Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fathers, Sons, and the New Year

As each year flows swiftly into the next, we as fathers and sons gain a greater understanding of each other. Fathers gain a better understanding of how their sons are growing, maturing, and becoming men of substance. Sons gain a better understanding of their dads’ wisdom throughout the years.

For me, the ending and the beginning of each year gives me pause to weep over my failures, smile about my successes, and hope for my future. But the pause must be brief. Time doesn’t stop along with me and its ever flowing current pushes against me, urging me toward the future. Finally, tired of the strain from my attempt to hold back time, I move on leaving my failures and successes behind me.

With fresh, fertile soil, 2010 offers the brightest of hope: for me, for my sons, for our families, and for the world.

Happy New Year, boys. Revitalize your spiritual legions. Renew your marital covenants. Strive fervently to realize all your potentials. Never forget the loving ties that bind us together for eternity. I love you, and I thank you for being more sons than any father has a right to have.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho! Wait Santa! Boys, come quickly!

Every year at Christmas, my family began the day with me playing like I had caught Santa Claus as he was leaving the house. I would yell for him to wait and call to the boys to hurry so they could see him. They alway missed him by only a few moments.

Since they missed getting to see Santa, my sons then turned their attention to checking out what he had left behind...presents under the tree.

Where did those days go? They disappeared as quickly as the Gingerbread house.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Sons and Their Wives

These four came to visit me. Of this, I'm extremely proud. They brought their smiles and hugs and laughter.
They stayed for a few days, then went home. But they left in their wake a deeply moved, happy, proud dad (and father-in-law).
I am honored by their coming to visit, sadden by their departure, and anxiously anticipating their return.
I love and miss each one of you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Very Brief Bildungsroman

I have no idea what the age of accountability really is. I've heard that it's that time when you know right from wrong, and maybe it really is that simple. But perhaps it's a little more complex.

I knew it was wrong when I destroyed tens upon tens of glass Christmas ornaments. Yup. I had every clue. Was I accountable? Who knows?

Was it evidence that my brother had not reached the age of accountability when he fed my dead rabbit for a week? Hardly.

Had I become accountable the day I let a few drops of Dawn fall into the fish bowl because I didn't want to clean up after fish poop anymore? (I don't know if I've ever revealed that to y'all. Sorry.) Nah.

What about the day I trashed classroom at the church building, splattering all manner of evil on the walls? Did I know that was wrong. Heck, yeah. I know it no more now than I did then.

Was I accountable? Should I have been marched down to a cold, moldy baptistry and drowned my demonically sinful nature?

I doubt it.

Maybe the age of accountability isn't negative at all. Maybe it's not the result of some rite that causes an epiphany that'll bring guilt over you like a cold shower.

What if it's the day you can finally put the obvious together and realize that your family is all you'll ever really have? And what about the day where you wake up and think about how nice it would be if you were loading up in a 1982 Ford Futura and heading off to first period? What about that precise moment when you wish you could go back in time and be a better son? How about that time before lunch when you wished you could call up your brother and go grab a bite together? Better yet, how about the day you look at a picture of the brother you took for granted and the father you hope knows how much you've learned from him, and you sigh into open air trying your best to believe in telepathy.

I bet that's more like the day you became accountable, the age of accountability. That's probably a lot more like the day when you've taken your first step, the very first one, toward understanding.

I guess if I'd truly believed that all along, then I wouldn't have been baptized until I was about 25.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Sons Are Coming Home

At no time throughout the year is my spirit as light as when my sons are coming home.

Too long I joked when they were kids of breaking their plates when they turned eighteen. Too often I noted of how nice it would be to have the house all to myself. To many times when looking for a tool did I mumble under my breath, "I just wish they would put things back where they found them.

Now...too many plates sit unused in the cabinet. Now…the house seems empty and bare and void of life. Now…my tools are all just where I left them gathering dust.

Thankfully, though. My kids are coming home and bringing their wives. The dishes seem to shine with anticipation, the house seems warmer and more inviting, and even my tools...well they will just stay where they are because when my sons get home there will be far too much rejoicing to worry with work.

My sons are coming home, and I am giddy pleased.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I am not sure who's pride is greater, the great-grandsons or the great grand-father.

