Life Turns On A Dime

Just what does that even mean – “Life turns on a dime?” A quick Google search will offer up some explanations for folks unfamiliar with the phrase:

Since a dime is the smallest U.S. coin, the ability to “turn on it” is a figure of speech meaning you can change direction very quickly in a very small space. In this case, it means that life can change course very quickly. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either good or bad, but either way it will be rapid.

To “turn on a dime” means turning sharply and/or suddenly. To say that “life can turn on a dime” means that a person’s life can change radically in an instant (or very quickly). It’s more often used to mean someone going from a “good place” to a not-so-good place, but it can also mean suddenly taking a turn for the better.

Turn on a dime is an English idiom meaning change dramatically, suddenly and without warning or coming out of the blue unexpectedly. It usually results from a single event that dramatically alters the course of events either as a negative or a positive.

Stephen King uses that quote quite a bit in his time travel book 11.22.63. It is almost like a theme throughout it. One thing can change history (as in the case of the book) in the blink of an eye. I guess another way of explaining it is that life can change just like that (imagine a finger snap here.)

I had totally prepared to work on my article for the next round of Turntable Talk today, but some things have been tossed into our path that has led to this one instead. I write this as a reminder to you and myself to take nothing for granted. I write this as a reminder to live each day to it’s fullest. I write this as a reminder that life is a fragile thing.

In the baseball game of life, we are thrown many curveballs. Some of those we see coming and some brush us off the plate. Some of those we get ahold of and can knock them out of the park, while many of them we swing at – and miss.

Enjoy every moment. Never miss an opportunity to say “I love you.” Life is too short to hold grudges. These are all things that I have said in one way, shape or form in previous blogs.

It has been hard for me to scroll Facebook lately. So many of my friends are hurting because of sickness, death, grief, or struggle. I pray for each of them daily. Sure, there are plenty of happy moments shared on social media, but in amongst those things are people I care about – hurting. Life turned on a dime for them. Factor in some other news that we’ve been made aware of over the past few weeks and we see life turning on a dime again, this time closer to home.

The storm is off the coast. It is clear as day on the radar. Heading toward us. We will watch it’s course and the skies. We will prepare the best we can. We will do our best to be ready for it. In the meantime, we will enjoy the moments and savor each one.

“Can We Pray?”

It was unexpected, and it caught me off guard. It was also exactly what I needed.

A high school friend reached out to me on Facebook earlier today. She was just checking in as it had been a bit since we chatted. Rather than message her back, I called her on my way to work. I had interrupted her viewing of “Pretty Woman,” but she took the call anyway.

She has been a wonderful friend and offered positive vibes and support through some tough times. We basically spent the time catching each other up on life. She commented that AJ is getting big too fast and said that Ella looks like a wonderful big sister. Then she asked about my older sons. She is well aware of the situation and struggles that I have had with them since my divorce. I shared some of the recent drama and filled her in on the latest.

When I pulled into work, there was already a patient in the parking lot. I was quite early, so it must have been an early arrival. I mentioned that I had arrived at work and that I would catch up soon.

Before we hung up, she said, “Can we pray?” I’m not sure why this was such a surprise to me. I know that she is a woman of faith. We have often spoke to each other and asked each other to pray about things. In all the years we have been friends, this would be the first time we prayed together.

I closed my eyes, and she prayed. We prayed.

“Amen.”

I have often found myself praying on the drive in, or when I get to the parking lot, or walking through the supermarket. It was just me and God. This time, my friend and I sat in prayer together and it struck a chord. She doesn’t know just how much that meant, and so I say “Thank you.” It is one thing to say, “I’ll pray for you.” It is another to pray WITH you.

Thank you, my friend. I hope you know just how much that meant to me.

Thank You, Nancy!

Nancy was a music teacher at the school district I attended. She was always wearing a smile and her student’s loved “Mrs. T.” She was a very special friend.

I worked part time for the district as a custodian, in between radio jobs when I was in my 20’s. I would get a call each day from the secretary who told my what school I would be heading to each day and who I was filling in for. I remember being at one elementary school in particular for a long stretch of time. It was during this time that Nancy and I got to talk more.

