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Advice To My Younger Self

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking, “If the 45-year-old Chad could sit down a talk with the teenage Chad what’s the best advice I would give for the future?”

As I contemplated my answer to this question I kept changing my mind. I’d consider one piece of advice and think “That’s Perfect!” but then I’d think of something else that would be equally as good advice and may be more important in the overall scheme of things.

After much consideration I believe I have it narrowed down to a few things I would tell the teenage version of myself.

The first thing I’d say would be “Chad, I know at this age you think the world revolves around you. But it really DOESN’T. Get to know other people by taking the time to really listen to them and always make others feel important because they are important.”

Secondly, I’d say, “Chad, you act like you’re bold and confident but if the truth be told, you’re actually very insecure. Since you lack confidence you try to make other people feel small by making fun of them and picking on them. Stop it now because what you say and do will be remembered by those who are the brunt of it long after you’ve forgotten all about it.”

My Younger Self
Here he is – my younger self – 17 and not knowing NEARLY as much as I thought I did.

 

Lastly, I’d say, “Chad, you may not believe this but, your parents are right when they say life goes by fast. So don’t go through life in a hurry. Soak it all in, every moment, because in a blink of an eye it will have passed you by and there are no do-overs.”

So, what advice would you give to your teenage self?

If you can believe it, I actually have a few friends. I asked them if they’d share their answers to this question.  What would you tell the younger you? Here are some of their answers.

“I’d say try your hardest at whatever you do.  Don’t expect THE best, but give YOUR best!!  And like yourself.  If you do then others will like you too!!” -anonymous

My friend Tim said, “The number one thing I would tell myself is don’t take life so serious it’s not about you.”

Tim’s brother, Nathan who is also a good buddy of mine shared, “My advice to myself would be to live life more intentionally. Don’t just allow things to ‘happen’.  Create your own destiny instead of allowing life to create your destiny for you. Be more financially responsible. Learn a valuable trade. Learn a valuable trade. Again, learn a valuable trade! Be your own self and don’t worry what other people think.”

Another friend said, “My advice would be don’t settle… fear of the unknown is not a good enough reason stay put.”

My friend, Chad M.: “If I could sit down with my teenage self, I would have lots to say, as I’m sure many would, if given the chance. The main thing would be to not care so much what others think. So many of my bad decisions I made were based on what some may think. My alcohol abuse started at 18, mainly because of the anxiety that came along with what others think or might think, MIGHT being a very important word.
I would also tell teen Chad to focus on what it is you love to do, or dream to do, and go for it. It is possible. Don’t let others opinions of what you should do for your future steer your direction in life. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
Also, love your family and spend as much time as possible with them. Time is short, and their time with you can be cut short at any moment. Cherish that time. Cherish your life. It’s a gift that at any moment can be taken from you.”

Another answer I received was from Judge Hyde.  He said, “If I could talk to my teenage self, I would give the following advice (although I expect it would not be understood or appreciated). Everything you do will leave a mark on the world.  Even those acts done in private will leave a mark on yourself.  Every act has a consequence.  Like footprints or the wake of a boat.  Some may quickly disappear and some will last forever, but they all will exist for some period of time.  They can be either a good mark or a bad mark.  Therefore the question before every action is fairly simple.  If I do this act, will the mark that it leaves on this world be a good one or a bad one.  When a man can take the time to think this simple question through prior to acting, he will leave a much better mark on this world.”

The words of my wife, Bobbie were “I would not have given any unsolicited advice because –  in reality – I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. Instead, I’d spend quality time, set a good example and build a trusting, open relationship. I’d try to help teenage me understand her worth. I don’t think I ever once thought of myself as smart or talented or special. I wish I had understood those things. I think I would have applied myself more had I grasped those ideas.  Advice to teenagers feels like lecturing – Even though it’s not intended that way. Being an example and having a connection is better than ‘talk’.”

My good friend, Jerry, would tell his younger self, “Put your faith in Jesus. Respect your parents more. Take your parents advice because they really are right. Save money and buy land.”

