Posts Tagged ‘John Claeys’

I updated my End of the Beginning post and somehow none of it was saved, so, try, try again. The title comes from a song by my good friend and talented singer/songwriter John Flynn : http://johnflynn.net  You can hear the song there.

The lovely and talented John Flynn

The songs resonates with me because I realize there are far more years behind me than there are ahead. I have lost one parent:

Sterling L. Hornsby Sept. 27, 1920-Dec. 24, 2009

My mother is 90 and a half, and I don’t think it will be long before I become a motherless child:

Velma Ruth Stewart Hornsby, April 2, 1921-

Mother and Dad lived for 40 years in the old house where they watched 3 generations grow up:

family on the porch

grandchildren, great-grandchildren, even great-great grandchildren:


Jan. 2010 DFW Cemetery

The time came when Mother could no longer stay in that old house:

Our experiment with sending her to live in a fancy “assisted living” facility didn’t work out. After a mistake with her medication that almost killed her, my sister Gwen took Mother home with her.

Mother's lonely new home

So now I find myself at the beginning of the end, although I hope it’ll be a long time before I get there. John’s song says “The journey of a single step can begin with a thousand miles.” Here was where I started:

Shirley Jean Hornsby Sept. 1946

I grew up, went to college, got married:

Sept. 2, 1967

We had kids:

Baylor and Mom Oct. 1971

Jeff and Mom, Bangkok, July 1973

Then we had some grandkids:

Ashley b. Sept. 1, 1994

Amber and Autumn, Jan. 27, 1996

We got divorced, but later became friends again. I had some adventures, did a lot of traveling, met some interesting people and some great friends, mostly because of Arlo Guthrie:

Shirley, Arlo & Annie Aug. 1989

"Matterhorn" in Okemah, Ok.

Guthrie Center Fall Revival - Blunderites all

Guthrie Center 1996

John Flynn and the Flynettes, Okemah WoodyFest

To quote John again, I’m thankful “for old friends you can count on, even though their ranks are thinning.”

Alasdair and Shirley, Macchu Picchu. Miss you always

Dennis Lachappelle, best bus driver and best friend anyone could ever ask for.

Goodbye, old friend

There are others I dearly miss: dear, sweet Jack Dultz, Gay, who will always be sitting at the front table at the church, Gerry Harper – your daughter grew up to be as wonderful as you were, sweetheart. So many friends and loved ones gone but never forgotten.

Our sons grew up:

Baylor and Jeff

Our granddaughters are teenagers!

So, what happens next? I need to work on that Bucket list – maybe finish the mystery I started writing many moons ago. I have continued to write and get published – here’s the launch of the latest anthology from the Final Twist, Oct. 2011:

Shirley at Murder by the Book

Chorus of The End of the Beginning” “Oh, the journey you make, from the first breath you take, to your last dying day, the mystery will take your breath away …”

Kris Kristofferson, who accompanies John on this song, has a song with a similar line:

From the rockin’ of the cradle to the rollin’ of the hearse, the going up was worth the comin’ down. I do believe he’s right. Journey on …


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I just spent several days in western Massachusetts with some of my dearest friends, hanging out, catching up, and attending 3 mighty fine concerts in the Alice’s Restaurant Church, now known as the Guthrie Center. We were the test audience for the 9 month tour that starts in a day or two – the Guthries Ride Again. Last time Arlo hit the road with the wife and kids, his youngest, Sarah Lee, was a little girl. Now she’s all grown up and has two little ones of her own. So does big brother Abe and sister Annie. Cathy has one little girl, but I have a feeling the Guthrie clan isn’t finished yet. All of them, along with “adopted” drummer Terry a la Berry Hall-Guthrie, will be doing shows all across the country, so be sure to see them if they come to your town.

As part of our attempt to have mini-20th anniversary of meeting each other in the Alps reunions as possible (does this sentence make sense?) Judy B. and I posed in front of the church with Sherry Hochman Bouldt. Sherry was a kid back then, and she dragged herself out of a hospital bed to make the trip. Her mom Joyce and Grandma Pauline came too. We all fell in love with Grandma and she let us be her grandkids too.  Here’s Sherry, Judy, and me, photo by Jay Rury:

Sherry, Judy and Shirley at Guthrie Center Oct. 2009

Sherry, Judy and Shirley at Guthrie Center Oct. 2009

On Friday, Arlo couldn’t make the show because he’d hurt his back. People were offered a refund, but only a few took it. The rest of us enjoyed a wonderful show put on by the Guthrie kids & grandkids – even the littlest one, Sophia, got into the act – in fact, she stole the show. Arlo and Jackie’s littlest, cutest kid, Sarah Lee, took her dad’s role in keeping things more or less together, and a fine job she did! There were too many special moments to include, but here’s a few: The 3 Guthrie sisters singing an old Leadbelly song, “Bring me ‘little water, Sylvie,” Abe’s son Krishna, whom I’ve seen grow up, doing some terrific guitar solos, Cathy Guthrie, who looks like an angel, singing one of the songs from her Folk Uke album (Willy Nelson’s daughter is the other half of the duo, and the songs are not … hmmm … well, there’s adult content and language) – “Sh-t makes the flowers grow” – and the antics of the little ones … Annie’s daughter Jacklyn and Sara’s oldest, Olivia, did a song called “Cousins” and Sophia sang along on “Don’t I fit in my Daddy’s shoes.”

We laughed, we cried, we had fun. The 2nd night, Arlo was able to come on for half the show, walking with the help of a walking stick. You had to look really close to see that he was not feeling quit his best – he’s a trooper and a pro.  The third night, some of the twinkle was back in his eyes, and when it came time to end the show, he sang one encore, and we got ready to leave, then darn if he didn’t start singing another – “This little light of mine” – and then another.  He was smiling when he said goodbye to those of  us still lingering after the crowd was gone. So were we.

Deb Fitzgerald brought a video of her wedding to Arlo’s bus driver for many years, Dennis, who was a dear friend to all of us. We gathered in Sue Schier’s (the flower lady) room and watched it. They were married last summer. Dennis, who worked for the state during the winter, was working 24/7 to clear the roads during a bad blizzard in December, and his big heart just gave out. They did have some years together before they finally married, and I’d never seen him happier. She told us how she would only agree to marry him if Arlo performed the service (he is licensed to do so, but rarely does), and if they could get married in the Guthrie Center church, and that’s what they did. Arlo wore a Hawaiian shirt … As we watched, we laughed, we cried, we had fun. That was the theme for the time we spent together.

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