Take Time to Pay Attention to Life

I’ve had dreams. No, perhaps it would be better to call them ambitions. I’ve had ambitions. A lot of them were selfish, self centered and wrong. I had ambitions to be a rich and famous songwriter. I had ambitions to be a plant manager, with many people reporting to me. Self importance ruled my productive years. Self absorption ruined them.

You know what I really should have done? I should have tried to make people happy. That’s it. I should have helped more people.

If I’m honest, I guess it’s incorrect of me to say I was totally selfish. That first paragraph is a harsher judgment on myself than the judgment of people I have worked with, and who worked for me. I’m pretty sure I was actually better thought of than I realized. One incident stands out in my mind.

I had a pretty big group of ladies who worked for me back in the eighties. Whenever I would demo a new song I had written I would let them listen to the results. Of course they said they liked them, heck I was their boss, after all. Right before one of the ladies retired I made her a cassette tape of all my music. She said she really wanted one. Years later I got a call from another of the ladies who was related to her. It seems she had a stroke and was bed bound. She had worn out her tape and wanted another one. I made another one, found out where she lived, and went to her house.

Her husband met me at the door and warned me her condition wasn’t good. Her stroke had been severe, and she couldn’t move and could barely speak. I spent some time with her. It wasn’t good. She was agitated and depressed, discouraged with her life. She had been that way for several years. She was ready to die, she said. She was happy to have a new tape though. It perked her up a little.

I got a call from her husband a few weeks later telling me she had passed away. The last thing she listened to before she slipped into a coma was that tape of me singing. I didn’t know what to say.

I think back on that now and consider my ambition a success. Not for the reason which I had wanted, but for that one person who needed it, all the time and effort was worth it.

I’ve changed a lot in the years since then. I still wish I had made a better effort at helping people, at making them happy. Maybe I actually did more than I knew, but was just too busy being busy to notice. Damn, I wish I had taken the time to notice. All you kids out there take an old man’s advice and pay attention. Gratitude is a hell of a lot better than money sometimes.


As I prepare for another surgery (albeit hopefully not as serious) on July 28th, I remember this.

I went into heart surgery on December 21, 2010 with the attitude that if I didn’t ever wake up…..it was ok. But, I got a reprieve. I had good surgeons, a wonderful caregiver in my sweet wife, and in about a years time I felt better….both physically and mentally. I continued to have some rhythm problems right up until this day, but I was better.

As I worked on my vast inventory of photos this weekend, I grouped them together by year. 2011…Eli and Rue came to our families. 2012, possibly the year I felt best since my youth. We took trips…our trip of a lifetime to Gettysburg, Washington, Mt. Vernon, Jamestown…and on to Tybee. I still remember my awe at finally getting to go to our nation’s heart.

Trips to the beach with the family….especially when we all went together. How very tender and special that was to me. A cruise…I’d never been on one, and it was lovely!

All the years were special. I went on all the way through 2015. I used Shutterfly’s app, and it’s wonderful.

There were many firsts. First birthdays for Eli, Rue, and then a bit later EVK. (And 2nd, and thirds, and so forth) Christmases celebrated. Thanksgivings thanked. Halloweens tricked and treated with so much fun! Fireworks at the Browns homestead.

Proms and graduations…Auttie’s and Chelsea’s. Wonderful days of walks around town, with the sunrises and sunsets, and the everyday goings on. The demise of the old Park Ave apartments, the changing nature and demographics of the city itself.

So, so many special moments flashed past my eyes in that pictorial history of my life. Wonderful moments. Precious memories. Six and a half years of grace and time borrowed from medical science. I wish I could share with you the feeling in my heart, because if I could there would be peace. There would be love and compassion for all.

There are still memories I want to make, but my body reminds me that for the good times there is payback. When feeling unwell stretches from days into weeks…and months, it takes a toll on the spirit and will of even the hardiest, of which I never claimed to be. Again, I’m depending on good old medical science, luck and grace to lift me back to an even keel again. Looks like next month, with tests and such coming up, maybe a solution will be found. I hope so.

Til then, I’ll keep on plodding forward and hope Paula can put up with cranky, bad feeling me. I haven’t done a whole lot on FB for the past few weeks….at least not much “new” so now you know the reason why. I’m not going into detail about me…because in the end it’ll probably just be something minor.

In All Things be Grateful

“In all things be grateful.”
I find that is a very sensible philosophy, don’t you?

Be grateful for this life, be grateful for each moment because as soon as one ticks, the next one is upon you…and soon our allotted moments here have ended.

I certainly realize I’ve been a little more sensitive to those ticks of the clock lately. Who wouldn’t be!?

After all, when I think back really far….

I can remember a time without even a television. Without air conditioners. I remember a time when walking from my house on eighth street to the triangle shopping center was an everyday thing. I remember Coke in bottles, with the city where it was bottled on the bottom.

I remember using cloth diapers on my kids, and then rewashing them and using them again. I remember the train coming into town at midnight, bringing a load of coal to fire the boilers at the mill, every night…

I remember writing all my school work with a pencil and lined paper from a wire back notebook. I remember when almost everything we ate came from our garden, even in the winter…with canned soup mix, and frozen veggies.

I remember having only three pairs of jeans for school, and five shirts…and one pair of dress pants and a white shirt for Sunday. I remember spending all afternoon on some weekends listening to vinyl records on a little flip top record player.

I remember fishing in the river with a big old ball of earth worms for bait. I remember when the creek running into that river was a rainbow color of dyes…

I remember so much more. It’s funny how these memories always seem good, and happy…but that wasn’t always the case. When we old people long for those “good old days” our memory tends to be very selective.

Now, our good days are tomorrow…and the day after.

Be grateful for what you have. Be grateful for your life and the good day ahead of you.

Most days it is more than enough to see us through.