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.


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.  


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.  


My newborn grandson Theo talked me out

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March 6, 2019, Wednesday just before lunch

Dear Theo--

Let me introduce myself.  I'm your mother's father which makes me one of your two grandfathers.  Only six people in the whole world can call me grandpa and you're one of them.  Your grandma, your mother's mom, is Gladys.  

You are now a member of our family.  One of the greatest joys I've had in my life is being part of this family.  It's a place where you get a big part of your identity.  You'll always be known as the son of Adam and Krista.  It's also a source of strength and encouragement and laughter.

You and I talked ourselves out the day you came home from the hospital.  We talked about everything, including your parents and your  brothers and sisters and food and countries to visit and cars to drive.  After more than an hour I nodded off with your eyes still open.  You are a good listener.

I love you little man.  Jesus loves you too and so do your parents and siblings, as well as your other grandparents.  You are loved.  Never forget that.  Remember Who You Are. 

We'll talk more later.

Again, welcome to our family which is now made better by your arrival.

Love,

Grandpa Thorp

 


How much do you save by cutting hair at home?

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I needed a haircut.  I don't have much hair left, but a little growth on the top of my head can make me look really shabby.  A few years ago, we bought clippers and my wife started cutting it.  Because of the shape of my head, I have the cue ball look.  But, it looks much better.

Now where do we go for lunch with the money we saved by DIY.


Physical therapy has made me aware of how fast aging happens

 

As we were walking through our almost rural neighborhood, I noticed that I was bending forward more and more and my back was starting to hurt.  It got worse.  And when I went for my annual physical, my primary care provider suggested physical therapy.

Having a really strong desire to fix my awkward walking that made me look like more of an old man than I actually am, I readily agreed to go.  I was hesitant at first not knowing what to expect.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where this can be fixed.  Our below zero weather with a horrendous windchill has kept me from any real deep walks, but I'm noticing improvements.  

Walking through the doors of Orthopedic Rehab Specialists in Holt here's what I found.  My concerns about being judged for my age and my lack of physical fitness were unfounded.  The physical therapists and their aides are really up people.  

My main PT is Aaron Holly, a fortyish health care provider, who has been very patient with me and forthcoming about challenges that I might face.  Then there's Joanna, a PT who has been always up and encouraging and very willing to explain what she's doing.

I get a special t-shirt when I "graduate" from my PT treatment.  I'll wear it with pride and as a reminder that I can slow down this aging thing.  I have to keep up the effort.


The last known picture of the six "Moll Sisters" together--including my mother

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My mom--Frieda--had five sisters who grew-up in the Thumb of Michigan.  Looking at this picture makes me wish I would have had iPhone with video.  These women had a real story to tell about growing up on a sugar beet farm from the time the oldest of them was real young to the youngest from the early 1900s to the early 1930s.

Their family of twelve siblings, including six brothers were real heroes who were the grandchildren of immigrants from Germany.  They lived through extreme poverty, backbreaking work from the time they were children and the loss of both parents at a very young age.

They kept the family together after moving to Bay City.  With the deaths of my mom and her brothers and sisters many if not most of the details were lost.

Theirs is a story that would have rivaled Little House on the Prairie.  Their parents--my maternal grandfather and grandmother died way before I was born.


What I've learned so far in my tongue biopsy experience yesterday

  1. Me.
    Me yesterday at Sparrow Hospital's pre-op.

My doctor told my wife Gladys yesterday after the biopsy procedure on the back of my tongue that on first glance there appeared to be no malignancy.  But, of course, we are awaiting for the official pathology report on the tissue she obtained.  

