Category: Short Story

We Are All Hard of Hearing

Let’s be honest… we are all hard of hearing.

I’ll say that again in case you didn’t hear it. We are all hard of hearing.

Yes, even you… the guy in the back row who can chew ice and still hear a pin drop in the other room. The good hearing I’m talking about has little to do with the quality of the nerve endings in our ears, or the ability to tell consonant sounds apart. We’re talking about becoming masters of conscious listening—true understanding—which is something we can all attain.

We have lost the ability to listen. I mean… to truly hear. Most people don’t stop talking to listen to what someone else has to say… we only stop talking long enough to catch our breath and wait until the next time we can start talking again.

Everybody’s talking… and nobody is listening.

In many ways, the “deafness” that most people have is much worse than the legitimate hearing loss that I have. It is sad that people don’t listen to what other people have to say. For the most part, I have discovered that the people who talk loudly about how people should open to other opinions and perspectives are the same people that are talking so much that they never listen to opposing views or perspectives.

As I have grown older, my hearing loss has increased significantly. I will tell you that my hearing problem may reach the stage of total deafness. It is a real possibility. Apart from losing the ability to hear the voices of my grandchildren or the music that is so much a part of my life, becoming totally deaf doesn’t scare me.

While my hearing is worse, my ability to listen has improved and grown immensely in the last few years. I hear more than people who have perfect hearing.

I have listed a few points to ponder when it comes to listening, regardless of how well your ears work.

Listen carefully, (or read them carefully) and you will hopefully find value in my message. Print these points out, maybe tattoo them under your earlobes, and then apply them in your life until you can finally hear that metaphorical pin drop.  Hearing a real pin really doesn’t matter.

You don’t need to hear everything. 

One of the most significant challenges to being hearing impaired is feeling that you’re missing something… that you’re isolated, alone, and the world is passing you by.  As a card-carrying member of the hearing aid club, I used to get frustrated when I couldn’t hear something happening around the house, or if I was at a restaurant and couldn’tImage result for covering your ears hear the conversation at the end of the table. Then it dawned on me, did I really need to know that conversation? I finally came to the conclusion that I did not need to know.

What a feeling it was to realize that I didn’t have to hear everything to be a part of everything. It’s not an easy lesson to master, and I’m still mastering it. But it’s worth the effort when you realize that mastery can only be achieved with living in the moment mindfulness, which is far more powerful than any words you might have missed.

And regardless of how well you hear, the lesson is the same. We don’t need to be a part of every conversation, a part of all the noise in the world—the mindless chatter and empty conversations that do nothing to make our lives better.

It’s about learning to become selective with our hearing. Choosing what words and messages we will allow into our lives. And this includes all those voices in our heads that say we’re not smart enough, rich enough, young enough…good enough. This week make a conscious decision to listen only to the things that matter.

You’ll know what they are when you hear them.

Don’t believe everything you hear.

Some examples… We only use 10% of our brains, cracking your knuckles causes arthritis, the Great Wall of China is the only human-made structure that can be seen from the moon … Do you ever wonder where people get some of the things they believe? We live in a very dark world where rumors abound. Gossip abounds. Slander abounds. Even in the “Christian” community (so-called), tragically.

Like it or not we are dependent on the media to act as a go between, bringing issues to our attention. We rely on the industry to break down complicated issues so we can respond. But ALL media has its own agenda and influential forces. If we accept that we don’t have a completely objective companion, how do weigh what they say? How do we spot the lies and the bias?  We are called to be perceptive people. God promises to give us insight. The biggest challenge is for us not to swallow everything we hear before asking God to show us what He sees and how do we please Him.

Talk less.

Your mother was right. You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full. Or listen, for that matter.

And we all do it.

It’s called hogging the conversation, also known as the “all about me” syndrome—monopolizing the conversation with what we’re doing, what we believe, our problems, and our accomplishments. And be warned, this “all about me” affliction comes disguised in many shapes and forms, like:

  • Interrupting someone to make your point or making arguments in your head before the other person is done talking.
  • Filling in the blanks of a conversation because you’re too impatient to let others finish their thought.
  • Judging or dismissing someone else’s opinions, and even worse, telling people what they really mean, or what they should think and believe.
  • Hearing only what you want to hear.

