THE LUNAR REPORT – “KNOWING NO FAILURE” September 2, 2016

OLD WELLWhen I was in college, three friends and I decided, after a Saturday night of heavy drinking in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to drive to Nags Head. That’s a beautiful and basic place on the Carolina coast.  My longest running and best friend – even today – was one of those friends that night.  Mike grew up in Elizabeth City, a more inland town than is Nags Head, but it was nearby.  He insisted we do a road trip that night. The other two, Joy and Kathy, agreed. Eventually, I did, too!

Vega

 

The problem was, for some reason, we had to use Mike’s Chevy Vega to get us there.

 

After we all met back at Mike’s Orange County trailer outside of Chapel Hill to begin the late night trip, I learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that Mike’s license had been revoked for some reason, and that he couldn’t drive. Then I learned that Joy, a tiny girl from Dunn, NC, couldn’t even reach the pedals in a Chevy Vega. And the final education was that Kathy, a city girl from Atlanta, had never driven a “straight stick!”

But we made the trip anyway. And I had to drive. Back then, the drive was almost six hours. But we made it in time to see the sunrise over the ocean. We ate breakfast and locally grown scuppernongs after that, I think. jockey's ridgeThen we went to Jockey’s Ridge and watched the hang gliders dive off the ridge and into the wind. It was amazing. A few years later, I think, my friend Kathy returned to Jockey’s Ridge and did some gliding on her own. I wasn’t there, but I kind of think now that she broke a bone of some sort while trying that!

wright-bros-mem-1Late in the day on that Sunday of our trip, we went to the Wright Brother’s Memorial site. The place was closed, so we saw nothing. Nothing but a very large and empty parking lot. It was there that we tried to teach Kathy how to drive a straight stick so that I could get some rest on the ride home. It didn’t take! She just couldn’t do it. So, I drove back to Chapel Hill, too.

I probably failed a school test or two the following week, but I don’t care. My tired memory of Nag’s Head is a treasure that knows no failure.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS COACH” August 9, 2016

tampa

 

“College football is approaching rather rapidly.   And to many, it’s become a religion.   It was a religion to me.   At least once.   Back in 1976. In Tampa.”

 

 

Those are the only five or six sentences I had written to post on The Lunar Report this week.   It was supposed to be about a gathering of my family and their friends on the weekend of September 11 of that year.   gatorIt was supposed to make fun of the Florida Gators who lost to my team after throwing the ball out of bounds on fourth down to stop the clock.   It was supposed to be about my Aunt Edith who, on Sunday morning, had to put her bloody mary on top of the motel room television set so that she could hold her bible and hold prayer service.   It was supposed to be funny.

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Well, it’s not so funny anymore.   I just learned that Bill Dooley, arguably the most successful football coach ever at The University Of North Carolina, passed away this morning.   I remember Jim Hickey, the coach who took Carolina to the 1962 Gator Bowl game.   But that’s my only memory of Coach Hickey.   Most of my early memories of Carolina Football came from the man who took over for Hickey in 1967.   From the man who died today.

Dooley brought us Don McCauley, Ron Rusnak, Ken Huff, Charles Waddell, Mike Voight, “Boom-Boom Betterson.”   And Lawrence Taylor!   He also brought his fans 69 wins in 11 seasons.

But to me, he mostly brought some wonderful memories.   He was the only football coach we had when I was a student at Carolina.   And I will admit my memories are a bit fuzzy.   Even Bill Dooley couldn’t stop the flow of sweet bourbon on warm Saturday afternoons in Kenan Stadium.   For me, my friends and a few times for my brother.   He just couldn’t stop that.

In October of 1975, my senior year, my brother came from our home in Jacksonville, Florida to go with me to the Notre Dame game in Chapel Hill.   My mom and dad sent a couple of things for my brother to give to me.   One was a letter from my mom, telling us to enjoy ourselves and begging us not to drink at the game.   The other was a twenty dollar bill from my dad with instructions to enjoy ourselves and to buy some bourbon.   So what did I do?    Well, my brother expected me to buy a pint and pocket the change. I bought a half gallon instead!

BeamOn the way into the stadium that day, I wrapped my sweater around the bottle.   We were so excited about the game, I think, that we walked faster than we usually did.   Somewhere near the entrance gate, I fumbled big time.   That damned glass bottle of Jim Beam slipped from my sweater and hit the hard brick sidewalk we were walking on.   I think I yelled, “Oh my God!”   Then I looked down and saw the bottle just spinning on the brick.   There were no breaks at all.   I think I told my brother that, even though we were not the Irish, “we will be lucky today!”

