SOUNDS OF SOCCER

Have you ever noticed the sounds of a soccer game?

          I have never played a single minute of soccer.  I grew up in South Mississippi.  In the 1960’s we didn’t do soccer.

          I’d bet we didn’t have a soccer ball in the county.  We had footballs, we had big red dodge balls, we had baseballs and basketballs,   We had golf balls and tennis balls, but I don’t think there were any multi-colored soccer balls unless someone from up north brought one down.

          We didn’t know what we were missing.

          Then again, we wouldn’t have known what to do with a soccer ball.

          Our five year old son played in the first soccer game I ever saw. We had to borrow a pair of shin guards.  I didn’t know they were required.

          Now, it’s 42 years later. 

I’ve been to a thousand soccer games.  I have bought a hundred soccer balls.   Where did they go?

We’ve bought soccer cleats, soccer shorts, soccer socks.  I  went to soccer school.  I coached soccer for several years.  I love the game.  Although I still don’t completely understand being off sides.  

Now, my grand-daughters play soccer.

          Last week, I was back out on the soccer fields, watching the soccer Moms, the soccer Dads and the soccer Kids play.

          I enjoyed listening to the sounds of a soccer field.

          It is music to my ears.

          Every soccer field has one or two three or four year old kids  playing with a ball half his or her size.  Sometimes the Dad is there, down on his knees, rolling a ball to the three year old.  Or Mama’s tying a shoelace that’s gonna come undone again and again.

          Every soccer field has those girls who turn cartwheels.

          Every soccer field has the junior high kid playing hacky sack with a soccer ball or shooting for goals against an empty net.

          Every soccer field has a high school kid, working as a referee.  He doesn’t understand off sides either, but he’s trying.

          Every soccer game has that one parent who only knows one kid’s name.  Yep, you guessed it.  That kid is supposed to be captain, lead scorer, best defender and fastest, most accurate kid on the field.  The others kids don’t count. 

          Listen for it. You can hear that parent when you’re two soccer fields away.

          The kids high five one another when there’s a score.  They huddle together when one is hurt.

          Then there are the kids talking to one another.  You just have to watch this. Yes, they talk. There’s school talk, girl talk and boy talk.  I’m not going to open that can of worms.  Five hundred or so words aren’t enough.

          I like hearing the soccer Moms huddle together and talk about their kids, teachers at school and every once in a while a wayward husband or friend. 

          Yep, if you listen, they talk.

          And then there’s the grandparents.  I’m one of them.  We’re the greatest.  We bring Snickers Bars and M&Ms.  We’re the ones with the thermos of hot chocolate and an extra blanket on cool nights.  We’re the ones who make it a point to talk with our grandchildren when they come off the field.  We hug them, win, lose or draw.

          And, after the games are over, there’s that silence you find only on the soccer.  If you’ve been there, you know it.

           I like listening to the sounds out on a soccer field. 

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at www. mikewindham.com.

MISTER and MRS.

I don’t know what happened. Somewhere between my senior year in high school and today a few words got lost. I can’t seem to find them.
What happened to the Misters and the Mrs.? Today, I hear kids who are, as they say “still wet behind the ears,” calling people my age by their first name.

When I was growing up, I knew Mr. Reeves, Mr. Tillotson, Mr. Ed. Mr. Bill. and then there was Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Moak, Mrs. Jones, etc.

Do you get my drift?

My father-in-law died fifteen years ago, to me, he’s still Mr. Ray. I could only call him Bill behind his back, when I was talking to my wife. Up front and center, you can bet next week’s pay check, it was Mr. Ray. And, my two brothers-in-law also called him Mister Ray. Our mother in law was Mrs. Ray.

Always.

I grew up in small town America. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knew EVERYONE. I could not go down the street without seeing Mr. East, Mr. Lofton, Mr. Smith, Mr. Newman. On Sunday, it was “Hello Mrs. Foster. Hello Mrs. Smith, Hello Mrs. Britt, Hello Mrs. Case. We had a whole lot of Smiths, Britts and Cases in our town.

