This past Saturday, my daughter, Casey, and her fiancé, Rick, were united in marriage. My brother-in-law, Jim, presided over the ceremony, which took place at sundown in a rustic setting on a ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters joined long-time friends in celebrating the union through dinner and drink, the cutting of the cake and dancing. There were more smiles in the room than the number of paparazzi stalking ALL the Kardashians.

Casey and Rick

Casey and Rick

Ok, those are pretty much the basics, but, in no way, does that capture the emotional side: the love, the passion and feeling that encompassed the entire event, from the months-long advance preparation, the setting up of the venue, the getting ready, the vows, the picture-taking and the celebration of friends and family united in encouraging and supporting the effort of both the bride and groom to include as many as possible in the event itself.

For example, simple statistics showed the likelihood that I would be able to attend the wedding was not high. I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer over three years ago. Every day is a blessing. So, Casey fashioned the color purple (pancreatic cancer awareness) into just about every aspect of the event. Bridesmaids wore purple dresses. Casey wore purple shoes and carried a purple bouquet. Patti wore a lovely purple dress that accented her beauty and her smile.

Rick’s father, Bob, is a rice farmer, so, in preparation, the bride and her attendants made purple rice and included some in every lantern on every table and up and down the aisle where they exchanged vows.

Under a fold in Casey’s wedding dress, she fashioned two hearts — one blue from a business shirt of mine and one white lace from her mother’s wedding dress. The hearts were sewn into the dress and Casey included my father’s wedding band that I wore, and a wedding band from her grandmother. So, she had the something borrowed and something blue, but these were not visible for anyone to see.

When I was working, I liked wearing bow ties. Still do. For me, there is just something therapeutic in taking the time to tie them. Bow ties are just not easy to tie, but I enjoy it. Consequently, Rick and I wore purple bow ties. Groomsmen wore purple ties. And there were other purple accents as well.

Casey and Cancer Boy

Casey and Cancer Boy

We should have invited the author Dan Brown because there was so much symbolism taking place that Robert Langdon would have understood it.

On the wedding day, after all the last-minute details were complete, family and friends were seated and the groomsmen had walked to their place in front, I was standing in the barn before double doors. I had not seen Casey all day. The photographer and an attendant told me to turn around. I was not prepared at all for what I was to see.

Seeing my daughter in her wedding dress, everything immediately became slow motion. She was radiant, glowing, every Shakespearean sonnet’s definition of beauty. I kissed her on the cheek through my tears and I could hear her say what seemed to be slow motion, “Dad, are you ready?” But, as I stood there and looked at her, all I could hear were melodious sounds of small voices: “I will not wear diapers again! Dad, I’m learning to play softball, and it’s really fun. I didn’t think I would like learning to drive on snow, but I do. I did it — I gradumicated! Dad, there’s a guy I would like you to meet!” All these swirled around her like winged white doves perching on the cascading music notes of a scale. She was just beautiful and her smile was exhilarating and illuminating.

After I had a moment to compose myself, and brush away the tears, the doors opened and we walked down the aisle to the song Over the Rainbow. Beside my own wedding to Patti, this was the most beautiful day of my life, and I am so grateful to God for allowing me to be there.

After the vows, we all moved into the barn for dinner and dancing. Rick and his mother, Debbie, had a dance, which was glorious. Then, Casey and I had a dance to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. I kissed her on the cheek several times, told her how proud I was of her and how beautiful she was on her special day.

Then, a very special part of the evening occurred. Patti and I danced to Diamond Rio’s One More Day. Most of the people in the room knew about the cancer, so there was not a dry eye in the house. Sorry, folks! But I so enjoyed dancing with my wife, it just made me think of our wedding date 29 years ago and how much our love has grown over the years. Patti is truly the best thing that ever happened to me. I can only hope to give her half as much joy as she has given me.

After the initial dances, dinner was served, followed by people visiting with each other and more dancing. Rick and Casey cut their wedding cake, and after everyone had their dessert, there was more dancing. Well, I think it was dancing. Shortly before the wedding, Casey asked me to siphon through my iTunes account and come up with some songs that would be good for dancing and the event. So, I did. Came up with three pages, single-spaced list of songs for her to consider and discuss with the DJ. Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Frank Sinatra’s I Get a Kick Outta You, several Alan Jackson songs, just a myriad of romantic songs. When the night was over, I think that I had heard only about three that I had recommended. I believe what played was more a decision by the DJ than anyone.

