Daddy & Daughter in College Station – Whoop!

It started out as a simple question, then turned into a burning desire and on October 30, 2010, it became reality.

While on vacation this past summer, Elisabeth asked for one thing for her birthday. It came as we walked from Kyle Field back to the parking garage to our van. “Daddy, can you please bring me down here for my birthday and let me watch A&M beat tech?”How could I say no? So with that, I started searching for tickets and just randomly, someone sent me a text. “Hey, you know of anyone who wants 2 tickets to the A&M – ttu game in October?” The answer was yes and the birthday present was secured.

As Elisabeth opened her present on her actual birthday in September, she couldn’t believe it. She was so excited but kind of bummed she had to wait over a month. As the time got closer, the anxiety was beginning to eat her up. I felt sorry for her because of the wait but I knew it would be worth the wait for her.

As we woke up on the cool, crisp last Friday morning of October, Elisabeth beat everyone dressed and was ready for her first Aggieland experience. The outfit she was to wear to the game on Saturday was the first thing packed. Maroon shorts with white strips and A&M on the side. A grey A&M shirt and of course, and A&M hat to finish it off. The only thing missing, according to her were A&M shoes, which she tried to get me to buy later.

As we got closer and closer, the questions started to fly out of her mouth. Everything from where is College Station to how many people will be there. Will there be any tech fans, and as she said, “I hope not.” Elisabeth was ready for anything but she had no idea how much there would be to do once we got there.

As the sun came up on our hotel room on Saturday morning, Elisabeth woke me up and said, “Daddy, it’s game time. Let’s go!” At 6:45 in the morning, she was ready for breakfast and more ready to get to the stadium.

As we arrived, the anxiety grew for both of us. Would there be a win in our future or just another game to wonder what happened? We put those questions out of our mind and made the jaunt from the parking garage to Kyle Field.

Her eyes were getting bigger and bigger as we neared the Fan Zone at Kyle Field and as we approached Elisabeth couldn’t help but grab my hand and say, “Daddy, I’m home!”

As we walked from booth to booth in the Fan Zone, Elisabeth would stop and want me to take her picture. We were just there a few months earlier but this time it was different. It was gameday and Elisabeth knew this time it was different. We walked and walked and went from store to store, tailgate to tailgate and ran into a few people in the meantime.

First we ran into NBA Hall of Famer, David Robinson. Elisabeth and Mr. Robinson exchanged a few words and as he came down to her level on his knee, he told Elisabeth that Christ will always love her. As he turned to me, he gave Elisabeth a hug and we got a picture of the two together. We stood in line to get autographs from Terrence Murphy and John David Crowe. Both of these Aggie legends lived up to all the stories about how great they are. Mr. Murphy requested a picture with the prettiest girl in Aggieland and Mr. Crowe asked if he could get Elisabeth’s phone number to pass along to his grandson so he could look her up when they are both in Aggieland in about 10 years.

With kickoff just around the corner, we decided on lunch and headed into the stadium to watch The Fightin’ Aggie Marching Band come into the stadium along with the Corp. It was a great scene and questions were flying out of Elisabeth’s mouth. As we talked more and more and the stadium began to fill, I tried my best to get her ready for the famous fly-over at Kyle Field. As the National Anthem ended, I told her to look behind us and here they came. Down low, fast and then loud, Elisabeth jumped into my arms and screamed, “What was that?” It was amazing to see and only at Kyle will you get that kind of experience.

Elisabeth sat through the first half of the game and as halftime approached, she headed to the bathroom so she wouldn’t miss the bands. As the Aggie band finished, E looked at me and said, “Daddy, everything is better in College Station, especially the band!”

As the clock ran down, we realized a win was coming to our Aggies. A win over ttu and a win for Elisabeth. A win for a Dad and his daughter to not only enjoy but to relish in. A game to remember for so many reasons but mainly that we were there together.

With the cannon going off in the background, the band playing, the yell leaders leading and the crowd swaying, Elisabeth and Dad had the time of our life. We went to watch football and in the ending, grew much closer. It was a time to get away together and learn a little more about each other. A time for her to look at me and say, “Daddy, let’s talk.” A time for me to look at her sleeping while I was driving and to begin crying over this precious gift. And a time to thank God for our weekend and our family!

I love you all!

More than an Uncle

Over the past week, I’ve had a chance to sit and think about someone who’s really been on my heart. His name is Wayne Rivers, better known as Uncle Wayne to me. I have cried, laughed, pondered but mostly just thought about the great times we had with him and what he means to our family.