I graduated from high school and all those people were still Mister and Mrs. I can promise you, everyone at our high school still says Mr. Roach. He was our principal and, even though he’s been dead for years, we still call him Mr. Roach, we guys wear out shirt tails inside our pants, we wear belts and we don’t walk on the grass.

We’re a funny looking bunch when we have high school reunions.

I went off to college, then worked in the big city. In 1988, I moved back home. I’d been gone for twenty years. Those Misters and Mrs. were a bit older, but they were still Mister and Mrs. in my book. Even when they started dying off, I heard about Mister. Jones’ being bad off, we talked about when Mrs. Reeves died. I went to Mister Smith’s funeral and Mrs. Britt’s viewing.

It shocked me to hear someone my age refer to them as Ed, Bill, James, Will, John or Margaret, Betty, Mary or Catherine. They were still Mister and Mrs. to me.

Now that I’m one of those grownups, the youngsters call me Mike. Only one or two say Mister when they want to get my attention.

I taught my grand daughters to call me Grandpa. I like that name.

I still use the words Mister and Mrs. a lot. I have a friend who is a retired Navy Commander. I respect him a lot, for his service and for the man he is. He’s Mister Joe in my book.

Mrs. Betty Ann and Mrs. DeeDee, well, they’ll always be Mrs. to me.
Always.

Please feel free to share. I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts. Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com. Please follow my blog at www. mikewindham.com.

COVID

I have had the Covid.

A week ago, I was on a cruise ship, over 1500 passengers and another thousand crew members.  Literally, we were from all over the world.  We spent more than a week together. 

Take a guess!

First, I want to apologize to all those who I’ve been around for the past few days.  I thought it was just a summer cold. I’m sure the people on the airplane want to shoot me by now.  And those folks in the elevator.  May God help them.

I didn’t know.

You see, the day after the cruise, I was caught outside in a quick summer shower.  I got soaking wet.  Then, the room we rented was freezing cold.  There was no blanket, just the bedspread and a sheet.  I was both wet and cold.  Even the shower only had luke warm water.  There was a sign warning me.

By morning,  I was chilled.  I woke up with a sore throat.  My nose was runny.  I was shivering.  I felt miserable.  I wanted to go home.

We got home at three in the morning.  I didn’t even unpack the car. I went to my bed and closed my eyes.  The next morning, I still felt like, well, you know! 

My son told me to take the Covid test.  Fifteen minutes later, I passed that joker with flying colors.  I went to my doctor.  She wouldn’t see me. Made me stay outside in my truck.  She sent the nurse to give me another Covid test.  I passed it with more flying colors,  a deep cough and some serious nasal drainage..

My doctor  gave me five days of medicine.   Seven pills a day.  The pharmacist explained how I shouldn’t miss a dose.

The pharmacist said “Things may taste funny.  It’s the medicine.”

Don’t worry, I took them like clock work.  They had my attention.  I had a mouth full of rusty iron ore, 24 hours a day.  

“Drink lots of fluids” she said.  Not a problem.  I’m still trying to wash that taste out of my mouth.

Yes, I have had all my shots.  The vaccine plus two boosters.  I felt fairly safe.  Not 100% safe, but it’s been two years, so fairly safe.

Now, here’s where it gets serious.  My son came around.  He’s had Covid also.

 “Dad, you know if you hadn’t taken all those shots you’d be dead right now.”  He’s right.  I lost more than a handful of friends before we had the vaccine.  Good people.  Several who were younger than me.  They all had a life to live, cut short by something that feels like the flu.

Here I am today.  Still trying to write.  Still able to watch the grand daughters play soccer. 

And more thankful than you can imagine for the vaccine.  I’m grateful there’s medicine I can take even if it makes everything taste like rusty tin cans.

One more thing.  Last night we bought some fast food to bring home after the soccer game. 

It was fried chicken.  I couldn’t smell it.  I couldn’t taste it.  This morning’s coffee, no taste at all.  It’s like drinking hot water out of a rusty can.

And, tasting a rusty can is a good thing.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at www. mikewindham.com.

