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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

pics of the past

 Me and Mrs Holbrook    you know her as Dixie Carter
 My last print interview
 last interview   day of the wake
 This was a love like no other  True and unchanging
 Dixie Virgina Carter Holbrook
 Right beside her momma and daddy
 At a yard sale
 she LOVED this  Driving Miss Dixie
 Signing books for fans
 saw this, just had to have it.  
Cast of Designing women with guest star Dolly Parton







Just wanted to share a few pics of Mrs Holbrook (Dixie)   just going through pictures and letting my mind drift off.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"You're Looking at Country" Guitars and Campfires tweet-up 2012

Hey Yall!!!

Well, It's been a while since my last post, so I figured I'd pop in and say hey!   


So spring is almost here, and its time to start thinking about plans for the summer.  What to do, what to do!!  the possibilities are endless!!  Over the past few weeks, with warm weather pushing me out of the house, I've been thinking about JUST what I want to do to kick off this wonderful time of year.  Over the past 10 months or so, I have really gotten attached to so many of you on twitter, and been blessed enough to meet many of you in person.  These "tweet-ups" as we like to call them, have turned out to be a wonderful way for those of us who are close enough, to meet up and get to know each other in real life.  The friendships I have made with you all will truly last a lifetime!  

Usually when we plan these tweet-ups, they tend to only last a few hours, and sometimes are planned pretty close to the actual "meet" date.  I want to plan one this summer that actually lasts some time, and gives enough of a heads up to where some of you who live further away have the chance to plan it out, travel to the location and actually get to spend time with the friends you've made on twitter, and enjoy each others company.  I can not tell you how much fun we have at these meet-ups.  For those of you who have been lucky enough to come to one, you know what I am talking about!  I personally, have been blessed enough to have friends drive in from as far away as Louisiana and Maryland for these parties.  To kinda give you an idea of the friendships I have made, Meredith (@blakesaussiegrl) has driven down 4 times now from maryland, and Cheryl (@cheryl_3011) has driven up twice from the coast.  Others that have made one hell of a journey would be Katie (@katiebelle04)  Leslie (@ragincajunlady1) both from Louisiana and  Rhonda (@RKAbernathy) from Kansas.  Trust me when I say, we ALWAYS have one hell of a good time!


So this year, I want to attempt to plan one bigger and better than ever.  So many of us have one thing in common (other than the twitter)  and thats music.  Be it country, rock, folk or bluegrass, music tends to be a common thread for so many of us.  For the majority of us, country seems to be the genre of choice.  Nashville has always made for a WONDERFUL place to have these tweet ups.  Last summer, @andielynne from WSIX started these "guitarBQ's" at her house right outside of downtown Nashville.  You can't imagine how much of a blast we have!  Singers, songwriters, fans, executives from music row and  so many locals, pile into Andie's yard, fire up the grill and the fire pit, bust out the guitars and chow down on some of the best BBQ you've ever had!  Even though so many of us came from so many different backgrounds and heritages, we all found common ground with each other through the music that was made that night.  

With all that being said, Let me run my ideas past you for the next tweet-up I want to host.  PLEASE REMEMBER, THESE ARE CURRENTLY JUST IDEAS.  I guess you could say that right now, I am just throwing some feelers out there to see what kind of interest I get back.  

Obviously, there is NO way to plan anything at any venue to appeal to everyone's tastes, but I think I might have a good idea for a place that appeals to many of you.  

***note***  The details I am about to give are things I have gathered from my own experiences, and not to be taken as hard facts.  It's stories I have been told by family members and locals, and should be taken as such





Nestled deep in the rolling hills of Tennessee, about 70 miles west of Nashville lies a quaint, sleepy little town called Hurricane Mills.   pop. 250     Hurricane Mills has one big claim to fame.  Its the home of country music superstar, Loretta Lynn.   Loretta and her husband Mooney, while out driving around one day, stumbled on a plantation mansion, condemned and abandoned, and decided then and there that it would be the home they would raise their children in.  There was one big issue....  In order to buy the house, Loretta would have to buy the entire town. In 1966, Loretta purchased the 1876 plantation home and the town of Hurricane Mills as well.  If you have never seen the house, let me tell you it is a sight to be seen!!  Beautiful landscaped grounds, statuary and gates, porches, balconies and columns.  Its a sight that would make Scarlet O'Hara herself green with envy. The Plantation was also the first house in the county to be wired with electricity.   Loretta lived in the house from the late 60's until 1984 when she graciously decided to open it up to the public and share the beauty we now know as Loretta Lynn's Dude ranch.  

