Sapsucker's Blog

Tall tales, myths, legends and a few facts about the Thornbury family

Sometimes, it’s best to fix what’s broken 

See the pretty lady in the blue dress, the one who’s smile is lighting up that room. Today would have been her birthday. Here’s something I learned from her (after Dad passed) – If things broke, she made time to fix them. A curtain rod, screen door, the rip in pants. It was a way of life and sometimes, I admit, it drove me crazy. All the fixing and renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more. But then on that cold night in late December of 2003 Mom died. In the warmth of that hospital room I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more. Sometimes, what we love the most get all used up and goes away. So what she taught me is … While we have it, it’s best to love it and to care for it and fix it when it’s broken and mend it back to health when it’s sick. This is true for marriages, old cars, children that need your time when there seems to be none to give and parents and grandparents. We keep them all because they are worth it, because we are all worth it. Some things we keep, like the best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. And most of the time the things we keep aren’t even things. I love you, I miss you.

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The foundation – 30 years later

Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a father. I suppose the example my Father left for me is a big reason I wanted to be a Dad. 

I am now almost the age my father was when he passed away (44years 9mo. 6 days). I’ve always wondered if I would outlive my Dad. Now, just a few short months away and today on the 30th anniversary of his death (1/27/87), I appreciate everyday and everyone in them more than I ever have. 

And as strange as it may sound, I’m closer to my Dad now than ever before. You see, I’ve been a Dad for over 10 years now (we have one boy, Clayton) and a little bit of Dad comes out in me on a daily basis. This is what has helped me realize how vital a good foundation is when building things. Things like homes, families and especially children.

My Dad passed when I was 14 years old, which is quiet young to stop building a foundation. I am thankful that he realized how important and urgent it was to build my foundation strong from day one. 
I’m only going to be the center of Clayton’s universe for a short time, so I realize I have to take this opportunity to build strong foundation, as I don’t know when the building will have to stop. 

So today I choose to focus on leaving a legacy of love and happiness for my son, because that is what Dads do, they pass stuff on, the best of themselves to their kids.

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Let’s make things simple again, right in time for the New Year!

DISCLAIMER: I try to hold myself to ALL of these suggestions ALL of the time. I try to hold myself accountable and be responsible for my actions.

When we were kids life was easier, right?  I know sometimes it seems that way.  But the truth is life still is easy and it always will be.  The difference is we’re older, and the older we get, the more we complicate things.

When we were kids we saw the world through simple eyes.  We knew what we wanted and had no biases or agendas.  We liked people who smiled.  We avoided people who frowned.  We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty, and slept when we were tired.

As we have grown older our minds have became gradually cluttered by negative influences.  So we have began to hesitate and question our instincts.  When a new obstacle comes up, we stumble and we fall down.  So, we have decided we don’t want to fall again, but rather than solving the problem that caused us to fall, we have avoided it all together. Society reinforces our actions and encouraged us to continue to avoid instead of overcoming and achieving.

As a result, we have eaten comfort food and drank alcohol to numb our minds to avoid these obstacles and problems. We are working late on purpose to avoid unresolved conflicts at home.  We hold grudges, play mind games, and subtly deceive others and ourselves to get ahead.  And when it doesn’t work out, we live above our means, buy things we don’t need, try to get people to think we are something we are not , and drink some more just to make ourselves feel better again. Over the course of time, we have made our lives more and more difficult, and we started losing touch with who we really are and what we really need.

So let’s get back to the basics, shall we?  Let’s make things simple again.  It’s easy. Feel free to make some or all of these your resolutions for the New Year. Here are 15 ways to do just that and just in time for New Years:

1.Don’t assume you know what a person is thinking … Communicate.

2. Pay your bills! They are your bills and YOUR responsibility not your parents, neighbors or Uncles!

3. Get enough sleep every night. A rested mind is a productive mind.

4. Don’t waste your time on jealousy, the only competition you will have is yourself.

5. If you’re not sure, ask someone.

6. Don’t try to please everyone. Do what you know is right.

7. Don’t steal, in no way, form or fashion. If it is not yours then you are NOT entitled to it!

8. Be yourself.

9. Always be honest with yourself and others. If you’re not, people will see right through you!

10. Smile often, even to complete strangers.

11. Live below your means. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. Always sleep on big purchases. Don’t buy things so that people will think you are something you are not (refer back to #9).

12. Get off your high horse, talk it out, shake hands/hug and move on.

13. Don’t worry too much about what others think of you.

14. Realize the harder you work, the luckier/more blessed you become.

15. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give your grandfather and the same level of patience you would give your child.

Merry Christmas and May God bless you with a Happy New Year! You are all blessing to me and so many around you so take care of yourself!

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While in high school I always dreamed of the day to get out of my hometown. I swore to never return, that it was boring and there was nothing to do. In the early 90’s i began my journey away from Pikeville. I attended Eastern Kentucky University where I enjoyed the best 8 years of my life (ok not quiet 8 years). From there I entered the working world and started to travel soon after that. It didn’t take me long to realize I really enjoyed traveling and the good pay plus sight-seeing while working wasn’t bad either. Early on I ended up in cities such as San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, Baltimore, Savannah and New York City. In New York I had the opportunity to work in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center for several weeks. My last day there was March 31, 2001.

