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buy generic cytotec online no prescriptionLook, this time of year is very important to me.   Y’all should know all about my passion for basketball and for The University Of North Carolina and their teams and the NCAA Basketball Playoffs.   I took vacation time from my job this year just to experience again all the hoops action my lack of work and periods of unemployment provided to me most of the years and the decades prior to this one.   My mission was simple.   I simply wanted to relive those NCAA March Madness moments from my days of limited or no work and income.

My mission this year?   Take some time off.   Stay at home.   Rest.   And watch non-stop basketball for four days.   Alone.   In the manner to which I had become accustomed most of the years since my only child grew up and moved on.

My mission changed course just a bit.   For the past couple of years, my home has been a new one.   After thirty-eight years of living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I recently moved to Charlotte.   My son and his family live nearby.   From the time that I moved here, because of work, it has been impossible for me to relive the March Madness moments that helped make my years in Chapel Hill so March-special.   I tried to recreate those moments this year.   I failed miserably.

I watched a few games alone on the first day of the playoffs.   Then I traveled the thirty minutes to my son’s home to watch the Carolina game, and others, and to stay the night.   Carolina won, but compared to what followed, that win was totally irrelevant.

My son had visiting with him a dear friend to watch the Carolina game with us.   He also had with him his wife’s mother, his sister-in-law, two of his sons, and his young nephew.   Except for the friend, all of those guys live there at the house.   Eventually and well before the end of the Carolina game, his wife, her daughter and other son and the other nephew showed up to witness the Carolina victory on that night.   They, too, all live there.

The contrast between my past Chapel Hill days alone during this time of year and my days now are stark.   That evening at my son’s house demonstrated the starkness of such contrasts.

We all watched the Carolina game.   Our team won.   But the real victory became apparent in the words used by my son that night after the game.

“This has been one of my favorite nights ever,” he said to me.   “Thanks for being here, man.”

The games ended late that night.   So I slept at my son and his wife’s place.   The following morning, my son went about his way, and his wife went to work.    They both left me in partial charge of their young teenage daughter, her slightly older cousin (a guy who has become another grandson,) the cousin’s very young and rather sickly brother, and my three young blood-grandsons.   I say “partial charge” only because I was the adult present with that bunch that morning.   But those really in charge were the daughter and her older cousin.

The two of them made breakfast that morning.   The night before, my granddaughter told me that she would be making breakfast.   “Do you need my help?” I asked her.   “You always helped me all those times at my place,” I said.   “No,” she replied.   “I will do it.   You inspired me all me all those times.”

Man.   The bacon and pancakes they made provided the best and mostly timely tastes I have ever known!

Maybe I made a difference with the ones younger than that beautiful young woman a few times while I stayed with them.   I tried anyway.   The night before, my oldest grandson was in bed with his brothers and sister.   He was crying.   I asked him what was wrong.   He only shook his head.   He never told me.   My thoughts returned to the days when his dad was that age.   I could never make my young son talk when he was distressed.   But like I hope I did decades ago, I tried my best to let his kid know that he can feel whatever he needs to feel.   But that he must understand that I am on his side.   And that he can tell me anything.   Anything.   Anytime.   Through a twisted tear-filled smile that night, my grandson confirmed, I think, that he understood me.

I am often a silly old man.   I guess those of us who reach my age and beyond are mostly silly.   But for years, I have greeted very young and weak little guys by holding out my hand to accept a hand slap.   And for years, once the young ones slap my hand as hard as they can, I say the same thing.

“Outchy Mama!   You are strong!”

The short time I was at their home last week, I treated my youngest grandson and his young and sickly cousin no differently.   Often during my short stay with them and even when I told them both good-bye the morning I left them, they each slapped my hand and said back to me, “Ouchy-Mama!”

The victories with the folks at that house during my brief time there last week were important but small ones.   Relatively speaking.   They were first-round wins.   Carolina won an early round tournament game.   My troubled oldest grandson seemed to understand me that night.   My son called that one night, out of over thirty years of nights he has lived, one of his favorite ones.   And the two youngest guys there are now my “ouchy-Mama” guys!

The greatest victory came the morning I left that house.   My three grandsons occupied the rear seats in the back of the van I am driving these days.   My beautiful granddaughter sat in the front seat next to me as we all drove to my daughter-in-law’s place of work – a drop-in day care center where the four of them would spend the rest of the day with their mom.

My granddaughter – my son’s stepdaughter – and I have shared front seats while traveling before.   And just as she has done those other few times we have traveled together, she talked with me that day.   The talks are serious.   She talks about her dad.   She talks about other serious stuff.   And fun stuff, too.   Those talks have always felt like victories to this old man.

On the short morning trip last week, I think she recalled the day when I first met her dad.   She is soft spoken, so I am not at all sure I understood her on that trip.   I think she was recalling the time her dad unexpectedly dropped by the house where she, my son, her mom and my son’s new-born child lived at the time – early on in the relationship between my son and his beautiful wife.   That poor girl was so afraid of things that day.   Her mom and my son were at work.   It was just that young girl, her infant stepbrother and me at the house when he arrived.   Her dad and I met at the door.   We both diffused things.   My granddaughter told me on the trip to her mom’s work last week that her dad likes my son a great deal these days.   As I always tell that dear sweet young woman, again I said to her, “Tell your dad I said ‘hello.’”

Then.   During the most important moment we encountered while driving to her mom’s place of work, that dear child delivered to me a victory much greater than any damned basketball game ever has.   She showed me the utter folly of some twisted self imposed desire to spend mid-March days alone.   Suddenly, my failure to recreate some past lonely Chapel Hill days dissipated through the crack in my car window.   That dear child delivered success in ways in which only she could.   Success came in the form of her sweet and simple words.

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I call her “Beautiful.”  This was a breakfast we made together years ago.

She said to me, “I really wish you lived with us.”

Damn.

That morning.

At that moment.

I won the National Championship!

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I guess every man wants to be perceived as a real one.   In that vein, it embarrasses me to tell you that I own a duvet.   But look, y’all, I only bought the damned thing to hide the burn marks from too much dryer time on my all-time favorite comforter.   And to hold inside a covering of some sort the exposed comforter cushioning the burned out fabric tried to help escape.

 

Look, my life isn’t easy.   I have overcome the major stuff.   Well, for the time being, anyway.   But it’s the minutia.   The small and stupid stuff.   It’s the steady and consistent reappearance of such that is creeping me out.