Joe Montana

And we were.   For over three quarters.   In the fourth quarter, Carolina led the always powerful and lucky Irish team, 14-0.   That’s when Notre Dame put in their third string quarterback.   That’s right.   THIRD string guy!    Joe-freakin’- Montana!   That’s when the bottle broke!    Figuratively. of course!

 

Well Bill Dooley didn’t win that game, but he gave my brother and me one of the best memories we have ever shared.

boom-boom-boomAnd, he gave us “Boom-Boom.”   I’m not sure I appreciated that at the time.   “Boom-Boom” and I shared a lecture class of some sort.   I don’t remember the class, but I remember one day.   I went to the bathroom or something, and when I returned, my text book was gone.   After class, I looked everywhere for it.   Nothing!   So, I said, “What the hell?” and went to the student union to grab a bite to eat.   And there he was.   “Boom-Boom!”   And he had my book.    I could tell it was mine from the tattered spine I had tattered myself.   So I approached him about it.   When I got to his table, he flexed his arm muscles as he covered the book, and looked up at me.   He was a strong man, and frankly, he scared the hell out of me.   I read the look in his eyes.   “So, what the hell do you want,” was what I read.   I just held up my hands, backed away a bit and said something stupid, like, “Hey! Great class today, huh?”   And then I got the hell out of there.   What did I care anyway?   I never read that damned book!

Coach.   This is nonsense, but it’s nonsense that means the world to me.   Thank you for the memories.   The wins were great and fun.

But, damn it.

Thanks for the incredible memories!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “NEVER LEAVE” July 16, 2016

daddy and mattThe man was called away a while back. But I saw him again the other day. That happens often.

The first time I recall seeing him again, he was with two other guys – Herm and Gene. Herm is my son’s granddad. Gene is my uncle – the brother of my son’s other granddad. Those three joined my son and me in Atlanta for a University of North Carolina football game against LSU a few years ago.

On that Atlanta day, my son and I celebrated the life of one of his young friends who had recently been called away. The friend was a huge LSU fan. I hope that kid somehow saw what I did that day. If he did, then he is sharing some pretty awesome Heaven time with three great guys.

All three have been called away. But on that day, they lived. On that day, I saw in my son the no nonsense determination and joy of Herm. I saw the friendly and constantly engaging and fun-loving glow of my Uncle Gene. And I saw in my son the sort of bold and twisted fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants love and humor of the other man.

That other man is my dad. I called him “Daddy.” I also called him “Joe.”

July 16th is Joe’s birth date.

Just a few days ago, I spent some time with my three grandsons. They came to my place for their first “sleepover” at my Charlotte home. Just as their dad did on the Atlanta trip, my grandsons brought Joe to Charlotte with them.

daddy airforce

 

 

The oldest grandson let me see again the sort of crazy but treasured fly-by-the seat-of your pants leadership stuff that defined my dad.

 

 

 

 

 

The younger grandson showed me the compassion and understanding of the man.

 

 

 

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My youngest grandson displayed, consistently, my dad’s desire and ability to entertain his friends and loved ones.

 

 

matt

 

 

 

And through each of their actions and thoughts and words, I saw my young son. My dad’s grandchild.  My grandchildrens’ dad.  The living testament of Herm, Gene and Joe.

 

 

 

We all are called to go somewhere else. And we have to go.  But you know what? We never leave.  We just don’t.

Thanks, Daddy, for sticking with us.

And Happy Birthday, my friend!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “DEVASTATING MOMENTS” June 15, 2016

Devastating moments are hard to overcome. Especially when those moments are created by oneself and all that one’s self encompasses.

Believe me. I know about this.

But I also know about joy. And about how such devastation can lead to the good stuff.

 

My son believes that I am one of the most positive human beings he has ever known.  Actually, I kind of get the impression that he thinks I am the most positive. Well, if that’s the case, he’s wrong. Sorry to be so negative here, but he knows the same positive folks that I do. I will never hold a candle next to those folks.

I proved that last week. And it devastated me. For a while.

dentzel carousel_4

My mother was the second oldest child in her family. She had four other sisters. All of the sisters lived mostly in Alamance County, North Carolina from the time they were born until the days they each left us. Mama left her home in the Alamance County town of Burlington to be with my dad. First in Vincennes, Indiana where my oldest sibling was conceived during my dad’s World War Two training days. After the war, they lived in Victory Village, a college housing community for veterans and their families at The University of North Carolina. Then after a short stint back in Burlington, Mama went to Roanoke, Virginia and eventually to Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and three children. Her sisters all stayed home. In Alamance County.

