Fondly Remembering Mr. A.J. Arthur

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubs(Note: As we were preparing to publish Mark’s blog, Mr. Arthur passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Here is the blog in its entirety.)

Unless a miracle takes place, I am about to lose a very good friend, Mr. A. J. Arthur.

To most of you that know Mr. Arthur, you remember him as the manager for a little over 50 years at Cooke’s Food Store in Cleveland, Tenn.

Some of you remember him, as a matter of fact….MANY of you remember him, from having his late wife, Ann Arthur, as your schoolteacher.

aj arthur, mark grissom, beaverdamusa.com

Mr. A.J. Arthur and me.

My journey with A. J. began a little over four years ago when I started attending First United Methodist Church.  I sat in the second from the last row with Mr. Jimmy Barger my very first Sunday.

I remember looking across the aisle at this very stately, handsome, well-dressed gentleman.  I could not place him, but his face looked very familiar to me.   (I find the older I get, I am not good at remembering names of individuals, but I seldom forget a face.)

After church that Sunday, Mr. Arthur came over and shook my hand and welcomed me to First United Methodist.  He knew exactly who I was from seeing me at the funeral home.  He told me what he had done for a living and I immediately remembered him.

He was the friendly face you saw when you went into Cooke’s Food Store to purchase your groceries.  Always friendly.  Always a big cut-up.  And always in a good mood.

Oh yes…one more thing….ALWAYS flirting with the pretty ladies!

Several Sundays went by and I continued to sit with Jimmy Barger and Don Wood at church.  And then one particular Sunday, A. J. decided that he and his friend, Bill Kibler would make the big move from their particular pew and walk across the aisle and sit with Jimmy, Don and myself.

That was when my journey with A. J. began!

As every Sunday passed, I got to know Mr. Arthur a little better.  I got to hear him tell stories of his days at Cooke’s Food Store.  I got to hear him tell of how many young men and women got their first job because of him.  Every time Robert Bradney came over to our pew to shake hands, as he walked away, A. J. looked at me and said, “I gave him his first job.”  And a big smile would light up his face.

I knew I was in the “The Club” when one Sunday, right after the closing hymn, A. J. and Bill Kibler invited me to go eat lunch with them.

WOW!  I had finally arrived!  I was a part of the A. J. and Bill “Men’s Club” and I was headed to Denny’s Restaurant!

I met the two of them for lunch and they kept me laughing the entire time.

I learned real quick that A. J. Arthur was “A Ladies Man!”

He flirted with every waitress in Denny’s that day.   It was pure joy to see these two elderly men have such a great time and they thought enough of me to allow me to be a part of their fun.

I had no choice that day of what I wanted to eat.  I was told that we would all three be having the “Seniors Breakfast Special”.  That consisted of two eggs, bacon or sausage and two pancakes.

Now, I am not supposed to eat the pancakes due to my diabetes, but you try telling that to these two, old stubborn men!  Nothing doing!!  I was going to eat those pancakes and they would make sure I had sugar free syrup to go on top!

Over the past couple years, A. J. Arthur and I have developed an incredible friendship.

We would talk on the phone two or three times a week.  We would go out to eat a couple times a month.  (Prime Rib at Outback was his favorite.)

We made a trip to Madisonville, Tennessee one day to a butcher’s shop to buy some fresh bacon, a whole country ham and one more thing.

A.J. wanted me to try something that I had never eaten in my entire life…. SOUSE MEAT!

First of all, the looks of souse meat are enough to make you want to throw up.  Sorry…it just does.

However,  Mr. Arthur told me I was going to try it and I knew better than to argue with him.  I would lose!

We stopped at a convenience store and picked up a couple packs of crackers.  We got back in the truck and opened up the pack of souse meat.

Mr. Arthur cut a small piece and put it on a cracker and handed it to me.  “Eat that”… he exclaimed!  So…I did.

I must admit it was not all that bad.

I asked A. J. what was in souse meat.

His answer that day was one that I shall never forget.

“Everything on a pig that they are not allowed to sell”!

Oh Great!  I immediately started thinking of how I would have food poisoning for the next three days from this piece of souse meat!

I did not get sick.  I ate more souse meat.  And A. J. Arthur and I had the time of our life that day.

I had the honor of giving him a ride to church on Sunday morning after his health failed enough to the point the doctors told him he should not drive.

I learned more about “life” in that 10-minute ride to church and the 10-minute ride back to his apartment at Garden Plaza than I could ever have imagined.

He has made it very clear to me exactly how he wants his funeral to go.  Who the preacher shall be…and whom he wants to sing.

He has told me more than once, “I do not want it to be sad, make sure they say something funny”.

Class, Funny, Christian, Polite, Kind, Loving, Peaceful, Dignified, Gentle, Warm, Giving, …and a servants heart.  Those are the words I would use to describe my friend, A. J. Arthur.

I go to visit A. J. a couple times a day at the nursing home.

I always rub the top of his head.  I always tell him I love him.

He always responds in a low, shallow voice…”I love you too, buddy”.

This morning, my friend looked up at me with his eyes half open and said….”Goodbye, Mark…I am ready to go”.

My New Years wish for those of you reading this blog…that you find your “A. J. Arthur” …and cherish every moment with them.

Dear Lord, give my friend A. J. comfort and peace, I pray.

