Remembering Hansel

Back in 2020, I made it to Africa. I’ve written about the trip to Ghana, West Africa. This was a marvelous journey to my ancestral home. Accompanying me were Chris, my wife, my oldest child, Felicia, My cousin Hansel and his wife Martha. For those of you who’ve read some of my posts about the trip, you know it was more than a vacation for me. It was a spiritual journey, an adventure like none I’ve experienced before. One contributing element to the quality of the experience was having Hansel along for the ride. Hansel is a cousin I spent a lot of time with as a child. We used to trapse up and down the dusty roads of Cross County Arkansas, looking for things to do among the bushes and creeks that offered dangers as well as fun. I was three years older than Hansel. There were some unfortunate circumstances that haunted Hansel’s childhood; however, I won’t dwell on that. Regardless of what those might have been, we know that children often can find joy regardless of what life throws their way.

On November 29, 2022, Hansel made his exit from this plain of existence. Losing friends and family members is always an emotionally trying experience. With Hansel, this experience was uniquely different. After I graduated from high school, I lost contact with Hansel. He moved from our tiny hometown of Wynne, Arkansas and relocated to Nebraska. I saw him when he came back to Wynne for his father’s (my uncle’s) funeral. Except for that, I didn’t see him for years, until he and Martha began returning to family reunions and funerals. He had built a life for himself which was qualitatively much better than the one he lived back when were kids. He had spent time in the military, where he learned skills that were transferable to the civilian sector. After his time in the military, he had a successful career in the petroleum industry. Five years ago, fed up with the cost of living in California, Hansel and Martha moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona. I recall a conversation I had with him while we were in Ghana about the joy he was experiencing living in Sierra Vista. He talked about how much he was enjoying living in a small town that had all the amenities one would ever want.

On February 18, 2023, I attended a memorial service for Hansel at the little church he attended in Sierra Vista.  I’m not one to attend a lot of memorial services. For a good part of my life, I could say without doubt that I had attended fewer funerals than I have appendages on my body. Unfortunately, that claim changed within the last two decades. As I’ve grown older, there are more people who’ve touched my life making it my duty to pay my respects to them once they die. Hansel was one of those people. Making the trip from Little Rock, Arkansas to Sierra Vista, Arizona was a tiny price to pay to say goodbye to my cousin.

Hansel had only lived in Sierra Vista for five years. As Listened to the heartfelt words of the members of his church pay homage to him, I was amazed at how he had impacted them so much in such a small period. I plan to write about Hansel’s church (The Sierra Vista Church of God) in another blog; however, I wanted to mention it as a precursor to that planned blog. The best way for me to describe how the members of the Sierra Vista Church of God felt about Hansel is they loved him dearly.


I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

       The constant human condition

I’ve been known to drudge up old posts that I did on Face book long ago. This one below popped up this morning when I logged into my Facebook account. I posted it nine years ago. With work in such turmoil these days (wars, financial uncertainty, culture wars), I thought this post with strike a chord.

Hey, everybody:

Some of you who attend my Sunday School class have heard me say before that the human condition remains constant, even though technology changes throughout history. There are two things that keep this thought fresh on my mind: 1) my beloved son always telling me that things are different with his generation than they were with mine way back in the last century, and 2) the Holy Scriptures.

Let me explain. We’ve been studying from the book of Genesis in Wednesday Bible study, moving thus far from chapter one to chapter forty. As you know, sin was introduced early in chapter three, with Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit. Later, we see crimes committed that are motivated by such dark emotions as envy, lust, greed, jealousy and so on. As we’ve gotten to chapter forty, I’m seeing the same thematic tone; humans are making a mess of things because of the same flaws: envy, lust, greed, jealousy and so on. If you read the scriptures and then read the contemporary newspapers, you’ll find the same flawed human condition responsible for society’s ills. Regarding my son’s argument, his generation is prone to make a mess out of things due to the same, age-old dark emotions.

Can’t you see what I mean when I say that the human condition remains constant. But it doesn’t have to be, because the downwardly spiraling cycle can be broken by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and trusty friend. God bless you all…

I’m old and bless…hope you will be too.

Twenty-three years and counting

Anniversaries are important; they mark the occurrence of many events in our lives. Each first Sunday at my church, members are given the opportunity to stand and be recognized for having a birthday or wedding anniversary for the month. Members with wedding anniversaries are asked to state how long they’ve been married. It may seem a bit corny, but it’s one of the welcomed traditions we practice that brings a smile to the face of all.

