Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom: Andrea Bocelli Rescued Me Again


"If God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli."  Celine Dion      

It was the late spring of 1999 and I was crashing into a depression.

I was trying to recover from my second open-chest lung surgery in as many months, and things were not going well. After my first operation, I had been able to go home in seven days, so that was my mental benchmark. But when Round 2 stretched from Day 8 into Day 9, I began to lose hope.

Thankfully, however, that night two things happened that helped me hang on.  

First, I turned on PBS and serendipitously encountered a documentary about a blind Italian opera singer with the most amazing voice and life story I had ever heard - Andrea Bocelli. The only thing more uplifting than his music was his courage in dealing with a lifetime of setbacks. Enthralled by his songs and his positive perspective, I determined that, if he could get through his trials, with the help of his music, so could I.  

That evening I became a life-long Andrea Bocelli fan. I called from my hospital bed and ordered all his CDs. I would come to use them in the following weeks to aid in my recovery.

Second, shortly after that PBS program, I got a call from one of my brothers. He told me my father was organizing a family fast and prayer circle to plead for my well-being. I knew then that heaven was looking down on me and that my family on both sides of the veil would be exercising their faith on my behalf. I was not alone.

I made it through that night with the help of Andrea's music and my family's prayers. The very next day, the doctors determined that I had made enough progress to be able to leave the hospital.

* * * * *

Fast forward to the spring of 2020. It was the Easter season and I was bummed.  
I was quarantined like millions of other people around the world. Church was closed, so I wouldn't be hearing my favorite Easter hymns. I wouldn't be meeting and greeting our friends in the congregation. I wouldn't be listening to sermons retelling the story of that first Easter morning and the empty tomb. It looked like it might be a disappointing holiday.

Then two wonderful things happened that changed the whole tenor of Easter.

First, Andrea Bocelli announced that he would present a free Easter concert from the empty cathedral in Milan, Italy. He would call his generous gift "Music for Hope." How did he know what a sweet blessing that would be for me? This amazing man would be sharing his extraordinary voice to brighten our day.  


Then shortly after I learned of Andrea's Easter concert, my son decided to orchestrate a Zoom get-together with us and all six of our children, with several of our grandchildren flitting in and out. We would able to see each other and laugh and talk and just hang out together. We would feel their love. Like before, my family was coming through for me.

Andrea Bocelli and my family would rescue me once again, 21 years after the first time.


The music from inside the Duomo was incredible. What a setting! What a voice! And then he stepped outside to the front of the cathedral to end his concert with one of my favorite hymns.

I must say, Amazing Grace never sounded so uplifting and gracious. How sweet the sound! In a world filled with empty cities and empty streets and empty churches, my heart was bursting with gratitude for a beautiful tenor and for a beautiful family filling the Easter afternoon with love and hope.  

Andrea and my family helped me remember how deeply grateful I am for an empty tomb that marked Jesus Christ's victory over death and His eternal gift of everlasting life for me and all mankind.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you, Andrea.

Thank you, family, for a sweet and memorable Easter. You rescued me once again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Coronavirus Stay-Cation - It's a Love/Hate Thing


"Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms."  William J. Bennett 

Because law firms are considered "essential businesses" under the Florida stay-at-home rules, my company, Will & Trust Express, is allowed to remain open in the current environment. Up until last Thursday, we were busy seeing clients and preparing wills, trusts, and related documents for concerned residents of Central Florida.

At the office, we took extensive precautions to protect our clients and ourselves. We disinfected the conference room and waiting area between each client meeting; we scrubbed our hands several times a day; we generously offered masks and hand sanitizer; we used brand-new pens each time we signed documents and let the clients keep them; and we wiped down client estate planning binders before they were delivered.

But my wife and children were nevertheless concerned for my welfare. They know I have a weakened respiratory system due to double open-chest lung surgeries I had 20 years ago. They were also afraid I might bring the virus home to my wife and then we would both be in "deep doo-doo," as George H. W. Bush used to say.

Wishing to be more cautious, I tried working "virtually." However, I found the results largely unfulfilling and unsatisfactory, at least for me. I much prefer person-to-person interaction, which gives greater opportunity to share stories and experiences back and forth, to read body language and facial expressions, and to observe more nuanced eye-to-eye contact. Trying to communicate with another human being via a computer screen is not the same as face to face. The more I tried it, the more it felt like I was morphing into Legal Zoom or some other faceless, soulless online provider. Yech! Not for me!

So, I decided to finish the cases already in progress and then close the office for a few weeks until things simmer down a bit. I would take a vacation of sorts, just to be on the safe side. But since there was nowhere to go, it would be a "stay-cation."

Some of you have been on this journey for quite some time already, but I'm just starting. This is new territory for me. How are you dealing with your own coronavirus stay-cation? If anybody has some advice on this issue, I'm all ears.

I have two fears about the upcoming weeks. The first is that I may hate this period of forced inactivity. Anyone who knows me knows that not working is not in my nature. What if I can't find useful ways to use this extra time? What if this idleness drives me crazy? What if I actually have to start tackling some of those honey-do projects I've long avoided?

My second fear, on the other hand, is that I may discover that I love this taste of retirement. Once having tasted freedom, I might start figuring out how to make not working permanent. I have always planned to work until I'm 70, but what if it feels so good to not go to work that I lower my sights a little bit? What if waking up whenever I feel like it and spending the day doing interesting things with my wife around the house is lots more fun than driving into work every day? What then?

It's still too early to tell how this personal dilemma will play out for me, but I'm optimistic about the future.

I'm hopeful that when we open our doors again at Will & Trust Express, I'll have a deeper appreciation for the satisfying nature of the meaningful work I get to do. I'm hopeful that many people in this area will realize that they need to complete their own will and trust planning.

And I'm confident that plenty of folks will want to sit down with me face to face and chat thoughtfully about their future plans. I'm optimistic that many of my neighbors will want to discuss how they can draw upon my experience and training to help them enjoy greater peace of mind in a world that's full of uncertainty.

These are challenging times, but I believe we'll get through this and life will be better on the other side.