The Interview Moderated by Ashley L. Peterson – A Continuation

Once again I would like to say, “Thank You” to Ashley L. Peterson whose blog is Mental Health @ Home.

This is a continuation of the initial interview by Ashley , you can find it here.

As you read you will find I answer questions at great length, I truly did my best to pull back the curtain on my journey to great mental health.

After you have read the interview use the comment section to ask your own question. When I have enough I will gather them together using a post to answer them.


The Interview

Moderator: Ashley L. Peterson


Continuation

What’s the process been like of establishing views that diverged from the religious beliefs you’d been exposed to?

To put it bluntly, it’s been hell. I dropped all my relationships with fellow ministers, stopped contact with fellow musicians. There was a long time to where I wouldn’t even open the Bible.

I have, still do at times, second guess myself.  Then I read some of the comments that people have left lets me know I am basically on the correct direction.

For instance, the gay life style was preached against, it was taught as a no-no. I now view it this way, they are humans, they walk, talk, pee, poop, the same way all of us do. I started re-visiting this attitude about being against them, I started making friends with those in the LGBTQ community. I still have those friends regardless what some people believe about them.

As life has gone on, has your ability to trust others changed?  What prompted that?

In many ways my trust in people has changed. Here is how I view it, People needed to trust me, some who told me about their sexuality, yet they have not come out. I have kept that trust.

Things really did start changing when I began to change. When I started dealing with all the issues that were at the base of my depression. Feelings of inferiority, shame, loneliness, and a chest full of others. After the death of my grandmother I was fortunate to have a Psychiatrist who showed compassion, actually listened, and started me on a regimen of medications.  Now I consider her a friend, she stopped and talked with me when I had a slight scare that sent me to the hospital for four days.

How has your physical health impacted your mental health and vice versa?

My physical health has impacted my mental health severely. I face it every morning, getting out of bed is usually an exercise dealing with pain in my hip.

I have dealt with pain since my teenage years, it grew worse after a motorcycle accident. That messed up my back for life. It has only been better after two periods of have cortisone shots.

There was a time when I was on different pain killers where they became ineffective. I had to change doctors. He looked at my history, he then said we have to change your medications. He explained to me that many pain killers when taken over a long length of time actually work against the body causing pain. I have later read and heard that this is the case. I take for pain at this time Tylenol 4 and a small derivative of morphine. They basically along with a sleeping pill allow me to have a decent night of sleep.

There are days when I think I should start the process of going to an assisted living facility.  Let me explain, I now have to use a cane, or my walker. It has left me so that many things I would normally do for myself I cannot accomplish. Fear grips me every time I need to use the shower, thoughts about falling breaking a hip courses through my mind.

Also, I am truly thankful for my best friend for he is the one who has prepared my meals. I cannot move well enough to manage pots, pans, etc., I also fear I wouldn’t be able to respond if there would be a grease fire.

Some may have noticed that I read and comment on their blog posts sometimes eighteen hours or longer. It is usually because I cannot sit up at great lengths of time. I start my nighttime routine early. Most nights I am asleep before 9 p.m.

So, it is a back and forth with my physical effecting my mental health, mental health effecting my physical being.

Has your time as a preacher shaped the way you tell your own story now?

This is a great question, one I have never thought about. It probably has, and does shape how I tell my story.

There are parts of my story that at this time grapple with because it involves someone who has died, but, has living relatives. I do not want to cause them any embarrassment or pain. I just have not come to an answer about how to tell that. Even without mentioning names it would be obvious to many friends, colleagues, and relatives if they were to come across this blog.

Also, I must consider at this time my own daughter and grandchildren.

[b] I re-read the first answers of the interview where I can see that how I write seems guarded. I guess it has been a learned response from over many years.

How have your hospital stays influenced where you are now in terms of your mental health?

Before my major stay in a mental health ward I was fighting with being bi-polar without any awareness of the fact.