TATTOOs

We just went on a sea cruise.  Eight days and nights on a really big ship.  Nothing at all like the folks on Gilligan’s Island.

There were a whole lot of different people.  Really different people.  The Captain took us to the South Caribbean.  A lot of sun.  A lot of water.  A lot of swimming suits.  A whole lot of tattoos.

I had no idea.  I am still in shock.  I saw mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers inked.  I saw their aunts and uncles and cousins with tattoos.  Even the grandkids had tattoos. OH, and more grand mothers are inked than I ever dreamed about.

Now, for the record, I’m not one to condemn, I am just thinking out loud.  Let me try to explain. 

When I grew up, the only tattoos I saw were on the arms and shoulders of men who had been to war.  My Dad worked on drilling rigs.  He worked with rough necks and rig hands.  Tough. They had just fought a war.  They carried the ink that went to war.

Danny’s father was a retired Marine Sergeant.  He had a big, bad USMC Bulldog on his shoulder.  He fought on Iwo Jima.  We kids thought that was “John Wayne cool.”

Edwin went to Viet Nam.  He came back and his arm tattoo said “Death before Dishonor.”  Jerry served in the Navy.  He had an anchor on one arm and a shark on the other.  Joe had a three masted sailing ship on his arm. 

Times have changed.

Today, I live in a college town.  There are  three tattoo studios  in town.  They are on the main streets, not hidden away in the warehouse district.

Every day, I see someone with something on their arm, ankle, leg, foot etc.  The waitress.  Yep.  The clerk at the Convenience store.  Yep.  The librarian.  Yep!  The loan manager at the bank.  Yep again.  Even the pharmacist. 

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a personal expression. I know!  I try not to be a dinosaur.  Sometimes I am.

But, all these tattoos I see are in mostly highly visible places. Even my daughters in law, have tattoos. That’s cool.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and both he and Mrs. Claus have ink.

Back to the vacation ship, way out at sea.

I was not ready to see what I saw on that sea cruise. 

Think vacation, think casual. Think little bitty swimming suits.  Think young and old. Think after a few days at sea, a lot of clothing is left in the room, people get comfortable.  There’s not a lot left to one’s imagination.

A whole lot of skin.  A whole lot of tattoos. Tattoos of every description.  Big tattoos.  Little scribblings on a rib cage or ankle. Tattoos everywhere.  Tattoos even in places that were certainly never meant to be tattooed and, for sure, I didn’t want or need to see.

One girl was wearing a thong bikini.  She was inked from her navel to her knees, front and back.  I kept thinking about my dear little grandmother in Franklin County.  What would she say?

Maybe I am a dinosaur.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at http://www.mikewindham.com.

ROCK HOUND

 He was ten years old.  This was back in the olden days, when kids collected stuff other than paper stickers and cell phones.  He had a single blade Barlow knife.  He had a baseball cap for his favorite team.  He had a train set he kept under his bed. There were some World War II model airplanes hanging from his ceiling. 

He had it all.  Well, almost.

The family packed up the station wagon two weeks after school let out.         

Vacation time.  They were going out West. Cowboys and Indian territory.  They were on the road for a week.  One little town, one city cafe, one roadside motel after another. 

Eventually, they stopped at a Park.  His Dad wanted the family to see it.  It was on a mountain top.  He could see for miles.  It was God’s creation, a beautiful overlook, a desert valley below.  Walkways for hiking carved into the side of the mountain..  The Ranger warned them all about the rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters.

They were headed home tomorrow.  He wanted a souvenir, a rememberance .

There was a rock. Up on a ledge, just out of his reach.  It looked like a brown, sandy colored football, a little over a foot long, about 6-8 inches thick, tapered on both ends.  Sitting there, maybe forever. Watching the valley, day in, day out.

“Dad, I need some help.” he said.  “Can you get that rock for me?”

His father reached for the rock.  Dads do that sort of stuff. 

“What are you doing?” his Mom asked.

“I’m taking this rock back home with me.”

“Really?” as only a Mom could voice.

The football-shaped rock went home.  It sat on the top of his chest of drawers.  He grew up. He was headed  to college.

