Category Archives: Family

Remembering

Remembrance Day July 15 2045

A man about 70 years old is sitting in a backyard chatting with his eight year old granddaughter as their family is preparing for other family members to arrive.

Grandpa, did we celebrate Remembrance Day when you were my age?

No, not when I was your age. I was closer to your mom and dad’s age. This day has only been a national holiday for a little over twenty years, w,ell before you were born.

Mom and Dad say we get together because of a bad virus that spread all over the world and we remember so we don’t forget. Why do we want to remember a virus that got lots of people sick?

Well, it’s not so much the virus we remember but those who were most affected by it. We remember the people who didn’t get better and the people who helped us get through that time.

You mean like doctors and nurses?

Yes, like doctors and nurses but so many more who risked their own health so that others would remain safe. People like first responders, police officers, firefighters, and those in the military. There were so many.

They’re always the heroes, right?

Yes, they are, but there were many other people who put their own health at risk so the rest of us could live our lives safely at home. Before that time, we never gave much thought to truck drivers or people who worked in food stores as heroes, but those drivers transported food to the stores, even though it was risky. And the people who worked at those stores showed up everyday so that the rest of us were able to purchase food.
Teachers made sure their students continued to learn, people who worked in pharmacies made sure people continued to get their medicine,  restaurants stayed open so that some people could order food if they couldn’t get to the grocery stores. Maintenance people made sure the hospitals stayed clean and those who worked in banks kept coming in so people could get money if they needed it. I’ve probably not mentioned nearly as many heroes as there were during that time.

So that’s what today is about?

Partly, yes. We want to remember all those who lost someone and we want to give thanks to those who helped us get through that period of time.  We don’t ever want to forget any of them.

Do all countries celebrate this day?

Well, a few other countries remember this pandemic in their own way, but they don’t call it Remembrance Day since that name means something different for other countries.

Mom and Dad said things changed after the virus. Did they change a lot?

For many, yes. Others just went back to the same routine and the life they lived before this happened.

What kind of things changed?

Well, you know we lost our way of life for a while; our freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. To see and hug  the people we love the most. You really don’t know how much you miss something until it’s been taken away from you. Then you realize you miss it even more than you could have imagined.
People used to live very busy lives. Many families never had dinner together, were pulled in different directions and missed family celebrations or birthdays, because of commitments they thought were important.

People really missed birthday parties and celebrations?

Sadly, yes. But a strange thing happened after this was over. Some people came to understand what was really important in life. That you can’t get some days back. There’s only one of them and when you miss it, it’s gone forever. Just like people. Unfortunately, some people learned that the hard way.

So people changed?

Like I said ,some did. But not all. You see, during that time you really couldn’t go anywhere and families were forced to spend a lot of time together. So instead of rushing around with other commitments, they went for walks, played games, ate together, talked a lot more, went for bike rides, read books, watched movies, cooked meals together and just hung out. They had time to make time for each other. Sometimes they got on each others nerves, but when it was over and they were able to do the things they did before, some realized they would miss what they had during the time they were forced to stay home. They decided they wanted more of their down time and less of the craziness they had before. So they changed the way they lived their lives. They made compromises and adjustments so they could have the best of both worlds. They realized it was easy to do if they just focused on what was most important to them.
But like I said, not everyone felt them same way.

Did our family change?

Eventually yes, but it took a little time, which was probably true of most people.

Mom and Dad said people who used to work in offices had to go in everyday. That must have been weird for kids. I couldn’t imagine not having mom or dad home almost everyday.

Well, it wasn’t weird before the virus. In fact, that was pretty standard. But two things happened. People realized they could work just as efficiently from home and be able to spend more time with their families. And companies realized if they allowed that to happen without it affecting their business their employees would be happier and they could cut down on the amount of office space they needed and save some money on rent in the process. So there was a compromise of sorts. Some people began working in the office one to three days a week on rotating shifts. Not all jobs could do that, of course, but quite a bit more than people realized just a few months earlier.

So the virus wasn’t all bad?

Well, for some it was terrible. Many people lost family members and some nurses and doctors had a tough time healing after what they experienced. But people also became kinder to one another. If you went for a walk during that time, people who were strangers would wave to you and ask if everyone was okay. If someone needed help, they received it. People sang, and danced, told jokes, made crazy videos and raised money for those who were less fortunate and needed support.
So to answer your question,  there was some good that came out of something that was bad.

That happens a lot doesn’t it.

Yes, that happens a lot, if we pay attention and just look hard enough.