The ranch is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see.  Nearly 6,600 acres  full of horseback riding, camping, canoeing, and shopping.  Hurricane creek runs right through the center of the ranch, and provides visitors with endless recreation and relaxation.  Along with daily tours of the plantation home, there are also several museums showcasing the life of the living legend.  You can see her collection of gold records, memorabilia given to her by friends such as Patsy Cline, cars shes owned, and even go inside her iconic tour bus that Loretta spent so many years touring the country in, and was also used in the filming of "Coal Miners Daughter"  If you have ever seen "Coal Miners Daughter", you will also recognize much of the inside of the home, and the famous Golden Eagle Jeep that Loretta and Mooney loaned for the making of the movie.  (complete with the dented fender that Tommy Lee Jones put in it when he smacked a tree)  .....and for those of you over 30 years old, you will quickly be taken back to your childhood when you walk in the kitchen of the house and see the Crisco can sitting on the stove.  Loretta filmed the iconic commercials from the late 70's and 80's in her own private kitchen!   There is also a simulated coal mine, replica of her childhood home in butcher holler Kentucky, and a completely restored mill that she has now turned into a museum and gift shop. 

Loretta and her family still live on the ranch.  Loretta lives about 25 feet behind the mansion, in a private estate she and Mooney built before his death in 1996.  Her Daughter Betty Sue owns and operates a gift shop a couple of miles from the ranch, and Cissie Lynn will be more than happy to fix you up some of the BEST chicken salad you've ever had right down the road in her general store.  Peggy and Patsy Lynn, Loretta's twins, are also close by, and tour with their older brother Ernie, and sing with their mom in nearly every show she does.   

20 miles from the ranch, in Camden Tennessee, about 3 miles outside of town you will find a large stone marking the place where 49 years ago this week, on March 5th, Patsy Cline's airplane went down in the woods, claiming the young lives of her, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cline's manager, Randy Huges.   Patsy and Loretta were best friends.  If you have ever seen Loretta live, you know she usually does a special tribute to her friend and sings several of Patsy's iconic songs.

Loretta will be celebrating her 77th birthday this April, and still tours the country singing her songs, and sharing the love shes given us for so many decades.  Every year, health permitting, Loretta opens her tour season with a concert at the ranch, and ends it there as well.  This year, that concert will be on saturday, May 26th.  Memorial Day weekend.    This past thursday I sat down and talked with her daughter Cissie, as she told me the plans for the opening weekend this year.  Never before has a tribute ever been done for Patsy, and they plan on changing that this year.  Its in the plans for not only the Loretta concert, but also a concert by Mandy Barnett.  Mandy has claimed notoriety over the years for her broadway show showcasing the life of Patsy Cline.  "Always Patsy Cline" just wrapped up a run in Nashville this past summer at the Ryman, and if you have never had the chance to hear Mandy, check her out online.  She's truly amazing and will make you feel like Patsy is on stage singing just like she was back in the 60's.  

Also in attendance this year for the tribute to Patsy, her husband Charlie Dick and daughter Julie Fudge are scheduled to be on hand at the ranch.   That in itself is pretty exciting!!     If you have never seen a LL show, I assure you that you won't be disappointed.  The concert is held outdoors in a covered amphitheater,  just a few hundred feet from the campgrounds and hurricane creek.  Lo' will come out on stage in one of her signature ball gowns, and belt out most of her hits that we have heard on the radio for most of our lives.  Along with Lynn, her daughters and granddaughters usually share the stage with her, and give us an insight to the Lynn legacy of tomorrow.  



