Archive for January, 2016

Old Friends
January 27, 2016

Reflective mood tonight. (Notice how I’m avoiding the weight issue? Yes, astute readers, you are). I was reflecting earlier today and re-reflecting tonight about Old Friends. Probably because of listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

I always thought I’d have boyhood friends forever. Just like the song “Old Friends/Bookends”.

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends
A newspaper blowin’ through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends
Winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.

My buddy growing up, Keith, was my next door neighbor. Heck he was class president and I was vice-president of our class. Actually, before I got into counseling, I worked for him in his construction business. He lives in the area. We speak to each other twice a year. I call him on his birthday and he calls me on mine. Funny how that works.

I had a friend Chuck who I was real close with throughout high school. He introduced me to underage drinking. We went to concerts together, ball games, and drove around a lot just drinking and trying to tune in the New York Yankees on WGAR from Schenectady, NY. (If we found the right place at night, we could listen to the whole game). We spent so much time together. He’s in Chicago or somewhere. I was in his wedding, haven’t seen him or talked to him in over 35 years. Funny how that works.

I lamented not having that, but then realized I have four or five people in my life I would call close friends.

Lon is who I see more than the others. Him and Janet, I’ve known for about 20 years. I actually communicate more with them than with other friends. It’s a beautiful friendship, but it will change as eventually they move to North Carolina. Not soon, but soon enough. Funny how that works. I love him.

Jim has been my friend for 40 years. He lives in Florida. We lived together for awhile there. It seems that when we get together, it was like we were just with each other. We have had more experiences than you can imagine, and as he is a CEO of a non-profit organization, we’ll leave it at that. Concerts, parties, girlfriends, video games. We went through break ups with our girlfriends and more Tony’s pizza than you can shake a stick at. I love him.

Cindi, my cousin, who also lives in Florida. We have experienced so many things growing up, and it was always good to bounce things off her when girls drove me crazy.  I was the same to her. I spent summers at her house when she lived near by. So many stories, and we have verbally agreed not to blackmail each other. I love her.

Johnny, my cousin. He lives near by and we don’t see each other near enough. Nobody made me laugh like him, and my goal has and continues to be, to get him to pee his pants. He’s 60, so it shouldn’t be hard. His mom was like my second mother. He’s a chubber like me, and even now, deep down, though we struggled to lose weight by dieting and exercising together, we both hope the other stays fat. I love him.

Bonnie, my wife. We have been married over 30 years. We’ve known each other closer to 40. She knows everything about me. She is my biggest critic and my biggest fan. When I’m down, she builds me up. When I feel full of myself, she brings me down. She didn’t know me when I was going through my struggles, but has kept me from going back to them. My best friend. I am blessed. I love her.

The song continues:

Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.

But I can see myself at 70 sitting on a park bench with Bonnie or Jim or Cindi or Johnny. In fact I do that now because it’s actually “terribly strange” to be 60.

“Old Friends/Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Death of My Heroes
January 22, 2016

Bowie

 

The deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie have me remembering about my old heroes. Glenn and David weren’t “heroes”, but definitely “influences”. But I have several heroes whose deaths have affected me greatly.

The first one was on June 5, 1968. I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, and for the first time was getting involved in politics. I remember watching him give speeches on TV, always was told his brother was a great president, and firmly believed he’d end the Viet Nam war, cause I didn’t want to go be a part of that mess. But when Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Bobby Kennedy, it just shook my world. I barely remembered his brother John getting murdered, and was fully aware of the murder of Martin Luther King on April 4th, and here we are, two months later, and another senseless killing. I like the term “senseless” killing, as if some killings make sense. I realized, at the age of 12, the world was mad. He was 42. And I wanted nothing to do with politics for a very long time.

Oh Captain, my Captain! August 2, 1979 I got a call from my brother-in-law Tom. He said “Did you hear the news”. I said no. He said, “Thurman Munson died in a plane crash”. Now Tom was a die hard Red Sox fan and I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life. I told him, “This is sick if you’re making a joke”. He said, “It’s not a joke. Thurman is dead”. Thurman was a great guy, learned to fly a plane so he could go back and forth to his wife and kids in Cleveland. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I got to meet him after a ball game in Cleveland. I asked if I could shake his hand. He kept walking but his wife talked him into it. I shook his hand. I wish I wouldn’t have let go. He was 32.

