A half century ago while mourning the loss of his only two brothers – both in early adulthood and men he truly adored – Donald Blanton decided to put his pen to paper.
He wrote lyrics to a song, part truth and part fiction, depicting the three brothers' time spent in the armed services. He titled it "Tom, Dick and Harry."
"In it I'm Tom, my younger brother is Dick and my half-brother is Harry," said Blanton, now 76.
Not long after he heard about Music City Songcrafters, a company in Nashville that adds music to a songwriter's lyrics, for $15.
Blanton chose to go for it and sure enough, he received a copy of the composition in the mail. With it were instructions on how it could be made into a recording.
"We can make you two 10-inch highest quality, nonbreakable records for the special price of just $15 for both records," it read.
A red stamp on the document noted the offer would expire on Sept. 7, 1962.
Blanton wished he could respond but he simply didn't have the 15 bucks to spare. So he stuck the envelope in a drawer. As time passed, he forgot about the offer.
A couple of months ago, while sorting through the couple's accumulation of paperwork from over the years, his wife, Barbara, happened to come upon the document.
With that her brain immediately went into overdrive. She thought about her beloved and gregarious granddaughter Cricket Larson, an avid country music and bluegrass fan who hosts an every-other Saturday morning gig on public radio station WMNF, 88.5 in Tampa.
During Larson's years as a radio deejay and her short period living in Nashville, the home of the Grand 'Ole Opry, she'd become friends with some of the city's most well-known and respected musical artists.
Carl Jackson, a two-time Grammy Award winner, is among them.
Within hours Larson placed a call to Jackson, who was more than happy to produce a bluegrass-style CD as a gift to Blanton, whom he got to know through his granddaughter and whose home he stops by when he comes to Tampa.
"We all love him dearly and because it was something Cricket asked me to do I thought it was important," said Jackson, who affectionately refers to Blanton as "Poppy," the nickname Larson tagged Blanton with as a small child.
"He's a great, great man and he's fun to be around," he added.
Matted and framed, the years-old Music City Songcrafters document along with Jackson's recently created CD were in turn wrapped and presented to "Poppy" by his wife and granddaughter on Christmas Eve.
"He looked up at me as if to say, 'Is this for real?'" Larson said.
Blanton admitted he was totally dumbfounded when he opened his two gifts.
"The big one with the frame I thought was a picture of cardinals because Barbara loves cardinals," he said.
He also had no clue what he'd find in the small package.
"Boy, did Carl ever surprise me when I heard his voice on the CD," Blanton said.
Barbara believes the circumstances that led up to the strong Christian family's joyous Christmas Eve was entirely God's work.
"Donald wrote the words; God gave us our granddaughter; she went into the music business where she ended meeting and knowing Carl," she said.
In her view, life doesn't get any better than that.