Tag Archives: family

Happy Birthday GrandMa

GrandMa Eva Burriss was born on March 9, 1915. Today (3/9/2012) would be her 97th birthday. Normally we would have Cake and Ice Cream and maybe candles. But she is no longer with us.

She died on April 27, 1983.  I was 25 years old, married and had 1 daughter.

I remember she always had curly white hair.

She cooked everything with lard from a big tin bucket that she kept near the kitchen sink.

She lived in a big old farm house with my Grand Father.

She worked for the owners of the farm, cleaning their house.

She could cook, man that woman could cook.

Grandma Burriss died 2 days before my 25th anniversary.

Happy Birthday Grandma.


Lucky me

12 years ago a new person came into my life

By no means did I invite him into my life.

To some degree, I really didn’t want him here

I actually feared his arrival, yet I knew there was no way to keep him away

Once he showed up I realized there was no way to get rid of him

However, over time I grew to accept his presence

I eventually learned not to fear him

He brought passion for everything he does

He brought the desire to learn new stuff everyday

He brought dedication to doing the best at everything he does

He brought compassion for the people in his life

He brought interesting and sometimes deep conversations

He brought laughter and a fun sense of humor

He brought a helping hand when one is needed

He brought a different yet honest perspective on life

As the days flew by I eventually grew to Love him

Eventually he fathered children

His passion, desire, compassion, care, laughter, helping hand and love seemed to grow even more

Our friendship continues to grow every day

Truth be told, he has become my son in many different ways

You see, he married my daughter 12 years ago today

Many hear me say that I live a Blessed Life

Having Oscar as my son is one of the reasons I know this

Happy 12th Anniversary Oscar & Jessie

I love you


Remembering Uncle Wayne

This past Friday (1/13/2012) Rebecca and I drove to Maryland so that we could then spend 17 hours on Saturday riding from Poolesville Maryland to Burlington Iowa with her parents (Ray & Reva) and sister, Francie.

We laughed and joked and talked about life, death, family, friends, politics, religion, economics and the Internets. Never a dull moment during our non-stop trip and we arrived at our destination still friends.  A great road trip with good people.

However, the trip was for Uncle Wayne’s funeral in Burlington IA.  This was a trip none of us were excited about having to make.

We arrived in Burlington Saturday evening and were greeted by numerous other family members at the hotel. Turns out, the hotel was filled with friends and family of Emery Wayne Hoewing. We spent some time saying hello before calling it a night.

Sunday morning we met up with Rebecca’s oldest brother, Link and his wife, Frannie.  We traveled down to Keokuk Iowa with hopes of seeing Rebecca’s grandparents old homesteads.  It was a bittersweet trip.  One of the homes was completely gone and the other home was in complete disrepair.  We met up with more family members and had a good Midwest lunch at a place called OGO Family restaurant before heading back north to Burlington.

Late Sunday afternoon was the viewing where we met lots of distant family members. We spent a few hours here as over 100 people showed up to pay their respects to Uncle Wayne and the family.  It was a hard time for the family.

Afterwards a bunch of us went to a local restaurant to have our long sought after Midwestern Breaded Tenderloin dinner.

The evening ended with us meeting at the Hotel conference room. Thirty or so family members got together to tell Uncle Wayne stories and get to know each other better. We had a good time.  There was a story about Room 232, Mr. 232 and the girl who said she was going to meet me in room 232 and then didn’t.  Don’t ask.

Monday morning was the funeral.  It was a somber time for us all.  Numerous family members shared memories of Uncle Wayne.  I shared a story that I wrote titled “What Rewards have you Received.”

After the funeral we got together for a lunch provided by the Woman’s auxiliary of Uncle Wayne & Aunt Barbs church. Good people – thanks.

Afterwards we did something a little different.  We got together at Aunt Barb’s for a while, went to dinner at Gator’s and then went to the Casino.

Yes – a Casino. It was a good way to spend some time with Aunt Barb as she remembered her & Uncle Wayne’s experiences at the Casino.  Some of us lost a few dollars while a few of us won a couple hundred $$.  I did not win anything.

