Category: family

Traveling But Not Blogging

I have not been blogging, but have been tending to personal duties. Plus, we have traveled a bit, also. This past week we drove from Atlanta to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit relatives. Up until three years ago, I had not seen those people since our Uncle’s funeral several decades ago.

It was good to have seen them, and catch up on our families. Time has been good to all of us, well, with the exception of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. We heard all the stories, and toured the coast where people are rebuilding, depending on the restrictive, new building codes.

My cousins are brave people, and since they have grown up on the coast, will not let a few hurricanes drive them away. After seven years, they have all rebuilt and refurbished.

Life is good.

Georgia Politics And The American Revolution

picture of the three signers of the Georgia signers of The Declaration of Independence
The Georgia Signers

There were three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia. These were George Walton, Lyman Hall, and Button Gwinnett.

Button Gwinnett’s signature is at the top of the first column of signatures on the bottom left of the Declaration.  His signature is one of the most sought after of all the men who were there. Gwinnett was a leader of the radical faction of the Whigs. The other Whig faction was not as enthusiastic for American independence. Those loyalists who favored British rule were called Tories.

Button Gwinnett was killed in a duel by his political enemy, Lachlan McIntosh, in May, 1777.  Both men were wounded in the duel, but McIntosh recovered and Gwinnett died three days later. His early demise less than a year after the signing has made his signature very valuable, and it may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s market.

picture of the Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

Gwinnett’s second in the famous duel was my ancestor, George Wells. He was a leader of the radical Whig faction. In early 1780 as president of the executive council, Wells acted as governor when Richard Howley, Governor, and George Walton traveled to Philadelphia as representatives to the Continental Congress.

picture of Button Gwinett
Button Gwinett

George Wells was killed in a duel on February 15, 1780 by a political enemy, Major James Jackson. The politics in Georgia during the Revolution were dirty and dangerous. The leaders of the radical Whig faction, Gwinnett and Wells, although killed in duels, had a lasting effect on democratic rule in the State of Georgia.

At one time, there were three state governments in Georgia. The Tories (Loyalists) convened in Savannah, and the Whigs, of which there were two factions, convened in Augusta. It was a confusing time, and choosing the winning side could be a hazard to your health.

Gwinnett County, Georgia was named for Button Gwinnett. It is in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.

Old Sam Goes Home, Today

Picture of Sam, our dachshund
Old Sam

This is one of those articles that is tough to write. Our miniature dachshund, Sam, is almost sixteen years old, and just can’t get it together, anymore. It is time for Sam to go home. His black long-haired dachshund buddy, Dash, died almost three years ago. Dash was fifteen years old, and had epilepsy.

Although the dogs were not blood related, we always thought of the younger Sam as Dash’s dog. Sam was our daughter’s pet, and there seems to be a natural law that when your kids get married, they do not take their pets with them. At that time, we didn’t want to separate Dash and Sam.

We remember the good times. There was a time when Sam was young, healthy, and could jump. Jumping is something most dachshunds are not very good at because or their relatively short legs. Their legs are so short, their bellies almost drag the ground, along with other appendages. Sam never liked to go outdoors when the grass was wet and cold.

When Sam was a puppy, he adopted my wife as his favorite, even though he belonged to our daughter. Sam would watch my wife when she walked into the den, and wait until she was in the act of sitting down. Uncannily, the little dog could launch himself at just the right time to land in my wife’s lap. He would jump while she was still in the motion of setting down.

Plus, Sam rarely ever growled at anyone. My daughter found a way to elicit a gruff growl by pushing his rear end with her cold feet. Sam was really sensitive about his butt. He never bit anyone, to my knowledge, except me. That happened a few months ago, and he was not doing well, at all.

Poor Sam has gotten to the point that he cannot hike his leg. He also doesn’t bother with waiting to do his bathroom duties outside, either.

He has cataracts and is virtually blind, and he bumps into things in and outside of the house. His sense of smell has disappeared, too. He can’t even smell a piece of cheese three inches from his nose. His joints are stiff, and he seems to be in pain.

