DAD…The job you can’t turn off.

Most jobs you do until your time there ends, and afterwards you stop that job and move on to another. For example, I was once a construction worker. I spent years doing just about every type of construction there is from concrete to trim work. At thirty-three, I stopped working in construction and became an IT guy. Someday I will stop do that as well and I will no longer be and IT guy. That doesn’t mean that I won’t use those skills from time to time, especially the construction skills, but it won’t be who I am anymore. At seventeen I became a dad and while for the first two years I wasn’t able to be with my daughter as much as I wanted (Long story…lol), starting at nineteen I was a full-time parent. I took to being a dad the way a fish takes to water. It was like I was born to be their dad and I loved it, even the times when they would drive me insane. Through divorces and times of financial ruin, my kids were my life, and they never left my side for very long. I took them everywhere I went mostly and it was never a burden like it is so some people. By the time I was forty I had five kids and as of two years ago got married to a great woman and added three more children in the mix. All these children netted us, eleven grandchildren. All in all, our family Thanksgiving and Christmas last year was thirty-one people.

I have often thought I would like to relax and only be Papaw. The guy who lets you do things you’re not allowed to do. The guy who never raises his voice or jumps on you for being too loud. The guy so says “Leave those kids alone” to the parents, when they are doing something they shouldn’t be and the parent are getting on them. It sounds like a great job, but…I struggle to give up my first job. In my defense, we still have one living at home and he has a few years before he leaves the nest. The reality is though that being a Dad is who I am. Everywhere I go, I “Dad” people as my kids would say. If I am there, and your kids are misbehaving, I just might get on them about it. I don’t mean any disrespect or rudeness by it, in fact, I am trying to help. When I was growing, that’s people did. If you were out in public acting like a punk, there was always someone around to tell you to knock it off. Back then, though, parents didn’t get all offended and mad over it. My poor mother was always grateful I’m sure, when some guy in the grocery store looked at me, being a brat and wanting everything in sight, and said: “Hey boy, knock it off”. This would scare the crap out of me and I would do as they instructed me.

On the flip side, I am not all discipline. Often, I am the guy playing with the kids and making them rowdy. I have made many people cringe by spinning and flipping kids head over heels. I don’t know what is so exciting about flipping in the air, but most kids sure love it. Kids are fun and I love to see them laugh and enjoy life. Some kids have little fun and excitement in their lives, and if I can help them have a little fun, I am all in. The point to all this is that some men never stop being “Dad”. It doesn’t matter whose child you are or how old his kids are when he is in the room, he’s “Dad”. He doesn’t mean to offend you or make you mad, he’s just doing his job. No different from the man that would come in to fix your furnace or put new windows in your house. He’s had this job so long it has become who he is, so cut him some slack.

What’s in a Name?

Growing up, I never gave much thought to my last name. For a short time, I even had a different one, though it was only in public and not legal. In my mind, I was a Starnes and my last name didn’t really matter. To give you some insight into that, Starnes is my mother’s maiden name and up until I was around 7 years old it was the only family I knew. It was then that I met my dad and the rest of the Pendleton clan. I had a step-father, but that’s a disaster I may share with you another time. I was very close to my grandparents, especially my grandfather (Papaw) and it was his name that I was proud of. After all, he was the man that had been there for me every day up until that point in my life. I spent a lot of time with that side of my family and have always been closest to them. I never considered myself anything but a Starnes even though that wasn’t my name. Being a Pendleton was just my name and to be honest, I had no pride it. Even after my dad came into my life, we never really connected the way I did with Papaw. I don’t really fault him for that anymore; I know he did what he thought he had to do. We all make mistakes and some of those mistakes come with problems we can never fix. I wonder sometimes if it was that lack of pride in my name that led to my broken connection with him and my brother who share my name. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all and if they needed me, I would drop what I am doing and would be right there. I’ve just never had a connection with them the way they do with each other. The same can be said of my sister and brother on my mom’s side who have a different father than I do. I often joke that I am an original, one of a kind. The only Pendleton-Starnes walking the planet. I found it humorous, even if no one else did.

Anyway, I never really thought about it until my boys started to get older and I could see the pride they had in being Pendleton. They aren’t proud of it because of the name itself but because it belongs to me. They are proud to be my sons there for the name means a lot to them. I have girls too and they are also proud of having their father’s name but they will all take another before it’s over when they choose a man who will give them a new name. Their kids will have that new name and they will grow to be proud of that name. The boys though will have kids and those kids will be Pendleton, not Starnes. I have to be honest at first it bothered me. As I said, I had always seen myself a Starnes and the fact that my Papaw’s name will be forgotten someday by my branch of the family tree really hurt me. Sure, my children and my grandchildren will know about him but would their kids or their kids’, kids? Thinking about all this is what led me to these questions.

What’s in a name? Is it important? According to Romeo “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” so what does it matter?

