Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

First of all, a big THANK YOU to all the folks who made the radio station's "Christmas in Jail" toy drive such a howling success! Same goes for all of you who made donations to our Hunger-Free Holiday food drive. It renews my faith in the human spirit to see such outpourings of generosity, especially in these hard economic times when so many of our friends and neighbors are suffering.

That is why I choose to concentrate on the positive this holiday season. I've heard the greatest stories about people--everyday people-- "paying it forward." Buying the lunch for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Giving $20 to a complete stranger in the WalMart so they can buy a present for their kid. Filling up someone's car with gas, and so on.

But let's not limit ourselves to doing good just at the holidays. Let's keep it going.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I'm thankful for

For my loving family. Not just Pat & John, but for my in-laws as well. They are awesome.
For my friends who are my family because they choose to be.
For my neighbors who have been there for me on countless occasions.
For my health and that of my family.
For a roof over my head and food to eat. There are too many who don't enjoy that luxury.
For a car to drive...and for gas prices coming down!
For my job and the opportunity to touch people's lives in it.
For the cool people I've met and friends I've made as a result of my job.
For the beautiful birds in my backyard.
For living in North Carolina.
For Lexington-style barbecue and sweet tea.
For the opportunity to travel.
For NASCAR...even this season.
And for the men and women who keep us all safe and make it possible for me to be thankful for all the other things!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I cannot remember it snowing in central NC in November since I was in high school, but it happened early yesterday. Just a few flurries, but enough to get people around here excited. I can just hear all the transplanted Northerners laughing at us... I hope I never get to the point where I don't appreciate a pretty snowfall!
(photo courtesy of Clay JD Walker)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What the rest of you are missing

I've always meant to tell the folks who don't get up as early as morning radio announcers what they're missing. A couple of mornings ago, a brilliant yellow, nearly-full moon hung low in the western sky. I didn't notice it until I got out on I-40 headed toward Greensboro and saw it following me in my side view mirror.

That got me thinking about the other cool things I've seen on a somewhat regular basis at 4:30 in the morning: awesomely clear skies and meteor showers, wildlife - including deer, rabbits, possums, skunks, foxes and a suspected coyote, and a strange man who walks along the road with his shirt off.

Y'all need to wake up earlier.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

OK, haters, time to stop.

Just a note to all those well-meaning folks who keep sending me e-mails with "who is Barack Obama" or "antichrist" in the subject line: you can stop now. The election is over. The people have spoken. There's not a thing you can do about it except settle down, say a prayer for our new President and hope that God gives him the guidance to do the job. Circulating hate-filled e-mails is just not the Christian thing to do, so please stop.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cheap gas??

OK, this seems pretty silly for this to be the first thing I've written about in (how many?) months, but I went to fill up my car with gas a couple of days ago and it only cost me $31 and some change!!! I felt pretty smart until somebody called the radio station and said they found gas for$1.99 a gallon in Asheboro. Now, if I could only be sure these low prices would last.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I remember Mama

Less than two weeks after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma, she was gone. My mother, one of the strongest individuals I've ever known, could not fight off this final assault on her broken body and passed away peacefully last Friday night at 8:40.

For those who do not know Lee Nichols Upchurch, please allow me to fill you in on some of the details of her life. She was born November 10, 1924, in Durham, NC, the first child of Owen and Sara Nichols. Mama graduated in 1945 from Women's College (now UNC-Greensboro) with an undergrad degree in social work. The following year, she married Silas G. Upchurch, and embarked on a journey around the world, thanks to daddy's career in the Air Force. They lived in Japan, Germany and finally England, where I was adopted. They returned to the States in 1961. Only two years later, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and died in November 1965 at the young age of 45. My mother, with no marketable skills to speak of and a 5-year-old in tow, moved from Maryland back home to North Carolina and enrolled at Duke University. In 1970, she earned a Master's Degree in Education and started teaching. For most of her 20-year career, Mama taught 7th-grade language arts and social studies in the Durham County Schools. I am still amazed at her incredible will and strength, and the fact that she was able to pull it all together after being widowed so early in life.

Mama's downturn began shortly after retirement. It started with short-term memory problems and forgetting how to get to my apartment. It got really scary when she believed she was being followed, her car and phone were "bugged" and that people were living in her attic. The dementia that seems to affect so many of Mama's family was apparently coming home to roost. In all, we went through 15 years of mental illness and related hospitalizations, and I saw things that scared the hell out of me and made me fear for what her future would be like.

In the summer of 2007, Mama finally had to move into a "memory care" facility because she was so confused about people, places and events. By October, we noticed a rapid decline in her physical health as well. This tough old broad was finally giving out. She entered the hospital in early February after we thought she'd had a stroke. No evidence of stroke was found, but Mama was aspirating when she tried to swallow, so doctors put in a PEG tube and released her two days later for recovery. Three days after that, she was readmitted and that's when blood work revealed the lymphoma-- which hadn't even shown up just the week before. On Monday, February 11, Mama was moved to Hospice Home at High Point. She died there just four days later.

My family and I would like to thank the doctors and nurses at High Point Regional Hospital who took such good care of Mama, especially the ER staff. But a special place in my heart goes to the amazing people at Hospice Home. Their unconditional caring and devotion to what they do is unmatched anywhere. They enabled Mama to regain a lot of the dignity she had lost late in her life and kept her comfortable to the very end. Laura, Martha, Donna, Janice, Rodney, Brenda, Crystal, Sherry, Dr. Nelson, everyone...I cannot thank you enough. You are angels right here on Earth and you are truly doing God's work.

Mama, fly away, be free and I'll see you again someday.