Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby
If you ain't first you're last

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

These old hands

I looked down at my hands today at work wondering why they just won't do what I want them to do anymore. They just seem to get clumsier by the day. When I think back over all they've touched and all they've done, I'm sure they hold a life map in them somewhere. They're beginning to weaken of late. I can tell when I try to do some of the things that had been so easy and natural for so many years. The bottles don't open as easy anymore, the keys get fumbled, and throwing a curveball is almost a mystery now. The fingers are all beginning to grow in separate directions and like most of my body...they hurt most of the time. Swollen knuckles and calloused palms bear silent witness to a lifetime of joy, work, play and more than a little sorrow.

As I looked at them it occurred to me, if they could talk what a story they could tell. I had been thinking since Sunday about some of these things I'm about to say. I guess my ole hands have just prompted me to begin. See, Sunday morning as I was teaching Sunday School, I mentioned something I hadn't really thought about in many years....I decided a long time ago that no one would ever see me cry again. Tilena had never heard me say that and she said so that afternoon as we were driving over to a movie together. Then she said "You know, come to think of it, I don't think I have ever seen you cry". And I replied "I know for a fact you've never seen me cry". "I have always made that a point in life". I was surprised that she didn't know, nor had I ever told her why. I guess it's bit embarrassing, but as we get older, things just don't embarrass us as much anymore. Anyway...the whole thing started me thinking about how little we really know about each other, even the people we love most in this world.

So, as I considered these things, I also began to think about it in terms of my children and what I've experienced as opposed to what they've known. In particular what they really know (or think they know) about their Mom and Dad. Of course Tilena, Christy, Ryan, and Nick know me better than anyone ever has....but then I thought, how much more do they not know? I decided it may be best to just start out and talk about why and how that happened to me. All in all it was one of the most profound life affecting processes I've ever encountered...probably following only accepting Christ's Salvation and marrying Tilena. Here goes....

Middle School, Fall of 1973. I was by all accounts very unpopular in school. I was right in the middle of a growth spurt and terribly clumsy. Having creamy white skin, crooked yellow teeth and no friends and certainly no clothes of any style didn't help at all. I had grown up on a farm with little social interaction zero social skills and no one who could teach me. I wore work clothes to school and they were stained with tomato vine the same as my hands and arms. There was a particular bully who was a couple years older than me that tormented me and made my life miserable. My stomach ached all the time with dread at the thought of going to school. I was beat up (never seriously) regularly and teased constantly. This guy just chose me as his sport and had his play with me daily. Worse than the physical bruising, was the name calling and humiliation of it all. Everyone in school knew who the "albino kid with yellow vampire teeth and green hands" was. I can still hear that guy screaming those things at me today. Those sort of things are deeply embarrassing to a 12-13 year old boy and I would have died before telling anyone or asking for help. Who do you tell anyway? The whole school and a couple of teachers knew it already and no help was offered. My Dad never went to the school for any reason good or bad the whole 12 years I was there. Mom would have made a scene which would have made it even worse on me. I don't remember my Dad even being there at my graduation....it says something that I don't remember even if he was there....but I don't think he was. Anyway I would often times just sit in desperation crying in the locker room or outside by myself during lunch. I didn't have anything to eat anyway because the guy also took my lunch money every day. When the other kids saw me the either teased me more or avoided me altogether. Nobody wants to be associated with the "loser". Anyway, the worse it got, the worse it got...when the other kids got the chance, they would get in on the act too. It was a year I don't like to remember much and it seemed like it would never end. I think it was during this time I began to develop more and more as a...well, not exactly a loner, but I seemed to have more fun by myself than I did with anyone else. I certainly was a lot more comfortable alone. Maybe the best way to describe it was "self sufficient". Then one day on the last day of school I was crossing the parking lot headed for the bus when "Jerry" and his buddies cornered me. All the kids gathered around laughing and enjoying the show. I got a dozen strawberries and a nosebleed from the pavement and a concussion where I hit a concrete parking bumper with my head. That night, in the emergency room, Doctor Dyal said..."boy, you're just a little too much like your mama". Today, I'm not sure if he was talking about being hardheaded or something else, but a 13 year old boy took it like he was calling me a sissy. I cried again just to prove him right, but that night at home in my room I promised myself Nobody would ever see me cry again.

