CLASSIC LUNAR – “MANGUM REPORT – REVISED” February 6, 2017

SPECIAL “BEAT DOOK” EDITION OF THE LUNAR REPORT.  FROM NOVEMBER 6, 2009

 

(The original was written and posted about eight years ago, during football season.  Well,this is hoops time!  My revisions only deleted references to that strange oblong leather ball!)

Granddaddy Mangum and Dickie.

Just a couple of side bars here. When my brother, Dickie, was a toddler, he lived with my parents in Victory Village, the married student housing on the UNC campus at the time. Word has it that his first words were, “Beat Dook.”

 

Dean Dome!

 

Two days after my son was born, the wife and I drove him through the UNC campus and past the Dean Dome.  We told him that if he decided to attend NC State, we would disown him. But that if he chose Dook, we would shoot him.

 

Now to the meat of all this. The UNC-Dook rivalry actually began way before either school had a basketball team. It began with a major dispute that involved land and bastard children between the Duke family and my family, the Mangums. (My Mom is a Mangum.) There are details in an article written in the Raleigh News and Observer about 23 years ago. The entire article is below.

Mangum Dormitory

At any rate, the Duke family money went to Trinity College (now Duke University), and the Mangum money went to UNC. And the rivalry began. And it all started with MY family and that miserable Duke family.

One more thing. As they say around here, “Go to hell, Dook!”

The News & Observer (includes Chapel Hill News) (Raleigh, NC)

The News & ObserverMarch 5, 1994

The UNC-Duke rivalry’s hidden side.  Leading families feuded for years
Author: CRAIG WHITLOCK; STAFF WRITER
Edition: FINALSection: NEWSPage: B1Index
Terms:UNC-CH; Duke;

Washington Duke, Willie P. Mangum HISTORY

Article Text:

It happened long ago, in the year 1794, but just as lustful folks are prone to do these days, Taylor Duke ignored the risks and seduced a local gal by the name of Chaney Mangum.  Duke, a weather-beaten Orange County farmer, figured nobody would learn about the indiscretion, least of all his wife. But when Mangum bore his bastard son nine months later, it blew his cover.

It also ignited one of the most enduring blood feuds ever seen in these parts.  The Dukes, for whom the university is named, and the Mangums, some of the University of North Carolina’s biggest benefactors, have been at loggerheads ever since, with the vendetta spreading to the worlds of business and politics.  And more recently, basketball.  

Tonight, the feud resumes in all its glory when the UNC Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils take the court in Durham.  The winner not only will claim basketball supremacy, but will momentarily gain the upper hand in a family feud that has boiled for 200 years.  

Both clans are rooted in the rural villages of Red Mountain and Bahama, in what is now northern Durham County.  On the surface, the backgrounds are similar.  Both families grew tobacco.  Both thrived in business and influenced politics.But family members, particularly during the 19th century, shuddered at the thought that the Dukes or Mangums had anything in common.   Over the years, they’ve battled over politics, competed for higher social standing and, on occasion, lusted after one another.  

William Preston Mangum II, a family historian, says the two sides don’t fuss as viciously as, say, the gunslinging Hatfields and McCoys.   But they don’t exactly get together for Sunday dinner either.”  I don’t want to say hatred, but underlying these two families is a desire to get the better of each other,” he said in a recent interview at, appropriately, the Washington Duke Inn in Durham.   “There definitely are ill feelings.”

Especially noteworthy is how the families took their rivalry to the rarefied arena of higher education.  The Dukes nurtured fledgling Trinity College in Durham, pumping so much tobacco money into the school that its trustees renamed it Duke University in 1929.  Less publicized is how the Mangums directed their generosity to the state university nine miles away in Chapel Hill.  The Mangums were crucial in helping the university survive its first century.   Willie P. Mangum served on the board of trustees for 43 years.   Adolphus Mangum, a professor, helped reopen the school after the Civil War.   Charles Staples Mangum founded the UNC School of Public Health.   Countless other Mangums graduated from UNC.   A dormitory and several academic awards are named after the family.

The campus connection is where the basketball game fits in.  Both teams have jockeyed all season for the country’s top ranking.   Between them, they’ve won the last three national championships and are two of the most successful programs of all time.  All told, it’s one of the most deep-seated and unforgiving rivalries in the nation.

