We met when our children were quite young…you had a boy, I had a boy and a girl…We fell in love and we didn’t think too much back then…about how our life would unfurl.


We got busy building our life together…and somehow when we were done…the two families from where we began…had blended themselves into one.





But is seemed there was always somethin’…call it luck, call it life, call it fate…that needed fixin’, needed mendin’, needed patchin’…and that trip of a lifetime could wait.


You fed us, you clothed us, you loved us…you taught us lessons we needed to learn…and you smiled…all the while you smiled…never asking for much in return.




But the kids started growin’ and needin’ you…”Hey Mom! Can you help? That’d be great!…and the car needed gas and repairin’…guess that trip of a lifetime could wait.


That’s what happens sometimes as we’re liivin’…seems no matter what plans we make day to day…things happen to change what we’re thinkin’…seems sometimes life gets in the way.




The kids grew up, moved out…had a life of their own…you did your job and they all turned out great!…and finally, at last, it was your turn…your trip of a lifetime need no longer wait.


We drove across the country together…stopping in places some near…and some far…we were determined to enjoy this journey…just the two of us in our little blue car.


And I loved watching your face on this journey…even though we were had a few more age lines…because every time I’d see a smile on your face…it somehow…brought a smile to mine.


As I look back on our incredible journey…all the good times…and all the bad too…I realized my trip of a lifetime didn’t begin in that car…it began…the day I met you.






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The fence that surrounds our back yard is old and rickety…some of its boards we’ve long ago misplaced…for many years it’s been way past repair and probably should have been replaced.


But even though that old fence is leaning here and there..and in one section there’s a hole…that old fence has a history…it has a past…that old fence has a soul.


It’s the fence that has surrounded our back yard since our children and grandchildren were kids…we haven’t had the heart to replace it…and today…I’m glad we never did.


The young couple who live on the other side of our fence a young couple we’re just getting to know…who were pregnant when they moved next door…had their baby a week ago.


We were in our back yard yesterday…taking a little break…when we heard those distinctive sounds a newborn baby makes.


Joe, the father, was in his back yard holding Oliver, his baby, and Deborah and I were stunned…when he asked from over the fence if we’d like to see his son.


If you know anything about Deborah and I you know babies…we adore…

“Yes we would!” We shouted….like two kids in a candy store.


But in the midst of this pandemic we weren’t sure how this would commence…until Joe said, not to worry…I’ll meet you at the hole in your fence.”


So through the hole, that wonderful old hole, that years of weathering has produced…Oliver…Deborah…and I were formally introduced.


Oliver is beautiful baby…I say this with no pretense…and his beauty was framed perfectly by that hole in our old fence.


That hole in the fence that surrounds our back yard…where a few boards we've long ago misplaced….that old fence that surrounds our backyard…that we never will replace.


Because as we’ve grown old together….as our years unfold….

we find we’re less likely to get rid of something just because it’s gotten old.



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I truly love my birthday…it’s a day that I hold dear…and I love the fact that my birthday falls on the last day of the year.


It’s a time to think about my friends, my children, my grandchildren and my wife…a time to reflect on the latest year in my Fairy Tale life.


I have always loved a good Fairy Tale…and though I know they’re only pretending…I love the stories…I love the adventures…and I love those happy endings.


I have often wondered why I love happy endings…its never been quite clear…if it was the Fairy Tales from my youth…or being born on the last day of the year.


But whatever the reason…now that, today, my birthday is descending, I feel blessed to have lived another Fairy Tale year…with another happy ending.


And though this year has seen its share troubles which tried so desperately on my happiness to infringe…seen it’s share of wickedness and evil that would make even Mother Goose cringe…


It has also seen its share of joy…of acceptance…of compassion…of love and kindness extending…which, if my Fairy Tales are correct, is the definition of a happy ending.


But this is just one happy ending to one chapter in the Fairy Tale I’ve created…The words of next years chapter have yet to be dictated.


When they are I hope I’ll see joy, acceptance and laughter blending…so the end of my 2021 will also have a happy ending…


Because I believe, in life, if you find ways to savor all the joy and cherish all the laughter…..if you string enough happy endings together…

you’ll get your happily ever after.



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Who am I and for that matter who are you?

This is a good question to explore for neither of us are the same person who we were the day before.


As we enjoy another 24 hours living on this orb we are changed both you and I by the experiences we absorb.


Everything we feel…every person we meet throughout our days

we absorb…and that changes who we are in vast or subtle ways.


Whatever good or bad happens to us…it’s all a part of our growth.

And if we’re lucky once absorbed we’ve learned a little bit from both.


