A Wonderful Thanksgiving Story

Editor’s note:  A wonderful story from The Washington Post about one person’s effort to help people at Thanksgiving.  And if we have ever needed reminding about such things, it is now.

“Rob Adams is a successful real estate agent in Utah. But when he was 11, he and his family experienced homelessness and lived in the back of a pickup truck.

Adams’s parents had only enough money for him and his siblings to stay in a motel room one night a week, he said, so for the better part of 1982, they spent the other six nights in the covered bed of their pickup truck in Porter, Tex., just outside Houston.
 
“My big meal of the day was school lunch, and many nights, there was no dinner,” recalled Adams, now 49. But just before Christmas that year, a local family from their church offered up their house for two weeks while they headed out of town for the holidays. They left presents under the tree for Adams’s family and filled the fridge with food, including a turkey and homemade pies.
 
“I cried when I opened that fridge,” said Adams, who now lives in Riverton, south of Salt Lake City, with a family of his own.

“Unless you’ve been hungry, you can’t imagine how I felt,” he said. “I told myself, ‘Someday, if I have money, I’m going to do this for somebody else.’ ”

Adams made good on that promise and started Thanksgiving’s Heroes, a nonprofit that this year gave away 2,500 boxes — each filled with a Thanksgiving feast weighing 53 pounds — to homes in the Salt Lake Valley.

Thanksgiving’s Heroes began in 2015 when Adams raised enough funds to give away turkeys and all the trimmings to 755 families in need. The initiative has grown each year since and, this year, even expanded outside Utah to Tampa, Dallas and Cleveland.
 
Adams’s wife and four daughters helped him deliver the food boxes in Utah last weekend, with assistance from about 800 volunteers.
“It’s important to make that personal connection,” he said. “There are some people who might feel embarrassed to stand in a line for a box, or maybe they don’t have transportation to get one. With covid this year, we knocked on the door and left everything on the porch, but we know that people are smiling when they unpack their boxes.”

This year’s 53-pound box includes a 20-pound turkey, 10 pounds of potatoes, a package of butter, a gallon of milk, a veggie tray, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, gravy, olives, a pumpkin pie, whipped cream and ingredients for Adams’s favorite side dish: green bean casserole. It costs the nonprofit about $80 to make each box.

Adams spent his early years in Las Vegas and said that his family’s troubles started with his dad’s job as an air conditioning repairman in Texas. When his parents moved the family to Porter and bought a plot of land with the intention of building a new home, Adams’s father learned that his new job entailed selling customers parts they didn’t need, he said.

“So he ended up without a job, and during the recession of the ‘80s, it was hard to find another one,” Adams said. “My mom cleaned hotels, but there wasn’t enough money for rent. That’s when we parked on our property and camped out in the truck.”
Adams said his parents tried not to let on that the situation was bleak.

“They tried to make it like an adventure and were always looking on the positive side,” he said. “Now that I’m a father, I know the weight my father must have felt on his shoulders each day.”  The lunch ladies at his elementary school knew that he was hungry and always loaded his tray with extra food, Adams recalled.  “I was a growing boy with a big appetite, and those sweet southern ladies always made sure to fix me up,” he said. “I was very grateful.”
 
The two weeks he spent in a local family’s home over the Christmas holidays was one of the most memorable and happy times of his life, Adams said.

 “We pulled up in front of their house, and there was this big Christmas tree shining in the front window,” he said. “And nobody told us, ‘Don’t do this,’ or ‘don’t do that.’ Instead, they handed us the keys, told us to enjoy the holidays, and they’d see us in two weeks.”
When he became successful in real estate in Utah (his family moved to the state during his senior year in high school), Adams put his Thanksgiving’s Heroes idea into motion after a conversation with his mother in 2014, shortly before she died of brain cancer.

“I told her that I’d wanted to give back for many years, and she told me, ‘Please, you need to do it,’ ” he said. “So my first year, I set out to feed 10 families, and it quickly grew. Everyone wanted to donate to help, and we ended up feeding hundreds.”

Weeks in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, Adams accepts applications and nominations on his website for the free meal boxes. He buys the food himself every year from a local grocery distributor, then he recruits volunteers to help him load everything up and distribute the food the weekend before Thanksgiving.

 “It makes my Thanksgiving,” said Sela Kauvaka, 41, who delivers boxes every year with her sister, Emma Lomu. “This year especially, a lot of people are hurting. To see their faces light up — there’s nothing like it.”
Another volunteer, Kallie Tueller, 23, said she was surprised last year to come home after her deliveries and find a Thanksgiving’s Heroes box sitting on her own front porch.

