Easter Saturday

Yesterday afternoon my family got together for an Easter cook-out.  It was the first time all of us had been together in many weeks.

This time the gathering was very different.  While we all tried to make it “normal,” there were no hugs, no kisses and the conversations that we had always came back to one thing, the effects of Corona on our lives.

While I enjoyed being with my family, as being in their company is always the medicine I need, I was sad.  This new phase of life we are all limping through hovers like a dark cloud over every aspect of our lives.

Like most families, opinions on the virus vary from person to person, but we respect each other’s thoughts and yesterday, more than normal, we just accepted those varying opinions.

As I came home from our cook-out, feeling isolated from those I love, missing a hug and kiss, I held tight to the knowledge that although we are separated by six feet, the love we have for one another knows no bounds.

This morning, as I attended Easter Sunday church online, once again the loneliness of our current situation weighed heavy on my soul.  There is no other way to say it, this sucks.

Listening to the service and the music I began to feel a peace in knowing that, as the Preacher said, “there has never been a situation that defeated our God & this one won’t be the first.”

During his sermon, the Pastor laid out the Easter story, but paid special attention to Saturday.  You see, Saturday was the time when there was no hope, our Lord was dead, the world seemed destined to loss.

Using a parallel for today’s circumstances, he equated the times we are now in with that Saturday.  The loneliness, constant bad news we see on our television and computer screens looks hopeless, the despair we feel not knowing when this will end.

But what is different today than that Saturday, more than two-thousand years ago, is we KNOW things will get better.  We KNOW we will move past this and we KNOW we will be able to eventually get back to the lives we once enjoyed.

On that Saturday, so many years ago, the people who walked the land didn’t have that promise, they had to wait until the next day, Sunday….. RESURRECTION SUNDAY, before they saw the real power of our Lord and his greatest miracle.

If you are a believer, that powerful day, when Jesus rose from the grave gives us hope during these dark days.

We will come through this, we will once again hug our loved ones, kiss the cheek of our friends and get back to a life that we once knew.

This Saturday will end, and a new day will dawn.

 

A Decade

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When you think about it, a decade seems like an eternity, ten years, 3,652 days.

But when a date shapes every aspect of your life, sometimes those decades slip by in what seems like an instant.  That’s what the last 10 years have been for me.

Between 4:30 and 5 AM on February 21, 2010, my mom passed away in her sleep.  That moment changed my life forever.

In some ways those 10 years have felt like an eternity, but the hole in my heart, that still causes me to cry without notice still burns fresh and seems like just yesterday.

I was and will always be a mama’s boy, my mama’s baby.  I cherished those roles.

In the decade since my mama passed away, the world has continued on, but without her as part of the day to day, it often doesn’t seem as bright, exciting or joyful.  I miss my mama as much today as I did on February 21, 2010.

As I have been anticipating this milestone, I have thought a lot about what’s happened in the past 10 years…..

  • I won my re-election as a City Commissioner in Lake Park, FL just a couple of weeks after she died.  A job that just a few months later led to me being named acting Mayor after our Town’s Mayor also passed away.
  • I got the best job I have ever had, one that I loved and eventually was promoted to East Coast Marketing Director for a national retail management company.
  • I enjoyed some of the best times of my life, with friends who are “chosen family” on Hawthorne Drive in Lake Park, FL.
  • Chelsea graduated from college.
  • Zach graduated from High School and College.
  • We had family vacations to FL and the Grand Canyon.
  • Daddy lived a number of years at Cannonwood where they took amazing care of him before he passed 5 years later.
  • I moved home to Clayton, she would have LOVED that!
  • I quit my high income, awesome benefits job and started a business with Chelsea, eventually buying her out so she could return to Real-Estate & then starting a brand “Of These Mountains,” which now is becoming its own retail store.
  • Chelsea fell in love with Brett, mama would have liked Brett, even though he is a Georgia Tech fan…. she wouldn’t have liked that part!
  • Hadley Rae came into our lives, twisted us all around her little finger and became the light of all of our eyes.
  • Chelsea and Brett got married, bringing us another bright light into our lives, Jaydynn.
  • Donna stopped teaching and went to work with Sam.  They continued to thrive in Real Estate and other ventures, eventually buying and developing their own RV Park.  Mama loved to camp and she would absolutely love Willow Valley.
  • We got closer to Puddin and Sherry.  Puddin becoming the brother that we always needed.
  • After graduation, Chelsea started her career in Real Estate and now thrives as one of the top salespeople in the county.
  • Zach, graduated college, worked in hospitality in Athens and eventually moved to Atlanta with a wonderful career.
  • Zach fell in love, finding a guy that makes him happy, enriches his life and fits in perfectly with the craziness of the Rumsey family.
  • Chelsea moved into the house I grew up in, has kept the love of that old house in tact and now is raising her family amidst old memories and making her own.
  • I have settled into life back in Clayton nicely.  I have renewed old friendships & made new ones, but most importantly I have a deeper sense of family than I did when I lived away.  We have fun together and our lives intertwine just enough, without being too much, to keep life interesting.
  • We still argue about politics, but just like mama, Donna doesn’t let us do it on holidays or at the dinner table.

