Hall Of Fame

Tonight, Rabun County High School will induct it’s second Sports Hall of Fame Class prior to the start of the evening football game.

The Hall of Fame was formed last year, and in it’s second year of existence many people representing numerous sports and decades have been recognized.

Tonight’s class is no different.

For me, tonight’s class holds special significance, because one of the teams being inducted is the 1970 Rabun County High School Football team.

The 1970 team is special to me as my dad was the Assistant Coach of the team and my brother Tom would have been a senior on the team that year. Tom died in a car wreck in March before that season began.

From this point forward, let me preface this by saying the memories set forth on this post are coming from a 5 year old mind, so I may not have it all exactly right, but I think it’s pretty close.

Obviously, after the death of my brother our family was in turmoil, the greatest tragedy that could ever happen to a family had happened to ours.

Living in a small tight knit community, the people of our town rallied around us and held us up on a daily basis and as football season approached, we had something to look forward to.

My mama and daddy both grew up in Toccoa, just 30 miles from Clayton and in 1970, Toccoa High School was ranked very high in the State. Rabun County would be playing Toccoa late in the season and Toccoa was the odds on favorite to win the game handily.

My daddy and his entire team WANTED the win and sure enough, in the 3rd Quarter Rabun County went ahead and held on for the victory. Up until that time, this was the biggest win a team from Rabun County had ever seen.

The Hall of Fame story could easily end here, but for me, the game that was played against Toccoa wasn’t what made this team Hall of Famers, it was what they did off the field, how they helped save a family and surrounded a 5 year old with love and protection.

You see, when my brother died, he was an integral part of that team, the guys that made up that team were his best friends and they loved one another as brothers.

When Tom died, parts of them died too, they also had to grow up in ways that most would never had expected and I suspect they formed a bond that still exists today.

And for me, they became a group of young men who did everything they could to help fill the void of a big brother who would not be coming home again. They took care of me, they (and their girlfriends) made sure that I didn’t get swept aside in the grief of our family, they protected me. They became a whole new group of big brothers for a 5 year old missing his own and not understanding the concept of death or loss.

When Tom died, we were in the process of building a new home. It was the home we moved into in 1970 and still remains in my family today.

The house wasn’t complete when Tom died, but it was getting close. I think my parents realized very soon after Tom passed away that we needed to get out of the house we were living in and into our new home, a fresh start or at least a new beginning.

Growing up, my mother went to get her hair done every Thursday afternoon. Immediately after school she would go get her hair done and usually be home about 5PM.

On one Thursday afternoon, the entire 1970 Football team showed up at the house we were renting. With their pick-ups and cars and their father’s pick-ups and anything they could find and while my mother was at the beauty shop, they moved our entire house.

When my mother got home from the hairdresser we were moved into our new home. Mama used to joke that they didn’t even put anything in boxes, they just moved the dressers and closets as they were, but they got us moved.

This group of high schoolers continued to bless our family and I hope in some ways we enriched theirs. Simple acts of kindness and love is what represented this group of young men and I think they always realized that 1970 season included a guardian angel who was in every practice and huddle with them along the way of the season.

These young men, the 1970 Rabun County Wildcat Football Team protected us, they helped our family get our footing once again and they provided us with some valuable memories that put a smile on my family’s face when it was much easier to let tears stain our eyes.

I will always be indebted to the 1970 Wildcats, many of them I haven’t seen since I was a child. But they will forever hold a special place in my heart and in the history of my family.

Tonight, many fine people will be inducted into the Rabun County High School Sports Hall of Fame, but I’ll be cheering just a bit louder, with a lump in my throat for a special group of men, who in my eyes were Hall of Famers long before tonight’s induction ceremony.

As a child, I never knew how to say thank you for what these men did, I honestly didn’t know what I would be thanking them for, they were just part of my life. But as a man, I now know the sacrifices they made from their own lives, their teenage years, to help a little boy have some normality to a life that had been turned upside down. From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you, these normal band of high school football players did much more than they ever knew and more than I ever told them and for that, I will always be filled with gratitude. These will always be my Hall of Famers!

Congratulations to all the deserved honorees, especially the Hall of Famers of 1970.

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.

 

It Is Well

I struggle every day.

