Planting the Seeds (of Life)

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Until two years ago, I ate very few vegetables, other than cucumbers, asparagus, and lima beans. Yes, I ate lima beans. I always have. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like them, particularly the big fat ones. Oh, I also ate macaroni and cheese, which is, of course, considered a vegetable here in the south.

I didn’t eat corn either, and people were almost downright offended that I didn’t eat corn.

“How do you not like corn on the cob?” they’d ask.

“Because I don’t like corn on the plate,” I’d say. “I don’t care what you put it on; unless it pops and comes in a bag, I ain’t eating it.”

Fast forward to two thousand and sixteen, and there’s nothing I won’t eat. I’m talking about vegetables. I’m not ready to go all Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern quite yet. By the way, Mr. Zimmern follows me on Twitter and you should, too. @jodyfuller <— simply click right here, just saying.

Two years ago, there would've been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

Two years ago, there would’ve been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

This year, I even started a vegetable garden—my first one. I have everything from A to Z: basil, beans, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, cucumbers, okra, onions, peppers, peppers, and more peppers, rosemary, squash, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, and likely more. Uh-oh, looks like I’m missing an A so I might need to plant some arugula.

Anyway, let’s focus on the zucchini. There’s a life lesson in everything we do. Sometimes it’s right there staring right back at us and other times we have to search for it.

I planted my zucchini seeds in these little biodegradable containers just like I did just about everything else. In fact, I planted 2-3 seeds in three of them. Two of the zucchini seedlings popped up in no time, but one was lagging behind. It was more than lagging; it was nowhere to be found. I made sure it had plenty of sunlight and kept it watered, too. While the others continued to grow, it was still MIA.

After about two weeks, I decided to dig around in the container to see if anything had sprouted from the seeds. If you are unaware of the size of zucchini seeds, well, let’s just say that they are rather large and would have been easy to find. Much to my surprise, they were nowhere to be found. Unless there is a zucchini seed thief running around in my neighborhood, I hadn’t planted the seeds.

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Just because two of them are growing strong, healthy, and obedient, doesn’t mean the third will. I did everything I could to raise those things right. I watered them, put them in the sunlight, heck I even talked to them (don’t tell anyone) yet none of that worked.

The moral of the story is that whether you’re in the workplace or home, you have to plant the seeds early on. If not, all the love, time, nurturing, and mentoring will likely be pointless. It’ll be too late or it’ll take a long time to catch up.

For the record, I discovered my error two weeks into this young plant’s life, so I fixed my situation and I think we are on track to a productive life.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. 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 http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The Car Line

When I was a kid, I rode the bus. At six years old, I stood at the bus stop every morning with my eight year old brother and the rest of the young hoodlums in West Side Subdivision. I stood there each morning enduring the elements. We were poor, so when it was cold, I wore tube socks on my hands. When it rained, I poked my head and arms out of a trash bag. That’s what I did when I was a kid.

My cheese wagon homies...Brent, Billy, and Adam....Notice the awesome Neil's Sports Shop painter's cap.

My cheese wagon homies…Brent, Billy, and Adam….Notice the awesome Neil’s Sports Shop painter’s cap.

I rode the bus every single day until my brother turned 16. It was at that time that he became the proud new owner of a 1971 Toyota Corolla. We had to go all the way to South Carolina to get this fine piece of transportation. Although it looked like a washing machine, it was nicknamed “the turtle” by my three cousins who’d had the pleasure of driving this marvel before my brother.

Every kid in this picture drove "the turtle" except for me.

Every kid in this picture drove “the turtle” except for me.

The past few weeks, I’ve spent most afternoons with Lucy in the car line at Dean Road Elementary School in Auburn picking up her seven year old daughter, Emily, and their six year old neighbor, Sara Beth.

Sometimes, I let Emily drive...

Sometimes, I let Emily drive…

The operation itself is a sight to behold. It’s on par with a full scale military operation. It’s quite impressive to say the least. There are walkie-talkies and everything. The long line of cars is reminiscent of opening night at the Lee County Fair, circa 1979.

Emily and Sara Beth wait on the front porch of the school along with the other riders, while other Oompa-Loompas are marched off to who knows where. I really don’t know where they go, but they follow a teacher and walk past my car every day in an organized manner.

