This afternoon, I sang at another funeral. I later visited KG (Kevin Gorman) and we made a plan to resume and finish our music project. But I’ll get to that. First, some back story:
I returned to the welcome comforts of home just last night. Having been with my family at Disney World the last week, I was most pleased to find myself back on my own turf. One can only take so much “Disney Magic” when you know that while Mickey shakes with one hand, he pilfers your wallet with the other.
I went away to Disney with two objectives: focus on my family and get my mind away from my work. The trip was a terrific success on both counts. The rides and the characters and all the other dressing were just a setting for me to marvel in how much I truly love being with my wife Tracey and two boys, Eddie and Jaden. I am embarrassingly fortunate.
My parents have often chuckled at telling the story of how I, as a young boy, exited an airplane in Orlando and was distraught not to find Mickey Mouse waiting for me. So I could only laugh when my three-year-old disembarked our aircraft only to enter the airport to ask, “Where is Disney World?” The next day, as we left the hotel room, he rubbed his hands together and said, “Okay – now where is that mouse?!”
Every morning of the stay, Jaden (the three-year-old) would take the long walk with me to the food court area so I could have company while I gathered coffee for Tracey and me. It meant the world to me. My other son, Eddie (now seven years old) did the same thing at the same place with me over three years ago. Now, he’s not interested. But at least I remember him trudging along with me in the morning mist, just wanting to see what his dad was up to. I didn’t want to miss my chance to make the same memories with Jaden. And now I have them.
It wasn’t all idyllic of course. Eddie arrived in Florida feeling sick, and Jaden picked up the bug about halfway through our time there. My back tightened up to the point where I could hardly move by the Monday night. None of that mattered. That’s just life. It could have happened at home. In fact, it has happened at home and will again. But when you’re away, there are (ironically) fewer natural distractions. When you’re all crammed into a small hotel room, there is no privacy, no escape and no reprieve from the minor irritations we run from when we’re at home. I call it “Guerrilla Parenting” because it sharpens your awareness of your own shortcomings. I had no work to hide behind. It was just us. And it was great.
Oh, there were times when my patience was stretched. Tracey’s too. But I went to bed each night feeling extraordinarily fortunate and awoke each morning feeling the same way. And as for Disney World? Well, I’m a great admirer of the life and spirit of Walt Disney and will continue to be, but I’ve little desire to return to the parks any time soon. After all, I took the best attractions home with me. Ultimately, you find that places like Disney World – while creative and fun – are just synthetic. They cannot create lasting happiness if you have not set that foundation for yourself already. In other words, if you’re a miserable family at home, you’re going to be a miserable family at Disney World, and after you get home.
I have a happy family. But that is because we work hard at it. We all have shortcomings. We all work on them. We have our moments like everyone else. But we love each other. Happy.
While I was away, I was again reminded how fleeting life can be, as a good friend of mine emailed to let me know his wife was not well. This friend is the same good man who lost his father last summer and his son last fall. As it turned out, he lost his wife a couple of days after notifying me it might happen. We were still down south. So when Jaden cried and cried on our way back (because he wasn’t feeling well), I didn’t complain. In fact, the last night we were away, I didn’t even get to sleep in the same bed as my wife. My two sick little boys decided they wanted to be with their mom, so I slept on a pull-out couch. I didn’t complain. I knew I was just lucky to have them.
I am lucky to have my friends too. And my buddy who lost his wife asked me if I’d sing at her funeral, as I’d done for his son last November. My first concern was getting home in time, as weather wreaked havoc with much of the United States around that time. But that proved not to be an issue. My next concern was what to sing. But I soon thought of that too. And so, after arriving home last night, I spent the middle part of the day today at another funeral and sang as best I could, out of love and respect for a great friend and a wonderful family.
From there, I went to see KG at his studio. He and I had not seen each other in quite some time. After some chit-chat, we opened up the calendar to decide upon a time to get going again with our recording of the “No Schedule Man” recording project. As we were doing that, I told Kev that, “I want to be clear: once we get started again, I want this thing done. It’s time to finish it.” He understood. Time for another big push.
I don’t know why, but I feel a sense of purpose with this project. And as I sat in on the funeral service today, I thought of some of the words to one of the songs, “Hope over hurt” and thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get this done.’
I will get it done.
February 22nd, the red light goes on again: Recording.
Until then, KG is working on the finishing touches of his studio, and I will be rehearsing. And when the time arrives, I will sing and play with all the hope, hurt, love and passion I’ve written about for weeks. I’ll sing for my family. I will sing for your family. I will sing for my friends. I will sing for anyone who cares to listen, and I will invite you to sing along.
If you don’t want to listen, don’t. No hard feelings. But I believe the world needs love now more than ever.
I’ve got a lot of that to sing about.