Quote 

“Fatherhood is a constant stream of decisions large and small….I’m pretty sure that in 99 percent of the cases, the best answer is to make the choice that requires the most love.” – Jay Payleitner 

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In Honor of Sam I Am


Sam I Am12/07/2002 – 09/07/2017

There is a bond between a human and a dog that is forged in a moment and grows stronger over the years. Our bond was forged six years ago on May 22, 2011. I find myself replaying that moment over and over in my mind. I remember Keith being surprised by your actions, and her explaining to me and Jenny how you had never jumped in anyone’s lap. It was your way of letting Keith, and us, know that you had chosen me and Jenny to be your adoptive/retirement parents. We wanted you, but it was amazing how in that one moment you made us feel wanted. At times I have said that we adopted you, but in reality you adopted us.
Tonight I can’t help but wonder: Why did you choose us? 
That day I watched you as you walked around the backyard among the other dogs doing your own thing. I’ve often wondered if you jumped in our laps because you were wanting to get away from those annoying “young pups.” Maybe you saw in my eyes a kindred spirit of one who was comfortable enough in their own skin to be alone, while at the same time desiring companionship, but not knowing exactly how to be a companion. Maybe you saw Jenny and sensed the love that she had for me, and knowing we had that kindred spirit that she would love you in the same way. Maybe, in some mystical, intuitive way, you knew that in a few years a little boy was going to enter my life, and you chose us so that you could teach me about patience, selflessness, dependence, tenderness, forgiveness, and love to help prepare me to be his dad. I truly believe it is no coincidence that you came into my life 6 years ago, ten months before me and Jenny got married, and that you have left us a short 18 months after Dylan was born. Your work is done, and now you can rest.
Sam I Am, I am forever grateful for the love, life, and lessons you shared with me. I’m truly thankful that you got to be in Dylan’s life even if it was for just a short time. I know in many ways he was like those little annoying pups, but he loved his “dog!” I also know that you loved him, if for no other reason than the food he would drop and throw on the floor for you to eat. I hope you know that you weren’t just a pet to me, Jenny, Tyler, and Dylan, but you were family. 
Sam, you truly are a champion!

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A New Story: At Least A Beginning

I’ve never been good at letting go. I thought that after the first few times of having to let go of someone I love that it would become easier, but this is not the case at all. Every moment of letting go has been more difficult than before. Thinking back over the various times that I’ve had to let go of someone I care about I realize now that the first time was the easiest, and this time is the most difficult.

The Easiest

When I was seven years old, I loved to watch my shadow. It gave me hope that I wouldn’t always be small. My shadow represented what I wanted to be at that moment in my life. I wanted to be big. At seven years of age, I was tired of being small. I was tired of bullies picking at me on the playground. Albeit I didn’t really like girls at that time, I still didn’t like the fact they never noticed me. Most of all, I wanted to be big for her. No. I needed to be big for her. It is what she said to me frequently, and what I strived to be for her. “I need you to be big boy for me. Okay?”

As we walked up Main Street, our shadows walked ahead of us. That evening I saw not just my own shadow, but I saw our shadows. I remember that it wasn’t how small my shadow emanated or how tall her shadow seemed to be that caught my attention; it was the letter M that our shadows formed. Her hand was warm, and I always held as tight as I could to her hand. Up until that moment, I always believed I held tightly to her hand because I was being a big boy and protecting her. It is why I walked on the outside next to the street. I was trying to show her I was a big boy. I wanted her to know I was being what she needed me to be.

But, the moment I saw the M, I somehow knew that I had been deceiving myself. I held tightly to her hand because I was scared. I was scared of her losing me, and of me losing her. Afraid she would leave me. Even more, I realize now I was scared of growing up.

She noticed when my hand began to tremble inside hers, and asked whether I was okay. I couldn’t answer because I knew I would begin to cry the moment I opened my mouth. So, I shook my head yes, but my hand continued to tremble. I felt her hand grip mine even tighter. I knew she was trying to comfort me, but although I was only seven, I knew my fear was not one that would be easily comforted. I realized I had to grow up. The only way the bullies would stop, the only way girls would notice me, and the only way I would be the big boy she needed me to be was if I faced my fear and grew up.

