Advice for my boys

Strangers that I meet along the way, offering insight & lessons my boys may find valuable one day.




Loum, whom I noticed walking down the road.  He only stands about three feet tall, but I soon learned he’s carries a wealth of experiences.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I have my friends.  I do have a lot of friends, who are good to me.  We share common things and have common goals.  We focus on our future life…that is when I feel the happiest in my life.  We share things together, in terms of advice, in terms of helping each other physically.”
Hardest time of your life?  “This is when it’s the opposite of what I said.  When you lose friendships, life becomes so much more difficult.  That is the opposite of what I said earlier.”
You’re not from the United States?  (Lohm has a great African accent)  “Yeah, I’m from Nigeria.  I got here through…you know, my country is full of corruption and war, so the US government has helped me a lot.  They’ve helped me in the process of coming here.”
Have you found some people, whom you’ve met in the US, don’t always appreciate how good they have it here?  “They do, they do.  This is the land of opportunity, where you can invest your life.  You can have an occupation and a job and a lot of things.”
How has your life changed, since you’ve been here?  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  When I first came here, first of all, I don’t know how to speak English.  I didn’t go to school…but, lucky enough, I got the opportunity to go to high school, completed my diploma and then I went to college and earned my bachelor’s degree in mathematics.”
Wow- how long have you been here in the United States?  “About five to six years.”  
And you’ve done all that in that time?  “Yeah, yeah.  I just came with the aim, because when I was in Africa, I’d heard of this great land that offered great opportunity to people.  So, when I came from Africa, I went to school directly and earned my degree.  So, right now, I’m preparing myself to go to MTSU this fall to study mathematics and earn my masters degree.”
What are you hoping to do, job wise?  “I just wanted to be somebody who has skills.  I need to apply my skill, to help people in need.  So, whatever I learn in school is what I want to give back to my people.”
Did any of your family come to the US with you?  “We came together.”
Have they all been as aggressive as you’ve been?  “You know, the expectation of life depends on what your goal is. So, it’s not like the same.  Part of the family, they went for a job and they have been affected by choosing to work rather than go to school.  So, you know, it’s different ideas and different life.  But, for me, I went to school and was having the opposite…they earn much money, but for me, I earn nothing.  As you see, I don’t have a car, I don’t have whatever I need, because I spend what I’m supposed to do in school, instead of working and earning money, having a car, living the good life…I left that one aside and I focus on school.”
But, it sounds like, in exchange, you’re preparing now for the life you want later?  “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Advice for my boys?  “Actually, for your boys to be good enough is, first of all, respect for the parents is most important.  They have to respect their daddy and mommy, listen to their good advice, so much that they will be a good friend and of good character.  Then, they will extend that good character to neighbors and others around.  Because, what I’ve seen here, is most children don’t have respect.  They are given freedom of acting any way they want to.   But, for me, I see that’s not good.  They have to respect their parents, develop good attitude and then extend that attitude to other people.  That is what I wanted to say.” 
Loum, whom I noticed walking down the road.  He only stands about three feet tall, but I soon learned he’s carries a wealth of experiences.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I have my friends.  I do have a lot of friends, who are good to me.  We share common things and have common goals.  We focus on our future life…that is when I feel the happiest in my life.  We share things together, in terms of advice, in terms of helping each other physically.”

Hardest time of your life?  “This is when it’s the opposite of what I said.  When you lose friendships, life becomes so much more difficult.  That is the opposite of what I said earlier.”

You’re not from the United States?  (Lohm has a great African accent)  “Yeah, I’m from Nigeria.  I got here through…you know, my country is full of corruption and war, so the US government has helped me a lot.  They’ve helped me in the process of coming here.”

Have you found some people, whom you’ve met in the US, don’t always appreciate how good they have it here?  “They do, they do.  This is the land of opportunity, where you can invest your life.  You can have an occupation and a job and a lot of things.”

How has your life changed, since you’ve been here?  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  When I first came here, first of all, I don’t know how to speak English.  I didn’t go to school…but, lucky enough, I got the opportunity to go to high school, completed my diploma and then I went to college and earned my bachelor’s degree in mathematics.”


Wow- how long have you been here in the United States?  “About five to six years.” 

And you’ve done all that in that time?  “Yeah, yeah.  I just came with the aim, because when I was in Africa, I’d heard of this great land that offered great opportunity to people.  So, when I came from Africa, I went to school directly and earned my degree.  So, right now, I’m preparing myself to go to MTSU this fall to study mathematics and earn my masters degree.”

What are you hoping to do, job wise?  “I just wanted to be somebody who has skills.  I need to apply my skill, to help people in need.  So, whatever I learn in school is what I want to give back to my people.”

Did any of your family come to the US with you?  “We came together.”

Have they all been as aggressive as you’ve been?  “You know, the expectation of life depends on what your goal is. So, it’s not like the same.  Part of the family, they went for a job and they have been affected by choosing to work rather than go to school.  So, you know, it’s different ideas and different life.  But, for me, I went to school and was having the opposite…they earn much money, but for me, I earn nothing.  As you see, I don’t have a car, I don’t have whatever I need, because I spend what I’m supposed to do in school, instead of working and earning money, having a car, living the good life…I left that one aside and I focus on school.”

But, it sounds like, in exchange, you’re preparing now for the life you want later?  “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Advice for my boys?  “Actually, for your boys to be good enough is, first of all, respect for the parents is most important.  They have to respect their daddy and mommy, listen to their good advice, so much that they will be a good friend and of good character.  Then, they will extend that good character to neighbors and others around.  Because, what I’ve seen here, is most children don’t have respect.  They are given freedom of acting any way they want to.   But, for me, I see that’s not good.  They have to respect their parents, develop good attitude and then extend that attitude to other people.  That is what I wanted to say.” 