 

Just like her sisters, my mom loved being at the family home in Burlington. Whenever she could do that, she did. And just like Mama, her kids – the grandchildren of those family home folks – cherished their young days there as well. After we moved to Jacksonville, we would spend weeks during the summer at the old and warm Maple Avenue home of my gardeniagrandparents, living for a while among the aroma of gardenias wafting in from the side yard.

We were always welcomed at that place. Always as my feelings recall. On every morning that we left my grandparents’ house to return to our home in Florida, my grandmother would sit next to me while I ate Frosted or Corn Flakes at her kitchen table. She would place her left hand on my right knee, move her face and eyes and concerned and loving and disappointed look toward my face and simply say in her elongated southern tone, “Don’t go!”

At the end of one visit there, something kind of devastating happened. I have never been clear on what it was. I was a kid at the time. But something did. And I believe to this day that, before it happened, my grandmother once again said to me, “Don’t go.” But as we drove out of the Maple Avenue driveway to head south, my mom was in tears. Something happened that made her not feel so welcomed at her mom and dad’s house on that final day. To this day, I hate that Mama felt so badly about leaving her home and the flowers there after being where she was once so loved. And I really hate the feeling I had as we drove away.

Look, growing up in my life at our Florida home was difficult. My mom had emotional problems. My dad had some problems as well. But my siblings and I always felt acceptance and our presence there was always a requisite. And after I left to pursue my own life in another state, I was always welcomed back into their home – my old home place. So was my son and his friends. Neither of my parents could have lived with themselves if they ever turned me, their grandson or his buddies away from wherever the hell the two parents of mine were at the time. That was simply an impossible notion for the grandparents of my child.

A couple of weeks ago, I blew a big-time opportunity. Just as my grandmother did so many years ago. I have a list of excuses for doing such a thing. I learned listing from my mom. But I won’t do that here. Whatever happened all those years ago, and what happened earlier this week deserve no excuses. Both were just blown opportunities.

carowindsOn that Monday of that week, I spent the day with my son, his daughter, her cousin, two of my son’s young sons and a few other folks at a Charlotte area amusement park. The day at the park began early. And early on and throughout the day, I kind of reconnected in some very special ways with my three grandchildren and their cousin. (“Cousin!” Listen to me. That cousin is my grandchild, too!) He and my granddaughter are older, though. Young teens. The two of them and the other older kids there went to the big rides.

But I was charged with taking my two young grandsons to do rides they would enjoy. And so I did. And this old man rode with them. Being with those two at those moments and during every moment I encountered that day, well… The entire day was a blessing. A real and very true blessing.

FUN-040 8 Hurler

The youngest of those two pulled a Burlington-grandma-thing on me many times that day. “Don’t go,” he said to me in his own words. His real words were, “Paw-Paw, sit with me!” “Paw-Paw, I’m a little afraid. Do you mind holding my hand on this ride?” “Paw-Paw, are you coming to our house?” The last thing, I think that kid said to me that day was, “Paw-Paw, can we eat pizza at your place?” or something like that.

 

I am called “Paw-Paw.” My grandmother was called “Nanny.” Maybe my grandson heard me pull a “Nanny” on his dad that night. After we left the amusement park, his dad, my son, asked me if they could get pizza and eat it at my house before their thirty-minute drive to their home. The question was a beautiful one. The answer became the devastation that night. To me, anyway.

It was almost eight o’clock, and I was very tired. It had been a wonderful day with those guys, but at the same time, the day was brutal on my body. Honestly, I reached a point where I thought my day just needed to end. So, when my son asked me, “Dad, is it okay if we get a pizza and eat it at your place?” I chose to turn a beautiful, selfless and loving day into a self-serving and devastating ending. I answered, “Man, I’m sorry, but, no. I gotta get some rest.”

I don’t know. Maybe I was justified in giving that answer. My son understood. That’s the way he is. But I somehow lost the understanding of that question. And the answer I gave confused me. More likely, I was so self-consumed at that point that the feelings of others didn’t matter at all to me at the time.

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After telling my son what I did and on the ride back to my place, I thought of my grandmother and my mother. And the dominant vision kept coming back to me. The one of my mom crying because she no longer felt welcomed at her mother’s house. My son didn’t cry. Neither did my young grandson. But, damn it, I made it clear that they were not welcomed at my house that night.

I hope my response didn’t devastate those guys as much as it did me that night and as much as my grandmother’s response, or something, devastated my mother all those years ago. But, right now, I am grateful for what happened.

