Here is a wonderful story about terminally ill Kelly Phillips and his two-year journey in a battered old houseboat down the Mississippi River.
Do yourself a favor and read it. And be reminded again that there is good all around us, if we only stop to pay attention.
The last BIG BIRTHDAY has now been here, come and gone. There were dozens and dozens and dozens of well wishes. I was truly humbled by them all. From friends from college and high school (probably just to let me know they too made it this far), from regular blog readers I have never met (who I am so thankful for), folks I once worked with somewhere and more.
Son Kevin checked in from Mobile, daughter Kim checked in from Germany, sister Barb said hello from the hills of western North Carolina and brother Steve reached out from South America.
It definitely gives you pause to consider all the lives you have crossed through the years. And you spend time thinking about how each has made your own life richer.
Few of us will leave behind large buildings bearing our name on a college campus, or some huge pile of money to be donated to worthy causes. But we will all leave behind a legacy of how we treated others, what we stood for, causes we supported. And certainly friends.
It’s nice to be reminded of that once a year.
Ain’t no way. Impossible. Simply can not be. The calendar must be messed up.
I mean, I just had a birthday a couple of months ago didn’t I? Right before Thanksgiving? Or was it just before football season maybe?
Remember it well. Was the 36th anniversary of my 39th birthday. Got two cards, four emails and one telephone call. Some folks even mentioned it on Facebook.
So I have double-checked. And then double-checked my double-checking. And much as I would like to deny it, it really is true that on Monday, Jan. 21 I will have my 76th birthday. And to make me feel even older, that means I have lived for 76 years and now start on number 77.
Apparently the news got out somehow because Monday has been declared a NATIONAL HOLIDAY. How many of my friends can say that happened on their birthday? Not many, if any.
Of course I know that most think Monday is a holiday because of Martin Luther King, Jr. And some in the Deep South think it is because of Robert E. Lee. But that is not he case at all. You see, King was born on Jan. 15, 1929 and uncle Robert was born on Jan. 19, 1807.
So while we may have the day off on Monday because of them, it’s really MY birthday–not theirs.
I am glad to still be kicking. Though hardly as high as I once did. I’m not so steady when I stand up these days and to put on my pants I have to sit on the edge of the bed. No more balancing on one foot while doing so. And the memory is definitely not what it used to me. Coming out of a restaurant today a gentleman spoke to me as if he knew me. I had no clue who he was.
Here’s hoping that as you enjoy your holiday Monday, you remember why you got it.
It was a Saturday. I was at the Mobile Infirmary in a waiting room studying German, having just begun my 4th quarter at Auburn. I was waiting on my son Kevin to make his first appearance in this world.
The doctor had predicted that he would be born in late December, but sometimes doctors and Mother Nature don’t read from the same play book. I well remember being taken to the nursery to see him for the first time. He was there among eight or ten other newborns. Others were also looking at what the stork had just delivered and I heard plenty of, “why he has his daddies nose” or “she looks just like her mother.”
Kevin just looked like a brand new baby to me, all red and puffy with no resemblance to anyone I knew.
It is hard to believe that has now been 55 years ago. But indeed it has.
He was a smart little fellow. Attended a school for gifted in Birmingham and later was invited to attend the new Alabama School for Fine Arts. He has always read about anything he could get his hands on. I have often said that he is far more well-read than I will ever be. And my sister just says, “Don’t ever play Trivial Pursuit with Kevin.”
He is an excellent writer and I’m proud to occasionally share some of his words on this blog site. Unfortunately, we had no clue 55 years ago that his body harbored a genetic defect that would cause severe respiratory issues as he aged.
I enjoy conversations with him. Politically we think very much alike. And we certainly share the same allegiance to any athletic team that wears orange and blue.
But mostly I am just proud to be his father. Even if his turning 55 does mean I am about to be 76.
I love you Kevin. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!.
Let’s shut the door on 2018 on a couple of upbeat notes.
KUDOS TO GOVERNOR KAY
A few days ago I bragged on my son Kevin and the excellent article he wrote for the Lagniappe publication in Mobile about receiving one of his great grandmother’s quilts.
Somehow the article came to the attention of Governor Kay Ivey, my long ago Auburn classmate, and she took the time to send Kevin a very thoughtful hand-written note. He was very impressed and indeed grateful. As was his daddy.
These are the kind of gestures that seem fewer and fewer as the world increases speed. Which is probably why they carry so much impact.
CHARLIE JOHNSON, BAPTIST OF THE YEAR
Though my friend Charlie Johnson lives in Texas, he grew up in Monroe County, AL. He is the Baptist minister who started Pastors for Texas Children, an organization that is a strong advocate for public schools in the Lone Star state.
At last count, more than 1,000 Texas churches have become partners with local K 12 schools. And similar groups have been started in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere. Charlie’s group is also a strong public education advocate in the Texas legislature and haS been instrumental in keeping public dollars from being diverted to private school vouchers.
This work has not gone unnoticed as Charlie was recently named Baptist of the Year in Texas by the group, EthicsDaily.com.
Congratulations to Charlie.
Editor’s note: Charlie would love to come to Alabama and plant the seed for an Alabama-based group similar in scope to what is being done in other places. We have had several conversations about this. However, to this point I have not been able to round up much interest. If you know of some ministers who would like to learn more, let me know. email@example.com
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Funny how our minds tuck away little bits and pieces of our past, only to be easily jogged into our consciousness years later So it was on my recent trip to Wisconsin. I was headed north on I-39 when a few miles across the Illinois-Wisconsin state line a sign let me know that I was in the vicinity of Janesville, WI.
I have never been to Janesville, but as soon as I saw the sign I knew it is the home of the American Baton Company and I did business with them not so many, many years ago.
Out of the blue one day, daughter Kim asked me innocently, “Dad, do you remember when you broke my baton in half?” I was taken aback by her question and quickly admitted that I did not recall what she was talking about. But I did know that she was speaking about something that took place eons ago.
I did not have to coax her to tell me the story. As she related, she was a little girl of maybe five or so. She had a toy baton and in a moment of anger, I sent it to the baton happy hunting ground.
My mind raced. How could I have been so heartless? My Lord, if she remembered this decades later I had obviously scarred her psych for eternity.
That’s when Janesville came to the rescue. I had to replace that baton and google soon took me to the American Baton Company. I don’t know how much it cost, but I got a super duper model and had it shipped to her ASAP.
Not so long after this happened, her brother Kevin said to me, “Dad, Kim did not tell you the rest of the story.” I was all ears as he filled in the portion of the event Kim conveniently left untold. The baton in question had rubbers knobs at both ends. They came off and Kim, two years younger than Kevin, told him to look in one end as if he was using a telescope.
He did. And that’s when she struck, popping the end nearest her which shoved the other end into his eye and inflicted both pain and parental concern.
Obviously the aftermath was a broken baton.
At some point I mentioned to Kim that her brother “spilled the beans” and asked why she didn’t tell me that part of the tale. She laughed and said, “Well, you didn’t ask me about it.”
I have no idea where the new super duper baton may be today. Nor do I care. All I know is that I dearly love Kevin and Kim and wish for them a wonderful Christmas.