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Friday, November 29, 2013

Humility and Service

WW II Memorial
 One of my first contacts with a World War II Veteran happened when I had been in the United States only a couple of years.  This fine gentleman entered my life and family when my mother met my future step-father.  I have a quasi-policy of not mentioning names in the process of posting to this blog so I will continue to honor that policy.  Believe me when I tell you how proud I am of this individual, and the type of life he lead during the period of time that I knew him. 
I am sorry to say that I lost contact with many of our Texas family members a few years after we moved to the Pacific Northwest.  I still lament at the realization of how fast the years go by, and how easily you lose contact.  The person I am referring to became my uncle through marriage, he served in the Army with honor, and returned home to his wife with the memory of the horrors of war, and yet a humble and honorable man.  A great example to the many people that were in his life or crossed his path along the way. 
End of WW II Parade in New York
Those of us that belong to the proud Baby Boomer Generation (any person born between 1946, and 1964) but didn’t serve in the military were influence by these fine returning WWII Veterans.  This extremely brave men that had so proudly served their country had come home to set an example to the rest of us on how to be humble, and of service to others.  Unlike today’s society where 4 letter words are very common in regular verbal communications, our growing up years included such words as: yes sir, yes mam, please, and thank you.
The most beautiful thing that I admire about our military, and particularly the WWII Veterans is that while they are, and will always be heroes to common civilians like me, they don’t see themselves as heroes, and they simply feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve their country.
My uncle that I mentioned above was a hardworking man that proudly and more than adequately provided for his family.  As with most men of that period of time (the 1950’s), he was the sole provider for his family unit, and a loving father to his three children.  I have other uncles that served their country during time of war, but this person was the first time that I became aware of the leadership role that this men assumed when they returned from war.
Life in this country has changed so much that I am not sure that we will ever find our way back, at least not on automatic pilot as some things used to evolve.  A concerted effort will be required to get our society back on track.  I recently heard a program where it was reported that there are now approximately one million WWII Veterans left alive, they are dying at the rate of hundreds per day.
If you know any WW II Veterans, and you get an opportunity to have a conversation, ask them if they are interested in sharing any of their war experiences with you.  That priceless resource won’t be around forever.  Take advantage while you can.  The best is yet to come….

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Age Has Its Privileges 2

Age Has Its Privileges 2
This post is an update to: “Age Has Its Privileges”, posted February 17, 2013, 
Many years ago this time of the month there would be a special excitement in the air about the quickly approaching Thanksgiving Day Holiday.  That excitement, however, was very different from today’s excitement because we were just getting started.  Back then the family was made up of just the two of us.  The old saying what goes around comes around certainly applies in our lives today, but yet so different as to be almost perfect.  We are back to being just the two of us at home again.
Much of the time, its back to being just the two of us, but the difference is that our house can be full of love and laughter in a moment’s notice.   Our children have all grown up and started their own families, yet they all live near enough to be able to drop by with short or no notice.  Most of grandchildren drop by after school or before swim lessons just to spend time with the grandparents.  I’d be willing to bet that they have more toys at our house than they do at their own houses.  For spring and summer weather there is swings in the back yard, and they enjoy chasing each other over or around the sprinklers, and even swimming when supervision is available.
If I had been smart enough to plan my life to turn out as it did, I would be considered a genius.  Instead we lived and provided the best life we could provide for our children, and the outcome was heaven sent. 
Back that many years ago, I remember our first few Thanksgiving Day meals.  We had moved out of town (across the mountains) to the west side of the State.  No family around us, just my bride and me standing back to back against the world.  I seem to remember having a meal from a Sambo’s Restaurant (they have either gone out of business or merged).  This restaurant today would be equivalent to a Denny’s Restaurant (not exactly fine cuisine, but it was open).  Soon after that, our first son joined us, and we would stay home and make a meal at home, and that was the beginning of a new tradition which still stands today.
This time around the turkey is preparing to be the main attraction even if just as a center piece. It seems that many family members have given up eating meat, so I will be forced to eat their share of the turkey (not really, I like turkey sandwiches in the following week).  My wife and I haven’t travel for the holiday for so long that we may not know the way anyway.  I am glad to be comfortably home surrounded by family, with the added laughter of the grandchildren.
I wish all of you, who read and otherwise follow this blog a very happy experience during Thanksgiving Day weekend.  I wish you good health, safety and comfort this week and every week throughout the year.  The best is yet to come….

