As I Recall It

We’ve talked before about losses we’ve all experienced because of COVID; loss of security, loss of food security, loss of jobs, loss of family and friends, and the loss of regular schedules for school. It’s a lot.

Many people have recovered well from COVID, the variant, kids are back at school, many folks are back to work, donations are being secured for those food insecure this holiday. The one loss that cannot be regained is the loss of our family and friends.

The Babe and I lost three men friends this year. One was from COVID. Our table at the VFW has fewer occupied chairs. We have two more widows sitting with us for a total of three. I’m the only married woman left. There were three of us. We deeply miss Nugent and Lenny. They were buddies; when Nugent needed his nails trimmed, Lenny would take him to the Nail Salon, and he said they had “toe-ectomies.” Lenny had a way with stories. They always pointed to him as the hero. They might end with him telling you to go to hell. They might end with him declaring “Fix! Fix!” He usually got the girl in the end, during the summer of love when he was a life guard at Peony Park.

Regardless of who got the girl, Nugent had a good friendship with Lenny. He had one with the Babe, too, but it was a more professional one. Nugent had a fabulous bar in his family room, and it was always perfectly stocked. He had great stories, and they were told masterfully. We miss him. He was quieter than Lenny, but every once in awhile, he’d release a thought and crack us all up. A nice, nice man.

Today, I read the small book our friend Rick Tiger wrote, “As I Recall It.” It’s a little book that recalls some pretty significant events in his life. He is modest about his success. He is modest about his talent. He is humble about his beginnings. He makes it clear he and his siblings had deep love from their mother and didn’t want for much of things of the heart. They knew they were loved, they knew they all had to help, they knew they had to behave. And they did that most of the time.

I love the segment where he admitted he and one sister fought over most everything. He, however, knew she was being bullied. And he took care of it. His taking care of it landed him in the principal’s office often. He told his truth and being called to the office was the extent of the punishment. I love that he told about that. It explains his deep love for his family; his wife Joyce, their daughters, and their Grandbabies. What a rich life he describes!

Many things make Rick’s family and friends miss his spirit, smile, and simplicity. He was an honest lover of his wife, Jesus, and Louisiana. Just listen to the words, the piano, the voice. The fog keeping you from leaving, having a cup of coffee while you wait it out, the bourbon sunsets, lose a friend; the saints come marching in. It’s a love song to his state, and it makes me want to travel there to see what he describes. It’s beautiful, to put it mildly. Someday, I hope to have the skill putting words together he had.

I miss Rick for the instant friendship we had. He wrote songs that described times in everyone’s life. Falling down and out of love. Whiskey and Holy Water. The Good Side of the Bar. He was as down to earth as your best friend. He valued everyone. He was a person you weren’t embarassed to ask to pray for you or yours. Every time the Babe had a procedure the last five years, I’d ask Rick to pray for him. He did, without reservation. And he’d text me and ask for updates afterwards. A humble, honest man. What a treasure to have had a friend like this.

I’m grateful for all three of these fine friends of ours. Without knowing them, our lives would have been quieter, smaller, and we would have had fewer laughs. We wouldn’t have had beautiful music to tell our stories, and listen to the wisdom Rick had. I’m grateful to still have the gift of all his CD’s, autographed, and his short book. All autographed.

Thanks for the memories, Rick!

The folks at the VFW Post 2503 are disappointed we won’t be able to have Rick back again next year. Word spread quickly about how much fun it was that night. He sat at a table with all of us and talked for about a half an hour before he started singing. Hugs were exchanged, and we all made new friends. Thanks, Rick and Joyce. Joyce, know there are lots of others thinking of you and your family during this holiday week. May the angels surround you with comfort and love. Take care of yourself, and kiss those grandbabies! They cure everything. Folks, Rick’s music is available for gift giving this season. And so is his book. I can hear his voice in the words. What a great storyteller. I do wish we could have had a song-writing session next summer. It was something we talked about, and I could have learned so much from him. Songs are stories set to music. You know how I love great stories.