When I returned to school that Fall, Jerry was gone "sent to a Technical School" and I was gradually growing into an athletic body. I would eventually become fairly popular and an accomplished high school athlete (funny how a little athletic prowess can do that), but I never forgot my lessons in humility and I never forgot my promise. The shame and humiliation drove me all my young adult life. I lifted weights, accomplished a number of on hands self defense arts and became tough as leather. No one is better at hiding emotions than me. I see some of the other kids from time to time since we've grown up, and you know something...not a single one of them has ever mentioned any of it. I've suffered a lot more painful injuries since then, both emotional and physical. My hands show a lot of it, but my emotions never showed any of it. Through it all though, I've kept my promise except for one solitary time. Right after my Dad died, I was sitting out in the barn alone among all his things thinking about him the day of the funeral when my two boys walked in the door. I cried right then before I could even blink. It wasn't because I missed him so much, although I did, but It hit me so fast that I never had with him what my children have with me...a true bond and open love. And it was too late then to ever have it. I got a hold of myself pretty quick, and they've never seen me like that again. But they are the only ones to see me cry since that day in June of 1974.

I'll cry again one day I'm sure. I'm too heavily invested in my family not to. Nor does that vow seem as important today as it has most of my life. But for now, I just still hold most things close. I don't mind saying whats on my heart or mind, I'm even inclined to show love...just still can't quite show the hurt yet. I've lived long enough to see scores settled and debts paid. I know it all evens out. Jerry regreted many times over even knowing me, let alone hurting me. The God I serve has a way of handling those things...they are his to settle. I think that year of humble pie was the driving force behind my chosen profession....just want to see unfair things made right. Jerry spent more time in jail than out over the years and I just can't imagine today, why I was so afraid of him then. He died a couple of years back, just a little wisp of a man broken by disease and chemical addiction. Although I did allow myself a moment of pleasure on one of the many trips I made escorting him to jail; for the most part I just had sympathy for him. He was just a brief sad, but important, chapter in my life.

So here I am today still looking at these hands while more and more memories come to mind. They've held Christy down in the mud and fingerprinted corpses at autopsy. They've held my newborn boys and my dying parents. Hugged Emma Grace and Joelene, But neither one often enough. They've loved Tilena and had their bones broken fighting with outlaws. Thrown rocks, bottles baseballs, footballs and snowballs. Held snakes, lizards, possums, coons and severed body parts. They picked a scared thirteen year old boy up off the pavement and knocked the guy down that did it fifteen years later. Then did it again out of sinful pleasure. They've held a bible and taught recruits self defense. They've written term papers, arrest affidavits and activity reports. They've pulled weeds and planted flowers, hit grown men and held frightened children. Spanked butts and wiped noses. I've squeezed them together in anguish while my kids made bad decisions...but held them from falling all the while. One hand wears my Dad's wedding band and the other hand my own. Both have spent more and more time folded in prayer as the years have drifted by. Lot of history in these hands...but they ain't talking. I think that's about all I've got to say about that.

It'll be sundown soon and I've got an appointment on the patio.

If your Dad is still alive, go hold his hands.

Don & Co.

Palm trees and Sand...........................

Monday, September 29, 2008

Something's Brewing

Hello Troops,
Another day is in the books. When I got home today Bowden and Pepper were ready to get outside, so we went out to romp around a spell. We heard a big whoomp to the South and that's when I noticed this rolling in. That was about five p.m. and it's still raining at 8 p.m. Looks like we're going to have a couple more days of it too.

Had a nice talk on the phone with Angie and then Uncle Hunter this evening. Everyone seems to be doing well in North Florida. Down here, things are much as normal. Ryan is in class tonight and Nick is doing homework. Tilena is in the kitchen and everything is alright in my world. Tilena and I went to the afternoon matinee yesterday after church. We saw "Fireproof". It was everything we had heard and more. If you've not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. KC and Jason especially....please see this film. If only because Uncle Don asked you to...please go see it together. It's a reminder that there is still excellent entertainment out there that is not lewd or obscene. Besides...it's probably a film that everyone should see. Whether married or not, it's just a good message about how to treat the important people in your life. Besides that, it was very funny, had great action, and deeply thought provoking. The scenery (Spanish Moss and tall Pines) also made me miss South Georgia.

