Archive For March 8, 2015

Uncle Jeff’s Hat

bellajeffshatMy baby has had kind of a rough week.  You would never know it, because she rarely fusses like a normal child who is teething, but she hasn’t been quite as chipper as usual.  She has had some diarrhea and is even more than usually clingy to Mommy.

Even in her brightest moments, Bella never strays far from Emily, but she has a particular apprehensiveness around men, with the exception of me and her Paw Paw, my father in law.  He babysits her while Emily works.  Usually, when she goes to another man, she cries immediately.  This is a trait her Daddy would like to see remain in her through her teenage years, but I know that’s only wishful thinking.

At any rate, when Emily and I attended the funeral home visitation of Bill Calfee, the grandfather of my oldest friend, Jeff.  My heart broke for my lifelong pal as he sat in an isolated spot grieving quietly for the man he called hero.  I was glad to be there to show my love and support, but I knew there was little I could do to comfort him.

Then, my sweet baby came in.  He asked to hold her, something he’d never done before.  Emily placed her in Jeff’s arms.  He rocked her slowly and she didn’t cry!  This was an unforgettable moment.  Then, he looked into her angelic eyes and I saw my friend do something I hadn’t seen all evening.  He smiled.

Then, as we were leaving, Jeff playfully stuck his hat on Bella’s head and we snapped a priceless picture.  When we got home, I kept looking at my baby in amazement of how she brings nothing but good into the world.  I am amazed and humbled that she is mine.  It took that little angel to turn Uncle Jeff’s pain into a smile, if only for a moment.  Thank you, God, for my Bella!

Remembering Bill Calfee

Yesterday also brobillcught the sad news that my dear friend, Bill Calfee, had passed away at the impressive age of 98.  Bill is the grandfather of my oldest friend, Jeff.  He and I have been like brothers since the first day of kindergarten, a quarter of a century ago.  For Jeff, his grandfather was his hero, the man who raised him and taught him how to live well and laugh often.

Bill possessed such a kind and loving spirit that resonated with everyone he ever met.  His trademark sense of humor and unprecedented storytelling ability are as fresh in my mind as if he were still with me now.  It was impossible to be in the same room with Bill and not smile.  Likewise, it is equally impossible to think of him now and not smile.

Bill was always so welcoming to me that he and his lovely wife of 67 years, Frances, would invite me into their home for holiday meals.  They always made me feel like a part of their family.  When my wife came along, he made her feel that way, too.  He lived a long and vibrant life of 98 years and remained as sharp as a tack until the very end.

As a milkman and bread delivery truck driver in Austinville, where my family grew up, he loved to tell me stories about the people we had in common from over there.  He told the same stories many times over, but I laughed just the same every time.  As I said, Bill was a top-notch storyteller and you simply enjoyed being in his presence.

Bill was never around me that he wasn’t smiling and laughing, trying his best to be the life of the party.  Most of the time, he was resoundingly successful.  The only time I ever saw him weep was when his wife passed away.  Even then, he managed to crack a joke at the funeral saying, “It will be hard because I won’t have anybody to say ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am’ to.”  In the seven years he outlived her, he mourned her every day.  Every time I saw him after that, he would mention her tearfully saying, “She was the most wonderful person I ever knew.”  I know he was looking forward to their eternal reunion and I pray they are rejoicing together now.

I will never forget Bill’s smile, his laugh or his jokes.  He was like another grandfather to me and I pray for the hole his absence will leave in my best friend’s heart.  Still, I know Jeff possesses enough of his strength and personality that he can pull through this just the way his grandfather would have wanted, with a joke and a smile.  God bless you, Bill!  Your family will be in my prayers.  May you rest in peace, dear friend.



A Salute to Gerald Goad

geraldYesterday brought the awesome news that my dear friend, Gerald Goad, is running for Clerk of Circuit Court in Carroll County, Virginia.  I am so proud of him and I know that Carroll County will be in good hands by putting Gerald Goad in a leadership position.  I hate politics, so you’ll rarely hear me comment on them, but when you’re dealing with a guy like Gerald, one can’t help but be in his corner.  He is one of the most pure-hearted and morally driven people I have ever known and to have him in office serving the community he loves would only prove to be beneficial.

Gerald and I met back in 2004 when he and I were classmates at Wytheville Community College.  From the very first day I met Gerald, I was awestruck by his clear career and life goals and the determination and focus he possessed to achieve them all, as if he were checking them off a list, one by one.  Of course, it wasn’t that simple.  There were plenty of struggles along the way, but the dignity and humility with which he handled everything made his struggles seem effortless.

A native of Pipers Gap, Gerald Goad graduated from Carroll County High School, then WCC, achieving the college’s top honor of “Student of the Year.”  I admired Gerald’s extreme kindness as well as his esteemed desire to become a member of Virginia Tech’s Marching Virginians band, which he did to an award-winning extent, and return to WCC as a staff member, which he also has done.

As an online academic advisor for the college, Gerald also holds a deep devotion to his friends and family, which as of June 21, 2014, includes his lovely wife Cleo, possessing a deeply religious background.  While he has always possessed an interest in ministry, Gerald’s political aspirations have also been very prominent in his career goals.

From surviving the global pressures of one of the most tragic shootings in history at Virginia Tech in 2007 to establishing WCC’s first-ever pep band more than a decade ago, Gerald has always possessed a desire to make the world a better place through the work that he accomplishes.  I have no doubt that this newest venture is another step in that direction and I ask my Carroll County friends to cast their ballots for Gerald Goad.  I guarantee that you’ll be as proud of him as I am.

Hello world! is finally here!  My own website with my own work, in my own words, in my own style.  All this independence is overwhelming to say the least.  It is liberating in a sense and intimidating in another.

As a writer, it is sometimes difficult to stimulate your creative flow.  For me, in the last year, it has been at a nearly constant standstill.  I’m hoping the initiation of this website will make things easier in that regard for both you and me.

To have my books and columns all confined to a space that is under my own control will hopefully encourage me to get more material out in a faster and more efficient timeframe.  I hope it will entice me to write like I’ve never written before with the intention of opening myself up to a wider potential audience and broader spectrum of topics.

Of course, this website would not happen at all if it were not necessary.  It is necessary because of you, my collection of loyal supports who have read my columns, bought my books or simply liked my Facebook page.  The fact that you have shown enough interest in my life to warrant something like this is overwhelming to me.

That’s why I want to make this website as pleasurable, informative and successful as you need it to be in order to continue your support of my efforts.  I am truly humbled and eternally grateful to you all for that.  I ask for your patience over the next couple of weeks as I work to improve the site.  Please feel free to leave feedback so in this regard so that all my work will continue to be accessible and enjoyable for you.  Thanks to all of those who continue to support me.  It keeps me going more than you know!