Tuesday, March 20, 2018

He's Ba a a a ack!

I came home from work last Thursday before Spring Break. It was one of those glorious spring days when the birds were happy and singing like they were in competition with each other. I pulled my laptop from the back seat of my Nissan Frontier and walked to the front door of 333 West Monroe Avenue. I spotted it.

"It" was a manila envelope sitting on a piece of my wife's wicker furniture. I unlocked the door first and put the computer inside before retrieving the envelope. Since it was too small to be a bomb, I pulled back to flap and peered inside only to see a bunch of papers that I slowly slipped out for a look see. On top was a letter addressed to me.

Mr. Hodge,
 You don't no me and I am not going to introduce myself.I will tell you I was in law enforcement with more than one agency for over twenty fove years.  I red your riting about Ray. i dealt with him myself on numerous different times. I arrested him and talked to him at thhe jail I included his arrest record. And some notes. hope you find him.

Below the letter was a copy of his arrest records from the Greenwood Police Department, the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, the Winona Police Department, and the Montgomery Sheriff's Office. There was also some handwritten notes from a file that several Carroll County sheriffs kept on Ray.

I was flabbergasted. 

The picture at the cave had started all this up again in my mind. After living with his presence for a couple of decades followed by his sudden disappearance, I had struggled to come to terms with the fact that he was gone and gone for good. Then the picture at the cave had not only brought it all up again, but had created some tension in the family when my daughter didn't believe me and my wife and father-in-law claimed not to remember him. I had lain awake at night and thought and prayed and wondered. I struggled through the tangle of emotions and questions all over again and put it away once more never to think of it, of him, again. Now, like a bad dream it was back, he was back. Why can't I get away from Ray? Now I have to try to find him. I have to. But first, I must read the files and reports and see if there is anything there to learn, anything that can help me track him down.

Monday, March 19, 2018

3/12 - 3/18

I think I actually trained a little last week. I think. A little. I think a little. I walked a little bit and lifted some weights, if you can call it that. Actually, I did some rehab work on my shoulder and gained another two pounds. I have outgrown all my clothes, I can't breath when I bend over, and I am even so fat I can't eat much. But I can still gain weight. Go figure. At least I am trying. I am trying, that is, when I am no busy eating candy. I love me some candy, and if there were an eating contest involving Snickers or Reese's, I would be the world champion, hands down.

Monday I walked 1.03 miles and did a bitty bit of work at Plate City. A start is what I wrote in my training diary next to the paltry numbers I recorded there but refuse to share with you.

Tuesday I walked a whopping .27 and did a little more work at one of my favorite places on earth. I love the sunshine and fresh air of Plate City. The dogs love it when I am out there. They want to be petted and they run and play with toys and bark at stuff to impress me. I love being with them also.

Wednesday was a rest day.

Thursday I was back at the City and the numbers had grown just a tad. I walked 1.35 miles.

Friday started with the pastors' breakfast in Carrollton and ended with Penny and me going to Jackson.

Saturday was a glorious day because I went to Sears and picked up my wife's now lawn mower. It is a self-propelled 7.25 horsepower mower that makes me want to take the job back from her. It even has a key start. That is, you don't have to pull on that cord to crank it, you just hit a button and you are off to the races. So I piddled in the yard, mowing some and lifted in the sunshine and finally arrived spring weather. On the bench, I have dropped the straight bar and am working only with dumbbells. I am doing the Swim Pull, which will help me if I ever get back in the water. Also, I am doing lat pull downs and seated rows on the last machine I bought. On foot, I walked 2.03 miles

Sunday I preached at Centerville. Praise God.

For the week, I had three sessions at Plate City and walked 4.64 miles. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Idelieiesm and Hope

He wrote, "I'm not an idelieiest."

Well color me enlightened. 

I wrote back, "I'm not an idelieiest either. I'm a Baptist."

Boy, Facebook is taking my vocabulary to a whole new level. Or is it God? I never could figure what that "new level" that Joel Olsteen and some other preachers are always so sure God is about to take us to. Maybe this is it. Everyday I read words I never heard, I can't spell, and I have no idea what they mean. Meet my latest acquisition: idelieiest/idelieiesm. Isn't that a dandy? Boy howdy, am I at a new level yet?