After the movie, we just took the afternoon and wandered through a couple of grocery stores...something I kind of enjoy when I'm not pressed for time. I always buy too much though. Especially since I was hungry when we went in there. I probably bought stuff I'll never eat. That gourmet cheese I just had to have don't look too good now.

Well guys, hope your day was as pleasant as mine. I've been thinking about a post for a couple of days and should have all my thoughts organized in a day or two. I'll try and get something a bit more entertaining to update this blog then.

Until that time....God Bless

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tied up in Knots

Well, it was the big weekend we've all been waiting for. KC and Jason are now husband and wife. The knot is officially tied. The wedding was absolutely fantastic. The reception was......well....uh....what you would expect as the rare person who very rarely drinks....and had not on this night...., in a sea of torched revelers. I have some really great stories to tell, but at the risk of alienating most of my family and a couple of friends, I'll just leave it be.

Have I ever told you guys that Emma Grace is one of God's own Stars? I just don't know how many ways I can say what she is to me. This weekend was just so much fun with her. "Gracie" and "Pappy" had a day at the beach together, a meal at the Fried Pickle Hut, and then danced the night away. Never a better Saturday Afternoon spent anywhere.....then the reception.....maybe one day, I'll tell that story. I really didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with Tilena once we were there. She was busy shopping with the girls and then helping them all out with make up the afternoon of the wedding. I was more than content to keep up with Emma Grace. Those days are rare and I'll treasure them forever. I told Tilena, "we're going to go to sleep, wake up, and we'll be dancing at Grace's wedding"...sure gets by in a flash.

It really was a lot of fun, mostly. I don't believe I had ever seen Mimi dance....let alone dance with a handsome young man....but, I got proof, and here's the picture to prove it. We have more photos of the wedding, but not enough room to show them all here. Some may even be a bit too condemning anyway.

It's a long way to Destin, Florida from here. Five hundred forty miles each way. All day Friday and all day Sunday spent in the car. Here's the tab: $200.00 per night for a room, $200.00 for gasoline, $200.00 for food, 75.00 to replace my shirt, $300.00 to replace my shoes, $25.00 to dry clean my coat (see, I told you there was a story in there)... Seeing KC get married on the beach at sunset....yeah, priceless. Weekend with Emma Grace....well, you know.

It rained heavily on the way home. That just makes a long journey that much more arduous. By the way...a pet peeve of mine is people who drive with their emergency flashers on. That is a moronic move. Never ever do that. It is dangerous and foolish and against the law. Flashing amber lights on a passenger vehicle indicate a STOPPED vehicle in distress. If you don't believe me look it up. Florida statute 316.2397. The only exceptions ever are, road maintenence vehicles, garbage trucks, wreckers, mail vehicles and petroleum vehicles. You've been warned.

We enjoyed our time with Christy and Carlton tremendously. She's beginning to show now. I think you may be able to make the ole belly out in one of the photos. Gonna get me a grandson in February. Carlton is making one heck of a son in law. He's got a few annoying habits...(i.e. rooting for the gators) but all in all, we could not have done better. He's become quite a fine spiritual man of God too.

It's always good to be home. Tilena and I could hardly wait to get home to our kids. We missed Nick and Ryan too. You should have seen Bowden and Pepper "cuttin' the buck" when we came in.

OK everyone, have a peaceful evening. I'm going out....you guessed it, to watch the sunset. May God Bless You Each and Every One.

Palm Trees and Sand.........................

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another Day in the Books

There's not a better ending to a day than this. Right after the heat, right before the mosquitos. I live for that moment every day...it just sort of wraps everything up for me. There's not much else I want to see again befor a similar views creeps over the opposite horizon about twelve hours later.....actually about ten hours later at this latitude.

We just got back from FCA. Had good food, good fellowship, good fun, and Great WORD. We're just kind of lazing about here waiting on bedtime. Tilena had a bowl of fifteen bean soup waiting for me when I got home. The sheets won't touch the bed all night.