There’s the lady on point who seemingly runs the operation. She calls in the number that’s displayed on each car that corresponds with the respective student or students. She also waves aggressively at people without ever making eye contact.

At some point, the coach makes an appearance, and everyone looks at him as if he’s so dreamy. I know he’s the coach, because he wears a visor. Somewhere along the way, the visor took the place of the whistle, the long-time coach identifier.

Once you make it past the point lady and the coach, you see the kids on the porch along with a handful of teachers and aids who are opening doors and shoving kids into vehicles like Laverne and Shirley on the assembly line at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wis.

From there, we are on our own. It’s imperative to strap the kids in, but we’d better be rolling as we do it. If not, the teachers and aids start flapping their wings in a violent manner. Some of them are going to require rotator cuff surgery at the conclusion of their car line career.

It’s a daily adventure. I’m amazed at the sheer number of cars. When I was a kid, there were only a handful of kids who rode to school with their parents. For the longest, I thought it was ridiculous that today’s kids were coddled so.

Some kids do ride the bus, and I see them waiting in the comfort of their parent’s vehicle awaiting their bus’s arrival. I guess that’s ok. Perhaps the child doesn’t have access to tube socks and trash bags.

Now that I have a vested interest, I no longer see the carline as being ridiculous. We want to do what’s best for those we love. A lot of bad things can happen to a child who waits at a bus stop, not to mention there are some very bad kids riding the bus. The bus driver can only do so much. Thankfully, there are cameras installed on most buses, which certainly cuts down on some of the nastiness that can occur. Sadly, it does not completely eradicate the dangers of riding with bad kids.

It’s funny how our views change as we experience newness in our lives, and that’s a good thing.

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Just in case you were wondering, “the turtle” died before I ever had the chance to drive it. I didn’t have the luxury of owning a car when I turned 16. Nope. I got an alarm clock so I could wake up early every morning to drive my mother to work so I could use the car to drive to school…because there was no way I was riding the bus.

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.

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National Love Your Pet Day

February 20 was National Love Your Pet Day. Who knew?

I don’t really need a special day to love my dog but it did give me something to write about.

Ruby, my 10 month old chocolate lab, has been such a blessing. When Chyna, my 15 ½ year old, died in July 2012, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a dog again. The pain was immense, but time heals all wounds, as does puppy breath.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

She begins each day by licking me all over my face; however, she’s very respectful of my sleep. She will sit there and stare at me like she’s trying to steal my soul until I open an eye, but once that eye is open, she’s on me like a duck on a June bug.

On sunny days, she likes to play in her “high dolla” Walmart pool that I purchased for her last year.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo's booty in October.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo’s booty in October.

Regardless of weather conditions, I leave my back door open the majority of each day giving her free will to roam in and out at her convenience. Be that as it may, she chooses to stay at my side for most of the day.

In fact, she’s at my side right now with a tennis ball in her mouth. Apparently, she wants me to throw it.

Ruby tennis ball

When she does go outside, she likes to bring the outside back in with her. Too often, my floor is covered with worms, spiders, sticks, rocks, and clumps of dirt. Hey, that’s what vacuums are for. I won’t tell you what else she occasionally brings in. That’s just gross, but I still love her.

She loves to ride in my car, too. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to the vet or just taking a spin around the neighborhood. All I have to do is pick up my keys and she starts going berserk. I don’t take her for a ride every day, but I do most days.

Ruby riding

She loves to watch The Andy Griffith Show with me. Well, at least the opening sequence. It seems she’s drawn to the whistling. She peps up for Barney Fife, too. The show was always better with Barney. Even dogs know that.

I’ve probably thrown the tennis ball a dozen times since I mentioned it just four short paragraphs ago.

Like her master, she eats well. I drive all the way to Lee County Feed & Seed in Beauregard for her special dog food.

I do my best to keep her water bowls filled, but, on occasion, I fail. She doesn’t complain, though. She simply drinks from the toilet. She adapts and overcomes.

Speaking of the toilet, she goes wherever I go. Like I mentioned, she seldom leaves my side.

