At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Long Live the Queen

Today dawned like most other days, cold and crisp in St. Louis although slightly warmer than the last couple of days. People were getting ready for Thanksgiving dinners, and much of the citizenry of the area seems to be hopeful that things are turning toward a more peaceful and conversational journey in the neighborhood of Ferguson. In the 107th edition of the Frisco Bell game between Kirkwood High School and rival Webster Groves, the Pioneers of KHS won today. 

But in the midst of these events, I opened up my Facebook page to some devastating news. Yes, there are more tragic details in the world right now, but this sadness washed over me in a massive tidal wave.

P.D. James, the greatest crime novelist of the modern age, died this morning at her home in Oxford, England. The reigning mistress of the murder mystery, the one who penned the Adam Dalgliesh novels as well as the dystopian novel The Children of Men, gone from this earth.

I've mentioned before how high school teachers such as Deb Clarke inspired me to write well and bring stories to life. But P.D. James--although I never had the pleasure or opportunity to meet her--was the one who inspired me to become a novelist, to craft mysteries, and to pursue and love the murder genre.

In 2006, Children of Men hit the movie screen and Christy and I both prepped for the film by reading the book. While the film dazzled due to its intense themes and amazing cinematography (not to mention the numerous single-shot sequences), the book greatly moved me. Here at last was an author who found the perfect balance of threading plot, setting, and character so expertly together, who told a story so well that at its end you were equally satisfied and yet hungry for more.

It was in the spring that I was lunching with my colleague Mack Gray during a break at Wellington Christian School when I mentioned how much I enjoyed Children of Men. He responded, "That was a switch from her usual stuff."

Usual stuff. As in her murder mysteries.

That summer, as Joshua struggled to recover from his spinal fusion surgery, I gallivanted through Death in Holy Orders, followed by A Taste For Death, then The Murder Room, before finishing Devices and Desires before the school year rolled around. I've read every one of her Adam Dalgliesh novels with the exception of Death of An Expert Witness. Her output includes the aforementioned The Children of Men, as well as two Cordelia Gray novels, the stand-alone Innocent Blood, and the Jane Austen-inspired murder mystery Death Comes To Pemberley.

It was through P.D. James that I learned a great deal of how to be a novelist, as I experienced many of her personal suggestions in the depth and breadth of her stories, as well as her Talking About Detective Fiction. She and I both have one thing in common, as we both published our first novels at the age of 42. But that, trust me, is where the similarities end. 

Her life was never an easy ride. Her mother was committed to an asylum when James was only 14, so that she had to care for her siblings by herself. Her husband--flagellated by the horrors of serving in World War II--ended up in an institution as well, leaving P.D. to care for their daughters Clare and Jane.

But her writing, far from being an escape, was drenched heavily in realism from her work in Britain's National Health Service and other areas. Her pen created the last of the line of gentlemen detectives, Adam Dalgliesh, although his humanness is more relatable and believable than Dorothy Sayers' creation of Lord Peter Wimsey.

And the street jargon of pot-boilers had no place with James, nor did the speculative suspension of disbelief one finds in some areas of the cozy writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. One finds only crisp, elegant, proper-use English and undeniable, uncompromising realism with the Queen of Detective Fiction.

My first novel in the Cameron Ballack mystery series, Litany of Secrets, was heavily influenced by the first James novel I ever read, Death in Holy Orders. The seminary setting was too good to pass up. And even now as I work through another Cameron Ballack manuscript (my sixth novel in a series of seven), I keep using Dalgliesh as the yardstick by which Ballack is measured. James' use of character is just that good.

The influence of Phyllis Dorothy James in my writing life is incalculable. And with her death, which took place peacefully at her home, the true age of the gentleman detective is over, and we shall not be seeing the likes of someone like James again. The world of literature is a vastly more beautiful place because she has lived and written, and the world itself is a sadder place because she has died.

That is both a tragedy and an appropriate selah. Just like her books, James satisfies you and yet leaves you wanting more. In my opinion, there neither will be nor should there be another P.D. James.

