The last couple of blogs I’ve written have been so deadly serious, I needed to blow off some steam with this one. I’ve had a few new followers lately, so for the newbies, lest you think I’m some dark, foreboding dude, I’d like to brag on my incredible family a bit.
My family is my heart. They are the joy behind my smile.
Having a successful career is important, but I feel it’s not NEARLY as meaningful as a loving and supporting family. If you achieve success in your job, gaining the whole world in the process, but lose your family, you have truly lost, my friend.
How many deathbed confessions include people saying, “I wish I would’ve made more money?” No, it’s normally regrets about not spending time with family.
My wife, Laura, and I have kept that in mind our whole adult lives. The decisions we’ve made regarding where we live and the jobs we pursue were all made with family in mind. I recall when she was pregnant, I told the Lord, “I’m not gonna chase fame or fortune, I’m going to make it my life’s goal to raise the best children I can. If I can do that, I’ll be the richest man in the land.”
And thus I am.
No matter where our careers COULD have taken us, we are rich as a result of choices made in order to remain close to family.
When my daughter, Jessica, was born in 1988, she had more hair than most of the nurses had ever seen on a newborn. She was so beautiful, they called her, “The queen of the nursery.” We gave her the middle name “LeeAnne,” combining my and Laura’s middle names.
Her mama and I were way too young for such responsibilities, but somehow we made it. We didn’t have much some weeks, but we survived.
Jess was such an amazing kid, and has grown into an amazing woman. She was the type of child you wouldn’t hear from for hours, normally choosing to stay in her room. Since she began reading at the age of four, she’s been a voracious reader, so you could normally find her reading one book or another, even at an early age.
She’s now a Registered Nurse, working in the Oncology ward at Mercy Hospital. She recently went back to school to finish her Bachelor’s Degree, as she wants to teach AND be a nurse.
This girl takes after her mama, and is brilliant and driven, so I told her she can pretty much do anything she sets her mind to.
Nearly 11 years after Jess was born, we welcomed a son into the world. He is my namesake, Robert III, but we call him “Trey.” He was also a great kid, but was a bit more high-strung than Jess. He had boundless energy, it seems, and would carry on a full conversation while running circles around the coffee table.
Trey will finish trade school this December, and begin his training as an Electrician. He also works as a part-time Custodian and plays drums in what he calls a “progressive thrash band,” Sacred Throne.
Both my kids are so amazing, and just fill my heart with glee. They make me smile.
When Jess became pregnant, Laura and I had the jovial task of choosing our “grandparent nicknames.” My dad’s parents were “Grandpa and Grandma Weddle,” so we couldn’t fathom calling ourselves that. It was just too weird, so we eventually settled on “Poppy” and “Nana.”
My mom was “Nana” to Jess and her cousins, so when Laura also became “Nana,” my mom became “Neenee” to my grandchildren and their cousins. When you’re lucky enough to be in the midst of one of our family gatherings, calling out “Nana” could be summoning any one of a number of people, so you have to be more specific.
Our family is very close, and do our best to take at least every other vacation together. In the pic above, we were on a cruise to Mexico, where we had adjoining rooms. Some families would drive each other crazy being stuck together for a week, but we always have a blast.
When my grandkids, Joshua and Jenna, come over, unless the weather is bitter cold or pouring rain, we go outside, and when my son is there, he hangs out as well:
Fresh air. Easy laughter. Games.
It’s the simple things that mean the most.
I think all of us have lost family and friends at one time or another. We never know how long we’ll have those who are most precious to us, which is why our family tries to squeeze every ounce of joy and laughter we can out of each day.
Hug your family and friends. Let bygones be bygones. Forgive old wrongs. You don’t wanna be caught holding on to petty offenses when Sir Death comes calling.
What a bummer that would be.
Remember what former NFL player Gale Sayer once said:
“The Lord is first. My family and friends are second. I am third.”
Many blessings on you and yours.