I struggle with not feeling good enough, I struggle with money, I struggle with relationships, I struggle with decisions that I have made and I still have to make, life is a struggle.

While the struggles of everyday life weigh upon me, I have come to a peace in my life that I know comes only from a faith that has been instilled in me since childhood, since the days of the simple stories of the Bible, through life lessons as a youth and joys and disappointments as an adult.

I’m one of those “wear your emotions on your sleeves kind of guy.”  Once when my  brother was picking on me, my grandmother spoke up and in her most grand-motherly of southern belle grand-motherly voices said “leave him alone, he is a sensitive child.”

While that joke has been told and retold through life, it is true, I am sensitive, I ache when those around me ache, I cry for a nation that has lots its way, I mourn when I witness bigotry and oppression of people who are simply trying to live the lives that God created for them, yes, I am sensitive and I struggle.

When the same grandmother, who told my brother I was sensitive passed away, I had a meltdown in the funeral home.  My mom and dad took me into a back office to help me regain my composure and my mom told me something that struck home.  In that moment of pain, my mom told me “let it out, I wish I could.”

As I have matured, I have realized my sensitivity is a blessing, not a curse.  Sometimes I wish I could have a harder shell, but I don’t.  My emotions seep out of me like a river of lava from the deepest bowels of the earth.

I understand that being a sensitive child, sometimes makes life for those around me more difficult, but it is how I am wired and I accept that.

When I tell my co-workers and friends that I cried during a TV show, they just laugh and say “of course you did,” it isn’t meant as a condemnation, but more an acceptance of who I am.

This week, I have been having a hard time, I have thought about a relationship that I wish was stronger, my heart hurts for recently divorced friends that are struggling to find a way in their new-found reality and I have thought and prayed about recent events that have ostracized groups of people who simply want to share their faith the best way they know how and have been pushed away.

This week, a simple message has gone through my mind over and over again…

while we as humans want things done in our time, in our way, we must have faith, FAITH in knowing that HIS time is omnipotent and one day, someday, HIS plan will be revealed, we just have to stand strong, stand in our truth and TRUST.

That prayer filled message has been constant, I know it to be true and trust in the words of God that all will be well.

This morning, as I came into work and flipped on my Pandora, the first song I heard was “It is Well,” a song that has always had tremendous meaning for me, but one that speaks to me stronger today than usual.

It is well, yes because of faith, indeed IT IS WELL.  My sensitive self listened with tears strolling down my cheeks and a joy in my heart, still struggling to understand, but steadfast in knowing that HIS plan will be revealed in HIS time.

It Is Well…….

 

 

Christmas 2018

2018-12-25_19-46-57Another Christmas has come and gone, my heart is filled with love and my stomach with goodness.

Watching the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old is about as good as it gets.  Their glee-filled joy at every gift, while their kindness and appreciation for everything they receive is heartwarming and their genuine excitement to give the gifts they have picked out for others is even more of a blessing.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, we honor traditions that have been part of my life since day one and create new ones each year.  My favorite day of the Christmas season is Christmas Eve, now at my house, on that day I feel closer to my mother than any other day of the year.

I do my best to make it as special as she always did, I don’t come close to her expertise, but I do my best.

As a child we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve and had Santa on Christmas morning, now, we have turned Christmas Eve into our “tacky sweater” competition, and like most things we do, we all compete hard to win!

Christmas Eve is also filled with lots of laughs, at some point everyone is the butt of a joke as we tell old and new stories on each other.  As the night ends, we depart, hopefully with memories of fun and love that will be called upon again and again in our minds and hearts.

Christmas morning, everyone heads to my niece and nephew’s house for Santa, breakfast and gifts.  An embarrassment of riches fills the floor of my childhood home, now made anew by my niece’s family.

The giggles and joy of sweet girls now fills the room where rambunctious boys once played.  More memories are made and heartfelt gifts with special meaning get interspersed with toys, clothes and housewares.

After breakfast, we all return to our respective homes, I usually take a nap while my sister-in-law is busy preparing one last Christmas feast.

In the early afternoon, we gather at my brother and sister-in-laws home for a traditional meal and more laughs.  Another new tradition we have incorporated over the last few years is board games after we eat and clear the table, once again we fight to win and play hard to come out of top.

