The Voice

Of all the qualities which set human beings apart from the rest of humanity, there is our voice. It was this means of communication which allowed us to move beyond other species and become social animals.

Our voice allowed our ancestors to pass on instructions on how to do critical things to survive. We began to live less off of instinct and more off of experiences passed down from generation to generation. Language came long, long before the ability to write and so most knowledge was passed down by oral tradition. Since early man tended to live in familial situations, with tight family ties, language probably varied a lot, and then as families stretched out and became tribes the group adopted the most useable language form available to communicate within the entire group.

But, the anthropological aspect is not where I want to concentrate. It’s the spiritual and mystical aspect of the voice to which I wish to “speak”

I’ve had so many wonderful and unique voices which have inhabited the echoes of my mind. My Dad’s laugh…I can never get it far from my immediate memory. He laughed a lot and at a lot of things. He gave me a lot of advice with that voice. I took some of it, and some I wish I had taken. His voice was stilled in 2010.

My Grandfather Jervis’s voice. My voice is a mixture of his voice and my Dad’s, leaning more heavily towards his. He could sing from bass to tenor and I inherited a bit of that. I used to sit around in his living room and listen to him sing his “scales” “……do, ray, mi, fa, so, la, ti,” I got up in front of the congregation where my Grandpa was song leader when I was four years old and waved my hands around like I was conducting the choir. Nobody laughed or made fun of me. I was really proud of myself and I remember it so well. My Grandfather’s voice was stilled in 1991.

My Mom and my Grandmother had similar voices…and they were both worriers. I asked my Grandmother on her 100th birthday what she would have done different if she could go back and go it all over again. She simply said “I’d worry about things less, because all the worrying I did never changed nothing” Her voice was stilled in late 1999. I still dream of her quite often, most of the time in the kitchen. She’s always telling me: “I wouldn’t worry about that, Honey” she’ll say. I still worry…I guess I can’t help it, I get it from her and Mom. My dear Momma….she would always say “I love you” and too many times, “I’m sorry” for things which really were not her fault, not anybody’s fault, just fate and fate alone. Mom’s voice was also stilled in 2010.

In late 1999, I was really scared. The specialist had found a lump on my vocal cords and he was pretty sure it was cancer. I went into surgery wondering if I would come out with a voice…..would I come out with a hole in my throat and no voice. Turned out it was a big lump of scar tissue. I came out with my vocal cords, but it took a year a rehabilitation to even get back to regular talking, much less singing. I have had to be very careful since then. Some days are good, some days not so good. At least I still have that mechanism of communication to use with my family, my friends…(although sometimes I bet they wish I would shut up!)

My voice will be stilled one day, as have been the voices of all human beings who ever lived. I hope I have used it correctly…will use it better, and maybe there will be some memorable phrase “hanging in the air” for someone to remember me by.

Will Death be Hard?

I’m afraid of heights. I also don’t like flying. I don’t like big crowds and speaking in front of a group of people terrifies me. Funny how things that are simple and basic to some people make other peoples knees turn to jelly.

I don’t know where a lot of these fears came from. Some of them have just developed over the years. Some fears we have always harbored. I have always been afraid of death. I never even wanted to think about it until the last few years. It’s a subject that most of us definitely want to avoid. I think sometimes we feel like if we talk about it, it might jinx us and we will end up on the “mortar board” at some funeral home before the days out. Also, it’s a pretty depressing subject to broach. Nobody wants to be depressed, so nobody talks about it. I can’t remember the first time I thought about it, and was scared. I think it was when I was about four years old. Really, it’s true. As a little kid when I should have been thinking about playing cowboys and Indians, I was mulling over the great unknown. It’s been a bummer over the years.

Lately, I have come to the conclusion that by talking about death maybe we can make it less scary. I am not as afraid of it as I used to be. It’s not the little kid fear of going to hell and burning up in a blazing fire type fear anymore. It’s more of just an apprehension of something unknown. It’s a disappointment that I might not be around to see my loved ones complete most of their journey that they have started. It’s the conversations and contact with my family that I don’t want to give up. The touches and looks of people you love, and who love you. Most of all, it turns out that it’s a selfish thing. Imagine that. I have so many selfish reasons for living that I don’t want to die and give them all up.

