Loving Two Sams

I have had the honor of loving two Sams in my life. They made me laugh and cry and wonder. This is the story of my beloved Sams.

Sam A. grew into one of the finest men I’ve ever known. His family was kind of a mess when he was little, six or seven. So Sam A, with his curly blond hair, spent a lot of time with us, along with his beautiful big brother. We listened to a lot of Jimmy Buffet and snuggled on the couch with a giant stuffed Elmo doll.

Sam A. grew up and was my daughter’s, Alexis, first love. I trusted him with my beautiful girl because Sam A. became a young man of unerring integrity. He had a moral compass that was golden and unyielding. He always chose what was right.

For almost twenty years smiling Sam A. was a crucial and pivotal part of our family.

Sam A. taught us all to close any knife we opened, to  bring a treat for the family dogs and to always do what was right. No questions, just do what was right. He was rare.

Sam G. was a super skinny little boy when we met him. He was one of my son’s, Sandor, best friends from second grade. Sam G. had swoopy blond hair, a brilliant grin and he didn’t talk much. But he hugged.

Sam G. had a pretty messy family life so he stayed at our house at least four days a week. Sam G. was part of our family, he ate dinner with us, went to foot ball practice. I took him to get his physical every year and he had his own drawers. He talked to us but not many others because he didn’t trust many others.

Sam A’s curly blond hair turned brown. But his integrity and and honor stayed gold. He graduated from college and in his very early twenties took his own life. The weight of that moral compass was too much, I think.

Sweet Sam G is a big ol teen ager now. He’s moved to another city to get away from bad kids and that’s a good thing. I hadn’t heard from him in a couple of months, which hurt my heart. I always worry about Sam G. , pressure, forces and good decisions.

This past Sunday I was missing Sam A. so much. And I texted his old phone. “I miss you, buddy.”

An hour latter some dude called me. He said that was his brothers phone now. I explained things. He listened then asked me to delete the number.

Just four or five minutes latter my phone dinged. It was a text. “Hey Miss Diana, It’s Sam. This is my new number. I love you and I’m doing good.” There was a picture of Sam G and his cute new girl friend. His long blond hair is brown now. But he looked so good.

Maybe big Sam A. is helping my Sam G. Guiding, nudging offering him a look at that beautiful shining moral compass.

I will love you guys forever. Thank you.

Hot Springs Rotarians Learn about Women

Ann Stell on The Back of The Couch

Recently Liz Robbins at the Garland County Historical Society discovered an article written in the Sentinel Record. My mom, Ann Stell McDaniel, spoke to the Rotary Club at the Arlington Hotel. According to the paper 25 men were present including Ray Smith Sr., Congressman Norrell and Rotary President J. King.
For those who don’t know anything about my mother she was a beautiful, unconventional firebrand.
The article was entitled “Rotarians Hear Woman’s Side in Battle of Sexes”

“Mrs. McDaniel, frequently heard on radio and television is the wife of Architect I. Granger McDaniel. She covered her subject with quotations from Genesis down through Shakespeare and Dorothy Parker.
“If we sometimes seem to have an inferiority complex,” she said, “just remember that the creation of woman was done in an awful hurry.
“God took an entire day to create the birds and said that was good. He took another day to create the fishes, and called that good, but man was not satisfied. So God created woman one afternoon while Adam was asleep.”
Her them was that woman’s entire life is wrapped up in pleasing man and she quoted a sheaf of magazine articles such as “Are you Keeping up With your Husband?” To prove it,as well as tracing various fashion trends she had undergone to make herself attractive.
“Man, has seen no need for changing himself,” she said. “Go down on Bath House Row and see him wrapped in a sheet and there is very little difference from the garb of a Roman senator.”
Spiced with rich humor and histrionic ability, her talk was a novelty that rated high in Rotary entertainment.”

The date was Wednesday, September 21… 1955.
She was something.

Make Him Dance, Damn It

Tonight my husband, Alex, and I took our youngest son, Sandor, who is handsome and sixteen and his girlfriend, Haley, downtown for Halloween.

Alex and I hung out in the lobby of a grand old hotel, The Arlington, while they explored our historic district. The Arlington was built in the 1920s and is extravagant, tacky, magnificent, beautiful and historic. Everything about the Arlington screams “Great Gatsby,”. I love this place.

There was a redneck looking guy (seriously wearing overalls and camo) with a guitar on the stage. He really didn’t match the soaring ceilings and exquisite architecture. But he was good, especially when singing Bob Seager.

When Haley and Sandor showed back up and sat down at our table, we talked about the history of the Arlington and watched the trick or treaters who wandered in and out, in costume.

Then redneck dude on stage played Stand By Me. Haley and Sandor immediately moved to the dance floor. He’s tall and she’s short and they looked adorable slow dancing. She clung to his purple and gray letterman jacket and they both had love sick expressions. It was beautiful and silly.

I grabbed Alex’s hand, “Come on, we’re dancing.”

“No, I don’t want to dance.”

“I Don’t care Alex, come on sweetie. Please?”

“Fine,” he mumbled but he was obviously miserable and half pissed.

For two or three minutes Alex and I clung to one another. He almost smiled. I was truly happy. Then the song ended.

The truth is, I’m worried about my husband. I don’t know if he feels joy anymore and I don’t know if he enjoys living. But I want him to stay here with me, for a while anyway. Because I love him. And we’ve been together for more than 25 years.

I’m terrified, but I’m going to keep dragging him into weird situations and forcing him to slow dance with me….because I don’t want to be alone, in this world, without him. And he’s a really good dancer.

I have a theory. If you want to be happy, no matter how old you are, you have to actively take part in life. Choose to dance. Make a decision to stop watching this world and the people in it, then dance….jump in…and try to be a part of the magic swirling around us all. It’s the only chance we have.