I looked back down at the beautiful M on the sidewalk, and I realized it was a beauty that I was about to destroy. I began to pull my hand loose from hers. I could feel her hesitancy at first. I could feel the skin of her hand become firm, but for some reason she let me let go. At that moment I wanted nothing more than for her to grab my hand back into hers. I wanted her to make me hold her hand. But she didn’t. I couldn’t look up at my mother. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw her hand brush across her face. I looked back down at our shadows fighting back my own tears. There was no longer a beautiful M, but rather a large and small I. That night, between my own weeping, I could hear, through the air conditioning vent, the sound of my mother crying.

Today, I understand more about that day than I ever did when I was seven. Three things that I now understand from that day that I didn’t understand when I was seven:
1. Letting go means breaking something that is beautiful.
2. When you let go of someone you love they are having to find a way to let go of you.
3. Letting go is not only painful for you, but the one you let go of has to go through their own hell.

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I Will Be…

I Will Be…
When the world is dark and cold
I will be the light that warms you.
When life is like a violent storm at sea
I will be the anchor that holds you.
When life is sinking all around
I will be a rock for you to stand on.

When you’re scared of the future
I will be there to walk with you.
When you need to talk it out
I will be there to listen to you.
When you can’t hold back the tears
I will be there to cry with you.

When the storm clouds disappear
I will chase the rainbow with you.
When your dreams come true
I will be there to applaud you.
When your blessings in life make you smile
I will be there to smile with you.

What ever you need or want
I will be….

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Dying Many Times

At the beginning of Act 2 of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, has had a terrible dream about Caesar’s death and is begging him to not go to the senate. Caesar has been warned of the Ides of March by the Soothsayer and by his own priests. Decius then arrives to escort Caesar to the Capitol. Decius, one of the conspirators involved in the plot to murder Caesar, convinces Caesar that he should go to the Capital. At that point Caesar says, “A cowardice dies many times before he dies. A valiant man only dies once.”

Fear is an enemy of good things in our lives. Those of us who have at one time or another let fear defeat us knows exactly what Caesar meant when he said that a coward “dies many times before he dies.” When you allow fear, whether it is fear of rejection, the unknown, love, failure, or even success, keep you from good things in your life you experience death in the form of regret. Fear is a very powerful enemy and very difficult to fight against. I try to stress the importance to my students that failure isn’t the enemy. Failure is a part of life. Success is not always a hundred percent. Our culture tends to make us think that failure is the worse thing in the world, but our culture is wrong. To never fail is to have never tried. Just because you tried and didn’t succeed doesn’t mean you have truly failed. Having never tried because of fear is true failure. I encourage my students to pursue their dreams and not think of whether they fail or not, but to think of the fact that when they try they are actually living.

What about those of us who have already experienced some true failure in our life. To us I say, let us be valiant. Let us learn from that one death, and not allow fear to defeat us again. Pursue those dreams and those good things in our lives. Let us live not in fear but in peace and love. I would also remind us that we must never forget that even our failures or regrets were part of a greater plan. I have learned that my regrets and failures of the past have ultimately lead me to greater things. God has a way, even through our failures, to lead us to something better. As hard as it may be to believe, that failure was part of His plan all along to lead us to something better than we could ever imagine.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…”

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Holly Springs, MS

The photos of the train tracks were taken in front of the old train depot in Holly Springs, MS. The street photos were taken from the train depot looking down Van Dorn. Click on a photo to make it bigger.

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Birth of a Story

The writing of a story begins when the writer falls in love with an idea, and that idea gives birth to a word. With love, that word grows into more words and becomes a sentence. That one sentence meets other sentences and becomes a paragraph. With some love and nurturing, that paragraph gives birth to more paragraphs that form a page. That page, along with its other siblings, reveals the plot of a story.

But, a story is more than a plot. Within that story characters are born. Those characters come alive, as real people, with emotions and conflicts, as real as our own. We love them; hate them; envy them; remember them; gossip about them; and sometimes, try to become them. The amazing thing to think is that it all began with a simple idea in the mind of a person whom, out of love, wrote down the first word. It is love that produces the sentences, paragraphs, and pages that become a story. Every story is a love story.

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