Ruby sometimes makes a mess in the bathroom and beyond. No, not that kind of mess. Sometimes, she’ll get ahold of a roll of toilet paper and spreads it all over the house. She is an Auburn fan, so I can’t blame her. We like our toilet paper.

One day, we'll roll Toomer's Corner together. War Eagle!

One day, we’ll roll Toomer’s Corner together. War Eagle!

She loves playing in the bathtub, and it doesn’t matter if it’s empty, filled with water, or filled with me. I don’t take baths often, but when I do, she thinks she should be in there, too. Once, I let my guard down, and she jumped right on in. She has no shame.

Ruby jumping in the tub

She loves me unconditionally, and I love her. I just don’t want to love her in the bathtub.

National Love Your Pet Day should happen more than just once a year. In fact, I propose a resolution that it’s recognized on every day that ends in Y, and I’ll make that proposal right after I throw this tennis ball.

Jody Fuller 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 http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The Love of My Life (Updated)

Update: Originally posted Valentine’s Day 2013. What a difference a year makes!

Valentine’s Day 2013 has come and gone and for the first time in 15 years, I spent it without the love of my life.

We had a special kind of love, one that didn’t include things of a materialistic nature. In all the years we spent together, I never once bought her roses, chocolates or jewelry, although she might have gotten into my chocolate a time or two. What lady hasn’t acted upon that temptation?

I never took her to a fancy restaurant, but she did eat the best food money could buy.

We never once shared a bottle of wine. She was one of those girls who preferred water over anything else.

Traveling was a passion that we both shared. There was nothing we enjoyed more than hitting the open highway with the windows rolled down and music turned up. We both enjoyed the freshness of the air as it blew in our faces. I don’t think she cared for my music but she never once complained about it.

I’ve spent every Valentine’s Day since 1998 with my girl, excluding the three I spent while deployed. She was always very supportive and understood my duties and obligations as a soldier.

When I returned from my third all-expense paid trip to Iraq in 2011, she was fully supportive and happy to see me but I could tell the repeated deployments were taking its toll on our relationship. I vowed to repair any damage that had been done.

For the next year and a half, our love blossomed like never before and grew to heights that I never could have imagined on March 31, 1997, when we first met.

She wasn’t the kind of girl that needed to be showered with lavish gifts. She simply needed to be showered with love and affection.

Sometimes her breath smelled like death warmed over but I would still kiss her on the mouth as I scratched behind her ear. She really liked for me to rub her belly.

She was one of 11 Labrador Retrievers born on Jan 31, 1997. Choosing which puppy to take home that day proved to be a very difficult choice, so I walked away with hopes that one would choose me.

By God’s good grace, one of the pups, one with a little white patch on its chest, chose to follow me and would continue to do so for the next 15 plus years.

Her name was Chyna and she was the love of my life.

Fancy food in 2005.

Fancy food in 2005.

I’m not overstating that. She really was. I got her when I was just a 24 year old boy but she stayed with me until I was a 40 year old man.

I learned so much from her. She never judged me and always taught me to love unconditionally, even when she was leaving streaks on my carpet by riding her invisible motorcycle around the living room.

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead :)

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead 🙂

In early 2012, her age began to catch up with her. It’ll happen to the best of us. I could see the writing on the wall. It was inevitable.

I had a scare in the spring. I thought the time had come to make that dreaded decision. I even dug a hole in my back yard. I vowed to never let her suffer in order to support my selfishness.

Fortunately, this was not her time. I was blessed to be given a few more months with my girl. I planted a crabapple tree in that hole and referred to it as my “Chyna tree.”

"50 Shades of Gray" with the wind blowing in her face.

“50 Shades of Gray” with the wind blowing in her face.

On July 30, 2012, I had to make the decision. Although incredibly painful, it was an easy decision to make. I knew the time had come.

I cried on the way to the vet. I cried as I carried her in and laid her on the table. Heck, I’m crying now.

I held her in my arms as the vet injected her with the concoction that would take away her pain and send her to heaven.

I’m not sure how long I stayed. It seemed like an eternity. I didn’t want to leave her, because she was the love of my life.

Love isn’t measured by material things. Chyna didn’t need to keep up with the Jones’ dog; she simply needed to be loved.