“What about that rock?” his Mom asked.

“I’ll take it with me.”

Off to college.  It survived.  Then it went to his first apartment.  It moved in with the newly weds.  It was there for the first born, the second and the third.  It moved around the house. It was abused, as only a rock can be.

It spent a couple of years in the flower bed. The dogs did what dogs to rocks, trees and fire hydrants. It went to the garage.  The grandkids saw it.  They didn’t understand.

He’d pick it up, hold it for a minute, smile, gain that far away look in his eyes and put it down again. 

But, he never got rid of it.  Never.

Until just a little while ago.

He’s in bad health now.  He’s too close to the far side of being old.

“I want to go back out west before I die.” he said.  “I want to go back to that National Park, one more time.”

His son said “OK, Pops.”

They flew.  They rented a car. His suitcase was heavy.

They found the park, it took him a while to find the ledge.  He was taller now. He didn’t need any help.

He held the rock for a while, then, as gentle as a man can be, he put it back, maybe in the exact place it was seventy years earlier.

“I’m ready to go now.” he said.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

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MY MANTLE CLOCK

In one of our bedrooms is an old mantle clock.  It doesn’t run.  It means nothing to any other person in my family.  I like it.

         It belonged to my Grandfather.  My Mom’s Dad.  It guarded his fireplace and his house for 75 years.  My Grandmother would hide important papers behind it.

It told everybody within earshot the time of day.

         When I was a kid, visiting his house I could hear the clock chiming, even if I was outside.  

          It scared me at first.  Chiming out every hour, day and night and then that single chime on the half hour.

          Of course, there was no radio, no air conditioning, no electric noise. The front door was always open until bedtime except in the winter.  The old house was protected by screen doors. 

         If I close my eyes or at least squint them a little, I can see him standing there.  He would open the clock’s glass door, stilling the pendulum, picking up the brass key, inserting it in a keyhole on one side, twisting clockwise. winding the clock.  Then poking the key in the second keyhole, winding the spring for the chime hammer.  He’d restart the pendulum swinging again before he closed the door. 

All was good for another day.

         If he saw me watching him, he’d turn and say “Don’t you mess with this clock, do you hear me Chap?”  He called all his grandchildren “Chap”.  I don’t think he ever said my name out loud.  I wonder if he ever laughed, joked and played.  He was a stern man.

         Yes, it probably is an 8 day clock, but “Dollar Bill”, my grandfather, made sure his clock was wound tight every day.

         I don’t have much of anything that belonged to him or my grandmother.  I didn’t get his pocket knife, I didn’t get his walking cane, not even his old felt hat.  He was a Newell.  I’m a Windham.  I missed out on getting his name. 

I didn’t get the old clock until years later.  I had to ask for it several times.  My grandmother kept it until she died.  Then my mother got it. She put it on her mantle.

She could never get it to work properly.

She was going to sell it.  Just another antique, sold off and forgotten about.

I said “No. I want it.”

It’s still hard to keep running, maybe that’s why my grandfather made sure to wind it every morning. I think he was a man of habits and that habit just stayed with him.

I could take the old clock to a clock smith, I’m sure he could make it work again.  The problem is, all the old clock smiths are gone away also.

         My Grandfather kept a small cotton ball in the bottom of the clock. He soaked the cotton in kerosene.  He called it coal oil. 

         “As that coal oil evaporates, it kind of oils the clock.” I remember him telling a curious little boy over 60 years ago. “A clock like that, needs to be oiled up every once in a while.”

         I like it.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

LAZY

Lazy.  That’s what I’ve become.  And, I hate that word.  Always have.  I don’t know if I always will.  After all, it’s hard to hate what you are.

Lazy.  A word all the people I worked with warned me about.

 “Don’t be lazy.” 

“A lazy person is the worst kind.”

“I hate a lazy person.”

“He’s just lazy and no good.” 

I looked in the mirror and realized it’s a fact.  I’ve turned out lazy.  Yep!  As lazy as they come. And, that’s not good.  Not good at all.

