Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Farewell, Roadie

I lost my best friend today.

You can see his picture a few inches below my profile photo on the right hand side of my blog.

His name was Roadie.

He had four legs and a big heart.

Patsy, who brought Roadie into my life about eight years ago, called him unique.

I told her today, between sobs, that he was way, way more than that.

He was one in a billion; always up for a treat or snack; always at my side; never wondering why I was late or had on the wrong color clothing; never asking me where I had been; never demanding or even asking for attention.

Roadie was just a dog, but I could tell him anything (or not tell him a thing) and he still loved me.

Roadie stayed on this earth for 10 years. He was on medication (prednisone) for an incurable (but not contagious) skin ailment, for most of his life. It slowed him down considerably; but still he managed to waddle about. His tail never stopped wagging. Those big brown expressive eyes always connected with you.

When I was sick, hurting and weak as a kitten--when I had my chest opened up two years ago for open heart surgery--Roadie did not leave my side.

He knew (I KNEW HE KNEW) that I hurt.

About a week ago, Roadie's kidneys stopped working. The doctor put him on an IV, and he looked pitiful. Jackson, our other dog (a loveable bichon frese) nuzzled up to Roadie and kissed him, as Roadie lay in the back of the car with the IV needle in his front leg. Jackson sensed that his first real four-legged friend, Roadie, wasn't long for this world. Jackson kissed Roadie. (I SWEAR HE DID!) Then he stretched out beside Roadie and kept him company all the way home from the doctor's office.

So Roadie, this blog post is for you. Thanks for the warm memories. Thanks for boosting emotionally . . so many other people--all my students who got to know you, my friends, neighbors, family members, those patients in their wheelchairs in the nursing home that you comforted and made smile when I took you there with me, even strangers who happened upon you and instantly liked you. And thanks especially for brightening my life. Thanks for always being there when I needed a loyal, understanding (never questioning) companion. You were the best, Roadie.

If there is a dog heaven, Roadie, you are there.

I love you--always will. And, by the way, long as there's an Internet and long as I maintain this blog, your photo will grace it.

Farewell, Roadie.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Old guy hits small white ball on green golf course

Nothing like swinging a golf club to relieve tension.

Golf courses are also excellent refuges for computer strained and eye weary old guys who've had about as much of the digital world as they can stand.

You put that little white ball on tee, rare back, say a prayer and smack the you-know-what out of it.

Day before yesterday, 44 of us (young, old, good, bad, pretty, ugly, skinny, fat...) competed at Pinetuck Golf Course to help Winthrop raise money for its scholarship fund.

We had a blast.

(In the picture Saturday afternoon at Pinetuck, from left, are: Dan Rivera, Mark Nortz, yours truly, and Guy Reel.)

Who won?

Who cares?

We came, we swung, we cussed, we laughed and we celebrated being alive.

Go golf! (Best game in the world--also the hardest).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Welcome home, Simba

Hardly anything moves me more than a good dog story. One that appeared in yestersday's Rock Hill Herald, written by Andrew Dys, really touched my heart.

It's about Simba, a Siberian Husky puppy who disappeared 13 years ago. Recently Simba came home--to the same family in Richburg, S.C., that searched so frantically all those years ago, but to no avail.

Well, we at least we think it's the same dog. The family is almost certain it is.

Simba, where have you been all those years? Who had you? What have you been up to?

We'll probably never know.

For now, we all rejoice in the dog's homecoming.

Welcome back, Simba!

Here's the story. (Also, turn your sound up and enjoy the video link below):

After 13 years, Simba the dog returns to Richburg family
Richburg dog's return 'a miracle'
Andrew Dys - Columnist
Note: View video of Simba here.
RICHBURG — Terry and Blaine Horne had to go to a church meeting 13 years ago this summer on a beautiful hot evening.

