Our almost ten year old Honda Civic got 42 miles to the gallon on our road trip to St. Louis

Our Honda Civic
It has a few nicks and scratches on it, but our Honda Civic is still running like the day we got it.


Buying our Honda Civic almost ten years ago from Capital Honda in Okemos was probably one of the best post retirement purchasing decisions we've made.  On our recent road trip to visit two of our grandkids in St. Louis, Missouri, we got 42 miles to the gallon.  I need to be clear that we didn't do anything special to get that mileage.  There's no magic mileage potions that we put in the gas tank, no special adjustments or parts that we added.  

From the time we purchased it, we've never missed an oil change and we've followed pretty closely to the suggested maintenance.  It's never not started or left us stranded.  It's never been towed.  I'm happy to say that it just keeps on running.

Our 37-year-old son in law has a Honda that he got in college.  It's odometer has rolled over at least three times.  Can we do that with ours?  I'm counting on it.



Figuring out my life while drinking Schnickelfritz with my son at Urban Chestnut in St. Louis

Me and my son.
My son and I last Sunday night at Urban Chestnut in St. Louis


While talking with my son Justin at a beer hall--Urban Chestnut--in St. Louis, the realization hit me with a big sledge hammer that I have a whole lot of reasons to be real thankful.  I knew that before, but as we sat at the bar drinking Schnickelfritz, I realized that in a couple of weeks I'll turn 72.

To me that means that I have to bring a little more order to my life and to the time I have remaining.  Looking at local obituaries, I see more and more baby-boomers dying in their early seventies.  I have genetic family longevity going for me, but I still know that in ten years I will have birthday number 82.

What does this mean?

I need to bring a little more order and intention to my life and make sure I do what I want to get done.  Does that mean I'm going to make a bucket list?

Maybe.  If I think of my life as a blueberry pie, then I have to let go of some of the tasty morsels with a really flaky crust.  I have to just push them over the side and right into the garbage disposal.  Can anybody relate?

Will I ever give a TED talk?  Nah.  Don't see it.  Will I ever own a self-driving Tesla?  I don't see it.  Maybe I'll ride in one someday.  Will I ever run in a marathon?  It won't happen anymore.

What about my father?  Go to the search engine on this blog and put in the search terms, my father and you'll get the story.  It's time to let go.  He's long dead and I know that I'll never find out more than I know now.  My identity is really tied up with this one.

Over the years, I've thought about and did everything I can to establish that fifty percent of who I am and never got much beyond my name and that my dad was a real "scoundrel."  It's time to declare the search over.  As an antidote to the desire to learn more in this area, maybe, I'll get a tattoo that says "Remember Who You Are!"

It's from a sermon by a pastor where we went to church for several years.  He said those who believe in Jesus have a new father, one who won't abandon me and I have a new identity.  When he said that I had trouble buying it.  The time has come for me to open up that dad door.

What about other stuff?  Yeah, there's more of the world I'd love to see with my wife.  I want to be able to do at least a hundred sit-ups.  I want a heart that's more thankful to God for how much I've been blessed.  It's so easy, at times, to forget or to push it into the background.

How will I develop this priority list for the rest of my life?  I'll probably write more about it in the very near future.  That's my way of sorting things out in my life.  

Why am I doing this publicly on a blog?  I bet there are a whole lot of baby boomers in a similar situation.  Maybe this will help and maybe it won't.  Take what you can use and discard the rest.

I enjoy drinking beer with my son and, also, my son-in-law, Adam Jones.

Here's what my new cornea transplant looks like from the front

My cornea transplant.
While ordering a new lens for my glasses and my right eye, I got to see my cornea transplant done in May. It's the silver moon-looking spot in my eyeball.


After lunch today, I pick-up a new lens for my glasses and the right eye.  It's all part of the continued healing of my right eye after a cornea transplant at the University of Michigan in May.  I was told that my vision could change again within the next few months, but I was encouraged to get an updated lens for my glasses.

The challenge has been seeing detail and that has affected reading and seeing while driving.  This should help, I am told.  Improvement in my vision has been a game of inches, kind of like football where the game is just to move the ball downfield.

While taking a measurement of my pupil at Lenscrafters, they took a picture of my repaired eye and it showed pretty clearly my new cornea.  