We all need to love and need to know what it feels like to be loved. Pets are no exception.

By the way, if your dog is riding his or her invisible motorcycle around your house, please let your veterinarian know so that it can be taken care of. It’s a smelly, yet inexpensive, procedure but your “best friend” will love you forever.

This is Jan 27, 2011...I'd just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

This is Jan 27, 2011…I’d just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

Update:

Fast forward to Valentine's Day 2014 and I've never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I'll never forget Chyna.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2014 and I’ve never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I’ll never forget Chyna.

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

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“The best things in life are free”

In last week’s column, I was fired up after a parent filed an official bullying complaint against a Texas high school football team for beating his son’s team 91-0. I vowed to come back for part two this week on how the anti-bullying campaign has gotten out of hand; however, I’ve had a change of heart and see no need in another rant. Life is too full of blessings for me to focus on things that have the tendency to spike my blood pressure.

In addition to the ranting and raving in my column, last Friday was significant for more pertinent reasons.

Early last week, I was asked to speak briefly to the Campus Life students at Opelika High School. I was all in, even after learning they met at 7:07 a.m. Yes, that’s 7:07 a.m. in the morning.

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I am not a morning person. In fact, one of the reasons I left Active Duty Army is because I had to wake up early every single day. I often say that I left the Army for three reasons: I hate waking up early. I hate shaving, and I hate running. Well, those were the first three things I did every single day, so change was in order. Rest assured, I didn’t shave last Friday morning and since I wasn’t being chased by a pack of wolves, I sure as heck didn’t run.

The students were raising money for a worthy cause, so it was the least I could do. They had the option of supporting any cause they so desired and they chose to support the Wounded Warrior Foundation. By God’s Grace, in spite multiple tours to Iraq, I am not a wounded warrior but have many close friends who are.

Most of the students in attendance had loved ones who’d served in the military. One of the girls wasn’t sure which branch in which her granddad served, but, according to her, he was “one of the water people.” I assume he was in the Navy.

These kids touched my heart.

They also touched my wallet.

They were selling handmade bracelets, so I walked out of there with three of them…and I don’t even wear bracelets. I’m such a sucker for kids supporting a great cause.

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After leaving these impressive young people, I proceeded toward the Birmingham VA Medical Center by way of US Highway 280 passing the sign for the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alex City en route, which got me to thinking.

I entertained a group of female Veterans at the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Luncheon at the Birmingham VA. To my credit, I made them laugh but I was overwhelmed by the love and kindness they showed me.

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Because of the audience, I waived my fee, but as I told them, nothing in life is free. I expected to be paid in hugs before they left and boy was I ever. I’d never been hugged and kissed so many times in my life.

Notice the scarf, my new favorite accessory.

Notice the scarf, my new favorite accessory.

They stated that they were blessed to have me there but it was I who was truly blessed on this particular day.

It’s an old cliché, but the best things in life really are free: love, hugs, and extra gravy. I used to include air on that list, but it now costs 50 cents at some places.

As I was driving home, it dawned upon me to contact my cousin who works at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home to see if there was anything I could do for them. She stated that many of the residents were in need of shoes.

The Campus Life kids and the breast cancer survivors inspired me to take action; therefore, I did, but I couldn’t and didn’t do it alone.

It was just an idea, but with the incredible and overwhelming support of my friends, new and old, local and afar, we raised enough money in just three days to send 115 pairs of men’s Reebok Velcro-strapped walking shoes to the residents of the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home.

As you can imagine, it takes a while to gather 115 pairs of Velcro shoes but our hope is that they get there by Veterans Day.

There are also two females residing at the home, but only one can wear shoes. We didn’t forget about them. A friend from North Carolina ordered a pair of New Balance Velcro-strapped sneakers for one, while a friend from Florida bought a pair of slippers for the other.

My friend from NC sent these my way to give to the lone shoe wearing female at the Veterans Home.

My friend from NC sent these my way to give to the lone shoe wearing female at the Veterans Home.

I received donations ranging from $5 to $337.50. Every dollar was just as important as the next and every cent will go to the home.

I was asked to speak to those kids for a reason and now we know why.

