A Day in the Life of a Caregiver

Anyone of who knows me will find the title of this essay amusing. I am not a caregiver, professional or otherwise. I’m more of the day-tripper variety of care-giving. Kay has more the heart of a caregiver. Aside from her thriving practice as a mental health counselor, she also keeps our Nashville granddaughter on Fridays, which includes taking our uncle out for lunch and running errands for him. Yes, I live with a queen and a saint. And if you think this is going to be a story that will bring a tear to your eye, or that you might

Watch Me

Living with royalty can be a difficult challenge. When I was wooing Kay I did not realize how close to the sun I was flying. It was not until we were at the point of no return in our courtship that I discovered I was marrying a double-crowned queen. Apparently back in the day when the world did not spin quite so chaotically, there are no rules governing the number of times one could be nominated to the “royal” court of school athletics or win the honor of being crowned Queen in multiple sports. Her first entrance into such noble

Baseball, Bible, and Betting

I have no fondness for alliteration. If I use the literary device it is either because I have no other words at my command to make the point, or my editorial skills were distracted at the moment I came up with the offending passage. It is not that I am anti-alliteration. Authors I admire have used the stylistic device to great effect: Poe, Coleridge, Frost, and Whitman, to name a few. It can be very effective in speeches. But on the whole, I try to stay away from its use. However, in the case of the title of this post, the

What’s In a Name

Our trip to France this year was momentous on so many levels. I’ve written about episodes of the trip in earlier posts, but recently I was going through some of the brochures and literature I had kept from our trip this spring and felt inspired to share a few more thoughts and memories. Kay and I spent a day in Paris in 2012 on a twelve-hour layover between flights. As we walked along the Seine River past the Louvre (a building that is so long it has the illusion of a vanishing point when viewed from end-to-end), I regretted our time

Mister Darwin’s Waiting Room

When I first began my career as an actor back in the 1970’s, there were not many professional opportunities in Nashville. The few theatre gigs I landed were not what could be called career-launching. So I headed west to advance my education. When I came home from Pepperdine University for Christmas break, Opryland, a theme park that produced variety shows with specific musical genres, was holding auditions for the upcoming season. This was a great opportunity for singer/dancer/musician types, artistic forms that went beyond my limited abilities, but I thought I would audition, sing a couple of bars of something that

It Begins With Humility

In February of 1983 I went on a road trip with six other men to attend a spiritual renewal conference in North Carolina. I was the only actor in the group. Five were musicians and the sixth a pastor. A thousand or so people would attend this three-day event. The musicians would give concerts and lead corporate worship, the pastor would be one of many speakers and seminar leaders, and then there was me, the actor. I don’t remember how I got this gig or how I landed on the Saturday night docket. That specific night was not slated as

The Shoulders of a Father

There are moments in our lives where we need to be touched or held; to feel an embrace of warmth and comfort; to experience the invisible yet powerful force of strength transfer from one human being to another. Of our five senses, touch might be the one most overlooked, that is until someone touches us, whether for good or ill, and something is awakened. A father’s touch to their child can transfer an energy that has no parallel in the other four senses. Then there are times when a touch or an embrace is not enough; when the moment demands

David Compton: The Actor Who Could Play Anything

When you look someone in the eye, just look, holding the gaze or the glare, allowing the seconds to tick by, not speaking but studying in silence the shape of the face, the lines, the contours, yet always returning to the eyes, and being vulnerable enough to allow the observer of you to do likewise, can be as truthful and revelatory a moment as any person can have in their life. An actor is a truth-seeker. When an actor goes on stage, it is with the intention to look into the eyes of their opposite and not just speak the

Life Skills vs. Google G.P.S. Part Deux

With our daughter safely on the train to Avignon, Kay and I found ourselves arriving in Annecy shortly before nightfall. Our modus operandi when we travel abroad is to book a few nights in B&B’s or hotels in certain locales beforehand, and then once we are on the ground, have the flexibility to deviate from the path. We arrive in a city or village and book something that suits our fancy in the moment, stay longer in one location, or bounce to another. Risky behavior, I know, but that is the fun of unexpected circumstances and special encounters while traveling. We had

Life Skills vs. Google G.P.S.