I went into the music room to clean, and she was there working late. I don’t recall what she was working on, but I re-introduced myself (it had been some years, since I was a young boy). She remembered me, and my (now ex) wife and her family. We had some wonderful conversations about life and, of course, music.

I remember talking to her about how we used to put on musical plays when I was in elementary school. We did one on Thomas Edison (The Electric Sunshine Man), the year before they did Annie (Which scarred me for life), and I played the lead in The Runaway Snowman. She smiled as I recalled those memories. She loved working with students and she was glad to share many stories.

After I left the district and moved for a radio job, I lost touch with her. She reconnected with me on Facebook and we began to chat again. She was always interested in my life and supportive during some tough times. When Sam and I got married, she sent congratulations. When Ella was born, she made her a beautiful blanket/quilt. She was right there to congratulate us again when Andrew was born.

Over the past few months, I noticed she was a bit absent more than usual. It wasn’t until just recently I found out she had been in and out of the hospital. During that time, she was diagnosed with cancer and she came home to hospice in mid-May.

Her family set up a page for her on Caring Bridge, which allowed her friends and family to receive updates. You had to be approved to take part, so I reached out to one of her daughters. In talking with her, she asked for my address because Nancy had something for Andrew. I asked for her address in return, because I had misplaced it, so I could send a card.

On Sunday, I sealed up the card and was going to drop it in the mail Monday morning. When I awoke Monday, I saw that a new journal entry had posted. Her daughter posted that Nancy had passed away earlier that morning. I was heartbroken.

Just over an hour after I read of her passing, there was a knock at the door and a package was left. It was from Nancy. Inside was a gift for Andrew and gifts for Ella.

Nancy had made a blanket/quilt just like she had made for Ella, for Andrew.

Ella was excited to open up her gifts, too. Nancy had sent two pop-up books with shapes and colors. Ella loves books and immediately began to read them – while sitting on Andrew’s blanket!

I won’t lie, I was kind of overwhelmed with emotion. Nancy was gone, and yet, she still managed to shower my family with her kindness. Inside the package was a card:

Rest assured that there will be plenty of snuggles and smiles, Nancy. I hope you can here me expressing my gratitude to you for loving my family and for your friendship.

After the news began to spread of her passing, I was not surprised at all to see that she showed kindness to many others.

One post read: “Years ago, a wonderful woman looked at a beaten down young boy who she thought had amazing musical talent. She took that young boy under her wing and taught him the greatest joy in life – music. She also taught him all of the wonderful things music could do for him in his life. When in high school, she believed so much in this young man she helped pay for his vocal lessons so he could continue his talent and passion for music.”

Another wrote: “She was a wonderful, kind woman whose absence in our music department was felt the moment she retired a few years after I started teaching. Memory eternal, Nancy. Thank you for having such a profound impact on me.”

Yet another wrote: “You were inspiring in so many ways and will definitely be missed.. 😢 I’m glad you got to meet my kids and teach Emily music. We love you”

Another: “Mrs. T was a truly amazing teacher. Such devotion and compassion as hers is not seen enough in a lifetime. It was an absolute privilege to have you as a teacher, and for my children’s teacher. Thank you for your kindness and years of dedication. You will be missed.”

There were also posts from friends she had for decades! She obviously was a very special lady.

I began this blog with a picture that had a quote on it:

” There are some who bring a light so bright to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.”

Nancy “light” will definitely continue to shine for many years to come. Her influence and impact that she made on her students will live on through them. Her friends will forever have wonderful memories of her and the times they shared.

I will always look at those blankets and think of my wonderful friend.

Heaven’s choir obtained a wonderful voice this week.

Thank you, for being you, Nancy!

My Kids – Posers?

One of the things I love about Facebook is the ability to meet others who share the same interests as me. I belong to many different “fan” groups and have connected with some very cool people through those groups.

Some time ago, I saw a painting of Moe Howard that I thought was very well done. I’m not sure exactly where I had seen it, though it may have been in Moe’s book. At any rate, through one of the Three Stooges groups, I found that the artist was a member. Her name is Belita William and she painted the amazing portrait when she was in her teens!

Moe, Belita, and her painting.

