Tag Archives: Relationships

The Story of Graduation

6 May

Another academic year has come to an end. Some students have packed up to go home for the summer. Other students have packed up to go on with their lives. They will take their degrees into the world and use the information that they have learned.

Graduation is always a day of excitement and pride. However, it is also a day of sadness because people who have been together for a couple of years leave campus and walk with their families in different directions.

Their lives will also take them in different directions. Some will follow the path of which they planned. Others will take detours along the way. Some of them will stay in contact with their former classmates. Others will disappear from view.

In high school, I had a good friend with whom I used to hang out. Heck, we knew each other before high school. After the high school graduation ceremony, we stood around in our regalia and talked. My mom took a picture of us. That was the last time I ever talked to him or saw him.

That is the story of graduation. It is a time to look to the future. Graduates tell each other that they will stay in contact and talk. Then, they leave campus to go to their family celebration. They busy themselves with getting jobs. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. With all of that going on, it is difficult to stay in contact and talk.

Many of them will stay friends forever. Many of them will move on down the road and never look back.

Yes, that is what graduation is all about.

Looking Back at the House, Looking Forward to the Home

8 Jun

Last week, we moved out of our house, and, yesterday, we closed on the sale. Before everything was complete, we went back into the house to make sure we did not leave anything and to make sure that all was good for the new owners. I took that opportunity to take a picture of the living room.image-14

At least, it became the living room after we got married. Before that, life in the house was a lot different. The living room was a place to walk through. For most of its existence, the house would not have been considered a home. I would call it a dwelling.

I bought the lot with money that I inherited from my dad’s uncle. I remember that someone else was looking at that parcel. I cannot blame them because I thought it was the best lot in the neighborhood. Luckily, I had an inside track. My brother was developing the neighborhood. He also built the house.

The construction process was tense but not for the reasons that you might imagine. I had been dating someone for quite a while, and she thought, rightfully, that this house meant that we would finally get married. I am sure that it was my fault she thought that. However, I was not ready for that and saw no reason for this house to change things.

Anyway, the building process was a struggle. As it progressed, I felt more and more like I was building a prison. I knew that when it was complete something had to give. What I did not know was that everything would hinge on the shutters.

My girlfriend hated shutters, and I had them put on the house. When she saw them, something snapped inside her mind. We dated for a while longer, but, looking back, I think the shutters were the breaking point. For her, they were the sign that she would never live in that house.

When I moved in, there was no grass, and I did a terrible job taking care of the seeds. That is why the grass never looked all that great. There was also an empty neighborhood because mine was one of the first houses to be finished. For a long time, I lived in a construction zone, and my tires were always going flat with nails.

One of my strongest memories of those early days involves a tragedy. I heard a strange noise outside and walked out of the front door to find that Life Flight had landed in the street. A house was being built, and the man delivering bricks had a stack of bricks fall on him. Life Flight took him to the hospital, but he did not make it. For years, I thought about him whenever I looked at the house across the street.

Being a bachelor, the house did not look like a normal house. In fact, it looked quite like the above picture. There was no furniture in most of the rooms. There was a bed. There was a kitchen table. There was a television. There was no food in the refrigerator.

Not having dining room furniture led to an injury. I left something in the bonus room, which was my favorite room because it brought to mind my apartment, and decided to run upstairs to get it. I ran through the dining room and forgot that there was a low-hanging chandelier. My head hit it, and I was knocked out. I still do not know how long I was on the floor.

After a while, I got furniture and filling the dining room was at the top of my list.

The rest of the years are a blur. There were good times. There were bad times. There were neighbors that I really did not know. I was the weird guy who lived alone and was hardly ever home. I did not like being there and spent a lot of time running the streets of Nashville. Looking back, I think that my dislike of being in the house started with early feeling of building a personal prison.

I could write about the time when the kid next door set the woods behind the house on fire. However, I would rather get to the good stuff.

Three years ago, we got married, and the house became a home. Instead of it being me doing everything I could do not to be there, it was me, my wife, my stepdaughter and our dog. I had a family. I got to know the neighbors. I was no longer the weird guy who lived alone and was hardly ever home.

Now, I am the guy who does not live there. We have moved into the house where I grew up while we build a new house. Actually, we are building a new home.

I inhabited that house for 16 years. However, this is the end of looking back. I hope the new owners make it a great home. As for us, I know we will have a great home.

A Rough Few Days for My Wife

20 Mar

Many months ago, my wife got upset because I blogged about her swimming with dolphins and included a picture of the event. Since then, I have made a point to not include anything embarrassing about her. However, this series of events has to be chronicled.

Besides, she has already put it on Facebook.

