Columns & Editorials

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Man, I’m Lookin’ Like a Woman

In my family, we give top rate eulogies. It’s something we excel at, something we take very seriously. It all started in 2008, when my daughter, Chynna passed away unexpectedly, at 16. My oldest son, 20 at the time, asked if he could speak at her memorial service. He didn’t want to present the “meat” of the eulogy. He just wanted to say some things that were weighing heavily on his heart. So, he requested I support his wish to speak and to choose a song that would play afterward. He wanted his words to be a surprise of sorts. In other words, he didn’t want to give anyone editing rights. Since I wasn’t in a position to use my thinking brain in that moment, I agreed. “Go for it,” I said. It was an incredibly good decision. He told the story of a time when his only sister celebrated a birthday. He didn’t have the money to spend on a gift, or even a card, but he had a great idea. He called his cousin, who was learning to play the guitar, and asked what songs he knew. “I’m working on that song by Poison,” said the cousin. So, they practiced, secretly. After she blew out the birthday candles during a family only weekday birthday party, the kind you have when you’re a teenager and everyone is busy with sports practices here and drama rehearsals there and you are lucky if you all walk through the same room at the same time on a given evening, he sang. After his rendition of “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” ended, a sweet girl clasped her hands in delight and gave both the singing brother and the guitar playing cousin a standing ovation. He told a rapt audience that she proclaimed it to be the best gift ever bestowed on her. Then the actual Poison song played in the church. Cue tears. This led to many speeches my eldest son has given over the years. He’s a sought-after best man due, in part, to his amazing toasts. Dillan Zmolik can entertain.

Hips Don’t Lie
Hips Don’t Lie

Hips Don’t Lie

Tennessee Williams once said, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Actually, Tennessee wrote it. A newly platinum-haired Vivien Leigh said it when she played Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Blanche was a former troubled schoolteacher who ran away from small town Mississippi to live with Stella, her equally troubled sister, and her husband in New Orleans. The end result has Marlon Brando, the sister’s husband, Stanley, screaming Stella’s name in the street. That sort of sums up my weekend. I didn’t scream Stella in the street. I screamed Quint, Marjorie, and Cary Moon. It’s been a rough weekend.

Moving Parts

Moving Parts

Life is a series of interconnected moving parts, each part playing its specific job in the total picture. Move one piece out of line a degree or two and everything is affected. And sometimes teaching can feel that way as well; one student having a moment, one piece of technology stopping midway through its job, one bus not working at the last minute right before afternoon transport. But the beauty of a well coordinated campus is the ability for all the professionals involved to develop immediate responses to whatever the situation is in front of them. Sometimes these potential scenarios were addressed during a professional development workshop and sometimes the solutions are based on experience.

FINANCIAL FOCUS

FINANCIAL FOCUS

As a business owner, you’re always busy, so it’s understandable if you’ve put off thinking about events that won’t occur until far in the future – such as your retirement, the sale or transfer of your business and the settling of your estate. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to start planning now, while also recognizing the special challenges that women business owners face in these areas.

Love Everlasting
Love Everlasting

Love Everlasting

“You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing.” When I think of the movies I’ve watched with one or most or all of my kids over the years, no list is complete without Tuck Everlasting, hence the above quote. I know, it’s a book, too. The quote is from the book. I’m not even sure if they say that line in the movie, though I watched it with Chynna the tween at least a million times. I thought, quite a bit, in fact, about kids this weekend. Once you have children, they occupy your mind for the rest of your days. You worry about them in the early moments. Is that colic or something far worse? You worry about them as teens. Where are they when you think you know? You worry about them as adults. Are they drinking enough water? Are they making sound financial decisions? You grieve over them, God forbid, when they are lost to you. Children invade every cell of your being with the hold of a vice grip and the tenacity of an angry wasp. It never leaves you. One of my children has a mom. Weird, right? And, she’s an exemplary mom, the kind that goes out of her way to pray for the stepmother (that’s me), to make sure I get a Christmas gift, to send me the dates and times for all the stuff. We were together this weekend, we two moms. “Our” boy got his Aggie ring. This is the time I worry most about the boys, this odd limbo period between being a technical man, yet still so naïve to the world. I worry that they will place money over happiness. I worry that they will allow society to dictate their definition of success. I worry that the weight the world places on a young man’s shoulders will be so very heavy. But, the two moms stood and marveled at what we had created, one of us through the miracle of birth and the other through the miracle of providence. Sure, the kid was the one trying to down a pitcher of beer faster than all the others downed their pitchers of beer, careful not to swallow that incredibly expensive Aggie ring. But, the moms – we were the ones high fiving at what we had done. We got you here, buddy. We aren’t sure how we pulled this off, but we did it. Show me a mom with a kid in college and I’ll show you a mom who deserves the kudos. That high school research paper that accounted for half the semester grade, that was all mom magic. Remember that freshman oral essay you aced? A mom prayed it to fruition and paid for all the Tums you took to calm your stomach. That fraternity pledge you wanted so badly, that was all mom power. We offered up a decade of our own life in exchange for safe and gentle hazing. We are always there behind the scenes, hoping, willing, praying, calming, encouraging, and motivating. We know we get on your last nerve. We secretly like it that way. Your colic was nearly the death of us, after all. The least we can do is be a thorn in your newly adult side.

Spring for All

Spring for All

The beauty that is Spring lies in the promise of new growth seemingly occurring overnight; trees are leafing out, flowers are pushing up through the soil, bees and birds and butterflies are fluttering in the sunshine. And, even after the difficulties of this year, teachers and students are working hard to finish the school year in a strong fashion.

The Real “Bad Bob” (Part 2)

The Real “Bad Bob” (Part 2)

In the early 1890s Bob Barnett ordered lumber from a sawmill in Longview and had it sent to Lone Oak to build his house. It was probably sent by rail along the Texas and Pacific Railroad from Longview to Mineola then transferred to the newly built leg of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad that ran from Mineola to Greenville with a stop in the brand-new town of Lone Oak that was incorporated in 1890. Barnett chose a spot along Campbell Road (now FM 513) about two miles north of Lone Oak and a quarter mile north of his father’s majestic home. There is little left of the elder Barnett’s home except what is left of the kitchen which was attached to the home via a breezeway. There is also a root or storm cellar still visible. As far as anyone knows, Bob’s father was a decent man with little hint that he shared the inclination to violence and larceny that became hallmarks of his son’s life.

Three Rights

Three Rights Make a Left

In late December of 1972 I was a 16-year-old high school kid growing up in Floresville, Texas 30 miles south of San Antonio. A very rare thing happened at the NorthPark Theater on Loop 410 and IH 10 in North San Antonio. There was the world premiere of a movie. Not Hollywood, not New York, but there was an actual world movie premiere in San Antonio.

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