Monday, November 25, 2013

On Being Thankful

On Being Thankful

I want to clarify that I am thankful every day for all my blessings.  I won’t list them for fear of leaving something out unintentionally.  I will however mention a few that are the core of my life.  Amongst the short list mentioned is: my faith, my loving family, my ability to provide for my family, our health, family friends, and the family that came and went before us (the foundation of who we are).
I’ve often said that in order to appreciate the peaks in life we have to experience the valleys.  In other words we all experience life’s highs and lows (imagine the image of a heart beating).  You can’t know when you are doing well unless you experience struggling through tough times.
I will relate a short story about being in the valley (low of life) and making something happen to reach the peak next.  This story is part of the content of the book I am writing (working title, “East Lincoln”): posted June 26, 2013 Unexpected Best Christmas,
The very innocent story I am about to relate happened in 1955.  We had stayed at the border town a lot longer than we expected in order to complete the transition of getting our legal permanent status to cross over to the United States.  My father had started a job but we had not yet caught up to where we should be financially, and of course as is usual, the children are never told anything about finances.
My older sister was busy when we were called to breakfast and I was the only one that responded. I sat down at the table and my mother served me a plate with scrambled eggs and refried beans with a couple of corn tortillas.  Like George Washington, I can’t tell a lie.  Anything my mother cooked was fabulous.  I ate with gusto, and when I ran out of food I still had a half of a tortilla, so I asked my mother if I could have some more food to finish my tortilla.  When my tortilla ran out I still had food on the plate so I asked my mother if I could have some more tortilla, and I must have repeated this at least a couple of times.  By the time my sister responded to the call for breakfast, there was no food left.  My mother sadly apologized to my sister and told her that she would have to wait until my father returned from work (and bring some money for groceries).  In the meantime my sister got a couple of warmed up tortillas with butter, and that was breakfast.
I felt very sad that I had eaten all the food we had, which meant that my mother also didn’t have breakfast.  I was only 8 years old but I walked over to small general store about a block away, and I walked in not really knowing what I was going to say.  The very kind lady that owned and operated the store, looked at me and mentioned that I had a troubled look on my face.  She also asked how she could help.  With teary eyes I told her how I had eaten (not on purpose) all the food we had at home and my sister and mother didn’t get to eat.  I also explained that my father had a good job, but I needed credit right now.
She extended me credit and I went home with a dozen eggs, chorizo (sausage) 2 dozen corn tortillas, and a couple other items to complete breakfast and lunch.  My father paid my bill that evening when he got home, and thanked her profusely.  After I was treated as a hero by my mother and sister, I got brave, and walked over to commercial bread bakery about 3 blocks away.  I wanted to see if I could put to use my new found gift of gab one more time.
I walked up to the man in charge of the bakery and asked him how many people he had working for him.  After he mentioned that 15 men total and sometimes more, I asked him if any needed to have their white uniforms washed and ironed.  I explained that my mother and sister had a business at home of washing and ironing for customers.  I walked away with 9 employees signed up and took home two large canvas bags full of white pants shirts and aprons mostly dirty with white flour.  My mother was mostly shocked but pleasantly surprised that I had created a business out of nothing.  Eventually other ladies from the neighborhood were recruited to assist in the new laundry business.
Something so small as the valley I created by eating all the food, and the success I had in getting credit, built enough confidence in me to carry me for a lifetime,  It also reminds me every day to be thankful for the little things because some day you will look back and realize that they were really big things.  Happy Thanksgiving 2013!  The best is yet to come….