Rest in peace, O Queen. May you live long in the memories of your devoted masses. You have found an eternal place in mine.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From Father to Son

My dear precious Jordan,

Six years have gone by since the last time I held you in my arms. Six years of thoughts, tears, warm memories, and all other emotions. I've shared so many things about you to others, written about you, and from time to time have wished that you could come back--even for a few minutes that we might have together. The final wish is, of course, impractical although I think it's understandable. But there is one river I've never crossed, although my journey toward it has been building for some time. And that tributary is to tell you the things I never got to share while you were with us.

You crashed-landed into my life at a time when I was weary yet comfortable. It was the day we moved to Florida when Mom found out that night that you were on the way. I said "comfortable" earlier because I thought we were done having children. And having another boy meant the possibilities of one with the challenges that your big brother continues to face. Yet the pregnancy test didn't lie. You shook up my world--our world--but it was in a way we desperately needed.

And I was weary. Mom and I were both coming up on 36 years of age. I had run my course with being a pastor in North Carolina and was running on fumes. I was still in healthy adulthood and had the tepid energy reserves of old age. My body, my heart, and my soul were shot.

And at that point...something akin to what the Scriptures say, "in the fullness of time" came. You came with a silent cry and flailing limbs and a NICU residence with a reflux problem that we had to fix with surgery when you were a few weeks old. And of course, myotubular myopathy, just like Joshua.

That was the time when I felt God throw away an emotional anchor and thus liberated my heart. Your smile, your feistiness, your adorability (if that can be a word) gave light to my soul. Yes, there were many reasons why the days of your life might have been physically draining. Joshua's spine surgery and recovery, lack of sleep for Mom and I, scrambling to land a new job and ending up in St. Louis. Sometimes I wonder how we lived through the challenges, but you rolled with it. Not to mention you loved getting extra snuggles with Mom or I when you could.

I shake my head to think what you'd be like now. Given how much you loved to pull Lindsay's hair or knock her block towers over, or covertly pull Joshua's velcro shoe straps, or sneak down the hallway when Mom or I weren't looking...I imagine you'd spend a fair bit of school time in the principal's office. "Now, Jordan, why did you make the toilet seats explode?" I think that if you saw a blow torch, some baking soda, and a bungee cord, you'd find some path to constructive mischief. I'd like to think you're doing that now in Heaven.

But one memory comes to the fore above all others. It was soon after you learned to walk in October, just a month before God took you home. It was an evening in which I lay sprawled on my back on the floor. There was much activity going on, but for whatever reason you made a beeline to me. Gently but firmly, you head butted me. You loved head butts. Then you "tackled" me with all the reserves of what strength you had and I tumbled on my back, with your head dropping onto my chest with a muffled "whump" against my sternum. I tickled you in your ribs, with you making your squeaky little laughs. 

And then I patted you on the back, saying, "Jordan, I need to get up." I would lift myself up off the ground and put a hand on the floor to push myself to my feet.

Your reaction? You'd collapse onto my chest and "pin" me back on the floor.

We'd do this three or four times. Each time, you wouldn't let me go, pinning me to the floor. And finally, I'd look at you and say, "Jordan, Daddy's not going to leave you."

And how big was your smile? Full moon on a summer night doesn't even begin to describe it. Followed by the biggest bear hug you could muster.

Looking back on those sacred moments now brings me pain, but it's what one could call a good pain. You showed both the tenacity of holding on to God and the unrestrained joy we should feel when we know God loves us totally.

Your grandpa (my dad) said something soon after you went to be with Jesus. He said, "Thanksgiving will always be different for you now. Yet in deep grief we can still find massive grace."

You, my son, brought so much grace into my life. You opened my eyes, gave light to my heart, and you reflected your name so well.

Jordan Christopher. Literally, one who comes down and brings Jesus.

Thank you, my son, for making an old man feel young again, for showing the unfettered wind in the sails of your soul, for proving that the weakest among us are the strongest of spirit...

...and for the greatest gift of all: For teaching me more about the tenacious and tender love of God in nineteen months than I had learned in all of my life before. 

Thank you, my son whom I love, for being true to your name, for coming down for even a short life as you had, and bringing Jesus to me.

