A Memorable and Unique Gift

When I started writing my blog, I knew it would be a variety of personal stories, thoughts on music and movies, and blogs about whatever happened to be on my mind.  I wondered if I’d actually be able to write new material often enough to even keep a blog.  So, I signed up for “daily writing prompts” which come to my e-mail.  These can be good “thought starters,” but they are usually things like “write about a baseball player who is in a slump,” “Write a story using the following adjectives…,” and such.  This is more “creative” and “fiction” writing.  I’m sure if I really sat down and focused, I could probably do this, but I would rather write about things I know.

My brother got me a book of prompts that I like a bit more.  They are more personal.  I have gone through that book and have jotted the ones that I want to write about in the future in my “blog notebook.”  Occasionally, the daily e-mail will suggest a prompt that I have on my “future” list.  That happened today.  Today’s prompt:

“Write about a memorable and unique gift that was not given as a birthday or Christmas gift”

The Horn Mug

After I graduated high school, my parents threw me a graduation party.  I provided my parents with a list of people who I wanted to invite.  One of those people was my band director.  As I have stated in previous blogs, he was a great mentor to me throughout high school, and we have kept in touch since I graduated (31 years ago!). I invited him to the party, but he was unable to attend. He did, however, send a gift.

Growing up, I had read a lot of poetry, and was familiar with Rudyard Kipling.  I had read many of his poems, and was familiar with his poem “If.”  The card that accompanied the gift had Kipling’s poem on it.  I had never read it in the context of a graduate before, but as I did, it was even more meaningful.  Here it is:

If – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with triumph and disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, 
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools; 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”; 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch; 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 
If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run– 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, 
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

I opened the box that accompanied the card.  Inside was a pewter horn-shaped mug.  I had never seen anything like it before.  Inside the card, Tom wrote the many reasons why they enjoyed giving the mug as a gift.  He spoke of the various things that the horn stood for and things that it represented.  That, in itself, made it a very cool gift.  What made the gift so special to me was what was engraved on it.

I had seen the coolest shadow box one day.  I don’t remember where we were, but I told my mom that I wanted to get it and give it to my band director as a gift.  As I recall, it had musical notes on it and maybe a violin.  On the glass were the words “Where words fail – music speaks.”  Such a powerful quote!  I gave it to him toward the end of my senior year and included a note of thanks.

A few weeks later, I received his gift.  Engraved on the horn mug were the same words – “Where words fail – music speaks.”

It remains one of the most unique gifts I have ever received.

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31 years later and those words are just as powerful and the mug still is very special to me.

 

 

Mystery Mania 2019

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As someone who loves a good mystery, I jumped at the chance to take part in the “Mystery Mania Blogathon” being hosted by Robin and her site, Pop Culture Reverie.  For this event, the topics could include movies, novels, video games, and TV shows.  While there are plenty of books and TV shows that I would have loved to write about, two movies immediately came to mind and I have chosen to write about them.  You can read what other bloggers have chosen for this event here:

https://popculturereverie.wordpress.com/

The Old Dark House Genre

Both of the films I am writing about would fall into what movie critics would call “The Old Dark House” genre.  This would be a sub-genre of the suspense/thriller/mystery film.  The genre tends to lean toward comedy, farce, parody, or whodunit mysteries. I wouldn’t call them “Haunted House” movies, as those tend to involve ghosts or the supernatural. Some common themes you may find in an Old Dark House movie include: (1) a group of people or strangers having to spend the night in some sort of castle, house, or mansion, (2) a murderer, creature, or some sort of madman on the loose, (3) usually the setting is a dark, foggy, or stormy night, (4) the house has hidden rooms or some sort of secret passageway (5) a butler, maid, or servants (6) a mysterious host, (7) pictures with removable eyes for spying on guests, and (8) possibly, a murder.

