2017 is one for the books. Hurricanes, world records, and mass shootings – we dry out, rebuild, celebrate, grieve and pray.
Neck deep in the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in August and dumped a record 51.88 inches of rain in Cedar Bayou, Texas, we found ourselves rallying our bass boats and old-fashioned good ol’ boy spirit to help our neighbors, and ourselves. Note that, we have a reputation for getting it done.
Don’t mess with us, the Red Cross may not have shown up, but we didn’t notice because from the panhandle to the gulf, we hitched up our boat trailers and strapped on our galoshes and opted to do it ourselves. A popular meme jested “Texas should erect a statue of a random dude with a bass boat.” All joking aside, Harvey was a beast to battle, a category 3 hurricane, with 77 reported fatalities.
So when our Astros stepped onto the mound and into the playoffs, there was a vibe, an emotion that rallied us even more. The Houston Astros who joined America’s favorite pastime in 1962, became World Series champions for the first time in franchise history, walloping the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 and concluding a Fall Classic for the team, and their soggy state. Schools closed for the celebratory parade. We don’t take our games lightly. And boy howdy, we needed this win.
“Our” teams represent some sort of camaraderie that must be experienced in person. The hum of the high school band, who, you can bet also took home a state title and a notable chill that blows through the stadium like a tumbling tumbleweed when the boys of fall take the field.
And when we win, which we believe is a given, the enormity of our homecoming mums and pep-rallies is second, only to the size of our hats and hair.
This is Texas.
So I heard the drawl of the local farmers at the donut shop as they lamented the tragedy in Southerland Springs, where a crazy man killed 26 worshippers in a tiny country church, wounding 20 others. One of them said, “All the hippies want gun control, but the situation was stopped by a gun? That ‘thar’ is gun control.”
They all chuckled. My “hippie” son, didn’t laugh. But when one of them inquired about his “man-bun” he answered them, “Yes, sir.” And “No sir, it’s probably just a phase I am going through.” Belly laughs erupted, and another remarked, “That thar is a good boy, just needs a haircut.”
Wilson County Sheriff, Joe Tackitt Jr. who made short, unscripted and way down south statements about the Sunday shooting could have wandered in and joined the old farmers for coffee, they wouldn’t have missed a lick. The sheriff who made no apologies for his intolerance and refused to use “alleged” brought a swell to this transplanted Texan’s heart.
In his ten-gallon hat and crisp wrangler shirt, the lawman didn’t hide disdain for the dishonorably discharged shooter who messed with his town or the admiration he held for the “hero” who took him down. As Tackitt pulled the mic from his lapel and left the press begging for more, I fully expected him to mount a horse and ride off into the sunset.
This is Texas.
Labeling a shooter a shooter, a hero a hero, and yep, that “thar” is a hippie, but he’s our hippie. The benefit of the doubt, calling the kettle black, ice cold Dr. Pepper, excellent chips, and salsa, remembering where you came from, and what it looks like to evolve in spite of it, because of it, and for love of it. Our hotel waffles are in the shape of our state, and our back roads are as immaculate as our highways. Our slogans go viral, and our first responders are both professional, and volunteer and they all are willing to work for chicken fried steak and peach cobbler.
I readily admit I am not a baseball fan, but you can bet I am sporting an Astro’s shirt because that’s my team. Yep, we were all “Prayin’ really hard” for that win. Our ball games are religious, we pray every year that the Cowboys will throw straight and even the Baptists kneel for a “Hail Mary.”
We believe that Jesus would have chosen to live here because some of the terrain looks a lot like Jerusalem. We are holy rollers, fire and brimstone preachin’ and sweet tea drinking.
Yes, God Bless Texas.
Certainly, if you have never been here, you should get here as fast as you can. I have lived here more than I haven’t, and I have traveled extensively. I promise, there’s nothing like it.
You can’t fake it, and you can’t understand it until you see for yourself. Iconic with its cactus and pump jacks, which aren’t nearly as common as open fields of wheat, cows, and cotton, it is legend. As I drove a visitor from Dallas to Abilene, she’d inquired, “What’s that smell?” And most assuredly I would answer, “money.” Which every Texan would understand and was lost on her, that meant cattle or oil.
Yes, we are dragging our tired boots across the finish line to 2018. We are waterlogged, our throats are raspy from the win, and our hearts are broken for the loss. But come Sunday we will still thank God. We won’t be silenced, and a coward with an illegally obtained weapon won’t stop us from our Sunday best. In starched jeans and collared calico dresses we will come together and worship, pray, hold tight to our convictions and our God. It is more than a state or a state of mind.
It is a fellowship. A sense of belonging that supersedes floods and boogie men. It is a knock one out of the park home run kind of home, and it is well.
Y’all, this is Texas.
Happy New Year…. J