So what was it like for me, a 72-year-old guy to experience this?  After waking up from a full-night's sleep, several things hit me face to face, so to speak.  The list would have to include:

  1. My acknowledgment of the importance of prayer.  Lots of people were praying for me and I know they continue to do so.  I have to ask the question if God heard all those prayers and changed the nature of the growth on the back of my tongue.  I realize that God is not like a roulette wheel where the prayers of people make it land on a better spot.  But, I know that God hears those prayers and responds to them.
  2. The importance of family surrounding me as I was fraught with fear about having a malignancy on my tongue which I use for everything.  My wife, my son and daughter and my daughter-in-law with their two kids were there.  I know that my son-in-law would have been there too if it wasn't for having his kids in school and having to teach a class.  I got strength from knowing that my family was there showing love that really touched my heart in a major way.
  3. Having trust in my doctor, a newly-minted ear, nose and throat specialist, who has a background in treating diseases of the tongue.  Online, I looked at her academic and practice background.  I was seriously impressed and so was my wife.  I trusted her completely.
  4. Picking the right hospital:  Sparrow Hospital in Lansing was amazing.  I felt cared for as an individual.  This allowed me to have confidence in them and what they said.  Both my kids were born there and my elderly mother died there.  

As I recover from this in the next couple of days, I have lots to be thankful for.  I know that it's not over with yet.  I still have a carotid artery that's blocked 100 percent and a case of glaucoma that's been going up and down.

But, I feel today a new perseverance from God that will carry me through whatever lies ahead.  Have you listened to Matt Redmond's worship song 10,000 Reasons?  I feel that I've been given more than twice that amount of blessings to praise him for.  Seriously.  And, I've gotten some help from Him to not forget that.

More to come.

 

 


I'm not making this up about having a growth on my tongue that needs to be biopsied and a goiter the size of an apple

My tongue doctor
Meet my ear, nose and throat surgeon on the right  


My wife said it looked kinky when my ear, nose and throat doctor stuck about a twelve inch video cable up my nose and ran it down to my throat.  It was a follow-up on the findings from a CAT scan and angiogram of my brain that I had last week.

Those tests were ordered after it was found that I have a blockage in my two carotid arteries, one is 100 percent blocked and the other, it was found, was 20 percent.  As part of this, the imaging tests showed that I had a growth on the base of my tongue and in the neighborhood of that I had a goiter the size of an apple.  

After talking about any throat symptoms I had, she pulled out the cable with a small video monitor on the end.  It felt like a long worm crawling down the inside front of my face.  It wasn't painful, but it felt weird, even though it brought some tears to my eyes.

Next step is surgery and getting the okay for a biopsy of the troubled part of my tongue.  Because of my plugged carotids, I need to get my vascular doctor to okay my staying off blood thinners for a week and I have to get my primary care doctor to give his okay.

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I've got a bunch of stuff in my head.

 

In the past year, I was smiling that I was content with my vision problems brought on by glaucoma and by a cornea that had to be transplanted.

What does all this mean?  I'm not sure.  Some of it could be just a normal part of aging with all this happening on a compressed schedule.

My prayer life has stepped up in the past two weeks for sure.  I'm counting on God hearing those prayers for peace and for healing in all this.  I know that he's there and I'm constantly reminding myself that he will be my shield.

What do you do when you've been bombarded with a bucketful of curve balls.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, I talk to him and ask him for peace.  How's that working?  My Apple watch shows my Beats Per Minute right now being high as I write this.

My friend Ken and I recently read Philip Yancey's book Disappointment With God where he gets into Job and how he reacted to a whole bunch of really nasty stuff in his life.  I pray that I can learn from his reaction.

In the past two days, I've found myself looking at people's tongues more and more.  And I've looked at YouTube videos of surgeries where biopsies of the tongue are taken.

I am counting on being able to sense His presence as my ailment list gets longer.


Doctor says having a fully blocked carotid artery should not be problematic in my day-to-day living

Weighing myself on Monday
I'm watching my weight closely

Yesterday, we met with my vascular doctor who shared the results of my recent CAT scan and angiogram of my head and its attendant arteries.  I have one that's fully blocked and the official reading on the other is 20 percent.  

Because of the fully blocked carotid, I'm not a candidate for a surgical fix.  It was explained to me that I might end up with great blood flow but at the price of a stroke.  There, apparently, is overwhelming evidence that would be the outcome.

