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I Thought I Was in Charge
Everyone has a mental image of themselves. I know full well that I am not the toughest man in Clark County. We have more heroes among us, men who have served our country, some who run into burning houses and others that pull us from burning cars.
The image I have of myself is that on the worst day of the year, I will want to go duck hunting. I enjoy testing myself and some of the days that seem the worst to everyone else, God does his best work on.
This will not be your typical outdoors story but, if you care anything about me, please read it until the end. If after reading you have a problem, please give me a call and we will discuss it. But thinking I’m tough and hunting in foul weather means absolutely nothing to COVID.
I don’t care if your tattoos have tattoos, COVID will laugh at you. I don’t care if your have a habit of wearing jockey shorts on New Year’s Eve on your Harley riding around the square, COVID will laugh at you.
Last week I felt a little like Job on a cell phone. It seemed every time the phone rang another family member had COVID and when the smoke cleared everyone got better and I got worse. So bad I had to spend two days and one night at Great River Medical Center in Burlington. They will be the first group I mention in this story, but I need to set the story for you.
My father was a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. He was dying of colon cancer and because I was unemployed I got to spend a lot of time with him in his room. The man who shared the room with him was about the same age as my Dad. The man was going through a difficult time and one morning he had thrown his urine bottle and IV bottle across the room. When the nurse came in to clean up the mess, he cussed her out.
Now remember my Dad was dying of colon cancer and when the nurse left the room, Dad said to the man you look about my age and the man replied yes I was in the Army. My Dad replied then you must know how to take orders. In this hospital you are not in charge, that nurse you intimidated and had no respect for is in charge. You need to remember that. She could be having a good day or a bad day, but for some reason she chose to be a nurse and take care of us and we need to respect that. Dad said this is how I go through life and I have been in the hospital a lot. Before this day is over, I will make every nurse I come into contact with smile and try to find out more about them than they know about me.
Dad would be proud to know that after my short stay in the hospital all the nurses said goodbye to me and some even hugged me. A nurse of nine years even told me I was the best patient she had ever had. They said this because I listened to them.
Folks, I am here to tell you that the nursing staff in all the hospitals, doctor’s offices and health departments are scared of COVID and doing their utmost to serve us because they care for their communities and they care for us and deserve at least as much respect as the carryout boys at the grocery store. So remember them tonight when you are saying your prayers and I hope you are saying a prayer.
Now, let me get another group out of the way. It is no secret whatsoever that I have not gotten along with the (Clark County R-1) school administration, but at this moment I would rather be locked in the trunk of a Buick with a rectal thermometer taking the temperature of a dozen bobcats than have Dr. Kracht’s job – because everyone in the community, including the guy that fixes flats at the gas station, has a better idea on how to run the school district than they do. I know that Dr. Kracht and the school board have our teachers and students foremost on their thoughts. While we might disagree with them, we do not have all the information they have about mandates, rulings and proposals they have to follow. So keep this group in your prayers tonight.
The final group is my favorite for several reasons and that is our teachers. I also need to give you a background story to start. When I was in the fourth grade, I absolutely hated school. Now folks, no matter how much I hated school I would have graduated, but Martha Eagon took me to the side and said let the other kids go into the bookmobile first. She took me to the back of the bookmobile and pulled out about three Jack London books. The first was called “To Build a Fire.” I still have a copy of that book.
Now, Martha Eagon would have gotten paid the same whether I read Jack London or not, but the difference is Martha Eagon cared that I would become a reader.
If you want to have a good school year, then teach along with my daughter in the third grade. Not only have you chosen to be a teacher, you are teaching with my daughter who I dearly I love and was raised to be headstrong, independent, and to not like stupid. I know she depends on her fellow teachers a great deal, but if you teach with Amanda I am going to take care of you, this will include snacks, pop, and candy off and on throughout the year. Some of you I don’t even know who you are. Some of you like Crazy Alyce, I think of as my second daughter.
Teaching has changed. If it was up to me, I would have a different career ladder. I would follow behind teachers without their knowing and count the hugs they get before they enter the classroom. I could care less how many tickets they took at the ball game or how much they serve at the lunch counter at ball games and would reward those that love and care. I am not Dr. Spock or Dr. Zeus. Right now I am writing a story at nine o’clock at night and I know there are teachers staying up worrying about their students, parents, and grandparents, plus also worrying about their own families. It is a heavy burden to carry.
Parenting has changed as well, and I am not an expert on it. If you want to disagree, fine, but for many of our students the first kind word of the day they hear comes from the person you think is overpaid, but loves your student with all their heart regardless of income, class rating, or whether they can throw a ball.
Folks, I have a yellow lab named Bailey. She is not the best dog or the worst dog, but the things she knows I taught her. If I live the rest of my life with her I could not force her to love me; I had to earn it. Our teachers spend every teaching day of the school year trying to earn their students love and respect. That is the difference and that should be recognized. Every night, whether you know your student’s teacher or not, pray for them because they are afraid of COVID, they are afraid for their families, parents, grandparents, their students and their student’s families getting COVID and what that would mean. I am not preaching about anything, but there are people staying up around the clock worrying about us, praying for us and serving us. We are BLESSED to have them in our community.
My final statement is coming from a 66-year-old man who has gone through COVID. This Thanksgiving, give thanks and mean it. Also when this stuff is gone and behind us or as soon you can, give back to your church because there are men and women praying for you right now in our churches. They will gladly share with you who is actually in charge. I know some of you will scoff, and I understand that it is your choice to drive 80 miles an hour through town without a seat belt, but I don’t have to ride with you. Fortunately I know two things that you can take to the bank: No. 1 is we are all just passing through, and No. 2 is I know who wins in the end. If you want a No. 3, I will toss this in: my book also tells me how we should treat our fellow man and thank God we live in a community that has medical services and school teachers (just to name a few) who go beyond what you could pay them to do because they love us.
When I get out of quarantine, feel free to hit me over the head with a wet noodle.