In advance know that this is a two topic blog, woven together by my favorite songs.  This first part is for those coaches who need to know more about developing creative players with VB IQ, then I will close with things I have learned from my recent losses of those dear to me.  They blend together thanks to music.

First off, PLEASE take the time to listen to Tommy Emmanuel. He is not only the greatest guitar player on the planet, he is a teacher, an entertainer, and someone who will make you happy when you listen to him. I first discovered him over 20 years ago while working in Australia, and just can’t say enough about how important he is to have as part of your musical life, no matter what other genres you listen to.

Tommy is a solo guitarist, not a singer, not with a band, but he can make the guitar come alive with a band alone, and make it sing like no other. He cannot read or write music (he can write a song, just not write it out), and had no training, just taught himself after catching the bug when he listened to Chet Atkins, who called Tommy “the most fearless player he had ever seen.” He is following his passion, being in the “happiness business” not entertainment work. He shares how he thinks like a band (think teamwork/team) and that is how he performs even though he is unaccompanied. 

In this TedxMelbourne talk, he states “My music has been played at weddings and funerals…others have learned my songs and make their living playing like I do. My music has brought life to Alzheimer patients, willpower to cancer survivors, escape for grieving families, joy to people’s daily drive to work.” Being fearless is about breaking molds and raising self-belief, I ignore the critics and I keep working to make my show and my life better and better.” And just remember folks that life is not a rehearsal, so you better get on with it.” So this video is a MUST view, IMHO as is any link that YouTube then gives you as an option to listen to more of Tommy “live” or in studio

Specific to the song that has always brought me joy, here Tommy performs “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” like no other but you cannot listen to his version without words, without then listening to the late, great Izzy do his version with his melodic voice.

Music has helped me in these last days of my mother’s life, to fill her hospice room with the songs she, my dad, our family and friends sang so often together.  It brings you joy and peace, and bonds you both physically and mentally.  My parting song to mom yesterday came about because of an Australian friend, who asked me to sing my mom a song – and so she listened to me sing Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree…That I have three or four Kookaburras in my office, including my prized Paul Margocsy original painting that makes me laugh with them. Mom and Dad loved Mexico, and the songs of performers like Edie Gorme and the Trio Los Panchos.  Thanks to our “sisters” Diane & Caroline May of the KessMay family, we played 3 CDs over and over, to fill mom’s mind with those joyful words and sounds. The night nurse on the 8am shift change bubbled over with pleasure listening to them all, and shared a musician I had forgotten, Rosa Passos, from Brazil. Her song “Besame Mucho” is right up my parent’s alley.

As soon as you headed into the hallway though from my mom’s room, the music would stop. We have spent a lot of time in hallways growing up. Nodding at some, hugging others, perhaps even being bullied by those with little else in their life. This past month has been a challenge in the passage, first losing my partner, and now my mom. My old friend Margie Plath helped by sharing the group “Passenger”s song “Feathers on a Clyde,” and talked about how exciting it was to meet Brett Dennan this month at Red Rocks, for his song “When I Go” is also very comforting.  

We are really nothing but memories and dreams, which meant I have been singing John Denver’s “Poem’s Prayers and Promises,” more than usual too – “What about the dreams and all the memories we share?” These weeks have been made better by friends and family, who have shared their memories and hopes with me. The most impactful ones I wish to share, to help others in the future deal with loss, on and off the court.

You see, the quote that has helped the most is about hallways… “When life opens one door, it closes another, but it is hell in the hallway…”

I loved how much my mom enjoyed my blog about her as a “coach.” What I learned there is to make sure to share with your loved ones in advance, not after they have passed.

My mom said there are two kinds of people. Those who when you see each other say “There you are!” – while the others say “Here I am…” She is being welcomed by the many who have gone before her soon, with a hearty “There you are!” on both sides. It is hard to see a loved one go from a joyful dancer, even if using a walker, to a frail, skeleton like body in a fetal position in just a week. All you can do is hold their hands and tell them it is ok to go, letting them know of all who love them and wish them godspeed. When a loved one becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure; that message my assistant so wisely shared with me which helps. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

One of my oldest friends, from elementary school, John Borel, who went with us on Mammoth winter ski and summer sea Mexico trips shared this one that helped:

"To Those I Love And Those Who Love Me"

When I am gone, release me. Let me go
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears,

Be happy, we had so many years.

I gave you my love and you can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown
But now it's time I traveled alone.

So grieve a while for me if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for a while that we must part
So bless those memories in your heart.

I won't be far away for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see or touch me, I'll be near
with all my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and "Welcome You Home".

While Rick Swan, who I have known for decades and who coaches at my alma mater, The Colorado College, shared this that also helped a bunch:

GONE FROM MY SIGHT by Henry Van Dyke “I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then, someone at my side says; "There, she is gone!" "Gone where?" Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; "Here she comes!" And that is dying.

Make sure to share and listen to the stories delivered to your loved one. My daughter facetimed in from thousands of miles away and the technology allows them to listen and you to learn.  The stories shared when loved ones say thank you, opens your eyes to the wide impact you did not know that person had on other’s lives.

Share fun… My sis and I talked about a game I had not played – Left/Right/Center – there are even dice made for playing it, though frugal me wondered how to make the same game happen with just regular dice (you can do it…), while I taught her how the “straw twirl” race first shared with my daughter Mac by Eric Hodgson- still a video that makes me laugh so hard to watch, but I am banned from posting to YouTube…

What is time after all?  In Einstein’s relativity it goes too slow when bad happens and too fast during good times. George Carlin had a line about the shortest measurable amount of time - the time it takes from a light to turn green and a NY driver to honk – which has always made me laugh. It is also time that allowed me to be with her in her last days…while technology allowed me to share with my sister and brother this morning when mom breathed her last breath.  The angels are lucky today….

All I know now, in her honor for she would want me to, is that it is time after work today for my weekend to be filled with the joy of others she touches by having raised me. Time to put up a USAV booth at the Rocky Mountain State Games today and tonight, get to Denver to deliver some “secrets” to the near 100 coaches at the Colorado State High School Association’s annual coaching clinic, run the State Game Volleyball tournament, and then fly to work a special camp with the kids and coaches of the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, in the same state my mother was born in. She came into this life in Olympia, Washington no less – somehow prophetic in this journey to grow the game together, now in her honor too. If you have any other words of wisdom you have had to learn the hard way through the loss of someone important to you, please share – my bet is it will impact others, the way others have impacted me, and for all of those who have in my life, I thank you.