~Thomas a Kempis, 1427
Today is Tom Petty’s 68th birthday. American Girl is the last cut on his 1976 debut album and a rock and roll classic by every conceivable standard. It’s hard to even imagine rock and roll music existing before this song. It’s in the canon. This is also the last song I heard him play live, from the floor at American Airlines Center in Dallas, with my youngest daughter Carley, four years ago. It’s impossible to choose my all-time favorite Tom Petty song. But I don’t like any better than this one.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Tom Petty’s death. AXS-TV is showing his 2011 concert from the University of Florida twice today and tonight a special “The Day the Rock Star Died” featuring the news and events from October 2, 2017. My DVR is set to capture both. It seems the radio stations are playing a little more Tom Petty today, as they should. And I’ve got “Wildflowers” going right now on my laptop.
Here’s the post I wrote the morning after his passing:
Here’s a memory written this morning by Warren Zanes, Petty’s biographer, for Rolling Stone:
And here’s “Even the Losers” from a 1980 performance somewhere in London:
Even as I’m writing this post, two weeks after she finished her race, I’m worried that somehow Mrs. Adkins will appear with a red felt-tipped pen to correct my grammar or my spelling. More likely, if she were to appear, she’d make fun of me for something, she’d point out a physical flaw or remind me of something really dumb I had done in the past, and then she’d laugh really loud(ly) and throw her arms around me and tell me she loves me and that she’s super proud of me.
That’s Mrs. Adkins. Our junior high English and Grammar teacher at Dallas Christian. Our high school counselor and psychology teacher and senior class sponsor. The mother of one of my closest friends. And a big fan of every student who walked through her doors or sat through her classes.
I was providentially hindered from attending her memorial service this past Saturday at the White Rock Church of Christ in Dallas. So Todd, her son and my long-time partner-in-crime and roofing, asked me to record a video with some memories and nice words on behalf of all Mrs. Adkins’ students.
Here’s a link to the video. Several of you are asking for it. Please share it responsibly. Anything I would write about Mrs. Adkins in this space, I already expressed in this 13-minute video. I loved Mrs. Adkins, like all of her students, because she first loved us.
When Todd first saw the finished video, he told me it was a weird mix of Goose Gossage and Eddie Haskell. Perfect! Exactly what I was going for! He texted me Wednesday evening and said, “My dad is watching it now. His first words were, ‘He’s put on some weight.’ Thanks, Lefty.
According to my sisters, Rhonda and Sharon, and the dozen or so emails and texts from high school classmates and one out-of-the-blue phone call from Coach Richmond, the service Saturday was a Dallas Christian reunion. And I hate that I missed it. The picture above was taken as they were turning the lights off in the church building. I’m told there were double that number of DC folks in attendance. But I would have loved to have seen all these great people and to get caught up with each of them in person.
I played football and sang in the choir with Tracy Hauck (bald, yellow shirt) and Mark Cawyer (big smile, purple shirt) and Jeff Majors (“Low Budget”). Brad Yurcho (blue shirt behind Rhonda) and I sat on the top row of the bleachers at Chargers Field during JV football games and did the play-by-play out loud together, preparing for what we wanted to do professionally for the rest of our lives. Caitlin McAuley (yellow flowers in the front) was my consistent companion, rival, and great friend from 6th – 12th grade. Mike Fitzhugh (bald with the beard in the back-right) was part of our fabled Greenhill Bell Crew. Robbie Beene (next to Fitz) was so over-the-top, loud, and in-your-face funny. Mrs. Straughn (far right, next to Todd’s sister, Tracy) was my Creative Writing teacher and encouraged me to “keep writing, keep writing, don’t ever stop writing.” Lynn Davis (far left, next to Sharon), Mrs. Sorrells (front middle), Mrs. Dickson (between Caitlin and Traci), Joanna Farrar — such great people, such great friends.
I have so enjoyed spending time on the phone with Todd the past couple of weeks. Todd and I grew up together. For a long while there we did almost everything together. High school running buddy, roofing partner, college roommate — he is the co-star in my favorite and funniest stories. We always pick up right where we left off. We can still crack each other up with just one word. We can recall a month’s worth of the same memories with just one phrase. Todd is that old friend. I’m so grateful to him for the great privilege of contributing to his mom’s service. And I thank God for the great blessing in my life of Mrs. Adkins.
I’m told there are a dozen or so older ladies at White Rock CofC who are still very confused about my opening remarks regarding prison and house arrest. Excellent. I’m also told Tracy Hauck is keeping those questions and rumors alive on Facebook (thank you!).
May God bless Lefty and Todd and Traci and everybody in their super-fun family. May God receive Mrs. Adkins into his faithful arms. And may God bless all of us with the faith and the confidence that he is able to keep everything we’ve entrusted to him until that great day.
Bradd Morgan grabbed me on the way to the bus leaving the waterfalls of En Gedi. The news he had for me was so unbelievably and surprisingly wonderful, I almost got emotional. I’m getting a little emotional typing this right now.
Yesterday morning eight of us climbed the ancient Snake Path up the face of Masada in the Negev Desert. Bradd and I almost died together on that rock. We finished the climb in about 50-minutes, but it was brutal. Reagan Crossnoe told both of us at the top that neither of us will have to take a stress test for the next five years. We passed, but barely.
The weather here in Israel is like it is almost everywhere: about 15 degrees hotter than normal. The highs every day since we arrived have been in the 100s. And even after soaking our feet in the pools under David’s Fall, I was still extremely hot and dry and thirsty. And Bradd says to me, “Hey, they’ve got Dr Pepper in the gift shop.”
He said it casually. Almost a little too casually. So much so that I wasn’t exactly sure what he had said. So I asked, “What?” And he said it again, “There’s Dr Pepper in that gift shop.”
And I thought, “Don’t lie to me now, Bradd. Don’t be messing with me right now, brother. Don’t lie to me. Because if you’re lying to me, well, you know, you and I won’t be able to be friends anymore.”
He wasn’t lying.
They were ice cold, I mean freezing cold, way in the back of the cooler. Twelve shekels each. I grabbed four. And Valerie and I were good all the way to Qumran.