These movies are referred to as “Old Dark House” movies because they are similar to the plot of the 1932 film “Old Dark House” which starred Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, and Gloria Stuart.  Other famous films of this genre include 1945’s And Then There Were None and The House of Fear, 1948’s Who Killed Doc Robbin?, 1941’s Murder By Invitation, 1975’s The Spiral Staircase, 1978’s The Cat and the Canary, 1985’s Clue, and 1980’s Private Eyes, which will be the second film I am writing about.  Oh, and of course, the first film I am writing about ….

Murder By Death (1976)

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There are a few reasons I chose to write about this film.  First, it is a very funny film written by Neil Simon.  The film is a comedy/parody that is loaded with quick and funny lines.  Second, it is a send up of some of the greatest literary sleuths and detectives.  The film parodies Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Sam Spade.  Finally, it has a simply wonderful and amazing cast.  Peter Sellers is Sidney Wang (Charlie Chan), David Niven and Maggie Smith are Dick and Dora Charleston (Nick and Nora Charles), Elsa Lanchester is Jessica Marbles (Miss Marple), James Coco is Milo Perrier (Hercule Poirot), and Peter Falk is Sam Diamond (Sam Spade).  Other greats in the cast include Eileen Brennan, Nancy Walker, Truman Capote, James Cromwell, Estelle Winwood, and Alec Guinness.

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A keen observer will notice that the opening credits are drawn by Charles Addams, who created the comic strip The Addams Family.  We see a body with 11 knives lodged in the back, followed by the 11 “suspects”.

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Whether it is deliberate or not, the plot to the film is fairly ridiculous.  Millionaire Lionel Twain (Capote) invites five of the world’s greatest detectives to his home to solve a murder that hadn’t been committed yet (it will happen at midnight that evening).  He offers a million dollar prize to the one who can solve the murder.  The cast avoid numerous attempts on their own lives, while stumbling on more than one apparent murder throughout the film.

One of the true joys of this film is the performance of Alec Guinness as the blind butler, Jamesir Bensonmumm.  The dialogue between Guinness, David Niven and Maggie Smith regarding his name plays out like an Abbott and Costello bit.  He has some very funny lines and he delivers them perfectly.  When asked about Mrs. Twain, Bensonmum says, “She murdered herself in her sleep, sir.”  When asked if it was suicide, he replies, “Oh no.  It was murder alright.  Mrs. Twain hated herself!”  Sidney Wang asks about loud growling and barking from a cage.  He is told by the butler that it is the cat.  When he is questioned again in disbelief, Bensonmum replies, “I’m afraid he is a very angry cat. Mr. Twain had him fixed … and he didn’t want to be.”

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It was while filming Murder By Death, that Guinness received his copy of a script for Star Wars.  He read the script between takes while in his dressing room. Guinness was not one to spend a lot of time in Hollywood, but he liked the script so much that he made the trip to play the part of Bensonmum.  He is also on record as saying, “The script made me laugh, and not many things in recent times have done that.”

Peter Sellers plays Mr. Wang as stereotypical as Charlie Chan was.  One of my favorite lines from him is: “Conversation like television set on honeymoon: unnecessary.”  James Coco plays his role very self centered and prissy.  He has some funny scenes with James Cromwell and some good lines.  He finds a bill in the butler’s pocket and notes “Everything here has been rented for tonight. The butler, the cook, the food, the dining room chairs, everything!”  When Jessica Marbles begins to question, “You mean …”, he interrupts and states, “Yes. This entire murder has been… catered.”  After he drinks wine and begins to choke, the guests gasp and react, but he puts them at ease by saying, “No, no, it’s all right. My wine is not poisoned. It was just a bad year.”

Not to take away from fine performances by Peter Sellers, David Niven, or James Coco (they are all wonderful!), but a highlight for me is Peter Falk’s performance as Sam Diamond.  He plays it almost in a Humphrey Bogart sort of way.  Throughout the film, the detectives are often scurrying and unorganized.  Falk does such a great job with this.  He has some very funny lines in the film.  One of my favorites follows a bit of a monologue from Sam:  “Now, if one of you gentlemen would be so kind as to give my lady friend here a glass of cheap white wine, I’m going down the hall to find the can. I talk so much sometimes, I forget to go.”  When the issue of trust comes up, he proclaims, “The last time that I trusted a dame was in Paris in 1940. She said she was going out to get a bottle of wine. Two hours later, the Germans marched into France.”

