1. Returning to Tennessee and family. (End of July) The final word is key. Because of family I found strength to leave a city, San Antonio, Texas, that had provided me healing & a new lease on life. Family gave me impetus & strength to move back to "the greenest State in the land of the free". Yes, indeed, "family" says it all!
2. Spending Christmas with family. (24-26 Dec.) Dear reader, NEVER underestimate the great value of being with family on any 25 December! I did underestimate it a few years ago; for my folly I got to live thru too many of the subsequent holidays solo. Oh sure, I had folks around me when I'd attend Christmas morning worship at San Fernando Cathedral or at Christ Church (Episcopal). However, I was still lonely. Blood IS thicker than water! I thank God for Xmas '08, in Clarksville with wife Ellen, son David & daughter-in-law Allison. Xmas with family! And Xmas Eve, too! The four of us topped off the all-day togetherness with a warm, intimate candlelight communion service at Grace Bible Church (Ellen's church).
3. Visiting Tennessee in mid June. This was to "test the water" re the move. Flying into Nashville's airport (i.d. letters BNA), and recognizing below me the stadium and lovely campus of our beloved Vanderbilt University (Ellen BA '76, me MA '88) led to unanticipated excitement. When Ellen, David & Allison picked me up at BNA, and we spent a couple of happy summer days together my resolve was sealed. Indeed I could hardly wait to make the permanent move back to Tennessee!
4. Labor Day with Ellen. When it looked like I'd be spending the holiday (1 Sep.) alone & doing less than nothing (job search halted due to holiday and no money for bus fare to elsewhere in the city), with no solicitation from yours truly she offered to drive to Nashville and spend it with me. We went shopping near Cool Springs Galleria (Brentwood area), ate at a nice Mexican restaurant in that area -- where the waiter actually made the guacamole at our table! --and cut a little rug in Nashville's famous Wildhorse Saloon. Very pleasant Labor Day date!
5. Lunch with daughter Sarah in Houston, Texas', Gallería. She works two retail jobs in that enormous and complex mall -- which should explain her absences from #2 & #3 above. But I'd chosen to drive the Penske moving truck from San Antonio to there on my way to Nashville, rather than a more direct route. Just to spend a little time with her prior to forsaking the Lone Star State.
6. Enjoying yesterday afternoon (30 Dec.) with Ellen, David & Allison. In this bitterly cold winter of Middle Tennessee, Tuesday the 30th was a rare pleasant AND sunny day. I met the trio at the Parthenon, and spent some time leisurely enjoying Centennial Park and its pond (close to the full-size replica of the Athenian temple). The pond was alive with geese and a few ducks. Then we toured the Upper Room Museum, Chapel and Bookstore. (For a description of the U.R. & the Chapel see my 15 Dec. posting.) Then we had supper at a Thai cafeteria in Waverly-Belmont, a very beautiful and mature neighborhood. The food was very tasty (this was my first essay into Thai cuisine), especially the crab rangoon!
7. "Behold the Lamb of God" concert at the Ryman (see post on 19 Dec).
8. Veterans Day (11 Nov.) Parade in Nashville. Closely connected with this is Operation Stand Down Nashville, where this Army vet found help in his need hour upon arrival here (actually a needy two months). So naturally I marched with the OSDN folks in the parade.
9. Vanderbilt University -- campus and football team. I made several visits to this lovely campus, beginning on Sat. 2 Aug. Just walking the familiar, woodsy campus will lift my spirits. And visiting with the fairly new chapter of my fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, was added joy. Now I didn't get to attend any Commodore football games, but I listened to or watched a few. In fact, it was while listening to the season opener at Miami (Ohio) that Ellen proposed the Labor Day date in #4 above. AND THEN just a couple hours ago I followed the final quarter of an exciting Music City Bowl 2008, as the 'Dores kicked a field goal to come from behind and then win 16-14 over Boston College!
10. Southwest Texas Emmaus 25th Anniversary Celebration (7-8 April), at Mt. Wesley Methodist camp in Kerrville.