Tuesday Morning (5:30AM) – back on the road for an east bound trip back to Maryland. Another 17 hours on the road.  We stopped only for gas and grab & go food. Again we had a good time traveling together.

We got back to Poolesville by 10PM. A couple of hours relaxing from the road trip and then off to bed.

Finally, Wednesday morning Rebecca and I hopped into the Honda and headed south back to NC.

The entire trip was a fast paced and emotional.  We are all sorry that Uncle Wayne passed away. Yet we know that all of us are on the same journey which eventually includes death.  What’s important is to get the most from life and to give as much as you can while living. Uncle Wayne did this.  We participated in this ourselves while on this road trip.

Thanks Aunt Barb, Tina, Candi, Dean, Kyle, Ryan, Kayla, Allanah, Mary and everyone else for sharing the love and time with us.

Rest in peace Uncle Wayne as we keep your memory living on as we strive to be & do the best we can in life.

What rewards have you received

I have the privilege of attending a life celebration of a man who has accumulated great rewards during his journey thru life. It is these rewards that helped him to pass away peacefully and provided some comfort for his family.

His life journey has not been captured by ESPN, Travel Channel or Readers Digest.  The life he lived was not awe inspiring, death defying or miraculous. He did not collect a bunch of medals, awards, trophies or plaques from local dignitaries.

The rewards this man has accumulated are numerous and worth more than money, precious stones or gold.

The rewards this man has accumulated are real, yet he is able to take them with him to his grave.

The rewards this gentleman has accumulate thru his life can not be boxed up and put into storage.

The rewards this man has collected do not lay around the house needing regular dusting or shifting to make room for the next great reward.

The rewards this man accumulated are not listed on anyone’s bucket list. And, unlike a wrestlers trophy belt, these rewards can not be taken away by another.

You see, he passed away knowing that the rewards he accumulated are stored in the hearts of all those he touched through out his life.

His wife, his brother, his daughters and son-in-laws.  His grand children, his nieces and nephews, his neighbors and many others.

He knew these rewards existed.  Not that he could touch them or see their shiny chrome and jewels, but because he felt them from the support, help, compassion and care that many shared with him.

My last conversation with this man clearly told me he knew he had been bestowed these rewards.

As we sat in his home, laughing and talking into the night, he indirectly and repeatedly asked one question. To me, I could tell that he was not asking a question, but instead sharing with us that he knew of the rewards he had accumulated.

“I have a Great Family.” Each time he made this statement, in the form of a question. Yet, I could see in his eyes that he was making a statement, not asking a question.  He knew that his family was the main source of  his greatest reward in life.

He received this reward from his wife thru all that she did for him.

He received this reward from his daughters from all they did for him over the years and up unto the last moments of his life.

His son-in-laws and grandchildren bestowed this reward on him thru the tireless help, care and happiness they gave him freely.

He received this reward from the dog who stayed by his side thru his final days.

He received this reward from his brother in part thru the numerous compassionate conversations only brothers can share.

He was proud to receive this reward from his many friends and neighbors.

He knew that these rewards were real and for him to keep, because they were bestowed upon him with no strings attached.

Despite this man taking these rewards with him, they are still visible in the smiles, the tears, the laughter, stories and memories that he leaves behind with his family.

He has been bestowed these rewards because he cared, he gave, and he loved. He did not seek these rewards.

He received these rewards from many who participated in the life of the man who only sought to be, the best husband, father, brother, neighbor and friend a person can be.

For this, he received in return Love, the greatest of rewards.

Love is not a reward you seek, but one that is bestowed upon you when you give it freely.

This reward provides peace to those it is shared with when someone you love passes on.

Love, and you will receive the greatest of rewards.

Do you have a PawPaw?

Dec 7, 1999 is the day that PawPaw died.

He was a farmer who taught me the stuff a kid needs to know about chickens, cattle, hay and driving a tractor.

