SHARED SORROW IS HALF SORROW

IMG_4709.JPG

Early yesterday afternoon while flying home from Washington, I initially struggled somewhere between being fully alert and drifting off to sleep. I subsequently found that sleep didn’t come or couldn’t come. There were extenuating circumstances, but I also had a lot to think about. Consequently, fully awake eventually won the struggle. I didn’t want to waste the experiences previously shared over the past couple of days by failing to reflect on them and search for nuggets of truth too valuable to dismiss by not searching for the lessons to be remembered.

 

Of course, as I sat at the gate waiting for my departing flight, I had fantasized that it would be good to sleep through the first leg of the flight (i.e.:  from Washington to Dallas/Fort Worth). Three hours is a long flight and I was tired. I won’t say I had burned the candle at both ends, but it had been a very full two days. I was intent on making the best of it. Sometimes to do that, you have to color outside the lines and at times abdicate to the wishes or needs of others in the group.

 

Friday night I was up way past my bedtime. It wasn’t just for me, but it was for me. I just reread that last sentence and I think it is incongruent, but at the same time it accurately portrays reality. Consequently, I will say it again. “It wasn’t just for me, but it was for me.”

 

Sometimes you do things because you know it is important to someone else, even if that someone else doesn’t know that it is important until after they’ve had the experience. Okay, so now you think I’m talking nonsense. Let me explain it this way: “Would I have ventured out on my own at that time of night? The answer is most assuredly not, yet “count me in” was my vote”.

 

Actually, I guess the “count me in” was self-evident because I was the one who posed the question. I guess that is short for saying the late night excursion was my idea. I thought it was a good one, but sometimes timing is everything and it was late. My judgment may have been flawed, but my gut told me it was the right thing to do. Sometimes my intuitive default button highlights this reality: “The only place we have is here and the only time we have is now.” Can you argue with either of those assertions?

 

I didn’t go to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (AKA – The Wall) three months ago when I in Washington. Going to The Wall is something I normally do when I am in D.C., but time got away from me and I didn’t make my customary visit.

 

Maybe it is only my imagination, but stopping by The Wall is tantamount for me to “emotionally checking in for old time’s sake”. I think I can make that assertion because it has been a very long, long time.

 

My stopping by The Wall is also a tangible way to remind myself that the issue is still important. I’m not ready to let go! There is still a small cross in front of Ronnie’s name indicating that he’s still missing. I want the symbol changed to a diamond to indicate his death has been confirmed. Of course, the other possible symbol is a circle around the cross to indicate the person has been accounted for and returned alive. To date, the third option has never been used on any name etched in the granite stone.

 

There were only five of us in the late Friday night group excursion, but one of us had never been to the Wall. He had never been to Washington before. What better time than late night to visit The Wall for the first time?

 

In the cloak of darkness the number of names on The Wall doesn’t look as ominous and overpowering as it does during the daytime. It takes more effort to see the names because the row of soft lights emerging from the base of the walkway doesn’t illuminate the names. Unless you read by braille, you’ll never find the panel your looking for or the name of your loved one without a flashlight or candle.

 

Like a horse heading toward the barn, I can operate like a bat in the darkness to locate Ronnie’s name. His name is on the same panel as the family member of two of the people I was with Friday night. Of course, my niece was also there, so we had Ronnie’s name covered.

 

Yet the real reason my gut told me that Friday night was the time and place for visiting The Wall had no relationship to the four of us. It was for the fifth person in our group that I thought it was important that we go. He had never been to The Wall before. No doubt he would have gone while he was still in Washington, but selfishly, I didn’t want him to locate his uncle’s name without being with people he knew. He didn’t know us well, but we had met the day before and we four had an awareness of what it feels like the first time you see a loved one’s name chiseled into that granite wall. No one should have that experience in the presence of strangers. It was a wise man that asserted: “Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half sorrow”.

 

Consequently it proved to be a long night. At the same time, it was a meaningful and memorable night. I was grateful that we went. My gut instinct was right. The downside was it proved to be a very short night. It was also a long flight home.

 

Over the three hours of the first leg of my flight, I was lost mostly in thought. I was tired, but obviously not nearly as tired as the passenger in Row 27, Seat D on the plane on which I was a passenger. As I mentioned earlier, there were extenuating circumstances. I had the experience (I almost said misfortune) of being the passenger assigned to Row 27, Seat E. I was the guy in the middle seat. A lady sat to my right. She was assigned to Row 27, Seat F.

 

The seating arrangement was awkward. The man seated to my left (Row 27 – Seat D) was a large man. He would have been far more comfortable had he been assigned to Seats D&F, but it was a full flight and there was no extra space.