KC's wedding is this weekend. I know she's getting nervous about now. She's probably already in Florida by the time I write this. They live in Colorado, but will be getting married in Seaside, Florida. That's next to Destin out in the panhandle. Hopefully, the tropics will behave and I'll be able to attend. However....there's already a tentative forecast for some trouble spinning up in the gulf. Hey, them's the breaks when you schedule a September wedding on the Gulf of Mexico. I do so look forward to seeing KC, Christy, and my Emma Grace who will be meeting me there. It will be an enormous sacrifice to miss the Seminoles playing their first conference game. However, the 'Noles will play other conference games, but with God's great Blessings, KC will never have another wedding.

Troops, you all have a blessed evening. I'm gonna have a bowl of cereal and go see how many sheep are in the pasture. God is on his throne....He will take care of the goats.

Don & Company

Palm Trees and Sand......................

Friday, September 12, 2008

Duly Noted

As I opened my mail this morning, I was confronted and appropriately chastised by one of the young men I endeavor to disciple. He noticed right away I had omitted some very important people from the blog yesterday about 9/11. There were some other great American heroes who died that day besides those in the twin towers. Many died at the Pentagon and (probably the greatest, bravest heroes of the day) those in a Pennsylvania field.

Thanks, David for the humbling reminder. You're right, it is all to easy to just mention the people in the towers....many more died that day, not to mention a way of life that forever changed for us all.

Don and Company

Thursday, September 11, 2008

911 and harvest

Today was a reminder of how frail and fragile we really are. It's been seven years now since the Towers fell. The world would have us forget; our own liberal media deems the photos too graphic, offensive and "insensitive" for the Muslim world. We're not allowed to see the pictures or footage of the horrors of that day. Michael Moore and the other media barons will brush it all away with time. In my heart, the dust will never settle. Now, here we stand at the brink of electing their own representative as president of the USA. My gut just clenches every time I consider the possibility. There are seven small flags in a coffee cup on my desk at work, the seventh just added today. I've received one as a reminder each September 11th since 2002 from the Criminal Justice Class at the High School. The kids sponsor a memorial every year in honor of our fallen heros. Today was the latest in that annual event. Every public safety agency in the region is welcomed and awarded a plaque commemorating 9/11 and their ongoing efforts to aid the community (and a small US flag too). There is a photo above of me with the Fire Chief and Sheriff at the gathering. Those kids always do a great job. My Nick is one of them.

There's also a shot of the only two members of our family who have never appeared on the blog before. They're doing all they ever do. Eat, sleep and poop. You can see booger in the grass behind them. While I was out there I could hear the JV Team playing football in the distance. We're close enough to the stadium to hear the PA if we're outside. I think they won their first game in three years last week...woo hoo!

The other photo is a reminder of a season of God's rich blessings. The coconut harvest is great this year. Plenty of rain and sunshine have yielded a healthy bounty. All the trees are loaded. We have seven or eight of these trees in the yard and they're all heavily laden with fruit.

Tilena is ringing the dinner bell, so I'm off to prosperity. The moon will be creeping up through those coconut fronds soon....you know I'll be there watching.

God Bless you all.

Don & Co.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pepper, Pepper and I dunno....

Christy wanted a couple more pictures of Pepper, so here they are. There's also a shot of something I've never seen before. This is some sort of a UFO that flew onto the lanai while Bowden, Pepper and I were out there. It's about 3 inches long with fuzzy antennae and long celluloid type thin wings with tapered tips. By way of orientation, it's sitting on a leg roller on the Bowflex. If anyone has any idea what this is, please let me know. I was born and raised in Florida and I've never seen a bug like this.

I've been out in the back yard pulling weeds. There's one area right underneath a Guava Tree that just sprouts them like....well....weeds. If I don't get in there and work a couple times each week, it quickly gets out of hand. It's a nice cool overcast afternoon and the dogs are frisky. They both took turns chasing the cats.

We're having some minor rainbands from Hurricane Ike. Nothing much, but they're just rolling through and adding a bit more rain to our total.

Well, everyone have a great evening. I'm trying to blog a bit more often and a bit less at the time. Everyone drop me a line sometime.

Don & Co.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rainin' Cats and Dogs

Another Good Day! At my age, Every Day is a Holiday. Pepper and I just got back from the Doctor....He's turned up with a case of the worms. It was time for his vaccination booster shots anyway so we took care of it all at one time. Of course they gave him a courtesy bath and trim then touched him up with a bandana...he looks like a regular little bandit right now.

