Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Sunday Means to me

I was born in Church, Mom and Dad dragging me every Sunday, regardless of any appreciation I may have had of any Divinity outside of bed.

I grew to love it over time because ... the girls were hot, opportunities to make out were bountiful and we even went on mission trips to Florida and assumed Missionary positions.

In College, I went to other Churches ... meaning not-Southern-Baptist ... breaking the first of the Seven Deadly Sins ... but I checked out the Methodists, the Presbyterians and these really cook alternative services hosted by Christian seniors where the girls were hot, opportunities to make out were bountiful and Missionary positions were assumed without having to travel.

Then Guy Sayles ... er, I mean God ... calls me on the phone and talks me into going to Seminary where I inexpiably became a "Professional Christian" ... which is a great gig if you can get it.

It was a Southern Baptist Church but we didn't act it and in no time at all, Jeff Street was the cool place to worship among the hip crowd where the girls were hot, making out was plentiful and positions other than Missionary were assumed.

It didn't last because I opted to use real wine for Communion instead of Welch's Grape Juice ... the second time I broke a Deadly Sin ... and I was encouraged to take my ministry elsewhere.

Afterwards I tried to attend Church but once you've been a "Professional Christian" (paid to love everyone while asking everyone else to do it for free), it's hard to go back again.

Then I quit and went to Beach on Sunday mornings.

I found myself thinking more about God, praying intensely and thinking of others beside the Ocean than I ever did behind stained glass or a chunk of wood on a stage.

On the beach of course, the girls are hot, making out is plentiful and you see positions you could never have imagined were possible.

This remains my preferred method of worship.

But this little Church that meets in a Bar asked Sarah and I to join the band, kicked us out after it got pretty successful, before asking me to be the "Un-Professional-mostly Christian" in charge.

That was two years ago.

The whole service is built around live music, stories instead of sermons, food and if you want something besides Welch's Grape Juice ... we don't judge.

It's pretty cool because the Beach is right outside ... the girls are hot, making out is plentiful and the positions are beyond definition.

But every single Sunday, something special happens boarding on Holiness and while we all may sleepily drag our asses in ... we leave lighter and more at peace than before.

That's what Sunday means to me.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Just Waiting On Che

Sitting in the floor rubbing Sarah's swollen feet, we're flipping channels searching for something to watch.

Laurel, the twelve year old stares at her phone on the sofa oblivious to the fact there is a television in the room.

Maddie, the clueless 15 year old who knows everything, has locked herself in her room as most 15 year olds who can't figure out a way out of home to be with their friends do.

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show!" I exclaim. "We gotta watch!"

Sarah and Laurel groan.

A lover of Broadway, ever since "Hamilton" anyway, I scold Laurel ... "Listen! Broadway's always ahead of the curve on social change ... West Side Story started acceptance of people of different races falling in love ... and "Rocky Horror" brought the LBGT Community out of the closet."

She shrugs her shoulders mumbling, "Hamilton's better."

My phone buzzes and it's Chelsea, our daughter living in Atlanta, "You watching?"

"Yes we are" I text.

When Chelsea was young she had a group of friends spend the night and after cooking them supper, I told them we have a show to watch together and ... as they gleefully gathered on the floor, I hit the VCR and we watched the original ... Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The next day every single parent of every single kid called to ask, "What the Hell do you think you're doing?"

"We changed their lives for better," Chelsea text decades later.

It left me contemplating Che, our soon to be born daughter, and music in her life.

Music's big in my life.

I'm never far from it, think in song lyrics updating my Facebook status with them every single day and now have the joy of making it with good friends every week.

All of our kids live with music enriching their lives.

Jeremy is by far the most eclectic ... Kristen's hard core romantic ... Chelsea's drifts towards sweetness ... Maddie prefers whatever's most popular with her friends ... Laurel believes "Hamilton" is only music ever created and Cassidy actually has the ear to be a musician should she choose.

Which leaves me with Che.

Sarah tells me Clare Hope Elliott can already hear music and if her movement in the belly last night means anything ... Che's a huge fan of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" ... which brings me great joy.

Sarah has an angelic voice and plays classical piano.

I'm a wanna-be rock-n-roller.

Hmmm ... I think the Cowsills are one of the most underrated bands of all time.

Hmmm ... gonna play Che some songs by the Cowsills as soon as she gets here.

Move over Partridge Family ... we may be starting a band!

Just waiting on Che.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Give and Take

It's become apparent the more I give, the longer it takes me to recover.

People are going to take and that remains one of life's constants ... like taxes and death.

Takers take.

But givers ... well ... we wear out over time.

