Monday, April 27, 2015

My Brother and other assorted things

Be aware, some of this ACK might have adult language in it. You have been warned

My Brother, Rick Massengill, left this life about noon on Easter Sunday, 5 April, 2015. Twenty days ago.  It somehow seems like a lifetime ago.
My brother and I didn't have the idealistic upbringing of a Beaver Cleaver or a Ricky Nelson (who Rick was named after). It sometimes wasn't fun around our house when we were kids. I have said it before, some days you got off the school bus and you didn't know when you walked in the house if mom and dad would be "f***kin or fighting".  Until I was 14 years old (Rick would have been 17 or 18 years old at that time) We didn't see a sober Christmas from our Father.

  When our Father became sober, I was still young enough to want to hang around with Dad. We stuck together like glue but with Rick it was a different story. He was just old enough at the time that he was thinking about being his own man. I remember him telling me after Dad stopped drinking "You might be getting along with Dad and Mom might be getting along with Dad but it seems like all we do is growl at each other" and I hate to say I didn't get it at the time but the passage of time has given me an understanding of where Rick was coming from all those years ago.

  When we were young and Dad was drinking, I remember laying in bed late at night and being woke up by our Parents fighting or trying to go to sleep while you can hear your Parents fighting isn't an easy thing. Rick and I shared a bedroom for a good many years and during the "bad" nights I would go crawl in bed with Rick because of two things. 1. It was a point in my life that I didn't understand just what the hell was going on and 2. I just didn't want to be alone.

  Being the youngest child, I got to stand back and watch life happening around me.  I remember feeling rather disconnected at a young age because I had no control over what happened to me or around me most of the time. I got to watch alot of things happen and the outcome or aftermath of how those decisions or actions turned out.  I got to watch both my Father and my Brother. I've seen the side of smoking and substance abuse they don't show you on the Beer or Cigarette advertisements.  It isn't pretty.

After Rick and I were both in our 20's we became pretty good friends.  The older brother/little brother dynamic from our youth was largely gone and we were much more on an even footing between us.  Sometimes that was a good thing, other times...not so much, but we lived.  I got out of my USAF tech school in Nov 1984. I took 30 days leave before going to Alaska.  At the time, my brother had a 1962 Chevy Nova. A beautiful car that I would have given my eye teeth to have!  I was helping Rick put brakes on the car. I was putting a spring back on the backing plate that holds the brake shoe in the proper position in relation to the brake drum. I picked up a pair of Vice Grips and pulled on the end of that spring to hook it on to the mount.  In doing that, unknown to me at the time, I was pulling those Vice Grips toward my face.  Those Vice Grips slipped off that spring and WHAM, I hit myself DEAD in between the eyes.  The only thing missing in my world at that moment was the small tweeting birds you see when someone gets hit upside the head in a cartoon.  I'm thankful I didn't really hurt myself too badly because Rick was under the car laughing SO hard he almost couldn't breath. If he had called 911, All he could have done was laughed really loudly.

  In 1987, Rick helped me drive out of Alaska.  It was one heck of a trip.  He told me earlier this year, the trip from Alaska to Knoxville was the highlight of his life up to that point.  We stopped at Liard Hot Springs ( ). The photos of that place STILL don't do it justice.  In 1987 Liard Lodge was a small house (it didn't look like the photos on their webpage! ) We were drinking at the bar with a few local people and I was ask "are you in the Army" and I said something like "No....I was smart enough to go in the Air Force"...and I thought nothing more of it. The next day driving away from Liard Hot Springs, Rick told me "You are too damn opinionated!" and I looked right back at him and said "My opinions are as good as anyone's and you're and asshole"! At that point we agreed to disagree I guess you can say.... I found out later that he was concerned about me talking in less than glowing terms about the U.S. Army. He said "what if one of the guys at the bar had been in the Army and he had mopped the floor with your ass, what would you have done then?!"....I had to admit he had a rather good point.  There we were, two strangers WAY far away from home or friends, in the middle of NO WHERE. Getting your ass beat at that point of the trip would have been a bad thing.

