You’re where you are in life through a series of events. I suppose the fact that for every action there is a consequence comes into play. At this point, I’m pretty sure that one major events in my life dictated what paths I’ve taken.
The most serious event that changed my life was the death of my dad. Jim and I were only 13 when th grade, our teachers came to get us to deliver the news.
he passed, but for an entire year he’d been sick and searching for a doctor who could tell him what the problem was. On the first day of school when we were in the 8
Because he died when we were so young, neither Jim nor I ever learned to do things like carpentry, plumbing, or simple electrical skills. After we became adults, our efforts in those areas led to haphazardly-constructed structures. On one summer job, I was in charge of maintenance. Amazing! A leaking toilet challenge led to my putting half a container of some goo on the water supply line. I’d also installed the wax ring upside down. Another job opportunity came soon, and after I left, that toilet erupted and flooded the bathroom and another room below. It wasn’t until midlife that Jim and I became “competent” in dealing with the simplest home projects.
Jim and I weren’t angels during high school. Mother held our feet to the fire and meted out punishment swiftly. Still, we did our share of drinking and carousing, and, in Jim’s case, fighting. Daddy would have put a quick end to some of that behavior because a team of parents can better sniff out the wrong doings of their children. It must be said, however, that we refrained from doing many things because we understood the tough life Mother led and never wanted to disappoint her with dangerous or illegal activities that were available during those years. That includes drugs and dangerous stunts to which many teens are drawn.
Mother was the single parent in a house with 3 teenaged boys. Decisions had to be made without Daddy’s input. It’s because he was gone that I feel sure that Mother insisted that we go away for our first year of college. She felt that we needed to learn to be on our own and told us we could return home to attend school after that one year. She knew in her heart that none of us would move back. More than likely, Daddy would have had us stay home and attend UT to save money and keep us from doing anything stupid.
Because she insisted that we become independent, all three of us worked hard to earn college degrees and find secure jobs. Dal and Jim married early; both they and their wives were only 19. However, those marriages always remained solid; Dal’s illness posed problems, but Little Brenda stayed by his side until the end. Jim’s marriage to Big Brenda will reach year 44 in August.
It was at college that I met Amy. She was a Cookeville girl, and the minister of the church harassed
me until I asked her out. Because Mother insisted we go away to college, I was able to find Amy and marry her 41 years ago. The chain of events that occurred after Daddy’s death led to that marriage, the birth of two children, and the presence of grandson Madden.
Although I’ve been a slow learner, Daddy’s death was partly responsible for my giving up smoking. He died of lung cancer, as did Mother and Dal. I can still remember vividly each illness and the devastating effects the disease inflicted. That first loss of Daddy set in motion the eventual decision to give up such a devilish habit. Of course, I suspect that the smoking that I did for so many years was the result of watching both parents puff away for years.
I’ve often wondered how life might have been different if Daddy hadn’t died at the age of 53. No
doubt, many of the things that are part of my life would not exist, and I am sure Amy and I wouldn’t
have met, a fact that would have erased Lacey and Dallas’ existences. What I wish is that Daddy could have watched what we boys became and have had the opportunity to meet his daughters-in-law
and grandchildren. I suppose that he might have had that chance in the place he’s been for so long. Life’s path often takes a direction after the occurrence of just one event.


Like millions of people in this country, I remember a time before television. When a tv set found its way to our house, it was a boxy, metallic gadget that weighed about as much as a gun safe. Over the years, we’ve witnessed the growth of programming from three channels to thousands and a plethora of shows that compete for our attention. Even when we “can’t find anything to watch,” the DVR offers another group of shows for our entertainment. Wouldn’t it be something if we could run our lives on some kind of DVR?
Just imagine what we could do with a DVR life. First of all, we could re-run or fast forward through all sorts of stuff. How many times have people whispered, “If I could only go back and do that over?”
When a mistake is made, all we’d have to do is hit a button and then re-do things. Hurtful words and actions would be wiped away, and life would be a happier, less stressful thing. If we’re too lazy, we can simply fast-forward passed the situation. Perhaps such abilities could put an end to wars, divorces, economic failures, or domestic abuses. Just this past week, our country could have used a rewind button to undo the deaths of citizens and police officers.
Folks would also use the “Pause” button often. We could hold on to those happy times in our lives. I think about the birth of my children and the wedding of my daughter as times I’d like to have stopped for a while. An event when all our family members are present would be another time we’d hold on to. I know that some of those ball games that Dallas played would be on the pause list, and I would like to enjoy once again times when my grandson was small and loved everything I did. I could stop them and savor the moments just a bit more.
The fact of the matter is that we don’t have the ability to enjoy DVR lives. No, we’re put on earth to draw breaths and make choices that have consequences. It’s what’s called “choice.” Oh, sometimes outside forces or individuals bring about events not of our making, but for the most part, each of us is in control of what happens in life. As masters of our fates, we rarely have anyone else to blame for the messes along the way. At the same time, our personal decisions can bring about much joy.
A DVR life defeats the sweetness of existence. Sure mistakes are costly, but they also are instructive. As a teen, I drove my mother’s car home from an event on a rainy night. I came to a stop sign and decided to give the 383 engine the gas. The next thing I knew, the world was spinning by as the care twirled down the rain-soaked pavement. After what seemed to be an eternity, the back end of the vehicle thumped and came to rest in a ditch. From that point on, I learned the danger of an auto and my limits to control it.
The same thing is true throughout our lives. We learn from the bone-headed things we do. The same is true with sadness. The loss of a pet helps a child to prepare for losses in future. We learn to be strong in the face of our loved one’s passing. Losing a job can teach us about ourselves and what is truly important in our day-to-day lives. Setbacks can really be God’s way of telling us that we need to rely on something more than ourselves, or they can lead us to finding a better, more fulfilling way of making a living.

