Another milestone passed! This post represents my 100th blog post on TheBuddyBlog.com website. No one is more surprised than I am. To celebrate this you-gotta-be-kidding-me event, I thought I’d share my thoughts and reflections on how I came to be a blogger.
It might surprise you.
After all, I never thought I’d spend any time writing…of my own free will.
I am sure my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Johnson, would agree. I doubt she would think I have progressed much since her class. She would sternly point out that my subject and verb do not always agree, fragmented sentences are scattered throughout my paragraphs, my participles sometimes dangle, and I routinely misplace a modifier or two.
And punctuation? Oh my! That’s an adventure all in itself — especially commas. I either use too many or not enough. I try to remember the difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!” Commas can make all the difference, especially for Grandma.
And grammar? Ugh! It has never been a strong suit. But this old dog has learned a few new tricks.
During my professional career, it seemed the further I advanced, the more writing was required — project proposals, personnel evaluations, tutorials on management and leadership, letters and correspondence of all shapes, sizes and lengths. Early in my career, I served as staff support to a General Manager. I wrote most of his correspondence. What I thought was well written professional communication rarely survived without his bold cursive tweak noted in the margin. Without fail, he would change a word here or there. While frustrating to me, I must admit it improved my wordsmithing skills. Some fifteen years later, I supported a Headquarters Vice-President who called me his “Renaissance Man.” Just about the time my ego began to inflate, he added, “That’s because I have never known anybody from Georgia Tech who could write a sentence, much less a paragraph.” I didn’t know whether I should feel proud or insulted. But since he was Kentucky born, bred and educated, I just assumed he was jealous.
I trace the genesis of my newfound passion for writing to the early 1990s. As my grandmother approached her 100th birthday, she shuttled back and forth between living with my parents and an aunt and uncle. To give her something to do, and keep her from driving my momma crazy, I provided her a list of about 150 life-related questions. The feedback she gave provided a fascinating look at growing up in the first half of the 20th century. I eventually put together a book of her “Memoirs” as a gift to my twenty-four first cousins when we gathered to celebrate her centennial birthday in 1997.
Realizing the significance of my grandmother’s reflections, I contemplated the value of such personal history. If my cousins and I found her comments fascinating, would my grandchildren feel the same way when reading mine? I began to compose personal reflections of my own. Soon I started sharing them with a select email list. As demand grew, my family encouraged me to start a blog. I resisted.
In 2009 my late wife and I put together a “Birth Day Book” which chronicled ten special events in our family. Chapter 1 was the Birth of a Relationship and told the story of our first date. Chapter 2 was the Birth of a Covenant and discussed all the events surrounding our wedding day. Chapters 3 through 7 chronicled events surrounding the births of each of our five children, and Chapters 8 and 9, titled the Birth of Faith, detailed our personal faith journeys. Finally, Chapter 10, the Birth of a Mission, shared how I developed a personal mission statement. Given as a Christmas gift to our five children in 2009, this book of “birth” days became an instant family heirloom. Losing my wife to cancer just over a year later made this keepsake of memories treasured all the more.
During my late wife’s illness, I posted updates, written in a devotional style, at mylifeline.org to keep family and friends updated on her progress. We expected 30-40 people to join the blog, but the number surpassed 400 within weeks. Sadly, she passed away after just four months. I was stunned weeks later when fifty people asked for printed copies of the blog.
Dealing with the unwelcome guest known as grief, I found it therapeutic to continue writing by keeping a private grief journal. I never anticipated that two years later, after being encouraged by my Writer’s Group to enter it into an area writers contest, that my journal, now titled Walking Through the Valley of Tears, would win first place and a publishing contract.
Writing my thoughts and personal reflections had become more than just a hobby or a means to vent my feelings or express opinions. It captured in words the heartbeat of my soul.
As my grandchildren started arriving, I became increasingly aware that my mortality would rob them of any knowledge of their grandmother, myself, and those of previous generations. So, I continued to write personal reflections and send them out to my ever-growing email list.
Again, my family pleaded with me to start a blog. Finally, in late 2017, I reluctantly relented, and TheBuddyBlog.com became the virtual repository of my personal reflections.
Most blog experts recommend focusing on a single theme. My reflections vary in topic and tone. Ranging from funny to poignant, my stories touch on faith, family, marriage, golf, grief, Southern living, and what I just call Americana.
Having recently discovered letters from my dad to my mom (dated two months before my birth), as well as letters dated 1945 from my late wife’s father to his wife, I gained a renewed appreciation for how precious these legible treasures are that give the briefest of insights into our parents. So while I realize there is a purpose in sharing my observations on a worldwide platform, (I now have readers from fifty-three countries), the hope is that one day my real audience will be my grandchildren — currently holding at nine — who know me as Poppy. Hopefully, decades down the road, after I am long gone, they will read these personal reflections as more than just amusing anecdotes, but rather as a generational source of inspiration and collection of nuggets of wisdom.
As noted in my post of July 26, 2018, A Spiritual Legacy, “If you have not already guessed it, my blog, TheBuddyBlog.com is a sort of legacy insurance policy. Yes, my grandchildren may remember the gifts I give them or the time I spend with them, but a written record of values, insights, and guidance offers wisdom that can stay with them forever. The power of stories is such that they capture more of who I am and what I have learned. My simple goal, my loving gift to future generations is to write it, reflect upon it, and share it.”
Blog #100 is done. More to come.