After thinking about it long and hard I concluded, it does. Your name is the only thing you really have to pass along that can’t be taken away. Money, power, fame and even faith can be lost, stolen and forgotten. Your name when giving to others can’t be taken from them, no matter what. It connects you to your past and your future. It ties you to everyone who has had/will have it, good or bad. A good name can open doors for you and a bad one can get doors slammed in your face. Every town has that one name of a group of people who are known to be nothing but trouble and everyone avoids them. Someone telling you “Don’t go down there, the So-in-so’s live down there” will tell you right then, you don’t want to go there. My name was unknown where I grow up but I didn’t always bring it honor. I was a troubled teen at times and though I was harmless, I could be frustrating to people at times. I recall one of my daughters ended up with a teacher that I had in High School and like her father she questioned things and the teacher was not at all surprised that she was mine. Though he and I had respect for each other back then, I always knew how to push his buttons and I know there were days he dreaded watching me walk into the room. I picture him looking down on the class roster years later and seeing “Pendleton” and thinking “Oh God no, not another one?”. My daughter and I laughed about it when she told me but it did worry me. The fact that my children could suffer because of my stupidity in the past, wasn’t fair to them. Fair or not, it is all in the name. People that I have wronged or not left a good impression on will put that on my descendants. That’s something they would not have to deal with if I had done better in my youth. If had taken pride in who I was and understood what my name would mean to them and their children. Just knowing that I wasn’t just screwing up things for me but that I could be costing them a job, a grade, respect…etc might have made me think a little more about my actions. Who knows how it could have changed things.

Despite anything I did though, my kids love me and are all very proud to be Troy Pendleton’s children. This makes them proud to be a Pendleton. To them, it means they belong to me and each other. It makes us all family. Watching and listening to them talk about it and making it sound like it’s some exclusive group has given me more pride in the name than I ever had growing up. I am now proud of it because they are Pendleton and I am proud of them. Though a part of me will always be a Starnes, I know I am a Pendleton. That doesn’t mean I’m not a part of that family, it just means I can’t damage it or improve it. I will not be able to tarnish the Starnes name nor will I be able to bring it greatness. The Starnes name will be left to the fate of my uncles’ sons. Pendleton is my name and with that comes the responsibility of leaving it better than I found it or at the very least not making it any worse. You have the same responsibility to your name, whether it was the name you were born with or the name you took when you got married. Treat it well and if you belong to the “So-in-so” family, redeem your name by being the person everyone thinks you’re not. Rise above the bad rep and work hard to leave your kids with a name they will be proud of.

Does the US Media care about our poor people?

Something came to me today as I was out walking. The US Media just love companies who go to other countries and open up business and do things for that community. They fawn over these companies as if they were the greatest company to ever open their doors. When was the last time you saw the Media make a big deal about a company who opened up a new factory or warehouse in small town America? Think about it for a minute. Can you recall a story on a news network or social media about it? I can’t and I stay up to date with the news. Why is that? The one obvious answer is, the US Media doesn’t really care about the US people. To be fair, they don’t care about the people in other countries either. Now, I can’t prove that or course, but I will tell you why I am convinced, this is the case. The US Media is owned and operated by people who make money off misery. It sells big time and bad news takes priority over everything. You might be saying to yourself “But Troy, if they love misery then why cover feel-good stories about other countries?” which is a valid question, but you are getting head of me, I’ll get to that…lol. As I was saying, these companies love to make money and misery sells. They spend 90% of their time looking for the next shocking event or terrible thing they can report on. The other 10% they run feel-good stories so you don’t get burned out on the misery. Here’s the trick though. 3rd world country stories are like the golden ticket. They can sell you misery and happiness at the same time.

They go over there to do this wonderful story about this company. Let’s call it  “Bill’s Shoes”. Bill’s Shoes is going to open up a factory in poorest part of some country and give 200 people jobs. Sure, they only pay $2 a day but it’s way more than they have now. It’s a happy tale of “Bill’s Shoes” making the world a better place. It’s also a story about misery, because these poor people have nothing and they look like they have nothing. In the US even, our poorest people usually aren’t doing that badly. Most people will do whatever it takes to keep a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes on their back. That includes welfare and charities supplying them with those things. If “Bill’s Shoes” decide to open up shop in Small Town, USA, the people there being helped wouldn’t be pathetic enough for it to be a “Happy Misery” story, so they don’t bother covering those things. You might be thinking “Who cares?” but what you have to keep in mind is publicity matters to companies because it’s free advertisement. “Billy’s Shoes” wants to sell shoes and make lots of money. If they can get tons of free advertising from the US media for opening a factory in a 3rd would country, why would they open up one in small town USA. My point to all this is, if the US media cared about the people here they would go out of their way to praise companies who open US businesses and put lots of people back to work. Sure, it might not be a good “Happy Misery” story but it would encourage business to locate to a place where are people need good jobs. This would be a huge boom for some of our small towns that are fading away. Instead the media attach business like Amazon for not paying what they think they should pay. I know New York is not a small town but they did lose almost 2000 jobs because the media and a very ignorant politician attached them and kept them from bring those job to the people who needed them. It would have been vastly different if they were opening up a new location in Mexico or some other country. Then again, I could be wrong and this could all be the opinion of one man…what do you think?