Thanks for reading today. Keep your loved ones close; we just never know. Make memories this week. Remember good ones, too. See you tomorrow!

p.s. I made a major boo-boo yesterday. Misspelled a word in my title. Oh well. Sorry! Being human, I think it will happen from time to time. Take care, be safe out there!

Fabulous Friday Night!

The Babe and I attended a fundraiser last night for Toys for Tots and Guitars for Vets Nebraska. For nearly a year, our VFW Post has lent support to this great organization. G4V helps vets with PTSD learn to play the guitar, by offering ten free lessons with a qualified instructor. When they complete their instruction, they receive their own brand new guitar and accessories. Last night was an in person ceremony and the first public graduation ever.

Peggy Frye Ullom, a/k/a Taylor is the founder of the Nebraska Chapter. She is committed to helping other Vets who suffer silently from PTSD. It’s no secret she is committed to the nth degree. She is a leader who has a true heart for the mission of the group which is to help the Vets cope with their individual situations. She understands the task and fully supports the mission; she is one of the Vets with PTSD. Total honesty is her mantra, and it helps people open up and be vulnerable in their quest for a more normal life. It is with pleasure I now call her a friend.

The friendships that grow by getting involved in our community is phenomenal. When many like-minded people gather for the good of others, only great relationships can develop. I can hardly wait to see how things go next year, but I’m not about to wish my time away. December will find us regrouping, and structuring our Post Outreach more. There are a couple more groups we would like to become involved with and will investigate that further after Veterans Day/the Christmas Season. Only good can come of being involved.

Ken Sitler and Jimmy Weber, two local retired Air Force Veterans performed last night, too. They are always great to listen to. Their banter is pretty funny, and they had a couple Veterans who are musically inclined join them. One could no longer play guitar after having a stroke; he joined Jimmy and sang. I’m sure that made his year! It’s those kinds of meetings that develop into friendships that result from events like last night.

We’re grateful all these people made Omaha home after their military careers. Not just the three mentioned, but Dave (sorry, I don’t know your last name!), David J Mike and his lovely wife Gail, and all the other instructors I’ve haven’t gotten to know yet. The area is enriched with your presence. Grateful for all of you.

I know what music does for me; I’m sure it “works” in relieving anxiety, stress, and horrible events. Time, and learning how to cope is the best thing we can do for folks who need this. Art, drawing, performing, all give the same effect, it’s why the “arts” were created. When I was a kid, I was bullied. Most everyone was. I’d come into our house, and go to my room. That song by the Beach Boys became my theme song, “In My Room.” Sometimes I resolve bad moods or thoughts by being alone, listening to music. It always makes a huge difference.

As the Babe and I, along with our other volunteers from the VFW Post 2503, finish up on the Veterans Day Celebration of Veterans, we are cognizant of needs of our Veterans. The events in Afghanistan have shaken some to the core. They’re angry, needing to vent, and trying to figure out a lot of things. We are holding the Second Annual Clothing and Food Drive for Moving Veterans Forward and the Sienna Francis House. Two of our younger Veterans called last year to see if they could leave a trailer in the parking lot, and collect coats, for the homeless. Check the Post website @ http://www.vfwpost2503.org to view the list of needs for the food and clothing drive. We will also have Toys for Tots donation boxes available.

Last year at this time, we just became acquainted with Victory Apartments and Moving Veterans Forward. We coordinated with MVF and initiated monthly donations for them. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor, which we will continue for years to come.

So much good has been generated with those two new guys who wanted to do something meaningful for their fellow Veterans. They have launched many good events; Car Shows benefiting Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, Nebraska COPS, and the family of Corporal Daegan Page. The potential is mind boggling. Work by many becomes light. Thanks, guys.

We are also offering an Art Show by Liz Boutin. She is a Bellevue artist and military wife. She has journaled her way through working with the Red Cross Hospital in Germany, and working with Veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan at their first stop after becoming injured. The exhibit shows how PTSD can be worked with through Art. Liz will be present all day Veterans Day if you’d like to visit with her. She will also speak at our Veterans Day Ceremony, on November 11, 2021 at 6 p.m. Her art is available all week to view by members and friends. All are welcome.

