Friday, June 18, 2010

Icing

I often wonder why the good lord chose to make me wait until later in my life to find the members of my Memphis family. I think I would not have appreciated them nor enjoyed them as much in my earlier care free years. As you have read here on numerous occasions the wonderfully special times I have had with this very tight knit group. Well get ready here comes another one!

Last night was the 61st birthday of my good friend who heads up the faction of the family that includes my claimed sister, his wife. They are the ones who are expecting the first grandchild. Well last night at his birthday celebration they revealed the sex of the chosen one. It was very cool evening. The Grand Parents to be had asked each guest to dress in either Pink or Blue depending on your guess, as to the Baby’s gender. My wife, Mother-in-Law and I were all in the Blue camp. To be honest the blues outnumbered the pinks almost 2 to one. At any rate that was the gist of the gathering.

What makes this a special thing is how they did it. The ultrasound was a week ago. They asked the nurse to make sure neither of them was able to see the sex of the child. As the nurse neared the area of revealing she told all to look away. The father asked can you tell? She said yes. He says it’s a boy? She said you can tell boy, or girl so do not read anything into her comment she only said she could tell. Then she placed the gender on a card sealed it into an envelope and they took it to a bakery. The bakery then made the Fathers birthday cake. The kicker? The middle layer of icing was either going to be pink for the girl or blue for the boy. The cake was Chocolate with chocolate icing so the middle layer would not be revealed until they actually cut the cake. Pretty cool idea if I do say so myself.

The crowd was large and the menu was fried Catfish and French fries so the crowd ate kind of in shifts to make sure all got hot food. When everyone was full of catfish and anticipation it was time to cut the cake. But first they had Tone the Bone say a prayer. Well folks I’m telling you this prayer was something straight from the good lord himself. You have heard of the lord speaking through people, well this was the case. It was a moment I will carry to my grave. Here is an 82 year old man, praying for his Great Grandchild. Tone, a strong man not only in stature but in character his voice cracking and quivering with each heartfelt word. The parents-to-be holding hands, tears streaming from their eyes, the Grandparents-to-be shaking as they tried, to no avail, to hold back the tears. The entire room almost in a trace as Tony prayed for this special child. A joyous moment I am so blessed to have shared with everyone else in that wonderful prayer circle. After a prayer of this origin there is always that moment when everyone lets the joy of the moment simply sweep into their soul and memory banks to recalled for all time.

Well now we cut the cake. The knife has 4 hands on it the grandparents and the parents. The first slice comes out and the color BLUE, the room erupts, the parents embrace. Everyone is hugging everyone, a happier scene there could not have been in the country. And yes the old blessed man was right in the middle of it.

As I think now, I realize why I had to wait until later in life to get to become a part of this amazing group. These are the people that you get to the finish line with, from my amazing supportive wife, whom I met later, to my supportive and loving Memphis family. They all will make my trip to the finish line a smooth and loving experience. I would hope we all will be able to say that in the end. It was a very blessed time. The moments I share with this group only get more special. I can’t wait until the next time this group takes my breath. I promise you will hear about it.

Well I’m off to get ready for another wonderful evening, what a blessing. I hope we are together for another 30 years. Can you die from a joy and love overdose? If so, I think I will try…

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Retirement

I was talking to one of my best customers this morning and we got on the subject of retirement.. I told him the biggest mistake I had made in my life was the failure to put money back for this time in my life. He agreed and said that was his biggest mistake as well.

We all live crazy when we are young. If you have a dollar you spend a dollar and a half. My Father for all of the wonderful things he was, a financial planner and advisor he was not. He gave me lots of advice but not in this area. I was left to fend for myself. Much like sex education where no one really talked about it you were just expected to know. And much like sex education the advice you got was someone’s idea or guess and rarely a firsthand experience, please pardon the pun!

