Life is suppose to be a blissful experience in which we share joy with each other and all of creation. But there are times when it can appear as though it is anything but blissful and we can find ourselves locked in a desperate struggle to hold on to a thread of the very quality we know life should contain. Eric Clapton expressed this feeling in the bridge of “Tears In Heaven” when he said:
Time can bring you down
Time can bend your knee
Time can break your heart
Have you beggin’ please…beggin’ please
But through experience I now know that whether we remain or depart this earthly plain of existence, we are always attended by a limitless loving presence that is forever unchanging.
This is a Guitar of the Week I have delayed writing partially because I really want to do a good job with this one and partially because there is a tremendous amount of emotional connection to the subject. But here goes anyway.
There is someone here I’d like you to meet. This is Chris; he is my nephew and one of my best friends in the entire world—a very fun person to hang out with. Since he was 5 years old he and his brother have been coming over to visit. We would stay up too late and watch movies, eat popcorn, take the Pepsi Challenge, ride bikes, play basketball at the park at midnight, etc. You get the idea. If you have followed any of our history you have read about him in the “What’s New” section of our web site for the last 2 ½ years. When he was 17 years old and a senior in high school he was involved in an accident during a physics class experiment, burned over 50% of his body and left fighting for his life. Because it happened at school it was also picked up by the news media and appeared on every television and radio station and newspaper in the Los Angeles area. At Tom’s encouragement and belief in the power of prayer we chronicled this story on our web site as it was unfolding. It is fascinating to re-read now because it is a look back at the thoughts and emotions of that moment in time—as it was actually happening, not knowing what the outcome would be and desperately needing a miracle.
(See the bottom of this page directly below the Guitar Specifications table if you would like to read those original entries).
The doctors did not know whether he would live or die. Their prognosis was very bleak. Out of kindness and compassion some of the nurses tried to prepare us for the worst. 37 days after the accident he was discharged from the hospital to a cheering crowd. The head doctor shared with his mother that he had no way of explaining the healing we had all seen and some of the nurses were calling him “The Miracle Boy.”
Still, after leaving the hospital it has been a long and arduous process of healing involving many reconstructive surgeries and it is not over yet. This summer he is scheduled for major work with a specialist in Chicago. But he is still improving everyday and looking forward to even greater healing to come.
For the first time Chris just recently read the “What’s New” account of these events and sent me an e-mail in which he said, “I was just checking out your web site and I thought that I would write to you and see how everything is going. It's kind of weird to look back at the entries about the ‘Nephew Update’ because I wasn't really there to share the emotion (even though I was the emotion). It definitely reminds me that there are people out there who are generous and kind and willing to care for others. Luckily I have relatives like you to fall back on because you guy's teach me that through strength and patience, love ultimately is the driving force that kept me alive.” Quite a realization, I think.
He used to be very big into sports but during his recovery he needed a more sedentary activity. Playing music was the answer. He has been playing the drums and his brother the guitar. He is now dabbling with guitar too. I wonder which brand he’ll decide to play?
These pictures were taken on his 20th birthday. He is pictured with his John Lennon, during the Help-era, haircut and a Translucent Black Burst, Cobra S that was sent to the United Kingdom after this photo shoot. Its serial number is 3-9-01A and I would love to know who ends up with this beauty. It is very special to me.
You see miracles do happen everyday and looking back I think the doctor was aware of it when he said to us on that first day, “…50% of his recovery is going to depend on the family and how you do during this crisis.” I think he has seen it many times before but can’t come out and say to the family that our best hope here is for a miracle to happen—but he knows.
I believe Chris’ remarkable recovery was due to his personal commitment to quality and the outpouring of everyone’s good wishes. You see, together we do change this world for the good and allow the Creative Spirit to return any and all situations to perfection.
Music is now playing a large role in Chris’ recovery. I personally feel that Tom Anderson Guitars are not just great guitars but hopefully contribute to the overall quality of the life experience. That is why we do what we do and what we are really striving for here.
About the Guitar: (I bet you thought I forgot) Thanks to its 24 ¾-inch scale length, mahogany/maple body and mahogany/rosewood neck this outstanding Translucent Black Burst, Cobra S presents itself with a thick, focused, powerful midrange sound. The wood treatment, meticulous construction and hardware choices sanction its character to usher forth with commanding authority that will not go unnoticed. The H1- and H2+ send all these inherent Cobra traits to the amplifier with an un-muddled mid/hot output that is always musical whether running as full power humbuckers or split to become impressive single coils. I was also struck with its extra-light brown colored African rosewood fingerboard and how it contributed to the overall look of this already stunning instrument.
