A Nod to Furman Bisher, a Celebration of Thanksgiving

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The late, great Furman Bisher, a truly Shakespearian sports columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than six decades, used to bless my Thanksgiving mornings with a  delightful column that was a lovely, meandering mélange of things he was grateful for — large and small, heartfelt and humorous, simple and sentimental. His points of gratitude ranged from “My styptic pencil for when I need it … but I feel for the poor fella who invented it because I still have the one I bought 20 years ago” to poignant, warm expressions of love and appreciation for his wife, Linda.

This will be the fourth Turkey Day since Furman’s passing at the age of 94. I miss reading his prose, especially on Thanksgiving morning. So here’s my feeble stab at honoring his legacy.

I’m thankful for …

  • My 17-year-old dog, Newman, who sleeps well, travels well, and loves well.
  • Wheels on luggage and laptop cases. And shoulders that no longer ache when traveling.
  • The daily, scurrying menagerie outside my home office window — squirrels, chipmunks, cats, swooping red-tailed hawks and gloriously red cardinals that make me stop and stare every time.
  • My car that keeps rolling along at 200,000+ miles. And the brakes that respond well when I suddenly need them.
  • Contact lenses because glasses are a hassle. And sunglasses on a brilliant Southern day.
  • My Mom and Dad (now 85 and 89, respectively), who have lived long and full lives, and the fact I get to share another Thanksgiving with them.
  • Fire pits and the mesmerizing, calming effect the dancing flames, pops and crackles have after a busy day.
  • Pennies, shiny and not-so-shiny, found on the ground. Giving me pause and silently thanking God for all of life’s blessings, big and small, as I pick them up and tuck them in my left pocket, closest to my heart.
  • Our kids, all four of them. Grown now, some with kids of their own. I wish we could all gather again as one.
  • Our grandkids, all five of them, and their uniquely different personalities and boundless energy.
  • Our grandkids, when they leave, and the clean-up can begin.
  • Satellite radio, cell phones and audio books that help ease the pain of Atlanta traffic.
  • Sunsets, glorious sunsets, at the Gulfview Heights Walkover in Santa Rosa Beach.
  • My love of writing and the way I lose track of time when I’m immersed in a piece.
  • My ability to meet writing deadlines despite losing track of time.
  • The look and smell of a freshly mowed and trimmed lawn and the instant gratification that comes with it. And sizzling steak or chicken on the grill later that day while admiring the grounds in the soft, fading light.
  • Fireflies and hummingbirds because there’s just something special about them.
  • Periodic “alone time”. Sometimes, that’s the only time we have a chance to truly check in and connect with ourselves and realign. Or to simply be silent and still and listen for the clues and tune in to the signs that are always there but not always received.
  • Sunday back-nine from Augusta National for that’s where The Masters truly reveals itself. And because you know spring is anew.
  • Cape Cod and its soft-hued color pallet early in the morn’ and later in the day as it bookends sunset. A photographer’s delight, an en plein aire painter’s dream.
  • Sports and the meaningful life lessons that can be gleaned from honest competition, striving and achieving. And moments of graciousness that we see less and less often in today’s ego-fueled, ego-filled arenas and stadiums.
  • Cameras, fancy or phone-based, that allow us to capture moments … “making memories”, as ol’ friend Don Woollen used to say.
  • Seasons, all four of ‘em. Winter, Spring, Summer and Football.
  • Brothers, sisters, cousins, in-laws and pets (living and Heaven-based) because they are the colorful gumbo that makes every family uniquely special, happy and occasionally dysfunctional. But the memories and the connection are always there.
  • Snowy days and the fresh-dressed beauty of yards and neighborhoods draped in white. And the fact we Southerners don’t have to deal with this for months on end. Long, white winters were meant for schoolkids and skiers, not your everyday working stiff.
  • A fresh load of firewood, delivered and stacked. And seasoned like they claimed.
  • My 15 years at The Coca-Cola Company and the wonderful people, places and experiences I enjoyed while there. And the way people still ask me about New Coke.
  • The removal of a cap and the gentlemanly handshake following a round of golf.
  • The National Anthem, our glorious flag, and the selfless men and women who put their lives on the line to protect America (and others).
  • Ad copy that brightens your mood like the words on a shuttle van seen earlier this week. “It’s a good day to have a good day.”
  • College football and the pomp and pageantry that surrounds it. Crisp fall days, marching bands, tailgating, cheerleaders, halftime shows, hopeful students, proud alumni, and television that brings it all into our living rooms without having to deal with the excessive money, time and post-game gridlock on game days.
  • The Georgia Bulldawgs … and long-departed Lewis Grizzard.
  • IKEA. Not only for its products but the joy of winding through the maze-like building, discovering new and affordable items, and the genuine pleasure of assembling a piece of furniture purchased there.
  • The smell of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion and the happy college memories that spring to life with a single whiff.
  • Drones, sort of. The fresh new visual perspectives they offer are jaw-dropping but their potential misuse is terrifying.
  • Tearing up at a ballgame or event when the Star-Spangled Banner is played, every time.
  • Cops and firefighters and other first-responders because 99.9% of them are good and honest, caring and dedicated … despite what the media sensationalizes.
  • My clients and my clients-to-be. Especially the ones who pay promptly because they understand an independent lives and dies by cash flow. Without them, I would be starving.
  • Scenic Highway 30A, its vibe, and the eclectic mix of towns and townies that make this coastal ribbon a joy to experience. And the splendid white sands that line our equally splendid Gulf of Mexico.
  • Free wi-fi. And free samples at Costco. And surprise wine tastings at Publix.
  • Friends. From day-to-day buds to long-time, far-flung dearies who’ve scattered to the Four Winds over the decades but manage to keep in touch, and my Facebook friends that help a big, wide world seem a little smaller.
  • Neighbors who wave. Strangers who smile. For no apparent reason.
  • The smell of popcorn and coffee (not together). The taste never quite equals the smell.
  • Spiritual curiosity and discovery, and a moral compass that offsets the need for excessive dogma and guilt-trips. WWJD is truly a solid foundation. God is, indeed, good.
  • Health, for without it, we have nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
  • Family traditions like today’s annual gathering in the North Georgia mountains with Dad, my two brothers, my brother-in-law, and a niece for an evening of hearty steaks and hearty laughter, followed by early-morning golf tomorrow in advance of the big feast.
  • Sharon’s smile, not just because it’s the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but because it means she’s happy. And that makes me happy.
  • The words “Please” and “Thank you” and “I love you” … especially when you know they’re spoken from the heart.

Happy Turkey, y’all.

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