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Monday, December 24, 2012

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that another year has rolled past and it is once again time to sit and collect my thoughts about the past twelve months. I must confess that with Winter's stubborn refusal to appear in Texas that it is somewhat difficult to feel like it is Christmas. But Christmas it is notwithstanding and so I have tried to put myself into the spirit of the day.

For many of my friends and for me too, this has been a year of extremes. There have been some magnificent high points. I rejoice that I continue to have a nice home, plenty of food, a way to get around town and the means to have a little fun on the side. I am grateful that in spite of the economic difficulties that have plagued so many, that I am able to continue to make my living solely through music. Granted, things aren't as abundant as they have been in the past, but I am nonetheless surviving. I have also been blessed with the making of several wonderful new friends and colleagues, and all of you have been my greatest blessing and gift in 2012.

But it has also been a year of loss for some of my dear friends. And for me, the looming loss of my father has been a tremendous challenge for my faith, my emotions and my nerves. The continuous well wishes and prayers on that front from all of you have been a great source of strength for me and I am eternally grateful to all of you.

And so what is there to reflect upon this Christmas Eve? Just days ago, a community in Connecticut suffered the unthinkable when twenty of their precious children were mindlessly gunned down. Yet, fewer people were killed in warfare in 2012 than in any year in recent history. I look around my own neighborhood and continue to see dozens of people living on the streets, struggling just to eat. And yet, hunger throughout the world is at an all time low. It is a world of contradictions and I often wonder just how to balance joy and despair.

I have spent the last few days thinking very seriously about how I would pursue life in the future. I have come to the conclusion that grand plans and pompous resolutions are not the answer. Rather, taking each day as it comes and striving to be better today than I was yesterday seems a better course. I could list many regrets for 2012. But I think that my biggest mistake was to relentlessly try to sort out my life's problems on my own, without calling on the strength and support of the Almighty to help me through the day. Fortunately for me, He continued to intervene for good in spite of my stubborn refusal to turn to Him every day. If I resolve to do anything better next year, it will be to remember to pray daily.

Thus, I share these wishes and thoughts with you my friends, based upon my own experiences. First, remember that no matter what happens, this too shall pass. No crisis lasts forever and no morning has ever failed to banish the darkness at the end of the night. As my aunt is fond of saying, kill 'em with kindness. I found especially in the handling of my father's affairs this fall that there are truly good people in the world, and they appear on the scene at our times of greatest need. I learned through the way that I was treated, that I want to be one of those kinder people. And most importantly, let us all remember the child whose birth we celebrate this night, and may we all strive to reclaim the innocence of childhood in our own lives. Let us love without restraint, let us give with no expectation of anything in return, let us forgive without condition, and let us live with the intention of sowing good, and giving birth to joy.

In the end, I pray that the satisfaction of work well done, the confidence of an unshakable faith and the joy of making the world of those with less than us a better place will be ample reward for our efforts. I wish you all the most blessed Christmas, and prosperous, bountiful and happy New Year.

With much love,


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Friends,

It really has been a long time since I have written anything here, and that is mainly because the hard drive in my computer crashed and I havent been able to afford a new one. But I have access today and I have some time so I thought that I would share some things for a change.

As we speak, I am home in Indiana taking care of the final wishes of my father, Doyle, who is dying of cancer. It has been a whirlwind week of business, packing and liquidating his apartment, trying to spend as much time as I can with him and well, taking stock of the fact that the strongest man I know has been so physically and mentally weakend by the ravages of time and disease.

So far, I  have only had one meltdown and as usual, Erik and Zach have been standing right behind me to mop up the mess. Thanks guys, I love you both.

I think that the hardest thing to come to grips with is not that my dad is going to die, but that after he does, my biggest source of strength and help on this planet will be gone. It is also difficult to take on the role of care giver, when he has spent my entire life caring for me.
To see him in his present condition is heart rending indeed. Fortunately, beneath all the wasting that disease has wrought on his tired frame, the same mind, the same wit, and the same courage are as strong as ever. Even now, as he requires help to so much as dress himself, he is still very much my dad.
It seems unthinkable to have frank and businesslike conversations with him about his own death. And even through this experience he is still teaching me how to live.
If I may, let me make some suggestions to all of my friends who will someday face the loss of a parent. First, love them and be with them all that you can while they are still here. Secondly, get their affairs in order and make sure that they are protected against financial predators and vultures while they are still able to make their own decisions. See to it that you don't allow an outside party to gain too much influence, especially if you live far away from your parents.
Encourage them to divest themselves of things that they don't really need. The task of closing up a house is immense, even if they live in a small one bedroom apartment.
Lastly, don't be afraid to talk frankly to them about their end of life wishes. And at the last, be there, hope and pray, but don't cling. Remember that the life they have belongs to them, not you. Let them go on their own terms with the knowledge that you respect and honer not only the lives they have lived, but that you will send them on to the life they have to come on their own chosen terms.
Take care everyone. And please keep my family in your prayers.