I am thankful for those times in treatment, the group sessions, the one on one with my Psychiatrist for it gave me tools to fight with. The recognition of the highs, lows, and all the rest that comes with being bi-polar. I also know that if needs arise that I have the ability to go back and voluntarily admit myself. There are so many ugly myths about mental health care, some I think come from the days of sanitariums, probably through the eighteenth and nineteenth century.


So dear reader more of a glimpse on what I call “a journey to great mental health”.

If you are facing battles to keep your mental health great, remember, you are not alone!

Find someone to talk to, whether it is a friend, a help line, or your doctor. Do not suffer alone, there is help available for you! I have located a website that you can access for phone numbers of helplines around the world. It is called Check Point

The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home


Several days ago I had an idea which I thought might be interesting. The idea; flip the scenario of the interview. The questions would not be posed by me, but, it would be from someone else, the questions would be for me.

So, I needed to find someone to ask if they would help with this project. The person I turned to was Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home. I contacted her about a week ago to which she agree to help. If you have never visited her blog put it on your things to do list.

So below is the interview. I may revisit the questions to add to it more insight. I have tried to answer the questions with honesty and truthfully.

At this moment I want to say, “Thank you Ashley for Your Help”! I truly appreciate this!


The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson

Mental Health At Home

Were there things that your blog has allowed you to get out that weren’t able to express before?

There were many things that I could not express before. Some would be looked upon as weakness, short comings, others would be considered non Biblical. Things about gender, sexuality, race.

Did you ever feel it was necessary to mask what was going on inside you?  If so, how did you do that?

Yes, I did wear a mask. The first that held that mask on was a lack of trust. I held many things to myself, not even telling my wives, family, because I learned that familiarity is dangerous. It usually ends up with them turning on you by breaking trust. 

The next thing that I believe that held the mask on was ignorance. Believing what you have been told all of your life, things concerning the Faith. It wasn’t until I finally started my long journey of healing of my mental health that I started to question in earnest what I truly believed. I came to the conclusion that there were many things I felt was wrong, some that really did not have a sure foundation in the Scriptures.

Has there been any form of creative art or expression other than writing that’s been significant for you?  What role did that play if your life?

My whole life has been about the music, it still is. I am thankful that I have a small home organ within my home. It had a fantastic price attached to it, “FREE”. I couldn’t refuse it. When I am totally at whit’s end when possible I sit and will play old hymns and other songs. It usually quiets my mind. There are other times, especially when I need a bit of inspiration, I turn to my iTunes music. One artist is foremost is Michael Bublè, his music is similar to that of Frank Sinatra.

What role has religion played in the course your transition into adulthood and beyond?

I am going to be honest and frank, I have held onto my faith in God, but, I have let go many other things. As I said this journey of healing has been intense. It has caused me to look inward, question everything, search all things, to become honest of who I truly was as a human being. Notice I did not say “person”,  I could be any person, but who am I as a human.

Has your sense of who you are and how you relate to the world changed over time?

The resounding answer is, yes I have changed in relation of discovering who I really am.  I couldn’t see it while I was in the midst of it, but, looking back, even just over two years, I can see change.  I really do not have fear about how people see me. Yes, I hope they see the real me. Yet, I can understand that they may have, like me, trust issues.  That is where true acceptance comes into place. I hope people would respect where I am in my walk of healing, I also hope I can respect others on their walk of healing in obtaining great mental health.

How did mental illness enter your life, and what are some of the ways it affects you?

I look back at my life, especially my teenage years through my early adult years and I can see signs of mental illness already showing itself. My sudden outrage for even the littlest thing, comment, etc., Also, I can recognize the times of mania, and deep depression that inserted itself during those years.

It wasn’t until around 1990 when I started experiencing panic attacks. One time while grocery shopping in an almost empty store I suffered with a severe panic attack. I left the cart in the aisle and ran back to my bachelor apartment a block away. It wasn’t long after that when I attempted my first suicide.

At times it has left me mentally crippled, all my interests seemed to melt away. On the mania times it was almost nonstop activity.