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As hard as it is, I won’t spoil the ending.  I will tell you that the climax of the film has many revelations that are just ludacris, more theories and unmaskings than every episode of Perry Mason, Scooby Doo, and Agatha Christie novel put together!  By the time it is over, you wonder what happened, in a good way.  Wang has a great line as he and his adopted son are leaving the Twain mansion in the morning.  His son says, “I don’t get something, Pop. WAS there a murder, or WASN’T there?”  His reply:  “Yes: Killed good weekend.”

Despite the wonderful script and all-star cast, there were some who had their doubts about the film.  David Niven’s son worked for a company that invested in the film and thought that it would be a flop and expected it to be a tax loss.  Peter Sellers wasn’t happy with his performance and the film in general, so he sold back his percentage of the film for a little over a million dollars.  To everyone’s surprise, the film was the eight biggest money maker of 1976.  The film is included among the American Film Institute’s 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.

The Private Eyes (1980)

The next film I chose to write about stars two comedy legends who are just as funny separately as they are when paired together – Tim Conway and Don Knotts.  Tim is best remembered for his work on McHale’s Navy and the Carol Burnett show and Don is remembered for his work on the Andy Griffith Show and Three’s Company.  The Private Eyes is not the first film where they starred together, but it is their last.  They were in Disney’s The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and the sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, (1979) and The Prize Fighter (1979).  They did do a brief cameo together in Cannonball Run II in 1984, a film that was pretty much a flop.

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The Private Eyes is, again, an Old Dark House film.  Don Knott’s character Inspector Winship is an obvious parody of Sherlock Holmes and Tim Conway’s character, Dr. Tart, is a parody of Dr. Watson.  The film opens with Lady and Lord Morley being murdered in their car by a cloaked shadowy figure.  Winship and Tart are two American detectives who are transferred to Scotland Yard.  They travel to the Morley Mansion with a letter from Lord Morley, asking them to investigate his own murder.

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When they arrive at the Morley Mansion, they meet the Morley’s adopted daughter (and heiress), Phyllis.  They also meet the odd array of staff members who work for the Morley’s.  They include a samurai, a busty blonde maid, a hunchback, a gypsy, an insane butler, and a Nazi Nanny.

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As Winship and Tart begin their investigation of the Morley murders, the members of the staff begin to show up apparently murdered one by one.  A message is left with each body (more on that in a second) and each time they bring Phyllis back to where they body had previously been, it has disappeared.

The first of two running gags in the film is Dr. Tart’s pigeons.  He insists on sending messages back to “the Yard” via homing pigeons.  They never seem to make it, however, as each time he tries to send the message the pigeon usually ends up dying.  The other is the messages that are left on the dead bodies.

Outside of Tim Conway’s performance, the reason to watch this film is for the messages.  The messages are written as poems.  They follow a similar pattern each time and rhyme consistently right up until the last line, where all of a sudden, they don’t!  Each time the last line is read, you can see Tim Conway’s Tart, trying to make sense of it.  He knows there is another word that would rhyme – and actually make more sense – but the author doesn’t use it.  Once it happens in the first poem, you know it’s coming with each future poem, and it is a consistently funny gag throughout the film.

