Budy
June 16, 2017

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That’s Budy. With one “d”.

Ten years ago when he was in 6th grade, Ben said he wanted a dog. My response? “If you want a dog, pray one in”. So he prayed. I thought if God wants us to have a dog, which I didn’t think He did, he’d send one.

God responds to the prayers of young boys. This young dog shows up in my driveway and immediately Bonnie and Ben fell in love with him. I thought he was really adorable, but didn’t really want a dog. As Bonnie drove away to take Ben to school, the dog starts chasing them down the street. Tears running down their faces, Bonnie and Ben say they want this dog. My thoughts? If he’s meant to be ours, he’ll hang around here.

Ben comes home and all he can talk about is this dog. Bonnie and he talked about the dog jumping up on them, following the van, and now it was gone. I have to admit, I was hoping he’d be there when they came home.

A few days go by, and Ben’s grandma, who had a house on our property, calls Ben and says, “Guess who is here?”. My mother-in-law was not much of an animal lover, even though she fed two cats for 10 years or so. So we go running down the driveway to see this dog, and of course Ben says “God answered my prayer”.

I didn’t want Ben to get too excited, so we checked around and couldn’t find an owner, so we’d decided to keep him until we heard there was an owner looking for him. There wasn’t one.

Ben said he wanted to name him “Buddy”, but with one “d”. We asked why, but a sixth grader doesn’t necessarily need to have a reason. So “Budy” it was.

He was really easy to train so as to go outside to do his business. He didn’t have many accidents until toward the end.

We worried, I worried, about how he’d get along with the cat. No problem. They slept together, sometimes laying on the other ones belly. They became great friends.

Budy was always a kind dog. Never bit anyone, even when grandchildren would lay on him or hit him. But he was very gentle, sometimes just walking away from them. At times he would run away, from room to room to avoid the little ones who didn’t know better. He never snapped at them.

My favorite Budy story was when we would come home and we would find the garbage can knocked over, and we’d follow the trail to where he was. I would yell, before I even saw him, “What did you do”? And would come slinking by, refusing to make eye contact because he knew he was bad.

He had his share of injuries. He had “Cherry eye”, something caused from being in grass where there was a huge reddish welt on his eye. We took him to the vet, and with medicine eventually was ok. It seemed like if anything could happen to a dog, it would happen to Budy. Remember, dogs are expensive.

He was such a baby. The littlest thing and he acted like he was shot! I  was told beagles are pretty much babies. He was definitely a beagle. But his bark also revealed a little basset hound in him also.

He was such a good dog. He was Ben’s best friend, as he always said. Budy helped him through the death of his grandma and the breakup with a girlfriend. When all else around him was collapsing, Budy remained a constant source of comfort. He never failed Ben.

Budy, though, rarely slept with Ben. He slept with Bonnie and me. Almost every night. Bonnie, being the kind spirit she is, let him lay right against her. Me, not such a kind spirit, would scoot him over with my foot so he would lay against Bonnie. But don’t tell anybody. It’s Budy and my secret.

When it was time to go to bed, he waited until one of us went to bed. He wouldn’t go up on his own. We’d let him out, then say, “Budy, time for nite nite”, and off he’d trot up the stairs. Now apparently he slept in our bed when we were at work because we’d come home and all the blankets would be messed up and pillows on the floor. He may have had a party or two.

Ben was always worried that Budy would run away, or sneak out, or have something wrong with him. Ben is the sensitive one, like his mom.  About six weeks ago Ben felt lumps on Budy’s body. Bonnie said to just keep an eye on it. We did  for a couple weeks and they got bigger.

We took him to our vets, Dr. Miller and Dr. Uzarski. Dr. Miller said it didn’t look good. He had lymphoma. We asked what is the prognosis and he said he had no idea. So he decided to put him on steroids. He said to check back in a week.

We brought him back, and they hadn’t got any larger. But that also meant they didn’t get any smaller. I asked the doctor what to look for symptom wise, and basically was told that you’ll know it’s time when he stops acting like a dog.

This past week or so, he stopped acting like a dog. He laid around a lot, we felt the lumps getting bigger, he didn’t want to eat his dog food. So we gave him new food, rice, meat, treats, whatever he wanted.

