Advice for my boys

Strangers that I meet along the way, offering insight & lessons my boys may find valuable one day.
John. Happiest time of your life? “I think when I got married was the happiest time, but I’m very happy right now.”I bet that was great. “Yes, I married the woman that I’d dated for several years.” How did you know she was the one? “After the first date…but it took 7 years to convince her!”How long have you been married? “60 years” Many marriages don’t achieve near that anymore. What’s been the secret? “We compromise.”Toughest time of your life? “I developed cancer in 1995. That was a tough time. But, after the treatments, everything worked out really well.”How did you wrap your mind around the idea that you had cancer? “I have faith…and it worked out that, after the radiation treatment, the cancer has been contained for over 20 years. It all worked out.”So, you were in the service, tell me about that. “I was 18 years old when I went in. I was very fortunate, in that things went my way. I grew up…I was a kid when I went in. I got out in 3 years, when I as 21. We were never shot down or anything, so it worked out well for us.”What did you learn about yourself during that time? “I had to take care of myself- momma and dad weren’t there anymore.”Advice for my boys? “Live a good life. Be concerned about your fellow man and treat them all like you’d like to be treated.”What are you most proud of, looking back on your life? “My two children. They’ve turned out very good. Both successful business people…and they’ve been great friends. I’m proud of them.”

John. Happiest time of your life? “I think when I got married was the happiest time, but I’m very happy right now.”

I bet that was great. “Yes, I married the woman that I’d dated for several years.” How did you know she was the one? “After the first date…but it took 7 years to convince her!”

How long have you been married? “60 years”

Many marriages don’t achieve near that anymore. What’s been the secret? “We compromise.”

Toughest time of your life? “I developed cancer in 1995. That was a tough time. But, after the treatments, everything worked out really well.”

How did you wrap your mind around the idea that you had cancer? “I have faith…and it worked out that, after the radiation treatment, the cancer has been contained for over 20 years. It all worked out.”

So, you were in the service, tell me about that. “I was 18 years old when I went in. I was very fortunate, in that things went my way. I grew up…I was a kid when I went in. I got out in 3 years, when I as 21. We were never shot down or anything, so it worked out well for us.”

What did you learn about yourself during that time? “I had to take care of myself- momma and dad weren’t there anymore.”

Advice for my boys? “Live a good life. Be concerned about your fellow man and treat them all like you’d like to be treated.”

What are you most proud of, looking back on your life? “My two children. They’ve turned out very good. Both successful business people…and they’ve been great friends. I’m proud of them.”

David. Happiest time of your life? “Probably the birth of my 3 kids.” How did you change during that time? “Well, I mean, that changes your life forever- being more responsible, three more mouths to feed.”Stressful time? “No, no. Happy time.”Toughest time of your life? “Wow, I’d have to think about that. I haven’t had too many major disappointments. I had a bump in the road health issue. I was told I had carcinoma, which is really bad, but it turned out it was a benign tumor.”In the interim, not knowing, how’d you cope with the idea that you could have it? “Well, being a believer, I just turned everything over to Christ and left it to him.”Do you find your faith comforting? “Oh, by all means.”What does that faith mean to you? “It’s a personal relationship, it’s a daily walk with Him.”How do you explain that to someone who may either not believe or haven’t experienced something like that? “I would tell them they need to have a relationship with Christ. If they want true peace in their life, they need to seek Christ.”Advice for my boys? “You, as a father, I’d keep them in church and in Sunday School. And, for them- follow the example that Christ has set.”

David. Happiest time of your life? “Probably the birth of my 3 kids.”

How did you change during that time? “Well, I mean, that changes your life forever- being more responsible, three more mouths to feed.”

Stressful time? “No, no. Happy time.”

Toughest time of your life? “Wow, I’d have to think about that. I haven’t had too many major disappointments. I had a bump in the road health issue. I was told I had carcinoma, which is really bad, but it turned out it was a benign tumor.”

In the interim, not knowing, how’d you cope with the idea that you could have it? “Well, being a believer, I just turned everything over to Christ and left it to him.”

Do you find your faith comforting? “Oh, by all means.”

What does that faith mean to you? “It’s a personal relationship, it’s a daily walk with Him.”

How do you explain that to someone who may either not believe or haven’t experienced something like that? “I would tell them they need to have a relationship with Christ. If they want true peace in their life, they need to seek Christ.”

Advice for my boys? “You, as a father, I’d keep them in church and in Sunday School. And, for them- follow the example that Christ has set.”

Mark.  Happiest time of your life?  “Meeting Glenda.”How long has it been?  “Almost two years.”How did you meet?  “At work.”What made you notice her?  “She’s beautiful, has a great personality.”What’s been the key to a great relationship?  “Communication.”Most disappointing time of your life?  “When my best friends brother committed suicide.”How did you deal with that?  “I don’t know…just praying about it.  That’s been the biggest thing.”  Advice for my boys?  “Be true to yourself and follow your heart and your dreams…no matter what.” 

