Yesterday

Definition of the adverb Yesterday according to Webster:
1) on the day past; on the day preceding today
2) at a time not long past; only a short time ago

Definition of the noun Yesterday according to Webster:
1) the day last past; the day next before the present
2) recent time; time not long past
3) past time – usually used in plural

Definition of the word Yesterday according to Jon:
1) a movie
2) a song
3) what we will call today tomorrow

No, I haven’t recently received a degree in English nor Time Travel. Although time travel would be pretty cool. Imagine going back to yesterday and reliving that day over again while remembering everything that already occurred on that day. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. I’ll contact Bill Murray tomorrow on that.

A Movie:

What has made me nostalgic tonight for yesterday was triggered by seeing the movie Yesterday this evening. The basic plot is a struggling musician is hit by a bus at the exact moment the whole world suffers a mysterious power outage. When the lights come back on our musician finds himself in the hospital and in a world where a number of things never happened yesterday nor ever. Most significant of which was the music of the Beatles. I know, you’re thinking what a terrifying world that would be. Talk about your Hard Day’s Night!

I won’t give away much more of the movie than to say it’s a love story. With some really great music. And a message of being true to yourself no matter what situations you find yourself in. And as my wife Barb used to say, ‘You know, there’s a lesson in that.’ It’s a good movie and I encourage you to see it. But please skip the butter substance on the popcorn. I did not and I’m out of Tums.

The Song:

It’s pretty obvious the title of the movie comes from the Beatle’s song Yesterday. In my life (that’s another really good song), Yesterday has always been a meaningful tune. One of my favorites. I’ve envisioned myself playing the song on the piano and singing it just the way Lennon and McCartney wrote it. Sad undertone about lost love. I’ve loved the song since I was a teenager for its simple elegance but when Barb finished her journey with cancer in 2017, the song took on very real meaning for me.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh yesterday came suddenly

If you’ve lost someone that was your other half, someone that made you whole, then I’m guessing the song gets to you like it gets to me. It brings feelings of loss and sadness just as fresh as on the day that yesterday changed my future. It brings back memories of walking beside her through her treatments and through her decline. It brings to today the emptiness I hoped was just in the past. “Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.’

But, and thank God there is a but, when I hear the song it also brings back to me the memories before her cancer. Our meeting at Mickey’s the first time. Our wedding. Our kids being born. All wonderful moments in a life well lived through both easy and challenging times. That’s what life is. A combination of good days and bad days. Of living the usual and surviving the unusual. Of not letting the sad moments of yesterday prevent the possible happiness of tomorrow. And that brings me to my third definition of yesterday.

What We Will Call Today Tomorrow

Have you ever thought about today what you will think about this day tomorrow? What I should have done more of, have done differently, or have not done at all. My mom once told me to really think about what I’m about to do and the possible consequences before I do it. It’s good advice and after surviving not listening to her advice for quite a few years, I started to implement her logic and I’m sure it has saved me from some embarrassing and regretful situations. Thank you, mom!

We can and should remember our experiences of yesterday as they are part of us and have shaped us into who we are today. But they don’t have to get in the way of who we can be tomorrow. We take yesterday with us through today and into tomorrow as we continue our journey in life. I’m comforted to think that even though my wife is not physically with me now, she is with me in my memories of yesterday and encouraging me to make new memories while living today and tomorrow.

The road is long and winding (another great song) and as long as I’m able to travel it, I’m going to do so with the strength I’ve gathered from yesterday and with a hope for tomorrow. So that when today is tomorrow’s yesterday, I can smile and be happy with where I’ve been and how I’ve done. Oh, I believe in yesterday. And today. And tomorrow.

So What About Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, or actually this coming Sunday, I have a few changes happening. The Doodle and I are moving out of our apartment and will begin full-time RV living on the road in our Class A motorhome. I’m naming the motorhome Terra because she is a Fleetwood Terra model. I have been encouraged to call her Terry by one of my nieces as my middle name is Terrence and Terry was my nickname as a kid. She thinks that would be pretty funny and fitting but I’m going to stick with Terra. After all, I’d much rather say I live with a goddess named Terra (check your Roman mythology folks). Wouldn’t you?!