Like great Athletes far passed their prime, we think we still have it in us ... and like them ... we don't ... and it's apparent for everyone to see.

We do it in short bursts whereas we used to be distant runners.

Back in the day, it was an amazing almost thirty year run of consistently giving to others believing I was helping God make the world a better place.

And truthfully we did ... for some.

Looking back on it, I did lots of wonderful and fantastic things and, in those moments, things got better ... for a little while.

Then things went back to being the same ... waiting on someone else to make them better.

These days, a few remember the glories of what used to be, but don't really care because it's not helping anything now.

I'm pretty ingenious at making things work, getting others to help and ... at least for a moment ... making things better.

Did it again yesterday.

Today I'm completely wiped out because of it.

What used to be a deep Ocean of compassion is becoming a shallow pond.

"You're like the frigging Energizer Bunny," Monty Parks says to me.

"You should have seen me in my day," I think but don't say. "I was relentless ... now I'm spastic."

I can still knock it out of the park but it takes a couple of days for me to recover.

Sitting in the floor, Sarah plays with my hair while we mindlessly watch television, waiting on our baby to be born and ... the excitement, tantalizing, erotic feel of fingers ... are everything I need.

The moment is perfect ... I am content ... she gives ... and I take.

We're watching an old movie where Indiana Jones finally breaks through to get the Holy Grail and there's an old Knight who's been guarding it for centuries.

Standing up the grey Knight holds up his sword to defend the Holiness and ... falls over backwards because of the weight.

I now know that feeling.

Yesterday was special as we hit another one out of the park ... or across the Sea as the case may be ... but we're paying for it today.

If only my phone would stop buzzing with the vibrations of so many needing so much.

Church Koozies

"I've never spoken into a Koozie before," the Mayor says holding his baby while speaking into a Koozie.

"Welcome to Bar Church," I whisper.

No self respecting islander wears socks so there's none to cover the microphones in the Ocean Breeze ... during the impromptu service on the Beach ... to thank God a Hurricane hit others far worse than us.

I don't know why organized religion is mostly reduced to "us against them" ... or "God likes us more than you" ... or "Our island wasn't hit and your town got the shit kicked out it so God obviously prefers here and not there" ... but at Bar Church we try to not pay attention to ... dogma or theology.

At Bar Church it's sort of like Barney does religion ... "I love you ... You love me ... we are one family" ... island life ... hard to describe but wonderful to experience.

A Hurricane came ... a Hurricane went ... our houses are mostly still here ... let's have a celebration ... it's the island way!

So that's what we did.

On the beach ... with a sound system ... no permit ... not much planning ... and no socks.

We asked God before the service began, "Where's a few good socks when you need them?"

God didn't answer.

But Joey who plays Bass has lots of Koozies ... not sure about the beers to go in them ... but he tapes them to the microphones so the wind wouldn't drown out the sound and a worship service was born!

It was pretty cool.

Church the way God planned it ... no stained glass ... bulletins ... pulpits ... choir lofts ... suits and socks ... panty hose ... and who needs a baptismal pool when you got an Ocean?

"It's a special place," the Mayor says holding his little girl in his arms.

"It's true," I whisper again. "We just got each other."

The sun, sand, breeze, Seagulls, salt air and ... I swear to God a crippled Jesus was walking on the water ... maybe it was the silhouette of a Paddle boarder ... made it all pretty Holy.

The music was out of this world.

Of course the cops showed up to ask if we have a permit.

"Oh yeah," someone mumbles, "well we did but it blew away ... besides the Mayor's here."

"Oh!" the officers exclaim ... slowly taking their hands off the tickets they were writing.

As soon as Church is over, Joey grabs his Koozies.

The rest of us hang around laughing.

You know ... the way worship should end.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Look At The Birds

He lay beside her in bed as I enter the room, tenderly caressing her hair while kissing her bare shoulder.

"Hey," he says to her and the word hangs in the air, filling the room with desperation disguised as hope.

A black woman with full moons in her eyes watching them smiles at me.

"Don't go," the man tells the woman.

She sighs and it almost becomes a moan but falls short.

"Don't ..." he whispers, kissing her sweaty forehead.

The black woman quietly slides closer to me and I put my arm around her.

"What's that smell? Can't you smell that smell?"

Rock lyrics play in my head as I try to identify the odor ... a stench of mothballs mixed with cherry syrup and mildew.

He buries his head between her breasts and she moans.

He sobs.

No longer able to contain myself, I touch his shoulder and he jumps, stares trying to recall who I am, then calls me by name.

"Micheal," and I've never heard it said this way ... in desperate relief.

"Let's get coffee," I whisper.

Our black friend rushes to make ready as I help him out of bed.