  The Alaska trip had other pitfalls along the way. We stopped in Havre, Montana. For me to say "we had a few beers" was a TOTAL understatement. We both got VERY drunk that night. We were trying to make about 300 miles a day, give or take a mile or two.  The next morning, hungover to beat the band, we went 20 miles to the next small town and checked in to a hotel. After checking in, we ordered breakfast.  Me, being the stupid and younger one, ordered EGGS....(Let me take this moment to educate the younger crowd that might be reading this.  Eggs are the WORST thing you can order and put on the empty, formerly alcohol filled gut. If you haven't barffed before then you WILL barf after you eat those Eggs. Remember, you heard it hear first. I think that is The Daily ACK's first public service announcement! )
Once we put Havre, Montana behind us we made great time.  In the days before GPS, we had a Rand McNally US map book with us. The closer we got to home, the more Rick would drive. He wanted to get home to Knoxville. I couldn't blame him either. We were on the road together for 8 days from Fairbanks, AK to Knoxville, TN and drove a distance of right at 5,000 miles.

Rick could fix darn near anything in or around a house.  I have a Time/Life book about how to fix most home problems. My brother didn't need anything like a book.  In 2004 he helped me put a roof on our house in Sumter.  I hate heights. Getting up the ladder the first time rattled my nerves something awful. I was very scared. It took me a while to get the hang of it.  We roofed that house in about a week.  One night while he was at my house, I ask him how to put a cabinet back in that I had removed to fix the water connection to the ice maker of the refridgerator. I only wanted advice to do it myself at a later date...the next thing I know, he had a hammer in his hand and had that cabinet put back in almost before I could form the words to try and stop him.  I have no idea who I will call the next time I need advice about how to fix something at the house.
I could think up a million things about My Brother and the laughs we had and the times we talked but I have to end this somewhere.
Right after I was told he has passed away, I ask his wife, Denise Massengill, could I post something on the Holston High alumni group. She said that I could.  The post about my brother passing away got right at 75 comments and a great many of them spoke about how good of a guy Rick was and that people had fond memories of him.  I'm happy and uplifted by the memories other people had about Rick.

I miss my brother a great deal but I'm so glad he is no longer in pain. I hope him and my Dad are sitting by the pearly gates, drinking real coffee and laughing about something. They deserve it.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A rerun for my Brother.

The Daily ACK! 3/20/2011 Funny stuff

March 20, 2011 at 12:50pm
ACK....What funny stuff do you remember from your youth?...or from your life?

(BE WARNED, this ACK contains what might be considered adult content.  If you offend easily, please skip this ACK! You have been warned!)

At about age 17, my dad was 47 and trying darn hard to stop smoking...he was walking through the house toward the kitchen with a cigarette in one hand and a large Tupperware tumbler (16oz), coughing with every step he took. I said to him "Those things will kill you" and he held up the Tupperware tumbler and said "This?"...That was my dad..always seeing the funny side of anything.

Another time, while riding in the car with dad, again, I was about 17 years old.  We got behind a Tractor Trailer truck that was stuffed FULL of live chickens. I absentmindedly said "I bet that is a foul job" dad groaned and it took me a while to "get it", it's funny to me...

Something else I thought was funny from my youth. My dad and I used to tell the same jokes....except for one thing that didn't translate across the generation gap. He told the same jokes using the Irish in the punchline and I used the Polish in the punchline....*Why do the Polish have such trouble having kids? They wait for the swelling to go down*....*bad Johnny, bad Johnny*. (I had a Polish teacher in 6th's and 7th's grade that used to tell us Polish jokes and just laugh with us...Mr Sierra was good as gold)

Something a little more recent...We got Sophie Oct 22, 2008. A few weeks after we got her the time changed and it was getting darker at night earlier. Randi and I took Dylan and Sophie out in the back yard to get the "business" done while it was still light outside. Dylan decided he needed to do #2...Sophie, not to be outdone, also bent over to do #2..she was so close to Dylan she pooped on the very tip of his tail...I was laughing so darn hard I almost fell down.

I worked for Sumter County for 4 years and I worked with 3 very fine people at the time, Garrett Collins, Leon Mitchell and Wendy Kimball. One day I got a tickle in my throat and just couldn't stop coughing...I was trying hard to go over a new system with Garrett and Leon and they looked at me and ask " Are you OK?" I said that I was ok, inbetween coughs.  After the coughing had almost stopped I looked at Garrett and Leon and said "If I fall in the floor and I wake up and one of you hairy legged stump jumpers are giving me mouth to mouth I'm going to hit you.  If I fall down and stop breathing, someone run and get Wendy"....we all had a big laugh from that.

