We look back into the past and try to remember the year that things happened. Some dates are easy to remember.


We look back into the past and try to remember the year that things happened. Some dates are easy to remember. You remember the year you graduated from high school or college. You remember the year you started work. Most of the time you remember the years your children were born.



As you get older, dates and times seem to blur and all run together.



2012 will definitely be a year that I will always remember.



We all have our priorities, likes, dislikes, fears and loves. Things that are important to me are not necessarily important to others; I understand that. We seem to be drawn to people who have similar interests or those who make an attempt to understand those little things that make us who we are.



When you look back at what news people think was important, it may or may not be important to you. The magazines think we are all interested in which movie stars got married, divorced, had children and died. Most of them don’t interest me.



One fellow who I always liked was the gentleman who played “John Coffey” in the movie, “The Green Mile.” His name was Michael Duncan. He had a heart attack and died two months later at age 54.



Duncan was raised by a single mother on Chicago’s South Side and dropped out of college when his mother became ill. Before making it in Hollywood, Duncan was a ditch digger for several years for the gas company in Chicago. I always heard about “ditch diggers,” but never really heard of one making it big. “Big Mike,” as they called him, did make it kind of big. They say every time someone on the street knew him by his real name, “Michael Clarke Duncan,” he would give them five dollars.



He had a beautiful deep voice, and I particularly liked the line in the movie where he said, “You can’t hide what’s in your heart.”



It is true.



Others died including Davy Jones, Earl Scruggs, Dick Clark and Andy Williams. Davy Jones of the Monkees always brought back memories of the comedy show by the same name that I watched on Saturday mornings in the late 1960’s. He also made me think of Marsha Brady, who was a bit of a “tractor cranker” on “The Brady Bunch.”



Earl Scruggs was a bluegrass musician who picked the banjo and played with Lester Flatt. Together they were, “Flatt & Scruggs,” the fellows who sang the theme song for the television show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.”



Dick Clark came to see me on Saturday mornings also, with “American Bandstand.” In later years, we all watched “the ball drop” in Times Square with Mr. Clark.



Andy Williams sung “Moon River,” like nobody’s business. When I think of the song, I think of Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but I will also think of Andy Williams’ version of the song. He seemed to be a good man. Of his talent, Williams said, “I never tried to sing like anybody else, fortunately I didn’t sound like anybody else. It just happened."



We are fortunate it did (just happen).



Having spent almost exactly half of my life in the “space business,” I have to say that Neil Armstrong, who passed away in 2012, was definitely an American Hero. He was to me. He was the first man to walk on the moon and it signified a great victory for our country.



It was a victory that we needed. It wasn’t a Hollywood set, it was the Moon and it was Neil Armstrong.



The world was supposed to end in 2012. I didn’t concern myself with the “End of the World” school of thought that some folks said the Mayans predicted. One NASA fellow explained it best when he compared the Mayan calendar to your car’s odometer just rolling over to all zeroes again. That’s all it was, just the odometer rolling over.



There’s only One who knows when the end of the world will be and He’s not a Mayan calendar maker or Skeeter Davis. However, Skeeter did a good job singing “The End of the World” song in 1963 and she had nice "helmetish" hair, but she was talking about love.



Skeeter sang, “I can't understand. No, I can't understand, How life goes on the way it does.”



Life does go on, but it hurts when you lose people and their love for you.



I’m not talking about the movie stars, crooners and astronauts, I’m talking about the people I really knew and loved.



January 4th was exactly one year since Mama passed away in 2012; I will never be the same. If you’ve lost your mother, you understand. You think of all the things you want to say and all the things you need to hear.



You know what I mean.



It may be only an hour, a day, a few months or 30 years, but for the time I have left, I will remember Mama and continue to write about and to her in a different sort of way.



Folks that knew my Mama, knew her as a sweet simple lady. She was, but she was smart. I’m not sure when, but Mama realized how to “break my code.” She either just figured it out or perhaps I showed it to her when I was young.



I enjoy writing, teaching and also the work I do for a living, but when I was young, I dreamed of being a cryptographer.



The words and the math, kind of fit together, she understood. Mothers figure these things out. You may think you have a secret, but mothers know.



One day while visiting her, I fell asleep on the sofa. Mama was reading some stories I had written and printed out for her. When I woke up, one of the little paper napkins she seemed to enjoy collecting was on the table in front of the sofa where I'd been sleeping. We were at the assisted living home where Mama spent her last months.



The napkin had something written on it. I read it, and then I looked at her. I looked at her and then I put my face in my hand, holding it up and rubbing my temples with my thumb and middle finger, the way I always do when I’m trying to deal with something for which I’m unprepared.



With my face still down, I asked her, “How did you figure that out?”



Mama said something similar to what mathematician, Arne Beurling said when asked how he broke the Nazis’ code, something having to do with magicians not revealing their secrets.



I was too shaken at the time to remember.



Anyway, my mother knew I enjoyed writing and playing a little game when I did. We never talked about it again; however I did understand that she understood “my other story.” She would read my eight or nine hundred words to pull a simple sentence or two out.



She taught school for over forty years, was a Baptist Missionary, a 4-H Club fanatic and breaker of her middle son’s codes.



She loved all of us, she forgave everyone, and she will be missed, but not forgotten.



Every story is just a story, but there will always be a message that I now know, Mama could figure out. She just won’t be here to write it on a napkin.



2012 did have some high points.



Mama loved that I took such an interest in Vernon, Florida. I’m sure it was because the fellow who took me there so many times was her Daddy. He was a bit peculiar; I guess you could say that about me.



She would have been incredibly proud of me getting to be an “Honorary Citizen” of Vernon and even more that I had the honor of being The Grand Marshal of the 2012 Christmas Parade.



I lost so much love in 2012 that it is hard to understand “how life goes on the way it does,” as Skeeter Davis’ sang.



It has to, because there are those who depend on me.



And don’t bother to get a napkin and try...



Read more stories at www.CranksMyTractor.com.