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Changing Life Styles
  • A side effect, also known as an adverse effect, adverse event, or undesirable secondary effect is when a treatment goes beyond the desired effect and causes a problem; the treatment, which may be a medication, surgical procedure or some kind of therapy has an undesirable secondary effect which occurs in addition to the desired therapeutic effect.
  • The term undesirable side effect is more specific than side effect. For example - imagine a fictitious drug for elderly people for the treatment of insomnia which also improved the eyesight of 3% of those who took it; this could be classed as a side effect, even though whoever experienced improved eyesight would not complain about it. However, the term side effect is mainly used with a negative meaning. For it to have a positive meaning, the speaker would have to explain what the benefit was - if they didn't, the listener would most likely imagine undesirable things.
Most events even when negative have a silver lining if you bother to look for it.  One example might be where due to cutbacks you end up unemployed and decide to go back to school and end up with a better job.  Sometimes just having the opportunity to look for new employment you can end up making more money and/or being happier.  Another instance you might be required to take a medication that ends up with unintended good side effects healthier heart or dropping some unwanted weight.
On the other hand, the door also swings both ways, there can be unintended (not fully embraced) side effects.  One particular instance comes to mind for the first time this time of year.  There is no way that I can look at his particular situation as anything but positive with a less than desirable side effect.  Many of my family members, I am happy to report have turn their lives in the direction of a healthier life style.  It seems that many family members have gone as far as to hire a nutritionist in order to lead healthier lives.  Furthermore, some have gone as far as to remove meats from their food menus.
As a result of that decision for the first time the turkey dinner (meal) tradition is in jeopardy.  I for one would be willing to take one for the team and eat their share.  I can’t hold it against them for wanting to eat and live healthier.  There was a time when I didn’t eat turkey because I was raise on the farm and I was the executioner (chicken killer, chicken plucker).  If you have ever plucked feathers off of a chicken you would have an idea on how bad that is.  For about the first seven years of our marriage my wife use to fix for me a steak and lobster plate for Thanksgiving.  I felt bad back then for not participating on the turkey meal, but I feel even worst now that it is going the other way.
Even though this year the gathering around the table is going to get larger, it looks like the turkey is going to get smaller.  I want to also live a healthy life, but at least for now there are some tradition I am not willing to change.  Turkey and all the goodies that normally accompany it will be on the table this year, with the addition of more veggies, more fruit, and whatever the more knowledgeable family members contribute.  The one thing that is not yet scheduled to go away is the tradition of finishing of the day with board games galore.  As usual a very nice and competitive evening will be had by all.  The best is yet to come…

Anti-Social or Smart

Anti-Social or Smart
There is a saying; that “opposites attract”, I don’t think that it applies 100% of the time. In this instance I am making reference to an activity that is very common this time of year.  Famously known as “Black Friday.”  Even that special designated name is falling apart this year.  Many corporations have gone beyond greedy, and decided to start Black Friday one week early.  Some of those very same corporations have decided to open on Thanksgiving Day.
There was a time when you had to make sure you shopped for groceries or anything else including pharmaceuticals by 10 pm on Saturday because every store closed on Saturday night and didn’t open again until Monday morning.  In the case of Washington State much of that was attributed to the Blue Laws that were still in the books and among other things prohibited was the sale of alcohol and other (considered sinful) products.  It was during those times that convenience stores came into being (Seven Eleven and others like it).  I recall that if you needed milk for the baby your only choice was to go to the Seven Eleven, and pay twice or more the going normal price.
There seems to be a segment of the population that lives for the thrill of spending up to a week in line to buy a product at 70 or 80% discount.  I can’t imagine camping in a pup tent for a week without toiletries, or a bath.  In my particular instance my thought is that I can earn enough money in a week to buy up to ten of the items these people are purchasing at full price.  With the great shopping skills you need to have some common sense (which you can’t by), and place a real value on your time, and life style.
In comparing the skill set of this people and my own is where I argue that in this instance opposites don’t attract.  I can’t imaging standing or sitting on a line for a week where people must start smelling ripe after a couple of days.  Unless I am waiting for something vital like a donated body organ, I can’t think of anything that I can’t wait to acquire until after the demand for the item diminishes.
I’ve never attended store sales on a Black Friday, and I can’t imagine starting any time soon.  Many of the people shown on the news around Black Friday sales appear to be overly aggressive, and almost selfish, not to mention disrespectful toward others.  For those of you looking forward to it, I hope you get what you are looking for and do it safely.
If you think that I am misguided, rather than smart, I’m ok with it.  As they say different strokes for different folks.  Besides all I get at Christmas comes from Santa Claus anyway.  The best is yet to come……

Friday, November 22, 2013

With Certainty

John F. Kennedy 5/29/1917 -11/22/1963

See the post:  Killing Kennedy February 21 2013 ( )
·       The axiom is that every one of his generation knows just where they were when they heard Kennedy was shot. The reality is that many also recall precisely how it felt as word broke, in a staccato series of news bulletins.

·       They can still hear the voice that brought the news, breaking into a song on the car radio or disrupting a lesson over a school public address speaker. They remember the prayers offered up from sidewalks and sofas, some whispered and others wailed. They can still taste the tears.

