There are precious few moments when we are lifted from the everyday and transported to a special place in our minds where the memory will live forever.

That happened to us at an unexpected time and place. Deb and I had a quiet dinner several weeks ago, then headed over to see a favorite couple of friends we have know since four days after we moved here.

Here they are, the first folks to welcome us to the community 16 years ago, and they are still welcoming many more.

It was show night at the Fairwinds Desert Point Leisure Care Retirement Community on North La Reserve Drive and Bob Norman Entertainment was performing. Bob Norman is Norm Beasley's stage name, and MJ, his wife, is his supporting cast.

Norm is in his 80s and still going strong. Although still playing his trombone with smooth elegance, Norm performs most pieces singing with a silken voice that is truly timeless. MJ personalizes the experience by getting to know the crowd beforehand and selecting music for the evening's concert.

For that hour we traveled back to a much different time when surviving the Depression and World War II seemed like a life's work. Life may exhaust us at times, but these folks have found a way not only to deal with all that life threw at them but to move on and learn from the experience.

For Deb, the memories flew with the song, "Sentimental Journey." She just loves her Midwest roots and the slow pace of southern Illinois. For me "New York, New York" struck my chords. It brought back memories of growing up in the Big Apple and having that song be a part of everyday life.

However, the true specialness of the evening heightened as Norm came to the last song. It seemed to have a deep heartfelt meaning so close to the holiday season.

MJ hit the "play" button for the background music and Norm began to belt out the first words to "God Bless America" when the crowd spontaneously rose as one.

Standing with hands over hearts, we sang along and had a grand old time. The disparity in our ages and upbringings seemed to disappear.

By the final note, there was not a dry eye in the place as we all gave a much needed deep sigh. "Boy, I needed that," I said to Debbie as she wiped the tears from her face.

During this holiday season, I would like to say thanks to Norm and MJ and all those folks that inspire in our daily lives. They are truly gifts to us the whole year through - and may God bless America.

Enjoy the journey,


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