It is 8:30p on Wednesday night and I am wide awake. On a normal night I would have been in bed about a half hour, trying to get some sleep before my alarm goes off at 2:45a reminding me my job is a pain sometimes. But tonight, I can't seem to sleep, It has nothing to do with insomnia, or an upset stomach or fear of warm sheets and my best friend to snuggle up with. No, tonight I am restless because one of my boys is coming home tomorrow and I am overwhelmed by it.
I've never told anyone this before but I have a fear of being alone. Oh I enjoy some quiet time to collect my thoughts and don't mind watching a football game by myself. I'm a-ok with enjoying a good nap in the afternoon with no one around. No, I'm talking about the alone when you're not sure when you'll have a visitor, or the alone of being by yourself in the hospital with just the nurses and doctors and there's no one to hold your hand and tell you you're going to be fine. Or the alone of lying quietly thousands of miles from home, a young person who left to serve their country and never returned to the familiar soil of home. My personal fear of being alone is what motivated me to never give up the dream of building the Colorado Freedom Memorial.
Yes, I absolutely wanted to make sure families knew we had not forgotten their sacrifice. There is no question I wanted there to be a place where those that served could come sit in the shadow of the names of those they served with who didn't return. But it was a feeling I could never shake, that 3000 of the names that would eventually be on the Memorial were of those lost behind enemy lines, or at sea, or buried far from home and they were alone...and they were young...and maybe they had the same fear as me. Somehow we had to get them back home, even if it was only by name. On those nights when I would speak to a group in a church basement and ask for support for the Memorial and get a $10 check I would doubt this would ever happen and I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quit. But close friends, and the lady who is always at my side, kept me going. And my fear kept me going too. I could not let them be alone and scared.
Which brings me to being awake. Tomorrow morning one of the kids on the Colorado Freedom Memorial, 19-year old Sgt. Floyd Jackson is coming home from Korea. 65-years after he became a POW and died in captivity, he will be escorted from DIA and on Saturday will be laid to rest, next to his Mother. Sgt. Jackson won't be alone any longer and the joy of that brings tears to my eyes. Soon we will place a Gold Star next to his name on the Colorado Freedom Memorial, indicating he has moved from MIA, to accounted for. I hope someday all the MIA's will have Gold Stars next to their names.
Tonight as you get ready for bed I hope you'll thank God for bringing Floyd Jackson home, and ask his help in bringing others home too. I hope you'll remember those far away that never made it back, the kids who died and took dreams of their futures with them. Pray they are not afraid. And I hope you'll live every minute of your life to its fullest, to do good and to fulfill the dreams they had as well as your own.. Welcome home Sgt. Jackson. You served us well and we never forgot.
So today we begin the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday and I have never felt the need to be on this 40-day journey more than I do this year. The world just seems so foreign to me. When I was 6-years old we lived in Tripoli, Libya as Dad was stationed at Wheelus Air Force Base. Our house was off-base, across the street from the Mediterranean and we would often cross the street and swim and enjoy the beauty. This week, likely near the same spot, 21 Egyptian's were beheaded. In Paris, where we had been just months earlier, more killings. And here at home it seems like we have become so consumed with our demand for rights, we pay little attention to the responsibility that comes with those rights. In a great nation that always had a can do spirit we have become frozen. Because of gridlock with politicians who worry more about image than they do about serving their constituents, our new national slogan could easily be "Lets Start With No." Please don't think this post is a political position paper. It is not and I don't want anyone to make it that. We're all part of the problem. Everyone. It just seems the angry and violent people yell so much louder than the decent people with good hearts!
I know, I know, there's still far more right about the world than there is wrong. And good happens every day and decent people are trying to do good as often as they can. Problem is, in my humble opinion, we spend so much time transfixed by what's wrong and weird in the world that it becomes acceptable. Honestly, it just seems normal to become a major celebrity by taking naked photos. We've given up some of our innocence. We've given up our feeling of security. Triple dead-bolted doors, home security cameras and record numbers of conceal-carry permits tell you all you need to know about how people feel. How often do you drive in a neighborhood and see kids playing ball across a bunch of front-yards?
All of this has been on my mind lately which brings me back to Ash Wednesday. It is custom for many, me included, to give something up for Lent. I've been thinking about this a bunch and with all do respect I don't want to give anything up this year. I want to take some of my life back. It is not going to bring me closer to Christ by giving up soda for six-weeks. But I may draw closer by insisting the whole family sit at the dinner table, together, with all the electronics out of reach, and enjoy time together every night. Jesus will likely not move me to the head of the line if I go without chips for 40-days, but I bet there's an atta-boy in it if you made a small donation each week to a different charity in your community that serves those less fortunate right where you live. Now more than ever it seems like we need to take back instead of giving up. Lent seems like a great place to start.