Frank and Mary only had two children...Bonnie and Vernissa. Bonnie and Harold had only three girls...Debbie, Pam, and Rhonda. Frank and Mary had to wait three generations before the boys came along.

Joey and Shane are the first grandsons!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Dad

A short note about my dad...

Born in 1931, his tall stature captured at lot of attention from those who met him. In his own words, he stood "5 feet and 17 inches." His smile was infectious. His laugh would make you laugh with him.

He passed away on 15 February 1998.

I miss him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Coming and Going of Sons

I love it when they come home, but can't hardly stand it when they leave.
Everytime Joey or Shane comes home, I am on cloud nine. Somehow my boys bring out the kid in me, and I love it. My outlook on life returns to normal and healthy. I even think my blood pressure drops to normal. For a father, there is nothing better for him than his sons coming home for a visit.
But when I have to watch them leave, it feels like my arteries are opened and my life blood drains out of me. The house seems empty and cold. The bedroom where they slept seems useless (it's used only when they are here). My mood turns dangerously dark and morbid.
So, here is my plan. I want my sons and their wives to move in with us. They can get jobs here locally to help with the groceries, but I will put a roof over their head. Right...? Of course, not.
While the coming and going of sons is difficult, it is the natural way...that...I've got to live with.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Physically Separated...Emotionally Connected

It's hard for a 50-year-old man and father to face down the reality that his sons are living their lives separate from him.

I know; I honestly do know that is what we raised them to do. I am; I honestly am proud of them. They have accomplished many wonderful things.

Still, take this picture for instance. My youngest son posted this picture on his Facebook account (doesn't he look great). I wrote and ask him if this picture was taken at the gift shop in Cades Cove. I don't know why where it was taken was important to me. Maybe I wanted it to be in a place where I had been. Maybe if it were taken in a place where I had been, I would somehow feel a little closer to him. But, alas, he wrote me back explaining it was taken in Charlestown, SC. I have only passed through Charlestown once over 30 years ago, and I have certainly never stopped in a gift shop there.

I wonder why a man hopes his sons will travel down trails he has blazed...see the things he has seen, instead of blazing new trails all their own? It makes no sense at all. Sons will ride their own trails, blazing their own new trails. I did. My father did. It has happened that way throughout the generations.

So, I am left to find comfort in this: my sons will blaze trails I will never see, experience things I will never understand nor experience...that is the way it is with fathers and sons. Always has been and always will be.

Therefore, ride boys ride! Adventure down well worn paths, but cherish the less traveled pathways. Be courageous in blazing your own trails. You've earned your right to be explorers. You are men. Extraordinary men! But will you do me a favor? Remember to tell your old dad about your adventures. In many ways, his life is lived now through your eyes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time Travel

I wish I could go back in time. I want to return to the days when my sons were very young. I want to watch again as they play Kitty-Kat Football. I want to sit through their plays again. I want to listen as they pray before going to bed. I want to watch them riding bicycles. I want to hear them playing music in their rooms. I want to be in the passenger seat as they drive for the first time.

I just want to be with them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shane's A Blogger

My youngest son has started his own blog, and I am so proud!

His new blog has closed the circle for me. I started writing when I was a freshman in High School, or at least that is the first time I remember stringing words together in a way that I was proud to let others read. I have tried to pass that along to my sons.

My oldest son has a blog, too. For a while he wrote in it often, but now it sits on the lonely Internet frontier like a bull’s skull laying on the abandoned prairie.

Shane’s blog, however, is alive and well. You should visit it. He is really quite talented in his writings (he gets it from his dad).

If you would like to take a look, go to

Let me say again, in a humble kind of way, I’M SO PROUD!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Morgen Gave Me A Hug

Morgen gave me a hug. It was a simple act. It only took a moment.

I was sitting in a devotional at church tonight when my brother’s grandson, Morgen, walked by me. He stopped, turned around, and walked over to me. With a big smile on his face he just reached out and hugged my neck. He didn’t say a word. He just gave me a hug and walked away.

I was touched. Maybe he sensed I needed a little hug. Maybe he was just being nice to Pappy’s brother. Regardless of the reason, I needed and enjoyed that hug.

I can’t help but remember when my own little men would do the say thing: just give me hug without word or warning.

