The Dawgs and the Tide

The Dawgs and the Tide

My Daddy and I went fishing up by the Trion dam one day back in early October of 1965. It was kind of a cloudy, cool sort of day, but we were going bass fishing.

It had been a summer of good fishing at the river. For some reason there were a lot of nice size bass in the Chattooga river back that summer and they were biting. Daddy usually used a “black worm” lure to try and entice those fish to bite. These were made to look like spring lizards.

All the old “millworker” guys back in my youthful day were pretty good fishermen. My Daddy Gaines “Tarp” Bowers, and my Uncle James “Pinky” Bowers were two of the best fishermen I ever knew. Uncle Pink was so good, he could practically talk a fish onto the line. They were raised during the depression when an empty line might mean you didn’t eat meat that night, so they had to be good. I was never able to get anywhere near their level as a fisherman, but then again I had never seen a day where I didn’t at least have “beans and taters” in the pot, along with some brown crusted, tender on the inside cornbread.

The water up next to the dam was clear and had some deep pools where those bass would lay around and wait for food to come by. Daddy owned a 1960 Ford Fairlane back then. I loved that old car. It had a sleek look, with the big old fins spreading out at the back and a grill that looked like the car had a huge perpetual grin. Ours was this weird green color. I don’t know where the Ford designers came up with the idea for that paint, but to make up for it, it also had a 292 V-8 motor which would run as fast as you wanted to go.

Daddy parked as close to the dam as possible and left the radio on, with the volume turned up as high as it would go. It was the day of the Alabama –vs-Georgia football game, and my Daddy was a Bulldog fan.

Alabama had been National champions the year before and Daddy didn’t think that Georgia had much of chance, but it was the first game of the year and he wasn’t going to miss the chance to hear it, even while bass fishing. Joe Willie Namath had led them in 1964, and in 1965 it was Ken Stabler.

Georgia drew first blood with a field goal and then an interception brought them to a 10-0 lead. The fishing poles had been put up by then in the back of the ever grinning Fairlane, and Daddy and I were sitting in the front seat listening to the game. Alabama made a comeback, and were ahead by 17-10 late in the game. “Dang it, they are gonna’ lose it” Daddy said. But then came “that play.”

Georgia quarterback Kirby Moore threw a pass to Pat Hodgson, who was quickly surrounded by defenders, but…he had inexplicably thrown the ball out to a running back named Taylor, who caught the ball in full stride and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. My Daddy was whooping and hollering so loud that it echoed off the stone walls of the old dam. A tie against the reigning National Champs would be as good as a win! But Coach Vince Dooley wasn’t going to settle for a tie. He called for a two point conversion, and in the ensuing play Pat Hodgson caught another pass from Kirby Moore for two points and a miracle win against Alabama. The “flea flicker” play and the two point conversation had taken down the mighty Crimson Tide! This time after the play, I was whooping and hollering right along with Daddy. Two Georgia boys sitting in a funny green colored Ford fairlane, alone at the end of a little dirt road, at a tiny dam on an insignificant river…..feeling like lottery winners.

Alabama went on to win the National Championship again that year and Georgia ended up losing three games. It didn’t matter though.

I was 14 years old, two weeks away from becoming 15, and my Daddy was 37 years old that year. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Georgia and Alabama are playing a game in Athens again this year this coming weekend, and I may have to listen to it on the radio since we may be on the road. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I will remember that day in 1965, and cherish it.

I’m Afraid of Heights

I’m afraid of heights. I also don’t like flying. I don’t like big crowds and speaking in front of a group of people terrifies me. Funny how things that are simple and basic to some people make other peoples knees turn to jelly.

