When Should an Older Adult Quit Driving?

I’m smiling as I think about my father’s driving. For just about as far back as I can remember, he drove as creepingly slowly as any stereotypical little old man. That started years before he became a little old man, although his driving got appreciably worse as he grew older. He continued to drive until a few days before his death. Probably up to the day before he had to be hospitalized for the last time.

As a widow, my mother was in a quandary about driving. Her health wasn’t good, and she readily agreed that it probably wasn’t good for her to continue driving. So on the condition that I would drive her when needed, she let me trade in the Crown Victoria along with my car of the time and get a new car. One that we could conveniently put her walker–and soon thereafter her wheelchair–in.

My parents were in their eighties when they died. My mother had quit driving when she realized she could no longer do it safely. My father probably should have quit, but hadn’t.

What about me? I’m only sixty-eight and in good health.

But a year or two ago I drove through a wire barrier I didn’t see, and a few months ago I backed into a light post I couldn’t have missed seeing if I’d been more alert. I’ve always hated night driving, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to feel even vaguely comfortable doing.

Last night I rode to a meeting with a friend. And I’ve asked my wife to please start being the driver for Wednesday night and Sunday night church activities.

But I’m far from needing to give up driving completely. I’ve never hit anyone or even been in an accident with another vehicle. I don’t feel uncomfortable with daytime driving in familiar territory.

So what’s the big deal? Why write this blog post?

Honestly? I think I just needed to think all of this through and realize that I simply need to be more careful. Especially in parking lots!

What about you? What’s your opinion about or experience with older drivers? How about leaving a comment?

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years onĀ  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out . If you’re interested, here’s the Amazon link.

Best regards,
Roger

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A Weighty Idiosyncrasy

If you’ve been with me even a short time already, you know I have my share of idiosyncrasies. I hope you do, too. I’d hate to be all by myself that way.

I describe the idiosyncrasy I’m talking about today as “weighty” because it has to do with my weight. See? That’s not very complicated, is it?

I’ve been in a battle with my weight practically my whole life. Don’t ask me why I remember this so vividly, but when I was in the sixth grade I weighed 148 and was a lot shorter than my adult 5’6″ height. The folks at church thought I was cute being so fat. I didn’t.

My parents finally decided to do something about it, and I trimmed down quite a bit

But–doggone it!–weight loss never seems to be permanent. I’ll bet I’ve gained and lost a thousand pounds over the years, although it’s felt more like I only gained a thousand and kept it.

When I started teaching school, I was always eating something I shouldn’t have had, and I managed to gain a good twenty pounds or so. A “good twenty pounds”? I don’t think so!

My clothes didn’t fit and I felt miserable. But I cut back on my eating and starting bicycling a lot. I bought some great looking clothes that wouldn’t fit until I reached my goal. I went from at least 177 down to 148 or less, and I was proud of myself. That was my first weight loss effort as an adult.

But, alas! it snuck back on over the years. It’s hard to pick a weight at which I would automatically decide I had to lose weight again. But it happened. Over and over again.

About three years ago I was diagnosed as being diabetic, type 2. The doctor told me to watch the scales, not the carbs. Huh?

Hmm. I’d made it up to 208. Not good. So I took Dr. Ashe’s statement seriously. I worked slowly and carefully. It took a year-and-a-half to lose fifty pounds, and I was determined that–for once–I was going to control my weight and never have to diet again.

But I’d been equally determined far too many other times, although not motivated by health needs, and I’d always backslidden.

Okay, you say. You understand. Maybe you’ve had an ongoing battle with your weight, too. Or ought to be concerned but you haven’t been motivated to do anything yet. Or maybe you’re close to someone who has a weight problem. Who isn’t?

So where’s the idiosyncrasy?

I keep a datebook in the bathroom and record my weight on a regular basis. I accept the fact that there will be minor fluctuations from day to day, but I make myself aware of those and fret whenever the figure goes up more than seems reasonable.

But that probably still doesn’t qualify as an idiosyncrasy.

How about the fact that I consider the first day of the month a crucial time–and even more so the first day of the year?

Seriously.