There were many mornings where I would wake up with no memory of the night before. No recollection of conversations, what I ate, what I did like watching television. My best friend would find me passed out in the oddest places, once under my sewing machine. It left him terrified every time he would come into my house in the morning.

What have been some of the most difficult times or circumstances you’ve dealt with in terms of your mental health?

The hardest time of dealing with my mental health condition was the very first time, the time when I woke up in the mental health ward after the attempted suicide. 

I basically stayed to myself, did not interact with others who were also dealing with mental health issues. My memory of it is vague, basically going to the smoking room. There was the first day that they decided that we should watch the movie “Groundhog Day”. I remember, why this, what does it have to do with me getting out of here. Honestly, I still have no answer for that movie.

Has family played a major role for you?  Have there been certain family events that were particularly significant in your life?

Family meant something for me, I should clarify, my maternal family. I was very close to my grandfather and grandmother. I felt more at home there then I did at my parent’s home. I felt accepted there, yet I am glad they were not around in my worst days. I sometimes wonder how they would have reacted.

I only have one blood relative that I am close to, being my maternal aunt. She has always been a part of my life, babysitting, singing, just there. After she goes my connection to that part of family will be gone.

I am now a grandfather of three, my daughter, and those children are now my world. They love talking with me when they are here, they have their heads in the right place. The oldest, my granddaughter, just turned thirteen.

Were there things from your childhood, either positive or negative, that have really stuck with you over time?

There are two things that have stuck with me over time. How I deal with others, growing up in a multi-cultural area it wasn’t a big thing to have friends, acquaintances, from other cultures, etc, Maybe it was because of my mother and grandmother. I never heard an unkind word, slur, put down, to come from their lips. I could take any of my friend’s home or to my grandmother’s knowing they would be accepted without question.

The other would be anger. I decided as a kid that I did not want that in my life. My dad would explode at the slightest slight. It was to the point that I would make excuses when he would ask if I wanted to play a game of Chess. I always said no, I knew if he lost, it just might mean an eruption of anger. If I am around someone who shows anger of that sort I find myself looking for the exit. I can be angry at something, but never to the point where it is physical or emotionally.

Are there life choices you’ve made that you feel grateful for or regret now?

There are probably many things I regret now, only because hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Dropping out of high school, two divorces, not always being there for my daughter while she was growing up. Those are probably the ones that come to the top of my thoughts.

The biggest thing that I can be truly grateful is that I can to the acknowledgment that I needed help, that I sought help, and that I continue to work to achieve great mental health.

The other is that I have learned how a true friend acts. I write about my best friend, twenty plus years. He has been there through my worst. Days where I lashed out at him, times when I would threaten to move away from him. He has been in the room with my family doctor, Psychiatrist, and all other specialists. He also manages my medications, which came about during one of my inpatient times. While at home I was double dosing my Oxycontin medication. So there was an agreement between myself, my doctors, and at that time my Pharmacist, that was back in 2004. He still goes with me to my appointments, sometimes is because my mobility is not at its best, mostly because my short term memory is spotty.


P.S. – That is the interview. Let me say this, I am not done with my journey towards great mental health. There are issues that I am still struggling with, issues that at this time cannot disclose.

If you read this, if you are also on your journey towards great mental health, let me give you a word of encouragement.

You are not alone, there are others on a similar journey with issues all of their own. There will be others after you. Please help those who are coming up with words of encouragement, make them feel at home that they have a safe place.

So dear reader keep keeping on!

What Doesn’t Kill You, Will Only Make You Stronger!

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.  https://www.developgoodhabits.com/quotes-about-strength/

Back in the beginning of the 90’s just before my first attempted suicide I felt defeated.  My marriage failed, the wife took my daughter and both moved back to her home area of Saskatchewan, Canada

To add heartache on top of heartache I received a phone call that my daughter of about three years old was diabetic.  My heart just sank.  I fell into a deep depression blaming myself for her illness.  It’s a idea that “evangelicals” take from the Old Testament “that the sins of the father are visited on the children, grandchildren, all down the line. That debate is best left for others.

