Death and Birthdays

Yesterday I celebrated a birthday. The beginning of a new year of life; and I am grateful. But ironically, what has moved me most this week has been death. A reminder that life is fragile - not promised. And that sometimes death doesn’t seem fair.

How Can I Be Down: Execute

Once you are asking the right questions, believe, commit and think with your leaders, there is only one thing left to do – Execute! At the end of the day, it’s the results that matter.

Your Idea is Not Crazy

During a recent panel discussion on entrepreneurship I was asked the question, “What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?” It took me a while, but then I realized that one of the best insights I had was simply that “your idea is not crazy!”

Alone

One of the most profound experiences of my life came when I was a college student and found myself in a bit of trouble. My dad was summonsed from a west coast engagement to Atlanta, where he met me in a prominent attorney’s offices. After a couple of uncomfortable hours, I was told that I could go and the incident went away.

Heights

Henry Longfellow's words from The Ladder of St. Augustine ring clearly in my mind - not beacuse of an impactful English literature class, but because my grandfather recited these words to me more than 10 years ago as we discussed my career ambitions.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Kill the Boys!




July 2016
Today I witnessed an attempted murder.

A day following the brutal vehicular slaughter of more than 80 in Nice, France, I found myself in a courtroom listening to an attorney twist facts, elaborate on irrelevant information, speculate on intent and assault character in what defending counsel called “appalling provocational vindictiveness.”

It was an effort to kill one of my boys.

Fortunately, following the expenditure of a lot of time, money and pain, things worked out about as well as they could have. My friend had the resources, tenacity, talent and support to fight back and minimize what could have been a fatal attack.

July 2013
Dr. Aaron Parker preached a sermon entitled “Kill the Boys.” Following the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, black America was in a fog. Anger, defiance, confusion and fear were the words of the hour.

Like so many on this steamy Sunday morning, Dr. Parker approached the sacred desk that day to bring a word of challenge and clarity from the Lord. Coming out of Exodus 1, Dr. Parker reminded the gathered that this was not the first time history had recorded an assault on the boys.

“Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives… When you help the Hebrew women give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him…” Exodus 1:15

While the murder of black men is nothing new in America - we are reminded of the brutality of the middle passage, and slavery and the Jim Crow eras of course; the assassination of Malcom and Martin; the public beating of Rodney King (which mirrored the experience of many fellow gen’Xers); and then Trayvon’s death brought new light to many similar cases that have occurred in the contemporary period – Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray...

So, in that context, Dr. Parker’s “Kill the Boys” asks an important question: Just how should we respond to the slaughtering of our sons?

As any good Baptist preacher would, he has three recommendations:

1. Save as many as you can.

In Exodus 1 and 2 we read that the king feared the strength of the Israelites. He made them slaves and worked them hard, but the Israelites kept growing in strength and numbers. So then, the king gave an order to “kill the boys” - at least twice. But the womenfolk disobeyed the king and saved as many as they could.

2. Bring some pressure. 

In Exodus 3, 4 and 5, Moses and the elders are sent to see the king and, through the next several chapters, they partner with God to bring some serious pressure. This is not a short exercise and it is not without sacrifice. The slaves are made to work even harder and under even worse conditions. Nevertheless, the pressure was effective. Many of the Egyptians began to see their sin and joined in the movement. They too began to bring pressure on the king.

But that wasn’t enough. We are also instructed to…

3. Proceed in faith.


As a final means of bringing pressure, in Exodus 12, God determined to get the attention of the king by killing some Egyptian boys if necessary.

With that in mind, God told the Israelites to adopt a new tradition. While enduring yet another threat to kill the boys, this was a scary time for them; and Moses’ request seemed a little strange – so this required a leap of faith. God, through Moses, gave some very specific instructions for killing, cooking and eating a lamb, placing blood on the door frame and keeping their families safe. The Israelites did as instructed, their boys were spared and their community was released from bondage.

Something else interesting happened as the Israelites were packing to leave Egypt. Now that cocaine and heroin addiction was killing some Eqyptians, it became a health crisis. Now that sentencing guidelines were hobbling Egyptian families, prison reform was on the legislative agenda. And, the Israelites observed that if they kept the pressure up and proceeded in faith, when mental health issues and gun violence begins impacting Egyptian neighborhoods more frequently, some attention will be paid to those issues too.

