Posts Tagged family
February 17th, 2011, one month ago, marked the 10th anniversary of the death of my grandfather Donald George Mills. To this today, his satirical wit and dashing personality are missed by all. He was a man who left an indelible mark on my heart and in the lives of so many. My brother, Jeremy Mills, recently collected up many of the photos that my grandfather had taken and saved from World War II. Up until now, they were known only to family members and treasured deeply. Jeremy has opened the vault and is sharing with the world the secrets that have been buried in a grave longer than his own death. Please take time to view the photos and let them sink in so you can capture the essence of the time and the reality of the events. Jeremy has purposely removed those photos that exhibit a graphic nature, but believe me when I tell you that even as a grown man I am slightly sickened by those images. The second link will take you to the follow-up blog post that Jeremy wrote regarding my grandfather and his life. Allow it to move you.
As I make my way through the generational gaps, pillaging the years away, I find more and more that I have “consistent mannerisms”. Meaning, I fall into a rut and my fat ole butt is used to doing certain things. One particular such case is that I will purposely wake up in the morning at 5am, just so I can be alone. That doesn’t sound logical when I say it out loud. The point is, I enjoy the serenity of sitting at my desk while the sun is barely peeking over the old industrial train track bridge along Hwy 370. I sip on my coffee, cross my legs (like old men do), and use one hand to navigate my way through the morning interwebz.
I steered off course here. The point is, this morning, during my “old man time”, I was playing around with my screen saver options on the MacBook Pro. There is a default randomizer for your iPhoto pictures so I chose it and hit test. Since I have an external monitor that I display on as a secondary window, the randomizer chose 2 different pictures and alternated fading in and out. As I watched the pictures slowly scroll across my pixels, I began to get emotional. So many different images of just amazing events in my life from the last year or so. I saw one of Dylen’s surgery. I saw one of me and Don Head. I saw one from our summer road trip and I saw one of me and an ex-girlfriend. Very random moments. And I thought to myself, amidst all the stress of work and day to day life issues, I’m pretty lucky. I have much to be grateful for and the reality of it is…even when I think I have nothing, I really have it all.
Here’s a few random moments that I enjoyed this morning.
The year was 1978. The Vietnam era was still wrapping up, Elvis fans were still mourning and I, at the tender age of 2 was about to be uprooted from the rural suburbs of Detroit. My dad decided to enlist in the US Navy even against the advice of his loved ones. Turns out, it very well could have been one of the best
decisions he ever made.
Over the course of my childhood, through circumstances dictated by the government or in some cases, family health, I made 8 different cities my home. I never had problems finding friends; leaving them each time proved to be a difficult task however. I was in many different elementary and middle schools but somehow I was fortunate enough to spend all four years in one high school. My brother was not so lucky and ended up in 3 different high schools spread out between Wisconsin, California, and Mississippi. This geographical game of life seemed to be perilous at times. Looking back though I see that it was merely another brick in the culmination of my constructive personality. I experienced different cultures, traditions and education, all in one country but vastly different. When I was in the 5th grade, square dancing was a requirement in the curriculum. Trust me, I couldn’t make that up. I lived through the great Hurricane Hugo of 1989. I spent summers on 8 Mile – yes, *that* 8 Mile. I’ve traded clothing with Russians – yes, in Russia. I’ve driven close to 200mph on multiple drag strips around the country. I made my first television commercial by the time I was 7. I’ve fired a 5″ 54cal Mark 45 gun off the fantail of the USS David R Ray in the middle of the Pacific and have the 3 foot long shell casing to prove it. I’ve had more surgeries from the neck up, than most people have visited a doctor at all.
Here we are in 2011, and I’m living in the Gateway to the West with 2 of the most beautiful and wonderful kids that God has put on this earth. January 11th will mark the 8th anniversary of my residence in this state. You may not give much acknowledgement to that, however for me, it is a great accomplishment. I am now proud to call Missouri my home state because it is officially the longest I’ve lived anywhere for a single period in my life. That may not hold true forever, but for now I’m going to embrace it. My life is wonderful. I have family that loves me. I have a humble home to call my own. I have a career that is growing and challenges me daily; I work with brilliant minds. My friends are of a flavor no man has ever known – they constantly amaze me with their zest, their compassion and their call to honor.
Maybe you live in Missouri; maybe you’ve lived here your entire life and see things differently. I encourage you to put on new glasses and view your home as not just the place where you squat at night, but your origin of sanctification. I encourage you to find that spirit of happiness that maybe you’ve lost because things have just been “the same” too long. Many of us spend our lives looking for that magical person or adventurous spot that will justify our very existence and fortify our quest, but often times, the very thing we’re looking for is the very thing we’re running from. Love yourself.
Double Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper was still stewing in my already disruptive digestive system, when Gwenny started bouncing around like a jumping bean. The girls were both playing in Rhyen’s room, on the other side of the house and I could hear them ok. I was sitting at my desk in my bedroom, checking things (you know, Facebook, Twitter, my mail order bride status) and Gwenny just would not stop acting like a goof ball. For sanity sake, I yelled out, “Rhyen…you guys doing ok?” ”Yeah, we’re fine” was the response I got back.
I went back to my computer and just ignored the dog. But she just kept getting more and more annoying. She started to prance back and forth from the bathroom in my bedroom. The door was slightly closed…and the lights were out. At this point, all I could think was that there was someone either trying to crawl in through the tiny bathroom window or….they were already in.
I did what any red-blooded American would do. I reached for my gun, pulled the slide back and yelled, “If you’re in there, I’d suggest you use your legs to walk out, while they still work.” ….. nothing …… silence ……
I barged in to find not even an open window…fortunately. At this point, Gwenny is still going nuts and starts to make her way toward the front door now. ”Maybe she scared the intruder off and they ran out front?” I turned the lights on outside, yelled to Rhyen one more time to make sure she was ok, and then opened the door. As I stood there, silently, alone, it wafted over me like the smell of cheap perfume. I knew that smell…THAT WAS SMOKE!
I ran back into the house, and there on the ceramic top stove was the dinner pan, burning and smoking the left over cuisine. I had forgotten to turn the burner off. All this time, Gwenny was trying to warn me of the soon-to-be fire. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy…all I could do was bend over and kiss her! Of course I turned the burner off and took the pan off the stove as well.
The girls came running out, “What’s wrong Da……WHOA, WHAT HAPPENED!!” The door to Rhyen’s room was closed…they didn’t smell a thing. Once they figured out what Gwenny had done, they too began showering her with love. As I looked into those big brown eyes of hers, my blue eyes started to well up a little bit. I think she knew…in fact, I know she knew…exactly what she was doing. Thank you Gwenny. We love you.