I miss those hugs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Amazing Things Over The Years

Throughout the years, I have marveled at the ingenuity and imaginations of my sons. These boys have never ceased to amaze me by the things they have said and done. Here are some things I thought I would share.

No sleep before moving a cemetery.
A knife and an electrical outlet.
Catching fish while breaking all the fishing rules.
Burning marshmallows to flannel shirts
Kitty Cat football
Wrestling in the living room
Singing contests won
Football practices and games played (wins or losses doesn’t matter)
Wisdom beyond your years
Laughter above measure
Long walks and equally long talks
Shooting the Clicker
Semi-automatic pistols
Beautiful wives (physically, emotionally, spiritually)
Driving lessons
Car accidents
Moon Pie bribes to Police Officers
Driving without headlights and getting caught

I guess all I am trying to say is, I love you guys…a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Miss My Sons

I miss my sons. I miss their laughs. I miss their smiles. I miss our quiet talks and our lively debates. I miss getting to watch football with them. I miss their wives, too. I miss seeing their interactions with my sons. I miss getting the opportunity to see how they have grown alongside their wives. I miss playing games with them, telling them jokes, and playing tricks on them. I miss going camping with them, and to choir concerts, and to singing competitions. I miss getting to worship God with them. I miss getting to put my arms around them. And, I miss getting the opportunity to tell them everyday that I love them. I miss my sons.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Slow, Easy Changes

Teaching your sons to drive a car is often a very scary endeavor. I taught both my sons to drive. We would get in the car and drive down a country road very slowly. The boys face’s crinkled with concern. I tried to act more confidently than I actually was. In a veiled attempt to calm my own nerves, I repeated softly to them over and over, “Slow, easy changes. Slow, easy changes.”

I think the same advice I gave them so many years ago is good advice still. The Road of Life requires “slow, easy changes.” Like getting behind the wheel of a car, we become more confident the more we do it. The more confident we become, the faster we go. The faster we go, the less of life we will be able to notice. And, if we get going too fast, we may end up in a ditch...stuck.

I remember the stories. There is the I-wasn’t-going-very-fast-but-I-slid-25-feet-across-the-grass-and-into-a-ditch story. Then, there is the spider-got-on-my-chest-and-I-drove-into-the-ditch-trying-to-get-rid-of-the-spider story. By the way, that last story about the spider ended with my son trying to give the investigating Police officer Twinkies from his now popped open trunk.

The fact is I would not trade anything for my experience teaching my sons to drive, not one bruise to my head from being thrown into the passenger window because we were going around a curve to fast and my son slammed on the brakes, nor one whip-lash from teaching them to drive a stick shift.

My sons are good drivers now. I just hope they will always remember that whether driving or living “slow, easy changes” are most often the best course of action. With that in mind, let’s get on the road.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Sons

I've lived on this earth now for 50 years, 31 of those years married to the most beautiful woman on earth. Before marriage we discussed children, you know stuff like how many children we want to have and when to have them. Although I can't remember how many we said we would have, I do remember saying we wanted to wait 3 to 5 years before becoming parents. Six months into our marriage, I was ready to have kids. So we did. Over the next three years my beautiful wife gave me two sons.

As time flew past us, our little boys grew into good men...great men! I always told them "You are more son than any man has a right to have." And, they are. I admit it freely. My sons didn't grow up like me, they became better than me...better than I could have ever imagined. My oldest son is married and lives in Tennessee. My youngest son is also married and lives in South Carolina. While I don't get to see either one of them as much as I would like, I know our love for one another runs deep.

So in this post, I want to thank them and praise them for all they have been, are, and will become.

I give them praise and thank them for many reasons. They love the Lord and serve him faithfully. They love their wives and are true to their vows. They love their parents and give us great respect. All of their lives they have been a blessing to their parents. They care about people...the poor, the homeless, the doesn't matter. They are loyal men in all their relationships. They tell the truth. They are free from the vices that capture the hearts and lives of lesser men. They speak out against injustice and stand for what they believe is right. They use their God-given talents. They work hard to provide for their wives. They laugh when something is funny, and they cry when something is sad. They are good men...great men!

I know some may read this is and say, "He is just a proud poppa." But I assure you if you knew my boys, you would be singing their praises as loudly and with as much enthusiasm as I do.

My boys are good men...great men!