Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ode to November Love

Having completed another round of ‘preventive therapy’ I will admit to feeling a bit puny. Perhaps it was that eighty-year old puniness, and the cute nurse who indulges me, that brought me back to this YouTube clip I came across  a while back.
Warning---this is unabashedly ‘November,’ with a hint of ‘December.’ The perceptive eye will catch hints of April and June, but the emphasis is on the other end of life’s love journey---a time and place that most of the world seems content to overlook.
I guarantee this is not for everyone. But for those who can relate it has the feel of reality, and deserves to be acknowledged in the same way we venerate young love.
  Most of all, it speaks the truth in a meaningful way. In my tired old mind it has the feel of a heartfelt prayer.
An Ode to November Love. (The clip wants to start near the end, so be sure to rewind to the beginning.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Leaky Bucket List

Yer darn right. I was feeling pretty perky. After eight months---two surgeries, and a tiring round of Immune Therapy treatments---the doctor had just stepped forward with his ‘cancer free’ verdict. Why wouldn’t I feel like I’d won the lottery? 
In the course of those dark days I had tried to concentrate on ways to make my remaining years as fruitful as possible. By the time I had processed my sudden good fortune, I was already revisiting the slightly unorthodox story idea I had hatched during those ‘treatment months.’ 
But until recently I had never explored that possibility in depth. I suppose those uncertain times had not been conducive to what seemed to me an upbeat, fun, and thoroughly adventurous tale---a story I would really like to tell.
Perhaps it was an idea whose time had come. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that ‘slightly unorthodox’ did not begin to describe what I had in mind. Beyond a doubt, both the story itself and the raw material from which I would create a plot were a notch or two beyond ‘slightly unorthodox.’
Let’s take a moment to add a bit of context. Try, if you can, to imagine this scenario. What if you were 75 or 80 years old, or even older? If that advanced age describes you then chances are you have had, and perhaps still have, your share of health issues. You know about those things ‘up close and personal,’ don’t you? Perhaps you have had that sad conversation with yourself---recounting the reasons why you can’t do what you once could---and probably should not try. 
Yet, in spite of those limitations, there is likely a part of you that is not prepared to fully embrace the notion that you ‘can’t.’ It feels too much like giving up---as though your forty-year old mind is giving in to your eighty-year old body. I know how that feels. After all, there are still things to do, places to see, and feelings to experience. Why would we want to quit now?
So, am I the only one who is out of step? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time. Who else would write novels about life and love with an Alzheimer’s spouse, or winning the stroke-striken lady who was once your high school ‘dream girl,’ but is no longer so dreamy. Or how about tales of ‘Going Poor’ together, or a caring, infatuated couple, each of whom is too timid to take a relational chance?
Those are some of the October trials I have explored, the sort that many of us have faced, or will face if we hang around long enough. For lots of us, October and November have already included what were literally life-threatening moments. Still, in the course of those trials we have learned to ‘suck it up’ and carry on, doing the best we can.  
And what is ‘the best we can do’? As I explore the possibilities of the ‘November adventure’ story I am considering, I am asking myself if I am on to something real, or should I instead accept that such a story would best be cataloged under ‘Fantasy’? In that case I probably ought to just turn up my oxygen, lay back, and chill out.
I realize, of course, that ‘adventure’ is a relative thing. Though at the moment the tale I hope to create is still little more than a fuzzy possibility, I know beyond a doubt that the octogenarian friends I will be writing about are more timid that bold, and more tentative than confident. Yet they are also the sort who keep trying, even in the face of long odds.
Still, the questions remain. Here I am, trying to imagine a story about a handful of eighty-year old folks, men and women, who are inexplicably convinced that they still have things to do, to see, to learn, and become. Heck, one of them even dreams of writing another novel---the same fellow who noted in these pages five years ago that he would run out of time before he ran out of stories to tell. 
Now, as I revisit this grand idea of mine, the next round of questions are bubbling to the surface. Am I being realistic? Or am I perhaps the only November remnant, male or female, who harbors childish notions of how much more there can be? Am I simply whistling in the dark---unwilling to face the reality of this worn-out, used-up life of mine standing on the edge of a steep, very slippery slope?
Of course it is an ego thing---telling a story about a few old folks who are unwilling to cash in their chips so soon, reluctant to discard the dreams they have nurtured for so long.
To be sure, a story that deals with what those creaky old friends can still do, and not do, must necessarily focus on age-appropriate versions of the dynamic, idealistic young men and women they like to think they once were. So the question is---can something as lame as their present geriatic capabilities be turned into a viable action, or perhaps inaction, story?
My role in that process is straight forward. I am the one who must imagine into being the dreams and challenges my heroic November Knights  and their Ladies will pursue. As I consider the size and shape of their dreams I wonder if the November adventures I can imagine are 1) realistic, and 2) representative of the dreams my late-life peers still nurture. Am I the best judge of that---or should I seek broader input?
At that point I was struck by an interesting possibility. Why not find out what you, my readers, consider viable dreams and challenges to include on your own late-life bucket list? 
In the story I am piecing together I want my eighty-year old Beta-male hero and his friends, male and female, to pursue their age-appropriate dreams. I have a few of those challenges in mind. But I will need to refine and expand that list before I have the raw material for a book.
So guess what? Here I am, coming face to face with you, via a computer screen, to ask those very questions. If you are already one of those October/November folks---have you done everything you wanted or expected to do in your life? If not, are there things you could still do that have been left undone---things you would like to accomplish in the time you have left? 
On the other hand, if you are a July or August person the same questions apply. When you reach eighty will it be a time to give up, or will there still be things to do? And if there are, what do you suppose they will be?
Finally, I realize that I have a miserable record when it comes to wringing remarks, replies, and comments from you readers---but here I am, trying again. I need your hard-won insights to help me move beyond what my tired old brain can generate. So I am inviting, even pleading for you to step forward with one or two of your own goals or challenges, ones you would include on your own late-life bucket list. I need your help to fill out a realistic dream-list for my fictional November Knights and their Ladies. 
The comment section below is so simple to use. Just click on “Post a Comment.” Under ‘Comment as’  choose ‘Anonymous’ if you prefer. I don’t need to know who you are, just what you have to say. If you would rather reply to the email or Facebook post that brought you to this page, that works too.
All I am asking is that you take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of my eighty-year old warriors---those old guys and gals who are intent on squeezing the most they can from the time they have left. Of course there are things they can’t do, or do well, but they are willing to try. Take a few minutes to ask yourself---”If that person was me, what would be on my ‘things to do or try’ list?”