Oh, I gave my three bracelets to members of the Midfield High School JROTC who were also in attendance at the survivor’s luncheon. I didn’t need the bracelets, because I now have a pink one, along with a scarf, given to me by Evelyn, one of the survivors. She, of course, gave them to me for free.

Every one of these kids said they planned on going into the military after high school. I'm proud of each of them.

Every one of these kids said they planned on going into the military after high school. I’m proud of each of them.

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I will always cherish my gifts and memories of this wonderful day, which is proof that the best things in life really are free.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. Jody can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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I love my baby girl

(This was written late Tuesday night for submission to the Opelika Observer.)

I really never know what I’m going to write about until I sit down and start typing.

I wish I was the type of writer who had several articles on stand-by for cases such as this. It would be so convenient just to pluck one from my laptop and send to the good folks at the Opelika Observer. Sadly, I do not. Even if I did have one on stand-by, it’d be hard to find, because congress is more organized than the files on my computer.

Each week, my goal is to write about something educational, motivating, or inspiring with a touch of humor. That’s my goal.

Today, that is hard to do. My mind is focused solely on one thing.

Ruby, my 5 month old chocolate lab, is the most wonderful dog to ever grace these parts. Everywhere I go, people ask, “Where’s Ruby?” She is amazing in every way. I love my baby girl.

She was doing fine for most of the day on Monday. She was running on all cylinders. She had the pedal to the medal. She was being, what I have dubbed, “Hurricane Ruby.”

That evening, something changed. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression. Before long, there was just a dormant cloud.

The dormant cloud settled her head in my lap for much of the night.

Prior to Ruby’s inactivity, she was sick a couple of times. She moped around and whimpered. I couldn’t get her to eat or drink, which is unheard of.

She was really sick right here...I just didn't  know how sick.

She was really sick right here…I just didn’t know how sick.

I knew something was wrong but assumed she’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with her. We’ve all been there. She only eats high quality dog food but has been known to find some odd makeshift edibles in the back yard.

She would be fine after a good night’s sleep.

Usually, it takes her a while to find a comfortable spot in her bed. Technically, it’s my bed but it’s hers. She just lets me sleep in it. This night was different. She balled up right next to me alongside my torso and didn’t move for the next eight hours. I had to poke and prod her a time or two to ensure she was still with me.

I expected her to have regained her hurricane status upon waking up. Sadly, this was not the case, so I wasted no time in getting her to Opelika Animal Hospital. I love my baby girl.

Thank God I did.

I still wasn’t overly concerned. All animals get stomach aches from time to time. They get sick, mope around a bit, and are back to themselves in no time.

She was being boarded, anyway. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be in Michigan and will have already performed in Ohio. I just dropped her off a few hours earlier than originally planned.

As I was running errands Tuesday afternoon, I decided to drop by the vet to check on my baby girl.

When I walked in, they were getting ready to call me. Ruby had been diagnosed with canine parvovirus type 2, known to most of us as parvo. My heart sank and my stomach immediately began to ache. I felt so bad for her.

In case you’re wondering, she was up to date on all of her immunizations and received them all on time.

I had Chyna, my previous lab, for over 15 years. I had to put her to sleep on July 30, 2012. I was hesitant about getting another dog and didn’t think I could ever love another as much as I loved Chyna, but Ruby has proven me wrong.

June 2, 2103...the day I brought her home.

June 2, 2103…the day I brought her home.

By the time this article is published, I should know one way or another whether or not she’s going to pull through. Hopefully getting her to the vet in a timely manner will play to her favor.  She deserves it, because she might just be the best dog ever.

We can do everything in the world to protect our babies but sometimes that is simply not enough. Life happens.

I feel so helpless. I hate being so far away. I hate that I am not with her, but the show must go on. I have bills to pay. Her stay at the vet for this treatment will likely be a costly one but one that I would pay again and again, because I love my baby and she loves me.

UPDATE: As many of you now know, she will make it. In fact, she is at home with my veterinarian right now. Now I can’t wait to get home to see my baby girl! Here is my update from yesterday! Please take a second to read it.

I'm so ready to pick my baby up and take her home!

I’m so ready to pick my baby up and take her home!

