"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Gum Man

Fletcher "Dit" Wright was an unassuming, humble gentleman. Small in stature, his face was constantly plastered with a smile. He loved the Lord, loved serving in the community, owned his own successful business, and was the quintessential family man.

And he was also the biggest celebrity within the walls of the Altamesa Church of Christ in Fort Worth. While the grown ups called him "Dit," all of us kids simply referred to him as "The Gum Man."

Every Sunday morning when worship was over kids would flock in droves to see the Gum Man with arms outstretched ready to shake his hand. Because each child knew that when they shook hands the correct way, they got a prize. Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Fruit Stripe -- you name it, the Gum Man had it...and he always had plenty. I don't know that he ever calculated how much gum he distributed, but I'm sure the numbers would be staggering. He was always one of the last folks to leave the building because he wanted to be sure every child had a chance to shake his hand. The kids loved. Not just because he gave us gum...but because you could tell he loved us, too.

His love for people spilled over into the 'grown up' world as well. My grandfather and he spent countless hours serving in quiet ways around the church building - fixing the church vans (which, for some reason, were ALWAYS breaking down), working a variety of benevolent opportunities, and doing countless other things to fulfill the mission of Christ. He served as a deacon for as long as I could remember, and you could always rely on him being an integral part of anything going on at the building.

It was later in life that I learned that this quiet little man with the happy countenance was also a decorated war hero. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was captured by the Japanese during the Battle of the Philippines, was a Prisoner Of War for almost four years, and a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He earned the coveted Bronze Star.

For all that he experienced in that time overseas, it would have been easy to be a cruel, angry, distant human being. But instead...he became The Gum Man.

So I hope at the funeral today someone places a stick of Big Red on his casket from me...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aristotle, He Isn't...

…but our middle son, Noah, is becoming renowned around our home for saying things that make you scratch your head.

Take this past week, for example.

It’s a sports-intensive time in the Campbell household. Elijah is playing basketball, baseball and soccer…while Noah is pulling double-duty of playing soccer and baseball. You can tell Noah LOVES baseball, because every spare moment he is striking another major league-emulated batting stance. So I am constantly asked, “Daddy, who’s the guy on the White Sox that bats like this…” and he strikes a Paul Konerko or Ken Griffey, Jr. pose. Now understand…it is IMPERATIVE that I answer him. Otherwise, I will spend the next 45 minutes detailing the batting stance of every player he ISN’T imitating in an effort to conclude our conversation.
Among the drives to practices, games, practices, games, and practices, both Elijah and Jacob managed to acquire a stomach virus of some sort (it’s always great when you walk in the front door and have your children run into your arms and hug you…and then promptly yack chocolate ice cream down your back!).

Elijah got attacked by this little bug most viciously…with both ‘ends’ participating in the festivities. Upon walking in the door on Friday, I asked Noah about his day at school. After he told me about his day in P.E. (I think that’s the only subject Noah is enjoying), he told me that Elijah didn’t go to school.

“Yeah, I heard Elijah had to stay home. What happened,” I asked?

“Oh, he was sick. He had DIABETES,” was his reply.

“Diabetes?!?!?” I tried not to laugh too loudly so as not to hurt my future doctor’s feelings.

“Don’t you mean…” Oh…never mind…

Later that evening we headed out for Noah’s baseball game. As Noah and I were warming up, one of his teammates came over to play catch with us. Noah is still in the mode of getting to know all of his teammates, and he didn’t know Nicholas’ name. When I said, “Hi, Nicholas,” Noah interjected, “Nicholas…that’s a weird name!”

Nicholas’ feelings were hurt…and he stuck his tongue out at Noah. I quickly took Noah aside and told him he can’t say things like that.

“Just because you have never heard that name before doesn’t mean it’s weird,” I explained. In an effort to make peace, Noah went over to Nicholas and said, “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean ‘weird.’ I meant that your name is FASCINATING.”


Later that same evening, Elijah’s latest baseball game revealed that he has a teammate with an over-the-top dad. A WAY over-the-top-dad. With all due respect to either of you who are vertically challenged, Cory’s dad is a bit on the Zacchaeus side…and I think that translates a bit into his constant berating and scolding of his 7-year old. Well…it made Robin and I both extremely uncomfortable…as it did Elijah.

“Cory’s dad isn’t very nice to him,” Elijah commented on the way home from his game.
“No, he’s not is he,” was Robin’s reply. And so Robin and Elijah began an in-depth discourse on the integrity of the game, the responsibility of the coach-player-parent relationship, the importance of doing one’s best, etc. Not to be left out of the conversation, Noah interrupted with this jewel: “Not everyone has a red tongue!”

Well…you can’t just let that pearl of wisdom go! So Robin asked, “Really? Who doesn’t have a red tongue?”

“Nicholas, my fascinating friend. His tongue is kinda brown.”

After getting the wheels back on, we finished discussing Elijah’s teammate situation…but anxiously anticipated another commentary from Noah.