I Always Loved Thanksgiving, Until…

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsWell…Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series this year.

I was pulling for the Kansas City Royals, so I really couldn’t care less. But out of respect for my love and appreciation for the game of baseball, I will at least “tip my hat” to the team from California.

I hate California…always will!

We are quickly approaching the holiday where everyone sits around and eats way too much. Then we take a nap and watch a little television and…eat way too much, again!

We are about to celebrate the holiday better known as…”Thanksgiving”.

I have always loved Thanksgiving.

I can remember, growing up in Chicago, we would get out of school at noon on Wednesday. So we had Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off! It was GREAT!

My mother, God rest her soul, always cooked a HUGE meal for our family every Thanksgiving.

We had the whole works! Turkey, dressing…(the kind with chopped up hard boiled eggs in it)…sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry salad and the best homemade pumpkin pie you ever did eat!!  MMMM…MMMM!!!

I have always loved Thanksgiving!

We could sleep in on Thursday morning and wake up only to head downstairs and watch television. Cartoons or football seemed to be the “programming” for the day.

I don’t ever remember eating breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving.

By the time I got out of bed, it was not but a couple hours until the big meal of the day would be served.

One other thing stands out in my mind about the Thanksgiving meal. My dad was the ONLY one that could carve the Turkey.

There were many years we had other family members over for Thanksgiving.

There were many years we had members of the church congregation over for Thanksgiving.

But one thing stayed “constant” year, after year, after year at Thanksgiving. NOBODY else laid a hand on that big ole bird except my father!

If there were ever an award to be given out for who did the best job at carving the turkey on Thanksgiving, my father would have been the winner on multiple occasions!!

He knew just how to cut up that turkey so that every single piece of meat would be used up and there would be NO waste whatsoever.

Me personally…I always, and still do, prefer the white meat to the dark. Don’t ask me why. I have no real reason. It just “looks” better, I guess.

I have ALWAYS loved Thanksgiving!

Well…I have always loved Thanksgiving…until almost 4 years ago. After that, I really couldn’t care less if I ever celebrate another Thanksgiving the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the true meaning of the holiday itself. “Giving Thanks”. That is what it is all about anyhow. I have a lot to be thankful for. We all do.

For that part of the holiday, I am happy to see that day come around.

However, when it comes to sitting down and enjoying a meal of all the aforementioned foods that appear on the dining room table and the laughter and eating until you feel like you can explode…I have no desire to celebrate Thanksgiving ever again.

You see, Thanksgiving of 2010, I had the very last meal with my mom that I would ever have again.

Let me share with you my story.

My mom was a patient/resident at Signature Healthcare Center in Cleveland, TN. She could not leave the nursing home due to her condition of Alzheimer’s/Dementia.

It was Thanksgiving Day. My aunt Vie, mom’s sister, and my cousin Sheri were both in town. Sheri and Aunt Vie had fixed a huge Thanksgiving meal at my mom and dad’s house that morning. They were all going to eat around noon that day.

I had other plans than eating with them.

I wanted them to bring two plates of food to the nursing home that day so that my mother and I could have our Thanksgiving meal in her room.

My mom was having a really good day that particular Thanksgiving. She was feeling good and she was in really good spirits. I wanted to be with her. I wanted to share a “Thanksgiving Dinner” with my mom on that day.

We had an incredible time…just the two of us. Sheri and Aunt Vie brought over Turkey, dressing (again, the kind with hard boiled eggs chopped up inside), sweet potato casserole, rolls, green beans, deviled eggs like only my Aunt Vie can make and two different kinds of pie that day.

The meal was INCREDIBLE!! The company I had for lunch that day was even GREATER!!

I was sharing Thanksgiving with my mom…and it was AWESOME.

Then, the very next day, my mom took a turn for the worse.

She would go to bed on Thanksgiving night of 2010 and never get up again.

She would only tell us that she was not feeling well and she mostly slept a lot. She seemed very weak and would only continue to get weaker as the next several days and couple of weeks approached.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my dad and I went to see the SEC Championship football game in Atlanta. The Auburn Tigers were playing that year. We both wanted to go see Cam Newton play a game during his final season, before he went pro.

We went by the nursing home that morning and my mom was totally not herself. I can fully remember leaving there that day telling my dad…something is wrong with mom. She is failing fast.

It was two weeks later, December 14, 2010 at 4:56 a.m. that my mom would take her final breath on earth and her first breath in Heaven.

Just two short weeks after having one of the best times with my mom, sharing Thanksgiving dinner together, she would depart this world…and join her family and friends that had gone on before her.

So you see, Thanksgiving just does not mean that much to me anymore. As a matter of fact, I try my best to “avoid” doing anything that day. I would rather stay at home, by myself, and just fix a hot dog or hamburger on the grill and watch a little football or a re-run of Imus in the Morning Show.

I can only imagine the feast that my mom has in Heaven this year on Thanksgiving.

I would imagine there would be the most incredible turkey dinner with all the fixins!

I just wonder one thing. The dressing with the Turkey… is it the kind with hard boiled eggs chopped up inside?? I sure hope so. My mom loved that kind.

If there is a kitchen in Heaven, my mom will be there Thanksgiving morning.