Justin & Krista.  Happiest time of your lives? 
Krista: “I’d say right now. I’m 28 and kind of gone though the hard part of the 20’s…and now have a pretty good idea of where I want to go, so now it’s just getting there.”  
Justin: “Happiest time of my life, whew, I would probably say New Years Eve with this lady…or first, well second official date, but yeah it was pretty good.”
How did you guys meet?  Krista:  “We work together.”
Justin:  “At Volkswagen.”
Beyond her being stunning, what attracted you to her?  Justin:  “She’s a nice lady.”  (both laugh)
What have you found you like or appreciate most about each other?  Justin:  “She keeps me in line…that’s really good.  I guess, for her, she’s really laid back, kind of stress free.  It’s really nice to come across somebody like that.”
Krista:  “For me, it’s pretty much the same.  He doesn’t let me get away with stuff— like being a princess or being ridiculous.  It’s nice when someone can be honest and do that from a good place, not a vindictive place.”
So how long have you been dating?  Justin:  “Seven, eight months.”  
What have you found, so far, is the key to a good relationship?  Justin:  “Trust.”  Krista:  “Plus communication.”  Justin:  “I think it’s also about being involved in a good church.  That’s been very helpful…just to have a good sense of love.  You go to this one place, once a week, where everybody’s engaged…it’s nice.
Krista: “Plus, we brought our families into it together, pretty early on.  My family is here (Chattanooga) and his is in Nashville, but it was very important to us that he know my parents well, and then I got a chance to meet his sister and his folks.  From that standpoint, everyone is kind of in it together.”
If you were to each give my boys one piece of advice for life, what would that be?  Justin:  “Everything happens for a reason…definitely the first one.  Probably one of my favorite quotes of all time was ‘Man was meant to live, not to exist.’  That’s one of the things I’ve lived by.”
Krista:  “I’d say, for them, that their dad’s pretty cool for doing this…for me, getting to know my parents as an adult— I left home, moved to Chicago and then came back, and really one of the greatest experiences has been getting to know my mom and dad again, as an adult.  The advice you think you miss out on as a teenager, that you don’t listen to, it only gets more and more relevant…and more and more powerful.  It doesn’t stop when you’re 18.”
Justin:  “Yeah, so listen to your parents.”
How did that relationship, with your parents, evolve as you got older?  Do you find you appreciate and respect them more?  Krista:  “Yeah, definitely.  For me, because I graduated from college in 2007, so I was part of that whole Recession graduation and had to move back home.  That was a really humbling experience for me.  To come home to a place where mom and dad don’t judge..they’ve been there and they’re there to help me get back on my feet…going through that with them also helped us really bond in a different way than when you’re a teenager.” 
Justin & Krista.  Happiest time of your lives?
Krista: “I’d say right now. I’m 28 and kind of gone though the hard part of the 20’s…and now have a pretty good idea of where I want to go, so now it’s just getting there.” 
Justin: “Happiest time of my life, whew, I would probably say New Years Eve with this lady…or first, well second official date, but yeah it was pretty good.”

How did you guys meet?  Krista:  “We work together.”
Justin:  “At Volkswagen.”

Beyond her being stunning, what attracted you to her?  Justin:  “She’s a nice lady.”  (both laugh)

What have you found you like or appreciate most about each other?  Justin:  “She keeps me in line…that’s really good.  I guess, for her, she’s really laid back, kind of stress free.  It’s really nice to come across somebody like that.”
Krista:  “For me, it’s pretty much the same.  He doesn’t let me get away with stuff— like being a princess or being ridiculous.  It’s nice when someone can be honest and do that from a good place, not a vindictive place.”

So how long have you been dating?  Justin:  “Seven, eight months.” 

What have you found, so far, is the key to a good relationship?  Justin:  “Trust.”  Krista:  “Plus communication.”  Justin:  “I think it’s also about being involved in a good church.  That’s been very helpful…just to have a good sense of love.  You go to this one place, once a week, where everybody’s engaged…it’s nice.

Krista: “Plus, we brought our families into it together, pretty early on.  My family is here (Chattanooga) and his is in Nashville, but it was very important to us that he know my parents well, and then I got a chance to meet his sister and his folks.  From that standpoint, everyone is kind of in it together.”

If you were to each give my boys one piece of advice for life, what would that be?  Justin:  “Everything happens for a reason…definitely the first one.  Probably one of my favorite quotes of all time was ‘Man was meant to live, not to exist.’  That’s one of the things I’ve lived by.”

Krista:  “I’d say, for them, that their dad’s pretty cool for doing this…for me, getting to know my parents as an adult— I left home, moved to Chicago and then came back, and really one of the greatest experiences has been getting to know my mom and dad again, as an adult.  The advice you think you miss out on as a teenager, that you don’t listen to, it only gets more and more relevant…and more and more powerful.  It doesn’t stop when you’re 18.”

Justin:  “Yeah, so listen to your parents.”

How did that relationship, with your parents, evolve as you got older?  Do you find you appreciate and respect them more?  Krista:  “Yeah, definitely.  For me, because I graduated from college in 2007, so I was part of that whole Recession graduation and had to move back home.  That was a really humbling experience for me.  To come home to a place where mom and dad don’t judge..they’ve been there and they’re there to help me get back on my feet…going through that with them also helped us really bond in a different way than when you’re a teenager.” 

Mr. Thune, 94 years old and the gentleman I photographed yesterday, preparing to board an MTSU Hero Flight.  I understand you were shot down multiple times.  Tell me about that.  “Well, the first time we were in trouble, we were attacked by enemy fighters.  We got shot up pretty badly and being the navigator, I have a lot to see about where we land.  But the pilot said with the whole tail session all shot up, ‘I don’t want to crash land in a crash landing area.  That’s just mud.’  So, I said ok.  I said ‘I’ve got you all plotted for a crash landing in a field, you know, and he said ‘oh, I think I can make it just fine.’  So, we start coming in and I’d spotted him at the right place.  He started coming down and as he slowed down, he lost control of the plane, so we overshot the runway.  What they do in England, there, is they plant trees on either side, decorative I guess, and we had two or three of them at the end of the field.  He couldn’t do anything and I couldn’t help him, so he came in and we cut off some trees, they took the wings off.  We plowed right into it (ditch).  That was a mess.  I got hurt pretty badly in that one and we lost some people. Second time, we came in, we were over Germany and got shot up pretty badly again.  Our wing was on fire, one of the engines was acting up and the wing started burning.  All at once, the propeller broke loose.  Another words, we lost so much hydraulic fluid, so he couldn’t do anything with the propellers, so that broke loose too.  We came down and crash landed there, too. The third time we crash landed, we came down but made it back to England.”How did you keep your cool during those experiences?  “Well, I’ll tell ya.  Being a navigator, you’re so busy you don’t have time to get worried.  That’s really what happens.  And the thing is, probably the worst part of being a navigator is…in England, that winter we were there, it was the worst winter they ever had.  It was always either foggy, cloudy, raining or something.  As the navigator, you don’t have anything to assist you.  There’s no radio, there’s no nothing.  You’ve got to get your plane at the right spot, at the right height, facing the right direction and being on either side of the runway…and that’s a tough one.”How did those experiences change your life?  “Well, I don’t think the flying part was it, but what really bothered me was when I first got over there, we didn’t have a decent bomb site.  We couldn’t see through rain or fog or smoke or anything like that.  On the first missions, we were told ‘If you can’t see your target, fly over to the biggest city and just let ‘er go.’  That…cut me to bits. On the last mission, they said  ‘We’re pretty sure it’s a communication center…wipe  the town out.’  That didn’t go well with me.” I would think all these experiences would give you great perspective, when dealing with problems you’ve had through your life?  “Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  But, I don’t think it changed me too much.  I had a job to do…I did it.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I don’t think it really affected me that much.”Happiest time of your life?  “Oh, I had a wife and three children. I really had a wonderful life…raising a family.”Toughest time of your life?  “Well, really, I can’t say I’ve had tough times.  I’ve got a son who’s 70 and an executive with Minnesota Mining Manufacturing Company…he’s still working!  (laughs)He’d got his dads work ethic?  “Definitely, yeah.  They didn’t want to let him go.”Advice for my boys for life?  “Live a good, clean life.  I don’t smoke, I don’t drink…I’m a Christian and I think living a life like that is about the best life you can live.” 

