After Whitney Houston's sudden death some years ago, the world was fixated on replaying her iconic and now more poignant performances of her signature songs. And what stuck in my mind was a video they showed of one of her first performances and the video of one of her last.
So we watched the Weather Channel on TV, and we changed our plans. A big storm was coming, faster than originally anticipated, so we took off almost immediately to avoid getting seriously delayed or, you know, driving on dangerous roads. It was just one of those countless times when the weather changed our plans. Like the numerous times that storms have delayed or cancelled airplane flights I was on. And, because I travel a lot, I'm a faithful viewer of the Weather Channel. It's really something to watch the weather form and move across the country, and even across the world, and to watch how often it surprises all of us, including the weatherman sometimes. Of course, these aren't random developments we're watching unfold on that map. No, not for those of us who belong to the Lord of the weather.
Well, mail service has changed a lot during my lifetime. Certainly the cost of sending a letter has gone up, and up, and up, and up. I don't know, it's probably quadrupled or quintupled or even maybe more in my lifetime. In case any of my grandkids are listening, I don't mean beginning with the Pony Express. No. But, you know, there are new services that are added. I remember when they added overnight delivery they didn't used to have. But I'll tell you what. One thing hasn't changed. Listen, the postal service, they have a big job and they struggle sometimes. But you know what? Those mail carriers still do their best to keep their commitment not to be stopped by sleet, or snow, or dark of night. Remember that's the motto? That the old saying, "Nothing keeps us from our appointed rounds." Actually, you know, they've been pretty faithful getting stuff to me. And other than holidays, pretty much the mail usually makes it no matter what the conditions were. I'm impressed with that kind of commitment, not just from mail delivery.
You pay a lot more attention to a story on the news when it might involve someone you love. It was that way the night we saw a story about a major rockslide that closed a stretch of Interstate 70 in Colorado. Our son and daughter-in-law and little granddaughter were driving that very day through that part of Colorado. The rockslide had shattered the pavement, and it embedded boulders as deep as six feet into the highway and created craters in the road. Some of the boulders were said to be as big as a van. Obviously, it was going to take some time to get that stretch of the highway open again, which meant a 200-mile-plus detour around the closure. That was okay with our family. In fact, my son said they saw some spectacular scenery they wouldn't have seen any other way. Not long before the rockslide, a semi had jack-knifed just west of that area and the interstate was closed because of it. I've been in those miles-long traffic jams (maybe you have too), and you can really get frustrated, aggravated, and just ugly. But because of that frustrating delay, there was no traffic on the road when that avalanche of rocks came crashing down. You've got to figure that might have just saved lives.
My friends who've been there wouldn't exactly say it was "fun." The wilderness, I mean. Several of them have been on this rigorous two-week outing with a company that promises an unforgettable wilderness adventure. Notice, they didn't say wilderness "fun." These guys were pushed to their limits; they were running and climbing and surviving off the land, making it all alone out there for a while. But I don't know one of them who regrets going there. In fact, they proudly wear these shirts that proclaim on the front, "I've been to the wilderness." And on the back, "I can handle anything."
Our friends got a very unsettling phone call. Their 33-year-old son had some fairly severe mental disabilities - severe enough that years ago they made the painful decision that he required the kind of care that only a trained staff and a professional facility could provide. The call came that told them that their son just had a very serious fall, and the injuries could have been fatal. Thank God he recovered, but needless to say, the close call shook his parents who love him very much. His mom told me that from the time he was first walking as a young child, they have told him over and over again, "Slow down. Slow down, son!" She said if they had a nickel for every time they've said, "Slow down," they'd be wealthy. And the reason for his fall? You probably guessed it. He was going faster than he could safely walk. He didn't "slow down."
Every little boy gets his share of "boo-boos." Right? That's what little boys' knees and elbows are made for! I could never convince my mother that all I needed for my wound was a kiss. No, she always went to the medicine cabinet, pulled out this little bottle of liquid. I dreaded it! It was iodine. And did that stuff ever sting! But my Mom knew what she was doing. Yes, it stings, but it also disinfects!
I guess it was inevitable. With our boys growing up in northern New Jersey, it was predestined that they, and I for that matter, would become New York Giants football fans. Big Giants fans. Even in the season when they won only three games, and even when they had a string of bad seasons. Even when the airplane flew over a game with the banner that said, "Fifteen years of lousy football." What used to really annoy my boys was when friends who claimed to be Giants fans kept "jumping ship" when they kept losing. Then came the playoff Giants, and then the Giants that won the Super Bowl. Suddenly, there were gazillions of Giants fans everywhere, jumping up and down, celebrating the champions. But they could never know the joy of fans like my two sons who never lost hope, and who never stopped rooting for their team.
We were in our seats waiting for the curtain to open on this great, family-oriented stage show. I knew it must be show time, the lights went down, and unobtrusively the live band quietly filed into the orchestra pit. Most people were focused on the stage, but I was fascinated by something I saw going on with the band. One woman in the band had the arm of a fellow band member on her arm. She was obviously leading him to his position at the keyboard. Then I realized with amazement that the keyboardist was blind. He put on his big headphones and, as the curtain opened, he started playing with all his heart. It was awesome!
Every once in a while the sun just decides to take a vacation for a few days. Not too long ago, we had one of those stretches of weather when we didn't see the old boy for the better part of a week. It was just like one rainy day after another. Everyone around here and everything around here was soaked. I was running into our headquarters one morning on a day like that, as one of my co-workers was, and we were both trying to avoid getting drenched in the process. I made some comment about the relentless rain, but he was looking at a little bigger picture than I was. Remembering last summer's withering drought, he said, "This is going to be good for us later on."