·       Even 50 years later, Americans who lived through the day President John F. Kennedy was killed do not have to pause to summon recollections.



12:57 P.M. ~msn news

Unlike any other day in my lengthy life, this morning, as I sat in front of my computer in my home office, my mind transported me to a specific cold day in November 22, 1963.
While I don’t remember how exactly this morning started, I do remember how very similar every morning went:  from getting up and finding my beautiful mother in the kitchen bundled up and wearing a warm sweater, the smell of coffee carried throughout the house by ventilation.  Just like in the coffee commercial with the coffee percolator.  She always woke up at 4:30 to get breakfast ready for everyone, and prepare lunches to carry us throughout the day.  This morning was a typical November morning with a cold dry weather (clear blue sky, not unlike today in Western Washington.
This morning like some others, I had some errands to run for my mother after school so I was driving the family station wagon and dropping of my step brother at his school along the way.  Everything about this morning was like any other day, different from present day in that we didn’t start our day by checking social media, and turning on the television to catch the newscast.  We actually had pleasant family conversation about upcoming plans (Thanksgiving Day), and the preparation involved.
I remember the drive to town (14.5 miles, I just mapquested it) for school like it was yesterday.  I had traveled that route for so many years that I could do it with my eyes close.  Typical of the old days, I knew people all along the way.  I knew who owned most of the farms that I passed along the way.  Whenever I stopped for gas or at a general store, people would greet me by name.
School started like any other day.  We congregated in the halls of the school, and discussed the weather, the upcoming holiday short few day vacation.  It was common to ask another student what answer did you get for problem number 7 in the Algebra homework assignment or some other subject.  Like an episode of the very popular Twilight Zone television series, we had no clue that within a couple of hours our lives, not just now but forever, were about to change.  The pain inflicted on the population of the country couldn’t be any more painful if we had been blood related to our beloved and respected president John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
From the actual time of the incident my recollection remains the same as previously described in the post: please read it.
This morning was different for me in that for a split second of concentration, I actually felt myself being transported to that day and time in 1963, and my eyes teared up as I recall the terrible events that followed and that forever changed my and everyone else’s life, and future.  I don’t know if we will ever know exactly what was lost that day, no one can predict with certainty what might have been.  The best is yet to come….

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Other Half

The Other Half
Ever since my children were very young, my wife and I would treat them to all kinds of events, because we wanted to expose them to a variety of cultural things in life.  After all the saying is that man does not live by bread alone (and that applies to little children).  Early exposure to some of the varieties of entertainment included some things that they wanted and some that we felt they had to have.
Some examples of our choices (mom and dad) were: P.T. Barnum and Bailey Circus, the Nutcracker, Disney On Ice, The Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and Seattle EMP Museum.  Some examples of their own favorites: Concerts (NSYNC, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, O-Town, Mandy Moore), also Wrestle Mania, The Main Event, Seahawks, Mariners, Disney Land, Universal Studios, Wax Museum, and Knott’s Berry Farm to mention a few.
Growing up my father treated me to Disney Land, Knott’s Berry Farm, Spanish music concerts, Beach Boys, Boxing Matches, and Wrestling Matches, later on in life my wife and I attended some Julio Iglesias concerts, and we also treated my mother to some champagne music concerts.  You get the idea.  I don’t believe in just staying in front of the television set (boob tube).  Before my wife and I married I also attended some big star performances in Las Vegas.
I had to start this post with the above disclosure in order to set up the story of something special that one of my sons and his wife did for me this weekend.  I received a call a week earlier from the third oldest son of four sons.  He invited me to a NFL football game with my favorite team against the Minnesota Vikings.  My wife had other plans so it was up to me to invite two other guests.  I chose my youngest daughter and her husband.  We were going to be seated in Box level seats, and enjoy the game from under shelter, but still exposed to the high thirties and low forties temperatures.
View From Above
Before the game even started, my son was talking to a person that his business does business with, and we were given an invitation to join them in their suite (accommodates 24 people).  This post is about how the other half lives.  Totally unbelievable, The suite has its own restroom for the occupants, a well-stocked refrigerator with variety of beer, wine, and soft drinks, food that was constantly replenish and constant variety of new food items (meatballs, salads, baked potatoes, pizza, chicken salad, chips, etc.). None of the mentioned items cost the occupants a dime.  The worldwide corporation paid for everything.  I would definitely be surrounded with friends if I could offer those type of perks.
The other people in the suite, were wonderful and friendly, and I imagine most of them were guests like us.  I could get used to watching my favorite team from that level of luxury.  Later in the day I heard my son comment to a friend who thought it was great that he was at a game with me (his father).  My son commented that he was treating me as payback for taking him to his to his first NFL game at the Seattle Kingdome.   So you see our investment in our kids can and often will pay off. If nothing else it will begin to train them to expect the better things in life, and get them to strive to reach higher.  The best is yet to come…….