Mr. Thune, 94 years old and the gentleman I photographed yesterday, preparing to board an MTSU Hero Flight.  I understand you were shot down multiple times.  Tell me about that.  “Well, the first time we were in trouble, we were attacked by enemy fighters.  We got shot up pretty badly and being the navigator, I have a lot to see about where we land.  But the pilot said with the whole tail session all shot up, ‘I don’t want to crash land in a crash landing area.  That’s just mud.’  So, I said ok.  I said ‘I’ve got you all plotted for a crash landing in a field, you know, and he said ‘oh, I think I can make it just fine.’  So, we start coming in and I’d spotted him at the right place.  He started coming down and as he slowed down, he lost control of the plane, so we overshot the runway.  What they do in England, there, is they plant trees on either side, decorative I guess, and we had two or three of them at the end of the field.  He couldn’t do anything and I couldn’t help him, so he came in and we cut off some trees, they took the wings off.  We plowed right into it (ditch).  That was a mess.  I got hurt pretty badly in that one and we lost some people.

Second time, we came in, we were over Germany and got shot up pretty badly again.  Our wing was on fire, one of the engines was acting up and the wing started burning.  All at once, the propeller broke loose.  Another words, we lost so much hydraulic fluid, so he couldn’t do anything with the propellers, so that broke loose too.  We came down and crash landed there, too.

The third time we crash landed, we came down but made it back to England.”

How did you keep your cool during those experiences?  “Well, I’ll tell ya.  Being a navigator, you’re so busy you don’t have time to get worried.  That’s really what happens.  And the thing is, probably the worst part of being a navigator is…in England, that winter we were there, it was the worst winter they ever had.  It was always either foggy, cloudy, raining or something.  As the navigator, you don’t have anything to assist you.  There’s no radio, there’s no nothing.  You’ve got to get your plane at the right spot, at the right height, facing the right direction and being on either side of the runway…and that’s a tough one.”

How did those experiences change your life?  “Well, I don’t think the flying part was it, but what really bothered me was when I first got over there, we didn’t have a decent bomb site.  We couldn’t see through rain or fog or smoke or anything like that.  On the first missions, we were told ‘If you can’t see your target, fly over to the biggest city and just let ‘er go.’  That…cut me to bits. On the last mission, they said  ‘We’re pretty sure it’s a communication center…wipe  the town out.’  That didn’t go well with me.”

I would think all these experiences would give you great perspective, when dealing with problems you’ve had through your life?  “Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  But, I don’t think it changed me too much.  I had a job to do…I did it.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I don’t think it really affected me that much.”

Happiest time of your life?  “Oh, I had a wife and three children. I really had a wonderful life…raising a family.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Well, really, I can’t say I’ve had tough times.  I’ve got a son who’s 70 and an executive with Minnesota Mining Manufacturing Company…he’s still working!  (laughs)

He’d got his dads work ethic?  “Definitely, yeah.  They didn’t want to let him go.”

Advice for my boys for life?  “Live a good, clean life.  I don’t smoke, I don’t drink…I’m a Christian and I think living a life like that is about the best life you can live.” 







Trae.  Happiest time of your life?  “I’d have to say just partying.  I’m young now, I’m only 21.  Also, when I used to play basketball.  I used to win championships, that would be the happiest time of my life.”
That took a lot of commitment.  “Yeah.”
What would you say has been the toughest time of your life?  “Toughest?  I guess after we got put out of our house in 2012.  It was a miscommunication and we ended up getting put out.  That was the toughest part of my life.”
How did you deal with that?  “We dealt with it pretty good.  We ended up with a new apartment that next year and now I got two jobs and back then I didn’t have any jobs.  We had to move in with my aunt for like a year…then we had our own apartment.”
Do you feel like during that time your family became closer.  “Yeah, we did.”
Advice for my boys?  “Stay in school.  Something that I didn’t do.”
Do you regret that?  ” I regret that a lot.  I think about that everyday.  Yes sir, everyday.”
How would things have been different if you’d stayed in school?  “I would have been in college, I probably would have still been playing basketball…that was my passion. I was thinking about going to the NBA when I was his (points at Lincoln) age.  I could have done that.”
Trae.  Happiest time of your life?  “I’d have to say just partying.  I’m young now, I’m only 21.  Also, when I used to play basketball.  I used to win championships, that would be the happiest time of my life.”

That took a lot of commitment.  “Yeah.”

What would you say has been the toughest time of your life?  “Toughest?  I guess after we got put out of our house in 2012.  It was a miscommunication and we ended up getting put out.  That was the toughest part of my life.”

How did you deal with that?  “We dealt with it pretty good.  We ended up with a new apartment that next year and now I got two jobs and back then I didn’t have any jobs.  We had to move in with my aunt for like a year…then we had our own apartment.”

Do you feel like during that time your family became closer.  “Yeah, we did.”

Advice for my boys?  “Stay in school.  Something that I didn’t do.”

Do you regret that?  ” I regret that a lot.  I think about that everyday.  Yes sir, everyday.”

