Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas in these Latitudes

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Saturday 27 December...and we're racing through the last couple days of 2008. This post is particularly for my friends and readers of a more Northern Clime(ie..Scotland, England, Colorado, Carolinas and Virginia) I thought I would give you a glimpse into our deep winter at 26 degrees latitude South. Some of us replace sleet and snow with coconuts and sand. It will be 85 degrees here today. There is a downside to this...I still have to cut the grass every week.

Tilena and I were on the patio having coffee at 8 this morning and yes, we were wearings shorts, t-shirts, and no shoes at all. The birds were crowded around the feeder making a general ruckus. I had to smile to myself as I watched a common scene of nature. Birds (as humans) are generally dignified in appearance and behavior. But introduce them to welfare and watch the brawl begin. My birdfeeder is the mainstage for the WWF of the bird world. We've seen some great smackdowns develop on the ground just under the dispenser. Somehow, those big tropical blackbirds are always the first to discover the freebees. They have a great squabble among themselves until the heavyweights drop by drawn in by all the commotion. The pigeons just come shoving through and push everybody back. The mocking birds and scrub jays dart in and out fearlessly amidst the tumult snatching up seeds in mid air. The whole scene just reeks of Wal-Mart shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving. Pepper and Bowden just delight in bowling up into this free for all and watching feathers fly.

The feathers floating on the breeze in turn reminded me again of the days of the year drifting away. Time is getting away and there's no way to hold it back. I'm learning more and more to relish every moment...to squeeze every drop of joy from every tick of the clock. I've spent so much of my life complaining about Tilena being slow and making us late for everything we go to. It has occurred to me lately though, I'd rather be late with her than be on time without her. As a matter of fact, I'd rather be in jail with her than free with anybody else in the world. The kids will all drift away. Christy is long on her own, Ryan in college and slowly spreading his wings. Nick is a senior and spends more time away than at home. It will soon be down to just me and Tilena. I'm sure she dreads that more than me. She taught me patience among so much else. She just made me a better man. I hope I live long enough to make her effort worth her time, because it took so long for me to learn how to be a husband and father. I don't think I would have put up with me this long. And all the time spent learning the curve glided on past. Learning is the most expensive lesson because it spends time. There are days I want to put my foot out and stop the time from spinning away. It seems like this old ball we're riding on just keeps spinning faster and faster and sometimes I want to get off...you know, just catch my breath and think things through. Maybe cling to some of these moments a bit longer. I dove underneath the tree on Christmas Morning in 1966 and when I looked up I was a grandpa.

How do I ingrain into my kids that they are living away their lives? They expend so much time and energy looking forward to and eagerly running for the future. The song of our lives is playing away and there is no replay button. The artist only gave us so many notes to sing. I've learned not to say "I can't wait until"...to do that is to wish my life away. I do look forward to a lot of things, but the older I get, the more time I spend looking back. At my age, there is really only one more great event to attend, and my Creator alone knows when that will be.

The boys are out doing their own thing today. Ryan is off fishing. He and his friends camped out on the river last night. I guess they will stay again tonight. Nick just headed off to Palm beach with a couple of his friends.....gotta go spend those gift cards. I've been out taking down the Christmas Lights...another sign of the time creeping by. Tilena is cleaning house. I try to stay out of her line of sight. If she sees me, she will give me a chore to do. Looks like I got too much sun this morning too. Thats not too hard for me to do. We're just getting everything in order. We'll be going up to visit Emma Grace in Savannah next week and it's good to come home to an orderly house. Pepper will be going with us, but a baby sitter will be staying here with Bowden.

Well my friends. I pray God has richly blessed you this year and this season. 2009 stands at the door.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Feliz Navidad from South Florida

Monday, December 22, 2008

Almost Here

Tuesday 23 December 2008.....Christmas is almost here. There just seems to be such a rush this week, things have really gotten away from me. Three nights in a row Nick has played in a basketball tournament over in Cape Coral. It's a long way to go and twice as long to get back. Nick don't get to play as much as me or he wishes he could. But at least he gets some play time. I remember going to Christy's basketball games. The only time she got off the bench was for the National Anthem. She was always lonely too...there were only six girls on the team, so it was a long game sitting there by herself. There were some long road trips back then too. I've been traveling so much lately, I'm thinking about taking the night off and just staying at home. Then the "wishes" creep into my mind....

