Friday, December 14, 2007

A story for Dale Murphy fans


I took the above picture on 2/7/2004

I grew up a huge fan of the Atlanta Braves. One of their best players and one of the nicest guys of all time was Dale Murphy. This guy should be in the Hall of Fame. With all the talk lately of steroids and what is wrong with Major League Baseball, Murphy was the epitome of what was right about the sport. I found this story on Tidesports.com.

Ramblings about basketball and aging...

The last several weeks Joe and Matt have been having basketball practice. This is allowing me to get some much needed (and doctor-prescribed) exercise. Exercise is easy for me to do if it is something I enjoy. While Matt and Joe are practicing, I have been playing basketball with my oldest son, David, and one of his friends. Have you heard of the game “21”? There are many different versions of the game, but essentially it is a game with multiple players all competing for their own points.

The three of us have played this game four times, and yes, the old man (that’s me!) has won all four. One game I actually won 21-0-0. That score was admittedly a bit of a fluke because the boys use a rule that if someone tips your missed shot into the basket you go back to zero. I put them both back shortly before the end of the game. Plus, I always hustle to rebound, or at least deflect my missed shots so I will not be sent back to zero. I can’t afford that.

I am writing this for two main purposes; to brag and “dog” my oldest son (just kidding) and the other is that I can bask in the last vestiges of athletic glory that I will experience in this life. My son is rapidly approaching my height and shoe size. At the same time my body is deteriorating as I sit behind this keyboard and exercise my fingers, and little else, much of the day.

Last night we didn’t have a chance to play “21” but we did get lots of shooting and dribbling in. I have noticed that at this age I have ‘flashes’ of my younger self. Every now and then I will do something that I thought I couldn’t do. Usually this only occurs after I have really warmed up and have a good supply of energy.

The aging process is really weird and hard to understand. Our bodies naturally deteriorate as everything does. But the factors that contribute to this deterioration are hard to understand. Am I better off because I was so active almost every day until I turned 28? If I had remained more active since then would I have had more injuries and, in turn, less ability now? Or has my relative lack of activity over the past several years (compared to the first 28) caused me to deteriorate faster?

My Dad is 77 and recently had to purchase a walker. Will I need a walker in 35 years? That is hard to imagine at this point. Will I even walk? Will I even be alive? Only God knows. It’s also strange how my mind “thinks” that my body can still do what it used to do, but my body doesn’t always obey. I have lost accuracy, speed, jumping ability, stamina, and most of all, agility.

It doesn’t feel good to be 42 sometimes. I liked the way I felt when I was 22. How would it feel if we could magically jump back in time and into our skin 2o years ago? We probably would be amazed at the difference. It would feel as if we were a new person.

My perspective on this is to enjoy how I feel now as much as possible. Even though “feeling 42” isn’t as good as 22, it is probably much better than 52, 62, 72, and beyond. I think most of us have the tendency to look at the green grass on the other side of the fence, where the glass is always half-full while we whine about our half-empty glass here in our less glamorous version of paradise.

I will resolve to be thankful for where I am now and to not long for the past or the future. In the mean time, I will enjoy winning basketball while I can. It won’t last much longer!

Merry Christmas link

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

To my friends....

Another thing I got via email....

To All My Democrat Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Monday, December 10, 2007

Homecoming 2007










Friday was a very special day for my boys and I. My son Joseph was selected as male homecoming representative from his grade. He and my eighth grade son, David, attended their first dance. I must mention here that I never attended any dances growing up, much less was I elected to represent my grade at one of these events. In a nutshell, I have always been rather shy and somewhat geeky. Some of my friends might even take exception to my use of the qualifier, “somewhat”. Joe wrote about it on his blog here. He also posted photos here. David posted about it here and posted photos here.

Needless to say I was extremely proud to learn about Joe’s selection. My boys attend a school that doesn’t have a football team so they have homecoming festivities during the basketball season. Joe is a rather quiet, hard working boy who loves the outdoors. He has always been a bit on the shy side, like his dad. He is very interested in cars, trucks, music, fishing, hunting, camping, and sports, especially football. He is a very smart kid with a great personality. He has always been very uninterested in girls. One thing that hasn’t changed about Joe is that it is difficult to get him wear something dressier than blue jeans. His mom was unable to get him to do it Friday. If he was with me that afternoon, I might have forced him to.

Before the basketball game I took pictures of Joe and his friends. He was walking around, socializing with other children and sitting with the girl he was escorting, Ashley. That alone made it a “coming out” of sorts for Joe. Just a year ago you couldn’t have dragged him kicking and screaming into this role. Now, all of a sudden, he was embracing it and fulfilling it tremendously. It was an awesome sight to see him walk out onto the court with Ashley, arm in arm, as their names and parents’ names were called.