How would things have been different if you’d stayed in school?  “I would have been in college, I probably would have still been playing basketball…that was my passion. I was thinking about going to the NBA when I was his (points at Lincoln) age.  I could have done that.”



Victoria:  Happiest time of your life?  “Just being surrounded by positive people.  You’re laughing, you’re talking about anything and everything…and eating good food!  Those are the happiest times, cause then I go home and think ‘man, that was a good night.’  Those are some of the happiest times.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Last year, not really being able to budget my money. I’m young, so having a job and not really being able to make a lot of money and pay rent on my own and go to school full time…it’s tough.  It’s so stressful and I think about how I’m young and just want to have fun…but I can’t, I have to think about living.”
So it’s kind of that transition period of being young, yet realizing your responsibilities are increasing?  “Yeah, and I know those and I do them, it’s just being able to have the money to do all of them.”  
Any other tough times?  “I’m sure there are a lot.  Every day is tough.  But, I just try to smile all day everyday, as if nothing’s tough.”
Advice for my boys?  “That’s a good question…that would help me out!  Budget your money, start saving and don’t go shopping.”
Umm, what are doing out here shopping?  (we both laugh) “I did not…I honestly didn’t…this is not what it looks like!”
Other advice for the boys?  “Travel, because when I travel, I enjoy meeting new people.  Like your son, he’s so open now. He [Lincoln] said, ‘Victoria, that’s a nice name!’  He needs to continue that and doors will continue to open for him.”
Victoria:  Happiest time of your life?  “Just being surrounded by positive people.  You’re laughing, you’re talking about anything and everything…and eating good food!  Those are the happiest times, cause then I go home and think ‘man, that was a good night.’  Those are some of the happiest times.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Last year, not really being able to budget my money. I’m young, so having a job and not really being able to make a lot of money and pay rent on my own and go to school full time…it’s tough.  It’s so stressful and I think about how I’m young and just want to have fun…but I can’t, I have to think about living.”

So it’s kind of that transition period of being young, yet realizing your responsibilities are increasing?  “Yeah, and I know those and I do them, it’s just being able to have the money to do all of them.” 

Any other tough times?  “I’m sure there are a lot.  Every day is tough.  But, I just try to smile all day everyday, as if nothing’s tough.”

Advice for my boys?  “That’s a good question…that would help me out!  Budget your money, start saving and don’t go shopping.”

Umm, what are doing out here shopping?  (we both laugh) “I did not…I honestly didn’t…this is not what it looks like!”

Other advice for the boys?  “Travel, because when I travel, I enjoy meeting new people.  Like your son, he’s so open now. He [Lincoln] said, ‘Victoria, that’s a nice name!’  He needs to continue that and doors will continue to open for him.”




Steve.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I was 8 years old…cause you don’t know what you don’t know and everything is new and learning.  You don’t know that you can’t do things.”
You said that answer immediately, like you’ve thought about that before?  “No, but what I’ve thought about is kids in broken families, they’re rich, they’re poor, they don’t know any of that stuff, because all they know is their world.  So, they don’t know if they’re rich or poor or living large or living bad or that they have a handicap…they don’t know any of that…we tell them.  So, at 8, the world’s all good!”
Because it’s your own reality? “It’s your own reality.  Exactly.”
Toughest time of your life?  “At that turning point when you know there’s a downside.  When you know I have to make a career decision, a life decision and you know enough to  know there’s a consequence.  At 8, you don’t know there’s a consequence.”
Advice for my boys?  “Everything thing that you think about could happen.  Perseverance…don’t give up.  And don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it- you can do whatever you want.  The only time you can’t is when you’ve decided you can’t.” 
Steve.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I was 8 years old…cause you don’t know what you don’t know and everything is new and learning.  You don’t know that you can’t do things.”
You said that answer immediately, like you’ve thought about that before?  “No, but what I’ve thought about is kids in broken families, they’re rich, they’re poor, they don’t know any of that stuff, because all they know is their world.  So, they don’t know if they’re rich or poor or living large or living bad or that they have a handicap…they don’t know any of that…we tell them.  So, at 8, the world’s all good!”
Because it’s your own reality? “It’s your own reality.  Exactly.”

Toughest time of your life?  “At that turning point when you know there’s a downside.  When you know I have to make a career decision, a life decision and you know enough to  know there’s a consequence.  At 8, you don’t know there’s a consequence.”

Advice for my boys?  “Everything thing that you think about could happen.  Perseverance…don’t give up.  And don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it- you can do whatever you want.  The only time you can’t is when you’ve decided you can’t.” 









Gail & Terry.  Happiest time of your life?  Gail: “Well, that would be when we adopted our two boys, 4 years apart.  I’d say those were our happiest days.”
Wow, that was a big decision and exciting, I’m sure?  Gail: “Yeah, adoption is an awesome thing.”  
Sometimes people are skeptical about adopting and the challenges that can come with it.  What made you decide to do it?   Gail:  “Well, a lot of prayer.  We had other options available to us, but it just seemed like it was our path.”
What’s been the most special part about this journey?  “Just learning that you can love kids…they don’t have to be born to you.   There just really makes no difference.”  Terry: “I think that men should understand to trust God, trust your mate, your soul-mate, your wife.  You can really find happiness if you’ll just believe.”
How did you find you changed once you immediately became parents? Gail:  “Oh, it changes everything.  It changes everything.  I guess I became the momma bear.  You just want to protect your children.  Suddenly, everything is about them.  It shifts from me to them.  And, it’s still that way…our 18 year old is up there in the room sleeping right now and just graduated high school.  Yeah, it changes everything from finances to how you think, to even your spiritual life, as you want that for your kids too.” 
So, you feel like, in a lot of ways you make yourself a better person?  Gail:  “Definitely.  You have to for them…because you have to be their example and their rock in life.”
Toughest time of your life?  Gail:  “Well, our youngest son came down with spinal meningitis just before he was 3 years old and we thought we might lose him.  For sure, that was my toughest moment.  But, God just touched him and he got better so quickly.  We had our worst moment and our greatest miracle all in 24 hours.”
What about yours, Terry?  Terry: “The empty nest, believe it or not.  Our 22 year old has moved out, he’s got a beautiful wife and son.  That’s been the toughest part for me.  We’re a very close family.  Seeing him drive away down that driveway.”
How did you deal with that?  Terry:  “Tears and leaning to God and my faith and realizing there are other kids out there to love…coached baseball, coached football, and had a lot of buddies that would come home with us on the weekends.  You just spread the love around.”
Advice for my boys for life?  Gail:  “Well, for us, it’s been finding salvation through Jesus Christ and faith in God.  It’s just all about love, really.  It’s about loving your fellow man.  Loving God, loving your life.  Joy is different than happiness- happiness depends on your circumstances, but joy is found in your faith and you can walk through anything if you have that.”  Terry: “Well, I tell mine Ephesians 6 ‘Honor thy father and mother.’  It’s the first commandment with promise.”
Gail & Terry.  Happiest time of your life?  Gail: “Well, that would be when we adopted our two boys, 4 years apart.  I’d say those were our happiest days.”
Wow, that was a big decision and exciting, I’m sure?  Gail: “Yeah, adoption is an awesome thing.” 