I was living in Florida and on Dec. 8, 1980, I was watching a Monday Night Football game, I believe. Howard Cosell comes on with breaking news. John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment in New York City. He was 40. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the Beatles, he wasn’t my favorite (more on that later), but he was THE BEATLES. There would be no reunion. A part of my childhood died. I cried. It reminded me the world was mad.

On July 16, 1981 I heard that singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. He was driving his VW with the emergency lights flashing and was hit by a semi truck. The impact killed him instantly, with the police saying the truck driver pulled him out of the burning car. He was a great humanitarian and was on his way to perform a free concert. He was 38. Cats in the cradle with a silver spoon.

August 13, 1995 was when a big part of my childhood died. Mickey Mantle, my first hero, died at the age of 63. Growing up, I became a Yankees fan because of him. My entire house loves the Indians, and my dad said that it was because of Mickey Mantle I became a Yankees fan. Thanks Mick. He had a lot of issues and if he was alive today, they would smear him because of his issues. See, nowadays, you can’t have heroes. Not sure why that is. Through all the injuries, through all the pain, there was something about him that made me want to be a Yankee. I got to see him play, but I’d love to have met him.

On November 29, 2001 the rest of my childhood died. George Harrison died at the age of 58, succumbing to cancer. I was devastated. Of all the Beatles, he was and is my favorite. I had tickets to see him on his solo tour in 1974 in Cleveland at the Richfield Coliseum. A blizzard cancelled the tour, and they never rescheduled it. He influenced me in an almost hypnotic way, to the point I read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a Hindu book, with a forward by Harrison. I was searching philosophically at the time for the answers. I had a million questions, but the answers were out there somewhere.

Now I talked of Bowie and Frey, but also Chris Farley, John Candy, Peter Sellers, James Cagney, Jim Croce, Leslie Nielsen and others were all influences. Not heroes.

But no day has affected my life like January 19,1984. It was on that day that I realized who my greatest hero was. He died around 33 A.D., and His name is Jesus Christ. Of all my heroes, He was the only one who knew me. He was the only one who knew I existed. He was the only one who lived for me. And He was the only one who died for me. I didn’t have to pay to hear Him sing. I didn’t have to pay to watch Him play ball. And I didn’t have to vote for Him for president, because He is the King of the Universe.

When my other heroes died, I was sad. But when I realized that Christ died for me, it brought tears of happiness. Joy, inexpressible joy. Peace, a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

I may never see my heroes again. I know everyone doesn’t go to heaven. But I know that I will see Jesus Christ, face to face, soon. Because He’s my hero. And He knows me.

 

Facebook
January 14, 2016

When I was off Facebook, I missed my friends. Those around the country, even different countries, I missed pictures of them and grandkids, family, and their travels. My youngest Ben  thinks old people should be off Facebook. I was for awhile and I’m back, so let me tell you why.

I needed to get off for awhile to refocus. Not focus so much on politics and disagreements or arguments regarding it, but instead gleaning from the posts and maybe striking a chord with someone over mine.

Too many disagreements and arguments over sports, also. It, just like the politics, would start off joking, then turn in to a free for all. So through this time off, I learned who not to argue with because they are unreasonable.

First, liberals. They are so hell bent in going their way that not only do they disagree with you, but also demean you with snide comments about them feeling they are smarter and wiser than you. Their motto seems to be “If you don’t agree with me, you must be an idiot”.

Second, Steeler fans. They are determined to remind you they have six Superbowl wins, with 4 of them before they were even born. They are demeaning to all other teams, feel that all other teams play “dirty”, cheat, and when they do lose, they still think the other team is inferior and were “lucky”. They also believe that the NFL started in the 70’s, thus the Packers having the most titles doesn’t count.

