Tag Archives: Grandchildren

This, That And The Other Thing

 

 

Just a few random thoughts/questions that may or may not be tied into each other. I’m not really sure these days.

Chick-fil-A

Full disclosure, I’m not a big fast food person. By fast food I mean, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc. If any of my grandchildren want to stop there, I’ll pick at some fries but I stay away from what the Tiger King crowd considers edible. By the way, I’m not a food snob by any means. I prefer casual rather than fancy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some standards. Though some may say I don’t have many. But who listens to them anyway.
Now apparently Chick-fil-A  has a serious groupie following. So one day after seeing a movie with two of our grandchildren,  they asked if we could stop at CFA for lunch and we thought, why not. We’ll give it a try. Bottom line, I don’t get the fascination. It’s fast food fried chicken. Put in on a bun or lay it on a plate, it’s average at best. But I’m not here to judge, only to tell you about a sighting.

About nine months ago a CFA opened about fifteen minutes from us. The crazy thing is,  every time I pass it, without fail, there is a serious double line of cars waiting to go through the drive thru. By serious, I mean 30-40, complete with security and orange cones helping cars weave through a large strip mall parking lot.

And then this past weekend happened.

I drove past there at 3:15 on Saturday and there were 64 cars on line. On my way back home, at 4:45, there were 97 cars on line. 97! How do I know? Because I stopped and counted both times. Don’t judge. Like most people I have lots of time on my hands these days and my numbers had to be accurate for this post. You see, I do have some standards.  Besides, I was curious as hell and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Now I don’t know how long it takes to fill an order but even if, by some miracle, they can push a car through each minute, people will still be waiting an hour and half for fast food fried chicken.  Do the math for two minutes, or three.

Come on now. Am I missing something?

Traffic Reports

On a normal day, the local channels around here provide  traffic reports each morning, afternoon and evening. But these are not normal times, So for the life of me, I don’t understand why these people are still coming on each day to provide an updated report on nothing. NOTHING.  All the roads are green and have been for weeks. There is no traffic to be found anywhere. We live 45-50 minutes outside of NYC. East bound traffic  is usually a mess during morning  rush, and west bound in the evenings.   Not these days. Once in a while I can see excitement in the eyes of these traffic reporters when there is a road construction project to report. But it doesn’t matter because the maps are still green. Even closing two of three lanes on the busiest stretches of Route 80 during rush hours won’t create a problem these days. Why? BECAUSE  NOBODY IS DRIVING ANYWHERE.

Unsubscribing

I often get junk mail in my in box. When I hit the unsubscribe button to get taken off the list I sometimes get a message that says I’ve been unsubscribed and they’re sorry to see me go. But more times than not, I get asked to enter my email address. Why? Don’t they already have it? If I’m unsubscribing from the email address they sent mail to, why can’t they just do what others do, say thank you and move on. Why does it have to be annoying? I don’t understand.

Taneytown

Taneytown, Maryand is a city of less than 7K people about 40 miles outside of Baltimore. A few days ago the local police apparently had to issue final warnings to residents who were going out  to get their mail without  pants on. Now I don’t know what that means and the stories I read didn’t elaborate. Did these people have under garments on or were they buck naked? Because that’s a big gap in the story. (no pun intended). If there’s anyone out there from Tanytown feel free to respond.

Imagine if the name of the city was Tinytown. That opens up a whole new set of jokes. Thank goodness for vowels.

Finally

I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t wait for this self quarantine to be over, but no one has mentioned what they plan on doing when it is. So my question is….

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this cloud is lifted? Where’s the first place you plan on going? If it’s a restaurant, which one? If it’s a location, where? If it’s going to see a person, who?

Stay in and stay well!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Road Trip-Disney World

As a longtime Bruce Springsteen fan, I learned many years ago that there are two camps. You either like him and his music or you don’t. I’ve never heard anyone say, yeah, he’s just ok.
I’ve found the same holds true with Disney, You either enjoy going there or you don’t. For many I think it’s impossible to be a take it or leave it type of person with Disney. Some people are made for it and some are not.

Look, Disney isn’t for everyone. It’s not. You have to believe. You have to have the mindset of a child, not be bothered by ridiculous crowds, brutal heat during  summer months and holidays, long lines, being cramped into shoulder width space during fireworks, long lines, exorbitant pricing, ridiculous crowds, and in your face marketing and commercialization. You have to be flexible, overlook and understand irritable kids, (most of whom are not your own), not blink at the price of a burger or drink, be patient with the transportation system and be willing to plan days and times for rides. Did I mention long lines and ridiculous crowds?