Note however that killing the boys wasn’t just about killing the boys – it was about killing the nation. Similarly then, saving boys isn’t just about saving the boys – it also is about saving the nation.

July 2016
As I sit in the courtroom, my own first born son is at a writing camp across the country. Later that afternoon, while in an Uber on the way to the airport, I received a text message from him. Henry IV had written and performed a poem today entitled “Because a Black Man Died Today.”

…You force-fed us your religion, now you kill us in our churches.
You kept us from reading, now brand us uneducated.
You kill our daddies, and call us “fatherless…”

I am dead,
or I will be.

I am becoming desensitized.
Do you slaughter us in the streets
and put the blame on us,
so that we will turn in against each other?
So that we will stop caring?...


It seems that my teenage son is, a few thousand miles away, wrestling with this edict to “kill the boys.”

Today I witnessed an attempted murder. I saw it for myself! An order was given to “kill the boys.”

Fortunately, things worked out about as well as they could have. You see, the womenfolk stepped in. Her Honor disobeyed the king’s command. She is among the number determined to save as many as she can.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Communication Imperative (part II) Eat Meals Together




I really like the TV show “Blue Bloods.”  It stars Tom Selleck, one of the Whalberg brothers and some other folks who have great screen presence.  It’s also fast moving and thoughtful at the same time, and because most of the family members are in law enforcement, they do “business” together.  Because of that, the theme of each show usually deals with some element of a family dynamic. 

In fact, in every episode there is a scene where the family has a meal together.  During these meals, as most meals do, the conversation starts out lightly and without an agenda; but before long the subject turns to something more serious, and most often to a challenge that several family members are encountering personally or professionally.  Maybe not at that meal, but at some point during the show that issue is resolved.

Now, I understand that it’s show business, but there is something to this.
 

Even without a planned agenda, conversation builds relationships.  People get to know one another, have an understanding of one another, or have a feel for what is challenging someone.  If there is a problem, they may even be able to brainstorm a bit when they are not rushed to be someplace else, or be willing to take the time in a quiet moment to help a colleague, or family member, out.  Minimally, you can relax, laugh and put your work aside while enjoying good company.

My theory is that "the family that eats together works better together."  (OK, that's a little corny, but you get my point.)    Eating meals together can be a good way to improve communications.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Communication Imperative (part 1)





2016 was a good year – lots of progress and some light at the end of the tunnel with respect to getting construction underway on constructing the National Museum of African American Music.  Maybe, it seems, our team’s hard work is beginning to pay off.

Last year also had its challenges.  For example, I expect that the growth in our team’s workload will continue to outpace the growth in our staff, and since we all work harder than we should, sustainability and self-preservation requires that we find ways to be more efficient and effective with the same hours and energy. 

One way to do that is to communicate better with one another.  This became crystal clear to me towards the end of last year as we worked through some local political and community concerns.  I recall coming out of a meeting with our board chair saying, “we need communications help right now!”  Boy was I right.  The next six weeks turned into what I disaffectionatly termed a “cluster of poor communication.”

People wanted things from one another that they hadn’t communicated.  Others insisted that their point of view be heard, while not bothering to understand someone else’s.  Some jumped in to help without asking where help was needed – and made things worse.  Still others assumed that some meant us harm without so much as a conversation to clarify interest or intent.  These are all classic communications “shortcuts” that can cause mistakes, waste time and cost money.  In this case, I know that it caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in expense and multiples of that in poorly used man-hours.
So, I am focusing at least the early part of this year on being a better communicator, and I encourage you to join me.  The NMAAM team is getting some professional help with this, but I will also use DBTE to send out a note from time to time to encourage you to think about how well you are communicating and maybe a suggestion or two about getting better. 

 Following are the first two.  Let me know what you think.

  1. Multi-tasking is a lie!  We all do it to some degree, but we must admit that it is rarely as effective as we hope it will be.  The truth is, if you hope to get things done correctly the first time, and if you want to be certain that you listened well or spoke clearly then multi-tasking won’t work.At work, as busy as we all are, we often believe that multi-tasking is the only way to get it all done.  There’s too much to do, and not enough hours in the day!  However, if something is important enough to schedule a meeting to discuss, isn’t it worth giving the topic your full attention?  Multi-tasking is a lie.
  2. Slow down to go faster.This oxymoron often proves to be true, particularly as it relates to communicating.  There’s a lot going on, the schedule is full, there are several people involved and you’ve got multiple deadlines coming at you quickly.  Slow down.Continuing to move quickly risks poor communication.  Your colleagues don’t know what you need or what you expect… you aren’t clear on the assignment… you zig and your teammate zags… Slow down.

