Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Sad Occasion and a Happy One

I have always said that one cannot put one’s life on hold for cancer because life goes on. I was reminded of that by two occurrences this week. First, Al's brother Jim passed away Monday, December 10, 2012. Al and I went to his house as is our custom every Monday morning to do his weekly shopping and found that he had passed away peacefully. It saddens our holiday but we will feel his spirit with us. He lived like he wanted to live and died like he wanted to - in his own home, no nursing homes or hospitals. Al feels good that he was able to help him stay in his home until the end and I feel good that I supported Al in this. We thank God that He granted this last wish to our brother. Jim didn’t want any fanfare so we will have a small family service grave-side at the National Veteran's Cemetery here in Jacksonville.
In our 35 years of marriage, Jim was always there whenever we needed help. He had a few close friends and they tell us he was always willing to help them if they needed something, too. On the day he passed away, the postman delivered a box from Vermont Country Trading Post. I thought, “Aww, Jim was shopping for Christmas presents for us”. Al opened the box when we got home and it contained six boxes of Chocolate Cherry Cordials! I will put them under the Christmas tree and give them to family members as presents from him.
               Now for the happy occasion – we have a tradition of going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s (TSO) Christmas holiday concert with two friends of ours. For the second year in a row, Dorothy and Q have been coming with us. We have had the tickets for over a month, so despite the sad pall that Jim’s death cast on our holiday, we went to this upbeat Christmas concert. It was spectacular! I now feel energized to put up a Christmas tree and wrap some presents! But that’s not all!
Whenever TSO gives a concert, they come out afterward to meet their fans and sign autographs. Now I had written about seeing this band’s concert “Beethoven’s Last Night” on April 25, 2011. That concert had a profound impact on me and was the turning point in my healing from this cancer. I had to go in a wheelchair because I had a pleural effusion that made me extremely short of breath with the slightest bit of activity. I was full of doubt and fear that I was losing the battle for my life. Then the storyteller said the line, “He’s the devil; He lies!” Everyone in the concert hall clapped and cheered and I realized that I had been listening to the wrong person, the devil instead of God! I turned my eyes, thoughts, and prayers to God and, with the doctor’s help, began winning my battle!
Before the concert, I typed a testimony stating the above and also copied the April 25, 2011 blog post, complete with pictures. I even included a picture of me in Antarctica! Now Al has not been sleeping well since Jim passed away; his mind is racing with things that have to be done to settle the estate. So I wasn’t planning on staying to talk to the musicians afterward. However I took the testimony and blog post with me just in case. One never knows what will happen! Well, the concert energized Al, too, so we stayed. Also, the man who had sung the part of Mephistopheles (the devil) in “Beethoven’s Last Night” was in this Christmas show. His name is Jeff Scott Soto. How I would love to tell him myself what his performance meant to me! And I did! I showed the pictures and told my testimony to Al Pitrelli, the musical director and asked him please to share my story with the rest of the band. He took time to listen.He then instructed me to show the pictures to Jeff and tell Jeff to bring the papers to the bus. He said, “One of us will read your story to everyone on the bus!” Wow! This band must hear stories like this all the time, so I am flattered that the musical director is interested in mine! I see God and Jesus in this band – with so many people in the world to take care of, God and Jesus have taken a personal interest in my life, as the musical director did! That’s awesome! It reminds me of one of the baptismal vows in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer. “Will you seek Christ in all persons?” You never know where you will find Him – in a band that mixes heavy metal rock with classical music!
Below is a picture of Jim in 1958 when he was 20 years old and one of him taken for Christmas 2011 with me and Al. And here is a link to the official website of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.


1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post, Bobby! Will have to re-read it - there's so much to think about in it. The TSO part is truly inspiring!