Next Year

Though my body has betrayed me…

I’ll proceed with next year’s plans.

Springtime in Paris!

Summer on Puget Sound!

Fall in Maine!

And Winter?


A homecoming celebration like you’ve never seen!

A place where I’ll see them all!

You know…

The ones who left before me.

And after that…

I rest.



For those of us who are dealing with end of life issues.
















The Black Book


My first job after graduating college was in the Admissions Office of a large hospital.

Talk about busy?

We were always busy.

Part of that busy-ness included keeping records on every patient that was admitted and discharged from the facility.

As you might imagine, there were a number of different routes and/or reasons that a patient might enter the hospital…

And there were a number of different routes and/or reasons that they could leave…

Now comes “The Black Book.”

You see, in general, most people, upon discharge, would either go home or be transferred to a different level of care–sometimes higher, sometimes lower.


They took what was often called a “celestial discharge.”

Need I say more?

Uh…I think you get my meaning.

Anyway, whenever a person passed away, the nurse from the floor where they had been would call a central office and report all of the relative vital information regarding that death.

Next, the central office would call the Admissions Office and convey said information to one of us to enter into the “Black Book.”

I can’t begin to count all of the times that I was responsible for adding a new entry into this unnerving ledger.

But it was part of the job, so I had to do it.

Well, in an effort to lift the air of melancholia associated with this task, Nancy, from the central office would always preface the call with “Gwin, get out the Black Book! We have another celestial discharge!”

Of course, we’d both laugh nervously but the fact remained that someone had died and most likely left grieving family and friends behind.

At any rate, the process always went thusly:

I’d follow Nancy’s request to “pull out the Black Book.”  I would then print off an admission sheet and record as Nancy dictated, “We have Fred Rogers, time of death ( 21:45 or 9:45pm/ hospitals used 24hours or military time), Dr. Seuss is the pronouncing physician and we’ve got Williams Mortuary coming to pick up the body.”

I’d then take that admission sheet and quietly add it to the front of the Black Book.

Even though I hated adding new entries, I somehow felt that in a minor way I was helping this person’s soul to close-out it’s Earthly busy-ness.

I guess that was my way of taking some of the sting out of the assignment.

In short, I had made my peace.

In fact, on quiet nights, I would thumb through this sobering book whenever I needed to get some gratitude.

Naturally, I had come to know some of the people in the book.

And, while I didn’t know them all personally, I often learned many of their stories.

From one page to the next I’d contemplate the ruddy-faced teen who took a full bottle of pills after concluding that the whole damn thing was way too much…

Or the middle-aged Sicilian woman who bid her newborn farewell while, simulatneously, taking her last breath…

Or the once bright-eyed 3-year-old whose father had not noticed that she was playing directly behind his truck as he hastily backed out of the driveway on his way to some important busy-ness…

And there was Marion, whom we called ‘Black Jesus,’ because his skin was smooth and dark as night.  His straight, long, flowing obsidian colored tresses were often neatly pulled back into a pony-tail that snaked down to his waist.

I really missed him because he was always determined to remain in good spirits despite having suffered from a lifelong painful chronic illness.

Yes.  That was them…

Each one an individual entry in the Black Book…all come and gone.

Even though I left that place over 20 years ago, I still thumb through those pages in my imagination.

Again, it’s my way of finding gratitude 💖


Not Thinking About It


Lady J’s Godfather died the other day.

Unfortunately, I was responsible for breaking the news.

After telling her what had happened, I wiped my eyes and braced myself for an impending breakdown–I just knew that my dear daughter was going to fall over into a puddle of tears.

I put my arm around her…

Ready to catch her fall.

And I waited…

And I waited…

And I waited.

But there was nothing.

No response.

Just silence.

Now, in an effort to be proactive, I decided that I should help her to get in touch with her feelings.

In my mind, she needed to process the seriousness of what had occurred.

So, I assured her that it was okay if she felt like crying.

Again, nothing.

Not wanting to force the issue, I simply decided to drop the subject and keep a close eye on her.