Now, I get it.   I know that we each can control our own destiny.   Even in minor ways.   A few buy cytotec without a prescription in the united statesyears ago, in Hillsborough, North Carolina, I stopped at my favorite hot dog stand before going for gas just two stores up the street.   By my calculations, I had a solid ten miles left in that tank.   And, damn it, I was hungry!   Well, the line at the Dog House drive-through was a little longer than usual.   But, hell.   I had TEN miles in the tank.   After I got my two dogs with mustard, chili, slaw and onions, I pulled my car forward to leave the place.   Just as I pulled away, the damned ’93 New Yorker sputtered and spit and just stopped running.   So, instead of filling my car with a regular petroleum product before lunch, I chose to fill my stomach with premium Dog House gas.

But much of the crap that invades my relatively well intentioned life these days is beyond anticipation.   Fifty percent of the time that I wash dishes, the first action I take causes sudsy and soapy and disgustingly nasty water to be squirted and directed toward the crotch of the pants I just washed and dried and wore.   There are maybe four different routes I can use to make the 30-minute or so drive to work every day.   Sixty percent of the time, I choose the route that makes my trip last an hour.   And that’s even after listening to traffic reports – all of them – on local Charlotte radio stations.   And let’s face it.   For decades – I mean DECADES – I always end up in the grocery store check out line that has problems of some sort.

Here’s some honesty for you.   Embarrassing honesty, but truth nonetheless.   A few months ago, somehow and in some unexplainable way, my person was invaded with body lice.   The only way out of all of that was to, after coming home from working the long and hard eight hours each day, shower, vacuum the floor, mattress and all upholstered furniture, and wash the clothing I wore and the bedding in which I slept each night.   I did that every night for weeks.

At the time, the weather was warm enough that I didn’t need inside the duvet the burned and frayed quilt I love so much.   But I needed the duvet.   And I washed it every night after showering with RID or Nix.

That period of time was brutal.   I was so damned tired.   But I stuck with the plan.

buy non prescription drugs generic cytotecMany nights after washing clothing and bedding, the clothing, sheets and pillow cases would end up inside the twisted duvet in the washer.   It was frustrating at first.   Unraveling the duvet and retrieving the rest of the wet wash was very difficult.

Finally, I discovered the way to change the frustrating evenings of duvet washing.   It took this idiot a while to figure out that other clothing and such in the washer would have less of a chance to invade the inside of the duvet if I just buttoned all of the buttons on the comforter cover before doing a wash.   And it worked.   A couple of times.

Then it happened.   On one particularly hard and tiresome night, most of my wash ended up inside the duvet again.   They found their way there through one small gap between buttons.   And the damned thing was so twisted at a time when I had never been more exhausted from work, showering and vacuuming.   I just could not manage the unraveling of all of that.   It was an impossible thing to do at the time.

I lost it.   I cried some.   I looked to heaven and screamed, “God, what are you doing to me?”

That was the first time in decades or maybe ever that I doubted Him.

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Me, my aunt, my son and his.

A couple of weeks later, I was telling my son the story of the duvet and of my doubts of God.   At the time I told him, we were driving from Charlotte to Burlington, North Carolina for the funeral of my dearest aunt.   I had just said to him, “I doubted God,” when we were rear-ended less than a mile from my home and just a half-block from the interstate.

No one was hurt.   The damage to my son’s car was sort of minimal.   And we made the funeral.

A few days after the funeral, my son asked me,”Do you remember what you were saying to me right before the accident?”

I did not remember.

He said, “You were telling me about doubting God.”

Suddenly, being a man who owns a duvet became nothing but Godly.

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buy cytotec online without prescriptionJust a few more words here about how much greater than the simple and insignificant fan levels that dominate college basketball are the universal moments that involve those of us who simply understand The University of North Carolina.

Sunday, February 22, at the Dean E. Smith Center, there was a tribute service for the public.   It was held to honor the life of the man whose name is on the building.   He died a couple of weeks ago.   My son drove over two hours to attend, alone, that service.   And he called me late Sunday night to tell me about the event.

That call was like a Hollywood reporter’s Academy Award red carpet description.

“Antwan Jamison was there,” he said.   “So was Ed Cota.   And Mickey Bell.   Roy Williams.   Mack Brown.   Of course, Phil Ford.”   The list of Carolina all-stars went on and on as his memory and words delivered each of them to that afternoon’s Carolina Blue carpet.

buy cytotec no prescriptionThen he said, “And Coach Gut was there.”

Suddenly, with those words, the kid’s all-star list was complete.

As a kid and for the longest time, all I had was the dream of a promise I made to myself.   To one day play basketball at Carolina.   Dean Smith delivered me through a disturbed childhood, providing the dream of one day playing for that man.   My parents helped me, too.   They sent me to a few basketball camps.   Two of them were at Elon College near Burlington, North Carolina.   The best was in Chapel Hill – The Dean Smith Basketball Camp.

I learned a great deal at all three.   But the Carolina camp is where I met Coach Gut – Bill Guthridge.   That man pretty much ran the show.   We kids saw Dean only a few times.   But it was Gut who greeted us every morning with a welcoming smile at the breakfast line.   It was Coach Gut whose warm and engaging eyes brought joy and promise to each of us dweeb young-ins who each only wanted acceptance in one way or another from those we so admired.   Gut gave us each all that we needed.   In such graceful and generous ways.

When I graduated high school, I ignored form letters from smaller buy real cytoteccolleges, asking me to try out for their teams.   Instead, I chose Carolina as my school.   And as impossible to accomplish as it seemed at the time, I chose to follow my dream.   I chose to try out for Dean Smith’s team.   I didn’t even make the first cut, but I was allowed two days of tryouts.   Just as with the youth camp years ago, Coach Smith’s involvement was limited.   But at the beginning of each day and during those tryout days and at the end of those days, Coach Gut and his warm and concerning and loving eyes and smiles were there to comfort and encourage us all.

Later in my life, my communication’s career returned me to Chapel Hill.   That career allowed me to do some things with Carolina basketball again.   Coach Smith always remembered my face those times.   That’s the way the man was.   But Coach Guthridge remembered that folks like me need to simply engage with the warm joy and promise that only Gut can provide.

