I never dreamed that the day would actually come when someone asked me, “What do you do for a living?” and I could answer, “Travel the world.”
How good is God? I mean really. I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination, y’all. Three years ago, as July was turning to August, I was about to undergo surgery for prostate cancer. I dreaded the surgery because it would cause me a few months of discomfort and limited capacity for doing things I really liked to do.
The doctor predicted I would miss a month’s worth of football games. What did you think I meant?
Oh, that. Well, yeah. That was a concern, too. In fact, my surgeon, the renowned Mr. Davinci, himself, Scott Miller, told me, in front of my lovely wife, Lisa, that after the surgery I would not be able to perform sexually for about eight months.
I said, “I don’t perform, now. We do all that in private.”
He said, “No, I mean you won’t be able to “have” sex for eight months.
Lisa said, “We’ll pay double if you make it 20.”
Little did I know that the surgery would not leave me laughing. You may know the story, or you may not. The surgery didn’t work, nor did the radiation that followed. My cancer had metastasized into my bones and my future looked grim — and short.
That was then. This is now. In the three years that have transpired since that surgery I have experienced the depths of despair and been lifted out of those depths by more expressions of love and prayer and human kindness than any man should expect to receive in a dozen lifetimes.
During that time I have experienced miraculous healing and learned that there is a place in Houston, Texas — M.D. Anderson — that is a haven of hope for those who have given up hope. I have been able to finish my teaching career on my own terms and have been given the opportunity to answer God’s calling on my life — albeit, belatedly, and get to preach the Gospel to souls thirsty for His word on a regular basis.
I have seen one child get married and two others graduate from college and am about to become a grandfather at any moment. I saw one of my books at the top of Amazon’s best seller list one day. Do you begin to see a pattern here? Like I said, God has been so good to me and I am able to do so little in return.
And I have been able to realize a long time dream and have started my own tour business. The latest totals — 14 months, 23 states, 11 foreign countries and come home with all 600 people I have left with. I did leave Dottie Covington at Radio City Music Hall, but that’s another story for another day. I think she has forgiven me.
Even as you are reading this, I am shepherding 55 of my closest friends around Cooperstown, N.Y. The occasion is the induction of several Atlanta Braves heroes into the Hall of Fame.
And I am telling you all of this to simply say, thank you. Thank you to God. Thank you to all of the friends — those I have met and those I have not met — who have loved me and prayed me through these past three years. Thank you to my family for keeping the faith.
And today, I want to offer a special word of thanks to the readers of the Citizen newspapers, which is why I decided to count my blessings in this public forum. Today the paper is reporting that you, our readers, have honored me with the Reader’s Choice Award, and, to me, that is a very big deal and one that I don’t take lightly. I appreciate every single person who reads my column — those who like them and those who disagree with every word I write, because without our readers, we would not have a paper and I would not have a column — and a forum for expressing my opinions and for trying to make people laugh and for trying to rekindle memories of a simpler time — several times a week.
I would also like to publically thank Alice Queen for giving me this opportunity to begin with and for opening so many doors for me — doors that I never, in my wildest dreams, ever imagined walking through.
It has been a good run. I hope we can keep doing it for a long time. Thanks again, y’all, for everything. My cup runneth over.