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.