Sunday, May 24, 2009

Press Statement - Friday May 22, 2009

Since Mom’s death in 2006 my closest friends and confidants have often asked how my family incorporates such a shocking and altogether unexpected tragedy into our worldview as Christians and how a life so beautiful, and so grounded in faith, could come to such a such a horrific end.

I’ve realized over time that they ask me because they think I may know; but I don’t.

I’m not AT ALL sure why terrible things happen to good people. I don’t know exactly WHY a good and loving God would stand for weak, evil men like Michael Ledford to persecute and murder His people. It doesn’t make sense.

My friend Aaron Harris said to me one day, “Jimmy, I just don’t think we were meant to understand these things. I think God created us for something altogether different.” And I think that’s about the closest I’ve come to an answer.

So, I can’t fully satisfy my own craving to understand what happened to Mom, and why; but what I do know is this: I represent a mother and a family who believe that Jesus is EXACTLY who He said He was. My family and I know that we were put here to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities, to minister to the needs of the people around us, to lead other people into a growing relationship with Christ, and, even in the face of terrible adversities that we may never understand, to accept and follow the Lord’s guidance in our lives regardless of where He may lead us; clinging to the promise that one day we can ask Him in person.

In the meantime, I would remind you that this catastrophic and painful time in the life of my family has NEVER been about Michael Ledford, or the death penalty, or justice, or the vagueries of a complicated legal process.

It’s about the constant struggle between good and evil. It’s about a family hurt, but not vanquished and it’s about a God big enough to love, direct, and lead us down even the darkest paths. But most importantly, it’s about the amazing, extraordinary, life of the woman who raised me and taught me to read and to write, and to laugh, and to think for myself, and what’s funny, and what isn’t, and how to love and be loved, and to be strong.

The same woman who taught me life’s every little detail from hospitality, music, good food, which fork to use, and how to dance; in her final moments taught me the power of sacrifice and courage. So today, your focus should be not crime and punishment and the filthy deeds of evil men, but my brave and beautiful mother, of whom I am so VERY proud.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Man Talk

I thought you may be interested to know what a normal day of correspondence looks like in my inbox, so - here goes with some written communication between Fred, Hank, and Me.

Me: I’m not your go-to boy with a cast net. Our guide had a 13FOOT cast net he could throw a perfect hoop in. Right before he tossed it he looked like somebody had caught HIM in the thing – he’d wrap it completely around his body and up over his head. Unbelieveable. I cant get an 8foot net to do anything respectable.

Fred: Cast nets are sort of like fat girls. The ones with the big diameters are really heavy, they’re hard to throw, and they generally aren’t much fun.

Hank: I'm ignoring that. What is everyone doing this weekend?

Me: I’m up for whatever. We can go hit our place one last time if you like, then swing by Freds or something. Maybe fish a bit. We can put a boat in the water on a pond or head to Juliette for an adventure. Maybe we can get Buster involved.

Alternatively, we could float the Ocmulgee from the Juliette tailwater to the hwy 17 bridge - which might be also be fun. In short: “I'm available.” Thanks for the party invitation, but social plans are low priority in general at the moment. Any event that interferes with outdoor pursuits could quickly find itself sitting by the side of the road in a prom dress, muddy and in the rain.

Fred: I’m pretty sure there’s something statutory about you and proms at this point.

Hank: On the subject of mud and rain, but moving away from prom dresses, I think the Ocmulgee will probably be unfishable this weekend. I am game to fish some farm ponds though.

As to cute girls at the party: last time I checked, we live in Georgia, so if you get more than about 5 girls together, at least one will be cute. I think Seth’s girlfriend is principally involved in this party, so I am sure he will be there too. I will forward you all the evite.

Fred: I'm hunting this weekend after the little league game.

Me: Fred, you're coaching little league? I'm extremely interested in watching this. Can you take beer to a little league game? Are you allowed to heckle the coaches? I'm game for whatever Friday night I guess. Does anyone think Judson may be heaving with giant silent sobs at his desk right now??? Judson, sorry - you're married! When are we going to Indian pass for a shark extravaganza at your place?