The rough patches in life are the very things that teach us most. Few of us have much desire to learn when everything is going well. As crazy as it might sound, being able to pause good times or fix past mistakes cheapens happiness. Show me a person who is always happy, and I’ll show you a bored man or woman. The low times make happiness more precious. I suppose that having a DVR life cheat us out of a complete existence.


Summer’s hot weather has wilted plenty of folks this year. To be honest, it’s zapped me more than usual, and on a couple of occasions, I’ve almost “white-eyed.” When the temperatures are so stifling, appetites turn for a while, but the truth is that some foods taste better during the dog-days of summer. 

Not many moms and wives want to spend much time in front of a hot stove. Heavy foods like pork chops, chili, or roasts with carrots and potatoes are delicious, but they land like rocks in a summer
stomach. Instead, folks retreat to decks and patios to fire up the grills. There, hamburgers, hot dogs, and even chicken are preferred alternatives. Charcoal grills add the best flavor to those foods, but most of us have opted for the use of propane to fire up our outdoor cooking stations.

Potato salad is another one of those fantastic summer foods. It’s a “must” with picnics. Yes, those potatoes must be prepared first on the
stove, but they don’t require large amounts time and energy from the person who prepares them. As an aficionado on potato salad, I must insist that it be chilled in the refrigerator before being served.

Sandwiches often replace traditional supper menu items. Downing a bologna, ham and cheese, or even peanut butter and jelly sandwich is easier than regular items. A more complete meal includes a pile of chips and a cold drink. Sandwiches put a dent in hunger without making folks feel queasy.

Summer garden produce is in demand during the hot season. Many people look forward to eating a fresh tomato, one that has a wonderful flavor. They are much better that the tasteless orbs that are served on hamburgers or sold in grocery stores during cold weather. Corn on or off the cob arrives on many dinner plates, as do “messes” of green beans with a hefty portion of onion. If the cook of the house is willing to whip up a pan of cornbread, the meal is fit for royalty, at least here in the south. Washing it down with a big glass of cold milk makes the meal almost perfect.

No discussion of summer food would be complete with the inclusion of two dishes. First, wilted lettuce was a regular part of our meals in years gone by. Lettuce from the garden, mixed with green
onions is cut up into a large bowl. Then a skillet full of bacon grease that’s been stored in a metal container on the stove is poured over the greens, and sometimes bits of streaked bacon are also sprinkled in the bowl. The good lord knows just how much folks love it.

While the skillet was hot, a bit more bacon
grease can be added and pods of okra that have been cut into pieces and floured are dumped into to a pan. When it’s finished, the stuff is poured into a bowl lined with paper towels to soak up the extra oil. The crunchier it is, the better it satisfies.

Oh sure, the dishes from years gone by aren’t at all healthy.  Back then, bacon grease was a prime cooking agent. Not even a single bite of wilted lettuce or fried okra has passed my lips in years. My blood pressure and cholesterol medications can’t begin to counteract the effects of such dishes. Still, I crave them in my memory, even though I know that eating them would leave me clinging to the toilet bowl as I projectile-vomited the stuff.

Most of us choose to eat lighter during the summer months. However, before long, we’ll again mimic bears and stuff our gullets with heavy, filling foods that will help us to survive the winter, even though we won’t lose those extra pounds as our furry friends do.