I hate myself for my selfish reactions to my son and his dear child. But I hate myself more for missing the perfect opportunity to make my son and his guys feel nothing but welcomed in my home. At any time. And in any circumstance. The way my mom and dad always welcomed me.

The good stuff from this devastating moment? The recognition that this shit will never happen again. Not at my home. Not on my watch. Not as long as I am a living dad and granddad!

The folks I love most deserve better.

Click HERE for the new Lunacy, “Stephen Curry Challenge.”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “APOLOGY” May 19, 2016

moonI owe some dear friends an apology. Or, at least, an explanation. I owe most of my family the same. If you are reading this, you are one of those folks.

Most of you know this, but back in mid February, I got sick. According to my “follow-up” doctor, I was “very sick.” I didn’t know that at the time.

At first, I thought it was the worst case of flu I had ever had. It turned out to be pneumonia, and it landed me in a hospital for four or five days.

Now, I will admit, as I did in a recent Lunar Report, that thoughts of old age, dependency and even death sort of occupied my mind for a while during the first hours of the hospital stay. And some beautiful things came from all of those thoughts.

Maybe it was because of the beautiful things. Maybe it was because of my sheer determination to get the hell out of that hospital and to make myself strong. Maybe it was simply because I had the dearest man alive by my side. Whatever the reason, I never really feared the illness. I really didn’t believe that I was “very sick.” I laid in a bed, was waited on hand and foot, had all the food and television available. And I had my son. But I never had fear.

Naturally, my son and his family knew about my deal in February. He drove me to the doctor. To the hospital. He stayed with me and was my strength.

And, just as naturally, my dearest friend from Chapel Hill texted me while all of this was going on. Because she couldn’t physically be with me in Charlotte during all of this, she refuses to acknowledge how very much her constant concern meant to me. Well, she needs to get over that. And to understand what she really did.

Since the time all of that happened, I have talked with my sister and have been with and talked with some other dear old friends. The compassion and concern during those talks and visits warmed my heart and encouraged me greatly. At the same time, their underlying sort of angst, I guess, was apparent. They were almost angry with me because I didn’t tell them what I was going through. One of those dear friends came to Charlotte a couple of weeks ago to play golf with his son who lives here. They both included my son and me in the golf that day. At one point during the round, my friend pulled me off to the side and said to me, “Look, when you get sick like you did, you really need to let me know.”

I got his point. My sister and a few other friends made the same point to me when they first found out about the whole hospital thing. I get theirs as well.

My excuses? “I didn’t think I was that sick, I had everything I needed, I just didn’t feel like talking with anyone – I was sick!” Look, I love all of those guys who needed to hear from me back then, but, honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with that part of such an experience. Not at the time I was sick.

But I do owe you guys an apology. I now know exactly how you are feeling about me and the February illness.

Just last night, I learned of one of my old college roommates and also a longtime and dear friend. He had heart surgery today after having a heart attack. I have heard nothing since last night. But last night I left a message on his wife’s phone. “Tell Tim that he has a lot of good folks in Chapel Hill and Charlotte who are pulling for him!”

Look, you guys, my sister and Tim have taught me so damned very much lately.

We love. And we are loved. Both are equally important to all involved.

IMG_0496And forgive me, please forgive me, for not allowing, even for a brief time, the folks I love so much to simply love me back for a while.

Click HERE for a lighter view of things.  The latest LUNACY, “Bathroom Rights!”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “FAITH” May 8, 2016

uptown with stadium

I know that God works in mysterious ways. The past few years I have come to understand that He travels some mysterious routes as well. The thing is, I think that I am the only living guy who understands why He chooses to so often travel Independence Boulevard and other nearby roads in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For a while now, I have heard quite a bit of timely music He has sent my way. I have mostly heard the tunes and lyrics while traveling myself down the mysterious road of Independence Boulevard. My work takes me on that route. And I have written about the songs He gave me at some incredibly opportune times. The sounds of those trips took me to loving places I needed to be. With my mom. With my dad. With my son. With those wonderful God-given gifts – my grandchildren. (click “mom” and “dad” to read the others.)

The most notable trip with God and song happened on Easter Sunday a couple of years ago. The day my son and a couple of his children were baptized in a church-side pond. Elton John helped as well on that day. His lyrics reminded me of my mom. And she was a faithful woman who went to her grave urging me to become baptized. I never was. But on that day her grandson and his children were.

I heard music again a couple of Sundays ago.

Look, I shouldn’t have needed to hear the tunes and words I did at that time. I have known what I have needed to know for decades.