If any of this is you (and at one time or another, it’s all of us), it doesn’t matter how state-of-the-art your hearing aids are (or your own ears), you’ll never turn hearing into understanding.

You’ll only hear words.

Embrace the silence.

Most of us avoid silence. I love it most times. But for many people, being left alone with only their thoughts is tough. It can be eerie, isolating, and uncomfortable. So, we turn on the noise. Raise the volume. Distract.

However, once we embrace the silence, the stillness can become engaging, even Image result for Embrace silencewelcoming and beautiful. But we need to train ourselves. It doesn’t come easy.

Take time this week to turn off the sound in as many ways as you can. Less conversation, TV, music, and empty chatter. Look for places to be alone. Seek quiet and stillness more often. No matter where you are on the hearing spectrum, embrace silence as an avenue to hear more. Be grateful for the solitude, then allow the silence to guide you to a deeper place. It will change your opinion and your perspective.

Learn other ways to communicate.

There is a voice that doesn’t use words.

Sound is great, but so is body language, touch, love, enthusiasm, and joy. These emotions (energy) are spoken without words. To master this language is to master the hidden nuances of life—to find the pearl inside the oyster.

You don’t need ears to tap into this conversation. You need awareness. Strive to hear in as many different ways as you can. Find connections and patterns. Use your eyes, your heart, and your intuition. Make it your mission to discover this new language—the universal language we all hear.

Ultimately, these are a challenge for us all to transform our relationship with hearing. More than that, they are a challenge that will allow us to turn our limitations into a whole new level of understanding—one that will help us hear what truly matters.

It’s called turning hearing into an artform.

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Bills, Pills and Hearing Aid Batteries

I was told I had a hearing problem at the young age of 6.

But it really wasn’t until a full year after my wife started shouting at me in earnest that I decided to finally give in and get my first set of hearing aids.  That would have been approximately 42 years after I was told I had a hearing problem.

I may be a little stubborn.

You’d be surprised at how much you can understand with 10% hearing in one ear Image result for Hearing Aidsand 40% in the other. You simply have to pay attention, lean in, and look people in the eye. Sound advice for us all. The fact is, there are all sorts of lessons about hearing which I have had to learn.

So, by all means, if you happen to see me out in the world, come on up and say hello. I can hear you fine. Unless we’re in a crowded restaurant or at a loud party, then I’ll just give you a fake smile. Don’t worry; I’ll laugh at all your jokes. You’ll think you’re really funny, too. You might even walk away thinking what a great audience I am, thinking, “I’ve got to talk to David more often.” Of course, it’s just as likely that I laughed at your story about how your grandmother got hit by an ice cream truck, in which case, I apologize now in advance.

Now, when it comes to poor hearing, I’m not alone. Far from it.

26.7 million people over age 50 have a hearing impairment, and only 1 in 7, a meager 14%, use a hearing aid.

And when you get to 70, that number only increases to 1 in 3.

Across all ages, about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.

I don’t know about you, but I think those are crazy statistics. I can’t tell you how many people I personally know who say they’re hard of hearing, and yet do nothing about it. I’d give you the statistics, but it would only point out how few people I know…and then you’d just feel sorry for me.

I’m not a shrink, but outside of the cost issue, the main reason people don’t get hearing aids comes down to vanity. That ship sailed a long time ago for me. I proudly wear my hearing aids and I don’t give it a second thought.

Why do people get so caught up in the worrying about how they look? Maybe it is an issue with accepting that they are growing older. It’s hard to accept that you are not 23 anymore.

I guess I have to admit that thoughts of growing older have filled my thoughts lately as well.

Growing old is not something that I ever thought would fill my thoughts. I am Image result for Billskeenly aware of the fact that I am not dealing with it with grace and dignity.

But… here I am, one week from my birthday and I have no choice but to accept the challenges that come with thoughts of bills, pills and hearing aid batteries.

It’s a slippery slope, my friends. Because when it comes to getting older, every day seems to be about accepting or rejecting some new normal in life. It could be knee caps that don’t quite bend the same, bladders that have minds of their own, backs that spasm when it starts to rain. It could be memory loss, declining agility, or muscle weakness. Maybe it’s diabetes with neuropathy in your feet and hands, or it could be your work life, thoughts of retirement, chronic pain, or anxiety.

