Growing up, it was not uncommon for my parents to go on a Sunday afternoon drive. I honestly think it was handed down through the generations. I know my grandparents did the same thing back in the day, and the Lord knows driving all the back roads with my granddaddy back in the day taught me how to get just about anywhere without hitting a major highway.
My folks love to tell the story of how shortly after we moved from California, I knew my way around McKenzie better than they did. A pretty impressive feat for a 3-year-old. It was from riding with Grandpa everywhere he went, either visiting his friends, maybe Max Manley or one of the Flippin brothers, or just hitting the roads because he didn’t want to be cooped up in the house.
Now with a family of my own, we regularly take weekend drives. Sometimes to just get out of the house, other times it is to break the crazy of a three and four-year-old who are doing their very best to cause a parent to have a nervous breakdown. Either way, just getting out of the house and exploring God’s country can do wonders for mental health (just have to ignore the gas prices).
This Sunday was no different as my wife needed time to organize and make a room Christmas tree ready. So I quickly volunteered to take the kids on a ride. Somewhere in my head came the idea to go towards Caledonia; from there led me to drive out to Carmack’s Fish Barn to see the rebuild. I want to compliment the Radfords on the rebuild, it is looking great and we can’t wait to finally get our fish dinners back.
As I sat in the parking lot for a few seconds, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that one of the family excursion sites is going to be back up and running. That’s when a rush of thoughts came to me, it is getting so close to Thanksgiving why don’t I write a column about what I’m grateful for. As I went down the road, I simply asked myself the question, “What are you thankful/grateful for this year?”
Of course, the first thing to pop into my head was family. I am grateful for my two children, whom I thought I’d never have, especially at my age, and going into a second marriage. Even though they could make the Pope cuss, those two babies provide unconditional love and affection. There are countless moments when they just make your heart melt. Naturally, I am grateful for my wife, as it ain’t easy living with someone like myself. Living with someone that’s a nervous wreck and always trying to conquer the world produces its own special set of challenges.
This leads to the next thankful thought, modern medicine. If it wasn’t for revolutionary breakthroughs in medicine, I’m pretty sure anxiety and other medical issues would have gotten the best of me. I’m not going to get on my soapbox and preach the woes of anxiety and depression. I will say, pay close attention to your loved ones and support them especially when they are dealing with things that seem to be overwhelming at times.
That leads to another grateful moment. I am grateful for the support system I have in life. Outside of Brittany, I can lean on my parents and in-laws when times get tough. A few years ago, I thought my world was coming to an end as my name and reputation were dragged through the mud. People that I thought were friends stood idly teaching me a valuable lesson about self-preservation.
I am thankful for my time in Rotary. The Gleason Rotary Club gave me the chance to fill a void in my life after leaving teaching. A group that I will always call true friends welcomed me in as a stranger and allowed me to lead. I learned what it means to be a Rotarian. They allowed me to take the reins of the construction of an emergency helipad project. There I made lasting friendships with members of the Gleason community. I am so thankful we managed to pull that project out because it will save countless lives over the years.
From being president of the club and then onto district leadership, I met numerous folks from all facets of life. I’ve mingled in hospitality rooms with everyday folks all the way to international presidents. That’s not something everyone can say they’ve done.
I am thankful for the freedom we enjoy in the United States. We are beyond blessed in the United States. Put yourself in the position of the people of Ukraine, they are fighting for their freedom every single day. Defending themselves or their family from the maniacal despot of Vladimir Putin. Once upon a time, I wanted to be in the U.S. Army, but not far into basic training my body decided it had other plans. Not everyone can be a soldier or a veteran. For those that have served our country, I say thank you for your service.
I am thankful that while I was not able to serve my country as a soldier, I have been able to serve my community as a public officeholder. From my time on the McKenzie City Council to my current status on the Carroll County Commission, I have worked to make the city and county a better place for my children. I have always enjoyed politics and am thankful to the folks of McKenzie and Carroll County for electing me into office two times.
Lastly, let me say that I am thankful for you, our readers. If it weren’t for you then there would be no need to write this weekly column as I test my memory and abilities. The Weekly 150 started out in 2019 as a way to communicate the happenings in McKenzie as it celebrated its sesquicentennial (150th birthday). Now, the column has taken shape over the last four years as my own personal sounding board on what I find interesting. It has even taken home a few awards over the years. I thank each and every one that has reached out thanking me for my stories and providing the necessary encouragement to keep it going.
I’ll always be grateful for those backgrounds that help clear the clutter from my jumbled-up mind. A little sunshine, fresh air and real country music in the background are just what the doctor ordered.