Now for all of you paranormal ghost chaser fans...  Its no secret that the plantation at Hurricane Mills is haunted.  Its on the list of top 10 most haunted places in the country, and sits on top of a civil war battlefield complete with 19 soldiers buried on the grounds.  No matter if you are chatting it up with a ranch hand, a tour guide, or Loretta herself, any of them will tell you story after story of their encounters in the house with the supernatural.  The original owner of the house, James Anderson is buried on the grounds alongside his wife and infant child.   Rumor has it, Mr Anderson still walks the halls of the house, and Mrs. Anderson can be seen from time to time pacing the second floor balcony, grieving the death of her infant child.  Just last year, Zak, Nick and Aaron from the Travel Channels "Ghost Adventures" show brought their cameras and camped out in the house overnight.    Tour the house, and you just might get a tingle go up your spine while walking past the slave pit door on the back porch, or notice one of the album covers lining the staircase wall hanging just a little bit crooked.  Either way, its an experience you'll never forget.



So what does all this rambling have to do with twitter and tweet-ups......so glad you asked.

Each year, I try to make it out to the ranch during one of her two shows, and take in that that IS country.  Last year, I decided to go a step further and camp out the night of the concert.  Roughing it, I went out to the creek, pitched my tent, and got the full ranch experience.  I grew up running around that ranch camping, and boy did it feel good to go back and relive it again as an adult.  

Country music is our heritage.  Anyone can plan a trip to nashville, drop in on the Grand Ole Opry and hit the hotspots that downtown Nashville has to offer.  Why not experience that heritage in person, and for one weekend, be a part of it.  This year, my plan is to go to the ranch for the entire weekend.  Friday through Monday, camping and sight-seeing the whole time.  My thoughts are, come and go as you please.  If camping isn't your thing, rent one of the many cabins availible at the ranch.  If cabins are a no no, 7 miles up highway 13 on I-40 are a couple of reasonably priced hotels and restaurants.  Nashville is an hour ride away.  Me and my friends will be out there regardless.  If any of you are interested, we would be more than happy to host a tweet-up complete with camping, the LL concert, home tours, museum tours, canoeing, swimming, campfires and guitars.  I have mentioned this idea to a couple of artists you're all familiar with, and they may be joining us and bringing their guitars and sitting around the campfire with us just a "pickin and a grinnin"  

Early plans are something like this;

arrive on friday.  use the afternoon to set up camp, meet up with everyone wanting to attend, and just sit around and catch up with each other.  Saturday would be touring the plantation and any of the stores/museums that interest you. I will be more than happy to personally take you on tours of the ranch and grounds, and some of the family will tell you themselves that I can give tours better than some of the tour guides there! ;)  I'm also open to leaving the ranch and taking people into Camden if any of you are interested in the Patsy Cline crash site memorial.  Saturday afternoon would be a good time to go have lunch at Cissie Lynn's store, then the concert that evening.  I'm guessing saturday night might be the night most people come out.  After the show, meet back up at the campsite for a bon fire, smores and country music.  Sunday would be a day for relaxing and swimming.  the creek is AMAZING.  crystal clear water and plenty of rocks to jump off of into the water.  Sunday would also be an ideal day for any other tours or museums that might have been missed on saturday.  A canoe ride down hurricane creek is also a good possibility.  Sunday night would be another campfire and music.  Monday morning, packing up and heading back to reality.  

Of course, you don't have to stay all weekend.   If you wanted, you could meet up with the ones there saturday, stay just for the show then head out.  or stay.  whatever floats your boat.  


for all information about the ranch, tours, concerts and rentals, please feel free to contact me here or on twitter, or go directly to the ranch website at www.lorettalynnranch.net  or www.lorettalynn.com

Plan ahead now to come meet up with so many of the people you talk to on a daily basis, and spend an amazing weekend with the first lady of country music at her home.  I hope to see each and every one of you out there,  and welcome any questions, comments or ideas you might have to make it better.


Like I said, as of now this is just an idea, and I am looking forward to your input.  Thank you all so much, and I'll see ya around the timeline!












-Jay

Friday, August 12, 2011

Twitter Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts to public tweeting (or) why some people should only be allowed to use snail mail

Hi friends,

Hope you're all having a wonderful day!