I don’t know where a lot of these fears came from. Some of them have just developed over the years. Some fears we have always harbored. I have always been afraid of death. I never even wanted to think about it until the last few years. It’s a subject that most of us definitely want to avoid. I think sometimes we feel like if we talk about it, it might jinx us and we will end up on the “mortar board” at some funeral home before the days out. Also, it’s a pretty depressing subject to broach. Nobody wants to be depressed, so nobody talks about it. I can’t remember the first time I thought about it, and was scared. I think it was when I was about four years old. Really, it’s true. As a little kid when I should have been thinking about playing cowboys and Indians, I was mulling over the great unknown. It’s been a bummer over the years.

Lately, I have come to the conclusion that by talking about death maybe we can make it less scary. I am not as afraid of it as I used to be. It’s not the little kid fear of going to hell and burning up in a blazing fire type fear anymore. It’s more of just an apprehension of something unknown. It’s a disappointment that I might not be around to see my loved ones complete most of their journey that they have started. It’s the conversations and contact with my family that I don’t want to give up. The touches and looks of people you love, and who love you. Most of all, it turns out that it’s a selfish thing. Imagine that. I have so many selfish reasons for living that I don’t want to die and give them all up.

I don’t want to give up the beautiful sunny days like the one we had today. I don’t want to give up the good books that I enjoy reading every day. I don’t want to give up discussions with friends, eating out in great restaurants, the rain in my face, rolling up a Snowman. I don’t want to give up Christmas, or New Years. I don’t want to give up the hope of a #1 finish for the Dawgs, or the Falcons. I don’t want to give up seeing my grandchildren play ball, or band, or graduate from School….

But, it’s not what we want that we get is it?

There are so many theories and theological thesis about what happens to us after we die. It’s hard to pin one down and stick with it. One thing that I can assure you though is that it will be different from any of them. I don’t think that man has been given the knowledge, through any type of religion or science of what really happens. It may just be peace. Peace would be nice; I’ll take that over some of what I’ve heard over the years.

I’ve seen a lot of people going through unbelievable suffering, or who no longer know who or what they are who would take peace too. The little old lady who was “rooming” next to my Mother at the nursing home, back in 2010, who was there one day and gone the next. She was in bad shape. She was ready for a rest, and she got it. I think if you could have broken through the wall of her senility she would have told you she was. . A lot of times people outlive the desire to live, and when they do that, they are ready for peace. I am sure she wasn’t scared of it. Maybe welcomed it.

My own Grandfather, who lived the last few years of his life, not knowing who he was, where he was, who we were. My heart ached for him. I didn’t want him to live like that, but I didn’t want him to die like that either. I hope at the very end, when the spirit separated from the body…he once again knew who he was.

As long as we have the desire, then we should “keep on truckin’” as we used to say back in the 70’s. It’s when we lose the desire, due to things that are happening to us physically, that it becomes a hardship to keep on keeping on.

So, I guess as my perspective has changed from that little shivering four year old kid, who shouldn’t have even known what death was, to the more knowledgeable but equally unknowing 62, soon to be 63 year old that I am now am. I still have my desire to live and hope that I keep it for a long, long time to come. I hope all of you do also. But, when we are ready for peace, I hope we find it and that it turns out to be better than we ever imagined.

The Voices in my Life

Of all the qualities which set human beings apart from the rest of humanity, there is our voice. It was this means of communication which allowed us to move beyond other species and become social animals.

Our voice allowed our ancestors to pass on instructions on how to do critical things to survive. We began to live less off of instinct and more off of experiences passed down from generation to generation. Language came long, long before the ability to write and so most knowledge was passed down by oral tradition. Since early man tended to live in familial situations, with tight family ties, language probably varied a lot, and then as families stretched out and became tribes the group adopted the most useable language form available to communicate within the entire group.

But, the anthropological aspect is not where I want to concentrate. It’s the spiritual and mystical aspect of the voice to which I wish to “speak”

I’ve had so many wonderful and unique voices which have inhabited the echoes of my mind. My Dad’s laugh…I can never get it far from my immediate memory. He laughed a lot and at a lot of things. He gave me a lot of advice with that voice. I took some of it, and some I wish I had taken. His voice was stilled in 2010.

