Little Man Big Man

We had to put our heads on our desks and raise our hands to vote. There were no paper ballots, no ballot box, just a simple count of hands. This came after each category called for nominations: secretary, treasurer, reporter, representatives, vice president, and president of the class’s 4-H chapter.

I was at the age where I thought formalities like this mattered, and any positive attention or recognition I could get was automatically a good thing. This was fifth grade, and it’s when… Read More …

If I Seemed too Quiet…

At a time in my life when I hated the world and it seemed to reciprocate beyond all expectation, there was always one bright spot—my silly little brother Kevin. I had been the youngest of three kids for 12 years, but I never really felt the part. It got me no special treatment, and if anything I felt like the quintessential middle child from the beginning—and that made perfect sense when Kevin was born five days after my 12th birthday.

To our delight, Kevin was… Read More …

Burying Daddy

Ten years ago today, my father died. But there’s a lot that I didn’t bury with him.

You see, Daddy (pronounced děd-ee for us Mississippi kids) was kind of an enigma. He could be a cruel, selfish, and uncaring drunk, especially on weekends. Or he could be quiet, silly, and even caring at times. And even his bad side varied widely, ranging from simply being absent to purposely destroying any hope for peace and tranquility at home.

Of course there were… Read More …

Brushing Ants

When you’re four, the world is a very big place. Every turn is a potential discovery—or a potential danger. Only adults can really help you tell the difference.

For me, the world barely covered two southwest Mississippi counties, but it seemed expansive. Trips to Mamaw’s seemed like an all day chore, even though she lived about 8 miles away. Visiting my father’s family in Brookhaven seemed like driving to another world, and we didn’t have much use to drive to McComb very often, except for the special trip to Winn-Dixie or Rose’s—until the 1975 tornado destroyed them. So we spent most of our time in that little green house near Summit. And it was like heaven for us kids.

We had the pond just across the barbed wire fence, and every rain created a creek that ran into it. We’d sometimes… Read More …

Limitless Hope

Every now and then a story is just so touching and sugary sweet that it gives you limitless hope for humanity.

You know the type: puppies/kittens/ducklings are saved from certain death by big burly firemen; an anonymous stranger buys an entire Christmas for a needy but humble family; a woman lives a meager life doing laundry for others, only to donate $150,000 to a local university for needy students. You just can’t help but appreciate that humanity can be good, even in the midst of madness or adversity.

The story of Caine’s Arcade is one such story. On the surface it just seems like any other filler story on the late-night newscast. But it’s so much more. Read More …

Finding Magic

Christmas used to be that one time of year when magic seemed really possible. Every year we’d all pile into our big American-made car for Christmas Eve at Mamaw’s, and on the way home we’d always gaze out the back window, looking at the star-filled sky for some sign of Santa, as we raced home to beat him. After we were too old for that, we’d watch for the equally elusive southern Mississippi snowflake. There was magic to be seen, even if we never saw it.

Christmas meant a twinkling tree, special food, a few unexpected gifts, and Christmas music. That was about it…and it was enough. I don’t remember commercials telling us to give the “gift of asphalt” to our loved ones by getting them a Cadilac. I certainly don’t remember… Read More …

Sticks and Stones…

I’ve always been the type that showed little emotion. I pretended, often quite well, that nothing bothered me. But I was pretending. As much as we’ve all heard the old saying, words can hurt. Words aren’t just empty sounds floating through the air—they have power and meaning that become impressed in our minds and in our souls, sometimes for life.

When I was entering second grade, we moved to the other side of town, away from our friends and to a new school bus route. I became brunt of about 90% of the joking on that new bus—often by high school kids. Yes, I was 7 or 8, and they were 17 and 18. Life certainly isn’t fair, and I never expect it to be. But come on!?

The torment I endured on that bus certainly…
Read More …

When I Ruled the World

I pride myself on having no regrets or resentments in life. Every single thing that has ever happened to each of us makes us who we are today. If you’re truly happy with that person, then every struggle and every joy was well worth it. And I am mostly happy with who I am.

But this doesn’t mean I don’t miss a few opportunities I once had.

When I was a kid, I pretty much ruled my world. Everything was there for me to see, and there seemed to be few limits! I’m not saying… Read More …