Today, March twelve, is an important, personal anniversary for me. It marks twenty-three years since I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I’ve written several times about this horrible form of blood cancer from which I suffer. Here are links to two post I’ve published previously :  To be diagnosed with a disease that yet kills forty-five percent of its victims within five years of diagnosis, and still be around after twenty-three years, is  definitely something to celebrate. Wouldn’t you agree? At the time I was diagnosed, the overall survival rate for people diagnosed with multiple myeloma was thirty-five percent beyond five years. The rate for that same period of survival currently is over fifty-five percent. For four percent of people who are diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is over seventy-seven percent. I wasn’t an early diagnosed patient. That’s even more reason to celebrate. My oncology team calls me a poster child for multiple myeloma.

During my early years of living with this disease, I looked at the future tentatively. At some point, not sure when, I began to realize multiple myeloma didn’t give me some unique inability to dream about what the future might bring. The future is no more certain for an Olympic athlete as it is for me. More than ten years ago, I accepted the fact that my joy for life came in making the most of each day that came my way. Isn’t that the reality for everyone? Now, I enjoy the peace that I’m convinced my Creator wants me to have. The burden of worrying about whether I’ll be around tomorrow, the next day, or the next year is absent from my life.

And so, I’m twenty-three years and counting, and I’ll continue to count until I’m not here to count anymore. Happy anniversary to me, and to all other multiple myeloma patients who might be celebrating an anniversary around this time.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

The normalcy of violence

The following popped up in my Facebook feed this morning. It’s a post I wrote nine years ago. After reading it, I thought it would make a good blog, since it echoes the situation in my little cosmopolitan city today. Little Rock is currently experiencing far too much violence. Our population is 203,000. For 2022, we had eighty-one killings, a record number. City and community leaders are scratching their heads and actively working to stem the tide of violence in our city. I know that sounds horrible for such a small city, but I caution you to not construct an image of people roaming the streets of our city hankering to find someone to kill.

My twenty-two-year-old son just told me about the death of a friend of his, a young man about his age. When he mentioned it, I assumed this death wasn’t due to some natural cause. Does my conclusion speak volumes about my morbid perspective of the world, or the sad state of affairs in society? It’s probably more of a testament to the latter than the former. My son’s friend was shot. Although my son didn’t know the details, he simply said he was shot in a club.

Since about his junior year of high school, my son has, with some regularity, received the unfortunate news that one of his friends, associates, or homeboys has lost life due to some violent act. His emotional response to receiving this sad news is usually tepid in tone. I notice in him an almost, “that’s-the-way-it-is” reaction. I’ve even heard him refer to Little Rock as “Lil-Iraq.” That play on words says a lot about his generation versus mine. From my teen though early adulthood years, my friends and I got most of our bad news about young men dying from war statistics, the war in Vietnam not in the streets of America. After sixty-three years of living, I’m beginning to get a sense that each generation has its own population reduction process for robbing the future of human potential. I know that sounds fatalistic. I don’t mean to sound so, but the facts are what they are, aren’t they? God help us.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Women, an untapped resource for peace, maybe?

Wangari Maathai first African woman recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I just finished watching Star Trek Discovery Season Four for the third time. For anyone who follows me, you might remember I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve been watching Star Trek since it was first broadcast on television in 1966. Through the years this entertainment staple has changed considerably. One thing that became obvious to me while watching the fourth season was the preponderance of women on the star ship. The captain is a woman, most of the bridge crew are women, and women serve in major areas of operation throughout the ship. I’m sure the producers of this entertainment giant didn’t cast the actors for the show haphazardly. There was no doubt a message there somewhere.

When I began my blog seven years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to produce a title uniquely appropriate for me. At the time, I was sixty-five-years-old and a sixteen-year survivor of cancer. Sixty-five years may not seem very old; however, when the factor of cancer is added to the mix, old is appropriate. Now, the handle old and blessed is even more appropriate. I have beaten the odds the world might have waged against me. My age has granted me the opportunity to see innumerable amounts of history unfold in this oftentimes troubled world in which we live. One thing I’ve noticed is that women are often a productive, behind the scenes calming force. They are the servers of family and community, not always eager to have their ego fed for doing what comes natural for them.

I was brought up in a family where women were strong influences on my life. I don’t mean to diminish the important role men played; however, they weren’t there in the numbers women were. Women taught me how to care, serve; how to seek peace in situations that could have escalated to the point of conflict. I remember when I first learned that women were the backbone of much of the civil rights work history attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not a surprise to me that that was the case. It also wasn’t a surprise that Rosa Parks, a woman who refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, sparked the beginning of the thirteen-month bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Women have played invaluable roles in supporting the Black church, ensuring its sustainability from its birth until today. And although their contributions have been undeniable, they are often denied the recognition and opportunity to serve in certain roles because of Biblical interpretations that place men at the forefront of organizational leadership. When I read the Bible, I’m impressed by the important roles woman played in supporting the work of Jesus. I don’t recall Him saying anything about relegating women to the back of anything. Women were the ones who first received the message of the resurrection, were they not?