One of my college profs once called me a language snob. That was one of the nicest things he or anyone else has ever said to me. I am now much older, but almost 62 years of life has not qualified me to be a snob in any other endeavor, so I cling to my snobbishness. Or is it my idelieiesm?

But I am assuming about one of these forms, and you know what they say about that? I am assuming idelieiesm is a real word related to idelieiest. Besides my assumption, however, what I can't figure out is why people don't get that something is wrong when their computer or iphone underlines in red the word they can't spell and really don't know if they are using right. 

But what I really want to talk about today is not idelieiesm but hope. Day two of comeback 71 is in the books and hope lives. Yes, hope is still alive, on life support but alive.

I did some more bench pressing. Or maybe I should say bar moving. I also added some dumbbell bench presses which allowed an even greater range of motion. After the dumbbells, I was able to lower the straight bar all the way to my chest. I got it to my chest Monday, but to do that I had to lower it much farther down towards my stomach to get it to touch. Yes, there was still some tightness and mild pain, but I was pushing the bar up and down in its normal bench press range. I will do some more today and hope that the feeling is in the shoulder improves.

Hope lives in another way. Monday, I remembered something I had been exposed to somehow, somewhere in the indefinite past. The Navy Seals do something called the combat side stroke. This method of swimming, from what I can tell, is fairly efficient and doesn't require the arms to exit the water. That is what I can't do right now. I can't lift my right arm for the recovery stroke. 

Cha ching!

Now I am thinking that maybe I can learn the combat side stroke and even do a little (and I do mean a little) swimming at Chicot this year. I still don't know the exact form the swim will take, but we are going to do something, Lord willing, on June 2. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Comeback 71

Monday, I spent a good bit of the day in the yard cleaning, fixing things, and doing some mild weight training. Yeah, I'm on the comeback trail again.

I know, I know. This is like the 71st or 83rd time I have attempted to revive my athletic life. Heck, forget athletic, how about a little health. I don't know what happens, but I have been failing and failing and failing. Not this time, I say to myself. Again.

After all, I know what this stuff is all about. Less than a year ago, on June 3rd to be exact, I waded into Lake Chicot and swam for 16 hours nonstop. Now I am fat, I huff when I walk, and I worry about sudden death.


I was encouraged last week when I was able to shave the back of my neck a little past mid-line with my right hand. That's improvement and I mean real improvement. It's also confusion. I've been stalling on making an appointment with the doctor I decided was my best option to fix my shoulder. Being able to shave my neck a half inch beyond the center of my spine gave me hope, hope that maybe it will get well enough that I can forgo all that pain, all the hassle, and all financial drain that comes with an operation to fix me. Maybe.

Not only can a shave my neck a little better, but I roofed an outbuilding Friday. It needed doing and I wanted it done before Saturday's rains started. I purchased the supplies and drove to the rear of 333 West Monroe. I picked up a roll of felt and tossed it with both hands over the fence. Then time stopped, the earth momentarily ceased spinning, and even the birds ceased singing. I marveled at what I had just done. I tossed a roll of tar paper over the fence with both arms in play and there was no pain. 


I spent the next five hours roofing, and figured I would suffer the next day. But I didn't. Definitely I have reached a new state of recovery. Monday, I started on the bench press. I did 

10 X 45
12 X 45
10 X 45

I know. Muscularly that is nothing. At this point it is more of a range of motion thing. Yes, I felt some tightness at the bottom and a touch of pain. It's those biceps tendons that have improved but after several shots, professional rehab, and eight months of healing time, they still give me trouble. Will they ever heal?

I also did some inner and outer rotations for the rotator cuff, some front raises with 1.25 pounds (yes, you read that right), and a few squats. In addition, I walked 1.03 miles. It ain't much but it is a start. 


Monday, March 12, 2018


The name has been changed to protect the:

   a) innocent
   b) guilty
   c) stupid
   d) inappropriate
   e) rebeillious
   f) all of the above

Actually, I don't know the correct answer, but I lean towards f. What I am about to write is no joke. Really, it's not. Last night on social media, I ran upon the profile of a man whose claimed to be ______ ______ Jr III. For discussions sake, I'll change the name to Jim Bob Smith Jr III. My question, which I posted on Facebook and received some responses to, was how is this possible? How can one be a Jr III? And isn't there supposed to be some punctuation in there somewhere? This has tossed a whole box of monkey wrenches into my brain, and I am not sure I can even do English anymore. I'm seriously confused, partly amused, and totally baffled. Help me out here. Please.

