It’s my birthday

My birthday is rapidly approaching. I’ve never been real big on celebrating birthdays. Perhaps, it’s because I was born during ‘Nam. Seriously, why do we do it? Every single person on the globe has one every single year, and each year, it puts us one year closer to death. I’ll be 42. Elvis died at 42. The Stuttering Comic is not quite ready to leave the building.

I’m tired of seeing the one-year old completely covered in birthday cake and icing, too. It was cute the first thousand times I saw, but it’s now been played out, so stop it. Stop it now.

At my cousin's birthday party. I look mesmerized by the cake. Nice haircut, too.

At my cousin’s birthday party. I look mesmerized by the cake. Nice haircut, too.

Perhaps I’m just getting old and cranky. I’m in my fifth decade here on earth, and I’ve seen a lot of change. Some of it has been for the better, while some of it has not.

Earlier in the week, I had to take my wife to the doctor. She had a sore throat, so I can’t blame her for wanting to go. Only two things send me to the doctor and those two things are sore throats and paper cuts.

We’ve only been married for a few weeks, so Lucy is not yet on my TRICARE, my military insurance. If you know anything about the military, you know that paperwork moves slower than Alabama’s special teams unit after a missed field goal.

I had to pay cash for the office visit. The doctor then suggested a particular big name pharmacy, because they had the best cash prices. While I appreciated his thoughtfulness, I went to my local pharmacy who filled my prescription with the understanding that we’ll file it through insurance once my wife is covered.

That is so reminiscent of the days of yesteryear. It was a much simpler time. I’m not referring to the issues with insurance. I’m referring to the way in which small, local businesses treat their customers. Large companies are bound by strict rules and policies, which does not allow for such friendly relationships.

I miss the old days.

Just the other day, I heard a story about a kid who said to his mom, “Wouldn’t it be nice if telephones were attached to chords or something so we’d never lose them?” If he only knew.

While I never had to pick up the phone to ask Sarah to connect me with anyone over in Mount Pilot, I did grow up with a rotary phone. That number 9 took forever to make its way all the way back around. The advancements in telephone technology has been amazing, and while it may sometimes cause rude behavior, it has all but wiped out the pay phone, which is a blessing in itself. I despised the pay phone. The mouthpiece always smelled like smoke.

I miss the old days. I miss seeing kids playing outside after school until the street lights came on. Now, they are either stuck behind a device or inundated with ridiculous amounts of homework. We only had three television channels, so we were outside playing football, kicking the can, or catching crawdads without a worry in the world. It was a much simpler time.

It used to be a big deal to go out to eat. It was even a big deal to get fast food, but if you went “somewhere to sit down” then it was a special occasion. We might have done this once or twice a year.

Now, people go out to eat almost every single night, and I am no exception. I’ll probably be going out to eat for my birthday and might even hear a song and a get piece of cake.

Perhaps my fondest memory of yesteryear is one that never happened. Unlike many toddlers, I never had my picture taken in a sailor’s suit. I thank God for that every day. Seriously, I’d rather be covered in birthday cake.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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What is a hero?

Is a hero “faster than a speeding bullet?” Is a hero “more powerful than a locomotive?” Is a hero “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?” The answer is yes when discussing fictitious heroes; however, we are not. I want to talk about real life heroes.

What is a hero?

According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is defined as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

When I think of heroes, I immediately think of firemen. I will always have the images of the firemen on 9/11 etched into my memory. I see them running toward the burning buildings as thousands of others fled the opposite way.

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When I think of heroes, I think of police officers, who are only a traffic stop away from not going home to their families each night.

When I think of heroes, I think of Soldiers. While I don’t think of every Soldier as a hero, we certainly have our fair share.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Bennie Adkins of Opelika is a hero and is very close to receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Bennie Adkins of Opelika is a hero and is very close to receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Please read CSM Adkins’ story here.

I think of those who served during WWII to save our way of life. I think of those who served so admirably in the largely unforgotten Korean War. I think of those who served in the unpopular Vietnam War with little or no support back home. And today, I think of those men and women who voluntarily serve so others don’t have to serve involuntarily.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve

Reeve played Superman in four movies, so he knows a thing or two about being a hero. He did, however, star in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, so it’s his judgment that I question.

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The severe weather this past week brought out its share of heroes.

In Tuscaloosa, 21 year old student-athlete John Servati died a hero. While seeking shelter in a basement with his girlfriend, a wall began to collapse. He was able to hold up the wall just long enough for his girlfriend to escape. Seconds later, he was crushed beneath the crumbled wall.

A friend and Alabama teammate of Servati tweeted that his mother wished only for two things: That her son would swim at the University of Alabama and that someday he would die a hero. John Servati fulfilled his mom’s wishes.

Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama via Facebook

Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama via Facebook

In Mississippi, Ruth Bennett died clutching the last child left at her daycare center as a tornado wiped the building off its foundation. A firefighter who came upon the body gently pulled the four year old from her arms.

Bennett was among at least 35 people killed in a two-day outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that destroyed homes from the Midwest to the Deep South. The child, whose name was not released, was alive when she was pulled from Bennett’s arms and was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not known. UPDATE: She is improving! Read the story here.

Ruth Bennett had a passion for caring for kids. In the end, she gave her life so that 4 year old 4 year old Ashtyn Rose Mitchell could live.

Ruth Bennett had a passion for caring for kids. In the end, she gave her life so that 4 year old 4 year old Ashtyn Rose Mitchell could live.

Daniel Wassom, husband and father of two, was huddled in a hallway of his Arkansas home during the storm with his wife, daughters, and a neighbor. At the height of the tornado, a large piece of lumber crashed toward the family. Wassom, who served in the Air Force, shielded five year old Lorelei, taking the brunt of the fatal blow to his neck. Lorelei suffered a shoulder injury and was hospitalized.

Wassom, a father of two daughters — Lorelei, 5, and Sydney, 7 — died Sunday sheltering his family from the tornado. Photo courtesy of the Wassom family.

Wassom, a father of two daughters — Lorelei, 5, and Sydney, 7 — died Sunday sheltering his family from the tornado. Photo courtesy of the Wassom family.

Our parents should be a hero to each of us, respectively.

My dad was a hero to me. In fact, he might as well have been Superman, without the speed, the power, or leaping ability. My dad was a juvenile diabetic who lost his eyesight in his twenties. In spite of his inability to see, he still went to work every day, setting a great example for my brother and me. Our hero died at 35 but lives in our hearts forever.

For many of us, athletes are our heroes. Bo Jackson was and is a hero to me. Not only was he one of the greatest athletes the world had ever seen, but, like me, he stuttered. As a child, I knew very few people who were afflicted with stuttering. Bo could’ve simply let his athleticism do the talking, pardon the pun, but he had a voice, and he used it.

Bo knows.

Bo knows.

Today’s definition of a hero is perhaps subjective, but, whether we know it or not, rest assured, there are many heroes among us. More than likely, there is a hero in you.

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Riding in a windowless Humvee on a cold, wet, and snowy morning in Iraq in Feb 2004.

Riding in a windowless Humvee on a cold, wet, and snowy morning in Iraq in Feb 2004.