Third, atheists. I’ve never had a “discussion” with an atheist. It’s always an argument. They want you to prove God exists, yet when you ask them if all the laws of physics and human nature are designed and they agree, they ignore the fact that there must be a designer. They mock your belief (see liberals above), and say that science proves that evolution  and the Big Bang Theory are facts. They are not. They are theories. At that point, they cease being scientists, but become philosophers. This is what they think.

Fourth, people who “have a cause” and do nothing to help it. Bruce Jenner supporters who get all flustered because he is called Bruce Jenner instead of his feminine name. Rich people that will protest for minority rights, yet not lift a finger to help. People that will save an Eagle’s egg and have you arrested, yet let millions of babies aborted. People who disrupt traffic, invade shopping malls, close bridges to point to their “cause”. It’s not a “cause” they point to but a pointing to themselves.

Fifthly, People who change the names so it’s more palatable, for example “illegal aliens” are now “undocumented workers”. There’s no longer a “Global War on Terror”, its an “Overseas Contingency Operation”.

I am finding that avoiding arguments with these people make Facebook so much more enjoyable (yet, Steelers fans continue their obnoxious baiting, however, I am not taking the bait). I get to see people I haven’t seen in years and show off my kids. And my grandkids.

So, much to Ben’s chagrin, I am back on Facebook. You can “friend” me if you wish, but, I won’t argue the point if you don’t.

Winter
January 7, 2016

Well, week one into 2016 and winter has arrived. I’m ok with that, as apparently, I’m a northern kind of guy.

Christmas Eve and Day was like 60 degrees, which is kind of nice. See, I like cold and cool weather. So 60 is cool and lovely. I guess that at my age, I’m over a white Christmas. If it happens, cool, if not, I’m very ok with it.

We’ve had just one snow, less than an inch. I find I like snow also. Not a “Oh boy, it’s snowing”, but more like a “oh, it snowed”. I’m learning to adjust to life. So let’s throw a bit of Bob Dylan in here, which is to no one who knows me surprise.

This song I discovered is called “It’s Not Dark Yet” off his “Time Out Of Mind” CD (in case you want to buy it……). Fascinating song as I am approaching the winter of my life. I’ve learned to accept things that are. There are a few things this song says, and I’ll quote it without permission and hopefully not infringe on copyright laws.

I have come to the conclusion that western Pennsylvania, maybe where I’m at in Sharon or somewhere near by, is where I’m supposed to be. This is where God has me. This is where God wants me. I had wanted to move to California with the kids, but they moved home. I had wanted to travel, but that desire has left me, also. If I travel, I want to do it as a family. I’ve also discovered that I love it here. Maybe that’s the Lord helping me, but I do. My desire is to live where my kids and grandkids will live. I have a friend Bill Jones who picked up and moved with his wife to eastern Pennsylvania because it was between where his two kids lived. I get that.

I never understood why Paul McCartney always dreaded his “Beatles” years after they broke up. He rarely sang Beatles songs, mainly doing his solo work. I’ve noticed as Paul’s aged that he has embraced that the Beatles was a part of who he was, but not who he was. Now he does a nice mix of both in concert, so I’m told.

I’ve found that out about me. I hated the high school years. I think that’s why I drank so much in high school. Started drinking at 13, just hated Sharon. Moved to Florida twice, and came back to the area and when I got married we bought a house in West Middlesex. Not Sharon. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that I’m embracing my high school years as a part of who I was, but not who I was, just like McCartney. It was a part of who I am, but does not define me as who I am.

I was popular in school, but it didn’t satisfy me. I look back on the drama of high school and some of the crazy things I did and I should be dead. But God spared me and here I am. Friends who betrayed me, friends I betrayed, relationships that ruined me and relationships I ruined, poor decisions that I made. This brings me back to Dylan.

Always was a Dylan fan. He spoke for my generation, but it wasn’t until lately I’ve encountered some of the songs he did, especially off the Bootleg Series 1-12, that really speak to great depth in my life. Songs that I go, “Yeah, that’s true” or “yeah, I believe(d) that”. As I’ve turned 60, it’s becoming clearer to me that I have become older and wiser. Things don’t bother me like they used to, (well, except the Browns, but I’ve been working on that for years), and I really don’t care what people think. I believe if I had that attitude in high school I would have enjoyed it more. But back to Dylan.

