The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.    John 14:2

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. I often lay on the couch and drift off with a movie buzzing softly in the background.  Tonight I’m in my office on the computer watching YouTube videos.  I’ve come across Gordon Lightfoot videos; original recordings from the 70’s with collages of pictures and live performances as late as 2016.  He’s 78 now and still giving concerts.

Right now All the Lovely Ladies is playing, a bittersweet ballad. Earlier was Don Quixote, The House You Live In, and what is arguably his greatest song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Fitz went down in a winter storm in Lake Superior in the 70’s. Lightfoot was a fan of the Great Lakes and sailing.  He wrote the ballad for the Fitz just for himself, really.  At six minutes, he knew it was too long to ever get radio play, but it was such a great song it forced its way onto the airwaves and into the culture.

I saw the Edmund Fitzgerald tour when he came to Toledo, OH. It was a very special night.  The Fitz’s captain was from Toledo, and his family were Lightfoot’s special guests that night.

You could hear the “wind in the wire make a tattletale sound” on the slide guitar and the drums breaking “waves over the railing.”

I see pictures of the powerful musician and balladeer from then and the slight man the years have made. I’m reminded of my own time of strength and the wear of four decades since.

I get this way sometimes; maudlin, teary, wishing I had one more shot at my prime, to do something better with it perhaps. I’m told it’s a common thing for bypass patients to come to easy tears.  Indulge me…it’s after midnight.  I’m feeling like the ol’ Fitz on the bottom of Lake Superior, split and unable to float.

What hope do I have now that I’m much closer to death than I was when Gordon mourned The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Toledo over 40 years ago?

Jesus. I know that when this body finally calls it quits, when the pump can no longer be repaired, and the surgeons can’t pull one last life-saving procedure out of the operating theatre…I will be young again.  I’ll be clothed with my perfect body and moving into the mansion Jesus promised to prepare for all of us.  Tonight’s tears of memory and regrets are turning to tears of hope and longing.

Someday in the ever closer future, there will be one more period of tears. Tears of joy!

If you’ve never really heard Gordon Lightfoot’s ballads, try the titles I mentioned at the top for starters.  If you’re wondering what you’re going to do when your body’s time ends, whether from age or accident, call out to Jesus.  He’s always around, listening for anyone who wants to talk.

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