It just felt like Murphy’s law had come to being, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  Things were coming at me from all sides.  I was beaten down and barely felt like a human being.  I was going through the motions, yet, there was a disconnect between my mind and my body.

I decided to leave the city of Toronto, and move back towards the Kitchener, Ontario area.  I moved into a bachelor’s apartment.  It wasn’t all that bad and it really did fit my budget.

I wasn’t sleeping much and when I did sleep I would felt worse when I woke up than when I fell asleep.  I finally relented, went to a doctor and he prescribed a sleeping pill,  amitriptyline.  It helped the sleep but did very little to the funk I was in.

Then everything crashed in on me. Not sure exactly what really triggered my outrage but it totally caused me to snap.  I grabbed the sleeping pills ran into the bathroom and downed all that was in the bottle.  That was it for when I came around I found myself in the mental health ward of the local hospital.

I look back at it now and for some reason it feels more like I am watching it happen to someone else.  I don’t understand this but that is how it feels.

That was almost thirty years ago, many ups and downs, good times, bad times, yet somehow I have come through it all a bit stronger.  The bad times I have now pale in comparison to those days way back there in the nineties.

Like the title of a book by Reverend Robert Schuller:

Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do!

Just Live!

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“To create more positive results in your life, replace ‘if only’ with ‘next time’.”– Unknown – From: https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-change-in-life/

It seems like yesterday, the day my daughter was born. I was sitting in the waiting area watching t.v.  My mom and her boyfriend decided they were going have some breakfast.  It was a Sunday morning, around 7:05 a.m. a nurse brought a little baby girl out so that I could hold her.  They didn’t clean her up yet, but that didn’t bother me, my whole world at that moment was revolving around this tiny little human.  That tiny little girl has just turn thirty-five years old.

There is something that I use to tell young people, I guess I still would, “before you settle down and start a family do yourself a favor, take some time and see your country.  I was fortunate for I was seeing my country playing the piano or organ, better yet I was being paid.  Those are memories I hold close to me, they are what comforts me when I get the itch to move.

Now I am experiencing a new part of my life, life as a father, and a grateful grandfather.  The youngest turns eight in February.  When they come to visit it gives me a rush of adrenaline.

All through those years I struggled within me, highs and lows, not understanding what was ailing my mind.  It wasn’t until around 2004 I had the answer, I was bi-polar.  With the help of my psychiatrist I was put on a regiment of medications, medications that keep me balance. 

If while you are young and able to go, go see the country, experience other cultures, their food, their music, taste, feel, hear, and listen.  So, when the family comes along you will have some memories that no one, anything can rob you of them.

So, take a deep breath, and just put your foot one in front of the other. Go and just live life to the fullest! You won’t regret it!

May I Present To You…

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Negative thinking is subtle and deceptive. It wears many faces and hides behind the mask of excuses. It is important to strip away the mask and discover the real, root emotion. Robert H. Schuller
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/mask-quotes

I have lived my life guarding it from all onlookers.  I kept people at a distance, never truly trusting anyone.  I have been hurt the worst when I did open myself to others.  I learned that this saying is true; “familiarity breeds contempt”.  

I started this blog to write about all things Biblical.  I struggled to write any posts for deep inside me there was this person who needed to surface to have some fresh air.

Somewhere in these passing few months that person surfaced, ready to share his true feelings, feelings of fear, dread, hating to get out of bed each morning.

I learned a lot as a preacher, musician, about how to put on a show for people.  Giving them a caricature that wore a mask.  

I was the preacher everyone thought I should be.  I knew all the right portions of Scripture, every nuance, how to weave a message from beginning to end.  I was full of energy while ministering in song and the Word. But, as soon as I reached the inside of my apartment I was drained, weary, and feeling totally abandoned.

Even now being in a crowd I have energy while being with them, but cannot wait to leave the gathering and just disappeared into my safe little world of my space.

