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The Next Chapter

“I’m starting my fifth and final chapter, and I need to make it a good one.”

I’m writing this in Millington, TN. Doug’s stepfather passed away and we left Wednesday night to attend his funeral and support his mother. We’ve had a great time spending time with Doug’s family and his stepfather’s family, considering the circumstances. We were chatting with Doug’s mother when she said, “I’m starting my fifth and final chapter, and I need to make it a good one.” Nearly 80 years old, she broke her life down into 20 year chapters; child, wife, mother, 2nd wife. Doug, referring to his past marriages, jokingly said his book was a faster read because the chapters in his book were anywhere from 7 minutes to 7 years long. And I sat quietly, thinking “Wow…7 minute chapters? Wish I had chapters that long.”

I started thinking about the MANY chapters in my life. I remember a 20 second chapter. Yes, you read that right! 20 seconds. My date that I met through online dating looked nothing like his pictures. I mean, NOTHING like his pictures. There’s not enough liquor on the planet (much less what I could drink on this date) to make him look like his pictures. I politely excused myself, and went on my merry way.

I had several 2 month chapters with guys who didn’t meet my standards. I’m not bragging, but at the time I had really low standards. Standards like “OMG-they can actually breathe with their mouth closed!” standards. If you want more on these adventures, be sure to find a copy of my book “Hey, And Other Scintillating Mating Calls From The Online Dating World.” If you’re looking for dates for yourself, be sure to download a copy of my“Rate A Date” Sheet, which solved the low standards problem.

I have a 17 year chapter where I spent many weeks on the road touring the country as a stand up comedian. Two of those years were being the opening act for one of the Top Underground Comedian acts known as The Disgruntled Clown. We had an episode where we were doing comedy in Brownsville, TX. The Clown got a little chatty with a Mexican border patrol agent, and next thing I knew we were pulled over and they took our passports. While they “reviewed” our passports, The Clown openly admitted his prior adventures (which included back child support and cocaine possession) while we waited. Thankfully, we were one hour from a shift change and the border patrol agent didn’t want to do the 3 hours of paperwork…so we were “released.” The whole time, I’m thinking “My record is clean, and if they do arrest The Clown I’m headlining tonight.” Welcome to the darkest corners of comedy! No one moves up until a headliner gets arrested or dies.

I had one chapter that lasted 20 years; my former marriage. The last 5 years overlapped with divorce while taking care of my mother, so I refer to this sub-chapter as the “WTF Years.” Thankfully, that chapter ended with a happy cruise through the Panama Canal, the book I published, and eventually, meeting Doug!

And speaking of Doug, we probably ought to get back to his mother…

We listened to her reflect on how different her life is going to be and all the things she hopes to do in this “final chapter.” When we went out to dinner last night, she said how weird it felt because her husband wasn’t beside her. We assured her that he was, just not in physical form. Her chapter ended with her taking care of her husband for two years after he suffered a stroke. The last year was in quarantine because of Covid being particularly difficult for those with compromised immune systems. Her husband’s final chapter ended with him passing peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loved ones. There are few happier ways to end a book more wonderful than that.

As we turned the conversation to her future, she mentioned how she was hoping to travel with one of her friends from childhood, also a widow. She wants to go on cruises, travel to Germany and Israel, and finish seeing the rest of the 50 states. While she’s wrapping up her affairs and sizing down her belongings, she’s thinking about her next chapter and she wants to make it a good one. I’m all about this, and commend her for planning for her future. So many focus on the life that is lost, instead of the life that’s ahead.

It reminded me of a quote I’d read;

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last.”

Judging by the pictures and sentimental knick knacks around her house, she will never forget her previous 4 chapters and will continue to look upon them fondly. I can’t wait to see what she does in her fifth chapter.

Of course, I sit here reflecting on my own crazy chapters, thinking about my next chapter. And then I thought to myself, I’m pretty happy in the chapter I’m in right now. No need to wrap this one up just yet.

“Life Is Like A Book......Some chapters are sad, some are happy, and some are exciting, but if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter has in store for You”

― Izuudon

What chapter are you on in your book?

How would you like this chapter to end?

How would you like your next chapter to begin?

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