Momma’s Song

We’ll always sing along!

I have a friend.  I haven’t seen him in at least 40 years.  Though all these years have passed, I have nothing but fond memories of our childhood together…usually in the desert, climbing on rocks, playing in the dirt, getting too close to the campfire.

His name is Jack now, but he’ll always be Jackie to me.  Just like I’m Bob now, but I’ll always be Bobby to him.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard Jackie’s wife had died.  It was sudden and unexpected.  There he was, facing this tragedy, trying to tell their daughter where her mom had gone.  I couldn’t imagine the heartbreak.

For some reason, each time I thought about Jackie and his daughter, I couldn’t help thinking about playing momma’s song and singing along.  I had no idea what any of it meant, but still, this refrain continued…singing along to momma’s song.

A couple weeks later, I was sitting in an airport (as I often do nowadays) waiting for a delayed flight to take me home.  I decided to pull out a yellow pad and see where this refrain about momma’s song would take me.

Here’s what was on that yellow pad when they finally called us for our flight:

Momma’s Song

Looking back…

We were so complete

Everything was sweet until that day

we heard the news.

Our silence grew

How could this be?


We never knew until that day

The doctor said it was too late

Her momma was gone, all too fast

There was nothing the doc could do

He shook my hand and held me close.


My only thought was of her song

That one I used to sing along

It was our Endless Summer

It had just begun

And now, alone, I faced her setting sun.


Oh Lord, please won’t you play her song!

I only want to sing along

You know the one I need, won’t you help me sing along!


And there she was, our sweet Lorraine

I could see through all her tears

All she felt was numbness and pain

Who would ever play her song?

Especially now that momma’s gone.


Oh Lord, please won’t you play her song!

She only wants to sing along

You know the one she needs—won’t you help her sing along!


We sat and cried

I held her close

I felt so weak, but it was our sweet Lorraine

Who gave me strength.

There we sat, I had no plan

What should we do now that momma’s gone?

And there it was, her words so sweet

The melody we knew complete

She was singing to us once again

The sun was rising, her new day was born

We could feel her in those words

We couldn’t help but sing along.


It’s been many years since that day

It’s our sweet Lorraine’s wedding day.

As we started to dance the Father’s dance, my daughter cried

Oh Daddy please won’t you sing her song

The one momma used to sing

I only want to sing along

You know the one, won’t you help me sing along!


And so we danced, and her momma sang

Her words so clear, she’s singing now and that’s all we can hear

Oh, momma, we can hear your song

We’ll always sing along!

Photo by Olivier Fahrni on Unsplash

What’s Not to Love about Carrot Cake?

They called it carrot cake, but this cake was a lot more than carrots, and it was awesome!

I had my first piece of carrot cake in 1974, or maybe it was 1973.  We were at my uncle Denby’s wedding, and the cake they served was this oddly wonderful concoction of flavors I had never tasted.  Being one of the munchkins in the crowd, I did what smart munchkins did back then:  I eavesdropped on the adults who were talking about the cake.

They called it carrot cake, but this cake was a lot more than carrots, and it was awesome!

I don’t remember having carrot cake again until college.  I may have had it before then, but those memories are lost in a din of other information like the capital of North Dakota, the difference between an adverb and an adjective, why the earth rotates around the sun and not the other way around, and who shot J.R (we watched that episode with a huge crowd of Hilltoppers in a hotel bar in Rosarito Beach, but that’s another story).

Whenever I see carrot cake as a dessert option at a restaurant, I order it.  Carrot cake muffin?  Gotta have it.  I’ve sampled carrot cake recipes across the US, and even a couple in foreign countries.  Some are decent.  Claim Jumper’s is probably the best, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (everything is good with a scoop of ice cream).

When the time came to choose our wedding cake, Janet and I chose carrot cake.  Actually, I think Janet knew I’d love it, and it was her small wedding gift to me.  The only bite of that cake I got that day was in the cake-cutting ceremony.  We were too busy with all the other wedding stuff to actually eat any of the awesome cake we’d chosen.

As good as everyone else’s carrot cake is, none come close to mom’s.  Mom’s is the only carrot cake that captures the awesomeness of my first carrot cake experience in the ‘70s.  It’s simply the best.