Sometimes people are skeptical about adopting and the challenges that can come with it.  What made you decide to do it?   Gail:  “Well, a lot of prayer.  We had other options available to us, but it just seemed like it was our path.”
What’s been the most special part about this journey?  “Just learning that you can love kids…they don’t have to be born to you.   There just really makes no difference.”  Terry: “I think that men should understand to trust God, trust your mate, your soul-mate, your wife.  You can really find happiness if you’ll just believe.”
How did you find you changed once you immediately became parents? Gail:  “Oh, it changes everything.  It changes everything.  I guess I became the momma bear.  You just want to protect your children.  Suddenly, everything is about them.  It shifts from me to them.  And, it’s still that way…our 18 year old is up there in the room sleeping right now and just graduated high school.  Yeah, it changes everything from finances to how you think, to even your spiritual life, as you want that for your kids too.”
So, you feel like, in a lot of ways you make yourself a better person?  Gail:  “Definitely.  You have to for them…because you have to be their example and their rock in life.”

Toughest time of your life?  Gail:  “Well, our youngest son came down with spinal meningitis just before he was 3 years old and we thought we might lose him.  For sure, that was my toughest moment.  But, God just touched him and he got better so quickly.  We had our worst moment and our greatest miracle all in 24 hours.”
What about yours, Terry?  Terry: “The empty nest, believe it or not.  Our 22 year old has moved out, he’s got a beautiful wife and son.  That’s been the toughest part for me.  We’re a very close family.  Seeing him drive away down that driveway.”
How did you deal with that?  Terry:  “Tears and leaning to God and my faith and realizing there are other kids out there to love…coached baseball, coached football, and had a lot of buddies that would come home with us on the weekends.  You just spread the love around.”

Advice for my boys for life?  Gail:  “Well, for us, it’s been finding salvation through Jesus Christ and faith in God.  It’s just all about love, really.  It’s about loving your fellow man.  Loving God, loving your life.  Joy is different than happiness- happiness depends on your circumstances, but joy is found in your faith and you can walk through anything if you have that.”  Terry: “Well, I tell mine Ephesians 6 ‘Honor thy father and mother.’  It’s the first commandment with promise.”




Terry.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I wasn’t on the streets. You know, when I had a job, had my own business.”
What changed that for you?  “Well, my wife passed away.  She died of cancer and heart failure…and then I lost my business because of the bills.  Couldn’t pay them and ended up on the streets.”
How long has that been?  “I’ve been out here 9 years now.”
What kind of lessons have you learned?  “Well, I’ve learned a lot of things.  You know, when I used to come to Knoxville, I used to see people standing at the off-ramps, flying their little signs and I’d holler out and tell them to get a job…you don’t put the homeless down…because you never know when you’re going to be out here. You know, everybody’s just a paycheck away.  All these people with all this money, it can be took just like that.  It’s been rough…but we’re climbing.”Are you making progress?  “I’m making progress, right now.  Me and my new wife has an appointment for Monday, if we come up with our $25 to get in, KCDC will pay $579…and it’s taken us almost 2 years to get this appointment with them.  That’s what we’re working on right now (getting the $25) and it’s been tough…I haven’t sold many papers in the last 3 days and this is the new issue.”
It’s just been slow?  “It’s been dead…lots of out of town people.  Hopefully we make it by 9am in the morning…if not, we just reapply.”
Advice for my boys?  “Go to school and get an education. You know, you got a lot of kids that drop out.  A lot of them depend on their parents.  Education, now days, is what you got to have to get a job. Learn a trade…that’s my advice.”  
In full disclosure, I’ve never compensated anyone for any of these interviews.  I’ve interviewed many of the homeless community throughout this series and, frankly, you just don’t always know where to begin to help.  However, in this situation and in the spirit of this project, I did give Terry the money for his application and some additional to help them though the week.  I’d hope it’s what my boys and the readers would do as well.  Best to Terry!  Please support the The Amplifier when in East Tennessee and The Contributor in the Nashville area.
Terry.  Happiest time of your life?  “When I wasn’t on the streets. You know, when I had a job, had my own business.”

What changed that for you?  “Well, my wife passed away.  She died of cancer and heart failure…and then I lost my business because of the bills.  Couldn’t pay them and ended up on the streets.”

How long has that been?  “I’ve been out here 9 years now.”

What kind of lessons have you learned?  “Well, I’ve learned a lot of things.  You know, when I used to come to Knoxville, I used to see people standing at the off-ramps, flying their little signs and I’d holler out and tell them to get a job…you don’t put the homeless down…because you never know when you’re going to be out here. You know, everybody’s just a paycheck away.  All these people with all this money, it can be took just like that.  It’s been rough…but we’re climbing.”

Are you making progress?  “I’m making progress, right now.  Me and my new wife has an appointment for Monday, if we come up with our $25 to get in, KCDC will pay $579…and it’s taken us almost 2 years to get this appointment with them.  That’s what we’re working on right now (getting the $25) and it’s been tough…I haven’t sold many papers in the last 3 days and this is the new issue.”

It’s just been slow?  “It’s been dead…lots of out of town people.  Hopefully we make it by 9am in the morning…if not, we just reapply.”

Advice for my boys?  “Go to school and get an education. You know, you got a lot of kids that drop out.  A lot of them depend on their parents.  Education, now days, is what you got to have to get a job. Learn a trade…that’s my advice.” 

In full disclosure, I’ve never compensated anyone for any of these interviews.  I’ve interviewed many of the homeless community throughout this series and, frankly, you just don’t always know where to begin to help.  However, in this situation and in the spirit of this project, I did give Terry the money for his application and some additional to help them though the week.  I’d hope it’s what my boys and the readers would do as well.  Best to Terry!  Please support the The Amplifier when in East Tennessee and The Contributor in the Nashville area.