My Grandfather Jervis’s voice. My voice is a mixture of his voice and my Dad’s, leaning more heavily towards his. He could sing from bass to tenor and I inherited a bit of that. I used to sit around in his living room and listen to him sing his “scales” “……do, ray, mi, fa, so, la, ti,” I got up in front of the congregation where my Grandpa was song leader when I was four years old and waved my hands around like I was conducting the choir. Nobody laughed or made fun of me. I was really proud of myself and I remember it so well. My Grandfather’s voice was stilled in 1991.

My Mom and my Grandmother had similar voices…and they were both worriers. I asked my Grandmother on her 100th birthday what she would have done different if she could go back and go it all over again. She simply said “I’d worry about things less, because all the worrying I did never changed nothing” Her voice was stilled in late 1999. I still dream of her quite often, most of the time in the kitchen. She’s always telling me: “I wouldn’t worry about that, Honey” she’ll say. I still worry…I guess I can’t help it, I get it from her and Mom. My dear Momma….she would always say “I love you” and too many times, “I’m sorry” for things which really were not her fault, not anybody’s fault, just fate and fate alone. Mom’s voice was also stilled in 2010.

In late 1999, I was really scared. The specialist had found a lump on my vocal cords and he was pretty sure it was cancer. I went into surgery wondering if I would come out with a voice…..would I come out with a hole in my throat and no voice. Turned out it was a big lump of scar tissue. I came out with my vocal cords, but it took a year a rehabilitation to even get back to regular talking, much less singing. I have had to be very careful since then. Some days are good, some days not so good. At least I still have that mechanism of communication to use with my family, my friends…(although sometimes I bet they wish I would shut up!)

My voice will be stilled one day, as have been the voices of all human beings who ever lived. I hope I have used it correctly…will use it better, and maybe there will be some memorable phrase “hanging in the air” for someone to remember me by.

The Power of the Voice

And I still hear his voice in my head. Slightly husky, and a little more past the midnight side in the bass range. Barking out orders and commands, or soothing and reassuring when the yellow jackets stung.

There is a magic quality to the human voice which cannot be adequately described with words. One has to hear the voice to know the magic. The importance of the voice cannot be quantified in the development of humanity or the achievements of humanity. It is paramount.

I remember JFK for his voice, and I believed him when he said we would put a man on the moon.

I remember Martin Luther King for his voice, and I still believe in his dream. ..

There are many times you just know that someone loves you, or you love them. Only the human voice has the capability to actually verbally affirm that love.

Use it while you can.

The Most Important Thing

I hate to be morbid, but it’s just a way to get a point across.

Imagine yourself on your deathbed. What things would be the most important to you…..excluding your relationship whether real or perceived, with your creator?

Are the things which you can think of, make a list of….are those things what are most important to you right now?

If the answer is no….why not?

If the answer is yes, then congratulations for being a good person.

Man’s Worst Trait

The most difficult trait for humanity to overcome, is in my opinion, aggression.

That trait, along with Homo sapiens natural proclivity to stay together in first familial, and then tribal groups, has enabled us to survive and thrive.

Clashes over territory which contained game and wild fruit and roots escalated over the centuries into what we have now.

Wars over territory, differences in ideology, and the right to control the fates of massive numbers of other human beings, are taking place every day.

All this wasn’t quite as dangerous when our ancestors were using rocks and sharpened sticks. Now however, a small percentage of humans, known as the “genius inventors” have given mankind weapons of mass destruction.

Not all human beings have the temperament to be in charge of these terrible, awful weapons. Too much aggression….not enough temperance.

The time to search for a way to reduce human aggression as our main trait for survival….is now. I’d like for all my descendants to have a decent world to inherit. How about you?

Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.