Taylor Duke couldn’t have known at the time that his amorous urges would cause such a long-lasting fuss.   All he knew was that a comely maiden, Chaney Mangum, had caught his eye.  As can happen when such desires manifest themselves, Chaney Mangum bore a son.   At first, the father’s identity was kept quiet and the adulterous Duke was spared any public shame.   But the secret didn’t last long.  The couple had difficulty containing their affection.   One thing led to another, and the still-unmarried Chaney Mangum had another child.  This time, the Mangums identified Duke as the suspected father in both cases.  Angered by his cavalier attitude, they took him to court and forced him to pay $5 a year in child support.   The judgment was no small debt for the prolific Duke, who had 10 other children.

In the 1800s, the feud extended beyond the bedroom and into the! politic al realm.   For a time, the Mangums reigned supreme, although the Dukes did their best to discredit their neighbors.  Willie P. Mangum was the most famous of the bunch.   An 1815 UNC graduate, he served 23 years in Congress.   He was also a founder of the Whig party and ran for president in 1836.   He carried South Carolina in the election, but not his home state — thanks to opposition from people like the Dukes.  The Dukes were fervent Democratic Republicans and were vocal about it, something that caused Willie Mangum no small amount of consternation.

In the 1830s, a supporter wrote Mangum in Washington to report on the political troublemakers back home.   The writer singled out the Dukes, calling them, with uncanny foresight, part of “a Devilish clan.”  The Mangums weren’t above making fun of the Dukes, either.   One 19th century Mangum noted in his will that he owned a horse named Duke.

After the Civil War, the families’ fortunes changed. The Mangums, part of the Old South’s aristocracy, lost virtually everything. The Dukes, on the other hand, made the most of Reconstruction, thanks to tobacco.  Washington Duke, a legitimate son of Taylor Duke, raised bright leaf tobacco and entered the manufacturing side of the business.   Soon he and his three sons had created a fabulously profitable enterprise.  

Suddenly flush with money, the Dukes didn’t hesitate to throw their weight around.  In 1881, for example, residents of eastern Orange County wanted to split off and form a new county.   The leading proposal was to name it after Willie P. Mangum, the former lawmaker.  But Washington Duke nixed the idea.   He vowed to yank the Dukes’ considerable assets from the area if he had to live in Mangum County.   The threat worked: The jurisdiction became known as Durham County.  

The mostly forgotten conflict is detailed in Willie Mangum’s papers, stored at the Southern Histo! rical Collection in Chapel Hill.  “A lot of people have never heard that before,” says William Preston Mangum, the family historian. “But it’s a true story.”

After two centuries, the feud has cooled somewhat, no longer colored by nasty court battles or political fights.   But the two families remain ever loyal to their respective schools.   The Duke kids still go to their university.   And virtually all the Mangums go to UNC.  The bumper sticker on William P. Mangum’s Oldsmobile reveals as much: “Tar Heel by birth, Carolinian by the grace of God.”

Copyright 1994 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.Record Number: RNOB172307

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS JOE” February 4, 2017

 

Last night I had a telephone conversation with an old friend. He was my best friend during our high school years, but our last really meaningful conversation occurred in 1992, after my dad, Joe Moon, died.  We reconnected, relatively recently, on Facebook.  He and I have disagreed on some Facebook posted issues.

He’s a die hard Democrat.

 

I am a die hard Republican.

 

And, well you all know what that means right now in our current history.

Last night was very special to me. We shared our love and laughs for a good while, and then he laid his bombshell on me. My old friend, a die-hard Gator fan, said, “I need to tell you something that you will not like.”

I said, “Oh, Lord, John. What is it?”

“Well,” he replied, “I have also been a Duke basketball fan for a long, long time.”

That’s when my dad’s twisted and inherited humor kicked in. And when I said this.

“Good God, John! That’s worse than being a damned Democrat!”

John knows my dad and his sense of humor.

My “Daddy” words got a big laugh from my old friend.

Thanks, Joe! Last night you made my day once more. And the day of John – another good friend of yours!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “FAITH IN FRIENDS” January 29, 2017

 

 

Often, I look at my life and see nothing but failure.   It’s really hard, some times, to sift through thwarted plans, foiled loves and other dismal adventures and rediscover the other moments that have brightened our lives for decades.   Hell.   It really is.

 

I have dealt with failure all my life.   I suppose we all have.   Failed mortgages.   Failed jobs.   Failed marriages.   And other relationships.  Those unsuccessful moments overpower us sometimes.   But within those instances of total darkness, those times we cannot find the brightness again, our greatest despair is created.