Just one thing. They need to find someone else to carve the Turkey. I am not letting my dad go for many, many years!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Until next time…

Taco Truck: The Best Food on (or off) Wheels

Mark, along with his father, Tom Grissom, at “The Taco Truck"

Mark, along with his father, Tom Grissom, at “The Taco Truck”

As a fan of the underdog, I am pulling for the Royals in Game 7 of the World Series.

After the Baltimore Orioles were eliminated from the playoffs, I really could care less about the World Series.  I do not know a player on either team.  I have no interest in even watching a game.

However; I am NOT for the Giants!

I always pull for the underdog.  Does not matter what it is in life, I am always for the side that does not seem to have a chance!  The Giants have dominated baseball in the past few years.  I do NOT want to see them win this year too!

Prayers for the Royals would sure be appreciated!

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, I can remember looking forward to hearing the sound of the “Ice Cream Truck” as it was making its way into our neighborhood.

It did not matter if I was in the house watching television or in the backyard throwing the baseball up against the brick wall and catching it, (my dad hated when I did that), or riding my bicycle down the street…I knew that sound all too well!

I would find my mom, (God rest her soul), or dad real quick and get a dollar, (back then a dollar went a long way), and run out in front of the house and stand there and wait for the “Ice Cream Man”.

I had one favorite item off the “Ice Cream Truck”.  I bought it every single time he pulled up to meet me.  I never had to look at the menu on the side of the truck.  I always knew what I was getting from the “Ice Cream Man”, and it was not even ice cream!

I bought, what they called back then, a “Bomb Pop”.

It was a red, white and blue Popsicle in the shape of a bomb and, man oh man, was it ever good!!

Fast forward to the years 1983 and 1984.

I was enrolled in Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago.  The mortuary college was actually meeting at the time in an old elementary school building in Skokie, Illinois.  We were the only ones in the school.  There was no cafeteria or cafeteria workers.  I don’t even remember there being any vending machines on the premises.

Every day, at around 11:00 a.m. or so, a food truck pulled up in front of the school.

This food truck was not like the ones you see today.  The food trucks today are a whole lot fancier.  This was a simple truck with an aluminum body on it and it had two doors on each side in the back.  The driver would pull up to the school, get out of the truck and open up the swinging doors on each side.

He had a little bit of everything inside that food truck!  Fresh donuts and pastry items, hot coffee, cold canned sodas, cold sandwiches, chips, and candy bars.  You name it…it was either on the truck or he would bring it back with him the next day!

Again, the crazy person that I am, I had one favorite item on that truck.  As often as I can remember I would get the ham and cheese cold sandwich, a bag of chips and a cold drink.

If I were really hungry, I would grab a fresh donut for dessert.

It was not that the food was so great.  It was more the experience of getting your lunch from a “Food Truck”.

Fast forward to the present!

Several months ago, my pastor and his friend took me to a place where there was a whole new dining experience to be found.  Pastor Tim Bracken and Ramon Torres introduced me on that day to a place called “Taco El Cunao”, AKA, “THE TACO TRUCK”

It is located on the south end of Cleveland, close to Bradley High School.  It is an old white truck that has been converted into one of the most incredible eating establishments I have ever experienced.

I LOVE Mexican food!  I always have.  It has always been my favorite.

For 20 years, I kept Monterrey Mexican Restaurant in business.  I still go there quite often, but not as often as I use to after discovering a small piece of “Heaven” at a place called “The Taco Truck”!

They have the most authentic – or as the sign on the Taco Truck says…”AUTENTIC” – Mexican food anywhere around.  Everything from tacos, burritos, gorditas, tortas, and quesadillas.

You walk up to the little window and place your order.  Then you go sit under an “aluminum shed” type building that is open at both ends.  Your name or number is called and you go back to the window and pick up your food.

I have been there so many times, I am known to everyone that works at the taco truck as “Mr. Marcos”.

That makes me smile!

They make their very own hot sauce.  (Be sure and get the red bottle)

On average, I am probably at the taco truck between 2 and 10 times a week.   I am making my case, as I write this blog, for my very own parking space at the taco truck!   I think I deserve it!

I truly believe it is not just the food that draws me to the taco truck, but the experience of ordering my food from a rusted out old bus with Mexican food pictures plastered all over the side of it and hearing the ladies yell out…”HOLA MR. MARCOS”.

Whatever the case may be, there certainly seems to be a pattern in my life of having an affinity to trucks that have food.  Not quite sure how to explain that!

I do know this one thing to be true.  The next time I have a date, and if that date says…”Hey, lets go eat at the taco truck for dinner”…I will marry her.

Until next time… GO CUBS!!

PS… You better believe I have one favorite item at “The Taco Truck”.  Burrito Grande with steak, rice, lettuce, tomato, cheese and jalepeno.  Then I SMOTHER that sucker in the red hot sauce!

A Lesson at Crossing the Road for Lee Students

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsMy pulse is 210. My blood pressure is most likely 240/205. My face is blood red. If I had any hair at all…right now I would pull every bit of it out of my head!!!

No, it has nothing to do with the Cubs finishing in last place for the season.

No, it has nothing to do with the fact I am still paying alimony.

No, it has nothing to do with the fact that the old lady from WOOP radio keeps leaving me vulgar messages on my cell phone.

It is none of the above.

The reason I am having all these issues going on at one time, is because I just drove “smack dab” through the middle of Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., at most likely the worst time of the day.

First of all, let me say that I am a big fan of Dr. Paul Conn, President of the university.