Slowly, very slowly, somewhat cautious, that person who needed to breathe has been revitalized able to express himself.

I would like to thank everyone who has clicked “follow”, left a “comment”. 

Thank you for the encouragement that has allowed this person to be begin to breathe.

May I present…

The Next Big Wound

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If your body is damaged, wounded, it can be fixed, but if inside, mentally, you are wounded you cannot fix it, it’s hard. Haile Gebrselassie
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=mental+wounds

As a child I climbed a tree, one that I was told not to climb, along with my sister.  I was on a branch and said to my sister not to step on it with me.  Well she did not listen, the branch broke and down we went.  She walked away with just some scrapes, I broke my arm in three places, it hung in an almost perfect circle.  It healed rather slowly, but, it did heal.

Now when it comes to our mental wounds the initial sting of the wound fades over time and it’s place is a scar that we carry with us all of our lives.

So it is with me.  Scars of being told I would never be anything, I would always be poor, and the list goes on.

1999 was nearing the end and I had planned to sit up and watch the New Year ring in. I wanted to see if the Y2K threat would materialize, which it did not.  Just before December 31st I received a phone call from Ontario.  It was about my mother who became ill on Christmas day and now being rushed by ambulance to London, Ontario.  I was told to come home because this was rather serious.

I made a series of phone calls trying to arrange some funds to travel to Ontario.  I did receive the funds and found the next Grey Hound bus, the ride would be about seventy-two hours.  I remember half way through the trip I thought to myself well mom has gone.

In Toronto I decided I needed some sleep, I called my family and told them I was spending the night in the city and would catch the bus out in the morning.  I arrived at my grandmothers place and was filled in with all the details.

My uncle said he would take me but I would have to drive.  We arrived in London at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  We found my mother’s room.  I walked in and I did not recognize her, she had swelled up to three times her size.  She was in an induced coma and one of those thin silver blankets covered her.  It shocked my system seeing her that way. I stepped out of the room to get some air. As I was walking I felt someone pushing something against the back of my knees.  It was a nurse who recognized that I was about to faint. The nurse made me sit down.

That was January which rolled into February. One afternoon as I was approaching my mother’s hospital room a doctor approached me.  He told me to contact the family, if they wanted to see my mother once more.  Only my brother and one uncle showed up.  They arrived later that day. 

We were asked to step into a conference like room where doctors explained my mother’s condition, that she would not recover.  They asked for our permission to withdraw life support.  The next morning they did, within minutes she passed.  That was February 11, 2000.

In fours year after her death I hit rock bottom mentally.

So, I urge those whose has a mother still living, love her dearly, give her her roses now, not when she is dead.  You only have one Mother.

(continued…)

Cast Away

Strong

Not sure how it happened, suddenly there I was in the hospital, what’s more the mental health ward.  I don’t remember being admitted, for that matter do not remember much about arriving at the hospital.  My last memory was me running into my bathroom and downing a bottle of sleeping pills.

Before all of that. Let me back up I knew something was happening, sliding into the abyss.  Here I was in Toronto living in a rooming house because my second marriage had just ended.  Trying to keep things together at my job, manager of the breakfast shift at a fast food franchise.  That didn’t last either, I handed in the keys, outfit and waved goodbye. 

Around the corner was a walk in clinic which I had used before.  There I was telling a doctor how I was feeling, the feeling like I was on an island and the water was rising all around me.  Ten minutes later prescription of Prozac in my hand.

I can imagine this is not strange for some who read this, but, to me it was defeating.  My head felt like it was twice it’s weight.  My arms and legs heavy like iron, I was moving but not connected to reality.

Finally I moved out of Toronto away from the rat race. I moved back to the area near where I use to live.  A bachelor apartment on the main level of a converted house.  Down the street a new grocery store had just opened twenty – four seven.  My friend went with me to buy some groceries.  I thought I was safe going at midnight avoiding a lot of people. I was wrong, a cart full of groceries and then a severe panic attack. I left the cart and bolted for home.

