Reflections: A Topsy-Turvy Four Years


Reflections:  A Topsy-Turvy Four Years

 

 

Four years ago yesterday I was with my family driving from
Great Falls, MT to Cardston, Alberta for the wedding of my daughter Amaree.  I
had just arrived in Great Falls the day before after driving cross country with
my daughter Marissa (who would be married one week later in Louisville, KY) and
my two sons Seth and Solomon.  Just a few weeks earlier we had been in
Gatlinburg, TN for the wedding of my daughter Chelsea.

 

The last couple of nights I have tossed and turned in bed
reflecting upon this wild time in the lives of my wife and myself.  Earlier in
the year (late-January 2005) I had made a trip to Cebu in the Philippines for my
then-employer Lexmark International.  It was my first big international trip in
over 10 years.  I would spend a month there training what would later become my
replacements.  Little did I know that month in the Philippines would be the
beginning of a wild ride in life.

 

 
Time in the Philippines

The ride actually started a day before I left for the
Philippines.  Amaree, my oldest daughter, let me know she was engaged.  Exciting
news for a dad.  We assumed it was coming.  Then, while I was in Cebu, I was
notified by my second daughter Marissa that she was engaged.  A couple of weeks
later, as I arrived in the airport in Lexington, back from a 30 hour flight back
from Cebu, Chelsea informed me that she too was getting married.  The roller
coaster ride had begun.

 

The next couple of months was a frantic push to get THREE
weddings planned, travel arranged, etc.  In March, our son Seth had his Eagle
Scout project and we also had to plan his Court of Honor. 

 

Three weddings in 6 weeks in 2005: Marissa &
Adam; Chelsea & Shawn; Amaree & Aaron

 

There were many other things that occurred that year.  On
the way to Gatlinburg for Chelsea’s wedding, the transmission went on our van in
Williamsburg, KY.  We had also forgotten the wedding cake.  Wedding went well
though and all worked out.  Then, it was time to prepare for the long trip to
Montana, which would include sightseeing of course (see

.”>www.sumoflam.biz/MontanaTrip/Montanajournal.htm). On the way back we
had to bring Chelsea’s car home so we had two cars and an anxious daughter who
would soon be married.  On the last day of our trip we TOTALLY ran out of
money.  Just enough to get gas and get us home.  We didn’t even eat.

 

Two days later we had a wedding in Louisville in the
morning and then a TRIPLE reception in the park near our house that afternoon. 
Thank goodness for friends.

 

Enjoying my daughters at their joint
reception in Lexington in 2005

 

But, as I noted earlier, this was just the beginning of the
ride.  Since that auspicious summer of 2005, life for my wife and I has been
nothing short of a wild roller coaster ride and it is continuing to this day. 
Following is a smattering of what kind of things have happened:

 

  • Five grandchildren have been born (an a sixth is on
    the way)


Grampz and grandkidz, May 2009

L-R: Kade Matthews; Landen
Noe; Charlie Matthews; Autumn Crabtree; Joselyn Noe

  • My job at Lexmark was off-shored to the Philippines
    and was let go
  • I spent a year working in Canada at the Toyota plant
    (and that too fizzled out)
  • Julianne also left Lexmark and has since taken on a
    challenging new job at iHigh.com

 
Pondering the future

  • I have travelled extensively (nearly 20,000 miles)
    around the United States and Canada due to jobs, work with Trailer Park
    Troubadours and other adventures

  • Julianne and I took a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico

 
Enjoying Tulum ruins in Mexico with my sweetheart

  • Our van was totaled in an accident during a wild snow
    storm in northern Ohio


Smashed up big time. I was actually very blessed to come out of it alive.

  • Five or six close friends have passed away


Good friend Russ “Santa” Southworth was one of many to pass away

  • I have been able to see and assist my close friend
    Antsy McClain in his getting some semblance of national exposure

Antsy
McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours

  • Seth served a two year church mission


Seth in Provo, Utah as he entered the Missionary training Center

  • I had a knee operation
  • We have seen leaps in technology that amaze (think
    iPhones and terabyte external hard drives and high definition televisions)
  • We have enjoyed Canadian Maple Syrup, Poke Sallet,
    peameal, poutine and other new things for the first time.


Julianne getting ready to eat Poke Sallet in Harlan, KY

  • Both Julianne and I lost a lot of weight (I lost
    nearly 100 pounds and have gained most of it back….)
  • I turned 50
  • Two MAJOR Ice Storms in Lexington

  • Many of the icons that I grew up with have passed on
    (such as Johnny Cash, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and others)
  • Julianne got a “dream job” driving as a Google Street
    Map driver for a couple of months. Not the best paying job, but certainly
    lots of fun!!
  • We have gotten two new vehicles (including my oft
    sought 4WD)


Julianne and me with our new Explorer and MARDUP (Married Up license plate)

  • Both of my sons attained Eagle scout status


Seth (L) and Solomon (R) after attaining their Eagle Scout

  • We got our first African-American President
  • Julianne and I have taken up photography full force

  • I have made many fabulous new friends all over the
    country and in Canada

L-R: Oliver Zuder, Mgr. Camp
31 BQ in Paris, ON; Singer-songwriter Micheal Kelsey from Indiana;
Photographer Marc Manning, Lexington; Guitarist Bobby Cochran, Nashville

L-R: Guitar maker “Crafty”
Jack, Alberta; Mary & Robert Jakeman, owners of Jakeman Maple Syrup,
Ontario; Country singer Patti Hall, Washington; Cathy Bingham, Woodstock, ON

  • Julianne and I have become, by all practicalities,
    empty nesters and now have the freedom to take short trips together and
    enjoy each others’ company like never before
  • I had a cover story for a weekly entertainment
    newspaper in Lexington
  • For the first time in my life I had to stand in the
    unemployment lines and am now working in a job as a call center agent for
    Apple iPhones…a low paying job and not very rewarding
  • I have seen numerous friends also lose their jobs and
    struggle to find employment
  • The list can go on forever…..

 

And the ride continues.  In about 3 weeks from today
Julianne and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary.  I marvel at
that.  How has she put up with me all these years.  I certainly did marry up!! 
We will have another grandchild sometime early next year.  We must live in these
difficult economic times and I am determined to find ways to be on my own by the
end of this year.  Sacrifice, challenges and leaps of faith will abound.

 

A handsome couple about to celebrate 30
years of wedded bliss

 

Yes, throughout the night I pondered and marveled at all of
this change in my life.  And, despite the drudgery of a low-paying job with a
miserable schedule (currently 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat), I still
consider my life truly blessed beyond measure.  Who out there has been able to
see the things I have been blessed to see over the last 4 years…3 weddings in 6
weeks, thousands of miles of back road travels all over the country and in
Canada, lovely and wonderful grandchildren, excursions both near and far with my
sweetheart of 30 years.  The jobs will come and go, the money may be a
necessity, but nothing will take away the fantastic memories and joys.  As I
look back on lost jobs and missed opportunities, I also see the doors that
opened as a result…providing me a richness in life that money cannot buy.

 

 

 

Topsy turvy is good and I am enjoying the ride!!

 

 

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