As we sat there this morning feeling sorry for ourselves, in our self made situations I began to wonder what can I do to help my son avoid the circumstance I now am living. I have tried to explain to him he needs to save at less one dollars of every ten he makes. He, being 21, loves the bars and eating out and chasing the ladies. The Apple didn’t fall from the tree I have been told. So how do I break the chain and make him understand how important today is for his tomorrow?

I have heard its not how you play, its how you finish. My son needs to finish. He is a smart young man and a real go getter. He is going to be successful I just know it. What is the advice to him? How do you stress the finish line? How much easier would it be to cross it when your 55 than when your 65?

I would like to tell you the story about my ex father in law. He was the man that cut the first grain deal with the Russians. He ran Cook Industries for a brief period of time. Then he went to a firm in Kansas City where he worked for 3 years and boom he was out at 49. He bought a small farm in the Ozark Mountains and has been there ever since. He has made it. But here is the real deal. I can remember my ex wife talking about how she grew up. They gave a new name to frugality. She said it was one piece of chicken and her parents always got the good pieces. Her mother made all of their clothes. The family had to give up a lot for him to arrive at the finish line. So here’s the $64,000 question; where is the middle ground? How do you save for the finish line and still live a full life getting there. Suddenly I feel like a teenage again talking about sex. Knowing what I want and also knowing there is no way to get it!

There must be a way, and I am sure my son will find it. I am also sure that I have no regrets now. Do I wish I had saved more, absolutely! Am I going to retire one day to my little piece of heaven, no question!

I guess at the end of the day it is still about the finish line. How do you want to finish? I want to finish being able to get along in retirement, and my son still thinking it was cool to grow up around me. Does that make me work a little longer? More than likely. Is that OK with me? You bet.

Well guess I had better get back to work I will never retire sitting here writing on this blog!!!

Peace

The Blessed Man

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Partner

When you see this word what comes to mind? In my life I have had many partners, some friends, other in business, and others in adventures that made lasting memories like in boy scouts. But this post is not about any of them. This post is about the most special partner I have, my wife.

I have written about almost everyone I’m close with except my wife. Yesterday, I realized that I had to rectify this at once.

It will be very hard for me to tell you about my partner. She is selfless, caring, forgiving, funny, true, loving, mean, beautiful, and helpful and a thousand other things I won’t mention. She is my rock. I can remember we were just starting out as a couple still in that feeling out stage. She often tells people that I was the thing that won’t go away!! I was called to the office; we worked together, and I was told I was being downsized out of the company. I will never forget going back to where she was and telling her. After the shock worn off she very calmly said we would be just fine. Then she told me the coolest thing. She said this time why don’t you do something you love. And you know what, I did, we have been living the life since that day.. That is an example of what a true partner does, when you are at rock bottom they are there to make sure you don’t miss the net.

Then there was the time my Mother came to visit. She was on kidney dialysis ever other day. She was right there to either take her or pick her up. She was also there to do the things I could not do, like give her a bath, fix her hair and in general take care of her. And she did this like it was her Mother. How many wives do you know that would make that sacrifice?

Then the largest sacrifice of all, my Son. She has always treated him as if he was hers. Now my son could never imagine a Mother treating their child like that but she always had his best interest at the core of every interaction they had and still does to this day. She told my son one day to call her son and ask him if this was how he was treated. He was afraid to because he knew the answer would have been; exactly!

Come forward to present day. I have always fancied myself a backyard gardener. I have had numerous gardens and for the last couple of years have had one in our backyard. I have terrible knees and sweat like a mule and the stamina of a yak. She is always there right by my side working harder than me. Staying out longer than me and doing anything and everything to make sure we have a wonderful garden. But then here is the kicker anytime anybody says anything she never takes credit for how this garden looks. She is beyond special to me.

