Yes, my Dad is our families' very own famous "Kenny Rodgers", but you probably won't see him on any billboard, marquee, stage or screen; or hear him in any bar, ballroom or concert, unless you come to our rug-rat rowdy crowd gathering near the "wood-stock-ed" in Dad's back yard. Dad will modestly but assuredly assure you the only instruments he plays is "second fiddle", or at best, the radio and the record player, and he is not that excited about them either. People are his entertainment and children are his joy. Sharing stories with his grand children are Dad's true lyrics, and coos with his great grand children are his song. For all of us, the rhythm in his timely words and the caring in voice is music sufficient to our ears. We are his fans and his fame is in us!
At 86 years old, my Dad says of himself, "Old dogs can learn new tricks!" - And proving that to be true, my father is as good an old "hound" as the world could ever have; particularly when it comes to seeking out wisdom, making change - and in just doing simple good! Granted! As his son, I am a little prejudiced already in his favor, but I have no reservations in boldly saying, my father doubly qualifies as one of mankind's best Dads, but also as any man's "Best Friend"!
Just don't be surprised if his advice to you may be: "When beginning your day, no matter how difficult (and he understands difficult), first put on a smile, then as you pass the mirror the world will be smiling back, beginning with you!"
He encourages you to greet everyone - especially strangers - with courage and kindly cheer and to remember that a stranger may be as timid as you, and your courage and kind greeting will bless that stranger also with courage, cheer and a feeling of self worth; and he will be no longer be a stranger - but a friend!
But on June 30, 1991 at the very moment that I was on my own hospital gurney being wheeled into emergency, the world and our family was also in serious danger of losing this other man, my good father and everyone's friend.
On that very day that I embraced death in Salt Lake City's VA, unbeknownst to each other, as I sped to my hospital, my father was being sped to his. At Lake View Hospital, 15 miles away from my emergency room, my father was entering his - with angina and severe pain in what appeared to be another heart attack for him. Meanwhile in Salt Lake, my body was quitting with the toxins of Strep A let out of control with my immune system that had been ravaged in the months of cancer burden before, exacerbated with three strokes and with the side affects of powerful medications. I was back in the hospital for a long haul. In Bountiful, Utah, nitroglycerin and monitors again became my dad's momentary life's journey.
father's heart episode was mild and he pulled through.
His episode was deemed to have caused very little damage, so he was cared for three days then released. But, as Dad had now learned of my plight, he ask mom, rather than take him home, to drive him to Salt Lake City, to my intensive care unit at the VA.
In that meeting of a loving father with his also critically endangered son, his life, like mine, was about to take on a radical, but now certifiable beneficial change.
Typical to my, proudly in later life earned, dedicated and hard working, Licensed Practical Nurse mother, she saw me, checked that I had acceptable vitals, then immediately went out to the nurses station to check carefully over my medical records, while Dad remained inside my room checking on my morning smile and my possible worry wounded soul. In those tender moments between father and son, we exchanged expressions of care and gratitude for each other. But then in my struggled speech, I told my father I had something more, something unique, and strange to our accepted thinking, to share with him - but that it might save both our lives.
As we were alone together, reticently I told my father that between life and death I believed my spirit had learned something startlingly different from our traditions and family (ranch mentality) beliefs. I told my Dad that as I lay on that table in emergency three days before, without my heartbeat or breath and the world gone, my soul was yet vividly lucid and imprinted with three profound understandings. "Dad, I must now share them with you!"
I told my Dad
that I felt a comforting joy while momentarily without pain and not conscious
to this world, but was fully aware inside and desperately desiring to be
with and remain, to guide and care for my fragile family - my precious
wife, my still young children and foster children. I shared with
him, that in those moments of heavenly plea and contracting for my life,
I was made to understand three distinct thoughts that would allow my request
to return to my family be fulfilled.
"Dad, Now I must share them with you!"
So I gently spoke these following words to my father, the same way that I had felt them - and heard them - inside me, and for me, 3 days before:
"Be grateful that I have placed you in the hands of honorable men and women of science to save your life!"
"But, now (Tommy) it is your responsibility to learn what you must do to preserve it!"