These experiences and thoughts are the new normal… and they are everywhere.

Of course, we all have new challenges that come with aging. No one comes out unscathed. My own children will soon find out that they are not 23 anymore. They will soon accept that life is made up of having a comfortable chair to sit in, worrying about having enough money to pay the bills, having your prescription pills readily available anImage result for BIlls, Pills and HEaring Aid Batteriesd an ample supply of hearing aid batteries.  

I am learning to adapt to this life of growing older. I’m not dead yet. 

There still is more life to be lived… for all of us.

And we can begin that by embracing the fact that our bodies are not what they once were.  And sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. But, sometimes we can do a lot, or we can do a little that feels like a lot, or enough to make a difference in the quality of our lives. Personally, my hearing aids are game-changers for which I will be forever grateful.

And tonight while I am sitting in my comfy chair, I still will worry about having enough money for the bills. 

But life is good… I have my prescription pills on the ready and I do indeed have an ample supply of hearing aid batteries.

 

 

I Remain Restless

When I completed my book in early 2018, I felt a genuine sense of accomplishment.

I am proud of what it represents – not just for the woImage result for restlessrk I put into it, but the period of my life it captured.

Memories forever captured on paper.

But it has never felt like it would be my last accomplishment in this life.

I feel adamant that it is not.

And while so many people say they are going to write a book. Possibly one that would be “good enough” for people to want to purchase and to read. Most people never do it.

I did.  

However, I am convinced that there will be something else that will define me more than what I had done (or in this case, written).

Prior to writing the acknowledgments section of my book, I read so many “Acknowledgment” pages from so many other books. By and large, the authors of those books wrote about the labor of love that had been their book. They wrote in great detail about what others had meant to them in the process. Their acknowledgments sections suggested a sense of finality. Obviously for their accomplishment of finishing their book, but beyond that too. I didn’t have a desire to offer the same.

Accordingly, my acknowledgments section was short, direct. I thanked who I wanted to thank.

Mine was a conscious, stubborn move. It was symbolic – the equivalent of skipping the “press conference” after you won the Championship game.

I actually took more time to thank the artists that made the music that inspired me to write. 

My book is a milestone in my life, but it is nothing that will define me.

Something “else” will.

That aspect has been discussed many times on this site. The fact remains that I still remain unsure that I will ever find what that something “else” might be.

I have remained patient.

I want to be used of God in a greater way and I want to be used in a teaching role again one day.  

In the meantime, I am exploring opportunities with my job and hopefully get involved with corporate training.

Still, I remain restless.

Yes… my first book has been out for a few months.

I use “first” by design. Maybe there will be another one… maybe not.

Any book that I would write, after all, does not reflect my ultimate interest, ambition or passion for that matter.

A book should not represent my life’s work; rather, it should only represent a portion from a particular period of my life.

Related imageI continue to feel that there is something more… something “else”… that will define me more than what I have done.

I look towards the horizon. There is more for me to do.

I remain restless.

My Hometown Remains Resilient

I’ve witnessed wonderful things that come from living in a small town. I am amazed at how much everyone feels the same way when we go through things together. When the high school team wins a tough game, we all are excited. We rally around the team. The cheerleaders decorate the halls of the school to promote school spirit and support for the team. It stirs up hometown pride and we feel like we are a part of the team too.Image may contain: sky and outdoor

But the most remarkable thing I’ve ever witnessed is how we dealt with loss, grief, and pain. If you grew up in a small town, I am sure you’ll be able to relate to the things I’m about to say.

The accident that took the lives of my brother, his best friend and my cousin was a defining moment in my life. Its impact was significant. It changed my family. It changed me forever.

My life moved in a different direction because of the tragedy.

However, it did not take long for me to realize that I was not alone in suffering from the grief and guilt of losing someone so young and so much a part of your life.

If you pause for just a moment and think about it, our little town has had so much more than its fair share of loss. Especially when it comes to losing young people. We have lost so many teenagers long before they ever had a chance to experience all the good that this life can bring. While these tragic losses have been surrounded by many wonderful things like sports wins, proms, and graduations, the times of loss always seemed to outweigh the good.

