By Larry Tucker
It is often said “age is just a number.”
As I have now reached birthday number 70, I find myself reflecting on my past, on the things I have seen and heard, and on what the future holds for me in the next few years.
It is often said “age is just a number.”
As I have now reached birthday number 70, I find myself reflecting on my past, on the things I have seen and heard, and on what the future holds for me in the next few years. My first 70 years have been a maze of twists and turns on the highway of life. Like Willie Nelson said years ago, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” I just hope I live as long as the Red-Headed Stranger.
The reality of death has hit me pretty hard the past few years as I have done several eulogies for dear friends. Through the ups and downs and struggles with addiction, I always had the support of my late parents, Clent and Libby, sister Patricia, brother Carey and my kids, Cory and Carley, along with some great friends (Nell French, Terry Cummons, Clay Pirtle) who all stood by me through some very dark times in my life.
We all have our dreams in regard to what we expected our lives to be and the stark reality of how it has really turned out. Now, I am contemplating what the coming years will bring for myself, born in October 1950. Unless I live well beyond 100 years, the reality is I may have a decade, more or less, of time to spend on this earth.
Do I have regrets, of course I do, but I also have many moments and memories which will carry on with me into the next world I enter. I got to grow up in the time of the Beatles, the Cuban Missile crisis, the moon walk, the civil rights movement, war protests, the best music ever and the electronics world which seems to dominate our lives today.
I got to play, coach and write about sports most of my life. Coaches and teachers were my heroes. My Dad was my first baseball and basketball coach. Other coaches were Sherman Hughes and Justin Wakeland, who each had a major impact on my life. History teachers Ben Nowell and Bill Walker (Flornece JH) along with English teachers Jackie Wesson and Janet Girard (Samuell HS) gave me the desire to teach.
The first actual memory which stands out for me was when I had to have my tonsils taken out the week after I turned two years old. I remember my Dad and Mom wrapping me with a quilt my Nanny Tucker had made for me at my birth and rushed me to what is now Baylor Hospital. I am fortunate to come from good stock, the Tuckers and Stedrys of Wood County.
I can remember my first day at Little Folks School (kindergarten) where I met one of my best friends, Bill Sanderson, who still remains my close brother after over 65 years of friendship. It was on to Hawthorne Elementary after that and that’s where I got to know Mike and Edna (Borchardt) Smith and Dr. Robert Cantrell, all who remain close friends for over 60 years. My first of nine spinal fusions at age 16 came in 1967, six more in 2016 and my last two in 2018. I spent weeks in the hospital and in rehabilitation each time with lots of time to think about life. Each of those friends mentioned were there for me during those times.
Music has always been important to me. I remember the years my Dad led worship music (we called it “leading the singin’” back then) at Bruton Road Baptist Church in our Southeast Dallas neighborhood of Pleasant Grove, so I grew up with Southern Gospel. I always loved rock n’ roll and I used to put my AM transistor radio under my pillow at night so I wouldn’t get caught rocking to Jerry Lee Lewis at a young age. I love live concerts, Texas music and rock festivals. Favorite shows have been The Temptations, Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, BB King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Ronnie Milsap, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Godsmack, Uriah Heap, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jethro Tull, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rusty Weir, many others and of course, my main man, Willie Nelson.
I just saw where Jerry Jeff Walker had passed away and I am sad. Two songs stand out for me. “LA Freeway” is just a great song, and “I Found a Woman in Texas” reminds me of my bride.
If I have a legacy, it’s the love of my bride, Lorna, my children, my grandkids, my family (in-laws and outlaws), my good and loyal friends, and hopefully being a person who made a difference in a positive way in someone’s life.
I’m thankful for I made it to 70, and look forward to the decades ahead!