To give an entire background on this next column would take multiple autobiographical books and that is not happening today.
Those who’ve read Late Bird, been with me for a while and/or believe in the grace of God and the greatness of America, this story is for you.
Due to a biochemistry issue that I will eventually share and address, as I believe it can help a lot of people, this last decade has been quite a challenge.
You’d never know it by looking at me. I’ve attended weddings, funerals, parties, holidays and have run into people I haven’t seen in a long time and it’s all the same.
“You look great!”
“You must workout a lot!”
“There’s no way you are 52!”
I always say thank you and I am appreciative of the compliments but the things I’ve had to do and figure out just to keep functioning has turned me into a mad scientist.
I am not complaining, far from it, but it is important for this story to make sense to give a tiny bit of background.
As those who have been with me have heard me say or write many times “God has done enough, the rest is up to us, the rest is up to you.”
I emphatically believe this and when I speak with God it is simply to say thank you and occasionally I provide some humor.
Every once in a while I believe I hear a chuckle.
Regardless throughout my lifetime from childhood to now when my burden seems too great, or I’m off the correct path, The Big Fella Upstairs sends help or guidance.
It may seem like a small thing to most but if one is paying attention and listening amazing things will transpire.
Another way to think of think of it is this.
When my body is struggling my brain/mind will go to work in an attempt to understand the symptom and fix the issue.
When my body and mind struggle together my soul takes over and opens me to many things, including survival, healing, learning and most importantly listening.
This week due to some of the aforementioned symptoms of the biochemistry issue I didn’t have the energy or ocular clarity to write and planned to use a column from the past, something that may still happen in the future.
This week though God said I’m right here son and sent help.
It wasn’t the first time and I know it won’t be the last and I am beyond grateful every time.
To explain this in the least amount of verbiage I will harken back to high school.
When I left one Trinity High School and started at Nevada Union the transition was difficult for me due to extreme shyness and a very introverted personality.
After a month into my junior year I hadn’t made any friends and although lonely I knew athletics would kick in for me very soon and as always would change my life for the better.
One day I was approached by an older male student, after a class I’d had with his unbeknownst to me, girlfriend.
He asked me if a particular kid in the class had flirted with her.
Looking back on it I laugh now as there was no way he was there to check on that particular kid.
His girlfriend was very cute and let’s just say the other kid wasn’t anywhere near her league.
He was there to check on me.
Look, I said I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t say I didn’t talk to the girls.
I remember looking at him kind of funny. I’d seen the kid talk to his girlfriend but even if I hadn’t I wasn’t going to throw him to the wolves, so I did what I always do. I protected the smaller weaker person by telling him that there was no way any flirting had taken place.
He just nodded and moved on and every day I’d see him after class as he walked her to the next one.
Yes, back in the day high school “couples” walked everywhere together at school as it was the only time you ever saw your boyfriend/girlfriend then as cell phones did not exist.
No texting, Face timing, or swiping.
Because of this proximity we got to know each other a little bit and he became one of my first friends as we had athletics in common.
A decade later we worked for a short while for the same company and although things started out great our relationship soured.
Eventually when we both were no longer employed there we ran into each other and had a good heart to heart and moved on although our prior friendship was over.
My friend was a pretty big partier/drinker and unfortunately imbibing of that amount of alcohol over decades took its toll then sadly took his life.
There’s the back story.
About a week ago I heard an old song by Patty Loveless called Here I Am that continued to play in my head. Over and over it continued, which isn’t uncommon for me.
It was the length of time the song stuck.
Over and over for a week I’d sing the same first verse,
“Don’t do it darlin’,
Don’t you dare look in there
You said you didn’t want to see me
But you’ve been looking for me everywhere
and you know that you’re gonna find me
If you keep on drinking’ fast
Cause honey I’m right there waiting’ on you
At the bottom of your glass.
Here I am,
Here I am”
Normally when this happens and I cannot get a particular song out of my head I’ll just listen to the radio or pick another favorite, play my guitar, and that ear worm goes away.
This time I just let it ride and found myself singing it in the shower, outside and driving.
For days this continued until I really started to think about the lyrics and for some reason I focused on the drinking, specifically the attempt to drink our problems away while actually creating ones worse.
“At the bottom of your glass.”
Yesterday as I drove to the store the song picked up again and I sang the same first verse over and over and turned my focus to the drinking.
I didn’t question it and as the act of singing made me feel a little better I continued as any reprieve from my current situation is hung onto with vice like grips.
Turning a tight corner on a mountain road a nondescript car headed towards me in the other lane.
I rarely look at the faces of other drivers but for some reason I peered into the vehicle as it drove by.
It was my deceased friend whom I hadn’t thought about in a very long time.
For those who haven’t been with me for a while I am well aware of what this sounds like.
All I can say to you is God works in mysterious ways and if you are getting a tingling right now the mystery may be with you as we speak or rather as you read.
I’m sure some will ask, “Why didn’t you turn around and follow that vehicle?”
First that thought never occurred and secondly the channel was already opened. I smiled as I felt my entire body start to reverberate temporarily taking away all of my physical pain.
I’ve written about it before.
My nose starts to tingle, my eyes start to fill, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes a warmth cascades through which is incredible because in this current time of my life my hands and feet are always cold.
Then the conversation started.
I apologized about my actions in our twenties when I lost my temper.
He said don’t worry about it and then laughed and I can still hear it because he always had a very distinct laugh, very different from anyone else I’d ever heard.
He told me to hang in there, that help is on the way.
I told him that was good to hear cause I’m hanging on by the proverbial thread.
He told me I had lots of friends up here and then proceeded to throw out names.
Names of people he’d never known.
Some from my childhood and some just recently arrived.
I again said I’m trying and he said he knew and that quite a few would be coming back to provide help but not for me.
“You’ll be just fine,” he said.
“We are coming back to help America and we’ll be there soon.”
He finished with, “I’ll find you when I return” and then the name Don Grogg sounded so strongly it covered for a brief moment my seemingly ever present tinnitus.
Yes again, I am aware of how this sounds, and although I have no doubts, some will and to put the questions of sobriety and hallucinogenics I’m sure will happen to rest, I’ll quote Adam Ant.
“Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?”
Neither of those.
I simply tell the truth.
In today’s world it appears to be okay to believe men are women, women are men, and forced “vaccines” save lives but listening to our bodies, our minds, our souls and most importantly the voice of God, well now that’s crazy.
Regardless the message to me was clear.
Here I Am.