Life is good! Have fun and be kind to someone who you think doesn’t deserve it.
(Below this table we have organized the original entries of this event as they unfolded. It is rather interesting to re-read them now since they do reflect the state of mind at the time this was all happening.)
MODEL: – Cobra S
FINISH: – Translucent Black Burst with Binding
BODY WOOD: – Maple Top with Mahogany Back
BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – Black
NECK WOOD: – Mahogany with African Rosewood Fingerboard
HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Black
NECK BACK FINISH: – Satin
NECK BACKSHAPE: – Cobra Standard
NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16th-inch
SCALE LENGTH: – 24 3/4-inch
FRETS: – Heavy
BRIDGE: – Vintage Tremolo
HARDWARE COLOR: – Gold
PICKGUARD: – n/a
NECK PICKUP: – H1-
MIDDLE PICKUP: – n/a
BRIDGE PICKUP: – H2+
SWITCHING: – 5-Way w Push/Pull Switch for 6 sounds
PICKUP COVERS: – n/a
PICKUP RINGS: – Cream
STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .010-.046
DESTINATION/LOCATION: – United Kingdom
THE NEPHEW STORY!
12/01/98 NEPHEW UPDATE:Let's get serious for a moment. On Wednesday morning November 25th 1998, my wife called here saying that my nephew had just been involved in an accident during a high school physics experiment. He was burned over 50% of his body and had been air lifted to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks CA.
I left here immediately and the entire family spent the Thanksgiving holiday right there at the hospital. You may have seen something about this on the news. It was broadcast all over California and a bit on the national news. At this moment, he is still in critical condition and on life support machines. I not only love this kid but we are very good friends as well. All of us have seen many amazing things since that Wednesday, however, and he is improving much faster than expected--surprising the doctors a bit I think.
I was talking with Tom this morning and he suggested that, instead of updating with the usual stuff, I share this story with you. I have seen many miracles unfold in my life experience and quite a few this past week--and for that I am grateful. But if you've got a moment, we could use your thoughts & prayers for a complete and perfect recovery. He deserves it. He's a great guy and if you could meet him, you'd like him too. Thank you all.
P.S. I was a bit reluctant to share this story. Usually the most eventful thing that happens to me is a new shade of 6120 Orange paint for the guitars--and I like it that way.
Love & Thanks Roy
NEPHEW UPDATE 12/18/98Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your good thoughts, wishes and prayers. I believe it has made a big difference in my nephew's recovery. Last week was an important week for him. On Tuesday 12/08/98 he went in for a scheduled operation to graft skin to the center of his face. When they unwrapped his bandages he was so healed that they grafted his entire face, arms and hands. They felt the operation went very well. On the following Friday they did another scheduled operation to graft his chest and examine his throat for damage and healing. When they unwrapped his bandages all of the work they had done on Tuesday had already "taken" and was looking really good. They looked in his throat and the doctor said, "I could not believe my eyes. It was astonishing. It was so healed I thought I must be looking at a different throat." They also said that they now believe that he will walk out of the hospital. Needless to say, the family was elated.
Each day following, he has looked better and more full of energy. But then on Tuesday, 12/15/98, I stopped by after work to visit him. Normally, upon entering the room, I had been greeted with a slight nod of acknowledgment. I walked in and said, "hi" and he said, in a strong voice, "Hi Roy." I said, "Hi Roy, hi Roy, you said hi Roy to me." Then I asked, "how do you feel?" He said, "great." We were so happy. The next day he was speaking full paragraphs and had walked just a bit. He is mostly unbandaged and looks like he is starting to heal well. The nurses seem to be euphoric--they are such caring people. I believe that his life is no longer in danger. See, miracles do happen. Now the task is for the skin to heal pretty--which he deserves. So, that will happen too. Why not!
Your support, prayers and good thoughts have been invaluable to this family. We all believe it has made a positive difference. He is coming along nicely but still has quite a long road to walk. All your good thoughts and prayers are still very much needed for a perfect recovery. So, if you don't mind sending some our way, we will be very grateful. Thanks!
Nephew Update 01/08/99He's home, he's home, he is home!!! On Tuesday Dec 29th he walked out of the hospital to 7 TV stations and every major newspaper in the Los Angeles area. He gave a little speech of thanks, jumped into a waiting limo and off he went. It was fantastic. Now the job before him is rehab and continued healing. He needs to heal pretty-- and with all our good wishes, support and prayers he will do just that. Thank you all for the support. It has made a difference.