I don’t want to give up the beautiful sunny days like the one we had today. I don’t want to give up the good books that I enjoy reading every day. I don’t want to give up discussions with friends, eating out in great restaurants, the rain in my face, rolling up a Snowman. I don’t want to give up Christmas, or New Years. I don’t want to give up the hope of a #1 finish for the Dawgs, or the Falcons. I don’t want to give up seeing my grandchildren play ball, or band, or graduate from School….

But, it’s not what we want that we get is it?

There are so many theories and theological thesis about what happens to us after we die. It’s hard to pin one down and stick with it. One thing that I can assure you though is that it will be different from any of them. I don’t think that man has been given the knowledge, through any type of religion or science of what really happens. It may just be peace. Peace would be nice; I’ll take that over some of what I’ve heard over the years.

I’ve seen a lot of people going through unbelievable suffering, or who no longer know who or what they are who would take peace too. The little old lady who was “rooming” next to my Mother at the nursing home, back in 2010, who was there one day and gone the next. She was in bad shape. She was ready for a rest, and she got it. I think if you could have broken through the wall of her senility she would have told you she was. . A lot of times people outlive the desire to live, and when they do that, they are ready for peace. I am sure she wasn’t scared of it. Maybe welcomed it.

My own Grandfather, who lived the last few years of his life, not knowing who he was, where he was, who we were. My heart ached for him. I didn’t want him to live like that, but I didn’t want him to die like that either. I hope at the very end, when the spirit separated from the body…he once again knew who he was.

As long as we have the desire, then we should “keep on truckin’” as we used to say back in the 70’s. It’s when we lose the desire, due to things that are happening to us physically, that it becomes a hardship to keep on keeping on.

So, I guess as my perspective has changed from that little shivering four year old kid, who shouldn’t have even known what death was, to the more knowledgeable but equally unknowing 62, soon to be 63 year old that I am now am. I still have my desire to live and hope that I keep it for a long, long time to come. I hope all of you do also. But, when we are ready for peace, I hope we find it and that it turns out to be better than we ever imagined.


I am unconvinced that human nature can ever be changed.
All through the written records of humanity’s actions, the history of war, wars, killing and man’s cruelty to each other is heavily peppered in the pages. Heavily peppered, almost to the point of being unconsumable when one tries to read through those records. Our history, so to speak. World history.
And the fact is that the records we have of our history are probably mild compared to the reality which is NOT written. They say that the winners are the ones who write history, so if that’s so then things must have been very much worse than what we get to read. I think if a person wants to, and digs deep enough that they can come up with books that delve into true history in some cases.
Being unconvinced that human nature can change, then I am certain that we cannot see a future where mankind can live in peace with each other. It’s a sad conclusion to come to, but inevitable when you think about it.

My Favorite Month

From 2019- My Favorite Month

Another October is fixing to come around. My favorite month of the year. My birth month. The “season changing” month, as we usually have our first frost here in the South during October. It’s a month of beautiful colors, courtesy of Mother Nature and her leaf filled trees. All the russet reds, and every shade of gold imaginable. I can’t count the times I’ve simple just stood at the foot of some large hill, or short mountain and gazed up in awe at the beauty.

I love the smell of burning leaves, and of the sweet wood firing up in people’s fireplaces and wood stoves. It’s a lot of work to do it on a regular basis as your only source of heating though. I tried it for a couple of cold winters back in the eighties, and gained a very healthy respect for our ancestors who used to have to roll out of bed early on those frosty mornings, and stoke up a warming fire! I went back to gas!

I love the bright orange pumpkins laying out in the fields, and the fresh rolled and bailed hay all stacked up neatly. The corn stalks gathered up in big circles, looking like giant teepees.