    Make a few minutes to have a clear conversation.
      Check for understanding and agreement.  Take a few notes, date them and add a topic or category so they are easy to find later.  Being clear on delivery, timing and the role that you are expected to play may seem to come at a cost, but that price is much less than the cost of getting it wrong, missing the mark, having to do the work again or delaying completion.  Sometimes slowing down is the most effective way to go faster.
series to be continued...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Better Not More




Sometimes as I start the week, I take a look at my calendar and am amazed. The number of meetings and phone calls that are scheduled just makes me shake my head, and takes no account for the work that has to get done in between.

So, off to the races I go… Trying to make it happen and look good doing it.

On occasion, I remind my assistant to block time for me to have nothing to do, or even to go home a little early. (That’s right, I schedule time to be unscheduled.)  It is during these times that I am reminded that better can be more impactful than more.

In other words, when I have time to think, speak informally with colleagues or to focus on making progress or completing just a single project it seems to advance my work further than when I am multi-tasking furiously.

That’s often counter to the demands that are placed on us at work. Emails are flying, the phone is ringing, someone’s at your door, and your next meeting is waiting. It may seem that after 5:30 and weekends are the only time you can get any work done.

If you find that to be the case, then you can help make my point. Better, not more.

In fact, I think that better is more, and that better can be faster too.

Consider the project that you are working on, the letter that you need to write, or the strategy that you need to craft. Taking the time to block out distractions and focus on getting to the next milestone can take a weight off your shoulders, free up space on your mental “C drive” and move you forward. It may even be that the ball advances further with less resistance; the product you’ve developed is cleaner, better thought-out, and more complete – better – because you gave it the focused effort it deserved.

Remember that conversation you had with a teammate (or a spouse) yesterday? You were multi-tasking and only half-listening – because you were trying to get more done. How did that work out for you?

Maybe it worked out just fine, but I’ve often found that when it matters most, it doesn’t go so hot.

I didn’t hear all of the relevant information. My instructions weren’t clear. My colleagues proceed without full understanding or agreement. Something goes wrong… And then I want to blame someone else, when I should be pointing the finger at myself.

At work this can cost money and it almost always costs time. Even more at home.

Your dad used to tell you to do one thing at a time. So why don’t we remember that better is often more – and faster too.

Friday, July 31, 2015

An Unlikely Friend

New to town, not too long ago, I was introduced to a man who I was told could help me get acclimated to Nashville.  Older and more casually dressed than I’d anticipated, Francis Guess cursed me for being a few minutes later than our agreed upon meeting time at the bar, then recited my family lineage before I sat down.  He proceeded to give me a history of Nashville’s business community over rounds that quickly changed from white wine to Jack Daniels, introduced me to a steady stream of lady friends and gentlemen bankers and lawyers the whole time, and refused to let me buy my own drinks hours later when I was dismissed because he was late for “the ballet!”

Such was the beginning of perhaps an unlikely friendship.

Over the ensuing years Francis and I talked, strategized, partied, drank and joked.  During his time I was tutored - on political strategy and the history of Tennessee and its government.  I was chastised - for faux pas and mistakes that I’d made.  I was laughed at and called names, encouraged and coached.

I was celebrated – with a surprise birthday party, no less!  I was trusted - with insights (“I know where the bodies are buried, Hicks”), strategies and maybe even a few of his frustrations and dreams.  I was reminded – of the inferiority of an education obtained any place other than Tennessee State and “Van-der-bilt University.”  I was defended and told “you’re on your own!”

I was introduced - to the people who make the region move in diverse establishments from The City Club, Jimmy Kelly’s and Morton’s to Out of Bounds, J. Alexander’s and The Cave.  And I was nominated – sometimes without my knowledge – to civic boards that drew me closer to this city and helped me to understand why he so loved his hometown.