The Nurse arrives and rushes to the woman in bed.

Over coffee, he smiles, says he's glad I'm there, and asks, "Why are you here?"

Dementia is a funny thing and I answer, "We need to check on how much seed there is in your bird feeder. You love watching the birds."

"Yeah, I do," he gleefully says like a twelve year old.

And the woman dies.

The Nurse sobs at the sound of a breaking home that will never be full again.

"You want to ..." I start but with a clarity of voice and a presence of mind I haven't seen in a long time he clearly says, "No. She's gone."

Wiping tears from me eyes I can't find my voice.

"Look at the birds," he says and that's what we do when they take her away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Good Out of a Hurricane

At least for the moment, it's like it used to be.

The old Tybee is here again.

You can play football on Butler Ave.

Most of the houses are empty and without their lights, the stars are brighter at night ... the only sounds are the birds, Palms dancing in the Breeze and the Ocean sloppily kissing the shore.

If you venture out, there's only a handful to see, parking's easy and the Cops are helpful.

No one's on the beach so you can stand alone in the majesty of the Sea.

You can skinny dip because if anyone saw ... they wouldn't care.

It's not like now where Tybee's overrun with Parades, Government employees, a Paramilitary Police Force, an overabundance of Stop Signs and rules, tourists or parking meters.

Lot's of bad things come out of a Hurricane ... more elected officials than you can shake a stick at make up rules and policies on the spur of the moment so they can host a press conference to be on television when the powers out and no one can see or recharge their phones to listen ... but it's not about safety ... it's about exposure.

But good things come out of Hurricanes too.

As everyone's food was thawing, those who refused to evacuate held a cook out in the middle of Butler Avenue and gave the grilled food away which would have been thrown out.

Sure, they charged for the drinks but it's hot food when the powers out.

The two cops left in charge of Tybee shut them down for not having hot water ... a Chatham County Health Department violation.

I don't know about you but I've grilled in my back yard and shared Bar-b-que shrimp with neighbor before ... and there was no hot water within 100 yards.

It leaves me bewildered.

When did Government take over the world?

It's like the plant from "Little Shop of Horrors" screaming "FEED ME! FEED ME!"

Strolling out on the Beloved Back Deck, I listen to the birds ... watch the sun rise ... laugh at the Sandy Kisses ... feeling the breeze bath my body.

The Government imposed mandatory license check to ensure only residents of Tybee can be on Tybee has ... at least for a moment ... taken this clump of sand back to what it used to be.

For the moment anyway ... I thank them for this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Worst of the worst

It's crazy how histrionic we've become.

Politics, religion, sports, entertainment and ... meteorology!

They are seem the same, whipping crowds into a mindless frenzy of lemmings following each other off a cliff.

It's nuts how everything ... EVERYTHING ... is a catastrophic matter of life and death.

If Hillary wins it's the end of the world as we know it ... it Trump's elected it's certain disaster.

Christians and Muslims hate each other ... the intolerance of most faiths of anything other than it's own dogma ... the lip service of loving God by loving others is traded for the lie that God demands only one way ... yours!

Competitive sports has lapsed into pure unadulterated hatred for the other team.

But as horrific as these are ... meteorologists are the worst of the worse.

The mere prospect of a storm coming close means Armageddon is coming.

Under the guise of protecting you with the warning of what's coming ... they don't know shit ... getting paid guess and sell it as Gospel truth.

When the storm passes, they say we dodged a bullet.

In between, they create hysteria!

Long lines for gas, empty grocery store shelves, school closings, disrupted work, Government shutdowns (because Government in America is a follower ... not a leader) and intense animosity as we fight over what we must have to protect ourselves at the cost of others.

The craziest thing though is ... we fall for it ... and believe them when the demonstrative track record is they're wrong far more than they're right.


And in grand self delusion, they seem to believe themselves!!

Once, a real live meteorologist stood in our drive way picking up a kid and it thundered as a dark cloud rolled passed.

"Oh F#ck!," she smiles. "I guess I missed that one."

I guess so.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Carnival of Blessings

The Carnival of Friends gathered last night to celebrate the impending birth of our child.

For a few years, the Carnival intensely supported one another by having a good time ... all of the time.

Members came and went, there were lavish theme parties, live music, exotic destinations, a smoky white cloud, skinny dips and alcohol were all factors.

Damn we had fun!

We committed sins and forgave ourselves then committed more.

We also shared deeply as best of friends do and now, a deep abiding sense of loving respect binds us together even when it's rare because our lives have moved on.

Children, jobs, circumstances and deaths changed things.

"Life moves on," the Beatles remind us.