Two days ago he started to lose control of his bowels. He was getting up in the middle of the night and we didn’t hear him. He would let loose at the door, all of it diarrhea. In the morning he wouldn’t eat. Anything. He barely moved. We knew it was time.

We made an appointment with the vet for yesterday. It’s a long drive to the vets when you know the dog will not return. Ben sat in the back with Budy, just petting him and telling him how much he loved him.

The end was peaceful. I told Budy, “Budy, its time for nite, nite. One shot and it was over in seconds. He had a tumor on his leg and who knows how many inside. But now he was at peace.

Budy wasn’t my dog. He was Ben’s. For 10 years, he helped my boy grow from childhood to manhood, which I am very grateful for. Did I cry? You bet. It’s hard to be strong when you hurt so,  but you need to help those around you. The family all gathered last night and had a tribute dinner to Budy. That’s what family does.

Ben decided he wanted him cremated so he will always be with us. I’m cool with that.

People without pets may not get the hurt we experience. Maybe not get the agony or as Ben says, “My heart hurts”. People without pets may think it’s ridiculous to feel this way about an animal. “He’s just a dog”.

But he was Budy. And always will be to us.

 

 

 

Merely Mortal
July 26, 2016

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It’s been a strange couple weeks. Not “strange” as it being odd, but “strange” in being eye opening. So maybe the word shouldn’t be “strange”, but instead, “enlightening”.

First, since it’s been awhile, I have a new granddaughter, Selah Hope, who I absolutely adore. I now have three grandchildren, two granddaughters and a grandson, whom I love in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me to love. It’s like loving your kids, only different. A lot different. Hard to explain it, but its like God opens up a new part of your heart to have these little munchkins inhabit. Beyond words.

With that being said, two weeks ago Bonnie, my wife of 31 years, was hospitalized with chest pains. I was called to where she works and told she was having pain. Now my wife is a daughter of a nurse, and unless you’re dying, you don’t go to the hospital. I tell you, it was the scariest thing I’d been through. She was pale and weak. So off to the hospital we go.

They ran tests, labs, x-rays, CT Scans, the works. They decided to keep her overnight for observation. My wife, to say the least, is a very poor patient. She was in the hospital bed with a gown, refusing to take off her pink scrubs from work, and wearing her tennis shoes! I told her to take her pants off and stay in bed and she tells me there is no need for that. She believed that there was no reason for her to be in the hospital, and that the Lord had her there to pray for people. That, in a nutshell, is my wife.

It was discovered that she had a leaky valve in her heart, and that she has to wear a heart monitor for a month. Now, it’s been over 90 degrees for a week and a half and will continue to be that way, and we are helping my daughter and son-in-law move into a new home. She had no intention of  doing this heart monitor thing, however, our doctor is the sweetest woman we know, so she wouldn’t fight her. So here we are with that.

Last week, the young Princess (that’s what I call Selah), was running a fever of 101.8. She was three weeks old and the doctor told my daughter to take her to the ER. So it’s 2 in the morning, and Jo Jo, Selah, and I are in the ER. They ran tests, took blood, and I admit, was horrible to watch. The poor thing was poked and prodded, and trying to get blood from a three week old was very, well, trying.

They could find nothing wrong, but decided that they needed her to go to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, and by ambulance as her fever wasn’t coming down, and a three week old shouldn’t be having a fever. So I go home to be with the Princess (Haniah, Selah’s three year old sister) while mom and dad go to Pittsburgh. It was a crazy week.

They took tests, x-rays, couldn’t get blood so tried a vein in her head, and the nurses said that Selah was one tough girl. They were testing for meningitis and other things. She was hospitalized 4 days and mom and day got to stay at Ronald McDonald House, which is a fantastic place that parents utilize to stay close to their kids while they’re hospitalized. I will not rush by the donation requests for the Ronald McDonald House at my local McDonalds anymore..

Needless to say, all came back well, and it was a virus. Thank God for that.

These two incidents brought me face to face with the blunt reality that we are all mortal. We have a beginning and an end. From my wife to my granddaughter, thoughts of the reality of the end of life smacked me in the face. What would I do if something happened to Bonnie? Or Selah? Or, actually, anyone in my family. Are we ready for this?