My admiration for ophthalmologists has only grown over the past several years.  The U of M's Dr. Bradford Tannen is the latest.  He did the transplant where a layer was taken from a donor eye and grafted onto mine and I was awake and it was done outpatient.  This is the latest on my vision journey.

Here's why I've been thinking of the day that my daughter Krista was born

My daughter and her youngest son.
Krista, our daughter, and her youngest son, Jacob Wesley.

I remember vividly the day that Gladys told me over the phone that she was pregnant with our first child.  Driving home that afternoon, the smile on my face was so big that I had to look high.  And I remember every detail of her birth on March 17, 1982.  

Her birth taught me what real excitement was.  I had no siblings and I was raised by a single mom and up to that point, I may have held a baby for no more than 30 seconds.  Then Krista came and I couldn't get enough of holding my daughter and just looking at her.  I quickly got into changing diapers and giving baths.  When she was awake, I would talk to her non-stop about everything.

Then, she married Adam and we got his call that our first grandchild was on the verge of being born.  We aimed for the hospital in Carmel, Indiana and we were welcomed into the grandparents waiting room where Gladys and I drank French press coffee and then Adam came and got us and we saw our first grandchild Xavier.  That was eight years ago.

Now the news; Krista called us a short time back and told us that number four was coming along sometime in March.  Wow and wow.  What started as just Gladys and me is now twelve counting our pre-born grandchild.  

It's a big cliche, but each one has their own unique personality.  Our son Justin and his wife Lauren have a son and a daughter.

I wish God had a section of the Bible for grandparents on how to effectively plug into your grandchild's life.  There's a lot to share in a "here's what I learned" fashion for each of them.

Maybe I should write it down.  It could be a gift for each one, a little piece of me.

And for grandfathers who have taken a pass on developing a relationship with their progeny, I would encourage them to stop and take a deep breath and rethink their position.

I know one grandpa who wrote off his grandkids and it was the kids who lost.  And the grandpa was a big-time loser too.

Thank-you God.  "Guide me as I continue on as the patriarch of this side of our family."

How important is it to a boy to know that their dads love them?

Father and sons photos.
My son (right) and my son-in-law (left) with their sons.

I just about crapped my pants when I saw a picture of a dad holding his baby son.  The father and son images were part of a group of people in the shot taken more than 70 years ago.  Everybody was having fun at a picnic.  To check the father and son part of the image, I turned on the magnifier on my iPhone and could identify my dad holding me when I was a baby.  I had to be less than a year old.

Why do I mention this?  I want to celebrate my son and his son and my son-in-law and his sons.  Their sons will never wonder about the love of their fathers for them.  This in my opinion is key to the growth of a man.  

During the time when I was still trying to connect all the wires with my son-in-law, they emailed a picture of him walking around a track with his barely old enough to walk son's finger in one hand and a basketball in the other.  The look on my oldest grandson's face told it all.  He was proud of his dad and he knew that he was loved by him.

My son is the same way.  His son knows that his dad loves him.  He has no doubt.  My son is a hands-on dad.  He and his son enjoy each other.  The dividends will be paid out down the road.

How many guys never knew if their dad really loved them?  A lot, I'm sure.  As a man that makes you doubt yourself and you wonder about your worth.  Relationships are harder and less close.  

Everyday, I thank God that my son and son-in-law love their boys beyond all measure.  And they love their daughters in a way that they fully-know that they are the apple of their dad's eye.

Me and my dad picture.
A picture of my less than year old self draped over my dad's shoulder.



Antidote to "Too Much Trump" is going to see Mama Mia II--Here We Go Again

Check the senior citizen rate for Mama Mi 2.
At the noonish showing of Mama Mia II, there were a fair number of people.


We needed to get away from all the chatter and bloviating about Trump and Putin and all the other stuff relating to politics.  We found a way to get a two hour break--going to see Mama Mia II, Here We Go Again.  It worked and this morning we still have songs from the show bouncing around our heads and out our mouths.  It's a good story with the movie shot on a small island where we stayed on a family vacation.

The music is from the Swedish group Abba.  I found my body responding to the rhythm of the music while sitting in the theater seats.  And the actors had smiles that were wide and infectious.  But, of most interest to our family was where the movie was filmed, the Island of Vis in the Adriatic Sea between Croatia and Italy.

