Sunday mornings at my place usually consist of staying out of the office for a while and picking up stuff and straightening up of the house.   The couch cushions are checked for hidden treasures such as tennis balls.  Shelby’s bones and toys go into her basket and the rug gets vacuumed.  As I leave the room I can hear her emptying the basket and throwing everything back where it belongs.  Wash get done and put away and the sink emptied. 

                I’ve mentioned before that Sunday mornings always include music.  There’s no real rhyme or reason as to what goes into the mix.  Sometimes the list may go from Andrea Bocelli to Rod Stewart to Rod McKuen to Sarah Brightman.  Queen makes the list frequently as does Charles Aznavour and the Bee Gees.  Another favorite is Neil Diamond who takes up a lot of shelf space in my record collection. Seeing as how this is being written on September 30, Neil’s “September Morn” album is on the turntable.

                I have been a Neil Diamond fan since the late 1960s and Jerry always made sure to keep me supplied with any new album that came out.  He appreciated the fact that I had a few favorite singers, such as Neil, that he thought that could actually carry a tune.  It also helped that his slow songs were perfect for dancing to in our living room. 

                We moved from the Chicago area to Northeast Georgia late in the 70s and soon afterward were able to bring down my parents, thus forming our own mob-like enclosure.  Small town life suited us just fine and we busied ourselves with family and writing.  Then came August of 1984!  Neil Diamond was coming to Atlanta!!!

                Jerry not only got tickets for us but for our two kids and for my mother.  The kids had listened to his songs since they were babies. I’m sure my mother didn’t have a clue as to who he was or where we were going but it sounded like an adventure, for sure.  Boy, was she right.

                Having avoided actually going into the downtown Atlanta area up to this point, we suffered the consequences.  We had planned on leaving in plenty of time to get to the Omni, find our seats and settle in before the concert but… The interstate was a mess and there was nothing we could do except inch forward along with the rest of the traffic.  We were finally able to get off at what we thought was the correct downtown exit only to find out that we were wrong.

                 By this time Jerry was losing that thin veneer of adult confidence and cool we try to maintain in front of our children, right before we blow up and become the primal savages we really are.  Mapquest directions are not easy to follow when the vehicle is going really fast on unfamiliar streets while looking for a large building you’ve never seen before.  The kids were loving the roller coaster ride and my mother sat quietly with her eyes tightly shut, probably thinking that this was a big mistake.  I was already in the “It’s ok if we get there a little late mode,” and Jerry wasn’t buying it.  He knew this concert was important to me and he wasn’t going to let me down. 

                We eventually found the Omni, memorized the location and then spent more time circling the area to find a parking lot that still had space.  After paying almost the cost of a concert ticket for a little piece of real estate, we trekked back to the venue, dragging the kids and grandma.  We presented our tickets and walked into this humongous auditorium. Our seats were in the nosebleed section and the lights were already dimmed.  We never saw Neil walk on stage or actually see him sing his opening selection because we spent that time trying to get to our seats without falling.  Jerry had to contend with a night blind wife who lost all sense of balance in the dark, two young children who were too busy looking around to keep up and a seventy-eight-year-old mother-in-law.

                Grandma was a trooper and didn’t have a heart attack that night, thank goodness.  She did live until just shy of one-hundred years old.  The concert was great and we all had a wonderful time.  The kids didn’t lean forward and fall out of their seats onto the heads of those tiny people way down below and, we almost forgot that we still had to get everyone back down to the main level when it was over.

I was gifted with a concert tee shirt, which I still have, and the memory that Jerry always tried to keep his promises, even if meant endangering our lives to do so.  We found our car parked where we left it and drove at a much more comfortable speed on the long drive home.

Although Neil Diamond continues to write songs and to record, he has had to retire from touring because of Parkinson’s Disease.  His music has spoken to us for over fifty years and I hope for many more to come.  Thank you for all you have done to sing the words we all have in our hearts and for all the fond memories you have given us.

I remain,

Forever in Blue Jeans


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