Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Halfway Through Life
I could have been born anywhere in the world. But on December 26th, 1972, I was born in Sanford, NC. I could have had parents that didn’t care about me, but instead I was born to Christian parents that loved me unconditionally since I entered this world. I was fortunate to have all 4 grandparents alive during my childhood. Papa Cameron passed away when I was in the 8th grade and Papa Brafford passed away in 2002. I also had 3 great grand-parents that lived until I was in college. I had aunts, uncles and friends all around me for support at all times. I could have been born anywhere in the world that day, but I was born into a nurturing environment where I always knew I was loved. In 1972, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year at 1020, the average house cost $27,500, a gallon of gas was .55, and a person made about $12,000 per year! Things have certainly changed in 40 years.
Maria’s Aunt Ellen passed away November 24th of this year. She was 97 years old! What a long life to live and a good one she did at that. I thought about many of the things she saw in her life and it’s incredible to think about. But I have also seen a lot in my life. Many people around me often say that I have one of the strangest memories of anyone they know. I will ride to Wal Mart to pick up 5 things and forget 3 of them. But I can remember finite details from my life like they happened yesterday. I can remember where Mama’s room was in the Lee County hospital when Travis was born in 1977. I can remember being in the hospital in Chapel Hill when I was 3 years old. I can remember conversations I had with Deddy that I am sure he long forgot. I can remember before I even started school, Mema Cameron sitting at the kitchen table with me while I ate Corn Flakes and holding up pictures of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy, Columbus, Eli Whitney, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington etc. and asking me who they were and what they did? By the time I started kindergarten, I knew who each historical figure was and why they were important to U.S. History. As a child, every time I was really sick, Mema and Papa Brafford would come see me and Papa would bring me an orange.
Although Mama and Deddy were broke in 1982, we were one of the first kids to get an Atari! Its odd to think that it was mid 80’s before we started to get computers in schools and they were all Apple! There is a LOT more technology in one cell phone than those computers ever had.
I’ve seen a lot of people pass away in 40 years. It’s hard for me to believe how many classmates have already passed away. I can remember Deddy’s 40th birthday party like it was yesterday. If you would have told me then that when I turned 40, he would have been passed away 12 years, I would have thought you were insane.
I’ve also accomplished a few things in 40 years. It was an honor to be elected Student Body President my senior year of high school. Looking back, the person that would have been more impressed by scholastic accomplishments than anyone would have been Papa Cameron. He always wanted Travis, Marshall, Kevin, and myself to get as much education as we could and be involved with school. I thoroughly enjoyed playing baseball and basketball growing up. Some of my fondest memories are from baseball teams during the summers from Tee Ball through High School. I was fortunate to be a member of the Triangle 3A Champions varsity baseball team. Some of the best times I ever had were playing with all of those guys. Even though I was really awesome and nobody was as good as me.
Just getting into Carolina was a life long dream of mine and I loved every second I was there. The first couple of weeks I was there, I earned the nickname “K-Rob” and to this day, I still get phone calls and emails from friends that barely know my real name. Ironically, I could not have been there at a better time for Tarheel Athletics. The football team had a really good team and we won several bowl games. The basketball team was outstanding and to be at Carolina when they won the 1993 National Championship was euphoria! To be honest, many schools in the ACC had great teams and it was often like watching an All Star game in the Dean Dome. Although I have never been a big soccer fan, the women’s soccer team at Carolina was unbelievable while I was there. In the four years, they lost ONE game and won the National Championship every year. Mia Hamm led the team and she is arguably the best women’s soccer player ever. I was appointed to Chairman of the Ticket Distribution Committee with the The Carolina Athletic Association my senior year. So, I was in charge of getting the tickets from the athletic department and getting them to the students. In return, I had great seats to every single game. The day I graduated from Carolina was honestly one of the greatest days of my life. Almost everyone in my family was there. Maria’s entire family was there. We had a BIG crowd to come watch us graduate!
We’ve all experienced challenges in the last 40 years. The economy has had its highs and lows. We’ve gone from a country that was proud of the things we produced to a country that has a large portion of our goods manufactured in other countries. We’ve seen political offices go from positions of duty to represent the people, to career positions that often represent their party or themselves. There have been multiple tragedies over the last 40 years; numerous devastating hurricanes, deadly tornados, earthquakes, and a tragic tsunami in 2004. School children all across America were watching the Space Shuttle Challenger take off on January 18th, 1986 because it was accompanied by Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from New Hampshire. Seconds after take-off, the Challenger exploded and the nation watched in horror as the entire crew was killed. September 11, 2011 will go down in history as one of the most significant tragedies of our lifetime. We were both devastated by the act of terror and united as “one nation under God” more than we had been in many years. Tragedies are always difficult to overcome, but they often make us stronger as time moves on.
I certainly have some regrets in life. I regret that I have not accomplished more at this point in my life. I regret that I did not get additional education beyond my four year degree. My biggest regret has been the loss of certain friendships over the course of life for different reasons. Life carries all of us in different directions; people move, graduate, have children, develop different interest, grow apart or simply circumstances change. Whatever the reason, it’s sad to think about certain people that I am not as good of friends with anymore. I regret that I never learned how to play an instrument. However, that is certainly a regret that I may be able work on in the years to come.
But I tell you what, I have a lot to be grateful for and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that. I ask God for a lot in prayer, probably more than I should. But what I hope is that the second half of my life gives me an opportunity to do good things for others as they have been done for me. I hope that I am a good husband, although I will never be as neat as Maria would like me to be. I hope that I am a good Uncle not only to all of my nieces and nephews, but to everyone’s children, just like Uncle Boyd. I hope I will always be a good son to my mother, a good brother to Travis, a good grandson, a good nephew, and a good son-in-law. I hope that my Deddy knows that I have worked as hard as I could to look after my family. If I could pick one thing to do with the rest of my life, it would be to help as many people as I can around me and in my community. I would like to write a book. My life has been filled with so many stories, I think I can make that happen with some time and effort. We live in a world where money, power, and influence are the most important things to almost everyone. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m saying its just the way it is. But I learned a valuable lesson when Deddy died. He accomplished a lot in life in my opinion. He started out as a brick mason and when he passed away he was an entrepreneur. He built numerous houses and several small neighborhoods over the years, acquired a number of rental properties, and had really begun to diversify his business. However, when he died, the last thing anyone mentioned was his business accomplishments. All anyone cared about was how good of a person he was. I think at the end of one’s life, that is all that matters. I hope and pray that during the rest of my own life, I will be able to make it matter.