She and Moe became friends and they were in contact with each other until he passed away. Moe liked her work so much, he had her paint him a portrait of President Kennedy.

Moe, JFK, and Belita

I was surprised to find out that she had also painted a portrait for Larry Fine, as well. This is another picture I had seen somewhere prior to learning she painted it.

Larry and his painting

Belita is very talented and I am in awe of her talent. She has painted portraits of her children, church members, and many others. Here are just a few examples of her fantastic work.

To make a long story short, Belita and I became Facebook friends shortly after connecting through the Stooges group. She has often commented on photos of Ella, Andrew, and my kids. I was truly surprised when she reached out to me privately recently.

“Hi Keith. Your kids are gorgeous. Maybe you might consider portraits.”

I won’t lie, it is certainly something I would love to do. She talked about pricing and such and it is something that I definitely want to save up to do. It may take a while (thank you highest inflation rate since 1981!), but I really think this would be an amazing and one of a kind way to capture the kids. I am sure that she would do a wonderful job.

When Ella was first born, one of my co-workers said we should enter her in a “Cutest Baby Contest.” Others have said the same about Andrew. As a parent, you are biased. I mean, you KNOW how cute your kids are, right!? Sure they are “model” material! Sure they would be perfect for a portrait! Absolutely they could be in a magazine ad! You always think that, but when someone reaches out to you and actually asks to paint them (as Belita has done) or asks to use them in promotional material (like Andrew was by the place where he got his helmet), it makes you feel pretty darn good!

Thank heavens they got their good looks from their mommy! LOL

I’ll Skip This One …

June will mark 34 years since I graduated from high school. My class has never had an “official” reunion. I’m not really sure why that is. It doesn’t really matter. The only time our class had some sort of get together was a combined event with the class after us. They held it at a local bar and I remember it being very loud. It was great to see some of the faces from the past, but I felt like it was hard to catch up because you were screaming at each other.

I’ve DJ’s many high school reunions, and they are difficult to do. Not many people want to dance, because they are busy catching up with their old classmates. One reunion organizer told me to play 70’s songs (they graduated in 76) and to keep the volume down “so we can talk.” That really is what reunions are about – catching up with old friends.

This coming weekend, there is another Alumni Get Together being held. It will again be at a bar, and this one is open to pretty much anyone who went to our school. There was a Facebook invite sent out and the event is in my calendar. I can look at who is attending, but can only see those people who are my friends on Facebook.

Just yesterday, Facebook reminded me of the event again. I glanced over the friends who are going and believe me, I would love to get to hang out with them for the night. However, I decided early on that I am going to stay home. There will no doubt be many pictures taken and posted from the event and I will anxiously await seeing them.

A high school friend and I chatted on my way to work this week. She asked if I was planning on going this weekend. I told her I was not, and it isn’t because of where it is going to be or anything like that.

What it all boils down to is that there are too many possible people who could show up that I would rather not see. I have many former friends who have bought into the lies and stories that have been told about me and quite frankly, I don’t want to give anyone anything to talk about. Many former relatives went to my high school. They have their opinions of me and that’s fine. They have written enough “bad press” about me and continue to do so. Yeah, no thanks. I certainly don’t want to see any of those people, or the ones who took what they said as “truth.”

As I look back over the list of those going to the event, I know that I can message or call them at any time. Many, I do. Thanks to Facebook, I can keep in contact with them. I am sure there will be some friends not on Facebook who will be there, and I’ll miss reconnecting with them, but I keep hoping that one day my class will have an actual reunion.

Another Weekend Wrap Up

On Friday, my son told me that he wasn’t coming over for the weekend. Sam and I decided that we’d take Ella somewhere to burn off some energy (Andrew came along for the ride). When I got home from work Saturday morning, I stayed up and we all went to the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw.

I’d never been there before, but I was impressed with it. There was plenty of stuff for Ella to do. We thought she would spend more time at the “water area,” but she was only there for a short time. She was running from station to station and I probably lost a few pounds chasing her around.

We got there right when it opened, so there wasn’t a lot of people there. The longer we were there, the more crowded it got. Both Sam and I felt our anxiety levels rising, so we wrapped things up with a trip to the gift shop. Ella found a stuffed kitty cat that she hasn’t really let go of since our trip.