As I think about it, there are lots of things that happened since mama left us.  Not everything has been great, but for the most part, I have no doubt that we as a family have lived the example she taught us.  We put family first and try our best to be good citizens and neighbors.

I say mama left us 10 years ago today, her physical body did, but not her spirit, she remains a constant in every aspect of my life.

Rarely does something happen that I don’t think about picking up the phone to talk to her.  I would give my arm to receive just one more hug from her, she was my light and with her passing that light dimmed, but it’s never out.

I know my mama is with me every day, and she has been in every moment I listed above and the thousands not mentioned.  I feel her presence, I just hope I have done her proud.

Ten years seems like a lifetime, until something happens that shakes your life to the core.

I miss my mama.

 

So, How’s Your 2020 So Far…

I started 2020 like most years, sending best wishes, making plans for a new year, yada yada.

During the day, I made a smart-assy Facebook post about the Georgia Game starting too late and at my age I wouldn’t be able to make it through the game.

Yeah, smart-assy comment…….. by 6PM, I was down.  I was in bed, achy, headache, cough, all that loveliness that certainly signified I had the flu.

Next morning, as I am prone to do, I asked the proverbial “what do I have” question on Facebook.  Resounding answer, you’ve got the flu dude, hydrate, rest and stay home.

So for the next week I stayed home, I hydrated and when asked, I said I felt better.  Well that was a big ole lie, but who wants to be the person that others have to worry about.

To make a long story short, being stubborn and not wanting to worry anyone else was dumb and only made things worse.  A week in, I finally contacted my Dr to make an appointment.

At this point, I was having lots of difficulty breathing, spending more and more time asleep, not eating and not functioning.  The next morning, my brother took me to the Dr and within an hour, I was in the ER being checked into the hospital.

No flu, nah I jumped right past that to bilateral pneumonia.

I spent three days in the hospital and am now back home.  It’s going to take some time to get my strength back, but I’ll get there.

One of the things I pride myself on is looking at situations going on in my life and trying to learn from what’s happening.

Now, trust me, I get it, I don’t have ANYTHING figured out, I still make elementary mistakes that leave me confounded on a daily basis.  But, I think I did learn a lesson through this, and I am sure that I am just on chapter one of what I will learn.

I have been pretty fortunate through life to have good health.  I’ve had a couple of minor surgeries and injuries and stuff, but until this, nothing ever serious.

Until these past couple of week’s I have never had a fear that I “wouldn’t make it.”  But when you are struggling just to take your next breath, I can see how things get serious quickly.

I think it is pretty normal to sometimes get complacent with life and I have gotten there.  I remember thinking one day before Christmas, “you know at this point if something happened, I’m good.  I have had a good life, I have the best family on the planet, I have wonderful friends and I have had some awesome adventures…..I’m good.”

I was “good” until laying on an ER gurney I realized, I wasn’t and I realized all I wanted to do was keep breathing…… keep living and get well to see what the next adventure may be.