I’m 60 and realize that things happen as we get older. This past month also saw my blood pressure getting out of control, and have been monitoring it closely with slight adjustments to meds. I’ve been walking nearly every day, but that is no guarantee, although helpful. of a longer life. Bonnie’s Uncle Ron, who is the most fit man in his age group (early 70’s) that I know, was hospitalized with a blood clot. It could have killed him.

There will come a day of reckoning for all of us. Some sooner than others. It is with this thought in mind that I wonder if I’m doing enough for God. I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I know God loves me no matter what I do, but what do I do that shows God how much I love Him? Do I love my fellow man and woman? Do I care at all for the poor? Am I self-centered or Christ-centered?

As I reflect on these, I realize that all that matters is that at the end, Christ will say ‘well done, My good and faithful servant’. My goal now, is to make sure that all I do is for Him, not for me.

I’m finding that it is hard to do. I’m finding that I am merely mortal, and it’s God’s grace alone that compels me to do good. To serve. To love.

I think I woke up.

Funeral For a Friend
April 16, 2016

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Yesterday was the funeral for my friend Lecie. If you saw my previous blog, she is Amanda’s mom. The service was lovely, the day was beautiful, and it was the chance for goodbye. Here’s why I think open caskets and showings are necessary, whenever possible.

Now, I’m a firm believer in closure. It’s important, I think that a person should be able to close any and all situations. Life doesn’t always do that, but I think it needs to be done when possible. Cremation doesn’t do that if it is done in place of a showing. If the cremation is done without a viewing of the body, it doesn’t give the grievers a chance to bring closure with that person.

If the family is for it and they get to see the body, and they’re ok with cremation, then that’s fine, as the family gets to see the body at rest. Or if one chooses to cremate after the showing, that’s the family’s choice. So, I’m not knocking cremation and people are certainly entitled to do as they please. I just think that the viewing of the body  gives the viewer’s senses  a reality of the passing of that person. A final touching of the hand, kiss on the forehead, a heartfelt goodbye. Even a note tucked away in the casket.

So it was with Lecie yesterday. A closure. A temporary goodbye. Why temporary?

When one is with Christ, a servant of His, then eternal life is the reward. He promises to wipe away all tears and dry all eyes and there will be no more crying. (Rev. 21:4). So as Lecie is in the presence of the mighty Christ, so we will be too, if we’ve placed our lives into His hands.

Christ is the Savior of the world. Without Him there is no hope. Because of Christ, Lecie will be seen again by those who know Christ. How glorious. The pastor yesterday said that a great way to honor Lecie is to come to the saving knowledge of Christ.  How pleased would she be if even one, only one, person came to know Christ personally because of her death? Maybe it’s you?

Maybe you haven’t fully committed to Christ as Lord and Savior. Maybe you’ve put your toe in the water and you’re not sure you want to step in. Any moment could be your last chance. And it won’t be an ending, but a beginning.

Will you come to Christ?  If you do though, Lecie will be waiting for you.

 

The Art of Dying (An Ode to Lecie)
April 11, 2016

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It’s a sad day today. My daughter-in-law Amanda’s mother died today, Lecie Cargould. She is four years younger than me. There were some complications, but physically, she was in better shape than me. She was a wonderful lady that I truly liked. They’re a great family.

Death is a great equalizer. No matter how rich, poor, cute, ugly, sane, crazy, conservative, or liberal, we all end up in the same box. I think death is one of the hardest things to deal with, because as I tell people during grief counseling, the death of a loved one changes your life without your permission.

I remember my dad telling me that the death of a spouse is harder than the death of a parent because the spouse you have is who you chose. I imagine that may be true. But the death of a close family member can be awful.

I remember being out with Bonnie after we buried my mother, and we were sitting at Perkin’s ordering dinner. I looked around and everybody was living their lives the same as the day before, laughing or joking, sometimes just reading or smoking (you could smoke INSIDE places 30 years ago). I remember looking around and thinking, ‘my life has just been crushed, and these people just go about their way’.  And I was so sad. And now it’s 30 years later.

I have done more funerals than weddings. I’ve done my father, mother-in-law, cousins, friends, and acquaintances. I have done the funerals of strangers, which is very difficult to make personal. Especially if I don’t know if they knew of Christ, and salvation through His blood.

Sadness comes because of us not seeing that person on earth anymore. I had asked Bonnie, ‘when was the last time we saw Lecie?’. Then we realized, it was the very last time we saw her. There will not be another time on this earth.