A few worth mentioning:

In this house it’s hard to survive
Some will be dead who are now alive
Mr. Uwatsum is gona cuz he knew too much
Bye for now but rest assured, we will keep in constant contact with each other
(Instead of keep in touch)

If Jock could talk, he’d give you a clue
But now that he’s dead, what can you do?
He deserved what he got, I don’t regret it a bit
By the way, you’re standing in bull caca
(instead of Bullsh*t)

And my favorite:

I said when I died that I’d come back
If you believe in ghosts then you’re on the right track
I’m out of the grove and roaming the moors
If you wanna be safe you’d better lock all the windows and screens
(instead of doors)

What is disappointing about the movie is there is so much potential for it to be a very good film, but it winds up being just mediocre.  We are introduced to these crazy house servants in the beginning and yet nothing really comes from any of it.  If the movie had been handled as more of an ensemble comedy (as with Murder By Death and Clue), it would have been a much better film.

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Tim Conway does not disappoint, but Don Knotts seems slow and tired.  I recently read where he had contracted mononucleosis during filming, so I am guessing his performance is lackluster because of this.   Outside of our stars, I should note that the relationship between Nanny & Justin (seen above) are fun to watch.    Justin has a very funny line when introducing Winship and Tart to Nanny.  Upon learning that they are from Scotland Yard, he says, “This is Inspector Winship and Dr. Tart. They were in the yard.”  To which Winship corrects him, “That’s FROM the Yard!” Sadly, again, there is so much that the film makers could have done with their characters.  They are very funny together, but their time on screen is limited.

I should also mention that Trisha Noble does a wonderful job as the very stunning daughter, Phyllis.  If she looks familiar, its because she went on to appear in the TV Series Strike Force as Sergeant Rosie Johnson, various TV series, and in Star Wars Episode III as Jobal Naberrie. In 1967, she changed her stage name from Patsy Ann Noble to Trisha Noble in order to distance herself from her years as a teenage popular singer.

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The film is more of a “who is left to have done it”, rather than a “whodunit” because of how fast the members of the staff are being bumped off.  There is a bit of a twist at the end, and I won’t spoil it for you – after all, this blog is all about mystery.  While there are some funny moments, it is one of those movies you want to sit around on a weekend and watch with the kids, they will probably find it funnier than you.

Thanks!

Thanks to Robin for allowing me to participate in the Mystery Mania Blogathon.  I hope you enjoyed reading this and I encourage you to read the other entries at the link provided earlier in this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part III – To the Aisle

One year ago, March 19, 2018, Sam and I were married. In the last 365 days, I have been blessed with the most wonderful partner! We have had some really amazing moments and our love for each other continues to grow with each passing day. After she said yes to my proposal, we began to plan the wedding. The plans that led up to it, changed quite often, as you will see.

We began to search for venues to host the event. We found a couple of really neat places. One of them was up in Clair. It was a very rustic looking hall and we thought we might do the ceremony and reception there. It would be a little hike for family and friends, and we took that into consideration. There was another place that looked nice too, it was small and they had packages were we could do a ceremony and brunch afterward. Then we looked at a barn which was also very nice. I have DJ’d a few “barn weddings” and they are always very nice. We both liked the idea of the “rustic” look.

We then began to plan a vacation for the two of us. We were talking about a trip to Florida. Sam had never been to a Detroit Tiger game and I had never been to Spring Training. We kind of built the trip around Spring Training. As we were doing this, the thought of getting married in Florida became something we talked more and more about. We would, of course, tell our folks. The original plan was to get married in Florida, and then come home and have a big back yard party. We would invite all of our friends and family, and at the party, we’d let everyone know we had gotten married. We planned to “renew” our vows again in front of everyone. I had a buddy of mine ready to DJ for us and everything. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to do that.

I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Let me back track a bit. Once we decided to get married in Florida, we had to research all that needed to be done to be sure we were ready when we got there. We found out that in Florida, there were certain things that we had to do. One of those things was a pre-marriage class. We were able to do it online and we both found it very interesting and beneficial. We learned a lot more about each other and found we had things in common that hadn’t come up prior to this. Once we finished the class, we printed off our Certificates of Completion and filed them in our “Florida” folder.