Gayle, nearly 70 years old shared her answer. “Thinking back to my teenage years is a stretch!  If I were to be able to advise that shy young woman, I would say – be yourself!  It is too easy to go with the crowd in those years.  Be more of a leader, have ideas but also reject those that do not work for you. As an older adult, I have done some things to be proud of, whether in my career or in retirement. I worked at helping others, still do. Do that as a young person, get out of the ‘ME’ mode. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.  Life is so serious and we must be secure enough to enjoy the funny things we do and allow others to enjoy them also. I would also say, follow that dream.  Life is too short to not enjoy what you choose as your life’s work.   Happy at your work is a good creed to follow. Love well.  Be open to it.  Yes, hurt may come with it, but if you never take a chance, you won’t find real love.”

Think about it. What would you tell the teenage you?  If you want, share your thoughts.

How are you?

There is a chemical called sodium aluminate that is delivered to the wastewater treatment plants that I operate. The delivery company is based out of Columbus. I have had the same driver for a few months now and of course he’s been subject to my question-asking that may sometimes seem more like a mild interrogation. Hey, what can I say, I enjoy asking people questions. That’s how I learn new things and most people like talking about themselves.

I found out on the drivers latest delivery that he served two, year long tours in Iraq between 2004 and 2012. He now has to deal with P.T.S.D because of those two tours in Iraq. The P.T.S.D causes him to have trouble in large crowds and also causes him to be very suspicious of objects as he’s driving; things we would barely notice if we even would notice at all. Objects like potholes, guardrails and telephone poles. In Iraq, these were very good places, from my understanding, for the enemy to plant explosives.

This conversation made me think, what do we really know about the people we with whom we regularly come in contact?

I dread the typical exchange of, “Hi.  How are you?

“Good.  How are you?”

“Good.”

This drives me absolutely crazy.  

This just doesn’t seem genuine to me. The person asking, “How are you?” seldom, – if ever – really wants to know how you really are. And the response probably, rarely is genuine.  We answer, “Good.” whether we are discouraged, depressed, sad or actually ‘good’. Then, if time permits and we actually take the time stop and talk, meaningless small talk ensues.  The weather.  Current news.  Sports.

This conversation with the delivery driver made me contemplate what other people are could be going through as they pass through life and possibly by me during the day and they, like most of us, put on the smile and pretend everything is “Good.”

Is the lady I said, “Hi” to in passing dealing with a controlling or possibly even abusive spouse who refuses to lend a hand around the house or with the three kids he helped produce?

Could the man ahead of me in the hardware store be spending most of his evenings with his ailing mother and helping her out as he misses a lot of time with his wife and kids at home?

Is the lady running the register at the convenient store wondering how in the world she’s going to take off work because her child has the flu and still have enough money to pay all the bills?

Are the other parents I’m talking to at the sporting or school event trying to figure out what to do with their oldest son who’s into drugs and flunking out of college as they blame themselves and try to figure out where they went wrong?

So many other countless numbers of situations people are trying to deal with like, a death of a loved one, job loss, paying for car repairs on a tight budget, paying for countless medications as they’re living off a social security check, a cheating spouse, depression, addiction, guilt, insecurities or anxiousness and yet they put on that fake smile and pretend they’re okay as they are out and about in society.

It’s actually very sad that we have to go about our life, in a lot of ways, alone and unwilling or unable to share how we’re really feeling.

I understand why we can’t share most of the time. We’re busy. We fear looking weak, soft, or possibly unstable. We risk making ourselves vulnerable. If we do share, there are always those people who will pretend to care but then turn around and turn our pain into the latest gossip.

If we could just share our situations and issues openly with those who are close to us (I understand we can’t spill our guts to complete strangers) it would make our lives so much better. It would help ease our burden because it is helpful just knowing that someone is listening. It’s a bonus if they may have even been through it themselves and can now share how they survived or even overcame this time period in their life.

So hopefully if you are the person carrying the burden you can find that someone to listen you. If you have a set of ears maybe you can take time to truly listen to someone and give them that opportunity to say, “You know what? I’m not good and things aren’t alright.”

And a little advisory: If you don’t want to talk, be asked lots of questions or divulge anything, steer clear of me!  Because once I start asking questions even the strong don’t survive. I’m a master interrogator. I don’t do it to be nosy.  I ask because I want to get to know you and I care.  

 

Under Construction

Hello! It has been too long since my last blog post and I’ve missed you!