"But nothing is to die, nothing is to lose its life, nothing is to be denied its measure of creation - or its joy - in order for you to live!"-- (From this day forward, Tom,) "Nothing need die, that you might live!"
As I shared these
heart felt and heart heard words with my good father, also desperately
desiring to live for his wife and my mom, and our family - momentarily
pondering, he broke into intuitive and grateful tears and responded: "Tom,
that counsel applies to me, also!' So in that moment, the life course
of my father - who had worked dairy and livestock - who had operated a
poultry ranch for the people of our faith - and for a lifetime, was led
to believe animal tissues consumption was necessary - was now and forever
(As for you, I cannot claim anything more than these words were the words I heard inside my heart as I lay dying. I dearly wanted to live! And so did my father! So we both, desperately desiring life, were asking, so willingly accepted the answer!)
As an unpretentious, but always spiritually sensitive man (even working many years for the leadership of our faith), my father responded to this compassionate reasoning and in the prompting of heavens kindness in our behalf. My father stopped consuming the very things we had produced and within months my father's cholesterol dropped and so did his weight. Kindly dedicated Dr Christian, my father's physician, could not believe my father's success and improvement - but could not deny what his eyes and tests were proving. My father was indeed improving! And Dr Christian was then encouraged in Dad's prognoses! - And still is!
Struggling against family attitudes and society's ridicule, but following faithfully that which we both perceived curiously as heavens correct counsel for us, and as he began his path to better health, my father learned quickly of its true wisdom and has continually stood firm in what he now knows and solidly believes (at least for him and for me) was and is that very truth which has granted him, and me, his son, our second chance at and continuance of life. We both know that if we had not changed, we both, in this moment, would be dead!
Unfortunately we could never convince my dear mom, nor as a consequence, most of our other family members. Mom's nurses training, long entrenched with family beliefs and trust in societies dictates, and her ultimate and total reliance on chemical intervention based medicine (though often life-saving, and thankfully so in many critical instances), it blocked her path.
Sadly my mom, after a series of strokes, passed on this last summer. Dad and I both wish mother could have seen the value in this nutrition benefiting choice and possibly kept her with us and with Dad in his now more enjoyable, more lucid* and still reasonably vigorous "Golden" years.
*Wondrously, but understandably, my father's life time additional battle with narcolepsy has also nearly vanished - He now calls me just about any hour of his active day, including very early or way late to share thoughts or experiences with me, send his love, or make sure my travel is safe!
mother's passing was in the very same moment that I, with my youngest son
Daniel, were away at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, invited to a movie
celebrity friend's 90th birthday celebration. My vaudeville styled entertainment
and movie star friend, Robert Bootzin a.k.a. "Gypsy
Boots"* has lived long as another "out of step" - but truly "in step"
- "Vegetarian", and is today, still dancing and swooning the ladies and
doing his comic shtick as he did with Steve Allen, Groucho Marx and Bob
Hope six decades ago.
But Gypsy Boots is not the only one still left dancing and doing his shtick.
My father in his more humble way is doing his too!
Dad is working his way out of 75+ years of injury and damaging choices, which still demands a healing price in "patience and long suffering" on his part, and this is required for us all. But each day is a better day, so he keeps at it, knowing this is the only real healing path, no matter how difficult it is!
in what we understood through spirit - and in caring for all life, my Dad
- my own famous "Kenny Rodgers" and I (like my actor friend*Gypsy)
are still decked out with our fancy "dancing gear of life" and cheerfully
"singing" this message: "If we can change,
We have held to that sweet, life giving counsel, felt and heard in our hearts, now a decade ago, as we believed it was given from the heavens for us:
"Nothing need die, that we might live!"tlr&kwr July 1991 Excerpt from Prose
And so, my father and I are alive!
Thomas L. Rodgers and Kenneth W. Rodgers
a.TomRodgers.org (home) b.My Personal Story (Pictures) c.ProseExcerpt"NothingNeed Die..." d.My Son and Friends (Pictures at Paramount Studios) e.*GypsyBoots, Dan and Me (in Pictures) - in the very hour that my mom passed. f.Like Thinking Friends (Pictures) g. Thanks for Tender Hearts h. Friends of Truth (with Pictures) i.Speaking Schedule/Travel
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