Still, when the Carnival assembles, the magic's still there.

Celebrate the arrival of Che, a large collection laugh out front ... a smaller collection are on the back porch where the Bar's set up ... as I stand in the Living Room cheering on the Beloved Dogs of Georgia where I can't help but notice everyone watching with me is a Lesbian.

Sarah and I have lots of friends who are gay.

But it's pretty funny the only ones watching football is them and me.

The Carnival came bearing gifts presented with great affection and laughter.

As the night winds down, the original members sit on the front porch and talk in the night ... pay homage to Roma, Dedra, and the other missing in action ... but share how our lives have changed for the better ... how good things are ... what we'd like to see ... quietly and lovingly supporting the change.

It abruptly ends with quick goodbyes, boxes of food and a car load of baby things.

Sarah and I make the short drive home under a pitch black sky with millions of God's little lanterns twinkling on and off.

We are blissfully aware of how blessed we are.

The great thing though is ... in a matter of days ... another blessings coming.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Birth Month

The sun shines through the Palm Tree with the oyster smile, coconut bra and grass skirt as a cool Ocean breeze blows across the quietness of my Beloved Back Deck.

Large green Lemons grow on the huge tree, as do green berries in the Palms and the island is as lush as it's been in years because of near missing Tropical storms that dumped rain after a barren summer.

The sky is a finger painting by God of blues, purples and greys.

Birds sing solos in a fierce competition, squirrels play tag, the dogs lay at my feet and the flame flickers from the Tiki Torch I have lit on my outside desk.

Sarah's sleeping with numerous pillows stuffed under and around her swollen belly and I meander in an out to make certain she's okay ... tiptoeing in ... tiptoeing out to resume collecting my thoughts and writing them out.

Yellow Butterflies appear which is strange for the beginning of Fall.

There is no humidity so I find the cool Ocean breeze cold and have on clothes ... my favorite UGA tee-shirt.

Lots of people love fall and the coming of winter though I am not one of them.

Sarah herself will tell you the only thing I truly hate ... given an abundance of people and events who treated me with hate or took me places I should have never gone ... is the cold.

I cuss it bitterly when it's here and I detest the thought of my least favorite months arriving.

My Dad's birthday is in October.

Our baby Che is going to be born this month.

It'd nice, I told my Mom the other day, if the two collide.

I can hear the clinking toasts at the Bar in Heaven as Dad buys another round for his buddies watching his last grandchild be born.

These are nice thoughts.

So ... the birth month is here.

I'm excited and scared ... can't wait for her to come ... fully aware that everything about the way we now live will change ... and for the umpteenth time in my life ... I will be reborn.

It's always a little scary when you're reborn.

But it's satisfying as Hell after you are.

Come on Baby!

Mommy and Daddy are ready.
I want to take your boat as far as it goes
Feel Jamaican sand between my toes
I want to ride on the wind just as far as I can

From a song by "The Boat Drunks", a really great band who capture lots of things I love most in life.

I've got a Beach in my Back Yard but still want more ... beaches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Where did the time go?

The biggest block to my writing these days is time.

Apparently I used to have a lot more of it.

I did steal a few moments to look and, evidently, the time/space continuum hasn't changed ... there are still 365 days in a year ... 7 days in a week ... 24 hours in a day ... 60 minutes in an hour  ... and 60 seconds in a minute.

Somehow they all seem shorter now and I don't like it one damn bit.

It's been said time grows shorter the older you get but I'm not old.

My life is full which is entirely different.

Every second I'm amazed living with this incredible woman who loves and accepts me more than I've ever experienced in my life.

There are also these three little girls who live here and even when they disappear, it makes me uneasy and I start to worry about what they're up to and how I can either prevent it ... or help it.

It's exhausting!

Then there's work ... sigh.

At Compassionate Care Hospice we help manage life's greatest transition ... talk about supply and demand!

People won't stop dying and it's driving me crazy because every time there's a break scheduled or a day off requested ... the Grim Reaper comes a' calling.

The guys a workaholic and I hate those kind of people!

If that wasn't enough, I find myself again ... inexplicably ... in charge of a Church that meets in a Bar.

Hmmm ... let's do the math ... work five days a week ... lead worship on Sunday = 6 days a week.

So with my free time, I work on being the rock star I was destined to become but never achieved.

On Tuesday nights I join Monty Parks Acoustic Jam at Doc's Bar where everyone's a sensitive songwriter bearing their heart and soul ... except me.

It's my job to lighten things up by singing "Dead Skunk in the middle of the road" or "Walk on the Tybee Side" ... my blatant rip off of a Lou Reed original ... and my current fan favorite "Keep the sticky side up" ... (In full disclosure I only have one fan and it's my wife who really does keep the sticky side up!).

