I enjoyed a wonderful few days with my children and grandchildren this past weekend down in Dothan, Alabama, 350 miles from my home in rural Appling, Georgia, near Augusta.
I chose this particular weekend to see my grandson, Gabriel, and granddaughter, Kayla, play ball and to celebrate my daughter, Denise’s 39th birthday on the 30th. Plus, I wanted to visit with my grandson Ben, Denise’s son.
Monday night, Gabriel crushed one. He got all of it. It hit the fence on the fly, and he narrowly missed a homerun. It was a real thrill for my son, Kevin, and Me and of course for Gabriel too! I will never forget it!
Kayla knocked a triple on Friday night. She is quite the player too in softball. She was sick with an ear ache and fever on Monday night and didn’t play.
I took Kevin and his children along with Denise and my grandson, Ben, to the batting cages on Saturday. The practice was well spent getting ready for Monday’s game.
Prior to the batting cages, Kevin took all of us to Landmark Park near Dothan. Landmark Park has walking trails and old buildings that the Foundation brought to the park. Being a history nut, I really enjoyed seeing that. They have an old turn-of-the-20th century pharmacy stocked with all of the merchandise and medicine that the old pharmacy had back then. It was a gift to the Park and quite interesting to me. It even had a soda foundation and ice cream bar.
I bought Kayla a chocolate cone in the old pharmacy. I don’t know who enjoyed it the most! Her eating it or me watching her delight in it. She got it all over her pretty face. That’s what children do!
Sunday, Kevin, Gabriel, Kayla, and I went to their church, First Baptist Church, Dothan. I always receive a blessing there. It reminds me of the church I grew up in where I was saved and called to preach in Carrollton, Georgia. Their service is traditional with a choir and the old familiar hymns I like. Plus, they featured their handbell choir which was a blessing too. Pastor Johnny Fain preached from Galatians 5:19-26 on the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. He pointed out among other things that the works of the flesh are plural and the fruit of the Spirit is singular. I had never thought of that before.
I also went to Kevin’s Sunday School class with him while his children went to their classes. I am so thankful he is raising them in church. I got to baptize Gabriel two summers ago in my pool. My small congregation came too. Following his baptism, Joyce grilled hamburgers for everyone. It was a fun and meaningful afternoon.
Kevin’s Sunday School teacher is a Judge. He always brings a great lesson. The Lesson was on the Lord’s Supper and Judas’ betrayal. The Judge made me an honorary member of the class!
Denise and Ben went to Sunday School at their church and met us at Long Horns Steak House for dinner. There, we celebrated Denise’s 39th birthday. That’s hard to believe too. 39 years old. Whew! The years pass fast.
After dinner, we went to Kevin’s house and watched the last few innings of the Braves vs. the Brewers. We lost 4-3.
Kevin had to return the children to their mother at 4 o’clock. I went with them. It’s always a sad time for us when they have to go. But, I knew I would see them one more time at the ball field on Monday night.
After handing the children off to their mother, we went to Denise’s apartment and hung out on her screened-in front porch. I love screened-in porches especially on these nice Spring days. I enjoy my screened-in mancave where I am writing this little article on this pleasant spring day. It’s a Southern thing.
Monday would have been a chill-out day, but absent-minded me walked off and left my diabetic supplies including my insulin at home. Fortunately, I had an emergency medical bag in my backpack that had my insulin pump supplies and extra glucometer. But, no insulin! OMG!
I use the Walmart pharmacy near my home and thought, this will be easy. I’ll just get the one in Dothan to call my Walmart in Evans and transfer the prescription. But NO! Nothing is that easy.
I haven’t had to get insulin from Walmart in many years because the diabetic research program that I’m in through the Medical University of South Carolina supplies it for me. Walmart didn’t have it on file any more. Panic time.
I had just enough left in my pump to get me through Monday. After it ran out, my blood sugar would spike unmercifully high, and I would feel terrible, sleepy, and lethargic. I thought that I would have to cut my trip short and head back home.