Going to full-time RV living has been on my mind for a number of years and life’s road has led me to the opportunity to give it a shot. Before her cancer hit, I had talked Barb into RV living when we both retired. I know she will get many laughs watching me from above as I learn from my mistakes. I’m assuming you’ve seen Robin Williams in the movie RV. Enough said.

It will be interesting and I’m both excited and terrified but it really feels like something I’m meant to do.  As we travel the U.S., I’ll be writing about people I meet along the road and their life experiences as well as my own. And Izzy the Doodle will have her own byline to contribute from time to time her thoughts on living with me on the road. We have a bet on who’s posts will get the most likes. I just need a little help from my friends (yes another really good song). Don’t let me down, folks.

So until next time, see you down the road….

Literally!

Please Stand By

When I was a kid back in the 60s, frequently the message “Please Stand By….” would appear on our television. Usually right in the middle of my favorite shows like Jonny Quest, Gunsmoke, or Mission Impossible. Mom didn’t know about Mission Impossible so I guess you could say my secret agent skills were pretty good.

There seemed to always be something going on in the world that would be important enough to pre-empt my enjoyment of watching Jonny and Hadji help Dr. Quest and Race defeat some evil villain. I mean was it really that big of a deal, the whole Cuban Missles thing or all those updates on Apollo 11? I know those were significant historical events but watching Marshall Dillon and Festus save Miss Kitty was pretty important to me. Ok, maybe it was just watching Miss Kitty that was important.

If you’re 50 or older, you probably have your own black and white memories of the networks cutting in to let you know something was going on in the world. Maybe not in your world but in the larger world around you. So we would all stand by and watch the special report and just hope they would cut back to our show before it ended. That’s right kids, back in the day there was no pausing of your show. It kept right on playing. Bummer huh.

For the past few years, my life has seemed like a series of those “Please Stand By” moments. Have you had that experience as well? Your life is moving along just fine and pretty entertaining until out of the blue you’re pre-empted. Something that’s not part of your regularly scheduled programming pops up and you have to stop and focus on the unexpected or unwanted. You have no idea how long this unforeseen interruption is going to last nor do you know what you may find once it’s over and your show, your life gets back to normal. By the way, is there really anything that’s normal? A chat for another time perhaps.

Most of you know I started writing posts on Facebook and then this blog, to help me cope with my wife’s cancer journey. Cancer is about the biggest unplanned event any of us can ever have occur in our lives. It interrupts everything. It takes over and we have no choice but to go with it. It becomes the only thing on every channel of our life. And sadly for many, it ends the life we once knew and we now find ourselves cast in a show we don’t want to watch and a role we have no idea how to play.

But the show must go on, right?

It’s been 27 months now since my wife finished her season with cancer. I like to think, no, I know that she is now enjoying and is part of THE most spectacular, beautiful, and uninterruptable season humankind could ever hope to experience.  No pre-empting. Nothing cutting in. Just one continuous unending live performance of the best show on earth or above. I’m looking forward to that myself. I hope you are too.

My show, my life, honestly has been pretty good for the past year or so. The interruption of despair has ended. Sometimes grief breaks in and throws me off a little but that’s becoming less frequent and doesn’t last long. I look at those times now as my “Please Stand By” moments where my show pauses, I reflect and process the grief, and then get back to my regular programming. Although that regular programming is different than the life I had before, I find myself starting to enjoy it. To really appreciate it.

There’s a new plot taking shape for me. I’m still figuring out my role and I’m learning as I go how to make this season a good one. One of the best perhaps. There will be twists and turns I’m sure but I now know that when interruptions come, they are really just part of the larger production that I’m a part of. I believe that the Director will guide me to do my best and that the Producer believes in me no matter how many lines I forget or mistakes I make.

So just as Mr. Phelps always found a way to overcome the challenges, I too will get through my Stand By moments and keep that fuse burning until my mission is complete.

And the Emmy goes to…

See you down the road, my friends….

Every New Beginning…

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you may have picked up on the fact that music has played a major role in defining who I am. Music has brought me to my faith, lifted me up when I’ve been down, and moved me to tears more times than I can count. Both happy and sad tears.

Since my childhood, listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other early rockers on my record player, through my teenager 8-track tape years listening and cruising to Boston, Foreigner, Foghat, and the J Geils Band, through the many genres and decades leading up to today, music has always brought meaning and emotion into my life. It’s sorta in my soul I think.