Mark.  Happiest time of your life?  “Meeting Glenda.”

How long has it been?  “Almost two years.”

How did you meet?  “At work.”

What made you notice her?  “She’s beautiful, has a great personality.”

What’s been the key to a great relationship?  “Communication.”

Most disappointing time of your life?  “When my best friends brother committed suicide.”

How did you deal with that?  “I don’t know…just praying about it.  That’s been the biggest thing.” 

Advice for my boys?  “Be true to yourself and follow your heart and your dreams…no matter what.” 







Denise.  Happiest time of your life?  “Growing up, being a child in the summertime.” 
What was the best part?  “Carefree, no school, no responsibilities…just waking up everyday, excited about kickball.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Failed relationship in college.  He was my college sweetheart and I thought it would last…and it didn’t…so, learning how to move on.  That was really tough.”  
Was that a long process?  “Yeah, it’s something I deal with every day, but I’m definitely way past it, than where I was.  I think it’s an every day experience.  Some days it would be ok and some days it wouldn’t.  To this day, I still think about him….but, I know it just wasn’t mean to be.”
Do you still have contact with him?  “We’re still friends, actually.  We don’t talk everyday, but we do keep in touch.”
Do you still wish there was a relationship there?  “No, I used to wish that.  Now, I just accept what it was and realize it was beautiful for however long it lasted…but, it wasn’t made to last forever.”
So what did that relationship teach you about relationships moving forward?  “It taught me that love is a freeing thing.  You can’t hold somebody captive. Love is a gift…if it’s meant for you, it will work out…even if not with that person.”
Advice for my boys?  “Be good to people.  Be kind to people…even when they aren’t kind to you.   What you give will come right back to you.” 
Denise.  Happiest time of your life?  “Growing up, being a child in the summertime.”

What was the best part?  “Carefree, no school, no responsibilities…just waking up everyday, excited about kickball.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Failed relationship in college.  He was my college sweetheart and I thought it would last…and it didn’t…so, learning how to move on.  That was really tough.” 

Was that a long process?  “Yeah, it’s something I deal with every day, but I’m definitely way past it, than where I was.  I think it’s an every day experience.  Some days it would be ok and some days it wouldn’t.  To this day, I still think about him….but, I know it just wasn’t mean to be.”

Do you still have contact with him?  “We’re still friends, actually.  We don’t talk everyday, but we do keep in touch.”

Do you still wish there was a relationship there?  “No, I used to wish that.  Now, I just accept what it was and realize it was beautiful for however long it lasted…but, it wasn’t made to last forever.”

So what did that relationship teach you about relationships moving forward?  “It taught me that love is a freeing thing.  You can’t hold somebody captive. Love is a gift…if it’s meant for you, it will work out…even if not with that person.”

Advice for my boys?  “Be good to people.  Be kind to people…even when they aren’t kind to you.   What you give will come right back to you.” 






Taryn.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably when I was playing sports.  Because I was in a group effort and being in a team made me feel I had a purpose.  I have two sisters, I have a great family, and I love all that aspect…but when I was playing a sport and I had a role to play, it made a huge difference for me.”
Best lessons you learned from sports?  “Definitely teamwork is a huge one, obviously and getting along with everyone.  But I was also the captain, so I had the role of being in charge of everyone, but also being their friend.  That’s hard to do.  There’s a difference in being mean and being stern.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Finishing off my sports career.  I had to end it after a lot of issues.  I didn’t want to, but it was right for me.  I do continue to coach.”
That had to be a hard decision for you.   “It was a hard decision, because it was the biggest thing in my life…and then I had to give it up.”
How did you do that?  “Through support and family and friends…and finding new hobbies and things that give me the same pleasure.”
Advice for my boys?  “Mine would be not to give up, even when you really feel like you should.  Sometimes, if you just push a little harder and a little farther,  you’ll be able to make it through it.  That’s my biggest hold-back in my life.”
You still don’t sound at peace with your decision.  “That’s because I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  Obviously, I’m trying to fill the hole by coaching.  I should have pushed through it.  I’ve made other things in my life that are filling that hole.” 
Taryn.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably when I was playing sports.  Because I was in a group effort and being in a team made me feel I had a purpose.  I have two sisters, I have a great family, and I love all that aspect…but when I was playing a sport and I had a role to play, it made a huge difference for me.”

Best lessons you learned from sports?  “Definitely teamwork is a huge one, obviously and getting along with everyone.  But I was also the captain, so I had the role of being in charge of everyone, but also being their friend.  That’s hard to do.  There’s a difference in being mean and being stern.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Finishing off my sports career.  I had to end it after a lot of issues.  I didn’t want to, but it was right for me.  I do continue to coach.”