Ah, but our hope goes beyond this earth. I know I will see her  as will her husband Barry, and her two daughters, Becca and Amanda. That is the hope we have in Christ. The knowledge that this current life ends here, but our eternal life begins at death. Lecie is in good hands, the best hands, the saving hands of God. There will be a time when we’re all gathered together, all of us that know Christ, and we will meet friends and relatives who have preceded us in death. And we will be so happy. It will be so good to see Lecie again, fully well.

And how nice when her one year old grandson, Zeke, will walk up to her and say, “NOW I remember you”.

 

Already Gone
March 1, 2016

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Not trying to copy Bob Dylan (as if I could do it justice), but time is ridiculously quick. As I type this, it’s the end of February, and I can’t believe it’s gone, even with an extra day.

I remember my dad used to tell me how fast it goes as you get older. And now February 2016 is gone.

It doesn’t seem long ago it was New Years Eve 2000, and we all feared the planes would fall from the sky, the computers would crash, we’d have no food, not water, no gasoline. And here we are 16 years later.

It’s funny how things go as time passes. I’m not going to have the body that my head said I could have when I gained weight back 30 years ago. Still overweight, but realizing that I won’t have the “beach body” I thought I’d have. It’s that realization that is overwhelming now. I can probably lose some weight, diet the right way and exercise, pray that God gives me the strength to do that. But “beach body”? Nah. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get good at the guitar. I’ve had a guitar for 15-20 years. Oh, I can pick a few songs, but not where I can look at the music and play any song. It was hard to reach some of the chords. I don’t even touch it now. I practiced some for a few years, said I’d pick it up again, but it won’t happen. Not that I’m old and going to die, but just because that desire has pretty much left me. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get Bonnie the house she deserved. We lived out in the country for 21 years, 4 acres of land. Always wanted to get her a wrap around porch. Put a rocking chair out there, sit back and drink coffee in the evening watching the sunset, and strum my guitar. Sort of like Andy Taylor in Mayberry. I live in the city now. That porch isn’t going to be built out in the country. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get to England. Always wanted to walk Abbey Road, check out where Apple Studios was, visit the Cavern, go to Liverpool. Oh, and some other non-Beatle things are there I hear. But I’m not going to spend money on that now. Time went too fast.

I’ll never learn Italian. Bought an Italian course, never kept up with it. It’s a hard thing to learn a second language. At least for me it is. It’s too much work for now, and seriously, what’s the point?  Time went too fast.

I don’t want this to sound depressing or “woe is me”, like I’m old and ready to die, because I’m not. I suppose that if I desire, I can get back with the guitar or learn Italian. The key is “if I so desire”. The beach body and house with a wrap around porch in the country just ain’t going to happen. But see, it’s like John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Dylan is right on with this. Time flies, we grow old, our views change, and nothing stays the same. But like he says, “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. Oh the times they are a changing”. Everything changes. But here’s the good news.

I am writing blogs. I am studying the Scriptures more than I ever have. I’m mentoring young guys at the church. I know God better than I ever have. I’ve learned how to pray, not how a book tells me to pray, but how God tells me to pray.

I play with my grand kids and spend more time with Bonnie and my kids. I enjoy the sunset and sunrise. I’ve rediscovered Buhl Park. I stop and smell the roses. I don’t drink, smoke cigarettes or pot. I remember “the night before”. I have deeper relationships with friends that are deeper than any I’ve ever had. I have a love for my wife that can’t compare to what it was 30 years ago or with any other type of love I’ve felt. Before I used to care what people thought of me. Today, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and discovered that most everything is small stuff. I don’t worry like I used to. I have learned to keep expectations low on people and high on God. I’ve learned to lean on Christ more and me less.

Actually, life is good right now. The past is the past and it’s already gone. But today? Man, I really am digging it. And tomorrow? Can’t wait……..but let’s not go so fast!

 

 

Surprise!
February 2, 2016

It was a rough week last week. After I wrote my blog, I was sick all night Tuesday. Had the worst case of the “chills” I have ever had. I could not get warm. Up every half hour trying to urinate, having difficulty, but strong urges to go. So I went to the doctor on Weds. and he told me I had a urinary infection and put me on an anti-biotic. Kinda painful, plus I was running a 101 fever.