Unfortunately, my love affair with all things carrot cake came to a screeching halt a little over a year ago when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  Someone asked me recently what I miss the most now that I basically can’t eat anything made with wheat, or containing gluten as an additive (it’s hidden in tons of sauces, dressings, and of course, beer).

The first thing that popped into my head was carrot cake.  It’s not that I miss the taste of carrot cake so much (but, really I do).  It’s the freedom to try everyone’s attempt at carrot cake…knowing that none will compare to mom’s.  I miss getting to have a huge slice of carrot cake at mom’s, and then getting to take about half of the cake home (since it’s not everyone else’s favorite) to enjoy every night for a week.  There’s nothing like a slice of carrot cake and a tall glass of milk after a hard day of whatever I did that day.

Thanks to gluten intolerance, I thought those days were gone.  Not so fast!

Turns out there’s an excellent gluten-free “all-purpose flour” available at Trader Joe’s.  What’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it?  You guessed it!  I need to get mom a couple pounds of this stuff so she can make some of her carrot cake with it, just in time for my 49th birthday!

We are about t-minus one hour from heading over to mom and dad’s to celebrate the September birthdays in our family (there are a bunch of them).  We’ll eat some barbecued steaks with all the trimmings.  But, more importantly, we’ll be trying the gluten-free carrot cake that she and my niece baked.  I’ve heard that it’s pretty good.

I know it will be awesome.  Why?  Mom (and my niece) made it, and that’s all that matters.


Father-Daughter Dances

It was awesome, and then it was over as quickly as it began…


Call me biased since I have two daughters, but, the Father-Daughter dance is a great wedding tradition. It’s the “first chance” for Dad to dance with his daughter now that she’s married.

I’ve seen some solid dancing in Father-Daughter dances, but more often than not, they’re a bit slow. An opportunity for the father and daughter to have a nice chat about the events of the day while casually dancing around for a few minutes.

For Julianne’s wedding, a couple years ago, we unleashed a surprise. We interrupted the regularly-scheduled dance with some unusual songs and choreography:

The Circle of Trust for this surprise was five or six people, including Julianne and me. We worked out the songs, the timing, and the choreography a few weeks before her wedding. We enlisted Mike, a tech-savvy member of the Circle, to cut together the songs. We had all the pieces…except for rehearsal time. There are tons of details in any wedding, and the last couple weeks before the wedding are filled with them. Finding secret rehearsal time was a big challenge, but also half of the fun.

I remember our last rehearsal, at about 6am on Julianne’s wedding day. Everyone was sleeping when we made our final run-through (we had about 15 guests sleeping all over the house). There we were, dancing “quietly” in a crowded bedroom, making sure we knew all the moves and song changes.

I didn’t get much time to think about our dance for the rest of the day, until moments before we took the floor. As we started our dance, I wondered if I’d remember all the moves. Looking back, I have a better memory of our rehearsals than I do of our performance.

Fast-forward two years (just a week ago), and it’s time for Jennifer’s wedding. As soon as her engagement to Luke was official, we started talking about what we should do for the Father-Daughter dance. We could do something similar to Julianne’s, but that had already been done. We needed to take things up a notch. The perfect solution: a flash mob!

The logistics of a flash mob are a lot different than a secret set of dance steps shared by two people. We’d need to pick the songs, edit them, come up with choreography, recruit the members of the mob, train everyone on the dance steps, and rehearse as a group (would a group rehearsal even be feasible?) before the wedding. How would the mob assemble, how would they disperse?

The Circle of Trust would be huge! We had a group of about thirty-forty people in the Circle. Fortunately, the internet is perfect for communicating with such a big group.

Here’s the two flash mob training videos that we uploaded to YouTube about five days before the wedding (one for instructions, and the other a “live” demonstration):

Flash Mob Instruction Video:

Flash Mob Demonstration Video:

As the big day approached, we didn’t get an opportunity to rehearse. I did review the demonstration video a couple times. Our last chance for an actual rehearsal came the night before the wedding, at about 10:30pm. Five or six of us stepped outside into a grassy area and started up the song on Jennifer’s phone. We worked through the steps in one pass, and declared ourselves ready for the big dance.