Monday, November 11, 2013

Family Fun Time

Favorite Hangout
My wife and I decided to take our three youngest granddaughters into town, to have a fun Sunday afternoon out of the house.  No real special plan in mind, just a fun time on the town.  Our granddaughters are three, five and seven years of age, and are of brilliant minds.  They all have outgoing personalities.
Our typical outings are a visit to Toys R Us, Children’s Hands On Museum (we have a membership), playtime at the Park, a visit to one of our local restaurants, or a window shopping trip to the local mall (grandma gets carried away buying them clothes).  Today the decision was made by majority vote (100%) to go to Chuck E, Cheese.  My wife warn them that it would only be for a half hour.
The place was packed shoulder to shoulder, but as usual there was plenty of game machines, and rides to go around.  I had forgotten the feeling that prevails when you are placed in the middle of so much exploring possibilities.  The look on their little faces (as the credit card commercial states; Priceless).  With plenty of tokens to keep them entertained, they explore every corner of the place jumping form one machine to another, sometimes looking at the next one before finishing the one they are playing at.  My three year old granddaughter was being helped by my wife on to a machine where the objective is to jump and get the lights and sounds to react to the activity.  As the older granddaughters and I walked by she yelled repeatedly look at me, look at me jump, her voice full of excitement, and her little eyes gleaming equally with excitement.
If ever there was time and money well spent, this outing was it. When we first arrived we considered ordering some pizza and salads for the girls and ourselves but after checking at the counter we found out that the orders were taking up to a half hour and more due to the size of the crowd. We purchased drinks for the girls and told them we would have pizza after we were done with Chuck E. Cheese.
The old saying is that time fly’s when you are having fun, and fly it did.  By the time we spent all the tokens we had purchased we noticed that two hours had gone by.  To my surprise the girls agreed to leave willingly after purchasing some toys and lollipops they wanted.  It didn’t hurt that by now they were very hungry.  On the way to buy pizza the girls had a lively debate about whether we should have a sit down pizza meal or take the pizza home.
The youngest granddaughter fell asleep almost as quickly as the car started moving, so it helped us reach the conclusion that the pizza should go home. Since the granddaughters come from two different households, I purchased double orders of pizza and breadsticks and after calling their parents we dropped them off at their homes with their meals.
After a long day of church, and my favorite NFL team winning an exciting game (a record of 9 wins and 1 loss for the season) my wife and I were finally able to relax to some quiet time by ourselves in the family room.  I couldn’t help but quietly contemplate what a nice day I had just had.  I actually wasn’t at my best when the idea came up to take the girls into town, my back was a little sore from doing some landscaping earlier in the week, but looking back we made the best decision.  What might be trivial to adults, I can just imagine that my granddaughters fell asleep with a smile on their little faces, and probably replayed it in their dreams.  My seven year old granddaughter always says something that melts my heart, “You are the best grandpa ever!”  The best is yet to come….