That's just one simple, middle-aged dudes thoughts this Ash Wednesday. I hope the journey brings you back.
So the last two days I have been feeling absolutely horrible. I get cold, I get hot, I get cold AND hot. My lower back hurts, I have a headache and I'm tired. I thought about going to the Doctor but we've had enough of those bills this year so I turned to my trusted advisor, the internet. Apparently, after putting in all my symptoms, I am pregnant. Imagine the surprise look on Diane's face when I told her that news!! I don't know whether to be happy, or scared, so I just cried, and ate a huge pickle from Jimmy Johns.
Now I know I don't have all the normal parts for this to be possible but I'm certain it's a Christmas Miracle that shall be known as The Immaculate Renovation. I mean, it says right there in black and white on Sickiepedia that I must be about 6 weeks down the road. Oh yea, there's a million other things listed like Kidney Stones, infections, athlete's foot, whooping cough and paprika allergy, but I'm pretty sure it's the pregnant one. What a year 2015 will be!! Oh, and I've also been delirious at times!!!
This year Diane and I put up our 40th Christmas tree together. It didn’t occur to me until just this weekend that we had hit that milestone and I have no idea how it happened so fast. But like the 39 trees before her, this is the most beautiful tree ever…only I think I mean it this year. This is the year my whole understanding of the season has changed.
As I’m writing this I can see the tree beautiful lit with the hundreds of lights Diane strings on them masterfully. The fact we're sharing this Christmas with each other is the best gift we'll get. On July 25th, as she was still going through her second stroke, she was overcome with a complete sense of peace and said to me, "It’s ok, I can go." No tears, no fear, a complete look of joy. She doesn’t remember it now, but I will never forget it. I believe I saw God’s Grace at that moment beginning to heal Diane. And God’s Gift at that moment was letting me keep her by my side. He has enough Angels this Christmas, and I still have mine.
Anyway, while I was decorating this tree and contemplating the year I looked at each ornament and remembered the first time we hung them on the tree. There’s a Norman Rockwell Santa that we got in 1979 when Sara and Jen were 3 and 1. Near the top there’s a little crimson bell, ZuZu’s Bell we call it, that has hung on a Crandall Christmas tree since the 50’s. And there are the beautiful glass ornaments from Europe that Diane and I picked up on trips with listeners. Mixed in are Mom’s ornaments. Wonderful colors with images on them of churches and snow covered trees. I suspect she got them when we lived overseas because they would have reminded her of being home in the States. They probably cost less than a dollar a box, but seeing them reminds me of all the Christmases we had as kids and I wouldn’t sell them for a million dollars. While I was putting all this on the tree this year I realized, for the first time, that a Christmas tree is much more than something you hurry to buy and throw up in a corner so you can check it off the list. It is the story of our life. This is the year I connected the dots and understood that the special Christmas moments, like the ones these ornaments represent, will live long after the presents have been forgotten.
You can count the rings on the tree to see how old it is, but if you look closely at the ornaments, and the trimmings, and remember where you were and what was important each time you brought them out, you can count the blessings. How wonderful is it that I can look under the tree and not remember much of what has been there over the last 40-years, but I can look at the tree and Christmases past unfold in front of my eyes. The year in 1982 when we were one of the first cars on the highway to drive from Colorado Springs to Denver after the big blizzard. It was Christmas night and we got all the way to the end of Mom and Dad’s block and got stuck. Just then, a Christmas Miracle as a City of Aurora snowplow came upon us, put a chain on the front of the car, pulled us to Mom’s house, plowed a space for us and took off. The look on Mom and Dad’s face when they opened the door and saw us there was BEAUTIFUL!!! Yea, many of these ornaments were there that day! Or the cool tree skirt that lived under Diane’s family tree every year and was greeted by 8 kids anxious to see what was on top of her. You have memories like these too, right?
Good Lord willing maybe Diane and I will get 40 more Christmases out of the deal, but if we didn’t have another I know these ornaments, one day hanging on the branches of our grandkids trees, will remind them of our story when they’re ready to see Christmas differently. One day they’ll hang a certain Norman Rockwell ornament and think, "I wonder what Nana and Poppi were like when they bought this?"
Enough of me. I’m going to sit by the tree a bit and welcome all my memories home for a visit. Merry Christmas!
I am asked often why I work so much on veterans things. My answer is usually just, why wouldn't you? I've never been good at keeping the names of all the Generals and the dates of all the battles clear. And I served in the Air Force, but at time of peace. So what draws me too it? The amazing trust I have been given by hundreds of veterans who have shared their story with me, and told their story through me. Every time they describe a memory of war I get to see it come to life in their eyes. And when it gets too painful for them to remember, I watched those memories roll down their cheeks. They have seen things, and done things before they were 20 that no teenager should ever see, or do. Those are the memories they keep locked away, the ones that try to reappear in nightmares. When they are no longer able, I will be the witness to their service until I can no longer speak. God Bless the men and women who go to war when called. This commercial makes me think of them.