That had to be a hard decision for you.   “It was a hard decision, because it was the biggest thing in my life…and then I had to give it up.”

How did you do that?  “Through support and family and friends…and finding new hobbies and things that give me the same pleasure.”

Advice for my boys?  “Mine would be not to give up, even when you really feel like you should.  Sometimes, if you just push a little harder and a little farther,  you’ll be able to make it through it.  That’s my biggest hold-back in my life.”

You still don’t sound at peace with your decision.  “That’s because I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  Obviously, I’m trying to fill the hole by coaching.  I should have pushed through it.  I’ve made other things in my life that are filling that hole.” 






Vicki, whom we met today at Rock Island State Park.  Happiest time of your life?  “I can’t think of just one time that’s been the happiest time of my life. I love living and seeing the country, riding the motorcycles and seeing the scenery.”
So just being out?  “Yeah, just being out in nature.”
What’s been the toughest time of your life?  (Immediately tears up) “My father died when I was 8 years old…that was very tough.”
How did you deal with that?   “I don’t think I really did…and it’s bothered me all of my life.”
I can tell, all these years later, it’s still very fresh for you.  How have you coped with it?  “How have I coped with it?  I don’t know.  I just try not to dwell on it.  We went to visit his grave site a few years ago with my sisters.  He’s down in South Florida.  It was very emotional. I remember a lot about him that they don’t.  The youngest one was just a year old.”
What is your favorite memory with your dad?  “Dancing with him.  He would let me stand on his feet while he danced.  He played the guitar and sang country music.  He was fun.”  
Advice for my boys?  “Try to be happy.  Try not to dwell on the things that bother you and think about the  things you enjoy.  Try to stay close to people—that’s something I’ve never done and I regret it.  Find people that love you.” 
Vicki, whom we met today at Rock Island State Park.  Happiest time of your life?  “I can’t think of just one time that’s been the happiest time of my life. I love living and seeing the country, riding the motorcycles and seeing the scenery.”

So just being out?  “Yeah, just being out in nature.”

What’s been the toughest time of your life?  (Immediately tears up) “My father died when I was 8 years old…that was very tough.”

How did you deal with that?   “I don’t think I really did…and it’s bothered me all of my life.”

I can tell, all these years later, it’s still very fresh for you.  How have you coped with it?  “How have I coped with it?  I don’t know.  I just try not to dwell on it.  We went to visit his grave site a few years ago with my sisters.  He’s down in South Florida.  It was very emotional. I remember a lot about him that they don’t.  The youngest one was just a year old.”

What is your favorite memory with your dad?  “Dancing with him.  He would let me stand on his feet while he danced.  He played the guitar and sang country music.  He was fun.” 

Advice for my boys?  “Try to be happy.  Try not to dwell on the things that bother you and think about the  things you enjoy.  Try to stay close to people—that’s something I’ve never done and I regret it.  Find people that love you.” 

















Carolyn & Grady.  How long have you been married?  Carolyn:  “Almost 34 years…and we’re here celebrating Grady’s 80th birthday.”
Many marriages don’t last that long anymore, what’s been your key?  Carolyn:  “Independence.  We had some contractual arrangements before we got married.  My husband is an avid golfer…and I like to sleep late, so I didn’t have a problem with him getting up and playing golf, while I slept late.  But, we also had two other conditions:  if you’re at a party, whoever wants to leave first can, but has to arrange a ride for the other person to come home. So, if I wanted to stay at a party- he isn’t going to get mad at me (if I stayed), if he wanted to get up early in the morning and play golf.  And…no breakfast.”
Grady:  “No.  We have a kitchen because it came with the house.  That’s the only reason.”
Justin:  “So, the secret of marriage is golf, sleeping late, parties and no breakfast?”  
Grady:  “No, well that’s how it turned out, but the real secret is the two people should be independent- thinking they can do things because they enjoy it, without the other person necessarily liking to do that.”
Carolyn: “And then, coming together and having something interesting to tell the other person.”  
Justin: “I would think that could bring something different to talk about?” 
Carolyn:  “Yes, if you’ve done all the same things, you don’t always have that much to talk about.  It’s already over.”
Justin: “What would you say you each appreciate most about the other person?”
Grady:  “I’d like to hear this!” (laughs)Carolyn:  “That my husband is so laid back, that he never gets upset about anything…and that’s how he survived a heart attack and seven bypasses ten years ago.  And, he keeps me calm.”
Grady:  “Oh, she’s bright, she’s pretty, she knows a lot of things I don’t know….she’s from New York- they do things a little differently.  She’s a great decorator.”  
Carolyn: “And my husband is a great historian and he also taught in the medical school at Chapel Hill for 25 years.  So, we’ve had lots of different experiences to talk about.”
Justin:  “So, if you were to give my boys advice for life, what would that be?”
Carolyn:  “Find a person that you have common values with, not necessarily everything in common with that you do, but find someone whose values are the same as yours.  My advice too is that opposites attract, but sometimes that’s hard to live together- you’ve got to really try.  And, to be good, to be gentle and to be giving to one another.”
Grady:  “I’d say not to take it too seriously…”
Carolyn interrupts: “I was going to say you’d say don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Grady:  “Yeah.  Don’t get all upset over little things that don’t matter very much in the long run.”
Carolyn:  “Oh…and have a dog.” 
Carolyn & Grady.  How long have you been married?  Carolyn:  “Almost 34 years…and we’re here celebrating Grady’s 80th birthday.”