Over the years, I have listened to this song many times since it was created and recorded. And every time I heard it, certain emotions kicked in. They were ones that mostly made me close my eyes and see the faces of those folks I love most. And beneath the closed eyelids those times, there almost always appeared a tear or two while I understood the faith I have in my loved ones – and in “life itself.”

Those times I closed my eyes while listening to this song and hearing the musical lyric “you,” my ears and my heart and my mind heard, felt and understood mostly what I feel for my son, his wife and children, and some very dear and loving friends and other family. If I ever lose anything with those guys, there really would be nothing else for me to do in this life. But there was, to me anyway, a more subtle notion in those lyrics.

Those couple of Sundays ago I wasn’t traveling down Independence Boulevard. Not that time. On that day, I was on a parallel road, traveling to my work. I was on a road called Providence Road. Man. How appropriate.

myers-park-methodist-2The road was clear. No traffic problems at all. But you have to understand that a road called “Providence” has a church or two on every other corner in a town like Charlotte, North Carolina. And I had to stop a few times while local off-duty police officers allowed church goers to park their cars wherever they could. It was at the very first Providence Road church traffic stop that I heard yet another song.

At the very same time I heard the harmonica play the opening measures of that song, I saw folks of all ages crossing streets, walking sidewalks and holding church doors open for others. Those visions were the same ones from the Sundays I, at a very young age, spent with my mother, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles.

At that intersection, I saw old folks like my grandparents, carrying their old and tattered bibles, wearing their finest clothing and walking briskly to make the sermon. It reminded me of the spiritual moments I spent with my grandmother, grandfather, their daughters and their families in a Burlington, North Carolina Baptist church. I saw younger older people, too. They were dressed up as well, but not quite as committed or determined to hear the beginning of the sermon. That sight exhibited the more laid-back Jacksonville, Florida approach that reminded me of my mom and me at our neighborhood church. Then I saw a young couple walking to the church door. The man was wearing shorts with a dress shirt that wasn’t tucked in. That reminded me of the new and wonderful direction worship services are taking these days. It reminded me of my son, his wife and their God-loved family who live and go to church near Charlotte.

At that very moment, I knew exactly what that song was saying to me.

Over the years, like most of us, I guess, I have from time to time lost my faith in science, my belief in the holy church, my sense of direction. I have surely been a lost man in a lost world from time to time.  I have lost my faith in the people on TV and in politicians and so much more.

That song I heard that day? I researched the meaning of the lyrics. The song-writer wrote an article to explain his song.

He wrote, “It’s quite easy to be precise about the things I’ve lost faith in – politics, media, science, technology, the things that everybody has. And yet I, along with most other people, have a great deal of hope, and a feeling that things will and can get better. So, what do we place our faith in? I can’t define that as easily as I can define what I don’t believe anymore. So, I haven’t defined it. I’ve just said if I ever lose my faith in you, and ‘you’ could be my producer, it could be faith in God, it could be faith in myself, or it could be faith in romantic love…. It could be all of those things.”

The research I did made it clear to me the artist’s intentions. He simply wanted the lyrics to breath. And to take on whatever life they need to. For whoever needs them.

One of the lines in the opening verse of the song is, “You could say I lost my sense of direction.” That has surely happened to me. So damned many times. But after hearing that song on my drive a couple of Sundays ago, and after ending up at a church crossing on Providence Road, I looked up the definition of the word, “providence.” I discovered that it means “a manifestation of divine care or direction.”

That definition kind of explains it all to me. The song’s chorus is “If I ever lose my faith in you, there’d be nothing left for me to do.” Well, that Sundays’ manifestation of divine care and direction gave me all that I need. It gave me the ultimate vision of all of those in whom I have faith. My son. His wife. Their children. My mom. My dad. My sister. My brother. My family. My loved ones. All of them!

But especially the one who rode down Providence Road with me that day. And He doesn’t just travel that road and others with me. He leads me down those wonderful paths. All of them. That I understand.

Look, at the time I began writing this several weeks ago, I never thought I would be posting it on a day meant to honor the woman who first taught me faith. But Mama always worked in mysterious ways as well!

And, thanks to Mama, I have known all of my life what I am going to say to you now.

If I ever lose my faith in God, there’d be absolutely nothing left for me to do.

Here are the lyrics to the song written by Sting in 1993.

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“If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”
You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do
Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do
I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face
I never saw no miracle of science
That didn’t go from a blessing to a curse
I never saw no military solution
That didn’t always end up as something worse but
Let me say this first
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

Click HERE for the new Lunacy, “Mom’s Day.”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “PATHS” April 23, 2016

new-directionThis is all about choices, I think.   I really have no other direction to take here.