Two weeks from right now the Thanksgiving feast will be over and the annual tradition of turning on the Christmas lights at Shady Acres will be complete. Two weeks. I am convinced that the whole global warming thing is just a cover for a greater evil...time shrinkage! That's right my friends, someone has adjusted the hands of the big clock in the sky so that one second actually moves at two second speed. Small enough not to notice, but it makes your days go twice as fast. Except for Wednesday, it still goes regular speed. And weekends are set at a 3 to 1 speed. And staff meetings, the clock actually stops. Yep, some one in the celestial heavens is messing with us. It's the only explanation for why Christmas and vacations go by so fast and colonoscopy prep takes forever. No other reason than some fallen angel has decided to toy with the Timex.
So, until we uncover the mystery of the minute mayhem I say get ready for a crazy ride the next two 48 days and enjoy every second. The memories you make now will be the ones that get you through those cold March days before St Patrick's Day when we can drink and forget the cold days. Is it time to defrost the turkey.
Well, there he is, the kid born 58 years ago today. I certainly see some resemblance to AN ALIEN for goodness sake!! What a head and ears!!! And where is my hair??? My Mom was 21-years old and I was 8 months old when this picture was taken. We were both kids. It's fun to look at this picture and then try to remember all the things that have happened in the time since it was taken. The people I have known, the places I've been, the friendships I've made, the family I've grown up with, the lessons I've learned, the life I've lived. I started reminiscing yesterday and it woke me early this morning. I have been blessed with the most amazing journey, done things and seen things that I had no business being part of. It actually worries me that someday God goings to say, "Wait a minute, all that cool stuff wasn't supposed to go to Rick!"
For all of you who have been a part of this life in someway, I will be forever grateful for your friendship, your patience and your love. To the two ladies who are really responsible for the me being the man I am, my Mom who shared my first 52-years and Diane who has shared my last 41, I miss you every day Mom...and I love you more every day Di. And to the coolest family any guy could ask for...thanks. Hey, it took a huge team to get me to 58. wait until you se what I have planned for us for the next 58!!!
I wanted to take a moment to send my very best wishes to a guy I have spent many a 3am with over the last many years, Murphy Houston at KOSI 101.1. I actually had the chance to bring Murph to KEZW several years ago and we worked together here until he was stolen away by the evil FM band and went to work for our sister station, KOSI. I have many memories of our time together, including his not well thought out attack of an African Bee Hive on a golf course, eating dinner from a trough and bar hopping while in a parade!! He's a broadcasting pro and today he signs off his regular weekday morning shift which means I am now the oldest on-air person in the building. Well that just sucks!!! Anyway, Murphy, thanks for the years together and the friendship. I'll miss seeing you around here every morning, but am happy you're leaving the regular grind to be with the ones that matter most!!!
So, as I understand it, the State of Washington has ruled that anytime a playground is built, or renovated, swings cannot be included. Not because of the kids on the swings getting hurt but because of kids walking in front and behind the kids on the swing getting hurt, and their parents suing the schools, and insurance companies now saying they won't cover liability because of so many lawsuits. So children in Washington have now lost the joy of reaching for the sky on a swing and spending hours talking to your best friend on a swing because parents found it easier to sue the schools than tell their kids to watch out around swing sets. Unbelievable. The words personal responsibility just don't seem to exist anymore.
I can't count the number of times I flew off a swing and scrapped myself. Raise your hand if you ever fell of monkey bars or got popped by a tether ball or lost skin on the gravel for a million different reasons. Yea, most of my generations hands went up. I don't recall my parents wanting to file a lawsuit, they threw a band-aid on me and said watch what you're doing. And while I'm cranky, one of my best memories as a kid was seeing half the United States from the backend of our station wagon where me, and my brothers, made beds and played car bingo and ate snacks and waited for semi's to go by so we could try and get them to honk their horns. Today my parents would get arrested for us being back there without a seat belt, or car seat, or other restraint. I rode a bike without a helmet, had fireworks in the backyard on the 4th, cooked popcorn in a metal pan over an open flame on the stove, shot a bb gun in the backyard at paper targets and somehow survived. There is no doubt we are safer today and that's not all bad. But if it's too safe, and too litigious, we sue and safeguard the fun right out of living. Seems like kids can't be kids today because there are rules against that. No wonder they sit inside and blow up the world on video games!!! Just one old crumudgeons opinion!