We “lived in sin” as my Mother called it, for over 9 years. I can remember I asked her to marry me about every other day for 9 years. When she finally said yes we were married within two weeks. She always said she ran just fast enough for me to catch her! Well today she will tell you she waited too long to marry me. Our relationship is really no deeper than when we “Lived in Sin”, but I think we feel the commitment to each other that we now have is a bit deeper. We have been through a lot together. The death of parents, the caring for parents, the raising of children, mine, hers has been grown since we have been together. Each of us has changed careers or left one behind. We have come a long way baby. And I stand here proudly today telling you it is all because of her and her strength that I am the man I am today. It has been said that behind every good man there is a great woman. Well if I have any good in me at all it is because of this kind and gentle partner I have been blessed to be with in this life.

I try to tell her every night before we go to sleep how special she is I can only hope she hears how sincere I am when I tell her. I do not know what I would do if I ever lose her. I think I would simply curl up and go join her. She is my life, my rock, and my very reason to live on this earth. I only wish I could give her all of the things I want to. This is where she would tell me to stop it she has all she needs. That is just how she is. And that is the reason for this post; she is always in the background. Making everything look perfect before, and then cleaning dishes after one of my nightly dinner parties. Doing my clothes, laughing at my stupid jokes, always staying out of the lime light, but making sure I’m out front even if she did all of the work. A more wonderful partner the good lord has not made, and to think he blessed me with her.

Well there you have it, my partner a one of a kind woman whom I love with all of my heart. I can only hope that one day I can be to her what she is to me every day.

I think I will go see if I can find her and give her a huge hug and tell her I love her. Then I might just spring another dinner party on her just to see her say “that’s cool we will have a blast”! God I Love this woman!!!

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eruption

As I stated in the previous post there is another story. I have made attempts in this blog to be funny, most have failed miserably. I will relate a funny thing that happened after dinner last night.

We were all sitting around the table when my wife was asked to tell a story on “Tone the Bone”. He was over at our house helping me fix something in our kitchen. And when I say helping me please realize it really is my helping him. And even then I help by staying out of the way and always knowing where the pencil and hammer are. Seems Tony lays them down and they have a tendency to walk off.

Well anyway he walks outside to get something, and like any man on earth has to pee so he just hangs ole Mr. No Shoulders out and starts peeing. I guess when you 81, like in women, things that used to stick up tend to kind of sag. Well he is standing there just peeing away and looking at a caulk gun. Something that truly amazed my wife was his ability to pee using no hands seems Tony didn’t have any trouble if you know what I mean!! What he didn’t know was my wife was working in the garden directly down the fence line!! She tells the story of hearing something and looked up to see Tony messing with a caulk gun thinking he is about to sling some caulk on our fence. When she says she looked down and there in all of its glory is Big Tone! She said she was in shock and awe. Then it struck her she didn’t want him to see her, so she starts trying to slither away behind his truck. She makes it and comes inside to tell me she is “Marked for life after seeing Tony’s peter”. Well needless to say I fall in the floor laughing. Well we shared the laugh with his daughter, my adopted sister! She screams laughing and the story starts to make it through the family around Tony of course.

Well we are sitting at that same table the last post about impact was and they begged my wife to tell the story. Please remember who is at this table, Tony, his current girl friend and my 93 year old Mother-in-Law.
Now an aside. When they were talking about the guy that has been giving Tony the money. My Mother-in-Law says to my wife. Does this guy have a brother? Everyone laughed and thought that was kind of cool.

So my wife starts telling the story. She is a very talented story teller and has the entire table in stitches listening to her talk about Tony and the killer peter. Everyone is laughing and enjoy a good laugh when my Mother-in-Law leans over to my wife and says in a low voice “forget the brother I’ll take him!!” Well the table erupted in laughter! What a treat to see people late in life still in the game.

I think sometimes we don’t allow our elders to play. We think they are just things we have to take care of and tend too. I am so blessed to have older people in my life. Tony has taught me so much about so many things. His girlfriend an angel, a woman lives life like I have never known. She dances like Ginger Rogers, Paints like a world class artist, and is more fun than women half her age. And we must add beautiful to the mix both in spirit and in looks. She is a very special lady and I am so glad I have been able to know her and become close to her. Then we have my Mother-in-Law whom I have written about many times. A more godly woman I have never known. And how nice is it to known she even likes to get into the mix sometimes and let it all hang out for a minute or too.