It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to with a history that goes back to Biblical days.  While there, we rented a place for nine people.  What we got through Airbnb.com was perfect.  The movie describes the location as being a small Greek island.  It is actually Croatian.  

The actors were great with Meryl Streep, Lily James. Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Cher and many others.

Tonight, I bet we will be watching the original Mama Mia through live stream.  I don't want to let go of the music or the smiles.

Was my wife singing loudly in the ophthalmologist's office or just really tired

We had just gotten in from our vacation before my appointment with my glaucoma doctor.

My wife and I had just gotten into the Lansing-area about two hours before an appointment with my glaucoma surgeon to be checked after my cornea transplant.  She goes in with me to the exams to listen for what I miss from this usually soft-spoken group of doctors.  And, it has become even more important to have her in appointments now that I'm wearing somebody else's cornea.

I bet she has been to 75-100 appointments and 11 eye surgeries.  My vision journey isn't over yet, I'm sure.    Knowing that she's doing this with me makes it doable.

She has a strong faith in Jesus, one that has moved mountains.

What I'd tell my youngest grandson about how I met grandma almost 40 years ago

If my youngest grandson Jacob asked me how grandma and I met, here's what I'd tell him.

He's my youngest grandson and he and I spent a lot of time together this past week when our family spent four days together for a special vacation at an Airbnb on Lake Michigan.  He's talking more and more and many of his words are intelligible, at least, I thought I recognized many of them.

As part of our family celebration of birthdays and our 37th anniversary, my son-in-law Adam Jones, an ordained pastor conducted the ceremony on the shore of Lake Michigan near Union City.  My oldest grandson Xavier was my best man, our oldest granddaughter Gretchen was Gladys' maid of honor.  Our grandson Miles was ring bearer and the other two were cheerleaders.


During our time together two-year-old Jacob seemed to be asking me about how grandma and I met.  He listened carefully as I told him about how we met at the church where I grew-up.  She was the third grade teacher at the school I attended in the late 1950s.  Our courtship was done in phases that involved a couple of matchmaking late aunts.  

We reached a point in our relationship where God was like Blake Shelton on the Voice using his big finger to point over Gladys' head and say it was her.  "Marry her."  At the time, I wasn't shopping for a wife and Gladys wasn't  looking for a husband.  It just happened.

During this period, we'd have many Saturday morning breakfasts at Bay City's Char House where we'd eat blueberry pancakes and drink coffee.  I came to one conclusion that God was right.  She was the one.  That was more than thirty-seven years ago.

Not having a flair for the dramatic, I visited Gladys in her classroom one day and got out my checkbook and went to the calendar and asked her what would be a good date to get married.  

That was almost four decades ago.  Best thing I've ever done was marry Gladys.  She loves me unconditionally, but she loves Jesus even more.  That's what makes our relationship work.

It was a great family vacation.  God has given me more than I can appreciate.

My daughter is proof that there's hope for dads who come from a screwed-up father background

Me and my daughter with her youngest son who shares a name with me.
My daughter Krista holding her youngest son during our Father's Day celebration yesterday

Lots of guys including myself have a "father wound."  My dad took off when I was 18 months old.  He just completely vanished leaving my mother without a penny other than her determined desire to survive.  This was right after World War II.

Growing up, this experience left me feeling that I was permanently branded as totally unqualified to be a father.  Then a series of happenings helped change my mind gradually.  A little guy I was playing catch with grabbed my hand as we were crossing the street and called me "dad."  I liked it.

Then I met my wife.  Call it what you will, a Holy Spirit moment opened my heart to the possibility of having kids when we were talking marriage.  Then two weeks after we got home from our honeymoon in Mexico, we found that she was pregnant.  That was the beginning of an adventure that continues with five grandkids.

Yesterday, we had dinner with our daughter and her family.  I remember my excitement the day she was born.  I was floating on a cloud.  My wife had trouble prying her away from holding her.  That feeling still exists.  Now especially with her kids and family.

Can a guy with a bad father experience become a good dad?  I don't know how it happened, but the best thing that ever happened to me was meeting my wife, getting married and having kids.  That father adventure started with Krista who is now a mom of three.  Was it a God thing?  Has to be.