Burma Shave

As I have mentioned in the previous blogs, Sam and I met because of the Sleep Program at Baker College. Two of the instructors, Christine and Michele, were instrumental in our getting together. No, they didn’t hook us up or anything like that. They did, however, suggest me as a tutor, which ultimately led to Sam and I becoming friends – and more. The entire time we had been dating, we kept it from them. At one point, one of them even told Sam that I “wasn’t her type”.

When we knew what the plan was, and knowing what key roles they both played in our getting together, we decided that they would be the first ones to know. We tried to think of a cool way to tell them and I came up with one. We’d be leaving for Florida on a Thursday. We’d arrive on Friday and planned on getting married Monday afternoon at the county courthouse. Each day they’d get an “update” from us in the style of Burma Shave signs.

For those who may not know what I am talking about Burma Shave was a cream that was used for shaving. They used to have poems along stretches of highways, including the world famous Route 66. As you drove you’d see the first line – then the next one – the next one – and so on. Here is a picture of what some of them looked like:

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They were very popular.

So, I wrote a little poem for each day, detailing our day’s events. In re-reading them in the messages we sent to Christine and Michele, I laughed and felt that they would be perfect for this blog. The only poem I actually sat and thought about was the one for when we had gotten hitched. The rest were written on the fly in a matter of minutes. The last one was really the one I put a lot of time into.

What I love about them is that they are really generic and in no way, shape, or form tip them off on anything until the final poem. I wrote to Christine and Michele the day before we left “Over the next 7 days – Sam and I have decided to treat you both to odes about our trip. I am sure that you will enjoy them, laugh and smile.” I hope you do as well.

Thursday, March 15th.

We left right after I got home from my midnight shift. Sam drove while I slept and then we switched off. Once we got in the car I sent this to Christine and Michele:

“As we drive, I’ve got nothing but time. Be prepared for a week full of rhyme. Nobody talks this way – it’s kind of dumb. Who the hell cares, Florida here we come!”

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Friday, March 16

“We have arrived all safe and sound. We see the palm trees lining the ground. 170 more miles to where we will stay. It feels damn good to be away. So here we go with day number one. We’re happy to be in the Florida sun.”

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We arrived at our hotel and we were pretty tired after that long drive! We did get the chance to relax a bit out by the pool. We relaxed and rested up for the remainder of the night. We were so tired, we spent our first evening having pizza delivered and eating it in bed.

Saturday, March 17

“The windows are down and we feel the breeze, as we drove past rows of palm trees. We headed out to Disney Springs and shopped. If I didn’t have her hand, Sam would never have stopped. Now it is off to enjoy a nice steak. We hope you enjoy these posts from our break.”

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We spent the day in Disney Springs and it was a lot of fun. I had no idea this place even existed. There were lots of things to see and I enjoyed some of the great stores, including the Lego store. Because of the reference to the steak, this must have been the night we went to Outback Steakhouse where a couple gave us a free “bloomin’ onion”!

Sunday, March 18

“Day three finds us among the beachers. Yet, here we sit thinking of our favorite teachers. I am wondering if Sam will ever learn, to wear sunscreen so she will not burn. I, too, worry about getting to red. Especially on the top of my head. The best rhyme is yet to come. We promise to tell you tomorrow by one.”

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We spent the day at St. Pete’s beach. It was truly an amazing day. What a joy to sit in the sun and talk to each other. We did indeed get sunburned. Sam was very red by the time we left the beach. We were both hurting a bit the next day. When we got back to the hotel, we sent one more poem.

“Are you sick of my poems I send you each day? I really hope not, there are more on the way. I’ll send you one more before your next class. Until then we’re getting sand out of our ass”.

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After we went to the beach, we came back to our hotel and asked about good local places to eat. The hotel recommended a tremendous Mexican restaurant. It was called Tapatio’s. We almost went somewhere else because the place was packed. I am glad we stayed because not only was the food delicious, they had a mariachi band that was playing while we were there. They were a lot of fun and they interacted with the customers and took requests. It was one of many great highlights!

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Monday, March 19 – Wedding Day.

