The Third Saturday of October. Any self-respecting UT football fan knows what that means.
The folks in Georgia, however, aren't as concerned about the traditional date of the UT-Alabama football game. They don't think twice about scheduling a wedding on that day.
A wedding where I was asked to play the piano.
So, prior to leaving my house, I ran the old-fashioned white bulby earpiece under my shirt and connected it to the small radio on my hip.
It was the late '90s and cell phones weren't smart -- so I had to be.
I played for that wedding -- a sizable amount of music -- with the sound of John Ward and Bill Anderson calling the game in my left ear while I played soft, mushy, oatmeal love songs.
I should have slipped "Rocky Top" in there. (Maybe I did ...)
John Ward passed away June 20. The memories of his verbal artwork live on.
Charles Krauthammer passed away the next day. His gifted skill of communicating both in verbal and written form impacted many people of all walks of life. He wrote about life and politics with a kind and gentle persuasiveness that challenged without provoking.
Krauthammer overcame a paralysis from a neck injury diving into a pool while in medical school. Still graduating on time, he became a psychiatrist. He left medicine to pursue politics, initially writing speeches for Democrats and then transitioning to conservative views in the 1980s.
Ward graduated law school and did not practice law. His words and descriptions were soothing like good medicine to UT fans, win or lose.
Krauthammer graduated medical school and did not practice medicine. His words and convictions were impacting on those who crafted laws.
They died one day apart. The irony is striking.
Both men worked and refined their skills to communicate what they observed through their natural talents and intellect. They pursued their desire for excellence in their chosen arenas of mental competition.
Both left an enormous impact on those who followed and listened to them. They have passed on from this life but their impact on lives, careers, families and friends will never pass.
That is the power of effective communication. Video was a part of both careers, but their words are the reason both men are remembered with great affection.
Again, that is the power of effective communication.
It is like a prism that takes in light and bends it according to its nature and clarity to produce the spectrum of colors on the other side. The communicator sees the light, and then presents it to the world in more orderly colors so that others may understand the parts of the whole.
Great communicators usesskills of observation and molds those thoughts with life experience, intellect, pain, study, spiritual roots and physical scars to enable others to see reality as they see it. We then process it as our own.
It is the ability to describe one blade of grass and the listener sees the entire yard.
It is the difference between whittling and carving. Both use a knife and wood -- one creates something perceivable.
Great intellect and high IQ does not guarantee a person can communicate thoughts well. The world is full of highly intelligent people with degrees who can't convey how to pour milk. Any milk.
The world is also full of people who have no degrees on the wall who can describe and relate their thoughts with a common sense that is profound in its thinking, simplicity, brevity and humor.
The late Jerry Clower, a graduate of Mississippi State, comes to mind.
Will this generation of video have great communicators of verbal? Will the subtle, even subconscious, bias of how a person looks on video relegate them to obscurity because they weren't physically attractive enough for the media mob?
That is yet to be determined, and frankly neither you nor I can do anything about it.
But we can communicate in our own arena. Not that digital mist that evaporates into the realm of byte oblivion, but real communication.
Face to face. Written words on paper. Typewritten (Gasp!) -- a manual typewriter? Yes, it's a real document that you can feel and touch and will possibly travel to the depths of the soul of someone else.
We have our own audience. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Our relationship to them is what they will remember most when we are gone. And we will all be gone someday -- a thought that should mold each day.
Write those words to that person who needs a real card, letter, note, or poem (again, Gasp! ... a poem?) that will live on with them when the digital devices forget them in the "update."
Communicate with that person in a quiet place -- a long drive, a picnic at Cades Cove, a quiet dinner with no phones -- when there is nothing distracting.
Learn to share your thoughts, embrace the vulnerability of being wrong so that you can face the liberation of being honest with yourself. It is who you are, what you believe, how you feel -- and we all must learn to express it so that we can be known, and know ourselves.
Maybe even learn we need to change.
We are losing something in our digital world that these two men refined to an artform.
Write that note. Journal those thoughts for the mere sake of writing and understanding yourself better. Have a regular time for conversation with the ones you love.
It is what will be remembered. By you, and by them.
Eric J. Littleton, M.D. (@DrEricLittleton) is a musician and family physician in Sevierville.
Topics covered are general in nature and should not be used to change medical treatments and/or plans without first discussing with your physician. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.