Withdrawal pains from sons’ visit is a good ache

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

By Steve Stricker

Of all the heroes in my life, I am very proud to say with unconditional love that my oldest son, Stephen (Steve Stricker) tops the list.

When I left my marriage of 10 years, three young sons (hardest decision of my life to this day), Stephen was 10 years old. From day one, I worked hard at being in contact with them and in person as much as I could.  For those precious years in the home together, Stephen and I did everything together, were very close, and thankfully, still are.

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Stephen is very intelligent, always mature for his age as a result of being the oldest and above reasons, lots of common sense, and has just always done the right things. Graduating with top honors in high school, he attended and graduated from Vanderbilt with a bachelor’s in molecular biology, in Vandy’s Spirit of Gold Marching Band and Memorial Gym Basketball Band; came to Ole Miss for his master’s in biochemistry (so great having him on campus with me), then doctoral of pharmacy from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.  

Stephen has his own Bourbon Blog “Bourbon Script,” building a new house that is almost finished, married to my “daughter” Kristie, and is currently associate scientific director, US Medical Affairs at AbbVie.  Past: Takeda Oncology and Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy. He is knowledgeable, professional, published, has many presentations, and is well respected.

Christmas 2023, Stephen (also my bourbon consultant) sent me a box with two swell bottles of bourbon and five gift cards. When I called to thank him, he said there was another gift – his twin sons, my grandsons, Trant and Thomas, sophomores in high school, were going to send audition tapes to perform with the 45th Ole Miss Mid-South Honor Band in February as he had done when he was in high school and I was working on the Ole Miss campus.  

Having not seen the twins since December 2018 and Stephen in a couple of years, I was excited!  The guys were not only accepted but placed trumpets 2 and 3 out of 41 others, juniors and seniors.  Trumpet 4 asked where they were from because no one local had ever beat them!  Ha…so proud!!  And PS, their older brother, Stephen III, my grandson’s namesake, is currently majoring in trumpet performance at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio…so proud!

Thursday, Feb. 15, met them at TownePlace Suites by the Conference Center, to Proud Larry’s for Fat Larry’s Pizza, then to the Ole Miss Mid-South Honor Band Symphonic Band rehearsal in the Gertrude C. Ford Center.  

From then until Saturday, Feb. 17, and the main concert with both sympathy and concert bands at 11 a.m. in the Ford Center, it was a plethora of wonderful family time together, swell rehearsals, great food at a different Oxford “famous” venue for each meal, and my dad, grandad wee heart continued to swell with pride and love.

The Saturday concerts by both bands were totally impressive considering the members received the music for the first time that Thursday, for the most part didn’t know each other, and I had to keep reminding myself that these were high school students!  My guys rocked and looked fabulous in their black tuxes, shirts and bow ties.  

Saturday night after the concert, we attended the Ole Miss vs Missouri Basketball game in the Pavilion – Win, 79-76!

There is simply not enough word count here for me to describe what it meant to be with Stephen, Trent and Thomas for such quality time.  Stephen not only arranged the auditions, drove over eight hours from their home in Kentucky, but also paid for everything and showed me and the boys immense love. I’m still having major withdrawal pains from missing them…whew! Thanks, Dr. Steve – I totally love and miss you guys!

Steve is an Oxford resident and received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Counseling) from Ole Miss.