For several minutes, the little girl said nothing, looking past the people who started to arrive. Finally, she asked her grandfather if he thought  a virus like that could ever happen again.

He hesitated before answering, putting his arm around her and holding her close.

It’s possible, I suppose, though we’re much better prepared in case it ever happens again. But if that period of time taught us anything, it was to live in the moment and not worry so much about tomorrow. And our moment is coming through the door as we speak. Your cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all here. How about we go remember and celebrate this day with them.

The little girl looked up at her grandfather and smiled.  I think I’m going to give them all big hugs so they know how much I love them.

The grandfather pulled the little girl close, hugged her tightly and whispered softly in her ear.

I think that’s a great idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’ve Learned In The Last Week

 

I’ve learned that whenever Anthony Fauci speaks, I listen. He has been the most honest and direct voice in speaking to the American public. We may not like to hear what he has to say, but the man doesn’t sugar coat the truth. He is giving us the worst possible scenario, if we don’t take action, but he is also giving us hope, if we make the sacrifices that are necessary right now.

I’ve learned that panic is understandable. There are so many whose lives are fragile to begin with. Throwing this type of stress and levels of restriction at them make it difficult to function. Then there are those who panic when two inches of snow is forecast. Throw in a pandemic and the roof comes off the building. This is what happens when people sense a loss of control. They attempt to gain whatever control they can in their lives and buying supplies is a beginning. Their immediate world becomes safe for the moment, and that’s and understandable human reaction.

I’ve learned, once again, that there is a special place in heaven for first responders. Those people who walk into fires when everyone else is driving as quickly as possible in the other direction .We sometimes forget that they also  families also and yet they’re out there working our communities. I pray they all stay healthy.

I’ve learned that it is possible for our political parties to work together and agree on what may be best for the country. How sad that it takes this type of situation to bring about that type of cooperation.

I’ve learned that some young people in this country just don’t get it. While it’s natural for the young to feel they are healthy and immune to what’s going on, the ignorance and indifference they show to other member of their respective families and communities is disheartening and infuriating. It’s unfortunate that the stereotype of the “me first” mentality of young people is plastered on TV’s as they party in bars and social gatherings while the rest of the country attempts to alter their lives for the greater good. They don’t understand that this isn’t about me, or you…it’s about US. Their cavalier attitude and not understanding that asymptomatic carriers will only reduce our chances of controlling this virus is hard to comprehend. Again, the majority of young people are being responsible, but there is a large segment that doesn’t get it, or just doesn’t care.

I’ve learned that the top officials in the Clearwater Beach area of Florida who refuse to close the beaches to spring breakers are being driven, not surprisingly, by greed. While the rest of the country is attempting to practice social distancing, young breakers are carrying on as if nothing is happening in their world. Even more disturbing is the attitude of the officials in these counties.
Councilman David Allbritton- “Beaches are an economic driver for us. Let’s see what happens in the next week or so, and then after that.”
City Manager Greg Mims- “There is not a lot of will to close beaches.”
Sheriff Bob Gaultieri- “I woud not support closing the beaches. With all the cancellations and business closures, people are going to need some sort of outlet. This is going to be around for a while.”
Really? I could go on but what’s the point. Money talks. It doesn’t matter that all these young people will scatter across the country after break is over and probably come to a town near you. By the way, where are the parents of these young college aged kids and why didn’t someone sit them down and say…NO, NOT THIS YEAR. Or is that not good for their fragile egos and self confidence. Maybe if we gave them a participation trophy their attitude might change. Sorry,..but  it’s discouraging to watch.

Eighty years ago, American’s did what they had to do. They rationed food and gas, worked overtime in factories and sent their children to war for years. It has been called it The Greatest Generation for a reason. While this situation is not nearly in the same ballpark, it does provide a glimpse into our mentality, attitude and ability to sacrifice for the greater good. Not for years, but maybe a few months. Are we up to the challenge?

If history has taught us anything, it has shown that there will be a reckoning of sorts when this is over. There will be a large mirror held up in front of us individually and as a nation. It will judge how we responded as a country, as individual communities, as friends, and as families.

This will define us for years to come. How it does remains to be seen.

Deconstructing A Life

So it’s been a couple of days since I’ve last been here. What, you think it’s been more than a couple of days? Really? Maybe you’re right. I’ll have to count on my fingers to check. Sometimes life gets in the way or I get distracted.