Back to the math ... this gobbles up additional hours that I should keep for myself but ... it's fun and I have a good time.

Add sleep to the equation and there's no time left to write.

Where did the time go?

Having said that ... I'm having one Hell of a good time.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

An Exclusive Club

I'm part of a very elite group.

What do I have in common with Paul McCartney ... Rod Stewart ... Robert De Niro ... Larry King ... Steve Martin ... Woody Allen ... Hugh Efner ... Robert Murdock ... and ... Abraham in the Bible?

Each of us had (in my case having) a baby at 60 or above!

"Are you excited?" I'm often asked.

"I am," I answer.

"Really?" they reply.

"Yes," I say growing weary.

"Well, more power to you."

Several years ago, I was in California and had the opportunity to hook up with Eamon Sheehan and his lovely wife Leila. We grabbed bottles of wine and took them to a Turkish restaurant and had a marvelous night ending with a tour of their tiny apartment ... and I have to say all of the planning at NASA can't match how Leila organizes a closet.

When Sarah and I learned we're having a baby, Eamon was one of the first congratulatory messages I received.

"This is great! Don't worry about your age. I wouldn't trade the 18 years I had with my Dad for anything."

Eamon's Dad, Daniel, was my friend.

He was the oldest Dad in the annual Father/Son basketball game at the old St. Michael's School on Tybee Island. and one year ... by the grace of God ... we Dad's eat our sons ... by cheating and talking smack.

Sweat pouring from every orifice, Daniel and I just laugh.

Dan was in past 60 club too!

He and his beautiful Carolyn bore Eamon and had to endure all the same questions I am now.


Yesterday we were at the Alzheimer's Walk and ended up holding and feeding, a six week old girl, who kept stopping sucking the bottle to smile at me.

I laugh in response.

"Hit her harder," Sarah laughs as I burb the child.

The baby smiles at me.

Salt water fills my eyes as I envision Che ... Clare Hope Elliott ... nicknamed after one of my heroes.

I'm ready for Sarah to not be pregnant anymore. It hurts me watching her struggle.

And I'm ready to hold our baby.

I've lived a long time now ... learning how to love ... and through trial and error ... I'm much better at it than I was.

One time, Daniel and I had lunch together and afterwards, sat in his car just talking about life and family ... the messiness of divorces ... the intense love of children ... the good ones and the bad ones.

"We're just learning how to love," he laughs in that crazy southern Irish brogue.

It's taken me a long time to finally understand what he meant. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nothing Like A Good Nap

After feeding 5000 people with not much to work with but, miraculously pulling it off anyway, Jesus needed a break.

So he does what a lot of us want to do all the time ... go to the beach ... get in a boat ... head off shore ... relax.

It's always a good plan.

But he makes the mistake of taking his buddies who are more into fishing, drinking beer and looking at girls in Bikinis on the beach.

Jesus just wants to C.H.I.L.L.

Grabbing a pillow, he heads into the bow and takes a nap.

I'm the first to tell you naps are great and wonderful things.

Sarah's not a napper but I find them glorious and wonderful! The world would be a much better place if everybody took naps every day.

I'm tired as Hell today and am already looking forward to today's nap!

Just as Jesus got into that comfy spot, sleeping good and having great dreams about Mary Magdalene, a storm blows in and his buddies get pissed ... then scared ... so what do they do?

They wake him up!

There's nothing worse from being woken up from a good nap, especially if good dreams are involved ... it pisses you off cause it's hard to reclaim a good sleep.

"HEY!" his buddies yell, "how can you sleep? Don't you care about us? Do something!"

With his hair askew from the pillow, rubbing his eyes, with visions of Mary Magdalene still in his mind, Jesus says, "CUT IT OUT!"

His buddies shut up and the storm blew on pass.

"JESUS CHRIST!" Jesus says, "What are y'all so damn afraid of?"

The Bible doesn't say what happens next but I imagine Jesus went back to sleep not giving a rat's ass about his buddies who apparently felt bad about waking him up.

The lesson is obvious ... if somebody's taking a nap ... leave them alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happily Tropically Depressed

Soft but steady rain sprinkles outside into the Palm Trees, Hibiscus and the Confederate Jasmine that winds down the railing of the Beloved Back Deck.

Listening through the open windows and sliding glass doors, sitting at the kitchen table wearing black running shorts, I'm happily Tropically Depressed.

"Why are the windows open?" Maddie, our brilliant but clueless 15 year old says stumbling up the spiral staircase.

"Because it makes me happy," I smile.