I love maps especially the old medieval kind where the mapmakers used their powerful imaginations depicting fantastical images of monsters in an attempt to explain the dark and dangerous mysteries of lands and vast oceans yet discovered. The visionaries looked beyond their immediate horizons and envisioned the wonders of the unexplored. No such monsters to be found on the Michelin highway map of France, but my heart still palpitated at the thought of navigating this wonderful country, and after three days of tromping around Paris with miles logged and Fitbit merit badges for Kay, it was time venture out. By

Fear Factor

For the last few years Kay and I have had the opportunities to travel to places we’ve dreamed about for years but been unable to afford. A relative on Kay’s side of the family has been generous with monetary Christmas gifts, and we have chosen to use that gift to fund travel. We booked two weeks for a France excursion with daytrips into Switzerland and Spain as we moved around the country. When we started booking our B&B’s, we discussed driving north to Brussels from Paris for a couple of days, but opted to go south instead. Then the terrorists

Scot Copeland: Man with the Dragon Tattoo

In honor of my friend, Scot Copeland, who shuffled off his mortal coil on this day a year ago, I am re-posting this remembrance. He has left a hole in the hearts of many across this land, and while his work will be celebrated on into the future, it is the heart of the man that we cherish and hold dear. God bless you, B.A. 3, and Rene, and Josh and Ben. Back in 1951 some friends of Groucho Marx pressured him to join the Friar’s Club of Beverly Hills. He never participated in any of the club’s activities, and

Strange Bedfellows – Part Deux

So how did this courtship begin? There were a few chance and premeditated encounters, memorable and brief, but nothing of consequence until that fateful day on a frozen pond in January of 1978. Prior to graduating from UNC in Chapel Hill, N.C., with my Master of Fine Arts degree in acting in December, 1977, I got a call from the artistic director of the Advent Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee informing me that I had been hired for the upcoming season. I had auditioned earlier that fall, and I was excited by the prospect of becoming a founding member of this new

Strange Bedfellows

In the spirit of the Valentine season when warm and amorous feelings are expressed to our significant others, I thought I would write about the one who caught my eye several decades ago. So with Shakespeare’s admonition, “Never durst poet touch a pen to write / Until his ink were temper’d with Love’s sighs,” in mind, I will venture a few thoughts on being a victim of Cupid’s arrow. Kay and I could not be more opposite: farm girl vs. city boy; introvert vs. extrovert; psychology counselor vs. actor & writer; serene and contemplative vs. sarcastic and cranky; Jedi Master

Black Fabric

Black has to be the most ancient of colors. The book of Genesis states that it is the black darkness that shrouds the Spirit of God while contemplating the formless void before speaking the light into existence. There is no reflection in the color black. Black swallows all color concealing deeper mysteries. One of my favorite artists is Caravaggio, the Baroque painter whose bold, rich colors were more vibrant and profound because of his lavish use of the color black and its shadowy shades in each canvas. Most often when Caravaggio used light it was to illuminate the human actions

Not a Team Player

Life will often surprise us with a dose of reality that rearranges our private universe in unexpected ways. The incident can be the equivalent of tasting the forbidden fruit. While the experience might expand the knowledge of ourselves and the place we inhabit in the world, it can also reveal something about our character we may have never known before leaving us feeling naked and in need of covering in a garment of fig leaves. To belong and be accepted is a vital part of being human and central to our survival. I do not believe anyone who says they

Staying Power

“The world never comes at you all at once,” John O’Donohue states in his book “Beauty, The Invisible Embrace.” If it did we would combust. Most moments in life barely register; others leave an impression that remains for a lifetime. I had two seminal experiences that helped me shed the skin of childhood. One evolved over a period of time bringing with it a gradual awareness of a wider world beyond the borders of my rather sheltered existence. The other was a revelation into my character that came like a lightning bolt. I became a paperboy at a young age,

James Bond Wannabe

It came as a terrible disappointment the day I realized I would never become James Bond. Like most boys growing up, I went through a long list of potential careers. In the early days of my childhood I was influenced by the characters I saw on television; the standard cowboy, soldier, and adventurer types. None of these stayed with me for long. I was attached to one superhero for awhile. I believed then and do now that Superman was the best of a whole slew of superheroes. Too many superheroes had specialized powers that required a team of “experts” to

Beware of First-Hand Ideas

“People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine.” E. M. Forster In my eclectic reading habits I frequently stumble upon subjects and stories that surprise me. I love to be surprised. I was reading an essay in The New Yorker that referenced a short story by E. M. Forster entitled “The Machine Stops.” Yes, that Forster of “A Room with a View” and “A Passage to India” fame. My initial surprise came when I read that Forster’s short story was first published in the Oxford and Cambridge Review in November of 1909. “The Machine