Anybody from a small town can attest to the fact that if someone in your town experiences a loss, it somehow becomes your loss. Why is that? In no way do we feel the hurt that the family and friends of this individual feel, but we sImage result for Oak Harbor water toweree our community hurting and we empathize. It quickly takes us back to that time we experienced the loss of a loved one. Whether it was a sister, brother, cousin, friend, classmate, or significant other. We remember, and we hurt for the person going through the same thing.

This is a reminder that we are all connected in some way. You may not have known the person personally, but may remember them singing with the choir at church, or remember them coming to your house to play with your child. Your child may have ridden the bus with them, you may know their aunt from work, or their mom through a family friend. Either way, there’s a connection, and when you think about all that person could have been or had been while here on earth, you’re saddened.

When a loved one passes away in our small community, news travels fast. Tragic news from a single phone call spreads quickly. Hundreds of people across the area mourn because everyone knows everyone and is connected in some way.

Small towns have a reputation for everybody knowing your business, and for everyone being related in some way, but that’s not always a bad thing. While people usually respond to this issue with an eye roll, this kind of connection results in a stronger community than I have been able to find anywhere else. At the end of the day, we stick together and support one another in times of crisis.

The list of children, teenagers and young adults from Oak Harbor that have died is devastating. I do not have a complete list, but I know that during my life, at least 40 young people have passed on from our small town. There may have been more. Many of them died after I left Oak Harbor, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t affect me. The list is so long that I could not mention them all. I fear that I would inadvertently leave one off the list. I never want to treat a life lived with so little concern that I might possibly offend one of the affected families.

So, I can only speak to those that had an impact on me during my time living in Oak Harbor. Again, please know this, I have no intention of offending any family or having anyone feeling slighted because I missed mentioning someone.

Regardless of how old or how they have passed on, each loss of a loved one is hard. However, the loss when they are young is the hardest. You don’t expect people to be taken away from you so soon.

This chapter has been hard to write, but I remember being at the baseball diamond at R.C. Waters School waiting for the game to start when we were told to gather around the bench. Our coach told us that there would be no game that night due to a farming accident that took the life of our teammate, Jeff Hurrell.

I know exactly where I was when I was told that our classmate, Danny Neitz, had passed away. It was the first time I had ever known someone who died of cancer.

The September morning in 1974 after Scott Harder and Tom Apling were killed in a car accident was surreal because just a few days before I had talked to them about my brother Bobby’s accident.

On December 4, 1971, five students were killed in a single car accident coming home from Penta County Vocational School. Those students, Jim Foreman, Tom Shanteau, Donald Whiting, Jim Pierson and Earle Douglas were all getting ready to graduate that spring.

Combined with my brother’s accident, these represent 12 teenagers taken from a town of 2,500 in population in less than four years (1970 – 1974).

Again, there may have been more but these are the ones I remember.

There was another event that took place during those four short years of the early 70’s that had a profound influence on me and on our little town.

I think it was about 9:00 AM when I heard the helicopter. It was loud and it sounded like it was landing right outside the window of our 8th grade Ohio History class. Mr. Morse stopped teaching and we all looked out the window of our classroom to see if we could see where it landed. We knew it was close because of the sound but we could not see it. Mr. Morse told us to stay in the classroom as he stepped outside to investigate.

After a few minutes, Mr. Morse returned and said that the helicopter landed on the Related imagepractice field right next to the high school. He told us that a police car picked up a few people from the helicopter and they had left.

In a small town like ours, this was big news. I had never heard of a helicopter landing on the high school practice field before and we all were wondering what was going on.

As the day wore on there were rumors and stories floating around about who was in the helicopter. Some were saying it was someone famous and others were saying it was just someone visiting the mayor. What we would find out about why this helicopter landed in Oak Harbor would change how I slept at night.

In the early hours of November 12, 1974, a few area young men broke into a local bar in downtown Oak Harbor. They broke into a few coin machines at the bar and took a few bottles of alcohol. They left that bar and went driving around and after they finished off the bottles, they drove to the Northland Bait and Sporting Goods store located on North Locust Street.

