Still as true as ever

On this Veteran’s Day, 2017, I really didn’t get any sense of it having been any different than any other day. Yes, I know what day it is, and I know why it’s observed, but outside of that just another Saturday morning with things to do and people to see.

Cecil Blair, died 1945, Pacific Theater

In the course of our events, we decided to stop through the car wash so that my son could see the “rainbow soap” (turns out that’s just about what it looks like). As we pull in, we see something that says that this car wash is giving free car washes to veterans. I jokingly said to my wife “My Dad was a veteran, maybe I’ll get his for him since he can’t be here to do it himself.” We had a chuckle and proceeded to pay for our rainbow car wash.



John Jones, USN 1960(?)

Later, I thought about what was really just a joke but in retrospect is the entire essence of what Veteran’s Day really represents. Whether one chooses to believe it or recognize it, every single thing one does on any given day is possible either directly or indirectly because of our brave heroes who have done what they’ve done. Every single day, I get to “collect on a veteran’s free car wash” because I inherited the freedoms they died for.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and yet again later. There isn’t a way for me to repay this debt except to understand that very fact and honor my debtors’ sacrifices. There are just many veterans who survived to tell their tales and to those who this makes it to, thank you for all that you do and have done and know that there is at least one American left who chooses to pay respect.

My challenge to you, the reader, is to reflect on your privilege that was paid for in blood. Do this privately or publicly; that is your choice. But it is the very least you can do.

Things I realized

It’s not the things you know

There are several events which are inescapable in anyone’s life barring some unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances. Some are positive events to be celebrated, like graduating college or high school, getting married, the birth of a child, etc. Some are negative and cause great grief such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a career, etc. However, out of any of the events that fit either description, the things that stand out in my memory are not the notions or ideas that I had entering into the event but rather the things I now know because I’ve experienced it. We all think we know how our lives will go; we all think we know about things that have yet to happen to us. Truth is, none of us know until it happens.

Planning for a negative event is futile

Recently, my father passed away after a short but intense battle with cancer. While his health had been largely declining over the last few years of his life for myriad reasons, his diagnosis came both as a surprise and a shock. The speed at which it progressed and ultimately claimed his life seems astounding now that it’s over. When the diagnoses came, we went through all the normal anguish and “what ifs” that happen to anyone else. For me, many of these were exaggerated because I live a good distance from my parents and have for many years. I was not capable of being there or really helping in any way other than offer to moral support due to my own commitments and distance. My plan had been that i would drop everything and move home at the moment I was needed. However, that requires the proper chain of events to happen in the appointed order and it just wasn’t that way. The best I could do was to take some extended visitation time and be there for my parents for the time I could. But, in no way did my series of actions resemble my plans.

Say “I love you”………A LOT!

Seems like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? We have never been reserved as a family about saying “I love you” to one another but even so there comes a day when you will feel like you didn’t say it enough. There are few words in the English language that can continue to have the same power every time they’re said no matter how much they’re said but these are three. I am proud that these were the last words I was able to say to my father. I meant them every time I said them, I mean them even more now in his absence.

What are you waiting for?

The sum of the experience for me on a personal level is that we are born with a certain amount of time to accomplish all that we plan and conceive. The kicker is that we don’t have any way of knowing how long that time is. For my father, his time ran out in his mid-70’s. I hope to have at least as long but the truth is that I don’t know at all how much time I have left and neither does anyone else. Bearing that in mind, it seems as if waiting on some arbitrary condition or timing for an opportunity to fulfill a dream or accomplish a goal is a fruitless pursuit. I am not guaranteed any more time than the last second I counted and I have plenty of things I still want to experience and do. If I’m waiting on someone or something else, I may only be ensuring that I’ll never do anything about them.

I imagine I will be coping with and grieving Dad’s passing for some time to come and I known that I have to deal with this in my own way as do my Mom and brothers. However, I also believe that I have to learn from what’s happened as it is my last way to honor my Father.

My Father, My ……

So, on this Father’s Day (June 15, 2014), I wanted to write something about my Dad that would encapsulate all that he has meant and does mean to me. It’s hard to do so in a few lines and may even be difficult to do in a few paragraphs. But, it still is something that means a lot to me to put it in words because I don’t feel that I have done enough of that.