So why go? That’s a good question. One that everyone who enjoys Disney answers for themselves. You really do have to see it through the eyes of a child and not through the logical brain of an adult because logical adult brains would scream at you to stay away. But in some strange way, if you approach and plan it well, it can be a blast. For as much commercialization as Disney is rightfully accused of, they do so much well. Considering the number of people who move through the parks on a daily basis, I’m amazed it runs as well as it does the majority of the time.

When we went in November with one of our daughters, her husband and two young granddaughters, we caught the last few days of the wine and food festival at Epcot, which was a lot of fun. Crowded, but fun. The parks were being decorated for Christmas so we also got to experience that for the first time and it was really special to see. The music, the snow falling around you at night as you walk through lighted streets in different parks. Yes, it was crowded. But if you have the ability to overlook some things and focus on the magic through the eyes of children, it becomes very special.

Here are just a few photos of the different parks.

Outside of Magic Kingdom.

Hanging With a Friend in Animal Kingdom.

Boardwalk At Night

Castle During Fireworks Night (yes the crowds are crazy)

Christmas Tree In Hollywood Studios

 

Main Street After Fireworks

Making A Gingerbread Carousel

    

With The Following Ingredients

For me the best of both worlds would be walking the parks with Springsteen playing throughout. But I realize I can’t have everything I want,  so I’ll settle for Disney music, hundreds of characters and princesses,  smiles on the faces of children and Dean Martin singing Marshmallow World.

Disney is not for everyone and it doesn’t make you a bad person for not wanting to come. Just leave the bitter beer faces at home. You’ve been forewarned. My public service announcement is now complete.

You’re welcome.

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.

 

Reality Check

When you’re dancing with your three-year old granddaughter and she suddenly stops, looks at you with a serious, concerned look on her face and says, “I think you should sit down now grandpa.”

 

I think she wanted the stage all for herself. At least that’s what I told myself. The fact that I might be embarrassing her didn’t enter my mind. I didn’t ask. Didn’t want to know the answer. You know, the whole ignorance and bliss thing. I chose that route.

 

A Princess And Her Prince

A few weeks ago we were blessed to welcome our sixth grandchild, Taylor, into our family. She recently turned a month old and, like her sister at the same age, enjoyed a little photo shoot with her favorite pillow rest, Bailey.

Her birth reminded me of one of my favorite poems by the French poet, Yves Bonnefoy. I thought I’d share part of it with you…

The All, The Nothing

Its the last snow of the season,
The spring snow-the most skilled
At mending the rips in the dead wood
Before it’s brought inside and burnt.

It’s the first snow of your life,
Since yesterday there were only dots
Of color, brief pleasures, fears, chagrins-
Without substance for lack of words.

And I can see joy overtaking the fear
In your eyes which amazement opened
In one great, bright leap; this cry, this laughter
That I love, and that I ponder….

May the big snow be for you, the all, the nothing,
Child trying out your first uncertain steps in the grass,
Your eyes still full of the origin,
Hands grabbing at nothing but the light.

May the gleaming branches be the words
You’ll have to listen to, not understanding
The meaning of their silhouette against the sky-
Otherwise you’d only name them at the price of losing.

May these two values, one sparkling, be enough for you,
Of the hill glimpsed through the opening between the trees,
Bee of life, when in your dreams of the world,
The world itself grows quiet.

And may the water that wells up in the shadow
Show you that joy can survive in dream,
Even when a breeze from who knows where
Is already scattering almond blossoms-and yet the other snow.

Enjoy a blessed life, Taylor

 

Life Transitions

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected
Robert Frost

We never really notice them, until we do.

We move through the early years of our lives almost seamlessly, understanding the changes that occur but viewing them as nothing more than another transition. Some are more dramatic than others, even life altering, at times. But we move on, knowing there is something up ahead, another phase in our lives. A transition from childhood to adulthood. For some it may include marriage and children. For others a career, a new business, a divorce, health issues, grandchildren, travel and even loss.

But while we’re young, or younger, there is always tomorrow. There is a confidence of tomorrow that is somewhat tempered as we age. We don’t live in fear because that type of life is not really living. We just understand the reality of life. I’m more aware of my mortality at 65 than I was at 35. That’s not morbid, it just is.

It’s the reality many people refuse to speak about. People think about it but can’t seem to verbalize their feelings. Even if they did, no one would want to hear it.

I was watching a baseball game the other day with my grandson and we were talking about this young player who is in his early 20’s. And it occurred to me that this player might have a career that lasts twenty years. It also occurred to me, though I hope to live a long healthy life, that I may not be around to see the end of his career. That’s not morbid, that a reality I never thought about before. I’ve watched sports my whole life and that single thought has never crossed my mind.

I’ve transitioned from from my youth to adulthood. I married, have raised a family and have been blessed to see my children begin their own families. I was fortunate to have a good career and I’m now retired. I’ve transitioned once again but I understand that what’s behind me is very different than what’s in front of me.