Coach Gut is not doing well right now.   Here is a link to an article by Andrew Carter of The News And Observer.    Here’s what’s going on with him these days.

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The man took over as head coach for three years after Dean retired.   Two of those years, Gut took Carolina to the final four.   Percentage wise, I think he is the most successful head coach ever at Carolina – maybe anywhere.

The article I linked above will tell you just how loyal Coach Guthridge is to his best friend, Dean Smith.   The article you are reading now?   Well I hope it tells you just how loyal I am to the man whose eyes and heart gave joy and comfort and promise to simple folks like me.

Knowing and understanding Dean Smith is one thing.   It is all well documented and easy for most of us basketball fans to understand.   But, damn.   Knowing Gut takes us to places well beyond basketball.

Forgive my perceived “Carolina-religion” heresy here, but Gut’s life and eyes and smiles and loyalty and encouragement define The University of North Carolina.

More so than those of any man.

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(This Lunar was to be all about Coach Gut and my relationship with the man.   But while writing this, I ran across another wonderful article by News And Observer sports writer, Andrew Carter.   It’s all about the relationship between Gut and Dean. It is worth reading.)

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Look, I am getting so tired of relying on my son, his wife and their children for Lunar fodder.   I really am.   There is more to life than the simple rehashing of family moments.   No matter how dear they are to me.

Make me stop all of this.   Help me, y’all!   This repetitiveness is killing whatever readership I have.   I know that it is.

But, damn it.   Don’t stop me just yet.   Once again, this is something that needs to be written.

Basketball was my first passion.   Well, actually it wasn’t.   It was my first non–religious, non–faith passion.

But when it became my passion, it was every bit as important as Reverend Sinclair and Reverend Duke, my two beloved ministers when I was a child.   And what I feel even today about hoops in my life rivals the passion I will always feel about Billy Graham and God and Jesus.

Forgive me, God.   But that is just how important basketball is to me.

When I was a very young guy – I don’t know, maybe eight or nine years old, I played in my first game.   I think it was at the Jacksonville, Florida YMCA.   I scored two points in that game – for the OTHER team.   I had no clue as to what I was doing. I gave up on playing basketball after that.

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Me, my dad, “The Old Grad,” and my brother.

A few years later, my dad’s influence kicked in.   So did the support from my older brother.   Those two introduced to me The University Of North Carolina, Dean Smith and winning Carolina basketball.   My brother, in his bedroom, with a stretched wire coat-hanger as a hoop hanging over the door jam and his rolled up socks as the ball introduced me to real basketball.   I never beat the guy at sock ball.   But I loved every moment of it.

After my brother left Jacksonville to get his degree at Elon College in North Carolina, my dad and Dean Smith took over.   So, too, did Coach Cottle at Lake Shore Junior High school.   That was when I suddenly became the tallest kid in school.   That coach recruited me.   Only for my height.   But the man taught me some things.   My dad, though, mostly through the radio, encouraged me.   And every time I listened to Carolina basketball with him late at night on Charlotte’s WBT radio from my dad’s car parked in the driveway of our North Florida home, Dean Smith encouraged me as well.

I played ball in junior and senior high school.   I started quite a few games in junior high school and all but a few games my senior year in high school.   Before every game, and many times during those games, I hummed to myself the Carolina fight song.   It was the same song my dad, my brother and Dean Smith taught me so well.   With each note I hummed, my passion for the game grew more than exponentially.

I even tried out for the Carolina JV team when I enrolled at school there.   Before moving from Jacksonville to Chapel Hill, I outright rejected form letter offers to enroll and possibly play college ball at Brown University and Berry College in Rome, Georgia.   Brown and Berry had no relationship at all to what I thought was my real passion.

My brother, dad and Dean helped me disguise my true love with the added enhancement of Carolina basketball.   My gratitude for those three men in this regard is an entirely different story.

I did not make the Carolina JV team.   And that was okay.   My passion moved on to being just a college kid and watching my favorite team for a while.   I took a break from playing the sport.   For a number of years.

At the age of around 40, my original playing passion was reborn.   I joined the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, North Carolina YMCA.   They have there what I call a “Geezer League.”   It’s an adult basketball pick-up game event that occurs at least three times a week around lunch time each day.   Anyone over the age of 18 can play at those times.   But it was mostly old guys with passions like mine who participated.   Those impromptu games fed and nourished beyond my imagination the passion I still feel for playing the game.

I will be honest with you.   I have been writing this for days.   Still, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing.   During my thirty minute drives to and from work these days, I often commit that drive time to “pre-writing” of important stuff I want to write.   A few days ago on my drive, I pre-wrote. I thought of the days when my son was too young to play ball in Chapel Hill.   Those were days just a few years before I discovered Geezer Ball.   Those were the ones when I coached eight and nine year olds.   Those were days when I just wanted to be a basketball coach.   And my young son wanted to help.   I recruited to help my son and me with our team my favorite Moon cousin, Mona.   She gracefully agreed to my request to join us.   That day, a few ones ago, on my drive to work, the pre-writing returned me to those days of my son, Matt, and of Mona – the rebirth of my total passion of the game.

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My coaches. Matt and Mona.

Damn.   Timing is everything.   That night, after returning home from work, I checked Facebook.   There.   Right there it was.   The picture posted by my son.   It was a picture of my two assistant coaches from my basketball rebirth.   My first youth coaching days.   Matt and Mona were together at the Carolina-Syracuse game in Chapel Hill played that very night.

Man.

Yeah.   I am writing what needs to be written.

Look, I have at least six grandchildren.   But the only blood-related ones are boys.   All five and more of those beautiful children – the precious girl who is the oldest child of my son’s wife, my three grandsons, and the two cousins of my granddaughter – are my newest and dearest passions.   But my oldest blood-related grandson recently conjured up the passion my dad and brother first introduced to me.   It is the same passion that I rediscovered when I coached my own son and other Chapel Hill youth.   It is the very same passion that emerged to such great heights during my “Geezer Ball” days at the Chapel Hill YMCA.   And, yeah, what my oldest grandson provided to this old and sappy heart last weekend is reflected in the picture of my son and cousin from that night.

My oldest grandson is only seven years old.   He is playing in a youth league in Mooresville, North Carolina.   I have only been able to attend a couple of his games this year.   In the first game I saw, the kid scored all five of his team’s points.   His team won the game by a score of 5 to 2.   In the second game I was able to see, his team lost. But my grandson scored eight of his team’s ten points.

