I find it interesting how living things start at one point and manage take it to a grander level. It’s a fascinating aspect of all things. A flower starts as a seed or a bulb. Given the right kind of soil and nutrients, those beginnings grow and eventually produce buds. Before we know it, those buds blossom into beautiful flowers that decorate our yards and tables. That blossoming is even more remarkable when it is applied to humans.

One example of blossoming of a person is my friend Mike Graham. Mike joined the band that plays for the first service at our church. He stated that he was excited about the new “gig,” but he questioned his skills and abilities to perform with the group. Mike practiced at home and even put in hours on Saturday nights before next day services.

As each Sunday passed, he became a bit more comfortable playing in the band. Now, he is performing with confidence and has featured solos in many songs. I’ve enjoyed the music, but more than that, I’ve enjoyed watching Mike blossom into a good guitar player.

My dear wife had little confidence in herself as a younger woman. She worried that she couldn’t complete jobs for which she was hired, even though she possessed the skills to do so and proved herself to be a highly intelligent individual. Over the years, Amy has changed jobs when the opportunity to grow presented itself. She worked diligently as she earned her credentials as a certified human resources specialist. In the jobs she held, Amy has led with compassion and competency, and most of the folks with whom she has worked and directed sing her praises. From a shy, unsure person, she has blossomed into a qualified professional with exceptional skills.

My two children have also grown and blossomed. Lacey was always a driven person who knew precisely what kind of work she wanted to pursue. She dived into college with determination, and by the time she graduated, her professor recognized her abilities and rewarded it. In her work life, she has grown from an entry-level person to someone who is well versed in licensing and other legal aspect of the music industry.

Dallas took a slower path. For much of his life, he took an uncommitted approach to school. However, at some point during college, he decided to get serious, and then he made short work of his schooling. He worked part time jobs and took a full time job at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo for a while. Then he found his comfort spot working for a large company. He has worked hard and learned many of the phases of work in his department. Now Dallas is a specialist in that area. He’s ready for a new challenge in a different department when openings arise. His aggressive attitude and dedication to his work is so much different from those earlier years.

That ability to blossom is within each person. It only needs a bit of nurturing to come to the forefront. Once that happens, the opening of the person into a new world or role is unlimited. The determination to seek that newness is stifled by fear sometimes. At other times, the amount of energy necessary to grow and change is more than a person is willing to devote. At any rate, blossoming is something beautiful to behold as it unfolds before our eyes.


I sat in the surgical waiting room as my dear wife undergoes a procedure. None of us look forward to any kind of events that concern medical personnel; they are second in unpopularity only to trips to the dentist. Everything about these journeys is less than pleasant.

One of the annoying things about hospital visits concerns time. Amy and I set the clock to get up at 5:00 a.m., although I lay awake by 4:30. We threw off the covers, took the dog out, and hopped in the car for the ride to the hospital. The receptionist greeted us with a quick smile and instructed us to take a seat. We moved to the waiting area and plopped into chairs a few minutes before our appointment time of 6:00 a.m.

After completing paperwork, an admissions specialist escorted us to a room where Amy unenthusiastically put on her hospital gown. Nurses came in and stuck her with needles; another came in to tell her what would be going on during the procedure. Then, for almost 2 hours, we waited for someone to roll her to surgery.

A woman at the waiting room desk apologized for not letting me know that the doctor began 45 minutes later than expected. How long I would wait in this room was anyone’s guess, but I knew that
when things were finished, I would be called up to take the doctor and then could find a seat once again to wait.

Another problem with this kind of thing was sitting. In the room where Amy got ready for surgery, the chair in which I dropped my behind consisted of a metal frame and some kind of seat that was hard, thin less than form-fitting. A couple of times I stood and walked around in an effort to improve circulation to my “sitter.”

In the waiting room, the chairs were somewhat thicker. However, the pads were still too thin and
eventually caused sharp pains to shoot through bottom flesh and up the spine. A shifting from one side to the other helped only slightly. Just as I set up my computer to complete a little work, the pager, one like restaurants use to call guest to be seated, vibrated and lit up. I walked to the front counter to discover that the procedure is complete. After stuffing things back into my backpack, I followed an attendant to where Amy recovered.

The chair in the room where Amy stayed was more comfortable. It reclined; the seat had collapsed from hours of pressure from the behinds of patient visitors and family members. I flopped into the seat, pushed back, and almost lost consciousness. However, a steady stream of nurses and aides kept me from sleeping for more than a couple of minutes.

Maneuvering on hospital properties was another problem. Because we arrived so early, finding a parking place was easy. I dropped Amy at the front door and parked close to the entrance. After the surgery, I went home to take care of the dog. Upon my return, I discovered that every single parking space on the premises was taken. Three circuits around the lots failed to spy a car leaving, so I decided to park in the employee lot. The trek to the hospital from there was long; at least the weather was dry.

Inside, reaching a destination was not much easier. The bank of elevators was much too small to handle all the traffic. In addition, the things were SLOW, and arriving at the correct floor took what seemed to take forever. I was also amazed at how adverse folks were to exercise. Instead of taking the stairs to one floor above or below, too many people hopped on elevators. Not many of them had limitations that kept them from simply walking up or down the steps.

My dear wife spent one night in the hospital, and I whisked her home the next morning. For her return to good health I am thankful. I’m also grateful that she didn’t have a longer stay at the hospital; my backside and patience couldn’t have stood it.


