Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Butterfly Kisses

My daughter, Jentry, could not have been more than 8 or 9 years old the first time she heard Bob Carlisle sing "Butterfly Kisses." And after hearing it that very first time, she said, "Daddy, on my wedding day, you and I are going to dance to that song!"

Last night, at her wedding reception, she kept her word, and when the Father of the Bride and the Bride were called to the dance floor, "Butterfly Kisses" was the song of choice. Fortunately, for me, we laughed and talked during most of the song and I didn't have to listen to the lyrics.

I am fairly certain that it's too soon to be addressing the events of this last week. There will, no doubt, be more in the weeks to come. But we made our last of three trips to the airport a few hours ago and it is eerily quiet around here. Let me assure you, that has NOT been the case for the last week as the house became "millennial central", beginning around Midnight last Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It was loud. It was chaotic. It was borderline insanity a time or two. But it was absolutely awesome! And I would not have changed a thing!

Everything culminated last night at The Orchard in Azle, Texas. Jentry and Chad had chosen the venue a long time ago. Jentry SO wanted an outside wedding. And why not? The global warning alarmists had convinced everyone that the Earth was on a "slow bake." It was only logical to assume that we would have a mid December day in the high 60's to low 70's. That was not the case. North America is evidently experiencing record breaking lows. And we've had lows in the "teens" all week. We were forced to move inside. So, please let me express my gratitude to you Climate Changers!

With the exception of one glitch, everything seemed to come off perfectly. It was a magical night. And I could not be more happy........or RELIEVED!

I was blown away by the wedding party. Six bridesmaids and six groomsmen joined Jentry and Chad and I will forever have nothing but fond memories of each and everyone of these kids. They each exhibited such a penchant for service and there was no request that they did not take on and fulfill.

My Angel Baby was absolutely gorgeous! The smile never left her face! I cannot even begin to explain how, to my very core, I wanted all her expectations to be met. After all, she had told me many years ago what this night would look like.

I did not tag Chad in the post. But yesterday morning, I linked the song, "I Loved Her First" to my Facebook timeline. There was no need to tag him. Chad's a sharp dude. He knew exactly who that song was meant for!

And just a few hours later, I put her hand in his and gave her away.

And then, just a short time later, my Angel Baby and I danced.

"I know I've got to let her go, 
but I'll always remember
Every hug in the morning and 
Butterfly Kisses at night."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Quiet Man's Life Speaks Volumes

I witnessed a scene this morning that touched me deeply. From across the room, I watched three men stand with their Mother and look into the casket of their Dad, and her Husband, as they said their final farewells. The man was Billy Smith, my wife's Uncle. He passed away this week and his funeral was this morning in Paris, TX.

It was a wonderful service and I was humbled to assemble with family and friends and celebrate this man's life.

Billy was one of the good guys. A kinder or gentler man, I'm not sure I've ever known. But I really didn't know him like his family and close friends did. You see, Billy was a quiet man. He was always sitting off to the side. He didn't seek to be the center of attention, nor apparently did he need it. I can only imagine what he thought of me when Teresa started bringing me around. And even though he might have been thinking, "Who is this loud-mouth blowhard?",  he never found it necessary to say it out loud.

I remember being at his house several years ago, when almost without provocation, he said, "Now, Kevin, there is some store-bought cake in the kitchen." I found it interesting that he wanted me to know that it was "store-bought" and not from the skilled cooking hands of his dear wife, Carol.

On another occasion, I remember Billy giving a plate of chicken bones to their dog. As I understood it, that's the biggest no-no one can do and I'm certain that I'm the one who mentioned it. But Billy said, "Aw, I've fed chicken bones to dogs my whole life and I've never seen it hurt one of em." I was cracking up.  I've told that story dozens of times.

Billy owned an Appliance Repair business for over four decades. Evidently, he had been in every home in Paris, TX. Wherever you went in Paris, everybody knew Billy. We were together at the world famous Fish Fry in Paris one Saturday night and it was like ELVIS WAS IN THE BUILDING! Every person in that restaurant knew Billy and they ALL spoke to him. Even this morning, prior to the funeral, Teresa and I were having breakfast in town. I struck up a conversation with a group of runners who had come in. I mentioned that we were in town for a funeral. The locals asked who died? I said "My wife's Uncle, Billy Smith." Immediately, they gave their condolences, spoke highly of Billy, and said that he had fixed their refrigerator.