Many will also point out that Francis would say things to people that only he could get away with.  He made women blush and men cringe, but most of these same people respected him, and many of them also sought his counsel (“I don’t seek out information, Hicks.  People just tell me things.”)  Not to be attempted by amateurs, Francis was at once confounding and straight forward.  A rare combination of characteristics that would make him, for many of us, an unlikely friend.

But that was Francis: a man with the intellect to walk with kings, the persona to kick it with the common man, and the desire to be a connector and to be of service for the benefit of us all.

Connecting dots and connecting people may be what he’s remembered most for.  Francis solved problems for executives, politicians, preachers, musicians, kids and others who crossed his path.  Often, he did so by helping you see yourself, your problem or your world through a different lens – and then making a connection with another person or experience that could help you bring focus to your new, broader perspective.



Helping me to appreciate a different point of view and a renewed sense of urgency, I recall an impromptu set of remarks that Francis made about the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM).  He was in a surly mood that evening, and reluctantly rose to share a few words with the informal gathering the projects early organizers.  With a scowl, he began to talk about a recent trip to south Nashville at dawn…


“Sometimes, as the sun rises, I go to the top of a hill near Father Ryan High School, south of the city…
 

At this, the site of the Battle of Nashville in 1865, the 13th U.S. Colored Troops fought in the Civil War led by a little boy who was beating a drum.  This child, no more than 11 or 12 years old, kept cadence for the troops heading into conflict and probably represented one of the earliest introductions of our music to this city. 

He marked time while marching towards the Confederate army, commanded by Gen. John Bell Hood, and knowing that death was a likely outcome. I can almost hear that drummer boy, leading men into battle with tired feet but an invigorated longing to be free.

I can almost hear that drummer boy, recalling a pulse from a distant land and a tempo inbred from generations of toil and tribulation. I think I can hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the drummer boy’s snare drum which would portend victory for Gen. George Thomas’ troops. I’m almost sure that I can hear that drummer boy! That beat was for you – and for me. That rhythm was the passion, the hope and the yearning for my freedom.”

The room fell silent as he spoke, and a few wiped tears.  Francis had connected the dots – from the Civil War to the present day, conservatives and liberals, black and white, now all had a reason to be passionate about a project that he’d long thought was a cultural and economic imperative for the region.  He’d placed the explanation point at the end of the slogan My Music Matters!



As Francis took his seat that evening, he smiled and was clearly in a better mood.  His burden was lifted, but those in attendance were made uncomfortable by his truth – we all now had a decision to make.

Yet, he didn’t realize the impact that he’d had and began to joke with those nearest him.  But the party broke up shortly after that.  There wasn’t much else left to say.

Like NMAAM, many of the dots that Francis connected were a work in process.  He actually worried some about whether or not he’d successfully passed the torch of service on to others.  And so, let’s be clear, his passing leaves many of us with a load to carry and maybe an incomplete assignment.

I’m clear what mine is.  I too hear the rat-a-tat-tat of that drummer boy.

But what is yours?  You too now have a decision to make.  And once you’ve made it, get focused.  Get it done.  XEQTE! (Henry, what the hell does your license plate say?)  Get yourself a Jack and Ginger and steel your resolve to make Nashville a better place and Tennessee a better state.  It‘s the best way I can think of to honor our unlikely friend.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

There’s Power in the Name

My name is H. Beecher Hicks, III – but most people just call me Henry.

I’m frequently asked, then, why I insist on writing it as H. Beecher Hicks, III.  I generally offer, simply, that this is the way my grandfather told me to write it.  A true story, but, of course, there’s more to it than that.

I like my name.  I’m proud of it.  And, there’s even power in the name.

You see, I’m the third to carry this name.  The two that came before me did themselves and their families proud.  Both broke new ground with their levels of educational attainment; both led in civil rights, social justice and gender equality; both are known as writers and orators of unparalleled skill; both took seriously their call to shepherd the flock and to preach the gospel; and both raised families whose work to succeed is surpassed only by their efforts to serve.

Even as I write this I understand that’s a heavy burden for present and future generations to carry.  But there’s also power in the name.

Because of their work, and because my name is H. Beecher, I’ve been in places as divergent as the White House and the Waffle House and had someone say “aren’t you Beecher’s boy?”  My signature on emails and letters have resulted in compelling replies from the Smithsonian and from investment bankers.  My name has gotten me airline upgrades, dinner reservations, job interviews, scholarships, credibility with politicians and priests, and I’m even occasionally promoted to the rank of “Dr. Hicks.”  (Perhaps I’ll go back to school someday to make it true.)