I love you,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Westminster: A Family of Grace in Deepest Grief

Six years ago this week, my father was piecing together the Sunday service at the church he pastored at the time in Mississippi. With careful planning he began by placing--at the beginning of the service--a prayer for meditation. It was a supplication by William Jay in the nineteenth century, and it went as follows:

     "If we are indulged with prosperity let not our prosperity destroy us nor injure us. If we are exercised with adversity, suffer us not to sink in the hour of trouble, or sin against God. May we know how to be abased without despondence, and to abound without pride. If our relative comforts are continued to us, may we love them without idolatry, and hold them at Thy disposal; and if they are recalled from us, may we be enabled to say, The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Dad has said since that given the events of that next Sunday, it was indeed a providential passage. I have occasionally re-read that prayer since, but an hour ago, one thing leapt out at me: Ten times in that prayer, you have some form of the first person plural pronoun, either "we", "our", or "us". That became a reality for us when Dad's church was meditating on that prayer the next Sunday, November 23, 2008, about six hundred miles away from us.

That morning. 

Our sweet son, Jordan.  Nineteen months old. Afflicted with myotubular myopathy like his older brother Joshua, yet so brave and joyful. Little Jordan had suddenly and peacefully passed away in his crib. And our world shattered.

Over the course of the next week, all the way to and past the funeral, a bevy of family and friends came into town to be with us, to grieve with and for us. Mom and Dad arrived the day after Jordan died, friends from our church in Florida came in the day before the funeral. We felt incredibly remembered and profoundly loved.

The more the years pass, I recall more and more later on during the morning and that evening after Jordan went to be with the Lord. It was originally a blur, but the major factor that got us through that day was the steady flow of visitors from Westminster Christian Academy, where I was in my first year on staff.

If there's a school community that tops Westminster in flooding such weary, grieving souls with comfort, grace, and peace, I haven't run across such an institution.

I remember headmaster Jim Marsh coming to our door, entering in and grasping Christy and I in a massive double-hug, absorbing the shock of death and sadness with kindness. There was Lucy Erdman and Kathy Karigan, who brought art supplies over for our kids so they could draw and color and healthily distract themselves from what had hit them that day. Sherrie Blough went out and got a Build-a-Bear gift card for Lindsay. Craig Dunham--then my Bible department colleague and now a headmaster in Oklahoma City--came by to sit, chat, and listen. The word got around to the entire school and those who weren't able to come by called on the phone or helped out in other ways: Jim Stange's entire Art class made a massive sympathy card the next day at Westminster.

We didn't have Jordan with us anymore, but one thing we recognized we had that day was a community...a school family that barely knew us at the time, but still loved us. And even as we were (and are still at times) asking God "Why?" regarding his mysterious providence, we could see the "Who" of God's hands and heart that were displayed in the people of Westminster who reached out to us, who listened, who wept, and who anchored us in community.

It is my theological conviction that God's grace is certain and comes through in concrete fashion, even in times when his mercy seems more savage than kind. And as the years go by, and as I continue to miss my boy, I become more and more grateful for being a part of Westminster, a place that God has seen fit to pour out his kindness to us in hardships like these. In days when more and more people can lack a sense of relational depth, Westminster has become more and more an anchored community for me and my family. This weekend I feel that all the more because it's when that flavor of grace began six years ago, and for which I remain exceedingly thankful.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breaking the Silence on Ferguson

I lied.

I said I wouldn't discuss the tremors in Ferguson, Missouri, the after-effects of the shooting death of Michael Brown, and the grand jury matter regarding officer Darren Wilson.

I said if you want to hear my opinions on it, then you'd have to speak with me face-to-face.

Well, that can get cumbersome. Plus, this is too important of an issue, so not speaking about it can be problematic.

I say "can be" because there's been a lot said about Ferguson on social media, on cable news, on the Internet, and so on and very little of the discussion has been constructive.

There are some exceptions to that rule. Some bloggers and speakers have spoken in order to shed more light than heat on this. Eichel Davis (no relation), a Westminster grad whose company I enjoy greatly, gave an honest African-American perspective about a month after Michael Brown's death. Also, Mike Higgins, a seminary classmate of mine and now Dean of Students at Covenant Seminary, was interviewed by Christianity Today and gave kind but firm responses regarding the issues behind Ferguson

So in a sense, what could I add to the discussion that hasn't been said. Precious little. But I feel somewhat burdened to speak out on a few details.

