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May 2019

10 posts from June 2019

The best years of my life have been the past 38 being married to Gladys

 

Today is our 38th anniversary of being married.  If I ever doubt the presence of God or the reality of his existence, all I have to do is think of being married to Gladys.  What gives our relationship vitality is our mutual relationship with God.  

Our family started at two and now numbers twelve.  It's further proof of the love of God and his existence.  My memory bank is filled with so many kid and grandkid memories.

We've shared all this, whether it was the birth of our first child, our daughter Krista.  She carried her for nine months, but it was an experience that we shared.  The night that my late mother died, Gladys was there too.

And there's everything in between.  We've entered a new phase of our life.  

What are we going to do to celebrate.  We're going for a sandwich at a place in Mason called the Vault.

Thank-you God for Gladys.


Bill Thompson, a friend and former colleague, just wrote a book about his career as a Great Lakes broadcaster

 

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Bill Thompson's book about his career as a Great Lakes Broadcaster is just starting to hit the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  It's worth picking up if you fall into one of two groups:  you remember when radio news dominated the airwaves with what was happening or you're really young and have no memories of the glory days of radio news when a radio personality was in more living rooms and kitchens than any politician.

Bill's broadcast footprint over the past four decades was huge.  For a lot of people around the state he was a voice that could be trusted.  He gave them the latest-greatest of what was happening at the State Capitol and what was happening in agriculture around the state.

I got to know Bill during the 12 years I was pressroom manager at the State Capitol.  I was a conduit for news happenings between the legislature and state government.  He came to me to learn where the restrooms were and for news happenings.  

He was one of a large contingent of radio news types covering state government.  They had the ability to do an interview or news conference and get it on the air quickly.  They were from all over the state of Michigan.  Bill was a mainstay of that group.

His book is chockfull of stories based on a career spent in Great Lakes Radio.  Lots of names and lots of stations.

And if you look closely you'll see a picture of me sitting on my throne in the old pressroom at the State Capitol.

I would recommend his book.  The title "My Life As A Great Lakes Broadcaster."  It's also on Amazon, including a Kindle e-book.


Okay, I admit that I'm a broken person

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Real guys are not supposed to admit this, but I feel my brokenness as a person.  A friend suggested that when I showered each morning that I should examine my gender.  Am I still a male?

Because of Parkinsons Disease, my body feels broken.  I walk with a shuffle and bent way over.  My joints, all of them, can really hurt.  It takes me forever to get off a soft couch or chair.  I have trouble communicating because of my weak voice.  I'm losing weight when I'm not trying.

There's more.  My father abandoned me and my mother when I was a baby.  He simply vanished.  No word.  Nothing.  I've felt the sting of that all my life.  It's like a rattlesnake bite that never goes away.

Over the past two weeks, I found myself listening to the podcast Discover the Word where Ann Voskamp, author of the Broken Way, talked about her brokenness and how she viewed it.  I first listened skeptically as she talked thinking that she was just another person who spoke to women who were facing marriage and kid problems.

Then I started to identify with what she was talking about.  I could see it in myself.  I was broken through and through, but I didn't want to admit it.  So what should I do with that?  

She has a cross on her wrist which she felt tipped on her skin.  The answer is taking that lifelong brokenness to the cross of Jesus where he didn't want to suffer, but he did anyways.  He said while on the cross, "Father, why have you forsaken me?"  He can make me whole and that's what I want before I die and I'm planted in our cemetery plots in Okemos.

How long can I wear this cross that I felt tipped on my wrist?  I need to be reminded everyday.

I will check back.


Baby-boomers: Should you really walk 10,000 steps a day?

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Are you a baby-boomer?  I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers.  I stopped jogging a while ago when my knees started to hurt real bad, but I still walked, usually with my wife.

The goal has been to walk 10,000 steps a day.  I assumed that was based on research.  Well, according to this NPR piece, it was the product of a marketing team making pedometers.  Recent research shows that longevity can be increased with less than half that amount.

Great to know.  Right?  For my almost 73 year-old knees that's a difference-maker.  I can easily walk more than 2,000 steps in the morning in our small condo.

What about you?  Do you walk everyday?  10,000 steps?  Less?


Walking on our back forty with my friend Parkinson's and my other friend, my wife

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My friend Ken knows pain.  He's a longtime MS patient who is now limited to a motorized cart.  He's paralyzed from the waist down.

Since I was diagnosed with Parkinson's, he has been mentoring me in how to co-exist with a disease that has a big, sharp bite.  When we talked on the phone today, he shared that I needed to walk and break through the mental barrier that says "no way."

After our phone conversation today where he talked about the hot weather in Florida where he and his wife live, I made up my mind to walk even though I didn't feel like it.  

With my wife and my walking stick, I made it around a long block.  Even though my Parkinson's said no,  I said yes.  

Hopefully and with the help of God, I can keep that sense of intention high.  


Does a newly-minted 35-year-old son want to know that his dad is really proud of him?