Judson: I will be down there over the week of July 4th and will definitely do some shark fishing. We are targeting 10’+ hammers & Tigers. As we get closer I will let you know more details. As for this weekend: I am not doing anything. Your emails are killing me. I have to work around the house this weekend.

Hank: Fred, you should bring the Zodiac down to Judson's place! We can use it to run the shark baits 500-600 yards offshore instead of paddling that kayak way out there.

Fred: The Zodiak? You mean the HMS Dingleberry finally has purpose in its provoking, useless existence? I hate it. I hope it sinks.

Me: Judson, that fishing trip sounds great, but where will Janet and your newborn Corn Niblet sleep? Do they know we're all coming on your family vacation? Maybe we can pool our resources and get them a suitable berth at the local Travelodge. Are you really stuck not doing anything this weekend or can you slip the leash?

Judson: Last weekend I took off to fish a neighborhood lake and got the “why don’t you want to spend time with your family?” comment from certain parties. This weekend I am going to stick to doing projects around the house.

Hank: I’ll be down there the whole week before the 4th. Fred will be down there half of it. I say we let Jimmy swim the shark baits out instead of using the Zodiac.

Judson: I have boogy boarded baits out & it is not fun. I guess watching someone else do it would be quite entertaining. Fred, what is the deal with the Zodiak? I like those little boats.

Fred: Give me a minute or two while I climb up on my stump and rail about that piece of junk. It’s going to take me 5 minutes to get it all down......

Fred: Ok, Zodiaks can be useful, if they are employed as intended.

I have a sister that is 2 years younger than me. She travels a lot. She was scuba diving somewhere in the Caribbean a few years ago and the outfitter would take the divers out from the mothership on Zodiaks. They were usually going a few hundred yards.

When she got back to the States, she decided that she needed a Zodiak so that she could go scuba diving at the Cape. Her logic to my father was essentially, “Frederick has 3 boats.” Solid, but I also maintain them, which is a lot of work if you are familiar with boats and saltwater.

So, she immediately gets a nice Zodiak. 12 or 15 feet long. Magic Tilt trailer. 15hp Yamaha 4-stroke. The first time down to the Cape, she decides she’s ready to use it, at which point my father instructs me to arm and deploy the vessel. I attempt to reason with him that the Zodiak is not my ward, nor is its operation my responsibility, and that I had specifically said I wanted no part of it; none of which went well. So I carry the 15hp 4-stroke (which weights about 200lbs) down to the shore, drag the Zodiak down there, put it all together, and send my sister on her merry way. She doesn’t know how to crank the thing, doesn’t know how to navigate a tiller-drive, and doesn’t know that “choke” is also a noun. Being a girl, she also has no idea how to back a trailer (not that there are any ramps on the Gulf side anyway, but she can’t even get it out of the driveway).

The Zodiak has been used about 3 times in 5 years. I hate it because it’s the red-headed stepchild of my tiny armada and I have to care for it, so I nicknamed it the HMS Dingleberry. The Zodiak would be perfect for running shark baits offshore at night though.

Me: I think I like your sister based solely on the fact that she’s not afraid to absolutely raise cain with you and your dad. That is HILARIOUS. I say we appropriate the HMS Dingleberry for our shark purposes. I wonder if that would be a suitable hooch boat?

Fred: Fine. We can commandeer the HMS Poopcrumble, but I’m not trailering it. It can be used for anything that you would use an inner-tube for (it will float down the hooch but you can’t stand up in it and it doesn’t have any seats).

Me: Ok. Transportation is taken care of. Does anyone know what you’re supposed to do with a 10 foot long live shark on the beach? Can you legally pop him in the head with a .22? How in the world do you “RELEASE” a shark in the surf??? I mean, if you think I'm going swimming with a live TigerShark to get him safely back out to sea; you're going to have to give me some really good pointers on waterwalking my fat butt back out of there. Anything with the natural equivalent to a running chainsaw in his mouth in my immediate vicinity makes me very uncomfortable.

