The Carthage High School (Smith County High School) Class of 1969 celebrates its 50th class reunion this weekend. That's right - number 50! Five decades, half a century! It is hard to believe. I am reminded of the famous words of Charlie Brown from Charles Schultz' Peanuts cartoon, "Good grief!"

Where did the time go? Seems just yesterday I was walking across the stage to receive my diploma and making plans to "live happily ever after."

Seems like yesterday I was hauling feeder pigs for my grandfather, D.T. McCall, while on my way to school; hoping all the along the way I wouldn't smell like a pig when I arrived for my first morning class. I tried it all to mask the smell - Hai Karate, Brut by Faberge, English Leather, Aqua Velva. You know what they use to say. "There's something about an 'Aqua Velva man'." I just hoped there wasn't "something" about a pig haulin' man.

Seems like yesterday when the boys' hair was growing longer and the girls' skirts were getting shorter - when you were more concerned about a big, red pimple on your nose than the cold war.

The Statler Brothers were right when they sang, "things get complicated when you get past eighteen." We had no idea 50 years ago.

Over the course of these last 50 years, my fellow class mates and I have seen a lot of changes. We, like all others who have traversed this earth, have seen blessings and heartaches. We've endured the pain of seeing friends and loved ones "gone too soon." And most of us have experienced letting our parents go.

In my 50 years since graduation I have watched my sons grow up and have families of their own. And Kathy and I have experienced the wonder of grandchildren - times seven. (I know. I know. Some of my class mates have great-grandchildren.)

And I must say, in the past 50 years, I have met some remarkable people; a few of which became my closest of friends. You might say I have become a rich man. Not in terms of money, but in terms of the people who have enriched my life. I have known some of the very best.

Along the way, I have worked with some great individuals from all kinds of backgrounds. I have been mentored by men and women who were at the top of their game.

And in these 50 years of travel, I have made speaking presentations in all 50 of these United States. It has been one of my most pleasant experiences. And you know what I found along the way? I found that Americans are great people who share common concerns. It is amazing how most of us think alike.

And I have met a few "duds" along the way. There are some people who just can't get out of their own way. You have met them too. As the late Zig Ziglar use to say, "Some people find fault like there was reward for it!" Somehow, they can spot a cloud in every silver lining.

I have probably, in the last 50 years, spent too much time trying to figure those people out. I eventually came to the conclusion that you can't help them. You can love them, but you can't change them. Maybe they were "born under the wrong star" or weaned on a dill pickle. I don't know.

Regretfully, I have not accomplished as much as I thought I would in the past 50 years. I have not been as good a father I thought I would. I have not been as good a husband I once saw myself being. Professionally, I have not been as successful as I thought I would be. You might say I have disappointed myself along the way.

But with all my stumbling and fumbling and falling, I have always found God's grace to be sufficient. I have found when I keep trying, He keeps supplying.

So I will celebrate these past 50 years with my class mates this weekend with a grateful heart.

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