Many marriages don’t last that long anymore, what’s been your key?  Carolyn:  “Independence.  We had some contractual arrangements before we got married.  My husband is an avid golfer…and I like to sleep late, so I didn’t have a problem with him getting up and playing golf, while I slept late.  But, we also had two other conditions:  if you’re at a party, whoever wants to leave first can, but has to arrange a ride for the other person to come home. So, if I wanted to stay at a party- he isn’t going to get mad at me (if I stayed), if he wanted to get up early in the morning and play golf.  And…no breakfast.”

Grady:  “No.  We have a kitchen because it came with the house.  That’s the only reason.”

Justin:  “So, the secret of marriage is golf, sleeping late, parties and no breakfast?” 
Grady:  “No, well that’s how it turned out, but the real secret is the two people should be independent- thinking they can do things because they enjoy it, without the other person necessarily liking to do that.”
Carolyn: “And then, coming together and having something interesting to tell the other person.” 

Justin: “I would think that could bring something different to talk about?”
Carolyn:  “Yes, if you’ve done all the same things, you don’t always have that much to talk about.  It’s already over.”

Justin: “What would you say you each appreciate most about the other person?”
Grady:  “I’d like to hear this!” (laughs)
Carolyn:  “That my husband is so laid back, that he never gets upset about anything…and that’s how he survived a heart attack and seven bypasses ten years ago.  And, he keeps me calm.”
Grady:  “Oh, she’s bright, she’s pretty, she knows a lot of things I don’t know….she’s from New York- they do things a little differently.  She’s a great decorator.” 
Carolyn: “And my husband is a great historian and he also taught in the medical school at Chapel Hill for 25 years.  So, we’ve had lots of different experiences to talk about.”

Justin:  “So, if you were to give my boys advice for life, what would that be?”
Carolyn:  “Find a person that you have common values with, not necessarily everything in common with that you do, but find someone whose values are the same as yours.  My advice too is that opposites attract, but sometimes that’s hard to live together- you’ve got to really try.  And, to be good, to be gentle and to be giving to one another.”
Grady:  “I’d say not to take it too seriously…”
Carolyn interrupts: “I was going to say you’d say don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Grady:  “Yeah.  Don’t get all upset over little things that don’t matter very much in the long run.”

Carolyn:  “Oh…and have a dog.” 





Paul.  Happiest time of your life?  “Right now, I just got done with a weekend with my friends.”   Did you have a big time?  “Yeah, it was awesome.  We hiked up Chimney Top mountain through the rain and it was awesome.”
Other great times of your life?  “I got married three years ago in April.”  How did you know she was the one?  “She was my best friend all the way through high school and college…and I loved her and she loved me.”
In these three years, what have you found  so far that’s the secret to a great marriage?  “Having fun together and talking and really knowing the other person…just knowing everything about them and accepting them.”
Toughest time of your life?  “I moved a lot as a kid…house to house, state to state.  Those were tough times.”
What was the toughest part of that?  “Leaving my friends behind and trying to keep relationships…but I was so young, I didn’t know how to do it.”
Advice for my boys?  “Keep friends close.  If there’s someone that’s good in your life…don’t let them leave. 
Paul.  Happiest time of your life?  “Right now, I just got done with a weekend with my friends.”   Did you have a big time?  “Yeah, it was awesome.  We hiked up Chimney Top mountain through the rain and it was awesome.”

Other great times of your life?  “I got married three years ago in April.”  How did you know she was the one?  “She was my best friend all the way through high school and college…and I loved her and she loved me.”

In these three years, what have you found  so far that’s the secret to a great marriage?  “Having fun together and talking and really knowing the other person…just knowing everything about them and accepting them.”

Toughest time of your life?  “I moved a lot as a kid…house to house, state to state.  Those were tough times.”

What was the toughest part of that?  “Leaving my friends behind and trying to keep relationships…but I was so young, I didn’t know how to do it.”

Advice for my boys?  “Keep friends close.  If there’s someone that’s good in your life…don’t let them leave. 