Well I hope that there are people in your life that have more “life experience” than you. If they are I hope you are honoring them. Please do not simply cast them aside to live in places where they lose all of their life and fun. Sure it might be a burden sometimes. But then there are the times, like this one, where life simply erupts through them.

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Impact

Something very strange happened last night as the family gathered for dinner. I will explain the happenings, but it is going to take two posts. Once you have read the stories I think you will understand quite clearly why it takes two.

As we sat at the dinner table last night all visiting and excited about being together, the Father of my claimed sister got up to show me something. If you are a reader you will remember the Legacy post, about “The Bone”. What he showed me was a check for a rather large amount of money. I looked at the named of the writer but it meant nothing to me. Tony then sat back down and explained the story behind the check.

Seems when Tony was 16 years old he met another young man on the street one day. They began to talk and Tony realized that this young man was in trouble and needed some help. He promptly took this new friend home and he became part of Tony’s family. He lived there for over 3 years! As the years pasted Tony, and the new friend became closer and closer. They got jobs together and as the writer of the check later told Tony. They became Brothers.

Well, as young men do, they grew apart and lost track of one another. Both when on the have very successful lives, Tony also became the head of one of the finest families I have ever known. The friend he helped on to his career. Well about a year ago a stranger walked into Tony’s business. His daughter was behind the counter and this strange man started asking a lot of questions about the owner Tony. Being the protective daughter she wasn’t giving a lot of information to this unknown man. Well long story short she finally told him that yes indeed this was the Tony he was looking for. He then gave her an envelope to give Tony. A couple of weeks go by and Tony happens by and the daughter hands over the envelope. There inside and wad a cash and a note thanking Tony for his kindness and a contact number. Well you do not have to be Carnac of Johnny Carson fame to know where this is going. The two friends have been reunited and are back close again. Well seems like the new friend has no family and no body to leave his money to so on occasion he passes on a random act of kindness to Tony in the form of some money.

Now that you know the story here comes the hard part. In your life have you impacted anyone? As I sat there last night trying to figure out if I had ever gone that extra mile in my life to impact the outcome of another person not related to me. The only story I can think of is one I will share now.

I have been blessed all my life. When I was in high school I was not in one click I was in them all but the drug click. I was an athlete, I was a little bit of a hell raiser, I was even in the chess club!!! So I was able to walk in many groups. There was this one kid in school he was smaller and a brain. There was something about this kid I liked. I would always speak to him never picked on him liked to talk to him on occasion. I can remember one day groups of my football playing buddies were in the middle of messing with this kid between classes. I was able to stop them and let him go on his way. An act I didn’t even remember until 10 years later.

We were all at the ten year class reunion. And if you went to yours you know how they go. 10 year reunions are for “impressing”, 20 year reunions are for “hey look at my kids”, and 30 year reunions are for “damn it’s good to see you and no that outfit doesn’t make you look fat!”. Well we were all standing around outside when this super stretch Limo pulls up. Everyone was straining to see who was in it. Remember 10 year “impress”, and who ever this is, was doing it in spades! Out steps my little guy. With a young lady that was a foot taller and drop dead gorgeous. Well all the girls were trying to figure out who he was. And all of the guys were trying to figure out who his date was! He walks over to me and I said hello and gave him a hug. He spoke to all I was standing with and looked at me and recounted the story I told above. He told me he never forgot that and how much it meant to him I was willing to take a chance of being made fun of for watching out after a geek. I told him it was nothing and he said it was a turning point for him. He rededicated his life to his passion, computer, and he was now and executive with Microsoft!! I said thanks he gave me a hug and headed back for his limo. I asked where he was going the party was inside. He said he had done what he came to do and was going to dinner. No one else in that room had ever treated him kindly and he was there only to see me! I was shocked to say the least.

I have never told that story in an open forum before because I thought it simply wasn’t important. I only tell it now to make a point that something as small as I did might have an impact on a person’s life. Never let a chance to help and educate pass.