On Friday, she called and said that she locked herself out of the house. It was later when I discovered that she ate lunch on the garage steps and was in the midst of eating when someone delivered a package. Of course, she had to explain why she was eating lunch on the garage steps.

Later that afternoon, I had just picked up my stepdaughter and her friend from school when I got another call. This time, I let it go because it was my stepdaughter’s birthday, and I did not want my wife to blurt out something over the speaker that my stepdaughter did not need to hear.

At that point, she called my stepdaughter, who announced that we had to turn around a go to my wife’s shop to get her phone.

Yep, my wife locked herself out of the house and forgot her phone in a few short hours.

We pulled up to the shop, and I waited in the car while my stepdaughter and her friend went inside to get the phone. As I sat in a moment of peace, one of people who works at the shop came out and told me to drive around back.

Apparently, my wife forgot the birthday present when she went home.

Yep, my wife locked herself out of the house; left her phone and forgot my stepdaughter’s birthday present in a few short hours.Pizza

As we looked for the present, one of the workers told me to be quiet because my stepdaughter thought I had gone to Pizza Hut to get the phone. I had no idea why I would be going to Pizza Hut, but that was probably the only excuse they could come up with on short notice.

I put myself and the present into the car and called my wife. I asked her how I was going to hide this box in my car when my stepdaughter and her friend were riding with me. She did not have an answer for that, but she asked me not to forget to stop by Pizza Hut to get her phone.

Yep, my wife locked herself out of the house; left her phone at Pizza Hut and forgot my stepdaughter’s birthday present in a few short hours.

Anyway, I went to Pizza Hut and returned to the store to get the kids. My stepdaughter was not happy that I left them at the store, but I could not tell her what I had been doing. The rest of the night went well. We ate Pizza and birthday cake. We went to the movie. My stepdaughter loved her present, and a bunch of girls spent the night.

The next morning, my wife was getting ready for work when she said something was wrong with the face cream that she was applying. It felt sticky and dry.

Yep, my wife locked herself out of the house; left her phone at Pizza Hut and forgot my stepdaughter’s birthday present in a few short hours. The next morning, she grabbed the wrong tube and put rubbed toothpaste on her face.

A New Year’s Eve Celebration to End All New Year’s Eve Celebrations

2 Jan

Yesterday, my old college roommate sent a text saying that it has been 26 years since the greatest New Year’s Eve party of all time. It was held at our apartment, and I am certain that, in the past quarter of a century, the apartment complex has not seen anything else like it. I will not recount the specifics of the gathering. Just know that none of have forgotten any of it.

After that text, I thought about how I have spent some of the other New Year’s Eves.New Year

There was the one that my future wife and I spent in a swanky private club in Nashville.

There was the one at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

There was also the one in the downtown streets of Phoenix, Arizona with the same old college roommate.

Oh yeah, there was also the one spent in a Waffle House in north Georgia.

I almost forgot about the one on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

There was also the one when I had the flu.

A lot of New Year’s Eves have come and gone. Some of them have been memorable. Some of the have been forgotten. Some of them have been fun. Some of the have been miserable. However, my favorite New Year’s Eve was a few night ago.

My stepdaughter had a couple of friends over. We had homemade pizza and took selfies. They danced and sang. I slipped off and watched the end of The Magnificent Seven and the beginning of Wyatt Earp, but nothing could keep me away from the fun. We watched the ball drop in New York and the musical note drop in Nashville.

It was a great night spent with people I love. Is there a better way to start the new year?



How to Plant Your Garden

28 Dec

We had a busy Christmas that included four stops in four counties. We ate a lot of food; opened a lot of presents; and visited with a lot of family members. One of our stops was at the home of my wife’s grandmother.

I always like visiting with my wife’s grandmother because of my respect for her. Early in life, she faced tragedy when her husband was killed in an automobile accident and left her with three small children. She worked at a garment factory to support her family and provide for them. They went on to have families of their own, and those families surrounded her on Christmas Eve.

A few years ago, my wife’s grandmother faced the death of one of her sons. It was another time that she needed the strength that she has shown for her entire life. We tend to measure success in dollars, but I consider my wife’s grandmother to be successful. It is proven in her hard work and strength. It is proven in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This Christmas, she gave everyone a copy of “How to Plant Your Garden.” In honor of Mama Ray and the holiday season, I offer it to you.Garden

For the Garden of Your Daily Living,

Plant Three Rows of Peas

  1. Peace of Mind
  2. Peace of Heart
  3. Peace of Soul

Plant Four Rows of Squash

  1. Squash Gossip
  2. Squash Indifference
  3. Squash Grumbling
  4. Squash Selfishness

Plant Four Rows of Lettuce

  1. Lettuce Be Faithful
  2. Lettuce Be Kind
  3. Lettuce Be Patient
  4. Lettuce Really Love One Another

No Garden is Without Turnips

  1. Turnip for Meetings
  2. Turnip for Service
  3. Turnip to Help One Another

To Conclude Our Garden You Must Have Thyme

  1. Thyme for God
  2. Thyme for Each Other
  3. Thyme for Family
  4. Thyme for Friends

In My Life

1 Nov

I was grading papers and listening to my iPod when “In My Life” started playing. Of course, I mean the Jose Feliciano version, which is the best of all the versions.Feliciano

It has always been one of my favorite songs, and, when we were picking music for our wedding, it was the first one on my list. I have no idea if it was played. You know how it is with weddings. The people getting married have to stay hidden and miss all of the preliminary activities.

