It’s September 22, 2022

I live in the Northern Hemisphere, State of Arkansas, United States of America, and today is the official first day of fall. Yesterday the temperature was 101 degrees (38.333 degrees to you). Temperatures like that don’t provide any indication that the annual leave-color-changing event is anywhere near peeking around the corner. It’s a bit cooler today. The forecast is for us to enjoy a sunny 87 Fahrenheit (30.556 Celsius). When my grandfather was alive, he would still have a way to go before switching to his long handles (full-body underwear). He would normally do that on the first of October. The temperatures we’ve been experiencing in recent years, even late into October, would cause him to adjust his underwear changing schedule. Heck, he would be downright confused. He didn’t depend on trained meteorologist to provide him a weather forecast. The Farmer’s Almanac and a good gander at the sky were enough. There wasn’t much talk of global warming during his time.

It’s common for me to think about grandpa and his time when the calendar announces change of seasons. He could look out at the horizon and tell if a rainstorm was coming. Was he accurate in his predictions? From what I can recall he was. Of course, I’m attempting to recall things as they were back in the 1950s. I do know that farming the tiny little piece of land he had with two mules, required him to have a good handle on what was happening with the weather. High tech farming was developing in the southern part of the United States back then, but it did affect grandpas’ operation.

Fall, which did seem to come much earlier meteorologically when I was grasshopper height, was a whimsical time for young ones like me. Living in a rural setting gave us experiences that my urban dwelling offspring can’t begin to imagine. I can recall following my grandpa around, in the fields, as he and his trusty mules harvested the crops. The clear, crisp fall skies served up comfortable air to frolic in, far different than the humid, oven-like fare that called for sitting under my grandparents weeping willow trees to escape the heat most of the day, during July and August. Working in the field to collect sweet potatoes, peanuts and other goodies was fun. It was fun because I didn’t do much work. Why else would I recall these times of old with such joy.

I recall a television commercial that used to run for Oldsmobile automobiles. It would compare the contemporary Oldsmobile to those of older times by saying, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Please allow to borrow that line for making a comparison to the fall season of today to that of a time way back during the last century by saying, “This ain’t your grandpa’s fall.’ Ain’t adds something to it don’t you think?

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

                                                                                 Tired

One thing I’ve tried to resist in the time I’ve had this space to post my thoughts is write what I’m feeling at the time I’m tired. Get ready, I’m about to disregard that personal advice. I think I’ll suggest that you don’t read any further, if you’re expecting some positive pie in the sky blog that will make you feel better after reading it. The words that follow are straight from the heart.

I dragged my seventy-two-year-old body out of bed this morning, as usual and completed my daily exercise routine: an hour of riding my bicycle in my neighborhood, thirty minutes of weightlifting and some light calisthenics before taking a few minutes to cool down. After showering and having breakfast, I was exhausted. Chris asked me later if I was tired. My response was, of course. You might be thinking what one would expect a seventy-two-year-old man to feel like after this routine. I’ve been an exerciser all my adult life. If you’ve followed my blogging, you know that my age isn’t the only factor I deal with daily. Living with cancer, Multiple Myeloma, for over twenty-two years is one of the culprits, too. Another is the drugs I must take to keep my cancer at bay. Imagine pumping poison into your body for over two decades.

At this moment, I’m experiencing the kind of tired I suffer occasionally. The kind of tired that manifests itself in every part of my body, even my toes are offering up a reframe that cry woe is me. There are others who know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m a regular participant on the Multiple Myeloma Patient Facebook Page. There you’ll find sufferers with this disease who have been recently diagnosed to those like me; who’ve been battling the ravages of this black-robe-wearing, cycle-carrying-companion for years, decades. We all share our pain, our grief, our victories, encouraging each other on this journey that only each of us can understand. I welcome the opportunity to offer encouragement to patients who have been recently diagnosed; however, when I’m experiencing days like today, I don’t visit the page. It takes energy to be an encourager. That, I don’t have today.

Out of all I’m feeling right now, when I’m too tired to be tired. I must remember that what I’m feeling now is temporary. I’ll bounce back. My old cancer infested body will be back on track and doing fine, given the circumstances. I must remember that I’m old and blessed.

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

But your story can be different

I want to make it clear that the title of this piece isn’t original. On August 28, 2022, C. Dennis Edwards, I Pastor of Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas preached a sermon with the background scripture from Chronicles 24: 1-3. He handily made the point of how King Joash, ascending to the throne at age seven changed the story of his family’s time on the throne. His father, grandfather and great grandfather had been horrible kings, straying as far from God as they could. Joash’s reign for forty years in Jerusalem was godly. He made every effort to remove all practices that paid homage to idol gods.

I often get inspiration for composing a blog, as I sit in church, listening to sermons, observing the people, and meditating on all that’s occurring around me. Stories from the Bible, delivered in a good sermon, can provide relevant things to consider in our times. People as just people whether they were born seventy-two years ago, as I, or several millennia, as was King Joash.

The point Reverend Edwards made in his sermon was that we can author our own story. Family history, even the reputation of the infamous uncle, who shows up drunk at every family gathering, doesn’t have to provide a model for our individual story. Our stories are different, however, it’s okay if each of our stories contain generous amounts of love, compassion, and the desire to understand those in whom we come in contact. They would be better if they did. Wouldn’t it be better if our stories consistently demonstrated that we are made in the image of God?

If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that stories are what keeps us alive, they capture our character, our spirit, the essence of our being. They also provide entertainment and inspiration for others who consume them. I’ve given thought to chronicling my full story, up to the current time, whatever that may be. I find myself hesitant to do so. Who would want to read about me? And so, I decided not to write my life’s story for now. Someday I’ll have enough of whatever it takes to sit at this keyboard for the number of hours necessary to chronicle the story of Hosea Long, minus some of the details even I don’t want to read. Is my story better than those of my grandparents, uncles, aunts and other who have come before me? Probably not, but it is different in countless ways. I’m convinced that my standing on the backs of the sacrifices those who came before me has made it possible for me to tell such different story.

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