This is one of those disparaging moments.

A few months ago, I chose to sort of “come out of the closet” a bit.   And I said some things.   Some things I believe with all my heart.   But my heart seemed to cause immeasurable despair among some hearts I truly love.   And I regret that.

In the most adamant manner.

 

So, I have tried my best to restore a few dear friendships and the love we have mostly always shared.  I have mostly failed.

Again.

Now that I am “out of the closet,” those friends seem to think that I am a different man than the one they have known for decades.   I recently told one of those friends, as I sort of quoted lyrics from a song, “I have lost my faith in many things.    But I will never lose my faith in you.”    Unlike my undeniable belief in each of them, they have lost all faith in me.   And it is so damned hard to find the the sunshine, the stars, the moon – the brightness those hearts so generously provided to my failed one for so many years!

And I hate like hell the notion of failing again without the trust and love they once had in and for me.

I truly do.

The darkness that has overcome their once beacons of faith in one of the many hearts that share their same love, well – that’s way too overpowering right now.

So, too, is the lack of that sweet and loving light that mostly grace all of our lives every day!

(Look, I have been writing this for a few days.  Just this afternoon, one of those long-time and dear friends acknowledged my love for her.  And she acknowledged her love of me as well.  Suddenly the sweet and loving light has reappeared just a bit!)

That one friend made my day today.   Faith in friends and all others, including God, make such a powerful difference.  It certainly eases the often necessary siftings.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “KNOWING NO FAILURE” September 2, 2016

OLD WELLWhen I was in college, three friends and I decided, after a Saturday night of heavy drinking in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to drive to Nags Head. That’s a beautiful and basic place on the Carolina coast.  My longest running and best friend – even today – was one of those friends that night.  Mike grew up in Elizabeth City, a more inland town than is Nags Head, but it was nearby.  He insisted we do a road trip that night. The other two, Joy and Kathy, agreed. Eventually, I did, too!

Vega

 

The problem was, for some reason, we had to use Mike’s Chevy Vega to get us there.

 

After we all met back at Mike’s Orange County trailer outside of Chapel Hill to begin the late night trip, I learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that Mike’s license had been revoked for some reason, and that he couldn’t drive. Then I learned that Joy, a tiny girl from Dunn, NC, couldn’t even reach the pedals in a Chevy Vega. And the final education was that Kathy, a city girl from Atlanta, had never driven a “straight stick!”

But we made the trip anyway. And I had to drive. Back then, the drive was almost six hours. But we made it in time to see the sunrise over the ocean. We ate breakfast and locally grown scuppernongs after that, I think. jockey's ridgeThen we went to Jockey’s Ridge and watched the hang gliders dive off the ridge and into the wind. It was amazing. A few years later, I think, my friend Kathy returned to Jockey’s Ridge and did some gliding on her own. I wasn’t there, but I kind of think now that she broke a bone of some sort while trying that!

wright-bros-mem-1Late in the day on that Sunday of our trip, we went to the Wright Brother’s Memorial site. The place was closed, so we saw nothing. Nothing but a very large and empty parking lot. It was there that we tried to teach Kathy how to drive a straight stick so that I could get some rest on the ride home. It didn’t take! She just couldn’t do it. So, I drove back to Chapel Hill, too.

I probably failed a school test or two the following week, but I don’t care. My tired memory of Nag’s Head is a treasure that knows no failure.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS COACH” August 9, 2016

tampa

 

“College football is approaching rather rapidly.   And to many, it’s become a religion.   It was a religion to me.   At least once.   Back in 1976. In Tampa.”

 

 

Those are the only five or six sentences I had written to post on The Lunar Report this week.   It was supposed to be about a gathering of my family and their friends on the weekend of September 11 of that year.   gatorIt was supposed to make fun of the Florida Gators who lost to my team after throwing the ball out of bounds on fourth down to stop the clock.   It was supposed to be about my Aunt Edith who, on Sunday morning, had to put her bloody mary on top of the motel room television set so that she could hold her bible and hold prayer service.   It was supposed to be funny.

bill dooley 1

Well, it’s not so funny anymore.   I just learned that Bill Dooley, arguably the most successful football coach ever at The University Of North Carolina, passed away this morning.   I remember Jim Hickey, the coach who took Carolina to the 1962 Gator Bowl game.   But that’s my only memory of Coach Hickey.   Most of my early memories of Carolina Football came from the man who took over for Hickey in 1967.   From the man who died today.

