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So much to be thankful for

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POSTED: November 30, 2009 10:16 a.m.
Thinking about my kids, I really have been fortunate. I divorced my first wife when my two older kids were 5 and 3, and I was able to get custody of them. That wasn’t the norm back in 1988, so I was fortunate to not be a “weekend dad.” Throw in the fact that I married a wonderful woman, who raised Michael and Shannon as her own kids, and who they regard as their “mom,” and you see how lucky I am.
I lost my dad when I was 17, but for 17 years, he was my hero. Even at his funeral, I had a flower arrangement made of an American flag with a simple banner that said, “Hero.” He taught me to be patriotic, to love my country and to appreciate being an American. I remember as a boy when the TV would go off the air and the national anthem would start playing, my dad would tell me to either change the channel or get up and put my hand over my heart. But I couldn’t just sit there, not with that song being played and that flag being flown.
My mom ran herself ragged, taking me to football practice, Boy Scouts and friends’ houses. As a child and a teen, I was always thankful for my mother. I still am.
Currently, the unemployment rate is higher than 10 percent. Me, I have two jobs. When I was 36 years old, Chief Lamar Cook gave me the opportunity to be a fireman. The other four men who were hired were all in their 20s. He didn’t have to hire a man who will be 61 when he retires, but he did.
Way back in 1995, the editor of the Coastal Courier, Pat Watkins, gave me the chance to “stir things up” and write an opinion column. A few years ago, he allowed me to start writing news and sports stories. I’m thankful to these two men for giving me the opportunities to do what I love.
I have my friends, John, Mike, Doug and Danny. There are a few more, but you get the point — friends don’t just grow on trees. They are recognized over time. They are there when no one else is, and they give me countless reasons to be thankful.
I have a brother who has always been there for me, even when other so-called friends and family members turned their backs. We don’t see each other like we used to, but we are always there for each other and always will be.
Michael, Shannon, Haley and Holden, my goodness, what can I say about my four kids? They are all different and special. Michael is my oldest son, and we’ll always have a special bond. He is a man now, and as he goes through life’s struggles, I see him strive to do his best.
Shannon, my oldest daughter, has her own children now — my grandkids. She and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but she has always been “daddy’s girl.” We are getting closer as she grows older and I am thankful for that.
Haley will always be “my baby.” Of my four kids, she is probably most like me. So I when I see her, I often see myself — good and bad. She is going through her teens, so I understand the hard decisions she has to make, but I always believe she will make the right choices. I have faith in her.
And Holdy, my buddy, the joy in my eye; he’s the one I almost lost. Every day Holden is with
me is a special day. Just being
on the practice field and coaching him at football is special. To
him, I’m a hero. I can fix anything and I can do anything. I can tell him anything and when I look
into his eyes, I know he believes me.
I have one more person to be thankful for — my Gina. She deserves a man better than me. She has put up with my failures and my faults for 20 years, and she still loves me. I don’t deserve her. She is the most beautiful and special woman in the world. Gina, I love you.
The Lord has been good to me. He has saved me in more ways than many of you will ever understand. Though I have been far from Him at times, He has always been close to me.
I have a lot to be thankful for — these are just a few of the highlights in my life. I could write many more pages. You probably could, too.
I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.
 

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