I thought I would take a few minutes to share some things with you all that has truly bothered me today.  As you know, today is Friday and that means "#Follow Friday" in the twitter world.  Honestly, Im SO grateful that each of you takes the time to actually sit down and mention me, and try to warn your other followers just what they are about to get themselves into when they click that follow @theonlyjgrant button ;)  BUT at the same time I think #FF has lost its true meaning. WHO truly does ANYTHING other than say "thank you" to the person who sent it? Do you really follow any of them?  Wouldn't you get more bang for your buck by listing ONE person at a time and actually tell me WHY I should follow them? hmmmmm   things to ponder!


And without further delay, please allow me to hop up on my Twitter soap box and clear up a few things for those who seem to be confused.....

Jay's first twitter issue: Using Twitter as a means to sell/spam/beg for money etc etc, anything you feel the need to push on your followers....

There are hundreds of social media outlets out there today.  Personally, I don't think twitter is the place to come to "PUSH" your products.  We call that SPAM.  and we ALL know how annoying the "BOTS" are.  If you are an unsigned music artist, and you want your followers to see your goods, try this: Put your shit on youtube and pray for Ellen to find it like so many others before you have done.  Give us something to check out FOR FREE with the option to buy.  and more importantly, don't hound ANYONE to buy it.  NOT COOL!  I assure you, I follow MANY indie artists and you bet your ass that if I am suggesting them, its because I like their music and I believe in them.  NOT because I am gaining anything from it.  Lee Gibson is a perfect example.  Lee has NEVER asked me to push his music.  He's NEVER asked me to buy ANY of it.  If you see me mention Lee or his music, Its because I like the song and I think you will too!  I already know that I can pop on over to Itunes and buy it.  Trust me, I own (and have paid for) ALL of his available music.

I bring this up because I have actually had an artist POINT OUT the fact that they KNEW I hadn't bought any of their stuff because they were watching the sales from Itunes and it hadn't changed.  TO THE ARTIST: your numbers didn't change because I could tell from the samples that I didn't like the music.  The next time you try to push it on me, I will be SURE to point out the fact that you sound like a dying cat and I KNOW why you're not signed to a label. YOU SUCK (that IS my opinion)   PS, when a REAL industry person tries to tell you that your methods of tweeting and pushing your music are only causing your followers to get pissed and feel uncomfortable, you should listen!  not get cocky!  The fact that you have any followers left is beyond me!  AND, if you're having to tweet your "sales" over and over and over all day, that's probably a good indication that nobody wants it anyway #justSaying (enjoy the hash-tag)



And now for my BIG issue of the day! INAPPROPRIATE tweeting:

There are a couple of words you need to know before we go further.  The first one is OBLIGATION
Dictionary.com defines obligation as this: ob.li.ga.tion; (noun) Something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc...

the next word needs to be looked up at urbandictionary.com  GHERM; someone who slavishly follows and sucks up to a celebrity. A fan to excessive degree. Usually applied to one who makes people uncomfortable by their adoration

YOU DO NOT EVER WANT TO BE A GHERM!

Now before I go further, Let me say this; If you think that I am talking about you here, chances are, you might be right.  I assure you I am NOT doing it to be ugly or hateful, I am simply trying to help you out.  ALSO, This is NOT something thats happened due to ONE person  Trust me, I have a few.  This whole blog, in fact, Is coming from a conversation I had earlier today with a well known actress about an incident yesterday involving her, a gherm, and another well known actor. (names WILL be changed to protect the innocent) :D

Name dropping on twitter is NEVER ok!!!  there is, however, appropriate ways to say hello.  Lets look at a couple of examples.....

NOT OK-

"hey reba, can I get a follow? you follow (@name) and I want you to follow me" (read; OBLIGATION)

"hey Dolly, can you follow me back PLZ, I'm a friend of (@name) they will tell you i'm good"

THIS IS TOTALLY OK

"Hey Kenny, just wanted to say HI!  (@name) told me I should follow you and they have good taste.  Nice to meet you"

"any friend of @name's is a friend of mine! look forward to reading your tweets in my timeline"

"@name told me to follow and I always listen!"


begging for a follow is NEVER ok- celebrity or not.   asking for a retweet is never ok- this causes one of two things.  It causes them to completely ignore you out of fear of opening a flood gate, or it makes them feel obligated to follow you.....NOBODY wants to feel obligated.  You think you're having a hard time getting their attention, imagine how you will feel once they UNFOLLOW you after you've annoyed the shit out of their timeline and BLOWN UP their direct message box.  NEVER COOL

For years, Celebrities have wanted a way to SAFELY connect with their fans.  Twitter has shown to be an amazing outlet for that.  but just like there is crazy people in the real world, there are crazy people on twitter.  and acting like this is WHY a lot of celebs DONT follow you back and DONT tweet you   its like opening Pandora's Box.

