Changing of the Guard
January 11, 2017

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Well here we go, the changing of the guard.

America changes every 4 or 8 years and we are in for another change for president. Whether you love him or hate him, too bad. He will be president in 10 days. President of the United States.

Such hatred during elections. Name calling, losing friends, losing customers, jobs, all because of differences of opinions and tastes. We need to tolerate other views.

For example, I have many, many friends that are Pittsburgh Steeler fans. Am I still friends with them? Of course. It’s differences.

I wonder, what would happen if we could disagree and be ok with each other? Let the other person have their opinion without dismissing them from our lives, or calling them names. I notice both sides of the political spectrum that each side called each other the same name: Hitler, fascist, stupid, and other things that are very hurtful.

If you’re a Christian I want to remind you of something. If you’re not a Christian, then I want to enlighten you with something.

Romans 13:1- “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Yep, think about it.

Barrack Obama? Yep, placed there by God. Donald Trump? Yep. Placed there by God. So when we argue or name call  the president ( or president-elect), then your argument is really with God. Not that dirty, rotten, so and so that doesn’t agree with you!

Without getting into a discussion or argument, the Bible shows us that He puts people in power to bless or punish a people. So you can look at the president and decide which one it is.

We are a peculiar people, aren’t we? We take things personal and we try to demean people that don’t think like us. They’re uninformed, uneducated, even “deplorables”. And doggone it, we are right! Right?

Look at the crazy world we live in. Just think if we all could live together in peace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

So as a Christian to other Christians I challenge you. Follow what Paul told the Romans in Chapter 12:14- “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

If all my brothers and sisters in Christ did this, no matter what the response is from those around you, we may not have peace on earth, but we will have peace with God.

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Imagine
January 1, 2017

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Well, here we are. In less than three hours on the East Coast of the U.S., it’s goodbye 2016, hello 2017. Oh there’s so much promise in the new year, isn’t there?

We look back and forward at the same time. Look at the past with all its pain and suffering as well as its joys and loves. Look forward to all the hopes and promises that lie ahead.

Face it, it was a good year and a bad year. Family and friends coming together, family and friends having a falling out. Great financial decisions made and poor financial decisions made. Lots of laughter and lots of tears.

Some people say, “I can’t wait until 2016 is over”, as if 2016 had magical powers to create good or evil. We have hope that 2017 will be better, that we’ll be wiser, that fate will be kinder, that there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

It’s a time of resolutions: I’ll lose weight, I’ll exercise more, I’ll be vegetarian, I’ll be kinder, I’ll be whatever. Notice in those, it all comes down to “I”. I want you to look at 2017 in a different way.

How about instead of “I” in us, we focus on “God” in us? We focus more on others instead of ourselves? But we ask for abundance, yet keep it for ourselves. We ask for health for us, but don’t help our weaker or older neighbors. We ask for deliverance, yet look down on others who aren’t delivered.

How about instead of asking God for things, we ask Him to change us? We can look at others that are different and still love them? We can debate without arguing? We can work things out peacefully instead of fighting?

How about we trust God instead of our bank account? Trust God instead of our job? Trust God instead of our wants? This could be an exciting 2017.

The Middle East is exploding. Syria is in shambles. We’ve had the most divisive president and election in the history of the U.S. We are divided in race. We are divided in politics. We are divided in religion. We are divided in class. We are divided in beliefs.

What if, seriously, what if everyone decided that they would be, as St. Francis put it so well, “instruments of peace”? What if we decided to not listen to the negative and find the positive?

I’m not talking about fantasy garbage like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, which states that we’d all get along if there wasn’t religion, governments, property, possessions, and poverty. That won’t happen. Our sin nature, untamed, will never permit that.

I’m talking about the basic biblical teachings of loving the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Just think if everyone followed those rules. We all decide to get along?

Imagine.

 

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Christmas Eve Eve
December 24, 2016

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Well, here we are. As I write this, it is 15 minutes until Christmas Eve, so this is still Christmas Eve Eve. Best time of the year and, if you follow this blog, you know I love living in western Pennsylvania, especially from September first until New Years Day.

It’s just so beautiful, and this year there has been lots of snow, and although it is getting warmer, there will be snow on the ground for tomorrow night, Christmas Eve.