I wish I could still go help my Dad all those time he would call, not because he REALLY needed me, but because it was his way of just getting me to come visit him.

I wish I could still pick up the phone and call my Mama. You know, I picked it up to call her many many times in the months after she had died before I would remember there was no one to call.

I wish I could still look in my mirror and see a smooth face framed by "down the back" platinum hair. I have to look in Tilena's mirror to see it now.

I wish I could still help my Grand Pa weed his garden.

I wish I could still crowd around that ole gas heater with my sisters.

I wish I could go hunting again with Uncle Clyde.

I wish I could still talk to JoJo.

I wish I could see Christy hug her Papa again.

I wish I could still hear little boys footsteps running up and down that ole doublewide.

I already wish I could stand on the Tigers sidelines next to #52 again.

.....on second thought, I think I will go to that game tonight....one day, I'll wish I still could.

Merry Christmas all.

Don and Company.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The Barrett's came up from Naples and my Uncle Hunter came down from Perry. So good to have Hunter here in particular. He's in his 80's now and I just never know when my last time with him will be my last time with him. He's the only Gutshall left not living in my household. I had some really, really great photos to post here from our gathering of family and friends....but the Tilena Monster struck. Do you know anyone who just HAS to push buttons? Whether on a camera "or on me" no one is more inclined to push buttons than my wife. She picked up the camera last week and just had to find out "what all those little gadgets do". Well she found out and all my photos are gone. Oh well, on to Christmas...I'll take the photos and hide the camera afterward.

Emma Grace enjoyed her 3rd birthday Saturday the 6th of December. I was able to talk with her briefly...no one talks with Gracie any longer than briefly. She has an attention span like Pappy's. Sure hope I get to go visit with her soon. Christy is now at the end of her 7th month of carrying Gracie's brother. Should have that boy by mid February.

We're all decorated and enjoying the season around here. As the boys have aged, it has become a more relaxing time for us. These days it is easier to focus more on the miracle of our Savior's birth and less on packages and gifts. Most every day is like Christmas to me anyway. The more I contemplate my life and circumstances, the more convinced I become that I'm the richest and most blessed man on the face of God's earth.

This season "as most" has me thinking a lot about my own childhood. I've mentioned a couple of my friends here before. Both happen to be lifelong friends. Winter time always brings to mind the many camping trips the three of us shared during Christmas Vacations. Now mind you, North Florida can be a chilly place in late December. I recall once in particular when we all camped up near the bank of Cow Creek. Donnie had fallen asleep early "as was his custom" curled up tightly in his sleeping bag. He "Donnie" had been pushing us all evening to go skinny dipping in the creek. Now I'm no prude mind you, but it's 35 degrees and windy. No way I'ma gonna git myself in that crik water. So anyway, Donnie's asleep and Roy and I slip down the trail about 20 yards where its good and dark. There was no moon out that night and it was black as the inside of a cow. Then we started shouting out loud and screaming at each other. Roy had a tree limb and was smacking the water splashing around just making a general racket. I rolled a large half rotten tree trunk down the bank into the creek and yelled out "how's the water?" Roy yelled back "It's freezing!, come on in". So I threw a limerock in that was about the size of my head. Of course that made quite a splash too. Well, by now, ole Water Head "Donnie" is wide awake and realizes me and Roy are down there swimming without him. We heard him call out to us and we both then ducked in the bushes. Here he comes running down the trail on that cold dark Winter night and he's a tearing clothes off as he runs. Now he wasn't hard to spot cause he's as lilly white as I am. When he pulled off all those clothes he just glowed in the dark. That silly clown sprinted right on by us without a stitch of clothes on yelling his fool head off "wait on me!, wait on me!".. SPLOOOSH! right into the creek he goes....SCREECH, HOWL, AAARRRGH!...then....HELP! HELP! HELP! I'M DYING, I'm FREEZING! HELLLLLLLP! That boy went from glowing white to electric blue in five seconds flat. He was cold as a frogs belly. I think I laughed till I threw up the scrambled eggs we had for supper. That's the night we started calling Donnie "waterhead".

Well, childhood is a special time. I just grin to myself thinking about some of those days...I laugh out loud thinking of Donnie's naked butt tearing down the trail that night. Boy oh boy...those were the days.

Well troops, that's it for today. Call your friends, hug your kids, kiss your spouse. But most important of all. Talk to God. Thank him for the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas.

Don and Company