The whole song “It’s Not Dark Yet” is so good and speaks so much to who I am. The one verse goes:                “I was born here and I’ll die here, against my will. I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still. Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb. I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from. I don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer. It’s not dark yet. But it’s getting there.”

I guess as I’m in the autumn of life, late October I’d say, that’s where I’m at. I’m in Sharon, at first against my will but now my will is lining up with God’s. I’ll probably die here. I’m ok with all of that. Heck, I got cemetery plots here.

This is where I’m to be. I like it here. Everything I need and want is here. My wife, my kids and their spouses and their kids, all here. I’m a blessed man. I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation. It was 12 degrees this morning and I walked in the Park. Crazy? Nah, enjoying home.

My home isn’t gorgeous or in the greatest neighborhood. I’m not a “fixer upper” kind of fella, so things need done. I get to things eventually, although I’d rather pay someone to fix things because, hey, that’s why we work, don’t we? Ain’t got a whole lot of money (“but I’m so in love with you honey”)But I love where I live. I do. I’m home. People say you can’t go home. You can, but it’s not the same. It’s different only if you’ve changed.

I absolutely have only one regret. I wish I’d married Bonnie earlier in life instead of 30 so I’d be around for the grandkids longer, but who knows? God’s timing is perfect.

Winter is here. It doesn’t last long. I’ve embraced it. Life is very good, and I’m realistic about life and the outcome. It’s Not Dark Yet. But it’s getting there.

Bye Bye 2015
January 1, 2016

Well, my “New Years Resolution” is to blog more. See how long that lasts.

Happy New Year to all or any faithful followers. The weight struggle remains real: 260-265 consistently. I imagine that must be where I like to be, because that’s where I be.

It’s been an interesting year. I had gotten off of Facebook because of all the arguing over sports and politics. I have gotten back on because I miss getting updates on what’s going on with my friends. I will, however, not argue sports or politics.  But this has been a good year.

I turned 60, that’s a biggie, and I’ve embraced it fully, and am actually loving getting older. God has blessed me with so much in 2015 and I don’t know where to begin.

Good health, a grandson, Zeke (or Zekers is what I like to call him), Zeke’s dad is buying a house across the street from me, which excites me, Yankees made the playoffs with marginal players and people only about 20 years younger than me, and the Browns are 3-12 with the possibility of being 3-13 after Sunday. I mention the sports teams because I don’t get as upset as I used to.

Example: My boys (Luke, Ben, Josh) and me went to our first game all together. Josh is a Steelers fan, so this was probably just for laughs for him. It was Monday Night Football. And, it was against the Ravens and it was a good game.

Browns line up for a winning field goal and it was blocked and the Ravens ran it back for a winning touchdown. Josh was shocked, Ben just stared into heaven, perhaps asking God why He hates the Browns and the city of Cleveland so much, Luke was mouth wide open. Me? I just laughed. Typical Browns. I’ve  reached that point of life when I don’t worry about stuff like that very much. Very much.

For my 60th, Josh and Jo Jo bought me a ticket to see the University of Michigan play against Rutgers at THE BIG HOUSE! First time there and it was just Josh and me. What a blast.  Michigan won big, but it didn’t matter, the place was fabulous. Loved being there and I discovered that 52 degrees in Ann Arbor, Michigan isn’t quite the same as 52 degrees in Sharon, Pennsylvania. We froze our tails off. But it was a super experience and I want to go again.And besides, how many people can say they got to see both of the Harbaugh brothers coach this year?  Checked off the bucket list. they had a very good season this year. Go Blue!

Things I’ve had too much of this year: Kardashians, Bruce Jenner, Isis, Bill Cosby, “affluenza”, Entertainment Tonight, Hilary Clinton, and biased news shows (left and right).

Things I look forward to in 2016: Closer walk with Christ, losing weight, Yankees winning #28, Michigan beating Ohio State, someone developing a plan to beat Isis, and people loving each other no matter what their color, religion, or sexual choices are. I’ll love you, but don’t try to make me accept your belief if it’s not Biblical.

To everyone: Peace.