With such a large Circle of Trust, greetings just before the wedding were filled with whispered questions about everyone’s readiness for the dance. “Did you get links to the videos?” “Did you rehearse?” “Are you going to rehearse just before the reception starts?” We were as ready as we could be.

Here’s the final product:

As you can see, our Circle grew into a Community of dancers. At least ten percent of the folks who jumped onto the dance floor had no idea this was a “planned” flash mob. They were just excited to join in the dancing. They didn’t know about the choreography, or the plans for dispersing at appointed times in the song. It didn’t matter. It added to the spontaneous energy and excitement of the dance/mob. I’m sure little Clyde was wondering what the heck was going on as everyone left the dance floor.

I remember looking up and seeing Jennifer’s smiling face, surrounded by friends and family who had joined our flash mob. It was awesome, and then it was over as quickly as it began.

Life’s journey is finite, but the memories and connections you can make on that journey are infinite.

Do you wanna dance?! Yeah!!


Recipe for a Long, Happy, and Fulfilling Marriage

“Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”

We have two daughters. Our oldest, Julianne, married Steven nearly two years ago. Our youngest, Jennifer, is marrying Luke this weekend. We couldn’t be prouder of our daughters, or the men they’ve chosen.

We started a tradition of compiling a cookbook filled with recipes from our family and friends for the newly married couple. The following is the recipe I submitted for both of our daughter’s cookbooks:

Now that you’ve said “I do,” you’ll find that the ingredients in this recipe are a series of questions that begin with “How do I…”

  • Serve my spouse?
  • Learn that the words “I,” “me,” and “my” are far less rewarding than “we,” “us,” and “our?”
  • Ensure that my goals are in line with OUR goals?
  • Ensure that OUR goals are the drivers of OUR life together?


  • Enjoy the simple pleasures with my spouse?
  • Gather new experiences that I can share with my spouse?
  • Genuinely laugh with my spouse, often?


  • Challenge myself and my spouse to grow individually, and together?
  • Provide the patience and space my spouse needs to grow independently?
  • Take advantage of the space my spouse provides to grow independently?


  • Understand my spouse’s challenges and sources of frustration?
  • Understand what makes my spouse happiest?
  • Take pleasure in my spouse’s accomplishments?


  • Communicate openly with my spouse?
  • Embrace the opportunity to see things from my spouse’s point-of-view?
  • Think of life’s curve balls as OUR opportunities to grow, not obstacles?


  • Ensure that our new family is a vital part of the extended families that we each join when we get married?


  • Take care of myself physical, emotionally, and spiritually so I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually attractive to my spouse?


  • Make sure my spouse knows how:
    • my love for him/her grows everyday?
    • special he/she is?
    • special I feel around him/her?


  • Provide the most life-giving environment possible for my spouse, everyday?

The quantity and mix of each ingredient is up to you. The secret is that NONE of these ingredients can be ignored, or taken for granted…EVER. This isn’t a corn bread recipe where it’s okay to skip the egg. Followed properly, this recipe will last a lifetime.

Enjoy your journey!

#tbt – Throwback Thursdays

Each #tbt post gives us a glimpse of potential yet to be fulfilled…

It’s fun to see how long (and not grey) our friend’s hair was twenty or thirty years ago…especially if that person has little or no hair now (like me).  It’s neat to see our faces before years of experience (and sun damage) have made their mark.  The clothing styles are always good for a laugh…nice OP shorts, Magnum!

#tbt posts provide a window into who we were, and the things we thought were important.  As we look at a #tbt photo, we know how things turn out for this “stranger” in the picture.  The person in that old photo has years of decisions to make, countless lessons to learn, and many hearts to touch.  Each #tbt post gives us a glimpse of potential yet to be fulfilled.

Look in the mirror.  You get to see your future #tbt photo every day.

What potential do you have that has yet to be fulfilled?  Whose hearts will you touch?  Will you make sound decisions?  What will you learn along the way?  None of us know for certain.

One thing is certain.  Many of the things that seem important today won’t be so important in twenty or thirty years.


Your humble writer, on his wedding day in July, 1988.