Wednesday night I had a bad night sleeping. I was gasping for air all night, and I got two hours sleep by sitting up in a chair. Not comfortable, and my back caused me not to sleep. As I got up, and for the next hour, whether I was sitting or standing or laying, I’m gasping for air. The doctor’s office said go to the ER.

Bonnie came home from work and she took me to the ER. The insurance is a mess, long story short, my doctors are covered but the local hospital (about a quarter mile from my house) was not covered. So off to their competitors I go.

In the meantime, Bonnie had been experiencing severe back pain so the poor thing had to take me, sit and wait, then deal with her pain and her worry for me. I go to the ER to check in, the lady checking me in says, “There is a line in front of you, so if you remain unable to breathe, let us know.” I think maybe if I pass out on the floor, it might be a clue. Here’s your sign.

They did x-rays, CT Scan, and ultra sounds. They were looking for blood clots. Meanwhile I’m still running a fever. At the end, they found nothing more than my blood work showed a probability of blood clots, but no clots were found, thank you Jesus. The doc said it could be a sign of a heart attack, but the EKG looked good. He asked if I wanted to go home. I thought, “Isn’t that part of HIS job?”, but said I felt ready to go.

Now, not quite fully recovered but better, I thought, “Lord, I want that week back. OK, not that specific week, but maybe add a week toward the end of my life.” That brings me to another story.

Today is February 1. Today, it was 55 degrees. This is western Pennsylvania. Bonnie and I took a walk in the Park, and it was gorgeous. Did I mention it’s February 1st?

This past week has been in the fifties, and it will be in the fifties at least until Wednesday. I haven’t had to shovel snow this year. This is February 1. My grass is green. I look at the neighborhood and the park, and it’s green. On February 1st. What a pleasant surprise.

What do these two stories have to do with each other. Little else than this.

When I was picking insurance, I had to figure out if I felt I would be going to the hospital this year and pick an insurance that would benefit that if I was, or if I felt I wouldn’t be going to the hospital this year I’d pick an insurance that would benefit that. I chose the one thinking that I wouldn’t go to the hospital this year (as I didn’t go last year), and here we go, by the end of January, I’m visiting the ER. Surprise!

Then this winter has been such a blessing, never expecting to have weather like this and to save on the heating. Both of these events were “surprises”.

You can count on getting surprises in your life, some good and some bad. You can’t stop them. Whether it’s illness, losses of loved ones, financial, mental, whatever, your boat can get rocked, and whether it sinks or remains afloat, is up to you.

If you’re a Christian, this does not make you immune to surprises. On the contrary, it should make you more aware that surprises happen and to pre-empt them with prayer. While an atheist or “casual” believer will be more “que sera sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera”.  Basically, “life happens”.

As a Christian, our boat may get rocked, but it shouldn’t sink. If we know the Captain of our ship, we realize He and He alone gets you through the storm because He knows what the storm will do. The atheist or casual believer has no such assurance of getting through the storm, as he is his own captain. And he doesn’t know what the storm will do.

Are you ready for surprises, good or bad? I don’t know if I am, but I know my Captain is.

Death of My Heroes
January 22, 2016

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The deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie have me remembering about my old heroes. Glenn and David weren’t “heroes”, but definitely “influences”. But I have several heroes whose deaths have affected me greatly.

The first one was on June 5, 1968. I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, and for the first time was getting involved in politics. I remember watching him give speeches on TV, always was told his brother was a great president, and firmly believed he’d end the Viet Nam war, cause I didn’t want to go be a part of that mess. But when Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Bobby Kennedy, it just shook my world. I barely remembered his brother John getting murdered, and was fully aware of the murder of Martin Luther King on April 4th, and here we are, two months later, and another senseless killing. I like the term “senseless” killing, as if some killings make sense. I realized, at the age of 12, the world was mad. He was 42. And I wanted nothing to do with politics for a very long time.