 

At some point, I looked to my right and the lady next to me on my right had her head propped against the aircraft. She was sound asleep. The guy to my left was also sound asleep. He, too, was leaning to the right. Thankfully, it wasn’t his head, but his right shoulder was propped and positioned against mine. I’m not making this up. We were tight. Awkward? – Yes / Comfortable? – No. There was nowhere for me to move. He was invading my space and his weight was pushing against me.   He on the other hand, was sleeping soundly. Did I mention his nap lasted for three consecutive hours?

 

At some point, the lyrics to the song, “Lean on Me” began to roll around in my head. You probably remember the song:

 

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there’s always tomorrow

 

Lean on me, when you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend

I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long

‘Til I’m gonna need

Somebody to lean on…”

 

The sound of the lyrics to “Lean On Me” rolling around in my head were like a healing balm. The wise man who said: “Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half sorrow” also said: “Two are better than one”. He also made reference to the fact that: “A chord of three strands is not easily broken.” That thought should serve to plant the lyrics to “Lean On Me” in each of heads more often.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

UP, UP AND AWAY

Unknown-5.jpeg

My early morning flight to Washington, D.C. yesterday morning was on American Airlines.   Seldom do I fly anything other than Southwest Airlines. For one thing, I don’t like the added cost of paying to check luggage. For another, the last couple of years all of my flights on SWA have been TSA pre-approved. Why switch carriers and potentially mess that up?

 

Okay, so I have “STUPID” tattooed on my forehead. I was flying American yesterday morning and whether rightfully or wrongfully, I was operating on the notion that American Airlines operates pretty much like SWA. I opted to check-in for my flight exactly 24 hours prior to the posted departure time. Guess what? Can you believe this? With American Airlines you have the privilege of picking your seat before you board the plane. You make your seat selection at the time of check-in. Who knows, maybe you have the option to do so at the time of making your reservation. That seems to make sense to me, but somehow earlier I had failed to make that discovery.

 

Why not? I clicked on the link for seat selection. The obvious downside to having the privilege of selecting your seating is that it comes at a price. When I checked on seat availability, everything in the standard fare was already preselected. Are you kidding me? There was not one available seat that didn’t come at an extra charge of $17 to $34 dollars. The same was true for both legs of the flight.

 

Advertising something about extra legroom in the cabin or preferential seating choice and I’d say it closely resembles a scam. There were at least four available middle seats priced at $17. I didn’t want a middle seat even if they were giving them away. How many airlines have you flown on where the seating on one side of the aisle didn’t closely resemble the seating on the other side of the aisle? I bet your answer is none of them unless you were flying on Air Force One or some other private carrier.

 

I don’t remember the name of the airline, but when the General and I flew out of Rome, Italy several years ago, even at the airline terminal before we entered through security, there was an “UP Charge” for selecting our seats.   It seems like it was in the neighborhood of something over $100 a seat. Of course, you could pay the money upfront and be guaranteed that you and your traveling companion would be seated next to each other.

 

I’m a practical man. When had just spent 18 days together on a cruise.  If we needed to be separated by a couple or three rows to get a seat on the plane, it shouldn’t be the end of the world. The General would have opted to pay the $200 rather than take the chance that we wouldn’t be seated together. My thought process was closely akin to “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The way I saw it, we were guaranteed some seat with the tickets we’d already purchased. Why not take our chances and avoid the additional charge? Like I said, the General saw it differently.

 

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you won’t be surprised to know that I opted to take our chances. I guess that means I’d be better at playing poker than the General. I was willing to call their bluff. By the way, I hate table games, so I’m not at risk for a game of poker.

 

The way I saw it, if you had an airline ticket, the airline was obligated to provide you a seat. After all, how would you adhere to the “fasten your seatbelt” requirement if you didn’t have a seat? That time it paid off to call their bluff, our seats turned out to be next to each other and we weren’t out the additional $200.

 

Okay, so I had a flashback to that experience when I was looking on Monday at seating availability for yesterday’s flight. There was not one available seat on the flight that didn’t come with the caveat of requiring more money.

 

So I checked in without making a seat selection. After checking in, I had to select how I wanted my boarding pass. I opted to print it. Of course the boarding pass indicated the assigned seat might not actually be your assigned seat. You’d think that disclaimer would have given me an indication that the boarding pass wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on?

 

Like I said, the airport was really busy yesterday morning. Thankfully, with boarding pass in hand, I headed for the TSA Pre-Approved line to get through Security. It, too, was busy, but it moved quickly. When the agent attempted twice to scan the bar code on my boarding pass without success, he told me I needed to go back to the airline counter to get another boarding pass. The bar code on my boarding pass was not working.