My mother in law passed away this past fall at the age of 93 and so we spent the rest of the year going through her home and preparing it for sale. Not an easy task. My father in law passed away twenty-six years ago and so she’s lived in this home for the last sixty years. Up until recently she was able to take care of herself but the last year and a half required some help. Her home was always meticulous, even at the very end. The only problem was, she never threw anything away. I think that’s somewhat common for that generation, who came from a time when everything had value. Nothing was wasted or discarded needlessly. Nothing had a shelf life. It’s something I understand but it didn’t make the process any easier.

We sometimes didn’t know, going through her belongings, what had real value, sentimental or otherwise. Did it have special meaning to her, was it worth something, or was it an item that was given away for free at gas stations back in the day. Some things were obvious, some not so much. And what about the photos of people from so long ago that we didn’t recognize. Did the people in the photo hold special meaning to her? Did they remind her of a special time? What do we do with them now?

And here’s where deconstructing a life comes into the conversation. Here are the decisions we had to make, whether they seem logical or not. We kept quite a few things, as did our children, who wanted remembrances of their grandmother. We donated quite a bit to various charities. We sold a few things. And unfortunately, we ended up tossing some things. For some reason, the photos were sometimes the toughest decisions to make. It seems sacrilegious to throw them out but why keep photos of people we don’t know, and if we do keep them, you just leave it for the next person to deal with when we’re gone.

The whole thing was just so surreal. I’ve known my wife since third grade and have been going to that house for over fifty years. I spent more time there over the years than in the home I grew up in. I knew every corner and almost every story. To take it apart seemed like a violation of her life. Every day another piece was gone, until nothing remained but the shell. Until the home became a house. A property to be sold.

But it seemed even more than that and I’m not sure it’s easily explained. It’s like someone who existed a short time ago, no longer does. Her “stuff” is gone. I understand about the memories we”ll have to hold onto and the items we have to remind us of her life, but there is a big difference between the body and the soul of a person. In certain homes, filled with years of love and memories, I believe the same holds true. Strip away what made it special, and the deconstruction is complete. Emptying that home was like emptying a life. It’s a strange feeling and I’m sure many of you have gone through similar moments over time.

When we were done, I joked with my wife about what our children may think or say when their time comes to do the same thing. What questions they’ll have that may remain unanswered. What photos they’ll find and wonder who those people were. What decisions they’ll have to make and if sentimentality or practicality will be the deciding factor. Probably a little of both.

I just know that a few days after we finished up we started going through our own home. If we can make it a bit easier for our children when the time comes, all the better. I just don’t want to make it too easy. After all, what fun is life without leaving  some mystery and unanswered questions about your parents. I might even plant a few things around just to keep the conversation interesting. I wouldn’t want them to forget us easily.

It’s nice to be back.

 

Scattering Love

                   It’s not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you’ve lived.
Helen Walton

I was thinking about my childhood the other day and trying to remember how far back my memories went. I settled on somewhere between four and five years old but there were only a handful that were clear to me. That bothered me, especially when I took what was then and applied it to now.

Making memories with the people you love or care about is one of life’s greatest gifts. Some of the times we’ve laughed most were with our children and grandchildren, especially during their early years, when everything is on the table, learning is a daily adventure, innocent words  are a sound byte and your sense of wonder sometimes equals theirs. Those are memories that we’ll keep with us forever. Unfortunately, it’s all one-sided. Because in those early years it’s not anything they’ll remember. Influenced, yes. But all the things that were said or laughed about until there were tears in our eyes will not be a definitive memory for them.

That shouldn’t bother me because it’s just another cycle of life, but it does. I remember things that we did with our children and now our grandchildren that were special moments, and though we can relay the stories, it’s not the same as being there in our mutual minds. I sit and have conversations now with our grandchildren, play games, tell stories, laugh at the silliest things, hold them if they cry and sit back and wonder if they’ll remember any of it.

I’ve always understood this but I suppose as I’ve gotten older, Helen Walton’s quote has taken on a different meaning. You want those you love to remember every last laugh and cuddle and hand holding because you know that time of innocence, like life, is so short. Eight or nine comes too quick and soon they’re moving on. Parents will always be more invested in the lives of their children/grandchildren than the other way around. That’s just the way it is. It’s not a matter of loving or caring, it’s just the emotional investment that begins long before they open their eyes and never goes away.

So selfishly you want them to remember it all. Every amazing moment. Big and small. Hoping that you’ve scattered enough love and joy into their lives that one day they may laugh at something silly for no reason at all. You may not know it or even be there. But if it brought them happiness, then maybe something in their two year old lives stuck, and you’ve scattered enough.