Oh Captain, my Captain! August 2, 1979 I got a call from my brother-in-law Tom. He said “Did you hear the news”. I said no. He said, “Thurman Munson died in a plane crash”. Now Tom was a die hard Red Sox fan and I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life. I told him, “This is sick if you’re making a joke”. He said, “It’s not a joke. Thurman is dead”. Thurman was a great guy, learned to fly a plane so he could go back and forth to his wife and kids in Cleveland. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I got to meet him after a ball game in Cleveland. I asked if I could shake his hand. He kept walking but his wife talked him into it. I shook his hand. I wish I wouldn’t have let go. He was 32.

I was living in Florida and on Dec. 8, 1980, I was watching a Monday Night Football game, I believe. Howard Cosell comes on with breaking news. John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment in New York City. He was 40. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the Beatles, he wasn’t my favorite (more on that later), but he was THE BEATLES. There would be no reunion. A part of my childhood died. I cried. It reminded me the world was mad.

On July 16, 1981 I heard that singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. He was driving his VW with the emergency lights flashing and was hit by a semi truck. The impact killed him instantly, with the police saying the truck driver pulled him out of the burning car. He was a great humanitarian and was on his way to perform a free concert. He was 38. Cats in the cradle with a silver spoon.

August 13, 1995 was when a big part of my childhood died. Mickey Mantle, my first hero, died at the age of 63. Growing up, I became a Yankees fan because of him. My entire house loves the Indians, and my dad said that it was because of Mickey Mantle I became a Yankees fan. Thanks Mick. He had a lot of issues and if he was alive today, they would smear him because of his issues. See, nowadays, you can’t have heroes. Not sure why that is. Through all the injuries, through all the pain, there was something about him that made me want to be a Yankee. I got to see him play, but I’d love to have met him.

On November 29, 2001 the rest of my childhood died. George Harrison died at the age of 58, succumbing to cancer. I was devastated. Of all the Beatles, he was and is my favorite. I had tickets to see him on his solo tour in 1974 in Cleveland at the Richfield Coliseum. A blizzard cancelled the tour, and they never rescheduled it. He influenced me in an almost hypnotic way, to the point I read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a Hindu book, with a forward by Harrison. I was searching philosophically at the time for the answers. I had a million questions, but the answers were out there somewhere.

Now I talked of Bowie and Frey, but also Chris Farley, John Candy, Peter Sellers, James Cagney, Jim Croce, Leslie Nielsen and others were all influences. Not heroes.

But no day has affected my life like January 19,1984. It was on that day that I realized who my greatest hero was. He died around 33 A.D., and His name is Jesus Christ. Of all my heroes, He was the only one who knew me. He was the only one who knew I existed. He was the only one who lived for me. And He was the only one who died for me. I didn’t have to pay to hear Him sing. I didn’t have to pay to watch Him play ball. And I didn’t have to vote for Him for president, because He is the King of the Universe.

When my other heroes died, I was sad. But when I realized that Christ died for me, it brought tears of happiness. Joy, inexpressible joy. Peace, a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

I may never see my heroes again. I know everyone doesn’t go to heaven. But I know that I will see Jesus Christ, face to face, soon. Because He’s my hero. And He knows me.

 

Melancholy Man
January 15, 2015

This year I turn 60.  6-0, sixty, LX, however you want to put it. It’s nuts.

I waste a lot of time. Games, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Watching continual ESPN SportsCenter, watching lousy football (Browns and the University of Michigan), and it’s going all too fast.

I keep listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s song, “Wasted On The Way”, and it makes me melancholy. Melancholy that I’ve wasted too much time. Too many dreams and not enough pursuit of them. Too many ideas and not enough elbow grease to make them happen. At times melancholy is good. Because it makes you look at reality.

I am so much more than half way home (I don’t expect to live until 120 years old). I am aware of my mortality. But I think melancholy can make you better, if you just visit it and don’t build a house there. It’s a wake up, a “hey, this game ain’t over yet”. As Bob Dylan sang, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”.

So I’m excited now. The weight “is what it is”. It may go down, it may go up. It may stay the same. I could pull a Chris Christy or Rex Ryan and get “THE” operation, but they tell me I’m not big enough. My options then are to lose weight or put on another 50 pounds. I opt for the latter, but Bonnie won’t let me.

I’m not focused on it anymore.

No matter what, God is good. I’m excited. I want to use my time better. I deactivated my Facebook account, and may also get rid of Instagram and Twitter. Baby steps, children, baby steps. I need to focus on the good things in life, and there are many. I need to focus more on the Word of God. I need to stop looking at others and their successes and begin to understand that if I haven’t reached what others have done (financially, physically, emotionally) that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve failed. It means I’m not them.

