Watching the embers float away


Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I spent Saturday night in the backwoods of Kentucky, sitting close to a bonfire, staring into the heat of it. I sat close. Close enough that I pulled my hat down over my face to block the heat from my skin. I don’t know why, but it felt cleansing, peaceful, being so close. I watched the embers drift into the darkness around us, flickering, drifting, and disappearing. Burnt out or just gone.

Nearby voices I’ve known for 30+ years carried on conversations. I’m lucky to still be friends with the guys I grew up with. That’s uncommon these days. But it’s important, I think, to maintain the relationships that formed you. We take this guy’s camping weekend every year on the night of the South Eastern conference championship game.

The trip always includes 4-wheelers, an arsenal of firearms, bbq and chili; And stories of the old days. So much has changed since I came to Hendersonville in 1985. But every year on this trip I learn that so much is the same.

I’m the same kid who shuffled his feet, staring at the square tiles of the classroom floor wearing cuoduroy pants and introduced himself to his new classmates at Indian Lake elementary. I remember that some of them laughed when I spoke my name that day. My voice was deep for a 5th grader. They still mimic my voice sometimes these days.

We reminisced about our days in school while we shot guns.

We talked about the good old days while we cut up an old tree for firewood.

Late into the night it became more apparent to me that we’re all still learning how to be adults. Whatever that means. Careers, marriages, and kids aren’t easy.

Sometimes it feels like we’re still clumsy 5th graders pretending to be grown up, taking bumps and bruises in our immaturity. But the growth I see in my friends reminds me that I’m not alone.  Staying rooted in your past is how you measure where you are. Whether your past was beautiful or painful.

I’m thankful for those relationships that have endured over 30 years. They help me measure my life, not against theirs, but against my own. Am I still the kid they knew? How much has the journey changed me? For better or worse. 

Feeling nostalgic I dug through an old chest at the foot of my childhood bed on Sunday after the trip. There I found more relics of my life so far. They reminded me of growth as well.

The wrap I wore on my broken hand during the 1992 state wrestling semi-finals.


The singlet I wore in both the 1992 and 1993 state championship matches.


My first pair of high school wrestling shoes from 1989, size 7.5.


And the pair I wore my senior year in 1993, size 8.5.


Side by side they tell a significant part of my story. The years that took me from opportunity to fulfill potential to the fulfillment of a goal and promise.


Its the brevity of the story. Opportunity for fulfillment of the promise. Clumsiness and learning in between that make it worth it. Sitting close to the fire to really feel the heat of it all. Watching the embers float away.

I love you

– Daddy

ps. Sunday afternoon we went to the Hendersonville Christmas parade with Nana and Papaw. Who is that guy in red in the truck??