And we have a son Justin who is married with two kids.  This picture shows him with his three-year-old son.  I remember vividly when the doctor handed me the forceps to cut his umbilical cord.  I was totally excited to have a son.  

My son Justin with his three-year-old son.


Watching Saturday morning cartoons with my two-year-old grandson


It was early Saturday morning and I found myself reliving my early days as a parent when you watched cartoons with them.  No more Popeye or the Jetsons or Yogi Bear.  Tastes among the younger crowd have changed.

Here my youngest grandson sits on my lap while my wife and daughter are out shopping together for clothes for when my wife and I renews our wedding vows next week on a Lake Michigan beach.  It will be part of a family vacation with all the kids and grandkids.

At eight days U-M ophthalmologist says my cornea transplant is fully-attached


Post-op exam at U-M.
See my wife Gladys sitting in the corner next to the computer monitor during second post-op exam after my cornea transplant eight days ago.



We celebrated after my second post-op exam today by going to Grand Traverse Pie Company near the U-M medical annex on the west side of Ann Arbor.  My cornea surgeon, Dr. Bradford Tannen, said the cornea transplant in my right eye was fully attached with no signs of problems.  Now it's up to the healing process.

Before the surgery, my vision was filled with fuzziness.  It was like watching a television with a lot of static from a cheap set of rabbit ears.  For more than a month, I was getting increasingly frustrated by the prospects of permanently impaired vision.  Now the fuzziness is gone completely.  

It's a waiting game to see how much the detailed part of my vision improves.  I feel optimistic.  I'm also very grateful for everybody who prayed for me during this whole process.


How do you keep your wires connected with your 34-year-old married son, a father of two, who lives out of state?


My son Justin Thorp and I started the tradition maybe five years ago.  We'd go out and have a craft beer together whether it was here in central Michigan or in St. Louis.  It turned into an occasion where we could sample some great beer and talk about our lives.  He's heavily invested into a really great job and into his family, especially his two kids.

Over the years, he has introduced me to some really beer and wine.  He understands the chemistry behind the making of both beverages and what gives them their distinctive tastes.  

In St. Louis, he's taken me several times to Urban Chestnut where I developed a taste for Schnickelfritz, one of my favorites.  Then he came back home to Michigan where we went to Horrocks Farm Market which has a vast selection of beer and wine.  I was introduced to Founders from Grand Rapids and its Backwoods series.

What do we talk about?  There's no set agenda.  There's how to get young kids to sleep through the night, dealing with the wonderful challenges of a job that you really like and everything in between.  

Last weekend, when he and his family came here, I had a chance to share about the challenges of having stressed vision caused by corneal swelling and about a cornea transplant that I had earlier this week.  I was going through in my mind the questions about what if it didn't work.

120 IPA

We also talked about where we got our strength.  Justin can articulate clearly his belief in Jesus Christ and what he means in his life.  

What did we order while at Horrocks?  He ordered a small glass of 120 Minute Dog Fish Head IPA for each of us as part of a flight.  

I walked away really impressed by the man my son has become.  He's a great husband, great dad and a great son.  I knew this, but a small glass of beer helped remind me in a very personal way.

Does this work for son-in-laws?  You bet.  My son-in-law Adam Jones is a high quality person who I am really proud of as the husband to my daughter and father to three of my grandkids.  For as long as they've been married, we explored our two worlds over coffee and over a glass of beer.

He's a pastor and a person who I'm really proud to have as part of our family.


I came home with a new cornea in my right eye


I am home from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with the new cornea in my right eye.  I was the second patient to get surgery at the huge U-M Kellogg Eye Center  on Monday where Dr. Bradford Tannen did the transplant in a little under an hour.  At my first post-op appointment yesterday morning, he said the new cornea is attached firmly and showed no signs of having any problems.

Now the wonders of biology take over with the cells of the new cornea multiplying and forming new tissue.  If all goes according to plan, this should eventually be new corneal tissue giving me a new sight in that eye.  My right eye vision had deteriorated to the point where my sight was reduced to fuzz most of the time.

Right now, I see no fuzz, but I do have a big bubble in the repaired eye to hold the cornea in place.

I was awake during the procedure where they gave me "happy juice" as they called it.  I could hear the doctors talking about getting the tissue in the right position and that was about all I remember.

