Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #38—-Random Thoughts of Bob

It is 3:00 a.m. here in Stonebroke Acres.  I sit at a small table, my trusty Smith-Corona paused on ready, a steaming cup of java waits for my first sip as my weekly stint at observing the world around me takes shape once more.

It is a good time, for quiet has descended.  The night feeding animals have stopped their everlasting search for food, and the night birds have warbled their last refrain and my light is the only one in the neighborhood.

I have the same old shaggy feeling on awakening, a kind of inner warning says that if I don’t sit quietly for a few minutes then I’ll fall down.  There’s a flicker of indecision as there seems to be nothing so important as to rouse me at this hour, yet for some reason, a compulsion pries me from the comfort of my crib and a second cup of hot coffee prepares me for the day ahead.

*****************

The highway that fronts Sequoyah High School is finally nearing completion.  While you are motoring along, especially on highway 82 or scenic highway 10, death is just a few feet to your left.

The thought has occurred to me many times while driving out to the lake or up to Kanesland.  I have often been conscious of what could transpire if the approaching car should swerve over the center line just a little bit.  It is not a pleasant thought I assure you, but one that creeps into the thinking of us that traverse the highways frequently. 

Motoring can of course be pleasant and reasonably safe, but the driver of an automobile should at all times have in mind the tremendous responsibility of his own safety and the safety of others.  Drive defensively.  It isn’t a pleasant thought but one well worth keeping in mind—-while you’re motoring along, death is just a few feet away.

*******************

My dog Gus was not a hunting dog, nor had he won any ribbons for show jumping or any of that other such nonsense that we hear so much about on TV.

Gus was a great brush hog of a dog, he was part Blue Heeler and the other part alligator.  He lived in the back of my pickup for about 14 years, and woe be on the person who put his hands into the back of my truck while Gus was keeping watch.

Though he wasn’t a hunter, he was a pretty good fishing partner.  He would lie there in the sun on some flat rocks while I played whatever game it was that I would play with the fish there in Lake McClelland.  Every now and then he would raise his shaggy head, and the stump that served as his tail would thump the ground a couple of times, then he would return to his siesta.

One day I missed him while at the lake.  I whistled and called for him several minutes and then got a good bite and forgot all about him.  After a while, Gus sashayed on down to the edge of the lake, with that particular dog grin on his face.  In Gus’ mouth was about a two-pound channel cat, alive and all wriggly.  You didn’t want to fish much with Gus, he’d show you up.

I cried the day Gus died, my wife cried too. 
Gus was a gentleman’s dog.

********************

Why is it that the line you are in at the supermarket or bank is always the slowest?  The thing that makes it all the more trying is that no matter which line you choose, it is always the slowest one.

You enter the main banking room in any major banking institution in town. hopeful that you can walk right up to a teller and transact your business, receive your small pittance and be back on the street momentarily.

So, you eyeball the lines that you may join.  Off to your left is a very long line, moving at a snail’s pace, while off to the right there are two or three people with a sharp, efficient teller dealing money like playing cards and all but pushing people out the door.

“Aha,” you say.  “I’ll hook up with this short line and be out of here in a jiffy.  I wish I’d left my motor running and the AC on.”

But in reality, you are four spaces from the teller.  Naturally, that leaves three people in front of you.  You wave to an old friend who is 9th in line on the left.

It’s almost your turn.  The person in front pulls out a paper sack.  The teller picks up the phone and hold a lengthy conversation with someone in the back.  The conversation is over, the person in front of you produces more documents for the teller.  The teller then leaves to confer with the powers that be in the banking room

“Kinda stuck in line there, ain’t cha?”  It’s your old friend who used to be ninth in the other line.

You become desperate.  You hop into another line, a faster line.  It then slows down.  Now the other line moves faster.  You wished you’d stayed there but you’re too embarrassed to return.

Finally rescued, spying an empty teller’s cage, you transact your business.  You look at your watch.  A minute has passed.

