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By In Family

Hamilton

I was going to do one of those year in review things where I wrote about all the good things of 2016. And then I remembered: I already wrote that …

* * *

”How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”

— The opening words of “Alexander Hamilton.”

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By In Family

Crohn’s Disease

Well, I made it to Rio. I would say the city is approximately 63% ready for the Olympics, but that’s an early estimate. And they do have four more days.

I think I mentioned in the last post that I was working on one of the most emotional stories of my life as a writer. It is up now at NBC Olympics. I don’t think there’s much to say about it except that it is about an Olympic swimmer named Kathleen Baker, her battle with Crohn’s Disease, and the effect it has had on my family’s life.

Here it is linked one more time.

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By In Family, Music

Drive

A few years ago, I asked friends to send me a list of the greatest country songs ever recorded. Country music constituted a huge void in my musical library — and really it was embarrassing. I should know SOMETHING about it. The only country songs I can remember hearing as a young man were:

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By In Family

Writing with Katie

Todd, an editor over at the excellent “Our State” magazine is tricky. He is always trying to get me to write stuff for them. I have told him repeatedly that while I’m flattered, and I love the magazine, I really don’t have time to do any more writing. And he always answers by saying something like, “OK, sure, but if it’s all right, I’ll send you an idea now and again.”

And I always say, “Yes, that’s fine, but really, I don’t have time. Really.”

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By In Family, Golf

The Happiest Place on Earth

My wife Margo has taken to calling Augusta National “the happiest place on earth,” which is strange because Margo neither plays golf nor particularly likes it. One of the quickest ways in my house to get a few minutes of peace is to tell Margo and our two daughters, “Yep, I think I’m going to go upstairs and watch some golf.” Nobody will bother me for fear of accidentally seeing a few seconds of golf on television and promptly dying of boredom. Even the dog leaves me alone.

Still, Margo has grown to love the Masters. This happened last year. It was a big surprise.

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By In Family

Dear Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

The last thing you want at this point in your life is Dad advice. I didn’t want any when I was 14 either. So … don’t think of this advice. Think of this as a story about a kid I met. Well, Jarryd Wallace is 25. He’s a kid to me.

Don’t worry. This is not a sports story. I know you’re sick of Dad’s sports stories.

Jarryd was a high school track star in Georgia. Yeah, I know, it’s hard to for you to believe that anyone could like running. But he did. He loved running, all his life, and he was good at it. He was unlike you or me: He was the one always picked FIRST in sports. He won a couple of state track championships. There were colleges looking at him for scholarships, but he was set to go to Georgia, where his Dad is the women’s tennis coach.
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By In Family

RIP Ken Burger

Kenny died Tuesday night around 9:15 p.m. in Charleston.

I’m so lucky to have known him, and luckier still to have seen him one last time.

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By In Family

A Drive to Charleston

Something really weird happened on my drive to Charleston to see a dying friend. My shuffled playlist began playing Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.” Well, no, that’s not exactly the weird part — I mean, how weird could it be to hear a song on your playlist? Hearing it was pure chance. I just haven’t heard it much lately.

Ken Burger is dying. These four words stump me. You know that Woody Allen joke about how he doesn’t want to achieve immortality through his work, he wants to achieve it by not dying. I always connected that joke to Kenny. He was the one person I knew who might really beat death. Heck, he beat everything else. Alcoholism. Smoking. Bankruptcy. Various personal abysses. For a long time he was beating the hell out of cancer too.

And then, he wasn’t. Cancer doesn’t fight fair. (more…)

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By In Family

An Evening Drive

She’s 14 now, a turbulent age. Everyone had warned us. There will be times when she’s still your little girl, they said. And there will be other times when she lashes out with such fury, you will wonder where everything had gone wrong. Everyone warned us, and we believed them. We had planning sessions about the future, talks about patience and openness and firmness when needed.

We were ready.

We weren’t ready.

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By In Family

One Note

We were not an “I love you family” when I was growing up. We knew families that were, of course, knew of parents who punctuated every phone conversation with “I love you,” knew of children who could not go out to play without first shouting “Bye! I love you!” into an empty hallway on the assumption it would float toward a family member’s ears. We certainly found such affection lovely. We just didn’t do it.

I’m not sure I can explain the reason we did not verbalize; love was certainly at the core of my childhood. It was everywhere. I guess that cuts close to the heart of why we didn’t talk about it — there is something decidedly practical about my parents. I think saying “I love you,” was viewed as overkill, not unlike saying “Don’t forget to breathe at school today,” or “be sure to put one foot in front of the other when you walk.” Or maybe, more than a concern about overkill, it was a stubborn refusal to be obvious. Love was to be seen in every hard-earned compliment, in every fair punishment, in every one of those thousand movies my mother took me to see, in the very act of my father getting up before dawn to go to the factory and in every game of catch he found the energy to play in the afternoon.

I think the message, if there was a message, was that recognizing love was as important as expressing it.
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