Miles from Nowhere

A dear friend who had just almost lost her ear to skin cancer surgery sent me diving into the Cat Stevens songbook seeking the tune about losing body parts (Moonshadow, it turns out: and got me reveling in his first albums that somehow we all adored in the midst of all that heavy rock and psychedelia of the early 70s.  It’s still absolutely wonderful music and I got through Mona Bone Jakon and a good part of Tea for the Tillerman till my Airbuds pooped out as the 353 Wolverine rocked and rolled towards Ann Arbor from Chicago.  I might have gotten to the Indiana border.  Tears came more than once but I think Kathy was shocked when I turned my tear streaked face to her and held my phone up to show her a song I want to be played at my funeral.  Now I had been deep into the emotional pit that Cat is so good at making by then, all through Mona Bone Jakon and 5 cuts into Tea for the Tillerman. And he’s pretty good at those universal truths.  But these hit home.   Let me tell you how.

Miles from nowhere
I guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

The little Village I grew up in, Vicksburg, was miles from nowhere. I’ve always taken my time getting to things.  I didn’t declare a major till my junior year at Michigan, and even then it was a thrown together thing, putting medical school – if attained – at least a year past my graduation.  I kept on pace for the 4 year grind at U of C, but went back to tapping the brakes at Barnes.  My misbehavior put a year pause between finishing residency and starting fellowship at Michigan.  I didn’t get married till I was 34.  They had to petition to extend my tenure clock at Michigan.  Now retired, I fully intend to take my time to get to the next there.

Look up at the mountain
I have to climb
Oh yeah, to reach there.

I haven’t had an easy climb since I left Vicksburg.  Keeping grades up at Michigan was a grind.  Trying to scramble up and make something at bench research was a struggle at which I tried and failed for 9 years.  God, how U of C was a grind, even knowing it was next to impossible to flunk out.  Thrown in with the best and the brightest at Barnes was a constant struggle to keep up.  At Michigan, the reach always exceeded the grasp.  Tenure, o.k., but that next climb to “fool” professor just wasn’t going to happen.  I made Emeritus, which means they no longer pay you. I give them value for their dollar. The mountains there to climb in retirement will be of my own making, so I’m looking forward to scaling those, whatever they happen to be.

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

My body and I have had a lot of good times, and I’ve taken care of it, mostly. I think it has a few miles, and good times, left to go. But when I’m done, God and Jesus are taking over.

Miles from nowhere
Guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
’cause I know when I find it my honey
It’s gonna make me feel good

I found my honey 36 years ago, after a lot of groping, and boy does it still feel good.

I love everything
So don’t it make you feel sad
’cause I’ll drink to you, my baby
I’ll think to that, I’ll think to that.

Sure do.  And I’ll drink to most anything.

Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it’s alright

I’ve spent long stretches of my life alone. I was on only child, so being by myself seemed a natural state. After my mother died, I was the big fat kid nobody wanted to play with. Not till Vicksburg did I feel part of a group. At great big Michigan, I swam alone in a sea of strangers. I fondly recollect a few people from Hyde Park, but mostly I was by myself in that cold gray place. I learned in St. Louis that if you chased women successfully, you’d be pretty much assured of company. But even that system did not always work. My last year there, I lived in a 16th floor penthouse overlooking Forest Park. Sometimes, it was lonely at the top. Back in Ann Arbor, I found my second family in the Division, and of course my future bride. Yet, I was never embraced by the serious types, worse toward the end. Ten years ago, I discovered my biological family and now have more relatives than I can remember. I have friends spanning 55 years, mainly from Vicksburg. I don’t get lonely anymore. When I do find myself alone, I have many years of practice on how to keep myself company. Don’t cry for me.

I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yeah, the ones that I choose

Now that I’m retired, yeah.  Oh, yeah.  Never tasted freedom like this until now.  So sweet.

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

Miles from nowhere
I Guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Miles from Nowhere

  1. Oh my dearest Dr. Ike (Bob) you now have all the freedom to take your time and not answer to people. You’ve had great successes and some setbacks. I was always very excited to see you and chat during my appointments. I’ve had many doctors in my lifetime, and you’re my #1. I never knew you were a bad boy in your 20’s but who isn’t? The journey throughout your 20’s to now has led you to a wonderful place. You’re FREE and with Kathy! Who can ask for more? You know us Virgo’s we procrastinate on some things, but when we love we love hard!!!!!!

    I’m a huge Cat Stevens fan myself!


    1. Kim, you’re the best. And cutest. It twas always a highlighto of my day to have you visit. I know your medical problems have gone beyond “mere” Sjögren’s, and I hope yu are managing to cope. With your energy and enthusiasm, I have a good feeling for your prospects. The U thought I was a bad boy in my mid 60s, too, which is why I’m out to pasture. But I’m liking it here just fine, thanks. Keep reading!


  2. Something about Goose Lake adventure. 50th anniversary this summer Peace Train keep on running Tea for the Tillerman listened to at CMU with old buddy Sillaman. The short of “tall and short of it” Wags


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