My Father, my provider And playmate

As a young child, my father worked all kinds of different jobs. My earliest memories are of living in San Antonio, Texas and that he was gone pretty much all the time except at night. I don’t remember much other than he was always in a uniform of some kind and always tired but when he was home, we used to have so much fun playing together. It was my father that turned me on to bowling and football. We spent Saturday afternoons watching the Professional Bowler’s Assocation on ABC Wide World of Sports (man, that thing hasn’t been around for a while now) and Sundays watching Dallas Cowboys football games. Dad took me out with him to his bowling nights and we would go afterwards to a place called Capparelli’s Pizza (no idea if it’s even around anymore).

my father, my mentor and leader

Between my kindergarten and first grade years, we moved to Abilene, Texas. We were living with my maternal grandparents (R.I.P. Mam-maw and Pap-paw, I still love and miss you both dearly). While we moved into a house shortly afterwards, I remember Dad always worked just as hard at whatever job he might have been doing. Sometimes he (and Mom too) were working day and night. But, when Dad was home, he was definitely the man of the house and was the unquestioned leader. That’s not to discount Mom’s leadership role (which was just as strong) but Dad was Dad and we knew it. Dad was stern with my brother and I but always still found time to play with us doing jigsaw puzzles, board games, and many other things. I wanted to be like him, he was so strong and nothing seemed to bother him (except us kids of course).

my father, my enemy

As with most kids, Dad isn’t always the kind, gentle, benevolent individual of lore. When I was a teenager, Dad and me fought, sometimes daily. I was growing up and Dad was growing old. What I didn’t see at the time is that some of this was just normal coming of age behavior for me and Dad learning to accept me as my own person. Although the fights became very intense at times, I never doubted that Dad loved me very much and I loved him too. But we had a very adversarial relationship for most of my teen years, something I would later regret monumentally.

My father, my friend

As I finished high school and began to make my own way, my Dad was of ultimate support. He never really held my hand but I never doubted that I had a place to go and somewhere to hide. I stayed with my parents off and on into my mid-20’s and I am forever grateful that I had that time to decide how I wanted to handle my life. More than any other single thing, it was something I wanted to be able to say for my own children, if and when I had them, is that I would always do that for them. I don’t know if he WANTED to have me into my late 20’s, but if he didn’t want to, he kept pretty quiet about it.

Now, after having lived on my own and away from family for 20+ years, had my own family, and struggled to meet the daily requirements, I appreciate more than ever what my father did for me. I know that not every thing was right, and many things I thought were wrong were not. I know every day that I have a father that loves me even when it seemed like he didn’t and I know that I love my father, even when I thought I didn’t.

Dad, I know I don’t say it enough but I love you with all my heart and would have wished for no different. It was and has been as it was supposed to be and if I were to choose a father over again, I’d still choose you.

One Woman’s Sacrifice for our Nation

Note: This post previously appeared under the title “Veteran’s Day” in my profile on the site with the book of faces. I moved it here to be shared publicly.

Today, being Veteran’s Day, is a day that we are supposed to honor and remember those who have given a part or all of their lives in the defense of our great nation. There isn’t one single liberty that we enjoy that hasn’t had a price in blood paid for its very existence in our society. I am thankful for this every day, not just today, but the whole thing made me reflect a bit on just what this means to me on a personal level.

My grandfather, Cecil Blair, was a man in his early 20’s who was not an extraordinary man by any tactile measurement but was certainly extraordinary to his family. That family was his wife, Wanda (RIP Mammaw, I love and miss you), and his infant daughter, my mother. While I don’t know the details of how Grandpa Cecil was drafted into service late in WWII, it did happen. He was killed in the line of duty sometime in 1945 in the Pacific Theater.

Of course, my mother really never knew her father but growing up we used to look in the wooden chest that was always full of keepsakes and I’d see the American Flag he was buried in and some medals he had received that my mother had possession of. We’d talk about what it must have been like and how we’d both like to have known him. These conversations used to bring my mother to tears as it was always a great source of anguish for her. This has been true for her entire life even until present.

When my Mammaw died a couple of years ago, I thought often about Grandpa Cecil and what kind of man he was. While visiting Mammaw on her deathbed, I asked her about him and we had a wonderful conversation about how he was sent off and how she received the news of his death. All the while she was talking, she never even once showed any sadness but rather showed pride. She loved him very much and it must have been very, very difficult for her. She continued on with more stories about the Blair family and such and it made me very glad that I took the time to ask but at the same time sad that I didn’t ask sooner.

Now, I think about how much my mother’s life was affected by her father’s call to duty and ultimate sacrifice and that, while I know she will always be sad until God calls her home, she was the daughter of a fine man who gave his very life for people he had never met to be free from the oppression of the Japanese Empire. I’m certain that he had no idea what day would be his last but I’m also certain that he did what he had to do because his country asked him to.

It is the millions of Grandpa Cecils that have made it possible for me to enjoy my most basic freedoms and right to think and speak however I like. I just don’t know that there is any way to thank them or their loved ones enough as the price is always more than the sum of the soldier’s life. But, I feel it necessary to say “Thank you” not only to those who gave all and those who gave some, but those who paid the interest on the original purchase price.

Thank you to all concerned.

You ARE Responsible, like it or not!