Some days are diamonds and some days are stones. However, all days are good days to be alive, even the slightly bad ones, even still the terrible ones. We learn something even from the extremes.
I have had some days lately which have been a little frustrating. A lot of it is me. Something is happening to me….I don’t quite know what yet. I sleep all the time, day and night, and still feel pooped. But that’s no excuse to lose my temper, my nerve, my resolve, my humanity, my tact, my politeness and misplace my love. I forget what I am put here to do, and then remember it when it’s too late and I have already hurt someone I didn’t mean to hurt. Apologies are good things, but you can’t ever take back words once they have come out of your mouth, and someone has heard them. Guess it’s better to think before you speak isn’t it. I haven’t quite mastered that yet, probably never will.
Well then, tomorrows another day as Scarlett O’Hara would say, and I am hopeful I will see the sun rise again, and have a chance to try one more time to get this “living” thing done right. After all, we only get so many chances don’t we?

Hate is Gonna Kill Us

I read scientific studies that show when a person does something compassionate for someone else, it increases the endorphins in their body and makes them feel better.
If a person feels anger and divisiveness, it increases stress hormones and makes them feel worse, and could eventually lead to health problems.
That tells me that we should stop listening to the people who are trying to divide us, no matter what the issue, and start being compassionate and empathetic to other people. We need fewer dividers and subtractors, and many more adders and multipliers.
I’ve seen and read enough stuff this weekend to fear for future health problems for a LOT of people.
Take it from someone who has had two heart attacks and health related problems, some of which I am sure was due to my stress level caused by letting things anger me….you are better off refusing to let divisiveness over things which you cannot directly affect you, cause you anger and stress.
Hug people you love, work in your garden, bake cookies, read a book, take a walk….anything….anything besides obsessing over social media issues.
Give to charities going to Puerto Rica or Texas.
I know that It is important to be aware of important issues, and to make your opinions known to people who can directly affect those issues I.e., call your Congressmen or Senators, quit buying products from advertisers that advertise on shows that you don’t think are in line with your beliefs, quit watching things that don’t match your values.
If you want to speak your peace on something, then do it. But forego letting it rule your life.
I’m trying, and I realize it’s hard. It’s hard for me. I know it’s hard for y’all too. But, we gotta quit with all the anger and division, because sooner or later, in one manner or the other, it’s going to kill us.

To Everything There is a Season

Solomon said “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”

I know that The Byrds and Dylan put that chapter to music. It was a really popular song.

I wondered about it, so I analyzed it a little.

To EVERYTHING there is a season. That means even the little things we take for granted on a daily basis. Not just the big things. The small kisses from your children and your grandchildren…your husband or wife. The days that we work at our jobs. There is a season for that and a purpose. We may not consider it always to be a noble purpose, but in a way it always IS, if we make it so. (I always hear Patrick Stewart in my head when I write that….”make is so”) We project ourselves in those purposes. In everything.

There is a SEASON. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. There are those seasons in our lives both externally and internally. Sinatra sang about it in the song “It Was a Very Good Year” When we are 17, the seasons seem like they are stretching out forever. The time passes by slowly…but by the time we reach the Autumn of the year the time is passing by like a blur. We take note of the passing of the time on the calendar, the Christmases and the Hot summer days, and our biological clocks just keep on moving. It’s my belief that we all have a different time on our biological and spiritual clocks. Nobody knows what it is, and we MUST learn to fit our purpose into that time that we have been given.

Under Heaven. As our time that we have is spent attending to our purpose here on Earth, we often forget that we are under Heaven. We have this wonderful human life and the time that goes with it and we have been given a purpose to accomplish. We often forget that and go about living our times wandering and squandering this wonderful gift. I hope and pray that when my sand, which is running so quickly out of the hourglass is done, that I will have accomplished what I was sent here to do. I think I have. In my heart of hearts I feel like I have. So that if I left tomorrow I believe I could rest in peace under the heavens that Solomon wrote about so long ago.