Father’s Day Thoughts

Dad

 

“I loved photography for the same reason I loved baseball. Because Dad did.” – Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

 

lassoing

This made me think, are there things I love because Dad did? I suppose there are things I like and things I do and choices I’ve made along the way because of him. I was born in Athens, Georgia and into this family that has perpetually rooted for the Georgia Bulldogs. So, I’ve always considered myself a fan, though it’s laughable to call me a fan of any football team. Dad loved music and so do I, though I can’t say he influenced my choices of musical styles.

Dad’s work ethic was an example to me and I think it had a lot to do with my educational goals when I first went off to college. I majored in marketing with an eye on fashion merchandising. Dad didn’t ever push me into it, but he was clear with his desire for me to get a college education, something he never had. He explained to me the changes in the workplace and how, in his later years, he couldn’t hire anyone without a degree. How I wish he had been there when I finally graduated with a degree in Elementary Education.

Dad was also a wordsmith of sorts. He loved to use big words. He admitted to having poor handwriting and spelling skills; he said that’s what secretaries were for. He also loved to make up words, specifically names for us kids and then the grandkids. Maybe I somehow absorbed his love of words.

Like Woods, I love photography and I like baseball. I don’t know where exactly my love of taking pictures came from, but it has evolved greatly in recent years. My enjoyment of baseball totally came from my husband.

All this brings me to say, I’m glad for the glimpses of Dad that show up in me on occasion. The wordplay, the sense of honesty, the sense of humor. Thanks, Dad.

Love,

Puncie

South Georgia College Tigers 73-77 Baseball Reunion

 

sgc

May 6, 2017

 

For one group of guys from a small school in south Georgia, it was baseball that knit them together  and drew them back, over forty years later, to relive the glory days. During a weekend in early May, members of the South Georgia College Tigers, 1973-1977, met in Douglas, Georgia to reunite and reminisce about their college days, and to catch up on the years since they’d last seen each other.

John Brown, who now resides in Florida, started a facebook page for the reunion and organised the details. Members traveled from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and various parts of Georgia, many bringing their wives along. Among the group were several that had been drafted and spent some time in the minors, some that still coach, and one, Joel Crisler, who still pitches in a 35 and over men’s league.

During Friday night’s Meet & Greet, the words “remember when…?” resounded throughout the room. Like kids in a candy store with hits and runs and stats, the players gathered around the table in the middle of the room which was covered with newspaper clippings, score books, yearbooks, and other memorabilia. These pieces of the past sparked memories and stories and the phrase “the facts don’t lie”, all in good humor. Afterwards the men, with nicknames like Tater, Woody and Grits, stayed up late into the night in the hotel lobby, telling not only baseball stories but tales of college antics from years past. The stories went from dorm pranks and streaking to memories of their beloved coach, Clyde Miller.

 

Tim Spivey, who met his wife Mary Beth in Douglas, still had a copy of  Coach Miller’s rules, which were a sign of the times and got a quite few chuckles, especially the rule that said “no mustaches, goatees, mutton chops, afros, plaited or braided hair. Keep your hair short enough  that your helmet does not  fall off when running.”

Randy Felix, recalls the first day he arrived on campus. “Coach said, ‘I made you an appointment for a haircut,’ and I went right over and got it cut.”

Beginning with “do not sulk”,  and including “correspond frequently with your parents,” which would mean actually calling (probably collect), or writing a letter,  the rules covered nearly every aspect of a player’s life. Miller even told his players, “There are several churches in the Douglas area that would welcome your attendance.”

do not argue

The coaches kept up with their players to the point of dropping by a dorm room on occasion. Bunky Ennis recalls, “Coach Miller and Coach Childers did visit the dorm room one day. They left real quick, mumbling something about a pig sty and the smell was awful.”

Twelve years ago South Georgia College joined with Waycross College  to become South Georgia State College and their new mascot is the Hawks. On Saturday, the Tigers, wearing jerseys brought out of campus storage,  and the Hawks joined together for the first pitch as the old timers tossed out balls to the current team.  Jokes abounded as the No Tobacco signs clashed with Red Man and the players with flowing locks took the field.

red man

Emotions ran high this weekend. The good-natured arguing was balanced with bona fide compliments such as, “Charlie’s one of my favorite people in the whole world!”, spoken by  Bubba Dubose as he awaited the appearance of Charlie Baker of Jacksonville, FL. Charlie arrived with Rusty White, not a ballplayer but an honorary member of the group, also from Jacksonville.  

Saturday night’s dinner held a wonderful surprise. Ted Miller, Coach Miller’s oldest son, drove over from Augusta, GA for the evening. Ted had  been about ten years old the last time most of the guys had seen him. He teared up as he spoke, as did many others after him. “I grew up with 25 older brothers every year,” Miller said.  Now a teacher as well as an umpire/referee,  he talked about all he’d absorbed from the players as a child and all the lessons he put to use as a player himself.  

ted

Ted Miller – photo by Carole Wilson

Clyde Miller died in 2005, but his legacy lives on. Speaking about the impact of Coach Miller on his life, John Brown said, “He taught us about managing our lives. This was my family here.” Brown recalled how he looked forward to returning to campus after every school break.  These sentiments were echoed throughout the night by others, reminiscent of the lyrics from In My Life  by the Beatles:

“There are places I’ll remember all my life, though some have changed…     Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them…”   

 

Marshall Justice summed the weekend up when he said, ” It seems like the only times old friends get together are at weddings and funerals, but then there are special times like the SGC baseball reunion.”

laugh

Photo by Carole Wilson

This is one group of baseball players, from one little school in south Georgia, But, there are schools all  across the country where baseball draws boys together and grows a group of men. Baseball is a game of skill and precision. It’s an American sport that endures. Another of Coach Miller’s rules was “Choose your associates wisely. A person is only as good as the people he chooses to be around.”  This group of players chose to be around each other again and it was as if the years melted away.