Miracle, whom I met today at the Boys and Girls Club of Rutherford County.  Happiest time of your life?  “I have a lot of happy times, because I’m always happy when I’m here.  My happiest time would be coming here, I guess.”  The Boys and Girls Club?   “Yes, here at the club, because I’m always here.”  The happiest times of your life?  “Yeah, the happiest times of my life have been here.  I’ve had happy times before, but my happiest times are here, because I get to spend times with my friends and we laugh most of the time.”What’s been the toughest time of your life?  “When my grandma passed away, cause she had died in front of me.  That was really sad, because she was my best friend.  When I lost her, I was really sad about it.  I was depressed for like two weeks, but then I got happy again.”How did you get over it? “I just hung around with my family most of that time, because I didn’t want to lose them.  But then I knew she wouldn’t want me to be sad, so I became happy again.”  In your speech, you said something happened to your brother?  “He had gone to prison and had passed away in jail.  I don’t really know what happened to him, because my mom never really told me.  But, I am assuming it was bad.  So, we went to Florida for two weeks and had his memorial and I sang Alicia Keys for him.  It was sad.  But, I think it was more sad because of my mom- that was her oldest son and she was really sad about it.  I still remember her screams when she found out about it.”Were you able to comfort her, do you think?  “I attempted to, but I also realized that she needed her space to cope with it and talk to God about it.”I heard you get up early to come to the Club?  “Yes!  Regularly, I wake up at 5am, but my mom goes to prayer service at Destiny Center, so I get up at 4:00, go to church at 5:00 and here at 6.”You don’t ever get tired of coming to the Club?  “No!  A reference we have is someone that comes to the club every day, they’re always happy, going around the club talking to people…that’s basically what I am.  I love coming here.  There’s never been a day that I’ve been upset about coming here.  I have a choice to stay home or not, but I never want to do that.”What does this Club mean to you?  “Family.  It’s my second family. If I have a problem or something, I can just talk to them about it.  Everyone at the club is just there for you.  I truly love them.”  Advice for my boys for life?  “Stay in school and get your education and don’t worry about fitting in.  You can try to fit in, but it won’t get you anywhere.  I’d rather be an outcast with an education and the friends that I do have, than be popular, not have an education and have friends who aren’t really my friends.” 

Miracle, whom I met today at the Boys and Girls Club of Rutherford County.  Happiest time of your life?  “I have a lot of happy times, because I’m always happy when I’m here.  My happiest time would be coming here, I guess.”  The Boys and Girls Club?   “Yes, here at the club, because I’m always here.”  The happiest times of your life?  “Yeah, the happiest times of my life have been here.  I’ve had happy times before, but my happiest times are here, because I get to spend times with my friends and we laugh most of the time.”

What’s been the toughest time of your life?  “When my grandma passed away, cause she had died in front of me.  That was really sad, because she was my best friend.  When I lost her, I was really sad about it.  I was depressed for like two weeks, but then I got happy again.”

How did you get over it? “I just hung around with my family most of that time, because I didn’t want to lose them.  But then I knew she wouldn’t want me to be sad, so I became happy again.” 

In your speech, you said something happened to your brother?  “He had gone to prison and had passed away in jail.  I don’t really know what happened to him, because my mom never really told me.  But, I am assuming it was bad.  So, we went to Florida for two weeks and had his memorial and I sang Alicia Keys for him.  It was sad.  But, I think it was more sad because of my mom- that was her oldest son and she was really sad about it.  I still remember her screams when she found out about it.”

Were you able to comfort her, do you think?  “I attempted to, but I also realized that she needed her space to cope with it and talk to God about it.”

I heard you get up early to come to the Club?  “Yes!  Regularly, I wake up at 5am, but my mom goes to prayer service at Destiny Center, so I get up at 4:00, go to church at 5:00 and here at 6.”

You don’t ever get tired of coming to the Club?  “No!  A reference we have is someone that comes to the club every day, they’re always happy, going around the club talking to people…that’s basically what I am.  I love coming here.  There’s never been a day that I’ve been upset about coming here.  I have a choice to stay home or not, but I never want to do that.”

What does this Club mean to you?  “Family.  It’s my second family. If I have a problem or something, I can just talk to them about it.  Everyone at the club is just there for you.  I truly love them.” 

Advice for my boys for life?  “Stay in school and get your education and don’t worry about fitting in.  You can try to fit in, but it won’t get you anywhere.  I’d rather be an outcast with an education and the friends that I do have, than be popular, not have an education and have friends who aren’t really my friends.” 