I have never been this blunt before. Truth is, if I can’t coerce at least a couple dozen replies I will consider this a flop. With that I will end my groveling. Thanks to all who respond. Your replies will be here for all to see. In the meantime---here’s to an adventurous November.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Real Thing


After all, what could be more ‘real’ than a 50th high-school reunion? For some it is a perfect time to resurrect old feelings and revive long-dormant day-dreams?

 SECOND CHANCES is a story about that sort of October reality --- hopeful seniors caught up in a vaguely familiar geriatric adolescence, ready to take one more chance. 

This time, of course, it will not be about fleeting teenage tingles --- this will be the real thing, as seen through knowing eyes --- sprinkled with liberal doses of danger and disappointment, a small price to pay for a Second Chance.

Readers have been enthusiastic in their praise.
“A wonderful read about love late in life, ready for more.” 
“A wonderful ending all the way around.”
“Excellent read.”

But truth to tell, I am hoping to have more readers telling the world about my late-life fiction. With that in mind, for a limited time, we have made it easier than ever to read Second Chances.

A SPECIAL 1/2 PRICE offer does that --- a mere $1.99 for your personal Kindle ticket to the Harris brothers’ 50th Reunion adventure. (Also available in paperback.)

Check out this Amazon Author’s Page, where you will find Second Chances on sale. While there you can scroll through all nineteen of our October Years, Tanner Chronicles books.