Shannon.  Happiest time of your life?  “Just being here in Nashville, going to the museums, experiencing new things and meeting new people.”
Other happy times of your life?  “Going to the zoo, visiting different places, just really good happy times with family and friends.”  
Toughest time of your life?  “That would have been when there were disasters.  Going through college, working and making ends meet, putting food on the table.”  
What do you do to make it through  those tough times?  “Just try to save money and keep on going.”  
Do you have much family around here?  “Not many, just a few.”  
Advice for my boys for life?  “Believe in yourself and don’t give up….just keep going.” 
Shannon.  Happiest time of your life?  “Just being here in Nashville, going to the museums, experiencing new things and meeting new people.”

Other happy times of your life?  “Going to the zoo, visiting different places, just really good happy times with family and friends.” 

Toughest time of your life?  “That would have been when there were disasters.  Going through college, working and making ends meet, putting food on the table.” 

What do you do to make it through  those tough times?  “Just try to save money and keep on going.” 

Do you have much family around here?  “Not many, just a few.” 

Advice for my boys for life?  “Believe in yourself and don’t give up….just keep going.” 








Bob & Judy.  “We’re romancing.”  Wow!  How long has this been going on?  Bob: “What, about 8 months?”  Judy: “9 months.”  
What’s been the happiest time of your life?  Judy:  “I think was…well, I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of happy times in my life, but I’m thinking when my first child was born.  But…I think right now’s an awfully happy time in my life.”
Why so?  Judy:  “Because Bob is a part of my life.”
Bob: “We’re starting a new life.”
Judy:  “Yeah…and we’re not children, in case you hadn’t noticed.” 
Bob, when was your happiest time?  “Oh, gosh, it would be hard to say.  I almost think when I finally sold my company and retired, when I could lean back and enjoy life.”   and have that stress off you?  “No stress, no pain.”  Was it worth all those years of work?  “Sure!  I’ve had 14 years of enjoying it…got another year or two coming.”
Toughest time of your life?  Bob:  “That’s easy.  When we both lost our spouses.”
How did you cope with that?  Bob:  “Not well.”  Judy:  “For me, it took a lot of spiritual strength. That’s how I handled most of it…through my faith.”  How about you, Bob?  “I guess, for me, it’s just day by day…til finally life goes on.”    Judy:  “And I came in his life.”  Bob:  “Yeah, you came into my life.”
Tell me this- what have you found, in the last 8 months, that you appreciate the most about each other?  Judy:  “I think Bob’s integrity and honesty.”  Bob: “Her unique belief in me!” (both laugh)  
What’s been the key to a great relationship for you two?  Judy: “The key to that?  I think a lot of it is trust…and love.  You know, if  you fall in love with someone, that makes everything work a whole lot better.  So, to me, it’s been love.”
Bob: “And we just enjoy each other…just like now- we’ll get out and walk a couple of miles and talk and share.”
Advice for my boys for life?  Judy:  “Have faith in God and be true to yourself.  We all have a conscience…listen to it.”
Bob & Judy.  “We’re romancing.”  Wow!  How long has this been going on?  Bob: “What, about 8 months?”  Judy: “9 months.” 

What’s been the happiest time of your life?  Judy:  “I think was…well, I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of happy times in my life, but I’m thinking when my first child was born.  But…I think right now’s an awfully happy time in my life.”

Why so?  Judy:  “Because Bob is a part of my life.”
Bob: “We’re starting a new life.”
Judy:  “Yeah…and we’re not children, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

Bob, when was your happiest time?  “Oh, gosh, it would be hard to say.  I almost think when I finally sold my company and retired, when I could lean back and enjoy life.”   and have that stress off you?  “No stress, no pain.”  Was it worth all those years of work?  “Sure!  I’ve had 14 years of enjoying it…got another year or two coming.”

Toughest time of your life?  Bob:  “That’s easy.  When we both lost our spouses.”

How did you cope with that?  Bob:  “Not well.”  Judy:  “For me, it took a lot of spiritual strength. That’s how I handled most of it…through my faith.”  How about you, Bob?  “I guess, for me, it’s just day by day…til finally life goes on.”    Judy:  “And I came in his life.”  Bob:  “Yeah, you came into my life.”


Tell me this- what have you found, in the last 8 months, that you appreciate the most about each other?  Judy:  “I think Bob’s integrity and honesty.”  Bob: “Her unique belief in me!” (both laugh) 

What’s been the key to a great relationship for you two?  Judy: “The key to that?  I think a lot of it is trust…and love.  You know, if  you fall in love with someone, that makes everything work a whole lot better.  So, to me, it’s been love.”

Bob: “And we just enjoy each other…just like now- we’ll get out and walk a couple of miles and talk and share.”

Advice for my boys for life?  Judy:  “Have faith in God and be true to yourself.  We all have a conscience…listen to it.”

Robert, whom I originally met when I was at WSMV in the late 90’s.  He does a little bit of everything behind the scenes at the station and is just such a great guy.  His mom has brought him to work for 29 years.  Happiest time of your life?  “Let me see…working here at Channel 4.”How long have you been here?  “29 years.” You’ve seen a lot of people come and go on this hill! “Yes…yes I have!  Lots of people!”What do you love so much about working here?  “The people here are nice and I like my job…just so nice and friendly.”Toughest time of your life?  “I’m trying to think….I don’t know.”  So you focus on the positive?  “Defintely.”Advice for my boys?  “I’d say be happy!”  Would you say you’re a happy person, Robert?  “Yeah, I just try to stay positive.”After our talk, I reminded him I was there in ‘98 and ‘99.  He said “Hmm…Justin Holder, Justin Holder, Justin Holder….sure I remember you!”  Regardless of if he does, Robert always makes you feel like a star. 

Robert, whom I originally met when I was at WSMV in the late 90’s.  He does a little bit of everything behind the scenes at the station and is just such a great guy.  His mom has brought him to work for 29 years.  Happiest time of your life?  “Let me see…working here at Channel 4.”

How long have you been here?  “29 years.”

You’ve seen a lot of people come and go on this hill! “Yes…yes I have!  Lots of people!”

What do you love so much about working here?  “The people here are nice and I like my job…just so nice and friendly.”

