Birthday, Family

Happy Birthday Dad and J.R.R.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Today, January 3, is an important day. It is the day of the birth of two men that have made a profound impact on my life. One, my dad. The other, an author.

My dad, James Conley Brooks, would have celebrated his 99th birthday.

In August of 2002, my dad passed away. He had been under hospice care for about six or so months. The week before he passed, we had traveled to the grocery store. He loved going to Kroger’s, riding in the assisted motorized buggies. He dressed as like a dapper man with his Stetson flat cap in grey herringbone tweed.

I asked while helping him into the buggy, “Dad, would you like for me to walk with you?”

Dad said, “No. You need to go on and gather the groceries. I’m going to see if I can pick me up a fine-looking woman and see if we can go out dancing.”

“You can’t be serious?” I smiled at him. He was fighting Parkinson’s and he had COPD, so he carried oxygen with him every where.

“Well, of course I am, daughter!”

He loved teasing me, pushing a button when I was in a hurry, and he would wink at my husband to let him know he was just “fooling,” as he would say.

I miss him. He could make me laugh.

If you have a story to share about your dad, feel free to post in the comments section.

J. C. Brooks Birthday card
The author, known to many as “The Professor” is J. R. R. Tolkien. On this day, he would have been 127 years old.

Though I wish it were possible, I never met The Professor in person. I met him through his writing. The first book of his that I read, The Hobbit, made a profound mark on my reading life. The second, The Lord of the Rings (all three books) finished off what The Hobbit started.

I was hooked. Big time. After that first encounter, I searched for other authors that would do for me what The Professor did to me. It didn’t take long and I fell in love with C. S. Lewis, The Professor’s good friend and fellow writing friend.

Between those two, I learned that I wanted to do to words what they did. I am still wanting to work their kind of magic. I struggle, but I keep thinking about what they did to help the world of writing become what it is. I marvel at the well placed word or thought. I search for ways to write a common idea in a new way, much as they did. The difference? They learned how to make it read and sound and seem normal.
JRR Tolkien Birthday card

Who is your favorite author? Leave a thought about who has touched your life in a profound way.

Until next time…

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This post first appeared on Pam’s Blog on Pam’s website on January 3, 2019.

Family, Magical Moments, Remembrance

40 Years! You & Me, Babes!

Friday, August 26, 1978 was the day I said, “I do,” to the man I loved then and do so still. Today, August 26, 2018, we celebrate our love.

Enjoy, with us, a short trip down memory lane from back then…

The Wedding Invitation – Forty years ago!

Invitation to our wedding in 1978 - forty years ago.
Invitation to our wedding in 1978.

The Inside

Forty yrs ago - Invitation
Invitation

The Ceremony

The wedding started promptly at 4:00 p.m. and was such fun. We wrote our own vows and had the organist play music that was popular of the times — Tubular Bells from the Exorcist; Nights in White Satin by Moody Blues; and Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Music of the 70s at its finest.

We walked each other down the aisle, and doing so cut the ceremony down by about 10 minutes. After the ceremony, Albert and I were walking out of the church (ahead of the guests) when we saw a couple we had known for several years walking up the sidewalk. Suddenly, the wife took the gift she was carrying and hit her husband upside the head and said, “I told you we would miss it!”

Albert and I laughed so hard.

The Reception

Throughout the reception line, Albert kept pulling at his collar; even back then he would sweat just by breathing. We were looking forward to getting out of our clothes. It was a hot August day.

Wedding image on Aug 26, 1978.
Cutting the cake on Aug 26, 1978.

We saved the top of the cake for our one year anniversary. It didn’t keep well. Neither one of us got a good taste of the cake. We heard it was wonderful.

We had matches as souvenirs. Wish I had a picture of the matchbook. It said The Perfect Match with our names and date. Of course, back then, everybody smoked.

The After Party and the Honeymoon

We left the church and everyone was invited to our house out in the cove. It was an old farm-house we rented with 29 acres. A wonderful place that we enjoyed very much. We lived there all of four months. The landlord decided he wanted to sell the farm. Being young newly weds, we couldn’t afford it.

Lots of folks dropped in for the after party. We left for our honeymoon about ten that night. One of my bridesmaids agreed to stay at our house while we were gone on our honeymoon.

Our Honeymoon began as one big adventure that kept repeating itself (Stay tuned for future reveals). My husband is not a planner when we travel. Any plans we have, it is because I make them. It was my job to plan and pull off the wedding. His one and only job was the honeymoon. I should have known what was in store for me, but I was blinded by love.

The First Surprise

We arrived in Roanoke about 11 or 11:30 p.m.; and I asked where would we be staying. Albert smiled at me and said, “It’s a surprise.” And it was.

Albert had failed to make reservations. As it turned out, there were two different concerts that weekend–one in Salem and one in Roanoke. There were no beds to be had. I lost count after the fifth hotel/motel we stopped to check for a possible bed. It was getting close to 12:30 a.m. when I looked at Albert and said, “Okay, I give. Where is the surprise?”

He laughed and said, “I’ll try one more place.” It was a Motel 6. He came back to the truck (yes, my husband is such a romantic) and said, “I got us a room. But, you’re going to have to be imaginative about the room.”

I snickered and wondered aloud, “How imaginative?”

“It will be fine,” he replied.

The manager walked us up to the room, which I thought was odd. All of the rooms along the corridor opened on to the walkway-balcony. The manager stopped at the end room and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry miss, but this is all we have.”