I keep an Excel spreadsheet of my weight; it goes back a number of years, although for a while I only kept track of the January 1 readings. I’m already fretting about the likelihood that I’ll probably weigh three pounds more on January 1, 2015, than I did the first of this year.

Fretting. I mean big-time fretting. Here I did so well so long, and I feel like I’m losing the battle. Starting to, anyhow.

I can eat the way I need to forever if I can avoid temptation. But add a week’s vacation away from home to dinner out with friends at a Cheesecake Factory and another dinner out with friends at a Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant (at least I didn’t have the buffet, which would’ve required me to fully pig out to try to eat my money’s worth) and I’m in trouble.

Yes, I know. Three pounds isn’t that much. But every successful diet has always concluded with failures like those. And they’ve always led to more.

I HAVE to keep it off this time, though. I refuse to buy bigger clothes again.

What do you say? Is weight your problem, or is something else equally frustrating to you? Please leave a comment.

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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.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Check it out HERE if you’re interested. . Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

YA Novels Aren’t Just for Teens

When Barbour Publishing released my first two Young Adult novels in 2011, I soon discovered that most of the positive feedback would come from adults. Not teens.

Since then I’ve learned that’s the norm. Adults love well written Young Adult novels. And I don’t mean just the Harry Potter books or The Hunger Games.

I’d like to believe that’s partially because conscientious parents want to make sure their kids are reading decent books. But I’m realistic enough to know that probably isn’t the case most of the time.

Why then?

I believe adults enjoy teen stories because we remember our own teen years sufficiently well that we can relate to them. And I believe far fewer teens enjoy (decent) adult novels because they cannot relate. They haven’t lived long enough or experienced enough of adult trials and tribulations.

I periodically agree to become an “influencer” for someone else’s new novel. Among other things, that means I receive a copy of the book–sometimes a print copy, sometimes electronic–and read and post reviews of it.

When I volunteered to become an influencer for Marissa Shrock’s YA novel, The First Principle, I did so because the brief synopsis sounded interesting.

Can you imagine a futuristic time (not too far in the future) when the United States as a nation has been replaced by a nation made up of the former United States, Mexico, and Canada? Freedom as we know it is a thing of the past, and the more affluent are in control. People must trust the government to know what’s best for them under all circumstances; that sounds too much like today.

Christians are enemies of the State and the Bible as we know it is illegal. The government has issued an authorized revised Bible meant to appeal to the members of every religion.

Teens are not discouraged from having sex. That, too, sounds too much like today. Every teen girl is vaccinated against pregnancy, but since the vaccine doesn’t always work, girls must take a regularly scheduled pregnancy test. Any teen who gets pregnant automatically faces abortion, and no one thinks of it as murder.

But there’s trouble in paradise. A rebel faction has been building for years, determined to restore the former United States and the freedoms people used to enjoy. And Christians play a huge role in the conspiracy.

What really grabbed my attention when I first opened the book–a print copy–was the fact that Marissa didn’t have the usual list of endorsements by other authors. Instead, she listed seven or eight brief endorsements by teen readers, giving only their first names and their ages. If I were a teen girl, that would probably have sold me on the book right there.

I’m not going to give away any of the story today. But, if you read the back cover, you learn that Vivica, the teen protagonist, faces some drastic decisions when she becomes illegally pregnant. One thing the author did especially well was to portray Vivica as a well-intended but imperfect teen.

The further I went in my reading, the more drawn in I became. The story was wonderfully suspenseful and the ending quite satisfying–and obviously paving the way for a sequel.

I could’ve live without all of the details about the new country and how it came into being, especially as an information dump at the beginning of Chapter Two. I’m just not sure all of those details were necessary.

But if that’s my biggest criticism, I have to still say that The First Principle is a teen novel well worth reading.

What have you read recently? Any teen books? Care to share with a comment?

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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 post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

Searching for the Best in Little Things

smallThings

I’ve written some pretty serious posts recently. Today I want to poke a little bit of fun at myself.

The older I’ve grown, the less materialistic I’ve become. No wonder. I’ve had more years to think about the fact that I can’t take it with me. As the old saying goes, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.”

