(Happy New Year from New Zealand! Here are our favorites from 2015, with the more serious ones at the bottom. Cheers.)
The older you get, the more you understand how hard it is to find a “good man” in this life.
The outpouring of emotion this week in Oklahoma, following the premature death of TV sportscaster Bob Barry, Jr., proved that in spades.
I honestly encourage you to have a look at “BBJ’s” memorial service, which was televised live. It is compelling, heart-rending and enlightening viewing.
Loving husband? Check.
Doting father? Check.
All round good guy? Check.
Even so, I’ve heard of many men who checked all these boxes.
But in my 35 years of working in or with (frequently “precious”) media types, I have never seen such a tidal wave of love from friends, colleagues, competitors and “plain, old, everyday people.”
(WARNING: reading this blog could give you hypoglycemia)
I honestly don’t know why Mr. Uhles put up with us.
He ran the neighborhood store that was exactly 79 steps from my best friend Steve Madden’s front door on Nebraska Street.
We went there so often we wore a trail along Berry Road to Mr. Uhles’ store.
We loved his store, but we hated his old, asphalt parking lot.
It would heat up to about a billion degrees in Oklahoma summer.
Since we were always barefoot, we’d have to hot-foot it across the “lava”, trying not to get a stubbed toe or cut on glass or concussed by our buddy (because boys are always smashing each other just for fun).
Mrs. Uhles had let it be know that we had to smarten up before coming into her store.
That meant wiping the small stones and tar and glass and goatheads from our feet.
Once accomplished, we’d then storm into the store like the U.S. Marines.
At least 900 times every single summer day.
Somebody posted a photo recently of a goat head, the evil nemesis of my youth.
I cannot hardly express how much I hated those things.
If you grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, you didn’t wear shoes during the summer.
Every now and again, you’d step on those suckers.
They’d stab you right in your heal, and bury the “horns” to the hilt.
When you tried to rip them out, half the time the “horn” would stay embedded in your heel, and blood would start trickling out.
That would cost you important play time, because you’d have to limp home so your Mom could perform surgery, using a needle, tweezers and Methiolate.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the wound would ache for days, because the evil goat heads had some kind of poison in them.
It was sort of like getting finned by a catfish on your bare foot.
My Great Grandma Ashley wasn’t big as a minute.
So when she threatened to whip me, I wasn’t scared, even at age three or four.
Besides, when she threatened to swat me, she was smiling that sweet old lady smile.
And brandishing her embroidered hankie — that’s what she was going to whip me with.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Writers are supposed to write 1,000 words a day.
Rain or shine.
Summer and winter.
In sickness and in health.
Or something like that.
But this blog has been on something of a
hiatas hiatias hieties break of late, especially from funny. We have none.
We did manage to blog about Great Grandma Ashley, who was a pistol, and Millennial Douches, but we have no funny.
We blame it on Kris Wehrmeister, my butthead writer friend in Oregon.
Her insanely funny new book, Fightball: Dying of Suck, which YOU CAN BUY RIGHT NOW ON AMAZON!, has pretty much sucked all the available humor molecules right out of the whole entire universe.
(Editor’s Note: I wrote this and three other stories as part of what I’d hoped would be a book on miracles. That did not happen, so this will.)
One of the hardest things I ever did was emigrate to New Zealand in 1993, but that’s what was required by my young family.
My Mom had a chronic, debilitating lung disease that not even the Centers for Disease Control could diagnose. I knew she was not going to get better. So moving halfway around the world was really hard.
Thankfully, we got to stay with Mom and my step-dad C.B. for about a month while waiting for NZ Immigration to give us the go-ahead.
The delays and red tape about drove my Missus crazy. But I saw it as a time of grace that gave me precious extra time to spend with Mom. This was enormously important to me, because I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.
We made the most of our time, cherishing the simple things. Mom and I would take short walks, talk, eat, play with my 4-year-old son, and laugh a lot. Then at night, I would beat Mom.
- My Miracles 2 — ‘It Wasn’t Long Before the Church Began to Resemble a Battlefield, with Bodies Literally Strewn Everywhere’
(Editor’s note: Part Two of Four Stories on My Miracles)
Back in August, I wrote about the many miracles that surrounded my Mother’s death in 1996. But, I never mentioned the related miracles that occurred in New Zealand … until now.
In 1994 or 1995, Mom was on oxygen 24/7 and had wasted away to 75 pounds. An undiagnosed spore had destroyed her lungs and was killing her. We were all praying for a miracle.
So when I was asked to organize a “healing Mass” in Auckland, New Zealand, by a miracle-worker named Father Peter Mary Rookey, I said ‘yes’! But only after I’d done a fair bit of homework to ensure his bonafides, as old reporters are wont to do.
My research included reading Man of Miracles, the book respected British journalist Heather Parsons wrote about “the famous healing priest from Chicago”, who himself had miraculously regained his sight as a young child.
Heather had “embedded” herself in Fr Rookey’s healing ministry, following him across Ireland, and chronicling what she called “miracles of biblical proportion”.
Yesterday, I was shopping in our version of Walmart when I saw her.
The first thing I noticed was her short, purple hair.
Then the “circus tent” dress, her 350-pound bulk, and the painfully swollen feet that were somehow stuffed into brightly colored Crocs.
I thought to myself, “I bet Mom would’ve loved this lady.”
(A very, very serious one about abortion)
Oh little baby, you’ll never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye.
Oh unborn child, if you only knew just what your momma was plannin’ to do.
You’re still a-clingin’ to the tree of life, but soon you’ll be cut off before you get ripe.
When I was a senior at Norman High School, in 1974, I remember happily buying the new Seals & Crofts album, then getting really angry at the lyrics to the cover song.
It was the year after the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, five years after Woodstock’s “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”, and six years after Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).
I was a heathen and a virgin.
The LAST thing I wanted was some “anti-abortion” musicians moralizing their way into my bedroom.
Turns out, nobody else did either.
We were Baby Boomers, and it was all about us, not some unborn child.
Sadly, that sweet song could do precious little to hold back the abortion tsunami.
So now, 42 years after Roe v Wade, these are the *facts: