My biggest blessings
This column is being written on Friday morning, which is an anomaly. Typically, itís more like Monday morning. Iím a procrastinator by nature ó something Iíve learned to guard against since I work in a deadline-based business.
Sometimes, itís difficult deciding on a topic. Sometimes I write about politics. Sometimes I write about sports. Sometimes I write about whatís most important to me, and thatís my family. This is one of those times.
Fatherís Day is Sunday (or was Sunday, by the time this is published), and itís one of my favorite days of the year. Itís a day when Iíll take some time to reflect on how blessed I am as a father and grandfather.
I have two sons. Ronnie is nearly 28 now, and his brother Ryan will be 23 soon. I also have two grandsons ó Hayden is 11 and Liam is 4.
All of them make me proud in their own ways, and the best moments of my life are the ones I get to share with them.
My relationship with my own dad was not especially close, and that was something that had a profound effect on my life ó something I sensed from an early age and never quite understood. I was determined that I would have a better relationship with my own sons.
Ronnie told me once that as a teenager, he got tired of hearing me say I was proud of him. That made me chuckle, but it also prompted me to tell him why that was the case: because I never wanted him to wonder, never wanted him to question whether he made me proud.
Their mother and I divorced when Ryan was 4 and Ronnie was 9, and they ultimately moved to northeast Arkansas, three hours away from where I lived. That made it difficult to have the kind of presence in their life that I wanted to have, but I did my best to see them as often as possible. Some of my favorite memories are of time spent with them, whether watching them play basketball or the three of us watching a movie at my home.
These days, Ryan lives within a stoneís throw of me, although I donít see him as often as I would like. His job keeps him busy and our schedules often donít line up. Heís a fine young man who wants to serve his community and help other people, and Iím proud that heís my son.
Ronnie and his family live in North Little Rock. Like his brother, Ronnie wants to help his fellow citizens. When 570 National Guard troops were activated recently to help keep the peace during protests in central Arkansas, he was among them. He recently completed his criminal justice degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock ó with a 4.0 grade point average for his final semester. Just like Ryan, he makes me proud every day.
If there is anything more special to me than being a father, itís being a grandfather. I donít get to spend nearly enough time with Hayden and Liam, but every minute with them is special. Hayden just finished fifth grade ó with all Aís for the final quarter, for which Pops happily handed over $50, just as promised. Heís an incredibly intelligent, perceptive young man and I have enjoyed watching him grow up.
Liam is the baby, but heís quickly becoming a young man, too. Heíll start T-ball next month and it wonít be long until heís ready for school. Like all 4-year-olds, he has his cranky moments but 99 percent of the time he is smiling and happy. Between that big smile and the head full of curls that he inherited from his mom, heís absolutely the cutest 4-year-old in the world. He also wakes up very early, and heís always happy to wake Pops up early, too, when I get an opportunity to visit.
Fatherís Day is special to me. Itís a day when I can count my blessings. But the truth is, I count them every day.