Secondly, let me say that I attended Lee College in 1982 prior to enrolling in Mortuary College back in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

Thirdly, let me say that I appreciate the progress over the years that Lee has experienced and I wish them all the best in the future.

HOWEVER…

I am just wondering, during freshman orientation, is there any possible way to teach the incoming students from all over the country to…PLEASE DON’T CROSS THE ROAD WHEN CARS ARE COMING!!!

Let me explain something right here.

There are speed bumps…no, excuse me…there are small “Speed Mountains” installed in the roadway every 25 to 30 feet…NO JOKE!! And these “Speed Mountains” are most likely 3 feet tall.

Now, I don’t care about the “Speed Mountains”. I truly do not. I own a Toyota FJ Cruiser Four Wheel Drive and I can shift that puppy into 4×4 and lock in the rear wheels and climb any speed bump that Tri-Conn Construction can erect!! So the “Speed Mountains”, at least for me, are not that big of a deal.

BUT…

Would someone please explain to me, if you are at least 18 years of age and you are attending a major university, you should know not to cross the road if a CAR IS COMING YOUR WAY!!!

For many, many years, there has only been one place at Lee where the men from the male dormitory would cross the road at Ocoee Street and Medlin Residence Hall. That was bad enough. I know of several incidents where students have almost been hit from walking out in the path of oncoming traffic at that same intersection.

BUT NOW…

There are at least 425 “Speed Mountains” erected on the main roads passing through the middle of the campus and at every single one of them, students cross and expect the cars to stop.

Why do they not just close off the streets completely at the university??

Why do they take the chance of a student getting hit by a car??

This is something that is making me ask the question…”WHY”?

I will repeat my earlier statement so that everyone is clear.

I have all the appreciation and respect in the world for Dr. Paul Conn. I love Lee University and what it means to our community. I have many friends that are faculty members at that University. HOWEVER, is there not a solution to this problem??

Or, maybe there IS no problem, and it really is the fact that my Chicago Cubs suck and I am just mad they have had another horrible season.

You be the judge!

Until next time.

Do you agree? Disagree? Comment now.

Get Involved with My Alzheimer’s Marathon

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsFirst of all, let me say great big CONGRATULATIONS to my Cubbies!

They have been winning a lot of games lately, and they have the best record of wins in the National League for the month of August 2014!

They even swept the series with the first place Milwaukee Brewers last week.

Now, as soon as I say all of that, watch and see if they don’t start losing every game.

That is the way it happens. That is why they are the Cubs!

My best friend in Chicago, Bill Matyskela, is a die-hard White Sox fan. I love Bill for every other reason other than baseball. We do NOT agree on baseball at all.

However, Bill’s dad, Mr. Matyskela as I like to call him, is just like me…a life-long fan of the Chicago Cubs!

I have always liked the way Mr. Matyskela said it. To quote him, “The problem with the Cubs is…they are the Cubs.”

From his mouth to God’s ears! He is so right.

Enough about my team.

I have something very special coming up tomorrow that I would be remiss if I did not share in this week’s blog.

This is the second year in a row I have done this and I could not be more proud.

I host a morning radio show three times a week out of WOOP Radio Station in Cleveland, Tennessee. The call numbers are 99.9 on your FM dial.

(Of course we are such a low-wattage station that you have to actually be inside the parking lot of the radio station to receive the channel on your car tuner.)  Bad joke there…but almost correct.

The other option is to go to the World Wide Web and locate our station live streaming at www.woopfm.com.

This Thursday morning, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern, I will be hosting for 27 hours straight on the radio the “Patty Grissom Memorial Alzheimer’s WOOP-A-THON.”

Last year we went 26 and half hours and raised a little over $15,000.

This year I am going to break the “on-air” time record by 30 minutes and I also hope to break the level of giving record as well.

This 27 hour marathon was named in memory of my mom, Patty Grissom, who passed away from Alzheimer’s/Dementia on December 14, 2010 at 4:56 a.m.

Yes, I know the exact time. I was standing at the foot of her bed and watched her take her last breath on this earth and her first breath in Heaven.

I, like many other folks, had no clue about Alzheimer’s or the affects it had on individuals until my mother was diagnosed.

It is a horrible, cruel disease and I am doing my part to help the Alzheimer’s Association and Doctors find a cure.

I am not the only one that will be staying up for 27 hours straight.

This year I have two great friends who will be joining me for the all day and all night into the next morning marathon.

Cindy Lowery is Vice-President of the Southeast Tennessee Alzheimer’s Association. Cindy was with me last year for the entire 26 and half hours of the marathon and has agreed to sign on once again for this year’s marathon.

A “newbie” to the Patty Grissom Memorial Alzheimer’s Marathon is my friend, Brian Graves.

Brian is a reporter for the Cleveland Daily Banner and is one of the most intelligent individuals I know. He is a great reporter and he has an incredible sense of humor. I am proud to call him my friend and I am really proud that he has volunteered to be on the air for 27 hours straight with Cindy and myself.

My usual Thursday-Friday co-hosts deserve a lot of credit as well. Jackie Rumble, aka “Mama Hazy” and Dr. Jay McCluskey, aka “Dr. Jay McCluskey”, will be putting in a lot of time on the show as well.

Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. we will be having a “Flash Mob Choir” of the Red Back Hymnal. We will be joining together in a large choir, filling the studio, and singing all the old hymns from the infamous Red Back Hymnal.

Followed by the Collins Brothers Band performing live on the main stage at the Village Green at 8:00 p.m.

Now, here is how you can get involved.

Please call the WOOP Radio Station on Thursday or Friday at 423-614-5553 and make your pledge. Or, if you live near in or near Cleveland, please come by the WOOP Studios and drop off your pledge in person.

I would love the opportunity to chat with you live on the air. And please mention you heard about the marathon from the blog on BeaverDamnUSA.com!

You can listen in Cleveland or surrounding area on 99.9FM or from anywhere in the world on www.woopfm.com live streaming.

In memory of the most incredible mom in the whole world, dedicated this year to Don Kaylor and the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives to this cruel disease.

I love you, mom! Always and Forever!

Yours truly,

Your “little boy”, Mark

Encore Presentation: Impulsiveness and the Trouble it Causes

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comNote: Mark is in Tibet this week touring a Yak farm he is considering buying. In his absence, we are re-running one of his more popular blogs, which originally published on April 23, 2014.

Let me make one thing clear as I begin writing this particular blog. I do not feel good at all! I woke up yesterday morning and my nose was stopped up and my throat was sore and my body ached. I still feel sick. I refuse to go to the doctor. So I guess I will just have to tough this out and let it run its course.

Your sympathy is deeply appreciated. And now…on to the blog.

I am a person of impulse.

I am the one at the grocery store that buys things he never went in there for to start with. I walk down the aisle and see things that look good and I grab one or two and throw them in my basket. I would be better off making a list of items I need before I go.

I go and buy a new vehicle on my first trip to the car dealership, instead of taking my time and looking around at all my options and getting the best deal I can.

I went to Scott’s Furniture Store last week to get a television stand for my new townhouse. By the time I left, I had purchased a TV stand, a leather recliner, a desk and an area rug. All in the matter of 15 to 20 minutes.

I make quick decisions and then sometimes regret them later.

This is why I have no business using computer email, texting or Facebooking.  I need time to think over things and study them out before my fingers or my mouth kick into gear and I type or say something I should not have.

You often hear the phrase…”Once something has been sent in black and white, there is no taking it back.”  I would do very well to have that tattooed on my arm!

Several years ago, I served on the Bradley County School Board. I had problems with certain school board members. (A couple of which I still do.)  I sent out an email at the time concerning the Director of Schools and letting him leave the system sooner than he requested.

To send that email was single handedly the worst decision of my life. (Okay…maybe the second worst decision of my life.)

I did not take the time to study what the consequences of that email would be to myself and to my business. It ended up being a disaster.

There were certain idiotic school board members, even after I stood up and gave a public apology in a special called board meeting, which used that one email I sent to try and destroy my business, my family and my character. They did their very best to hurt me and try and force my resignation from the school board.

Due to the fact that right always wins, I did not resign the school board and I learned that I have a whole lot of friends and supporters in Bradley County.

I received more phone calls, emails and personal visits from hundreds of people in our community that wanted to say they supported me and stood behind me.

I made a bad error in judgment when I sent that email. I admitted that in the special called board meeting. I apologized. Everyone forgave me that evening. Everyone except a few school board members that took the side of dirty politics.

Their day will come. Karma is a real… well, you know!

I am human. I make mistakes on a daily basis. I screw up every day of my life. We all do. Some of us more than others. Thank God for His Grace!

My quick impulse tends to get me in trouble sometimes. If you ever listen to my radio show on WOOP FM you will know that things come out of my mouth before they have a chance to be processed through my brain.

Maybe that is what makes my radio show so interesting.

I think it is time that I not be so impulsive. Slow down and smell the roses. Take time in my decision making process. Quit sending texts when I am mad about things. Make a grocery list out before I head off to Bi-Lo. And look around for the best deal on a new truck instead of buying the first one I see.

Ya… I have a few things to work on. So let’s get started!

Until next time… GO CUBS!!

Sorry, Mr. Mickelson, I’m Probably the Reason You Lost

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsOther than a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, The Master’s Golf Tournament or the College Football National Championship game…the PGA Championship is the only other sporting event that makes me watch 5 hours of continuous television for a sports event.

This past weekend, the PGA Championship was played in Louisville, Kentucky.

I was pulling for Phil Mickelson…. all the way!

Therein lies the problem.

You see, I am a “die-hard” fan of the Chicago Cubs.  I have been a fan nearly all my life.

Since I was five years old, I have pulled for the very worst team in Major League Baseball every single year.

That is my lot in life.  When I pull for a certain team or individual…they usually end up on the losing side.  Let’s just say it is the “curse of the Cubs fan”.

All my life I can remember cheering on a certain horse at the Kentucky Derby.

The horse I picked…lost.

I can remember hoping a certain tennis player would win Wimbledon.

The player I picked…lost.

I can also remember making a trip to Memphis, Tennessee with Richard Roberts at the Cleveland Daily Banner about 8 or 9 years ago to pull for the Walker Valley Lady Mustangs Girls Softball Team in the State Finals.

They lost.

I gave everything I had in cheering on the United States Soccer Team to win the World Cup this year in Brazil.

Well…you know what happened.

It is the “curse of the Cubs fan”.