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Perspective

Thanksgiving Day Perspective
I know that life progression has a way of complicating everything, but it doesn't have to be.  In my early years I loved Thanksgiving for many reasons, I’ll just highlight two or three:
  • Time away from school, I didn’t realize the opportunity to learn in front of me, because I was on automatic pilot.  I was blessed with a mind like a sponge that simply absorbed all that the school system had to offer, and more.  I was an “A grade” student from the 6th grade through high school, and I didn’t have to work hard at it.  Prior to 6th grade I was a B and B+ student, until it all fell in place.  Consequently time (vacation) away from school was an opportunity to relax and have fun (later in life, opportunity to work).
  • Food was many times more than plentiful, after all we lived on the farm.  My mother could just go down to the cellar, and grab any of her ample supply of canned (Mason Jar) goods that she had personally canned.  The selection was varied: asparagus, peaches, cherries, sweet peas, corn, and apricots, on and on.  The freezer this time of year was always jammed packed with beef, pork, chickens, fish, deer meat, and even game hens.  Thinking back, I suppose we were poor, by typical standards, but in fact we were very blessed, we had a nice 4 bedroom home, we all shared a loving family, more food then we could eat, a warm furnace, a new family station wagon, and great health.  With all those possessions we were above average wealthy.  More importantly we were grateful.
  • A special day for family gathering.  Our family has always been a close knit unit, Thanksgiving was special in that we came together and shared the day and a meal.  Our home back then was the center of the family, every celebration throughout the year was held at our house.  This was my opportunity to spend time with family including those that lived out of town.  My cousins would come over, and hang out all day long.  Before I was a teenager we would spend time playing checkers, cards, darts, or simply throwing the football around in the front yard.  After we grew up we might go target practice with 22 rifles, or ride off road motorcycles (this motorcycles were the ones used on the farm to move around checking the irrigation of fields most of the year) through the now harvested beet, potato and cornfields.  Sometimes we would simply go into the nearby fields and pheasant hunt with our shotguns.
In present time our home is still the center of the family for most celebrations.  A few years ago we tried to pass on the mantle to our oldest married child (on a test basis), but decided it wasn’t the right time yet.  We noticed that not everyone was as cooperative, as when we celebrate at our house.
One major change that we noticed last year for the first time:  My wife has relented, and allowed me in the kitchen to be her Assistant Chef, on Thanksgiving Day.  I feel a warm and fuzzy feeling at the promotion.  I don’t brag about it, but can’t help but feel special about the new privilege.  I love working alongside my wife, and helping prepare the salads (potato salad, green salad, fruit salad), and other numerous responsibilities that I get on a need to know basis.  Christmas is definitely mostly for the children, but Thanksgiving has something for everyone, and I for one am looking forward to it.  The best is yet to come….

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life’s Stages

Life’s Stages
I suppose that the first stage where we really play a role is when we are new born, and we get to spend quality time with mother and father, we then progress into the school system (or private school).  That in fact is the beginning of getting away from the nest.  Up until that time our parents have had the most control and responsibility they will ever have over us.
As we enter the school system we begin to interact with our peers and persons of authority (other than our parents) over us.  Our next major landmark in life is the transition between high school graduation and going away to college (for many of us), others unfortunately simply start their work life.  I say unfortunately because they don’t get the opportunity to prepare for the long journey ahead of them.  As we move forward secondary education is becoming an option that is less and less affordable.  On top of that, the number of unemployed and underemployed college graduates is growing, due to the worsening economic conditions.
Next landmark in life is the period of time where lots of young adults begin to get engaged and married.  Some will take place before and others after college graduation, but either ways there will be a flurry of wedding receptions during this period.  It’s reasonable to expect that many invitations to baby showers will follow soon after (and thus the cycle of life starts over).  Ahead for the married couple depending of the chemistry of the partnership there could be a period stability (monotony for others), for many others there is the possibility of discord and even separation or divorce.
Usually during this challenging period it’s when we start getting seriously involved in our parents’ lives and special needs, for many of us we get directly involved in a way that alters our own living conditions.  Many of us perform this step simply grateful to be able to help out, those people that were there for us in their early lives.  For others that may be struggling, it may just turn into additional stress, in an already challenging life.  Stay aware that in a good marriage the challenge is a double whammy because it will eventually involve the parents on both side of the marriage.
At some time or another all my kids have offered to take care of us in our old age, and I always gave the same answer; if you take care of yourself, I will make sure that your mother and I are taken care of.  As medical science improves our ability to live longer, it will prolong the responsibility to our parents.  I lost both my parents in their early 80’s and I wish I still had them, I would gladly continue to be involved just to be able to visit with them as I used to.
The very next landmark in life is when we start attending retirement celebrations followed soon by making visits to the hospital to visit our friends undergoing some type of medical procedure, hopefully it will be many years later before we start attending funerals.
My wife and I are still at the stage where we are enjoying the “Empty Nest Party,” with the occasional visiting grandchild.  Friends have asked me if we are suffering from the Empty Nest Syndrome, and my answer is heck no, we are picking right up from where the courtship was interrupted by the child bearing and child raising years.  The best is yet to come…..