Look, when it happened, I only dwelled on the silly notion for a moment – when that moment suddenly arrived to encourage my thoughts of the future.

When my child was born, I chose to question what that new kid’s life would become. Will he become presidential material? A star athlete performing in the NBA Playoffs one day? A doctor or lawyer?

Well, it crossed my mind. For that one brief moment. Then I chose to simply adore the kid and adore the life he chose to deliver to his mom and me on that day.

The kid, my only child and son, made many choices growing up. Some weren’t all that good. But he was a kid and a guy. Those choices were expected, really.

And the good ones he has made for 31 years? Well, his mom’s family and mine have given the youngin’ some pretty decent blood lines, but his choices have been made by the kid himself. Well, with the guidance of thoughts directed to him mostly by God.

Look, the kid hasn’t yet chosen to be presidential material. At age 31, he’s probably too old to choose professional athletics. And, while he is still young enough to become a doctor or a lawyer one day, the kid proudly owns every choice he has ever made.

On a warm April Sunday morning, five years ago, my mother died in Jacksonville, Florida. Six days later, she was taken to Graham, North Carolina to dwell forever next to my deceased dad. She was with her husband again for only seven days when another warm April day and a wonderful sunlit Carolina path led to something else.

I don’t know. Maybe Mama talked to God about this. You know – to make sure things stayed on course and that the new something else would all happen the way it should. She didn’t need to, though. The choices had already been made before she left us.

But on that day, on that happier April afternoon, my world and those of so many others who witnessed what I did were blessed with the validation of choices made by the two most wonderful human beings I know.

On April 23, 2011, my son married the wonderful woman he chose. And my daughter-in-law married the wonderful man she chose.  Five years later, they both very proudly own those choices.

And right now, as happy for them as I am, I choose to believe that their four children are more happy than I will ever be about the choices their parents made.

I tell you what. Wishing those two a “happy anniversary” on this day is silly, too. Making “happy” wishes to them is kind of directionless.

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Especially when compared to the beautiful path they both chose to take five years ago.

CLICK HERE  for the Lunacy companion piece, “Prom Night!”

THE LUNAR REPORT – ” MYSTERY TOUR” April 12, 2016

Maybe I am even more twisted than the guys who wrote and performed the song. Or maybe I finally get the lyrics they intended for us all to finally get.

Or maybe I am just the fool.

But I rolled up, made a reservation and a month or so ago allowed a sort of “Magical Mystery Tour” of my own to take me away.

For a while anyway.

While on the tour, I met some new angels. I saw some old ones that have been with me for years. And then there were the two angels with whom I have shared decades of magical trips – they once again accepted the invitation to join me.

The new angels did not come as a surprise. I expected their smiles, their laughter, their encouragement and their joyful eyes when they finally saw me do what they expected me to do. But I never expected the genuine manners in which they led me down their dark and cold hallways to the incredible warmth that ultimately radiated from what they each taught me.

A few of the old angels, the ones who knew about the tour, gladly forgave things like missed work and late rent. One of the old angels graciously provided for the journey gifts and food and encouraging second-hand words from a few of the very youngest of my old angels.

And the two I have known for so long?

Well, distance between us was overcome by the spirit of one of them. That happens often with this angel. But never more so than it did on this journey.

And the other angel? Well, he did on this tour what he always does. He brought other angels with him.

This is my twisted and foolish way of telling you where I have been and why I disappeared for so long. For a while, I kept perfectly still and could only grin. And without my angles, I would have been totally alone. This is my way of finally completing this “mystery tour.”

I am looking for no compassion. I am asking for no prayers. My traveling angels took care of most of that. And you guys and God have taken care of the rest.

Look, I am okay. Once I post this, my latest “tour” will be over! But the reservation was made in mid-February. That’s when I thought it would only be a one-week mission to the worst flu village I had ever encountered. Instead, it led to an emergency room diagnosis of pneumonia that then led to a five-day hospital stay.

My new angels, the ones from the hospital, smiled and laughed with me every moment we encountered each other. The nurses, the doctors, the attendants – even other patients and their families. On my final day there, my nurse and the attendant who had been assigned to me on that day tested me. I had to do without manufactured oxygen for a while, then walk the halls on my own. I had to maintain, on my own, a “90-percent” on the oxygen measuring monitor while performing for the nurse and attendant.

I swear I saw tears in their eyes as I successfully completed my walk. I certainly encountered their support and cheers. My new angels succeeded. So did I. Because of them.