Bob Seger was one of my favorite singers in the 70s and 80s. I bet you can hear one of his songs in your head right now. Old Time Rock and Roll, Night Moves, Still the Same, Against the Wind. The rhythms and lyrics of many of these songs have stuck with me over the years and I find myself going back to them at different times to help me get through things going on in my life. I wonder which artists and songs have stayed with you over the years. Which have carried you through?

One Seger song that I’ve always loved and yet haunts me is Turn the Page. If you’re familiar with it, you know it’s about a singer on the road playing in different cities night after night. It’s about the grind and toll it is taking on him and how he wishes the trip was through. It’s about encounters with people in places he doesn’t know or even want to be with. It’s about the empty feeling he has in his soul.

I do like to sing but I’ve never been on tour so I can’t personally relate to what Bob Seger was specifically singing about in Turn the Page. But I can understand and relate to the empty feeling caused by what he was experiencing. There have been many times in my almost 60 years, that life events have made me feel exhausted. Burned out. Wanting to just give up. And a few times I have. I just couldn’t turn the page in my life to see what was next and frankly didn’t really care. I had had enough. Have you been there?

In 1998, the song Closing Time by Semisonic came out. At first, I didn’t really like the song much. I mean come on, it was about a guy at a bar hoping a certain someone would take him home after the bar closed. Maybe it brought back memories of some closing times at Mickey’s in my home town back in the 80s. Might have hit a little too close to home for me but that’s another story for another time. Maybe over a beer. You can buy.

But in the song Closing Time, there is one line that over the past 20 years seems to always come back to my mind. And during the last two years, it has come to mind many times when I’ve been really struggling with turning the page to the next chapter in my life. And I have found encouragement in the words.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Pretty simple right but oh so hard to think of when you’re in crisis, or grieving, or just worn out. If we allowed every page in our lives to just go on and on, nothing would ever change. We’d be stuck on the road night after night, perhaps playing star over and over again just like Seger.

Thankfully, I’ve come to understand a new beginning is only possible if we move on or close out the current page we’re living in and release the empty and scared feelings to allow our lives to begin again. Ain’t easy to do but I’ve found I can.

Which page are you on right now? Are you at the end of a chapter in your life and finding it really difficult to turn the page to something new? I want to encourage you to keep going, close out the page your on now, and turn to that new beginning that’s waiting for you. You can do it. Put on an old song that lifts you up and move on. It’s closing time. The rest is still unwritten.

Oh wait, that’s another song. Perhaps for another time.

See you down the road….

Eclipsed

Did you see the super blood moon last night? The sky was clear here in central Ohio so it must have been good viewing. I wouldn’t know because having a head cold, I decided to stay in and go to bed early. Single digit temps and a cold virus just didn’t sound like a good time to me. Plus I’ve experienced a number of eclipses in my life so skipping this one seemed reasonable enough.

By definition, an eclipse is ‘an obscuring of the light from one body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination’. Last night that was the earth passing between the sun and the moon causing the earth’s shadow to alter the appearance of the moon. Going from bright light to blood red. For some a beautiful sight and for others perhaps frightening.

Today we understand the astronomy and physics of an eclipse and with this knowledge, there is no fear but imagine a society of people experiencing a lunar eclipse without this knowledge. Historical accounts tell us that events such as last night struck fear and panic in those that experienced it. Many perhaps thinking it was the end of their world. I wonder how many had their lives changed by something they had no understanding or control of.

Our lives are abundant with eclipses. Those that we see in the sky and those that we feel in our hearts.

For many of us, the light shining in our lives that brought warmth and comfort was eclipsed, taken away. A shadow began to spread across our world until the light we had come to love and cherish was gone. Replaced by the dark fear of living in a world we didn’t know or understand. It seemed, as if in an instant, that everything had changed. Everything, the thing, the one that had made our life bright and whole disappeared into the shadow and we were left in a very deep and dark hole. Alone in a world, we did not expect.

The darkness seems to never end as we live in the eclipse of our life. But the truth is it will end and light will return. Not necessarily the exact same light as before but the warmth and comfort we lost will return. Just as the moon moves out of the earth’s shadow, our life will move on and again be illuminated. We just have to ride it out.