Dooley brought us Don McCauley, Ron Rusnak, Ken Huff, Charles Waddell, Mike Voight, “Boom-Boom Betterson.”   And Lawrence Taylor!   He also brought his fans 69 wins in 11 seasons.

But to me, he mostly brought some wonderful memories.   He was the only football coach we had when I was a student at Carolina.   And I will admit my memories are a bit fuzzy.   Even Bill Dooley couldn’t stop the flow of sweet bourbon on warm Saturday afternoons in Kenan Stadium.   For me, my friends and a few times for my brother.   He just couldn’t stop that.

In October of 1975, my senior year, my brother came from our home in Jacksonville, Florida to go with me to the Notre Dame game in Chapel Hill.   My mom and dad sent a couple of things for my brother to give to me.   One was a letter from my mom, telling us to enjoy ourselves and begging us not to drink at the game.   The other was a twenty dollar bill from my dad with instructions to enjoy ourselves and to buy some bourbon.   So what did I do?    Well, my brother expected me to buy a pint and pocket the change. I bought a half gallon instead!

BeamOn the way into the stadium that day, I wrapped my sweater around the bottle.   We were so excited about the game, I think, that we walked faster than we usually did.   Somewhere near the entrance gate, I fumbled big time.   That damned glass bottle of Jim Beam slipped from my sweater and hit the hard brick sidewalk we were walking on.   I think I yelled, “Oh my God!”   Then I looked down and saw the bottle just spinning on the brick.   There were no breaks at all.   I think I told my brother that, even though we were not the Irish, “we will be lucky today!”

Joe Montana

And we were.   For over three quarters.   In the fourth quarter, Carolina led the always powerful and lucky Irish team, 14-0.   That’s when Notre Dame put in their third string quarterback.   That’s right.   THIRD string guy!    Joe-freakin’- Montana!   That’s when the bottle broke!    Figuratively. of course!

 

Well Bill Dooley didn’t win that game, but he gave my brother and me one of the best memories we have ever shared.

boom-boom-boomAnd, he gave us “Boom-Boom.”   I’m not sure I appreciated that at the time.   “Boom-Boom” and I shared a lecture class of some sort.   I don’t remember the class, but I remember one day.   I went to the bathroom or something, and when I returned, my text book was gone.   After class, I looked everywhere for it.   Nothing!   So, I said, “What the hell?” and went to the student union to grab a bite to eat.   And there he was.   “Boom-Boom!”   And he had my book.    I could tell it was mine from the tattered spine I had tattered myself.   So I approached him about it.   When I got to his table, he flexed his arm muscles as he covered the book, and looked up at me.   He was a strong man, and frankly, he scared the hell out of me.   I read the look in his eyes.   “So, what the hell do you want,” was what I read.   I just held up my hands, backed away a bit and said something stupid, like, “Hey! Great class today, huh?”   And then I got the hell out of there.   What did I care anyway?   I never read that damned book!

Coach.   This is nonsense, but it’s nonsense that means the world to me.   Thank you for the memories.   The wins were great and fun.

But, damn it.

Thanks for the incredible memories!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “NEVER LEAVE” July 16, 2016

daddy and mattThe man was called away a while back. But I saw him again the other day. That happens often.

The first time I recall seeing him again, he was with two other guys – Herm and Gene. Herm is my son’s granddad. Gene is my uncle – the brother of my son’s other granddad. Those three joined my son and me in Atlanta for a University of North Carolina football game against LSU a few years ago.

On that Atlanta day, my son and I celebrated the life of one of his young friends who had recently been called away. The friend was a huge LSU fan. I hope that kid somehow saw what I did that day. If he did, then he is sharing some pretty awesome Heaven time with three great guys.

All three have been called away. But on that day, they lived. On that day, I saw in my son the no nonsense determination and joy of Herm. I saw the friendly and constantly engaging and fun-loving glow of my Uncle Gene. And I saw in my son the sort of bold and twisted fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants love and humor of the other man.

That other man is my dad. I called him “Daddy.” I also called him “Joe.”

July 16th is Joe’s birth date.

Just a few days ago, I spent some time with my three grandsons. They came to my place for their first “sleepover” at my Charlotte home. Just as their dad did on the Atlanta trip, my grandsons brought Joe to Charlotte with them.

daddy airforce

 

 

The oldest grandson let me see again the sort of crazy but treasured fly-by-the seat-of your pants leadership stuff that defined my dad.