A lot of what I say sounds like a way to relieve my guilt at what I am about to do. Undoubtedly, that’s correct.

Today Sam will join his buddy, Dash.

Goodbye, Sam.

Happy Dad’s Day, Kids

I was going to write a Dad’s day blog about my father, and what a great man he really was. Even though he was a poor man, had not finished high school, or even entertained college, he was fairly intelligent. He had actually been a school teacher at one time during the Great Depression.

But, now you are stuck with me. Yep, I’m a Dad, and I am proud of it. My two children lived to adulthood, although we lost one when he was twenty-one years old. It was fun to be around him, and others agreed saying that wherever he went there was sunshine, music, and laughter.

One day he called from his college saying, “Dad, I had an epiphany. While I was in the bathroom I realized that I am just like you”. Yes, he was a clown, too. Even at that, I was very pleased to hear those words. It was one of those little jokes between father and son.

My daughter is one of those musically talented people. She is an artist. She, like my son, went to college on  a voice scholarship. Now, she is a music teacher, and has delivered two of the most beautiful children on the face of the earth. It matters not whether they are as talented as my daughter. The idea is for them to be the genuine, loving persons my daughter and son became.

With the exception of my wife, my daughter is the most important person in my life. She is always concerned about my health, and promises to be an absolute health tyrant with her old man. She is unrelenting.

The fact that both of our children were Christians is the most rewarding thing you can imagine. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

So, you see that Father’s Day is about not only honoring fathers. On this Father’s Day, I want to honor my children and grandchildren who have made life so meaningful and worth living.

She’s A Purty Thang!

baby picture of Georgia
Baby Georgia

Yes, she is. Her name is Georgia, and she is my two-year old grand-daughter. Her second birthday was last week, but her party will be today, the first available weekend.

The interesting thing to me is that she looks very much like her mother at that age, and also much like my wife. I can spot signs of my mother’s looks, too. That is one reason why grand-children are so precious. You can see not only yourself in them, but also the looks and mannerisms of other family members. Life is beautiful when they are young.

In my opinion there will never be a time when she becomes not-pretty. She will always be beautiful, but, she will mature in her personality, growing physically and mentally every day. Darn it!

Picture of Georgia Age 1 1/2
Georgia Today

Someday, she will be a teenager. God forbid!

There is a better than even chance that she will be like her mother, who was a beautiful girl, but drove us almost to insanity with her hormones coursing through her veins. As teenagers, girls are terrible specimens of the human race. Thank God Georgia is my grand-child, and I can turn her over to her parents for rearing during those troublesome years.

They all start out so sweet you could just crush them when hugging them. Then, they start growing up and slip into those awful teen years when everything you say is wrong, and nothing you say is heeded. Life is not fun during those years.

Then, sometime after college and a couple of dozen whacked-out boyfriends, she will grow up and become the person you wanted to raise in the first place. It is interesting that God brings us these tests of faith, knowing that not only will our children challenge our faith, but that those same faithless creatures will return to the values of their upbringing.

Life is good, and Georgia is our reward for a job well done. God bless grand-children.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Picture of my Dad and Mom, circa 1920's
Dad & Mom, Circa 1920's

My Dad was born on April 2,1902. That was one hundred ten years ago. Lots of things have happened since then.

During his life, my Dad witnessed World War I, the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and the evolution of automobiles from the T-Model Ford to the modern car. He witnessed the taming of the Mississippi River, the construction of the Memphis-Arkansas Mississippi River Bridges (old and new), and the construction of dams and reservoirs that generated electric power for rural America.

Agriculture went from subsistence farming in the early twentieth century to the modern mechanized farming we see in the Mississippi Delta, today. He was around to appreciate the early days of radio, and saw the proliferation of television sets to the point that there were at least two TV’s in each house.

Computers were invented during his lifetime, although he never understood their impact on his life.

He witnessed medical miracles, but could never find anybody to cure the deafness in his left ear.

