Life’s Playlist…. Luck Be A Lady performed by Seal

The day I won the lottery my life changed.  Twelve million dollars tends to do that.

As I read the numbers off my sheet and saw each one match, I couldn’t believe my luck and had no idea what to do first.

I called my parents and shared the good news, then my brother.  Being the sensible ones in the family they advised me to put the card away for safe keeping and not to tell anyone else about my good fortune.

As it was a Sunday, I wouldn’t be able to cash in the winnings until the next day.  I taped the sheet to the back of my dresser for safe keeping and locked myself in my apartment out of fear that someone out there knew that I had won.

I spoke to my family a couple of times during the day and arranged for them to drive down the next morning and we would go to the Lottery office together to claim our winnings.

I barely slept that night.  I was convinced that every noise was an armed robber coming into my house and stealing my ticket.

At 29 years old, I knew that my life would never be the same.  No financial worries would allow me to do what I wanted with my life, start businesses, help other people or do nothing.

What I knew was the my family would be taken care of, there may not be enough to help others, but for us, we would now live on easy-street.

By the time my family arrived on Monday morning, I had my plan in place.  Half the money would be mine, my parents would receive 25% and the final 25% would be split between my brother and a foundation we would start to help other people.

As my mom, dad and brother came bounding into my tiny apartment, we all embraced and laughed at out good luck.   It was one of the most exciting moments of my life to see them so excited!

They asked to see the ticket and we all went into my bedroom where I dug the ticket off the back of my dresser.  We compared the numbers and again celebrated when I called out the sixth number on the roll.  We were winners!

Too nervous to drive, we piled into my brother’s car and started to make our way towards the Georgia Lottery Office in downtown Atlanta.  It was only about a fifteen minute drive from my house, but as I held that jackpot in my hands it felt like a lifetime.

Once we reached the offices, the numbers were verified over and over again.  It was now official, I was the latest winner of the Georgia Lottery.  When the Executive Director came in to meet me, she said “congratulations, you are Georgia’s newest millionaire!”

Within the next hour, the funds were deposited into my checking account, it was done by draft so that I didn’t have to worry about carrying the check to the bank.  When the deposit was made, there was $38 in the account, needless to say that changed dramatically!

Shortly after the funds were deposited I was presented with a ceremonial big check and my family and I took questions from local media.  It was all overwhelming.

Once the formalities of the cash out was over, my family and I went to lunch.  I had barely eaten all day on Sunday and hadn’t eaten anything on Monday, so I was famished.

We went to TGIFridays for our first millionaire meal, obviously we were not accustomed to the high life yet.  When the bill came, for the first time in my life, I bought for my family, it was an awesome feeling.

After lunch we went back to my apartment and soon my family left to make the two-hour long trek home.

Once they were gone, I took a huge sigh and sat on my couch, Georgia’s newest millionaire, alone in a one bedroom apartment.

Day 12 of the Jeff Goins – 500 Word Writing Challenge…… TELL A LIE!

Life’s Playlist… God Bless the Child performed by Vivian Reed

Day 7 – My 500 Words Challenge by Jeff Goins.

Write a letter to my children or my younger self.

On the surface it appears this should be a simple assignment for me, since I have no kids and at 53 that doesn’t look like it will change. Logically I should write to my younger self.  However, logic isn’t something I always follow, with that said, I write to the children I will never have and only dream of having.

Dear Child of My Dreams,

First and foremost know I love you, or I should say, I love the thought of you.  I would always have loved you and there is nothing that you could have ever done that would change that fact.

You would be my greatest gift from God and I know I would have been humbled that he allowed me to be your parent.  I was blessed to have amazing parents and I would only hope that I could be half as good as they were.

I never doubted my parents love and if I did nothing else right, I would want you to never doubt mine either.

If I were lucky enough to have been a parent, I would have told you that there are a few things you should know.  I would stress to you that you can be anything in this world you want to be, the sky is the limit and dreams are meant to be followed.  You should never let anyone devalue your dreams or think you can’t do something, you can, you just have to set your mind to it and make it happen.

When I was younger I had dreams that I didn’t express out of fear, I hope you would never do that.  Unfulfilled dreams or adhering to the life you think someone else wants for you will never get you to where you truly want to be.  I have regrets about not expressing my own dreams and would never want you to fall into that place, GO FOR IT!