My wife and I first dated years ago, but, for a myriad of reasons, things did not work out. Not least of which was the fact that I had no idea how to be in a relationship. We went our separate ways. The following is the way I went.

In my mind, I fancied myself as an explorer. I was the rider who was always looking toward the horizon and wondering what was on the other side. Others probably thought of me as a player of games. Another term could be serial dater. I was always in a relationship, but I was never in a relationship. As the person I was dating moved closer, I moved further away and started searching for the next person.

I also kept what I considered a back door. I wanted a way to get out quickly if that is what I wanted to do. This meant as few attachments as possible. This meant, among other things, keeping their personal items at their places. God forbid someone start talking about moving in. That would always throw the situation into turmoil.

In short, I was a terrible person to have a relationship with. I was never fully committed, and everyone would eventually figure that out. They may have been thinking about forever, and I was thinking about when it was going to end. When those ends came, they came like hurricanes.

Through those times, I was not trying to be a bad person. I was trying to make my way through life and find the person who was meant for me. However, each relationship felt off. For me, there was something missing in each, and I knew it was not where I was meant to be. I did not handle any of them correctly, but none of them were what I really wanted.

There were probably people out there who envied my life. I was free to do what I wanted whenever I wanted. Nothing was tying me down. They probably saw my life as an adventure with something new happening all of the time. Some of that is true, and I liked my life. However, there were parts of it that people never saw. They never saw me walk into an empty house. They never knew that I wondered why other people could be in successful relationships while I could not. They never felt my feeling of always being in the wrong relationship at the wrong time.

My life was a broken record. Meet a women. Start a relationship. Get restless. Meet another woman. Start a relationship. Get restless.

Looking back on it, I know that it was a miserable existence.

When my wife came back into my life, I was afraid that the pattern would continue. After all, we had broken up years before. However, this relationship felt differently. I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I did not want to open a back door.

Before we got married, my wife told a story that involved her cousin. As the story goes, her cousin went to work for a lady who used to live across the street from me. She did not know everything about me, but she knew enough to have a conversation. One day, they were talking about me, and the lady wondered why I had never gotten married. She came to the conclusion that I was waiting for someone. That is when my wife’s cousin said that she knew who I was waiting on.

Thinking about that conversation, I know that she was right. There was a reason I was restless. There was a reason that the relationships never felt right. I had already met the love of my life.

I love my wife. I love my life. The past two years of marriage have been the greatest years I have ever known, and I know that future years are only going to be better.

A while back, a friend asked how married life was going, and I talked about how great it is. Then, they asked if I wished I had gotten married earlier. The answer was easy. I am thrilled that I did not get married earlier because I would have been married to the wrong person.

In my life, being married to my wife is the best thing I have ever known.


Haunted Houses

29 Jun

When the weather is nice, we like to walk through the neighborhood. It is a good way to get outside and to exercise. As we walk, I find myself looking at the houses and wondering about the people who live in them.

Are they happy?

What television shows do they watch?

Did life turn out like they expected?

What are their hobbies?

Are they from here, or did they move in from somewhere else?

After many walks and many questions, I have come to a conclusion.

All houses are haunted.Haunted House

They are not haunted by ghosts but by the memories of the people who have lived in them. They are haunted by the lives those people lived and the events that happened within them.

They are haunted by the love; by the sorrow; by the happiness; by the sadness.

As those people move on, their accomplishments and failures linger in the air. The people who take their place may not feel them, but they are there. In the kitchens where meals were cooked. In the bedrooms where love was made. In the living rooms where arguments were had.

All houses are haunted.

It Happened at the Inaugural Ball

21 Apr

In 1986, Ned Ray McWherter was elected governor of Tennessee. That probably did not mean much to most of the state’s high school students, but it turned out to be a big deal for me.

My best friend’s family was good friends with Ned Ray, and he worked in hard on the campaign trail. When victory was obtained, my friend was ecstatic. He was also fired up because he was invited to the Inaugural Ball. In fact, I heard over and over and over about how he was going to the gala.