 

 

 

 

 

The younger grandson showed me the compassion and understanding of the man.

 

 

 

220792_216771928340229_1982067_o

 

 

 

My youngest grandson displayed, consistently, my dad’s desire and ability to entertain his friends and loved ones.

 

 

matt

 

 

 

And through each of their actions and thoughts and words, I saw my young son. My dad’s grandchild.  My grandchildrens’ dad.  The living testament of Herm, Gene and Joe.

 

 

 

We all are called to go somewhere else. And we have to go.  But you know what? We never leave.  We just don’t.

Thanks, Daddy, for sticking with us.

And Happy Birthday, my friend!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “DEVASTATING MOMENTS” June 15, 2016

Devastating moments are hard to overcome. Especially when those moments are created by oneself and all that one’s self encompasses.

Believe me. I know about this.

But I also know about joy. And about how such devastation can lead to the good stuff.

 

My son believes that I am one of the most positive human beings he has ever known.  Actually, I kind of get the impression that he thinks I am the most positive. Well, if that’s the case, he’s wrong. Sorry to be so negative here, but he knows the same positive folks that I do. I will never hold a candle next to those folks.

I proved that last week. And it devastated me. For a while.

dentzel carousel_4

My mother was the second oldest child in her family. She had four other sisters. All of the sisters lived mostly in Alamance County, North Carolina from the time they were born until the days they each left us. Mama left her home in the Alamance County town of Burlington to be with my dad. First in Vincennes, Indiana where my oldest sibling was conceived during my dad’s World War Two training days. After the war, they lived in Victory Village, a college housing community for veterans and their families at The University of North Carolina. Then after a short stint back in Burlington, Mama went to Roanoke, Virginia and eventually to Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and three children. Her sisters all stayed home. In Alamance County.

 

Just like her sisters, my mom loved being at the family home in Burlington. Whenever she could do that, she did. And just like Mama, her kids – the grandchildren of those family home folks – cherished their young days there as well. After we moved to Jacksonville, we would spend weeks during the summer at the old and warm Maple Avenue home of my gardeniagrandparents, living for a while among the aroma of gardenias wafting in from the side yard.

We were always welcomed at that place. Always as my feelings recall. On every morning that we left my grandparents’ house to return to our home in Florida, my grandmother would sit next to me while I ate Frosted or Corn Flakes at her kitchen table. She would place her left hand on my right knee, move her face and eyes and concerned and loving and disappointed look toward my face and simply say in her elongated southern tone, “Don’t go!”

At the end of one visit there, something kind of devastating happened. I have never been clear on what it was. I was a kid at the time. But something did. And I believe to this day that, before it happened, my grandmother once again said to me, “Don’t go.” But as we drove out of the Maple Avenue driveway to head south, my mom was in tears. Something happened that made her not feel so welcomed at her mom and dad’s house on that final day. To this day, I hate that Mama felt so badly about leaving her home and the flowers there after being where she was once so loved. And I really hate the feeling I had as we drove away.

Look, growing up in my life at our Florida home was difficult. My mom had emotional problems. My dad had some problems as well. But my siblings and I always felt acceptance and our presence there was always a requisite. And after I left to pursue my own life in another state, I was always welcomed back into their home – my old home place. So was my son and his friends. Neither of my parents could have lived with themselves if they ever turned me, their grandson or his buddies away from wherever the hell the two parents of mine were at the time. That was simply an impossible notion for the grandparents of my child.

A couple of weeks ago, I blew a big-time opportunity. Just as my grandmother did so many years ago. I have a list of excuses for doing such a thing. I learned listing from my mom. But I won’t do that here. Whatever happened all those years ago, and what happened earlier this week deserve no excuses. Both were just blown opportunities.

carowindsOn that Monday of that week, I spent the day with my son, his daughter, her cousin, two of my son’s young sons and a few other folks at a Charlotte area amusement park. The day at the park began early. And early on and throughout the day, I kind of reconnected in some very special ways with my three grandchildren and their cousin. (“Cousin!” Listen to me. That cousin is my grandchild, too!) He and my granddaughter are older, though. Young teens. The two of them and the other older kids there went to the big rides.

But I was charged with taking my two young grandsons to do rides they would enjoy. And so I did. And this old man rode with them. Being with those two at those moments and during every moment I encountered that day, well… The entire day was a blessing. A real and very true blessing.