So, that was the slow spiraling trip as a cast away!

(the story continues)

 

 

Pessimist/Optimist?

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There are lots of things, including changing the kind of inner dialog, that can mitigate anxiety. And yes, there are people who have the glass half full and glass half empty, and I’m afraid the glass is going to break and I’ll cut myself on the shards. Scott Stossel
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/half-full-quotes

Just imagine a young man who thought he had the tiger by the tail, that the world was his’ oyster.  A world where there was a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.  That young man use to be me.

I am not quite sure where that young man went, it seems he gradually just faded away.  In his place was a man that felt like the whole world had went black.  Each hurt, disappointment, promises not kept, each one caused that young man to wither little by little.

It wasn’t noticeable, the change was undetectable.  Yes, I had very good days that morphed into just good days, then not so good, until it was a struggle to get up and look at the sunshine.

Eventually a total collapse, the will to fight had vanished.  There didn’t seem to be an answer, tired of just breathing, fed up with trying to put a smile on my face.  Every joint, fiber, my total being  feeling like total defeat.  Then the frustration led me to the overdose with sleeping pills.  That was early nineties, it seems like a century ago.

Life seemed to deal blow after blow, this young man found himself being admitted to the Mental Health Ward not once but several times.

Now, today’s older man is stable, and I must admit I still have some black days.  Fighting extreme pain day after day wears on me.  I am thankful for the support I know is there if I really need it.  Thankful for the medications I take that brings me balance in my mind.

So, onward I trudge forward for I do not want to go backwards!

The Ministry – The Travel Years

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People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. Eleanor Roosevelt
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/experience-quotes

It was 1980 that year was a year for me of learning that no text book in formal education could have taught me, nor prepared me for the road I was going to travel.  This was the year I had just bought my first car, a 1973 Ford Pinto Station Wagon.  Moved into my first apartment, bought groceries and stood at the checkout and cried realizing how little money I had until the next pay cheque.


Later on in life I saw a sign on a refrigerator door that said:

Please move out

While you think 

You still know it all!


Then I was asked by an evangelist to join his team as the organist.  I knew piano well enough to play with some confidence, but the organ, I didn’t have a clue.

Well I didn’t say yes right at that very moment and told the evangelist I need to thinks about it.  I first told my grandmother, then my mother, and then finally my Pastor.  This sparked a huge commotion within the local church family.  Some were totally against me going, others were ambivalent.

My Pastor was in the camp of don’t go and when asked why all they could say was they had heard stories, rumors.

To make a long drawn out story short I made up my mind and told that evangelist that I would join.

This was the beginning of a journey I would never have guessed that I was going to experience.  I entered a world that changed my outlook on evangelists in a completely unexpected way.

More to come —-

The Ministry – Small Beginnings

I actually grew up playing the piano in the church and was deeply involved in music ministry. T. D. Jakes
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/ministry-quotes

myself winter 2006 with frame
Taken in 2006

I can recall telling my mother that I was going to be an evangelist.  I barely knew what an evangelist was, did, etc.,

My music was the key to opening doors for me.  If my music was accepted I knew that I would be accepted in my preaching.

I did not start travelling for several years.  The pastor of my home church would allow me five or ten minutes to speak.  Those were the training wheels of my ministry. I didn’t have a clue on how to stitch together a sermon.(Some would argue “I still don’t”).

I am no Billy Graham or Billy Sunday, yet I feel adequate in my speaking skills, skills that I developed as the years passed by.  I did not mimic another preacher for I needed to be realistic, just to be me.

I was sixteen and was invited to a Minister’s Convention. I accepted, attended the convention. It was held in a tent.  It was in a little town outside of Ottawa, the Town of Spencervile.  One thing led to another, I became the main piano player, then they asked me to take and minister in some morning and afternoon.  The result of that time was I received ordination.  As far as I knew I was the youngest ever.

