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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To Be or Not to Be

Costume from Hamlet

I know that the title sounds like something out of Hamlet, but it perfectly describes my quandary.  The grandchildren have returned to school after spending the long summer vacation in my care for around 8 hours a day on average.  They are now in the wilds of new school year.

I must admit that I spoiled them as their grandfather is gives me great pleasure to make them the focus of my-everything.  I enjoyed treating them to something special almost every day.  We would go play mini golf, Chuck E. Cheese, Charlie Safari, the mall.  We would eat out at least 3 times in any given week on average.  I purchased games that we could play in the backyard, including a trampoline, and updated the swing set (with slide, and teeter totter) to be more adequate (keep up) with their age.  I even purchased a minivan so that they could ride around in safety and comfort (and they love it, they call it their school bus).

But now enters the Shakespearean title:  after just one day of school, they came home more rambunctious than ever.  I have to keep repeating myself and raising my voice to get their attention.  I want to keep being as they often called me “the greatest grandpa in the world.”  However, I want to get back a semblance of control back.  Even as I write this post, I know that my preference is to maintain the wonderful atmosphere that we developed during the summer vacation.  So my considerations are simple “to be” more strict “or not to be” more strict.  I’ve pretty much decided that the one thing I don’t want to be is like my strict grandmother (maternal side).

For now, I am thinking that I will allow them all the time they need to get used to their new school year, and renewed and new friendships.  Once the newness of the new school year wears out they should return to our special relationship.  If they don’t return, oh well, I guess that’s similar to the progression I experienced with their parents many years ago.  It’s just that so much time has gone by, that I almost forgot.

I share this with you just in case some of you are having the same experiences.  Be patient and know that the bottom line is, they are your grandchildren and they love you with all their little hearts, and you love them more than anything.  This experience is all new to them.  I am pleased that they went back to school and took to the new school year like fish to water.  In the meantime I am trying to renew projects that were laid aside during the long (what now looks like short) months of summer vacation.  The best is yet to come………….

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reflection Time

Reflection Time
As we are about to change seasons once again this time from Summer to Autumn (Fall) perhaps it would be a good time for reflection.  Summer is the fast paced season of the year.  The time to enjoy the full throttle pace going from winter and spring weather into hot summer weather.  The warm sunrays give the human body energy and a good all-around feeling, especially to those of us over 50 years of age. The summer also gives us the fast pace of having the children and grandchildren around us to provide the extra energy of always doing something or going somewhere.

The arrival of autumn on the other hand coincides with the return of the school year, and after school activities such as sports, music and dance lessons.  So for us, the demand on the responsible adults, diminishes rather drastically.  For those of us that enjoy having the children around the change is difficult, and will require about a week or two before we can adjust to the routine change.
While many changes are taking place, it’s not something new, it happens every year at the same time.  Someday soon the children will outgrow the need for the additional school vacation attention, and I know that I for one, will miss having them in my life demanding my time.  The high degree of interaction is still needed but in different areas.  We need to always be on the lookout for those subtle changes that will allow us to stay close to our beloved little ones.

This slowing down of demand on our personal time will allow us to get on with the continued responsibility to our friendships that may have taken a back seat to the needs of the young ones in our families.  I’ve always been responsible to follow up and otherwise maintain those friendships that have endured and carried me throughout life.  The feeling of responsibility was instilled in me since I first read an obscured poem that I read back in the mid 1970’s:                  

Around The Corner by Charles Hanson Towne
Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone.

And I never see my old friends face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell.

And he rang mine but we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.

"Tomorrow" I say! "I will call on Jim
Just to show that I'm thinking of him",
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner, yet miles away,
"Here's a telegram sir," "Jim died today."
And that's what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

Don’t forget or ignore your friends, they are a precious part of your life, and like all things valuable, they don’t last forever.  The best is yet to come………..

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back in Time

Back in Time

Have you ever felt like re-living a particular event in your life because looking back it was exciting, fun, special or otherwise a pivotal event in your life?  We all have a very special tool in our utility belt best known as our ability of recall through the use of memory.  Some of us are able to glean positive recollection while others opt to recall a mix that includes depressing moments in time.  It takes a special talent to stay upbeat, and always look for the positive.