Malala youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I’m watching events unfold in the Russian/Ukrainian war, and I’m dumbfounded to think of any sensible reason this is even occurring in our time. One would think that in the third millennium a civilized nation would’ve reached a point where the slaughter of innocent civilians by a powerful military apparatus would be unthinkable. However, the testosterone-driven paranoia of a demagogue has brought about a state of unrest around the globe. The unrest is fueled partly by the thought that there are so many potentially threatening shoes in Putin’s arsenal left to be dropped, the nuclear option being the most frightful. Would we be in this position if a woman was in power?

Yes, I know I’m making what some might consider some broad generalities here, but I can’t help but think more women at the helm just might result in a more peaceful society where listening before guns are drawn might become the norm. I do realize that some women have developed a mentality straight out of the playbook written by men; living in a man’s world has prompted them to adapt, or risk failure. I would hope those chameleons are few and far between.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.


This is not an easy topic to write about. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and how I might address it in a blog. When I first started my blog, I told myself that I primarily wanted to write posts that were positive and uplifting. As I look back over the seven years that I’ve rented this space to share my observations about people and the various experiences they have, I realize I’ve not written very much about hurt. Of course, I’ve posted musings about my cancer and other kinds of physical discomfort, but I’ve not written much about the hurt that generates energy deep within the center of a person’s being. That hurt that occupies space within us and is sometimes triggered by a movie we’re watching, by something someone says, by a smell that reminds us of something from our past or any number of emotional encounters.

My purpose isn’t to depress you, but to offer awareness of an emotional platform we all have inside of us. A platform most of us don’t wish to visit. Sometimes it causes us to resist certain things like close relationships for fear we’ll be hurt. That fear comes from some experience/experiences we might have had decades ago. It might have occurred when we were in elementary school, middle school, or high school. At the time it happened, we might have sloughed it off as if it were no big deal. We might have wanted to be a member in good standing with the in-crowd. Bringing something that bothered us to the attention of a friend, who might have said something hurtful would have shown weakness. That word, that phrase, that act was quickly tucked away to be buried under years of lifetime experiences. Those experiences would consist of things like graduating from college, having a successful career, getting married, having children and so forth. One day, we get an invitation in the mail to a thirty-year high school reunion, and that thing, that hurtful thing rises from the deep. It hurts just as much as it did over thirty years ago. You thought you had gotten over it; however, you know that the minute you see the person who hurt you back to an exact moment in time. You’ll have to deal with the experience from long ago all over again. You feel so infantile, but the feelings are real.

I know, you’re probably thinking now that I’m speaking from my experiences. Maybe, maybe not, but as I said earlier this hurt is more universal than most of us care to admit. It is a part of that brokenness that many of us have adjusted to. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t prevent us from successfully moving forward in our life’s journey. I’m not a psychologist, so I’m speaking from the position of just a human being who knows we have stuff to deal with. I have no solution to offer on how to deal with such things. Okay, I’ll admit there is a bit of me in this post. You know one of the interesting things about that high school reunion is that when you see that person who hurt you, they look nothing like the little devil who caused you emotional harm decades ago. And to make matters even more confusing is that they’ve found Jesus. What are you supposed to do then?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Have you had a life-changing event?

From left around the table: Felicia, Martha, Hansel, me and Chris at One Africa Resort, Elmina Ghana

The title of this piece isn’t being used rhetorically. I’ve chosen it because I invite you to ask yourself that same question. I’ve had many from what I might call minor in scope to music-in-the-background, Hollywood dramatic. This question recalls getting my driver’s license at age 16, graduating high school, going to college, and graduating, being diagnosed with cancer, and surviving these past 22 years, accepting Jesus as my savior, and last but certainly not least, taking a journey to Ghana West Africa.

I’ve been a strange child all my life. That assessment isn’t mine alone. I’ve attended more than one family reunion, where we sit around and talk about days of old, and my cousins would talk about how I was strange coming up as a kid. I wouldn’t participate in many of the childhood shenanigans many of them did. I would correct them whenever they exhibited behavior that didn’t seem appropriate. One thing I felt as a child was the need to assist my mom as much as I could. Being the oldest child, left with a mother and siblings, after my father died, what else was I supposed to do?

One thing I do remember experiencing at a very young age was the emotional and mental rumbling from the big question the haunts a lot of us: Whom am I? Of course, there was a second part to that question that came much later in life, after I graduated high school.  That second part was why am I here?  Now at seventy-two years of age, I’m still asking myself these questions, even though there has been a plethora of answers presented to me throughout the years. I think there’s been a certain fluidity to my existence that forces me to reexamine answers and solutions that may have been sufficient from time gone by. Sometimes these questions cause me to pause for what seems like inordinate amounts of time. For example, I’ve been quite for a while. It’s not that there hasn’t been plenty to write about; it’s been me overthinking, starting, and stopping in my mind until I convince myself that I have nothing to write about.

