Mom

Quite the memory…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

It was shortly after my dear mom died on 11/24/06. I was dreaming, by the grace of God, talking to my mom.

It happened only once. It was as realistic a dream as I have ever experienced. I rarely remember my dreams. This one was unforgettable.

Mom was middle-aged in the dream and articulate unlike the woman we had seen drift into the fog of Alzheimer’s. To say the talk was uplifting would be an understatement.

It brought me a wonderful peace after what my siblings and I had endured over the last years of her life. Thank God for huge favors.

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Just a Game

The court…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I was 13 years old attending summer camp. The tennis courts were clay. I had never stepped on a tennis court regardless of the surface.

The instructor told me to shake hands with the handle of the racket. I did so. It produced an Eastern forehand grip. Then later he asked me to place my right hand on the top of the handle of the racket and place the racket between my thumb and forefinger. It produced a continental backhand grip. So far so good.

That day I was only taught the forehand stroke. It felt fluid. It felt somewhat effortless. It was reminiscent of my baseball swing. It felt good. I hit a lot of forehands between 13 and 31 years of age.

I was 31 the day I met my wife. We both expressed how much we loved the game. We played tennis on our first date. We…

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Mom

It was shortly after my dear mom died on 11/24/06. I was dreaming, by the grace of God, talking to my mom.

It happened only once. It was as realistic a dream as I have ever experienced. I rarely remember my dreams. This one was unforgettable.

Mom was middle-aged in the dream and articulate unlike the woman we had seen drift into the fog of Alzheimer’s. To say the talk was uplifting would be an understatement.

It brought me a wonderful peace after what my siblings and I had endured over the last years of her life. Thank God for huge favors.

Fear

Sudden change…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.

It was 12/7/89. I was 44 years old. My wife was pregnant with our son and I took a walk near midnight to pick up a pizza for the two of us. Before I knew it, a handgun was pointed at me. 

The good Lord gave me enough peace not to panic. The gunman and his companion in a truck next to us took my pizza and the remaining seven dollars, leaving me shaken, alive, and still praying. That defined for me the pain of sudden change.

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Sharing Our Humanity

“Writing is a way of sharing our humanity.” William McIlvanney, the late Scottish author.

It helps us to connect, to step beyond the mundane, to knit words lovingly in our most engaging language.

Most importantly, it is an opportunity to communicate what’s in our hearts clearly, something that doesn’t happen enough.

Yesterday

Joy…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” Eudora Welty the late Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer.

Several of my medical school classmates were relaxing together in our off hours in the living quarters at a country medical clinic in central Florida. They took an analogue picture when I broke into song, guitar in hand.

Though I cannot clearly remember the sequence of events after half a century, I think I was thrilled that day because I had had enough sense to send a very sick baby off to the hospital. I could tell how challenging his condition had become as his folks carried him into the clinic with labored breathing.  I heard the classic rales (a crackling sound) in his lungs with my stethoscope and ordered an x-ray that showed pneumonia.

Any of my classmates could have done likewise, but nevertheless, as a student, it was a tremendous thrill to…

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Careless Words

“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” Arundhati Roy, an Indian author.

I wish I had those words back? Those words I blurted out in anger. But they’re irretrievable.

By the grace of God, I keep pursuing patience. In the most trying moments. In ways that will strengthen the bonds of love.

I need a listening ear and a patient heart. Sometimes the trail gets bumpy. I am so, so thankful that our gracious Lord will not relent in helping me to blossom.

Out of Place

Uncomfortable…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

As part of my job over the course of my career, I was asked to attend small political functions or parties. I do lean toward introversion. That is one of the reasons I am seated here, alone, at this set of keys.

I would enter usually someone’s home. The host would be someone I had never met. He or she generally shared nothing more with me than a few 100 cubic feet of air. I was invariably at a loss for words, while, feeling uncomfortable and completely out of place.

Understand the closest I come to completely associating with a particular secular “tribe” would be as a hometown, baseball fan. One of my buddies who roots (not to be confused with your favorite plant) for another ball club, calls me something I think is a compliment, but, may be derogatory, homer. Until recently I thought that was a fair ball…

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What Was I Thinking?

November 24, 1983. Our daughter was three, and our son would arrive 7.5 years later. I was working 65 miles south of our home in Woodland Hills, California.

I had never experienced that long a commute 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner. SoCal is well known for the worst traffic in the United States. That is/was especially true on this, the most exasperating traffic day of the year a la Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

Arguably, that film is the funniest American movie ever made. Inarguably, that date encompassed the most irksome traffic jam I would ever experience.

Although, there was that attempt at crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge at 5 P.M. on a Friday in New York. Verrazzano was an explorer during the European discovery of the Americas. I was exploring my sanity on that commute in ’83.

Once home, my spouse, Kristine, was able to pry me out of our small coupe. I still have a scar from the lug wrench.

A Relationship that Skidded and Fell

Some afterthoughts 50 years later…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying, This is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it.” Jeannette Walls, an American writer and journalist.

Memoir simply is a French word for memory. Some just stick in your craw and won’t go away.

I remember a number of such incidents as a self-unaware, college student. I had a lovely, growing relationship with a coed from another school.

She was buoyant and spontaneous. I remember once we ate at a down-home diner and I scarfed an exceedingly, unhealthy, chili dog down my innards in about 3 nanoseconds. On the way out the door she laughed and noted that she could drop some of her table manners with me at times, when, I was so engrossed in the “food race” that I wouldn’t notice.

Then on meeting her parents and…

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