********************

No matter what you may have heard in the past, there is no such thing as a friendly game of cards.  Truer words were never spoken than, “Where gambling begins, friendship ends.”

People with first hand knowledge of such things know that the kindly, considerate man becomes an insensitive machine when you place those pasteboards in his hands.  His face tells you nothing, and his eyes become as hard as stone.  His entire demeanor changes and you no longer know him.

Devotees of a game known as penny-ante poker have known people who were fast and true friends to leave a card table never to speak to each other again after a night of friendly poker playing.  They say that the size of the wager doesn’t mean anything, but the competitive urge to win over your fellow-man is there whether you are playing dime limit or table stakes.

So the more you look into a friendly game of cards, the more convinced you become that there is no such animal and anyone that thinks he is getting into a friendly game should have his head examined.  There’s an old saying, “Winners talk and losers yell, deal the *&@# cards.”

Written by Bob Briggs on July 27, 1996

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

22 days

We’ve got 22 days remaining.  Twenty-two.

Give or take 14 days here or there. 

Tomorrow, our  little Emma will be considered full term at 37 weeks.  However I’m happy for her to bake a while longer.  Like 22 more days. 

In the meantime, I’ve joined the flock of pinterest junkies.  There are some really great ideas on that site.  Like the button letters I made for the nursery.

I’m pretty proud of them, if I do say so myself.

I whipped them up yesterday.  It only took me a few hours, in addition to the six weeks it took to gather all the buttons.  So, all in all, considering the unfinished projects lying around, not too shabby!

I started with an 8 X 10 painter’s canvas and then covered it with some material.  I found a font on a word processing program and enlarged it to the size I needed.  Next, I cut out the letters and traced them onto the material using a pencil.  Finally, I arranged the buttons within the lines as best I could, then glued them down with fabric glue, as best I could.  I hotglued twine to the backside and hung them in a row.

Easy-peasy and pretty cheap too, considering you have plenty of buttons.  Or at least some friends with plenty of buttons.

 

 

 

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #37—the bear and the bob

Merry Christmas Eve, friends.  I hope this evening finds you all blessed with love and family.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, due to several reasons that I won’t bore you with, but hopefully you aren’t holding it against me. 

I’ve had my supper consisting of grilled cheese, sweet pickles, and Classic Lays potato chips, which coincidentally is not  pregnancy related.  It’s just the way I roll.  I’ve got a steaming cup of hot cocoa excluding marshmallows beside my computer, the Christmas tree is aglow, the presents are wrapped, the pie remains unbaked and I have a Saturday story to share with you written by my dad in September of 1996. 

The weather was seasonably cool as I started my morning run.  The Doctor had told me to exercise a little bit, so I had started to do a small bit of roadwork.

I had been immobile for the last three weeks due to a summer cold.  A medico that I saw on morning television had said there was no such thing as a summer cold, only allergies.  Well, I know the difference between allergies and a summer cold, and Doc, I had a summer cold.

I used to run out on the Bertha Parker bypass but that was before I met Crazy Jack.  We’ve all had dealings with old C.J.  He’s the one that thinks the four-lane is the Indianapolis Speedway and the speed limits don’t apply.

Mama used to tell me, “Son, you’re going to get run over on that four-lane.”  So after  hitting the bar ditch a half-dozen times or so, I thought maybe Mama knows best and found me another route to get my morning exercise. 

Crazy Jack—he could be anyone.  Maybe he’s the teenager that Daddy let borrow the keys and he’s out to impress his friend.   He might be the harried young mom trying to drive while corralling three small children.  He could be the man who had a fight with his wife and is late for work,  he could be the young wife talking on her cellular phone, or he could simply be “blue hair driving in my lane.”  Truckers ain’t no day at the beach either.

Anyway, I was ready to resume my exercise regime after the hiatus.  The morning was gray and cool.  The night birds had stopped their calling and had given way to their daytime cousins when I struck out. 

