After surviving over fifty years in the twentieth century and a promising number of years in the twenty-first century, I can look back over the years and sort out some of the fluff. Our children and grandchildren remain at the heart of our lives and I do not see that changing, but there are memories of what we have accomplished in life that stand out over time.
I remain proud that I was the first of my family to go to college and that college was Harvard. I finished Harvard during challenging times but there was never any doubt that I was going to finish. I owed that to my mother especially. She sacrificed a lot to haul me to special classes and to send me off to military school so I could go to the college of my choice.
The decision to go to Canada after college also remains something that I remember with pride. I went because of an overwhelming desire to own some land and to be my own person. Canada gave me so much more than that and the years that it took to build a farm and a cattle herd to be proud of were I believe essential in making me the person that I am. There are artifacts of those years, two huge barns that still stand over forty years after I built them.
The memories of fighting for education funding for rural New Brunswick was an early lesson in community organization and has served me well over the years.
The jump from the farm to the computer business and eventually a nearly twenty-year career at Apple remains an epic journey and one that took up much of my adult working life. As I like to say, I was part of Apple during the early years, the great years, the time when Apple's survival was questioned, and I was there when Steve came back, and I managed to see the greed at the heart of the company before I left. I remain proud of the work that I did for Apple's customers.
It was a great honor to be an elder of our church in trying times when no one else would sign on. I am happy to have been part of the group that ushered in Pastor Ben who has put our church on as solid a footing as churches can find these days.
Though there are still some fresh wounds, the work that I did to save our HOA from self-destruction was as hard as almost anything that I have ever done. I was proud to stand with our young president and keep the ship sailing. Though it was not easy, I am happy that my work had something to do with stopping two rogue boards and getting a by-laws amendment passed to prevent further disasters.
I have written thousands of articles and five books. I like to think that some of those words have made a positive impact on a few people. If nothing else, I might have passed on the best pimento cheese recipe in the world even if I have not taken the time to update it to Duke's Mayonnaise.
I still love to build things from the office desk that I just finished in May 2018 to hurricane-proof bean trellis I made in 2017. My workbench that is over two decades old is still following me around. A number of bookcases and small desks have come out of my workshop.
Pride also comes from walking close to five miles a day, regular kayak trips out into the two-mile-wide White Oak River and the occasional boat trip where I still manage to find my way with our skiff among the sandbars of Bogue Inlet. Then there is our garden where each success brings a smile to the face and each failure gets me to thinking what I could do differently next year. Without a few prized tomatoes, those sandwiches of summer would be impossible.
Each year there are a few memorable fish that I bring back to the dock. The effort that it takes to catch a few drum, trout, and flounder each year on artificial lures keeps my mind and reflexes sharp.
I am truly proud of my roots in Yadkin and Surry Counties in western North Carolina. My mother's family has been in North Carolina since 1790. That my families worked with their hands often in the dirt is something that I embrace and am proud to have shared.
The many friends that I have made over the years bring delight to my life. I am especially proud of childhood friends and ones that I made during my school years. Those friends have lasted a lot of years and some have become even more valued over the years. One was with me in my days as a Boy Scout.
Very high on the list is the forty-five years that my marriage to my soulmate has lasted. I hope we can make it to fifty and beyond. Without her, little of this would have been possible.
One last skill comes to mind, McCallie, my high-school military school, taught me how to sleep sitting up. It was a necessary skill to get through morning chapel and a way to grab a few extra winks of sleep. So far it has served me well except for the elbows in the side from my wife who seems to worry that I might fall over which I am proud to report has yet to happen.