 

It was then that some level of panic set in. From my perspective, I was cutting it pretty close on time. In addition, I was attempting to get through Security at the SWA end of the terminal and the American Airlines counter was at the other end of the terminal. You may have already figured this out, with me I don’t have to look for things to worry about. In addition to my backpack and carry-on suitcase, I had my bi-pap machine. Medical equipment or medical devices are not supposed to count as a carry-on, but did the folks at American know that? Only time would tell.

 

I subsequently breathed a sigh of relief. It all turned out okay, except that I had to check my suitcase once I got to the gate before boarding the plane. Well, at least I didn’t have to pay extra for the assigned seat which coincidentally was the same seat assignment that had been reflected on the earlier boarding pass. As it turned out, I didn’t have to pay to check my luggage either. They were doing it complimentary from the gate.

 

That leaves me the dilemma of my return flight? Will I opt to pay for checking my baggage at the airline counter or will I take my chances and get it checked free at the gate? It sounds like the kind of question that has an easy answer. I’ll let you figure it out.

 

All My Best!

Don

The O K Corral Isn’t O K

Unknown-7.jpeg

Despite my unintended efforts yesterday that seemed destined to sabotage a beautiful day, intermittently the kindness of others was enough to boost my spirits and set me in a healthy place emotionally. Abraham may have set out not knowing where he was going, but he managed somehow to become the father of the Israelite nation despite a blunder or two on his part. Seriously he could have jeopardized the whole shooting match. It pays to have God watching over you and being involved in the process.

 

Please don’t judge me as being sacrilegious, but yesterday’s prayer: “God, help me figure this out” didn’t get me a lot closer to proficiency in learning the use of Office 365. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming God. At this point, I’m not even sure Office 365 isn’t the work of other forces. I am also quite sure that I really didn’t pray: “God help me figure this out.” That was a strategic error on my part. I labored under the illusion that I could figure it out on my own. How’s that for the joke of the day? I could have used the outside help.

 

Day-before-yesterday I thought I was closer to having Office 365 figured out. Yesterday it was two steps backwards. I would say at this point that if I have things saved in the cloud, only God knows where to find them. I am fairly certain that I’ll never see them again. In fact, I’m not sure I want to see them again. Yep, it was that kind of day around the “O K Corral”.

 

Speaking of the “O K Corral”, it didn’t help my attitude any when I went out to my truck yesterday morning and noticed that the “O K Corral” around my house is no longer “O K”. I’m stretching the truth a bit here, but half of one side of my yard fence is bent over. O K, so maybe “half” is a substantial exaggeration, but large four legged animals don’t stop at much. That includes what once was an attractive fence. So do I say calf-rope (pardon the pun) and pay to have the whole thing taken down and something substantially stronger installed in its place?

 

I don’t yet know the answer to my own question. I’m still thinking. The current fencing around our home was selected because it went with the look that we wanted for the house. Using oilfield pipe with a three or four-inch diameter welded together to fashion a rail fence is going to look very different. I started to say “aesthetically awful”, but decided not to in the fear that you might have a fence like that. In addition, I’d have to rob a bank to pay for the materials and the labor to build that kind of fence. That sets up another scenario of a shoot-out at the O K Corral or Wells Fargo.

 

So why wouldn’t I just have the fence refurbished? It was only about a year ago that I had similar damage done to the fencing on the other side of my yard. I opted to have that damage repaired. Seriously, the damage was only about three hundred dollars, but it is frustrating. Of course, my frustration hasn’t risen to the place that I’m contemplating a real shoot-out at the “Not So O K Corral” around my home. However, I have heard the expression: “They shoot horses don’t they?”

 

Of course, shooting horses had some relationship to putting a horse out of its misery. It hasn’t really been that long ago that it was customary and merciful to shoot a horse with a broken leg. Veterinary medicine has improved a lot in recent years.

 

Besides that, not much good comes from a shoot-out. The famous gunfight that ensued at the O K Corral in Tombstone, Arizona lasted all of 30 seconds. The year was 1881, but the memory lives on. Reportedly only around 30 shots were fired. According to one source: “Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills”.

 

I will leave it up to you to figure out who the good guys were. I’m going to side with the country song on this one as far as shooting horses is concerned: “Son, Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.” Consequently, the horses are safe. It’s not that they were intentionally destructive. It isn’t there fault that they previously looked at my shiny tough Ford truck and gnawed on the paint. Shucks, only a drug store cowboy would worry about something like that. A real buckaroo would write it off as good luck and a badge of being rugged. After all, it is just a truck. Did I mention that I had my truck fixed?