The past 3 weeks have been crazy busy. The Curry home is under construction. So, a LOT has been added to  the normal schedule and routine that we keep – which, by the way, isn’t extremely busy compared to most because I prefer being a homebody who seldom leaves Millersburg other than to go to work and if it was up to me I would hardly leave my property. I know it’s hard to imagine but, hey, that’s how I roll.

With a growing family – for which we are very thankful –  we have outgrown our kitchen/dining room area and changes needed to be made so we could all gather round the table when the gang’s all here.

So, thanks to Duane from Pinnacle Design and Contracting our kitchen and dining room are being remodeled. In order to remodel that space we had to move the laundry are from a closet area upstairs to the basement. Well, when planning to move the laundry downstairs we thought it would be a good idea to take our open, unfinished basement and make it into living space with a play room, living room, a ½ bath, storage room and, of course, the laundry room.   

Normally, I wouldn’t even consider taking on a project like finishing the basement but my buddy and coworker, Jerry said, “IT’S EASY!” Since I’ve seen Jerry take on some pretty big projects at work I believed him. I’ve since learned that “It’s easy!” is one of two go-to, frequently used answers of Jerry’s. The other being, “I CAN DO THAT!” There have been very few, if any, tasks or projects that we’ve faced in the remodeling job that Jerry hasn’t met with at “It’s easy” or “I (we) can do that!”

Thankfully it actually it’s been easy, fast  and we were able to do everything we wanted to do. Jerry doesn’t give himself much credit but he’s very talented. I couldn’t have done it without him (wouldn’t have even tried, actually).

So after almost 60 hours in the basement in 16 days, numerous trips to Holmes Lumber, Lowe’s, Orme’s Hardware and Ace Hardware, lots of sore muscles (that I’d forgotten I even have), many missed naps (you know how I love my naps), and some shuffling of our schedules, the basement rooms are ready for some finishing and painting and the upstairs is nearly finished as well.   

Our son, Hank helped out a lot along with our son-in-law, Brock, my patient wife, and our eager-to-help 6-year old, Harlie. We’ve done plenty of picking on each other and had many laughs and minimal disputes.

During this time I’ve been off all social media other than Instagram and away from the news which actually has been kind of nice. But it’s also meant that I haven’t had had time to write and I miss it.   

As things get finished up with our home improvement projects and get back to normal I will be able to devote my free time to writing and sharing again.  As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it.

Steps

Recently, my wife and I were watching Mack, our 11 month-old grandson. A few days prior to his visit with us he had taken 3 steps on his own. Now that we were watching him it was grandma and grandpas turn to try and work their magic to get him walking.

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Mack, 11 months old getting a little help with his first steps.

My wife was seated on the floor holding Mack up from behind while I stood a short distance away bent over and arms reaching towards him and we tried to coax him into walking with our overly exaggerated voices of encouragement and big smiles. Much to our chagrin he would take a step and fall down. For that day, at least, he was unwilling to show off his newly found skill to his grandparents.img_3218

Those few moments with Mack made me revisit old memories of my wife and I trying to teach our three children to walk in the exact same way. As I reflected on those times it really made me think,

“Do we ever really quit helping our children take steps or encouraging them to walk?”

I don’t believe so. No matter what stage of life our children are trying to navigate themselves through we are there with them. Maybe not with the overly exaggerated voices of encouragement and big smiles but we are there trying to encourage and guide them as they try to learn how to walk along the path of life.

Currently, our older daughter, Rylee, age 25, is married and has two children. We’ve been there for her and her husband and have tried to help them with different situations they have faced during this season of their lives. We’ve seen them experience things like dating, engagement, marriage, a wedding, searching for a home, changing jobs, pregnancy, raising small children and many other situations that have come along.    

Our son, Hank, is 20. He’s at the age where he is finding his independence and taking steps to make his own way. He is facing decisions about his future: Go to college or not? Which job suits me best?  What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Also during this time Hank is spreading his wings and stepping into independence by owning his own car, grocery shopping for himself, cooking his own meals, doing his own laundry and paying for his car insurance and other expenses. He’s managing 2 jobs, a couple of college classes and a relationship. Hank still is living with us and therefore is subjected to his parents’ opinions and (sometimes unsolicited) advice. He listens to our instructions even if he doesn’t want to sometimes. Does he always heed our warnings or take our advice on how to walk through this stage of his life? Well, no, but that’s part of being in this stage of life, right?   