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with 3 tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The unlikely perfect day…

Monday was just a normal day for me. I woke up late, had lunch with Adrian, and then came home and started working. Ruby, my 5 ½ month old chocolate lab, was normal, too; she was wide open.

Late that afternoon, that changed. Long story short, I could tell she was sick.

After showing no signs of improvement after a good night’s sleep, I took her to my vet within a half hour of waking up. We didn’t sleep late on this day.

That afternoon, I found out that although Ruby was up to date on all her shots, she had parvo. It was not pretty and I was a nervous wreck. Parvo can be fatal, but I had hundreds of people praying for my sweet baby.

I had to fly early Wednesday morning to Ohio for a show at the University of Findlay. I also had to write my weekly article for the Opelika Observer. I also had a million other things that needed to be done, but all I could think about was my sweet Ruby.

Because of time restraints and just not wanting to be around people, I cancelled my flight and decided to drive. My GPS estimated it’d take me 11 ½ hours. No worries. I got this, even on 3 hours sleep, right? Right.

I sat down to write my article but couldn’t think of anything. All I could think of was Ruby, so Ruby it was…

It didn’t take long to complete the article and I finished around 12:45 a.m. and got it bed around 1:00. I woke up at 4:00 and was on the road at 5:00 a.m……in the morning.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d never make my 5:30 appointment at Findlay. I had failed to realize that Findlay, Ohio, was on Eastern Standard Time. The show wasn’t until 7:00 but I was meeting with a member of the faculty, Lori, and some students for dinner at 5:30.

I almost called Lori to let her know that I’d be late for dinner but on time for the show. I hate not being punctual.

I failed to take into account the Atlanta traffic, too. This was not going to be a good day.

None of this mattered, though. All I could think of was Ruby.

Ruby

After about four hours on the road, I got a call from my veterinarian, Dr. Colley, who was extremely optimistic about Ruby’s prognosis. I immediately felt better.

He called back a little while later and said the she would most likely be going home in the next day or two. I was a happy man.

He called back again and said that since I was out of town that he would take her home and keep her there until I got back in town.

I was exstat, ecstac, esctact…overwhelmed with joy!!!

Thank God I noticed the warning signs very early and got her to the clinic in a timely manner.

If your dog all of a sudden becomes lethargic, won’t eat or drink, and has stuff coming out of both ends, get it to the vet ASAP! Time is of the urgency!

I still had a show to get to and still had a shot at making that 5:30 appointment. I hate being late.

And I wasn’t…I got to my hotel at 4:30, beating the GPS estimate by an hour.

I took a shower, put on my fancy clothes, sprayed on the smell good and met the good folks at Findlay for dinner at 5:30. I also found out the show was at 8.

Half way through dinner, Lori left the table only to return a few minutes later with a surprise and what a surprise it was!

Making the two hour trek from Cleveland to see me was my best friend from Basic Training and AIT. I hadn’t seen Jason in about 20 years, since our early days in Germany together. He also brought along his very lovely and very pregnant wife, Selma. What a surprise! Jason had contacted the school and they set that up. He’d seen my post about the event on Facebook.

I immediately put Jason to work as he helped me retrieve some of my junk from my car. As we walked towards my car, a gentleman approached us from behind. He asked, “Do you remember me?” It took me about half a second and immediately went in for the hug. It was my friend Marc from Officer Candidate School. I hadn’t seen him since we graduated from OCS on Jan 10, 2003.

(L-R) Jason, Jody, Marc

(L-R) Jason, Jody, Marc

I was so humbled that these two old friends drove to Findlay, Ohio, to see their old buddy tell some jokes. I am still humbled. It was special and I am very appreciative of their efforts.

Then there was the show and it went extremely well. It was a great crowd, no doubt about it. They wanted to laugh and that they did for about 70 minutes or so. I’m so glad I didn’t stink it up for my pals in the crowd.

After merchandise sales, autographs, pictures, and hugs, I joined two of the faculty members, Lori and Sharinda, and Jason and Selma for dinner. Marc had to get home to get ready for work the next day. The meal was fabulous and Jason even picked up the tab for the whole table.

Like I said, this day was perfect…

Never give up. Surround yourself with good people. Drive on and good things will eventually happen. You just gotta keep the faith.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier 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 http://www.jodyfuller.com.