When I was a little whipper snapper he smashed my finger in a car door.  When I was older he reminded me that he did this almost every time he saw me.

Pawpaw took me fishing one year.  I had a brand new fishing rod and a shiny spinner tied to the end of the line.  He wanted to show me how to cast out the line.  He stretched the rod back behind his head and flung it forward.  The line pulled all the way out, snapped free from the reel and “splash”, the shiny spinner sunk to the bottom of the pond.  That’s the last time I ever went fishing with PawPaw.

My Grandmother died years before PawPaw died.  PawPaw was unable to take care of the stuff that she did. He learned hard and fast about laundry, grocery shopping, buying pants and underwear.  I will never forget the day he was making a pitcher of orange juice (back in the days of frozen concentrate).  He put nearly half a pound of sugar in it. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “I like my orange juice really really sweet.”  Good thing.

PawPaw figured out quickly that he needed a woman to help him so he remarried a really nice lady.  She cared for him nearly as well as Grandma did.  PawPaw was happy again.

Over the following years my conversations with Pawpaw changed a lot.  We talked about lots of different stuff.  Politics, religion, economics, family, cars, trains and planes.  A very diverse set of topics. I enjoyed my chats with him.  One day I made the mistake of saying I “loved” my motorcycle. He cajoled me into saying if the weather was bad I’d take it into the house.  Some how or another he got me to say my wife could sleep on the front porch.  Real funny now, but not back then.

PawPaw got really sick near the end of November 1999.  I  drove up to Maryland to see him for what I knew would be the last time.  We talked for a while.  We again talked about religion.  This time his choice of topic had a different meaning and I’m honored to have had that conversation with him. Somewhere in the conversation I told him about my oldest daughter getting married.  See the story – Is She Marrying for Sex?  I’m glad we had our last little chat.

Everyone needs at least one PawPaw in their life to teach them lots of stuff.  I’m glad I had mine.


Life Report Essay – I am blessed

I received a request from a reporter to write this story.  I want to share it with others.

My Life Report Essay

Some people think it was a tough life for me to grow up number two of 15 children.  As a child I wore hand-me-downs from my older brother and was encouraged to care for my clothes so that my other brothers could wear them. My parents worked hard to make a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread serve all of us at one meal. My mother worked hard with the daily tasks of raising 15 children, while my Dad worked hard at a Union job and numerous handyman jobs to provide for us. I’m happy that I was able to learn about giving, sharing and making the most of a little. I am blessed.

I married young. I know I was in love, despite all of the naysayers who tried to challenge my decision. Family, friends and employers tried to talk me out of it. I married well. By this I mean that I married a beautiful woman who loves me as much as I love her. Like many other married couples, we had to work thru the tough times together. Now, 34 years later there are no tough times. Our love is stronger now then I could ever have imagined. We are happy together, share with no second thought, laugh together, cry together and enjoy our lives together. I am blessed.
I participated in raising 4 beautiful, smart, self sufficient women. My careers did not allow me to be home as much as I wanted to.  But, when I was home I played the role of Dad.  Dad of wisdom (maybe), Dad of guidance (praying for guidance myself), Dad of discipline (never quite knowing what to do), Fun Dad (when I did what my girls wanted to do) and provider Dad (we managed to get by). My wife and I committed prior to marriage to having 4 children early in our marriage. We did this knowing we would sacrifice all of our wants until after the children were thru college. This turned out to be a wise thing for us to do. We raised 4 fantastic friends. We did not miss any wants and have realized that they weren’t real anyway. I am blessed.
I worked hard at every job I have had. I have had eight different employers and dozens of different jobs. I committed to learning as much as I could so that I would be able to do the best and to succeed at every job I had. I have been paid very very well for the jobs that I have had. Because of my work ethic, I have never had an interview, resume, background check or drug test.  I have never been fired, riffed or laid off.  I am blessed.
I discovered a few years ago that there must be a reason for being blessed. This discovery changed my life. I quit my job and started a business where I can give back 50% of my time, energy and knowledge. This includes helping our unemployed friends and neighbors on the difficult task of finding jobs.  I am also writing two books. The balance of my time I use to train and consult in an area of business that I am very passionate and excited to be involved in. I have to make money to pay my bills and to feed my retirement, yet my wife supports my decision to give up a great job to chase a dream. We are happy and doing good, despite the significant reduction of income. I am blessed.
In summary, I live a blessed life and did not really realize it until recently. I have only one regret in my life. I wish I had learned much earlier in life that you can do well at giving back, because I have found that I love giving back. I am blessed

