Sunday, November 7, 2010

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 95

We sat in the yard next to his house that was built in 1864. That's the year before the war started. Not WWI, but the Civil War. The house overlooks the Missouri River and the Great River Road, on the outskirts of Alton. His name is Erwin A. Thompson and I was there to do a video interview of him, at the request of his daughter and my friend, Janet Riehl.

Erwin will be 95 this coming Tuesday, Nov. 9, and he shows no signs of slowing down. We talked for over an hour on a warm day in October. He read poems he had written, sang songs he had composed, talked of his life before this day, and what he had planned for the future. He knew the songs by heart, remembered all the lyrics. He read the poems without reading glasses. He sang in a strong, vibrant voice, occasionally interrupted by a deep cough. His mind was as clear as the sky above.
A line from one of his poem still resonates with me:
"But no matter where or how I seek, I never hope to find
Music that will thrill me like what echoes in my mind."

Erwin spoke of the Second Mile. How it meant doing more than what is asked of you. It's a concept he believes and has lived. Here is a man who has met some tough times in his 95 years, but persevered. More than once in WWII he stopped to help others at the risk of his own life. He encourages others to do more than what is expected. He thinks not of the past, but of the future. When I asked him what his plans are in the time ahead, he gave me a one word answer: "Music." I know he'll keep singing, and playing a fiddle, and going that Second Mile, in the months and - hopefully - years ahead.

1 comment:

  1. I'll bet there's another book brewing here. Mr.Thompson sounds like an amazing man with a zest for life.