She rolls her eyes, opens the Fridge and spills waffles over the kitchen floor.

I laugh which is the quickest way to piss off a brilliant but clueless 15 year old but she giggles too before pretending like she's upset again.

The rain easies ... birds burst into solos ... the choir of cicada explode into Hymns of Praise ... and the Frogs surrounding the Marsh viciously attack the bass notes.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young round out the music reuniting just for Maddie and me online.

She has the funniest ways of making frozen waffles ... put them in the toaster for a minute ... microwave them for 35 seconds ... nuke the syrup as she smothers them in butter ... pour it on top ... and eat far to fast to enjoy the taste.

"No Ketchup?" I ask.

She rolls her eyes at me again.

"Do you think" she begins, sitting at the dining room table, wearing a tee shirt and glasses, hair askew from her pillow ... and she asks me.

About school ... the boyfriend ... her sisters ... lunch ... the weekend ... how soon we can move to a big house in the Caribbean ... will I take her shopping ... can we turn on the air conditioning?

I catch a lot of shit from people because I'm 60 ... already have three children of "my own" ... "took on" three more girls ... and, most outrageously ... Sarah and I are having a baby.

I don't care.

From the moment Jeremy popped out and peed on the Doctor, I've loved being a Dad.

Most people only get to do it once ... as I head into my third round ... praying I don't die before I'm done.

The rain stops.

"We can ride our bikes to lunch," Mad hopefully suggests.

"Yeah," I say, appreciating it all.

Old people don't like mud puddles ... afraid they might fall in ... break something ... go to the Hospital ... never get out.

"Even if it's raining, we can ride our bikes to lunch."

There's no response.

"What's the worst that'll happen? We'll drip in our food?"

I love being young cause I believe ... if I refuse to get old ... I can stay young till I die.

My kids help me do that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


On September 11, 2001 I'm in my office when someone tells me about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

I remember getting up and walking back to the dining room where a television hung on the wall for homeless men to watch after dinner and several were watching as I enter the room including Charles, my six-foot-two, African-American, former bank robber, mentally ill, “adopted” son.

I stand and watch the smoldering hole in the building ... then the second plane hits and Charles grabs my arm squeezing it tightly. He's shaking with fear and I tensed in disbelief at the explosion as Charles grabs me ... I almost came out of my skin.

Turning from the television I look at him and he's bent over as though trying to hide behind me ... he shakes and his eyes are full of fear .... his hand grips on my shoulder.

Charles has been with us for a few years at this time and is as stable as he had ever been ... he cleaned the building, eats Oreo cookies like a kid, and mostly talks to himself.

He writes letters to the President meaning I get regular visits from Bill at the F.B.I. though except for when he's talking to himself --- laughing or cussing loudly --- Charles never shows much emotion.

This is the first time that I see him frightened.

“Sir,” he said in his deep voice as I stare in his face and put my arm around him, “do you think that they will come for us?”

I can’t believe how scared he is but who know how his mentally ill mind was taking it in as I glance back at the television in disbelief at what I'm seeing ... not knowing how or why ... I make myself think about him.

“No Charles. We’re just a homeless shelter. No one is coming after us.”

“Why not?” He shoots back as his head's on his knees standing behind me still holding on to my arm and shaking, “You get us government money.”

My head shakes in another kind of disbelief.

How do you answer something like that?

I have no words for him.

So I hug him tight and say I'll take care of him.

Whenever September 11 comes around I can't help but remember this.

Our nation changed that day.

Fundamentalism of any kind is a cruel and evil thing be it Muslim or Christian or any other brand.

Lives were lost because people’s religious and political views are as perverted as Charles’ ability to think rationally.

When all is said and done, it is about how we treat one another at the individual level. What happened between Charles and me that day is as significant as anything else that day.

People hugged one another and cried as we witnessed tragedy beyond comprehension.

So it is right to remember what our country lost ... but it's also right to remember it reminded us how much we need one another ... in the end will be there for each other.

That's what today means.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Room For More

"You're gonna love her more than you love us."

Her voice cracks as salt water wells in her large blue eyes as it does on the faces of her sisters sitting at the dining room table.

After a dinner of every left over in the Fridge, Laurel, the 12 year old, continues to vocalize feelings Maddie and Cassidy repress.

Sarah's parents are visiting and working hard on getting Che's room ready and doing a fantastic job as it now looks like Clare Hope Elliott has a Nursery.

In addition to their mother's swollen belly, Che's becoming real to the girls ... gobbling up their space with her stuff.

"That's not true!" Sarah says in exasperation.

"It is too," Laurel says now crying.

