Bob McKinney

As I mentioned last week, this month marks 10 years I have been writing this column.

That milestone might have gone unnoticed by me but for the fact that a couple of months ago, my son Daniel, my oldest, reminded me. It might have also gone unnoticed by him but for the fact my first column was posted about two weeks before his wedding.  

He asked if it might be possible, as I commemorate 10 years of writing, to also commemorate 10 years of marriage in honor of his wife. I told him I thought that was a great idea.

And as it turns out, we have more to commemorate and celebrate today.

While last week I looked back at 10 years of column writing, today I will look at back at 10 years of family life. Next week I promise to return to normal topics. Thanks for indulging me.

My oldest has always had a way with people. As the saying goes, a stranger is only a friend he has not yet met. He inherited the extroverted charm of his mother and it has served him well.

He met one of those strangers who would become a friend (and more) when, while a student at Auburn, another Auburn student from Brentwood asked if she could hitch a ride home with him for the weekend. She then asked if another friend, a young lady named Krista from Franklin, could also ride. By the end of the ride back to Auburn, there was an attraction.

Daniel graduated in the spring of 2008 and Krista graduated at the end of that summer. They both moved home to live with parents (you might remember something called The Great Recession of 2008 and the scarcity of jobs for recent college graduates.)

The relationship flourished. To fast-forward through three years, they married in June of 2011, just as I started writing this column.

Krista took our family by storm, and today I could not imagine life without her.

Shortly after they married, they announced their move to Dallas. They stayed there until 2015, when they moved to Atlanta, where they live today.

They have given us two grandchildren. Hank was born in October 2017 and Ruthie in September of last year.

In May of 2011, before Daniel and Krista’s wedding, our only daughter, Maggie, graduated from Auburn, and our youngest, David, graduated from Brentwood High School. And yes, we tend to celebrate significant events in the life of our family within weeks of each other.

David headed to Auburn in August of that year, and Maggie was back with us. The empty nest was not yet happening.

In early 2012 while Maggie was our roommate (her term for our living arrangement post-college), a young man named Ben, one of Daniel’s best friends from Auburn, visited our home one weekend with another young man. Susan and I had come to know both of these guys during Daniel’s Auburn years, and we welcomed them.

But little did we know what was truly going on. Sometime over the course of that weekend, Ben declared his feelings for Maggie. The rest is history.

Ben was from Hazel Green, Alabama, a small town near Huntsville, and he had been in our home many times during Daniel’s years at Auburn.  But as I have often said, knowing him as my son’s friend was entirely different from knowing him as one who had eyes on my sweet daughter.

In fact, until he and Maggie started dating, I had never even called him Ben; I had called him by his last name, Majors, as most of his friends did. (Some still do, and to his nephew Hank, he is affectionately known as “Uncle Majors.”)

Ben had also moved home and had gone back to school in Huntsville. For the next two years, he and Maggie spent most weekends either at his parents’ home in Hazel Green or ours in Brentwood.

Maggie moved to Huntsville to teach in the fall of 2014, believing Ben would soon propose. As it turns out, she did not have to move to Huntsville for that to happen, as he popped the question the day after Thanksgiving at Radnor Lake in Nashville.

Their wedding took place in July of 2015, four years after Daniel and Krista had tied the knot. Even though Ben and Krista call themselves the “non-bloods,” Ben quickly became like a son to me and a welcome part of the family.

He and Maggie are still in Huntsville, and they have also had two children – Cap, born in July 2017 and Mary Brooks, born in October 2019. (If anyone is counting, we now have four grandchildren. Send an email and I’ll be glad to share pictures.)

In another example of significant events within a short period of time, David graduated from Auburn a couple of months before Maggie and Ben married in 2015. He ended up staying there for about a year working (his “victory lap,” as Daniel called it) before moving to northern Indiana during the summer of 2016, where he would work for three years before coming back south and settling in Birmingham in June of 2019.

Not long after moving there, he met a lovely young woman named Katie. With some starts and stops, their relationship became firmly established.

I am writing this before it is scheduled to happen, but assuming everything came off as planned, David and Katie became engaged in Birmingham over the weekend. We were all there to wish them well.

David’s fiancé brings a new dimension to our family. You might have noticed the Auburn theme, but Katie is a graduate of the University of Alabama and an unapologetic fan of the Crimson Tide. They believe they are prepared for this mixed marriage and have assured us they have worked through any potential issues.

And I would not begin to argue. Just as it was with Krista and Ben, we are smitten with Katie, and we are thrilled David had the good sense to propose to her.

Susan and I would be the first to tell you we are far from perfect parents. For each of our three, I have offered to go halves on the therapy they will need to straighten out all my missteps.

But one thing we did, from the time each of our children was born, was to pray for their future spouse. With the addition of Katie, those prayers have come to full fruition. And as far as I am concerned, we  are three for three with the non-bloods.

When I started writing this column in June 2011, I had a wife and three children. Today the size of that family has more than doubled. When I think back, I have no more words, other than to tell you my heart fairly bursts with gratitude.

And speaking of gratitude, I will let Daniel have the last words today, in honor of his wife of 10 years:

I’m a crummy gift giver, especially when it comes to dates on the calendar for which a gift is expected (e.g. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays.)

I hate the hype and the pressure, and Krista knows this all too well. If I get my extrovert qualities from my mom, I can blame the poor gift giving on my dad. But as I was thinking about what gift a woman that has been married to me for 10 years would want or expect, I thought a public profession of my love and appreciation would be a good place to start, and I thought Dad’s column would be appropriate.

So, Happy Anniversary, Krista. Thanks for putting up with me for the last 10  years. As Dad suggested above, you are an answer to prayer.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather.

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