Jim Nabors' message to Indy 500 fans
My job is demanding, but I wouldn't trade places with most people. Two weeks ago, I got an invitation to go to Honolulu to visit Jim Nabors. How can you turn that down?
I met Nabors at his house on Diamond Head near Honolulu. The entire back wall is glass, overlooking the ocean.
He's lived in the house over 30 years. The home is packed full of memories and pictures from all of his celebrity friends.
Jim will watch the race from home this year. He will not be at this year's Indy 500.
He has sung "Back Home Again In Indiana" just about every year since 1972. This year, doctors are making him stay home.
Jim will undergo heart valve surgery on May 29th.
We chatted on his back deck.
"What are your emotions like having to go through this?" I asked.
"Well, they just keep patching me up and sending me back out. I am used to it. I feel very blessed. I have had these years to do all the things I have done," he said. "I had a liver transplant. I have a pacemaker. I have a new knee!"
I suggested instead of Gomer, his nickname could be the Bionic Man.
"Absolutely," he concurred.
Despite all the ups and downs, Nabors keeps bouncing back. He loves the Indy 500 and calls himself a Hoosier.
Nabors can still hit every note "Back Home Again in Indiana." He sang it for us in the front hall of his house. I found myself getting emotional while he was singing.
The video will be played race day morning before the Indy 500.
Jim also had a special message for all of his fans.
"I want to tell you guys I really miss you and I am really sorry to do this to you but it wasn't my idea. Golly! I will be back with you next year, I hope. Say a good word for me to the Lord!"
Nabors says he has lived a very blessed life. He was in a very reflective mood as we chatted about his amazing life.
"Being in my 80s now, you think back over your life. It's not how much money you made or how famous you were. It's really when you pass over, it's who you have been and when you ask me that, all I think of, still the bottom line for me, is 'was he was a nice guy?'"