Around 4:00 AM, they removed a side window and entered the store. They were going to steal some guns and ammunition and during that process a hunting decoy was knocked over. This woke up the owner’s dog and it started to bark.

After the dog started to bark, Mrs. Musser, the owner, came down the stairs to see why. Unknowingly, she walked into an ongoing burglary. The young men that were involved immediately pulled out the handguns and rifle they had just stolen and pointed them at her. She was then led to the back of the store where they took a scarf and made it into a blindfold and covered her eyes. They had been in the store before and they were afraid that she could identify them.

Gretchen Musser, along with her husband, was the owner of the bait store. I knew Mrs. Musser and she knew me. Also, she knew my brother Bobby before he died.

I used to go to the store often. Sometimes to buy a pop or some candy after playing football or baseball games with the kids that lived at the north end of town. Also, I would go to the store when Kenny Wheeler, our next-door neighbor, would take me fishing with him. We would stop in the store and buy worms and tackle for our Image result for fishing tacklefishing trips. She wasn’t always working in the store, but she was there enough for her to know that I was the youngest Lee boy.

These men kidnapped her and took her with them when they left the store.

The helicopter that landed just outside of the school that morning was the FBI that came to assist the local police in finding Mrs. Musser. All the authorities knew was that there had been a robbery and that she was missing. For our little town, this was devastating. We never even considered locking the doors to our house, let alone comprehending the horror of someone kidnapping another person.

News travels fast in a small town. It wasn’t long before the whole town was aware of the situation and the shock wave of fear had made its way to each home. Suddenly, people were locking their doors and keeping their lights on all night.

Everyone was on alert. Questions that this small town never had to face before were on the mind of every person. Who could have done this? Why did they do it and most importantly, where was Mrs. Musser?

Those questions would be answered three days later when one of the young men who was involved confessed to the police what happened.

Within a half-hour after breaking into the store, they took Mrs. Musser to a barn a few miles away and took her life.

For the first time, I realized the evil that people can do. Up to this point in my life, I had never known evil in our small town. Sure, I had endured and experienced tragedy and loss, but not pure evil. Those things happened in big towns, cities and other places. It was something that you heard on the news, or read in the newspaper. It wasn’t found a few blocks from your home.

I think of Mrs. Musser often. I have not forgotten a wonderful woman that just wanted to live long enough to see her grandchildren. She was cheated out of that. She was cheated out of a full life by the hands of a few young men.

For a long time, there is no doubt that the events that took the life of Mrs. Musser, porch Lightchanged our town. Suddenly, people withdrew and kept to themselves. I stopped knowing all the names of people that moved into my neighborhood. Porch lights that once offered warm invitations for everyone to visit, were now burning cold and protective. They were now used as shields of defense to keep people away.

It took a while for it to get back to normal, or should I say, the “new normal.” I am not sure we ever “got back” to how it was before that November day in 1974.

Once innocence is shattered, it cannot be put back as it once was.

Most people never stopped locking their doors and porch lights still functioned as security lights. As a community, we have withdrawn and do not know the person that lives down the street.

Personally, I have locked my doors every day since that day.

However, this truth remains… in difficult times, our small town remains resilient.

We rally around each other in times of tragedy and the loss of loved ones, regardless of age.

My hope and prayer is that even with our differences and perspectives, the values and way of life that was established when the village of Hartford was founded will forever be found in the people of Oak Harbor.Oak-Harbor-Residences-Logo

The Measure of a Life Lived

My dad tImage may contain: David Michael Lee and Doug Randlett, people smiling, people standing, eyeglasses and beardurned 89 yesterday. 

He was born June 8, 1929.

For my dad, it’s the kind of age where people who don’t even know him say things to me like “oh that’s a good age”, or “they had a good life”.  

Other than a few issues he had a number of years ago he is in good health. I love the fact that he has lived a long life. I hope he has many years left to live this precious thing we call life.

Today is my brother’s birthday.

He was born on June 9, 1956.

He would have turned 62 today.

He didn’t live past the age of 14.  

When I talk of my brother Bobby, I tell them he died at 14.  People immediately change their demeanor and they say how tragic. They end up saying something about how his life was cheated and it was too young.  

Bobby
My brother, Bobby.

I get it.  I understand what they mean.

