But, over the last two weeks I have learned one of life’s hardest lessons and also one of its most joyous.
Change is something that has never come easy for me.
There is plenty of evidence of that, as my family and friends will testify.
I slept on the same pillow for more than two decades.
Well, it was sort of the same pillow.
Thanks to Mom, it was sewn and re-sewn a thousand times with new stuffing taking the place of the old almost as many times.
It went on trips, vacations and even high school band tours from Washington, D.C., to Florida.
Then, the poor thing just gave out.
Those of you who laugh at that need to look down at the pair of shoes you’re wearing.
If you are really honest, nothing feels quite as good as that worn, shaped-to-your-feet pair that would probably do better as targets for a shooting range.
That’s another thing of mine — I’ll wear a pair of shoes until the heels come off and water seeps in.
In an even sillier piece of business, my mother still tells the story of my reaction when they changed the living room furniture.
Yep, cried like a baby.
It could have something to do with the easy-on emotion switch with which I seem to have been born.
I tear up when the American flag comes down the parade route and especially when I hear the sound of children singing.
But, I digress from the original subject.
I hate change, but it is actually the one thing you can be absolutely sure of all the time.
That’s one reason I wanted to come home after being away for almost four years.
It’s not that I didn’t fall in love with the people I worked with and resided near, it just wasn’t HOME.
My computer screen saver was, and still is, the front yard of Mom and Dad’s house where our family has been based for almost 40 years.
That would be the picture I saw every time my computer whirred up to speed and it always whirred my heart into immediate sadness.
My family went through some major events while I was away and I began to notice all the pictures of those events did not have me in them.
It’s not because I’m a photo hound. Quite the contrary.
It was the fact I was missing out on time with the people I love the most on this planet.
And those photos showed how time was moving and it brought to a stark reality the quote from English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, “Time and tide wait for no man.”
That’s certainly been true for me over the past several months.
I was doing well where I had been when a newspaper closer to home called and made an attractive offer.
Truth is, anything that would have brought me closer to home was attractive.
So, I went only to have my former paper call four months later wanting me to come back with what was a humbling, career-sized offer.
Mom and Dad said it was too good an opportunity, so I went back.
But, much to that paper’s credit, they always knew if I could get home I would go in a heartbeat.
That beat came around last fall while I was home for a few days and saw the good folks here at the Banner had a space open.
I jumped at the chance for several reasons, but the main one was I wanted to be home with my family and using whatever talents I have here in Cleveland would make that possible.
This is where I’ve been since and everyone has been more than wonderful and I feel very much at home.
But, a few months ago I got another one of those calls.
Humbling, attractive, bright lights/big city stuff for sure.
It’s not that I didn’t like it here. But I’m human and I fall for “the grass is greener” just like everyone else does.
I would still be within a comfortable distance from home and doing what I love.
But, I quickly found out what I think is the reason the Good Lord allowed me to get back home.
One day after that “bright lights” offer, my mother had a stroke.
It wasn’t one of those “tick” strokes like she had in the past. This was a big one.
A blood clot from the heart to the brain.
She spent a week in the hospital and, being the amazing woman she is, continued on with great humor and perseverance.
Fortunately, the only debilitation that seems to be there is some problems with peripheral vision in her right eye.
If you’ve gotten anything up to this point, you know how much it meant for me to be home and just how much my family means to me.
My being six to eight hours away when something like that happened would not have been safe for either me or anyone else who would have been unfortunate enough to be driving near me on the way back home.
Mom and Dad both stayed supportive of seeking my fame and fortune and I was ready to go.
But, as someone reminded me, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
Throughout all of what has happened I think I have a clearer picture of His plans, which really is what has always been important to me.
Without being specific, let’s just say things worked out and I made one of those decisions that I know puts me on a path for the remainder of my career and life itself.
I feel like that “comfort zone” I have so much need for is a bit more secure and — the greatest bonus of all — I am home.
It is especially meaningful to me to be here when and while my parents, who have given me unconditional love and sacrificed sometimes beyond their means because they believed in me, probably could use an extra hand around the house.
Like any other kid, I used to hate doing chores.
Now, I couldn’t be more thrilled to do them.
So, this particular column won’t be about “time we had together.” It’s really more about the time we’re going to have together.
I think John Denver trumps Carol Burnett on this one: “Hey, it’s good to be back home again. Sometimes this old farm feels like a long-lost friend. Hey, it’s good to be back home again.”