3140-omg-rage-faceRecently, my girlfriend lost her job. I know, I know, she’s not the only one, and she’s not the only one today. It affects her as much or more than it affects me but it obviously puts some stress on our every day way of life. Much undeserved, unneeded stress, but there nonetheless. I sit and think a little bit about her situation in particular and realize that she is surely not the only one to be out of work for the same reasons either.

Her boss, a likable guy, has been in business as a small business guy for a number of years. He has seen some success and some hardships the same way others have. Of course, the recession affected him just like it affected everyone else but he made it through, albeit with a good number of staff and business administration changes.

It would be one thing if the story ended there, but it’s a small part of why he is in the financial hot water he’s in. Essentially, the guy is a person who cheats on his taxes, cheats on his books, shows no regard for proper business management or accounting practice, has absolutely no business sense at all, and now his chickens are coming home to roost. Of course, he’s the business owner, so in true entrepreneurial fashion, he cuts his staff to accommodate bills that he’s accumulated over the years and cannot pay (the biggest being unpaid taxes).

So, in short, he fucks up, screws the pooch, totally mismanages his business, and then punks the people who were actually keeping him afloat. It seems a bit callous and downright wrong to me, however, as the business owner, it’s his right to do so. While I support that right and understand why he did it, it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it sensible.

What this all really gets down to is that, if you are a small business owner with employees, you are not only responsible for your own welfare but to some degree you are also responsible for the well-being of your employees. Employment is an at-will contract where the employer pays for the services of the employee with the expectation of services provided in accordance with the pay being received. When you hire someone, you are agreeing to pay them for their work unless they prove inept or they leave of their own free will provided that they provide the services agreed upon. It’s a fact…….just a straight-up fact, an inescapable, indelible truth. As a small business owner, you are definitely, absolutely responsible to honor your agreement and if you don’t think so, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE BUSINESS AND GO FUCK YOURSELF!! PAY YOUR FUCKING BILLS AND STOP CHEATING THE BOOKS AND LYING TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU!

I will definitely smile in amusement when this asshole’s house of cards comes down around him. And, to anyone reading this:


Don’t get mad unless i’m talking about you!!!

A Mother Is Like No Other

A mother is more than just a female parent or guardian. A mother is the first person that we have contact with as a child, and, for most of us, is caretaker, comforter, and food source for the first few months. A mother, even more than just physical, undergoes an amazing metamorphosis starting with the pregnancy and culminating with the rest of her life.

I think about what my mother was and is to me. While growing up, she was usually the first line of contact concerning anything to do with anything at all. She fixed my boo-boos, she soothed my feelings, she made my food, washed my clothes, read my report cards (and promptly forwarded them to Dad when a good ass-beating was in order), and resolved conflicts between my brother and I. She was the queen of the castle, the handmaiden of the house, the referee of the field, the chef of the dining hall, and the magistrate of discipline.

Of course, her role in my life changed as I grew older and more independent but most of the above things never changed. They only morphed into a new responsibility set for her and presented new challenges for her to face while doing so. She had the benefit of my older brother to forge some experience, but my brother and I are two different people so I was still very much like learning a new job with new rules.

When I became an adult, my mother was still very much a part of my life but more as a friend and confidant and less as an authority figure. Of course, she still had some kick-ass  in her arsenal if needed, but she didn’t use it much as she was gracious and patient enough to have found other ways to handle me. I was quite a hot mess as a young adult and I am sure I was no walk in the park to handle, but handle me she did.

As a parent now myself, I think about what things must have been like for her. Times were very different as were moral/societal standards and levels of interference from outside sources. My girlfriend is a new mother (and handling the job admirably) and I see what she deals with concerning our 3 month old son. It’s an all-consuming job; there are no reprieves.

Mom, I don’t know how much to say to say “Thank you” for being my mom, but what ever it might be, it will never be enough to express the gratitude I have and the pride I feel for having had the express and unique privilege of being your youngest son. I love you more than words could ever say and wish you an outstanding Mother’s Day and hope that you know that you will always be with me, even when we can’t be together for the day.

Sometimes you wake up……….

There are days when I wake up and things seem 100% normal. Nothing happens out of place, but nothing extraordinary happens either. All is as I expected, quiet, normal, and even a bit boring. Even with a new son my life is pretty predictable and I have a pretty good idea about what is going to happen from day to day, minute to minute.

Other days, I wake up and have realized that not only is everything not the way I thought it was, I realize that some things really suck. I see a situation where maybe I’m doing for others who are not willing or never were willing to reciprocate. I am the type of person who enjoys bringing something to the situation if I’m a part of it that will make others who are also a part of it enjoy the situation more. Most days, I like to think that other people are like this too but on those days when I wake up and smell the coffee, I see that this isn’t so.