Now let’s look at the two stories side by side. One changed a life forever, Tony’s. Mine was simply what a young man struggling with his identity needed to keep him focused on his dream. I vote for Tony. Taking a stranger into your home? What must his Mother have thought? Is this a testament of the family environment he was raised in? I think so. Has he pasted that Legacy down? Absolutely. If you haven’t figured it out yet Tony is a very special Man, Father, and Friend. May all of us have a “Tone the Bone” in our lives. I promise he makes life fun and special. Just knowing this man has made me a better Man, Dad and Friend I hate my Dad never knew him. They would have liked each other I think.

Once Again I was able to see a life lessoned learned and how important they are to you later. So if you are ever presented with an opportunity to help another don’t pass it by you never know when you might be saving a life, like my friend Tony did.

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Inevitable

A very close friend of mine came to dinner last night. His Father is in the last stages of his life. The doctors are telling him maybe 2 or 3 weeks. He seems to be in a really good state of mind for his situation. We talked about his family and plans as they stood at the time and how everyone was taking the news. It was a very somber meal to say the least.

It also took me back to a time when I was in his exact situation. I can remember going to the Doctors office with my Mom and Dad the day after Thanksgiving 1985. We thought it was a routine visit. His normal doctor had found a small lump under his arm. They had been the week before for a biopsy of the lump and we were just going to get it taken care of. This is a man who smoked 3 packs a day for all of my memory. He was so bad he smoked at the table. And being a good son I always wanted to sit next to my dad. However, a side effect of these, to this day I can’t eat in a restaurant that allows smoking. We sat in the office and waited as you have to do, and they called his name he and my Mom went back. In about 10 minutes my Mother came out and said your Dad wants you back there he sent me out here to get you and I’m to wait here. Well I when back never expecting what I got. They were putting him in the hospital for further testing that day. The doctor would report back to him that night and let him know where we were. Where we were? What does that mean I asked? I was told to just take Mother home. Tell her the doctor was keeping my Dad for tests, out tomorrow, and I was going to stay the night because it was crazy for Mother too. Dad told me to return, with a legal pad I was to buy after I left Mother, and a pen. I, being young and stupid, still had not gotten what was happening. So I very truthfully did exactly like I was told, clueless to the reality I was about to face.

Well it’s no surprise to anyone reading this that I was told my Dad had lymphoma. It was everywhere nothing they could do for him, but make him comfortable and try to manage the pain for the 6 to 8 months he had left on earth. I was devastated to say the least. As I sat there working my way thought this horrible news everything became clear. My Dad, a very organized man, was about to take care of the rest of his life and I was the executor.

We sat up that night and became closer than we had ever been and were until the night I laid him in his bed and knew it was the last time I would see him alive. We worked out all of the arrangements for his funeral. We worked out how my Mother would be taken care of with the money. We worked out how we were going to break the news to her, my sisters and everyone else he felt like needed to know. It was a night I will never forget.

I have often heard you become a man the day your Father dies. As I look back there were never truer words spoken. As long as he was here I had someone to fall back on. I had an advisor/counselor. I had a guy who had my back in all situations that I never had to worry about. When he died that was gone and would never return. I have written here many times that my Dad and I were not close. We weren’t until the last 5 months of his life. As I look back today, 24 years later, I am almost jealous that we were not closer as I was forming but maybe that was designed by him.

As I sat with my friend last night a grown man, of almost 60, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of all of the years he has had that I didn’t. His Father has seen the birth of all of his children. His Father has held his great grandchildren. He has been to all of the first Christmases of all of the kids. He has been there to watch them, take care of them, and bond with them. I know without a doubt my son would be a better man today if he could have spent one week with my Father. I believe I would be a better man today if I would have had him to guide me along the way. Since my Father death I have made some mistakes I think he would have steered me away from, maybe. He was a big believer in Life Lessons. He always said they were the lesson you learned and never had to revisit. He was right the life lessons I have learned I have never had to be re-taught!

