Dena Zocher writes about interesting people, places, things.

Keepin’ it fresh

Musician and author finds renewed passion and purpose post-heart transplant

Since retiring from the health care industry almost a decade ago, Dave Freshman has resumed playing music full time, released an album of original songs and published a book.

Not bad for a guy with a heart transplant

“Retirement can feel scary, because there are some things you just aren’t prepared for,” he says. “It can happen at any age.” For Dave, “any age” came in his mid-fifties, after 25 years as a data analyst and project manager in the healthcare industry.

“After my heart transplant, I went back to work. But with ongoing health issues, I was in constant fear of being fired. Businesses have to stay lean. And I had to take care of my health.” So Fresh took a leap into post-career life.

A leap of faith, as it turns out. “At that point, I lost it all. I let go of my attachment to that career.” But Dave saw his opportunity to build a fresh life on his true callings. “I chose to go back to my original passions, music and helping people. In return came the opportunity to be a musician and play better than I ever had. And I got the opportunity to write a book.

“I see, the leaves lie so very still, I feel, a closeness with our dreams
With love I feel the breeze tonight, your smile a very precious light
With me, I know you’ll be all right . . .”
Lyric from “Cody”, by Dave Freshman

He’s still keeping it fresh. Dave gigs a few nights a week, and is working on his second album, Pearl of a Moment. His favorite guitar is his 1974 Gibson Les Paul Standard. But he says the guitar of his dreams would be a vintage Gretsch Country Gentleman.

On his first album, Fresh Life, Fresh dedicated an original song to the young man whose heart he received, committing the royalties to the foundation the man’s family set up in his name. That song has generated several thousand dollars for the foundation.

“My donor had a spirit, an electric energy. His family and friends describe him as a force to be reckoned with. He was an EMT studying to become a physician’s assistant. In the ski patrol, he saved lives.”

In 2016 Dave published a book, “to teach people to talk to doctors, navigate the bills and be patient advocates for themselves or their loved ones.” The Consumer Healthcare Primer draws on his experience working in the industry, as well as his own history of dealing with serious health issues such as cancer and getting a heart transplant.

“You cannot have creativity without friction. For me, this has been a time to rejuvenate myself and discover new paths. My life today is busier than when I was 25 years old!”

“My advice to anyone who feels challenged to live their post-career life with grace is this: If you are stuck in this area of your life, reach out. I’ve found it is the number one thing to help me get out of my head. People always need a helping hand. Find projects or design new ones.”

Going on ten years “with someone else’s heart,” Fresh finds he is always open to new prospects. “Life is precious.”