In 2002 I wrote a stage-play called 'Confessions of an Ordinary Man'. I performed the play nearly 100 times all around the region, in community theater's, churches and the like. From Luverne's Palace Theater to Mitchell's Pepsi-Cola Theater, from Platte to Rock Rapids to Dell Rapids, Flandreau, several churches in Sioux Falls and many more places.

I called it a 'one-man play'. But it reality, it wasn't. I was on stage for maybe 98% of the production, but the other 2% was an integral part of the story.

Oh yes, the story.

'Confessions of an Ordinary Man' features an 86 year old World War II veteran who is preparing to enter a Nursing Home. He is spending the final hours in the farmhouse he has lived in his entire adult life. As he wanders through the 'junk room' of the old house, he goes through his...well, what many people would consider old junk. But as he does, he brings the audience through his life, the life of an 'ordinary man' who, in truth like so many older people you know, actually led an extraordinary life.

One of the things he picks up is a picture of his late wife, Esther. They were married 60 years and Esther passed away a year ago. As he gazes at the picture he remembers the first and only dance they ever had, a dance at their 50th Anniversary party in their small town. And in this memory, in this fantasy of remembrance, music begins to play and Esther comes on stage to re-live that one and only dance in the old man's heart and mind.

So it wasn't a one-man play after all. And as for Esther?

Well, for the vast majority of those performances a genuinely wonderful lady named Bette Kooiman from Edgerton, Minnesota played the part. Bette played Esther first, back in 2002 when I first performed the production, and continued for dozens of shows. The only one's she missed were the ones that were simply too far for her to travel. She was in her 80's at the time. And I found out that Bette passed away a couple weeks ago at age 98. Have you ever had someone in your life that had a profound impact on you, not a family member, but someone that fate brought you to?

That was Bette.

Over the last several years I did the play (the last time was several years ago in Beresford) the part of Esther was played to perfection by Marilyn Hoffman. Marilyn, you see, is my cousin and someone I've known for....well, lets just say a good long while. For those few minutes of 'the dance' in the play, Marilyn WAS Esther and danced with me beautifully (which is plenty tough, because I don't dance!).

Marilyn has ALS. Lou Gehrig's Disease. That disease is a....well, it's a devastating hideous disease. There is no known cause, and no known cure. Marilyn is a battler, she has been all her life. And she's bravely battling now. And if you would, please send a prayer up for my cousin Marilyn, for my 'Esther', and her family. {Update: My cousin Marilyn passed away due to ALS on March 29, 2018}

In fact, while you do that, send a prayer up for my first 'Esther' and her family, too. This old ordinary man appreciates it.

I hope to one day fire up 'Confessions of an Ordinary Man' again and when I do, I'll be dedicating those performances to my two Esther's.

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