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rapid Rewind

Rapid Rewind
I have often said that I have a blessed life.  I know that anyone could argue that a blessed life is in the eye of the beholder and they would be right.  After all, I also believe that unless you appreciate all your blessings you will end up a very dissatisfied and unhappy individual.  Have you ever wondered what you might have done to deserve where you ended up in life?  To be sure you can read that in one of two ways.
Where I ended up in life as in: the wonderful life that I am enjoying or the hell of life that I ended up with.  For one thing, making good decisions along the way sets you up for a better life over all.  Great things are not the outcome of great decisions (big ones) made every day.  Great things are the outcome of hundreds, and thousands of small decisions you make every day in life.  Many of these things you do every day may seem insignificant by itself, but over a period of time they make all the difference in the world.
As a small example, the attitude with which you face every day, will affect how others react to you every day.  I’ve always known that if a task must be performed, you may as well smile while performing it (like it or not), because others are observing the attitude and disposition with which you go about getting the job done.
I can attribute my wonderful place in life to a handful of major factors in my life and a million small ones.  One of the handful of major factors is that my mother raised me as a single parent, she literally gave up her personal life (social and otherwise) to work two and three jobs, for the sake of providing me with my needs and the luxury of some wants.  I was and am so grateful that I made it my mission in life to be a good son that she could be proud of.  I made sure that I didn’t add unnecessarily to her every day burden. I also made many decisions with her approval in mind, after all she had dedicated her life to my upbringing.
Another of my few major decisions that shaped my life was being careful about selecting my lasting friendships.  There is a saying in my culture that my mother often quoted to me: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are.” (Translation: “Dime con quien te juntas, y te dire quien eres.”) For a woman with a limited formal education she had more wisdom than any amount of University Degrees can ever give you.  Because of that quote I was always able to make good choices in regard to the people that I surrounded myself with.
While in my younger years, like many young people, I often thought I knew better, despite that feeling, I listened to all the well intentioned advice, and I analyzed it and prayed when making the life changing decisions.  I don’t want you to think for a second that I knew all along that my life was going to turn out as well as it did.  At some point, about three quarters of the way to where I am today, I started to realize, that as I neared the finish line of this race called life, I could end up a winner.
Another fallacy that you could walk away with from reading this post is that my life was smooth.  My life has been anything but smooth.  In fact, my life is very typical of a normal life.  Some examples of bumps along the way: I divorced once and happily remarried, I suffered a broken back four years ago (and besides the couple of weeks when I couldn’t move due to excruciating pain) I maintained a work schedule of 10 to 12 hour days.  Without the valleys in life you can’t measure the quality of the peaks.  Another tired cliché is: it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, just make sure that you get up to continue trying.  Never give up, sometimes hope is all you have so always hang on to it.
With regard to the broken back, within two years I returned to my game of golf, and better than ever.  I play in the 70’s (any hotter and I don’t go out).  Because all I ever did was to try my best without any special measure (other than my own and my family’s happiness and satisfaction) that I was as surprised as anyone at how well my life turned out.  I had no inside information that I was doing all the right things, what I did have, was great guidance, and faith.  For all I have (especially family) I am very grateful.  The best is yet to come….

Monday, November 4, 2013

What if?

Kennedy sworn in as president: In his inaugural speech, Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." (Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)
What if?
See my post dated Thursday February 21, 2013: Killing Kennedy, 