I tried to remember back what people did for me that was meaningful as I walked the road my friend is on today. I simply remember my friends were always there. Never in my face, but always there in case I ever had the slightest need. My best friend of 50 plus years would call me and we would just go riding around, something we did in our youth for relaxation and it still worked. He could, and still can, make me laugh when no one else can break through the sadness. I will comment to be there for my friend. We might not ride around but he loves Starbucks. I can see a lot of coffee in my future.

As we age we all face the inevitable, death. I only hope I can go out with the class like my dad. He even in death took care of us all. What a guy.

We talked about my friends Dads funeral last night. I shared what was the greatest gift I had been given in the whole ordeal with him. After my Dad was buried we went back to my grandmother’s house for the tradition feast that rural people always seem to think necessary. Well all my buddies came back to the house. We started telling stories about my Dad and the things he had said, and done. We laughed for over 4 hours. My Mother often talked about how that was what got her on the road to recovery. She never got over losing my Dad, but she was able to live a better life because we laughed him into heaven as she would say. I suggested my friend do the same thing. I hope he does.

Well I think I will text my friend and let him know I am thinking of him, might even see if he wants a Starbucks.

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kids

I have a question. When did it become cool to try to be your kid’s friends instead of their parents?

I can remember the last person on earth I thought was my friend was my Father. He loved me. He actually spoke those words once in my life. Now I know here come the folks that say that’s the reason I’m the way I am is because I have “Father Issues”. Let me address that right away. My Dad didn’t tell me he loved me, true. However, I knew it. When I was coming up you understand he worked 3 jobs so my Mother could be home with the kids. He provided anything we needed, and not much of what we wanted, a blessing I now see. He demanded respect for him and my Mother and if you every crossed that line the penalty was swift and severe. I got it.

I recently heard of a situation where someone found out through Facebook that their kids were leaving some rather racy messages and posts. Thank God we didn’t have anything like this when I was a kid; we just talked to one another, oh the horror!!! Well it got back to the parents and there was a huge fight. Now it needs to be said I was not in the room but here is the way I see it as I happen to know the parents. One says “it is harmless its kids being kids. Things are different today” and leave the kid alone. And the other says don’t do that because people might see it and think I am ok with that. Kind of out of sight out of mind. The second one might be more likely what was going on as I was growing up. We all went to church on Sunday and we all tried to curse like sailors during the week. However, if you ever slipped it was like the scene from a Christmas Story. Life Boy soap and a scolding like you will never forget, and yes you always blamed it on your best friend and acted like you had never said it before!!
Now back to my original point. Why not go in there with the life boy and get it on. Am I so na├»ve that I think 13 year olds don’t curse? Not on your life. Am I so backwoods that I think they don’t talk about things that would more than likely curly my nose hairs? Not even close. However, this “it’s ok” line is simply not acceptable to me. It is never ok, in polite society, for a young teenager to talk like a rude and disgusting grown up. And to think you might piss your kid off for acting like a parent is something I will never understand. Think about the person who raised you. Were they your friend or were they your parent. I get the closeness between children and their parents. In my Memphis Family there are some really close parent children relationships. But I truly believe that if the chips were down the kids know the parents are not their friends. A survey I will be conducting during the next family meal.

Parents are charged with the responsibility of raising you and protecting you. It is their job to make sure you get to the part where you are allowed to mess it up on your own. That age my friend is not 13!! It is more like 19-21. I would like to think my son and I are trying, today, to build a closer relationship because he is at that age where I am out of his business. He lives on his own, pays his own bills, and get into his own trouble. Has he call me more and more? Yes. Do I bail him out no questions asked? Not even close. I only tell him what I would have done differently and give him some advice on what I would do next to get out of the pinch. I got my first call this week where he got into a bind, got himself out, and called to see what I would have done. What a great call to get.