The first quarter-mile or so would be the toughest, it’s uphill before making a mad dash across the four-lane, then a leisurely down hill jaunt before turning and heading back uphill and taking it to the barn. 

My breathing comes hard as I set out.  I must find a rhythm, I tell myself, and stick to it.  The traffic is fairly light at that hour so I don’t break a stride crossing and by now the beta-endorphins are pumping in my brain and my breathing evens out as I head toward the creek.  I feel strong.  I feel free.  I wish the route was three, four miles instead of just a shade over two.  I feel as if I could run forever.

“Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” go my ragged Reeboks against the pavement.  The perfect measured stride of a long distance runner.  “Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,”  I want to shout with great exuberance because I feel so good.

I reached the cul-de-sac that marked my turning point of my measured run, when a light stitch started in my side.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pain that started in my trick knee.  Is that the shuffling of the bear I hear?  Am I bear-caught so soon.  I wavered a bit in my stride. 

The bear was hungry and gaining on me.  I hit the steepest part of my route, and thought “only one-half more mile and it will all be over.”  My breath rasping deep in my lungs, I sounded like a wind-broke horse and I struggled up and onward.  I leaned into the run and tried to ignore the aches and pains that returned many-fold.  My ancient legs quivered as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

The bear has now become full-grown and  his growls give me a little strength as I continue my task.  My nose starts to run and I’m back on my heels at this point.  The bear catches me and jumps on my back as I hit the corner turn.  I’m ready to quit.

That’s when I saw her.  She was a winsome young thing, unaware of anyone being around.  She was dressed in nothing but a pale blue negligee with midnight blue panties.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to still my rasping breath and quiet my plodding feet as she ran through the dappled grass to retrieve the morning paper. 

She appeared to be reading the headlines as she stood there in the early morning sunlit yard.  Then she must have heard me—-she looked up and gave a startled yelp as she saw me approaching in my tattered running shorts and shoes.  She reminded me of a deer caught in the headlights of a poacher.  Then she made a dash back indoors.  I think an old man’s thoughts as I approach the four-lane.

My run, for all practical purposes, is over.  Then I think of nothing at all because I’m back in Crazy Jack’s territory and he could be out there, loaded for bear.

Bob Briggs 1943-2011

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #36–relatives

I’m so glad to have discovered a story from my dad to share with you today.  Months ago, my sister sent via her husband, a large canvas box filled with Tahlequah Times Journal newspapers from the years my dad worked there.  I thought I had shared all the “stories” and was left with sports articles of how the Tulsa Hurricane Little Leaguers won the Championship or Arnold Palmer’s hole-in-one.  But today, I uncovered some more commentaries.  This one was written on Sept. 14, 1996 by my dad Bob Briggs.  I miss him dearly.  I wish he were here with me this morning, stoking the fire, listening to some classic rock, drinking coffee on this frosty December morning as we look forward to little Miss Emma Kate to arrive in  six short weeks (give or take a day or two).  He would’ve liked this day.

She was always a heroine of mine.  I admired her from day one when we were attending a small country school there at Briggs, Oklahoma.  We walked the long miles to school together and talked of many things, of the many dreams that two country kids knew the outside world held for them.

She, being a couple of years older than me, always took my part when I got into a skirmish with the older boys.  You know how kids on kids are?  That’s the roughest kind of play there is and the girl was also a pretty good rough and tumble fighter herself.

She never had much time or even the chance to be a child herself.  Her mom worked at many menial jobs trying to hold her small family together after the girl’s father left.  She was regulated to the task of caring for her younger sisters and brothers—so there went her childhood.

Then, one day, the girl was gone from the small house on the south side of town where she had lived with her siblings and hard-working mother.

She had married a young man and moved out of state.  She was 16—so there went her teenage years.

When she could have been readying herself for the prom and having fun with her friends, she was busy having children of her own and keeping house for the man she chose to be her lifelong mate.