But, to my surprise, Lady J never said another word about the matter.

In fact, she proceeded as if nothing had happened.

I kept thinking to myself that this was strange.

Lady J was very close to her Godfather.

This just didn’t seem to make any sense.

So, again,  I broached the subject and asked, “How do you feel?”

“What do you think?”

To which she responded, “I’ve decided NOT to think about it.”

So I let it be.

Well, a couple of days before the funeral, Lady J’s Godmother requested that we come to her home in order to take pictures with the family.

So we went.

Naturally, after arriving, we greeted children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and friends—Each one engaged in play, pleasantries and recollections of warm memories.

People were talking and becoming more acquainted.

Several conversations were occuring at once.

And all seemed well.

But there, on the sofa, apart from the chatter, sat Lady J, silently holding her Godmother’s hand…

NOT thinking about it.



Rest in Peace KRB (aka Godfather)

We love you and we will miss you always!


A Trick for Challenges and Other Things

gwin hand over eye

Challenges, challenges, challenges!  Expect them! 

My loves, for as long as we continue to ramble around on this big blue beautiful ball, we will have to deal with challenges.  For the most part, we know exactly how to manage our challenges; but then other times we are stumped.  Challenges that we know how to handle are obviously much easier to deal with.  However, challenges that leave us wondering how to proceed are another story.  In cases like these, it is quite tempting to simply sit back and do nothing.   Granted, there are occasions when doing nothing is the appropriate response; at least for a little while anyway.  Then there are times when immediate action is necessary.  So what then?

I learned a trick many years ago that has helped me with my tendency to sit on the fence and analyze the hell out of a challenging situation before taking action. Whew! So what’s the trick?  In a nutshell, I ‘steal’ or ‘channel’ the persona of someone I know or admire and then I do/say whatever I think they would do/say at that time.

Here, you give it a try:

First, imagine a scenario where you must make a quick decision.  Then, take a moment to think of someone you know or know of who is very decisive.  Finally, pretend to be that person then let ‘him’ or ‘her’ make the decision for you. Seriously it works!

Personally, I do this all the time.  For example, whenever I need to make a swift decision, I usually ‘channel’ Tack; he’s my baby brother.  To me, Tack is an excellent choice for this kind of job because he doesn’t suffer fools.  In other words, he maintains a strict ‘no BS’ zone.  Dude cuts right to the chase!  Baby, if you are thin-skinned, he ain’t the one for ya!  Anyway, don’t get me wrong about my brother; he gathers, considers and weighs all of his options carefully.  However, he refuses to spend an eternity to make a decision.  God knows how many times I’ve had to channel my ‘inner Tack.’  No, seriously, your girl can sit on a decision like a hen waiting for an egg to hatch—that’s about 21 days y’all. Fortunately, my son has inherited my brother’s decisiveness. His father ain’t no joke either, but that’s another story for another day 🙂

By the way, as I said earlier, sometimes it makes sense to do nothing–just chill! In cases like these, I like to channel my cousin Ron.  Why?  Because that brother is so cool and composed! Baby, he got a commemorative plaque for being “Most Unflappable” from some Airmen when he was in the U.S. Airforce. I usually laugh my ass off whenever I think about that!  Oops!  Anyway, if you are a regular reader of my blog then you will recognize Ron as the author of the “Ron’s Time Tunnel” series.

Let me get back to the point…

To be clear, you don’t have to use someone you know, you can use someone that you know of and admire; alive or dead.  I sometimes channel ‘Dorothy’ or ‘Sophia’ of “Golden Girls” fame for shock value.  Warning, if you ever decide to use today’s trick, be sure to choose the proper persona for the appropriate situation. Don’t be channeling Martha Stewart if you really need Mike Tyson!

So here’s your assignment for today.  Oh yeah baby, Ms. Gwin gives assignments:

Fill in the Blanks:

I will channel my inner______________________________ in order to ______________________________________________________


Submit your answers via comments!  🙂

**Coming up on Thursday:  My Jams ’68-‘69!