I thrill at the flights of birds overhead. The Canadian geese, and the blackbirds which still fill the tall trees. I remember as a child, laying in the brown October grass and watching millions of those blackbirds headed South overhead. I couldn’t believe there were so many. Now, there aren’t that many.

There’s Halloween at the end of the month, the day we always used to look forward to most as children. I mean, what kid wouldn’t? Free candy! Tricky tricks! All in good fun for the most part. No store bought costumes for me though. Usually it was some variation of one of Mom’s old bed sheets a’la’ Charlie Brown. (Who by the way, shares the same birthday as me) I suppose I’m more than a little bit like that boy!

October is the gateway to Thanksgiving and then to the Christmas season, which makes me love it even more. My family used to visit my Grandparents more during this time of the year, and I will always remember those days of fun and enjoyment of my youth. Those long ago days, which started in October. My favorite month. My favorite times…


Opening doors and closing them, both physically and metaphorically is all we do in life.

Before there was this medium in which to wax nostalgic, I was simply concerned only with what was going on with myself, my immediate family and those with whom I worked closely. For many years, that’s all it was. That’s all it had to be. Oh, I knew there was a world full of other human beings out there, but I wasn’t mindful of what was going on with them. Their joys, their sorrows, their inner thoughts, their rantings, their wisdom.  They would shout their opinions into the wind, but it was just undecipherable whispering to me.  I cared not because I knew not.

Upon entering into this unknown means of communication, I first sought out family, then old school friends, whom I had lost contact with. It was fun catching up with them, finding out what had happened in the last forty years. Drawing close to them again through common experiences and causes…sometimes agreeing on things, sometimes not. Thus is the way of human beings. We all have things in common, we all have differences. 

In the last several years the differences have sometimes gotten so extreme that they cannot be solved “online”.  A different “wild card” was introduced into the system which polarized America.  I have been “unfriended” even as recently as this past month by kinfolk with who political differences couldn’t be reconciled.  I have unfriended some people who I grew up with, because of some of the things they “post”  I probably should have just ignored it all.  I know I should have.  I’m just not as good a person as I should be though, and sometimes I am too quick to hit the “goodbye” button and regret it later on. 

I still see a lot of these people out in the “real” world and we speak and get along, and nobody ever mentions Facebook.  Others take it quite personally however, and will turn and walk away if they see me coming.  I have sent out friend requests to all of the people I have unfriended over the years and some come back and we are “friends” again.  Some patently ignore my request and I know they are sitting there saying: “burn me once shame on you, burn me twice…shame on me”  I guess that’s just the way it’s going to be from now on.  The world of electronic friendships and relationships has fundamentally changed the way humanity interacts. You can’t cross back over some of the bridges you burn.  A lot of them can be repaired with enough work, but some of them you just don’t feel like putting that work into the repairs.  It’s just not worth it, because I know I will never change, and a lot of the people who I have known in my life never will change either.  There’s no use in doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  After all, that’s the definition of insanity, isn’t it?

Strangely, during these years, I began to become friends with people who I never knew before but who were friends with one of my friends. My relationship with people began to branch out beyond my little circle. I have become friends with people who have and hold the same beliefs and philosophies which I hold, and some who do not. I have met some people because of this medium and hold them in high regard and really, genuinely care about them, and through them, their loved ones.  I have an artist friend with his beautiful Foxhound, my flea market friend with the same last name, and his wonderfully talented family. The former English professor of one of my lawyer friends.  Another professor of biology who is a genius and writes complex biology textbooks.  A wonderful, giving friend from New York who shares my love of photography.  A cousin I never knew of before, who is my political consultant, and a wonderful family man.  A friend who is a former librarian who lives just up on the mountain, who has a beautifully located home, and has many of the same interests.  My scientist friend who is the son in law of one of my best FB friends.  Several LGBTQ friends.  On and on I could go…Many, many more. 

