Those of us who are old enough know the effects of age on our lives. From our endurance during yard work or hiking to walking into a room and trying to remember what our purpose for doing so is, we find that the adding years deplete our energy and memory. That aging also changes sleep requirements.
When I was a child, I hated to go to bed. Something on television always seemed to be calling me. On weekends, our parents sometimes allowed us to stay up passed out bed times, but we still had to
crawl out of the sack to get ready for church the next morning. Only after a long, hard day of playing or during an illness did I give into sleep at an early hour.
During my high school and college years, I could survive with little sleep. Late nights were normal, and the thought of going to bed before 11:00 p.m. was embarrassing.
Curfew was midnight during high school, but that didn’t mean I went to bed. Instead, I watched television until the channels went off the air, or I’d listen to music. If a friend spent the night, we’d stay up until the wee hours of the morning to talk and laugh about all sorts of topics.
In college, I put in plenty of late nights. Studying was always easier after most of the residents in the dorm had turned in for the night. I had to put in the work to make up for the lack of effort I gave during high school. During final exams, I pulled “all-nighters.” I could trick my body into believing that I’d slept enough by lying down for half an hour and setting the alarm to ring every ten minutes.
Back in that time, I could stay up all night, but I made up for it the next day. On more than one occasion, I’d crawl out of the bed around noon. The rest of the day was little more than a fog as my internal clock went haywire.
I even could adjust my sleeping when the children were little. Crying babies and sick toddlers destroyed sleep-filled nights. I arrived home late from attending high school football, basketball, and baseball games in support of some of my students, but still managed to rise the next mornings on the way to school or for other activities.
These days, sleep is on my mind. I look forward to going to bed but have no good feelings about getting up. Staying up late is replaced with shamefully early ends of the days. My internal clock still rings between 6:00-6:30 each morning. For some reason, I fatigue early in the evening and find
myself ignoring favorite programs in favor of lying in the bed. The television plays on even though I have fallen asleep hours earlier. Of course, sleeping through the night doesn’t happen…ever. Aches and pains in joints and trips to the bathroom take turns awakening me at least half a dozen times in an eight-hour period.
Someone once told me that I would require less sleep as I grew older. I’m still waiting for that to begin. Even if I don’t make it to bed early, I fall asleep in my recliner. The only good thing about that is my wife Amy and the dog consistently fall into a state of unconsciousness long before I do. Maybe when we both no longer work, we’ll be able to stay up like we used to. For now, I’ll just snooze early and often.


The simple truth is that the crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls must thin soon. Too many folks are vying for a job that requires special skills. Not everyone who declares for the presidential race possesses those skills, nor will he or she be able to pull off a victory or lead in a way that turns the country from the struggles that it faces.
Too many of the candidates are simply too far left to be appealing to the country. They can’t be elected because their views are too alien to the majority of voters. Many people bought into the promises that candidates made in the last presidential election. They didn’t come to fruition, and now the country’s survival depends upon voters not making the same mistake. An adage applies here: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
What makes several Democratic candidates unappealing is their ideology. It’s every bit as skewed to one side as the stuff that their rivals spout now. The only difference is that the left is rabid against the rich, the status quo, and governmental roles. Such inane talking points as taxing those who make $10 million or more with a 70% rate scare folks. It destroys any newcomers’ ambitions of being successfully elected.
Free everything doesn’t work either. Oh, it sounds wonderful, but the sticking point is that the money to pay for such “pie in the sky” ideas isn’t available. We already have a $21 trillion deficit. How much more will be added to the national debt by giving away the store? By some estimates, $32 trillion dollars a year will be needed to fund Medicare for all, with only a savings of some $20 trillion. We can’t afford the debt we’ve already incurred, and adding such a huge sum will be oppressive for generations to come.
Some candidates say that free college education for all is essential. The raw truth is that not everyone wants to go to college. Many would rather learn a skill that provides a quality life. Someone once stated that people hold dear those things for which they work. That applies to a college education. Too many individuals will use free school as “party time” until they flunk out. With the tidal wave of new students, universities will need even more money to hire faculty and staff and erect more facilities to meet the needs of the population. From where do funds for those things come?