There will also be resources available for referrals for Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Until None in Council Bluffs, and other organizations on a list we’ll have available for you to have. We will have a representative from the VA who can register you for your VA Benefits on site, you won’t have to go to the VA Hospital. We want to make it as easy as possible for you or your loved one to receive benefits they deserve.

We cannot guarantee your souls can be repaired like new; we can guarantee you will not be alone. VFW Post 2503. 90th and Military Road, Omaha, NE 68134. Join us!

“Twas a Dark and Stormy . . . ” Day!

We are in the middle of a storm front for the whole day. Don’t get me wrong, I love sunshine the best. But why be a Miss Grumpy Pants if it’s overcast? I’m glad for the lower water bills during this time of year, and God’s doing his best to water the grass and gardens that are drying and dying back for the fall season. With the thunder and lightening, Lexie has taken up residency in our oversized master bedroom closet, and Goldie? She’s between my feet and the base of my office chair. As long as Mom’s around, that noise doesn’t bother her. I woke to find her next to me during the night. Lexie was there when I fell asleep, and when Lexie retreated to the closet, Goldie plopped and cuddled.

Goldie, resting on my foot while I work. She doesn’t like thunder.

The Babe trekked up to the Post for some bookwork. I’m listening to Dayna Jones, a country singer/kindergarten teacher from Emery, South Dakota. I learned about her from our mutual friend, Jimmy Weber. I hope to meet her one day Both Dayna and Jimmy have performed with Martina McBride, whom I love! I heard her before she became a star; she toured with pianist Jim Brickmann in the 90s. She sang the song “Valentine.” Isn’t it beautiful? I love music even more on dark, dreary days. Dayna Jones has a couple CD’s out, which I really enjoy, also. This is a favorite. Gosh, Dayna, hope to meet you someday! You need to come to Omaha!

My handy, dandy Daily Meditation Book for ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) has another perfect meditation for today, for the work I’m about to do during November. (NaNoWriMo – a National Novel Writing Month). It’s actually taken from the Bible, Ecclasiates to be exact.

“The race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong.

Most battles are not won by overwhelming firepower. Any battle with addictions, weight control, low self esteem, self-loathing, take constant work. By working steadily, you will win the race. It’s why the turtle beat the rabbit, remember? Flash-bangs are dramatic, but just leave a smoldering hole in the ground. Some damage, but in the one spot. Battles of the mind are no different. Another phrase that applies here?

“Talk Doesn’t Cook Rice.” Chinese Proverb

As I look back on my life, I put my stock in too many people who talked without cooking anything! Except for the Babe. He is a totally honest man. He knows my insecurities, and where they come from, and he loves me anyhow. He never uses my weaknesses against me. That is love. He not only cooks rice, but he cleans the kitchen up afterwards. Thanks to his mama Liz for raising men who pitch in and do the work around the house. They cared for their younger sisters while she worked. I miss her a lot. She always made you feel welcome, and that you are important. She did that with kids, adults, everyone. I’m lucky to have had two great women for Mothers-in-Law. Josephine, my first MIL, kept in touch with me after the divorce. Bless her. When I met the Babe and later told her I was getting re-married, she was happy. “Is he your soul-mate?” How cool of her. She kept up to date on things happening in the world. A sweet woman who had a hard life.

The thing about these two very strong women is they worked very hard – one as a waitress, one as a food prepper. Both hard work, and standing on their feet all day, Josephine had to work on Christmas Eve back in the day, and often until the stores closed at 5 p.m. She was quite the bargain shopper, often finding a great buy for one of her numerous grandchildren, rushing home and wrapping it before everyone arrived. She loved seeing the kids on Christmas. It’s because of this mother of 7 that I started loving Christmas Eve again.