I have branched out through these friends of friends, to their friends and relatives and have come to care for many of them.  I have lost several.  A wonderful teacher friend who fought cancer tooth and nail with singular focus, who finally and tragically succumbed to it.  An Alabama friend, cousin of one of my other Alabama friends who was super close to me in philosophy of life, although he was about 10 years older than me.  Whenever I would post a photo of Lookout mountain, he would remark about how he had spent 50 years on the “western” side of the mountain looking at it with a different view.  He too, succumbed to cancer after a long fight.  

I have many old friends who have reintroduced themselves back into my life…who I knew closely in my teenage years. Others who I knew marginally as I was growing up, but who have become close friends in the past few years.  My librarian friend up near Nashville, a son of one of my friends who I went to school with…who grew up with MY oldest son.  So on and so forth.

Growing closer in friendship again with many old friends through empathy and sympathy with their familial situations. Common likes…My old college buddy caving, photographer friend and his wife, who was my wife’s roommate and best friend in college. My UGA fan buddies, my Vegan and vegetarian friends. I could go on. I guess I’d better stop though.

I guess the most important thing is that for the most part, I love people. I really do.  Even though differences can sometimes be extreme, I still love those people.  

I love good discussions where if everyone doesn’t agree, we at least can have our opinions and be civil with each other (though I have NO tolerance for those who cannot be civil, and resort to name calling or vulgarity)

I love seeing the love that others have for their family and friends, and the photos of them they post showing their love. Their expressions of love for their family, and their thoughtful and loving posts many times touch me deeply.

There are many who would use this medium to spread their lies and their hate. Let’s not allow them to take over what could be, and had been up until then last several years, a positive thing.  Don’t share one sided hate “memes” just to have something to post. Think before you do it “will this cause harmony or discord?” If you want to post a page at least put a little preamble of your own words on it to let others know your purpose in sharing. If you have an opinion on something, use your own words. Don’t let others who are extremists use you as a tool. I’ve been guilty but I’m honestly trying to do better!

Love not hate. Empathy and sympathy, not empty feelings. We can use all things for the good of others if we only pause to think, to consider, to put ourselves in the shoes of others for a few miles before we judge.

We now have a pandemic to try and continue to negotiate, and many, many challenges which go along with that.  It will be harder to solve these things if we continue to hate and not help.

Peace to you all.