On top of that, he kept talking about the hot girl that he was taking. It is all I heard.

“I am going to the ball, and I am taking this hot girl.”

I was getting sick of it and could not handle it. One day, I told my dad how tired I was of hearing my friend brag about this big date to this big event.

A few days later, my dad came home with a surprise – two tickets to the Inaugural Ball. He told me to get a date and go. However, I could not tell my friend. My dad wanted me to show up at the celebration and surprise him.

I handled the plan perfectly. I got a date. We got dressed up and went to the ball. It was held in a bunch of ballrooms at the Opryland Hotel, which meant that we would have to search.Opryland Hotel

Finally, we saw my friend across one of the big rooms.

As we walked up, my friend was in a state of shock. He could not believe that I was there. After all of the bragging, we were in the same room and him and his date. However, I must admit that he was right about one thing. His date was hot.

That is one reason why I married her.

The Boys of Summer

3 Apr

When people think of slow pitch softball, they probably envision a bunch of non-athletic people in a park drinking beer. However, there is a completely different type of slow pitch softball. It involves athletes who travel around the country playing in tournaments. They are sponsored by sporting goods companies that capitalize on their home run hitting abilities to sell bats.

It is not a game played in church leagues or on sandlots. It is played in baseball stadiums.

I write those words because my dad sponsored one of those teams, the Le-Al-Co Storms. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was one of the best teams in the country. The men on the team played for the love of competition and a bigger love of winning.

Like all kids, I knew that springtime brought the end of school, but it also brought a summer full of adventure. Every weekend, we drove or flew to a different city to bring together my second family – the softball team.

When I say second family, I really mean that. The players were my crazy uncles who taught me the ways of life. Of course, a lot of those things were probably not good for a kid to hear. They helped me grow up and become who I am.

They also made me part of the gang. At school, I was a nerdy kid who did not fit in with everyone. On summer weekends, I was cool because I hung around these guys. When they walked into a park, everyone knew who they were. As a result, they knew me, too.

The games were fun, but I mostly remember the other parts. The long drives. Hanging out in the hotels. Eating at a restaurant and cleaning out the buffet.

I cannot imagine growing up any other way.

Last week, Tommy Everette, one of those players, passed away. We went to the funeral and heard a lot of people say a lot of great things about him. It was interesting to listen to people who knew him from his life outside of softball. He was a principal and a valued member of the educational community. In my world, he was one of the greatest home run hitters who ever picked up a bat. He hit balls that no one ever saw come down.

There were several team members at the service, and we all gathered to take a picture.image-28

From left to right:

Allan – manager, general manager, recruiter, uniform designer. He did it all.

My dad – sponsor of the team and the softball version of George Steinbrenner.

Me – batboy, bookkeeper and a kid who learned more than he should have.

Sam – great hitter who was the only local guy to make the move to the big time.

Jimmy – suffered a gruesome injury at the state tournament in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Eddie – played with us in the summer and with the Los Angeles Rams in the fall.

Kenny – could hit a ball a country mile.

Brian – another kid who grew up in the world of softball. Tommy Everette was his dad.

Mac – the only player to be on all of our championship teams.

It was great to have some of them together again. Old stories were told, and there were handshakes and hugs all around. However, I realized something. I am older now than they were in those days. That is a strange feeling because I looked up to them, and it is hard for me to realize where I am in my life.

When we were together, I still felt like that kid in the dugout watching them beat some team. We are all getting older, but, in my heart, they will always be the boys of summer. And, I will always be part of that team.

The Best History Teacher I Have Ever Known

14 Mar

When the news came, I was going through a stack of documents in a local history museum. At first, it felt like the appropriate place to be.

Monty Pope – my friend and my mentor – had passed away.Monty Pope

Several months ago, I wrote a post about his influence on my life. It did not nearly say enough, but I hope you will read it. Hopefully, it will give you some idea of how great a man he was.

A few days ago, my colleague wrote a heartfelt tribute to Monty. I hope you will also read his thoughtful words.

After hearing of Monty’s passing, the feeling hit that I needed to be somewhere else. Yes, I was surrounded by history, a subject that Monty loved, but, selfishly, I needed one more moment with him. This was not the place for that.

That is when I decided to go to school, the place where Monty positively influenced thousands of people. I went to one of the classrooms where we both have taught dozens of classes and sat in one of the chairs.

That is where the realization came that future students will not have the good fortune of those who came before. We will tell them the same history that they would have heard from Monty, but they will not be recipients of his kindness, his caring and his devotion.

I, like thousands of others, am fortunate to have known Monty and been taught by him. Hopefully, I can honor him by being the best history teacher that I can possibly be. However, I will never reach my goal of being as good as him.

Monty Pope was the best history teacher and one of the best people I have ever known.