I’ve eliminated a lot of stress from my life by eliminating a lot of stressful people from my life. I have to take care of me. And if other people have their feelings hurt, well, sorry. Sorry, your feelings are hurt but not sorry of my decisions. Your hurt feelings don’t get to me anymore. I’m moving on.

So it’s 9 months until 60.  Bring it on, because, honestly, I never thought I’d live this long.

 

The Day the Laughter Died
August 14, 2014

Of course everyone is fascinated with the death of Robin Williams. The tragic reality of all this is that this great comedian, possibly the greatest, has done the one thing he tried to spare us from. That is, he made us feel sad.

The world has enough sad. I think that is why comedians are so desperately needed in this world. The George Carlins, the Bill Cosbys, the Richard Pryors, and lets go way back,  Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jonathan Winters, Carol Burnette, the great comedians all brought us to a place of being disengaged from this crazy world for a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours.

I heard someone say that all comedians have a dark side, demons that they fight, and this causes the great comedy they produce. I also heard that Seth Myers said that you don’t have to have those demons to be a truly great comedian. I agree.

Robin Williams suffered from depression. If you look at the drug abuse of John Belushi, Chris Farley, and others who have died from an overdose, I’m sure they were self medicating their depression. And I understand also that Robin was raised Episcopalian and others said he became atheist. I would be suicidal too if it wasn’t for Christ. This world is nuts.

The point, the tragic reality, the painful bright spotlight that his death has caused to shine on is that our enjoyment of life is not based on others making us happy or our trying to make others happy. 

I have worked in the mental health/drug and alcohol field for thirty years. I have yet to fully understand the magnitude of depression. I have yet to get a grip on the depressed feeling that causes one to kill themselves, or at least attempt to. I have yet to lose hope that life will get better. I have yet to understand also how people use the depression to excuse their behaviors. I have yet to feel insignificant in someone’s life.

When Robin died, Jack died. The Genie died. Peter Pan died. Popeye died. And all this comedic genius that portrayed these characters died. And it left us with the thought, “how could this guy who made so much laughter now cause so much pain in others”?

But see, that’s what we think about in these times. We think not so much what he did to himself, but look what he did to me. And when we think about it, what did he do to us that would make us so mad?

He took with him some of our innocence of our childhood. And we can never get it back.

Auld Lang Syne
December 28, 2013

Well, with no exercise since 12/11/13 and this being the last Saturday of the year, I figured it’s time to step on the scale. Uncontrolled eating, no exercise, kind of avoided the scale like Miley avoids clothes. So I get on it this morning and to my surprise, it’s 259.2.  I am in such good position to hit 250 by Feb. first.

Not sure how it happened, but apparently, I can maintain my weight. Now if I can do that while being about 60 pounds lighter, then we have a bingo.

It’s been quite a year. I quit my job at the psych hospital, I got my Haniah as my first grandchild, Luke and Amanda have moved home, Ben graduated, Jo Jo and Josh have jobs they love, it’s a good year.

But it isn’t all good. I reflect on how the year was for me. I, all of a sudden, am dealing with my deceased dad and his relationship with me. I’ve found I can be very judgmental in spiritual things, not particularly an encourager, not exactly always loving, and sometimes I’ve been told I’m mean.

I have taken this all to the Lord and am determined, with His help to change all of that. I want to love on people who aren’t lovable. I want to encourage people who need encouraged. I want to help financially those in financial need. I want to be like Christ.

This is a lot of work, but I know I can change. I know I can be more like Him and less like me. I know I can hit my weight goal. I know I can’t quit on any of these things.

I am thankful for another year. I read the obituaries and many people younger than me have gone face to face with God. How awesome/scary is that? I look forward to this year. I’ll be 59 next year at this time. Crazy. And I’ll have been married 29 years. Large numbers, huge numbers. But I am looking forward to making them even larger, unless the Lord sees otherwise. Who knows? Maybe a grandpa again?

So my friends, Happy New year. I hope you’re Christmas was blessed. I hope and pray your 2014 is the best year ever. I am determined, no, I am sure I will be healthier at 60 than I was at 50.

Can’t wait.