My amazing family

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So my dad’s brother turned 80 last month, and we met up in Warm Springs, Georgia for a birthday bash. This past Friday, my mama’s brother turned 80, and we met up in Franklin, Tennessee for a birthday bash. In each case, I did a turn and burn and was back home that night.
Both uncles are amazing men who have lived amazing lives. Both uncles have amazing wives, amazing kids and amazing grandkids. They have an amazing nephew, too, from what I hear.
On Friday, I drove to Dadeville to meet up with my mother. She lives up there. She doesn’t like to drive very much. Her car is 10 years old and barely has 40,000 miles on it. I drive that much in a month and a half. I drove her to Tennessee in her car since it’s so much better on gas mileage than my gas guzzler. The only issue with her car is the University of Alabama tag that she proudly displays. I wasn’t sure I would be able to drive such a vehicle, but I adapted, overcame and made it happen, while wearing my Auburn hat, of course.
She hadn’t been through Birmingham since the Vulcan was a baby. The last time she was in heavy traffic was on the four lane in Opelika when the mill let out at three o’clock. Fortunately, we missed the traffic in Birmingham. I’ve been in a lot of traffic in my life, but there’s something especially dreadful about the traffic up there.
We made it to Franklin in record time. I drive quite fast as it is, but when I drive in the same car with my mother, I tend to drive just a little bit faster.
I love my mama; I just don’t want to be in the same car with her any more than I have. It’s really not her; it’s me. I’m used to driving everywhere by myself or with my Ruby, my dog. That’s just how I roll.
It was so wonderful being with family. There’s nothing better. In addition to the birthday boy, my other uncle, for whom I’m named after, was there along with aunts, cousins, cousins once removed and even cousins twice removed.
In other words, there were lots of babies there, and it was beautiful. In a perfect world, I would have had a 22 month old playing alongside the toddlers, but we do not live in a perfect world, so we just have to do the best we can. Being with so many loved ones that night was pretty darn perfect.
We left around 10 p.m. for the trek back to East Alabama. Everyone was shocked that we were driving back that night, but when I have a chance to sleep in my own bed, I take full advantage of that opportunity. This week, I’ll be sleeping in Maine. Next week, I may or may not be sleeping in an undisclosed location on the other side of the world.
I dropped mama off around 2:30 a.m. and was back in my garage just a half hour later. Ruby was happy to see me. I’m so fortunate to have friends that are ready, willing and able to take care of her at a moment’s notice. I don’t know where I’d be without my friends, and I certainly don’t know where I’d be without my family.
Being with my extended family at the last couple of birthday bashes was something special.
All too often in the past we only came together for funerals, but many of us have made a concerted effort to get better at that and that’s just what we’ve done.
I have an amazing family, and I’m sure you do, too, so don’t miss out on any opportunities to spend time with them. Don’t make excuses. Just make it happen.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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