I missed last Saturday’s game.   But my son told me that his son scored twenty points, had eight rebounds and five steals.   The damned kid is SEVEN YEARS OLD!

As an old guy who possesses the simple love of the game, I’d like to think that I can contribute in some meaningful way to the ultimate success of my grandson’s basketball future.   Maybe I can teach the kid how to better shoot.   Maybe I can teach the kid the most productive ways to play defense.   Maybe I can teach the young guy how to think and understand the game in the ways it is meant to be played.   Maybe – just maybe – I can instill in him the heart that is required to play this game with the passion that I have for the sport.

I am a pretty good shooter myself.   But I am not even close to being as good as my own son – my grandson’s dad.   I play pretty good defense. But as I watched my grandson in the couple of games I witnessed, he played the very same smothering way that my son did as an eight year old and beyond.   As a youth coach I could think relatively clearly about the understanding of the game.   As a player, I never came close to the knowledge of the game in the same ways as have my son and his baby.

And heart?   On the first day of his basketball tryouts while in middle school, my son dislocated two fingers on each hand.   That would have been more than enough reason for his dad to give up and withdraw into a more simple world of total reclusion, television viewing and self pity.   But my grandson’s dad went, instead, to the second and third days of tryouts.   With broken fingers.   The kid made that team, even though his coach knew it would be a while before my son could play.   That coach saw in my son what my son’s dad would have found futile if it had happened to me.   That coach recognized heart.   True heart and love of the game.

For an old guy whose first memory of what is his most important passion is the scoring of a basket for the other team, his latest memories of such feed that passion beyond anything that has ever seemed real.   It is obvious to me that the basketball passion of my son surpasses my very own imagination.

And that is what this is all about.

My son and his children.   And basketball.   And all of their passions.

I can teach none of my grandchildren anything they cannot learn from their parents.   They know that.   They all do.   They are the best.

But, damn.

I can surely kick back, simply rejoice in the love of my newly found passions while those I admire so damned much these days rekindle the ones that I will forever treasure.10885306_10200121298152488_549540542519215406_nAnd I will never tire of that.

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can i buy cytotec onlineWe all do stuff to help other folks from time to time.   Most of us do those things to feel better about ourselves.   I get that.   I’ve done that.   I do that.

Look, I really do not want to delve into many details here.   But this is a story that combines the love and the irony of “The Gift Of The Magi” with the magic of the “pay it forward” notion.   The convergence of those three things on a single night compels me to write what I can.

Frankly, this is blowing me away.   What I learned a few nights ago has made my Christmas.   It has made my year.   It has made real my life and the lives of those who came before me.   And what I have learned has suddenly assured me of the promise of those who will follow with the same learned lessons that delivered us to this eternal life.   Those who follow will learn and teach as well and will certainly also live for eternities.

Look, I have tried all my life, I think, to help other folks.   I believe that.   And I guess that if I did actually help some folks along the way, my agenda really didn’t matter to them.   But for decades, I mostly did what I did to exhibit my own self worth.   It felt good to help.   Whatever I did throughout all those years was likely done only to make myself feel better about me.

It took many years with my most important friend.   Through her battles with me, she fought the war for me.   She saw me through every moment of my selfish selflessness.   And she fought like hell to make me understand.

Well, I finally did get it.   It took a road trip with her and an Interstate rest area stop to get through this hard and selfish heart of mine.   As we were pulling away from that rest area that night, a young couple in a car near us pulled along side and asked us to stop.   They asked for a few dollars to help them on their trip.   My friend and I had little money to complete our own trip, so I said, “I am sorry, but we can’t…”

My friend interrupted me as she reached into my pocket and pulled out what cash I had.

“Here’s twenty dollars,” she told the young couple as she reached across me to hand money to those two.

Those kids were so grateful for the small amount of money.   They thanked me and asked for my address so they could pay me back.   And I responded in my usual feel-good and selfish manner.

“Hey look,” I said. “You might see me in the same situation one day.   Repay me then.”

My friend then chimed in, “Or maybe you can help someone else who crosses your path down the road.”

“Pay it forward,” she said.

That moment.   That one moment.   That is when I learned from her what I did.   We should do what we can, help when we can, make things better for others when we can.   Not to feel good about ourselves.   Not to acknowledge ourselves or our self-perceived worth.   Not because we feel ashamed if we do not help.

We do things for others simply because those things need to done.   There is no other justifiable reason.

Until the other night, I had no idea the degree to which my friend’s lesson on that trip had been paid forward.   Since that rest area stop, I have tried to selflessly give of myself to others in times of need.   I have never considered myself a success at that, and I certainly never even imagined that anyone was learning anything from the lessons I learned from her.   But her lessons have taken hold on future generations to be sure.

My dearest, most true and most heart-felt friend confided in me the other night.   He’s a young man.   He came over for a while to visit.   I have known for years that he has watched me and learned some stuff from me.   Some bad.   Mostly good, I hope.   Until the other night, I had no clue that he had actually picked up on what I learned from my most important friend that evening at the rest area.   He has.   In a huge way.

I had earlier in the night caught wind of some regrets his endearing wife was experiencing.   I pressed him hard before he caved in and told me the truth.

The man has begun to sell some of the things that have been his life-long treasures to help his wife.   His wife is regretting the need for him to do such things just to help her.   And, until I pressed him, he did not want to tell me.   He is not looking for praise.   He is doing what he is not for self appreciation.   He is doing what needs to be done.   Nothing more.

My dearest friend knows how to sell things.   Somehow, he always finds buyers when he needs them.   The other night, after pressing him further for answers, he reluctantly told me of a young twelve-year-old who answered his Craigslist ad about the treasures he is selling to help his wife.   The kid has no money.   My friend asked to speak with the youngster’s dad.   The dad told my friend that he had been going through some tough stuff we mostly all have the past few years.   Lost jobs.   Lost income.   Lost wealth.   Still, that dad insisted that his child buy at least one my friend’s treasures.   You know, to make that kid feel okay about things – if even for a short while.   That dad simply did what needed to be done.

But during the conversation between my friend and the kid’s dad, my friend learned that the dad had recently lost a rather good paying job.   That dad was worried about providing a Christmas that would matter for his son.   Upon hearing the dad’s story, my friend volunteered to give the man one of his newest, unused and most treasured items in his collection.   He made the offer so that the dad would have a special gift to give to that precious twelve-year-old.   The dad graciously accepted.