So don’t expect me to take a round-the-world cruise, pay cash for a mansion, or test drive even the lowliest of Porsches. Occasional modest vacations and weekend getaways are wonderful, and my mobile home and Honda Civic are just right for me. Fortunately, my wife feels the same way.

One reason we enjoy having a mobile home (approximately 1200 square feet) is it keeps us from buying “stuff” we don’t need and don’t have room for.

Okay, so you understand by now that I’m not extravagant. I’ll probably never even own a better Martin or Taylor guitar than the ones I already have. Why fret about that? I’m blessed to have what I have, and I only get to play at a local nursing home, anyhow, and I feel all too much at home going there to do that.

But I do enjoy buying certain kinds of things. In fact, you might say I’m sometimes obsessed with the search for the most perfect of small items.

For example, years ago I decided it would be prudent to always carry a flashlight. (Except in the shower, of course.) It wouldn’t have to be the most powerful one on the market, but strong enough to help in an emergency. No telling how many small flashlights I went through in my search. I finally found two–no, I don’t carry both of them–at the local Bass Pro store.

I wear the larger one on my keyring and the smaller one on a lanyard around my neck during the night. Silly? Not with a dog, a cat, and pet toys that might be anywhere on a dark path to the bathroom.

Another small necessity was a pocketknife. As anyone who’s ever owned a Swiss Army knife can tell you, that’s a must, and I keep a small one in the man-pouch my wife knitted for me. This one has a blade, scissors, and a nail file. Plus tiny tweezers and a plastic toothpick. Can’t say I’ve ever used the toothpick for its intended purpose, but those tweezers are great!

The problem with carrying a knife that small, however, is that it’s not rugged enough for those occasional heavy-duty cutting needs. So a fair-sized Gerber pocket knife–also carried in the man-pouch–serves as a good supplement.

My only concern with these two knives is remembering to put them in the suitcase rather than having to surrender them at airport security. I’ve lost several that way.

My latest small purchase is a bit larger–but definitely not something to carry around.

No telling how many beard/mustache trimmers I’ve gone through in my lifetime. Some simply weren’t good enough. Others lost their charging power, while I threw away one recently that had never charged enough for a consistent cut. Not even when new.

That’s what got me searching for a cordless trimmer–and reading multiple reviews on Amazon before settling on one. My search ended with the discover of a Wahl Peanut (yes, it is appreciably smaller than most beard/mustache trimmers). Appreciably more expensive than the average trimmer, it came highly recommended.

My Peanut has proven itself consistently as well worth the investment.

My home may not have room for larger extravagances that I really have no interest in, but the little things I get a kick out of looking for the most useful of fit nicely.

Are you always looking for a better kind of something? How about telling us what in a comment?

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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.

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

Tentative-Front-Cover
My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

Pride’s Not a Problem and I’m Proud of It

The Bible has a lot to say about pride. The verse that comes to mind says that pride goes before a fall.

It does. I learned my lesson the hard way.

I’ll never forget visiting my tenth grade friend Bud and talking to his sister, who was a year older than I was and someone I wanted to impress, even though she was far out of my league. And what better way than by showing off the Spanish I’d been studying for a year or two at that time. I could certainly impress her with my linguistic abilities.

So I started reading aloud from the Spanish textbook I had with me.

She was impressed all right. But not the way I’d wanted or expected.

How was I to know she’d lived in Puerto Rico or some other Spanish-speaking place for years while her dad was stationed there in the navy? Or that her Spanish was far superior to the best I would ever be able to do?

Talk about red-faced…

I wish I could say that was the only time pride got the better of me. Sometimes it wasn’t even my fault–like the time an aunt of my mother’s took my mom and a cousin of mine and me out for a meal at a nice restaurant. Of course, none of realized this place would have a dress code or that what they kept on hand to give naive young men who weren’t properly attired would not only be as ugly as sin, but horribly mismatched.

So much for pride in my appearance. At least I can look back at that now and laugh, but I sure couldn’t at the time.

I must’ve learned my lesson from that. Several times in my adult life I’ve gone to Halloween parties dressed with a sheet folded into a triangle and worn as if it were a diaper. I dragged a blanket behind me and periodically drank milk from a baby bottle. If that had embarrassed me, I never would’ve done it more than once. I just wish I knew what had happened to the picture.