I’m finding this to be very true in my life these days. The eclipse of the heart I experienced with my wife’s passing almost two years ago, is slowly brightening. Life will never be as it was but my life and my world do go on. The light has not been put out. It was darkened for a while but the darkness did not and cannot overcome it.

So as you experience the eclipses of your life, do not fear the darkness. Go through it. Lean on the knowledge that the light will return to you and shine upon you. Look to your faith and those that love you. Let their light guide you until you step out of the darkness into your new light. Be strong. Have hope. Welcome it back into your life.

May your light shine my friends and see you down the road…..

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

December 23rd.

The night before the night before Christmas. Not the most significant day of the holiday season is it. Maybe you spent it doing some last minute gift shopping or purchasing all the food for your Christmas meal. Perhaps it was spent traveling home or getting the house ready for friends and family to arrive. Or maybe you’ve been alone all day, just like you will be tomorrow, and on Christmas.

It could be a day that’s different each year. Perhaps last year things were going well in your life and you were happy but this year it’s been one problem after another and there just isn’t much to be happy about. The tree is decorated and presents surround it but there’s still an empty feeling. There’s someone you miss or you are concerned about. Or maybe you’re waiting on a lab report to come back after the holidays.

At Christmas we all like to have the holiday spirit but some years it just doesn’t come that easily. We try to be merry, cheerful, and glad but underneath our smiles, we’re hurting. And if we were honest we would say that the Christmas season really isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year.

The past four December 23rds for me have been just about as diverse as they come. A holiday rollercoaster ride if you will with tremendous ups and downs.

Dec. 23, 2015 – it was just 4 months before that my wife Barb was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had undergone surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible and had recovered pretty well from that but in early December a follow up MRI indicated another surgery was needed. So the Christmas of 2015 was spent by our family being thankful for the support many were giving us and also preparing for another unknown outcome. We would spend New Year’s Eve in the hospital with Barb celebrating with her as she recovered from what we hoped was her last surgery.

Dec 23, 2016 – the past year had seen Barb not require any further surgery for which we were very thankful. She had completed her radiation treatment and had been receiving chemo treatments for a number of months and was surprisingly strong and doing well. It had been 16 months since her diagnosis. It was our first Christmas with our granddaughter and even in the midst of uncertainty, we celebrated the season and thanked God for His love and gift.

Dec. 23, 2017 – this was our first Christmas without Barb. In January of 2017, the cancer began to grow again and Barb made the decision to not try any other treatments as there were none that were viable and would give her a good quality of life. She declined quickly and went to her heavenly home on March 7. It was the lowest of times for me. I had never felt more lost in my life. But as the year went on, I came to understand that even in the midst of my grieve I could still celebrate the Christmas season and be thankful for all the years I shared with Barb and the way God walked with us through both the good and tough times.

Dec. 23rd, 2018 – today. The present. Another Christmas just two days away. This holiday season I’ve been missing Barb, again. The kids and I are continuing our traditions of putting up the tree, baking sugar cookies, and having our family Christmas eve dinner but each of these still have a feeling of incompleteness. Not really sad but just not the same as before. That will probably always be the case. And that’s okay because our traditions were made with Barb. So I will celebrate and honor those memories as I thank God for where He has brought me and how He continues to love me. And for who He is bringing into my life.

I don’t know where Christmas Eve Eve finds you this year but let me encourage you, if you are down, to not give up but to look up. And if 2018 has been good to you, I encourage you to lift up those around you that are feeling down.

In good times and bad, God’s love for us and His gift to us does not change. He is always there. No matter where we go or what we endure, He is with us. Look for Him. You will find Him. Emmanuel is right beside you this day and every day. And He loves you.

I pray that this Christmas you may experience the glad tidings of the good news that the season is really all about. Look beyond where you are now to where God can take you. Where He will go with you.

Merry Christmas my friends and see you down the road….

The Calm After The Storm

Not quite the saying we’ve all come to know. Usually we say ‘the calm before the storm’ for which I’ve found this description: “a quiet or peaceful period before another period during which there is great activity, argument, or difficulty.”

Since childhood, I’ve always been intrigued by the force and the fierceness of storms. How the world around me can go from its normal, everyday commonness to a thunderous downpour of raging rain and wind. It can happen so quickly and sometimes totally unexpectedly. You’re not prepared. You’re caught in it.