Grandparent’s Day

As far as grandparents go, I never knew my Grandfather Bowers. He died when I was two years old in 1952, and my Dad was in the Navy then so I’d been at my Mom’s parents house during my babyhood. As far as I know, from talking with people around town who knew him, he was a hard worker, a good gardener, and a stern disciplinarian. My Dad had already told me that all of his life. He loved his Daddy dearly, and kept his memory alive. I look back at the photos of him, and see that he was very diminutive in size, but steely eyed. Dad said he had a pretty strong temper. The strangest thing though, is that through my research on Ancestry, and through DNA results, I have a deep suspicion that he was legally “Mr Bowers” but perhaps not genetically. But, that’s a conversation for another day. My Grandpa Stewart lived to be 98, so I knew him well. As I once said in a lyric to one of my songs, which I wrote about: “I knew that old man well, he never gave a dime to me”. That was really a total fabrication though. Grandpa did open up his purse, which he kept in the upper pocket of his bib overalls occasionally, and give me money. He was a tight old Scot…but he did give me money for ice cream every day for the half year that I attended the fourth grade in Blue Ridge. He was a very musical man. He played Banjo and sang in a deep baritone voice. I emulated him so much that I once got up and led the church choir with him when I was four or five years old. I spent a lot of time there on weekends and in the summer. Grandpa taught me how to shoot a gun, and how to chop wood. He was a moonshine maker and a church deacon at the same time. He didn’t sell any, he just made it for himself….much to my Grandma’s displeasure. It would take a book to tell all I learned about him. I don’t have time here. I believe he loved me, although he never said it while he was in his right mind. Only one time at the nursing home, when he was in the deep grip of dementia did I hear him say it. I’m not sure he knew what he was saying. My Granny Bowers lived until she was 92. She had a rough life, but never really complained about it. She was quick to tell you her ailments…which were many, and to discuss them at length. At every visit, that would be a litany which had to be recited. She had born 19 children, but only 6 had lived to adulthood. Granny had O negative blood, which was not compatible with Grandpa’s. Most of her children died from premature birth. One set of triplets, two sets of twins, and several others…who never got names. The only one I remember Granny lamenting personally, was baby Pearl. “Pearl was the most beautiful baby” she would say. She lived past a year, but died of some childhood disease. None of them have stones. My grandparents were too poor to buy them. All of those kids were just buried in the old Trion cemetery in unmarked graves. Granny knew exactly where they were, and showed me several times. I know where Aunt Pearl the baby is buried, but I may be the only one who does. The depression was hard, hard on my Granny. She went on after Grandpa died and married Arthur Knox, a retired soldier from Kansas…who was a pretty decent guy. I learned how to play solitaire from him, and liked the scrapple he cooked up. My Grandma Stewart was the most influential grandparent I had. I always remember her gentle hand, and her loving heart for her family. She had eight children…all of who lived to adulthood. My Uncle Albert died tragically when I was four. It was one of the first things I remember vividly, because they had the viewing at my Grandparents house. It broke my Grandma’s heart, and my Mom’s…because she and Uncle Al were the closest in age. My Grandma Stewart was the best cook I ever knew. Her biscuits were legendary. Her fried chicken, and fried apples were divine. She was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. She’d be up before dawn, and would be on the go all day long doing something. In the summer it was picking vegetables and berries, canning, drying and preserving them. Best blackberry jam ever imaginable. Cleaning the house. Plucking and cooking the chickens after Grandpa chopped their heads off neatly. Cutting up the old hog in the wintertime. She always would tell me stories before bedtime every night I was there as a child. Jack in the Beanstalk, The Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She was never to busy to tell us stories. She always told us how much she loved us. At Christmastime she would go out in the woods with me, and chop down some little old pine or fir tree to decorate. She’d make sure there were oranges, apples and nuts around. We spent every Christmas there during my Childhood. Only remember one time that we didn’t go there. My Stewart grandparents lost their old house to a tornado in 1973. They bought a pretty nice mobile home to replace it. I think Grandma liked it better because it was more “modern”. Grandpa died in 1991, and Grandma lived there by herself, with one of my Uncle’s close by. She went into that “damned old nursing home” as she called it, about 1996..or 97, can’t remember exactly when. She hated it though. Mom and Dad came up most weekends to take her out to eat. I didn’t visit nearly enough…She always said she’d live to be 100 years old, and she did in August of 1999. She died in December that year, just a few weeks from being one of those rare people to have lived in three different centuries. I couldn’t help carry her coffin from the little old white church house to the cemetery like I had my Grandpa because I was still recovering from my first heart attack that year, so I walked slowly along next to her. She wasn’t a perfect person, but I loved her dearly. So, on this “grandparents day” I write this in honor of those beloved human beings who were my grandparents, and am thankful for all that we had together.

A philosophy

A Philosophy to Live By…

You tell your children “I will always love you, there is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.” You tell them this before they know what you are saying, and you keep telling them this for as long as you can, so that no matter how old they get they cannot remember a time you have not told them.

If you do this the world will become a better place.

You then tell your family. “You are my family, and nothing you can ever do will keep me from loving you.” You tell them this because they are your family, and because it is true.

If you do this, the world will become a brighter place.

You tell your friends: “You are my friend and I love you, and nothing you could ever do will be so bad I cannot forgive it”

If you do this, the world will become more serene.

You tell your enemies that you care greatly for your children and your family. You tell them there is nothing you would not do to protect them,….nothing. You tell them that it is in their best interest to become friends.

If you do this the world is given a chance to draw breath and think.

I hope if we do this the world has a slim chance to heal wounds that have been open and bleeding for as long as there have been people.