Nov. 27, 2006
GIVING THANKS FOR...
Each November, everyone in the US takes a day to think about all the things in our lives for which we should be thankful. Usually people mention their good health, loving families, or successful jobs. All those fit for me, but while driving to Tennessee last week, I thought of a few more:
A GOOD FALL
We entered this fall with a group of players intent on capitalizing on the struggles experienced last season. We also had to break in a new coach and hope to create an atmosphere of hard work and purpose. Things could not have gone better on both accounts. Our players adjusted to Coach Lopez's style and gave us some of the most productive practices a coach could want. Our new players blended well with the veterans to give us the promise of a pretty good team this spring.
A SAFE TRIP AND EMPATHETIC STATE TROOPERS
When you pack up two kids, three cats, and a 60 lb dog, the 800 mile drive from Boca Raton to Loudon always holds the promise of excitement. Last time we had the cats in a pet carrier, but I thought it would be more interesting to go commando with them. I strapped in the kids, loaded the dog in the back, and set the cats loose. After awhile they all staked out their territory and settled in for the night.
The litter box was at Luke's feet in the back seat, and somewhere south of Valdosta, I realized it had been used. I looked at MB, and she climbed in back to shovel out the offending litter. She handed me a heavy paper towel and I weighed my options. The ashtray was out of the question, and the glove compartment was loaded. Rolling down my window, I saw two Georgia State Troopers ahead. As I made my drop I hoped they were cat owners.
MB's Dad called a bit later to tell us that Luke's four wheeler had been stolen from the barn. You have to understand that the little ATV was Like's obsession for the past week. He loved riding all day on the farm and talked incessantly about it. The kid was suddenly real quiet in the back.
We stopped for gas and some junk food later. As I fixed my coffee, Maggie said the people who stole Luke's four wheeler were mean. I got a little silly and started ranting that we were going to track them down and get it back. Luke got excited and said "Pop- Pop has guns we can use!" I jumped right on it and said we'd take the guns tomorrow and go after them. I suddenly noticed some strange stares from the other customers as my 7 year old blurted out, "We'll find them and shoot them dead!" I grabbed my coffee and we were back on the road real quick.
The rest of the ride was uneventful and we wheeled in at 3:30 AM...no guns in sight.
My father-in-law had two suspects in the ATV caper. There had been two guys who were on the property over the weekend and one had a son about Luke's size. They were down by the river looking for Indian arrowheads and had passed right by the barn. The machine was missing the next day.
Hey, my son's a cop...I told Jack we needed to go talk to the guy with the kid. We tracked them down at his ramshackle welding place and while Jack talked to the owner, I interrogated the lead suspect. When the guy got my drift, he looked away and said he was no thief. His avoidance of eye contact made me suspicious, so I kept pressing. Finally he offered to let me search his property. As we jumped in the truck and followed, I felt sure he was bluffing.
Then I started reevaluating my position.
We had not brought Jack's guns and were headed to a house which, by the looks of it, had plenty of firearms. When the guy and his friend got out of their truck, their amiable attitudes had changed. They both were insulted at being called thieves. In my New Jersey accent, I assured them they hadn't been accused of anything.
The main suspect turned out to be a self professed bipolar, manic depressive, who" had done a lot of bad things but had been saved by the Lord on Saturday". I hoped it was last Saturday, as I assured him I meant no harm and was just trying to do right by my little boy. Luckily Jack mentioned another guy who had been at the farm and everyone started discussing the likelihood of him being the suspect.
My two new friends listed the many and varied crimes of the new guy and his family. They then offered to drive us by his place and point it out. As we waved good bye and headed back to the farm, I realized my wife and her Mom had been correct that morning when they urged us to stick to baseball and farming.
I am thankful for my health, my job, and especially my family.
I have four great kids and a wife that continually puts up with all I cause her. We are blessed with a great life, and an extended family of 31 years of kids from coaching.
What else could someone want on Thanksgiving?
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