You see, in 1964, my grandfather died of a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve. We weren’t there, Mom claimed one of my brothers was sick. It took years and years to deal with that. It still is on my mind on that day. Yes, there will be a children’s book/book for families on that difficult topic. Learning how to handle such deep grief is important; it’s a story I need to share. Look for it next calendar year. My friend Jimmy Weber is collaborating with me, he wrote a song about losing his grandpa the same way, on Christmas Eve. Did I mention we were both 12 years old? I healed a lot when I heard his song/story. It was my story. That’s how our friendship started. What a treasure!

All these stories are connected, though distinctly different. The theme is the same, and so many different characters in each scene of my life provides the background for a blessed life. My thanks to you all for being here. The work is a little easier with support and friendship.

For today? More plotting the writing of 50K words during those 30 days of November. The Babe is happy I won’t be bugging him as much. He can watch all the football his mind can handle, flipping channels randomly as he snacks intermittently. Heaven! And I get to write. Gearing it up, and grateful for the opportunity. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

P.S. Also going back to Keto, maybe a relaxed version. Now that I’ve lost 45 pounds, I’m encouraged to keep going. After all, there are book signings in my future! Gotta be healthy and fit to do that. And looking forward to it. Visions of the Future, very motivating. Have a beautiful day, even if it’s rainy!

Kind of a Big Deal

Well. Look at us here on an overcast Monday morning at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. We’re about to get back into a routine, I think. It needs to be a different routine, however. Instead of concentrating on my kidlit, it’ll be my novel.

Why? You may ask. Because I sent Chapter One of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” to the panel of the Nebraska Writers Guild for publication in their annual anthology. It’s a collection of member’s works. It’s how I found the Guild in the first place. The Babe and I were driving back from visiting granddaughter Kayla, and we stopped at a rest area. They sold books, etc. I saw the anthology for that year and purchased it. It started me looking to create opportunities.

By the way, I received an e-mail Friday telling me my Chapter would be published in this year’s anthology. How exciting is that? I’m honored, proud, and humbled, all at the same time. And those of you friends I’ve tagged need to know you’ve all helped me get to this point. The support from all of you is phenemonal. Yes, all of you. If you read, or liked something I posted, whether it a blog post or FB post, it’s all been encouraging. I can’t thank you enough. And Billy and Kate – Thanks for letting me learn the, “Just because it’s never been done,” philosophy. My life is full of doing things never done before. Out of “order.” As a late bloomer.

That said, now the work load needs to shift (I believe the word now is “Pivot”), and we’ll be closer to the end of the book at the end of 2021. We’ve reached a milestone, friends. I’m really beside myself! Thank you all, for reading, encouraging, feedback, and all of you who read quietly in the background (No, General Dennis Luke from Nigeria, who lives in Saudi Arabia now, and asks me to send him a friend request, no, not your kind of background reading!) Don’t be a creeper, or creepy.

Tomorrow is the annual pilgrimage to Hobby Lobby for Mom, so I’d better get extra rest tonight! Just can’t shake this allergy/asthma flareup. So again, I look forward to a new day tomorrow. It’s going to be a great week! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you tomorrow!

A Soldier Returns Home

I am listening to the “Impactful Internal Communications: Workplace Communications” while I put my thoughts together for the day. They are scattered, but here goes.

It is a big day, a sad day for the State of Nebraska, and the City of Omaha. A Soldier is returning. A Marine is returning. A son is returning. Our VFW Post 2503 will be on hand at various locations throughout the route, at the ready to communicate our gratitude for the sacrifice this soldier made for his country. This new gold star family deserves our heartfelt thanks.

We are also donating all the proceeds from our last of the summer Car Show on Sunday, along with the proceeds from raffles, the breakfast and lunch, and general donations. If you’re in the Omaha area, please stop in. Have breakfast, but a raffle ticket, or make a contribution. All money we take in Sunday goes to Corporal Page’s family.