Many of you know my background.  Let me give you some words of advice on behalf of those in the spotlight.  (this coming from someone who hasn't been in the spotlight, but stood beside it)  \

If you want to "friend" your favorite celebrity, YOU MUST TREAT THEM LIKE ANY OTHER NORMAL HUMAN   -because they are!  If you want their attention, say hi to them, be funny with them, be short and sweet. Leave them enough room to "quote" retweet you, and make sure its something that they can put in their timeline.  I promise you that an Oak Ridge Boy would NEVER retweet a tweet with the words "motha fukka" in it.  use common sense.  take that shit over to Flavor Flavs timeline.  Use your brain :)


At the end of the day, the friendships I have with these people are SO much better than ANY autograph you could ever get.  It might surprise you to know, Ive never asked for a follow back or a retweet from any of these people.  and in return, you would be surprised JUST how many of them not only follow me, but we have exchanged phone numbers and actually text back and forth as much as we tweet each other.  The trust that they have given me and the friendships I have made, FAR outweigh ANY autograph, random tweet or cyber "high-five" I could ever get.  and how have I made these friendships, SIMPLE   I've talked to them as friends   NOT as "stars"  And I've never hounded them.


To close this out, I ask ONE thing of you..... PLEASE do NOT use my name or ANYONE else's name to gain the attention of ANYONE.  It makes me feel uncomfortable and also puts me on the spot.  One place I HATE to be.  If you want to include me in saying hello, do that.  Say hi, tell them I told you to follow, and let it go.  DO NOT annoy these people and throw my name into the fire.  I WILL call you out on it. Not only will it get you unfollowed by me, you can bet your sweet ass that they will have a DM waiting on them from me telling them how pissed I am that you used my name to get their attention.


Ok, I'm off the soap box now, and I feel much better.  I hope this doesn't offend anyone because thats NOT my intentions.....on the other hand, if you ARE offended, chances are you're a gherm anyway.   SHAME ON YOU!   Tweet yall later!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Life Lessons Life with Michael

Hey yall!

What a week its been!!  Most of you reading this already know me, so I wont bore you with useless information about myself. ;)   Most of you also know that I lost a VERY dear friend this week.  I figured this would be a good way for me to introduce all of you to him, and in some ways, tell the "world" his story and how he impacted my life.

Back in 1998, I started working for the actress Dixie Carter.  Its nothing I planned on doing, and surely wasn't something I ever thought I would do.  Turns out, I was pretty darn good at it!  Some of you may be wondering how Dixie plays into my story of Michael, but trust me, the two of them are tied together....more than either of them probably ever knew.   From here on, I will probably refer to "Dixie" as Mrs H.  Obviously the "H" is for Holbrook and that is what we called her.   Mrs H. was born here in McLemoresville TN in the same house that is now her estate.   Even though she lived in New York and Los Angeles, Carroll County was and always will be her home.  Trust me when I tell you its a small place!

So in 1998, a friend and customer of our restaurant comes to me and asks "are you star struck?"    Am I star struck?  what kind of question is that?  Why NO!!  So with that, Bill (her groundskeeper/handy man) asks me if I would mind helping him out later that week and being at the house when he arrived with her.  I was supposed to watch the house, listen for the Towncar to arrive and come outside to greet her, help her out of the car, then help with the luggage (She was coming home to TN for the Christmas holidays)  Long story short, what was supposed to be a one night "job" turned into a decade long employment and friendship that I will be forever thankful for.   Now, even though I was her personal assistant, it wasn't a full time job.  I only went to "work" when she was home here in Tennessee.  Instead of her assistant traveling with her, she simply had staff both here and in Cali.  This is where Memphis and Michael come into play....