I was really impressed by the patient-oriented focus of the whole experience.  While awaiting my turn in pre-op, the nurses welcomed my wife, my daughter and two Ann Arbor-area friends to wait with me and to pray for me, the doctors and everybody else involved in the surgery.

Toughest part was having to lay on my back essentially the whole time from when the surgery was done on Monday mid-morning to this morning.  I've never been a back sleeper and that was a big challenge for me.  My wife helped to remind me to keep my head back and looking up.  


Gladys sits for yet one more eye exam.
Gladys sitting with me in the exam room at my post-op appointment.



What have I learned from this chapter of my "eye journey?" 

  • I have lots to be thankful for.  God has blessed me greatly.  Over the past few months, I started to worry about losing my vision.  During that time, I did a careful visual inventory of everything I could remember.  I came to the conclusion that I've had a full life and that my faith in God was coming full circle back to my early Sunday School days.
  • I've had some wrestling matches with God during my life where I doubted whether he was listening to me.  I've felt on the edge of losing the one capability that made it easier to get a handle on daily life--my sight.
  • Then I remembered a book by Kara Tippets, a young mom with cancer who struggled with her disease.  One night while alone in the hospital, she felt God asking her that with Jesus what else would she need.  I reminded frequently reminded myself of what she said.  If I have Jesus, what else do I need?


Gladys walking into the U-M Kellogg Eye Center
We were the first ones in the parking lot on Monday morning before surgery.



  • The human body is amazing and the people who fix are also amazing.  With a chronic case of glaucoma, I know that my eye journey is not over.  I thank God for giving me this body and for leading me to people who take care of it.
  • Family and friends were just amazing.  I pray with three other guys every week who live in different parts of the country.  We use a video tool from Oracle called Zoom.  I'm relearning how to talk to God.  One of the guys is Justin-my son; the other is my son-in-law Adam Jones and the third is my good friend Ken Alexander.
  • Facebook has served as a connecting point for me and lots of other people who have promised to pray for me.  I'm truly thankful for the response.
  • My wife Gladys have been truly supportive every step of the way.  Since my right eye started falling apart in 2012, she has probably been to 75-1000 ophthalmologist appointments.  She serves as another set of ears and as an encourager when I leave the eye doctor and want to kick the can or something else.

I know this is long, but I want to stay in touch. I also want to be an encourager to those who are being challenged physically.



As my vision worsens, here's an update on my cornea transplant at the U-M in Ann Arbor


My eyes in 2013
The arrow points to my problem eye in a picture taken in 2013. I've had nine surgeries in this eye for various things including a dislocated lens and a detached retina. Now a new cornea.



My faith in God is being tested big time as I wait for my cornea transplant surgery on May 21 at the U-M eye center in Ann Arbor.  My vision is getting fuzzier.  I can move my head and my eyes and see somewhat clearly for a few moments and then the fuzz returns.  I can see best at night during prime time on television.  

To get ready for recovery from the surgery, I bought a set of Apple's Air Pods, wireless ear pods that give audio a new portability and vitality.  This was suggested by my son Justin Thorp who also has turned me on to the accessibility features on my iPhone and my iPad Pro.  It can read back to me whatever's on the screen.  And it does this in an almost real voice.

What are some of the key takeaways for me from this whole eye experience; the eye is amazingly complex.  The surgeon doing the transplant is able to manipulate the donor cornea which has three layers.  If I recall right, he will take the middle layer and graft it on my eye.  And supposedly this could be done in less than an hour.  It's outpatient.

I'm hopeful, but realistic.  I know there's a drain in my right eye that was surgically implanted about a year ago.  That complicates this surgery.  

I'm counting on God's promise that he will meet me at this point of need.  I will report back.


My journey to keep my vision takes another step with a DSEK at the U-M in Ann Arbor

My education about the amazing architecture of the human eye continues with a cornea transplant in my right eye on May 21 at the U-M in Ann Arbor by Dr. Bradford Tannen.  He will do a DESEK.  If I understand correctly, the surgeon uses only one layer of the cornea which allows it to be grafted onto my eye.  This avoids stitches meaning a much shorter recovery time.

Throughout my 18 year experience with eye surgery--10 of them--I've always taken the cornea for granted.  I never dwelled on the important role that it plays in vision.  When mine in my right eye started to swell, I noticed the difference right away.  My visual impairment was very noticeable and it happened quickly.