Our photographs and video were not as good as some I’ve seen posted so far. But they’re the best I’ve got. We saw a spirit in the crowds of people we saw in Millard that has been missing for a long time. I would say since 9/12/2001. If you don’t recall, or if you weren’t born yet, that was the beginning of a different America. And we’ve lost that. I felt it today, in Omaha, Nebraska.

We were with some VFW Friends waiting for the motorcade. We know the man from the mortuary who is caring for the Corporal until he is buried. He was honored to chosen. After we saw the Patriot Riders bring up the rear, the crowds dispersed. It was a warm day, and the conditions were perfect. I hope they are the day of the funeral, too.

I was not able to complete my submission for the Nebraska Writers Guild Anthology for this year. It is actually due tomorrow night, so it will go in tomorrow after I tweak it one last time. The Babe is going to help other volunteers cook and serve lunch for the Nebraska National Guard and their families tomorrow in remembrance of 9/11. I strained my knee walking through the uneven ground today, so I’m sitting this one out. Later in the day, I’ll go set up our raffle prizes for the Car Show.

Remember our great nation tomorrow, and the depth of it’s honor. Remember all the first responders and other innocent people who perished twenty years ago on that terrible day. Remember instead the brave Marines who gave their lives to help get Americans out of Afghanistan. Be grateful all of these brave people have lived. Be grateful there was no hesitation in their actions and their commitment to protecting people won over any human fraility or doubt.

Take care this evening. Know you are secure and safe tonight. See you tomorrow.

RIP, Rick Tiger

I was stunned Wednesday morning when a mutual friend messaged me about Rick Tiger’s death. My first thought went to his wife Joyce, their family, and all of the people who love him. All of us who were his friends. We are many. Our header photo is the VFW folks who were present when he sang for us in July. It was a fun night. One couple left early, because the husband wasn’t well. Lenny greeted Rick in heaven, I think.

Some of Rick Tiger’s Songs
Coffee and Conversations Here Daily!

This photo is a pic I sent Rick after he appeared at our VFW in July. We had a very small crowd, but we had such an intimate evening. Rick sat at a table with all of us and asked about our lives, what we did, and got to know us as much as he could. He was wonderful, as always. He laughed at himself, was such a host, and did what he knows best. Spread love, lessons, and support for our troops, and prayers for our great nation.

At the VFW that night, I told him how I’m very curious about what it takes to write a song. He told me, “next time I come to town, we will write one. Then you’ll know!” Bless his generous heart.

Back to the picture. Rick has a song from a few years ago, called, “Coffee and Conversation.” It’s a lovely song. The Babe and I are reminded of it every day we sit on our deck and rock in those chairs. The song reminds the Babe of how his Grandparents started the day on their farm. As kids, he and siblings spent a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa during the summer. The whole scenario is lost on most of America these days. It’s just one of Rick’s beautiful stories. I’m so glad to have met and been friends with this man. What a gift. Him. His Music. His Prayers whenever we asked. He leaves a huge empty spot in the lives of many.

How meaningful for my Goldie, the two year old yellow lab, pestered me out of my office/studio, and outside to sit on the deck. Rick told me we would write our song out here. Coincidence? I think not. I firmly believe in messages from God and those who have gone to heaven before us.

Instead of writing words with Rick, at this spot, I’m writing them about him, with a broken heart complete with tears. My words? They pale in comparison with what he can do with a story. His Stories! Included are misfits and born again. Whiskey and virtue. Forgiveness and Jesus. Joyce, my how he loved Joyce! And he always will. We will miss you fiercely, Rick. Hope all who read this will tell a Rick story, and heal their heart a little. It helped me just to finally be able to sit down and write it after avoiding it all week. And that pesky puppy Goldie took me to where I needed to do it. Thanks, Rick. For everything. And especially for writing with me this morning. I’ll never forget you.

Eventful August, 2021

Does life sometimes happen so fast and furious your head spins? This month has been quite eventful, both in good and bad ways. I feel compelled to examine my goals and replan some things. Life is moving along at a breakneck speed and I am not at the moment. With the loss of our friend last week, it’s kind of got us in a quandry. And we took Saturday and Sunday to get rid of the tree in the yard from last weeks storm and just chill. And that’s good.