He opened the door and there were two twin beds, unmade, covered with old furniture. To add insult to injury, there was no air conditioning.

By about 2:00 a.m., we finished moving the furniture and got settled in for the night.

“Honey, you’ve been such a good sport, I want to give you this gift to show you my love,” Albert said handing me a beautifully wrapped box.

I replied, “Oh, my. I have something for you too.” I handed him a smaller box wrapped in blue paper with summer flowers.

He opened his box and it was an engraved pocket watch with Roman numerals with the clock works on display as the second-hand revolved around the face. My box contained a gorgeous diamond necklace.

We snuggled and fell to sleep out of exhaustion.

We hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane! We will share more adventures of our time together these last forty years as we celebrate our love.

Update on my next book

The second book, DarkShadow, of The Chronicles of Eldershire is in process. Plans are to have a preliminary DRAFT finished by fall. It is later than planned, but this past summer was hard on me health wise. I found out I was allergic to soy and sesame seed, and then I got shingles. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve fought two bouts of poison ivy. Oh the joys!

Hugs and Write On!
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40 Years! You & Me, Babes! first appeared on Pam’s Blog on August 26, 2018.

Like all authors, I need the reads. Please feel free to share this newsletter with any friends you think may enjoy reading. In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter. That’s seriously all I want.

 

Family, Guest Blogger, Writing

A Tribute to My Dad

This is a guest post by Julie Newberry, our daughter

HAPPY RETIREMENT, DAD!

Julie and Albert on Reed Creek
Julie and Her Dad, Albert, on Reed Creek in August.

So, my Dad, Albert, retired Tuesday, July 31, 2018. He has work for the Town of Wytheville for 36 years in a variety departments, such as Maintenance, Fire Marshal, Building Inspection, and then finally Director of Public Safety, where he spent most of his time.

In his early years, he was also a volunteer firefighter. As a young child, there were many days both my parents worked crazy hours. So my dad took me with him on fire calls. I would set in the truck with our dog, while he would fight fires. Lots of times, I would also set in the fire truck and talk with the engineer on duty. Later in life, Dad told me stories about how sometimes I would be sound asleep in a dispatcher’s chair when all-heck would break loose. The dispatchers would just smile and shake their heads at the sleeping child.

My later childhood years I remember using a fire truck as my jungle gym—swinging around the handgrips and climbing on the back. But, I think the most fun I had was when riding on the back of a fire truck during the town parades.

A story Dad shared with me was a time I got locked in his work truck. I was about 4 years old. He was working on one of the stop lights at a major intersection in town late one winter night. He told me since it was cold out and our black lab, Lady, and I were in the truck that he would leave it running to keep us warm.

Dad had an old white pickup truck where the windows rolled up with a handle and you had to push the locks down. There were these tiny triangular-shaped little windows too. He parked the truck in the center of the intersection to block traffic while he worked. Dad got out of the truck to work on the controller for the traffic light. When he got done and was ready to head home, he realized the truck was locked and he couldn’t get in. Lady’s chin had pushed down the locking buttons.

For several minutes, Dad tried calling me over to unlock the door. Every time I went to go to the window, Lady would knock me over. I giggled and would sit there. After some time went by, Dad decided to call for backup. Two police officers came. They tried everything to get me to unlock the door. But Lady would just keep knocking me over. They used candy to entice Lady away from me. But, the second they moved the candy toward me, Lady would go after it. I wasn’t the least bit interested in candy. I was laughing at Lady.

Finally, one officer had a tool and he was able to pry open one of the side vent windows, and then unlock the door. By then, Dad was beaming red with frustration. A police officer said, “Don’t you yell at her; it wasn’t her fault.” Dad never did yell at me for that. Years later Dad told me the story. Since then, I often joke that the police officers are my bodyguards.

There were times when I would ride with Dad in his work truck, driving around town. We would have calls come over the radio that a bear was seen in town. So, we joined in the chase. One time, a bear was seen near the interstate. That time I watched my dad come face to face as it stood on its hind legs. I looked on with amazement and excitement. Not seeing my Dad’s face of fear, I watched him lead the bear to safety, back into the woods.

Other times, the forest service men would tranquillize a bear and place him in the back of their trucks to be transported somewhere else. While the bear was in the back of a truck, I would walk up to the bear and pet them saying “Good Bear!” As time went on, I would have several interactions with petting a bear. So, from that time on, Dad called me “Bear.”

Another time, we heard on the radio a police officer calling for back up. We were only a couple blocks away and my Dad rushed to the call. It was at a corner gas station. I saw my Dad and two police officers, one being a female officer, wrestling with a citizen trying to place them under arrest. All of sudden, they all went crashing through a big glass window. They finally got cuffs on the person. To my amazement the broken glass hurt none of them.

There are many stories I could tell of spending time with my Dad while he was at work. I was very lucky that I got to spend time with him while seeing him doing what he loved to do.

Through the years, I was able to see first hand the sacrifice and the many long hours my Dad spent serving and protecting the Town of Wytheville—from fighting fires to becoming the Director of Public Safety. In my eyes, from early on, my Dad is and will always be my hero for the sacrifices he made. Maybe that is why I like to volunteer at my church all the time. I want to give back just like my Dad did.

Albert in his TOW Shirt
Albert on his last day of work with the Town of Wytheville.

Congratulations and Best Wishes on your retirement, Dad. May you enjoy your retirement! You deserve it!!!

Lots of Love,
Bear

 

This posted first published on Pam’s Blog on August 10, 2018.