Others say that student loans should be forgiven. What kind of sound economic thinking comes up with that? Sure, it’s easy to just write off $1.5 trillion in debts. Isn’t that what we do with all our bills? The average student loan is equal to $37,172. Doing such a ridiculous thing will bankrupt businesses and displace thousands of employees. Perhaps refinancing those loans is a necessary solution; however, holding individuals responsible for the debts they incur is a step in ending the idea that even those who do nothing get a trophy or the belief that anything that is too hard to achieve can simply be abandoned.
What this country needs in a contender is a person in the middle. That means he or she understands what is needed in the country. Yes, healthcare problems must be addressed before none but the richest are able to receive quality care. Education is important, but it must be aimed at meeting the skills, talents, and interests of students. Their investments of time and money help to ensure that they work hard to learn and complete courses of study.
Diamond Rio recorded the song “Meet in the Middle.” The lyrics stated,
“I’d start walking your way; you’d start walking mine. We’d meet in the middle ‘neath that old Georgia pine. We’d gain a lot of ground cause we both gave a little. Ain’t no road too long if we meet in the middle.”
In so many vital areas to our country, that sounds like solid advice for our leaders both now and in the future.


Our son Dallas moved back to Knoxville in September. He moved to Chattanooga to attend college and then began his career. After 15 years, he decided to make a change in jobs that led him back here. He’s been living with us until he can sell his place in Chattanooga and secure a new residence. He won’t be with us much longer, but just having him around for the last bit brings back memories of when this man was a small fry.
Dallas was the easy child. Lacey was a bit fussier and more volatile; in other words, she was more like her father. Dallas was laid back. That didn’t mean he sat around and did nothing. It just meant his personality was much more like his mother’s.
Sometimes, my son did things that concerned me. One of the first acts was putting his forehead onto the carpet in the living room and zipping around the room as fast as possible on his hands and knees. When he finished, his forehead was covered with a bright red spot from the friction. He smiled and then realized how painful the rug burn was and began to cry. I laughed too hard to offer him much sympathy.
His stoic personality also included a stubborn streak, another characteristic he inherited from his mother. If his actions required punishments, and yes, that meant spankings, he would receive them without shedding a single tear. When I left his room, he would cry, but if I opened the door, he would immediately stop any tears that might fall. It was his way of showing me that he wasn’t about to give in to my demands.
We quickly decided that “time-out” was a more effective discipline for this boy. We placed him in our bedroom in our bed at the back of the house. He continually sneaked to the doorway to ask if he could come out. His toes touched the entrance to the room so he never technically left the room, and Dallas yelled, “Mama,” and begged to be released from the prison. His mother insisted that he return to the bed, and only after several redirections did he eventually serve his punishment and secure release.
Dallas hated school and cried from August until April during his kindergarten year. However, the boy was always curious. He and friends set out on adventures in the creek below the house. On one occasion, a neighbor’s son poked a stick down a hole and ignited an attack by of yellow jackets. The three boys in the group were covered with the swarm and came running back home with whoops and cries that could be heard for miles.
Dallas and neighbor Josh decide to make potato guns. It was something I’d never heard about. They purchased PVC pipes and joined them with plumber’s glue. Also included were several other parts which, to this day, I don’t understand. In the end, they stood in the back yard, stuffed a potato down the barrel of this gun, shot some hair spray into the thing, and lit a match. “Bam!” A potato flew across the yard and into the woods behind our house. I never understood the rationale behind making something that would shoot a potato, but those two boys were smart enough to assemble and fire the weapon.
My son left for college a boy, but he’s returned a man. I’m so proud of all he’s accomplished. Yes, he took his own path to where he’s arrived, but he is a solid man who has a good heart and a good mind. He will find success in this life. He’s back, and we’re glad. Seeing him more often than every couple of months is a blessing. It’s nice to have a pal with whom to watch ball games, mow grass, and rake leaves. Life is always a bit better when a child is around, even if he is 34.