On our way home, we stopped at Halo Burger. Halo Burger is a Flint area restaurant that is known for their Olive Burgers. They are SO good!! They are also known for serving Boston Coolers (It’s like a shake with Vernor’s ginger ale and vanilla ice cream). We don’t go there often, but when I do, I always get a Boston Cooler. I brought it home and Sam had Ella try it. She called it “Ice Cream Pop.” Needless to say, she finished it off for me.

Later than night, we took the kids to see Sam’s grandma. She loves her great grandbabies. She is in her 90’s and sharp as a tack! I am so glad that the kids have had the opportunity to know her and love her.

Andrew has been scooting all over the floor now. I’m sure he is trying to keep up with his sister. I know that it won’t be long before his is crawling and walking all over the place. This week, he actually got himself sitting up. It’s not consistent yet, but he seems pretty dang happy when he is sitting up and able to look around.

He was recently evaluated by the doctor and he will need a helmet. We’re hoping that he will only have to wear it for a couple months. The helmet will basically help to make sure his head is shaped properly. We’re hoping that the helmet won’t slow down his progress by weighing him down. He should be getting it this week.

He is such a happy baby. He always seems to be wearing a smile. Sam has been playing a game with the kids where she makes Andrew “get” Ella. They both laugh out loud and I love watching them!

I just love the outfit Andrew has on …

All of my kids are pretty awesome, there is no doubt about that.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook that was 100% true and really struck a chord with me this week. It said:

Your first kid teaches you how long the days are. Your last kid teaches you how short the years are.

Powerful stuff! That’s why I try to take advantage of all the time I can with them.

Grief

I saw this twice on Facebook today and it really hit me. It is SO very true. I’m sure that collectively, you and I could easily add more true statements to this. I wish I knew who wrote it to give them proper credit.

I am reposting it here, so I will always have it and so that anyone who may stumble on this blog will find it useful as well.

Whether it is because I am getting older or the fact that we are in the middle of this whole Covid pandemic crap, the truth is that I have seen more death in the past two years than I care to. I’m not just talking about the overabundance of famous people who are dying, but the normal every day people in life – classmates, parents of friends, spouses, teachers, fathers, mothers, siblings, grandparents, co-workers, etc… My Facebook feed provides at least two to three links to obituaries a day now.

Many of my friends are still trying to cope with losses that are VERY fresh in their minds. I hope that this helps you or someone you may know who is currently dealing with grief – or has been dealing with it for some time.

Grief

Grief doesn’t just show up the day they die

Grief shows up on a random Monday night

Grief shows up in aisle five at the grocery store

Grief shows up when they’re favorite song comes on the radio

Grief shows up at the dining room table

Grief shows up at your graduation and wedding

Grief shows up in the delivery room when they aren’t by your side or in the pictures

Grief shows up on those sleepless nights

Grief shows up when the phone rings and it isn’t them

Grief shows up when you go to dial their number and realize they’ll never answer again

Grief shows up time and time again always unexpected and never invited

Grief doesn’t just show up the day they die

This chart could not be more true….

Post Holiday Lesson

I hope that it is ok to post this. I would think that it is, as many others shared this on Facebook after he re-posted this. A pastor friend of mine, Richard Jordan, re-shared a blog that he wrote over 10 years ago. I shared it on Facebook, and my buddy Max commented on my Christmas recap blog wondering if I get depressed on December 26th. This blog from Pastor Jordan hit home and certainly helped me shift my focus … Here is his Facebook post:

FB posted an old blog post on my private feed this morning. Since it posted on this date in 2009, I thought I’d put it here as a reminder to us all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After Christmas

Christmas night often finds folks in a bit of a melancholy mood. After weeks of anticipation, the celebrations have flashed by and are suddenly gone, fading into the night.

This is natural, understandable and probably the best teaching moment of the whole season. As long as the beautifully wrapped gifts remain unopened and the celebrations still future, they appear to be the hope we are waiting for. But when all are opened and the merriment past, we sense we are still longing for something more, something lasting.

