I’m calling this my “I’m Back Blog” because anybody that might have checked in (the vernacular of the medium is probably logged on or clicked) realized I was gone. It’s coming up on a year. The reason I remember is simple: My birthday is July 22, and the reason I will always know is that from now on July 21 and July 23 will also be official holidays in my family. It took someone very special with exceptional organizational skills to pull this off. Last year on July 21, my now son-in-law, Patrick Gavin, asked permission to marry my daughter, Amy. Kay and I spent the next day, my birthday, strolling the streets of Blowing Rock in a state of excitement and constant conversation about the upcoming wedding that Amy, as of yet, was completely unaware of. We would be in a shop and after we had stood for so long talking over an object one of us had picked up, a sales clerk would come over–positive they had a sale–only to find we hadn’t even noticed what it was we were holding. The next morning while we were drinking our coffee the call came, and after many tears of joy, the official journey from proposal to wedding day began. No time for blogging.
The wedding was held on the third day of December, and then we rolled right in to Christmas. I played several gigs and realized how out of shape six months of traveling up and down the east coast, planning, and decision making had left me. After Christmas we took a tip from the bears and hibernated for the winter to recover. By the first signs of spring I was rip-roaring and ready to go. I had some new songs, new gigs, new students, and a new lease on life when disaster struck on April 15th. I injured my fretting hand so severely that playing the guitar is now only a distant possibility (I did dig out an old harmonica and I’m gaining skill). Since then, my day-to-day activities are arranged around doctor visits, hospitals, and physical therapy.
During one of these visits I was reading an article about writing being excellent post trauma therapy. I’ve started work on a collection of short stories, but the catalyst for this blog began with an article I read about Frank Rogers in the Florence Morning News. You can read the article here. There are several previous articles that I was not aware of that you will enjoy (here and here). Below is my letter in response to the July 12, 2012 article:
I read about Frank Rogers speaking at Kiwanis with enjoyment, great admiration, some regret and then I had a personal experience that inspired me to write. I enjoy writing songs too. I’ll sit down in the morning with a cup of coffee, my guitar, pen and paper, and let my mind run wild between my musical and lyrical ideas. When they coincide it’s a thrill that leaves me smiling the rest of the day. It was fun to read how he has taken this feeling to the top. My wife is the innkeeper at Spears Guest House in Cheraw and I’ve been able to turn a pastime of teaching and playing the guitar into Larry Spears Live. While we may be at the opposite end of the scale from Frank, we live a fun and enjoyable lifestyle here in Cheraw (where the Sand Hills intersect the Pee Dee).
I also identify with Buzz’s pride of Frank. Our children lead interesting and successful lives in D.C. and Alaska (although I’m a little envious because I don’t yet have a grandchild). When I sit around the kitchen table too long and it’s time to teach, the song writing thrill can turn to guilt for not “fixing the screen” or whatever needs to be done (I’m also the innkeeper’s handyman). There’s just not enough time in the day. Now I’m having to come to terms with an accident that has left me unable to use my fretting hand. I miss playing but I’m not complaining. My slightest thought of self pity signals similar feelings of guilt. My injury becomes insignificant when I see wounded soldiers younger than my own children that will never get to begin something that I’ve enjoyed for so long. I’m very fortunate. I can still write, although without my guitar the lyrics seem more like stand up comedy lines than songs.
The day after reading the article I walked into the guest house to greet a family from the Netherlands. I saw the expressions on their faces change when they saw the splint I wear. “We know you play the guitar,” the father said. “Do you play?” I asked. Thirteen year old Anna and ten year old Luke both answered yes (how could they not with names from The Band’s song “The Weight?”). “I can’t anymore,” I said, “but I have a room full of guitars that want to be played if y’all will help me.” You should have seen the smiles that returned to their faces. This brother and sister gave my guitars a workout they’ve been missing and the “Bad Hand Man” got a chance to hone his one hand harmonica technique. Anna is writing songs and has a voice that reminded me of Tara Nevins. She took the lead playing and singing and Luke backed her, singing harmony and playing a rhythm that sounded similar to J.J. Cale. A toe-tapping and refreshing sound to me. Maybe it’s the European version of Americans sitting around playing bluegrass and blues. I told then about Frank and the article. They aren’t familiar with Brad Paisley but their perplexed looks returned to smiles when I mentioned Darius Rucker… Because I can’t do it doesn’t mean I can’t love it… I’ve still gotta life even if I can’t play …I gotta get up I’m starting to feel guilty… I gotta go man it’s getting late. Sounds like a song. Did you kids see my pencil? Thanks for the article. Wow! Six generations. I’ve been smiling all week.