It's a conversation that been building for days as each girl is asking Sarah things about me ... "Why is he like that?" ... "I don't understand Mike's humor!" ... "He gets mad but, I don't know, he's ... I don't know."

Sitting there nursing a glass of wine, my heart rips in pieces.

This time, it's my voice that cracks as tears stream down my face and I sob as I speak.

"You're gonna make me cry ... I don't understand how you can think that ... God I love you all so ... and I'm happy you're gonna have a sister ... and Jeremy, Kristen and Chelsea are having a sister ... it's room for more love in our house ... in our lives."

And all three girls rise without speaking and lay their heads on me and ... all the words go away.

They know I love them.

I know they love me.

We're all crazy and different and could kill one another half the time ... each of the girls honestly believe they're only children inconvenienced by the presence of others ... in a blended family ... in a greedy world full of distractions and dishonesty.

But this is a honest moment.

Five of us embrace and cry and openly give love in our own ways for a moment.

I'm a lucky man having lived the glories of raising Jeremy, Kristen and Chelsea who I love with everything in me.

And now I get to do it again with stranger girls who I love every bit as much.

And all us share the joy there's room for more.

Ethan, our grandson, opened that door.

Che's knocking it down.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

On The Shoulders of Giants

It's always funny, and disconcerting, when you realize you never existed.

Your name's been blotted from the Book of Life.

Things you know you did are forgotten.

People you knew no longer know you.

Happened to me yesterday ... again.

Sitting in a conference with others, I listened as a bright young face delivered the history of world as she knows ... which is far different from the history I helped make.

One of the things I've learned about surviving this long is people have short memories ... choosing to not remember who, or what, got them here ... preferring to believe they've done it themselves and nothing could have possibly happened before they burst on the scene.

I try to remember.

I've stood on the shoulder of giants and can name them all.

There's also been some who stood on my shoulders and can't seem to remember a damn thing.

It gives me perspective.

"What is man that thou aren't mindful of him?" is an old and sexist way to put it.

"For everything there is a season ... and time ... and purpose under Heaven," is another way of coming to terms with who I am ... what I've done ... and I'm doing now.

"Well, I guess you had to be there," is what I sat there thinking as the bright young face who's never stood on the shoulder of a giant because she's too busy believing she'd doing it for the first time.

"I guess you had to be there ... it was a Hell of a ride."

As she rambles on about nothing new, my mind turnes to my favorite quote of Bob Dylan.

When asked if he could write "Blowing in the Wind" or something like it again ... he shrugs his shoulder and answers ... "I did it once. I'll do something else now."

In time people are going to forget Bob Dylan ... like Brian Wilson ... Kohelet who wrote Ecclesiastes ... the nameless man who asked God a question that's endured until now.

It's okay to be forgotten ... as long as you're doing something else now.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer's End

"The Swinging Medallions are playing the Pier at 7!"

I text Sarah just as Bar Church begins, "your folks are going to love it!"

Regardless of the fact none of the Swinging Medallions perform anymore doesn't matter as their sons, grandsons and others keep the Beach Band going strong.

It's the way I feel about summer ... I don't want it to end in spite of the reality cold weather's looming.

Before I die though I'm going where summer never ends.

The Pier's packed with people having a good time, the music's great, locals and tourists mingle as one, drinks flow from the Rip Tide and we dance, talk and people watch.

Joey Spaulding meanders over, kisses Sarah square on her swollen belly and says, "I hope it's not a girl."

"Her name's Che," I reply.

"OH! That's wonderful!" he laughs wandering away.

The fireworks begin and it really is a magical show as families watch in the sand, couples sneak into the sand dunes to make love, and kids dash to the Ocean to swim under exploding stars.

Cops are everywhere but, for once, all seem to be on good behavior.

Sarah leans over the railing enjoying of the painting of the sky and a tourist in a cowboy hat crowds behind her to see too.

Sliding my hand past Cassidy, our 9 year old, between my wife and the tourist ... Cass's eyes grow big as moons and she mouths, "No Micheal" ... while giggling.

Grabbing Sarah's ass, her head jerks back with fire blazing from the baby blues at the innocent tourist in the cowboy hat.

Cass and I burst into laughter, the tourist jumps backwards, Sarah fist unclenches and everyone "oohs and ahs" at the colors dancing at night.

As soon as its over, the Medallions double shoot baby's love and we make our way through the cluster fuck that is parking on Tybee.

It's easy for us because it's a five block drive (Sarah's Dad couldn't make the walk) but I roll the window down and have a good time talking to people making their way to wherever.

"Can we open the windows?" I ask sitting with Sarah and her parents at the table after the girls have all settled elsewhere.