My Father told me one time it was his job to make sure when he died he didn’t leave a burden on society, in me. I think that is the roll of all great Dad’s. Have I done it? Maybe not fully, but I am blessed to still be alive. Am I working hard to get there? Absolutely.

Now I will tell you all something that might be bothering you all at this point in this post. Every time I hang the phone up after talking to my son or we part ways I tell him I love him. I also try to show him I love him. Is there a hole in my heart where all those I love you sons were supposed to be and fill up that I missed from my Dad? No question. Will there be one in my son’s heart? NEVER. But please remember I KNOW my Father loved not only me, but my Mother, and all of my sisters as well. He was a special man and one I miss every day of my life.

So I guess the one friend my son will never have is me. But the one thing he will always have, as long as I live, is a father. And I had much rather be that; isn’t he blessed. Guess I will leave another blessed man to take my place. I just hope I can make him realize it before I go.

Peace,

The Blessed Man

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bond

Seems like there have been nothing but birthday parties in the family for a while lately!! Well last night was another one. This time it was a younger member. This young man turned 24 last night. I try to remember what I was doing at 24 then I remembered I was married and working for a company digging ditches!! It was a good job but man was it hard work. I think it was during that phase of my life I figured out I was not the manual labor guy!! But enough about me. What made this party special was the fact that, as in all birthday dinners, the honoree was in charge of the guest list. It was a simply list. Just us!!! No friends, no others his age, not what you would expect from a man of his age. Not even one really hot 20 something girl!!

As we all sat around this table I was struck by the real sense of family that was surrounding the entire table. The age ranged from 93, my angel of a mother in law, to 22 the sister of the honoree. At one point I looked up and there were at least 5 different conversations going at once. However, there was the most beautiful hum in the room. The room was simply a glow with the sense of family and friends. A more comforting feeling I have never experienced. It took me back to my youth. I can remember sitting around the kitchen table either waiting on my Dad to get home or eating with my Mother and sisters. That feeling was always there, what a blessing. The family bond.

As we sat around thinking we were all in our own little conversations. The glass was tapped, the group quieted and the toasts started. Well it is a very special moment when you get to hear what your brothers think about you, especially when you are the youngest of the boys. I can only imagine when they were all small the lengths the younger would go to impress the older. Yet it seemed as if the tables were turned as we all sat there and listened to the older ones praised the younger.

Now for a brief bit of info on the honoree; He is a lover of life. There is nothing this young man is afraid of, in my opinion. He lives, loves and existed with reckless abandon. He thinks he can do anything, of this I am a bit jealous. He heads into that still dark night of life carrying the light of youth and fully expects everything to work out to his favor. Has he lost on occasion, absolutely! Has he won some, no doubt. He learns a lot like I did in the school of hard knocks. The trouble with that school is the diplomas are always given out later in life. But they are the most special of all degrees given. This young man will be a leader of men and a huge success. Will he fall along the way, without question. But I believe he has the will power and courage to get up and get back in the fight. He might even graduate from Hard Knock U early and with honors!!

As I sat there last night watching this all unfold in front of me I was thinking how different family members are, and how we are all bond together by a common thread. If you look at the brothers as a case study this is played out in full. The oldest brother, an entrepreneur, working hard to get his business up and running profitably, the middle brother, and executive with a fortune 500 company well on his way to the top of the corporate ladder. Both showing love and support for their younger brother in any endeavor he chooses. Both telling of the pride they share in his accomplishments, to this point, and both having great expectations for his future success. A truer family moment would have been hard to find.

I often wonder what I have missed in life by not having a brother. I have people I think of as brothers. I have people I love and are important to me. However, I would be crazy if I thought for one moment it is anything near the bond these young men had last night. The element I am missing; the family bonds the thread of family that last night was holding everyone together as if we were holding hands even when we were talking over each other.

I have stated here many times the blessing I have been given, and the love afforded me from this family I call mine.

Well not sure whose birthday will be next, but there is one thing for sure. The family will gather I will be moved and once again proud to be a part of this very special group of people I call my family.

Peace,

The Blessed Man