It does not seem to matter the sport, event or political race.  If I pull for them…they are sure to lose.

This past weekend, I was Phil Mickelson’s biggest fan in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Well…at least one of his biggest fans.

On Sunday, I was sitting in front of my television right at 2:00 p.m., sharp!  Jim Nance was on CBS and I was ready for some golf!

I had someone covering the funeral home in case of a death call.  (I guess I would have left in case of emergency).

However, things managed to stay quiet long enough at work for me to watch the entire telecast of the final day at the PGA Championship.

After the weather delay, Mickelson teed off!

Here we go!!

He played absolutely incredible Sunday.  Birdie, par, birdie, birdie, par, birdie…well, you get it.

I was yelling at the television…”C’MON PHIL!!!”

Then, a bogey.  CRAP!

All of a sudden this final day in Louisville took a really bad turn.

It was not only the fact he made a bogey toward the end of the 18 hole tournament.

No…something far worse for Phil.

I somehow checked my Facebook page about the same time as the bogey; only to find out that another “die-hard” Cubs fan I know was pulling for Phil as well.

My friend, former “Chicagoan,” and fellow Cubs fan…Mr. Mark Smith of Cleveland.

NO!

It is the “CURSE OF THE CUBS FAN” times 2 on Phil now!

Fate would have it that Rory McIlroy would take back the lead and end up winning the PGA Championship that day.

What was I thinking?  What was Mark Smith thinking?  If only we had both pulled for Rory or Bubba or Kenny Perry!  Then Phil might have had a chance!

This “curse of the Cubs fan,” that I believe truly exists, has made me re-think everything I choose to do in life from now on.

I will pull for the opposite team.  I will cheer on the player I want to lose.  I will pick a horse to win, knowing all along I hope that sucker comes in last place.

I am “doomed” the rest of my life to pick the complete opposite of the one I really want.

This issue has caused me to lose a lot of sleep at night.

Being a single guy, and I go out to eat and there are two women there sitting together, do I pick the one that I hope says no?

This could get very complicated real quick!

There is only one time in my fifty years on this earth when the “curse of the Cubs fan” did NOT control the destiny and outcome of a certain event.

For the last 9 months or longer, I have pulled for and cheered on a lady who I love dearly to win in a political race.  I go to church with her and her husband and their family.  I wanted her to win worse than anything in this world.

Last Thursday night, Dianna Ball Calfee was victorious in her campaign for Bradley County School Board.

Congratulations, Dianna!

The “curse of the Cubs fan” was put to rest for that one evening. Victory was ours.  And justice prevailed!

As for Phil Mickelson this past Sunday, all I can say is…I am very sorry.

Until next time…Go Cubs!

“I Knew I Was Saying Goodbye to my Mom For the Last Time”

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsA good friend from out of town, Donna Hendrix-Cripps, read this tribute to my mother that I had posted on Facebook on the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.

She commented to me in a private message the following…”So sorry about your mom”.

Well, Donna…I am too.

I miss her every single day that goes by.

As it approaches the four year anniversary of her death on December 14th of this year…I would like to share the tribute I wrote to her almost three years ago.

Thank you, Donna, for the reminder.

“Goodbye Mom…I Love You Very Much”
By: Mark Grissom

It was the fall of 1982.  I had left my home in Chicago, Illinois and made my journey to Cleveland, Tennessee to start my freshman year at Lee College.  My mom and dad followed me down to Cleveland to help me get settled in the dormitory.  This was the first time in my life that I was going to be away from home for any length of time and I had mixed emotions.  For the most part, I was probably like most young people at that age, I thought I was a big boy now and I could make it on my own.

My parents made sure I was registered, knew my way around the campus and helped me get moved in to my dorm room…Hughes Hall…Room 320.  Once my clothes and what little bit of furniture I had was moved into my room, I thought I was independent enough and that it was okay for my mom and dad to make their journey on back to Chicago.  Looking back, I probably was too pushy with them to go on home and not worry about me.  I thought I could make it just fine.  Dad was perfectly fine with that.  He was always the one to say…”You’re okay”..or…”You can make it.”

However, my mom, well that was a different story!

Mom did not want to leave!  My mother wanted to stay at least one more day and make sure that I had everything I needed and that “her little boy” was going to be alright!  I remember telling her….”MOM….please go on…I am going to be just fine!”  But that was not good enough for her.  I was her baby boy!  She was not ready to let me go!  She did not want to say…”Goodbye.”

They stayed one more day.  The last day they were in Cleveland, I will never forget my mom crying her eyes out that her son was not going to be with her any longer.  I went to the motel room where they were staying to say goodbye and she was bawling like a baby.  My mom loved me very much….and she did not want to leave me!  I got in my car to drive off and I could see her in the rear view mirror waving at me and the tears were flowing down her cheeks.  The whole time she was telling me…..”Goodbye Mark…..I love you very much!!”

Fast forward to December of 2010.

My mother had been sick for several years with the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s.  She had been diagnosed with terminal Alzheimer’s by her doctor and my dad and my brother and myself had made the decision to place her in a nursing home facility in Cleveland where they could give her the best possible care for the remainder of her time here on this earth.

The last couple weeks of her life, dad and I would take turns staying with her in the nursing home, because we knew she did not have much time left.  Her body was shutting down, she was getting very weak, and it was getting very close for her time to move from this life into Heaven.  We all knew that.  We all knew that she was leaving us.  Those days, and nights, were very difficult.