Our daughter, Harlie, the youngest, is 6 years-old and needs help with the typical things and still relies on us for most everything, of course. She needs guidance and instruction on things such as like always being truthful, being kind to others, not whining or crying when you don’t get your way, pick up your clothes, take care of your things, and what to wear (or what NOT to wear in some cases). If you’re a parent, you know this list could go on and on and on. Probably the most important thing this year has been helping her understand everyone is different. Some people are short, some are tall; some people can run fast while others cannot; some people are shy; some are outgoing. We have all different God given talents and that’s fine. It doesn’t make make one person better than another and if we were all the same it would be boring. At age six, Harlie is still learning the very important values that will shape her into the person we hope she will become. She needs us to both figuratively and literally hold her hand at times to take steps.  

We once held the chubby little hands of our three babies as they took their first steps and then, at the various stages of our children’s lives we help them take steps and encourage them to walk. But someday, due to old age or illness our children may be the ones helping us take steps and encouraging us to keep walking. They may have to speak to us with overly loud and exaggerated voices and put on big smiles as they are trying to encourage us to keep going, not to give up, and keep moving forward.  Our children will hold our weathered hands and help us walk.  

I’m so thankful that in one capacity or another we never stop helping each other take steps or encouraging one another to keep walking.     

Navigating Under The Influence

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http://www.rockhall.com/tour-deep-purple-alice-cooper

Recently, my son, Hank and I were fortunate enough to be given 2 tickets to a concert at Blossom Music Center. We saw the Edgar Winter’s Bad, Alice Cooper and Deep Purple. The concert itself was good. We really enjoyed Alice Cooper. He still sounds great and puts on a very good theatrical stage performance that keeps your attention the entire time.

What was even better than the concert was the group of veteran rockers seated behind us and to our left. This group consisted of 3 men and 2 women. We were seated first then they came in behind us halfway into the opening act. We didn’t notice them immediately. It wasn’t until the slight breeze brought the unmistakably strong smell of marijuana into our nostrils that we looked to see where it was coming from. It was from this group to our left. Along with their left sweet leaf, as Black Sabbath sang, they were enjoying their alcohol just as much.

Our first interaction with this group happened when the taller man in the group was yelling over the music at the people 30 yards ahead of us to put a grounded beach ball back up into the air. His request was falling upon deaf ears. I looked over at him after his many feeble attempts to get the other concert goers to put the beach ball back up in the air and suggested he may have to go down there and just do it himself. ‘Tall Man’ explained to Hank and I that back in the 70’s that ball would have never touched the ground. He let us know also that back in those days when you would look up at that beach ball coming towards you and you’d think and I’ll paraphrase, “Wow man, there is a planet coming towards me.” Hank and I looked at each other and laughed. Hank suggested that maybe Tall Man had been under the influence of a little more than booze and marijuana in the 70’s.

A while later, Tall Man brought us their binoculars to get a better look at Alice Cooper’s stage and all of the props that were present. We’d made a friend.  

Hank and I really particularly enjoyed Tall Man’s buddy, ‘Leather Jacket’. He was a trip. I believe he came to the concert cloaked in his weathered leather jacket already quite inebriated because he seem to be very unstable on his feet as he tried to navigate the hillside. What amazed us about Leather Jacket was that as unstable as he was on his feet to begin with, he continued to get worse. He’d drunk-wander but never get lost. Hank or I would watch Leather Jacket with a beer in his hand stumble down the hill weaving in and out of groups of people and into the darkness. Approximately 15-20 minutes later the man would weave his way back up into our general area. Those in his group would catch sight of him and yell out, “BUDDY!”  Leather Jacket would holler back, then the group would again yell “BUDDY!” and Leather Jacket would make his way safety back to the pack.

After being back with his group a few minutes it was time for Leather Jacket to go a few feet in front of us and play some air guitar or possibly even drums.  Then he disappeared down the hill into the night again. Just like before he stumbles up the hill, his group yells, he yells back, they yell again, he navigates to them, hangs out with them a few minutes, plays his air guitar and drums and back down the hill.

I’m sure Leather Jacket woke up the next morning with very little, if any, recollection of the concert and definitely no memory of me and Hank.

