Many of my friends have heard the news, but in case you haven’t, my cancer has returned. We thought it had been beaten, but alas it is back. It is not super aggressive, but it is persistent. Especially problematic is that it popped up in the same area as before, which cannot be radiated again. I then entered a Mayo trial program with an experimental drug, but it didn’t work on me. So Mary Ann and I remain optimistic that my body will fight this cancer off, but like everyone else, no one knows how long they have left on this earth.
Here’s my take on it all. I’ve had an incredible life so far. I’ve always thought that I’d make 85 or older, based on my gene pool, while acknowledging that a speeding bus (or cancer) could change it all. My goal was to spoil a bunch of grandkids totally rotten and teach them all how to ski. If that doesn’t happen, I’m sure others will take my place. But living while I’m dying has its perks.
If you regularly follow my column, you know that I am a rocker and not generally a fan of country music. However Tim McGraw had a big hit called “Live Like You Were Dying”, which I’ll mimic here.
I had the fortune to be born into a great family. A great Irish family. I had every opportunity to be a kid. Growing up in Knoxville and then just outside of Atlanta, I was a free-range kid. I once, on a dare, ran up 70 flights of stairs at the Peachtree Plaza and then back down. I went to a Yes concert by myself at 16 years old. I suffered numerous concussions and broken bones, including the time I was knocked out at home plate in physical education. I graduated from high school without really trying, which sent me to Georgia Tech thinking I was smart. I wasn’t.
Tech taught me humility, but eventually I made the good Dean’s List instead of the bad one. I went skiing on the first Tech Ski Club outing. I went sky diving. I fell in love with MGBs, an affair that continues today. I was accepted into law school where I mastered the art of gab. I married my first wife and over the next twenty years, we had six incredible children, each one so distinct, challenging, smart, personable and funny that it is hard to believe they had the same parents. I had a couple of jobs out of law school, but my big break was clerking for Judges Buster McConnell and George Nunn. Buster became my mentor and I learned a lot, but mostly I learned not to be afraid of judges or the law.
I was appointed chief magistrate of Houston County, which became a springboard to being elected district attorney. From there I expanded my gift of gab to the point that I had more notoriety than most as I propounded the right of the people to take ownership of their justice system. I endured a messy public divorce but in the end, the struggles made me a far more considerate man and less likely to judge others. After 13 years, I resigned as DA and learned even more about liberty, justice and America as I expanded my circle of friends. I started a Facebook page called Houston County Carries Concealed, now with over 5,000 members who work together to spread the message about the Second Amendment and personal protection.
Along the way I feel in love with a beautiful Irish gal from Alabama. Together we have lived and learned that love is a beautiful blessing from God. Mary Ann has been my rock, my pillar of strength upon which I can anchor myself against the difficulties the cancer has wrought. She fought and kicked and insisted that I have the best treatment out there. We feel so blessed to have had Mayo on our side. We also have met some incredible local doctors too numerous to mention. Whatever happens, we know we gave it our best and that God has made our family better and stronger along the way.
I have travelled to over 40 ski resorts. I’ve journeyed to my beloved Ireland on several occasions. Lord willing, I will do more. I have plunged down mountain faces most of you would walk away from. I’ve stood up to oppression, indignity and racism, but I’m sure I
could have done more. I’ve loved my years as a reader in elementary school, and now that I’ve about lost my voice, my wife and I are beginning a Little Free Library in our neighborhood, one that I hope will continue after I’m gone. To me, there is nothing more important than teaching children to read.
I could regale you for hours with the various stunts, accomplishments, dangers and aspirations I have lived, but the above gives you a glimpse. I love the Lord Jesus for everything in my life. There isn’t a lot left on my list as I feel like I’ve lived a life worth living. There is not a heartache I regret, because it all worked to make me who I am today. And since I’m happy where I’m at, how can I be sad if it is over?
I’ll continue to write as long as I can. I’m not sure how long that
will be, but the fact you have let me into your homes and businesses for more than twenty-five years is humbling. Thank you for every kind word over the years. Thank you now for your prayers. But don’t pray for me to live a long life, pray for my family and that God’s will be done. That is all I need.