I have long viewed the circle of life as waves rolling along in the middle of the ocean. When one wave passes, it is replaced by another, and so on.

Since time began, the human existence has been one wave after another.

As a child, I saw that. I saw my grandparents and to me they were “old” and could never imagine myself reaching that stage of life. What young person doesn’t think he or she will live forever?

Then I watched as my four grandparents became three, then two, then one, then none. All the while, I was no longer the young lad I had been when the losses started. I was becoming a young man, a small wave becoming a bit bigger.

Then I saw as my parents, aunts, and uncles became the wave my grandparents once were. And as we all know, time stands still for no one. Slowly, that wave began to dissipate, ultimately leaving me with fewer aunts, uncles, then one parent, then none.

That only means one thing — my generation, and I are quickly becoming one of the “older” waves in life’s vast ocean.

Too often I’m seeing friends, relatives and childhood heroes ”lapping on the shore,” to be waves no more, or showing the signs of nearing that final wash onto the beach. Frankly, it’s disturbing to a degree. I’m now of an age that I, as a child, I never thought I would reach.

All of this is a lead in to the crux of this column. Last week, Denise and I attended a live concert for the first time since the pandemic hit in February of 2020. My wife and I used to attend three or four shows per year — until routine became obsolete.

We went to The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River to see, be amused by and entertained by one of our favorite performers, Jonathan Edwards, where as a boy grew up in Minnesota and Virginia, singing in a choir and I believe his dad was a preacher as well.

His musical career was unconventional; choosing to remain in a dimmer limelight than his peers, playing small venues and not changing who he is and what he believes.

I first saw him in 1975 at SMU (now UMASS Dartmouth), when I was a freshman there. Over the next 47 years, I’ve seen him at least 20 times. 

Last Friday night was a breath of fresh air after the staleness of the pandemic lifestyle change.

But it was also bittersweet. Jon is now 75 and has disclosed he has a rare, hereditary form of Muscular Dystrophy, causing pain and weakness in his legs, feet, fingers and arms.

The guitars of Jonathan Edwards after a recent concert in Fall River. (Photo by Dave Jolivet)

He came to the stage with the aid of cane and had a noticeable change in his gait.

During his set he was his usual charming self — very funny, great story-telling and awesome guitar work, Blues harp work, and singing. But I also saw him struggling a bit, occasionally shaking his fret hand and having a bit of trouble changing the Blues harp in its neck holder to one of a different key.

At the tail end of the show, he asked his wife and dog (the dog was a perfect capper to a great evening) to join him on stage.

When he was done, he reached back to place his axe in the stand, but instead knocked it over. He wasn’t agile enough to reach down and get it and looked for a place to rest the guitar, ultimately laying across the stool in which he performed all night.

Denise and I had front row seats and I just looked at the guitar lying across the seat and felt a wave of melancholy wash over me. I felt compelled to take a picture of the scene, and I’m not quite sure why. Days later I’m still not.

Jon was a brilliant as ever, but I have a nagging feeling like I’m not going to see my friend perform any more. I pray I’m wrong, but the waves in the ocean never stop.

As I got up to make my way back home, my knees barked at me as I stretched out, again reminding me of the wave in the deep blue sea.

In 2007, Jon released an album, “Rocking Chair.” The title song lyrics include: “You say that you are feeling down, down, down. And you can’t seem to get yourself around just like you used to do, when you were 22. I know how you feel, cuz I get the feeling there’s nothing that we can do. Rocking chair will get you. Oh, you won’t know what hit you. Rocking chair will get you, get you before you’re through.”

He adds not to go knocking on the pearly gates before your time is through, adding, “Christ Almighty will be your light if you just let Him shine on you.”

The song has greater meaning for me now than in 2007, and the waves keep rolling.

I know you probably won’t see this Jon, but thank you for all the years of making me smile. Keep on rocking, even if it’s in a chair.