Since Oct 28, 1998

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Life is too short to wear a fake Rolex.

When my Father was diagnosed with a service connected disability with Army doctors giving him a year to live, he was discharged. He returned home and had a talk with his girlfriend who would become my Mother. They decided they would marry immediately and have a child before he passed away.

Who would marry a dying man? Either my mother was entirely altruistic or greatly in love.

I would be their first child born eleven months after their marriage in the middle of winter,

As a child, I recall my Father teaching me, forcing me, working with me and telling me things with words like, “You have to learn how to do this so you can take care of your mother”. He would live until I was 17 passing away at the age of 39. My parents had other children but I was the one who got the message: “take care of your mom”.

The day my Father passed away was the unhappiest day of my life. I recall him lying on the Gurney. I just wanted him to sit up and tell me everything was OK. I kept telling him over and over again, “I will make you proud of me”.

For the most part, I think he would be proud of me. I helped my Mom until she found my step father six years later and still helped them both. They adopted a handicapped Child together and struggled all of their lives. I gave my mother a birthday present on my birthday every year with the Message: “Thanks for borning me”.

I joined the Navy Reserves when I was in High School and after that I found my girlfriend. I would eventually be called to active duty in Vietnam in 1966, after my graduation but before hers, spoiling our chance for a Church wedding.

She was a “keeper” and I didn’t want some one else to snap her up while I was gone so I proposed an immediate wedding. We ran away to another State when she was still in high school and I immediately left for the war zone.

We wrote 700 letters between us in the two years I spent on active duty in the Navy. I returned home and she would help me graduate from College. She would help me through jobs, starting businesses, and getting through more than one mid life crisis. Three of those businesses survived and one has a twenty eight year life now, providing jobs for seven families.

The happiest day of my life was when out oldest daughter was born. I was there but the Hospital would not let me stay so I left and stood under the second story window where my wife and baby's room was located. My wife would come to the window and would hold the baby up so I could see them both. I cried with happiness.

We would have four more children, a total of four daughters and a son. All of them are functional adults now with Children of their own making my wife and me proud.

We have twenty grandchildren! My wife, Rae Beth, and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in the Spring of 2016 and my children and grandchildren rewarded me with the perfect git: complete family harmony while we were there with absolutely no family acrimony. We have been poor and we have been rich. We want for little now and we have been truly blessed. I am so grateful.

You can become rich, too, in an instant just by being thankful for what you have!

Thanks to my Dad forcing me to learn things outside of my comfort zone, I have developed the confidence that, if I want to do something, I can do it!