I would tell you, if a dream feels far-fetched voice it, we would find a way to make it happen, together, as a family.  Nothing is impossible!

As wonderful as dreams are, I would also stress that, you have to know there are responsibilities that go along with those dreams.  Work hard, study, and never give up.

When I was a child, there was one rule in our house, it would apply to you too.  My father always instilled in me to “never do anything that would embarrass my mama,” we would revise that a bit and say never do anything that will embarrass your family.

For me I would want you to understand that it is important that as a family, we hold this cornerstone of responsibility, I would stress that you need to be a good citizen, you should care for and take care of others and you should always think of your family when making decisions, it helps you stay on the straight and narrow.

I think the greatest gifts you can give a child is to know if they are loved, dream big and honor family there aren’t a lot of things that can go wrong.  However, I would also stress that life isn’t always fair and things happen.  Things will go wrong, the child I can only dream of would sometimes fall short, they would face disappointment and heartbreak, unfortunately that is part of life.

What I would tell my child is that I would walk beside them through difficulties.  I would hold their hand and I would be a shoulder they could cry on.  I would stress to my child that I am available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every second of every day, no one is more important than you are.

From the day they were born I would make sure my child knew that their name is inscribed on my heart and I will always be your number one cheerleader.  No problem is too big or too small to bring to me and when asked, I will be honest with you and give my opinion; however if you choose a different path, I will respect your decisions.

For the child I can only dream of I would let them know, God has given you to me for a finite amount of time.  I want to make every moment of your life wonderful, I know I can’t do that, but what I can do is love you today, tomorrow and forever.  My child would know that I prayed for you before you ever arrived and will continue to pray for you until my last breath.

Finally, I would want my child to know and understand, you are the legacy I will leave to this world, just as I was for my parents.  Live big, live bold and just be YOU, there is nothing greater and I would expect nothing less.

If only I could say for real, I love you to infinity and am proud to call you my child.

Love,

Dad, to the child of my dreams

 

Life’s Playlist….. As Time Goes By performed by Diana Krall

Mary Lou Retton turns 50 today.

Take that in for a minute, Mary Lou Retton turns FIFTY today.  Feel old?  I do!

When I think of Mary Lou Retton I think of a young pixy flipping across the floor of an Olympic stadium in Los Angeles in 1984.  I certainly don’t think of a woman who steps through the half century mark, but as I tell myself all the time, 50 is the new 35.

As I contemplate Mary Lou’s place in history, punctuated in 1984, it makes me think about other people and places that are stuck in time and I wonder what makes something timeless.

Isn’t it funny how we remember things from our youth and they never get old, even when we continue to age?  Kristy McNichol is still a teenager, John Travolta still wears a white suit, parachute pants still look amazing and Carl Lewis still runs a sub 10 second 100 meters.

Logically I know that these moments in time are stuck as they were when they happened because the participants are no longer on my radar.

This frozen in time scenario hit home for me yesterday.  I ran into a guy I graduated high school with, I had not seen him since the day we left the school gymnasium in our caps and gowns.

I knew who he was immediately, although he was 40 plus years older, he still looked like the same skinny kid I had known.  Me on the other hand, well I have changed, what little hair I have left is very grey and my waistline has grown exponentially.

As we stood there talking, he said “if I hadn’t heard your name I would have never known it was you.”  I laughed it off, but understood where he was coming from.  His memories of me stood still at our High School graduation, just like mine have for so many old friends, co-workers, former loves and family members.  When we are removed from each other’s lives the memories keep us where we last met in time.

While it is fun to look back on these moments in time, for me, it brings up one of life’s great mysteries.  Something that I think about as I get older.

When we get to heaven, will the people we love the most still be how we remembered them last, will they age or will their presence be a “spirit” that we recognize but has continued to move on in their lives?

While I will be happy to be reunited with those I love, I do wonder…. how will they be?

Will my brother, who died at 16, still be that youthful teenager?  Will my mom be her 78-year-old frail self, or the vibrant woman she was before her health failed her?  Will my dad remain the “Coach” he was in life or will his presence continue to age?

Like our memories of youth and the memories of those who have passed on, I am confident that the time we have to renew those relationships will be special no matter how they present themselves.

As time goes by our hearts can be filled with memories, until we meet again.

Life’s Playlist…. All in the Family Theme performed by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton

On this date in 1971, television changed forever…. at least in the Rumsey household.

On January 12, 1971, the first episode of All in the Family premiered on CBS.

In addition to all the hilarity that would take today’s professionally offended into overdrive, the very first episode featured something else that had never been on TV before…. a toilet flush.  (The sound of the flush anyway.)

All in the Family would never make it onto television today, a shame that we can’t laugh at ourselves any longer without someone being offended.

All in the Family made household names out of Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner.  It was the first of a trilogy that included other shows that were just as politically incorrect Maude and The Jeffersons.

As a family we laughed at All in the Family, we laughed at the jokes and we laughed when “Archie” made fun of people just like us.  We laughed when the shows first aired, for years we laughed in re-runs and my brother even got the full series on DVD for Christmas this year and as we watched a couple of episodes on Christmas night, we laughed again.

All in the Family shined a light on our society, it was often ugly, it was usually inappropriate, but it was always done in humor.

We could all use a bit of All in the Family in our world today.

You Gotta Believe….. GO DAWGS!

Tonight the Georgia Bulldogs will play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship in College Football.

The game will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

It should be a good game with two SEC power-houses battling for the ultimate prize.

Alabama has been a participant in the National Championship numerous times over the last several years.

The last time the Georgia Bulldogs played for the title was in 1981, in New Orleans, in the Sugar Bowl, against Notre Dame.

In 1981, I was there.

A few days before the game, my parents, a family friend Chuck Foster, my best friend Andrew Lampros and I piled into an old motor home that my dad had borrowed from his brother.

We left Clayton early in the morning heading to the big game in New Orleans.

Over the next couple of days we toured the sights and sounds of The Big Easy.  We enjoyed the classic architecture, the street performers and got into the spirit of the game on Bourbon Street surrounded by thousands of Dawg fans who knew this was our year!

The Sugar Bowl would be played on New Year’s Day and the revelry of a New Year’s Eve celebration was something this 16-year-old and his friend had never witnessed.

We strolled Bourbon Street with my parents and Mr. Foster, no doubt mouths wide open at the sights and sounds we saw.  We made our way into Pat O’Brien’s Bar.  (In those days and especially in New Orleans it wasn’t uncommon to see teenagers in a bar, especially with their parents.)

In Pat O’Brien’s we met up with friends and mama and daddy let Andrew and I indulge in our first “Hurricane.”  A drink made with almost every type of alcohol imaginable topped with fruit juice.

At some point during our stay at Pat O’Brien’s, we were joined by my brother Sam and a group of his friends who were also in town for the Game.

Somehow Sam convinced mama and daddy to let Andrew and I go with them to usher in the New Year on Bourbon Street.  They promised they would get us home safe and sound.

So Andrew and I, and a group of 20-something guys made our way out into the night.  And what a night it was, memories that I still have to this day.

The next morning, after being delivered back to my parents safe and sound, we arose to the promise that THIS was Georgia’s year!  Nursing the effects of the night before, we prepared for the game.

As we made our way into the SuperDome, the Georgia faithful were everywhere, the excitement building to a frenzy as the Dawgs took the field.

That night we won, as the team carried Vince Dooley onto the field atop their shoulders, the Georgia Bulldogs were National Champions, defeating Notre Dame 17-10 completing a perfect season.

Andrew and I made our way out onto the field that night, surrounded by all the other happy Dawg fans and in those moments and the many moments that led up to that victory celebration, I created memories that have carried me for more than 35 years.

We still talk about that trip to New Orleans, it was a time that will forever be etched into our minds as some of the best of our life.

Deep into the second half of the game, my dad gave Andrew and I a life lesson that we still quote today.  As Notre Dame was moving down the field and threatening to score, a lady near us said loud enough for everyone in our area to hear something like “oh, I don’t think we are going to do it, I don’t think we are going to do it.”

Without missing a beat, my daddy yelled out “lady you gotta believe, you gotta believe.”

We did and he did.

Tonight as the National Championship Game is played, there will be young boys and girls in the stadium who will be making memories that last a lifetime.  Memories that they will look back on as they are older and celebrate, they will celebrate the excitement of a night, and the simple moments that merge together for one of life’s greatest experiences.

And maybe, just maybe, they will learn a life lesson…. you gotta believe!

GO DAWGS!