Venice Italy, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 in Venice, Italy:

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Lee had been planning it for over a month.  Client meetings that happened to be close to the engagement ring store; secret trips to meet with the jeweler.  He had it all figured out, except how the heck to get the ring to Italy without getting caught.  In comes Robert Adams.

Robert is Lilie Adams Wiley’s brother and Jessica is basically considered one of the Adams’ clan.  Lee and Jessica were at his baby shower in Keatchie (or Keachi – yes it’s that confusing), LA, and Robert was proudly displaying his new vest he’d picked up while traveling.  As Robert sipped his 15-year-old Glenlivet scotch, automatically gaining the immediate respect of Lee, he showed him the secret zippers and pockets no one could find.  Perfect way to hide the ring.  It was now all set.  Lee ordered the vest online the next day.

How she didn’t notice 4 straight days of Lee feeling his chest, just over his heart, to make sure there was a circular object still present, he’ll never know.  It was the perfect set up.  Knowing Lee to be a fairly unique man that would never do something as cliche as take a girl to the most romantic city in the world just to propose, Jessica didn’t have a clue.

As the train pulled into the station in Venice, Italy on the 3rd day of their trip, Lee began looking around for a particular spot.  Several months before that, Jessica and Lee attended an event at the Dallas Museum of Arts where he’d seen a painting of a corner in Venice from the 1800’s.  That would be the spot.  The search was on.

As Jessica’s knee was giving out and Lee’s inner-bear was rearing its head from starvation, he gave up that day.  The elusive corner from the painting didn’t exist.  The perfect spot wasn’t there.

The next morning Lee and Jessica woke up to catch a boat to Murano, Italy, a small island famous for glass blowing.  They watched a demonstration and walked through the showroom after.  Jessica was so excited about the experience.  A set of wine glasses caught her eye in the third or fourth room they walked through.

Maybe an hour later, Jessica whipped out the credit card and paid for some truly unique wine glasses that the couple could share forever.  It was her glow that gave Lee the feeling that he needed to ask her the second they stepped off the boat back in Venice.  He suggested she get the date engraved on the pitcher, knowing that would be the date he’d ask her to spend the rest of her life with him.

A nice English couple shared the boat back.  Lee’s plan was to have the couple get pictures of him getting down on one knee.  Little did he know that chance would never come to pass.  They stepped off the boat, Jessica still ecstatic from the purchase of her new stemware.  Lee gave them Jessica’s camera and unzipped the inside zipper of his vest.  But no one would stop and respect the “camera pause”.  The crowded bridge was a thoroughfare and Lee’s plan didn’t work.  Instead, he looked Jessica nervously in the eye and said, “Jessica Rene Moore, I love you.  I may not be the perfect man for you, but I know you’re the perfect girl for me.  And I promise that I will spend every day of the rest of my life trying to be the perfect man for you.  So I want to ask you, will you marry me?”

Our First Year Anniversary: June 22, 2014

One year after our nuptials.  How so many things have changed already.  I don’t think God lets you face things you’re not able to handle.  So clearly He thought Jessica and I we ready for anything.

Claire McCormack made the memories permanent.  But the afternoon and into the night will always be unforgettable to us even without her beautiful depiction of those moments.  The morning of our wedding started different than I thought.  I assumed most everything was done, but I got a call from Jess about decorating the backyard.  Help was needed.  And I’m blessed with amazing friends.  Tyler and Ilia happened to already be in town; Regan and Stacy too.  They came to the rescue and worked their asses off.  Quite literally, our wedding wouldn’t have been perfect, which it was, without those four people giving as they did.

The night, as always with every wedding, was a blur.  So many family members.  So many friends.  So many drinks.  It was magical.  It was exactly what we wanted it to be though my father was too sick to make the trip, so my parents couldn’t be there.  Luckily, my uncle Jamie and my aunt Mary Beth were stand-ins and excellent at it.  Seeing Jess walk down the aisle was something I found kind of amazing.  She had a bounce to her step that I’d never seen.  Her parents by her side, I felt like she was leading the family for the first time instead of them leading her.  That moment felt important.  And, if you’ll look through Claire’s photos, you’ll see how dumb I looked, though I’d rather call it dumbfounded.  I, quite reluctantly, show you my face at that moment…

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So back to what happened over the year after that smile.  We bought a house and moved in together.  I changed jobs.  Jessica changed jobs.  We spent our first Christmas together snowed in alone and love it.  We found a church we could grow with.  We took vacations like Napa Valley over Valentines Day.  We found out we were having a baby. We lost my father.  We celebrated.  We cried.  We loved this life we share together and we were thankful.

I learned a lot about myself, about my wife, about life and about loss.  Celebrations come in small packages often and not huge blowouts, especially when life gets in the way. I want our daughter to remember another little life lesson.  Remember that you don’t have to only celebrate life on a birthday, New Years Eve, St. Patricks Day, etc., but that life should be a celebration everyday.  Be thankful for those small moments in everyday life.  Be thankful for those people who choose to be around you on your worst days.  And love them right back.