A Bear-Time Story

Kay and I homeschooled our daughters. I should qualify that statement by saying I was more the sub. Kay had the lion share of the responsibility for the girl’s education. My contributions were more in line with artistic field trips: museums, galleries, dance recitals, concerts, theatre (a lot of theatre). I usually was the one who took them to these performances and got them prepped to have a deeper experience with the art form. Kristin went all the way through her senior year as a homeschool student. Lauren decided she wanted more athletic activities and social interaction, and at the

Don’t Touch Me

A little game my three siblings and I played as kids was poking one another with a finger and then running away as fast as possible. We hated it when one of us got poked by the other…a fear of the transference of cooties perhaps. The victim would complain to the parent within earshot that so-in-so “touched me.” If a threat was even perceived by an approaching sibling the immediate response was DON’T TOUCH ME! And back in the day when there were no seatbelts, when we got into the car to go anywhere, we would draw invisible lines across

Our Friend Sue

Growing up in the Bud and Bernie Arnold household we practiced certain rules that helped stem the tide of chaos and kept certain rituals that over time grounded and centered us giving us a sense of our place in this world. One such regulation/ritual was the dinner hour. Regardless how the day went for the individuals in the family, sitting down to break bread together at six p.m. was a precedent we maintained at all cost, and within that auspicious span of time, our raw humanity was illuminated. It would be safe to say that over the years, thousands of

The Trouble With Icons

Let me start with a disclaimer: I have not read Harper Lee’s, “Go Set a Watchman.” I have every intention of reading it but will probably let the brouhaha die down before I crack the spine of my copy. I did not read “To Kill a Mockingbird” until I was an adult. I did not read much of anything until I was an adult. I was and am a very slow reader; my dyslexic nemesis sits atop my head and loves to trip my brain with linguistic landmines. I do not remember when I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” for

Curiouser and Curiouser

A couple of years ago Kay and I took our kids and grandkids and my mother and uncle on a family vacation in north Georgia. We rented a house with lots a space inside and an expansive yard, more like grounds. Other family members came and went during the week. The best feature was a front porch the width of the house with enough rocking chairs to accommodate most everyone. Evening meals were communal affairs and the table conversation lasted well beyond the bedtimes of grandkids. The reluctance to get up from the table was not for dread of cleaning

Celebration of Tradition and Character

On July 4, 1977, a group of families in Nashville, Tennessee led by Dan and Pat Burton, along with my parents, threw a neighborhood birthday party for America. This was not a backyard barbeque where good friends gathered to eat and shoot off some fireworks. The celebration was conceived to honor our country, to honor those who served and serve in our military, to honor political leaders of every stripe for their dedication as public servants, and to honor citizens who live each day with “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” as we go about our lives pursuing

The One is Not

Where did I put my wallet? I can’t remember where I left my purse. Have you seen my cell phone? Little things lost, yet important, not for the intrinsic value of a wallet, purse, or cell phone (insert brand name of your choice here), but because of what they contain…identity, real and imagined. If lost or stolen who are you? When Kay and I have traveled, domestic and foreign, she drives and I navigate. I use maps, landmarks, and road signs, not G.P.S. I take pride in that applicable life skill, doing the work myself and not have Siri do

A Father’s Day Memory

I was home on a Christmas break from Pepperdine University in 1973 and my father was taking me and my younger brothers on the Virgin Falls hike. A mutual friend who lived in the area had taken them on the hike a few months earlier and Dad and my brothers couldn’t wait to share the experience with me. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen,” they all kept saying as we drove the three hours from our Nashville home to the trailhead in eastern Tennessee. “They can’t find the source of the waterfall. It comes out of a cave on the

Old Dog/New Tricks

I recently turned sixty-five, and while it is a milestone of sorts, it did not really seem worthy of a big celebration. Ten thousand of us Baby-Boomers turn sixty-five every day, so big deal. For a number of years I considered getting a tattoo to mark the occasion. My daughters and their husbands all have tattoos and they have been very encouraging of the idea. Even my mother got a tattoo on her eightieth birthday, which I thought was way cool. I even toyed around with some designs I thought I might like that included varied symbols referencing the spiritual,

Bernie Arnold

In the first three months of 2015 two significant events took place in my life that will resonant with me for the rest of my life. I had been preparing for the role of Willy Loman for months leading up to the first day of rehearsals for Nashville Repertory Theatre’s production of “Death of a Salesman,” and on February 20 we began. This was the role of a lifetime. My preparation was strenuous but necessary for me to feel I could begin on the first day of rehearsals and look my fellow actors in the eye and respond truthfully with