TammyThomas

Ethics In Sports

A Peaceful Life, Part 2

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October 16, 2015

Hello! And, welcome back to my blog! I hope you’ve had a great week. Last week, you read Part 1 of A Peaceful Life. If you missed it, no worries—you can pick it up right here: http://www.thetammythomas.com/a-peaceful-life-part-1/ .

A Peaceful Life

Part 2

My parents took me to the Schwinn store in downtown Jackson for my sixth birthday. I chose a purple single-speed with a large banana-style seat. I nagged my parents persistently for permission to ride solo around the block from Country Club Drive to Wildwood Terrace and back, a distance of one and a half miles. These were my first attempts at a race against the clock, my parents the official keepers of time. My feelings for the bicycle were love at first sight. Neither my family nor I imagined I would be riding one for Team USA some twenty-three years later.

Soon, much older kids throughout Yazoo City would show up where I was playing with other kids and challenge me to footraces and short drag-strip distances on the bike. It wasn’t unheard of for a kid ten years my senior to challenge me to these unsanctioned events. Spectators also showed up at Forrest Park to watch me turn flips off the high diving board. I enjoyed opportunities to showcase my talents, and I loved the attention that came with it. My athletic prowess made me somewhat of a local celebrity. But if my ability to run and race and dive made me a show off outside, life was different at home. Whining and laziness were not tolerated in our house, and there were consequences for misbehaving.

“Tammy, you’d better straighten up, or you’re going to have a meeting with Daddy’s belt when he comes home from work,” I heard my mother say more than once—usually when I insisted on wearing Mr. Green Jeans’ pants instead of a dress or after I had been in a fight with a boy. Just the threat of seeing that brown belt with its double flap permanently stowed away behind the upper cushions on the couch eventually kept me in line. To say it hurt is an understatement, but having parents who cared enough about me to discipline me when the situation required really meant a lot to me as I grew older.

My parents are hard workers and the most disciplined people I know. My father worked two jobs to provide for our family. From one a.m. to ten a.m., he worked as an eighteen-wheeler truck driver. “Little Bit to Crowbar,” I called out over the CB radio in efforts to reach him as his day on the truck approached its end. As soon as he came home from that job, he gobbled down lunch and went straight to work at his auto body shop and windshield business until bedtime at nine p.m. Without my father’s leadership and work ethic, I would not have grasped the connection between effort and results, or between standards and achievement.

At age six, I begged my father to let me cut the grass with the push mower—a green and white “Lawn Boy.” My father was, and still is, very particular about the manner in which the yard should be cut: “Start in the front yard here, cutting as close to the hedges as possible, with the blade turned away from the house. Continue in this direction until you get to that tree. Make sure not to blow the grass toward the tree, because I want that tree to grow. Make sure you never turn the blade toward any cars—I don’t want to have to replace any windshields if you throw a rock over to make it break. Once you finish in the front yard, always cut the blade off before crossing the concrete to get to the yard on the side of the house—I don’t want to replace the blades on the lawnmower,” he would insist. I was proud of myself when my mower job met his expectations.

I liked to help my father in his shop and oftentimes came to his aid when he changed oil in the vehicles he was working on. I didn’t mind getting dirty. I was happy to work alongside my Dad because I knew he enjoyed having me by his side. Some of the best times I remember are when I helped with yard work or helped my Dad work on cars. I often revisited these memoires later when times got tough; remembering the smell of freshly cut grass or the smell of oil and the quiet companionship of working alongside my father. They were a touchstone of how good and simple life could be.

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That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you all next week for Part 3 of A Peaceful Life.

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Tammy Thomas

 

Disclaimer:

I will tell you an emotionally true story in a skillful way. I will make it worth your while, and while my memory is imperfect, I haven’t invented memories. I haven’t invented facts. If I compress timelines, combine characters or conflate events, I will tell you. I have tried to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances, I have changed the names of individuals and places. I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations, places of residence, and others. The other people in my book might tell the story differently; this is my own, true version.

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2 Replies

  1. Jim Bryan Your sooner friend

    Enjoyed this. I will be signing up. I need to buy you another bottle of wine. I will read your book.

    1. Thanks, Jim! I hope you are enjoying your season tickets at OU! I miss Norman.

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