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  A young and very popular not just president but world leader.  There have only been 9 presidents since President John F. Kennedy.  The question might be, how many of those presidents might not have been, if he had lived to a nice old age.
Consider for a minute that I am not at all making reference to Democrat or Republican.  We all need to see the event for what it was.  Besides being a horrible act of terrorism, it altered everyone’s life for evermore.  As horrific as the act of terrorism was on 9/11, the assassination woke us up from a level of innocence.  Even as difficult as the times were with the Vietnam War, and the peace demonstrations, the Cold War and the threat of a nuclear war with Russia.
Maybe its ignorance on my part, and it can all be attributed to the fact that to a very large degree we were sheltered from evil, and bad news.  World News and news in general didn’t travel all that fast.  We still depended on the three major television networks for our information source.  And approximately one and a half hours of news coverage per day per network, and much less on the weekends.
In today’s age of the internet and cell telephones, if soldiers die somewhere around the world we are all made aware within minutes.  If an act of violence takes place at LAX as an example we have immediate coverage, even if incomplete information, we are still made aware of the event.  I know that acts of violence were more common than we were made aware of back in the early 1960’s, but I have a feeling that the limited amount of exposure kept many copy cats and criminals from jumping in the middle of it and making their event (act) bigger (worst).  I am convinced that many acts of violence take place because the perpetrators will get on the spot light (the news/internet/Facebook/twitter).
Back to what might have been:  had John F. Kennedy lived, his presidential influence would have affected our time and into the future. Lyndon B Johnson wouldn’t have taken over the presidency by default, he might have or not ever been president.  The chain of events that would have fallen in line are very unpredictable, but with different outcomes to be sure.  What if Nixon had not been president, or even Gerald Ford, how might that have changed our politics today, who might be today’s influential legacies.
What might our economy be like today? Would Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King have lived to a nice old age to drastically change the world we live in?  What might our influence in the world be today if our progression through time had not been so drastically changed?  I know that I was deeply affected by the loss of President Kennedy, as much for the loss of the leadership and influence as for the shock to the system that I receive on that eventful day some 50 years ago.
What if, is a lot to ponder, I know that things could always have turned out better or worst.  Being the individual that I am, I prefer to think that a continuance of innocence in our country back then, couldn’t possibly have led to a worst future.  The best is yet to come…

Friday, November 1, 2013

In the Rearview Mirror

Time Goes On
It seems like only a few weeks ago we were celebrating New Year’s Eve 2013, and yet the next holiday is Thanksgiving already.  Our little granddaughters have already had almost one whole year of additional wonderful progress.  The oldest of my three youngest granddaughters went from first grade to almost half way through second grade.  Later in the high school years the progress isn’t as noticeable from year to year, but the first through sixth grades you couldn’t ignore the progress if you tried.  My seven year old has gone from being just one of my grandbabies to becoming an avid reader.  She keeps a large collection of books handy and is reading even when traveling to and from school.
Some of my best (intelligent) conversations as of late have been with my seven year old granddaughter.  It seems I’ve been waiting for a long time to have a little partner like her to hang out with.  She has her own set of golf clubs (real ones) that Santa brought her a couple of Christmases ago (too soon I might add) she wasn’t ready for them back when she got them, but she is now.  We actually played a round of golf this summer.  She had maybe four drives from the tee that amazed me.  Those drives were not expected at her age level.  We also spend more than our fair share of time at mini golf, and at the park.  I love her competitive spirit.  I can’t brag that she gets that competitive spirit from me because fortunately its part of the fiber of our family (especially my wife, the grandmother).
Within this year of 2013 our whole family has done very well, and anyone that cannot see forward progress, I am glad to say, that they have maintained and not lost any ground.  One other thing about my seven year old granddaughter is that she is a leader to the other (three and five year old) granddaughters and is even reading books to them already. 
While the economy isn’t where it needs to be, and I consider it stagnant, I am glad to say that we are maintaining, and gaining in some areas.  No accident to be sure, great discipline during the years of plenty when everyone was taking equity out of their homes we fought the urge to join them.  We even managed to not get caught up in the recent losses of the Stock Market because I consider it gambling as an investment tool (and a gamble that I am not willing to be a part of).   The lessons taught by my parents by example have served me well.  The attitude of keeping your nose to the grindstone, have paid off in dividends at the end of the work life journey for me (personally).  Many of today’s youth (even young adults) would give you a confused look if you talked to them about keeping your nose to the grindstone.  We in our generation are doing them a disservice if we don’t share our experiences with our young family members.
Some of my children tell me that they are surprising themselves when they say or do something that reminds them of me or their mother.  In other words their thinking, decisions and some of their actions are beginning to reflect what they may have learned from growing up.  I believe there is a saying out there that sooner or later we turn into our parents.  If that is the case, I am glad that we may have had some influence in their thinking process.
I don’t really believe that time (the present year) is going by faster than usual.  It’s just that our family is a large one (seven children) and it keeps growing as time goes on.  The relationship circle keeps expending, and more time is required of all of us in regards to maintaining healthy relationships with sons, daughters, grandchildren, cousins, in-laws, friends, etc., consequently the hours in a day are barely sufficient for all the interactions needed and required.  I think back to the time when my wife and I were beginning, and how the year seemed to move very slowly, because it was just the two of us.  The best is yet to come…..