Randi is such a quiet person that she can say something that will cut you deep and it takes a second or two for it to sink in that she has cut you while you weren't looking. One day right after she moved to South Carolina from Texas, I was leaving for work and she gave me a peck of a kiss....I pulled her back to me and said "I want a KISS, not a peck! That was like kissing your sister"  (remember, Randi has two sisters) We kissed again and then she ask me..."Which sister?"

The other night, before Randi when to Minnesota, we were at the dinner table eating and we were discussing Sophie's back and how to handle it while Randi was gone. She said "no matter what, you will tell me if Sophie takes a turn for the worse with her back" and my answer was "Oh yes".  Then I told her a joke that reminded me of.  A real cat lover goes on vacation and leave his beloved cat with his brother.  He calls back home on the first night and the brother blurts out on the phone "your cat died this morning".  The cat lover is so torn up and distraught he ends the phone call.  A few hours later he calls the brother back and says "you could have broken it to me gently...something like 'the cat is stuck on the roof of the house and won't eat' and then the next day 'the cat is still on the house and still hasn't eaten" and on for a few more days and then tell me the cat had passed on while on the roof of the house". They end their phone call and the brother on vacation calls back the next day and his brother at home tells him "Mom is stuck on the roof of the house....." we both got a good laugh out of that one...

Fun sometimes happens where you make it happen.  There I stood in Frankfurt Germany, 5:00am 11 Aug 1990, flying off to the gulf war.  It is a serious matter to miss troop movement and they were calling roll before they would let us back on the aircraft. They got to my last name, "Massengill" and someone else in the crowd said "Isn't that the disposable douche?" I said "You're damn right it's disposable, who the hell would want to keep it" and the whole crowd of people getting on that aircraft laughed.  In the face of danger, flying into the unknown, there was time to laugh. I, for one, was thankful for that tension breaker..I needed it at the time.

I was a teacher in the military for 4 years.  I used to teach people to use the equipment I worked on.  One day at the Bomb Dump on Shaw AFB, I was teaching 8 people about the -86 Hobart Generator.  I was teaching along "This generator unit puts out 3 phase, 120 volt, 400Hz AC power...." One of my female students blurted out "HEY, that's enough to power my...." and another male student said "vibrator" and then the female said "I was going to say "Hair Dryer" but vibrator would work too".  There I stood, lesson plan in hand, and I had to turn away from the 8 students I was teaching and LAUGH OUT LOUD.  There was no way in the world I could keep teaching. It took me 4 or 5 minutes to regain my composure so I could continue teaching...

Then there are things that happen that you can laugh about later....even though these two items happened about 10 years apart, they are related to my brother and I.
There is about 3 and a half years of age difference between myself and my brother. At the time of the first happening, I was 6 and he was 9. He did something to me in our grandmother's (Mom's mother)house in Union County TN. He ran out the back door and at the side of the step was a 15 foot dog chain, I picked up that dog chain and spun it over my head, like a rope, and hit my brother in the back of the head with the hook on that chain...and he dropped to the ground mother came out the back door talking to Rick "Now you quit that, your going to hurt him (me)!.... and at that point he couldn't have hurt a fly....but I had hurt him..
Then fast forward 10 or so years, my brother and I used to go to Rock concerts at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium.  I can't remember who we were even seeing that night.  My brother was with a girl and I was standing beside him. We looked in front of us and saw an EX girlfriend of his.  Barbara, the EX girlfriend, was 4 foot 11 inches of the meanest person I have ever met up to that point.  She didn't fight like a girl at all...she would double up her fist and go upside your head and think nothing of it....I was standing behind Barbara. My brother moved up and kicked Barbara in the ass and moved back before she turned around. She thought I had kicked her...(hell, I KNEW better than to mess with her!). She turned around and I was trying to tell her I didn't kick her and she doubled up her fist and KNOCKED ME COLD!...O.U.T. OUT! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10...OUT! She didn't find out until after I woke back up that I was innocent and my brother Rick was the dirty rotten so and so that kicked her.  After I got my brain twisted back on correctly, Rick looked at me and said "I finally got you back for hitting me with that dog chain".....The only thing lacking was the cartoon tweeting birds flying around my head....

Ok, I'm all ACKed out!


Saturday, January 31, 2015


Tomorrow, my Dad will have been gone a month.  Heaven gained a voice in the choir and I've lost a life rudder.  I feel disconnected in a strange sort of way when it comes to my Dad passing on.

