Sunday, September 21, 2014

We Took A Ride With Our Father Today

When our Father passed I sat down and wrote a letter to my five brothers on how I felt about our loss.  They choose to use it as the Eulogy for Dad and I am honored

 I have written many prose, short stories and blogs but none of them make me as proud of being give the opportunity of sharing our thoughts from that day.

When I am feeling low or in need of a hand on my shoulder I think of my Dad because I couldn't ask for anyone better.

I share it with Love, and the hope it finds a place in your heart as it does in mine.

We took a walk with our Dad today, down a gravel road in Hornsby Bend to the house where Sam and Nora raised a family on love and the bounty cultured on hoof and in rows.  He spoke of his love for his parents and what the family meant to him.  He spoke of how they had been raised to respect each other and to always be there for each other.  He spoke of how they had learned the importance of trusting and living their lives according to God’s word.  

He said it seemed it was yesterday.

He showed us a hillside on a cold desolate Aleutian Island where he and a group of soldiers shared a time where uncertainty, duty, comradery, and fear were a part of daily life.  He spoke of wanting to only wanting one thing, to make it safely home to his family and Texas.  

He said it was like it was only yesterday.

We stood on the steps of our Nation’s Capitol as a young lady and her friend walked toward us and how his life changed because of her smile and her wit. He said that he had lost his heart to this Yankee girl and he knew his live would never be the same. 

 He said he could sworn it was just yesterday. 

We rode the horses up the slopes leading away from the river bottom.  Stopping in the shade of a large pecan tree.  He talked about the cattle that grazed on the hillside while their new calves chased each other playfully.  We walked down the long rows of cotton. Dad pulled an open cotton boll and rolling it in his hand mentioned that it was just about time for picking. 

 He looked around and said that if he don’t know better that he had been in the same field only yesterday. 

We came to the campground in the lower river bottom.  Dad fed Buck marshmallows while Mom finished making supper over the BBQ pit.  Later we boys piled up on Dad in a wrestling free-for-all until Dad “acted” defeated and we ran screaming our triumph and washing our hands for supper.  Later, lying under the stars, we listened to the whip-o-wills calling to each across the pasture and from the other side of the river until we all drifted off to sleep.  Early the next morning Dad woke to climb onto the tractor after a quick breakfast and was off to do his day’s work. 

 Dad smiled and said there was no doubt that all of this happened just yesterday.

We walked through the greenhouses of Travis State School with three or four of the school’s “boys” following their leader with total devotion.  He check the temperature gauge and adjusted the water pump flow.  Then teasingly, he reached out and flicked the ear of one of the boys, letting them know that they were the reason he was there not the job.  Also, each year, he climbed into the DPS helicopter for the quick trip to the top of the hill and Santa Claus suddenly appeared.  It was his way of reminding us the importance of compassion and helping others who were not as fortunate as we were.  

He looked around and said that he knew for certain that all of that only happened yesterday.

Afterwards, we stepped out onto the front porch of a house surrounded by pine trees and he sat down with that same Yankee girl had now turned True Texan to enjoy the final years of their lives with their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends and some good quality fishing.  He smile as he spoke of the old times, the good times and even a few of the not so good times. He spoke of what he had learned in life and what he hoped he had passed on to those around him.

Our Dad, always the Faithful Son, a Trusting Brother, the Lords’ Humble Servant, a proud Patriot, Mom’s Devoted Husband, our dedicated Father and a Best Friend to many.  Yes Dad, to you it may seem as if this all happened only yesterday.  But to us, the amazing life you led, the faithfulness and dedication to your friends and community and you never-ending love for your family will be remembered forever.

Mom, your best friend is on his way home.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

By a New Light

Someone asked me the other day how and why I choose my subject matter for my writing and my photography. I tried to explain it this way.

In most cases, how a person views or interprets a "work of art" will be determined by their pre-existing perspective or knowledge of the subject matter.

If a artists presents the subject in a different way other then the "norm" they are only trying to give the opportunity for others to either accept or reject the different thoughts behind the shot.  Whether the viewer/reader likes or dislikes the new "twist" is totally up to them, all the artist is doing is opening a "different door".

I try to offer  "Life Lessons"  through my works in many cases via the description that goes with the photograph.  Sometimes the photograph will speak totally for itself.  Yet at other times, the story that goes along with it is needed to explain the "whole" story or helps to convey the idea.

I guess what I'm trying to get across to others is that we don't have to reach or travel far to enjoy what is being offered to us.  What I'm suggesting is that we need to do just slow down, look around and notice what is, in many case,  right in front of us.

I tried to expain it to a friend once long ago  I took her out into my back yard on a bright and clear late afternoon.  I asked her what she saw.  She pointed out the beautiful sunset, the birds going by and how the trees swayed in the light breeze.  All very good observations.

Four hours later, I took her back out into the same backyard, back to the exact same place we had stood before,  which was now encased in darkness and asked her what she saw.  This time she pointed out the beautiful stars, the lights of the homes across the lake from us and the darkness itself.  Again, all good observations. 

I then pulled out a small pen lite.