"It was still daylight, and we could hear Simba out in the back, running and howling like Husky dogs howl," Terry said. "Huskies, they don't bark. It is more like a howl."
Simba was their beautiful, less than a year old, red-coated Siberian Husky with the ice-blue eyes.
Blaine paid $100 for Simba when the dog was just a pup.
That night, the Hornes left their Richburg home in rural Chester County and went to church.
They came home, and Simba, with a tag around his neck that identified him as having shots at a certain place, with an ID number, was gone.
"Vanished," said Blaine Horne.
Heartbroken, the Hornes looked all over for Simba. They checked with neighbors, to no avail. Days, weeks, they looked.
"Just gone," said Terry's son, Chip. "I had a husky once that was stolen, so we figured somebody grabbed him."
Blaine said his wife was inconsolable and never gave up hope.
"She kept thinking somebody would find him," Blaine said.
Terry said sometimes, late at night, she would think to herself, "Keep looking. Simba will turn up."
About a year ago, the Hornes got another dog, a little Shi-Tzu named Bebe. Every morning, Bebe had to go outside to do what dogs do outside.
About three weeks ago, on a Tuesday morning, Blaine let Bebe out on the way to work at his auto body shop behind his home. A few minutes later, Terry called Bebe to come in.
She looked outside, and there in the grass, rolling in the morning dew, was the skinniest, sorriest looking excuse for a dog that might have once been red anybody ever saw.
Terry's throat constricted.
"The dog was limping, and hungry and thirsty, so I gave it water and called Blaine to ask if I should feed it, and I asked him, 'Do you think it could be Simba?'" Terry recalled.
Blaine said he almost dropped the phone and came rushing out to see for himself.
This dog, clearly old, back leg limping, close to skin and bones and covered with fleas, walked right up on the deck and sat in its old spot.
"Just like Simba used to," Blaine said.
The dog then walked to the carport, circled a few times, and lay down.
"Just like Simba used to," Terry said.
"It made me think he was penned up all these years, somewhere, and just couldn't get home. Then he got loose, or somebody let him loose, and he just came home like nothing happened."
The Hornes took the dog to a veterinarian, who said it was possible that the dog was Simba. It was about the same age, but there was no identification.
The dog was given shots and wormed, and it came back to the Horne house.
The dog immediately took a shine to Sunni, the Horne's granddaughter, who lives next door.
The two have been inseparable ever since.
"I think it is Simba," said Sunni. "I play with him and pet on him. It is like he knows me."
Even though Sunni wasn't even born when Simba vanished 13 years ago.
Blaine Horne says it sure could be Simba, but Terry Horne says there is no doubt.
Their daughter, a fourth-grade teacher at Westminster Catawba Christian School in Rock Hill, polled her class. Each kid said it was Simba.
"A miracle," Terry Horne said. "Like the movies. 'Homeward Bound,' think it was. The dog comes home."
So now most afternoons Simba waits for Sunni to get home from school.
He sits in a dirt patch and on the deck and in the carport, just like the old days.
Then Simba follows Sunni everywhere she goes.
When it rains, Simba rolls in the grass like Simba did 13 years ago.
Is it the same dog that vanished 13 years ago?
"If you believe it, it is Simba," said 10-year-old Sunni. "I say so. I believe. This is Simba."
Andrew Dys 803-329-4065 adys@heraldonline.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pomp and circumstance at Winthrop University

It's May and that means graduation.

And for me, that means dusting off the old cap and gown for another round of marching, listening, applause and hugging.

Such is the rhythm of life for a professor.

Congrats. and good luck to all our graduates.

(Thanks to my friend, Judy Longshaw, for snapping this picture of the old grinning blogster all decked out in graduation regalia at the commencement ceremony a few days ago. Thank you, Judy, for making me smile for the photo.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom's Day

It's Mother's Day and what better way to celebrate than giving your mom a hug? So mom, if you're reading this, you're the best mother in the world. I love you!

Here's an old B.J. Thomas song that helps capture what I feel about my mom.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Billy Graham's prayer

How can a person (me) blog about just about everything under the sun, without writing a few words about the Almighty God that put me here in the first place?

In that spirit, and thanks to good long-time friend Zeta Sistare who shared it with me, here's a penetrating, moving, timely prayer from the Rev. Billy Graham:

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

"We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

"We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Green paradise in Charlotte, N.C.

One of my favorite weeks of the year occurs at the end of April and start of May.

Not only because another academic year is just about over.

But a very special PGA golf tournament takes place at the Quail Hollow Club in southeast Charlotte, N.C.--about 25 miles from where I live and work in Rock Hill, S.C.

It's the Quail Hollow Championship.

Last week marked the third year I've volunteered at Quail Hollow as an "Ambassador."

No pay but I get to breathe the same air as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples... I get within a few feet of them. (And that free Dasani bottled water is pretty good.)

Twenty-year-old Rory McIlroy won the QHC this year, pocketing $1,152,000. (That's rich Rory in the photos accompanying this blog post. Who wouldn't be exulting in happiness?!) Four strokes behind in second place was Phil Mickelson; Angel Cabrera took third.

The beleaguered Tiger Woods, who won at Quail Hollow two years ago, did not make the cut, so we did not see him play in the Saturday and Sunday championship rounds.

But fear not: Tiger will be back--with his magic. He will win again here.

Some trivia about the course at Quail Hollow:

•7,422 yards long

•Ranked 19 (out of 51) in difficulty on the PGA Tour in 2009

•52 sand bunkers

•3 water hazards

•4 par 5's

•10 par 4's

•4 par 3's

•Longest hole (591 yards) is number 10

•Shortest hole (178 yards) is number 2

•Most difficult hole (my opinion) is the 217-yard par 3 #17

Something happens to me, bury me at beautiful Quail Hollow--near the pitching range. I like that silky white smoothe sand in the bunkers. Maybe plant me there, and when the pros gently brush the bunkers with their sand wedges, I'll smile as I'm sleeping.

What a peaceful, beautiful, borderline spiritual place.

You like lush, thick, perfect green grass? Come to Quail Hollow.

You want to see the best in the world compete at the world's most challenging sport? Come to Quail Hollow.

Consicousness happens (and even peaks) at Quail Hollow.

A person really feels alive there.

Onward and upward to the 2011 Quail Hollow Championship.