You could say that I am the person you always hear about that sees the glass half full instead of half empty.  I personally know individuals that refuse to move forward until an issue of many years past is settled.  I on the other hand believe in cutting my losses in order to continually move forward.
I recently (just this past week) purchased an expensive piece of exercise equipment for one tenth of its original value (still in like new condition).  I had to travel over 60 miles to pick it up, and am grateful for my son in-law’s assistance because the equipment weighed right around 200 pounds.  I will take this opportunity to brag up my son in-law of 10 years.  He is a return Marine, making his way in private sector advancing by leaps and bounds.  He and my daughter met while attending college, and they have built together an enviable life for themselves and their two children.  What I like the most about this young man is that like me, he is always Johnny on the spot ready to serve others.

We drove in one of my sons’ cargo vans to pick up the equipment purchase.  Removing the equipment from the private residence’s basement and loading it into the cargo van was an extreme workout in itself.  Once loaded into the van, I took a long hard look at the situation before me, and even talked about it.  I remember telling my son in-law, what do you think, the equipment is so heavy I doubt it will slide of shift.  We agreed, said our goodbyes and drove into the stormy night for the return home.

Not more than 15 miles into the return trip, there was an accident on the freeway with about 6 emergency vehicles lights lighting up the scene, and creating a bottle neck in traffic.  Traffic went from 65 to 70 miles per hour to a standstill.  My son in-law from the passenger seat exclaimed “oh s**t!” as he placed his hands on the dash and I applied the brakes evermore firmly.  I managed a gradual but steady stop missing the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of us by about 10 inches.  The last thing I heard as I stopped was the slide and crash of the exercise equipment against the divider that separates the cargo area from the cab.

Talk about a mixed feelings of relief from stopping in time and avoiding a collision to knowing that the equipment I had just purchase must be damaged. A negative person would have been upset at the damage to the equipment.  I on the other hand (Mr. Glass is half full) said a silent prayer because easily things could have been much worst.  If the cargo van had not had a partition between the cargo area and the cab, we might have become part of the headlines of a fatal freeway accident.

The electronic console of the exercise equipment was damaged but miraculously still works.  Even in its present condition it’s still worth more than what I paid for it.  Important lesson, always buy at the right price, in case something goes wrong. On a foot note: the cost to replace the damaged electronic console is 5 times what I paid for the whole unit.  

The “Back in Time” title to this post is where I’ve actually lost sleep trying to re-live the moment when I made the decision not to tie down the equipment (we actually had the material needed in the van for the job).  For me to voice my thoughts at the time is a sign that a sixth sense was telling me to do otherwise. I will definitely err on the side of caution next time and every time.  If only I could go back in time or take it back.  Simply trying to figure a way to go back and change it, but I don’t really waste my time with regret.  What’s done is done, cut your losses and move on.  The best is yet to come…..

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Crime or Stupidity

1953 Corvette 

Before I even get into the body of this post, let me clarify that I am not looking for absolution especially because the statute of limitations is long past.  Back in the early high school years when I purchased my first car (used1956 Ford Victoria) in the early 60’s, I was the man (at least one of three).  The best 3 cars at my high school (in order of bragging rights) were a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster (Ron’s family owned and operated the local Funeral Home) (side note:  I hated wrestling against him during team practice because whenever he applied or attempted to apply a half-nelson his hands would be near my face and they smelled of formaldehyde), the second car was a 1956 Ford Thunderbird (Dave’s parents owned a couple of used car lots), the third car was my car 1956 Ford Victoria with a moon roof.  I worked hard for my car.

One of my best friends (also Hispanic) at the time liked my car so much that he bought a car just like mine but a year older (1955) and the same color.  Well, the stage is set for the question of Crime or Stupidity.

One fine weekend I was driving in a neighboring small town, and had the opportunity to show off in front if some young men from a rival high school, and I did.  I floored the gas pedal as I took off from an intersection (with some gravel at the stop sign).  As I took off, making lots of noise with my Cherry Bomb Glasspack dual exhaust mufflers, the car fishtailed and I know the guys were impressed.  Unfortunately two blocks later a local police officer pulled me over sirens blasting and all.

I must admit my legs felt weak, but I was able to control all my other bodily functions (James Dean or Marlon Brando I wasn’t).  Actually whenever I drove my car, I felt more like Robert Mitchum (the character from Thunder Road).  I had a split second to decide what I was going to do or say and that is where Stupidity comes in.  When the office approached my window he noticed I was very young and he decided to pile it on.  His first question was; “Was that you making all that racket I heard?”
I was trying to be firm but polite and didn’t want to further aggravate him.  I said, I don’t know what you heard, but I did spin my tires taking off from a stop sign a couple of blocks back due to some gravel at the intersection.