When I think back to the wedding and reception, there is one paramount feature that surrounds and triumphs all others: the room was just filled with smiles of lovely people all around, everyone positive, enjoying themselves, smiling, touching and encouraging each other to embrace the love in the room. I found that to be so overwhelming, it was incredible.

And, I danced. I had my cowboy hat on and truly felt like dancing as if no one was watching. I danced with my niece, Ciara, my former neighbors Kelli and Hallie, Patti and as many people as I could. I wish I could have danced with everyone. It was thrilling.

Now that the event is over, I want to thank Rick and Casey. For as our children learn from us, we can also learn from them. On most occasions of big groups or meetings and such, I tend to watch and listen. I interact, but sparingly. Casey, like her mother, is more social, more engaging. But on Saturday, I felt like i stepped into their circle and realized there is plenty of room in that circle to be not only who we are, but who we want to be. I enjoyed being more social, I enjoyed engaging others and listening to their stories and catching up with them about their kids and latest doings. I like being more personable and want to experience this more on a larger scale as I move forward.

So, to reaffirm my toast to the new husband and wife, may you live long together in each other’s arms. As for me, I will never forget this day and look forward to experiencing more of an extroverted self.

God bless you all.

I really should have a category for Music. If it weren’t for music, arts, literature, I don’t know what I would do. Of course, one man’s best seller is another man’s tackle box. We celebrate different strokes for different folks!


Two weeks ago, Patti and I drove to Austin for a concert. Casey and her boyfriend, Rick, gave us tickets to a George Strait concert. Also appearing with George were Lee Ann Womack and Reba McEntyre. Hey, if you like George, you gotta hear him in Austin where it all started. It’s like seeing the Grateful Dead in San Francisco or James Taylor in Boston.

I like all forms of music, but these days I listen mostly to country music. I know when my fascination with country music started, too. I was living in Houston, Texas working at the local newspaper there. One day, I was shaving and listening to the radio as I got ready to go to work.  For about the 300th time that day, Steely Dan’s “Hey 19” appeared on the radio. Yeah, it was THAT many years ago.

So, I flipped through the stations and landed on a country station and the song that played next was “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” and I was hooked. I started listening to country music then. Over the years, I have been impressed with country music writers and the craftiness they use in creating their lyrics. Of course, the music is good, too. Since then, there have been other classics like, “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate My House,” and others too numerous to mention here.

Please excuse my jest because I know there have been terrific country songs, too. For example, who cannot appreciate Garth Brooks‘ “Unanswered Prayers“? And, the list goes on and on.

Lee Ann

So, at the concert, Lee Ann Womack is the opening act. She comes to the stage in tight spandex pants, willowy top and seven-inch stiletto heels. Could not have been easy to walk around that stage at all.

She has had a hit with a song, “I Hope You Dance.” Of course, she sang it that night.

Afterwards, Patti and I were talking about the music that sometimes gets in your head and stays with you the rest of the day and perhaps the day after. They are not annoying songs, but those songs that scoop everything else you may have in your noggin away to make way for their melody or lyrics.

After the concert, when we were debriefing with Casey, we collectively decided that the Monty Python song “I Am a Lumberjack and I’m OK” was just such a song. Whenever any of us is scurrying around the house doing chores or working in the kitchen, or just cleaning, if someone starts with a lyric from the song, we’re all doomed. It stays with us like superglue.

And, while on the subject of songs, do you have a song that propels you beyond reason? For example, there are two songs that can get me to the dance floor faster than cookie dough rises in the oven.

I am a sucker for “Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait or Chris LeDoux, a former rodeo cowboy who wrote and performed the song originally. I’m a boot-scootin’ fiend when that begins to play. Even though I find it to be a buoyant song about life on the rodeo circuit, when the soulful violin starts and ends the song, it conveys the most loneliest of feelings. I don’t know, call me warped, but it really gets me to want to dance.


The other? Frank Sinatra. When he sings “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” I am SO there — particularly the live Vegas version. Wow! What an artist. When that song plays, there is no bad news anywhere in the world. There are no wars. There are no starving people. When that song plays, I smile the broadest smile and hope my body can catch up with my legs and feet. And I will dance like nobody’s watching.

My wish for all of you is that you are lumberjacks who want to get to Amarillo by morning, traveling with someone you’ve got under your skin … and I hope you dance and dance and dance.