How We Met: June 2, 2012

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Lee had an early morning golf outing with Regan Wright, Tyler Srygley and John Bloch on a Saturday, June 2, 2012.  Late as usual, he felt rushed and hurried to the first hole without warming up… never a good start to an 8 AM tee time.  A driver hooking into the woods, an approach slicing into the woods on the other side, several chunks of grass replaced, and finally a putter ceremoniously wrapped around the nearest tree.  The day did not start well to say the least.  His game got worse from there, but the day would hold something special for him to find.

Jessica’s morning started with some clarity after several weeks of mixed feelings.  She’d been contemplating leaving Dallas for Shreveport again to take a different job and be closer to home.   She’d prayed long and hard over the decision.  But something was different on this morning.  A welcomed phone call from her friend, Ashton Danna, inviting her over to the pool helped confirm her resolution.  Dallas was a place she needed to be.  She packed a bag but only for the pool and she was off to get some sun.

As the boys rounded the 18th, Lee had sworn off golf for good and wasn’t in his generally playful mood.  Noon quickly came and the round was over.  Easily his worst round ever.  The guys wanted to have lunch at the course, but he wasn’t having it.  Lee was heading home to go sit at the pool and have a drink.

Jessica arrives at the pool seeing Ashton and several other friends lounging on the chairs in the sun as the pool starts to fill up with people.  She enjoys the company and finds comfort knowing she’ll be able to grow these relationships into lasting friendships.  They relax, talk and just enjoy the day.

Lee pours a stiff drink into a plastic cup, grabs a towel and walks out to the pool.  Nowhere to sit, of course.  The apartment pool is very popular.  There looks to be a few people leaving and an open spot at the end of a long line of lounge chairs.  He politely sets his towel down to claim his spot.  The pool is pretty full, but he doesn’t care about that.  The iPod buds go into his ears and he’s off to his own little happy place trying to forget about golf.  A girl gets out of the pool and sits two lounge chairs away.  Lee notices her and pulls an ear bud out to make sure he hasn’t stolen their seating.  She replies “no” with a smile and they make small talk for a quick minute.  She, now known to be Ashton, goes back into the pool and another girl comes out of the pool and sits in the lounge chair next to Lee.  Again, he double checks his bold move of taking the lounge chair and she tells him their friends just left so it’s all his.  She has the greatest smile and a wonderful southern accent.  Her name is Jessica.  Lee keeps the conversation going, quickly finding out she’s in banking as well.

After some brief career advice from Lee (which Jessica did NOT ask for), it’s time for them to go.  A last line from Lee, “Well if you ever need any more banking advice, I’m in apartment 185.”  Jessica and Ashton walk towards the gate to, what Lee assumes, will be the last time he ever sees her.

Ashton grabs the gate to leave the pool and traps Jessica in.  She recognizes the last words Lee said to her and tells Jessica that he was trying to get her number.  Ashton fishes out a used Sweet ‘n Low packet she was using as a bookmark and wrote Jessica’s name and number on it.  She said she wouldn’t let Jessica leave until she went and gave Lee her number.  Jessica took off her sunglasses and walked back over to the lounge chairs.  Lee perked up as she approached, assuming she must have forgotten something.  He wants to ask her if she’s left anything behind, but he’s immediately mesmerized by her eyes and can’t say a word.  Jessica hands him the Sweet ‘n Low packet.

Lee still has the Sweet ‘n Low packet in his wallet to this day.

Why “Horn Cotton Tales”

Well this blog is simply going to be a running storyline about a child and her journey in this life as seen through her parents eyes.  So “Horn” and “Tales” – done.  As for “Cotton”, that’s a much harder topic for me to write about.  My father, Lee Horn, Sr., who lost his battle to cancer July 5, 2014, was a cotton man.  I asked my beautiful wife, Jessica, about keeping his company name in some way.  As we discussed back and forth different site names, she suggested Horn Cotton Tales.  To me, it’s a touching tribute of the circle of life.

On Father’s Day 2014, I told my Dad that he was going to be a grandfather to our child, Emerson Kate.  On Father’s Day 2014, he told me he had maybe 6 months to live, which put their paths to likely cross for a short time.  At least, that’s what I prayed for.

My father didn’t make it to see his granddaughter born, but there won’t be a spec of him missing in her life.  As my father taught me, so shall I teach my daughter.  He visits me in dreams, I have his voicemails saved, he watches over all three of us (and our two devil cats) from Heaven, and, of course, his advice both good and bad lives inside me.

So this blog is our tribute to the circle of life, to our daughter coming January 30, 2015 God-willing, and to all those who love us for the family life we’re creating together.