I don’t recall seeing the girl smile much as a child.  There weren’t many occasions for her to smile in later years either.  The man she married, though a boy himself, drank to excess and was generous to a fault.  But I’ll say this for him, he never missed a day’s work.

The three children she and her husband produced, grew into teenagers and faced the typical teen problems of today, but she went the extra mile to see the kids were raised up with Christian values.

I guess I was always proud of the girl that became a woman more out of necessity than the process of growing.  She went back to school and earned her diploma and learned to drive a car after she was married.  She worked for a newspaper in west Texas and stuck with her husband until he quit the whiskey.  And mightily fought the drug demons along with her son.

Now she and her husband have a house full of grandchildren and three well-adjusted children.  And when she should be kicking back and enjoying the fruits of their labor, she is girding her loins for a battle the doctors have no name for.  She’s been religious most of her life and I hope it carries her through these trying times.

I’m writing this on her birthday so she’ll know that my love and prayers go with her.  Happy Birthday, sis.  May you have many more years of happiness.

****************************

Speaking of relatives, my brother surprised me a couple of weeks ago by inviting me to his place for a T-bone dinner.

Being the type that haunts fast food places and convenience stores I readily accepted.

He put the potatoes on to slow bake and the corn-on-the-cob went into a large pot on the stove.  Then he peeled the lid from a bottle of Jim Beam and we retreated to the patio where the coals were just beginning to turn a nice shade of grey and plopped two inch-high steaks on the grill.

The hour we waited for the steaks turned into three and we talked of new cars and old friends.  Relatives make good fodder for conversation when you’re in the process of getting into the cups and non of ours (except unknown grandfathers and our three sisters, who are saints) escaped unscathed.

Cousins, uncles, aunts and brothers-in-law all were praised or caught hell with equal zeal and fervor as the levels dropped steadily on the bottle.

About mid-night, I was treated to one of the finest charcoaled steaks I’ve ever laid into.  My brother rummaged through his lower cabinets until he found a long forgotten six-pack of Busch and we talked on and on till the early morning.

My brother became so adament on one point of the conversation, he said, “That’s the truth, brother, and if it ain’t, I hope that moon up there comes flying through the air and crashes into the earth.”

Later on we slept.

I was awakened by the pattering of rain of a passing storm.   My brother slept peacefully in his chair as Sissy, his chowdog, slept at his feet.  I looked through the branches of the huge evergreen that graces his bakyard and saw the low flying rainclouds as they made their way toward Adair County.  The clouds broke a little and there was that moon—-that sucker hadn’t moved a bit.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A love letter

There’s a little known fact about me. I’m a sucker for a love letter. It’s true. Perhaps it’s the love of words that I possess that I adore seeing them written on paper rather than spoken.  Perhaps because it’s genuine.  No matter, it’s the way to my heart.

Just because I’m a sucker for them, doesn’t mean I get them. Last year, J-Dub asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him to write me a love letter.   He forgot.  Instead I got 24 rolls of Rolos candy. Which, by the way, did not go to my heart, but rather my thighs.
And my butt.
And my belly.

Throughout our marriage, I’ve received many cards from my husband.  And lots of flowers.  There have been gifts galore.  But yesterday, I received my very first love letter from my beloved.  It’s a treasure to me.  It made me laugh.  It made me cry.  It made me pause and be thankful for what I’ve been blessed with.

Sitting next to the coffee pot was this jewel.

It reads: 

Dearest Angel,

As I lie sleepless in bed tonight, I can’t help but laugh at the many sounds of slumber that your nasal passages and vocal cords are producing.  Then I begin to think about all of the funny little qualities or “quirks” that make you who you are.  It’s those “quirks” that enables you to tolerate the many “quirks” that are me.  God has made you the way you are just for that reason.  For this, I am thankful.  I am truly blessed to call you my wife. 

                                                                                                       I love you,

                                                                                                      Jason

Isn’t that the the absolute sweetest thing you’ve ever read???  I treasure it.  Who would have imagined my snoring to be the inspiration of such eloquent words.