However it causes me to pause and one of these days I will respond, instead of with a smile (the just-nod-and-smile type of smile), with what I really want to ask, which is “what was bad about only living to 14? or what is so good about living to 89? what makes you say that?”

This isn’t a suggestion that either had a bad life… or necessarily a good life.  I’m not going to go there.

The value of a life lived is not for me to determine.

Society tends to judge the value of a life simply by its length.  

A complete stranger who couldn’t even tell you my father’s name, let alone anything about him, could make a comment about him having had ‘a good life’, seeing it as good simply for its length.

Imagine if we judged everything this way!

“How is that book you’re reading?”

    “Well it’s 1321 pages”

“Wow, sounds amazing – I’ll have to borrow it after you!”

The question remains….1321 pages of what? Meaningless drivel?

The length of a book has no impact on the value of that book.

Now… in no way am I implying that my dad’s life has not been a good one.  I believe he has and will continue to live a good life. But simply because of my dad’s age, doesn’t mean that a life lived into their 90’s was a good life.  Nor does it mean that because my brother died at 14 that his life wasn’t good either.

I’m not interested in the length of someone’s life. 100 years, 89 years, 57 years, 14 years. This tells you nothing.  It doesn’t tell you if they had a ‘good life’ or not.

I want to know the breadth of their life.  I want to know how wide they lived, not how long.  How much did they take from life? How much did they give? How much did they love? How true were they to themselves?  How true were they to their dreams and what mattered to them?

People struggle with accepting death because anything less than 80 or so years is considered not enough or unfair somehow – but this is no way to measure living.    

It’s time to stop measuring the value and worth of a life by the time it has occupied.

We ought to measure life… not by how many years were lived… but by how the days of their life were lived.

After the Words are Written

I recently finished writing a book. For the first time in over a year, my weekends, nights, and early mornings haven’t being spent obsessing over writing.

Image result for The end typewriterI thought the completion of a major project would result in a feeling of elation, but by placing that one last period on the page, I created a vast empty space in my life.

I feel empty and my mind as has been blank of ideas to write about and I can’t seem to get past these feelings.

It has taken me a month to even feel enough creativity to put these words down on a page.

I don’t know what to do with myself, and since the release of my book on Amazon, I have nothing but a fear of rejection and wondering if people would read it, not to mention would they enjoy it they did.

But none of it has anything to do with reality, it’s just in my head.

The truth is, I have had some wonderful feedback. However, for the record, I know not everyone thinks that the book as good as some other people have expressed. Some responses have been kind because they want to be nice and are friends of my family.

I bounce between wonderful, encouraging comments from people, to negative thoughts of why I didn’t sell a book today and why aren’t people putting feedback on the Amazon website.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions.

There were moments when I was working on this project and it felt endless, it felt like it could go on forever, and it would never end. And then there is an end, and I wonder if I have it in me to ever write another word again.

I have done some research and I have found that I’m not the only one who has experienced the post-project-completion blues.

One writer recRelated imageently wrote that “Finishing writing a book is like taking all of your possessions and clothes out in the backyard and burning them.  You now are exposed for the world to see and you have nothing left that is yours.”

I can relate.

For me, the only thing that is worse than after the words are written for your book is when you feel there is nothing else to write about.

So, if you see me walking around, looking a bit grieved the next few months, be gentle. I am probably still mourning and dealing with coming up with new projects after the words have been written.

They Walk Among Us

The score was tied. The clock was winding down.

Image result for Scoreboard tiedThe game was on the line and the air was filled with electricity.

Four… three… two… the basketball was in the hands of Ray Windisch.

He faced the defender and jumped, as he reached the peak of his jump, he raised the ball and with a flick of his wrist, he released a last-second desperation shot.

One… the ball left his hand just before the game-ending buzzer sounded and it rotated in slow-motion as it arched its path towards the hoop. The crowd, holding their collective breath, anticipating the results. At that exact second, there wasn’t a noise that could be heard.

The ball cleared the front of the hoop and it made a “swishing” sound as the netImage result for Basketball going through the net snapped back as the ball rushed through it. The shot was good, and the noise that rose from the auditorium was deafening.

The Rockets were victorious once again.