To the contrary, though, Hank and I will never forget Tall Man or Leather Jacket and the entertainment that provided us that evening as we were creating memories.

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Climate Change

Just a few short weeks ago we saw a small percentage of Americans in Charlottesville Virginia, divided into two groups. Violence erupted, one person was tragically and violently killed, and several were injured.

As I watched, read and listened to the news concerning Charlottesville I wondered how much impact this particular incident would have across the nation. Is the division in our country growing to a point where it must fully implode and then it become a tipping point to which there will be no return?

You may be like me and you don’t want to be pinned down to a specific ideology and you prefer to listen, watch or read about a specific topic or thought and reach your own conclusions. Unfortunately and consistently you will be put in into some sort of pre-labeled box. Just because of one particular belief you may have you will be considered either republican or democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative, about love or hate, free thinking or close minded.

It is not necessary to have all these neat little boxes in which to stuff each and every individual. Can’t each of us be a free thinking American who have the ability to be his or herself? We don’t need to be divided and continue to fight. Why not? Because nobody wins. We all lose because we are working against each other rather than working together.

On June 16th 1858, Abraham Lincoln stood in the Hall of Representatives in the Illinois statehouse and warned those present that, “ A house divided cannot stand”. Jesus is recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels giving us the same warning.

That’s where our nation seemed to be, a house divided, until…

Hurricane Harvey

Watching and listening to the news these past few days, I, like many of you, have witnessed that when a catastrophe hits in America the true human spirit emerges and is put on full display for our entire nation and the whole world to see. When a category 4 hurricane dumps 40 plus inches of rain it doesn’t matter whether you’re black, brown or white, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Atheist, liberal or conservative, left or right, people will help their fellow man.

The ‘climate’ has changed – from divided to united.  

There have been so many amazing and positive stories shared during this time that it has helped filter out most of the recent hate that has been on display. People have been freely and selflessly giving of their time, supplies and finances to save and take care of those who are in need.

These displays of selflessness have renewed my hope and strengthened my belief that this is who we, the human race, really are.

My wish is that as a nation we could maintain this level of love and charity toward each other. That the news would be saturated with stories of neighbor helping neighbor and communities coming together and accepting – even ignoring – the differences we have.  

That is what I believe really represents us truly as humans, as Americans.

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Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. (Photo: David J Phillip/AP)

The Lost Phone

One last roller coaster before we get ready to leave Michigan’s largest amusement park, Michigan’s Adventure, and head back to our hotel for our last night’s stay in West Central Michigan. 

I stepped off of the inverted, steel suspended roller coaster, Thunderhawk, where I’d been flipped upside down five times and hit speeds of over 50 mph.

Thunderhawk
The Thunderhawk.

My right hand reached for my right pocket to make sure my wallet was there. Check. Next, my left hand reached for my left pocket to make sure my cell phone was still safety tucked away. Instant panic struck me because I didn’t feel it. I double checked.

You have to be freaking kidding me. IT WAS GONE!

I told one of the girls working the ride that I lost my phone while riding. I was told I could look for it from the walkways and that’s it. She told me to go to lost and found to leave my personal information and description of my phone. The workers search the grounds every night when the park closes. If they find it they’ll notify me.

I look up and down the walkways entering and exiting Thunderhawk but I don’t see it anywhere.

I’m screwed!

Now, for the walk of doom. As I trekked through the park to find Bobbie and Harlie and let them know I lost my phone, I was full of dread and stress. A couple things were in my thoughts.  One: My phone is locked with a passcode so, thankfully, no one can access my information. This was by the skin of my teeth. Until we left for vacation I had not used a passcode to lock my phone. Thank God, I decided to add a passcode lock for the extra security while vacationing out of state.  Thought two: I knew from checking the weather forecast that rain was coming. I knew that if my iPhone was not found that evening, it would drowned by morning. And – speaking of damage – having been tossed from my pocket and thrown who knows how far and having landed on who knows what type of surface, in what kind of condition would my phone even be in at this point?  Likely, shattered. Hundreds of dollars signs is what I saw in my mind; a new iPhone purchase would now be added to this vacation budget.

I found Bobbie and a worn-out, red-faced Harlie. There, in the middle of the thoroughfare, I immediately, informed them of the bad news. We headed to the front of the park and filed the lost and found report. Then, although I had already looked everywhere I could, Bobbie decided that we needed to go back to Thunderhawk and look more.