That being said, I know that I will never be any younger than I am today. In many ways, I am living the youth years of the rest of my life. I don’t know if that makes sense to everyone but it does to me. It has to. Because there is much more to see, much more to do. My mind understands the number and how many trips I’ve had around the sun but it continues to rage against the machine.

I don’t know where the next transition will take me, I only know my eyes are always open.

Just know that if I become famous in my still unknown second career, I will remember everyone who hits the like button on my posts.

 

 

 

 

When The Beast Wins, Children Lose

A ten-year old student in an ELA class at one of my schools was asked to provide an argument for something he felt strongly about. He chose a sports related topic. This is what he wrote, unedited.

Parents, teachers, coaches and kids! I call on you to change the policy that kids have to try out for sports. It’s wrong to not let kids join sports because it hurts their self-esteem, because it builds a nasty sense of competition and because all kids deserve to play if they want. 

Some pooh-pooh the idea that a kids self-esteem gets hurt but how do you think it makes us feel? I’ll tell you how it feels, it feels TERRIBLE. It feels lie everyone is staring at us , feeling sorry for us. It makes us wonder if we’ll ever be good enough. The truth is our school, coaches or parents don’t think we’re good enough to participate. They’re supposed to make you feel stronger or better, not destroy your self-esteem and confidence.

Not allowing other kids to join sports also makes kids competitive with each other. In one survey, 18 out of 20 kids said they would rather make the team than stay friends with each other. In an interview with a student who made the team, this article said, “I really don’t hang out with any of my friends now who didn’t make the team. They don’t have the shirt we have. I don’t know, I just don’t see them any more. You might think competition brings out the best in kids and maybe it does when they’re older but in elementary school it makes kids mean and lonely.”

The most important reason not to make cuts is that all kids deserve to play. For goodness sakes!!!! We’re nine and ten years old. Isn’t this the time we should be learning skills, getting stronger and having fun? A lot of people say it’s just sports, that’s how it is. But we’re not pro ball players. All of us deserve a chance to get better.

Change this policy, please. Give us the fast legs and strong bodies we deserve. Let us all be the athlete we want to be. 

Interesting discussion topic.

I have three daughters who played multiple sports through high school and I coached basketball and softball for quite a few years.

But it was a very different time in terms of youth sports. It was not all-consuming and I could probably write a short book on the strong feelings I have about children and the parents and coaches who affect their lives.

The immersion and consumption of time in sports today at a very early age has to be witnessed in order to be understood. I think the biggest fear for me is how it affects families and the time they spend together.

Or don’t.

It’s time that will never be returned to them and it passes so very quickly.

I understand that making cuts as it relates to some teams are the nature of sports and I think some kids learn from these disappointments, but some things this student said are pretty sad; specifically about the interaction between kids who make teams and those who don’t, and what competition brings out in children.
At younger ages, it should never be about the score. Who wins is irrelevant. How good you are at 8-9-10, is irrelevant. We’ve all seen stars at ten who burn out or fall behind others as they get older; stars at ten years old who never play a high school game. Coaches and parents lose sight of the fact that young children who choose to play sports should, as this child mentions, focus on basic skills and development, not winning and losing. Can both be accomplished? Of course. But all too often one takes control of the other. It’s the nature of the beast.

Most importantly, children at that age should be having fun. Sadly, and all too often, that simple goal is not part of a parent or coaches mindset.

Children should be allowed to be children and families should be allowed to enjoy those few precious years together.

Sports is a great outlet and competition is healthy as long as both are done intelligently and balanced properly.

I was going to conclude by saying that I hope this young man figures it out and finds sports to be a positive experience, but it’s really not his decision, is it?

So I hope the adults in his life figure it out and provide this child with a positive experience. Lord knows our children can use all the positive experiences they can get.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not always provided by those who have the opportunity to do so.

Just Another Day

On the first day of 2017, 210 people were killed or injured by gun violence in America, including a one year old, teens and a mother and daughter.

Today, there was Ft. Lauderdale.

Tomorrow, it could be my hometown.

Or yours.

Like most forms of illness, there is an indiscriminate nature to gun violence. No one is immune. Not you. Not me.

As I was watching the news today, with the sound off, my nineteen month old granddaughter played next to me. She was innocently laughing at everything she touched. And as I watched her play, I wondered what kind of world my grandchildren are going to know. I wondered what kind of fear they will understand and how they will live their lives. And I wondered if they will ever truly be free.

We should all be wondering the same thing, because this senselessness doesn’t seem to be going away. That’s the reality we all try to turn away from.

Those who died today were probably someone’s child and/or parents.

Someone else’s.

Whose will they be tomorrow?