Then came the dance. Just the fact that he was willing to attend the dance was amazing in itself. I had the boys that night and I decided to stay with them for the dance. Their mom pulled me aside and asked me not to attend. When I told her that I had decided to do it, she told me to stay away from them. I can only speculate as to why she was saying all of this, but I think one reason was that she was afraid that I would embarrass them. I was in agreement with her that I needed to give them some space, but I disagreed that it would be a problem for me to attend. She did not attend the dance. I am so glad I did. If I had not attended, I would have missed out on one of the best evenings of my life.

My youngest son Matthew and I sat in the corner most of the time. Amazingly, despite my efforts to maintain a low profile, my boys and their friends came over and talked with me a lot. I must have had 5-10 girls asking me to get David and Joe to dance with them. I really didn’t want to interfere. But after about thirty minutes of Joe sitting by me and watching David wander around the dance floor by himself with his arms crossed, I couldn’t take it any more. First, I whispered to Joe that he needed to ask Ashley to dance with him at least one time. I told him that she would feel really bad if he didn’t. He reluctantly said that he would think about it. Then he said that she had already asked him and he had said that he didn’t want to do it. I told him he needed to dance with her and that he would be glad later if he did. I told David the same thing. I told him that he would probably regret it later if he didn’t do it. I also told him that I was too shy when I was his age and that if I could go back and change things I would. I asked him to at least think about it.

Matthew is the one who usually is best known for his “girlfriends”, dancing, and outgoing personality. That was not the case on this occasion. After his first dance, Joe was “hooked” and basically danced with Ashley most of the rest of the time. He didn’t seem the least interested in dancing with anyone else. There were a lot of girls who seemed disappointed that he wouldn’t dance with them. Once David danced the first time, he ended up dancing the rest of the evening with several different girls.

One of the teachers kept taking pictures of David every time that he danced with a different girl. Every time she took a picture she would come over laughing and show me. I took lots of pictures once they started dancing. There came a point, though, I could sense it was becoming a bit more than they wanted so I scaled back toward the end. Maybe it was when they kept complaining about the flash or when they kept sneaking off to the other side of the room. I got the hint.

It seemed like David and Joe had the time of their life. Matthew had fun too, but he was pretty tame compared to usual. He even refused to dance with another little girl his age. I really cannot explain the emotions that I was feeling watching this spectacle. I was so proud seeing my boys turning into young men right before my eyes. Seeing how they conducted themselves socially, using good manners, showing their personalities, and overcoming their shyness was an awesome sight. I do not think that I am overstating it to say that Friday night was their “coming out” event. They will never be the same. They are transitioning into young men now. That transition is not all fun and games. As a matter of fact, I had to deal with a lot of rebelliousness, immaturity, and disrespect from one of them later in the weekend.

Friday night was a night I will always remember and cherish. I will think back to that night many times in the future. That was the best Christmas gift that I will receive this year. I literally would not have missed it for the world. Ultimately, I must give thanks to God. I have prayed for and cared for these boys every day since before they were born. My dad always told me that he wanted me to succeed even more than he did. When I was a child I never understood that. I do now. It is the essence of love. Thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity, responsibility, joy, and even difficulty that comes with raising David, Joseph, and Matthew. I pray that your hand would always be on their lives.

Friday, December 07, 2007

When You're Smiling

This is one of my parents' favorite songs. They have sung it to my sister, my children and I many times through the years....

When you're smilin', keep on smilin'
The whole world smiles with you
And when you're laughin', keep on laughin'
The sun comes shinin' through
But when you're cryin', you bring on the rain
So stop your frownin', be happy again
Cause when you're smilin', keep on smilin'
The whole world smiles with you

Oh when you're smilin', keep on smilin'
The whole world smiles with you
Ah when you're laughin', keep on laughin'
The sun comes shinin' through
Now when you're cryin', you bring on the rain
So stop that sighin', be happy again
Cause when you're smilin', just keep on smilin'
And the whole world gonna smile with,
The great big world will smile with,
The whole wide world will smile with you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dad



Last week I took my Dad in for some tests. He has had some trouble lately with walking. he has fallen several times going out to get the newspaper or the mail. His ankle was really bruised and I think the doctor was concerned about his circulation. The tests came back OK. He did have to get a walker. I didn't know how fancy those walkers are now. The only walkers I had seen before were metal rods. His walker is a fancy black one with wheels, hand brakes, and a seat.

I didn't blog much about spending Thanksgiving weekend with my parents and my boys. The weekend prior to Thanksgiving, my sister visited. One of the things she did was interview Dad for a paper she is writing. She is taking a writing class and she asked him so many questions. During that time we were looking at some old yearbooks and pictures. The above photo was taken around 1948 when Dad enlisted in the United States Air Force. The picture below was taken on November 18, 2007, almost 60 years later.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just visiting...

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend's church this past Sunday. It was a country church with a small membership. One thing I noticed is the close-knit, family atmosphere among the members. I enjoyed seeing my friend's two sons walking down the pew where their family sat and getting love from every one of them. Those kids will always have a strong foundation to build their lives on.