FUN-040 8 Hurler

The youngest of those two pulled a Burlington-grandma-thing on me many times that day. “Don’t go,” he said to me in his own words. His real words were, “Paw-Paw, sit with me!” “Paw-Paw, I’m a little afraid. Do you mind holding my hand on this ride?” “Paw-Paw, are you coming to our house?” The last thing, I think that kid said to me that day was, “Paw-Paw, can we eat pizza at your place?” or something like that.

 

I am called “Paw-Paw.” My grandmother was called “Nanny.” Maybe my grandson heard me pull a “Nanny” on his dad that night. After we left the amusement park, his dad, my son, asked me if they could get pizza and eat it at my house before their thirty-minute drive to their home. The question was a beautiful one. The answer became the devastation that night. To me, anyway.

It was almost eight o’clock, and I was very tired. It had been a wonderful day with those guys, but at the same time, the day was brutal on my body. Honestly, I reached a point where I thought my day just needed to end. So, when my son asked me, “Dad, is it okay if we get a pizza and eat it at your place?” I chose to turn a beautiful, selfless and loving day into a self-serving and devastating ending. I answered, “Man, I’m sorry, but, no. I gotta get some rest.”

I don’t know. Maybe I was justified in giving that answer. My son understood. That’s the way he is. But I somehow lost the understanding of that question. And the answer I gave confused me. More likely, I was so self-consumed at that point that the feelings of others didn’t matter at all to me at the time.

02-tears-bitters.w1200.h630

After telling my son what I did and on the ride back to my place, I thought of my grandmother and my mother. And the dominant vision kept coming back to me. The one of my mom crying because she no longer felt welcomed at her mother’s house. My son didn’t cry. Neither did my young grandson. But, damn it, I made it clear that they were not welcomed at my house that night.

I hope my response didn’t devastate those guys as much as it did me that night and as much as my grandmother’s response, or something, devastated my mother all those years ago. But, right now, I am grateful for what happened.

I hate myself for my selfish reactions to my son and his dear child. But I hate myself more for missing the perfect opportunity to make my son and his guys feel nothing but welcomed in my home. At any time. And in any circumstance. The way my mom and dad always welcomed me.

The good stuff from this devastating moment? The recognition that this shit will never happen again. Not at my home. Not on my watch. Not as long as I am a living dad and granddad!

The folks I love most deserve better.

Click HERE for the new Lunacy, “Stephen Curry Challenge.”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “APOLOGY” May 19, 2016

moonI owe some dear friends an apology. Or, at least, an explanation. I owe most of my family the same. If you are reading this, you are one of those folks.

Most of you know this, but back in mid February, I got sick. According to my “follow-up” doctor, I was “very sick.” I didn’t know that at the time.

At first, I thought it was the worst case of flu I had ever had. It turned out to be pneumonia, and it landed me in a hospital for four or five days.

Now, I will admit, as I did in a recent Lunar Report, that thoughts of old age, dependency and even death sort of occupied my mind for a while during the first hours of the hospital stay. And some beautiful things came from all of those thoughts.

Maybe it was because of the beautiful things. Maybe it was because of my sheer determination to get the hell out of that hospital and to make myself strong. Maybe it was simply because I had the dearest man alive by my side. Whatever the reason, I never really feared the illness. I really didn’t believe that I was “very sick.” I laid in a bed, was waited on hand and foot, had all the food and television available. And I had my son. But I never had fear.

Naturally, my son and his family knew about my deal in February. He drove me to the doctor. To the hospital. He stayed with me and was my strength.

And, just as naturally, my dearest friend from Chapel Hill texted me while all of this was going on. Because she couldn’t physically be with me in Charlotte during all of this, she refuses to acknowledge how very much her constant concern meant to me. Well, she needs to get over that. And to understand what she really did.

Since the time all of that happened, I have talked with my sister and have been with and talked with some other dear old friends. The compassion and concern during those talks and visits warmed my heart and encouraged me greatly. At the same time, their underlying sort of angst, I guess, was apparent. They were almost angry with me because I didn’t tell them what I was going through. One of those dear friends came to Charlotte a couple of weeks ago to play golf with his son who lives here. They both included my son and me in the golf that day. At one point during the round, my friend pulled me off to the side and said to me, “Look, when you get sick like you did, you really need to let me know.”

I got his point. My sister and a few other friends made the same point to me when they first found out about the whole hospital thing. I get theirs as well.