In 1999, I decided I was tired of living in the sticks and made the hour and a half move south west to Memphis!  My first job down there was at Hollywood casino in tunica, and I quickly lost interest in that!  One night, while out at the local "club" with my friends, I meet a guy who was originally from Poplar Bluff MO and used to cut Linda Bloodworth's lawn. (Linda is the creator of Designing Women)  It obviously gave us tons to talk about once I mentioned the fact that I was Mrs. H's PA.   5 minutes in to our conversation, he takes me to meet the owner of the bar, who he tells me is a HUGE Dixie Carter fan and within the hour, I was the newest employee at Backstreet Memphis.      Nightclub Bartending job  SCORE!!

Working at the club sounds like a kick ass job right?  well, true it has its up sides, but it also had its bad sides.  I can tell you, if you DO work in a gay bar, and you ARE the one dishing out the drinks you tend to get pretty popular pretty fast.  If you throw in the fact that the bar tender ALSO works for Julia Sugarbaker and has access to her 24-7, that popularity SKY ROCKETS and before you know it, you have friends coming at you in ALL directions!  and yes, I SOAKED UP EVERY SECOND OF IT!!  Who wouldn't?

Working in the bar saved my life.  Notice there is no" PROBABLY saved my life in that sentence"...It did!   see, all week long, most people get up, go to work, slave away monday to friday,  get off friday at 5 and haul ass to the house so they can get ready to go out.... They got to the club, then spent all that money they made that week, trying to have a good time.  This WAS my job   I wasn't there to spend money...I was making it.   Being behind that bar saved my life in more ways than one.  I can NOT tell you how many good friends I watched get lost in the drug scene.   Cocaine flowed like wine, and in the gay community, more people did it than didn't.  I was at work..... had I not been, who's to say I wouldn't have been in those lines waiting to get into the bathroom so that I could snort a line with my "friends".   Lucky me....   Another "lifesaver" is the fact that with drunken drug induced fits also comes random and rampant sex.  Sex in the bathrooms, sex in the "dark" places, sex in the parking lot and sex with whomever you picked up and took home that night.  Now I'm not saying I am an angel, far from it in fact....But if you ever go out and think that the bartender is HOT and you wanna take him home, get ready to WAIT FOR IT  he he he....  we closed at 6 am.  This means that anyone trying to "pick me up" had to wait until 7:30 or 8am waiting for me to get finished closing up the bar, stocking coolers and sweeping the dance floor..... how "worked up" are you once the drinks wear off, the music stops and the God awful "ugly" lights come on, and you finally walk outside only to realize its DAYLIGHT!  yeah we didn't get as much action as one might think....

Working in the bar has kept me mostly drug free and has kept my HIV status at a big ole NEGATIVE.  Watch one of your good friends get arrested and his new Jaguar get seized and see how much cocaine you want... Watch one of your friends get SO messed up on ecstasy that he winds up cheating on his partner and ruining the trust of a 5 year relationship and see how much "X" you want....  more importantly, hold the hand of a good friend as he lays in a hospital bed dying from AIDS as his body literally eats itself alive and see how much random sex you want....  Watching all these things from behind the bar changed my life and the way I look at almost everything.

So Jay, what could all this possibly have to do with Michael and Cystic Fibrosis and how he became a part of your life??  Well, I'm glad you asked.  This is where Michael walks into my life.  I had been working at the bar for a couple of years, made hundreds of friends and even a few CLOSE friends.   Out of the hundreds of people I would meet on a weekly basis, only a handful of those would truly stand up and make an impact on my life....Michael was one of those few.   I had never heard of Cystic Fibrosis and had NO idea what kind of toll it would take on the body and how it affected the thousands of people that are diagnosed with it each year.

Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a common recessive genetic disease that affects the entire body, causing disability and often a very early death.  It causes difficulty breathing, Lung infections, sinus infections, poor growth and infertility just to name a few.  Life expectancy for CF is anywhere from early to mid 20's to late 30's.  In Michael's case, his magic number was 27.   TWENTY SEVEN years old!    Michael had two brothers.  The oldest one, Andy, was born without CF.  The middle son, John, (who looked more like Michael's twin) was born WITH CF and we buried him at 20.  Watching Michael go through all this completely ripped my soul out of my chest. Not only did he lose his brother, he also knew his own fate wasn't far behind that of John's.

