Ages ago, on a cool September morning my Dad took me to Carrollton, Georgia to start school at West Georgia College.
I was excited, nervous and uncertain. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a profession. I had no grand master plan for my future. There was no manual in my suitcase with the title “What to do in Life”. I never figured it out either.
My original thought was to get a degree in History and become a teacher. I veered from that path.
Paula and I met and became friends, and then a couple. Then we fell in love. Her Mom and Dad moved off to California and we decided we’d get married…little more than kids though we were, we did it…in June of 1968. We are still best friends, and still love each other.
I went on to UGA, and took three more years of classes. I worked full time on the third shift at Westinghouse electric, making transformers for power poles. It wasn’t easy trying to do a full time job at night and school during the day. I fell asleep in C parking lot early one morning trying to study for a test that day. I woke up sitting in my car that afternoon with my notebook in my lap. I got a zero on the test.
I never finished college. After four years and over 200 quarter hours, I left in 1974 with my wife and two year old daughter to start my work in a “career”. Only I never had a career. Just a succession of jobs that I worked, in order to raise my kids and keep food on the table.
I did everything from building mattresses to selling medical supplies. I finally got an interview with the VP of manufacturing at a fairly large Textile operation in 1988 for Quality Manager. I talked my way into the job, and stayed there and was successful for 12 years…until they sold out to a larger company, who of course had their own people…so it was bye bye.
It was during this twelve year period that I tried to break into the Nashville songwriting scene. I was good enough, but not dedicated enough to move to Nashville. No career in songwriting for me….but that’s a story for another time.
I went through stints at several more places as QA manager before my heart took me out in 2010-11, after the stress of losing both parents within 6 months, and being constantly under pressure to stay at work…when I really needed to be caring for them. It was a lousy couple of years.
And yet…I have found more peace and gratification in the last five years in my career as a Papa care person then I ever did at any of my “career” jobs. I have finally figured out out that my career was my obligation to raise my children and grandchildren to the best of my ability, to love them as much as I can, and to ensure that they had and have the best beginning to the most rewarding life that I could give them. I dunno how well I have succeeded, but with my wife’s constant help, and assistance as my conscience, I guess we’ve done ok.
I’ve said all of that to get to this: success is measured in many different ways, by many different people but I could care less for any labels anybody puts on me. I finally know the true measure of myself, and while I’m far from being perfect, I at least…and at last, feel like I have accomplished something of what I meant to do on that cool September morning back in 1968.
Well Auttie is graduating tomorrow…so I’ve got five more to go…at least that’s the number right now. And I’ll keep walking and exercising, and plugging away as long as God gives me breath….