Yes, my name is Mike and I am lazy.

It started a few years ago.  In fact, I remember the exact day.  The day I decided to retire.  July, my birthday month.  I was sixty-six.  Old enough.

 I drew my last regular paycheck.  Signed up for Social Security. That was a bitter surprise. 

Not enough to live on.

I sat down with the financial guy and we drew up a plan.  We reviewed the 401’s, the IRAs, the little savings account I always kept hidden away.

“How much do you have in your piggy bank?” he asked. 

“That’s getting personal.” I said.

“You’re gonna need more money than what I see.” he said.

“Too late for that.  I’m retired.” I bragged.

He hammered on his calculator, looked over the numbers on his computer screen.  Wrinkled his brow, asked me what I needed, compared apples to oranges and that sort of stuff.

He said, “Looks like you’re gonna have to die around your 71st. Birthday.”

“What?”  I was still under the impression I could live forever.

“You’re gonna run out of money.  Gone. Zero. Zip.  Zilch  None. No more!” He paused for that dramatic effect.  “Dead broke! Well, you will have your social security.  But it ain’t much.”

Think about that.  I work hard, retire and live to a ripe old age.  I still end up  with “It ain’t much.”

I said  “That’s not a good thought at all.”

“You’ll  have to scale back.  Live on a budget.  Reduce your spending.” he warned.

‘Sounds like a fixed income to me.”  I said.

“You’re learning.” he said.

Two hours later, we got a plan.  I have to learn to live on less, but I can live to be 91.  Then it’s all over, except for that social security check. 

Back to square one.

I went home to cry in my beer. Cheap, no name beer.  Then, I  realized I’ll be OK.  Most of my family died in their 80’s. 

I stopped working. I retired. I got lazy. I stopped doing things I needed to do. I stopped shaving every day.  I stopped wearing socks, unless it was a formal occasion. I let the grass grow a little taller than I used to.  I don’t change the light bulb until I’m ready to.

I stopped letting bosses order me around.  Well, not completely.  I am married.  We can talk about that later.

I am a success.  Retired  for six years now.  My weight says I’ve never missed a meal.  I am officially lazy.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

FIVE BELOW – Thank You!

Do you remember when cheap toys came from Japan or China? 

We had a Woolworth’s and a Morgan-Lindsay store where I grew up.  Some called them “Five and Dime” stores.  I said  they were “ten cent stores.”    

            They were just off Main Street.  They had a million kinds of candy in the front and hundreds of toys in the back.

This was a long time before Sam Walton opened his store in Arkansas.

          Times have changed.

They sold the stuff Grandmothers bought when they went into town. That’s where all those hankies, balls of yard, Christmas gifts and little packs of tissues came from.  

          I was a little kid.  My Grandmother would take me to town on Saturdays.  She would pull a dollar out of her little snap-top change purse.  That dollar had been folded over 4-5 times.  I stood there, bouncing on one foot, then the other.  She unfolded the bill, pulled it straight, like she could pull out the wrinkles and make it good. 

I knew it was good.  My grandmother gave it to me.

She would say “Mike, go find something you like.  Here’s a little money.”

I was rich!  Candy was two for a penny.  The big bars cost a nickle. A balsa wood airplane cost a dime.  I could buy a box of caps or a tube of BBs for a quarter.

Suddenly,  it’s 100 years later.  I’m the grandfather.  I have grandchildren of my own.  No folding money, though.  I use a credit card.

My Grand-daughters wanted to go to Five and Below.  I had no idea.

WOW.

I think I’m back in the ten cent store.  They have candy, tons of it.  They keep plastic balls in big steel drums. They have bubble making machines, plastic cars, glow-in-the dark necklaces, kid’s puzzle and game books. I’m looking at the boy stuff. 

Oops.

There’s  an entire section of girly girl stuff that I dare not venture into.

I look around, I’m suddenly alone.  There’s no place for me to sit.  My feet and my back hurt. 

Oh, I see the two girls.    Guess what section they ran to!

Wait,  I’m not alone.  I see another grandparent.  He’s with his grandson.  They’re looking at footballs and basketballs.