 

Let me mosey on to the kindness of others that reframed the day for me yesterday. It was noon before I got to the Post Office. No sooner had I parked my truck than I realized I didn’t have my post office key with me. I started to back out and just go back home, but I was also mailing books to my cousin with whom I reconnected day-before-yesterday. Consequently, I gave it a second thought and went on into the post office.

 

Mercifully, there wasn’t much of a wait. The young man behind the counter asked: “How’s your day going?” I responded: “It would be much better if I hadn’t forgotten my key to the post office box.” He asked: “What’s your box number and do your have your diver’s license”. Miracle of miracles, I actually remembered the box number and I had my driver’s license. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to ask for that kind of help.

 

I told him up front that I was mailing books. He asked: “Do you want to ensure them?” I laughed and said: “I wrote them so they can’t be worth much”. A kind lady overhearing the conversation interjected: “If you wrote them, then they are worth a lot.” Her kindness boosted my spirits greatly. I thanked her for her kindness and told her I also write a daily blog. She asked for the blog address and promised to check-it out.

 

My neighbors insisted Sunday that they take me to dinner last night. That too, proved to be most enjoyable. It helped erase away some of the afternoon frustration associated to Office 365.

 

When I got home following dinner, I opened an email. It was from my cousin’s daughter that I had reconnected with months ago through ancestry.com. She sent me a note: “I don’t know if you’ve seen this picture of your mother or not, but I found it on ancestry.com”. It was a class picture taken at the school in Forestburg. The picture identifies the students by row. My mother is on the first row in the center. I don’t know how old she was at the time. The picture didn’t identify the grade level. But seeing it was a “feel good” moment for me.

 

All is well in my world even if the O K Corral isn’t so O K. The owner is and that’s all that really matters.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

Somewhere In Time

Unknown-5.jpeg

Several months ago, a match on ancestory.com paired me with the daughter of a paternal cousin that I had not seen in several years. My dad’s family was a small family and for a portion of our lives we grew up as neighbors. I guess you could say in our early years, we lived in the family compound or at least on the same street. Our house number was 512; my grandparents were at 514 and my uncle’s house was 516. Wow! That was a long, long time ago.

 

My uncle and his family subsequently moved to Lubbock. Actually, during the course of his life, he and his family lived in lots of different places. He was a builder and worked primarily building commercial real estate. I remember when Johnny Cash and June Carpenter released their country hit: “If I Were A Carpenter.” It was a good sound, but I remember my uncle wasn’t a fan.

 

Of course, I can understand why. The lyrics of the song carried the connotation that there was something less than honorable about being a carpenter. What other explanation could you construe from: “If I were a carpenter and your were a lady, would you marry me anyway? Would you have my baby?”   If that wasn’t enough, add: “If I worked my hands in wood, would you still loved me?” I can see how a person whose trade was that of a carpenter would be a little miffed at the lyrics. It does sound somewhat denigrating.

 

Late yesterday afternoon I received a Facebook request from my uncle’s daughter. At least, I thought it was my uncle’s daughter. The three-word name on the invitation to be Facebook friends included the name “Rebecca”. I immediately accepted the invitation and with a smile on my face responded: “That’s not really your name. Your name is ‘Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane’.

 

As it turned out, the invitation wasn’t from my cousin “Becky”, but from her second oldest daughter. It was her oldest daughter that I had connected with through Ancestry.com. Annette laughingly responded to the name I had tossed back in her direction: “That’s not my name. That is the name you always call my mother.” She also mentioned that her sister had told her about my daily blog and she thought she’d enjoy reading it. Okay, so that, too, was music to my ears.

 

The name “Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane” took me back in time. I don’t remember the year, but I was traveling with my uncle and his family to see my grandparents who, too, had moved away at the beginning of my high school years. It is strange the things you remember.

 

We stopped for lunch or dinner at a café in Jacksboro, Tx. I think it was lunch, but I don’t really remember. You know the kind of café I’m talking about. They have all but disappeared from the landscape of places to eat. There was a large jukebox in the restaurant and each table had a device where you could select a song for a dime or three for a quarter. You sorted through the available songs by simply “turning the page” so to speak of the selection play list.

 

That was back in the day when “country music” was the only venue of music I listened to if I had a choice. I grew up listening to country music. None of us had a musical bone in our body and we had absolutely no musical ability. The one thing we shared was enjoyment from listening to music.

 

I am a sucker for a sale. I always have been. Three songs for a quarter in the jukebox seemed like a bargain to me. Why not? One of the three songs I selected was a song sung by Eddie Arnold. I had never heard the song before and I have never heard it since, but the title of the song has stuck with me well over half a century. The title of the song was   “ Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane”.

