I was born October 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. I lived with my parents on Swiss Avenue in a house I can’t afford to look at now.
My birthday being October 22 means that on November 22, 1963 I was one month old. My parents had a photographer come to our home to mark the occasion of me being one-twelfth of a year.
When he arrived, they turned off the Presidential motorcade they were watching on TV. He took my picture- a picture I still have.
The photographer left.
My parents turned the TV back on...
and learned that the world had changed drastically.
And six months ago, my world changed drastically again. My Dad left his life in this world and went on ahead of us and since then, I have been a different person. Still myself, but changed in the way huge things change a person.
I miss my dad so much.
He was a great dad.
Growing up, one of the constants of our lives was Amateur Radio- Ham Radio. My dad had his license and call sign from the time he was very young. He was K5UBM. Following Dad’s lead, his brother got his license too. When my parents married, Dad eventually got my Mom, her parents and her brothers to all get their licenses too.
The sound of Morse Code was the background music of our lives. Friends would come over and ask me ‘what is that sound?’ and I was so used to it I didn’t even know what they meant.
Now if you don’t know what Ham radio is, you can google that. One thing I will tell you is that it is NOT CB radio. The two things are very different. Nothing against CB radio. Just don’t confuse it for the same thing in front of a Ham. Trust me on this.
Dad always wanted us kids to get our licenses. My sister got hers a few years ago. It was something I always planned to get around to doing, but it took Dad passing away for me to get serious.
Back in March I got some study materials and started trying to learn the content for my Technician level license. I studied from April to August and went to take my test a few weeks ago.
I failed by two points.
I was happy I had done so well on one level, but also disappointed of course. All my life I have learned new academic kinds of things pretty easily, but not this. I wasn’t sure I could pass it and, even though I had come close, there was no guarantee I would get the same test version if I tried again.
I kinda wanted to give up.
It was hard!
But, after feeling sorry for myself for a couple of weeks I decided to try a new approach.
I dug my favorite study book out and went through it again. Every question I didn’t know automatically I put on an index card and then I put all the index cards on a ring and I carried them around and read them over and over in spare moments of time.
I went in today and took the test again. I got a different version- all new questions. I knew some of them- most of them- for sure…but there were still enough I wasn’t positive about that I was sweating it a little bit.
As I handed my completed test to the head examiner, I told him that it was not any easier this time. He smiled and handed my answer sheet to the guy next to him. There were three examiners who were there last time and they remembered me. I had told them about Dad and that I was trying to get my license in honor of him.
So the way it works is that there is a head examiner, this older gentlemen who was very kind both times, and three other examiners. They all have to watch you take your test and then all three of them have to grade it while you sit there.
So. No stress whatsoever.
After the first guy graded my exam, he went over it again. Then the head examiner pulled out a small rectangle of paper from his briefcase. He had not done that before. He looked over at me and whispered softly, “You passed.”
I started to cry.
After all three examiners graded and confirmed that I had indeed passed, I was handed a certificate showing that I had successfully passed all the elements for the license and they shook my hand and welcomed me to Ham Radio.
I know my dad is proud.
I feel like a story arc was completed today that started in that house on Swiss Avenue in 1963.
Maybe you noticed that I started this blog with the letters CQ.
This week some of my wonderful co-workers were telling me that one of the things they liked about my blog was that I write about small things. They were so kind and they warmed my heart so much.
This time I started really small. Just two little letters.
In the world of Ham radio, the term CQ means calling any operator who is listening on a frequency to respond. I heard my dad make that call more times than I can remember followed by his call sign, K5UBM.
I can hear him now. “CQ CQ, this is K5UBM. Kilowatt 5 Uniform Bravo Mike.” Or sometimes he would say this is “K5UBM, Kilowatt 5, Ugly Big Man.” He was being silly then because my dad was good-looking.
But there has been no K5UBM on the air for a while now.
One of the beautiful things about Ham radio is that after the FCC issues my call sign, I can apply to have my dad’s call sign be mine.
So, Dad, this one is for you.
Calling any operator.
Can you hear me? This is the newest Ham in the family calling to say, I love you.
So glad I didn't give up, even though it was hard. You there, yes you reading this, you don't give up either okay?
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