If I have the normal order correct, it would go something like this:

Jim Bob
Jim Bob, Jr.
Jim Bob, III

Now I'm lost. Where do we start putting Jr and numbers together? Maybe it went

Jr I

I can see a flaw in that one, however, and more likely it was


Or maybe there is a limit to the numbers and then you add the second digit and start over with Jr and the numbers. But when do you go double digit? Personally, I have never known anyone over III, but in my study of literature, I think I remember someone named Henry VIII. I remember no one named IX, or do I? Maybe there was a Pope or two who was a IX or even a X.

On Facebook, one of my wise and learned former professors, Dr. William Hays, suggested that Jr III is possible if he was his own father. What!?!?! I'll be honest, I can't figure that one out. Another responsive reader, Seth Wheatley III (who should know something about numbers and names), offered that "names don't have to make sense." He's certainly on to something there. I once had a student whose first name started with five straight consonants. I know, you don't believe it. Neither did I until I attempted to correct her. But that's another blog post altogether. 

To make a short story long, I give up on this one. If you can figure it out, please let me know. And if the real Jr III reads this, please don't be angry with me. I'm not making fun of your name. I'm just trying to wrap my head around how that one happened, and I did not have the nerve to ask you directly.

Good day sweet readers. May the Lord bless you richly while you investigate the mystery of Jr III. And pray for me. Pretty often I think that I'm just not smart enough to live in this world.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A House, a Box, a Handful of Tears

She motioned me towards what we always called Helen's room, and there she pointed at a large cardboard box on a bed. "You're in charge of taking care of that. There are more in the bottom cabinet in the den." She walked away just as I felt an emotional punch to the gut. Wow. That was unexpected. I thought I had moved past the gut punches. I was wrong. Again.

I took the box to the den and set it on the floor in front of the cabinet, and pulled out the rest of them. I knew I did not want them all and certainly could not keep them all. But the idea of "taking care of that" was an emotional rip. They represented my, our, daddy. They were symbols of who he was and how he was and of what he valued.

The whole house was that way for a couple of months after Mom passed, last October. I went by every day to pick up the newspapers, the mail, to check on things. I always walked through the house and I always cried. Then one day, there were no tears. Proud of myself, I thought, I have rounded a corner, I have healed, I have mourned out.

On a later day, I glanced at the doorway going into the den. The marks caught my attention. You know, those height marks: pencil dashes, dates, and names, that recorded the growth of our family. I saw myself measured and compared to dad: I saw my sisters, brother Quinton and his children. For every mark a dozen memories sprang up like spring flowers tearing themselves through the warming soil of March. The tears returned.

Over these past few months, the house has slowly emptied or is emptying. A bed here, a dresser there, a few pots and pans, dishes, books, what-nots, pictures, appliances. After not being inside for a couple of months, my wife broke down when we went in last week. She just lost it and cried on my shoulder.

The thing about cleaning your parents' house out is the stuff goes but the memories remain. Every entrance into 422 West Harding is a stroll through the past, a tour of an almost idyllic childhood, to more memories than can be encountered in a single hour, a single day and remain unmoved. I guess that's what made the box so difficult.

When Dad passed in November of 2013, I thought, all I want is a couple of his training diaries. My brother and I split those up and they now are among my most prized possessions. I knew about the contents of the box, but they never seemed to have any force on me until I was told I had to "take care" of them.

Dad was a runner. He was pretty good and his trophies number in the dozens. They filled the box and the floor in front of me. I don't want them, not all of them, but I will keep a few. The idea of tossing the whole collection, however, is more than I can bear. I can't. I just can't. 

So now they sit in a big box in the back of Mom's Blazer, later they will grace my study at 333 West Monroe. I will try my best to find homes for as many of them as I can. I'll ask my children, co-workers, and I might even post on Facebook:

                              Running trophies. Free to good home.

Eventually they will all be gone. That is when I know I am whole again. 

Wait. I've thought that before and was wrong. 

Several times. 

Maybe that's just how life is. We are always hurting and healing and adjusting to change. With God's help, it's not so bad. There can even be joy in those tears. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2018



buzzard on a 
tombstone, wings spread.
daffodils bloom