes tear even thinking about the scene. I was blessed to be there the day my wife’s son had his first child. I have even written after that in this blog. I have had numerous places in my life when I was able to see things happen that moved me.

Well last night something happened inside the Memphis Family that many people have been praying for a long time. One of the members of my family is a very special person. She has a place in my heart where only few are allowed. She is more of a sister than a friend. I go to her for counsel on occasion. I go to her for support. I go to her for so much more than just friendship. She is my example in something’s like her strong love for family and the unyielding desire to hold them together at all costs. She always seems to have it together no matter how crazy things get. I, on the other hand, if you read this space at all know I allow my son to totally take over my mind and body to a point I almost lose it. Here is where she always brings me back to a point of sanity and tries to make me see that it will all be ok one day, but enough about me and my things.

As I have said here many times she is the matriarch of a strong family I am proud to be clandestinely a member of. There is the Father a calm and gentle spirit of a man; a man who has provided for his family a loving and safe home for all time. A place where all are welcome and you always leave happier than you came. The children, there are four, all solid citizens and moving forward in their lives and never losing site of the place from whence they came. Humble, and loving not only to their parents and their parent’s friends but to each other and that is huge in my book.

Well, on we go, my claimed sister has always dreamed of the day she has her first grandchild. Well last night she was informed it will be here in November. There we were all in the kitchen looking at pictures from a recent trip her son had taken to China when he turned the page and there were the ultrasound pictures of her grandchild. I will never forget the embrace and the tearful response of “we’re having a baby” coming from her quivering voice. A moving moment exactly like the embrace I witnessed in Tampa Florida after the birth of my wife’s first grandchild. Purer emotions I am not sure exist. To see the Grandmother to be, hugging the Mother to be, and watching the Father hugging his son you could literally feel the pride from their embrace. May all of us, at one time in our lives, be able to be moved to your very core. Where all that comes out of you is the purest form of love that god grants us to share. I have been blessed to experience those feeling 4 times in my life. What a blessing.

I do not know what the future holds for me, but I do know that there is a child to be born in November that has won the family lottery. She/he will be loved cared for and raised in an environment that is bountiful with all of the good things in life. It is being born to a young man and woman who will be parents of the highest order. They both come from families steeped in love and caring for one another. They band together in good times and bad and always, always love one another through whatever life hands them. It will be an honor and a privilege to watch this child be formed into a loving member of this special family.

I wish for you that once in your life you get to see this pure bliss I saw last night. And when you see it please take the time, like I did last night, to experience the wonder of the moment. I am truly a blessed man.

Well I think I will call my son and tell him the good news. I can’t imagine the roles being switched and the grandchild being mine. Wow, blessed again…..I’m sure when I am more prepared it will happen and if the lord is willing I can say I have felt that feeling 5 times in my life.


The Blessed Man