Joseph.  Happiest time of your life?  “My honeymoon with my wife in New York City.”
How’d you know she was the one?  “I saw her across the room at a workshop and I just knew.  True story.” 
Key to a successful marriage?  “Spending time away from each other every once in a while, like I’m doing this weekend.”  Gives you both a little air? “Yeah.”  
Toughest time of your life? “Leaving San Francisco and moving to Minneapolis without knowing anyone.” Out of your comfort zone?  “Way, way out of my comfort zone.”    
Advice for my boys?  “Treasure your friendships, while you have them…because you never know when things will change.”  
www.adviceformyboys.com
Joseph.  Happiest time of your life?  “My honeymoon with my wife in New York City.”

How’d you know she was the one?  “I saw her across the room at a workshop and I just knew.  True story.”

Key to a successful marriage?  “Spending time away from each other every once in a while, like I’m doing this weekend.”  Gives you both a little air? “Yeah.” 

Toughest time of your life? “Leaving San Francisco and moving to Minneapolis without knowing anyone.” Out of your comfort zone?  “Way, way out of my comfort zone.”   

Advice for my boys?  “Treasure your friendships, while you have them…because you never know when things will change.” 

www.adviceformyboys.com






Ashley.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably traveling with my family.  I went to Jordan in the Middle East.  I went with some friends from high school and my mom and I met a family there and stayed for three weeks.”
What was the most exciting part about being there?  “Meeting the people and realizing they weren’t at all what I’d thought they would be like.”  
How so?  “I thought, with knowing about Islamic beliefs and terrorists and how we think of them here, and how we see women there covered up, that they don’t do anything and don’t work…that’s not true.  It was eye opening.” 
A tough time of your life?  “Probably not getting into graduate school.  I’m about to graduate this May and thinking - oh, yeah, I will get into graduate school, no big deal, I won’t have to worry about finding a job…and all of a sudden…nope.  Definitely life changing.”
So, where do you go from here?  “Realizing that everything happens for a reason, whatever’s meant to be is…but, if I’m not meant to get into graduate school, I’m not meant to. And, if I want to try again, I will try again.”
Life advice for  the boys?  “Meet all kinds of different people.  Don’t limit yourself to what you think you should do now and what society expects for you to do now.  My professor the other day said ‘You are going to go out and own your own speech centers.  You are going to be directors in hospitals..you’re not just going to be a therapist, working under people.  You’re going to go on and be the leader.  Don’t think that graduate school is the end of it…you can go on and get your Ph.D.’”  
So, positive self talk?  “Yeah…and dream big.” 
Ashley.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably traveling with my family.  I went to Jordan in the Middle East.  I went with some friends from high school and my mom and I met a family there and stayed for three weeks.”

What was the most exciting part about being there?  “Meeting the people and realizing they weren’t at all what I’d thought they would be like.” 

How so?  “I thought, with knowing about Islamic beliefs and terrorists and how we think of them here, and how we see women there covered up, that they don’t do anything and don’t work…that’s not true.  It was eye opening.”

A tough time of your life?  “Probably not getting into graduate school.  I’m about to graduate this May and thinking - oh, yeah, I will get into graduate school, no big deal, I won’t have to worry about finding a job…and all of a sudden…nope.  Definitely life changing.”

So, where do you go from here?  “Realizing that everything happens for a reason, whatever’s meant to be is…but, if I’m not meant to get into graduate school, I’m not meant to. And, if I want to try again, I will try again.”

Life advice for  the boys?  “Meet all kinds of different people.  Don’t limit yourself to what you think you should do now and what society expects for you to do now.  My professor the other day said ‘You are going to go out and own your own speech centers.  You are going to be directors in hospitals..you’re not just going to be a therapist, working under people.  You’re going to go on and be the leader.  Don’t think that graduate school is the end of it…you can go on and get your Ph.D.’” 

So, positive self talk?  “Yeah…and dream big.” 

Michael, Park Ranger- Great Smoky Mountains. Happiest time of your life? “I’d better say when I got married. But, there’s probably several different things. I married at 35, after being in the parks service, so that was happy. My first child, of course. I tell you what- my first parks service job where I got hired, because it’s a hard job to get into. Washington, DC…that’s where I had to get in, where it’s not real competitive…but I remember that interview, when they said you got the job, to this day. So, 34 years of being in the parks service and here I am.”What gave you such a passion for the parks service? “I was his age (pointing to my 4.5 year old son, Lincoln). My dad was an engineer, so it was nothing that my dad passed on to me, it was just something where I like the outdoors, I like people…and I went to a park and I saw someone in this uniform and it looked neat. And, you got to talk to people and teach them about the resources and how to become good stewards, so it’s just something I pursued since I was in the sixth or seventh grade…and never grew out of it…or never grew up, however you want to state it. There’s ups and downs, like any job, but I don’t regret a moment.”So there’s been a constant passion for the outdoors?  “Yeah, our mission statement is to preserve and conserve the natural and cultural objects therein and provide for their use unimpaired for future generations. That’s been our mission statement since 1916. Not one word of that has changed in almost 100 years. This is my office…and that’s kind of neat.”Advice for the boys? “Just what I’m giving my fourteen year old: education is important, especially nowadays. You’ve got to get that four year degree, whatever career you pursue. But, find something you like to do. You can change your mind, but there’s something that you like to do, that you can do to use your skills, that you can do to make the world a better place. Pursue that. And pursue that by talking to other people in that field, pursue that by talking to teachers and counselors and pursue that by experimenting.”