I then took this traveling gig a step further and moved to different locations. I went into the automotive construction industry which lead me right to Jackson, MS where I helped build a Nissan plant. From there I spent several years in the early 2000’s in Detroit. I was on the construction team that built the Westin hotel at the airport as well as several construction projects at FORD and GM. My mother fell ill in September of 2003 and I promptly moved home and worked for a local engineering firm in Pikeville for several months (always hearing the calling of the road in the back of my head). My mother succumbed to Cancer on 12/24 of that year and early in 2004 I hit the road again, but I was a little reluctant because in the spring of 2004 something very magical happened… I met her. I walked in to Applebee’s in Pikeville with a good friend of mine for dinner. As we sat, chatting about old times, she walked in. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted, I needed, to talk to this girl. So it made leaving the town I always wanted to leave a little more difficult to do. unfortunately the Pikeville job market is less than ideal in my field so in June of 2004 I hit the road again.

So from the Auto industry I went to the steel industry where I lived near Chicago in NW Indiana. I was up there for a couple of years all the while trying to plot my next move to get closer to home. I landed my next gig with TVA in Western Kentucky all the while thinking 5 hours wasn’t much closer to Pikeville than Chicago but at least I was in the bluegrass state. By this time I had married “her” and we had a little boy. From there I moved to the Knoxville area for almost 4 years and then it happened…

I was informed that Dominion, one of  the most successful Power companies in America was in search of a Senior Safety Specialist. The good news about this information is that the power plant that was in need of a Safety specialist is only an hour from home! So I went through the entire process and on June 14, 2010 I woke up in MY bed at MY house and kissed MY wife and MY little boy and went to work for Dominion. At the end of the day for the first time since I had my own family I had the opportunity to walk through the door at my house and hug my wife and little boy. That night we sat down for dinner together, we laughed, we talked about our day and I realized really fast what I had been missing. HOME.


A Memorable day

Recently, Kayla, Clayton and I were coming down I-75 from Louisville heading home to Pikeville. Clayton let us know he needed to use the bathroom. We took exit 115 (Newtown Pike) in Lexington and pulled into the Embassy Suites.

 I unbuckled him and rushed inside to the restroom. As we went by the front desk there was a United States Army Soldier checking in. Clayton said “Look Dad!” I replied with “Maybe when we come out of the restroom we can find that REAL HERO and say thank you.” So we went on in the restroom, used it, washed our hands and they walked out. As we stepped out of the restroom there stood the Hero we both wanted to thank. I said “Sir, my son has something he would like to tell you.” I leaned over and told Clayton to thank him. At this point the Soldier got down on one knee and leaned in, Clayton said “Thank You Sir.” I added that we appreciate our freedom and therefore appreciate his efforts. I added that we pray for them every night. The soldier then ripped his American flag from his uniform and handed it to my son.

I have met some pretty cool people in my life, I have been some nice places and I have experienced more than my fair share of neat things but this day, this Hero topped them all.

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Rules for married men

As I have mentioned before, my father passed away when I was 14 and he was 44. What I wouldn’t give to find a shoebox full of notes, stories and advice from him now. This blog is that shoebox for Clayton. As I continue to add to it I hope everyone (including myself) can learn a thing or two!

Here are a few rules that I think help a married man stay married.

  1. Hold hands – Hold her hand… often! And if you ever lose your hands, hold elbows!
  2. Lend a hand – When your married, you’re a team. To be an unbeatable team, play together AND work together. Your not above doing windows or dishes.
  3. Counseling – Everyone, yes EVERYONE should go to marriage counseling because marriage is hard. If your car is having problems you take it to the mechanic and if you keep it long enough it will have problems. The same is true of marriage.
  4. Surprise her – Do something nice for your wife, no less than once a week. If you have to put it on a calendar or if you have to tattoo it on your forehead, make it happen. Your life will be longer and happier for it!
  5. Apologize – Be the first to say “I am sorry” or “I was wrong”. You will be a bigger and better man for it and it is a good investment in your marriage.
  6. Remind yourself why you love her – Marriage is a choice you make everyday, not just at the altar. Once in a while, it’s important to remind yourself why you chose her and why you still choose her.
  7. Don’t try to change her – Every new husband thinks he can change his wife. Every experienced husband wishes he could have back all the time and energy he spent trying to do so.
  8. Work at your marriage – Marriage isn’t a noun it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get, it’s something you do. It’s the way you love your wife EVERYDAY. It’s the most important and most rewarding job you will ever have.
  9. Give her a hug – Hug her. They dig that. Real men hug!
  10. She is your partner – She is not property. She is a lady, she likes to be treated like one.
  11. Fight Fair – When you fight and you will, fight fair. The causes of a quarrel will soon fade, but cruel words will set in for years to come.
  12. Remember what is most important – Put God first then put her above all others. This includes your parents, your children and yourself. One of the best ways to show your children you love them is to love their Mother. Tell them how much you love their mother
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Family Man

Growing up there’s a lot of things I wanted to be called. Champ, baseball player, hero, cool, popular,  just to name a few. Yesterday I saw an article in a recent Sports Illustrated on Phil Mickelson. The title read “Inspired by an appearance from his cancer-stricken wife, family man Phil Mickelson was his daring and charming self as he strode to his third victory at the Masters and his biggest triumph ever.” There were two words that really stood out to me, FAMILY MAN. It was when I re-read that line that I realized, that is what I want to be called … Family Man!