A few years ago, on our way from visiting our daughter and family, we stopped just inside the Nebraska State Line to the west. I always look for some small book or trinket to remember where we’ve been. I was drawn to the book shelves, like always. I saw a medium sized book titled, “Voices From the Plains.” Its an anthology for the Nebraska Writers Guild. Until then, I was tinkering in my head with the idea of writing a kids book. I bought the anthology and read about half of it.

Now, three years later, I’ve decided to take the risk of submitting at least one entry for publication in this year’s Voices #5. I will submit the first chapter of my novel for scruitny. There is also a naming contest. Each entry allows a name submission. Cool beans, eh? I’m fortunate to have met some great people and we have befriended each other as time goes by.

My first conference left me feeling like a fish out of water. However, I didn’t give up. I still met a few people; Tammy Marshall, an author from Nebraska is one session I enjoyed. She is now a retired teacher and active writer. She does a newspaper column and has recently published a book, “The Ticker Tape.” I’ve ordered it from Amazon; it’s about a Vietnam Veteran and his experiences after participating in a parade (belated) to welcome Vets home. It is a catalyst that unleashes a series of events. I look forward to reading this story.

The second conference was great! I sat with many women at all different stages of writing. Some experienced, some not, some trying to find their voices. Good people with whom we’ve kept in touch. I look forward to the next one. I prepaid for the last spring conference, which was a zoom conference, and I have not watched the videos. They are no longer available to us, but I just don’t have enough time for it all.

From upper left photo, I’m intrigued by this “Live a Great Story,” company. I am putting a 4″ sticker on my car, and will wear my lapel button proudly. It reminds me to use the good silverware, tablecloths, etc. Don’t save it for tomorrows who may never come.

The middle photo was posted by our friend Joyce Tiger today. Her husband Rick, singer and songwriter is hospitalized with COVID and double pneumonia. Prayers will be appreciated. If you’d be so inclined I’ll share the link to the Go Fund Me page created to help with medical expenses. Thank you!

Mission Roll Call is a group to support Veterans who suffer from PTSD. The whole debacle in Afghanistgan is triggering a lot of feelings. Strong feelings. Feelings like no other a civilian ever felt, most likely. Offer to listen, offer to give them a ride, reach out if they’ll accept it. We cannot be losing any who are on the ledge right now. Offer to be a bridge. Don’t give up on them; don’t let them give up on themselves. I’m sharing like crazy right now on the VFW Post 2503 Facebook page; offering help if it’s needed. We’re checking in on our vets who may not be in a good place right now. Encouraging and supporting. That is one thing we need to do. Have compassion for our fellow citizens and human beings. I have a deep love and respect for you all. Let’s talk, ok?

My to do list and my Ryan High School Reunion mug remind me how quickly life can turn on a dime. No more putting off doing what I’ve always wanted to do. At this point in life, it can all be over before we know it. “Those books ain’t gonna publish themselves! Neither will them blogs!”

The last photo is of my new bands supporting causes I believe in. “22 a Day is 22 Too Many.” Sadly true. It hits home in a million ways. I’m seeing so many people hurting right now. The Vietnam Vets know exactly how these Afghanistan Vets feel. They’ve lived it. Thank goodness there is hope for the younger guys and gals. They won’t be ignored for 40 – 50 years. Help is out there. NOW. Let us help you find it.

So many life-altering things happened in the short first sixteen days of August. I shudder to think what else may occur during the next fifteen days. It’s in God’s hands for sure. Enjoy each and every day for what it is, all on it’s own. You have the power to make them great ones, even in the face of adversity. Let’s do this together. Work on making your story a great one. I am. See you tomorrow! I’ll tell you more about something else we took a risk on then!

