When Hoyt, Deborah, and some friends drove from Montana to see us, TDN play at the Dalles, in Oregon, it had been almost 2 years since I had last seen Hoyt. He had partially recovered from his first stroke, but was still semi- mobile, having suffered some major paralysis. He was just beginning to be able to drive again. I recently received a post on my web site guest book, from a guy who was there that night. It's short, but I have included it below.
* Long Time Fan *
Hi Mike, I just found this site, I am new to computers, anyhow I was the one who drove Hoyt out to The Dalles Oregon, when you guys played there, and we all went out to eat at Dennys, and want you to know that it was something I'll never forget, I went to Hoyts funeral, I will miss him always, I keep in contact with Debra. Wishing you the best of luck........Rick
-Sunday, May 13, 2001 at 18:09:39 (PDT)
On October 1st, 1999, about 10 months had passed since I last spoke with Hoyt by phone. I was home and getting ready to pack for the next, "Three Dog" road trip. We were headed to Wisconsin and Michigan the very next morning. The phone rang and I picked it up to hear, "Michael? Hoyt!", and off we went into our friendly chatter. A few minutes into the conversation, Hoyt says, "Michael, I've got a new song and it's a good one. I think it's a hit." I asked him how it went and he began singing it to me over the phone, no music, just him singing. His voice was rather weak, but still round. I noticed that he took breathes more than usual. The song was, "Some Women". He had been working on it for the better part of a year, together with a local friend and musician named Louie Bond. It was rough, as you can imagine, but really good. I told him "Hoyt, it's a smash! I love it". I meant it, too. That song and the lyrics stuck in my head from that moment on. The conversation went on, and he began telling me that he had another stroke and had been in the hospital. I began to understand why his voice was weak. He was quiet, mentioning that "just when I was beginning to get a lot better, this had to happen". He then went on to describe the hospital events and what damage the stroke had done. His voice slurred just slightly. I began to feel bad that I had asked him to sing the song to me. He waved me off and said, "no problem" or something like that. He then began to say stuff like, "you aughta come up here and see me sometime, stay a while at the ranch. I'll have somebody come pick you up at the airport. Come up anytime." I was a bit put back by his condition, and quickly told him that I had to leave for the road the very next morning. He said he understood, and for me to have a great trip playing music. We said our goodbyes and hung up.
I went into the other room where my girlfriend, Linda, was and began telling her about the conversation. I told her of this great song that he sang to me and how I could just HEAR it and HOW to do it. The song really spoke to me, called to me, if you will. I then related the rest of the conversation to Linda, about his condition. Upon finishing my account, she said to me, "Don't you realize what he was trying to tell you?" I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "He was trying to tell you that he is dying and that he wanted you to come see him before he dies". I sat down on the bed, reflected on what she had said and on what he had said ... and then told Linda, "You're absolutely right; I just didn't want to hear it. What can I do? I have to go on the road tomorrow". She went on to tell me that she didn't have the answer, but that I should go right away. At that moment, I knew she was right. I got on the phone to our travel agent, Scarlet, and asked her if she could get me to Montana from Michigan and out again, in time for the next set of 3 Dog dates, which were coming up in a few days, after the upcoming run in Michigan. She quickly tried to make it happen, but the only way was for me to fly to Chicago, then to Spokane, WA, rent a car and drive through Idaho into Montana and down to Missoula, where they lived. I then called Hoyt and Deborah back, and asked them if it would be okay if I came and stayed the night, as Hoyt had suggested. I would be there in about 3 days, right after the Michigan gig. Debbie was wonderful and said, "Absolutely. Come on!" And so, it was to be. She put Hoyt on the phone, he was bedridden and I told him "Hoyt, I'm coming" and asked him to have me a tape of that song when I came, because I wanted to work up an arrangement on it, for him. It was to be my present to him.
While staying with Hoyt and Debbie at their ranch/home in Montana, Debbie fully explained to me the seriousness of his condition. The doctors had told him that he had the body of an 80 year old man. He had, in fact, died on the table at the hospital, but they had resuscitated him. While sitting in a rocking chair, next to Hoyt's bed at home, I listened to him say, "Michael, I died in that hospital. They had to bring me back. When it happened, I don't remember seeing any tunnel. No light at the end. Nothing". I felt so helpless. I wanted to have the knowledge that would give him comfort, but could not bullshit my friend. I just told him that I didn't know of anything that I could say, that would mean anything to him. I told him to try and not be afraid. It would be okay. I was at a loss for words. Not much of a comforting statement from me, but he seemed to let go of the stress of it all, if only for that moment. I don't think I will ever forget him saying that to me. Still, I have great hope of more to come after this life. Just what it is, I do not know. I can't even truthfully say that I have "faith" about it. Merely "hope". A strong hope, that seems to gain more validity with each and every day. Is that confirmation of an afterlife? It will have to do for me. It's all I have. The Bible brings comfort to some. All I know is this: I have been "absolutely sure" a few times in my life, concerning "religious truth's", only to later find them to be mere "human concepts", with very little validity at all. Verifying your religious beliefs can end up consuming your life, just wanting to be "right", so to speak. Within that comes, "social cliques" and potential, "better than thou" tendencies. Not all fall prey to it, but it is not uncommon. All this can be very hard if you fall short of accepting the Bible, or other sources, as the "one and only, divinely inspired" source for it all. If you find man's weakness within the writings, a sense that, over the centuries, the political aspirations of man has somewhat tailored it to their needs, then, you are left to the unknown, to find reason and order to this life and all it is meant to be, assuming it was meant to be anything. Skepticism and logic have spoiled my naive trust in all that I was taught as a child, and searched out as a young adult. I am now, finding a truer source, that lives within and around me. I can't put a label on it, but it is becoming more clear as time goes on. I am finding comfort in it and hope to share it with others, in some way. Not for credits sake, but for the sake of sharing. (cont.)