How Did I Get From Start To Finish So Quickly?


The lyrics in one of Willie’s songs include a question and an answer. The sound was rolling around in my head when I drifted off to sleep last night. If I have it right, the song is entitled: “Funny How Time Slips Away”. Actually, that identical expression has been a recurring thought in my head for the past couple or three days. In terms of a career track, “How did I get from start to finish so quickly?” The answer defies the imagination.


How many years ago did my granddad tell me: “Don, It goes by quickly?” At the time, I thought I agreed with him completely. I now know that back when he expressed the thought, I actually had no concept. “Quickly” is a relative term. He expressed the thought shortly before his death in September 1993. He was 96 years old at the time.


Has it really been 23 years ago since Granddaddy died? If so, that means that I was only 47 at the time. I was less than half his age. Consequently, I had absolutely no frame of reference regarding his use of the term “quickly”. I guess you live and you learn. Now I have a better understanding and that’s from the perspective of being 26 years than he was when he made the comment. I figure day-after-tomorrow I will be his same age. Then I will know for sure what he meant.


The question in Willie’s song is: “How am I doin’?” He then answers: “Oh, I guess that I’m doing fine”. Is that enough of the lyrics to activate you to being caught up in the sound of Willie singing? I bet you are on track for the finishing thought: “It’s been so long now but it seems now That it was only yesterday Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away”.


So yesterday was the third day following retirement. Seriously, I kind of half-heartedly eased into retirement kicking and screaming and asking myself: “What am I thinking?” Consequently, you may be wondering: “How am I doin?” I am pleased to report: “Oh, I guess that I’m doing fine”. It may take me a while to get this totally figured out. But I think I am on track to becoming a champion retiree and none of that relates to taking up golf.


Yesterday morning I drove into Austin to make a hospital visit with a friend from church. I guess I can say that he is a long time friend. We’ve known each other for over 38 years. Can that be possible? That is well over half of my life. “Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away?” I also stopped by and got a new air filter installed in my truck.


So what did I do for the rest of the day? The General would tell you, “Not much”. Does that come as a surprise to anyone?   Yet my doing nothing may provide me the leverage to being very successful as a retiree. I spent the afternoon reading and thinking about what I had read.


In order to process information, I have to have some time to think about it. It is like eating a scrumptious meal; you need to do it slowly and enjoy every bite. If you rush through it you don’t savor the taste. In like manner, if you speed-read a book and don’t take the time to reflect on it or  place yourself in the circumstances and situations you’re reading about, you miss part of the story. Perhaps, you miss the best part of the story.


Last week a friend at church gave me a book entitled: “WHEN GOD WiNKS AT YOU”. It smaller letters it was subtitled “How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence”. SQuire Rushnell wrote the book.


I researched his name and found: “SQuire Rushnell – yes, capital Q – has set himself aside from others throughout his four-decade career in television and radio. As a veteran ABC Network Television executive, Rushnell led Good Morning America to number one, increasing ratings by 140% and growing annual profits to $40 million. While ABC Vice President Family Programs he was a father of the acclaimed Schoolhouse Rock series and ABC After School Specials capturing 75 Emmy Awards. After the tragic events of nine-eleven he left his six-year position as a cable network TV President/CEO to follow a life-long dream to be an author/inspirational speaker”.


Let me say up front that: “I like stories”. I particularly like stories that make you think. The book offers much to ponder. For example, what are the odds of this happening? For over twenty years, Mavis Jackson (who resides in Anaheim, CA) drove past the Crystal Cathedral. Every time Mavis saw the church, she resolved to attend. Finally she did and was amazingly captivated by the experience. It was well beyond her imagination. Of course, who wouldn’t be? The capacity is 3,000 and the choir is like no other. It also adds to the ambience that they are able to electronically open the roof to provide a birds eye view of the sky.


At the end of the service, Mavis stood and waited for the aisle to clear, but it was a very slow process. Who would have thought? Where I go to church they are out the door in a flash! Actually, that’s not really true, but I thought it would be funny to say so. Forgive me! I couldn’t help myself.


At any rate, Mavis said to the young woman who had been seated next to her: “I am so glad I came today. Wasn’t it wonderful?” The young woman nodded and when asked if regularly attended confessed that she did not. She went on to say that she was only visiting. She actually lives in the Midwest and was in town on a mission. Her mission was to find her birth mother. There was a long pause.


Mavis subsequently responded: “I know how you must feel. A long time ago, I had to give up a little girl for adoption. I didn’t want to…but…” That was followed by another long pause.


As Squire Rushnell chronicles the story: “The young woman looked deeply into Mavis’s eyes and asked: ‘Do you remember her birthday?’ What are the odds, it was the same day as her birthday? The young woman introduced herself as Cheryl Wallace. For years she had unresolved questions surrounding her birth mother and why she gave her up for adoption.


Cheryl didn’t get a lot of encouragement from others in her Midwest town to embrace her search. Yet, she opted to follow a lead that someone had given her stating the belief that her birth mother had moved to Orange County, California. Who but God could have orchestrated that meeting? After all, “What were the chances?” “Little to none” doesn’t seem like the correct answer. I’d have simply said: “None”.


Certainly, there is more to the story that substantiates the birth connection between Mavis and Cheryl, but the subsequent connection after the gap of a lifetime for the young woman was something only God could provide.


For me, one of the successful keys for retirement is to keep my mind filled with stories. The stories of people who have through circumstance and divine providence experienced a miracle that only God can orchestrate. Consequently, I am going to read good books that expand my knowledge of the incredible ways that God makes himself know through the lives of others. In fact, I’ve lived long enough to know that I, too, am not exempt.


All My Best!