While I was doing what I was doing on my journey, my landlord and boss and others I have known for a while all did what they do – live angelic moments of compassion, understanding and generosity. I still have a home. I still have work. I still have a place to bring the balloons another of the old angels delivered during the trip. And I still have the words of her children and of my grandchildren she delivered to me one night. Well, the balloons never made it to my home. The joy from that angel and the words from the loving children I know – well, that joy took those colorful air-filled gifts on other, more child-like, tours in the hospital.

Last month, I needed very badly the support of all of my angels. Honestly, I didn’t know where that tour was taking me. It was a total mystery to me at the time. My weight was way down. So was my blood pressure. My body temperature was the total opposite. I was a bit delirious, too. I sort of remember that. I do remember trying my best to be funny while dealing with the very serious medical folks in the ER. And with my best angel.

world spinninggBut the mystery of it all kind of guided me, too. Where would all of this lead me? When the hell will this tour end? And how will it? Will I die? Will I end up in hospital room after hospital room like my mother did before struggling to take her last breath? Or will I survive, at least to a degree, within some altered quality of life?  That night, while I watched the world spinning ’round, the eyes in my head saw the sun going down.

I was afraid for awhile. Only a short while, though. I remember very clearly the moment on the first night of my hospital stay when I solved the mystery. When the world stopped spinning so fast. When I looked death and disorder squarely in the eyes, smiled and said, “I’m no fool. There’s nothing I can do about this. It’s in God’s hands. No matter what happens, this is an adventure I need. So, damn it, bring it on. And let me learn what I can learn.”

moonI then raised my head from the hospital bed, looked to my right where the sofa was placed beneath the massive window that lead my eyes to the heavenly night-time skies. Just beneath the glass-paned view was one of the angels who always encouraged me to think and to say and to believe such things. He was asleep. But he was there.  It was my son.

And when I saw him there, a vision of my sister who lives hundreds of miles away appeared.  It was only a vision.  She wasn’t physically there.  But I saw my sister who years before spent days and weeks and months and years doing for our mother some of the same physical things my own son did for his dad on that night. And just like my sister, he somehow subdued the emotional turmoil that’s always present when confronting a troubled parent. It wasn’t easy on him. I know. I have seen my sister and know how hard things were for her.

My sister was the angle he shared with me that night. And the message they both delivered in their own angelic ways? The message of love is always there with those two. But on that night I heard them say, through my own twisted interpretation of things, “Get off your ass and take care of yourself and those you love! Don’t become a helpless victim here. Engage in the adventure, but damn it – don’t ever stop trying to live!.”

“Don’t be the fool,” I thought to myself in my own words.

Look, I started writing this weeks ago. It took so long because I wanted each word to be the perfect one. But getting a written verbal grip on what I went through, what I learned, and what I now expect has been a difficult thing to do. So here is what I will tell you. Perfect or not, these next words are ones you can believe.

One day I will see the sun going down for the last time, and the tour will take me away forever. The final tour may be a long one. It might be a short one. But as we all can expect one day, it will be a certain one.

And that’s all okay. As long as we fight like hell until it’s time to be taken away. And as long as we, when the journey begins for sure, take with us in our dying hearts every angel who has ever graced our living ones, well – that’s more than okay.

Maybe I am twisted. But that last paragraph, for me anyway, rolls up my mystery trip. Keeps me perfectly still.

FOOL-ON-THE-HILL-2-484x198It makes this foolish man grin.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “AGAIN” January 27, 2016

cam smilingI saw something tonight. It was something I hadn’t seen in a while. And what I saw brought back something else.  Something that has driven my innermost feelings for several years now. Something I really haven’t even felt in a while.

I guess as a kid, I always wanted to eventually become a professional athlete. Since I was a University of North Carolina basketball fan, naturally the NBA was sort of my crazy childhood goal. And I do not recall who asked me this question way back then. It very well could have been me who made the inquiry.

“Why on earth would you want to be a professional athlete?” I was asked.

While trying to formulate an appropriate answer, I reheard other questions and answers to which I had become accustomed during my youth.

“Mama, can I go outside and play?”

“No! I don’t want you to get dirty again,” she would say.

“Mama, can I play now?”

“It’s too close to supper time,” she would say.

“Now can I play, Mama?”

“It’s too late. Go brush your teeth!”

So, my answer to the question, “Why would you want to be a professional athlete?”

“Because I’d be paid millions to do something I now have to beg my mother to let me do. PLAY! Just play!”

Look, she was a good mom. Just a little protective of her babies from time to time.