Halloween 2011 – easy

This year Bum & I were not at home in time for Halloween activities. Usually not a big deal since there is only one family in our neighborhood with kids and they have been going somewhere else to do the trick or treating activities for the past few years.

We did get to see the grands from K-Ville via Cell Phone Camera – thanks J&O. Looks like the kids were ready to grab ’em, bag ’em and run!

The Advance family came by to say hello. Fortunately we had two small bags of gummy bears for them. When I handed Bayden his bag of candy, he turned to Bum and said “Can you get scissors?”

Happy Halloween everyone

Lots of women

Today (Oct 5, 2011) is the birthday of a friend of mine’s twin daughters.

For many years our two families were growing at about the same pace.

Here is a quick story of how evenly paced we grew our families.

My first daughter was born in early 1982.

His first daughter was born a few years later.

My wife had our next daughter around 1984.

His wife delivered another daughter within a year or so.

My wife and I had another daughter in around 1986.

My friend and his wife has another daughter soon thereafter.

Another daughter was born to my wife and I in 1988, bringing our daughter count to 4.

Within about 5 years twin daughters were born to my friend and his wife, bringing their daughter count to 5.

I cried uncle and threw in the towel. I actually went to see the man doctor at that time.

Happy birthday to Meggy & Mary the twins. Congrats to Francis & Mary for raising 5 beautiful women.

I saw you, but you did not see me

I saw you hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line. But you didn’t see me put an extra $10.00 in the collection plate last Sunday.

I saw you pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk. But you didn’t see me playing Santa at the local mall.

I saw you change your mind about going into the restaurant. But you didn’t see me, attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief.

I saw you roll up your window and shake your head when I drove by. But you didn’t see me, driving behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

I saw you frown at me when I smiled at your children. But you didn’t see me when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless.

I saw you stare at my long hair. But you didn’t see me and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

I saw you roll your eyes at our leather coats and gloves. But you didn’t see me and my brothers donate our old coats and gloves to those that had none.

I saw you look in fright at my tattoos. But you didn’t see me cry as my children where born and have their name written over and in my heart.
I saw you change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere. But you didn’t see me going home to be with my family.

I saw you complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be. But you didn’t see me when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.
I saw you yelling at your kids in the car. But you didn’t see me pat my child’s hands, knowing he was safe behind me.

I saw you reading the map as you drove down the road. But you didn’t see me squeeze my wife’s leg when she told me to take the next turn.

I saw you race down the road in the rain. But you didn’t see me get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date.

I saw you run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time. But, you didn’t see me trying to turn right.

I saw you cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in. But you didn’t see me leave the road.

I saw you waiting impatiently for my friends to pass. But you didn’t see me. I wasn’t there.

I saw you go home to your family. But you didn’t see me. Because I died that day you cut me off.

I was just a guy on a motorcycle. A person with friends and family, just like you. But, you didn’t see me.

I read this on Facebook in Sept 2011 and felt the urge to share it with everyone / TLB

A Member of my family died

A member of my family died this past week.

As teenagers, my 4 daughters brought her into our home back in 1996, within a month or so of moving to North Carolina.

She had perfect manners, was well behaved and quickly learned the rules of living in our house. I could not ask for a better adopted member of the family.

They all grew up together and became close friends. The memories of seeing them play together are many and vivid. They played together in the back yard, front yard and in the house. They would curl up together and watch TV, listen to music or read a book. They even cried together over personal pain, family problems and sometimes it seemed even while watching chick flicks.

