Wednesday, February 26, 2014

7 and Counting

It seems like it was just yesterday when my wife and I got the call and headed to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, because a heart had become available for transplant for me. However, last Friday, the 21st, marked 7 years since that day in which I received a "second chance" at life. I'm no less thankful now than I was then, and I continue to marvel at the things the Lord has allowed me to enjoy and accomplish since that day, I know I am blessed more than I deserve, and I don't take it any of it for granted.

"The 30-Minute 1st Gobbler"
During 2013, I did not do as much blogging as I have in past years. I've been too busy with other things. So, I thought I'd take a minute today and give a "Sheepdog Update" and recap 2013. If I had to describe my 2013 in just a couple of words, I'd say it had its "ups and downs."

April 2013 was a fun month for The Sheepdog. I got my first gobbler after many, many years of trying. It was a strange experience. I dubbed it "The 30-Minute 1st Gobbler". It was really a strange deal. I get out of the truck one morning, and while I'm getting geared up, I hear this turkey gobble. When I close the tailgate on the truck, he gobbles again, and this time he's much closer. I rush over into the woods, get setup, hit the mouth call a few times, and just 30 minutes from the time I closed the tailgate, I put the turkey down. You could describe the experience using the line from the GEICO commercials - "so easy a caveman could do it." Considering how long it had taken me to shoot a gobbler, it was the craziest thing I'd ever experienced. It seemed like the dude had a death wish.

Watching the 'Noles beat the Demon Deacons.
Later that month, Mrs. Sheepdog and I made a trip down to Tallahassee, FL to visit some friends for the weekend. While there we went and watched a Florida State Seminoles baseball game. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were in town for a 3-game weekend series, and we attended the Friday night series opener, which Florida State won fairly easily.

While the spring was good to The Sheepdog, the fall wasn't. Those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile know that I absolutely love to hunt. In mid-October, just 2 weeks prior to fall turkey season opening and a month prior to muzzleloader deer season opening, I fractured a rib. Without going into all the details, let's just say it was a crazy, one-in-a-million, freak accident. Needless to say, my fall turkey and 2013 deer season were over before they got started. I went out a few times in late December, but the best deer hunting was already over. I found my self being even more thankful for the fact that 2012 was my best deer season ever, in which I shot 5 including my best buck ever.

While I was nursing the bum rib, I watched a lot, and I mean a lot of football. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my Seminoles did. Prior to the season, I really thought this would be more of a rebuilding year for them with so many guys going pro after the 2012 season. I thought the same about my Steelers. The Steelers proved me right, but I was thrilled that the 'Noles proved me wrong.

At the ACC Championship Game.
After Florida State locked up a birth in the ACC Championship, with it looking like they might play for the national championship, we made a road trip to Charlotte, NC for the ACC Championship Game. The rib was feeling better by then, and the weather wasn't too cold. The "Noles spanked Duke, and then won the national championship. We were pumped!

In November, Mrs. Sheepdog and I went to Las Vegas for a few days. The main reason for going was for her to compete in the Las Vegas Rock 'N Roll Marathon. It was her first. She completed the marathon, and then we took some time to enjoy the lights of The Vegas Strip at night. If that's something you haven't done, you need to put it on your bucket list. You won't be disappointed. They're beautiful.

I've now started post-heart transplant year number 8. I don't know what the future holds. Will I have another year, or 2, or 3, or 20? Only the Lord knows. I do know, though, that thankful nor grateful truly express how I feel about the last 7 years I've been given. I know they have all been bonus years. I'm playing overtime, and that's a good thing.

Kent - my heart donor.
I also know I would be remiss in doing what the Lord has called me to do these last 7 years if I didn't encourage EVERYONE to be sure to register as an organ and tissue donor. I am still here, still enjoying life, and still getting to do the things I love because a man named Kent registered. It only takes a few minutes and you can even do it from the comfort of your own home. No matter where you live, just visit the website of Donate Life America by clicking here to learn how to get registered.

One day, you might give someone a "second chance" like Kent did me and 3 others.
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