Happily Ever After

In fairy tales (and many books and movies), we spend most of the story learning how our happy couple meets and falls in love.

In fairy tales (and many books and movies), we spend most of the story learning how our happy couple meets and falls in love.  We learn about the challenges they must overcome in their quest to be together.  Suspense builds to a fever pitch as the forces of evil do everything in their power to keep this couple from fulfilling their destiny…togetherness forever.  If the story has a happy ending (and most do), they live happily ever after.  The End.

Real life is all about the happily ever after part.  It’s about what happens after the couple rides off into the sunset in their horse-drawn chariot, or charcoal grey Honda Civic.  Happily ever after requires curiosity and a spirit of adventure.  It’s nurtured by a willingness to work and grow together.  It requires the triumphs of success and the lessons of failure.  It requires faith, hope, and most of all, happiness.

Happiness doesn’t come from anywhere but within.  Couples (hopefully) learn quickly that their happiness (both individually, and as a couple) is driven by their thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

Our pathways alone bring neither happiness, nor sadness.  We bring these ourselves, wherever we go.

As my wife and I celebrate 25 years of Happily Ever After today, I am eternally grateful for the happiness she brings to our journey every day.

Happy First Anniversary!

Hard to believe that one year ago today, Janet and I had 16 guests and a bride-to-be in our house…


Hard to believe that one year ago today, Janet and I had 16 guests and a bride-to-be in our house, getting ready for the Flather wedding that would start later that day.  The night before, they worked out a system of 15-minute bathroom assignments that began at 6am, and ended with the entire bridal party, and support crew, heading out the door at 9:30am for photos…all on schedule.

As anyone who has planned a wedding knows, they are events filled with countless details, and memories that last a lifetime.  One detail that I remember vividly is the Father-of-the-Bride toast.  Writing the toast wasn’t difficult.  Saying the toast was an entirely different matter.  Each rehearsal ended with me crying about halfway through.  I’d be doing great, and then it would hit me without warning.

Seeing my hopeless situation, Janet agreed to share in the toast duties with me.  She would take the most “troubling” parts, and we determined that we’d just “wing it” from there.  I don’t have a clear memory of the actual toast, but I know I couldn’t have done it without Janet’s love and support.

In honor of the Flathers’ one-year anniversary, and just in case we missed something during the actual toast, here’s the original text.  By the way, I still can’t read it all the way through without welling up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way:

When Steven stopped by our house on that fateful night, about a year ago, I think we had a pretty good idea what he wanted to talk to us about. He wanted to ask our daughter to marry him. It wasn’t a surprise to us, but that moment is certainly burned into our memory. Obviously, Julianne said Yes! And, we couldn’t be happier for them. Steven is quite a catch, and he comes from a great family that we’ve gotten to know quite well over the years.

I’m pleased to see that Steven’s tuxedo doesn’t have any grease spots…yet…and I’m sure it’s killing him keeping it clean!

This is the NASCAR section of the toast when I thank all the people who made this celebration possible. Let me just start by thanking everyone who came here last night (and this morning) to help setup this hall. We had around 40 people here yesterday afternoon and evening, helping us convert an empty hall into this wedding picnic wonderland you see today. But, even before that, we had numerous work parties at our house, addressing invitations, preparing the candy, the candle holders, and all of the flowers. If you are a friend of mine on FaceBook, you’ve seen the pictures and updates.  We’d also like to thank many of you in advance for volunteering to help us convert this wedding picnic wonderland back into an empty hall tonight!

Although we have a picnic theme going, we could just as easily call this a “barn-raising.” The same way a community comes together to help one family build their barn, we are blessed to have just about everything in this wedding come from our own community of friends and family. Thank you for all of your help. We will always cherish the time we’ve spent with each of you as we prepared for this wedding celebration.

Someone recently asked us how we’d feel on our daughter’s wedding day, giving her away, and all. We don’t look at it that way.  Instead, we are adding a very fine son-in-law to our family. As parents, we all strive to see our kids grow into solid citizens. I can tell you from first-hand experience, Steven and Julianne are VERY SOLID CITIZENS. We are very proud of both of you!

So, Steven and Julianne, we raise our lemonade high, in your honor. May your love for each other grow as you greet each new day together!

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