As I read the article I became inspired to write (blog). Of course I could talk about a certain “other” golfer that could learn a thing or two from Phil but he is not worthy of mentioning. I will mention that over the years Phil has always been in the shadows, always been number 2 in golf. Well, knowing what I know now, I think I would take #2 in my profession and have the media recognize me as a Family Man over what ole’ what’s his name has (or doesn’t have)!

My father left a legacy as a Family Man and that is something I hope someday I will be recognized as. To this day (over 23 years after his passing) I still have people tell me how much he loved me, my Brother and Mom. I hope after I am gone that people will be telling Clayton the same thing.

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Gone fishin’

About three weeks ago I told Clayton that I would take him to the store to pick out a fishing pole that weekend. Well the weekend rolled around and he didn’t forget to remind me of the promise I had made. We went to the store and carefully looked over all the kids fishing poles (all 4 of them). He carefully selected the Cars fishing pole.

In the weeks to come he informed everyone that would listen that his Daddy was going to take him fishing and he was gonna catch a fish this big (arms extended all the way). I didn’t think much about it until Kayla and Clayton showed up last Friday night at our place down here in Tennessee (on the Holston River). That night I expressed concern to Kayla that well, uhm I hadn’t fished since I was a little boy. This meant I have no idea what I was doing! I felt like I was on the brink of letting our little man down.

Kayla did really good calming me down by stating that all little boys want to do is spend time with their Daddys and that Saturday morning would be no different. Well I woke up Saturday morning and sure enough, Clayton was ready to skip breakfast and go catch a big fish! I on the other hand was starting to feel that pressure again!

After breakfast we headed to the banks of the Holston river to fish. As Kayla found the perfect spot in the sun with a book, we finally make it to what looked like the perfect spot. We got situated and cast out for the first time. We reeled in our line but there was nothing on them. One cast and all I had was a 3 year old with a confused look on his face! I thought I may be in for a long day. We got ready to cast out again when Clayton decided the problem may be that he should be using my fishing pole. So we traded, cast out and SPLASH! He was right, he was fishing with the wrong pole because on the second cast of his young life Clayton reeled in a 8″ smallmouth bass.

He yelled towards our front yard for his Mommy to look! He was so excited which made my day, I thought we may be in for one amazing day of fishing! We took it to show to his Mommy and when I went back to fish again he wanted no part. It was time for him to play! Yelp, he had done his duty. He had gotten what he came for, he had taken care of business!

He played while I continued to fish until he finally went to take a nap. I got a text from Kayla about an hour later letting me know he was awake. About 5 minutes later I caught a 15″ smallmouth. I called her to walk Clayton down to see the fish. He came down, saw the fish and was ready to fish again. He grabbed his pole and cast out and reeled in, after doing this twice he looked up at me then looked at his pole then looked back at me and said “My pole is broke Daddy.” With that he threw his pole down and ran off and played. As far as I know he may not fish again until he has a 3 year old!


Take time to care…

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name some people who have taught you something worthwhile.

The lesson:

The wealthy, the ones with the awards, the multiple degreed are in fact the one’s that usually do not take time to care for others. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. Let’s all take time to care, to build a legacy that will be around longer than we will!

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Fish out of water…

Growing up I remember my Dad really enjoyed to make people laugh. He enjoyed spreading happiness, be it through a good story, prank or what have you.

Dad worked for CSX on the railroad so unfortunately he was always on call. This is one of the reasons he told me that he never wanted me to work on the railroad. Obviously I never really entertained the though but always wanted to be like my Dad so I did think about it.

Ok back to Dad spreading the funny. It was a nice spring day and I had just got home from school. I was around 10 years old. I came in the house, threw my books down, let Mom and Dad know I was home and that I was going down the street to play. At this point Dad told me he would see me tomorrow that he had been called out to work. I gave him a big hug, kiss and told him I loved him. He reciprocated the gesture.

I get about a quarter mile down the street when Dad drives up behind me and stops. He said “Son you better hurry home, your aquarium has shattered and your bedroom floor is soaked and fish are flopping everywhere!” I asked for a ride home but he said he needed to get to work. Now we are talking about a 30 gallon tank so I envision the terrible mess, not to mention one mad Mom when I get there! I sprinted as fast as I could home and swung the front door open. I ran down the hall to my bedroom, but it wasn’t what I expected. The aquarium was in tact, all the water and fish still inside. I was confused … and out of breath! About that time Dad walked in laughing with Mom right behind him with a small grin shaking her head. It then dawned on me, it was April 1st.

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