And maybe, just maybe, the shade of a memory will not only be yours.

 

A New Day

One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.  -Carl Jung

One the aspects of life that has always fascinated me is how we wake up one morning, living and planning our future, and go to bed that evening with a very different agenda. One that is laid out for us. One we have little control over.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for the last few years, know I haven’t been around much lately. As I wrote early in the year, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last December and we had some work to do to get her back to where she was. Well, we’re almost there. It’ll take some time before she gets back to where she was when this started but she’s doing really well. She’s a tough out and doesn’t back down easily so I’m sure she will handle recovery as directly and aggressively as she dealt with treatment. Surgery, six months of chemo, and four weeks of radiation all ended this past week. So the physical healing begins.
As I wrote back then, we are fortunate. It was caught very early and it didn’t spread so everyone is confident that what she went through is all she will have to go through.

I don’t know how to write about this journey, for lack of a better word. So many people fight their own individual battles with all kinds of dreadful and debilitating illnesses. People young and old. I can’t speak to those and I really don’t want to write about this but I don’t know how to come back here and pick up as if nothing happened, without some sense of closure before moving on again. It seems….disrespectful… to anyone who has ever experienced an illness.

I don’t know how to write about what I’ve seen. A few years ago when my grandson went through treatment for cancer, (he’s doing very well by the way), I wrote about it initially and again near the end, before I moved on. A child dealing with cancer, or any illness is, for me, just a violation of all that is good.
It’s hard to put these images and feelings into words. When you go to a hospital, you see all kinds of situations and a range of why people are there, from the serious to the happiness of newborns. When you go to a center that does nothing but cancer you know why everyone is there. It’s a very humbling place. But it’s also a very hopeful place.

I can’t dwell on the eyes of some of the people I’ve looked into. We don’t know each other and in some cases, never spoke, but they will aways be in my prayers, just as the parents of those children whose eyes I looked into remain with me years later.

We have been blessed to have such great family and friends around us through this time. The support we’ve received; the prayers and meals, the phone calls, cards and little gifts have meant so much. Friends have called to arrange lunch and breakfast dates when my wife had her better weeks, and all of these things mean more than we could ever express.
People surprise you during times like this. Those who we knew but never heard from much in the past or who we never expected to hear from, stepped up in ways that touched our hearts.
Of course there are a handful that populate the flip side but there’s no point wasting time speaking about those individuals..:)

Reaching out to someone during times of difficulty or loss means so much to those in need. If you know someone who’s in that situation now, please don’t ask them to let you know if they need anything. They’ll never call and really, it’s not the way it’s supposed to work. It’s up to each of us. Be the person who does. It’ll make both of you feel so much better.
Thank you to those who reached out those few times I showed up here, and all your prayers. It is very much appreciated.

Hopefully you’ll be seeing much more of me in the future. Of course that can be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective…:)

Stay well.

PS…..I have about 2500 posts to read. .I’m not sure when I can get to them, but hopefully in time  I’ll be able to make a dent. I apologize for not getting to them earlier.

 

 

A New Kind Of Romance

There is a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Jimmy Buffet, Fruitcakes

This is one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett lines and I was reminded of it today during school. I have been working in the school library the last few weeks and almost everyday, these two ten-year old girls come in to read or look for books they can read together. They’re inseparable.
They’re both chatty and like to engage in conversation, which is okay with me as long as they whisper. No easy task for ten-year old girls.

So today they were talking with me about the books they’re reading and after a few minutes the conversation went like this..

Ten year old: My mom is strict with the books that I read, she only reads Christian books and wants me to do the same.

Me: Well, I’m sure there are a lot of good books in here that she wouldn’t have a problem with you reading.

Ten year old: I know but she only really likes Christian books and romance stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Me: (after what seemed like a five-minute pause which allowed me to digest what I just heard) So she reads Christian books and romance novels like Fifty Shades of Grey?

Ten year old: (as she’s thumbing through her book) Yeah, that’s all she really seems interested in reading.

Me: Well, whatever makes her happy.

Ten year old: (nodding) Yeah, that’s what I say.

I guess I can elaborate a bit here and discuss the obvious but I think the obvious pretty much speaks for itself. So for all you folks out there who read the romance novel, Fifty Shades, those Christian books are just a little further down on the shelf, when you’re done. Then you can put on Jimmy Buffett and Fruitcakes. Somehow it will all come together.