Judson: You just have to drag them by their tail until you get them in deep enough water at which point you spin them around. Usually they will swim off slowly and are too tired to mess with you.

Fred: "USUALLY?"

Hank: Your average serious sharksman is probably a little more sober than I imagine the dream team will be at 2am standing on the beach at the Cape. I’ll supervise (liquor drink in hand), Jimmy: you distract him, Fred and Judson: you grab the live shark by the tail and take it from there.

Fred: To me that plan screams "Double Amputee."

Me: Ok, no. I vote Judson handle the sharks. Should he become incapacitated through the endeavor we will build bookshelves etc. for his beautiful wife, Janet, until the child is old enough to build its own bookshelves, paint, etc.

CAN you shoot these sharks in the head and cut ‘em up? I like that plan better than the "swimming with angry sharks in the dark while inebriated" plan that has been submitted. Mako is supposed to be excellent meat, and you know I like shooting things. It's like the perfect meld of hunting and fishing.

Fred: Seconded. Why not throw a small caliber pistol in with 10’ sharks, an inflatable bathtub, Busch, and pitch dark? Seems like a win-win to me.

Me: Seconded. We'll also need duct tape, 2 flashlights, no batteries, ice, koozies, and some chairs.

Judson: I release all of my sharks b/c I don’t want to have to dispose of them. I can’t leave a rotting shark on the beach in front of my dad’s house b/c all the locals know that I shark fish the area. I have no problems walking in the water to throw a tail rope around a shark, but usually I have trouble finding help to assist in the release.

Hank: Let us pause. I want to compare this to a situation that I was involved in last year. Fred and I drank about two cases of beer over the course of a morning and after catching a big snook and having no luck on the reds in the keys, we found a mangrove snapper hole. On one cast around the hole, I hooked up a trophy 13” needlefish. Being highly intoxicated and highly amused that I had just caught the first needlefish of my life, I picked my rod tip up and grabbed him about halfway down his back. He turned around and bit the shit out of my arm; leaving a trail of tiny puncture wounds. This made Fred laugh so hard that he fell in the bottom of the boat. I walked away with only my pride harmed.

This situation I have just described potentially mirrors our plan for shark fishing with a few “minor” differences. Namely: I had caught a 13” fish on a 19’ fiberglass boat and when I grabbed him, he bit my arm. NOW we're talking about innertubes, 10’+ fish (with a comparable increase in the size of the teeth), and equally excessive amounts of Busch Light. This is going to be awesome…

Me: Well, all I know is I’ll be standing directly behind whoever is furthest from the shark's mouth when he comes sliding up out of the surf, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to be involved in this sort of situation without emptying a firearm of some kind.

Hank: When you say "a firearm of some kind," I can’t help but feel like anything smaller than a .45 might just piss him off. Personally, I’m going to throw empty beer cans at him while Fred hits him in the back with the hand gaff.

Me: You know I definitely won’t be throwing FULL beercans at him, that’s for sure. Is there a police code for "public drunken cavorting with a live mako shark?"; because expect to see some cavorting if something big comes out of the surf.

Fred: If we land a 20’ hammerhead, I will not be getting involved in releasing him; I will be involved in shooting him. That does not look like the sort of creature that I want to “grab by the tail and drag.” That looks like the sort of creature that could kill, or worse, maim me.

Hank: It certainly looks to have a different feel from catching redfish on topwater (which I think is about the most exciting fishing you can do). I’ve had redfish get my finger in their crab crunchers when I am holding him by the gills which kinda hurts a little. Stakes are a little higher here. I am excited. I want to catch a big hammerhead, Jimmy wants to catch a mako, Fred wants a bull shark, so Judson you can catch the big tiger. Better get on the pattern.