Toughest time of your life?  “I’m trying to think….I don’t know.”  So you focus on the positive?  “Defintely.”

Advice for my boys?  “I’d say be happy!”  Would you say you’re a happy person, Robert?  “Yeah, I just try to stay positive.”

After our talk, I reminded him I was there in ‘98 and ‘99.  He said “Hmm…Justin Holder, Justin Holder, Justin Holder….sure I remember you!”  Regardless of if he does, Robert always makes you feel like a star. 





Silas.  Happiest time of your life?  “Well right now, as far as I know.  Lord’s richly blessed me.  I have a wonderful family and wife and child…everyday should be a happy day for us.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Oh, probably my early 20’s.  There comes a time when we all choose our paths.”
Regardless of opinions of being raised Mennonite, folks have to appreciate the closeness of your community, it would seem.  Has that been a positive in your life? “Certainly.  Referring to the closeness we experience within it?  Certainly.”
What’s been one of the best parts of growing up Mennonite?  “Being sheltered from all the evil in the world…uh, much of the evil in the world.  Also the teaching- being exposed to Godly teaching.”
So, you’d say it’s allowed you to focus on the more positive aspects of life?  “As far as I know.  I don’t know why it shouldn’t have, anyway.”
Advice for my boys for life?  “Fear God and keep his commandments.” 
Silas.  Happiest time of your life?  “Well right now, as far as I know.  Lord’s richly blessed me.  I have a wonderful family and wife and child…everyday should be a happy day for us.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Oh, probably my early 20’s.  There comes a time when we all choose our paths.”

Regardless of opinions of being raised Mennonite, folks have to appreciate the closeness of your community, it would seem.  Has that been a positive in your life? “Certainly.  Referring to the closeness we experience within it?  Certainly.”
What’s been one of the best parts of growing up Mennonite?  “Being sheltered from all the evil in the world…uh, much of the evil in the world.  Also the teaching- being exposed to Godly teaching.”
So, you’d say it’s allowed you to focus on the more positive aspects of life?  “As far as I know.  I don’t know why it shouldn’t have, anyway.”

Advice for my boys for life?  “Fear God and keep his commandments.” 






Lizzy.  Happiest time of your life?  “Traveling…that’s easy.”Why so?  “Well, of course everyone’s happy on vacation, but it definitely fulfills some sort of inner freedom, inner adventurer that I have.  I like discovering new things and finding my way around.”
Do you feel like traveling broadens your perspective and outlook on things?  “Yes, definitely.  Definitely broadens the scope of life.  I’m not one of those travelers who goes and sits on an all inclusive resort, I like to have my backpack on, trying to decipher street signs.”
Toughest time of your life?  “I guess knowing that I want a large life…like an interesting path, something meaningful to do in life. I’m trying to figure out what that is.”
Why do you say that’s disappointing…because you haven’t found it?  “I guess it’s more irritating and that makes it disappointing, because I’m not there yet.”
You’ve got a different look.  You’ve got some tattoos going on and some piercings.  What made you decide to do that?  “Well, my dad was a Harley rider and my mom was a hippie.”
So, it comes natural?  “Yes, it comes natural!”
Advice for my boys?  “Try not to be tainted by what society telling you what you should do or feel or be and see.  Follow your soul.” 
Lizzy.  Happiest time of your life?  “Traveling…that’s easy.”

Why so?  “Well, of course everyone’s happy on vacation, but it definitely fulfills some sort of inner freedom, inner adventurer that I have.  I like discovering new things and finding my way around.”

Do you feel like traveling broadens your perspective and outlook on things?  “Yes, definitely.  Definitely broadens the scope of life.  I’m not one of those travelers who goes and sits on an all inclusive resort, I like to have my backpack on, trying to decipher street signs.”

Toughest time of your life?  “I guess knowing that I want a large life…like an interesting path, something meaningful to do in life. I’m trying to figure out what that is.”

Why do you say that’s disappointing…because you haven’t found it?  “I guess it’s more irritating and that makes it disappointing, because I’m not there yet.”

You’ve got a different look.  You’ve got some tattoos going on and some piercings.  What made you decide to do that?  “Well, my dad was a Harley rider and my mom was a hippie.”

So, it comes natural?  “Yes, it comes natural!”

Advice for my boys?  “Try not to be tainted by what society telling you what you should do or feel or be and see.  Follow your soul.” 






Woody.  Happiest time of you life?  “Oh, wow. (tears up)  It sounds cliche, but my three children and my wife.  They’ve been very close for me.  My 11 year old keeps me young.  I’m getting older in years!”
How did you change when you became a dad?  “I think the selfishness went away…to a degree.  I don’t think we’re ever fully not selfish, but I think that was a big thing.  The other thing is just the responsibility of knowing that everything I say, do in front of them…they’re seeing.  They’re learning from me what not to do.  My third child is 11 and I’m 50.  The other two are 18 and 22 and the little one has made me more aware and more appreciative in my 40’s and 50’s, because you get more mental awareness and more maturity that we don’t realize til we get to that point.”
So would you say you made yourself into a better person, to in turn be a better example for your children?  “I would like to say that, but I would rather say that God has made me a better person.”
Were you always spiritual?  “No…I was a preachers kid in the womb.  The only job my dad ever had was 3 years in the Navy to get the GI bill to go to seminary.  So, that’s the only job he really had.  It’s a lot different when you grow up in it, then you get out on your own and you start questioning this and that …then life comes at you pretty hard, sometimes.  It came at me pretty hard when I realized I had to turn around.”
What do you think caused you to make that turnaround?  “Double hip replacement at age 42.  (begins to tear up)  I’m sorry.  You’d think 7 years later and I wouldn’t be this way. The double hip replacement…had I not had it, I’d be in a wheelchair right now, not able to walk at all.  My daughter, being 3 and 4 years old, not knowing anything but daddy walking on canes, had never seen me walk upright.  Business went downhill because of that, so we had to find something to do, that’s why we do this (farmer’s market)…because I can sit some, I can stand some.  Living with the pain is difficult, but I’d really have to say, Justin, that my wife changed my entire life.  She opened my eyes to who God really was and, at first, I’d call her and ask ‘what are you doing?’ and she’d say she was reading her bible.  I’d hang up with her and think ‘nobody reads their bible that much.’ It wasn’t pretentious…she’s just that honest. It’s tough for a man to say that a woman could do that, but that’s just life….that’s just how it is.”  
Did you find yourself almost envying that peace she seemed to have?  “Dude, I still want that peace she’s got.  I’m still nowhere near what she is.”
Advice for my boys for life?  “Look at your mother.  Watch her.  But, also look at your dad…and watch how daddy treats momma.  Because, the bottom line is you’re gonna learn from daddy.  And I know you know that.  So, I’d tell those two boys, that I’m seeing right now, one talking and one barely walking, just look at your daddy and do what he did with your mother…and you do that with your girlfriend, that’s going to be your wife one day and you’re going to be ok.” 
Woody.  Happiest time of you life?  “Oh, wow. (tears up)  It sounds cliche, but my three children and my wife.  They’ve been very close for me.  My 11 year old keeps me young.  I’m getting older in years!”

