Just some thoughts:
“Some folks in life have no interest in going no further than their mailbox.”
“Far away places with strange sounding names, far away over the seas”
That first line was said to me not long ago by a man who had been in ninety-five countries. Not states, countries. I picked him up at the airport to take him to his hotel. I would be spending some time with him over the next two or three days as he was in Nashville for the Vince Gill’s Celebrity Golf Tournament. He is the legendary Harlem Globetrotter, Meadowlark Lemon. Lemon played for many years with the famed group and traveled the world. He shared stories with me about playing in areas where there were snakes on the court, on aircraft carriers in distant seas and in places neither of us had ever heard of before.
Not long after that time spent with Lemon, our grandson, Luke, in one of my afternoon pickups from the bus encounters, asked me, “Pop Pop, how many countries have you been in?” He also told me that one day he was going to live in Japan; that is a long way from his mailbox. He then said, “Tell me about some of the places you and Mimi have been.” I told him how lucky we were to have had the opportunity to travel to distant lands, I said…
I can remember standing in the Coliseum in Rome and thinking this is a lot bigger than Hinkle (Butler) Field House. I stood and listened as the guide told stories of the people who lost their lives on the floor of that arena. Often for their beliefs.
I can remember sitting in the “town square,” no that is not what they called it, in Florence, Italy, and thinking what am I doing here?
I have been in the Alps of Switzerland and Germany at Hitler’s hideaway and looked at the initials American soldiers had carved in his desk.
I have watched the changing of the guard in London and heard the sounds of Big Ben.
I walked the beaches at Normandy. I sat in the bunkers in the mountains of Germany where the Battle of the Bulge took place and my biological father had served. I have walked the cemetery high above the cliffs of Normandy as Taps were being played.
I remember standing on the deck of the ship looking down at the narrow passages as we sailed through the Panama Canal and later in the dense jungle rain forest of Costa Rica.
I remember watching huge ice caps break while sailing in the waters in Alaska.
I remember standing on a rock in Greece where they claim the biblical character Peter or Paul might have stood and walked the Biblical ruins of cities in Greece.
I remember a dinner cruise on the Nile River in Egypt one night and thinking back to my first two Sunday school teachers, Goldie (McDonald) and Grace (Hoggart), and remembering the Bible stories of baby Moses among the bull rushes.
I remember a day with a seven a.m. tee off at Cypress Point followed by lunch, an afternoon tee off at Pebble Beach Golf Links and seeing the sun setting as I walked up the 18th fairway. How could one ever forget such a day.
I remember seeing the ancient pyramids and walking in the market places in Cairo, Egypt and thinking how these people must be some of the unhappiest people I have ever seen with all the chaos and anger displayed. They don’t seem to even like each other.
I remember my first time and then later times, hitting a golf ball from the first tee at St. Andrews, Scotland and thinking, “This is where this game first began and I’m here.”
I remember the first time I turned off Washington Avenue in Augusta, Georgia and drove up Magnolia Lane at the Master’s and thinking “how did I ever get here?” How for nearly twenty years I would have that experience.
I remember a fall evening after a great day of golf in Ireland; and my wife and I, along with three other couples, good friends, are now having a wonderful dinner at a B&B overlooking the ocean. It truly was something out of a book or movie.
I remember standing in the showers and seeing the ovens in Dachau, Germany and thinking how could one man be so evil to want to do these things to other human beings?
I told Luke that his Mimi went to Russia to work and spend some time in a street mission for kids and how she will always remember those children. She told me how there was one little girl she wanted so badly to bring home with her.
I will always remember the feelings I get in an early morning or late evening drive in one of my old cars. (Corvette, Thunderbird ,etc).
“Oh Luke there is so much more to tell you, but we’ll have to talk more the next time, okay?”
So, how many countries has Luke’s grandfather visited ? It certainly is not ninety plus like my friend Meadowlark, but it’s far more than I ever imagined from my small beginnings in Pimento, Indiana.
I feel very fortunate to have been a lot further than my mailbox. I hope someday my grandchildren can travel to foreign lands too.
And yes, Luke, I hope you do get to go to Japan. Maybe even live there, if so hey we’ll come and see you.
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February 7, 2014
Posted November 30, 2018