In that precise moment, Ray Windisch became a hometown hero that younger kids would look up to for years.

Making a last-second shot to win the game for your hometown team was the dream of every single player that has ever played the game. In my mind, I can still see Ray make that shot. It was one of the most incredible high school sports experiences I have ever been a part of. Ray will be etched forever in my mind as a “hometown hero.”

 It is what makes young boys and girls look up to upper-classmen and it motivates them to become just like the heroes they see on their high school teams.

I was no different,  because watching that game on the stage-court of the old high school sealed my love for the game that I still carry. In the years following this event, I would make more heroes out of the players I would watch from the stands.

Besides Ray Windisch, there is another hero that comes to my mind to this very day.

It is funny how a kind gesture can stay with you. The smallest act a person does can resonate for years. That is what happened to me one cold day when walking from school to my Walnut Street home.

I was taking my time and not really paying any attention to anything. I was in my own little world, my head down as always and trying not to step on any cracks on the sRelated imageidewalk.

I look up to see someone coming in my direction. Normally, if I saw someone coming up the same sidewalk, I would nonchalantly cross the street and try to make it look like it was a normal thing for me to do.

On this day, I had no time to make that happen. I was forced to cross this patch of sidewalk with whoever was walking up that sidewalk. I kept my head down and hoped I could walk by without being noticed.

There was no avoiding it, our paths were going to cross.

I looked up and it was Dick Wood.

He was a star player on the boys’ varsity basketball team. Every Friday I would watch with envy as he would run up and down the stage basketball court that the Oak Harbor Rockets played on.

He was older than me, and in my mind, he lived in a different solar system than I did. The truth was he lived in my neighborhood.

As a star basketball player, he was everything I longed to be.

What was I supposed to do? Get off the sidewalk, to let him pass? Offer him words of praise? Ask for his autograph? I hadn’t planned on this encounter. What were the rules for such an occasion?

What I did… was continue to look down at the sidewalk to avoid his gaze.

What he did… was say, “Hey David.”

I looked up and he gave me a smile and a simple nod of his head as he passed by. No other words were spoken and in a flash, he was gone.

A small act on his part, but a huge event for a young boy who looked up to young men like him as role models and sports heroes. Young boys that thought if we were lucky enough we could someday be just like them.

So, here comes Dick Wood in his Christmas red varsity jacket with a big O-H in Christmas green and white on the front. He was larger than life and he was talking to me. He acknowledged me, knew who I was and actually said my name.

I couldn’t help but smile. I could feel myself stand up a little straighter and my chest puff out with pride.

I started to run. I did not stop and when I got to my house, I burst through the front door, ignored my mom’s request to close the door and proceeded to run through the house all the way upstairs to my bedroom.

I grabbed my rolled-up ball of socks that I used to play bedroom basketball and I start shooting at the clothes hanger, shaped like a hoop, that was wedged in the Hoopback-side of my bedroom door. I had improved on the box I used to have taped to my door. I upgraded the box to a hanger. I was shooting and making shots from impossible positions.  I played games in pretend scenarios that would always come down to Dick Wood making the last shot of the game as time ran out. In my bedroom, it was never me that made those baskets and be the hero. It was always Dick, and I would be there just to witness it.

It still gives me a warm feeling to know that, to this very day, Dick Wood had no idea what he did on that cold afternoon as he walked past me and said hello. He was genuine, and Image result for Heroes walk among usit was exactly what I needed. A simple “hello” from someone I looked up to. 

I was a young boy that had withdrawn from everyone and everything. 

He simply smiled, said hello and nodded his head. 

Sometimes heroes and people we look up to aren’t found outside the small town we grew up in. 

Sometimes… they walk among us.

A Time of Reflection

It’s 3:00 AM… I am staring at my computer and desperately trying to think of something to write about.

I have come to the conclusion that my tank is empty.  I got nothing.  I cannot think of anything to write about and if I am completely honest, for the first time in many years, I have no desire to write.

I have spent the greater part of the past year writing my first book. The book is now entering week three since it was published and it has surpassed my expectations.  I have received many positive responses and sales of the book have been wonderful. (Click on this link if you would like to purchase or check out my book)

I had absolutely no idea how much this endeavor would drain my creativity and my desire to write. So, while I feel no desire to write during this time, I have decided to use the time to refImage result for A time of reflectionlect on the blessings in my life.