“I’d been having a hard time, but felt I didn’t deserve one because I have no children,” she said. “But somebody had nominated me for one. I felt such gratitude — that box fed me for a week and a half.”
Single or married, children or no children, it doesn’t matter, Adams said.
 
“We don’t want anyone to go without,” he said. “Nobody should go hungry in this country.”

Adams gets choked up, he said, when he reads the messages of gratitude left every year on the Thanksgiving’s Heroes Facebook page. This one in particular touched him:

“Thank u — I needed the box,” wrote a new mother. “We will have an awesome Thanksgiving. The turkey alone enabled me to buy baby’s milk and diapers. Big hug, much love.”
“What we’re doing is about hope — it’s the reason I’ve kept this going year after year,” Adams said. “You never know how you might touch someone.”

They Say It Is Time For The Iron Bowl. Really?

While the most celebrated holiday of the year is probably Christmas in most places, I would argue that in Alabama it is the Iron Bowl.  The late fall day when the football teams at Auburn University and the University of Alabama play each other.

For all intent and purposes, the state grinds to a halt.  Shopping centers are not crowded, traffic is light on roadways and weddings are not scheduled.

The game is hyped as the most intense interstate football rivalry in the entire world and I am not one to argue differently.  The two teams have played 84 times, going back to Feb. 22, 1893.  In fact, they played twice that year, in Birmingham in February and Montgomery in November.  (They took a 39-year break after the 1907 game and didn’t play again until 1948.)

I’ve seen more than half of these games either in person or on TV.

Traditionally it is the last game of the regular season.  It will not be this year.

But then, nothing seems traditional this year.  Covid-19 has seen to that.  There were questions in the summer if there would even be a college football season.  Then the Southeastern Conference eliminated all non-conference games and cut the schedule to 10 games.  Coaches were forced to pay as much attention to health protocols as to linebackers and quarterbacks.  Some games were suddenly postponed.

Which brings us to this Saturday, Nov. 28.  Auburn and Alabama will kick off at 2:30 p.m.  CBS will broadcast the event across the land.  Players on both teams will give it their all.  But it won’t be natural.  There will only be a handful of fans in the stands.  No one will be tailgating.  “Crowd noise” will be played on stadium audio equipment.  Cheerleaders will jump and bounce and exhort empty seats to scream and yell.

In a sense it will be like one of those contests where people impersonate Elvis.  While it may be close, it won’t be the real deal.

Auburn fans measure this series in relationship to Bear Bryant’s 25-year career at Bama.  The teams have played 37 games since Bryant coached his last one in 1982  Auburn has won 19 of them, Alabama 18.

Alabama is ranked as the No. One team in the country.  They are expected to win by three touchdowns or more.  I will pull for Auburn, but my expectations are not high.

Let’s pray that more normal days are ahead.  Days when we will know the Iron Bowl when we see it.

In the meantime, I may go on YouTube and find Elvis.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Love

Well alright.  But what does love have to do with this blog?

My knee-jerk reaction is that since this is my blog, any topic is fair game.  In addition, since we are so bombarded by news that dwells on hate, belittlement, lies and insults, why not talk about something more uplifting that turn our thoughts to better things?

Besides, I am an emotional, sentimental kind of guy.   Always a sucker for a good love story.  Which doesn’t mean I keep the TV on the Hallmark channel, though I have strayed by it a few times. but I have certainly teared up at the movie or watching TV.

I’m not talking about the all-to-common expression, “I just love him/her.”  Which might very well mean you are talking about a co-worker who is basically a good person whom you admire and trust.

I’m speaking of something far deeper and meaningful.  Something you will only encounter a very few times in your life.  The feeling when a special person is always just a thought or two away..

Here are three of my favorite movies about love, going back almost 50 years.

And they all have something in common.  They did not end well.  No one rode off into the sunset locked arm in arm.  Instead, some circumstance prevented that, which is why I cried.  I know that some loves are rare and special feelings.  They can be gut-wrenching.  They are all mysteries, quite hard to explain,  We don’t go looking for them, they just find us..

The Way We were came out in 1973 starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.  They were from opposite sides of the tracks so to speak.  They met in college, but did not date.  He was the prototype college guy.  He was Protestant, she was Jewish.  She was a vocal activist, he was concerned about other things.  He was intrigued by her conviction.

They go their separate ways after college.  He served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.  She worked for a radio station.  They meet again and fall in love but their opposite views of the world cause problems.  They marry and move to Hollywood where he is a successful screenwriter..  They have a daughter.  They divorce and she moves back to New York with her daughter.

Years later the two meet by chance in New York.  He is a writer, she has married and is still an activist.  They exchange small talk then moves on.  She wistfully watches him disappear.