Uncle Wayne has always been larger than life to me, well, mainly because he’s a rather large man. But one thing that’s always been great to see is that while he is a large man, his heart has always surpassed his frame in size. I’ve remembered back this week to family reunions at Thompson Park, birthdays, times at lake Fryre, Thanksgiving and Christmas. To me, Uncle Wayne has been more than an uncle.

From as far back as I remember, Uncle Wayne has been the guy who has given me a hard time about stuff but always said he loved me when I left. He’s always been the loud, large uncle who may have yelled at me for doing wrong but the first to give me a hug after explaining to me why he was so upset. Uncle Wayne was the first to give each of my kids a taste of coke and you know what, I didn’t mind because it was his way of showing the kids they could come to him for what we wouldn’t give them. He’s the type of family member you wish everyone had and then when I sit and think, he’s my uncle, you thank God for him.

As much as he means to me as an uncle, he’s always been much more than an uncle. He’s a son, brother, husband, father, grandad, uncle, friend and just full of God’s love for everyone to see. God has definitely used you Uncle Wayne and our family is so much better off for it. Upon the death of Grandad, you filled in so gracefully as the patriarch and you have done an amazing job in Grandad’s shoes.

You and Aunt Eveline together raised 3 amazing children and poured your love and knowledge into 7 amazing grandkids. You have touched so many’s hearts in our family and in this community. Our family and community will be forever touched with your generosity and love.

We will never have another Uncle who will give the “Wayne Balance Test” to our kids when they are just a few months old. Your time on earth may be short now but your memory will last forever. You have done the job God had for you and from my point of view, you did it well. Thanks for everything and know you are loved and your memory will live on in our hearts and minds. I love you Uncle Wayne!

Love you all!!

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

Last night while reading the info section of one of my friend’s facebook page, I found a quote that has truly inspired me since I first heard it in 1993. It’s not anything cheesy but just an amazing quote to live by. “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” Jimmy Valvano. This has become one of the most famous quotes of all times but it wasn’t the quote that caught my attention as I watched Jimmy V give this speech in 1993. The meat of the speech was better than the quote and the speech has become quite an inspiration for many to search for what they believe.

During the speech, Jimmy V challenged us to do three things every day. Laugh, think and have our emotions moved to tears. This is pretty much how I want to live every day. Laughing gives us what we need and helps us keep a good attitude about every situation we come across. I like to think if I don’t laugh at me, then others might not either. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we can’t honestly laugh at others. Think. Thinking frees us to find what we truly believe. Thinking stretches us and challenges everything we think we know. Thinking has to be done daily and I encourage everyone to find a quiet place to think for at least 30 minutes a day. This will allow you to grow and get a clear vision of where you are headed. Have our emotions moved to tears, better known as crying. I guess I’m one of those who like to cry. I cry when I laugh too hard, when I’m mad or when I’m passionate about something. And when you cry about things you are passionate about, you know you are growing. I have probably cried more tears than most over my life and yes, I love those movies that make you cry. When we do these 3 things, we grow and people notice.

But in order to do these things, we must have the desire to do so. Ralph Emerson Waldo said “nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm.” Enthusiasm for what you are doing and where you are going will help you stay on the correct path and allow us to share with others. Having this enthusiasm is not easy to find or easy to keep. We must find what keeps us interested and what keeps our enthusiasm high enough to keep us growing. Yes, it’s hard to do this but remember anything worth keeping is very hard work.

Lastly, Jimmy V talked about his cancer. That it could not touch his heart, mind or soul. And he was very correct. We all have some type of cancer that’s eating at us. Cancer is something that has mutated our cells and turns against our body. The great thing is that Jimmy V didn’t allow the cancer to affect his heart, mind or soul. And that’s advice we should all take. Don’t let the “cancers” in your life affect your heart, mind or soul. Keep your heart, mind and soul clean and you will find it’s easier to live, to laugh, to think and to cry.

This speech was huge in my life. It gave me such inspiration to not let anything get me down. Yes, it’s been hard at times to follow what I just typed. But in trying to do these things, I have grown more than I thought I ever could have. Look around your heart, mind and soul and see if there are things you need to get rid of. If there are, cut them out so you can grow. This will allow you live and love and that’s all we really need to do. Live and know you can’t fully live without love!

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

Love you all!!