RAMBLINS………………………..The loss of an Old Friend

get-attachment.aspxThree days ago I lost an old friend that had been part of my life for 70+ years. He had accompanied me everywhere I went, running up and down basketball courts in high school and college. He was loyal never complaining. The same was true on the baseball field. Even after my early years when I entered midlife and decided to become a ‘runner’, at 5:30 in the morning my friend and I were out in the early morning air enjoying a three – five mile run. We became such close friends we actually ran in some 5K races. Wherever I went he was always with me supporting me and “making it happen.”

On that fateful day, accompanied by my wife June, we drove to Athens, Georgia to Saint Mary’s hospital to lay my friend to rest. As we entered the hospital we were greeted by a ‘team’ of professionals whose task was to make this as pleasant as possible. It was evident they subscribed to the text: ‘Laughter is the best medicine,” because everyone but me seem to be cheerful and happy. We hardly had time to sit in the receiving area of one of the team’s office when a ‘knock’ came at the door. Upon opening the door Sister Clarice wanted to know if she could pray with me. “Pray with me!” “Is she for real”. In this age of pluralism and diversity this lady wanted to pray with me. I almost broke out singing the Hallelujah chorus. It was apparent June realized I was having a “moment of exhortation” and pinched me on the leg.

The second lady on the team was assigned to June to stay with her and walk her through this ‘difficult’ process. It was her role to keep June informed as to where I was and “how things were going.” I was assigned a number and off I went leaving the team in the room. “Assigned a number??????” I was fifth on the runway……………………………………

In preparation for departing with my friend, an anesthesiologist, who looked young enough to be in middle school, indicated I would be having an epidural in my spine which would relieve any pain and put me in the twilight zone. In our conversation she indicated the physician had eight of these surgeries that morning. I voiced a silent prayer thanking God that I was not eighth. By chance I learned the anesthesiologist was taking golf lessons and we immediately began a conversation concerning the game of golf………..after we finished the importance of the circular swing with the driver I was back in my room. “what happened”……..I could hear the music from the twilight zone.

The next day, a nice young man, with an appearance of an adolescent, arrived in my room dressed in blue with Physical Therapy written across his shirt. Immediately I noticed his unusual smile. Attilla the Hun was going to go for a walk with me. In a voice not reaping in ‘honey’ I reminded him I had just had surgery and the last thing I wanted to do was go for a walk. The smile only widened. Surely not!! In short order I surmised this young man received his training at Parris Island with the marines.

Today I arrived back home with explicit orders to indulge myself with as much pain as I could endure. I miss my old friend-the knee. There still remains one unusual behavior I cannot explain; when we drove into our driveway and pushed the garage door opener my leg went up.

Sometimes life

Takes us places

We never expected to go

And in those places

God writes a story

We never thought would be ours.

……..Renee Swope



Reflections………………Job description for Mother



coker_4_gary in suitWANTED: Mom


JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in faraway cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.coker_5_boys in vest


RESPONSIBILITIES: Must provide on-the-site training in basic life skills, such as nose blowing. Must have strong skills in negotiating, conflict resolution and crisis management. Ability to suture flesh wounds a plus. Must be able to think out of the box but not lose track of the box, because you most likely will need it for a school project. Must reconcile petty cash disbursements and be proficient in managing budgets and resources fairly, unless you want to hear, “He got more than me!” for the rest of your life. Also, must be able to drive motor vehicles safely under loud and adverse conditions while simultaneously practicing above-mentioned skills in conflict resolution. Must be able to choose your battles and stick to your guns. Must be able to withstand criticism, such as “You don’t know anything.” Must be willing to be hated at least temporarily, until someone needs $5 to go skating. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Also, must have a highly energetic entrepreneurial spirit, because fund-raiser will be your middle name. Must have a diverse knowledge base, so as to answer questions such as “What makes the wind move?” on the fly. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.coker_1_june and boys


ADVANCEMENT/PROMOTION POSSIBILITIES: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.


PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.


WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.


BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.coker_2_familydca


 *photos are of the era when my family was at home and the job description was very appropriate for ‘the Cokers’

Adapted by Leonard Sweet, edited by Gary Coker


REFLECTIONS………………………..Graduation 59

It was a warm evening in a small town in central Georgia and the gary's blog pictureschool auditorium was filled with parents, relatives and friends. It was a celebratory event, where spirit and pride were
high, especially for the moms and dads. The
Graduates entered the auditorium to the tune Pomp and Circumstance. The local minister had given the invocation. The class president stepped forward and said……………………………………

Tonight is ours! Tonight belongs to you seniors, and to me, to a greater extent then any other night we have ever lived. The goal which was sighted long years ago has at last become a reality—the intangible has materialized. Tonight we are about to receive recognition for a job well done. It has been a long road and, at times, a very rough road. Some of our companions have been lost along the way, but we who are here tonight have at last reached our destination. We have reached a plateau in our lives, a place from which there is no going back. There is only one road from her on, and it leads forward. We have attained something which cannot be taken from us—be it by ungodly men, through a struggle for power by crazed nations, or what have you—I say nothing can take from us the knowledge we have gained in these formative years of our youth.

Yes, we have reached our long sought-after goal, the right to receive a high-school diploma, yet we cannot rightly claim this accomplishment as our own. For this night, directly or indirectly, has been the goal of countless thousands through the ages. First of all, we must thank God for His Divine guidance as we read His command in Second Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be a shame…” Today the United States has one of the highest educational levels in the world, and, if we search for the reason, we find it is because the United States stands today as a Christian nation, under God, founded and established on Christian principles. This truth has fashioned the lives of thousands of men and women who have given their lives to furthering our educational opportunities. Sacrifice, tears, and in some cases, blood, and even death, have been the price paid for this night. To the colonists who fought and died for freedom of worship, government, and education; to men like Horace Mann and Henry Barnard who labored to develop the first public school system; to our present leaders and educators, we are eternally in debt; for this night was their dream and their goal, too. A night when young men and women would be free and would have the opportunity to walk across a stage like ours and receive a high school diploma.

Closer and more real to us than these, however, is another group of men and women. This group we have called teachers. Our teachers have taught us to study and to live. The very character we possess today has been greatly determined by their influence upon us. On this night we realize more than ever before that these teachers have given their time—and their love—to prepare us for the step which we are about to take. Because of them we are ready to go out into the world, capable young men and women. Our teachers ask no more thanks from us than to see our lives successfully lived in the future. We owe this much to them.

Still there is another group which has shared with us this goal of graduation. The individuals who compose this group are perhaps the happiest persons present in this audience. No flower words can adequately express our gratitude to our parents, for we realize that without their help, their love, and their encouragement we would not be here tonight. For the most part, it has been for them that we have given our best and have put forward every effort to achieve the highest and the noblest of rewards. They have sacrificed in many ways, often unknown to us, to make this dream of graduation come true. May we live our lives in such a way that they shall always be proud of us.

Yes, all these things have combined to make tonight possible. It is with grateful hearts that we recognize them, for we know that only because of them—tonight is ours!

The seniors have chosen for their motto “Not the end just the commencement.” We see today the light of intellect, the light of influence, and the light of progress, the light of leadership, and the light of the love for our country. Shining brightest of these is the light of Him who said, “I am the light of the World. Come, follow me.” Let us, as seniors, take the challenge to follow the gleam of these lights because, as long as we follow the gleam, we shall never walk in darkness. If we will but follow the light we will make our motto, “not the end just the commencement.” a reality.

                                                                  Gary Coker, Class President

Social Circle, High School Social Circle, Georgia

Social Circle, High School
Social Circle, Georgia