I would stay with her during the night and dad would come back to the nursing home about 6:00 a.m. to be with her.  It was a time that we needed…..to say our long goodbye to the greatest wife and mother that anyone could ever ask for.

On December 13, 2010, my mother was barely breathing.  She had been in a comatose state for several days.  She had not eaten and the doctor and nurses were just doing everything they could to keep her comfortable for the remainder of her time here on earth.  That evening, my brother came in town and the three of us were able to spend the last evening with my mom in her room, around her bedside, sharing lots of memories and singing to her and praying.  Late that night my brother went on to my dad’s house to get some rest.  I came back to the nursing home about 1:30 a.m. and begged my dad to go home for a few hours and get some rest and I would stay with mom.  He did not want to go, but I insisted.  He was physically and emotionally exhausted from the days and months prior of being my mom’s caretaker.

About 4:00 a.m. on the morning of December 14, 2010, I watched my mom’s breathing get very shallow.  Her breaths were much further apart.   She had no pain whatsoever.  Thanks to the incredible staff of Signature Healthcare, she was very comfortable and had an incredible peace about her.  I walked over to the foot of her bed…..and I did not want to leave her.  And I did not want her to leave me.  I talked to her.  I kept telling her how much I loved her and that she was the greatest mom in the whole world.  I was saying goodbye to my mom….for the very last time.

At 4:56 a.m., I watched my mother take her last breath here on earth and take her first breath in Heaven.

I called the nurse into the room and told her I thought my mom had passed away.  She very gently went over to her bedside, sat down beside her and checked to see if she had any pulse left at all.  I will never forget her next words to me.  She turned and looked at me and said, “You might need to call your dad, your mom has passed away.”  When I heard those words, I began to cry like a baby.  She came over and gave me a long hug.  She did not say a word…..she just hugged me.  That is what I needed right then.  I just needed to cry…..and she knew that.  She went out of the room to give me some time with my mom.  I stood there looking at my mom and said…..”Goodbye Mom…..I love you very much!”  That was all I could say.  “Goodbye…I love you!”

I now know how my mom felt in the Fall of 1982 when she stood there watching me leave, tears rolling down her cheeks, telling me….”Goodbye Mark….I love you very much.”  It hurts still to this day……but I know beyond any doubt whatsoever that my mom is in Heaven and I will see her again one day.

“There’ll by no sorrow there.  No more burdens to bear.  No more sickness, no more pain.  No more parting over there.  And forever I will be, with the One who died for me.  What a day….GLORIOUS DAY….that will be!”

On this day, the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, I only can think of one thing to say…….”Goodbye Mom…..I love you very much……..and I will see you again!”

In Loving Memory of Patty Ann Carter Grissom
October 20, 1934 – December 14, 2010.

And HE will hold you…….hold you in the palm…..of HIS hand.

A Big Thank You to Allan Jones

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsIt was almost seven years ago.

I was working at Grissom Funeral Home. I cannot remember if I was busy with a funeral or visitation. I cannot remember the exact time of the day. I just know I was at work.

My cell phone rang. I answered. The voice on the other end was one of which I was familiar, but had never personally talked to him before.

Allan Jones gave Mark an opportunity to get behind the mic at WOOP-FM.

Allan Jones gave Mark an opportunity to get behind the mic at WOOP-FM.

“Mr. Grissom…(the gentleman on the other end said in a deep, stern voice)…this is Mr. Jones. I would like for you to come and be the morning host on my radio station…WOOP FM”.

It took me about 5 seconds to put some words together where I could form a somewhat “proper” sentence and give this man an answer.

I knew from the very second he said “Mr. Jones” that I was speaking with the one and only Mr. Allan Jones.

I did not grow up in Cleveland. Those of you that have read any of my blogs have figured out by now that I am a “damn Yankee”.

That is correct. I said “damn”.

A “damn Yankee” comes down to the south from the north and stays. A plain “Yankee” comes down and eventually goes back home. You probably knew that already.

It took me several years of living in Cleveland and owning my own business before I actually even knew who Allan Jones was. Back in those years, he was the owner of the Credit Bureau in Cleveland. One of his main employees, Sarah Scoggins’, mother worked for me at Grissom Funeral Home… Mrs. Jo Stuart.

I had heard many stories about Mr. Jones. All good I must say. But never had the opportunity to meet him.

I remember seeing him at horse shows at Tri-State Exhibition Center back when his lovely daughter showed her prize horses and won most every class.

But my friendship with this great man started the day my cell phone rang and I heard….”Mr. Grissom…this is Mr. Jones.”

WOW!!.The one and only Allan Jones actually had my cell phone number. He not only HAD my number… he was actually CALLING my number!

He needed a disc jockey for the morning drive time on WOOP Radio, 99.9 FM on the local Cleveland dial, and all over the world on www.woopfm.com. He had heard me some years before that with Steve Hartline on WCLE and I guess I made him chuckle a time or two.

It is all volunteer. Nobody who has a part at WOOP Radio is paid. It is a non-for profit radio station. (I just wanted you all to know that so you realize I still depend on my job at Grissom Funeral Home.)

Over the past 7 years, I have not only come to know Allan Jones as a community leader, an incredible businessman, a loving husband and devoted father to his children. I have not only come to know him as a very giving individual and one of the sharpest minds I know.