There may be power in the name, but there are two sides to every coin.

Being H. Beecher cost me anonymity as a teenager in places that I shouldn’t have been and doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing.  Being H. Beecher caused professors to scrutinize my work more carefully, bosses to question my skill, acquaintances to take advantage of my naiveté in attempts to enhance association or feign affiliation, and caused me to place undue pressure on myself to live up to the brand.  I even get the occasional piece of mail from an eerie person who has watched from afar to determine where I live or work and who is compelled to share some dissonant information with me – because of what my name is.

But on balance, I really like my name.  So much so that I’d really forgotten about the burden of being H. Beecher until recently.

My first born son is H. Beecher Hicks, IV.  Henry is a great kid – bright and talented with unique blossoming gifts.  However, a few weeks ago Henry made a decision that his mom and I weren’t pleased about.  Crystal handled the discipline… but I had a few more things to say.

I waited a couple of days before bringing up the subject.  I asked if he was proud of what he’d done.  He said that he was “fine with it.”  I asked him if he thought he’d made his mom proud.  He said “no.”  I asked him if he thought his grandparents would be proud.  He said “no.”

From there, I reminded him that because his name was the same as mine, everything he did was a reflection on me…  And went further to remind him that his work and actions were also a reflection on his grandfather and great-grandfather.  I’m not sure he’d quite thought about it that way.

I tried to soften it up by pointing out that this was a two way street.  My actions and body of work provide a foundation for his.  I can also bring credit or shame to his name.

As I recall, our conversation came to a quiet close.  We’d heard each other out and agreed to disagree.

A few hours later, in the stillness of the early morning, Crystal and I were awakened by a frightening cacophony of sounds coming from Henry’s room.  Henry was not feeling well and after an hour or so of home remedies, it was clear that the emergency room was our next stop.

Fortunately a hospital is nearby; and so within a few minutes he was being seen by a doctor.  Following a description of symptoms and a check of vital signs, the solution to this problem, we were told, was simple – “Henry, try to slow your breathing.”

Henry was hyperventilating.  This caused him to have severe stomach pains and to present stroke-like symptoms due to a lack of oxygen in his blood.  It took the rest of the night and the aid of some heavy drugs to restore his breathing to normal.

Later that week Henry told his mom that he felt a lot of pressure following our conversation earlier that night.  The stress he was feeling as he went to bed, he believes, caused him to become ill.  Of course, Crystal shared this with me, and I felt terrible about it.

There may be power in a name.  But our names can be a burden too.

As Easter approaches this spring, there is no better illustration of the power and burden of a name than the story of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  Many are familiar with the common refrain from Philippians 2 that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow… and every tongue confess…”  That’s a lot of power!

We see example after example in the New Testament of the power of Jesus’ name.  Faith in the name of Jesus enabled blind men to see, resurrected the dead, cured leprosy, calmed the seas and turned water into wine.  One woman had so much faith in the power of His name that she believed that if she could just touch the hem of his robe she’d be made whole.  There’s power in the name.

But even His name has its burdens.  After leading and teaching a rag-tag group of followers for years, they still wouldn’t watch his back when he stepped away to pray, they still weren’t altogether convinced that he was the incarnation of God, and one of his most trusted boys is the one who sold him out and led him to his death.

And then there is the crucifixion itself.  Despite the power in His name and having committed no sin, He had to bear the burden of being beaten, tortured, hung high, stretched wide, and dying on a cross.

To a much lesser degree, we all have a similar experience.  Hence the phrase, perhaps, that we “all have our crosses to bear.”

Our names have power… and burden.  Consider names such as Kennedy and King, Ford and Rockefeller.  Those names represent something.  They conjure up an image for us all.  Triumph and tragedy, destiny and disaster follow each of these names.

Even more modern family names such as Reagan or Obama, or even Kardashian, bring images to mind.  Each are powerful in their own way, but each person who carries that name bears a burden as well.

Your name represents something too.  Your parents thought about your name – a lot.  Some may consider your name to be the most valuable asset they can give you.  For example, our younger son is not only a Hicks, but his first and middle names, Harrison Patton, represent the family names of his fraternal and maternal grandmothers respectively.  This young man carries the expectations of three families around with him every day!  But no matter how simple or elaborate, your name is significant for some reason.