My excuses? “I didn’t think I was that sick, I had everything I needed, I just didn’t feel like talking with anyone – I was sick!” Look, I love all of those guys who needed to hear from me back then, but, honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with that part of such an experience. Not at the time I was sick.

But I do owe you guys an apology. I now know exactly how you are feeling about me and the February illness.

Just last night, I learned of one of my old college roommates and also a longtime and dear friend. He had heart surgery today after having a heart attack. I have heard nothing since last night. But last night I left a message on his wife’s phone. “Tell Tim that he has a lot of good folks in Chapel Hill and Charlotte who are pulling for him!”

Look, you guys, my sister and Tim have taught me so damned very much lately.

We love. And we are loved. Both are equally important to all involved.

IMG_0496And forgive me, please forgive me, for not allowing, even for a brief time, the folks I love so much to simply love me back for a while.

Click HERE for a lighter view of things.  The latest LUNACY, “Bathroom Rights!”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “FAITH” May 8, 2016

uptown with stadium

I know that God works in mysterious ways. The past few years I have come to understand that He travels some mysterious routes as well. The thing is, I think that I am the only living guy who understands why He chooses to so often travel Independence Boulevard and other nearby roads in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For a while now, I have heard quite a bit of timely music He has sent my way. I have mostly heard the tunes and lyrics while traveling myself down the mysterious road of Independence Boulevard. My work takes me on that route. And I have written about the songs He gave me at some incredibly opportune times. The sounds of those trips took me to loving places I needed to be. With my mom. With my dad. With my son. With those wonderful God-given gifts – my grandchildren. (click “mom” and “dad” to read the others.)

The most notable trip with God and song happened on Easter Sunday a couple of years ago. The day my son and a couple of his children were baptized in a church-side pond. Elton John helped as well on that day. His lyrics reminded me of my mom. And she was a faithful woman who went to her grave urging me to become baptized. I never was. But on that day her grandson and his children were.

I heard music again a couple of Sundays ago.

Look, I shouldn’t have needed to hear the tunes and words I did at that time. I have known what I have needed to know for decades.

Over the years, I have listened to this song many times since it was created and recorded. And every time I heard it, certain emotions kicked in. They were ones that mostly made me close my eyes and see the faces of those folks I love most. And beneath the closed eyelids those times, there almost always appeared a tear or two while I understood the faith I have in my loved ones – and in “life itself.”

Those times I closed my eyes while listening to this song and hearing the musical lyric “you,” my ears and my heart and my mind heard, felt and understood mostly what I feel for my son, his wife and children, and some very dear and loving friends and other family. If I ever lose anything with those guys, there really would be nothing else for me to do in this life. But there was, to me anyway, a more subtle notion in those lyrics.

Those couple of Sundays ago I wasn’t traveling down Independence Boulevard. Not that time. On that day, I was on a parallel road, traveling to my work. I was on a road called Providence Road. Man. How appropriate.

myers-park-methodist-2The road was clear. No traffic problems at all. But you have to understand that a road called “Providence” has a church or two on every other corner in a town like Charlotte, North Carolina. And I had to stop a few times while local off-duty police officers allowed church goers to park their cars wherever they could. It was at the very first Providence Road church traffic stop that I heard yet another song.

At the very same time I heard the harmonica play the opening measures of that song, I saw folks of all ages crossing streets, walking sidewalks and holding church doors open for others. Those visions were the same ones from the Sundays I, at a very young age, spent with my mother, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles.

At that intersection, I saw old folks like my grandparents, carrying their old and tattered bibles, wearing their finest clothing and walking briskly to make the sermon. It reminded me of the spiritual moments I spent with my grandmother, grandfather, their daughters and their families in a Burlington, North Carolina Baptist church. I saw younger older people, too. They were dressed up as well, but not quite as committed or determined to hear the beginning of the sermon. That sight exhibited the more laid-back Jacksonville, Florida approach that reminded me of my mom and me at our neighborhood church. Then I saw a young couple walking to the church door. The man was wearing shorts with a dress shirt that wasn’t tucked in. That reminded me of the new and wonderful direction worship services are taking these days. It reminded me of my son, his wife and their God-loved family who live and go to church near Charlotte.

At that very moment, I knew exactly what that song was saying to me.

Over the years, like most of us, I guess, I have from time to time lost my faith in science, my belief in the holy church, my sense of direction. I have surely been a lost man in a lost world from time to time.  I have lost my faith in the people on TV and in politicians and so much more.