I had one of those teachable moments with my granddaughter, Hanna, yesterday. After opening gifts and eating a good meal, she was sitting on the stair in a rather pensive mood. I sat next to her to talk about what she was feeling. I’ve learned that children don’t know what is happening to their emotions or why, so I generally don’t ask the “Why?” question but rather explain the “What” to them.

I pointed out to Hanna that she was learning lessons many grown-ups haven’t yet grasp:

1. Gifts and events can’t fill you soul. They are expressions of generosity but are not designed to satisfy. They’re designed to point us to the Giver.

2. Putting our hopes in gifts will leave us empty inside. We will ask, “Is that all?” because we know deep down that’s not all there is. We are designed to treasure a Person, not things.

3. It is more blessed to give than receive. What makes you feel richer, getting the presents you wanted or making someone else happy with something you gave to them? A greedy heart lives in a small, lonely world. A generous heart lives in a wide world of love.

I hope she remembers some of grandpa’s sagged advice! I learned it from someone; I pass it along in hopes it helps others as much as it helps me.

It is just the way of God’s grace to let the glitter and flash of celebrations (even in His honor) pass and then even in the melancholic void they leave teach us once again, “It’s not I, but Christ.”

Marantha!

This is just perfect!

My Christmas Wish To You

With Christmas just days away, I thought I would take a moment and write a Christmas wish to you. Yes, you. Many of my followers are friends on Facebook, however, there are many of you who only know me from this blog. I wanted to be sure to extend holiday wishes to you before I got too busy with Christmas things.

I really had hoped to come up with some deep and meaningful wish, but I can’t seem to find the right words. Let me start with this: For my blogger friends – I appreciate you. I am glad to have made your acquaintance through mutual likes (movies, music, TV, etc…). I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy reading yours. I may not get the chance to comment or “like” each one of them, but I do find time to read them.

For my family and friends who are connected through Facebook or social media, I am grateful for you, too. Even though we do not get to see each other face to face, I laugh at your funny posts, I smile at your family photos, I pray when you request special prayers, and I cry when you experience sadness or tragedy. I send my love to each of you.

For Christmas 2021, I wish for you:

C – Carols and music. May the sounds of the season accompany your holiday gatherings.

H – Health and happiness. May you be blessed with good health and an over abundance of happiness!

R – Rest and relaxation. May you find time to rest, relax and recharge before heading back to the grind.

I – Innocence. May you take in things that are so often overlooked with the awe, wonder, and innocence of a child. Notice those things – and treasure them.

S – Surrounded by family and friends. May you share all of your holiday season amongst those who mean the most to you.

T – Traditions. May you enjoy old traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation as well as start new ones to pass down next year.

M – Memories. May you make many happy memories together and recall memories from Christmases gone by.

A – Appreciation. May you celebrate this Christmas with an appreciation for all you have, no matter how big or how small.

S – Savior. May you celebrate the Savior this Christmas. Yes, the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, but it is also important to remember that the Baby in the manger grew up to be a sinless Man. That sinless Man, was crucified for you and for me. He bore all of our sins on the cross so that we could have eternal life.

I Corinthians 15: 1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

A Musical Wish

I have never heard of Katherine Jenkins. She is a Welsh opera singer who  performs operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre, and hymns. I was scanning through channels of Sirius XM and heard this song this week. I felt like it was a good one to share and conveyed what I might not be able to put into words.

I wish you starlight on fields of snow
The winter’s morning light and evening’s glow;
I wish you candles that shine from every tree
So all the world can see
The light that there could be


I wish you music, I wish you song
With voices echoing, Joyous and strong;
I wish you church bells, ringing true and clear;
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
A merry Christmas to remember all the year


Old friends smiling
Thinking of times gone by;
Young friends laughing:
Christmas is here
Spirits are bright
And hopes are high


I wish you loved ones around your fire;
May Christmas bring you all your heart’s desire
I wish you children to make the season new
With dreams you help come true
Just like it was for you


I wish you blessings, I wish you love
The sound of angel choirs from high above;
I wish you laughter, happiness and cheer:
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
And may its joy and peace be with you through the year


I wish you music, I wish you song;
I wish you harmony your whole life long;
The warmth of memories that long remain:
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
And may God bless you till we all shall meet again

Merry Christmas from your nostalgic Italian friend,

Keith

“I Miss Us”

Today, our baby boy is one month old. Ella turned 21 months old yesterday. Where did that time go?