 

From that day forward, I have always called my cousin by that name. I guess you could say it has a musical ring to it, but as I recall, it wasn’t the kind of song you latch on to and can’t let go. However, the title of the song stuck with me.

 

Before the day ended yesterday, I had also become a Facebook friend with my cousin, Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane. I treasure the contact. The simple memory of family times together during our growing up years and times shared together at my grandparents home in Forestburg fill me with a sense of delight. I miss those times. They were good times, but they are forever captured in the resources of my mind.

 

It is nice to have the renewed connection with Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane.

 

All My Best!

Don

Father’s Day 2017

FullSizeRender.jpg

Father’s Day 2017 was a good day for me. For starters, it was a Sunday.  I had gotten home late the evening before from a wedding in Houston, but invested the time to jot down a few things I wanted included in my Father’s Day message before I went to bed.  I purposefully didn’t set the alarm.  I figured my body would tell me when it was time to get up. The night before I had exercised the same logic and I had slept for over nine hours. I don’t remember anytime in the last forever that I’ve slept that long, but it felt good to be able to sleep.

 

Sunday morning, I checked my watch for accuracy. I had been retired from my day job for just over 17 days.  This was the beginning of day eighteen.  Already, I had made tremendous progress in learning to relax and simply giving myself permission not have to come up with the right answer for every problem presenting itself for resolution. Empathy comes easily for me, but there are limits on what I can control. Truth be told, that has always been the case. I have absolutley no control over anything that ultimately really matters.

 

The remaining church work is more therapeutic than anything else. It has provided me a lifeline over the past forever because it routinely forces me to focus on things that matter most as a balance to some of the other priorities that have consumed my time. Yesterday’s message focused on two things: God’s love and my Dad’s love. I highlighted my discovery of how they blended in to one and the same. The thoughts shared came easily for me and when my time was done, I sensed the message was well received. 

 

We’ve all heard the expression: “Like father/like son”. More often than not, that plays itself out the way Jim Croce describes it in his song: “The Cats In The Cradle”:

 

“A child arrived just the other day,

Came to the world in the usual way,

But there were planes to catch

And bills to pay, he learned to walk while I was away

He was talking before I knew it and as he grew

He said I’m going to be like you Dad,

You know I’m going to be like you.

 

And the cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon,

Little Boy Blue, and the Man in the Moon,

When you coming home son, I don’t know when

We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then…

 

My son turned 10 just the other day,

Said thanks for the ball now c’mon let’s play

Will you teach me to throw, I said not today,

I’ve got a lot to do, he said that’s ok

And he walked away and he smiled and he said

You know I’m going to be like you, Dad,

You know I’m going to be like you…

 

He came from college just the other day,

So much like a man I just had to say,

I’m proud of you, won’t you sit for a while

He shook his head and said with a smile,

What I’m feeling like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys

See you later can I have them please…

 

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day

I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind

He said I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time

You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu

But it’s sure nice talking you Dad, it’s been real nice talking to you.

 

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me

He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.

 

And the cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon,

Little Boy Blue, and the Man in the Moon,

When you coming home son, I don’t know when

We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then”.

 

 

Of course, I threw in some other antidotes including one author’s confession that when his children were very young, he focused on all the wrong things.  Patrick Morley shared in his book, “Man in the Mirror” that when his children were toddlers, he was always uptight about the new scratches that showed up almost daily on their coffee table. He writes, “This was a real point of contention with my wife, who could care less about such matters. My blood boiled when I spotted a new nick in the luster of the smooth-grained wood. Finally, Patsy couldn’t take it anymore and said, ‘You leave my children alone! I’ll not have you ruining a million-dollar child over a $300 table!”

 

That at least gives you something to think about. In the interim, while I’m thinking, my grandchildren aren’t going to eat in my truck. For that matter neither is their Gram.

Following the service, a thoughtful church member shared with me as she made her way out the door: “Don, that was one of your best sermons.”  I couldn’t take credit for any of it. I simply had the privilege of writing it down as the thoughts crossed my mind. I had the sense that I had honored both God and my Dad with the morning message. I don’t always have that kind of affirmation, but yesterday it felt right.

 

All was well in my world. Following church, I opted to make hospital visits.  I smiled later in the day when the husband of one of the patients I visited in ICU sent out an email blast providing an update on his wife’s medical progress to the 55 people who are blind copied on the distribution list.  He signed off with the funny notion: “…reporting live for (name of the patient) news network…we now return you to your normally scheduled programming…

 

Ps. I did smuggle Pastor Don in today while the staff wasn’t looking to lead us in prayer – but don’t tell the hospital administration- I might get sent to detention or have to wash dishes in the cafeteria or something and they only use paper plates everyone throws away so that could get a bit tricky…”

 

Reading his notation not only put a smile on his face, but also affirmed for me how blessed I am to have the privilege to be involved in the lives of others.  That experience greatly enriches my life well beyond my deserving.