Then, I reached for my problem solving skills. I realized I had several options. I decided to call my endocrinologist and ask him to call in a prescription. But, I couldn’t reach him! Aghh!
I decided that if worst came to worst, I could go to Prompt Care and get a prescription and finish off my terrible afternoon and hope the pharmacies in Dothan wouldn’t close before I could get it. By now, it was mid-afternoon.
My mind raced through my options like trying to remember the name of an acquaintance when you run up on them at a store.
Eureka! I thought of my primary care physician. I called her office and told the receptionist of my dilemma. She replied that Dr. Talley doesn’t return calls until after 5 o’clock. Geeze. Now, I needed a blood pressure pill. It was soaring.
I told the receptionist that wouldn’t do. “I’m sorry,” she said, “Dr. Talley is with a patient. I’ll try and catch her between patients and see what can be done.”
I gave her the Dothan Walmart number and breathed a sigh of relief. Whew! Hope!
I waited for what seemed forever. Finally, the Walmart clerk called my name. “We have the prescription, but it will take about thirty minutes. There are others ahead of you.” Grrr. I’ve got to have that insulin! I had no patience left.
Sure enough, after my thirty minute wait, my name was called. I got my life giving insulin at last! I thanked her and thanked God.
One thing is for sure, I won’t ever leave home without it again!
Well, back to my family. I am so proud of Denise. She is a single mom and is doing a great job raising Ben. His father was an Army helicopter pilot and died before he was born. I went with her to his funeral in California where he is from. It was near Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library which we toured while we were out there.
That was a hard time to say the least. Ben’s father was a good man and would be proud of his son like I am. His Army portrait is hanging in Ben’s room.
On the way to Dothan last Friday, I made the mistake of driving through Atlanta’s maze of interstates, traffic jams, and construction delays. Traffic was backed up forever it seemed. I hate big cities! I didn’t make that mistake coming back home.
I took the backroads, the road less traveled. No traffic tie-ups, no construction, very few 18-wheelers, and no crazy drivers cutting me off and moving across five lanes of heavy traffic to make their exit ramp. It was a nice, no stress trip home. I’d rather drive through the small towns that spring up along the way than drive through nerve-racking Atlanta. Yuk!
The leisurely trip home gave me time to enjoy the beautiful middle Georgia scenery. I especially enjoyed driving through Peach County. The peach trees had already bloomed and leafed out. It’s quite something to me to see the vast orchards. Joyce and I are looking forward to the time when they arrive at our local farmers’ market. There’s nothing quite as good as a fresh, juicy Georgia peach.
Traveling the backroads also gave me time to reflect on my weekend with my children and grandchildren. There’s nothing like family. If you’ve got family, you’ve got everything. The Psamlist said, “Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” (Psalm 127:3-4 MSG).
It was a great weekend that I will always cherish. I just wished they lived closer.
I arrived home around 7:30pm with the fading sun still providing daylight. I made it safe and sound after my six hour trip.
I was welcomed like a king by my dear wife, Joyce, with lots of hugs and kisses. I was sure glad to see her and be home. There’s no place like home!
And my little Sheltie, Sophie. What can I say? She barked her welcome and her whole body wagged with joy saying, “Daddy’s home!” She jumped up on me. I picked her up, and she gave me lots of kisses too. It’s hard to believe she will be a year old on the 26th. She’s my constant companion and has brought much joy and happiness to our empty nest.
After a hearty and healthy supper that Joyce had prepared for me, we made our way to the man cave. Sophie got the “zoomies” and ran around and around entertaining us. Then, she sat at my feet as she is prone to do when we’re out there. She’s a hoot!
There’s nothing like family. There’s no place like home. There’s nothing like a loving wife and my Sophie to make life complete. I think this is what Christ meant when He said, “I came so they you can have real and eternal life, more and better life than you ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).
I am indeed blessed beyond measure with my children, grandchildren, caring wife, and Sophie, my pal and constant companion. Amen.