It’s been two years since I made the trip to Ghana with Chris, my cousin Hansel, his wife Martha, and my oldest child Felicia. I’ve written before about that trip. It was sole stirring at a level like nothing that has come across my life’s path. Hansel died early December 2022, two years after we made our trip. Martha told me recently that he was glad he made that trip. It meant a lot to him. It meant a lot to me, too. Our little delegation from our extended family made a “trip of return” to our Motherland. A trip that was thought never to be made at the time our ancestors were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. I recall looking out of the “Door of no Return” in Cape Coast Castle/Dungeon in Elmina, Ghana and thinking, “Oh yeah, here I am I’m back.” It’s always good to be back home, especially if the journey took four hundred years to make. It’s also good to have a since of being reconnected to a place you never thought you would be able to see.

Certainly, the experience of connecting with my God, was life-changing with hope and promises of a peaceful eternity. I also think my God wants me to experience all that I can during this leg of my journey to feel connected. Returning to Africa was a Godly blessing that affirmed that for me; a life-changing event that has changed my way of thinking about the world and my place in it.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

      Peace be still

I hate to be agitated in any form. Yes, I know some of you have found the secret of living your life 100% of the time within, as opposed to without never being agitated by all the crazy stuff out there. At my age, I too have found the inner control mechanism that allows me to create my own joy, happiness, and peace within; however, my process isn’t always a manufacturing success. What follows is a post I made on Facebook seven years ago. It made me think and ask the question: Have I grown beyond the state of mind I operated from then? I know this isn’t a great post, but I’m doing it because it offers an opportunity for us to think on things like peace and how we should make it operational in our lives.

In my meditation this morning, I found myself thinking about agitation versus calmness. Have you ever noticed how we are so impressed by the “parting of the Red Sea, the raging of the sea with the disciples on board the boat, and other upheavals of nature” due to both natural and supernatural reasons? I’m certainly impressed by these movements of God’s Spirit amid such occurrences, but have you thought about the fact that it’s during the calm that people feel at peace and the creatures, who live amongst the water, fauna, hills, mountains, and other habitats can thrive and go about their normal activities?

Thank God for peace and tranquility. Let’s pray for more of it. Wouldn’t it be great if the evening news had no agitation of nature or society to report? Peace be still.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.


There are several definitions for the word truth. For this post, I’m using the following: That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. I was watching the final session of the January 6 Select Committee yesterday and it was remarkable that the committee made four criminal referrals, accusing a former president of the United States of America of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Conspiracy to Defraud the United States; Conspiracy to Make a False Statement and “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection. Every accusation is based on the antithesis of truth, fact, and reality. The Washington Post, through its Fact Checker Team, documented that former president Trump made 30, 573 false or misleading claims over four years. One would think that a public figure, with a profile as high as the POTUS, would work laboriously to tell the truth all the time.

I’ve heard it said that everybody lies. Honestly, I find that statement difficult to disagree with if we strictly apply the forementioned definition. We’ve all told someone that they looked fabulous (not fabulous, but nice) when they’re convinced that that new outfit has transformed them into one of the world’s most beautiful people. We don’t want to deflate their sight impaired sense of attraction. A little adjustment to what’s true, factual, and real hurts no one, right? Until they happen upon an honest purveyor of the truth, who tells them that they look perfectly dressed for an outing to a Friday night dog fight.

Truth is avoided by statements of commission and omission. It’s been that way sense the time of the garden. Depending on your spiritual orientation, or lack of any at all, you may have another benchmark moment when humankind’s propensity for lies debuted unto the stage of history. Of course, the preceding paragraph is meant with some jest, since the kinds of misrepresentation of the truth described are not sinister, or presented on a world stage, intended to hold onto power to preside over the government of an entire nation. When I think of sinister intent, the inventory of lies to commit crimes or to cover them up seems endless, and there are significant numbers of people in residence in our prison to prove that.

The truth is the quality of a word that makes us all feel good when we hear it; it’s often uplifting. There’s a Bible Scripture that says the truth will make you free (John 8:23). Of course, this scripture refers to the total truth of knowing Jesus as savior and accepting him over all other version offered of saving truth. However, even in a general sense, there is a relief and freedom that come from operating on a platform of truth. Truth provides a degree of comfort unsurpassed by anything else. Barring any mental incapacity to understand that the use of truth in all dealings provides one with every reason to walk with head held heigh, even when lies are placed before you.

Is truth that long-lost friend we look forward to seeing again someday? I prefer to think it’s the friend who’s still with us. The fact that some might try to hold it hostage is of measured importance. It will always raise its head because it’s reality and reality can’t be extinguished.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.