That song I heard that day? I researched the meaning of the lyrics. The song-writer wrote an article to explain his song.

He wrote, “It’s quite easy to be precise about the things I’ve lost faith in – politics, media, science, technology, the things that everybody has. And yet I, along with most other people, have a great deal of hope, and a feeling that things will and can get better. So, what do we place our faith in? I can’t define that as easily as I can define what I don’t believe anymore. So, I haven’t defined it. I’ve just said if I ever lose my faith in you, and ‘you’ could be my producer, it could be faith in God, it could be faith in myself, or it could be faith in romantic love…. It could be all of those things.”

The research I did made it clear to me the artist’s intentions. He simply wanted the lyrics to breath. And to take on whatever life they need to. For whoever needs them.

One of the lines in the opening verse of the song is, “You could say I lost my sense of direction.” That has surely happened to me. So damned many times. But after hearing that song on my drive a couple of Sundays ago, and after ending up at a church crossing on Providence Road, I looked up the definition of the word, “providence.” I discovered that it means “a manifestation of divine care or direction.”

That definition kind of explains it all to me. The song’s chorus is “If I ever lose my faith in you, there’d be nothing left for me to do.” Well, that Sundays’ manifestation of divine care and direction gave me all that I need. It gave me the ultimate vision of all of those in whom I have faith. My son. His wife. Their children. My mom. My dad. My sister. My brother. My family. My loved ones. All of them!

But especially the one who rode down Providence Road with me that day. And He doesn’t just travel that road and others with me. He leads me down those wonderful paths. All of them. That I understand.

Look, at the time I began writing this several weeks ago, I never thought I would be posting it on a day meant to honor the woman who first taught me faith. But Mama always worked in mysterious ways as well!

And, thanks to Mama, I have known all of my life what I am going to say to you now.

If I ever lose my faith in God, there’d be absolutely nothing left for me to do.

Here are the lyrics to the song written by Sting in 1993.

sting-tree

“If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”
You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do
Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do
I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face
I never saw no miracle of science
That didn’t go from a blessing to a curse
I never saw no military solution
That didn’t always end up as something worse but
Let me say this first
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

Click HERE for the new Lunacy, “Mom’s Day.”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “PATHS” April 23, 2016

new-directionThis is all about choices, I think.   I really have no other direction to take here.

Look, when it happened, I only dwelled on the silly notion for a moment – when that moment suddenly arrived to encourage my thoughts of the future.

When my child was born, I chose to question what that new kid’s life would become. Will he become presidential material? A star athlete performing in the NBA Playoffs one day? A doctor or lawyer?

Well, it crossed my mind. For that one brief moment. Then I chose to simply adore the kid and adore the life he chose to deliver to his mom and me on that day.

The kid, my only child and son, made many choices growing up. Some weren’t all that good. But he was a kid and a guy. Those choices were expected, really.

And the good ones he has made for 31 years? Well, his mom’s family and mine have given the youngin’ some pretty decent blood lines, but his choices have been made by the kid himself. Well, with the guidance of thoughts directed to him mostly by God.

Look, the kid hasn’t yet chosen to be presidential material. At age 31, he’s probably too old to choose professional athletics. And, while he is still young enough to become a doctor or a lawyer one day, the kid proudly owns every choice he has ever made.

On a warm April Sunday morning, five years ago, my mother died in Jacksonville, Florida. Six days later, she was taken to Graham, North Carolina to dwell forever next to my deceased dad. She was with her husband again for only seven days when another warm April day and a wonderful sunlit Carolina path led to something else.

I don’t know. Maybe Mama talked to God about this. You know – to make sure things stayed on course and that the new something else would all happen the way it should. She didn’t need to, though. The choices had already been made before she left us.

But on that day, on that happier April afternoon, my world and those of so many others who witnessed what I did were blessed with the validation of choices made by the two most wonderful human beings I know.

On April 23, 2011, my son married the wonderful woman he chose. And my daughter-in-law married the wonderful man she chose.  Five years later, they both very proudly own those choices.

And right now, as happy for them as I am, I choose to believe that their four children are more happy than I will ever be about the choices their parents made.

I tell you what. Wishing those two a “happy anniversary” on this day is silly, too. Making “happy” wishes to them is kind of directionless.

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Especially when compared to the beautiful path they both chose to take five years ago.

CLICK HERE  for the Lunacy companion piece, “Prom Night!”