As you can imagine, life at our house is constant chaos. It’s a whole new ball game with two under two. Now that I am back to work, Sam is getting the bulk of the chaos and she is exhausted. Tonight she posted this on her Facebook page:

“Keith is at work. Ella has her first cold and is extremely whiney and has cried the majority of the day. Andrew is in his ‘witching hour’ of the day. Cocomelon has been on repeat on the TV for the past two hours… Pretty sure this is a preview of what hell is like!”

While that is very funny – it really isn’t. I have never understood why both parents do not get leave after a baby is born. In some countries, the father and mother each get a full year off with their newborn. I’d be happy with a few months to help with mom’s sanity! There are so many pressures that mom is going through with just one baby, let alone a second or third child on top of that.

Breastfeeding is a sure way for a mother to snap! It is a constant need for the baby. Dad really can’t do anything until mom starts pumping, so until then – it’s all on mom. I felt so helpless. I watched Sam sit up in our bed utterly exhausted from no sleep. I tried to help by taking the baby to the couch in hopes that Sam would be able to sleep, but if the baby fussed, she heard him and couldn’t sleep.

We recently switched to all formula for him, which has allowed me to get up with him at night and feed him. Sam is finally able to sleep when I am home. However, for four nights a week, it is all her while I am at work. When I come home I try to help with breakfast and such , but then I have to go to bed for work that night. I try to set my alarm to get up and help, but some days I am just craving every second of sleep. I really am no help to her, which I hate.

Amongst all of those changes, there is the change between us. We long for a ‘date night,’ but really aren’t that comfortable going out to eat yet. We’re heading into the colder weather, so it makes it hard to even go for a walk outside. We are both craving that “us” time!

Sam sent me something via Facebook tonight. It really hits home. I had to walk away when I started reading it because I knew I would tear up. I wanted to share it here, not only for me, but for some of my friends who recently had babies who may be feeling the same things we are ….

This was on The Birds Papaya Facebook page:

I miss us.

Can I say that?

I think in a way and as I’ve always done, I romanticized the situation. I romanticized what a baby would mean for us.

How we would swoon, how much closer we would get. Being bonded forever. How you’d look at me through new eyes.

This all feels real and true, and yet the complete opposite. It doesn’t make sense sometimes.

We are both here.

We share a common goal.

We swoon and bond over this being.

But, I miss us.

I miss who I was before depression and a troubled pregnancy. I miss the energy I exuded. I miss not mumbling things under my breath (I’m sorry for that by the way).

I miss being the center of your attention, an impossibility with a little human who happens to be louder and more commanding than I am (go figure that that’s the part of me she reflects).

I wonder what parts of you that you miss.Or, do you just feel the same? (is it just me?)

Are we getting weaker or are we getting stronger? Perhaps both?

This is temporary, right?

What parts will last forever?

Why does nobody talk about how hard this is sometimes? Or just how weird it is?

Why do we just show how sweet it is, in the moments that are oh-so sweet?

Can it be both? I need it to be both.

I miss us.

But, I am proud of us.

Minute-by-minute figuring out what it is to be a couple with boundless energy and ambition transform into a couple that is tired and at capacity and yet leading with love…and some mumbled words.

Why is this not romance? Or did I just misunderstand it all, all along?

When you rub my back in the middle of the night knowing I’m struggling. When you get up at 5am with her so I may sleep a little longer. When you feed me while I feed her. When we carve out time in the chaos for us. When we just sneak a moment in the middle of it *air high five*.

When we just are doing the dang thing. All of us are. A family. Us, a family.

Remember when we were just coworkers with a crush? Look at us now.

My gosh. Look at us now.

Maybe I miss us, but… I love what we have found.

There is so much truth to that.

Thank you, Sam, for sending it. I completely feel the same way. We WILL find “us” again and along the way, we’ll enjoy what we have found together as a family.

For the record, my wife is pretty “right on” with the description of Cocomelon ….

…. or Little Baby Bum

URGH!!!