People frequently tell me what a good writer I am. And what a good guitarist. Yes, of course those compliments make me feel good, but I’ve read better writers and listened to better guitarists. So I don’t let it go to my head.

That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of my accomplishments, though. I really am. But I know better than to compare my talents to those of other people. I’ve learned that being myself my way is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.

Years ago I read an article in Guitar Player magazine about guitarist Phil Keaggy. (I’ve been a Keaggy fan for MANY years and still wouldn’t begin to know how to play like him.) But I was really impressed by something super-guitarist Eric Clapton said in the article (I hope I’m quoting him correctly): “I’d like be able to play like Phil Keaggy–and then not do so.”

Amen! to the idea of having talent equal to someone else’s but still being oneself rather than a copycat. I can truthfully say I’ve never tried to play or write the way someone else does, no matter how much I appreciate and enjoy their work. In fact, that’s what makes my songs and novels legitimate: they’re mine and no one else’s.

One thing that keeps me humble about my music is the fact that I normally only get to use my guitar playing and original songs at our church’s weekly nursing home ministry. Those nice old folks would probably love my music, no matter how good or bad. I doubt they would know the difference. And neither would they care. They seem to love and appreciate me–and that carries over to my music.

What are you proud of? Is it a problem or a reasonable pride? Please leave a comment.

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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 post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. Look for it HERE if you’re interested.

Best regards,
Roger

 

 

My Legacy

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Some years ago I wrote a song called “What Will You Leave Behind?” While I don’t dwell on the subject of legacies constantly, I do think about it fairly often. Especially as I advance in age.

One thing for sure. Unless something drastic happens, my financial legacy won’t be measured in millions of dollars. Or even in the upper thousands. My wife and I have everything we need, but we’re in no way well-to-do in earthly terms. So, girls, you’d best earn your own money, since you’re not going to get rich on your mom and me.

But financial legacies are only a small part of what we leave behind. Often the least important part.

I’ve long since concluded that my most important legacy as a Christian is the books and songs I’ve written. And will continue to write as long as God permits me to.

I pray nightly for my readers–past, present, and future. I pray for God’s help in writing what He wants others to read, and I pray that His message will be clear to my readers in their individual needs and circumstances. And I pray that I will continue to improve in my writing and in writing about only what God wants me to write about.

That’s why the release of my third novel on Tuesday, November 23, is so important to me. The Devil and Pastor Gus (see the tentative cover at the top of the page) tells the story of a middle aged man determined to leave a Christian legacy in the form of a novel ridiculing the Devil for his foolish pride.

In the process of feigning friendship with Satan to get back story for his novel, Gus’s prologue is unwittingly published in a popular Christian magazine. Aware now that Pastor Gus has played him for a fool, the Devil sets out to destroy Gus’s life in every way possible. As if killing Gus’s wife and unborn baby aren’t enough, Satan tricks Gus into thinking that signing a contract for his soul is the only way he can save his church.

I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that Gus knows he’s made a terrible mistake. He can’t undo it, though. The question is whether he can beat the Devil at his own game…or whether God’s mercy is greater than Gus can imagine.

Uh, let’s see…where was I? Oh, yes. Talking about my novels and songs as my legacies.

I can’t say that I have any personal experience with the Devil, but Gus and I are a lot alike in wanting to leave a legacy that will affect Christians in profound ways for years to come. I’ll write other novels if God permits me to. But The Devil and Pastor Gus is what I tend to view as my ultimate legacy. Not necessarily my best book. Not necessarily my most popular one. But the one God will use to make a difference in a number of lives.

What better legacy could I want than that?

What legacy are you leaving to your survivors? Please share a comment.

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Please come back again on Sunday for another post. If you prefer to receive my blog posts by email, sign up at the lower right corner.

I have another blog, “As I Come Singing.” I use it to share the lyrics of the almost 200 songs I’ve written over the past fifty years. You may see it HERE. You’ll also find free lead sheets (music, lyrics, chords) for many of them HERE.

If you’re interested in seeing more about The Devil and Pastor Gus or pre-ordering the book, GO HERE.

Best regards,
Roger