Do I miss him? Yes. more than I thought I would. One moment I'm happy and well adjusted about Dad dying and in the next moment I'm a bit sad. The sadness seems to hit me at odd times. His words have jumped in my mind a million different times in the last month.  Sometimes in the middle of the night while Randi and the dogs are asleep and Sometimes a sudden thought during my day, not that it is a bad thing.  I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that going forward with my life, I will always miss my Dad.

I have a million different memories of Dad. Good and bad, happy and sad.  The wise words he said to me as a teenager and conversations we had while we were both adults.  The laughs we shared, right up to the very end will make me happy for years to come.

Dad, I hope your trip has eased your pain, quieted your suffering and restored you to better than your former glory.

I miss you and I always will.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The dash or the -

Walter K Massengill
5 Oct 1932 - 1 Jan 2015

It is hard to watch your childhood hero leave this life.  After my brother told me on the phone that Dad had passed away, I hung up the phone and said quietly "Well, my Dad has a date after the - " It also seems to me on that day that my Mom lost a dash. It was Walter - Eliza for 59 years and now it is just Eliza going forward.  That is kind of a sad thing.  When Randi goes away on business for a week or two, I feel like I've lost my right arm. I can't imagine what my Mom must be dealing with between her ears right now.  I've been in prayer for Mom since I got back from Dad's funeral.

My Dad was slowed by C.O.P.D. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Dad smoked from age 12 until about his mid 40's.  He was first told he had emphysema about the time he stopped smoking (as I remember it...I could be wrong about that)  C.O.P.D. means you have two or more pulmonary problems at the same time. For Dad it became both emphysema and bronchitis.

Growing up my whole family smoked.  Mom let cigarettes go like no one else I've ever seen. She decided to quit smoking and she did. Cold turkey.  After being told he had emphysema, Dad quit also but the damage was done.  I'm not sure why I didn't pick up smoking as a habit but I didn't.  During the Gulf War, I almost started smoking. Being halfway around the world with no control over what part of the world I was in and the hours of sometimes doing nothing found me bumming cigarettes off of other guys. Once it dawned on me of the grip cigarettes were starting to have on me, I stopped bumming cigarettes and left them alone.  

I can honestly say I miss my Dad a good bit but I'm relieved that he suffers no longer in this life.
I wondered what it would be like for me when I could no longer pick up the phone and talk to my Dad and it has happened that I pick up the phone and talk to my Mom.  I guess Mom and I have talked more in the past month than we ever have.  I think that is a good thing.  Before Christmas Mom told me things about her Mom that I didn't know and it gave me a better understanding of Momma Munsey than I had before.   I hope going forward that Mom and I keep talking.

I couldn't write about the last few weeks without saying a few words about my church, Kathwood Baptist Church.  We came home from Tennessee on 27 Dec 2014 and went to church on 28 Dec. The outpouring of love from our church family helped Randi and I get through the last few weeks. I could not be more thankful for a group of people as I am for the people at Kathwood.  They are special to Randi and I.

Going forward won't be easy but maybe we will all learn a new way to live and we will find happiness in ways we haven't found it before.  Dad will never be far from my mind or my heart. He would want us to move forward without him. He wouldn't want his leaving to hold us back.

Dad, I love you and miss you. Always will.
Mom, I love you.
Rick, I love you and Denise greatly.
We will make it.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Controversies, Genealogies, and Dissensions.

I have posted this verse on my Facebook page 3 times in the last 10 days:

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about 
the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:9 ESV

The verse after it states:
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, 
have nothing more to do with him

Or as the King James version puts it:
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about 
the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. Titus 3:9
A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

Those are pretty strong words and that verse has been rolling around in my mind for days. I knew I would write a blog about it.  Titus 3:9 and 10 remind me of a quote from Pope Francis. -- "If 
someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then 
who am I to judge him? ... The problem is not having this tendency, no, 
we must be brothers and sisters to one another. The problem is in 
making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, 
a lobby of masons, so many lobbies." (News conference during flight 
from Brazil to Rome, July 28, 2013).

We can get SO caught up in what we believe as Christians and think that everyone else should believe the very same way. Everyone's walk with Christ is unique and NO ONE  can say a brother or  sister Christian is wrong. We might not understand the walk our    brother or sister in Christ is taking but we are walking a different walk than they are and they are walking a different walk than we are.  
How can we criticize that?   I'm not sure we can.