 

Andrea and Kevin had invited me for a Father’s Day meal later in the day. It turned out to be an exceptional meal, but then again, that is their signature trademark. There were a couple of things about our evening discussion that gave me pause for concern.  Crediting it as a God thing, they mentioned a conversation they had shared with someone the day before.  By happenstance or as they inferred Divine providence, they had a meaningful conversation with a volunteer at Austin Pets Alive.  Simply referencing a dog shelter gave me pause for concern, but the conversation moved on and I didn’t ask.  Besides that, if they opted for a third dog, I really didn’t have a say in the matter. After all, Andrea’s brother has four dogs.  Crazy isn’t it?

 

Later in the evening Andrea asked if I’d like to watch a show about a talking dog. She had mentioned the series to me before. I think it is “Downward Dog”.  The mention of a dog show brought back my earlier concern.  So before we watched the talking dog on television, I wanted to make sure we were on a level playing field and that there was no misunderstanding.

 

I said: “Tell me more about your visit to Austin Pets Alive”. So it really was none of my concern, but on the outside chance that they were shopping for Gram a new dog, I wanted to make it clear that was not an option. I am even more adamant about that than I am about my grandkids not eating in my truck.  Neither is going to happen in my lifetime.

 

As it turns out, Austin Pets Alive is one of the non-profit charitable organizations that Kevin regularly supports. They were onsite at the invitation of the organization. It had nothing to do with Gram or a new dog.


Like I said, “Mine was a perfect Father’s Day.”

 

All My Best!

0
0
1
1078
6148
Apple Computer, Inc.
51
14
7212
14.0

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-language:JA;}

Don

I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU

19222773_10208520294754385_6418955882096419419_o.jpg

There is something delightfully refreshing about the make-believe world of children. Late Friday night and early Saturday morning, Jake fashioned for himself a make- believe fort out of cardboard boxes. When I saw it, I thought it was an army tank, but in his imagination it served more as a bunker. From the vantage point of childhood imagination, there were no limits to its representation.

 

On Saturday morning, Gram had opportunity to be the first to see it. Of course, Jake had a vested interest when he extended her the invitation. He is a little ham and he wanted her to video “the fort” along with him providing an explanation of how it works.

 

Gram then asked Jake: “So when you grow up, are you going to be a builder like your Uncle Ryan?” He provided what I could have predicted as a response. After all, how many Texas A&M shirts does the kid own? He has at least one for everyday. He answered the question by saying: “No. I am going to be a Marine”. You know what they say: “Like father/like son.”

 

Jake went on to say that after retirement from the Marine Corps, he’d become a professional football player. Gram asked: “So don’t you think you’d be a little old to play football when you retire?” He said, “No – My Commanding Officer will look at me and say: “Way to go! -That’s my Marine boy.”

 

When I finally had opportunity to go upstairs and see the “fort” for myself, Jake welcomed me by saying: “Now Granddad, this is really something to blog about! I smiled with the thought! The General gets perturbed with me when I mention something is blog worthy. Jake on the other hand has the ability to think like Granddad. I suggested he write the blog, but since he didn’t, I thought I would.

 

Like I said, “When I first saw the fort with Jake’s head emerging through a flap in the top, it reminding me of an army tank with a person peering outside. Jake’s imagination brought me back in time. When I was a little kid, we too, played soldiers. As a little kid, all I knew of war and battle were the things gleaned from movies about WWII. My dad had set aside that chapter of his life by the time I was born, but the experience had a life-long impact on him. Although he never talked of the war until toward the end of his time, he proudly served his nation.

 

Actually, my dad took us to see the movie: “To Hell And Back” starring Audie Murphy. The movie was autobiographical and garnered the life and heroism of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history.

 

We also saw: “From Here To Eternity” portraying the horrors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There were also other theme related movies, but I don’t remember the names. What I do remember is coming away from the movies with the sense that Americans fought because it was the right thing to do. Many died in the process. It was simply the sacrificial price of admission for the things we hold dear.

 

Yesterday, my brother posted a picture of Dad wearing his U.S. Army uniform. It is the picture I used for this article.  I had never noticed it before, but in the picture dad almost looks like a kid. Maybe it takes 70-year-old eyes to fully process that we send our young men off to war.

 

Dad opted to keep three mementos from the war. They included a German helmet, a 1933 Standard Dress Dagger he took from a German soldier who was being transported after being taken captive. The soldier was taking the knife out of his boot when dad noticed him. He also kept a U.S. Army issued overcoat. To my knowledge, Dad never wore the overcoat after his discharge from the army, but he also never opted to part with it.