I found on YouTube this video explaining the procedure.  I totally realize that efforts to keep my vision has become a journey.  This is one more stop on the road of that effort.

With my fuzzy vision, my wife and I went to church--Trinity-Lansing--last night


Even though this cornea stuff is starting to bug me with the blurry vision and all, we decided to go to church last night.  If ever I wanted a clear line of communication to God, it's right now.  

What I learned while attending the service was both encouraging and troubling.

First, I experienced very directly what other visually impaired worshippers must feel when they attend.  The service is not real user-friendly for those with vision problems.  I could see the big screens, of course, but, I couldn't read the words.  For me, they just weren't there.  What's the answer?  I don't know.

I'm glad my wife was with me.  However, when the service was over and we were out the door, I discovered that I forgot my Promise Keepers baseball cap in the pew.  I almost asked my wife to go with me to get it.  I didn't want to stumble into anybody or anything .  I went in by myself knowing that this was a safe place to get turned around.  I found the cap and found my way out again.

The sermon was from 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 where the Apostle Paul prays about the thorn in the flesh he had been given by God.  It was some kind of physical ailment and God told him it wasn't going way and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul's weakness.

I walked out of the service with an uneasy feeling in my gut.  What if the vision thing doesn't clear up after the cornea transplant?

With deteriorating vision, going to the fabric store in Mason with my wife

Fat Quarters at a Mason fabric store

While I'm waiting for my appointment with a University of Michigan cornea specialist for a transplant, I'm dealing with vision that seems to be quickly deteriorating.  I'm not sure I understand what's happening other than my visual life is changing quickly.

As I wait for the April 17 appointment, I'm trying to pay attention to what I'm feeling and to the possibility that this could be my new normal.  I'm scared and I admit it.

When my wife yesterday asked, do you want to go out for lunch in Mason, a small town just down the road, and to a fabric store there, I jumped at the chance.  

I think my biggest enemy right now is sitting home waiting for God to flick a switch to turn my vision back on.  I still have to live life and do it somewhat safely.

The fabric store was a cornucopia of colors and patterns and I could see those if I got close enough.  Stepping in and out of the store and the restaurant was more tricky.  My depth perception needs to be recalibrated.

Today is our Saturday night church service.  The adventure continues.

Add me to the list of baby-boomers with cornea problems

When I got up yesterday at 6 a.m., I assumed my usual position on our couch with me on one end and my wife on the other.  This is almost a ritual where we drink our first cup of coffee and read the news and some emails.

It was different this time.  I couldn't make out the words regardless of how big I made them on my iPad Pro.  As a longtime glaucoma patient and as one who has had numerous eye surgeries, I was warned that this day would come.  I was warned that my eyes could reach a tipping point where the optic nerves would start to fall apart to never be made whole again. 

Well, because of a drain surgically implanted a year ago, my eye pressure has never been better.  

Now, it's my cornea, the outer layer of the eye that protects it and which helps focus images which go to the retina and then the optic nerve.  Because of so many surgeries in my right eye, I have plenty of scar tissue which affected the cornea.

In a little more than a week, I will be examined by a specialist at the University of Michigan to determine whether he can do a cornea transplant.  

I've always depended on my vision.  Now I'm having to recalibrate my thinking.  I hope to document this journey which seems to be far from over.

I wish our church--Trinity-Lansing--had "Awaken Me" t-shirts, in addition to coffee mugs


A very special coffee mug from my church, Trinity-Lansing
This coffee mug highlights my personal prayer everyday to God and Jesus.


Do you have a favorite coffee mug?  Mine can change depending on my mood.

My wife and I were given mugs from our church that hold a healthy cup of coffee, but more important is the message on it.  There's the church logo and then two words "Awaken Me."  I've been praying more lately for a variety of reasons.  But, I know that my constant prayer has to be asking God to "Awaken Me."  

As we close in on another celebration of Easter when he rose from the dead and gave us hope as this world develops more and more stink from sin, I know that there's hope.  There's our seen world and an unseen world.  The real one, I believe, is the one we don't see.  There will be life after we die.  It all because of what Jesus did on Easter.

I can sip on coffee all day.  And this is the mug I'll use this week if not longer.