Nephew Update 02/03/99Talk about guts, this kid has got it. He is now really working on healing. He has to wear a compression mask and shirt for the next year, 23 hours a day. And yet, he decided to go back to school. So, on Monday, Feb 1st he did just that, he went back to school. He is taking 3 classes in the morning and physical therapy in the afternoon. Man, this guy is my hero. Thanks for all your good wishes. Please join with us in continued support for this amazing young man who means so much to us and who has shown us all what bravery really means. Perfect healing is where we will stop! Thanks so very much.
Nephew Update 03/04/99 Well, he's still at school and doing quite well. He only has the 3 classes and does as much therapy as possible but he gets tired rather easily. And guess who has been elected to the Prom Court. That's right. He just refuses to quit. No matter how good it sounds or how far he's come back, in some ways he needs your good wishes and prayers more than ever right now. He is just beginning to face the world again and this is an uphill journey. He needs to know that his life will become normal and that he will continue to heal and embrace happiness on all levels. With the miracles I've already seen, there is no reason this will not happen. With all our support he will do just that!
Newphew Update 03/19/99 March 14th was his birthday and this year he turned 18 years old. His Mom threw a big surprise party at their house. All his friends were there and "my" band played. We opened with Birthday by the Beatles--of course. He had a great time. He walked up to me while we were taking a break and said, "my friends are totally impressed." I was shooting for not embarrassing him, so impressed is good. He is scheduled for plastic surgery in July. They will do his nose, ears and lips. We are hoping for great results. He is getting a little stronger and moves a little easier each day. It is slow but always an improvement. You know, through this whole situation I have never heard him whine or complain and I know there must be times he feels like it. Anyway, Happy 18th Birthday to an amazing young man who knows that with a great attitude he is on his way back to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Nephew Update 03/25/99 Today is a big day. He is at the taping of the Leeza Show. It will be airing sometime in the near future and I will let you know. Tomorrow he goes in for yet another medical procedure. His skin is healing so fast that it is not looking as smooth as they would like to see. They will have to put him under and administer multiple injections at all the scar sites. We are very positive that this will help facilitate quality healing. He is in good spirits and is filled with hope. A great guy! I love him. Your good thoughts are much appreciated. I believe that they make a big difference. Thanks to all.
Nephew Update 3/30/99If you would like to see and hear him he will be on the Leeza Show (see below) airing April 6th.
Nephew Update 5/5/99:Well last Sunday night my unstoppable nephew was on a local NBC sports show. He interviewed Mo Vaughn of the Angels and he did a great job. NBC retold his whole story and then showed the interview. What can I say. I am so grateful that he is recovering like this. To see this all unfold has changed my life forever as well. He feels that he is not even 50% recovered yet and says that the doctors say they will get him back to looking very close to how he was before the accident. His next operation is scheduled for tomorrow and we wish him all the best. Chris is his name. Chris, stand up and take a bow. You are a hero to me and an inspiration to the world. Thank you God! And you everyone. He could not have done this without you.
Newphew Update 6/18/99: Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. As you know if you read the earlier "Nephew Updates" (see below), my nephew was critically injured in an accident in his high school physics class the day before Thanksgiving. The doctor had told me that he did not know if he would live or die--a 50/50 chance. Well, 37 days later he walked out of the amazing Grossman Burn Center and went home. It wasn't long after that he decided to go back to school and last night he graduated from high school with all As and one B+. Of course I attended and did my very best to look like everyone else but inside I wanted scream and cry with joy and thanks for his life. I know, along with his determination, it was all of our prayers and good wishes together that made the difference. I know. I was there. I saw what it did. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart to all of you. He is scheduled for plastic surgery in July and is looking forward to it. He says he is not even 50% back yet. I know he will go all the way. And why not! The hardest part is now behind him.
Newphew Update 7/13/99:The doctors have just completed his second reconstructive surgery. The first one left him in quite a bit of pain but I didn't hear him whine once. This operation is more extensive and will require him to stay over night at the hospital, one or two nights. Today is also his brother's birthday. It can't help but be a lucky day. In my mind, everyday I see him improving and know that one day he will be where he wants to be. Thanks for your prayers.
Nephew Update 11/24/99:Today is Wednesday, November 24, 1999. It is the day before Thanksgiving. I try to live in the moment and look forward to ever increasing goodness but for me part of this day will be spent in reflection.