So, my future lies with keeping the 20 percent from growing.  Because of alternate pathways for the blood flow, I can live with the partially clogged carotid.  I have to take the blood thinner Plavix and stay healthy.

What happens if the partially closed artery becomes more blocked.  His answer wasn't clear.  I don't have to worry about that today.

Tomorrow, a specialist looks at the soft tissue mass in my larynx that was discovered during the CAT scan.  What is it?  I have no idea.  Right now, I'm late for a walk through our back forty.


How should I react to the new finding of a soft tissue mass in my larynx?

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My son is now drinking the beer that I would drink. Now that I'm taking the blood thinner Plavix I can't drinking any kind of alcohol.

 

I had just entered a video call where four of us--my son-Justin Thorp; my son-in-law Adam Jones and close friend Ken Alexander spend a half hour or so talking about our daily lives and then praying together.

With the video camera on, my cellphone rang.  I noticed it was my primary care physician and I was hoping for news about a CT scan and angiogram of my carotid arteries that I had taken the day before.  It was partially.  

There was no news about my plugged carotids--one is a hundred percent and the other 50--but there was an early finding about a soft tissue mass found in my larynx.  I spent the next several hours trying to figure out what that means or could mean.

Consider it was a Friday afternoon.  I wanted more information, but I couldn't get through to a doctor.  I talked to a snippy nurse who said she couldn't give that information over the phone and that the doctor wasn't available and I talked to a medical assistant who said the doctor had left by that time.  So I was left to my own devices with the web.



I checked Google for information about cancer of the larynx.  I matched some of the symptoms, but my daughter told me to be careful about going down rabbit holes that web information creates.

So here I am with apparent carotid artery disease and a lump of unknown composition in my larynx that could leave me talking like the cop on Chicago PD who talks like he has rocks in his mouth.  

How am I taking all this?

It depends on the time you ask.  I'm anxious and I am frustrated and I'm praying all the time.  It's an ongoing conversation with God asking for his healing and for his leading and thanking him for everything that he's given me like my family.

I'm now more liable to write down the names of people who ask me to pray for them and more liable to pray for them in the middle of the night when I get up to pee.

I know God's there and he is listening to me and watching out for me.  Am I nervous about this?  You bet.



 


Founders Backwood Bastard from Grand Rapids should be the "state beer" of Michigan

Drinking Founders Backwoods Bastard with my son
Do you recognize the guy on the label of the beer my son and I are drinking?

 I first drank a glass of Founders Backwoods Bastard at Horrocks in Lansing.  My son and I had gone there as part of a tradition he and I started at Thanksgiving time when he and his family visited from out of state.  Since then I've gone there with my son-in-law several times.

Drinking Backward Bastard changed my beer tastes forever.  With it, I became familiar with barrel-aged beer where beer is left to meld with tastes of scotch and other tastes.

Fast Forwarding to this past weekend when I turned 72 and when my whole family came to celebrate our daughter and son-in-law, as part of a birthday gift, bought a four pack which is about the same cost as filling your gas tank on a SUV.

While sitting on our couch after a trip to the Jazz Festival in Downtown Detroit, we pulled out two bottles from my birthday gift.  It was a grand taste and a fitting way to start year number 73.

I'd recommend Backwoods Bastard to beer lovers.


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.

 


Is it "fake news" that Trump was a draft dodger during Vietnam War?

Me and my M-16.
Shooting my "gun" while in the Army in the early 70s.

There's a story this morning in Politico about how President Trump got five draft deferments from the Army during the Vietnam War.  Four were for college and one was for a bone spur in his foot.

This raises all sorts of questions about his patriotism which he seems to tout all the time.  He should talk openly about this.  Does he ever talk openly about anything that might be unflattering to him?

I got a draft deferment for college and then the draft board told me that was it.  I remember our local draft board was composed of big shooters in our local community who made sure their sons stayed out of the draft.  These dads made it clear that power and position made a difference in keep their sons out of the Army.

