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.


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



25 Things


One of the daily writing prompts I read today asked to list 25 Things I’ll Never Do.  I grabbed a piece of paper and thought, “This will be easy.”  It was a bit harder than I thought.  I jotted them down one by one and stopped at 25.  I didn’t go any further.  I am sure if I thought more, I could expand the list.  For now, here at the ones that hit me immediately:

I will never ______

  1. Stop loving my wife and children
  2. Smoke a cigarette
  3. Go bungee jumping
  4. Stop writing
  5. Lose my faith in God
  6. Be perfect
  7. Beat my kids at that stupid Super Smash Brothers game
  8. Get a piercing
  9. Stop saying “I Love You”
  10. Take for granted someone’s presence in my life
  11. Give up on dreams
  12. Stop listening to music
  13. Intentionally hurt someone I care about
  14. Go downhill skiing
  15. Stop watching the Three Stooges
  16. Apologize for who I am
  17. Stop hugging my family and friends
  18. Forget those who have passed away
  19. Stop reading
  20. Sky dive
  21. Understand people who enjoy making other people miserable
  22. Act “my age”
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon
  24. Stop trying to make people laugh
  25. Realize how truly lucky I am to be living my life

How about you?  Can you list 25?  10?


“What’s in YOUR wallet?”

My brother is the writer in the family. I’m the “wannabe” writer. I write for me. He writes for others. He’s actually written a few books. I mention him because a few months ago, in a conversation we were talking about writing. I told him about the creative writing class I started to take when I was in college, but had to drop out because of family reasons.

My brother, being the cool guy that he is, sent me a book recently to encourage me to write. You’ve probably seen it in Barnes and Noble – I know I had at least 20 times, but never picked it up. It’s called 300 Writing Prompts. It is just that – 300 random things to get your mind thinking and to write.

I usually sit down to write and have some sort of idea of what I am going to write about. As a matter of fact, I have two or three ideas that I am working on right now, but they are not ready yet. So, in an effort to keep writing, I have randomly opened up the book my brother gave me and what follows is the result. Today’s topic:

Describe one odd thing in your wallet


Upon reading the prompt, I immediately knew what I was going to write about, without even opening my wallet! Now, I admit it is not odd to have a dollar bill in your wallet, but some might consider half of a dollar bill a bit odd. Yes, I carry around one half of a dollar bill in my wallet and have had it in there for years! Here is the story behind it:

My best friend, Jeff, and I have been friends since second grade! Our friendship has lasted over 40 years! I meant to write a blog about him on his birthday, and life just never seemed to give me the proper time to write it. I probably could write a book just about our friendship and the crazy stuff we’ve done over the years, but for this blog, I will just share one. (I probably will write the book …)

I don’t recall how old we were. We were probably just out of high school. I remember Jeff telling me that he was going to move to Nevada. He dad lived there and he had decided that he was going there to find a job or something. Now, for the better part of my life, he had always been around. Our friendship was something that I still have trouble putting into words. I was having a hard time knowing that he was leaving.

I don’t recall where I got the idea from. It may have been based on something I read, it may have been based on those best friend necklaces that girls were wearing, or it could have been something I saw on TV. At any rate, I took a dollar bill and wrote my name on one side of it and Jeff’s name on the other. I ripped the bill in half and before Jeff left, I gave him the half with my name on it. I told him that I was keeping the half with his name and no matter what, I’d always be thinking about him. I think this gesture was more for me than it was for him.

He didn’t stay in Nevada long, and returned to Michigan shortly after leaving. It didn’t matter, the “half” dollar always remained in my wallet. Any time I have had to get a new wallet, it has always made the journey into the new one. Not that I need it, but it is a reminder of a life long friendship that is worth more to me than any amount of money in the world.

dollar small

Of course, I think that bastard lost his half! I still love him like a brother!