Things are being paid forward.

After my friend told me the story, the whole story, it all became clear to me.   And it has brought to life, in my tiny corner of the world, a real-life interpretation of O. Henry’s “The Gift Of The Magi.”

It’s a short story of a young woman who cuts off all of her beautiful long hair and sells it to buy her young husband for Christmas a sparkling and needed chain to hold the pocket watch he treasures.   At the same time, her husband sells his treasure – his watch – to buy for his loving wife combs for her long and beautiful hair.

Here is the last paragraph from the story, “The Gift Of The Magi.”

“The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born King of the Jews in the manger.   They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.   Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication.   And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.   But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest.   Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they, are wisest.   Everywhere they are wisest.   They are the Magi.”

My story here is not the same as O. Henry’s.   But there are some important parallels.   My friend regrets placing his wife in a regretful situation.   I know his wife regrets placing her husband where she believes she has.   But their combined regrets are their gifts.   And they are the wisest I know.

The twist here may not be as poignant as O. Henry’s.    But, if a dad, a stranger in the lives of my friend and his wife, can make a Christmas – a real Christmas for his son – why would anyone deny such a gift to a man and his child or denounce the regret that caused this to happen?

And the Magi?   They are all of us.   Just as did the Three Wise Men, we love.   We trust.   We have faith.   We learn.   We teach those who cross our paths.    And those we teach find others on their paths .

And we share our magic with all who care to receive what we have to give.

We do all of that for one simple and magical reason.

Because it needs to be done.

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Some of you folks, lovable ones in almost every other context, have blind-sided me for the final time.   That’s it.   I’m done.   I think I’ve said this before, but this time I mean it.   You people have left me almost no choice.   Drastic stuff will happen – necessarily.

It started years ago with the ex-wife.   Then my sister-in-law got involved in a terribly disappointing way.   Now it’s the department manager where I work.   He blew my loyalty to him big-time.   Just last weekend, he did that.

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As I am writing this, Sheryl Crow’s “Leaving Las Vegas” is playing on my playlist.   Las Vegas is where I was working for a couple of days in the mid 1980’s when the ex-wife began this downward spiral.   Now that song wasn’t even recorded by Crow at the time of my Vegas disappointment.   But her lyrical words take me back to that cheesy and dingy motel room on the outskirts of Vegas.

On that trip, my employer and two of my clients, were in cheap cytotec no prescriptioncahoots with Marie Osmond and The Children’s Miracle Network.   Marie Osmond allowed local and regional advertisers like my employer and clients to film short commercials, using her as a spokesperson to promote The Children’s Miracle Network and the services of our clients.   In return for the dedication of local advertisers to her mission, Marie Osmond provided for each of us creative director/producers back stage passes to attend her concert at one of the Vegas hotels the night after all of the videotapings.

cheap generic cytotec no prescriptionNow all of those for whom I was working contributed to my beautiful room at the MGM Grand on that trip.   The problem with that hotel, at the time anyway, was that they had no cable television.   What else could I do?   I declined Marie’s offer, rented a car, drove to some seedy outskirt of Las Vegas and rented a room in a two-story motel that had cable TV in each room.   At my own expense.

 

cheap cytotec without a prescriptionThat is where I chose to watch the ESPN “tape-delayed” broadcast in that time zone of the most important basketball game of my year – the one between Georgia Tech and my beloved Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina.   Both teams, I think, were ranked in the top five at the time.   Now, I tried to watch it live at Ceasar’s Palace just across the street from the MGM.   But the “Runnin’ Rebels” of The University Of Las Vegas were playing at the same time.   Every television at Ceaser’s was showing Jerry Tarkanian and that bunch.

Dang.   As I am writing this, Sheryl Crow just sang these words:

“Oh I’m banging on my TV set
And I check the odds
And I place my bet
I pour a drink
And I pull the blind
And I wonder what I’ll find.”

I did all of that that night at the cable TV motel.   I banged on the TV to get the picture to work.   I calculated the very slim odds of anyone in that solitary room giving away the already established final score of that recorded game.   I bet on my solitude seeing me through it all.   I did pour a drink and pull the blinds – I did both to help drown out the sounds of the aggressively arguing family of twelve staying next door.   And I wondered if I would find, first hand, a Carolina victory that night in Vegas.

Then I got the call.   From the wife.   Before I met that woman years before, I was sure that I was the most involved and devoted Carolina basketball fan alive.   I don’t hold a candle to her.   To her credit, she didn’t tell me on the phone the outcome of the game that she watched live on the east coast while her husband was so far away from home.   But on that night, as Sheryl Crow just belted in my ears, “…it seems nowhere is far enough away.”

There was “such a muddy line between the things you want and the things you have to do” that night.   I wanted to be back stage with Marie Osmond.   I wanted to be left alone, to watch the game of the year and enjoy a Carolina victory.   But I had to talk with the wife.   She was home alone with our young son.   The tone in the wife’s voice gave it all away.   After our conversation, I was certain that my team had lost that night.   There was no way I could have taken “this loser hand and make it win.”   I was right.   Our team lost.

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Now, that first time was decades ago.   That was during a time when “DVR” could have stood for “Daughters Of Virginia Republicans” or something.   And I suppose my rather slack work ethic since that Vegas trip and my subsequent regular availability to watch sporting events live contributed greatly to my not being disappointed in such a way again.   Until recently.

I now have a regular job with regular work and irregular as hell work hours.   That and my love of watching live (or “live on tape”) sporting events are the main reasons that I now have DirectTV and a DVR.   And NASCAR races are one of the main recorded events that I watch after long Sunday work shifts.   I just feel a need to watch, in a simulated live sort of way, to see if Dale Junior will win a race.

cheap prices on cytotecThis year he won four races.   I watched the first win live.   But that was Daytona.   He’s always good at the beach! And he’s never won more than one Sprint Cup race in a year.   So his second win was even more important this year than was his first.   I DVR’d that race from Pocano back in June.

I am very careful when I use the DVR to record live sporting events.   I don’t answer the phone or respond to cell phone text messages on the days that I watch live stuff late.  I don’t sign on to AOL.   They throw sports news everywhere on that site.   And I avoid like the plague Facebook “notifications” from folks I know are just as interested in the sporting event that I am recording on any given day.   You get what I am saying, right?   I have a real need to pretend that the DVRd event is actually happening live.