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Our son-Justin-is 35-years old tomorrow.  I want him to know that I'm really proud of him and the man he has become.  He's an amazing husband and father.  For more than two-years, he and my son-in-law, Adam Jones and my longtime friend Ken Alexander, have been meeting online to talk and pray together.  We've become a band of brothers.

What needs to be called out is his solid love for his wife Lauren and his two kids Miles and Eloise and for his parents and everybody else who comes across his path.  But in front of his love for them is his love for God.  That governs everything in his life.  I'm not saying he's perfect and that I've put him on a pedestal.  

He "Remembers Who He Is."  That being a truly loved child of God.  That's where his hope comes from.  I pray that will never change.

I could go on and on about all the different stuff we've done together, all the cappuccinos we drank together, all the grocery shopping we did together, all the craft beer we've drunk, not to mention the wine and coffee, all the golf we played, all the Promise Keepers we attended together all over the country, the time we spent in prison one night, as well as a momentous visit of the college he attended and graduated from.  Then there was the time, I was his best man at his wedding to Lauren.

I know he knows I'm proud of him.  I just wanted to put it on the record.

Happy Birthday Son.  


Listen to this woman with Parkinsons and how she deals with the loss of her voice

I have a new hero, at least for today.  She's a Parkinson's patient who dealt with a serious loss in her voice.  When she spoke she had trouble making herself heard, particularly with her grandkids.  Her diminished voice resulted in less human interaction.  She talked a lot less.

I've found myself in the same position.  My Parkinson's has greatly affected my once powerful voice to nothing more than a weak whisper at least for part of the day.  I get really frustrated when I can't make myself understood.

The experience has given me a whole new level of appreciation for people with speech challenges.

To combat this I took intensive training with a speech therapist in a program called LSVT Loud designed for people with Parkinson's.  

Did it help?  Yes.  It gave a couple of tools to use to strengthen my voice and put more power behind it.  I'm still a work in progress.

Listen to this short video and listen to her second set of "ah's."  Check how long she holds the ah's.  Pretty impressive.  She's a star.  And then listen to her conversational voice.

That's what I'm aiming for.


How many of you switch sides of the bed overnight with your mate?

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We've done it all our married life, almost 38 years.  During the middle of the night when I get up to pee, we switch sides of the bed.  For me, it would seem strange to wake up on my side of the bed.

When we told our married kids that, they seemed to think that's really a strange habit.  Like how can our brains handle the switch of positions?  It's better than taking the natural sleep aid melatonin.

There's something comforting about changing sleep positions.  My sleeping psyche sees the world from a different position.

How many of you own your sleep positions and would change for nothing and no one?  You have your side and you laid claim to it early on.


At what age do you become elderly?

Baby-boomers and others:  I am a member of the first class of baby-boomers, meaning I was born in 1946.  I turn 73 this year.  Am I elderly?  To check, I went to the source of information for questions like these, Google.  

It said, "Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person, but like many westernized concepts, this does not adapt well to the situation in Africa."  And you go down the search engine results and you quickly see there's no standard definition of elderly.  But they seem to center around being more than 60.

For me, it's going to take some getting used to this definition.  It's a word with power and suggests canes, walkers, doctors and nursing homes.  I accept the fact that I'm the patriarch of our family.  I've kidded family members that means because of my age I've made more mistakes than them.

What about you?  Got any problems being called elderly?

 

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What it’s like two months after receiving my diagnosis for Parkinson’s Disease

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I still feel like a deer on a Michigan highway that’s standing in the middle of the road late at night.  You see them standing there staring at you as you barrel down the road.  They don’t move.

It’s been two months since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and my life has changed.  First, the diagnosis has done wonders for my prayer life.  I’m in constant contact with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It’s like I have them on speed dial.

My once strong voice has become a whisper on many occasions.  I had a voice that could be heard in the other room.  I could never whisper comfortably for fear that somebody would hear me talking.  I now have to practice talking in a coffee shop environment like a Starbucks where there’s music.

I’m stooped over when I walk.  I have to consciously remind myself to pull my shoulders back.  My back hurts more and I have a Parkinson’s shuffle when I walk.  I have to tell myself that I need to walk heel to toe.

So what’s the answer?

God has become more real to me.  I know that he speaks to me through the Bible and I try to read each verse listening for what he says to me.  This is particularly true of the Psalms which are prayers and songs.

Have I asked God to heal me?  You bet.  There’s a good likelihood that he won’t.  Will he be with me as I walk through this?  I am counting on that.  Will he be with my wife Gladys as my caregiver?  I see him everyday in her and how she love me.

What about Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s patients which is non-contact?  You learn all the moves and the discipline of boxing and you participate in all the fitness programs.  

Because of a brain tumor in the back of my head, the neurologist hasn’t cleared me yet.  They are trying to eliminate vascular Parkinson’s.

What about the above picture with the decibel meter on my wife’s iPhone?  We split a small coffee at a nearby Starbucks and measured how loud I’d have to be for somebody to hear me across our small table.

How’d I do?

Poorly.  It feels like I’m shouting to be heard.  My wife says not to worry.  I’m not there yet.

More to come.