I turn away. The girls are headed for the paints and magic markers.

 In walks another old geezer like me.  White haired, bifocals, khaki shorts, white socks and slip on shoes.  He’s holding hands with a six year old.  She’s headed for the girly girl stuff.  I look at him and just nod my head. 

“In for a dime, in for a dollar,”  they say.

It’s a three ring circus for the kids. 

They say there’s nothing in the store that costs more than five dollars.  There’s a whole lot in the store and the fives add up. It’s a forty dollar swipe of the credit card for the Grandparents.

And, the cheap toys still come from Japan and China.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

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MY MARBLES

Did you ever have a sack of marbles?

          I did.

          When I was a kid I guess I had a hundred or so.  Maybe two hundred on really good days.  Back then,  we played marbles for keeps.  Win some, lose some.

          I had Cat Eyes, Agates, solids, crystals, red, blue and green creams.  some were beautiful.  Others, not so pretty.

          I never liked the brown creams. They were the first ones I’d wager to lose.

           Don’t forget the steelies.  Half inch ball bearings we picked up from somewhere.

          My Dad got me a handful from his drilling rig.    He handed them to me, when I was in the second grade.  He had secured them in a small white cotton sack.

           If he had given me gold, I would not have been happier.

          And, then we had our shooters.  Larger, menacing on the playground or in the school yard.  While we kept our regular marbles in a sack.  We kept our shooters in our pants pocket.

          For a while, we boys owned nothing more valuable.

          Then we grew up. 

          Marbles gave way to bicycles, baseballs and comic books.

          Eventually we found the girls.  They smelled of perfume.  They smiled at us.  We forgot about our marbles.  Some of us lost all our marbles at one time or another.

          The last time I saw my marbles, we were cleaning out my parent’s house. They were in a clear vase, sitting on a dresser in my Mom’s bedroom. My junior high school photo was nearby.

           I was surprised.  I was shocked.   It was 50 years later.  My Mom still had them. She kept them safe.

          I thought my little brother had lost them when he was in the second or third grade.  I guess he had his own marbles.

          I recognized my prized shooter. A blue and white agate.  There can’t be two alike in all of Mississippi. It had to be mine.

          They’re gone now.

          In a way, it’s all gone.  Just my memories remain.

          My Father, my Mother, the house three blocks from school, the furniture I grew up with, the toys and stuff that made my childhood.  Most of it was sold at an auction.

          I remember the night my marbles went away.  This time for good.  They fell victim to an auctioneer’s chant.  Sold at the drop of the hammer, still in that clear glass vase.

          Who’s got them now?  Did they go to another six year old? Does he dream of playing for keeps, taking all the other kids marbles, using his lucky blue agate shooter?

          After he grows up, will his Mom keep them, holding on to them in another  clear vase, safe in a cherished spot on her dresser?

          I hope so.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

TURNING CARTWHEELS

April 18, 2022

          Boys and girls are different.  I’m talking about girls and cartwheels.

          Let me explain.  My wife and I raised three sons.  I was as happy as a June Bug when our first born was handed to me.  A fine baby boy.  I was already day-dreaming about baseball, hunting, fishing.  Guy stuff.  Best friend in the world stuff. Pals forever.

          My wife, she wanted a little girl.

I can almost hear her saying “You got your boy, I want a girl.” 

After three boys, she said “Enough!”

We watched them grow up.  That meant we had soccer, we had baseball, we had basketball.  We did football. We went camping.  We fished together.  We joined a hunting camp.

They were rough and tumble.

We had regular visits to doctor’s offices and Emergency Rooms.  I learned to remove stitches with a pocket knife and a pair of tweezers.

I don’t think they ever turned a cartwheel. 

Suddenly, they finished high school, went off to college, found romance, fell in love, got married and produced children of their own.

Grandkids.

Grand daughters to be precise.  Five of them.

Beautiful little girls.  Active girls.  Soccer.  Dance class.  Ballet. Tumble lessons, Voice lessons.  Pink socks with a hint of lace.  One hundred dollar dresses, a half dozen roses. A real china tea set.  