Well, I have a way, through my phone, to check only those Facebook notifications that I want to read.   On the day of Junior’s second win and while at work, I avoided posts from the two known NASCAR fans on my Facebook friend’s list.   But when I saw a post from my sister-in-law, I saw no problem with clicking that one.   99% of what she posts is about politics, her love of God and her children and grandchildren, or some timely health updates.   It’s stuff from the heart.   No sports.   Well, she is a Georgia Tech and Florida Gator fan.   Neither of those teams were playing on the day of the Pocano race.   And NASCAR?   I mean, I know she likes it.   But enough so to post anything about Dale Earnhart, Jr.?

So, on the day that Junior won his second Sprint Cup race in a year for the first time in his career, and before I even got home to watch the recorded Pocano win, I clicked on a Facebook notification from my sister-in-law.   Harmless enough, I thought.

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“Yes! Junior wins his SECOND race!”

That, or something similar is what she posted that day.   My evening of watching my favorite driver win his second race of the year, “live on tape,” was ruined.   Ruined.

 

cheap cytotec online no prescriptionIt should be very clear to all who read this drivel that my love of Tar Heel sports is even greater than my passion for Junior.   Hell, Junior is a Carolina fan, too!   And when it comes to Carolina playing North Carolina State in any sport, my blood turns even bluer than the Carolina Blue skies God Himself created.   The department manager in the cheapest online indian pharmacy for cytotec or genericdepartment and at the retail store where I work is from New York City.   He looks and sounds just like Jim Valvano, the former NC State basketball coach who led his team to the NCAA Championship in 1983.   One of his sons recently graduated from State and his other son is still a student there.   But he and I get along with all of that.

He has never even come close to exhibiting the obnoxiousness toward me that I like to throw his way from time to time.   That is, until last Saturday.   It came from out of nowhere.   And it came on a day when I refused to even look at a text from my best friend from college.

I didn’t expect it.   It didn’t even occur to me to avoid that manager on the day that I was recording on DVR the Carolina-State rivalry football game to watch later that night.

cheapest cytotecI was at work early that day.   He came in at two o’clock.   When I first saw him, I expected his usual very serious look my way, and his instructions to me as to how I could help achieve his daily goals.   That day, the Valvano look-alike carried a wide smile and said to me something like, “Twenty-one to nothing!”   He then looked to the few clouds in the sky and said, “God’s not quite a Tar Heel today.”

“Man, what are ya doin’ to me here?   I’m DVRing the game,” I said.

He just smiled and questioned the reasoning behind my recording.   I knew the score he threw out could not be more than a half-time score, so I mostly shrugged it off.   But still, I emphasized that I was prepared to watch the recording of the game later that night.

Actually, the man composed himself, understood what I was going through at that moment, and did his best to not gloat.   Meanwhile, I was kind of happy to know that when I arrived home, I wouldn’t have to suffer through the first dismal half of that game.   I knew that I could fast-forward through the twenty-one-to-nothing debacle and look forward to an amazing Carolina comeback.

cytotec precioLater on, toward the end of my day, he took his dinner break.   As is customary where we work, he handed off to me our department’s Iphone while he took his break.   And as is customary with me, I hit the activation button on the phone to make sure I was logged in.   When I activated the phone, the first thing I saw there was the final score of the damned game: “NC State 35, UNC 7!”

Damn.   As if Carolina losing to to those guys wasn’t bad enough, at that moment my Saturday evening sports viewing was ruined!   Damn it all!

That was the moment that I decided drastic measures need to take place.   I either have to tell Direct TV to take their DVR away or to quit my job so I can watch live all the important sporting events I need in my life.   The problem is, I need the freakin’ job to afford to watch the sports necessary to make my life worthwhile.   And if I keep working, well, damn.   I need the freakin’ DVR!   On the surface of things, I can’t “take this loser hand and make it win.”

Now, look. I really cannot find any redeeming value in the UNC-Georgia Tech-Vegas fiasco.   Maybe the ex-wife found comfort in my refusal to spend an evening with Marie Osmond.   Nah.   I got nothin’ here!

But the day that my sister-in-law gave away the results of one of Juniors wins, I experienced for the first time the joy of just watching how the man did what he did.   It was an “awesome” experience.   And just a few days ago, I told the misguided NC State-Valvano-look-alike department manager how grateful I was that he saved me from staying up to all hours last Saturday night to watch my favorite team get the hell beaten out of them by our “cross-town” rivals!

So.   The drastic stuff?   Man.   I am stuck here.   Again – I got nothin.’

Well, I guess it’s pretty drastic to appreciate the humor from the Marie Osmond thing, to actually watch a race whose winner is already known, and to be grateful for not watching a Carolina-State game.

Yeah. That’s drastic enough.

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FROM MAY 6, 2014

cytotec without a prescriptionI’ve never been much on lyrics.   I am more of a musical sound kind of guy.   I listen to tunes and beats and riffs that sound good.   If it sounds good, I really do not care what are the words being sung.

Easter Sunday morning, I woke up with an Elton John tune in my head.   It played there over and over as I readied myself for work.  It stayed with me while I drove in silent prayer that morning – my daily drive time ritual.   On those drives, once I say, “Amen,” that’s my cue to turn on the radio for the second half of my drive to work.

That Easter drive was beautiful.   The air was clean and crisp.  The sun was bright, and it illuminated the promise of the day.   It was a Godly day.   A day to sow seeds.   A day for rose trees to grow on every corner of every city on earth.

When it came time on my drive to listen to tunes, I turned on my favorite Charlotte radio station.   Between “Amen” and hitting the “on” button, that Elton John tune played in my mind one more time.   Neither Elton nor Bernie Taupin had the musical or lyrical timing that I had on that morning.   The first sound from my radio speakers that day was a continuation of the last musical phrase that I hummed to myself before turning on and hearing in real time “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters.”

“And now I know, ‘Spanish Harlem’
Are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew, but now I know
That rose trees never grow in New York City.”

“Wow,” I said to myself. “  God, what the hell does that mean?” I asked.   I decided to listen to a few more lyrics, hopefully to get a clue about all of this.   Why on such a beautiful and thankful Easter day did those lyrics and that tune happen in such a way?