"Listen" she flares as if ready to punch a tourist in a Cowboy hat, "I'm twenty degrees hotter than you are with our baby ... maybe after Che's born."

"Damn," I mutter and Sarah's folks pretend they didn't hear me.

I feel pretty good though how much they're going to have me in their prayers before they go to sleep.

It's nice when people pray for you.

But ... I hate summer ending.

I don't want to see the Marsh change colors, the Ocean get cold, Manatees search for warmer waters, shrimp season end, people regularly wearing shoes ... Presidential elections.

Thank God I don't have to think about any of that for a few more months.

September through November are excellent weather wise and I'm already looking forward to Che's black running shorts ... no shirt or shoes as we glide into Thanksgiving.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

An Open Letter

Dear Sarah,

Let me get the unpleasantly out of the way first ... yeah, I go nuts over Georgia football, cuss out loud during games, drink too much and take up all the space in bed leaving you to kick and punch in your fight for sleep ... but you never leave my side.

Oh my God ... I'm just humbled by your love.

And you laugh when you lecture me, waking you up again as I stumble in from the Breakfast Club ... "Two hours! You kept me up two hours last night! This is after you fell asleep on the couch with your Shazam hanging out in front my parents ... Laurel took a picture and wanted to post in on Facebook but I wouldn't let her."

Sharing this laying in bed, dying for sleep, you make a fist as though you're going to punch me but ... all I feel is love.

Then you laugh as you roll over to reclaim sleep and my heart is completely yours.

I lavish you with love in my ways ...making sure your juice is poured and coffee made in the mornings ... cooking and cleaning so you don't have to ... lugging shit around you want lugged ... eventually helping you with whatever project is of utmost importance at the moment  ... being parental advisor to the girls while secretly loving them fiercely ... lusting after you as you stumble to the bathroom to pee.

You lavish me too with ... ear plugs because my ears keep getting infected when I swim ... keeping me stocked in cosmetics for my outdoor shower ... boiled peanuts ... wine ... black running shorts ... University of Georgia tee shits.

Honestly, I have no idea what I would do without you.

My favorite saying of yours is ... "You have no idea."

It goes back to when we talked after a decade without and I mumbled something about you and me reconnecting and you said ... "You have no idea."

I still don't most of the time.

But I do know how much I love you.

And I know how much you love me.

And it's everyone else who has no idea.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Highest Holy Day

I'm sitting here pondering Che's first Tailgate experience.

Dressed as a UGA Cheerleader or maybe a linebacker, she'll be laughing and having a good time swinging in a portable swing hanging from the red and black pop up tent beside her nephew Ethan ... who will also be dressed as Quarterback or a UGA cheerleader.

Ethan's ready.

Che's not born yet.

You can't start planning too early.

College football season hangs in the air with the salt from the Ocean circling on the horizon as Pelicans dive for fish and Dolphins slice through the water.

It's a magical time of year as summer remains and football begins.

God I love it.

And have celebrated it my entire life ... cause I was raised right.

Sarah struggles to understand and I love her more for trying so hard.

When I was little, my Dad would pile David and I in the car before the sun rose on Saturday mornings to drive to Athens where we bought scalp tickets and watched the University of Georgia play football.

It was pure magic ... being with Dad, meeting friends, tailgating, fried chicken, listening to Munson, looking at the Co-eds all under a clear blue sky in the Classic City.

Disney World can't replicate such magic.

When my kids were born, first Dad and I ... then just me ... passed the magic on and now, Jeremy's passing it on too.

I still try and Maddie, our clueless 14 year old who knows everything, is my game mate and I watch catch the magic.

Try as I may I can't explain it all to Sarah.

There is so much tradition ... so many memories, glorious wins and crushing defeats, family and friends ... it flows through my veins ... is part of my DNA ... so much more than a football team ... or a game.

It pleases me immensely our girls wear red and black ... by choice ... stop to watch as I'm watching ... high five me and give me a hug when we score ... understand Saturdays are special in the fall.

Now Ethan's here.

Che's coming soon.

It makes me so damn excited to pass on something so special that was passed on to me ... a gift I cherish, relish and enjoy!

The older I get, the more I count my blessings ... the more I want to share them with my kids and grandkids ... friends ... and Sarah most of all.

Because every Saturday morning in the fall ... I'm a little boy again ... as David and I jump in the car with Dad for a magic ride ... and do magic things ... in a magic place.

Ethan's already looking good as his folks have him ready for the highest of High Holy Days.

He's kicking off the season for our family.

Sarah and I will have Che to join him when the Beloved Dawgs of Georgia finish!

Thank you Dad.

You'd love what's going on now.