Some people are wired to always receive more than they give. It’s not to say that they don’t  give at all, or that they don’t give considerably, but they will never reciprocate in the way that I give. It’s not that they mean to, or that they are setting out to somehow cause me pain, but it is the net result. Talking about it is worthless as the concerned parties become nothing but defensive and that is even worse.

I don’t know if there is a solution, I won’t change who i am, and they likely won’t change who they are. I just somehow with the score would even up a little without me having to force the issue.

It’s about time

So, after a mere 9 months and some inconvenience, my son is finally born, healthy and happy and  with all the promise of the world ahead of him. I look at him in awe and some disbelief, struggling with the acceptance that he is finally here. I mean, he IS right in front of me, but yet it is still so surreal.

One of the things I think of most is how I believed this would not be an experience I would ever enjoy. In the middle years of my life, I thought that the opportunity had passed me by and the ability never existed. I was wrong, thank God.

I can’t believe that I ever was of the mind that I wouldn’t want a child of my own but that is exactly how I felt as a younger man because I was afraid of passing off my genetic failings to another human being and watching them suffer the same fate as I with all the pain associated. I am happy to say that it doesn’t matter anymore as I turned out to be a pretty good person and the same will be true of my son, regardless of what shortcoming he may have inherited from me.

I am every day thankful for the opportunity to be the father I was always meant to be, and already have been once around with four awesome stepchildren. It’s as if I was meant to raise the others first so I would want to have the one I have now.

Full Circle

Sometimes, I will have a realization of circumstances that compels me to record my thoughts. In those moments of clarity, I see events, past or present, in a light that exposes an innate truth about me. I had one of those moments recently when I began the process of shopping for a new guitar.

I haven’t played a guitar for a number of years. I have played in several amateur bands, some were garage bands and others played for money, but in most of them I played rhythm guitar with occasional leads. In all of these cases, I ended up playing a different instrument than what I originally played when joining up due to a need to fill a hole. However, as much fun as it is just to play and be part of the machine, it is the guitar that I truly love and it is the guitar that defines my hearing of and taste in most music. I am very partial to outstanding vocals as well but it’s all about the guitar for me.

I set out several months ago to put together a rig that would give me a decent starting point and enough amplification to satisfy me, if not enough to be able to play with a band. I discovered that there is a lot I’ve forgotten about the whole process and it almost discouraged me to the point where I dismissed it entirely. But, I persisted and went out last week to put hands on some equipment and see what struck my fancy. I tested a few guitars and settled on a Fender Stratocaster that I’m hoping is still available when I can scrounge up a few bucks to buy it. I don’t know what amp to buy yet but I’m strongly leaning towards a Hughes & Kettner (which will be a totally new experience for me as I’ve never owned one before but the demos sounded incredible).

Everything to this point is normal for anyone buying a guitar who is the least bit picky but it leads me to the epiphany that prompted this post. I went to the music store to try the guitar out and when I sat down to bang something out, I went totally brain-dead and realized I had forgotten most of the songs I knew. It was a bit shocking and a little embarrassing but sure enough, I couldn’t get through a single riff because of a massive brain fart. I spent long enough playing around with the Strat to know that I liked the feel and want to buy it. But, it was when I left that I realized that the reason I had forgotten all those songs is because I had swore off playing due to life circumstances or other events. I had effectively denied a part of me that had been present since I was in my early teens and was missing. I felt a sense of sadness that I had let this happen but I also felt a sense of elation that I had identified my need for being able to play music when I wanted to, even if there is no real possibility of anyone else hearing it. I NEED it as much as I need to breathe.

In the broadest sense, the things I’ve done for personal fulfillment are things that are as much a part of me as anything else and denying them is denying who I am. It’s something I’ll address soon enough and I’ll remember this lesson in the future when there is a need to re-evaluate.


Today was the day that I found out the sex of my baby. I am happy to report that it’s a boy and he is healthy by all accounts. What I did not expect was the feeling that came over me when I got the news. Of course,  I was at the doctor’s office with my lady and got it first-hand. But, the gravity of it was more than I could have imagined. I had given up all hope of fathering children of my own and, even though I knew that my lady was pregnant, it just hadn’t hit home that it is actually going to happen. Today was that day.

I felt joy at knowing what name my offspring would have. I felt great relief that he is healthy. I felt great apprehension because I am feeling the pressure of knowing that I am to be a father of a newborn when approaching middle age. I felt pride in knowing how happy my mother would be when she heard the news. All of these things at once and interchangeably for a while. But now, I mostly feel content and focused on what I need to do to prepare my household for the new arrival. Things are mostly good but there is always room to improve. Above all, I am grateful to God for this gift as I had given all hope that it would happen for me.

I am looking forward to meeting my son and to the years of teaching him to be a strong, independent, and confident man. I hope that I can be the rock for him that he will need and be a good role model. I do not want him to follow in my footsteps; I want him to tread his own way.

I am ready.