Musical Memories

The day before yesterday, I wrote about some music from the 60s and 70s. Just pleasant tunes and thoughts. Another group who played music I loved were “The Young Rascals,” who became “The Rascals.” At our high school dances, I loved whatever garage band we hired who could sing those songs. “Good Lovin,” “Mustang Sally,” ” I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How Can I Be Sure, “In the Midnight Hour,” and who could forget, “It’s a Beautiful Morning!” Right after “Saturday, in the Park,” right?

With my 50 + 1 High School Reunion coming up August 6, I’ve been pretty reflective the past few weeks. I suppose it goes with the territory of being graduated into the world for 50 + 1 Years. As I look back, music of the times was an enormous factor in how I dealt with life, former marriage, loving my family, making friends, and how we operated as a family unit. A friend told me in 1982, “Love on the Rocks,” by Neil Diamond makes me think of you.”

It’s all there, the love songs, the breaking up songs, the positive, encouraging songs about love and loss, and changes people go through during a relationship. My first husband was content just to be who he was forever. I grew up and wanted to be a partner in the relationship. Sure, from his side it was perfect. I did everything he needed, with the house & kids, and he controlled everything. Me included. I needed more. I wanted to go to school and eventually work. He laughed. Well, there had to be another way.

There was. Another song. But this time, there was another one playing. About building walls around your heart. Dang if the Babe didn’t see right through those walls and destroy them. And there have been plenty of other songs along the way. Now, songs about people with the start of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Asking for someone to remember for them, to help them remember. It’s all part of this part of life. Very poignant. Very moving. I pray the Babe and I don’t have to deal with this. We have two friends who are right now; and one woman lost her husband earlier this year. I cannot imaine the pain involved with this. My heart hurts for them.

What can we do for those who suffer? We must be patient with them. We can help keep them safe. We can offer our friends a respite from a spouse’s care. Most importantly, talk to them. Hug them, if they allow you to. Don’t just talk about them and not interact with them. Listen to them. Include them in activities and conversation. Be Kind.

Truer Words Never Spoken

One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen was Glen Campbell and his family chronicling his decline with Alzheimer’s. His last album, “Adios” was beautiful. And his song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” tears my heart out. But it’s true, it’s real, and it happens to our friends, family, neighbors, and peers. Just as the music of most of our lives includes young love, first love, breakups, weddings, divorces, loss, sheer joy, beautiful days in the park, and mid life crises, it includes carrying on after loss of memory, altered brain function, and loss of spouses. It’s all part of living. The good and bad. The highs and lows. You can’t soften the blows when they happen. You can cope with it, however.

I am so happy music helps me through all the rough patches of life. I hope it can help you through, too. On the other side of this pain, this life with all of it’s ups and downs, is joy. Joy of babies and toddlers, of friends and family, of helping others. Please, keep going. Please, find a way to cope. Your friends are with you. I’m with you. Let’s help each other along.

If you are a veteran, suffering with PTS, get ahold of your local chapter of Guitars for Vets. We have Guitars for Vets Nebraska in our area, and our VFW Post 2503 is having a fundraiser for them and Moving Veterans Forward on Sunday, August 1, 2021; from 11 – 3. We have a Car Show, a Silent Auction, a 50/50 drawing, merch items for sale, and food available. We’re collecting Auction items this week. Help to help people through music. See you tomorrow!

Fun Friday Night

Outdoor concerts are the very best. Hopefully, you sit near fun people, and temporarily forget your troubles. Last night was such a night. Local favorites Jimmy Weber and his friend, Ken Sitler, performed individually and together for a couple hours. The crowd loved it. Our friends became new fans, and purchased Jimmy’s CD’s.

Ken specializes in rock music; Springsteen, The Who, Beatles, Pearl Jam, FooFighters, some country, and a few of his own songs added in. Variety is his specialty, and it’s fun to sit and listen. Just to relax and unwind after a week of being very busy is a gift. Some of his covers remind me of my daughter’s eclectic taste in music. He is a very funny man. Quick with the wit, both on his Facebook page and in front of an audience. It was so sweet while introducing me to his wife, he referred to her as the love of his life, his best friend and a few other things equally heartfelt. It wasn’t phony, it was genuine. What a nice couple!