“It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain” – from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Today’s PAD challenge was to write a poem about family

 

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Can’t Separate

Can’t separate me from the past
my grandfather’s desertion
my grandmother’s tenacity
the stories told and retold
by the aunts who remember

Can’t separate me from my childhood
Dad’s bellowing and invented words
Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes
brothers by my side, happy or not
supper in the kitchen every night

Can’t separate me from those cousins
who made paper dolls for me
we swam and skated and pretended
and whispered into the night
those first and forever friends

Can’t separate me from my husband
who made a new family with me
who grew and stumbled by my side
the one who really knows me
and loves me anyway

Can’t separate me from my offspring
flesh of my flesh who look like their dad
my babies grown up too soon
across state lines and time zones
in joy and sorrow, mine

Can’t separate me from this next generation
the little ones who let me love on them
these two with bits of me inside
this hope for the future
this family of mine

Every Summer

The prompt for PAD Day 10 was “travel.”

Every Summer

Every summer we traveled past the cornfields of south Georgia
I marveled at the tall green stalks swaying as we passed by
My brothers played Punch Buggy and Beaver –
Hitting each other while I dreamed out the window

Every summer as we came into the rolling hills of north Georgia
I marveled at the highway cut right through the red clay and gray rock
My brothers argued over “v” in the alphabet game
While the flatlands of Florida melted from my mind

Every summer when we arrived at Mamaw’s house
I breathed in the sweet scent of the magnolia next to the gravel drive
My brothers inspected the old shed full of ancient tools and treasures
While I admired the claw foot tub and inhaled the soft fragrance of Dove soap

Those were the days of cousins and fireflies and Red Light-Green Light
Where we snuggled up on the creaky couch to laugh at old photos
The fuzzy black and white TV droned in the background
Every summer in Georgia felt like going home

bros 1964

Me and my brothers – before they were punching each other

His Day

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November, 2012 – Vilano Beach

Today’s prompt(s) were the Two-for Tuesday: Beginnings or endings . My poem is a combination of sorts.

His Day

His days often went backwards
He could not find his hat
He had to have that hat to get on the train
It was time to go
Where was his sandwich?
He knew his mother had made a sandwich
Tomato on white bread with mayo
“Here’s your hat. Just sit down
It’s not time to go yet.”
She said this nearly everyday
He sat
He dozed
When he awoke, Wheel of Fortune was on
They watched together
Sometimes he guessed the phrase before the contestants
At bedtime, he always kissed his wife goodnight
At the end of the day he knew her

Last year’s Day 4 prompt was Distance .  My baseball themed poem was Go the Distance

Death

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There never seems to be a right time to cry, and then emotion builds up, and suddenly something inappropriate will cause it to overflow, and there I am with tears uncontrollably welling up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. – from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

I am no expert on death. Yet, I have experienced it, as we all have or will. I know those stages of grief are real, yet vary from person to person. L’Engle’s words resonate with me.

When my dad died, I was sad, but assured in the knowledge that he knew the Lord. I was with my mother at his side when he died. Because of financial circumstances in my family, I went to work the following month, while still homeschooling our kids. Our life went full throttle, but about nine months later the sadness hit me. Hard. I struggled with depression, though I’m not sure I put a name on it back then.

About twelve years later, I lost a very dear friend. Debbie and I taught fourth grade together for three years, and remained friends even after I moved away from Winter Haven FL back to my hometown of Jacksonville. When she got cancer, I returned to visit her. Later, I flew to North Carolina to see her, where her parents were taking care of her. I returned there for her funeral. I would sometimes listen to her messages saved on my phone – she would leave me long, drawn out ones that my husband and I would laugh about. I fell apart the day they got erased by the guy at the Verizon store who reset my phone.

Last year, when my best friend, Cathy, died. I grieved, but kept pushing ahead. I knew she, too, was a believer. She was finished with the physical battle she’d fought long and hard against cancer. I made it my mission to keep in touch with her son. I cried. But, one night, about six months later, I lost it. I threw things in the kitchen and sobbed until I was spent.

Providentially, I have a husband who understands. He senses my moods (most of the time), he offers comfort, and he sometimes just lets me be. And he knows, when I throw things, I’m not throwing them at him.

Wonder #1

“There was a time when the world was enormous: spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up, where you didn’t think twice about playing on someone else’s lawn. The street was your territory that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn’t get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room.” – The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years sums up my childhood in so many ways. We watched the show with our kids in the early 90s, but now I am seeing it once again with fresh eyes. I can hardly watch an episode without tearing up.

The place where I grew up was also one where we played on someone else’s lawn, in the street, in the woods. We knew most of the neighbors and I was babysitting for many of the younger kids by the time I was eleven. It was a time of Kick-the-Can under the street lights on summer nights, walking barefoot to the 7-11 on a street with no sidewalk and Trick-or-Treating without an adult, trading candy when we returned home.

We can’t go back except in memory, but we can go on. We can strive to make the years ahead “wonder” years for someone else.

FUN FACT: Winner Cooper and Becky Slater are sisters in real life