How did you change when you became a dad?  “I think the selfishness went away…to a degree.  I don’t think we’re ever fully not selfish, but I think that was a big thing.  The other thing is just the responsibility of knowing that everything I say, do in front of them…they’re seeing.  They’re learning from me what not to do.  My third child is 11 and I’m 50.  The other two are 18 and 22 and the little one has made me more aware and more appreciative in my 40’s and 50’s, because you get more mental awareness and more maturity that we don’t realize til we get to that point.”

So would you say you made yourself into a better person, to in turn be a better example for your children?  “I would like to say that, but I would rather say that God has made me a better person.”

Were you always spiritual?  “No…I was a preachers kid in the womb.  The only job my dad ever had was 3 years in the Navy to get the GI bill to go to seminary.  So, that’s the only job he really had.  It’s a lot different when you grow up in it, then you get out on your own and you start questioning this and that …then life comes at you pretty hard, sometimes.  It came at me pretty hard when I realized I had to turn around.”

What do you think caused you to make that turnaround?  “Double hip replacement at age 42.  (begins to tear up)  I’m sorry.  You’d think 7 years later and I wouldn’t be this way. The double hip replacement…had I not had it, I’d be in a wheelchair right now, not able to walk at all.  My daughter, being 3 and 4 years old, not knowing anything but daddy walking on canes, had never seen me walk upright.  Business went downhill because of that, so we had to find something to do, that’s why we do this (farmer’s market)…because I can sit some, I can stand some.  Living with the pain is difficult, but I’d really have to say, Justin, that my wife changed my entire life.  She opened my eyes to who God really was and, at first, I’d call her and ask ‘what are you doing?’ and she’d say she was reading her bible.  I’d hang up with her and think ‘nobody reads their bible that much.’ It wasn’t pretentious…she’s just that honest. It’s tough for a man to say that a woman could do that, but that’s just life….that’s just how it is.” 

Did you find yourself almost envying that peace she seemed to have?  “Dude, I still want that peace she’s got.  I’m still nowhere near what she is.”

Advice for my boys for life?  “Look at your mother.  Watch her.  But, also look at your dad…and watch how daddy treats momma.  Because, the bottom line is you’re gonna learn from daddy.  And I know you know that.  So, I’d tell those two boys, that I’m seeing right now, one talking and one barely walking, just look at your daddy and do what he did with your mother…and you do that with your girlfriend, that’s going to be your wife one day and you’re going to be ok.” 









Hayley.  Happiest time of your life?  “Usually when traveling.  Like I’ve traveled to Rome, Italy and Israel.  Those are the times I feel most happy and have the memories of those places.”
What do you find you take away from traveling?  “Culture.  I love experiencing culture and getting out of my own element.”
What’s been the toughest time of your life?  “Childhood, actually.  I had a really rotten childhood.  My mom was a drug addict, so those were very challenging years.”
How did you get through that?  “My sister.  I have an older sister that’s five and a half years older than me and she pretty much raised me from like five to thirteen.”
Do you think that gave you and your sister a closeness you may not have had?  “Definitely…and she’s still my best friend.  She’s got three girls now and that’s really helped us make our decisions in life and have good moral standards through the hard years.”
Do you have a relationship with your mom?  “I do now.  We renewed our relationship about six years ago, when my sister had her first child.  We said if you get clean, you can get back in the family…she decided that the grandchildren were important enough, so we were able to start rebuilding our family about six years ago.”
So she’s clean now?  “She’s clean now.”
How does that feel?  “It’s awesome…I mean, every day is a win when it comes to drug addiction and that kind of stuff, especially when it was such a long time.  Every day is a check mark and a survival day.  You build from those moments.”
Do you feel like you’ve forgiven her?  “Oh yeah.  It took a lot of years…it took a lot of years.  I talked to her last night for like fourty-five minutes.  Good conversation, lots of laughs.  She’s dating again, so it’s a completely different dynamic.”
Advice for my boys?  “It’s kind of those gut checks…the biggest things I’ve learned from is if there’s something wrong in your heart, trust it.  Trust yourself and trust your judgement.”
Hayley.  Happiest time of your life?  “Usually when traveling.  Like I’ve traveled to Rome, Italy and Israel.  Those are the times I feel most happy and have the memories of those places.”
What do you find you take away from traveling?  “Culture.  I love experiencing culture and getting out of my own element.”

What’s been the toughest time of your life?  “Childhood, actually.  I had a really rotten childhood.  My mom was a drug addict, so those were very challenging years.”
How did you get through that?  “My sister.  I have an older sister that’s five and a half years older than me and she pretty much raised me from like five to thirteen.”

Do you think that gave you and your sister a closeness you may not have had?  “Definitely…and she’s still my best friend.  She’s got three girls now and that’s really helped us make our decisions in life and have good moral standards through the hard years.”
Do you have a relationship with your mom?  “I do now.  We renewed our relationship about six years ago, when my sister had her first child.  We said if you get clean, you can get back in the family…she decided that the grandchildren were important enough, so we were able to start rebuilding our family about six years ago.”
So she’s clean now?  “She’s clean now.”

How does that feel?  “It’s awesome…I mean, every day is a win when it comes to drug addiction and that kind of stuff, especially when it was such a long time.  Every day is a check mark and a survival day.  You build from those moments.”
Do you feel like you’ve forgiven her?  “Oh yeah.  It took a lot of years…it took a lot of years.  I talked to her last night for like fourty-five minutes.  Good conversation, lots of laughs.  She’s dating again, so it’s a completely different dynamic.”

Advice for my boys?  “It’s kind of those gut checks…the biggest things I’ve learned from is if there’s something wrong in your heart, trust it.  Trust yourself and trust your judgement.”

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