Michael, Park Ranger- Great Smoky Mountains. Happiest time of your life? “I’d better say when I got married. But, there’s probably several different things. I married at 35, after being in the parks service, so that was happy. My first child, of course. I tell you what- my first parks service job where I got hired, because it’s a hard job to get into. Washington, DC…that’s where I had to get in, where it’s not real competitive…but I remember that interview, when they said you got the job, to this day. So, 34 years of being in the parks service and here I am.”

What gave you such a passion for the parks service? “I was his age (pointing to my 4.5 year old son, Lincoln). My dad was an engineer, so it was nothing that my dad passed on to me, it was just something where I like the outdoors, I like people…and I went to a park and I saw someone in this uniform and it looked neat. And, you got to talk to people and teach them about the resources and how to become good stewards, so it’s just something I pursued since I was in the sixth or seventh grade…and never grew out of it…or never grew up, however you want to state it. There’s ups and downs, like any job, but I don’t regret a moment.”

So there’s been a constant passion for the outdoors? “Yeah, our mission statement is to preserve and conserve the natural and cultural objects therein and provide for their use unimpaired for future generations. That’s been our mission statement since 1916. Not one word of that has changed in almost 100 years. This is my office…and that’s kind of neat.”

Advice for the boys? “Just what I’m giving my fourteen year old: education is important, especially nowadays. You’ve got to get that four year degree, whatever career you pursue. But, find something you like to do. You can change your mind, but there’s something that you like to do, that you can do to use your skills, that you can do to make the world a better place. Pursue that. And pursue that by talking to other people in that field, pursue that by talking to teachers and counselors and pursue that by experimenting.”

Sammy, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. We met, of all things, in a hotel elevator today. “I swam across the river and brought back three of my brothers. I did for them what I knew they would do for me.”How did you do it? “By not giving up. I was wounded- there were 42 of us GI’s and 1,500 of the enemy…and the enemy didn’t think that anybody would come across the river and save these men. I simply did for my brothers what I knew they’d do for me. I knew that if I was over there, they would come get me. You do your job.”What gave you the strength to do this, while you were badly wounded at the same time? “I asked the man above for the strength to do my job.”Did you wonder how in the world you were going to do it? “Not really. I believed that the man above would give me the strength to do it, cause I was shot in the leg, my ribs were broke, my back was broke, I was burnt, shrapnel wounds….but when I went over, I thought there was just one man there. And, when I got there and looked in the foxhole, there were three men. And I knew I didn’t have the strength…it took me about 45 minutes to make the trip across the river. It was only about 30 meters wide. The circumstances just took that long, because I had to keep hiding from the enemy…and when I got over there and saw three men in the foxhole, I once again asked the man above to give me the strength to carry all three of my brothers…and I picked up the man that we thought was dead, laid him across my shoulders, Billy Ray picked up Gwendell…and away we went. We made it back across.” Would you have ever dreamed you’d go through this experience? “No sir.”Would you have ever dreamed you’d earn such an award? “Even in your dreams as a young man, I never dreamed of having the Medal of Honor…that was for heroes…and I know I’m not a hero…I’m just a soldier that did his job.”Do you believe that you’re a hero now, looking back? “No sir. I’m a soldier that did his job…with help from the man above.”Advice you’d give my boys for life? “You don’t lose until you quit trying. No matter what you’re faced with in life. And, when I learned that lesson in Vietnam, I thought it just applied in a military sense, and I have sense found out that no matter what you are faced with, you truly don’t lose until you get to that point where you say ‘I quit.’ Long as you don’t quit, you don’t lose. And I believe that with all of my heart.”

Sammy, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. We met, of all things, in a hotel elevator today. “I swam across the river and brought back three of my brothers. I did for them what I knew they would do for me.”

How did you do it? “By not giving up. I was wounded- there were 42 of us GI’s and 1,500 of the enemy…and the enemy didn’t think that anybody would come across the river and save these men. I simply did for my brothers what I knew they’d do for me. I knew that if I was over there, they would come get me. You do your job.”

What gave you the strength to do this, while you were badly wounded at the same time? “I asked the man above for the strength to do my job.”