The three of us searched every nook and cranny of the underbelly of the roller coaster that we could get to. But spotting a black iPhone case on the black mulch with a covering of bushes and other vegetation was impossible. Bobbie tried calling my phone but the loud roar of the roller coaster drowned out all other sounds.

If you have an iPhone chances are pretty high that you have the app, Find My iPhone, on your phone. Bobbie and I both have the app but neither of us had ever used it. It was worth a try. The app sent the sound signal to my phone but since my location setting was turned off on my phone, it’s exact location cannot be determined.  DANG IT! Unless we can hear the tone, we are out of luck. We divide to conquer, walking along the sidewalks near the ride listening for a high-pitched tone. No success.  

By now, Harlie is exhausted and it’s showing. She’s done! I had resolved that my phone was gone! Bobbie was not quite willing to give up yet. (She, too, was seeing several hundred dollars slipping through our fingers.) We decided I would take a break with Harlie while my wife went back to cell-phone hunting.    

Not caring a bit how nerdy or weird she looked, she slowly and carefully began covering every inch of the walkways under and near the ride. Alternating between crouching low to listen for the tone and standing on her tiptoes for a better visual, she looked and looked.  

Enter: Two young teen boys who changed everything. The outgoing, taller of the two young men who had just finished their ride on the coaster stopped and said to my wife, “Are you, by any chance, looking for an iPhone?”

“Yes!”, she exclaimed. “Tell me you know where it is!”  And they did. Those two boys were nearly as excited as she. They, practically running, led her to the spot where they had seen and heard my phone from the ride itself just a few moments before. See, as the roller coaster comes to the end of it’s couple-minute thrill, the car stops completely and dangles above the ground for about 30 seconds before moving into the unload area. There is where the two helpful teens and many other passengers heard the ‘Find My iPhone’ tone and saw it from 15 to 20 feet above. It was reported that the phone looked to be in perfect condition with not even a cracked screen.

Bobbie thanked the boys over and over again as she headed back to find Harlie and me. She made her way back to us with with a big, Cheshire Cat grin on her face.  Wide eyed, she hollered, “Found it!”

“No way!”, I said ecstatically.

“Yep! I swear!”  She led me and poor, worn-out Harlie to the location of the found iPhone. It had come to rest in a double fenced-off “Restricted Zone” which is strictly off limits to anyone during park hours while the roller coaster is operating. Although we could not actually see the phone, we could hear it ring when we dialed it. I was in total disbelief. Just then, a roller coaster-car-full of passengers stopped above and one girl points down and says, “I see an iPhone down on the ground.”  

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Somewhere, right over there is my poor, lost iPhone

“That’s ours!” We yelled and then asked her to use her Go Go Gadget arm to reach down and get it. But since that was an impossibility, we waited a few more hours until the ride shut down and the park closed. A park security guard and Bobbie ventured through the dark, deserted amusement park and asked a highly perturbed ride worker who was on her way out to unlock, enter and check the restricted ride for the phone. The operator swore she’d already checked the area. Bobbie dialed my phone and the three of them heard it. Only then did the worker agree to go in after it. It had fallen into a briar bush which had apparently broken it’s fall. My phone was in perfect condition.

Reunited! And it felt so good!   

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My trusty iPhone.

Lessons learned:

  • If you’re going to ride roller coasters, DON’T have anything on you that you don’t want to lose!
  • Turn on your location setting for the Find My iPhone app and test it out every once in awhile to be sure it works.  
  • There are still good, helpful people in this world  – even TEENAGERS are helpful.
  • Totally dark amusement parks are creepy.
  • Your spouse is your partner and two is better than one. As I very often say, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Cheese?

 

Our hotel advertised free breakfast. Cool! That saves us a little money and hotel breakfasts are usually decent.

Monday morning we walked down to the little hotel lobby not knowing what to expect but hoping for something good to start the day: Maybe some cereal, toast, scrambled eggs, sausage or sausage and gravy with some biscuits or make-you-own waffles.

Well, we greatly overestimated.