The Funeral Home was packed this morning. And I'm certain that the attendees were not all family. That's what happens when a good man dies. People show up and pay their respect.

I've  never heard one bad word about Billy Smith. And to my knowledge, he never uttered one bad word about anyone else.

He leaves a wonderful legacy.  An example that I sure wish I could learn to follow. Elvis has left the building. But the memories of this quiet, strong, yet gentle Man will never leave any of us who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It's Upside Down, Maslow!

I'm not certain at what age we are first exposed to the fine work of Abraham Maslow. Remember him? The dude with the triangle? The whole Hierarchy of Needs? It seemed to come fairly early, though. Maybe 6th Grade. I didn't completely understand it. But I was still down at the bottom of the triangle and remain there till this current day.

I've been thinking about ol' Abe recently. The same cat that blew my head off with the whole Problems and Consequences idea threw another little jewel out there that pretty much sums up the dilemma, as I see it, of almost everyone on the Planet.

Almost as an aside, and with basically no explanation, he simply said, "There's a very fine razor's edge between self-actualization and self-absorption." This wasn't news to me like his other point that resulted in my last post. I certainly knew this. I have tremendous experience with self-absorption. But, it was an interesting way to state it.

I hearkened back to my youth and "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" and started playing with the idea that in this current age, we have flipped the triangle upside down and have made Self-Actualization the preeminent human need. It is paramount above all others!

From what I see on social media, a lot of this self-actualization involves our genitals. (My daughter just closed this post as she rolls her eyes and thinks, "My curmudgeon Dad is about to go on another rant about our obsession with our toilet places) But, the evidence is clearly there. And it is sad to see, yet so fascinating!

Not long ago, ABC News reported that we are now up to FIFTY-EIGHT gender identities. I've not confirmed this, but rumor has it that Facebook is now recognizing 72 gender identities. Talk about pressure! What a horrible burden to place on our young people! Bless their hearts! We just didn't have it this bad back in the day. But today, these kids are being forced to sift through a list of 58 possible gender identities and it's taking them years to do it! There is no time for food, water, safety, security. The bottom tiers of the hierarchy will just have to wait. This is a laborious, monumental task! And after all choosing an identity, they have to determine the pronoun they wish to be referred to, lest they be offended. This can be a lifetime job, leaving little time for little else. I spoke to a Millennial recently who stated that the stuff going on, even on his college campus, is some of the stupidest stuff he's ever seen. But you can bet your last red cent that he's never going to voice that opinion. Those people who preach love, tolerance, and non-judgment would label him as every kind of "Phobe" one can think of and banish him for life.

The genitals, however, are not the only defining point of self-actualization. There are those who have never spent one second of their lives pondering what gender they are who stand tippy toe on that razor's edge between self-actualization and self-absorption. I know I certainly do.

In 2010, I became insufferable to everyone around me as I went from couch potato to Marathon finisher in 11 months. My story grew tiresome to everyone around me. But I could not have cared any less what you thought. I knew for years that the Marathon was the ultimate example of what it looks like in life to set a goal and to achieve it. Something to take pride in! Something to give me value and self-worth. It only took a couple of years for me to see the folly of that and just how wrong I had been. So, I did the only natural thing and entered my first Triathlon. Go figure!

I have a good friend that spends most of his time in honest self-appraisal. One to two hours a day, journaling, appraising, taking inventory, praying, meditating  in order to arrive at the top of the triangle--- self-actualization. He calls me occasionally wanting to go over all these findings. It is a beating to listen to. But I haven't shot him down yet. It's a lesson he needs to learn on his own. That lesson is that his quest for self-actualization is nothing more or less than self-obsession.

I think old Abraham would be spinning in his grave if he knew where we have taken self-actualization. We've taken it to the "razor's edge." We have turned it into self-absorption. Self-obsession! And that razor is starting to cut deep. Very deep.