Did you wonder how in the world you were going to do it? “Not really. I believed that the man above would give me the strength to do it, cause I was shot in the leg, my ribs were broke, my back was broke, I was burnt, shrapnel wounds….but when I went over, I thought there was just one man there. And, when I got there and looked in the foxhole, there were three men. And I knew I didn’t have the strength…it took me about 45 minutes to make the trip across the river. It was only about 30 meters wide. The circumstances just took that long, because I had to keep hiding from the enemy…and when I got over there and saw three men in the foxhole, I once again asked the man above to give me the strength to carry all three of my brothers…and I picked up the man that we thought was dead, laid him across my shoulders, Billy Ray picked up Gwendell…and away we went. We made it back across.”

Would you have ever dreamed you’d go through this experience? “No sir.”

Would you have ever dreamed you’d earn such an award? “Even in your dreams as a young man, I never dreamed of having the Medal of Honor…that was for heroes…and I know I’m not a hero…I’m just a soldier that did his job.”

Do you believe that you’re a hero now, looking back? “No sir. I’m a soldier that did his job…with help from the man above.”

Advice you’d give my boys for life? “You don’t lose until you quit trying. No matter what you’re faced with in life. And, when I learned that lesson in Vietnam, I thought it just applied in a military sense, and I have sense found out that no matter what you are faced with, you truly don’t lose until you get to that point where you say ‘I quit.’ Long as you don’t quit, you don’t lose. And I believe that with all of my heart.”





Keith.  Happiest time of your life?  “The birth of my son.  It was great- he was born healthy- what else is there to say…he was healthy.”
How old is he now?  “He’s 16.”  
What did that process teach you about yourself?  “That being a parent is a great honor, it’s a privilege and it’s a lot of work.”  
What about your son are you the most proud?  “His character.  His ability to make decisions under societal stress, that he can make the right choice.”
Toughest time of your life?  “I’m retired Navy, so in and out of operations.  But, other than that, you just deal with them.”
Life advice for the boys?  “Consistency pays.  Whatever it is…stay consistent…if it’s positive.” 
Keith.  Happiest time of your life?  “The birth of my son.  It was great- he was born healthy- what else is there to say…he was healthy.”

How old is he now?  “He’s 16.” 

What did that process teach you about yourself?  “That being a parent is a great honor, it’s a privilege and it’s a lot of work.” 

What about your son are you the most proud?  “His character.  His ability to make decisions under societal stress, that he can make the right choice.”

Toughest time of your life?  “I’m retired Navy, so in and out of operations.  But, other than that, you just deal with them.”

Life advice for the boys?  “Consistency pays.  Whatever it is…stay consistent…if it’s positive.” 



Happiest time of your life?  “Whenever I got saved.”  Why so?  “Everything seemed like it was going downhill.  Then I got saved and it took all the worry off me.  I just realized that I can do anything through Christ.  I had no more worries and knew I was going to heaven.  I felt like I had a purpose from then on.”
For those that may not understand your faith, how do you explain to them what your relationship with Christ is like?  “I feel like he’s my best friend.  I feel like at anytime I can go to him.  I feel like, with anything in life, I can go to him…whether it’s a great moment, like I’m about to graduate college.  I don’t take all the credit myself. And, in bad moments, I can go to him like a best friend.” 
Toughest time of your life?  “I was in a four year relationship and we were engaged.  And all of a sudden we broke up.  She broke it off.  I felt like God wanted us to be together.  I had really secluded everything in my life to just her and it was tough, once she left.  I didn’t have anybody.  It was just really tough being alone.  That was the toughest point of my life, there for a little bit.”
Advice for my boys?  “Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something, because those are the people who listen to others…and they didn’t chase their dreams.  Can’t, don’t, won’t…those are wood words.  You just throw them on the fire and let them be the motivation.”
Happiest time of your life?  “Whenever I got saved.”  Why so?  “Everything seemed like it was going downhill.  Then I got saved and it took all the worry off me.  I just realized that I can do anything through Christ.  I had no more worries and knew I was going to heaven.  I felt like I had a purpose from then on.”
For those that may not understand your faith, how do you explain to them what your relationship with Christ is like?  “I feel like he’s my best friend.  I feel like at anytime I can go to him.  I feel like, with anything in life, I can go to him…whether it’s a great moment, like I’m about to graduate college.  I don’t take all the credit myself. And, in bad moments, I can go to him like a best friend.”
Toughest time of your life?  “I was in a four year relationship and we were engaged.  And all of a sudden we broke up.  She broke it off.  I felt like God wanted us to be together.  I had really secluded everything in my life to just her and it was tough, once she left.  I didn’t have anybody.  It was just really tough being alone.  That was the toughest point of my life, there for a little bit.”

Advice for my boys?  “Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something, because those are the people who listen to others…and they didn’t chase their dreams.  Can’t, don’t, won’t…those are wood words.  You just throw them on the fire and let them be the motivation.”

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