First, the reaction to Michael Brown's death underscores the truth that St. Louis is one of the most divided, segregated cities in America. This is why I dismiss assertions of St. Louis natives who criticize the Deep South for vicious racism. Not that racism doesn't exist in the South; it does. I lived in the South for most of my life and I can tell you that racial bigotry can rear its ugly head from time to time. But there have also been tremendous advances and healing over time in the former Confederacy, although there's a ways to go. But St. Louis has cornered the market on subtle yet very real segregation and racism that does need to be called out. White flight and suburban stretch have buttressed that, as well, as the city of St. Louis has undergone a slow death while Southern cities like Atlanta and Chattanooga have experienced urban renaissances. 

Secondly, the reaction to Michael Brown's death shows that--as Soren Kierkegaard once said--people demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Both sides on this issue bear guilt. It doesn't take much for people like Sean Hannity to go into full-ninja reaction mode on Fox News and start assuming the worst about Michael Brown and immediately defend the police officer Darren Wilson who shot Brown. Nor does it take any thought or responsibility for groups like the New Black Panthers to swoop into town and stir up discord. Guess what? Maybe the best thing to do is to speak about what we know rather than what we assume to be true. Social media and the informational superhighway may move at warp speed, but no one is forcing you to keep pace.

Thirdly, spinning off from point 2 above, the reaction to Michael Brown's death shows us that we very often do NOT use our heads when reacting. The number of times Americans have been slow to speak have been minimal. The grand jury investigation has been poring over evidence that the general public has not been privy to, yet many Americans from Main Street to Wall Street, from Fox News to MSNBC, have been sounding off. Have the humility to admit there is more to this than you can see at first. And when the evidence doesn't fit one's pre-disposed view of things, what then? It remains to be seen.

Fourthly, what matters is going on from this. We cannot resurrect Michael Brown, and that is a tragedy, because he should still be pursuing his future. Officer Darren Wilson's career is forever changed. But this is an issue that goes beyond the families and the police department, beyond funerals or discussions about police profiling, and beyond the largely unhelpful pontifications of people like Al Sharpton and Bill O'Reilly. 

I'll tell you why the fourth matter is so key for me personally. I teach at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, where our minority enrollment is about a sixth of the student body, quite excellent for a private school in west St. Louis County (a territory I call the "Ritz Blitz"). When the grand jury decision is announced, there will be a number of students in my classes and throughout our school who will experience a range of emotions: the raw, the confused, the honest, the unhelpful, the genuine, and the skeptical. What we have to do, as our headmaster Dr. Tom Stoner reminded us, is to provide safe places in which students can work through the gamut of this experience. The key thing is to help promote peace and positive relations among our students and staff, and that begin by listening to each other, not barking off our opinions.

The days ahead are nebulous ones for Ferguson and for the greater St. Louis area. But the motto of Geneva, Switzerland during John Calvin's time there was "After darkness, light." Our responses will be the beacon for change.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Autumn Memories, Kevin McDougal, and Rockne's Ghost

One would think even I could get sick of football. I announce the games for Westminster Christian Academy's football team, which plays against St. Charles West in the state 4A quarterfinals this Saturday. We keep winning, so we keep playing. More football. My mom's alma mater, Scott Community High School, is trucking along in the Kansas 3A playoffs and should reach the state finals. My favorite Canadian team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, is poised to make the Grey Cup championship game, and my NFL faves, the Kansas City Chiefs, are flexing their muscles for a postseason run. 

No chance. Eventually I'll start paying attention to other things: hockey, the amount of food in my dog's bowl, stoplights.  But this is football season. No changing that.

And it's today that gives me some warm, happy memories from twenty-one years ago. Although my Notre Dame Fighting Irish were the second-ranked team in the country and playing at home, they were a decided underdog against top-ranked Florida State in what became the "Game of the Century" (highlight video of the game at the top of this post). This was a big deal. Seminole quarterback Charlie Ward would eventually win the Heisman Trophy that year. The Irish seemed outgunned. My seminary roommate (and present colleague) L.B. Graham and I bet dinner on the outcome. 

It was rare in that the game lived up to and surpassed its hype. Ward completed 29 of 50 passes but threw a critical interception. Lee Becton ran for 122 yards for Notre Dame, Adrian Jarell got a TD on a reverse, and the Irish led for the supermajority of the game.

