Friday, June 22, 2007

He was born in a small log cabin in ... Korea?

Today I honored a dead guy. He died long before I was born. He started off slowly. You know the drill. A little log cabin in Kentucky. Seriously. He grew up and decided to run for public office and he lost. He married a lady a full foot shorter than he was. Then he ran for office again and this time he won. He went from being a nobody to being the President of the United States in a very short time.

The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum are in Springfield. That is only about 75 miles away. The weather was nice today so I dropped Emma's top (get your mind out of the gutter. Emma is my emerald green Mustang.) and Debbie and I drove up to see what it was all about.

Abe was a pretty cool guy. I mean, for being really ugly. And really tall. And wearing funny looking hats. Sometimes things went his way. Like having 3 kids. Sometimes things did not go his way. Like having 2 of them die. Good things like getting elected president. Crummy things like having to lead in the fighting of a war. A homegrown war at that. Rewarding things like winning the war. Awful things like getting murdered just a week after the war ended. Post-humus good things like having a most excellent funeral that spanned half of the continent by way of train. Post-funeral ugly things like having hoodlums try to steal your body.

All in all it was a very interesting day. It ended sitting across a table from a beautiful woman while eating steak and all of the trimmings. Then we wound our way home on the old two-lanes rather than the interstate.

The best part of the day was the person I shared it with. We played mind games all day. You know what I mean. All of the way home we took turns asking each other questions that HAD to be answered honestly. It started silly and ended seriously. After 29.5 years of marriage we learned some things about each other that we did not know.

I wore two rings today. One was my wedding ring. It is actually my second wedding ring. (Don't worry. I've only had one marriage. I just had to have my first ring cut off after I let it get trapped behind a knuckle practicing for mid-life arthritis.) The other ring is on my right "pinky" finger. That is the only place it will fit. It is my father's wedding ring. I wore it today along with his WWII "dog tags." The last time I spoke to my dad was 7 years ago today. After our final conversation he lapsed into a semi-coma and semi-incoherent state. He never recovered from either and the next day cancer took him away from me. I still miss him more than I can say. He never ran for public office but he was born in what probably amounted to a log cabin. Only it was in Arkansas and not Kentucky. He was not a wartime president. He was a wartime soldier. He spent the better part of 4 years behind the steering wheel and the 50 caliber Browning machine gun of a "half track." I suppose dad caused some real carnage in North Africa and Europe. I think he understood what was at stake just like Lincoln did and so I doubt that he regretted that carnage for a minute. After he got home he landed a job on an oilrig in Ventura, California. Then he sent for and married the cutest girl that he knew. She took the train out from "The Land of Opportunity" and married him in the home of a Baptist minister.

Parts of me are glad that dad did not live long enough to see things like the terrorist attacks of 9-11. He might actually have cheered for a Republican president to go kick butt. And dad had never, NEVER cheered for a Republican before. I am glad he didn't have to watch the son's of our country go of to war one more time. But he would have stood behind every one of them. Actually, knowing how angry he would have been after the events of that day he just might have tried to enlist in the army himself. God help the recruiter that turned him down. I do wish dad had lasted long enough to see my daughter take a husband, meet my first granddaughter, see all 3 of my kids go into ministry positions and the White Sox win the World Series. Dad did love the Cubs but he would only go to Sox Park. I can't think of that place without thinking of him.

So I honor heroes today. Men bigger and better than I will ever hope to become. I am grateful for them and those like them. You know, it just occurred to me that if dad and Abe had ever met they would have probably gotten along famously. One fought to free the slaves and one worked like a slave.

Only one thing went wrong today. While purchasing the tickets for the Lincoln Museum the lady at the desk figured me for the safe middle-aged type. She gave me a card with the time Debbie and I entered the museum on it. She told me that if we would return it to the same desk when we left she would give us a cool laminated Abraham Lincoln bookmark. Hey ... free bookmark. Who am I to look a gift president in the mouth? At the end of our visit I dutifully turned in my card. They made a note of our time of departure (they were trying to figure out the average length of stay by their visitors) and handed me my freebee. Pretty cool. I'm ahead a whole bookmarker for the day and it's only 3PM. Then I read the bookmark. Under the picture of Abe and the facts and statistics of his life I read in reduced lettering "Made In Korea." I have absolutely nothing against Korea but come on. This is Abraham Lincoln, for cryin out loud. Is nothing sacred?

Oh wait. I forgot about yesterday's blog. No ... no, nothing is sacred. Not anymore. Not even Abe memorabilia.


Anonymous said...


Regardless of how we lose someone, it's how they lived with us and through us that matters - and how your father is living through you is highly apparent. Your love for your family shows through what you learned from him - and I'm sure, he is very, very proud of the man you became.

I love reading your blog, and your replies over at Mamalogues. Thanks for a daily dose of smiles and laughs...and reminders of the love of the Master.