Men and women of that generation made America what it was, not what it is becoming. My Dad would be appalled to see what our leaders are doing to his nation. Being descended from Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers, my Dad was sincerely patriotic.

My Dad and Mom lost six children. Three died as infants in the early years of their marriage,  two sons were killed in  wars, and one daughter died of melanoma at age 31.

He never tired of talking about family, or current events. He instilled in his children a passion for learning.

Even though he never finished high school, he was an intelligent and informed man. Everyday, my Dad would read the local newspapers from cover to cover, supplemented with weekly magazines and television news as that became available.

My Dad led a tough life. Even so, he was thankful for what he had, and taught all of us to do likewise. At every meal, he would ask for God’s blessing, and thank Him for what we had.

My Dad was quite a man.

Here is his blessing, as he said it before every meal.

Heavenly Father, forgive us our sins, and make us thankful for these and all the other blessings. These things we ask for Christ’s sake. Amen.


Retirement’s Not Easy

picture of a broomA few years ago I was involuntarily retired with about six hundred other people from a telecom company. Since that time, I have been a stock broker, an insurance salesman, a car salesman, and a web site developer. I am still in the web site game, and I think I will stick with that.

The problem is that I have been so busy in my retirement, that I don’t have time for business. This doesn’t sound right, but that’s the way it works.

The day starts at 6:oo AM with me gently prodding my wife to get to work. It is important that her paychecks keep coming. I rely on her income to buy my computers and other toys.

Then, it is time for me to prepare for the day with an hour or two of cable news. I am particularly interested in the stock market futures as they can portend whether I will have a profitable day or not. You gotta keep up with your money, you know.

Of course, in the mid-morning hours there is always the opportunity to journey to the nearest coffee-house or other WiFi equipped establishment, and socialize for a bit. Using the cell phone for an office phone is the normal way to conduct business as you surf your laptop and chat with people at the other tables. It is a great place for people watching, too.

Lunch is just around the corner, and the buddy you have scheduled has to be reminded or he may miss it. Sometimes, it is a local group of like-minded conversationalist you accompany for the mid-day meal. This is called networking.

One must be careful to keep the afternoons open as much as possible because you can never tell when you will stumble across a real business opportunity, or if you are called on to babysit the grandkids. I always try to be flexible with my schedule.

I forgot the doctors. Every week , there is a doctor you must feed. If you are a senior, chances are you have multiple doctors to support.

First, there is the primary care physician whose job is to look at you and draw blood for all the tests necessary to keep the medical labs profitable. The primary care physician cannot treat you for anything. If you are diagnosed with an illness, they send you to specialists like surgeons, hematologists, proctologists, rheumatologists, and plastic surgeons or astrologers. Doctors are born under the dollar sign.

If you have anytime left, you probably need to do some shopping. Wednesdays are the best for grocery shopping because some stores give senior discounts that day. You might have to devote some time Wednesday mornings to organizing your coupon collection. If you watch the program, Extreme Couponing, you know this can be a really big deal.

I was able to exercise some control over my life until my wife announced she was retiring at the end of this year. Talk about rugs being pulled from under you! This not only a life changing event for her, but I am the one who is likely to suffer the most.

How can she do this to me? What about all those years I slaved away, traveling extensively, and having to stay at five-star hotels? Let me tell you, those were tough years. Where’s the justice in this retirement thing of hers?

She claims that she wants to travel. Yeah, sure. Now, she will want to stay in bed until eight o’clock, and will be at Starbucks at 10:00 AM to meet with her retired teacher buddies. If I catch her ogling at any of those sissy guys that hang out there, well, you know…

What’s a guy to do? Does she expect me to wash the dishes, vacuum the floors, and sweep the garage? Oh, the indignity of it all.

Work, woman, work!

Tongue-Tied Valentine

picture of heartNormally, Valentine’s Day is a day to be feared and avoided. I know this is not a healthy attitude, but surely you must understand my position.

Valentine’s Day is a contrived occasion for gift giving and candy eating. You are expected to give greeting cards to people with whom you would not share a meal, and give gifts to family members just to give them something. Humbug!