They did it, too, with possibly the most underrated quarterback in Irish history. He is now in real estate in south Florida, but then Kevin McDougal was the man of the hour. Notre Dame has had a number of quarterbacks over the years: Terry Hanratty, Tom Clements, and Joe Montana from the 60s and 70s championship teams. Ron Powlus and Brady Quinn were highly heralded, as well. Tony Rice was an amazing option quarterback who got us the 1988 national title, Jarious Jackson was a dual threat, and Everett Golson has developed into quite the offensive show this year. But far and away, my favorite Notre Dame QB of all time has been McDougal. Cut from the same run-pass mold of fellow African-American ND quarterbacks like Rice, Jackson, and Golson, McDougal's greatest quality might have been his perseverance and competitiveness. He didn't throw that much (his senior year stats were 98 of 159 passes, 1541 yards, and seven TDs aside five interceptions), but what mattered was his generalship. He simply willed his team through every challenge. That day against Florida State, McDougal completed 9 of 18 passes and made no mistakes, running the offense to absolute perfection.

The game still came down to the final play, when Ward tried to thread a pass into the end zone to either Kez McCorvey or Tamarick Vanover, somehow ignoring a wide open Matt Frier at the goal line. Shawn Wooden knocked the pass down, setting off the celebration of the century (and a free dinner at Olive Garden for me). Over the din, NBC's Charlie Jones could be heard yelling, "The ghost of Knute Rockne is living...and he is smiling!"

A team quarterbacked by Kevin McDougal toppled a juggernaut quarterbacked by the Heisman Trophy winner that year.

The joy was short-lived, as my Irish got clipped in a last-second upset the next week against Boston College. The ending of that year was controversial, with Florida State--whom we beat--leapfrogging us in the polls for the national title after the bowl games. Yes, the Seminoles were deserving, but half of that championship trophy belongs to us.

So whenever November 13th comes around, forgive me if my eyes get a little misty. My thoughts have likely turned to an autumn memory from the poignantly beautiful landscape of Notre Dame, with an everyday hero like Kevin McDougal willing a legendary ghost to life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day

It's Veterans Day today. November 11, 2014. I keep thinking that our Canadian and British friends have it right, though, in calling this Remembrance Day. That is truly at the heart of the matter.

If there's one thing about our veterans, it's that they should never be forgotten. Any branch of service, any amount of time.

We must remember veterans like double amputee Noah Galloway, whose story of grit and valor and ongoing perseverance touches many.

We must remember members of the "greatest generation" like my Granddad Herron and others who served in World War II.

We must remember and thank others like my friend Kal Dawson, who drove one of the first Marine tanks into Kuwait City as American-led troops liberated that place from the grip of Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm. It means thanking friends like Andy Gienapp who served in the war on terrorism in Iraq, and remembering my former student Brad Arms who lost his life there.

And we must always recall that conflict, in some way shapes us. Ninety-six years ago, World War I (a.k.a., the Great War) ended with an armistice in a railway car in Compiegne, France. That war more than anything else forced the crumbling of the well-meaning but reality-impaired movement of progressivism and its cardinal doctrine of the inevitability of humankind's progress. The horrors of Ypres, Verdun, and Passchendaele choke-slammed a collective worldview all across the planet when we saw what people were capable of doing. Conflict will always be part of what Private Joker called "the duality of man" in Full Metal Jacket, of humanity's fallen condition. That shaping work is met with the courageous action of the finest people on the globe, men and women who give their blood, sweat, and tears to hold up on their shoulders the freedoms we so often take for granted.

If you know a veteran, thank them today. And always remember.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rapid Reax: Election 2014

It's rare I do a political post, but last night's sea change was worthy of one this morning. So here are some quick takes of mine on last night's contests:

(1) Republicans win the Senate: And this is with voting counts still finishing up in Virginia and Alaska, and with a run-off in Louisiana still to come that threatens to send incumbent Mary Landrieu into the private sector. Republicans had been pointing to this election as a referendum on Democrat policies and they capitalized on a furious electorate.

