Although 2020 has been a crazy year, I have much to be thankful for, even this year. Thanksgiving brings back many great memories and makes me realize what a good life I have had for 70 years.
Most of all I am thankful for a wonderful wife that has put up with me for 49 years. Only one time in all those years has she complained about my hundreds of fishing and hunting trips as well as other things.
One year at Thanksgiving my mama planned Thanksgiving dinner at our place at the lake. Every year I headed to Clarks Hill Wednesday afternoon with my boat as soon as school was out for the holidays. Most years I got up and fished a couple of hours
Thursday morning, then went into town for a big meal at lunch with my family.
That year mama had dinner at the lake so I could fish more hours. I went out early that morning with the warning “be in early enough for dinner” from mama. I told her I would come in early enough to get cleaned up for the extended family that was joining us.
I will never forget weighing the 7.1-pound bass that hit a Shadrapap on my DeLiar scales, then looking at my watch and noting it was 12:01 PM. I thought it was wonderful mama had planned dinner, not lunch, or I would have not caught it.
When I went in at 5:00 to get cleaned up for dinner, mama and Linda were not happy. Maybe it was a Freudian slip that made me forget mama always said dinner for noon day meals and supper for nighttime meals. Everyone that had come for dinner had already left and I missed seeing my brother and his family, several uncles and aunts and some cousins.
The only thing colder than the cold stares I got that afternoon from mama and Linda was the cold turkey sandwich I had for Thanksgiving “dinner.”
I am thankful for growing up in a family with parents that were tough on me but loving. Discipline was strict, but I was given a lot of freedom when all my chores were done. I could go out early in the morning hunting or fishing with my friends and the only rules were get my farm work done first and to be in to eat supper with my family.
I am thankful I leaned to love the outdoors, respecting nature and its awesome power and beauty. I am thankful I never learned to love killing, but understood it is part of nature. Every animal I have shot, from squirrels to deer, made me respect death and the fact those animals died so I could eat them.
I am thankful that I grew up in a free country that did not restrict my right to own guns, hunt and fish. Unfortunately, that is changing, and I do not know how much longer it will last.
I am thankful I grew up on a farm and learned the value of hard work and the rewards from it. I have had a comfortable life, mainly due to Linda and me working hard, often at two jobs each, and enjoying the rewards of being frugal, saving and planning for the future. That allowed me to do what I wanted, have a bass boat all my life and go fishing when I wanted to go, without spending on frivolous things just to impress others.
I am thankful for learning to be good leader from my daddy and Laymon Hattaway. Daddy was my principal in elementary school, and I taught school with Mr. Hattaway as my principal for seven years. My career as a teacher, central office administrator and principal was strongly influenced by those two men, and I would not have been as successful without their influence.
I am thankful Jim Berry gave me the opportunity to fill a lifetime dream of being a writer. Berry’s Sporting Goods sponsoring my first articles in the Griffin Daily News in 1987 gave me a start on a fun, fulfilling second career.
I am thankful Linda got a second job as a cruise travel writer, allowing me to see things this country boy never imagined seeing. From squatting on the ice in Antarctica with penguins waddling by close enough to touch to catching salmon on a fly rod in Alaska on my 60th birthday, her love of travel has made me go places I will never forget.
I am very thankful for the advances in medicine that seems to have cured my cancer. Daddy died from chemotherapy treatments from his cancer in 2000. It destroyed his kidneys, causing him to need dialysis which he hated.
Although the seven months of chemotherapy and radiation I took two years ago had some rough times, I never missed a fishing trip, going at least five times a month the whole time. I think my drive to go fishing helped me through it, giving me something to look forward to during the rough times.
Most of all I am glad to still be alive after all these years, with the hope of more to come. I hope to make even mor memories in the time I have left.