It worked for Trump.  He and I are the same age.  I know how disruptive the draft was to daily life back then.  A sledge hammer seemed to be hanging over my head all the time.

By the way, I need to disclose that I got into an active U.S. Army Reserve unit and that my active duty was all in this country.  I have a cousin who wasn't so lucky.

So, is this fake news about Trump?  Is it the truth?

 


With my birthday in a couple of days, I've learned a lot in the last 71 years

 

My dad and i when I was a newborn.
My dad and I when I was brought home from the hospital in 1946.

 

I was born a few minutes after midnight in 1946 in Bay City, Michigan about a year after the end of World War II.  My birthday is in two days and I've been trying to wrap my head around my age with the full knowledge that the sands in my hour glass are getting few and fewer and are moving faster and faster.

I've had days where I wish I could rejoin the workforce to give my life more meaning and purpose.  I looked for it in volunteer service, like being an in-prison volunteer, working with international students at MSU and delivering Meals On Wheels in our old neighborhood in Lansing.  My wife and I have travelled some and have passports with some fun stamps.  

But there's still a gnawing that I haven't rung the right bell yet in my senior citizen experience.  

As I look over the past decades, I go back to a constant question.  So what?  I've pulled out pictures and mementos from the past and I ask myself about what difference did I make in each of these activities I was involved with.  What did I learn?  Did I learn anything worth passing onto others?  

Can anything I've learned be used as a teaching tool?  Do you have any teaching tools from your life experience?

 

 


We continue to get our Lansing, Michigan house ready for the market

Great house for family with kids
Our piles for Goodwill are getting smaller as we get ready to put our house on the market

We live in a very nice residential enclave on the southwest side of Lansing.  We have four bedrooms, a finished basement and plenty of updates that make life more pleasant.  It's perfect for a family with kids or for a couple with grandkids nearby.

Sometime next month, we will put it on the market.  Our realtor has given us a good price range that will make it attractive to a buyer and that will give us what we need to make our next downsized move.

Our two kids grew up here.  They are both adults and live in other states with their families.  

Interested?  Leave a comment.  I'll keep you informed.


In 2017, my first cup of coffee, first Bible verse and my first item to share

 

My first cup of coffee in 2017.
My first cup of coffee in 2017.

 

 

The first thing I usually reach for in the morning is a cup of coffee.  We have a collection of coffee mugs, including several from Starbuck shops around the world.  Today, I chose this one that I got at a Promise Keepers event more than a decade ago.  For most of that time I kept pens and pencils in it.  Now I'm putting it back into circulation as a coffee mug.  I need to be reminded about who I choose to serve everyday.

 

My Psalm for 2017.
This is the first Psalm and Bible verses I read in 2017.

 

In this coming year, it seems like uncertainty will reign at all levels, on a personal level, state, national and international.  There seems to no guarantees for anything.  Psalm 23 is a direct promise from God.  He's a protector and a guide and somebody who looks out for my best interest.  These are the first Bible verses I read this year.  I need to drill them into my heart everyday.

 

The best thing I could share.
You can forget me this coming year, but don't forget Jesus.

 

Will the divisions in our country and the world continue this year?  It's an age where people so easily trash talk each other with the ultimate threat of "unfriending" you.  You can unfriend me, but I urge you to not unfriend Jesus.  He's the only thing that makes sense in this world and the only one who provides real hope.


I am thankful for still having my vision and for the ophthalmologists at Lansing Ophthalmology

 

My leftover eyedrops
These are my left over eyedrops mainly from 2013 when I had several eye surgeries and struggled with a glaucoma that had a mind of its own.

 I found these unused eyedrops while going through cabinets, cupboards and crates as my wife and I clean up our house to put it up for sale.  In the process, I found these leftover drops tucked into a little blue bag that they gave me after one of several eye surgeries in 2013.  It was during that challenging year that I learned a lot about the amazing design of the eye and how it's connected to the brain.

