What do Brett Favre, Dolly Parton and Richard Thomas have in common? Part 1

Yep, I know you. You have lost restful sleep over this very question. Please, allow me to put your mind at ease and provide the key that brings a resolution to your wondering.

A fellow whose fame was lost on me (1997)

Let’s start with Brett….Back in 1997 my oldest son, Trev, and I were headed on a flight from Tennessee toward Ohio to visit my grandparents. I wasn’t too excited to be going because that morning at worship service I had had a feeling that my second son was becoming ill. He had been struggling with a condition but I had hoped he would be well enough for Trev and me to make this quick trip to check on my ill Grandpa. My brother was already there, as were my parents. I really wanted to check on him myself.

Very shortly (as in mere hours) after having arrived on the mid-Ohio family farm, Mr. Patient called and said that I had to return home. Our baby was very sick and we needed to return him to Vanderbilt Hospital. He would meet me there but I had to figure out how to get back home and quickly. My family was kind to help me figure this situation out. There were no flights out of Columbus (one hour away from the farm), so my brother drove us to Cincinnati at 2AM (3+ hours from the farm, one way). Bless him. He didn’t get any sleep that night and neither did I. You can imagine my state of concern, not to mention what I looked like! I hadn’t slept since Saturday night and this was Monday morning. Trev and I bought our sick baby a stuffed dog at the airport gift shop and we waited in the sparsely populated too-early morning airport to board the plane for the 4:30AM flight back to Nashville, mere hours after having flown into Columbus.

Once on board and buckled in, a scruffy man sat down across the aisle from us with my son sitting near the aisle. There were many other seating options so this made me nervous. Should I change seats with Trev? I guess this dude won’t kidnap a kid on an airplane. Where would he take him?? I tried not to make eye contact. The fellow seemed sketchy. He needed to shave, wore a football jersey with what was apparently a player’s name on the back F A V R E, and sported the biggest gaudy ring I had ever seen a man wear. How tacky! I sure hoped he’d leave us alone. Alas, he didn’t! He made small talk with my four-year-old, asking about the stuffed animal until Trev explained about his ill baby brother.

Truth be told, this fellow was actually sweet to both of us–gentle smile, happy small talk, kind attention. But, I was tired and self-conscience about my dark circles and wrinkled wardrobe. It was stinking 4:30 AM and not my idea of a special time for airplane small talk, for Pete’s sake.  Furthermore, I had been crying from anxiety, lack-of-rest, you-name-it.

As if conversation was not enough, this mysterious fellow pulled out a cardboard box of random gaudy Mardi Gras-looking plastic jewelry and proceeded to ask me if we liked football. Odd question. Why does that matter? And, no, I have no clue about football or what they are trying to do with it on that big field in those tight clothes and I couldn’t care less. (I didn’t say all of this….or much at all…remember, I was trying to not encourage this strange person.)

Trev ended up with several necklaces and some plastic medallions that said something about Super-Bowl-Something-or-Another. I then clued in!! He was some weird fan of football and these were game souvenirs that no one would buy so he was stuck with. OK, whew! I had figured it out.

The flight was over. We exited the plane. Back in those days, peeps would meet travelers at the gate and that’s where I found my father-in-law ready to transport us to the hospital. As we walked away from the terminal, I relayed our odd experience to him. The Strange Fellow was walking ahead of us, out of ear-shot (I hope!). My FIL wasn’t as much of a football fan as my mother-in-law but he knew enough to tell me that was Brett Favre. Who?? (And, that name bothers me phonetically, can I just say?!?) Apparently he was some famous dude and I should have not only known who he was but asked for his autograph, according to my MIL and my brother. haha! Well, joke’s on Mr. Favre because I didn’t have a clue who he was! I often wonder how long he laughed about that…or if it hurt his ego. Or, if he even remembers us. Bless him. I’ll never know. Sorry, Mr. Favre, if you read this post. And, yes, Trev still has that tacky plastic jewelry which, as it turns out, were souvenirs from Super Game XXXI–a game apparently our new friend and his peeps played. And won. Congratulations.

Now, for the “our friend” Dolly part of the story….

God placed (through DCS) three littles into our home in April of 2011. The year had been full of all sorts of experiences, situations, and emotions. A bright spot were the monthly gifts for the kids. The mailman delivered a treat for each child once a month–a book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Please allow me to explain about this program…

From the Imagination Library brochure, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library wants to help you read with your child. Each child will have books of his/her very own, at no cost to you from ….. (sponsors) and Dolly Parton. A new book will be mailed to your home each month until your child turns five years old. The books will continue as long as you live in Tennessee…There’s no catch!…is a free gift to your child. All you have to do is read to your child.” 

Children in DCS custody (State of TN foster children) are automatically registered to receive the books so each of our kiddos accumulated a book per month. The books arrived with a standard inscription and photo of Dolly on the inside cover. With excitement unwavering each month, they would ask, “Who sent this to us?!” “Your friend, Dolly, sent the books to you. See her picture there?” I would remind them. They and Dolly became “friends”, at least in their little eyes; they were so very, very thankful for their friend’s monthly generosity!

Jim Brickman was playing at the Ryman Auditorium one glorious December night of the same year that our littles learned to treasure books of their own.

(to be continued next time….check back on Thursday morning)

Hanging out with “Our Friend Dolly” (December 15, 2011)



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