And my heart aches

The Prince of Tides was released in 1991,  Pat Conroy wrote the book.  Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte played the lead roles.  He was a football coach in South Carolina, she was a psychiatrist in New York City treating his twin sister  At his mother’s insistence, Nolte goes to NYC to meet Streisand’s character and help with his sister.

This leads to him revealing deep secrets from his youth.  Both he and Streisand are married.  After a number of twists and turns Nolte is able to deal with his past and his sister is released from the hospital.

But along the way, he and Streisand have an affair and fall in love.  However, he returns to his life in South Carolina while a piece of his heart stays in NYC.  He thinks of Streisand every day when he reaches a certain bridge on his way home.

The Bridges Of Madison County.  Released in 1995, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep played the lead roles.  She was an Iowa farm wife, he was a photographer for National Geographic on assignment to take pictures of covered bridges.  He stopped by her house seeking directions.  Her husband and two children were gone for several days to attend the state fair.

She took him to the bridge.  They had a whirlwind romance for four days.  They considered running away together.  She decided not to.  But he was in her heart the rest of her life.  When she became a widow later in life she tried to locate Eastwood, but with no success.

Her ashes were scattered at Roseman Bridge, the bridge Eastwood was looking for the day he met her.

These are beautiful, but very sad, stories.  For a twinkling, all these characters found something so deep and meaningful that words can not adequately describe it.

It’s sad they did not open the door to something lasting, instead of just memories.

But better a memory than nothing at all.

 

 

 

What Happened To Class?

It was Nov. 30, 2019  About 90,000 people were crammed into Jordan-Hare stadium on Auburn’s campus for the annual Iron Bowl.  It’s billed as the best college football rivalry in the land.  The state of Alabama goes into lockdown the day of this game each year

The 2019 game was a classic with the score seesawing back and forth.

Auburn led 48-45 with two minutes left in the game.  On fourth down Bama lined up to attempt a field goal to tie the game.. The ball was kicked from Auburn’s 20-yard line.  But instead of splitting the uprights, the ball clunked into the left upright and bounced back on the field.  Auburn fans went crazy.  They still led by three points.

All they had to do was make one first down to run out the clock and go roll Toomer’s Corner.

But that was easier said than done.  Bama used their timeouts wisely and with 1:09 still to play Auburn faced fourth down needing four yards to maintain possession.  This was plenty of time for Bama to get the ball back and get in position to try another field goal or score a touchdown.

But instead of going into their regular punt formation, Auburn had its punter lined up as a wide receiver with the quarterback still on the field.  The Alabama team was confused and tried to get a different group of players on the field, one better prepared to stop Auburn’s offense..

The players on both teams got set.  Then suddenly a penalty flag fluttered to the ground.  In the confusion, Bama had 12 men on the field, one more than allowed.  The 5-yard penalty against Bama gave Auburn a first down and allowed them to run out the clock and win.

Bama coach Nick Saban, acknowledged by most as the best coach in college football was livid.  He couldn’t believe what he had just seen.  But there it was on the scoreboard.  Auburn 48.  Bama 45.  No time left on the clock.

I’ve thought about the end of that game many times lately as I’ve watched with dismay the actions of Donald Trump since the Nov. 3 election.

Nick Saban went to the middle of the field after his team lost and shook the hand of Auburn Coach Guz Malzahn.  It had to be a long and bitter walk.  But he did it because he has class and understands the rules of the game.. He didn’t go on TV and say that he was going to demand the legislature or the governor overrule what happened on the field and declare that Bama won.

He didn’t act like a spoiled brat and pitch a fit.

He demonstrated that he has dignity and is worthy of the respect he has earned during his career.

Donald Trump can not say this..

 

 

 

Looking At The Joy Of Aging

Editor’s note: unfortunately I am at the age where dealing with the process of getting older occupies too much of my time.  I can’t help it.  Which means I can definitely relate to what is below:

I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People get out of the way much faster now.

I didn’t make it to the gym today.  That makes five years in a row.

I decided to stop calling the bathroom the “John” and renamed it the “Jim”. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.

Old age is coming at a really bad time.

When I was a child I thought “Nap Time” was a punishment.  Now, as a grownup, it feels like a small vacation.

The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.”

I don’t have gray hair; I have “wisdom highlights”!  I seem to get wiser every day.

If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would’ve put them on my knees.

Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators.  We haven’t met yet.

Why do I have to press one for English when you’re just going to transfer me to someone I can’t understand anyway?

Of course I talk to myself.  Sometimes I need expert advice.

At my age “Getting lucky” means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.

Actually I’m not complaining because I am a Seenager. (Senior teenager)  I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 60 years later.  I don’t have to go to school or work.  I get an allowance every month  I have my own pad. I don’t have a curfew.  I have a driver’s license and my own car. The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant.  And I don’t have acne.
Life is great.