At the same time, I got to know a lot of ophthalmologists and their assistants who have nerves of steel and who can pinpoint nuances in the behavior of your eyes.

A key part of my recovery and ongoing treatment are eyedrops.  Some worked and some didn't.  They helped me recover from surgery for a lens in my right eye that wouldn't stay in place  and had to be replaced or repositioned several times.  They have also been key in managing the pressure of my chronic open angle glaucoma.

The above picture shows the extra drops that I had and have expired.


I wish I was young enough to get this tattooed on my arm

 

Here's a sermon question.
Great question from the sermon this weekend at Ada Bible Church.



This is the second time it's happened to me after hearing a sermon at church--Ada Bible Church.  It would be too easy to nod my head in assent at what Pastor Jeff Manion taught, talk about it with my wife on the way home and then get involved during the week in projects around home.  My heart is saying "don't forget this" and "work to make this part of my life."

 

The sermon was part seven of a series from Colossians with the title "The New You."  Part of me says I'm way too old for a new me.  Then I feel my chest on the left side and find that my heart is still beating.  Nope, I'm not done yet.  I'm still alive.  Jesus says there can still be a new me in the spiritual sense.

The teaching was based on Colossians 3:12-14 and it involves the way that Christians interact with each other and with non-Christians.  Others have irritated and frustrated me and I know I've been the same way towards them.  How do you escape that?  I've tried on my own and the results have been less than mixed.

According to the text for the sermon, I am to adopt in my heart compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience in my interactions with others.  Doing this requires power from the Holy Spirit.  

But, I need a constant reminder.  That's where the tattoo comes in.  If I was in my twenties, I'd consider having these five attributes put on my arm, so I could always see them.  Then when I'm in the restaurant with my wife and the waitress is really show, I'd be able to quickly look on my arm.

There was one other sermon where I felt the same tattoo urge.  It was from the first few verses of Ephesians about our identity in Christ.  The pastor reduced it to a few words, Remember Who You Are.  I am an adopted son of God.  My identity doesn't come from the one who threw me off the train, but the one who picked me up.

I look forward to this week.

 

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Does turning 70-years-old have to mean getting on the fast lane to becoming elderly?

 

My family celebrates my 70th birthday
My family helps me celebrate.

 

 

When asked about my age, I like to say I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers and slide over the fact that I turn 70 years old in a few days.  In my mind, it's a number that has some sharp edges that can poke your thinking about the future.

I think my family surmised this and arranged a surprise birthday party this weekend.  They came from two different states with their families, including three babies and one toddler still in diapers.  As I walked into a local craft brewery with my wife, they were sitting just inside the door.  My two-year-old grandson came rushing to me and in a daze I looked over and saw everybody.

Here's my situation:  For the past several months I've been getting an increasing volume of mail from funeral directors, hearing aid dealers, cemeteries and Medicaid vendors.  These have a certain subliminal message that you're getting old and that your clock is running out of ticks.

Having my whole family here really layered these feelings with a strong topping of love.  They care for me and care enough to travel a good distance to celebrate and help me live forward, rather than looking over my shoulder.

They are each special:

  • My wife Gladys--she has not laughed at me when I see all the numbers on the obituaries that match my age and then wince.  
  • My daughter Krista--She and her family are in the process of resettling in this country after living and working in Europe for five years.  She's an organizer and knows how to help make her dad feel special.
  • My son Justin--We have a special father-son relationship that goes back to when he joined this world.  He has been consistent in his love and his tolerance for my shakiness in retiring and getting older.
  • My son-in-law Adam--he's a victim of my watching the Father Of The Bride too many times.  He has been an awesome friend to me and tries to understand and support me as I move into this new season of life.
  • My daughter-in-law Lauren--she's an amazing woman who has made our lives more full and loving.

Then there's our grandkids.  They have helped us experience and give love in a new way.  We can see the future through their eyes and their growth.

I'm looking forward to living forward with this great family that God has given me and my wife.

Thank-you to them for making this rite of passage special.