Having a pre-Fourth of July concert given by a couple of guys, retired from the Air Force, who love our country is a privilege to hear. They are truly patriots. Their stories are funny and could be true. They make everyone their friend by the end of the evening. You feel like you’ve been with a friend. Down to earth, talented people. Jimmy Weber, what can you say about him? He’s a guitar player like you hardly ever see. He can play many, many different songs and guitars. I’ve seen him do rock n’ roll how it should be done, and seen him do country like nobody’s business. Great voice, and introducing more songs he and “Handsome Jake” Mayer have co-written. They have a way with the music and especially the lyrics. You not only hear the music, you feel it. That’s what music is made for. Feeling it. It takes a lot of talent to achieve that. These guys all have it.

Jimmy Weber and Ken Sitler

Jimmy’s a humble man. Approachable. Grateful to God for his talent and abilibies. He mentions growing up in a small South Dakota town where everyone was a cousin (just about). The stories and humor help the people he sings about become more real. He is a great storyteller, and I still laugh at things he’s said many times. It’s still funny. Check his Facebook page and follow. His schedule is available there.

Thank you for reading today. And go see Ken Sitler and/or Jimmy Weber when you have an opportunity. You’ll be glad you did. See you tomorrow! Allergies are still kicking me, so it’s time to rest & recuperate. Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday and Sunday Fun!

Guilty for playing hooky yesterday! It was such a fun morning!

A VFW member had a guitar he wanted to donate to Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. I couldn’t attend one of their meetings until yesterday to meet Peggy Frye Ullom and drop off the guitar. David J Mike and I met before, and he greeted me with a warm hug, as did Jim. Nice, nice people.

After meeting Peggy, she asked if I wanted to hang out for awhile. I did. Lucky me! They were rehearsing for their two hour set, which is going on at this minute. In Papillion, Nebraska, at Veterans Park. Their music will continue all day long and into the early night, to bring attention to Veteran PTSD.

The organization, Guitars for Vets accepts Veterans with a medical diagnosis of PTSD. Often, they spend time talking about their situations as well as learning their music. The relationships built between Veterans has always amazed. It’s one of the utmost of trust, camaraderie, and knowing. They have to trust their peers have their backs; the stories they share (good and bad) are relatable to all of them; and they all know what each other have been through. PTSD is very common during the summer, often triggered by fireworks. Sad we celebrate that way.

They understand the nightmares, the haunting visions, the triggers they each carry. And they accept each other. They support each other. It’s a beautiful thing to observe. I always see them at the VFW. It makes me think of my dad and his brothers, all Veterans, all honorable men. Dad and Uncle Joe Jewell served in WWII and Korea. Uncle Bob served in Korea too. Their formal photos all hung in Grandma’s living room as long as I can remember.

Uncle Joe Conrad served in the Navy. He looks so dashing in his photos. Like a movie star! He was on the USS Essex. His brother Bob and a man we know from the VFW Post were all stationed together. I was thrilled to hear that story from Bob Blakeman after Uncle Joe died. Bob had health issues preventing him from attending the funeral, but he gave me the gift of that story, that connection. He passed shortly after that, as did Bob Conrad. I think of them in heaven, all restored to whatever life in heaven looks like, and it makes me smile. That Veterans bond never ends. It defies death.

If you are in driving distance to the Papillion Nebraska area, road trip yourselves up here or down here and sit and listen to these fabulous musicians. The healing power of music has saved me many, many times. Through hard times and good times. Music is always there. And it heals hearts and souls. The schedule of performers is on their FB page, Jimmy Weber is performing last, and he will close with his version of TAPS. Have a hanky ready. It’s very powerful. Come out, enjoy the nice summer day; get some joy from the music, make some new friends, and learn what Guitars for Vets does for our Veterans. We owe it to them to support them in any way possible.