A Friend Like Susan

Happy Birthday Susan

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
~C.S Lewis, The Four Loves

Good friends are hard to find. A friend like Susan is even harder. We were in the same class at Mars Hill College and met at a student led worship service called The Theater. I can’t remember how or what brought us so close but it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t friends.

Happy Birthday SusanSusan has encouraged me in some of my hardest times. She never expected me to be anyone but me. Quirky, goofy, and stubborn. If I was hurting she didn’t want me to put on a smile. She listened to me process my thoughts and heard me tell the same stories over and over. She was slow to give advice but when she gave it, it was worth listening to. She is very wise. She taught me what it meant to love a friend and she demonstrated what it meant to be one.

As life has changed, so has our friendship. Susan is married to a wonderful man, Kris, and has 2 radiant children. I have only met Annalise but she is full of joy and her smile will melt many hearts(It makes me feel sorry for Kris, but only in the best of ways). We don’t talk as much as we did, but that’s not a complaint. Life has changed, as it does. Our friendship has evolved, as it should. I am lucky enough to have dinner with them a couple of times a year. Those times are always special.

Today is Susan’s birthday. I wish I had better words to express how grateful I am for her friendship. How thankful I am for the spaghetti dinners and the time in the rocking chairs on the porch. For our talks and for the letters of encouragement she gave me. For the ears that she lent me, and for the times she helped me find myself. For the effort that she made to be my friend. I hope she knows how much her friendship has meant and means to me. She is my closest and dearest girl friend. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Susan, thanks for being my friend. Happy Birthday.

How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live ’em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give ’em.
~Shel Silverstien, How Many, How Much

I Know Who I Will Marry

the parton boys

I know who I will marry
She’s beautiful and kind
She loves me every single day
I have no doubt in mind

I know who I will marry
She loves me when I’m mad
She cleans, and cooks, and reads me books
And holds me when I’m sad

I know who I will marry
She always keeps her calm
In my eyes she’s perfect
And I call her Mom

the parton boysWhen we were young there was a clear and obvious answer to the “Who’s your girl friend?” or “Who are you going to marry?” questions. It was so matter of fact. Who else, Mom! I remember that vividly and I can only imagine the smile that it brought to her face. We were serious. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I hope all moms get that from their little boys. Anyhow, I just wanted to say:

Happy Mother’s Day! I Love you mom.

Mountain Blue Bird


She is the Mountain Bluebird
That soars the western skies
Her name rightfully telling
Of songs she sings in flight

Of mountains for the vista
And blue for it’s her love
A bird with endless freedom
To see the world above

She is the Mountain Bluebird
Flyin’ freely in the skies
Never would I cage her for
She sings when she’s in flight

Biscuits with a Vagabond

I woke up early. It’s Saturday. I rarely wake up early. I feel great. I think I’m going to go to Waynesville but I’m not 100% sure. I get in my car with Bobbo, said Bob-O. Maybe I should just spell it like that. Just a quarter-mile or so from my house is a bridge which crosses over Fontana. On it I see a hiker. He’s dressed in all black. Black boots with black denim jeans patched with black patches and a black long sleeve undershirt covered partly by a black tee-shirt. He has a black beard that’s rather scraggly and black wiry hair all slicked back and held in place by of all things, a backwards brown hat. I assumed he was a thru hiker when I first saw him, but now that I’ve stopped I’ve realized he is not.

He doesn’t speed up to jump into my car, but walks at his leisure to my passenger window. “Wanna ride?” “Sure…Is he ok?” He says inquisitively pointing at my dog. Bob-O growls at strangers. I reach back and use the seat belt to restrain him and assure the hiker he is. The hiker gets in my car and puts his pack in his lap. “Thru hiker?” I ask hoping for a yes. I can instantly relate to thru hikers and I like picking them up.

“Where you head’n?”
“Well, I’m going to Waynesville. So I’ll take you that far, if that sounds good.”
“That sounds great.”
It’s awkwardly quiet for a moment.
“What’s you name?”
“Michael” and he shakes my hand.

Bob-O likes him, so I reach back and set him free. Michael informs me that he is not a hitchhiker. He never sticks out his thumb. “People will always think what they want about you, but I will not give them a reason to put me in that box. I just walk and if a kind soul wants to pick me up, then they can.” I’m surprised by how thought out this is.

We get to Waynesville, and I tell him that I will just take him on to Asheville. Our conversation has remained pretty steady and I can get what I need in Asheville. “What do you like to do?” “I draw.” Apart from being a vagabond, he’s an artist. He carries sketch book and draws with Micron pens. I ask him if I can see some drawings and he pulls his deviant art page up on my phone.

His drawings are mostly dark fantasy. They are scary but I try not to show any sign of judgement.¬† I focus on the pen strokes, the quality of the craftsmanship. How well they are executed. These drawings are fantastic. He knows they are dark and he comments somethings like: “I am inspired by the world around me. I draw most of my drawings at night. What happens at night? People dream. Sometimes they are nightmares. I imagine that each time I draw I’m helping someone with their nightmare.” We talk about art until we get to Asheville.

“Are you hungry? Have you ever heard of Biscuit Head?” I ask.
“Yeah I’m hungry. I usually eat pizza. Mellow Mushroom or something. I have some food stamps. Can I get your lunch?”
“Well, can I take you to Biscuit Head?” I insist.
“Sure” he shrugs “Do they have pulled pork biscuits?”
“Yeah they do.”

Biscuit Head is always packed and now at 11:30 the line is out the door. “Do you mind waiting?” “I have nothing but time” he laughs and takes a sip from his Monster energy drink. “This is all I drink. I love it.” he says as we wait in line. “I don’t know how, that stuff kills me.” We make it to the front and he get’s the pulled pork biscuit. It’s delicious and well worth the wait. Afterwards I take him downtown to the Used Bookstore he wanted to visit. This is his stop. “Best of luck” I say as we part ways. He’s thankful and we’ve become brief friends. I imagine he’ll sleep on a bench tonight but he wants to. This is his layover, and he loves it. The trip was unexpected but I like to think things like this are orchestrated. I leave feeling blessed to have had biscuits with a vagabond.

Buried Treasure

love written in the sky

There is a buried treasure,
Where love was written in the sky,
Perhaps it’s not worth telling,
But I think it’s worth a try

To put it down on paper
And map it out in rhyme
So it’s not forgotten
If it’s seeker wants to find

On the upward end it’s buried
Near the oak tree and the lime
Go right facing the boundary
‘neath the little palm it hides

A handle under Spanish moss
Some leaves hide the remains
In hopes that it stays hidden
Til it’s seeker comes one day

And if the greedy finds it
It’s sure to be mistook
It’s value’s not in treasure,
It’s in the one who looks.