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May 24, 2016

Our second child, Erik Hudson Neely, would have been forty-three years old today, May 24. He died nearly sixteen years ago at age twenty-seven. Erik had epilepsy from the time he was six years old. He died following a seizure when his heart stopped and did not regain rhythm. He was a newspaper reporter, first for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and then for the Charleston Post and Courier.

Clare and I were remembering Erik last night. I told her, “When I think of Erik, I still visualize him as twenty-seven. I always think of him as a young man.”

For Clare, this brought to mind a song written by Bob Dylan, “Forever Young.”

We listened to the song together and realized that the words are like a prayer for all young people. Actually, it is a prayer for all people everywhere regardless of age. It is the prayer of a parent’s heart. The lyrics are:


May the good Lord be with you

Down every road you roam

And may sunshine and happiness

Surround you when you’re far from home.


And may you grow to be proud

Dignified and true

And do unto others

As you’d have done to you.


May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the light surrounding you


Be courageous and be brave

Stand upright and be strong

And in my heart you’ll always stay

May you stay forever young.

Forever Young, Forever Young

Forever Young, Forever Young


May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift.


May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

And may you stay

May you stay forever young.


May good fortune be with you

May your guiding light be strong

Build a stairway to heaven

With a prince or a vagabond.


And may you never love in vain

And in my heart you will remain

Forever Young, Forever Young

Forever Young, Forever Young.


And when you finally fly away

I’ll be hoping that I served you well

For all the wisdom of a lifetime

No one can ever tell


But whatever road you choose

I’m right behind you, win or lose

Forever Young, Forever Young

Forever Young, Forever Young.


The lyrics change depending on the person singing the song. Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart both recorded the song as well as many others.  Here is a rendition by Joan Baez. I included it here in memory of Erik.

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