I’ve been caught many times in storms. Riding my bicycle on the backroads of Coshocton County as a kid. Or at a football game and not close enough to the car. Or sitting in our kitchen as my mom tells me my dad had just died in the hospital from his cancer.

The first two situations were true surprises. The third was not but in my 15 years of living, it was by far the most devastating storm I had been caught in. Even though I didn’t show it.

I don’t remember exactly when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer but I believe I was still in middle school. I know my teachers and school officials knew what was going on but only a few of my closest friends knew.

It was hard for my adolescent brain to fully grasp the depth and importance of something like that and I mostly tried to live my school life in denial. I created in my mind a world that was at peace. A calm place. I tried to ignore my dad’s cancer and in that process I also ignored him.

Dad went through a few years of different treatments. I would stay home or at a friend’s house when mom would go with and later drive my dad to his appointments. I seldom would ask how the treatments were going or what was next. When you’re living in a world of denial, that information isn’t required.

So for that time period between my dad’s diagnosis and his passing, I lived in the calm before the storm. But his passing for me wasn’t really a storm. It was just something that happened. It was over and my life went on. Calmly just as before.

It wasn’t until my wife lost her fight with cancer that the storm really hit me. It’s like over the 40 plus years since my dad’s death, it had been slowly brewing within me and was released a little at the time of Barb’s diagnosis and then exploded in full force the morning of her passing. I was caught in the middle of the strongest, fiercest, darkest, most devastating emotional experience in my life and I had no idea if I would get through it.

But somehow there was a growing peace that soon subdued the winds and rains and brought me out of the darkness. Back into light and the calm. An assurance that the storm was over. That I was okay and Barb and my dad were okay too. The calm after the storm.

It’s been three years since Barb’s diagnosis of brain cancer and roughly eighteen months now since her passing. As many of you know, I started writing about what I was experiencing during my wife’s journey with cancer as a release or therapy to help me process my emotions as well as my faith. I’ve continued that writing since her passing and I have found a calmness, an assurance, that is true and I know it will sustain me through all the remaining storms that will blow into my life.

More storms will come, I know that. I don’t know exactly from where or when but they will come and that’s okay. Because I know that there will always be a peace that will get me through and a calmness waiting for me after the storm.

Storms come upon all of us. I encourage you to search for the calm that is waiting for you and the peace that will get you through your storms.

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago but felt it wasn’t time to share it. Knowing that many folks are experiencing Hurricane Florence tonight, I thought I’d share this now. My prayers go up for all those in the path of this storm and those ready to help in the midst of and after it. May the calm come quickly.

See you down the road….

12:30 – A Love Note

Recently while flipping through some books my wife Barb had kept, I came across the following note she had written.

She wrote down scripture verses, quotes, and devotional thoughts all the time as reminders to herself of who she was and whose she was. One of her ways of journaling.

Around our home she would tape many of her reminders to the kitchen cabinet doors (both inside and out), the refrigerator door, and mirrors. At her work she had them taped to her desk, filing cabinets, and computer monitor. She kept Post It Notes and 3×5 card manufacturers in business for many years.

I have kept the notes she had taped up around our home as they are another reminder, now to me and our kids, of how strong her faith was and just how much love she held in her heart for everyone.

This note is from her years of serving youth groups at the churches we’ve attended and specifically her middle school small group from just a year or two before her cancer diagnosis.

She absolutley loved helping teenagers come to understand, know, and believe in the Christ. Not traditions of religion but how to begin and grow in a relationship with the God that loved them with all of His heart no matter their current circumstance or what they had done in their past. She knew this kind of love and wanted, no, she had to share it.

Barb’s words in this note should be the mantra for all of us that are followers of Christ. And not just for serving teenagers but all persons. I think she really understood the Great Commission.

I’m not sure what the 12:30 she wrote referenced. Was it a time or scripture verse? I plan on asking her when I see her again someday but for now I’m choosing to think it referred to Mark 12:30:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

She lived this out each day. I believe she abounded in this love and shared it with all those she met on her earthly journey. And now great is her reward in Heaven. I’m striving to do the same.

So let me encourage you to take those notes of love, love letters if you will, that come to you and tape them up in your life so that you’re constantly reminded of how loved you are and how wonderful it is to share that great love.

See you down the road….