I eventually found my way back to my home area, moved into a small apartment above a bank.  Began work in an orchard, after work travel to an evangelistic meetings near by.  That led the way for that evangelist asked me to travel with him to be part of his music team.  I accepted and began travelling with him in July 1980. I was seventeen years of age.  With that I entered a crazy period of my life.

To be continued – The Travel Years

The Music- Part Two

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Myself – Grade 8

Now, the girl I was seeing told me that her family would be moving to Alymer, Ontario.  I was broken hearted over it.

There was a silver lining to that dark cloud they gave me their old upright piano.  It to me was like winning a jackpot. My parents could never had the means to buying one.

Well, I was working part time doing different jobs, I started saving my money eventually saving enough to have the piano tuned.

I sat and practised on that piano every chance I had.  I worked hard trying to play imitating piano players that I wanted to sound like.

It wasn’t long that I was playing half decent.  I became the defacto musician in the home church, well, for the services that I could make it to. 

As I became more proficient I started having my sister join me in singing duets.  We practised songs until she knew without saying a word the song that we were singing next.  We sang at youth rallies, home church, and then we were invited to sing on a Gospel T.V. Talk Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Around the beginning of the year nineteen-eighty I was able to buy my first car, a Ford Pinto Station Wagon. 

I started going into Detroit to revival meetings held in the very studio where I sang with my sister.  Every time I was there the evangelist spotted me and had me take over on the piano.  He didn’t even know my name, but for some unknown reason he seemed to like me.  That summer he asked me to travel full time with him and others, I would be his organist.  That became a new challenge for me.


I learned how to play what is called a B3 Hammond 
B3 HammondOrgan. I had to develop a style that was totally different than the Piano. Two hands were not the problem. Now I had to learn to use my left foot on the bass pedals, plus, all of the draw bars to created different moods on it.

I soon learned that my style on piano and that on the organ were not inter-changeable.  In Canada it was the piano that was accepted. In the States it was the Organ sound that people seemed to enjoy better.

As the years have went by I have become more proficient on the organ, not the Hammond, but on an Organ for my home.  My dream would be to have both the Piano and the Organ both in my home.

I have never regretted taking that step of travelling that developed my style of music both here in Canada and the United States.

The Music – Part One

myself playing piano at WCFS convention in Sasatoon
Playing and Singing at a Fair Convention in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, approx. mid 2000’s

In the early seventies my Mom had me start lessons to play the Accordion.  I believe I made it to the second year. We were living in London, Ontario. My parents decided to move back to the Windsor, Ontario area, so, the Accordion lessons ceased.

I have been in involved in Gospel Music in one form or another.  It started with my maternal Grandfather who played the guitar.  We listened to Bluegrass Gospel, and Southern Gospel Music.  He had some of the Grandchildren learn some Gospel Music songs to sing in Church. We were not allowed to have the words in front of us, thus, memorization came to play.

My music revolved totally around my Grandfather.  In nineteen-seventy-five he suffered a major heart attack while at work.  He died immediately.

Needless to say I was totally devastated, it felt like my world came to an end.  That year the region was hit with a major snow storm and Grandpa’s funeral was held back for a week.  That was the toughest week of my life at that time.  It was my first time coming to face to face with a close loved one’s death.

As a young teenager I couldn’t understand why this was allowed to happen for Grandpa was only fifty-seven.  I became bitter, stopped playing the Accordion and basically quit everything associated with Gospel Music.

We moved back to the city of Windsor, Ontario, I entered my first year of High School. I started seeing a girl that I met, she was a friend of my oldest sister.  Her family had a piano which when I was there I would try to play it.

Now, my Home Church no longer had a musician, they encouraged me to try and play for the song service.  The old piano sat to the right of the Pulpit, it was out of tune, Grandpa didn’t like anyone trying to play it.  He always said emphatically that “it is out of tune”.

To be continued…

Life At Home

Mom, myself, Keith, Sandy, Tracy - Elm Street -early 1980's
My Mother, Brother, Two Sisters, Oldest Daughter not available

I was born and raised in and around Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

In my opinion we were the basic family at that time.  Both of my parents worked.  For that reason a sister of my mother lived in with us to take care of us.