I showed her via the "new light" the bird's nest in a bush that sat less then ten feet away from us in both times of the day. Inside were two small, beautiful sparrow chicks which had gone un-noticed by her until I introduced her to them. Over the next week she returned to watch their growth and was there to see their departure from the nest to each find their own ways out into the world.

My friend is now a avid bird watcher and has also found the love of photography itself, where she is able to share her love of them with others.

That... is what I try to with my artwork., use it as a tool to show others how lucky we are to be given the chance of enjoying life by our God and everythng he offers us.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Very Lucky Man.

Many years ago as a young man I worked at a "state school" attending to the needs of the "boys"

These were people who had been sent to, given to, awarded to or sentenced to live a life in a place that is not often spoke of nor recognized by many members of our society.

I once asked a member of this community who had lived there from the age of 11 to at that time 86 if he ever thought of leaving it?

He answered this way...

"Why would I ever want to? Everyone, Everything I know are within these walls. 

All my friends are in here, those
who care for me and love me are here.

My enemys are out there, those who don't want me, don't understand me or even try to care..

Why would I ever want to go outside these walls?   These walls are not my boundries, these walls are my guardians. And I would have it no other way."

I sat and thought about what he said and I started to say "But it's so much better out there! But as I sat there and watched him look out his window enjoying life as he had always  known it, I got to thinking and I asked myself.  Just What is out "there" that makes it so Great?" Distrust, Stealing, Murder, Wars, Hatred, Bigotry, Racism and many, many people who put themselves before others.  A world where what is expected of a person in many cases are guaged by their "worth".

Later our government decided that we could not "afford" the cost of keeping these institutions open.  It didn't matter what was the "best" for these people who had depended on us to take care of them.  Now it was the needs and wants of "us" not "them" that was more important. So we sent many of  them out into the streets of "our" world to fend for themselves.

Years later I watched a man walking aimlessly down a street in the city where that State School had been and for a second I thought it was him.  I circled the block and by the time I got around to the place the man had been,  he was gone.

I realized then I had to know. I went back out the the school grounds and wandered the cemetary
until I found him.

He was still home... He was still safe.. Within his walls of protection... A very lucky man.

 

Someone Kept His Promise.. Now I'll Keep Mine...

After thirteen years my daughter has been given a new outlook on life.  Yesterday at the Children's Hospitol in New Orleans, LA a amazing group of Doctors were able to reverse a terrible wrong that should have never had to have been.

Samantha and her Brother Clint both had a rare liver disorder which didn't allow the bile that their bodies produces leave their bodies in the normal way. 

Thirteen years ago I held in my arms a baby who was in agony from the itching that the disease produced.  At that time I felt so helpless and angry that she was having to go through this.  I even asked at that time that if need be for God to let me take that agony from her and that if he would I could find ways to endure it so that she would not have to. 

Fortunately, the doctors found an alternative by attaching a stoma just abovet he liver which would release the bile into a bag attached just above her waistline like what her brother had done. The itiching stopped immediately but brought with it the need for the bag to be ever present.  For thirteen years she has endured this need and all of the tribulations that it brought with it.

Even though it was the doctors who physically made this happen, I know that a miracle was given to us from above.

Now my Grand Daughter who is now my Daughter has been allowed the chance to live a "normal" life. 

So now I will fulfill a promise I made thirteen years ago.

Lord,  I am Yours... Show Me Your Way.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

 

  Some, will see a raindrop under the leaf....
  Others, will see a hole within the leaf...
  Then both will look at the picture again...
  And hopefully will see....
  What the others saw...
 
  It all depends....
  On how you look at things...
  And be willing to look at them...
  In a different way.....

  Thus the the 'Power of Suggestion'....



Photo by me....
There is truth in the old belief that if you tell a teenager that something is not possible, they will do everything they can do, to show you wrong.
 
What is sad is that they don't realize and we tend to forget is that we once had that same determination.

And they have every right to do so.... just as we believed we did.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I met a man yesterday for the second time. 

 The first time, we hardly spoke as I drove him to pick up a rental car from us while his car was being worked on. He had sat quiety reading his bible as I drove and it was I who started the conversation by asking his proffession, being the nosey old cuss that I am. He just said "Oh, I work for God, I have a small church and a little ministry over here on this side of town" and had given me his card, and that was that,  or so I thought. 

For some reason that night at home I looked up his Church's website.
 
This man and his wife, for over the last 45 years has served as Ministers for the Lord... Within that time for the last 20 years they have ran a program for the homeless and less unfortunate. Each day they opens their doors and their hearts for those they don't even know.

He funds much of this by traveling throughout Louisiana and Mississippi teaching programs in small seminarys of these areas taking hm away from his own usually three to five days a week up to three weeks a month.

Yesterday, as he climbed back into my car, after being away for 2 weeks he asked me "So John, how have you been?" and we talked all the way back to where he was to pick up his car.  


 As we got out of the car he took my hand and looked me in the eye and said "John, you have a Blessed Day".

And I knew I had already had one.

I have a new friend in Lake Charles, Louisiana now... A friendship that I know will last a very long time.

And I think I know where I'm going to church this coming Sunday.

 Lord...Show me your way.