Avoid Some of the Shock

During my parents’ last few years of life, I was able to visit them at least every week or two. Although I could see how much they had declined from previous years, I couldn’t see much of a change from one week to the next.

When my mother called one day to tell me my father had fallen in the bathroom and couldn’t get up, I left work to try to help. But whatever was wrong, he couldn’t help himself at all. So we called the Rescue Squad to take him to the hospital. That was on a Wednesday.

I drove my mother to the hospital daily, but Father barely seemed aware of our presence. The doctors hadn’t been able to find the cause, and he wasn’t getting any better. So we weren’t terribly surprised when we received the call that Friday afternoon–just minutes after getting home from the hospital–that he had died.

It wasn’t really a shock. We’d seen the decline just over a period of several days after a more gradual decline over a period of years. So we were as ready for his death as we could have been.

My mother suffered from a number of health issues; diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and rheumatoid arthritis are the ones that come to mind. Life for her the year after Father’s death was challenging, but she was hanging on.

Then came the Wednesday night when my (former) wife called me at church to say she hadn’t been able to get in touch with Mother all day, and that was extremely unusual. So I left choir practice and drove to a darkened house. Not even any porch lights were on.

Fortunately, I always had a key to the house with me. I started calling for my mother as I turned on lights and went through the house looking for her. I found her lying in bed with signs of a probable major stroke. No telling how long she had been dead. Presumably since the previous night.

Yes, finding her that way was a shock, but because of her multiple ailments and obvious decline over the years, her death itself wasn’t a shock.


We’re getting ready to go on vacation. Going back to a place I used to live. I’ve made plans to visit at least three old friends and to worship at the church I’d belonged to then.

Two of the additional people I hope to see are former ninth grade English students. I quit teaching at the end of 1974, and I haven’t seen either of them since. Because I haven’t seen them growing up and growing older, I can’t imagine I’ll even recognize them easily. The changes in their appearance over that period of time will probably be immense.

Several of my friends in that town–people I haven’t seen in thirty-five years or more–have severe health problems. I’m trying to prepare myself for seeing them that way, but it’s not working very well. After all, when I last saw them, they were not only younger, they were much healthier.

If I’d still been living in that town, I wouldn’t have trouble recognizing old students or seeing the decline in health of other friends. But I’m not.

Maybe that’s why I feel the need to advise you to stay in close contact with the most important people in your life. Even if it takes a little extra effort.

Otherwise, your decline might be a shock to them when your time comes.

As always, your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

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Appreciating My Father…a Bit Too Late


Am I the only person who failed to appreciate one of his parents during his lifetime?

My father was an extremely well educated man. His law degree from the College of William & Mary was later upgraded to a Doctorate of Jurisprudence because the college recognized that law students from that earlier era had done the equivalent of what they now required for a doctoral degree. And he practiced law for several years–I don’t know how many–before feeling God calling him in a different direction.

That’s when he and my mother packed up and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he got a seminary degree, preparing for the ministry.

Love of study turned out to be a lifelong passion. His sermons–he preached morning and evening on Sundays and did an in-depth Bible study on Wednesday nights–resulted from hours of seclusion in his study. Have I mentioned that not only didn’t he read his sermons, he didn’t even use notes? Yes, he memorized each sermon, and I don’t recall ever hearing him falter. Amazing.

And even though he kept meticulous outlines of hundreds of sermons–probably thousands–he never reused a sermon. Not until he had moved on to a different church, and even then he only reused special ones.

The one that comes to mind–I suppose I heard it at least three or four times while I was growing up–was titled “A Lawyer Examines  the Crucifixion of Christ.” What a unique idea! And who better qualified to look at Jesus’s illegal trial and crucifixion than a lawyer-turned-minister?

He also had a children’s story for each worship service. Although I’m sure he told a number of good stories, one of them still sticks out in my mind some forty-some or fifty years later. I don’t recall the details, but it had something to do with a clay pot that was beautiful except for a flaw on one side. The story concluded with the decision to “turn the crack to the back” so that it wouldn’t detract from people’s admiration and enjoyment of its beauty.

My parents have been dead more than twenty years, and only now am I starting to appreciate them –especially my father–the way I wish I’d done way back when. Those stories he told about the family and about so many other things, the ones I tired of hearing then, are lost forever.

Is there someone in your life you ought to listen to and appreciate more? I urge you not to wait until it’s too late. Let that person know how you feel–today. How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

The Oldest Living Orphan

Uh, okay.

I didn’t say “oldest living orphan in the world,” now did I?

No, but I’m the oldest (and only) living orphan in my household, and I don’t like it.

Hearing a sixty-seven year old man say that might sound a tad strange, but here are the facts. My father died in 1993 and my mother died fourteen months later. That left me parentless, right?

Of course, if you want to get technical, the word orphan normally describes a parentless child. But why shouldn’t it apply to anyone without parents–without regard to age? After all, we’ll always be our parents’ children, even when they’re gone.

And suppose that older man doesn’t have any siblings. And almost no relatives left on his mother’s side; he only hears from them when and if they think to let him know another family member has died. And the relatives on his father’s side are so distant he doesn’t know how the ones he has connections with on Facebook are related to one another. Or to him.

I used to say that if I ever remarried, I could only marry someone who didn’t have any close kin. Having in-laws I felt close to would have seemed too strange.

As things turned out, my wife, Kathleen, still has a full complement of living relatives. Her parents–though quite aged–are still managing on their own, and she has two brothers, sisters-in-law, and a good variety of nephews and nieces.

They’re all fine folks, and I’m glad to know them. I appreciate them. I even like them. A lot.

But by no fault of theirs, I still feel like an orphan at times.

What do you say? Does this make sense? Can you relate to what I’m saying? Please share a comment if you can.


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,




Growing More Emotional

I’ve never been one of those guys who thought that crying is unmanly. Then again, I’ve never thought of myself as “Mr. Macho.” No one else has ever thought of me that way, either.

Nonetheless, I never used to be much of a cry-er. As a child, I recall crying twice, although I may have done it more often than that. Once was one of those very few times I received a spanking. The other was when my parents told me we were moving away from the town we’d lived in for the first eight years of my life.

If I cried as a teen or young adult, I don’t remember it.

Except in 1976 at the death of the baby my ex- and I had. Beth lived three days after her normal birth. If you want to read about that, I would refer you to Yesterday’s Blossoms.

As I started growing a bit older, I sometimes got teary at the end of a movie or of a very moving book.

But do you know what’s REALLY weird? I can’t believe I’m about to admit this publicly because some of you are going to think me completely unfeeling. But when my parents died–my father in 1993 and my  mother the following year?

I didn’t cry. I was sad, yes. But I knew they were in Heaven, and I couldn’t be but so sad about that. I would miss them, yes. But tears? For whatever reason, they just wouldn’t come.

Flash forward to reaching my fifties and now my sixties. Tearfulness comes at the least expected times.

Still from books and movies. But also when someone comes forward at church to make a profession of faith in Christ or gets baptized. Or while I’m paying a complete stranger a sincere compliment. Or  thanking someone for even the smallest of favors. Even when someone is thanking me for something. These examples don’t begin to scratch the teary surface.

Gracious! Some people might really think this new-found emotionality is a true sign of aging gracelessly. But–doggone it–I’m thankful I’m still able to feel. If anything, I wish this change had occurred years earlier.

Okay. Your turn now. Especially you guys. What’s your take on displaying your emotions? Please leave a comment to share your view.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,