But I have come to know Mr. Jones as my personal friend.

Most folks in Cleveland, Tennessee know him as the owner of Check-Into-Cash or the CEO of Jones Management or, most recently, the owner of one of Cleveland’s finest and oldest local industries… Hardwick Clothes.

What most folks in Cleveland do NOT know about Allan is what a giving person he is to our community.

The wrestling center at Cleveland High School, the aquatic center at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the many hundreds of thousands of dollars he has donated to education on the local and state level in Tennessee, the hundreds of citizens in our community who are gainfully employed because of the business opportunities Mr. Jones has provided. These are just a small amount of what all he has done.

I know first-hand how giving he is. There have been several times I have called upon him to be a sponsor of an event and he has never once said no. “In The Line of Duty Ride” for a motorcycle club to assist the family of a fallen police officer. My Alzheimer’s Marathon on the radio last year when he agreed to be our premier sponsor to help raise money to find a cure for the horrible disease that took my mom’s life and the lives of so many others… just to name a couple.

He does not like attention. I know this for a fact. He has told me himself he does not want publicity. He has done so much for so many… and chooses to remain behind the scenes and do things anonymously. (As a matter of fact…he may want to kill me for writing this blog about him!) I doubt it. He will have to forgive me just this once.

Mr. Jones, on behalf of this great community we call Cleveland and Bradley County, I say a great big “THANK YOU!”

Mr. Jones, on behalf of the thousands of students that can attend college that would not be financially able to, and receive a higher education if it were not for your generosity, I say a great big “THANK YOU!”

Mr. Jones, on behalf of all of the charities and civic organizations that have been able to do so much good with the funds that you have afforded them in our community, I say a great big “THANK YOU!”

And last, but by no means least,  Allan…for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to pick up your phone one day and call me and say “Mr. Grissom…this is Mr. Jones”…I say a great big…”THANK YOU…my friend!”

An Unlikely Place to ‘Bond in the Cub Faith’

beaverdamusa.com, mark grissom, chicago cubsYou have to say one thing about “true, die-hard” Cub fans. We are some of the most loyal fans in the whole world.

There is a bond between Cub fans that cannot ever be broken.

Now…I am not talking about “fair weather” fans who show up at Wrigley Field on occasion. The kind that when the Cubs start winning they get on the “bandwagon” and start shouting them on.

I am not talking about the kind who say they are for the Cubs and the Sox. That is B.S.! (My apologies to the editor of my blog…but I had to use those initials!)

You CANNOT be a Cubs fan and a Sox fan! You either love the Cubs and hate the Sox…or vice versa.  And if you do love the Sox…then please stop reading my blog and unfriend me on Facebook as well! Thank you!

I am not talking about those kinds of fans. Only real Cub fans that have stuck with them in good times and bad.

And there have been a whole heck of bad!

I was working at the funeral home today. Grissom Funeral Home in Cleveland, Tennessee, that is. I meant a really nice lady and her daughter. They came in to talk about a funeral and I noticed an accent that was not from East Tennessee.

I asked where they were from and they told me Maine.

Well, that did not mean much to me. I have no friends from Maine. I think all “Mainers” are just a little bit weird, myself.

But when I told them I was from Chicago, the next thing that happened was glorious!

The lady’s daughter smiled and told me her husband was from Chicago.

My next question…”Is he a Cubs fan or Sox fan?”

She smiled even bigger this time and responded…”CUBS!”

Who's that next to Mark Grissom? Oh, yeah, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts

Who’s that next to Mark Grissom? Oh, yeah, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.

I clinched my fist in the air as if to say “Victory and Praise the Lord” all at the same time!

We began a dialogue of “Cub Talk”. If you are not a Cubs fan, you would not understand such a discussion.

Her husband was just a couple years younger than I am. I started naming players that were with the Cubs when I was just a kid. She knew every one of them.

I named the announcer for the Cubs on WGN Radio and WGN Television when I was a kid. She knew them also.

It was official…we had “Bonded in the Cub Faith”!

She proceeded to tell me that her husband even had a Cubs Mascot tattoo on his left arm.

By this time, I actually felt goose bumps up and down my spine and I knew God in Heaven sent this lady my way today to bring some joy into my life!

I apologize, right here, to all my friends who are Atlanta Braves fans. But to be very honest with you…I really get sick of hearing about the Braves all the time.

I know…I know! I live in “Braves Country” and I need to suck it up. However, to get the opportunity to meet and talk to fellow Cub fans is an experience I cherish!

I have thought about these great people all day. We exchanged phone numbers and I texted her a couple pictures that I had from Wrigley. One of which is myself with the owner of the Cubs, Tom Ricketts.

That was made two years ago at Wrigley Field. I printed it out, mailed it to his office in Chicago, he autographed it for me and mailed it back. It is hanging in my bedroom.

My Bible, my United Methodist Hymnal and my picture of Cubs owner, Tom Ricketts, and myself will remain with me until I leave this world.

I may be 90 years old one day and possibly residing at Signature Healthcare Center in Cleveland. For those who enter my room to visit me, as few as they may be, those three items will be by my bedside.

Now to go look into getting my Cubs mascot tattoo on my arm. “Bucket list!”

God Bless all the Cub fans!!

Until next time….

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