Ricky Bobby

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bucket List

I've gotten into the Facebook groove with most everyone else lately. Its fun to reconnect with old friends and aquaintences. Let it be enough to say, time changes people. Time changes expectations.

One of those old friends has been exchanging a series of comments with me for weeks now. It's become apparent that he has "overcome his circumstances". Originally from a very humble childhood, my friend now enjoys a fine home, expensive wine tastes, famous friends, worldly travels and a check book to match them all. He's probably spent more money this week than I'll make this year. Although I'm sure he meant no harm, it made me feel somewhat an underachiever as I read his accomplishments. He's just become familiar with a financial lifestyle I'll never know. Today he posted about "Standing on the Great Wall of China at daybreak, and walking the Thames River at sunset" He went on to comment that he's "Walked around Stonehenge in the misting rain, visited Mozart's birth place in Salzburg, Austria and spent 12 straight hours in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam"....all of this in addition to his travels in Rome and visiting the grave of the famous poet John Keats.....Now I'm impressed with all that, I really am. I'm happy for him, because he deserves it...he obviously worked hard for it. Me? I've got less culture and more red on my neck than most anybody you know. I've hardly even been out of the Eastern United States. But let me tell you a little bit about what I have done, where I have been, and what I do know....

I was blessed by God to be holding my Daddy's hand when he died, and eleven months later kissed my Mom goodbye as she departed this life. I know what it is to have to tell your Mama her baby girl is dead. I've got a couple of sisters who would still fight for me...Susan out of loyalty and Angie for the pure joy of the fight. I've witnessed my two boys birth, and had the joy of raising the most fiercely loyal daughter anybody's ever known. I've buried family and made new friends. My family and I live in a place where you can see the moonlight through the coconut fronds most any night. I know what Dekle Beach smells like when the tide is low, and I know how to find arrowheads off the Mouth of Fish Creek. I ate my first oyster at Howards Cafe...and if you don't already know where that is, you'll never know. Although my sunrises and sunsets have been mostly limited to Florida and Georgia, nobody anywhere watches them with greater relish. The sunsets I see these days are like the one in the picture up top...that one's from my front porch. I spent my entire childhood on a farm. To this day I still prefer animals over a lot of people I know. I've been rejected and loved when I didn't deserve either. I've got a dog that thinks I'm Superman, and a wife that IS a Superwoman. I grew up knowing how to skin out a hog, grow peas, build fence, pull crab traps, bale hay, cut swamp cabbage and pluck a chicken. I also hope I never have to do any of that ever again. I've sold coon skins for spending money and sat up many nights shooting rabbits in our bean patch. Most of the vegetables I eat have bacon fat and pepper sauce on them. I've hoed corn with one Grandpa, and cut hay with the other. My Uncle Clyde told more tales than Mark Twain, but he taught me things my Daddy didn't know; like how to hunt and fish....and how to spin a good yarn. I am not cultured enough to have ever developed a taste for caviar, but I do like catfish stew, cornbread, and sausage gravy. I know my mama and daddy had been married 48 years when he died...that in itself taught me one of my greatest lessons. I've never sailed on a cruise ship across the ocean, but I have spent the night on the Gulf of Mexico in a 14 foot fishing boat when I didn't plan on it, and I've swam with the dolphins a couple of times too. I've never been to Stonehenge, but my wife and wallet have. I've stood on the sidelines of the Orange Bowl while Ryan played in the state championship. The next year I got to watch him play in the State All Star Game. I've sat in the bleachers behind Christy through some games when she never got off the bench except for the National Anthem. She's taught me more about loyalty than anyone else in the world. I've traveled all over South and Central Florida to watch Nick play basketball...I even got to see him get hot one night and light up the scoreboard. All three of my children have never lived a day when they were ashamed to say "I love you" to their Mom and Dad in front of their friends. My grand children live too far away, but they do know their "Pappy". I've got a son in law that is willing drive them down to see me occassionally. He also loves my little girl. I've learned that love is not measured by what you can pay for, but what you're willing to give up. I'll soon be retiring from a job that has given me great satisfaction, but relatively little in financial gain. I knew that going in. I've been fortunate enough to brush a few strokes of paint on the wall of a lot of young lives, on both sides of the bars. I've been outside in the teeth of Hurricane Wilma and the Storm of the Century. Those two events taught me how easy God can humble man. I've lost a home to fire and one to flood. I know how blessed I was to lose only material possessions both times. I've lost as many battles as I've won...that is the taste of real living. I have two friends (Roy and Donnie) I believe would die for me. You just go make a jackass out of yourself and you'll find out who YOUR real friends are too.

Yes, it's safe to say that my Bucket List has changed a bit over the last thirty years. I don't think any of us leave high school with the intention of being average. Few people envy my bank account, my car or my house. I never made it to Europe or even to New Zealand where I once dreamed of going...the Everglades will just have to do. What earthly success I've enjoyed is due greatly to Tilena's grace and patience. Most of my failure I can claim from my own poor choices. But I do sit here today firm in the knowledge that I am the richest man on the face of this earth. Most of all I know this...Tonight I'll go to church with Tilena and later, lay my head on that pillow. The last thing I'll see before I close my eyes is Tilena's face... The last thought through my mind before I drift off will be the same as every other night..."When I wake up, I'll either be looking at her, or I'll be looking at the face of Jesus". That's something Europe can't offer. My bucket is full.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Somebody's Gotta Paddle

Friday was a tough day at work. There is always much to be done, and normally not enough day to do it in. Have you ever had those days when your boss comes by and says....Chief, I'm under the gun today, can you take care of this little thing for me? About that time, one of the office staff calls in and says, "I won't be in today....little Jimmy has a snotty nose, and oh by the way, FDLE is coming to do an audit today." Then I call to check on the progress of an assignment I had given someone weeks earlier and they say "oops, I forgot...I'll get to it next week." Most often these days happen on Friday...everybody tries to avoid me on Friday afternoon anyway. After all, who wants to be caught working at 4:50 p.m.? Now there's a fate worse than death. So after a few hours of that, I sat everything down, got in the car and went out for a Coke and peanuts. (yes I do put the peanuts in the coke) So anyway, as I was enjoying a nice cold, crunchy beverage; I rode down by the boat basin and saw the image I photographed above.

That sight said to me what I had been thinking all day long..."Well guys we're all in the boat, we all wanna go fishing, but don't think I'm gonna do the paddling", "It's too close to the weekend". Isn't that like us sometimes? We all want to get somewhere, we all want to accomplish something, we all want a paycheck, but nobody wants to do what it takes to get us there. Work is not the only place I see that. It happens at home, at church, at the club....you name it. I must confess I'm sometimes guilty myself. More likely, when I'm viewed as lazy, its actually more a case of not giving a fat baby's behind...I'm truly a contented person...lazy sometimes, but contented nonetheless. So anyway, I worked late to catch up on some things. The beauty of working at 5:30 on Friday afternoon is that NOBODY is around to interrupt you. After work I came home and found out Tilena and Penny were going away for the weekend...It's Sunday now and I'm getting hungry. Haven't eaten since Friday, but do you really expect me to cook?