We woke up very excited. I had never been more sure of anything in my life! We dressed and got ready to leave the hotel to head to the courthouse. I wore a maroon shirt and tie, and Sam had a beautiful white dress that she bought for the occasion. Sam is NOT a dress person at all, but we both wanted to dress up and make sure to get pictures at the courthouse.

There were a few people there before us. We filled out all of the appropriate paperwork and were asked if we wanted to get married there at the desk or in the back where they had a room they performed ceremonies. We chose to go to the back. They had a beautiful archway that we stood under. It was just Sam, me, and our officiant. It was a truly special moment. It was intimate and emotional. When we were pronounced man and wife, my heart was filled with a joy I cannot describe. I replay that first kiss over and over in my mind – it was so awesome.

Once we were “official”, we took our picture outside the courthouse with our marriage certificate. It was then time to send the final poem.

“Waking up to vacation day four, you asked for poems – get ready for more. We’ve posted some pics and lots of tags – time now to let the cat out of the bag. Sometimes a secret is very hard to keep. By the end of this rhyme we hope you don’t weep. Let me take a minute to calm all your fears. If you do cry, they will only be happy tears. ‘Happy’ is what you want us to be. That’s what we are, you can take it from me. Our trip to Florida will be over all too soon. But it’s not only a trip – it’s a honeymoon. I asked Sam way back in the fall, now this is where you may start to bawl. Remember when you said I wasn’t her type? Maybe you just got caught up in the hype. Did you see this coming? Probably not. Three more verses – that’s all I’ve got. It’s because of you two that both of us met, and no she’s not pregnant … at least not yet! We wish you were here, even though it might rain. Then we would have the entire “Collective Brain”! Today, I married the love of my life. She made me her husband, and I made her my wife!”

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We truly caught both of them by surprise! Both of them had no idea. We were able to keep the secret from a lot of people, but Christine and Michele were certainly the hardest to keep it from! We talked to them both so often, so many times we almost slipped about wedding plans, marriage classes, the proposal, and more! It was a relief to finally let them in on it – and to thank them for playing such a BIG role in our being together!! The love that we felt from both of them that day was just amazing! For me, it was extra special. Both of them had been such great friends and helped me through some of those very dark days. To have them rejoice for us – well, that just made the moment even more special.

We celebrated our wedding with a delicious steak dinner at the Texas Cattle Company. The food was truly amazing. We were gearing up for the Spring Training game the following day, so it was cool to see that they had Al Kaline and Willie Horton jerseys hanging inside the restaurant.

“Eagle Eye Hope”

There was one picture from early on in the trip that had people talking. The day we went to Disney Springs, Sam and I went to the Coca-Cola Store. They had the opportunity to get pictures taken with the Coke Polar Bear. I talked Sam into doing it and we are hugging the Polar Bear. Without realizing it, Sam’s left hand was front and center in the picture. She was wearing her engagement ring in it. Some of of friends noticed and starting talking among themselves and wondered what the deal was. One of our friends, Hope, who never holds back came right and and asked. She had taken a screen shot of the picture and circled Sam’s hand in bright yellow and sent it to me with the following “What’s with the ring on Sam’s finger??”

I responded by simply saying, “Of all of our friends – YOU would be the one to notice that!” Her reply was priceless: “OH MY GOD – Are you serious?!” She then told us she was crying she was so happy, and followed it with recorded voice messages of her crying and telling us how happy she was for us! All of this happened before we were even married. She messaged me the day before we got married. We eventually had to call her and listen to her cry. In all honesty, she’s probably gonna kill me because I shared this, but I want her to know that knowing how happy she was for us was one of many highlights of our trip!

Tuesday, March 20 – The Honeymoon Begins

We were both extremely excited to visit Joker Merchant Stadium. Of the entire trip, this was the only day that had called for rain. Prior to game time, it had rained a bit. As we arrived at the stadium, it was sprinkling and I was worried the game might happen. It cleared up and the game went on. I can’t recall for sure, but there was a big cloud burst around the 8th inning that had people scattering, and the heavy stuff didn’t happen until we were walking – well, running – to our car after the game.