As we grew older Mom taught us to do chores, I was responsible for the sidewalk in the winter, the lawn in the summer.  My sisters were taught how to start supper so that when Mom arrived home she just had to do the finish touches.  We were expected to be there unless we had permission to be away.  At that time there were no cell phones, computers, just a landline phone.  All our friends knew not to call during the time of our eating supper.

My Mom was quite amazing, her Mother, my Grandmother thought some things were too liberal.  You see, Mom allowed us to speak our opinion but it had to be spoken with respect, no attitude.

My paternal Grandmother was Roman Catholic.  My mother told me when it came time for us kids to start attending school that she and my Roman Catholic Grandmother had a knock downed argument.  Grandma thought we should be attending a Catholic school, Mom thought different.  Needless to say Mom won.

The children were not baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, thus, we were considered bastards in the eyes of the Church.  I cannot recall ever going to anything within the Roman Catholic Church when we were growing up.

Archie Bunker gif
Archie Bunker – Tenor.com

Now my father was a case all of his own. I call him Archie Bunker ll.  I cannot recall one time growing up that he said he loved us, proud of us. If I brought home an A on an assignment, his response was “can’t you do better”.

As I grew older I became his punching bag.  He had a hair trigger temper that would erupt over the slightest issue.  It kept us sitting on pins and needles.  He disliked the High School I chose because it was not a trade teaching school. I chose an Academic High School, choosing all business related courses.  Courses like accounting, typing, computers, etc.,. If I did what he thought I would be a backyard mechanic.

 When I entered High School Mom did not set a curfew for me, she knew I would always come home at a proper time.  I went to school in the dark, and came home in the dark when I knew my father was asleep in bed.  The only rule, come in the house quietly without disturbing my Mother”s sleep.

I dropped out of High School in the middle of Grade Eleven and quickly left home. I began to do some itinerant speaking and Gospel Music.

That was the long beginning of having the opportunity of travelling with another Evangelist throughout Canada and the United States.

My Home Church

Several months ago I had a phone conversation with a dear relative of mine. My relative and I were reminiscing about things from our home church.  It was mentioned that they pined for those days again.

Lori & myself at the Gospel Way Church-Leamington Ontario
My Sister Lori, myself at our Home Church, The Gospel Way Church, Leamington, Ontario, Canada

You see, the place I considered my home church sat on a country lot with tall poplar trees lined the edge of the property. It was not fancy for most of my childhood they was no running water within the walls.  At maximum it would seat maybe sixty or a little less. On the front left of the sanctuary sat an old upright piano, out of tune and was only played when a guest would visit that knew how to play, much to the grumblings of my grandfather about it.  Grandpa was the only musician, a self taught guitar player for the small and unassuming congregation.

We considered ourselves to be “Pentecostal” in doctrine but with no one umbrella that were our over-seers.  We went through many different variations of preachers and teachers over the years. Until a man became a constant with us and he was picked to be the pastor of a congregation with limited means.

Yes, we were those “Pentecostals” that you hear much about, but, not to be mistaken for those who claim power over “snakes”.  Talking in tongues, prophecy, and all manifestations of the “gifts of the spirit”.  These were all I knew growing up and throughout my teenage life.

Casual

Come Sunday night everyone would dress for church.  No, the ladies did not bring out of their closets mink coats, or wear diamonds around their neck, but yet you knew these were not their every day wear.  The same with the men, the pastor wore a suit and the men that had one.  We always had respect for those who would step behind the pulpit, sometimes we would call the “brother” so and so, or “pastor”, but never once did we think of using their first name.

Then There Was the Music

For awhile my family moved quite a bit and sometimes my mom and dad would take us to different churches when we lived a distance from the home church.  In all those years we learned the tried and tested “hymns” of the church,  mix in some choruses, and of course the Anointing of the Spirit of God.