Happy Birthday John Ball, Jr. During an early morning return from a late night out in Greensboro, I looked down Walker Avenue and saw my friend John Ball walking parallel up Tate Street. I cupped my hands to my mouth and yelled, "John". I can yell very loudly. John stopped, dropped to his knees, held his arms extended above his head, turned his palms flat to Heaven, and screamed,"Yes, God?".
I do not know John Ball as well as I would like. I would like to drink bourbon with him again and talk about Randall Jarrell and William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor and how when the evening sun drops its last few feet it makes me want to be my grandfather walking behind a bird dog, along a struggling branch.
John, you are a father now and this is my unsolicited advice: Accept no unsolicited advice, but instead enjoy every mistake, every calamity, every disaster with the same emotion you would enjoy his first word, or his first step. I struggle with this personally, in my own experience parenting, but the few times I have caught myself from falling into a panic and marvelled at my baby girl as she stumbles, it has been a remarkable pleasure.
Congratulations to you and Mrs. John Ball. We here at Dog Years pray that God guides you and keeps you and your new family.