My friends say it’s gonna cost a lot more.

Suddenly had to have nightlights and noise machines.   Warning: Do not misplace her sleep blanket!

Quiet different than the boys I talked about earlier.

And, here’s one more thing I’ve learned.

Girls turn cartwheels.

Yep!  They will turn a cartwheel on you in a heartbeat.  Give them 10 linear feet and a place  to land.  A second later, they’re going to turn a flip.

Let them have free reign on a sofa and within a half minute, one is going to tumble over the back of it.  Feet in the air, head in the cushion and over she goes.

I thought it was just a phenomena of my own grand daughters.  Others didn’t do such.

Wrong!

I started watching the girls at the local soccer field.  They are all turning flips, somersaults and cartwheels.

One of our Granddaughters joined a travel soccer league.  Other girls, other towns.  Serious soccer. They will be different.  Competitive.  Focused. 

 Wrong!

 They are all the same. Those girls are out there, in the midst of everyone, turning cartwheels.

 I watched a girls T-ball game.   A six year old in the outfield.  The game is slow.  Suddenly it’s head over heels. Her cap didn’t even fall off.

The bigger girls do the same.  I watched the eight and nine years old girls.  There was a tall outfielder with the red hair.  She turns flips between pitches. At the end of every inning, when she ran to the dugout she turned two or three cartwheels, smiling all the way.

Easy as pie to her.

I don’t think I ever saw one of their fathers turn a cartwheel.

Yep, the boys are different than the girls.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

REVEREND BILLIE

I had to say goodbye to a dear friend this week.  Sometimes life is just hard.  At other times, it’s bitter.  Then there are those days when life is sad.  Really sad.

I met Billie on a mission trip.  Oh, I’d shaken his hand at church, listened to his sermons, and bowed my head while he prayed.  But, on that mission trip is where I got to know the man.  That’s where he revealed his values, his thoughts and what he really wanted to do. We went to St. Croix to rebuild houses for those in need. 

The door to our friendship opened during those two weeks. He gave me reasons to give back to others.

When we got back, he invited me to drink coffee with him.  That’s when we started building what I’m missing today.

First, I noticed that Billie had different hands than most preachers.  They were working man’s hands.  Scarred, thickened by bumps, cuts, scrapes and whatever it is that a man picks up at work and never loses.  My Dad had hands like that, my Father-in-law also. They worked for a living.  Billie had worked for a living once also.

I liked that about him.

Second, he knew what to do, whether we were playing with miter saws, skill saws, ratchet drivers, electric drills, speed squares and levels.  Or, tinkering with the conflicts we keep inner most in our minds.

You didn’t have to tell him what to do, he knew.  He had learned that somewhere other than the ministry. He showed me his shop, his barn, the tractors he dreamed of rebuilding.  We talked about our dreams.

One day, I asked him,  “Billie, how did you get in the ministry?”

“I was a lawyer.” He said. 

I took a moment to think about that.  I wanted to say something about lawyering and preaching. 

He said, “The Lord made me pull over and get off the road one day.  He gave me a good talking to.  I surrendered right there, sitting in my car, on the side of the road. I went home and quit my lawyering.” 

He started preaching, became a minister, a helper for mankind. He smiled as he told me his story.  The ministry made him a happy man.

Then he got sick.  He’d been sick before.  One heart operation twenty years ago.  A second heart operation last year.  A heart that couldn’t be fixed or didn’t want to be fixed.  We’ll never know.  There were some other problems.  I think everything he had  just wore out his heart.  He wanted to talk to Jesus again. 

I got the call Monday.  We buried him Thursday.  It was the coldest day of the year.  I sat there in the church.  I shivered. I didn’t want to say goodbye.  I went to the graveside service.  I shed my tear.  It was so cold, I think it froze before it hit the ground.  I said goodbye.

He’s got two grandchildren.  They will never know what all they missed. They will never see the sparkle he had and hear the laughter he shared.  They were cheated and didn’t know they were even in the game.

Some days are sad.  Really sad.

Please feel free to share. I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.