On the little counter we saw the exact same spread each of the 4 mornings of our stay; (right to left) tiny slices of cranberry walnut and wheat bread, little prepackaged cinnamon rolls and donut holes, 1-inch squares of cake with frosting on them, misshapen hard boiled eggs from God only knows where and a small tray of… CHEESE –  cheese slices and cheese cubes.

Cheese???? cheese

Cheese on an omelet or on a sausage sandwich or melted over a breakfast casserole I can understand but I don’t ever remember laying out cheese for breakfast or ever being offered cheese for breakfast by someone else.

Is this a Michigan thing? Or is it a thing everywhere that I’m just not aware of?

I love cheese but I honestly don’t know what to make of the whole cheese-for-breakfast thing.

Anyone want to chime in on this? Is it just me or is this strange? Cheese (alone, sliced or cubed) for breakfast?

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Now, THAT is breakfast!

His Truck

 

I hop into my truck, turn on the CD player to disc one, song one and I hear “Moved on down to sweet home Alabama in 1974. Had to get out of Music City and I had to get off the road”, the opening lines to Hank Williams Jr’s, “Feeling Better” from his New South album released in 1977.

 

When people see me driving my dark gray 2005 GMC Sierra, crew cab, 4-door, 4×4 pickup truck I’m sure I look like any other guy driving any other truck.

What they don’t know and I, of course, wouldn’t expect them to is that this truck was my brother’s.

My brother, Jason, was my only sibling. Jason passed away February 16th, 2010 of a rare illness. I’ve written about my brother, his illness, being his caregiver and his passing several times over the past few years.

After he passed away the executrix of his estate, Julie, believed that Jason would have wanted me to have his truck. Julie was Jason’s first wife and the mother of his three beautiful children. Julie knew and appreciated the relationship between my brother and I. I think Julie was right; I think Jason would have liked for me to have his truck.

Jason and I were extremely close to one another. We could finish each other’s thoughts and make each other laugh till we wheezed and cried. We had our own shared sense of humor and inside jokes. We shared a love for America, politics, sports and country music. We were brothers. We were buddies.   

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Me and Jason in 2005 in New Orleans. One of my favorite pictures of us. 

To say that I love this truck is a understatement. It means the world to me. Its value to me has nothing to do with Kelley Blue Book. I really do understand that this GMC is just a truck. Someday it will rust or maybe have too many mechanical problems to repair and eventually I’ll have to get a new vehicle. I can tell you, though, I’m trying to care for, maintain and ‘baby’ this truck as much as possible and keep it operational for as long as I can.

Why do I work so hard to keep Jason’s truck mechanically sound and spotless inside and out? Because it’s a piece of him. I can sit in it and know he sat in this same driver’s seat. Sometimes I catch a scent that smells just like it did when I first rode in it with my brother in 2005 and how it must have smelled when he last drove it in 2008. I have many, many memories of being in this truck with Jason: Conversations. Laughter. Singing along with the music. Kids in the backseat. And many more.  

Some standout moments:

Jason had a problem with Kenny Chesney. While riding along in his truck, he explained to me that Kenny needs either sing country music or what my brother called “boat music”; you just can’t combine the two styles. Kenny’s bare feet, tight jeans, tank tops and cowboy hat on the beach wasn’t something that sat well with my brother. Note: My brother was apparently wrong in this instance and would be disappointed to know Kenny Chesney has made a very good living blending country and beachy, boat music styles.

I can remember the drive when my brother introduced me to Shooter Jennings music. The song “4th of July” was cranked up loud and Jason’s young daughter, Madeline, was belting it out from the back seat.

I still smile when I think about times we listened to Tim Wilson’s comedy CD called “It’s a Sorry World”. And  Roy D. Mercer CDs where he prank calls unsuspecting people. Jason and I laughed our wheezy, out-of-breath laughs until we had tears rolling down our faces.

I drove his truck to take him to doctor visits when he was sick but the memories that I cherish most are the ones that are still vividly clear in my mind from when he was healthy. The last time he and I were together when he was healthy we drove around contemplating getting matching tattoos but we couldn’t decide what tattoo we wanted to get and where to go to get it. All the while, disc one in the CD player is playing in the background. It’s Hank Williams Jr.s’ album, New South.  We both sang along with Hank, Jr. when he sang, “Moved on down to sweet home Alabama in 1974. Had to get out of Music City and I had to get off the road.”

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The picture of Jason that I keep in the truck.  

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