My mom used to sing a song to me when I was a little girl. It goes,
“Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money. Maybe we’re ragged and funny.
But we’ll travel along,
singing a song,
side by side.”

I’m so blessed to have somebody by my side.  I hope in this upcoming Christmas season you realize, if you haven’t already, that the most important things in life aren’t things. 

Be blessed.

 

Posted in Faith

Is that You, God?

It happened on a Sunday morning two years ago.  Or was it three?  I really don’t know.  Not because I don’t remember it vividly, but instead because I dismissed it as nonsense, ridiculousness, even poppycock.

I had gone to church that morning.  Whether I started my day with a heavy heart or whether I became burdened during the service, I don’t remember.  But it happened during that time of our church service when our pastor asked for anyone who had a need to stand right where they are to be prayed for.  This is a common practice in our church.  People have needs.  We’re sick.  Sick in body and sick in spirit.  You shouldn’t have to leave the House of the Lord in the same condition in which you entered.  He is, after all, the Great Physician. 

I stood.  I can’t recall my need now.  Perhaps it was a broken heart.  Maybe financial worries.  It could’ve been I was feeling a sore throat coming on.  Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit led me to stand.  Which is not easy.  When the Holy Spirit begins talking to me, my pride begins yelling louder.  “What are you doing?” it screams.  “Do you want all these people to know you’ve got problems?  Don’t you care what they are thinking?  Don’t do it!  Don’t stand.  You can pray for yourself.  You don’t need others to pray for you“.  But deep down, I know God desires obedience.  It will be rewarded.  So this time, my pride gets hushed, and I stand.  I can feel all those pairs of eyes boring into me.  My body temperature rises.  My neck begins to burn.  Then the preacher asks for everyone who is standing to have a prayer partner.  The sound of shuffling feet fills the sanctuary as people rise to meet the ones who are standing.  I feel hands on my back, on my shoulders.  I hear whispered prayers being lifted towards the heavens.  People interceding on my behalf.  The prayers end.  We clap our hands to the Lord, praising Him for what He is going to do.  I  look up at the ones who prayed for me.  We embrace.  Eyes are brimming with tears. 

And that’s when it happened.  A small, older man, who had never spoken more than a cordial greeting to me, with his dark skin and heavy foreign accent looked at me and confidently proclaimed, “The Lord will give you a baby.” 

I smiled politely.  
I’m not even praying for a baby I thought to myself. 

We sat down, and as the preacher gave final announcements, I remember my mind drifting to what had just been spoken to me.  I even felt a little angry.  Why do people automatically assume that I want a baby? 

Church dismissed and we went on with our day.  But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forget that event.  I chuckled to myself.  Much like Sarah from the Bible did when she was told she would have a baby.   What a crazy old man, assuming things he has no idea about.  I told a few people and they laughed with me.  How weird.  How strange.  How bizarre.

Now fast forward to November 2011.  I’m walking out of the Sunday School room into a narrow hallway and I meet that same man.  I doubt he even knows my name.  His large brown eyes dropped to my bulging belly.  He wagged his wrinkled finger toward it and in his thick accent said, “I told you.”

“I believe you now.” I answered with a smile.  He went on to explain to me that God had been talking to him and wanting him to tell me.  He said it wasn’t just once, but two or three times.  Finally, he obeyed.  Okay, I’ll tell her, he said. 

So.  He isn’t a crazy man afterall.  In fact, he assumed nothing about my needs.  He was obedient to the voice of God no matter how crazy it sounded to me.

Just as so many women were visited by a messenger and told they were going to give birth, I too, was visited by a messenger and told the same thing.  But I didn’t believe him.  Right there, in church, during prayer, as obvious as a lightening strike, God spoke to me through someone else, and yet my ears remained closed.  I even scoffed.  I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed because of my lack of faith?  I hope I have learned my lesson.

God is speaking to you.
Listen.