Being Dad

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Last night we got the call. My Uncle Jerry, who was staying with Pa through the night, called about 10:50 p.m. with the news. Everyone was in bed, so I answered the phone, and Jerry said, rather simply, “Well…Pa’s gone.” I asked how it happened and he said Pa went in his sleep–he just stopped breathing. The Hospice nurse was on the way and making arrangements to move Pa’s body to the funeral home. I woke mom and let her know. Although we knew it was coming, it was a strange feeling…a kind of hollow feeling. I didn’t sleep well.

Pa at Mabry Mill

“Pa” Collins was 99-years-old. He was a farmer and a sharecropper, and over the years he also worked the sawmill, on a road crew, and as a janitor at the local elastic plant. He was a simple man, and honest. He couldn’t read very well, and aside from his name, couldn’t really write, either. But he could tell you how to rotate your crops to maintain the soil, so the field wouldn’t need to lie fallow. He could raise and keep horses, cattle, pigs, and train a dog not to roam. He could grow, harvest, cure tobacco, and sell the crop at market. When my dad and I built a tree house for my kids up above his house, Pa explained how it wasn’t going to remain stable for very long due to the way we secured it to the tree, and as the tree grew, well, you can guess the rest! When he was a young man, he made illegal moonshine with his brother-in-law Frank, and even showed me how to do it using a mock-up still that was on display at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He may have been a simple man, but in many, many ways, he was smarter, and certainly much wiser than I.

Pa never said much, but when you got him alone, he would open-up with stories. I remember visiting him once and there was no one else around. I wanted to take some pictures of the old buildings on the farm and especially around the old tobacco smokehouse in the pasture below his house. Pa came with me and as I snapped pictures, he talked about the buildings–how they were built, the purpose they served, the work he did in them. He told me he would sometimes walk out to the barn in the afternoon and take a nap on the bails of hay stacked there. He loved his home and the land it was on. When we returned to the house, Pa asked me if I wanted a beer, as he pulled two cans of Bush out of the refrigerator–I don’t think I had ever seen him drink. We sat on his porch, sipped our beer, and watched the occasional car drive by the house, returning the inevitable wave delivered by the driver of the vehicle. We didn’t say much and were just content with each other’s company. And now that I think back on it, I never enjoyed a beer quite as much as I did that day.

I miss you, Pa.

Pa and the Gator hat

Lee Eligah Collins
February 9, 1919 – July 3, 2018

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I came home from work today and the boys wanted to hit the water! What a GREAT idea! The weather called for a chance of showers, so no worries there! I changed my clothes and we were off…

However, it is Florida in the Summer and a “chance of showers” can quickly change to “thunderstorm imminent”…

Thunderstorm

Anyway, it wasn’t too difficult dodging the storm. In fact, the storm actually split as it moved (much like the parting of the Red Sea) and we were able to shoot right down the middle and around the storm. We end-up taking a leisurely cruise down Black Creek before skirting the storm clouds on our way back to the marina.

Crusing

Funny. There was rain all around us, but we didn’t feel a drop!

Smiles

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This evening I had the opportunity to hang out with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker, Paul Posluszny! He’s a great guy! Paul retired from the Jags this year and his family are making Jax their home! It’ll be great seeing him around town!

Meeting Paul Posluszny

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So, as has become a family tradition, Friday night is “Pizza and a Movie” night. Although mom joins us from time to time, it’s normally just the boys and me (mainly due to the movies we pick to watch, which typically involve super heroes–not mom’s thing).

Anyway, tonight is a typical night, with Marcos Pizza and the new “Black Panther” movie!

Pizza and a Movie

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This afternoon, the boys and I went to the IMAX theater to see the new “Avengers: Infinity War” movie. Needless to say (if you’ve seen the movie, of course), the movie’s ending left us wondering “what the h…”, a sentiment especially reflected in the boys’ somewhat bewildered look…

Infinity War

Still, we can’t wait for the next installment!! (which is just the point 🙂 )

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And so we head-off to breakfast, and like everything at Disney, we wait in line…

Heading to Breakfast Heading to Breakfast

We didn’t have much planned at Animal Kingdom today…Fast Passes for “Everest” again, this time it was Adam and me, while Mom and Alex went to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show (which Alex loves!). As you can see, Adam has learned where the cameras are, so he can make faces during the ride…

Everest Again

and then, it’s Cindy’s favorite show, “The Festival of the Lion King”…

Lion King

Pomba

We were going to do the “Kilimanjaro Safari” ride, but Cindy and the boys were anxious to get to the pool at the resort, so we left a little early. The pool was really nice…

Caribbean Beach Resort Pool

and so was the beach…

Caribbean Beach Resort

So, while Cindy relaxed and sipped a tropical drink, and the boys ran wild in the water, I slipped-off to the Magic Kingdom to visit the “Hall of Presidents”.

Yes. I went there for that one attraction. Not only is it one of my favorites, I hadn’t see it since they added President Trump. Anyway, I drove to the park, walked to the gate, got on the Ferry to Magic Kingdom, walked down Main Street U.S.A. to Liberty Square and arrived just 15-minutes before the show started.

When I arrived, the Muppets were putting on a show right next door…

Muppets

Soon, the doors opened for the “Hall of Presidents” and the crowd strode in. I had an excellent seat…

Hall of Presidents

and the show was GREAT! As always.

Hall of Presidents

After the show, I walked back out to Liberty Square, down Main Street U.S.A., got on the Ferry back to the gate, walked to my truck, and drove back to the resort. Just so you know, this single attraction journey took about 2-1/2-hours.

Dinner was a BIG BUCKET OF CRAB LEGS at Joe’s Crab Shack and a slice of Key Lime Pie for the birthday girl.

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For almost 15-years years I’ve been carting around boxes of books, as we’ve moved from place to place for work…first the Air Force and now in my post-military career. I always said when we finally settled somewhere, I’d put-up some bookcases and get rid of all those boxes.

Well, we moved back to Jax in 2012 and there just never seemed to be enough time to get it done–actually, there was plenty of time, it was just low on the priority list. Anyway, I finally got it done.

The Office

About time, right? But hey, they say “hard work pays-off in time”, but procrastination pays-off NOW! 😉

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It’s a great day for baseball! Charlie came to the game today and hung-out with Dad to watch the game…

Dad and Charlie at the game

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Boating season has officially started! Today, the boys and I took Charlie out on the water for a few hours…

On the boat

It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve felt the wind and spray in our face…especially Alex!

On the boat

It was GREAT just being outside! It got a little cloudy and we got a few sprinkles, but that didn’t put a damper on our fun!

On the boat

On the way back to the marina, Adam took the wheel for a bit…

On the boat

while Charlie daydreamed…

On the boat

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The best photos are those in which the subject doesn’t know he’s being photographed. I caught Adam watching a YouTube video on his laptop today. His concentration and posture were compelling and made him look more mature than his 9-years would have you believe. Or maybe it’s just because I’m his dad and still see him as a little boy. After all, he taught himself to pitch by watching YouTube. He learned fundamentals and mechanics of the wind-up to which we perfected together on the field. Always inquisitive and forever questioning, he takes the initiative to learn. If that’s not maturity, I don’t know what is.

Watching YouTube

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