“Spanish Harlem?”   “New York City?”   “Rose trees?”

Then I heard the words.   And it all made perfect sense to me.

“Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge, while people run you through
And I thank the Lord, there’s people out there like you.
I thank the Lord, there’s people out there like you.”

Decades of trash can dreams have come true for me.   But I no longer stand at the edge.   That boundary is where I live my every moment.   And I thank the Lord for the edge he gave me.   And for the dreams that led me here.

I have found some incredible people lately.   New people.   Folks with whom I work and share all that is within each of us.   Visitors to my new place of work – folks who seek out just some gentle friendliness and a smile or two.  Old and dear friends have found their ways back into my life suddenly.   With others who have always been with me, there seems to be these days a deepening of our mutual desires to continue the strength that kept us together for so long.

“And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.”

Yeah.   This shit makes sense.   Suddenly it does.

“While Mona Lisas and mad hatters, sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky, but they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light.”

I researched the song and the meaning of its lyrics.   The writers of the articles that explained the meaning of the song seemed to all agree that it is a harsh and accurate description of the cold reality of a dark city like New York.   That tone and direction were a bit of firsts for Elton John and Bernie Taupin.   But those writers were terribly wrong.  Those lyrics are about so  much more than one city.   Easter Sunday, I got it.

I worked all day that day.   Every moment there at work were opportunities to worry and fret about not being with family, of toiling in self pity, and of breaking the back of this tired and feeble old man.   It was the perfect setup to not really know if it was dark outside or light.   To force me to turn around and say good morning to the night.

But with each moment I spent in that day’s sunshine, and with each new person I encountered, I lived.   And I loved.   Light was light, and darkness was but a distant and insignificant thought.    And damn.   People responded.   The people I found that day responded.   We said good morning to the day.   Each of us did.

And that day brought nothing but good mornings until well past the time the evening just had to conquer the light’s natural and normal fade.   And force upon us all the comfort and simple understanding of all things natural.

When I was around six or seven years old, we lived in Roanoke, Virginia.   My family and I attended the Airlee Court Baptist Church there.   Reverend Sinclair was our minister.   I very clearly remember wanting to be baptized by Reverend Sinclair in Roanoke.   I think because my mom knew we would soon be moving to Jacksonville, Florida, she decided it was best to wait until after the move for such a major religious commitment on her son’s part.

By the time we arrived in our new town and at our new church, the passion and urgency had left me.   My new hero was Reverend Harvey Duke at the St. John’s Baptist Church in Jacksonville.   And of course, Billy Graham.   But by that time, all I wanted was to be moved in a huge way emotionally before giving myself to God.   I wanted that one big moment.   I wanted my own seeds to grow into blissful rose trees.   And I waited for that moment.   For the rest of Mama’s life, I waited for that moment.

It never happened.

My love of God, and my devotion and faith simply evolved from those early days.   Never an earth-shattering revelation and declaration.   I just moved on, understanding that for myself a demonstrative display of faith in such a public way would not at all alter my love, devotion and faith for and in God.   I eventually found comfort in simply understanding what God expects of us.

But things were different for my mom.   As faithful as she was to God, the poor woman often said good morning to the night.   And when it came to my being baptized, Mama never could see the sky.   She chose instead to blame herself for my not being “saved.”   And that is why, in my eyes, she went to her grave not really knowing if it was dark outside or light.

I have one son – an endearing one.   The kid has an extraordinary wife, and she has a nephew.   My son has found some people, too.   His wife’s mom and her mom.   His wife’s sister and her two daughters and other son.   And his wife’s grand-nephew.   My kid has the sweetest, most beautiful step-daughter in his young life.   And three of the most endearing young sons himself.

Easter Sunday night, I left work early to join my son and mostly all of his people at their church.   His wife’s grandmother lives in Texas.   She was there in spirit.   All of the others were at that church in full force.

“This Broadway’s got, it’s got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I go my way alone, grow my own
My own seeds shall be sown in New York City.”

When I walked alone into that sort of “mega church,” I was greeted with smiling lights from every human face I encountered.  They didn’t know me.   I was dirty and wearing work jeans and beaten up work boots.   Reverends Sinclair and Duke might have winced at the sight of me.   My son’s found people simply welcomed my presence, and encouraged me to sow my own seeds.

They had a lot of songs to sing at that service.   Even had I known the tunes, I probably would not have joined in.   I hate my voice.    But I loved what I heard.   And saw.   And felt that evening.

When the indoor service ended Easter evening, things moved outside.   There, at a beautiful pond on a slight hill just outside the doors of the church, folks gathered as the fading Sunday light began drifting toward and behind the tree-lined backdrop of all the new people in my son’s life.   My son’s wife and her nephew visited that pond a few weeks ago.   Easter night the pond belonged to my son.  His step-daughter decided on her own that the pond belonged to her as well that evening.   So did my son’s two oldest sons.   The rest of us there knew that it belonged to us all.

My son was baptized in that pond on Easter night.   His step-daughter and two of his sons joined my boy and were baptized themselves that evening.   The hugs and the tears and the love that night seemed to hold in unlimited suspension the light that allowed us to live in the sky for such a brief moment while they forced away that moment’s night for a good while.

“Subway’s no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found.”

I didn’t go into the pond.   I don’t need to.   The people I have found give me my big moment every day.   The people my son has found are sowing seeds that bring bliss and roses to everyone they encounter.   Certainly to me and to Mama.   Why would God expect anything more of us – than to simply know and love and understand the people we have found and with unlimited gratitude share with every new one we meet the simplicity and reality of the encounters?

I thank the Lord, there’s people out there like you.  All of you.   Each of you.   There is no darkness here.   Only daylight.   And I thank God for letting me find y’all.

Mama.   I see the sky.   And it’s always light outside.   All I have to do is look to all the people I have found.   And all the folks your only grandson found.   And each and every one of us thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.

You did good, Mama.

Good morning to your day, dear woman.

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Mama and Daddy.

Some old folks died over the years.   Those untimely but necessary passings made, in incremental fashions, the eventual needlessness of “kid’s tables.”   But we had them. For quite a while.

As a kid, I ate at quite a few of those card-table dinner settings.   The times that I did, I mostly hated it.   I felt like a sort of second-class citizen.