Over the next few years, Michael and I grew EXTREMELY close.  we were almost inseparable.  If I was at work, Michael was there helping me stock the bar or take out trash.  If I was off, Michael was at the house, piled up on the couch watching TV with me, or bitching at me about how hungry he was and trying to sucker me into going to Barnhill's so that he could tear up the buffet. NOBODY can or could EVER eat like he could!  DEAR GOD he packed it away and to this day I have NO idea where it all went.  He finally moved himself and his family into the same apartment complex that I was in, and started working with me at the bar.

He was Skittles.   That's the nickname we quickly gave him, although I personally thought he looked like Cindy Brady and called him that!  he he he.... he hated it!   In 2004, I went to work (daytime) for a friend of mine who had decided to open a restaurant, and Michael came right along with me.  Now not only were we neighbors and bar workers, all of the sudden we were now working for Lenny's Sub Shop during the day.   He LOVED it.  ...and he was DAMN good at it.  His people skills were amazing.  He always greeted you with a warm smile, a cheery personality and never showed it if he was in a bad mood.  Everyone who met him, loved him.  and rightly so.

Keeping a (normal) job was sometimes hard for him.  Michael would randomly have to be admitted into the hospital, usually for weeks at a time.  Day after day of breathing treatments, "patting his back" to loosen Flem, and Handful's of pills EVERYDAY to be able to digest his food.  But every time, Michael  bounced back and came back to us better than ever before.  The bar and Lenny's were good for him.  Obviously as friends, we understood his condition, and we all pulled together to cover his shifts and pick up the slack when he was in the hospital.  He went so often that we all stopped thinking about what would eventually happen, and began to take it for granted that he always came back to us better than ever.   We all knew that one day he wouldn't come back, but we never thought it was THIS time.

Country singer, Tammy Cochran, lost both of her brothers at a very young age to CF, and wrote a song for them that sent her flying across the country charts.  "Angels in waiting" is now known world-wide and played over and over in memory of those who lose their battle with CF, and in closing ceremonies at most all Cystic Fibrosis functions.  I learned about the story behind the song one day when Michael walked in the house and it was playing on the radio.  He started to cry and asked if I would turn it off, then he told me the story.  Today, I'm so thankful for the song, and thankful that Tammy put her own story and heartbreak out there as a memorial to all those who lose their battle each year.  It will forever be a part of my life, and it will always be a reminder to me that Michael is in a much better place now where he can do something that he never got to do here on earth.....breathe.   One of the parts of the song says "They were angels in waiting, waiting for wings to fly from this world, away from their pain. Treasuring time, till time came to leave, leaving behind, sweet memories, Angels in waiting, Angels in waiting for wings"

On Monday, July 4, 2011, Michael got his wings.   He took his last ragged breath here on earth, fell asleep and woke up to take his first deep breath at the side of our Lord.  I wish I could have seen his face once he finally felt that.  Today I know, Heaven is a MUCH better place with his smile lighting up every room, and his love overflowing and spilling out onto everyone that meets him.  That is something I will miss for the rest of my life, and at the same time, feel every day that I live.  with every breath I take.  Michael changed my life in so many ways, and I will forever carry him inside my heart and soul, and I will try to live his life through my own.

So in closing, I ask of you this....  Take time today to tell just ONE person in your life what they mean to you.  Even if they already know it.  Be the sun that lights up someones darkness, and take ONE deep breath in memory of Michael.  The first one is his..... Then take another deep breath for every person out there who's lost the fight against CF, and the ones fighting it on a daily basis.  You never know when that special person will take their last breath, and God knows I would give ANYTHING to hug him one more time and reassure him how much I love him.  .....even though I know that he already knows it.

 Michael Cory Overton
March 31, 1984  July 4, 2011




For more information on Cystic Fibrosis, or ways that you can help the fight, please visit www.CFF.org

check out Tammy Cochran's "Angels in Waiting" on Itunes and youtube

.Cystic Fibrosis Foundation