I must admit Titus 3:9 has given me pause to think about the subjects I put my effort      toward.

Something to think about.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A small slice from 2009.....


To do this, copy this entire message, then go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, delete my answers, and type yours.

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?

2. Where was your profile picture taken?
Nov 2007 in the train station in Washington DC waiting to come back to florence SC

3. Can you play Guitar Hero?
Nope..but I can play Guitar for real...

4. Name someone who made you laugh today?
Randi Massengill

5. How late did you stay up last night and why?
11:30pm watching TV

6. If you could move somewhere else, would you?
Texas, Denison Texas

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you?
Wendy Kimball

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends?

10. How do you feel about mountain dew?
nasty taste.....

11. When was the last time you cried really hard?
A few years ago when Randi and I almost split up

12. Who took your profile picture?
Randi, my wife

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?

14. Was yesterday better than today?

15. Can you live a day without T.V. ?

16. Are you upset about anything?
not really at this moment

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?

18. Are you a bad influence?

19. Night out or night in?
Night in

20. What items could you not go without during the day?
Computer, toilet paper

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
Pat Patterson...(I miss that guy and wish I had talked to him before he passed away)

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
??? I don't know

23. How do you feel about your life right now?
very good

24. Do you hate anyone?
I try darn hard not to hate anyone. Some people I dislike more than others

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find?
Notes to my son and my two cousins about a Massengill Family group me and my two cousins started on FB

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
yes and i proceeded to tell them it was one is perfect

28. What song is stuck in your head?
Yesterday by the Beatles

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be?
someone who is REALLY in need and it is something I can help with. Any other reason can wait until the sun comes up.

30. Wanna have grandkids by the time your 50?

31. What do you have to do tomorrow?
clean out the shed in the back yard and crush cans for recycling

32. Do you think too much or too little?
way too much.

33. Do you smile a lot?
I've been told I do but I don't think so...

Monday, August 18, 2014

The tender middle

I saw a Facebook post from a friend tonight that just said "Why me???" and I didn't know what it was about but I KNEW how it felt.  Been there, done that.  I got picked on in grade school by a person I didn't bother and who I wanted very badly for him to leave me alone.  I'm not sure what it was about me that attracted his attention but it did.  At my young age I felt like it was because my father was away with the military and his father worked for the City of Knoxville. I also felt like it was because my dad was a drinker and I felt like everyone knew it. I'm sure they didn't but I sure felt like they did.

In my adult mind I can see that some people mistook my shy or soft side as a weakness when in fact it was a plus.  I didn't talk much but I took a lot in, much like a sponge takes in water. I watched life go by and I was content to sit on the sidelines and watch life go by. I felt if I opened my mouth, I would be ignored and dismissed. I felt like my opinions carried less weight than other peoples did.

At about age 15 I ask my dad something and his answer was "I think you are old enough to make those decisions for yourself".....MAN! it was like being let off the leash. I don't remember what question I ask but, boy do I remember the answer!  

Even as an adult, I still have a bad habit of saying "May I ask a question?" because I still feel that small boy inside me saying "you're not good enough to give your opinion", however as a counter to that I also tell myself that my opinion is just as good as anyone else's! I can't say I excel and I can't say I fall flat all the time either. I'm painfully average. Right smack in the middle.  They once had an answer on Jeopardy "5'9" 185 lbs and size 9 shoes" the question "What is the measurements of the average man in America" and at the time I was only 5 pounds less than about average! I always wanted to be 6 foot tall....I didn't make it. Oh well! can't have everything.

Sometimes, the insides of our own minds are our worst critic.  You know where the bad stuff about yourself is buried and when you are doing badly, your mind will remind you of every time you fell flat or goofed in front of a crowd full of people.....

It wasn't easy to live through the hard times but it has given me a perspective that I KNOW things will get better and you can't always be on top.  It has provided for me when I was halfway around the world with nothing but snail mail to keep me going (during the Gulf War it took over two weeks to get my first letter from home but when I finally did get mail I got four letters in one day. That was the hardest two weeks of my life!)

Being down isn't easy but maybe God has something in store that only such knowledge can give you an edge to live through during a rough time.  Remember, even the flowers need rain to grow. It can't always have the sun at our backs.....or our shoulders would burn and that is no fun either!

Sometimes only God knows "Why" and he has a plain for us all.
Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the LORD "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plains to give  you hope and a future"