And if we’re truly blessed from the experiences we’ve had…

at the end of the day we’ve absorbed more good…even from the bad.


So when asked the question, Who am I…I guess the best that we can do is to answer who we are right now for in one minute we’ll be somebody new.


Because who we are in the next minute…or tomorrow as we live another day upon this orb depends not only on who we were…

but on all the new things we’ll absorb.



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A sailboat stranded on the beach…we’d never seen her there before.

She was blown off of her moorings and came to rest upon this shore.


As I saw her stranded on the beach I admit to feeling chagrinned

thinking how a sailboat is truly at the mercy of the wind.


As people gathered round her…as people are won’t to do

I smiled thinking about the life she’s lived as she’s sailed the ocean blue.


And I secretly wished she was happy that she had a thousand adventures before

the winds of fate decided to place her upon this shore…


And then I thought how we are all like sailboats trying to steer our courses straight

And how often our direction is influenced and sometimes determined 

by the winds of fate.


And if we’re lucky those winds of fate have taken us

when our sailing days are over and we, too, come to rest upon the shore

to places that we never knew and could only dream about before.


And when people gather round to say goodbye to us…

as people are wont to do

may they smile remembering how we smiled 

as we sailed the ocean blue.



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If you knew you had only one day left to live…

okay let’s be generous and say two…

In the little time you had left…what would you say and do?


Would you continue to be the same person 

if you found you only had two days more…

or would you look at the world through clearer eyes than you ever had before?


Would your heart be kinder and gentler?

Would you act more impulsive and carefree?

Would you begin to find joy and the beauty in everything you see?


Would you discover the inherent dignity, the virtue

the beauty everyone possesses...

the beauty in each skin color or the way each person dresses?


When you see two people in love…

would it matter to you if they were gay?

When you see someone kneeling in prayer…

would it matter to which God they pray?


If you knew that today or tomorrow would be your final…

your ultimate day…

Would who and what are important come into focus…

while all the other things faded away?


I wish everyone has a multitude of days left to live…

with all my heart I do…

But with all my heart I also wish everyone would act…

as if they only had one or two.

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We'd occasionally see him on our morning walks

that’s how our friendship grew.

Now, we smile and we stop to talk…when Big John comes into view.


We chat about our families, the weather…happy to pause for a minute or two.

Happy to spend some time together…as good friends often do.


Big John likes to tell stories and give advice…because that’s what old folks do

and he has earned that right…because Big John is 82.


Underneath his stories and his bad jokes (believe me he knows a few!)

he shares with us his experiences…his knowledge…

and a bit of wisdom too.


His best advice is to be kind and find joy in all we do

because, he says, when it comes to life…we’re all just passing through.


He says you want to leave behind good memories when you bid this world adieu…

Leave a smile on your friends and family’s faces …when you’re done passing through.


And this advice as stuck with us because as Big Joh is want to do….

He likes his own advice so much….he repeats it a time or two!


But I know for myself…and I’m pretty sure that goes for Deborah too

We always leave Big John with a smile when our visits with him are through.


It’s amazing how he has enhanced our lives

though we only see him for a moment or two…

as our lives occasionally intersect…

while we’re all just passing through.


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It is a story for the ages that generations will long repeat

for when it comes to these two lovers…it was their destiny to meet.


Two ordinary people…nothing more and nothing less.

He was not a knight in shining armor,

she was not a damsel in distress.


But from the moment they joined together…from that wondrous day

oh the castles they would build and the dragons they would slay.


Together they faced them all…monsters…ogres…vandals

wicked witches…big bad wolves…there was nothing they couldn’t handle.


And through all their years…through all their tears

through all their joys and sorrows and laughter…

from the moment they first met they lived happily ever after.


And every time their story is repeated…

it ends the same way…

without fail:

Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life…

love gives you a fairy tale.


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There was a time when we were children

when we loved everyone…indiscriminately…

when we were pouring the foundation 

of who we, one day, hoped to be.


Mixed into the foundation

of who we hoped to be

were the beginnings of a dream

of the world we hoped to see.


When our foundation was completed…when it dried

there we hoped to find 

a house built on acceptance

on being loving, compassionate and kind.


But when we looked around us

at the diversity of our world…and of our nation

we found every house was not built 

upon the same foundation.


And we came to understand and appreciate

what many before us have known:

How every house, no matter the foundation

has a beauty all its own.


And so our dream amidst such diverse foundations 

is that everyone will come to find

a world that is accepting

that is loving, compassionate and kind.


Which is why, as adults, we are so sad today…

when we see so much hate

when we kill each other so indiscriminately…

and we wonder when did our world turned into

the world we never dreamed that it would be.

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