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Because of the rain, I didn’t really get a good pic of the stadium. I went back the following day to get it, which explains the sunshine. One of the great things about our seats, was that we were right on the first base line and Miguel Cabrera was literally right in front of us. He is one of my favorite players and it was neat to watch him play.

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Wednesday, March 21

The last big thing we did while in Florida, was visit the Florida Aquarium. Sam loves penguins, and so I made sure that we also go to go back for the “Penguin Experience” We got to hold the penguins, and take pictures with them, and to see the smile on Sam’s face, it was worth every penny. She was in heaven. I was so happy I could make that happen for her.

We also took a Dolphin Cruise. It was very windy and they actually cancelled the rest of the cruises after ours was done. We did get to see some dolphins and we also got to see Tampa from all around the bay. One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip is the “otter” coffee mug I got from the aquarium. Every time I pour myself a cup of coffee in it, I am reminded of this very special day.

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Thursday, March 22 – Homeward Bound

Our trip was truly one that will never be forgotten. We left the state of Florida a married couple looking ahead to the future and our new life together. Little things that we had done hundreds of times before suddenly took on new meaning – holding hands in the car, kissing each other goodnight, etc… I don’t know how to explain it, but they meant more now that Sam and I were married.

The “Unfinished Song”

The morning after we arrived home, I woke from a dream. In the dream I heard a song. I had the melody, but never recorded it on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. My fault. I did, however, write down the words I remembered. I had hoped that when we had our backyard party, I could play or sing this for Sam. She’s never seen this, and I never found the time to write any more to it.

They say that you find love when you least expect you will

That love can cure depression better than a pill.

I never really thought about it, but I believe it’s true

I’ve never felt this happiness, now I do because of you.

The Chorus I wrote, and the melody I forgot was this:

Only you can make me smile by standing by my side

Only you can make me feel these things way down deep inside

I never thought I could love like this before

But each and every day you make me want you more.

Is it a hit? Probably not. One day I should finish it, huh?

Looking back at 365 Days …

Over the past year, Sam and I have share some very special moments. We’ve taken road trips to Kentucky (to visit family), Tennessee (for a boat ride at the Opryland Hotel), Clare (to visit friends and grab a hamburger at the coolest hamburger joint), and Caseville (to revisit my childhood vacation spots). We enjoyed on stage performances of Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. We’ve had family fun at the Sloan Museum Dinosaur exhibit, the Saginaw Zoo, and a Great Lakes Loons baseball game. We hosted our annual 4th of July party (which was almost when we had our backyard wedding bash), and our first family Thanksgiving. We all went and took part in Beaumont Lights over the holidays and we added two silly cats (Moe and Maizey) to our lives.

The time I have spent with Sam is time that I treasure. She is on my mind from the moment I leave home until the moment I come home to her. She has been an constant support. Her love for me is something like I have never experienced. She is such a positive person and rejects negativity. She has brought about a change in me that has only made me strive to be a better man, a better father, a better husband, and a better friend. I do not have to pretend to be someone I am not. I am free to be myself and she loves me for all of my little quirks and more. She will send me texts that can bring me to tears because they come at a time when I least expect them, but really need them. She encourages me in ways that I cannot describe. She is a source of constant joy.

I have been blessed more than any man could imagine. From out of darkness came this woman who brought light. She brought friendship, she brought companionship, she brought love, and she brought bliss. I feel this complete contentment, joyfulness, exhilaration, ecstasy, and delight when I am with her. I thank God each and every day for the opportunity to love her and to be loved by her.

Happy first anniversary, Sam. There are not enough words for me to express all that you mean to me. I hope and pray to always be the man you need me to be. I once again promise to love you today, and for each day that follows for the rest of our “happily ever after”.

Thank you for being you. I love you.

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