(2) The way the Republicans won: As much as I can appreciate the raw grassroots power of the Tea Party from 2010 (not saying I agree with them on all ideology, just saying I respect it as a political force), what intrigued me was the Republicans showed a more varied playbook this time around. They showed they could run more than one style of offense. The strategy of the Republican national leadership hand-picking solid contenders from safe districts and having them run against vulnerable Democrat candidates was a masterstroke. While the Democrats went for a "Hail Mary" attempt of dumping $60M in ads, the GOP went for a solid ground game of three yards and a cloud of dust. This time, steady won the race, by and large.

(3) Surprises, part 1: I was surprised that a couple of vulnerable GOP senators held onto their seats, and by wide margins. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky ended up cruising to a 15-point win over Alison Grimes. Pat Roberts got ground help and a come-to-Jesus talk from iconic Bob Dole (iconic in Kansas, anyway) to swallow up and reverse the margin that left-leaning independent Greg Orman held just a week before the election.

(4) Surprises, part 2: Holy cow, those gubernatorial races! A close one in Florida between incumbent Rick Scott (R) and former governor Charlie Crist (D) had decent turnout due to a marijuana initiative being on the ballot, too. Scott prevailed by a narrow margin, meaning that Crist has now lost races as a Republican, independent, and a Democrat. Sam Brownback, the GOP incumbent governor of Kansas who has struggled this year, was down five points last week to Paul Davis (D) but stormed back to win by four. And what's with the fury in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, and my former home state of Maryland? Those normally safe blue states flipped to red for Republican governors. Now it remains to be seen if those GOP guys can lead beyond the campaign season.

(5) Fear has its limits: Sorry, but tagging the South with the "racist" label--whether you do it before the election or the morning afterwards--is so intellectually flaccid and passé. And while we're on the subject (and breaking for a moment my pledge to refrain from any Ferguson, MO-related commentary), trying to ignite voters in Georgia by saying if a certain candidate gets elected then Michael Brown-like tragedies could be close at hand is petty and cruel. It does no justice to Michael Brown's family; it does no favors to the judicial process here in St. Louis; and it backfires.

(6) Fear has its limits, part 2: And by the way, this whole "war on women" narrative has lost steam and sounds like pathetic whining. This is because (a) much of America has figured out that one's position on abortion does NOT equal denial of contraception to women, (b) it's turning Democrats into single-issue pulpit-thumpers when I wish they'd engage the issues more frequently so people can make informed choices, and (c) Todd Akin is nowhere around this election cycle, so you can't drag the "legitimate rape" comment out of mothballs.

(7) This is one night; the hard part follows: Leadership, forming coalitions, and spearheading movements takes time. The Republican majority, President Obama's response, and where we go from here will take time to build. And people who love the GOP (I say this as an outsider, an independent voter with neo-libertarian leanings), should recognize that a number of these Senators-elect are more RINO (Republican in name only) than conservative (cough, Tillis in North Carolina, cough).

(8) The Democrats have some soul-searching to do: This is a party that has held together a fragile winning coalition of minorities and gentry liberals with some Wall Street glue and George Soros cash. But now the Democrats may be running into some strong headwinds and recognizing what Walter Mondale found out in the 1984 election: Promising the world to everyone in your big tent means making contradictory pledges, which leads to (unintentionally) setting allies within your party against each other and (more intentionally) alienating the middle class. As Republicans look for someone to pick up the Reagan mantle, Dems need to find someone in the Bill Clinton (whom I rather like personally) mold or the party is in danger of splintering beyond recognition.

(9) 2016? Two years is a long way away. But this I believe: Whoever comes out of either party as the nominee has to have centrist credentials with strong, respected connections to the party primary base. The Republicans could find Marco Rubio as a diamond in the rough, or try to convince Mitch Daniels of Indiana to run based on his fiscal wonderworking at the state level. But the field will feature moderates like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, although Herman Cain could be an interesting force in the mix. The Democrats? They really--in my honest opinion--need someone like Joe Manchin of West Virginia or Jim Webb of Virginia to navigate these waters. But that's just me.

(10) The nice thing...about an election? Win or lose, life goes on in America. I'm a published author, I have a great job, and I have a wife who loves me with whom I have three remarkably wonderful children (one of whom is with the Lord now). You can't ask for better than that, no matter who is in Washington.