I will be taking some time off from writing and hopefully, in time, I will have the desire to write once again. I will post to stay in touch and while it may come back sooner than I think, I believe it will be some time before I will be writing like I once did.

I can look back over many decades and reflect on God’s provision and care for me and my family.  I can say, with amazement of how God works, that He has taken care of us even when we didn’t know we were in danger.

I am aware of the times in my life I failed to recognize His guiding hand and how He has protected me from things that I did not realize were a threat.

It’s funny how we rarely see God’s provision in real time, but as we reflect we find He has walked with us every step of our lives.  He never leaves us or forsakes us. He is, indeed, a good and kind Father caring for His children.

The great and wonderful God of eternity has cared for us every breath of our lives.

And so, today, as I reflect on His provision… I breathe out these words, “Thank you, Lord, you are much too kind.  Thank you.”

 

Now Available on Amazon

My book is now available on Amazon!!!

Click on this link to go to Amazon… Footprints in a Small Town

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would have a book lisPublication2ted on Amazon. The initial sales and feedback from those that have already purchased the book have been wonderful and very exciting.  I am humbled by the responses and I am honored to have so many people tell me how the book has stirred so many memories of their younger years.

I am going to have a book release and signing event soon. I am working on those details and I will let you know when it is scheduled.  I will have a limited supply of books at the event to purchase. If you wish to receive a copy before then and you do not have an Amazon account, just send an email to dlee138227@gmail.com and I will send you details on how you can get a copy from me.

Again… thank you for the kind comments and responses to my book… words will never be able to appropriately convey my appreciation.

 

Footprints in a Small Town

I am pleased to announce that my book Footprints in a Small Town is officially in the hands of my publisher and will be available on Amazon, Kindle, and other retail outlets in the coming 4 – 6 weeks.

The book is a collection of my stories of growing up in a small town in the 1960s and 70s. I share mPublication2y stories about going to school, playing Little League baseball and the dreams of playing football in high school, swimming at the community pool and the County Fair. I talk about friendship, my family and the tragedy of losing a brother in an accident. These are just a few of the stories.

When I reminisce about my childhood summers, I think of the smell of sun and sweat on my skin after playing outside all day long. I think of the sizzle of sparklers and the big colorful explosions of fireworks with their sulfuric scent lingering in the air on July 4th celebrations.  I remember the way my heart would race when I knew it was a baseball game day. 

I think of cupping my small hands around fireflies and dropping them into mason jars, little pieces of summer I wish I could have treasured forever.

I miss the feeling of pure joy of being flanked by my best friends on our bikes. Experiencing our first taste of freedom and being able to take ourselves anywhere within the town limits, powered by the adrenaline pumping through our veins with each spin of our silver spokes.

I wish I could have bottled all those feelings all those years ago, like those fireflies in a mason jar. To once again feel that youthful freedom and the delicious possibility of how any given night might end. I’d open the lid and breathe in the smallest sample to make it last.

I carry memories of innocence, happiness, joy and at times pain, hurt and loss. They have made me who I am. I have re-traced the footprints that I could find, and I have put them into words. My greatest hope is that, in reading this book, you may be reminded of the special times in your life too, even if some of them were difficult. 

All of us have stories from our youth.

These footprints and stories are mine.

This has been such a wonderful experience for me. I am excited to finally make it available to you. Can you imagine going back to your roots and reliving your youth? You see yourself once again grow up and you see yourself make mistakes. You see your heart get broken and you experience the loss of loved ones. However, you also get to relive the good things and the friendships that were such a big part of your life. That is what I have relived by writing these stories.

My hope is that those of you that will take the time to read this book will come away with an appreciation of another place and time. Maybe your memories will be stirred, and you can relate to my journey to once again find the footprints of your youth.

If you would like a copy of the book, I am extending the offer of a pre-sale price for it at $10.00 each. The retail price of the book will be 12.99 plus tax and shipping. To take advantage of the pre-sale of $10.00 that will include tax and delivery to your house, please send an email to footprintpublishing@gmail.com to get more details.

Thank you!!!