In the midst of last week’s chaos


In the midst of last week’s chaos, some landmark things happened. A banquet to attend and celebrate the college graduation of my oldest, the arrival of my latest published novel- The Danburg Diary and serious research materials for the book to follow The Coffee Pot Conspiracy called, The Dead Line. But there was another landmark met in the middle of all that— my birthday! At 52, I am nine years older than Charley was when he died. I think back to my 44th year and how defining it was in my life. Not as defining as death, mind you– but that was the year I was diagnosed with a life threatening tumor. In light of what happened to Charley, it certainly pales in comparison. Still, because of him I see how vastly different the lives of my family could have been if I had died.

So when I think of 44, you would surmise that the most remarkable thing I would remember about that year is that they were successful in removing the tumor and that I didn’t die…right? While that certainly should rank right up top, something even more wonderful happened to me. That was the year I returned my hand to pen. Now how can such a thing be more remarkable than life, you might ask? Because if you are a writer…you understand that writing is for you, life itself. I cannot imagine who I might be right now if I had not been inspired to return to the pen. It is clear that something must have happened while under the knife; an epiphany of some sort. For I had written as a child and through young adulthood. I even continued to journal through my forties, but that my dear friend is not the same thing as writing. Only writing, is writing.

At 14 if you asked me what I was going to do with my life I would have answered you without hesitation and with absolute conviction… ‘I am going to write the great American novel.’ If anyone asked, ‘What is it going to be about?’ I would have replied – ‘I have no idea! But it will be great and it will be mine.’ So how did it end up that at 44 I had everything on my farm to occupy my time and yet, not enough to feed my soul? What changed me after 14? I believe something happens to your dreams when you begin to grow up. Like old shoes and ragged jeans they get tossed to the corner of your closet and once out of daily sight… you forget about them. Then years later in an effort to evolve you clean out your closet– try them on for nostalgia’s sake and find they no longer fit. Your life gets in the way of your living and you get lost on your path. Somehow in between the kids, the farm and being married I had gotten lost in my living and the frustration was endless. I kept feeling as though I was standing still, knowing that a train that I was supposed to be on had already pulled out of the station. I was late for my life and I could not tell you why or what it was I thought I was supposed to be doing… I just knew in my soul, I was not doing it! And regardless how I tried, I could not find the next train to board. Then of course, the architect of the universe saw fit to redirect me in a most dramatic way. Being a precocious child, I imagine he felt he had no other alternative than to grab my attention and hold it—so he did!

The fear of death can be an incredible tool to open our eyes and clear away the cobwebs of ego. By the time I had the surgery and was on the mend, I had committed to picking up the pen again to see what happened. I figured the worst that could happen was—I would suck. I had sucked at learning to play the guitar. I had sucked at trying to learn how to snow ski… I had sucked at math! And while these were certainly drawbacks to becoming a specialist within those chosen fields; it didn’t matter! Why? Because it wasn’t what I wanted or what I was supposed to be doing with my life! So I sucked- but I did it with style and grace because it never mattered. And what’s wrong with sucking at something, if you can own it?! Nothing! As long as you don’t let that be the reason to quit something that does matter… so I didn’t. In two years I had written 9 main stage plays and gotten them under contract with a publisher. The next 7 years were spent cutting my teeth on writing several novels. Needless to say, this all brings me back to celebrating my 52nd Birthday with Charley. Charley, the man with the moldy skin who has patiently waited 44 years waiting for my talent and intellect to mature enough to warrant his faith in me. Charley–the man whose insistence to be heard introduced me to someone who has given me a glimpse of the great beyond. Charley, whose gift of persistence has renewed my joy in self expression through ink…

And so, with pen in hand I write my thanks to him for the presents he has granted me and promise him that next year on my birthday, it is he who will receive a present…
The story of his life, as seen through the eyes of his death.

Until later then…

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