As evening approaches and the sun sets on another Christmas we make our way to our respective homes, filled with love, laughs and stomachs bursting after the consumption of more food than humans should eat.

Now in my mid-50’s Christmas memories are even more precious than when I was young.  It no longer has anything to do with the brightly wrapped gifts, the real treasures I get on these days are the memories and gifts of time that I am able to enjoy with my family.

We aren’t perfect, we all know how to push the buttons of each other and sometimes do, but overall, I can say we do a pretty good job of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, the one where love prevails and the joy of that first Christmas miracle is celebrated.  We’re definitely not Normal Rockwell, but we are about as good at being Rumsey as you can get!

I hold these memories close to my heart, I try to remember each word, each laugh and each expression of love, I hold these memories in my heart in hopes of many more with the people I love most.

Merry Christmas friends and to my family, thank you for another great celebration, filled with the magic of Christmas!

Run Lindsay Run!

It’s that time of year again, the annual battle of Jacksonville, the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the game between the borders, whatever you want to call it, today is the annual Georgia – Florida Game.

When I lived in Florida, they called it the Florida – Georgia Game… how rude!

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this game my whole life.  If your team wins, you have bragging rights, if the bad guys win you have to listen to the gator fateful for an entire year.

Each year the game is played in the neutral location of Jacksonville, FL and becomes one of the great parties of the year.  50% of the tickets go to Georgia fans and the others go to the bad guys.  When filled, and it always is, a line of beautiful red fills half the stadium and ugly orange fills the other half.

I have been fortunate to attend a few of these games in-person and have always had a tremendous time.  Jacksonville does a great job of hosting each year.

Of all the classic games played in this stadium, I have many memories, but my favorite took place in the comfort of my parents home, many years ago on a cold November day sitting in a dining room chair eating peanuts with my mama and daddy.

The year was 1980, I was a Junior in High School and Coach Dooley, Herschel Walker, Buck Belue and others had Georgia riding high, a perfect season going into the game and a possible chance to play for the National Championship in the grasps.

It’s funny how we remember moments in life just like they were yesterday.  This is one of those memories for me.

I’m sure there were other people in the house, but I only remember being there with my mom and dad.

I remember it being a cold November day, much like today.  I remember sharing roasted peanuts with my daddy, peanuts he had cooked on the top of our wood burning stove.  I remember my mama in her traditional red top, I remember my daddy cheering, I remember feeling nervous and invincible sitting there with my parents.

I remember the nerves going into the game.  Georgia was great that year, but the bad guys were good too and they wanted nothing more than to burst our bubble of historic destiny.

For some reason, I parked myself in a dining room chair I had pulled into the living room between my mama and daddy’s recliners.  We watched the game, a slobber-knocker from the outset.

As the game got deep into the 4th Qtr, Georgia was against the bad-guys end zone and behind on the scoreboard.  Things weren’t looking good, it seemed like the bad guys were going to ruin our dreams, they were going to step in and ruin the fate of our team, like satan himself, they were going to allow evil to overcome good.

Then it happened…. the stars aligned, the heavens opened up and Buck Belue tossed a pass to Lindsay Scott that had the angels rejoicing, the Bulldog faithful celebrating and the demon sent to the lockeroom in defeat…… forever immortalized as RUN LINDSAY RUN!

 

As Lindsay ran, my house screamed, daddy was out of his chair urging Lindsay down the field and mama’s encouraging cheers carried him towards the end zone.  For me, I ended up  in the chair with my mama, I landed in her lap and we embraced and cheered!

That play carried Georgia onto its National Championship Game and I was fortunate to be in the stands for that game with my best friend, my mama and daddy and Chuck Foster.  Those were heady, fun days culminating in my one and only time standing on the field of the SuperDome in New Orleans, celebrating a National Championship.

The Georgia / FL game still holds much the same gravitas as it did back in those days.  Seasons are won or lost during the 60 minutes played in Jacksonville, today will be no different.

I would love to be back in my childhood home, surround by my mom and dad, cheering the Dawgs, but that won’t happen.  I will however take comfort in knowing that two very special angels will be cheering from the heavens, she in her red top, him eating roasted peanuts and urging the good guys on.

It’s the classic battle of good vs evil, GO DAWGS!