ton after brief stays in Saltillo, Miss., and Poplar Bluff, Mo., in 1997—my first-grade year in school.
With our return to Hamilton, we attended Hamilton Free Will Baptist Church, where my grandfather, Edward Puckett, was the preacher.
I met one of my best childhood friends at the church, Dillon Sowa.
As many 5- and 6-year-old boys do, we began playing together and eventually going over to each other’s houses.
Everyone that knows me well knows that I spent a large amount of my time as a child with my grandparents.
Likewise, Dillon spent large amounts of his time with his grandparent, Mr. Don and Mrs. Kathy.
That time with Dillon out at his grandparent’s house just off of Highway 278 brings a flood of memories for me.
As we grew, so did our families. I believe I can call the Walls family members and they will not object. Actually, I’d like to think they’d embrace it.
They introduced me to steamed oysters—still not a big fan of them, but really wasn’t a fan back then—and even let us swim in their swimming pool over the summer.
I can’t tell you how many home runs I hit imitating my favorite Chicago Cub (at the time) Sammy Sosa. I’d even do the two skips before trotting around our makeshift bases in Mrs. Kathy’s front yard.
As I’ve always been a baseball and Cubs fan, Dillon shares that interest in sports with me, but his passion has always been basketball.
He’s probably the biggest San Antonio Spurs fan I know. Tim Duncan was and always will be his hero.
So, naturally, we logged many minutes with the basketball goal at the Walls’ neighbor’s house, Phil and Donna Fowler, along with their sons, Grant and Garrett Fowler.
Many slam dunks were thrown down on the Fowlers’ adjustable glass-backboarded basketball goal and friendships were bonded over the course of those games.
No matter how many games we played, all-terrain vehicles we rode or trouble we managed to find, Mrs. Kathy was always there for us. Usually she and Mr. Don had a meal cooked and ready for us to eat when we arrived back at their house.
Those weekends with Mr. Don, Mrs. Kathy and Dillon are things I will treasure forever.
Similarly, I’ll treasure the woman that has cut my hair since I was a 6-year-old boy.
Mrs. Kathy wasn’t just my barber, she is family.
See complete story in the Journal Record.