And therein lies its power.

You’ve got something to live up to.  A history, a future, an expectation, a hope, a wish, a prayer… Power.

Yet, as compelling and alluring as it is, and as much as it makes you stand up a little taller… Its inverse is its burden.  It’s that nagging doubt that we all carry.  Will you make your family proud?  Will you achieve your goal?  Will you bring credit to your name?

This is my experience, and Henry’s, and yours.

When I was a teenager going out with my friends, my dad would tell me on occasion to “remember what your name is.”  While I always took note when he said that, it wasn’t until I was sitting at the foot of Henry’s hospital bed that night that I really considered the gravity of that statement.

I certainly hope that he, nor Harrison, has that medical experience again, but I’ve decided that I’m also okay with their names being a burden.  That burden may keep them out of trouble.  It will give them the drive to achieve, and to overcome, and to serve, and to make their names more powerful.

Of course, my job is to live up to my name as well.  That’s the only way that I can contribute to the power of His name and to the power in theirs.

I periodically tell my boys that they make me proud, and that they live up to their names, just by being themselves.  I also tell them to “remember what your name is!”

There’s power in the name.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Think I Shed a Tear

This week, I spent time packing and coordinating a move from my home.  Our family belongings were boxed, crated and carted.  Not to be taken to the excitement and possibilities represented by a new home where our family can thrive; but to the nondescript hollowness of a storage facility.  One along an over-grown and forgotten road just off the highway near where it intersects with the airport’s runway.

  

Just stuff perhaps.  But our stuff.  The stuff that holds memories that the extended Hicks family and friends created – now held secure with a padlock behind an orange garage door.

And I think I shed a tear.

The next morning I awoke, following a short and fitful night’s sleep, with a headache that surely follows only a long night of loud music and Jack Daniels.  Except, I could find no explanation in this case.  My evening only included a cup of yogurt and a single Heineken and a midnight run to Wal-Mart for boxer shorts.

Nevertheless, the throbbing and banging that I was experiencing would only be soothed by a handful of Tylenol, a long shower and some of Aunt Charisse’s cheese grits from Kroger.

The reason for this torture?  We’ve decided to lease our home to some lovely family during our sojourn to Nashville.

I bought this house ‘cause Crystal said she wanted it.  I worked closely with the contractors to make the basement a place where we’d all like to hang out.  Crystal picked furniture to make the place simple, elegant, grand and comfortable – designing her castle to match her style.  And I presided this week over its disassembly, padding and shrink-wrapping – before having it all deposited in a lifeless gated community with no access after 9pm.

And I promised her that after this move to the SWATs she wouldn’t have to move again- unless opportunity and circumstances absolutely required it.  Maybe they had.

After four years of the Hicks family living in separate cities, the boys becoming teenagers and professional opportunities persisting in unexpected places, it was a good time to find a way to have dinner together most nights.

The idea of maintaining dual residences is good in theory, but tough to pull off for most anyone I’m sure.  Choices had to be made.

So after an elixir of grits and grape juice I head to my last appointment on this trip.

As I pull into the driveway – noticing the numbers on the mailbox, the knockout roses in bloom, the red clay on the basketball goal, and how much that maple tree has grown…  behind me follows two matching BMW X5’s – cars I’d never seen before.

I gathered myself and stepped out my own car with a plastic smile and an outstretched hand.

The place looked different now.  Vast, sparkling, almost new.  Well, except for the holes I made in the garage walls to hang bicycles, and the impressions in the floor where Harrison’s piano sat, and the marks on the door frame where H4 practiced chin-ups, and the nicks in the kitchen cabinets from the pots, feet and balls that have banged against them as Crystal baked cakes, canned jelly or made Thanksgiving dinner.

Ok, not so new.  But ours, and pert near perfect.

After a brief tour, I traded keys and a garage opener for a check; and then I stood for a few seconds.  Not sure what to do next…  I guess this is my cue to leave.

The lease was signed, inspection passed, funds exchanged… And I think I shed a tear.

The deed is done.  The commitment made.  The chapter closed?  A step out on faith – towards a new land and new possibilities.

Overhead lower.  Family together.  The title still mine.  Zillow is my friend.  And I can go home again, right?

But I still think I may have actually shed a tear.