It was one year ago today that I was sitting right here at this desk when my wife called and told me that my Nephew had just been critically injured during a High School Physics experiment. He was air lifted from the football field, where the experiment had gone wrong, to the Sherman Oaks, Grossman Burn Center. When he arrived and for the several weeks that followed the doctors did not know whether he would live or die. There were many times where it looked quite bad and it was tough on him and the whole family. But there was also an underlying knowing; of life and of healing and 37 days later he walked out of that hospital.
Well now it is one year later and those of you who have been following this story and supporting us deserve an update. I haven’t updated lately because I haven’t wanted to dwell on the whole event but I still get many inquires about him, so here’s the latest.
He has gone through many operations, mainly focusing on his hands and upper lip. One week ago they did the first of four surgeries planned for rebuilding his nose. All these procedures have been extremely painful although he doesn’t do much complaining. He is a stud and I know he will continue to be as he walks a very long road to full recovery.
He also made a short movie with his friends. It is a parody of "The Blair Witch Project" and it was quite funny. I know that your good wishes and caring have made a big difference in his life and we really appreciate it. Let’s all have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season this year and be very aware that we have a lot to be thankful for.
Nephew Update 01/19/00:He started college yesterday. He's got guts. He only missed one semester and he’s back to it. Pretty good for a guy who was hanging by a thread a year ago. He is engaged in a long hard struggle and will need many more operations to regain his looks and the full use of his hands but he is now learning to play the drums and wants a drum set for his birthday. He is coming back by leaps and bounds and will one day soon be as good as new.
Nephew Update 3/29/00:I have thought that it is probably time to remove the “Nephew Updates” from our web site but I get so many inquiries about his progress that I guess I owe you another update and a heartfelt thanks for the deep level of caring everyone has shown.
We just celebrated his 19th Birthday. That was a treat. As you know he started college. He seems to like it and is doing quite well. Since he cannot participate physically yet, he has been doing some announcing at college track meets. He’s really good—a natural showman. Pretty amazing for a guy who inhaled super heated air that burned his throat. They thought it might do permanent damage but he seems to be doing fine.
When school is out for the summer he will fly from Los Angeles to Chicago to see a great plastic surgeon who will attempt to rebuild his nose. We will be hoping for the best. It is just another in a long line of reconstructive surgeries. I feel it will be very successful. In all honesty, some of these last few months have been really rough for him. I think he is questioning it all now and trying to keep a brave face and keep going. He will! As always your good wishes are appreciated and needed.
Nephew Update 07/13/00:Right now as I am writing this, my Nephew is in surgery to rebuild his lips. I am praying for the doctor’s hands to be guided and for perfect healing afterwards.
He has already completed his first semester of college and will be going back in the fall. He is enjoying it. There is a high school aged girl in Michigan that was burned in a similar accident. He met with her briefly when he was in Chicago consulting with a plastic surgeon. He has since been in touch with her mother giving encouraging words and advice on how to get through a thing like this. Also, there is a newscaster here in Southern California who covered his story. She had an accident while on another story and was electrocuted and badly burned. She was taken to the same Grossman Burn Center where my Nephew had been. He went to visit her and offer words and an example of hope. He will be attending a burn survivor meeting in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and, if I’m not mistaken, may be speaking. They love the way he uses humor to deal with his situation.
I am feeling good about the way it is going. Everyday he is getting stronger and seems to be enjoying life more. It is a big deal when he has to go through a surgical procedure though. I can really feel it tug at my heart. But, as I said, he is coming along and is stronger and better every day. We attended the “Ringo and his All Stars” concert at the House of Blues a couple of weeks ago. It sort of felt as though we were finally getting back to normal.
Nephew Update 01/05/01: I never would have believed that this story would have remained on our web site for two years but we still receive inquiries of interest and concern so for those of you following the story, here is the latest. Thanks.
Well it is pretty much all good now. Since we last spoke my nephew and his brother have taken quite an interest in music. He has taken up the drums and his brother the guitar. We jammed together at Thanksgiving and we jammed at Christmas. It was great fun. They have a raw enthusiasm and freshness that can be lost by seasoned/tired players. We even wrote a song. Looking back two years ago, this is a dream come true. The Nephew will fly to Chicago this summer to have his nose reconstructed by one of the best surgeons in the country. His brother, who plays the guitar, is working to improve and a rapid rate because he is now thinking a Tom Anderson Guitar may be in his future. We could probably help him with that.