Easter is just around the corner. As we all know, it is the most important time of the Christian religion. In the 19th century, the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs became part of the celebration because both are symbols of new life. Just like Christmas, the special day is defined by the special traditions that families follow.

The first of these traditions is coloring Easter eggs. Mother boiled a potful of eggs and set
them on a rack to cool. She’d then fill several cups with a bit of vinegar and color tablets or a few drops of dye. The whole kitchen reeked with the mixture of the vinegar and boiled eggs.

We boys circled around the kitchen table and dipped eggs into the dyes. Some of the eggs were colored with several different shades while others were solid. Invariably, at least one egg clunked into a cup, and a spider web of cracks ran along the shell. That meant the egg inside would soak up the color. Dal spent time applying stickers or other unique decorations to some eggs. Most important was that we took the clear crayon and scribbled our names on eggs. By the time we finished, all the eggs were replaced on the rack to dry, and our fingers were stained with a variety of colors.

Easter morning, we boys found baskets in the kitchen. The “Easter Bunny” had loaded them with plastic grass, several eggs, and two or three types of candy. Jelly beans were placed in plastic eggs; marshmallow bunnies and chicks (Peeps) sat on the grass; and M&M”s in a plastic bag lay in one corner.

After breakfast, we put on our new outfits, and the whole family moved outside for picture taking. Then we hopped into the car and rode to church for Sunday School and church services. The minister always made the sermon especially long, either because he felt that Easter was the time to drive the Christian message home or because he delighted in torturing children who wanted to hurry home to check out their baskets.

Mother always made us change our clothes when we arrived home. The task lasted only a brief time, and we stood in the kitchen and waited as she and Daddy hid the eggs in the yard. We flew through the screened door when our parents gave the okay and scoured every corner and shrub for eggs. It took only a few minutes to find them, and we begged for another round. Eventually, Mother called a halt to hunting because she needed to finish the special dinner that she’d begun.

Every year, an egg or two were never found. We grew tired of hunting and gave up on the lost prizes. Of course, at some point in late spring or early summer, the egg reappeared. One of us would crack it open, even though we knew the stink that would emanate from it would send us running in a different direction.

At the end of the day, many of the egg were cracked from having been handled by little hands. Mother took the damaged ones and made a big bowl of egg salad; it would be the makings for school lunches the next day. Eggs that survived whole were returned to the refrigerator until we boys retrieved them for snacks.

Years later, my own children are grown and living in their own homes. No egg coloring or basket making is done at our house anymore. I miss those good times as a child, and I miss the people who made Easter Sunday such a special time.


Well, my friends and many of my family members are now senior citizens. We don’t feel like oldsters, but our years tells us that we are. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we ran the halls of elementary school and went on to be the bosses on the high school campuses. At some point, reality stepped in and sent us out into the world. Looking back, are people surprised at how life happened?

In terms of career and employment, many people fell short of their goals. Most of us realized that our first jobs wouldn’t be in management. We were ready to start at the bottom and work our ways up. So, our days were spent completing assigned tasks. Many of us trudged to work even when we were sick. That sense of loyalty had been ingrained in us by our parents. Others returned to school in the evenings to acquire more training for advanced jobs.

We can look back and see that, in many cases, loyalty and continuing education in no ways improved our job status. Too often, promotions were passed out according to who kissed up the most or who played politics most adeptly. Companies sometimes disregarded employee loyalty as they laid off workers or cut positions to improve profits.

Still, some of us stuck with the jobs we’d chosen throughout the time. We were where we were meant to be. Teaching school was a job, but it was also a calling. Working at the plants in Oak Ridge provided a good life for us and our families. Being doctors brought satisfaction as we helped others. Developing a business and watching it grow was exhilarating.

Some of us planned to marry and have families. We wanted to settle down and put in roots deeply where we were. Our goals were for our children to succeed and do better than we had done. None of us ever consider that marriages might become rocky and end in divorce. No one gave a passing thought to the possibilities of marrying twice and putting two different families together. Others looked back with surprise that they managed to stay with their partners for nearly 50 years. How can that be? We aren’t old enough to have been married that long.

Now we knock on the door of retirement, or do we? Some of us old folks had children late in life for one reason or another. They might still be in high school, or they are attending college. For a few unlucky individuals, the children are all grown up, but they still live with parents. The moms and dads have no chance of retiring since they must continue to support the entire family. In other instances, situations occur that requires some folks to work even after retirement age arrives. Also, retirement income isn’t enough on which to live, so people either continue to work full time or at least work on a part time basis.

All of us hoped that by this time our coffers would be filled and that we’d want for nothing. In reality, wealth is problematic. Some of us saved throughout the years, but the amount might not have been enough. We lived from paycheck to paycheck during those early years, and stashing away cash was difficult when the children had grown accustom to eating and wearing clothes.  Our dreams of escaping to the beaches during cold months or of traveling through country and around the world disappeared.

Lest you think I’m a pessimist, let me say that life has been good. I am blessed with a wonderful wife who has put up with me for 43 years. My two children are loving people who have set out on their own paths. I have few regrets in this life, and for the most part, I don’t worry about them since doing so would change nothing. As we grow older, we sometimes reflect on our time here. It’s a question we all ask: am I where I thought I’d be?