 

At my insistence, Larry took the overcoat after Dad was no longer here. I charged him with the responsibility to keep it for the remainder of his days since Dad found it worthy of keeping. It was a selfish thing on my part for me to do. We didn’t have the extra closet space to integrate it into our stuff. I stay in trouble with the General as it is because I’m reluctant to part with things that are too good to throw away, but not good enough to keep. I feared Dad’s overcoat would fall into that category.

 

Larry, reluctantly, but amicably agreed to take the coat. I didn’t want the responsibility of keeping the coat for the rest of my days, but at the same time, I thought we honored Dad by keeping it. Karoni, Dad’s oldest granddaughter, has the German helmet and Craig, his oldest grandson, has the German dagger. Craig is the reason I know the year and description of the dagger. He took it to an expert to learn about it and have it refurbished. It is a keepsake of Dad’s that he’ll cherish for the remainder of his days.

 

I think of Dad often. It is hard to believe the 10th anniversary of his home going was last week.  He died on June 10, 2007. During my growing up years, Dad provided for our family, but he wanted more for me and my brothers than he had experienced for himself. He saw education as the key to a better future. I don’t know how he did it, but at one time there were three of us in college at the same time. It made Dad feel good to provide for us the college degree he never had for himself.

 

From a vocational perspective, I never wanted to be just like dad, but that may have been through his urging. Like I said, he sacrificed to ensure our opportunities would be beyond his own.

 

It is interesting now that I’m in the closing chapters of life (however long or short that may be), I’m discovering that what I want most for the rest of my days is to be just like Dad. My dad represented a level of strength and sacrificial commitment that I’ve never known. The last fourteen months of his life were filled with one physical difficulty after another, but the overriding passion of his life had little relationship to himself. His primary goal was to take care of Mother.   He simply lived with a reliance on God that somehow the need would be met. He refused to give up, retreat to bitterness or fall prey to depression. He had the sense that God was with him every step of the way during the last chapter of his life and he was a testimony of how faith can make a difference.

 

If I could attain the stamina and perseverance I saw in my Dad, I’d think of myself as finishing the course in the best possible way. It was a faith walk for Dad and he never wavered. I can think of no more victorious way to cross the finish line to an eternal new beginning. I want to be just like Dad.

 

I even like the way Phillips Craig and Dean express it in their song entitled “I Want To Be Like You”. The lyrics include:

 

He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says “I want to be like you”
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Trippin’ over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he’ll see
He’s got a father in God ’cause he’s seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
‘Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
‘Cause he wants to be like me

Got to admit I’ve got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I’m sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can’t get it all right
But I’m trying so hard to learn from the best
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
‘Cause I know that he’ll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me
Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it’s only ’cause I’m learning from the best Father of them all

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z8bXcBRIU0

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superstition – Déjà vu

Unknown-10.jpeg

When it comes to superstition, I don’t have much of a frame of reference. I’m not even sure how you’d define superstition. Isn’t superstition: “A widely held belief related to consequences for certain actions that really are without a basis?” For example: “It is really bad luck to spit in the wind?” I guess the real answer to that question depends on the direction you’re facing related to the wind.

 

Take the number “13” for example. Some folks see “13” as an unlucky number and opt to stay in-doors on Friday the 13th. They choose not to press their luck by taking unnecessary chances. Not me, I’m going to celebrate that it is Friday. Besides that, if you don’t take a chance every now and then, you might miss out. I don’t care what numerical day of the month any Friday falls on. Fridays work well for me. Obviously, that thought leaves me optimistic for today.

 

I don’t have an aversion to staying in a room on the 13th floor of a hotel, but I have stayed in hotels that didn’t have a 13th floor even though there was an open deck on the roof or near the top of the building. I figure the open deck represents more of a risk than the 13th floor. Did I say: “I always consider it a little strange when the number 13 is not an option on the elevator select button in a multi-story building that is much higher?” Obviously, there is a price to pay for superstition.

 

Though I don’t consider myself superstitious, I do find it problematic or concerning when a black cat crosses my path. You know what they say about black cats?   Of course, the color of the cat isn’t the real issue. I interrupt it as bad luck when any cat crosses my path because they intuitively do a U-turn and head directly toward me.  Before you write me off as irrational and uncaring, Isn’t it true they smother babies? Oh, I guess that, too, is a superstition.

 

At any rate, I am a cat magnet.  Passive aggressive is the only way I can describe it. Cats love me, but only because they know they have the negative impact of making the hair on the back-of-my- neck stand up. There are two kinds of people in this world. There are people who like cats and there are people that don’t. I obviously fall into the latter category.

