A Letter to Miss Kylie

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My, how you’ve grown. It seems like just yesterday you were talking to us in sign language before you could put sentences together. Now look at you, smart, beautiful and all girl! And so this year you begin school and with that your life will slowly change and evolve into whatever and wherever you are destined to be.

You sure have a way about you. All “matter-of-fact” and funny, but you are also a very beautiful, independent young lady with an opinion and feelings that surface without warning. I look at you and I hear your mother saying the same things or acting in the same way – sensitive, compassionate and carefree throughout your day.  I also look at you and see your father. Stubborn and strong without a doubt, but that’s a good thing. You have the best of both your mom and dad, but you will also bring a little of yourself to the surface that defines who you are and who you will be. A head full of hair and big beautiful eyes with a hand that fits perfectly in mine.

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The one thing you don’t know about me is I can see the future. Very much like you are today, you will get through your worst days while every tomorrow gives you the chance to forget about what “has” happened and focus on what “will” happen. Nothing is so bad that you can’t get through it. Be yourself no matter what and do everything you can to make a difference in your life or someone else’s life. Some things you will have to find out for yourself and that is a part of growing up and you will never be alone even though some days it will feel that way. As you get older you’ll find that faith, family and friends are what really matter, and that a bad day at school, or the fight with a friend is temporary. And you will make friends. Lots of friends. You will find friendship in the most unlikely people, but more importantly, you will make a difference in someone’s life without even knowing it. You are that special. Like I always told your mother when she was your age, whenever there is a new student in school, always walk up and introduce yourself. If there is one thing they need at that moment, is someone to walk up and make them feel welcome. You might even make a life-long friend in the process. That also holds true no matter where you are in this life.

As you grow older, the answers to questions you have always had will be answered. Sometimes it’s not the answers you thought they would be, but realize that this is a part of life and we have all discovered it in our own way and our own  time. Don’t rush through it;  take your time to see the beauty of this world and witness all that God created. You will grow up fast enough and you will miss a few things along the way. But you will find as you get older, you will come to appreciate the wonders of this world and all the people who cross your path. It is a wonderful world and you are  just beginning your walk through it. When life gets hard to deal with, talk to your mother. She has an understanding of what things can be like when the world doesn’t turn your way. She’s had her moments, and still does, but she is funny and beautiful and only stronger because of it. Above all, keep a sense of humor.

I love spending time with you. You are very perceptive and it amazes me how quick you are with a smile and a laugh, and how much energy you have. When you are here visiting, it’s great to go for a walk to the park so I can bore you with stories of me growing up in this small town. I hope someday we can spend more time together, and we will, I know it. As you get older our conversations will change from “why” and “how come” to deeper talks about how you are doing at school and work, instead of me telling you about growing up in a small town. But I have a feeling in a few years you will again ask me how it was when I was growing up. Funny how that is.

There will come a time in your life when your daughter or son will become a living example of your childhood, and you will look back as a mother and realize how much your mom and dad love and care about you, even though sometimes it won’t seem like it. You can always come to me and tell me how you feel but I will always side with your mom and dad. I will do my best to listen, explain, hug and love you, because that is my job. I am here to give you perspective on things and life in general-all the while loving you with all my heart. You will understand when that day comes and you become a parent and grandparent.

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Just like your mom and dad, there is nothing better as a parent than watching your children grow. That’s where you and Casen come in – watching both of you grow is nothing short of a gift for an old guy like me. You have a way of making everything else seem a little less important and you give me the gift of allowing me to put my life into perspective. And when there is a smile on your face it puts a smile on mine. That is the difference you have made in my life, without even knowing it. See? I told you I could predict the future!

Miss Kylie, you are an amazing young lady with your life just beginning. You will do extraordinary things along the way, but first things first. Know that I love you and I always will and I am always here for you no matter how far away it seems. You are a joy in my life that nothing can replace.

The Same Mistake Twice

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The further I get into the future, the more I reflect on the past. It’s funny how the older we get the more we say “I remember when.” We often use that term when it comes to cars, motorcycles and even our friends because the history we are creating while living our lives often requires us to look back to tell the story. So that’s what we do – we tell stories, stretch the truth and laugh about the good times. We look back and laugh because even those bad days weren’t that bad after all.

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to this as my tall tales get even taller and in most cases it always ends up being funnier than when it actually happened. Case in point; it was 1976 and me and my trusty Yamaha DT175 were out to the Katy trails just behind the White City Cemetery for a little fun in the dirt. Disregarding all common sense for my own safety, I would usually ride alone and not once in my Bell helmet did I hear my mother saying anything about clean underwear or “wait until your father gets home.” So off I went the two miles or so as the crow flies, (of course I felt like I was flying as any teenage boy would on his motorcycle) to spend the afternoon jumping and climbing a few hills.

Who hasn’t ridden a motorcycle only to suffer a mechanical break-down? Not me. Over the years I have become very keen on what is a real break-down compared to a road-side fix. But it wasn’t an overnight education. After the first few minutes of getting to the Katy trails, I laid my motorcycle over on the left side. Not a real bad crash by any means, but it was enough to get up and dust myself off. I picked up the DT to find my shift lever bent underneath the engine case. Not knowing what to do, I pushed it more than two miles home (I’m not a crow) back into the yard. My brother Danny was a huge help in pointing out the obvious solution to my problem – grab hold of the shift lever and bend it back out. There, problem solved. Why wasn’t it obvious to me? It sure would have saved me a lot of effort and it would have kept me riding for the afternoon. But from where I was standing the problem seemed to big to handle on the side of the trail. I was apparently more concerned about clean underwear and if my dad was home yet I guess.

Looking back at the situation now I can laugh about it. Not only did it not seem funny at the time, it also gave me plenty of time to think about it as I pushed it home. But it’s a lessened learned and it definitely builds character. It also gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you won’t make the same mistake twice. Fast forward to 2008 and I’m riding my Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. For some reason, every time I shift gears up or down, it takes excessive force. What in the world is wrong with my transmission? After talking to a friend of mine, he told me I need to put a little lubricant on the pivot for the heal-toe lever. Hmmm, lubrication. Who would have thought? At least I had my clean underwear on.