Check out these photos close. It rained so hard last Friday Morning, the walking catfish were out. When I pulled up to the house for lunch I noticed one in the drive way. When I was standing at the sink making a sandwich I saw these two on the back porch. It rained 4.88 inches between 5 a.m. and Noon. That was on top of the 18 inches we had received in the two weeks prior. Catfish knocking at the door was the least of our problems.

Hey all, How 'bout them NOLES! We should jump and hoot while we can. Something tells me we won't get many opportunities for celebration this year. The weekend was very fruitful for me sports wise. Noles won, Dale Junior finished 4th, and the Hurricanes lost....pretty good round up. The only way it could have been better was if the Gators had lost.

Well troops....thanks for reading and participating. The votes for best all time TV are coming in. Make sure to get your two cents in.

I'll have more to say in a day or so.

Don & Co.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ole Red Eye

New day, new challenges. I woke up this morning with a red, itchy, gooey eye....I knew I would. Yesterday at lunch, I let Pepper out to pee and poop. I let him back in without paying much attention really. Then I smelled him before I saw him. The dreaded puppy runs. He had it all over him in that long fur; and therefore by that time, all over the floor as well.

I spent lunch cleaning carpet and washing the puppy. While I was washing him he shook and got it in my eye....yeeeccch. So, today the ole red eye.

The photo here is my old buddy Don Nix and his family. This shot was taken in our back yard a couple of years back. He's the best and most loyal friend I've ever known and I miss him a lot. He's like me in the fact he married over his head and out of his class.

Otherwise things are rocking along. Hope you all caught the speeches by Rudy Gulianni and Sarah Palin. Boy did they rip Obama Sama Bin Laden. But he had it coming. By the way....thanks to those of you who voted in the presidential poll posted on the blog. The results were Bobby Bowden 50%, John McCain 37% and Osama Bama Bin Laden 12%. I just can't believe any readers of my blog would actually vote for a terrorist. An ignorant terrorist at that.

Well, all eyes are to the East this week. We'll just claim God's protective hand and see what's in store. I may be sending Tilena and the boys away mid week. Day by day....new challenges, same solutions...keep looking up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When a Show was a Show

Every now and then I get a reminder of just how old I really am. Sunday Night I went with Tilena, Nick and a buddy of Nick's to a John Mayer concert. He is supposed to be "THE" entertainer of our day. Let it be said.....things have changed a bit since I last attended a concert. Being a veteran of these things, I was prepared for a show. But it was just not what I was expecting.

See, the concerts of my day "The Eagles, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston...now those boys rocked! As good as the music was in my day, the show may have been better. Laser lights, fog machines, fireworks, explosions, jumbotron TV, bodies being passed overhead, "exotic" aromas, dancers, fighters, lovers, police...a real show. Sunday Night we just watched a little bird chested boy sing and about 10000 middle school girls scream and swoon. It was a lot like 2008's answer to Neil Diamond....when he was fourteen. It's not that seeing swooning little girls bothers me, but 30 years ago even the girls were enjoying the show too much to swoon. Just imagine "or remember" 80,000 people in a stadium at night with Boston lighting up the night with a couple of those lead guitars roaring, fireworks shooting off.......makes my chest thump just to remember....those guys could really bend some guitar strings.

This little Mayer boy may be a star today, but if he is, kids really need something more to do. Guys like Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Steven Tyler....now they were rockers...they were musicians....they were showmen. There is really no comparison....they were just extraordinary and bigger than life. The world was just a lot more fun then.

I've grown up a lot since then, physically and more importantly spiritually. I realize that Steven Tyler and John Mayer are both probably lost and saving a miracle...both will probably spend eternity in Hell. But if given the option, I'm glad I grew up when I did and was able to experience the world I lived in. The wildness of our day seemed more born out of a sense of hope and a world learning to live together. What we were doing then was who we were. Sunday Night I sensed desperation and a need for escape. A sad world with no one of this earth to listen to. Just a skinny little boy with no sense of entertainment.

I hope I have the opportunity to witness to them all. Unfortunately for Jim Morrison, its too late. He knows the truth. Praise God I lived long enough to know the truth.....One day, I'll see a real show.

Don & Co.

Palm Trees and Sand........................