When the girls came home from school she was there waiting for them, eager to say hello and to get a hug. Always there to listen to what they had to say about class, the bus ride and the new friends they made. Never questioning why or what.

As the girls grew up and started bringing boys over to the house, she was there to check them out and give her sign of approval, or not. Generally approval was always given, however I believe that one or two of the boys did my make the cut based on her criteria. She accepted almost all guests to the house as another friend, many as if they were another member of the family.

As the girls grew up and started leaving for college or to get married and start their own families and homes, you could see in her eyes that she was sad. Yet, she was always happy to see them when they came back to the house to visit. She welcomed them, the son-in-laws and then the grand kids every time she saw them.

In time the grandkids started curling up with her to watch TV, run thru the yard with her and play with her just like their mothers used to. Never a bad time or cross word between them. She was very clearly happy to be a member of our growing and changing family.

For a few years we had another house guest stay with us. This was good company for her because they liked to do the same stuff. Without the girls around they played together in the back yard, walked around the neighborhood with us most evenings and curled up together in the family room. They generally ended up sleeping together in their bedroom or in the master bedroom with my wife and I on cold or rainy nights.

Unfortunately, in time this guest left to go back with her family. Again, she was sad to see yet another friend leave. You could see the sorrow in her eyes, but there was not much we could do. We tried to get them together now and then at either our house or my oldest daughters place. They were so happy to see each other when they could.

She lived in our house as if it were her’s to protect. Always letting us know if someone was in the yard or driveway. Always paying attention to the neighborhood, including stray animals and late night drivers that we would have missed because we slept thru the simplest of things. She cared the most for my wife’s safety. Protecting her from real, perceived or even the simplest of harm. One day she actually saved my wife from a rampaging daughter who unbeknown to all of us, was just fooling around. Megan lost a good pajama bottom that night.

She never asked for much. A good meal, a warm bed and hug now and then. She rarely got in the way or caused much fuss. Like most of us, a loud storm scared her and we had to rescue her. Now and then she needed medical attention, especially as she got older, but heck, the rest of us do too.

Eventually our house got quieter as the house guests stopped coming over as often, the girls all left and the grandkids only came over now and then. She stayed to herself most of the time as my wife and I chased our careers and hobbies which did not include her. Our travels left her alone more and more as she got older. Even though we had really good care givers taking care of her in our absence, we hated this for her and tried to make it up to her when we were around.

Over the last few months we did a lot of traveling so we let her stay with our oldest daughter and her family. She really enjoyed this because there were lots of people to play with, as well as her favorite house guest that now lived there. She loved to hang out with the kids and just lounge around with them. She seemed the happiest when one of the twins would curl up with her and just hang out.

But time takes a toll on all of us. And, she was aging, not more than most, but age was taking a toll on her. Slowly her age started to slow her down and even made it hard for her to get around. She lost most of her hearing and started to care less about the activities of the neighborhood. No more alerts about someone driving down the street, the door bell ringing or even that a stray wild animal was in the back yard. There was something peaceful about the way she watched rabbits play in the back yard. Yet, I knew that in her heart she wanted to chase and play with them, but couldn’t.

A few weeks ago it was very clear to all of us that her days were all but over. Never a tear or complaint from her as she struggled to get around. Even with all the medicine that we were giving her, we knew it was time. As grumpy an old man I may pretend to be, I knew that the task I had to do would be painful for me. I also knew it had to be done. I looked at my wife and daughters, they also knew what I had to do, I saw the sorrow in their eyes and the pain they felt as I made the plans for her final moments.

I’m a grumpy old man, love being a grumpy old man, but – I’ll miss this old girl.

Lots of good times having you as a member of our family. By far the best adopted member of our family. The memories we have are plenty and vivid.

Thanks for being a member of our family Becca.

Rest girl knowing your spirit will last forever with all of us.

Thank you for being our friend.

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