So, how’s your 2020 so far – mine so far has sucked, but you know what…. that may be exactly what I needed to find out just how awesome 2020 and beyond can be.

I’m gonna keep breathing through it and see what happens.

2020 – Coming Into Focus

a5649117efe5e16222a72001a4b11a73As I write this, we are just hours from a new year, a new decade.

With the dawn of a new year, comes the opportunity to look back on what has come before and to look ahead to the endless possibilities just around the corner.

Like most of you, the past year was a mixed bag, I had highs and lows, some of them had a greater impact than others.  Some of my own creation and some that I had no control over, that’s life, it will happen again in 2020 and every year that we are blessed to walk this earth.

What I have learned through the years is, I can’t always control the situation, but I can control how I react.  For 2020, my hope is that I don’t sweat the small stuff, but concentrate on the things that matter, the things that will have impact on my life and those around me.

I pray that I never lose my sense of adventure, to dream big and step into new challenges.  Some of my best decisions have been those cockamamie choices I have made that from the outside make no sense, but in my heart are the only viable direction.

For our nation, I pray that we never forget who we are, we are America, the greatest nation to ever inhabit this planet, a nation that provides hope and opportunity to anyone willing to invest in the American dream.

Moving into 2020, my greatest fear is for our country.  We have become a polarized nation unwilling to work together for the common good.  I pray that this year, we think more before we react, we learn to look beyond our own interests and to what is best for all and I pray that above all else we learn to work together once again, our nation’s future depends on it.

I pray that our world finds long-lasting and true peace.

For each of you, I pray that your dreams will come true in 2020.  I hope that all of your goals and aspirations fall into place and that your days are filled with love, laughter and health.

Above all else, for 2020, I pray that we all find grace, hope and community. I pray that we overcome the hard times with the help of others and that we celebrate our joys together.

For 2020, I will pray for you all and ask the same in return.  For 2020, my goal is to be a little kinder, a bit more joyful, more present and understanding…. for 2020, my goal is simple, just to try and be a bit better every day.

Happy New Year friends, may God bless you in 2020!

Coach

CroweSometimes words flow easily for me, other times it’s hard… this is one of those times.

Coach Gail Crowe passed away yesterday.  December 24, 2019.  Coach Crowe had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for several years and while we all knew she was failing, her death came like a punch to the gut, especially on Christmas Eve.

Over the next days and weeks, many accolades will be said in honor of Coach Crowe and they will all be richly deserved.  She was a teacher, coach, and mentor for students of Rabun County for decades.

As the coach of our Ladie’s Basketball team, she turned Rabun County into a powerhouse and made legends of young women like Pat McKay, LuAnn Craft, Dawn Dixon, Kim Cody and countless others.  She coached her teams to championships, but more importantly she turned her Lady Cats into winners both on and off the court.

Over the years, she taught PE, coached Basketball, was the trainer for the football team and much more, she was a permanent fixture at all games, long after her retirement.

I was thinking today, I don’t think I ever had Coach Crowe as a teacher, the lessons I learned from Coach had nothing to do with basketball, football or any other school function, the lessons I learned from Coach Crowe were from life.

For me, Crowe signified a quiet dignity for life that I embraced.  She taught me how to live in my truth, without words or gestures, she just lived.  I learned from Coach Crowe that in being a decent person, people would accept and love you.  I learned that often times our differences were more similar than anyone could imagine.  From Crowe, I learned pride and honor in who I am.

Through all the honors and accolades Coach Crowe received over the years for her time on the basketball court and in the classroom, I am sure she realized how important she was…. I just hope that in some way, she knew how important her life was for kids like me.

Coach Crowe was tough, she was a competitor, she lived to win and she let every kid she ever encountered know they were loved.  Coach Crowe lived a life of dignified grace and for that all of us were blessed by knowing her.

I will always remember Crowe and appreciate the lady that she was.  She was one of a kind, one of the best, and a legend in Rabun County, for more reasons than she probably ever knew.

Rest peacefully Coach, you were loved and will be missed.