Fred: I have an addition to the list of required “gear” for this: 1 full sized oxygen dive tank. If we’re going to have a video of this “perfect storm”, if you will, I’d like to throw my hat into the “Recreate the Last Scene of Jaws” pool.

Hank: Fred, if you will tiptoe over and jam the oxygen tank in its mouth, I’ll shoot it.

Me: Can we eat these things? I hear Mako is tasty.

Judson: I release everything I catch. Tripeltail, reds, trout, etc.

Hank: You are out of your mind not to keep those fish. what are you?? A vegetarian?!?!?

Judson: I just don't fool with it much.

Me: Hank and Fred, where are y’all going for Cinco de Drunko tonight? My guess is Judson is going somewhere that involves a 12 pack of Budweiser, a hammer, some nails, paint, and instructions for assembling a child’s bookshelf.

Hank: Jimmy, why don't you go stake us out a table at a Mexican place nearby. We'll be there in a few hours.

Fred: Seconded.

Hank: So we are in agreement that Jimmy should go stake out an outside table at Taxco. Fred you can go grab some drinks with work people and we will meet at Taxco around 6:30; hopefully to find Jimmy heavily intoxicated at a corner table by himself. From there, we can drop my car and Jimmy’s car off at my house since it’s a hop, skip, and a jump, and Fred will drive his car back to his house if he wants to. We can walk to five paces from Fred’s.

This plan is perfect for me because:
a) I don’t really have to drive anywhere.
b) my car stays at my house

This plan is perfect for Jimmy because:
a) getting a head start is fun.
b) he is unemployed, so who cares where his car ends up tomorrow?

This plan is perfect for Fred because:
a) Taxco is on the way from the office home.
b) He knows that otherwise he will not eat dinner (unless limes from training wheel tequila shots is considered nourishment)

This plan is perfect for Judson because:
He is not involved and therefore cannot possibly get in any trouble for it.


Me: I'll try to meet up with y'all later. I may go float the 'hooch with David. The *Local Fishing Shop* says the water is muddy though. I need a quick nap first.

Fred: Regarding that particular shop - never in all my travels and all the outdoorsmen I have met have I encountered such a collection of bozos with a more undeserved sense of self worth. Every employee over there that I have ever met makes me want to break something. They are full of theory, but devoid of practical application. They are weekend warriors for stocker trout. Worst of all, they are fly snobs. They probably drive X-Terra’s with "Sage" and "G-Loomis" stickers on them. They enjoy grandstanding to the most inexperienced, impressionable “fisherman” in the world, hometown wanna-be’s. If I had enough money, I would buy it, bulldoze it to the ground, pee on the rubble, then build a store that only sold shark fishing, bow-fishing, and gator hunting gear on the ruins. My corporate logo would be Calvin urinating on a dead osprey.

Me: Well...I like the logo idea.

Hank: Sitting in the audit room, I just had the epiphany that Jimmy had gel in his hair last night. Just wanted to remind Fred of that fact and tell Judson about it in order to open Jimmy up to ridicule. We’ll know times are hard and Jimmy has run out of money when he can no longer afford product for his hair.

Me: I deny these allegations.

Judson: Were there any designer jeans worn by the trio last night?

Hank: YES. Sometimes I feel like the only guy who doesn’t give a crap anymore. I wish Jimmy or Fred had gotten married and had a kid so Judson could come out with us in wranglers (product-free).

Me: I had on normal GAP jeans - not "designer" jeans, thank you. I can't help but recall someone sporting a collared white shirt with a little boat on it last night.

Judson: not to change the subject, but next weekend is Mother's Day. I was thinking I might take Janet to the Indian Festival PowWow in Canton for her first Mother's Day.

Hank: You must have written the book on woman-pleasing.

Judson: I'm trying to set expectations low.

Hank: How about the Renaissance Fair?

Judson: I like it. Funnel cakes, turkey legs, and big steins of grog. You can't beat that!

Hank: Definitely beats a tennis bracelet and flowers.

Hank: See you guys Friday for Fred's birthday.

And so it goes.