But as time passed, I grew to realize that even if I was good enough for the NBA, making millions doing nothing but playing might have easily led to an ego that would one day become my downfall. You know, living in hotel rooms with plenty of money to burn. Showing off in late-night clubs. Buying late-night friendships, drugs and other things. Absolutely allowing the self-induced destruction of the heart and soul Mama built for me. We all know how common that is with young players in the pros.

Well, what I saw again tonight put my adult realization to rest. The timing of once again seeing what I did is kind of incredible. All I was doing was searching for a picture of my friend’s dog. I thought I had saved it on my computer.

What I found instead was a simple picture I hadn’t seen in while. I think I last saw it in September, shortly after it was taken. It’s a picture of this year’s likely choice of the NFL Player Of The Year. I saw it again today – the day after his team earned a birth in this year’s Super Bowl. He wasn’t in a hotel room. He wasn’t in a nightclub. There were no late-night friendships around. Nor were there drugs or other such things present in that picture.  There were just two young guys there who needed someone like him to make a difference in that short moment.

The picture showed, in that man’s face, the determined heart of Mama. And it showed the joy he brought to two of my mom’s great-grandsons. They did not get a football from the man. But the joy they will always remember, I am sure, will be from the kindness and genuine fun and important time he gave those two grandsons of mine on that day last fall. It’s the very same joy felt by all of those kids at the games who do get “touchdown balls” from him.

cam and the boysThis guy gets it. He recently said that once he leaves the NFL, he wants to be remembered for bringing fun to the game.

Well, sorry, Cam, but you will be remembered for much more than that. You are making a difference. It has very little, really, to do with football. It has everything to do with seizing every opportunity to make whatever differences you can in the lives you touch. The fortunate thing about your career is that you are able to make so damned many of them.

I never found the dog picture. Once I saw, on the day after that genuine man led his team to the championship, a picture of Cam with two of my grand babies, I ended my search.  I chose to vigorously grab onto only the lost feelings that picture gave back to me.  The ones I had lost a while ago. Immediately I felt again what I need to feel. It’s been too damned long since I experienced anything like this.

That picture. That man. Those beautiful young guys.  Seen once again on the night after such an important game to folks around here.

They each and all brought back into my innermost self the overwhelming desire to make myself just stop whatever the hell I am doing and, instead, write what the hell I am feeling.

Tonight my mom made a difference. So did Cam. So do my grandchildren. Again.

And I am loving this.

Again.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “PONDERING” January 23, 2016

I am suggesting no pondering on your part.   But pondering and acting on ponders seem to create a lot of laughing and crying.   I have been laughing and crying a great deal lately.

While pondering exactly how to recover and re-post all of the lost Lunars from a few years ago, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to relive some beautiful and disturbing and clarifying moments from my past.

And yeah.   I laugh and I cry when reading again the otherwise nonsensical stuff from the old Lunar Report.

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The Lunar Report actually began as a business newsletter on Facebook, one originally intended to only promote my failing video production career.   Of course, in at least my eyes, it evolved into something much greater than just a self-serving newsletter.   But y’all know that.

You are the evolution.

 

Well, look.  I have mostly wiped away the laughing tears and the crying ones as well and re-posted all of the Lunars that only appeared on Facebook.   These are the original ones that,  in the Fall of 2009, began my passion for such nonsense.    For those of you interested in reliving with me those moments you helped create, check out the Lunar Classic site.   You will have to scroll down and hit the “Older Posts” button to arrive at “Inaugural Issue.”   That’s the title of the very first Lunar Report.   You will need to scroll up to read the ones that followed “Inaugural.”  This is all a sort of reverse order deal!  But even that fact is making me cry and laugh!

All the other older Lunars will soon appear on the new site.   The next phase of re-posting will begin with the ones I posted on the online editions of The Florida Times Union, The Durham Herald, The Miami Herald, and a couple of other online newspapers before The Lunar Report site was created.

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The final phase of restoration will be the the ones that you brought to life. The ones you guys supported. The ones generated by your never ending concern and love.  The ones from the original Lunar Report website.

 

 

I do not know when the final phase will begin to occur and become finished.  It will take time.  But during that time, I will ponder new things.   Act on fresh stuff.   And allow without hesitation my heart to feel and cherish the laughs and cries and tears that my new passionate ponderings will surely generate.

And if you feel a need to mull over anything yourself, then ponder this.   Just as you have been doing the past six-and-a-half years for me, continue to provide the cherished laughs and tears and other beautiful moments you certainly know how to create.

But this time, do all of that just for you.