My wife doesn’ t understand my reticence to join in Valentine’s activities. I try to explain that I pay homage to her with gifts on Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and anniversaries. Buying Valentine’s gifts is just another Madison Avenue marketing invention.

Today, I was feeling a bit different about the occasion. My wife and I planned a visit to our daughter’s house to see our grandchildren, and she planned on getting some cupcakes for the kids. My assignment was to go to the super market for Valentine cards and balloons. That was OK with me, and I felt comfortable with her plans not violating my sacred rules of Valentine behavior.

After getting a sub-sandwich from the store’s deli to take home for lunch, I found the greeting card isle packed with people frantically grabbing cards off the shelf. I managed to find cards for my grandson, granddaughter, daughter, and wife. Then, I was stuck.

There were no son-in-law cards!

I could not go to my son-in-law’s house and give everybody a card but him. I could get one for a son, but that would not be appropriate.

Beseeching a nice looking lady for help, I said, “Have you seen any son-in-law cards? I need something nice, but not real sweet.”  I was trying to keep things in perspective. That’s about the time my eyes found a card for Daughter and Son-In-Law. Problem solved!

See how frustrating Valentine’s Day can be? Once you buy into getting cards, candy, balloons, or other stuff for one person, you have to do it for everybody. It is a slippery slope.

As I waited in the check-out line for Shirley, the cashier, a line of ladies burdened with cards, flowers, candy, and cakes was forming behind me. They seemed to be glaring at me, and I got the feeling I didn’t belong in that line.

As Shirley finished with me, I was relieved to be leaving that place, and sweetly said to Shirley and the ladies in line, “Happy Halloween!”

I hate Valentine’s Day.

It Was Eight Years Ago…

Eight years ago, today, police officers rang the doorbell in the mid-afternoon. There were two squad cars in front of the house, and two police officers were requesting to come inside to talk to me. Demanding proper identification, I soon realized they were legit.

They asked no questions, but proceeded with the statement that they had heard from the DeLand, Florida police that morning. That sentence was never finished. My son, Matthew, was a senior at a college in that small Florida town, and I suddenly knew why I was entertaining two very respectful police officers in our living room.

Within a couple of seconds, I went through the initial thought that Matthew was in trouble, but I knew that he had never been in trouble of any kind, and why would the local police be at my door if my 21 year old son had been arrested in another state?

No, I knew almost immediately that the little guy had finally done it. I knew within those two or three seconds that Matthew had succeeded in killing himself. My son had left us on Sunday, October 26, 2003. He had hung himself with an Ethernet cable in his dormitory room.

His roommate had been at his girlfriend’s apartment all that night, and Matthew’s body was not found until Monday morning when the kid returned to get ready for classes. That is when the school administration was called, and when the local police got involved.

Matthew had been clinically depressed since high school, and only recently had stopped his medication. He was “tired of being sick”, and he didn’t like who he was. He was gay, and this undoubtedly played a part in his self-deprecation. He had at least one attempt at suicide while in high school, and we were in constant fear of a repeat attempt.

On our kitchen wall was a white board where Matthew had left us a message the previous month as he was leaving for school. He had written early that morning before we were awake, “take care of each other”. We still have that white board as it was his last written message for his family.

Clearly he was planning suicide. We had looked at his message, and lied to ourselves that he really didn’t mean it.

My wife, daughter, and I have gone through all the stages of grieving, but I got stuck in the anger stage for years. I might still be in anger. The hurt and guilt will always be there, too.

We withdrew from life for a while, and we have argued with God. How can God create a wonderful,  talented and smart person, fashion him into a homosexual, and then advocate prohibitions against the very activity and person He has created? This is one question I plan on asking when it is my turn.

Life goes on. Living is a tough thing, but we still have to go through it. My life is getting better, and I had forgotten that today was “the day” until my wife reminded me this morning. All the same, you never fully heal when you lose someone you love.

Matthew, I love you!