TOP OF THE TOWN ‑ Here I am 3:30 in the morning because I can’t sleep. My right foot bothers me, I’m getting as old as the Olympic Mountains and sometimes it’s not fun to be that old, like this morning. But then I think of all the friends and relatives that are gone and it’s okay to toss and turn sometimes because what is the alternative? There are plenty of people that died before they got a good start, including my maternal grandmother three years before I was born. I lost an uncle to World War II. He was a First Lieutenant in the Army and killed in Hawaii when riding in a jeep with his driver it hit a bomb crater and flipped over, breaking my uncle’s neck (the driver survived with barely any injuries). He left behind a wife and three children, one that still survives. And me. I was not quite two yet when he died. I kind of take after my uncle. He was about six-foot-five, which is what I once was before I started shrinking with age. My uncle was the only one in his family that went to college. My dad got booted out of high school as a sophomore when his parents (my grandparents) refused to pay for the window my dad broke while hitting a home run in a baseball game. The window was on the third floor of the school so he could hit a ball a long way. My uncle was the second of my extended family to go (my grandmother was the first) and my mother followed 11 years later, breaking my heart and creating long-lasting problems for me. I lost a niece five years after my mother left. Amy was just five and was fallen by a brain tumor (there is that cancer again). I could go on and on with death among relatives and friends, including a sister that was my anchor when my mother died, five more nieces, and six real close friends, but you don’t want to know about death. I sometimes wonder if I’m a black widow because death seems to find those around me. The way the world is now it may be that their deaths are for the better, although I don’t really believe that. The world, though, is a bit screwy, don’t you think? I wish often that I could express my sadness in music, which I love by the way, as Hank Williams was able to do. I grew up on Hank. The sorrow in his songs reflected his life and his struggle with his first wife, Audrey, and I basked in his sorrow and song while battling my own sorrow for losing my mother at a young age. I used to know almost all the lyrics to Hanks’ songs and would sing along with him to the frustration of Mary and our kids. Hank really was singing about his battles with Audrey when he penned this beauty, Cold, Cold Heart:


“I tried so hard my dear to show that you’re my every dream.
Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold cold heart


Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn’t do
In anger unkind words are said that make the teardrops start
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold cold heart

You’ll never know how much it hurts to see you sit and cry
You know you need and want my love yet you’re afraid to try
Why do you run and hide from life, to try it just ain’t smart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold cold heart

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold cold heart.”


As with a lot of people who were once part of my circle of life, Hank Williams died early at age of 29 on January 1, 1953, the same year my mother died at 48. Williams’ peak was just two years – 1951-52 – yet he is remembered for being the best country singer-songwriter ever. His songs are still sung today, 68 years after his death in the backseat of his Cadillac that was taking him to a gig in Canton, Ohio. He died of drugs and alcohol, but I think he really died of a broken heart. Back in 1960 four of us left our small village in New York State and headed for California and the sun, beach and girls. Two years later one of us was gone. Dick was my roommate in Hermosa Beach and died in a car wreck. The other two –Amos and Dave – are also gone, leaving me with fading memories and sadness. Where did all the time go? It seems like yesterday that we packed up in Dick’s Mercury and left for California. But that’s life … and death. I don’t know if I feel better dredging up all of my long-gone family and friends. I’m not uncommon in losing people. I will say, however, that I have lost a ton of them. I get asked all the time how I’m doing and my answer is, “I’m hanging around.” I have three older brothers that are also still hanging around. Two are former senior engineers with major companies and the other is a former teacher-coach (football, basketball, golf) and athletic director. Our father left 41 years ago. He was the most gentle and most powerful man I have ever known. I miss him every day. As I miss my mother. And all of the rest that left too early. Hank had a song for that too, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive:


“Now you’re lookin’ at a man that’s gettin’ kinda mad
I had lot’s of luck but it’s all been bad
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive
My fishin’ pole’s broke, the creek is full of sand
My woman run away with another man
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive
A distant uncle passed away and left me quite a batch
And I was living high until that fatal day
A lawyer proved I wasn’t born
I was only hatched
Ev’rything’s agin’ me and it’s got me down
If I jumped in the river, I would prob’ly drown
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive
These shabby shoes I’m wearin’ all the time
Are full of holes and nails
And brother if I stepped on a worn out dime
I bet a nickel, I could tell you if it was heads or tails
I’m not gonna worry wrinkles in my brow
‘Cause nothin’s ever gonna be alright nohow
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive
I could buy a Sunday suit and it would leave me broke
If it had two pair of pants I would burn the coat
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive
If it was rainin’ gold, I wouldn’t stand a chance
I wouldn’t have a pocket in my patched up pants
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world alive.”


That’s it for this early morning. My foot feels better and I’m going to attempt some sleep. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.