He said you weren’t taking off, you mean blasting off.  He next asked me for my driver’s license, and this is where I decided to lie.  I said I didn’t have my wallet with me.  I had left it at home when I changed pants.  He asked me for my name, and I gave him the name of my best friend (the one that owned a car like mine).  When he asked for an address, I gave him my friends address.
He said since I didn’t see you making all that noise and driving recklessly, I’m going to let you get off with a warning, but I will keep your name on the dash of my patrol car, and if I ever stop you again, I will throw the book at you. 

I’ve never told this to anyone, because I wasn’t proud of myself, but at this point I really didn’t want to take it to my grave.  As guilty as I feel I still wouldn’t dare confess to my friend.  Life has been great, now that the slate is clean, I can consider myself an honorable man again.  The best is yet to come……….. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to School

It's Baaaaack!

Parting is such sweet sorrow.  Many emotions including memories come to mind this time of year.  I remember that I hated leaving the comfort of my home and the side of my mother to go to school for the whole day.  My parents were decently well of financially and so it is that I was enrolled in private school at the tender age of four.

A few days into the school year I finally became comfortable around my school mates and teachers.  So much so that by the end of the day, I almost hated to leave their company.  There again the minute I see my mother, I would forget the school friendships and teachers, and so went the early grades.  Having experienced parenthood since then, I now understand that this coming and going activity actually was for my own good, and actually pained my mother much more than it did me.
As the grades progressed you actually became not only smarter but prouder about all the things you were learning, and being able to understand so much about the world we lived in.  In short order we advanced into sports and other competitions such as Spelling Bees, and School Debates.  Accumulating Blue Ribbons, and certificates of accomplishment, and general recognition including lettering in sports.

The last half of junior high, or middle school as it is now known, you develop and interest in the opposite sex.  For sure this made summer break that much more difficult.  Not being able to see your special person of interest every day for the duration of summer.  However, because you did have a telephone number or email (now) your summer was bearable.  Besides you’ve heard the old saying about how “absence makes the heart grow.)  Unfortunately, education (classes) takes a backseat to the relationship that has grown during the summer with minimal distractions from school mates or classes.

End of summer and back to school, as the weeks and days grow closer you actually begin to feel a nervous stomach, but like everything else you get over it.  Your parents without letting you know, are actually happy that you will be going back to school and kept busy and supervised by someone other than them. This routine goes on year after year, and for some of us school becomes more fun than challenge. We begin to plan for college, and the possibility that our person of interest will attend the same college or maybe not.

Fast forward many years later:  we have gone past the stage of being the parent and raising our children through the same educational process.  Now we help do it all over again, only now as grandparents.  I have had grandchildren graduate from the university but the early preschool and kindergarten never gets old.  It continuous to be a challenge both physical and emotional.

When the school year was ending last spring, I remember dreading having to adjust my schedule from dropping them off at school and picking them after school intermittently (because their parents also took turns) to being Grandpa full time Activity Director for the summer. Now, however, I am only days away from having the majority of the days to myself once again until summer break.  I must confess, it’s not a great feeling.  I will miss all the company that I’ve had for almost 3 months.  The development of the little minds that I experienced firsthand answering their barrage of question about anything and everything.  The requests for a special meal for lunch, or a special trip to buy yogurt or ice cream at some drive-up window, even though the freezer is well supplied.  Maybe a couple of hours at the local park or an hour going for a bike ride, something is always happening.  As the saying goes never a dull moment.

I know that I am blessed, but I can only hope that the blessing will include watching them celebrate their university graduation, and even seeing them get married.  For now I’m not sure that I am ready for a world that has only adults for most of the day.  I am ready for missing the running around the house, and the questions about what are we having for lunch?  The beauty of the whole experience among other highlights is when my 5 year old granddaughter tells me that I am “the greatest cooker in the world.” She adds that I should go on television on the Chef Shows because I would win for sure.  When I ask her what my TV name should be, she quickly responds, “Chef Grandpa.”  I’m sure that I am not the only one that goes through these emotions, but I do know that the best is yet to come…….