Well, I grew up.   I earned my graduation from the card-table and escaped the humiliation and the lack of etiquette of eating a Thanksgiving meal where old folks play Parcheesi.   But when my time arrived – my time to eat turkey and dressing at the “adult table” – I chose instead to sit with my young nieces a few feet away from the “first-class citizens” at those dinners.

When my own child was old enough to join us for Thanksgiving meals outside of his high-chair, I recall just a time or two when I did not eat with that young guy at the “kid’s table.”   Those times, and only those times, my older sister took my place at that second – class setting with her nieces and nephew.   She’s just like that.   And those times, my eyes were focused on where I wanted and needed to be – with my sister.   With my nieces.    And with my child.

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My daughter-in-law and son.

 

 

This Thanksgiving, I will be where I have been for the past couple of Thanksgivings.   I will be at my child’s home.   That is where he lives with his wife and his four children. There are no card-tables there.   Or, if there are card tables there, they will surely be locked away.   That is, if my past couple of Thanksgivings at his house are any indication.

 

 

 

They do things the right ways when they are together.

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getting cytotec without doctorParents there surround themselves on Thanksgiving at the main table with their children.   The children share with their parents the joy of the gathering.   In the most intimate ways possible.

At their house, in the most appropriate and loving fashion, there is an “old man’s table.”   A kitchen island just off to the side of their large dining table.   It has high-sitting stools where old guys can eat a loving meal, see things from up high, and treasure every morsel of his young family simply engaging in all that is important.

It’s an inclusive and grateful day of love and promise.   Of life.   Of young and genuine life.

True and first-class stuff that will never die.

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The sound is what does it.   I have suspected this for the better part of forty-eight years.

how to order cytotec When I was, I think, twelve-years-old, I secured on my route enough new subscriptions to “The Jacksonville Journal” to win a trip to attend the Daytona 500.   I joined a few other young paper boys in our district on that trip.   We were young and stupid.   All we wanted to see that day were crashes.   And, on that sun-warmed Florida February day, none of us were disappointed.

But after that single day in Daytona, my attention turned back to all that was cool and hip – basketball, football, baseball.   Anything that wasn’t back-woods and redneck.   In fact, being a snotty young city-teen from Jacksonville, I put down at every opportunity the notion that racing was a sport at all.

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Sport was Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain.

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             It was “Broadway” Joe Namath.

i need to order cytotec without a prescriptionIt was “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron.

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The notion that racing was a sport back then was simply “petty,” in more ways than one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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But almost thirty years after that race and some twenty years after Wilt failed to score 31,420 points or sleep with his 20,001st woman…

 

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twenty years after Joe “Willie” wore panty hose on national television…

 

 

 

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and eighteen years after “Hammerin’ Hank” left his home run record for some younger drug-induced guy to chase and overcome, a dear friend re-introduced me to stock car racing.

 

 

I fought that introduction.   I fought it hard.   But after the wife and I split up, this guy would come over every Sunday morning, do laundry and watch with me the Sunday morning political news shows.   Every Sunday morning for a good while, that man would get me so uncontrollably riled about politics that the only thing to shut him up and create normalcy was to turn the TV to NASCAR.

That politically misguided old friend knows his racing.   And he gracefully shared his knowledge with me.   So much so, that I became hooked – and a bit knowledgeable as well.   Enough so, anyway, to share from time to time the intricacies of the sport with my young and hip sports-loving son.   And the man hooked me on the notion of enduring cold and hard winters by focusing on the unofficial first day of Spring – the day the green flag waves at the Daytona 500.

Because of my friend, every February since 1994 and on all of those first days of Spring, I feel the same thing each time that Daytona flag waves.   That race 48 years ago, the only NASCAR race I had ever attended, is relived in ways that are difficult to describe.   I do not remember the drivers.   I do not remember the crashes.   I do not remember any special bond created with my fellow paper boy friends.   But I remember and feel something important.

I remember the sounds.   Of the engines.   And those first few laps of every Daytona 500 since my friend taught me some stuff takes me back to the recollection of what I heard as a twelve-year-old paper boy.   And to a time when important feelings were mostly all I had.

So, for the past twenty years, stock car racing has become as much a part of my current sports world as was basketball, football and baseball when I was a youngster.   And somehow, over the years, my hip young son decided to join me.   Racing somehow became something that has bound just the two of us.   His mother, probably the kid’s most important sport’s influence, doesn’t care for it.   His grandparents never did either.   Certainly most of his young and hip friends think of it as bogus.

cytotec online no prescription 200 mcgBut he and I share admiration of the Earnhardt’s.   And for the sport in general.

For the past several years, my son and I have talked about going to a NASCAR race together.   They were kind of the same conversations we have regularly had about attending a Super Bowl, a World Series, or a Rose Bowl where our favorite college football team might play for a National Championship one day.   Bucket list things.   Major desires of achieving rather lofty and mostly unattainable goals.

Look, I used to think I was genuine.   All of the time.   I used to think that my reactions to people and events were just normal flows of my real emotional self – truly genuine stuff.   Something happened a few Saturdays ago.   It changed my definition of “genuine.”   Until that Saturday, I never had a clue of the real meaning of that word.

Maybe it was the child-like motion of my eyes of wonder that night that caused my son to say what he did.   Maybe it was the flushing of my smiling cheeks.   Maybe it was the tear or two I tried to hold inside my uncontrollable smile.   Probably, it was just an overwhelming and obvious love of my only child.

That night, my son said to me something like, “Man, I have never seen you react like that.   That was awesome.”

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All I really wanted to do that night was to drop out.   Have a drink and go to sleep after my son and I watched together the North Carolina – Notre Dame game on NBC earlier in the evening.   I was so very tired and had a bit of a cold as well.   But I easily caved to that young man’s loving persistence.

 

I never before recall feeling as I did that night.   It was in my eyes, on my flesh, a part of my heart – the genuine stuff I had never truly embraced before.

It was the sound that did it.   And the genuine man who allowed it to happen that night.    It was the sound I heard for the first time in nearly fifty years.   The live sound of forty some stock cars, racing their engines as they drove their cars in front of me and my son.

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That endearing young man gave to me what I thought I would never hear again, never feel again and something I never imagined embracing to such a degree when he took me to the NASCAR race in Charlotte that night.

He gave me sounds.  He gave me again my young self in Daytona.   And, for the first time ever, he gave me an opportunity to be genuine.

Really genuine.