 

I’m resistive to the notion that I’m superstitious, but how many times do I say: “Knock on wood” while I’m knocking on wood to signify my hope that something I’ve just said doesn’t happen? I guess maybe I am a little superstitious. After all, it always bad luck when I break a mirror. For one thing, if I break it, the mirror doesn’t belong to me and the General would be a little miffed. For another you know who would have to clean up the mess. Consequently, it would be back luck on two counts.

 

I do remember at some point in my junior high school years that I had a rabbit’s foot keychain attached to the zipper on my notebook. That sounds really gross.  What was I thinking?  In addition, do they even make notebooks like that anymore? Surely you remember the type I’m talking about? It was a notebook for the storage of 3-ring paper and the notebook was held closed by a zipper that kept the paper and pencils inside.

 

Speaking of bad luck, I just discovered that it is bad luck to make a cup of coffee on a Keruig Coffee maker in the dark. Do you want to know why? I just went to retrieve my coffee and was in for quite a surprise. When I picked my cup up, I discovered the cup was upside down. I guess I’m stating the obvious, but I now have a mess to clean up. Call it superstitious if you want to, but I guarantee you it won’t serve you well to make a cup of coffee the way I just made mine. Fortunately, the General will never know. Right now I could be listening to lecture #2693 about the need to pay attention.

 

So, I had a rabbit’s foot keychain for good luck. Where did the keychain come from and why did I want it are questions that immediately come to mind? I don’t have the answers. I’m sure it was a fad back-in-the day and that many in my peer group also had a rabbit foot in their possession.

 

So did you ever carry a “Good Luck Charm” with you? Apart from the rabbit’s foot, I don’t think I did. However, I have thought of getting a James Avery silver cross to wear hanging from my neck. I wouldn’t consider it a good luck charm. I prefer to think of it as a good look and a visual reminder that it isn’t about luck, but about love that matters most.

 

I have a leather notebook stored in the top of my closet that belonged to Ronnie. It has been years since I looked inside, but as I recall, the notebook includes a slide rule that he needed for coursework at Texas A&M. But of course, he also had a slide rule in high school. Besides using it to draw a straight line, I am clueless related to its use. Would it bring me bad luck if I opted to give or throw the notebook away? What about the slide rule?

 

I don’t know if you’d call it back luck, but I would feel like something important was missing if I didn’t have it. Just saying that is really stupid because other than collecting dust in the top of my closet, the leather notebook serves no useful purpose other than to trigger a memory when I take the time to glance toward the top of my closet.

 

Of course, as you might suspect, my primary focus when I look in my closet is to look down. Could I have inadvertently dropped one of the yellow tags attached to my laundry on the floor? That, too, is guaranteed to bring you bad luck.

 

So what about the All-STAR baseball games taking place in Sealy, TX this week? What place does superstition hold related to winning or losing? As you might suspect, I am on very shaky ground with this one because I know folks who are more than just a little superstitious when it comes to baseball. Smart people really, but maybe not always?

 

Maybe the term is “Déjà vu?” If your son’s team won the first All Star game, you guarantee a win on the second by exactly duplicating the first game. If you are observing the game, you sit in the same spot or you stand in the same place. Nothing can be altered, you march to the beat of the same drum you followed previously. If you wore your favorite whatever for the first game, you leave the good luck unimpaired and unwashed and you wear it for the second. I mean, after the third consecutive game, wouldn’t a fresh look guarantee some level of success?

 

In Sealy, Little League baseball is King. In fact, someone recently mentioned that All-Star week is not the week to have your wedding. What you’ll find is an empty church because nothing, I mean nothing, is of higher importance that the All Star Games in Sealy.  The crowd might show up for the reception, but they are not missing the game for a wedding.  In Sealy, that probably would include the father-of-the-bride.

 

I recently heard of a very successful entrepreneur in Sealy who invited an elderly couple to come watch his son’s team play. The couple previously invested highly in the man’s business. They arrived for the 3rd game. With there welcome to the game came the pronouncement: “If the team starts to lose, you’ll have to leave.” The man agreed that he understood. Maybe the man is a local that knows you change nothing including spectators to continue the winning streak.

 

At any rate, the General wanted to go to the fourth game last night. I said: “Not on your life. If the team should lose, we’d always be suspected as the cause”.  No, I’m not overly superstitious, but I wasn’t going to take that kind of chance. Some risks are acceptable, while others are not. Hopefully, I have the discernment to know the difference.

 

I’d like to have another cup of coffee, but after the first cup should I take the risk?

 

All My Best!

Don