There’s just a special, almost magical feeling on Christmas Eve. There is the thrill of the celebration of the birth of Christ. I know that nobody knows when Jesus was born, but it’s the celebration. It’s the realization that God Himself came to earth, took on human form and becoming 100% man while still being 100% God. Immanuel, God with us.

I love the giving spirit behind this. The anticipation of children. Haniah is 3 1/2, is well aware that Santa is coming but realizing it’s also the birth of Jesus that we celebrate. I have Christian friends that do not celebrate Christmas, and my thoughts are, why wouldn’t we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World?

Church on Christmas Eve is my favorite. All my brothers and sisters in Christ gathered together to worship the King of the world. The music, the companionship, the shaking of hands, hugs, and kisses on cheeks. The realization that this day celebrates the one thing us believers all have in common…..Jesus Christ is Lord.

This time of year I think of the importance of Christ’s birth. I was always amazed as a child that there would be a ceasefire in the Vietnam War during Christmas. Amazing. People trying to kill each other in the name of their governments would stop and take a day or two of peace. All because of Christ Jesus.

People being nicer to each other. But I’ve noticed the election has brought out the worst in people, particularly this season. There is no forgiveness, no tolerance to opposing views, and love is hard to find. People who think differently than others are bigots, racists, stupid, and more.

But that’s where we come in. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Not for peace with each other, but peace with God. We were enemies of God because of our sin and our falling away from God. But when we realize that the One who’s birth we celebrate in two days also is the one who died for our sins, then we find peace with God.

We celebrate that Christ took us, totally not worthy, and made us worthy. No other religion has a God that died for us. No other religion has a Father who sacrificed His own Son. No other religion has grace for our sins.

This Christmas is remarkable. The joy in little one’s eyes as they wait for the day. The joy of giving to loved ones and the joy in giving to those in need. The joy we have in knowing that we will have eternal life with other believers, if truly ourselves, we are believers.

For so long it’s been politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas”. But there appears to be a renewed Spirit in this land. “Merry Christmas” is welcomed. And in some places, Christ is even welcomed back. He’s always been welcomed in my home. Hopefully, someday, He will be welcomed back to the United States. At least that’s what I pray.

Merry Christmas.

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Merely Mortal
July 26, 2016

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It’s been a strange couple weeks. Not “strange” as it being odd, but “strange” in being eye opening. So maybe the word shouldn’t be “strange”, but instead, “enlightening”.

First, since it’s been awhile, I have a new granddaughter, Selah Hope, who I absolutely adore. I now have three grandchildren, two granddaughters and a grandson, whom I love in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me to love. It’s like loving your kids, only different. A lot different. Hard to explain it, but its like God opens up a new part of your heart to have these little munchkins inhabit. Beyond words.

With that being said, two weeks ago Bonnie, my wife of 31 years, was hospitalized with chest pains. I was called to where she works and told she was having pain. Now my wife is a daughter of a nurse, and unless you’re dying, you don’t go to the hospital. I tell you, it was the scariest thing I’d been through. She was pale and weak. So off to the hospital we go.

They ran tests, labs, x-rays, CT Scans, the works. They decided to keep her overnight for observation. My wife, to say the least, is a very poor patient. She was in the hospital bed with a gown, refusing to take off her pink scrubs from work, and wearing her tennis shoes! I told her to take her pants off and stay in bed and she tells me there is no need for that. She believed that there was no reason for her to be in the hospital, and that the Lord had her there to pray for people. That, in a nutshell, is my wife.

It was discovered that she had a leaky valve in her heart, and that she has to wear a heart monitor for a month. Now, it’s been over 90 degrees for a week and a half and will continue to be that way, and we are helping my daughter and son-in-law move into a new home. She had no intention of  doing this heart monitor thing, however, our doctor is the sweetest woman we know, so she wouldn’t fight her. So here we are with that.

Last week, the young Princess (that’s what I call Selah), was running a fever of 101.8. She was three weeks old and the doctor told my daughter to take her to the ER. So it’s 2 in the morning, and Jo Jo, Selah, and I are in the ER. They ran tests, took blood, and I admit, was horrible to watch. The poor thing was poked and prodded, and trying to get blood from a three week old was very, well, trying.

They could find nothing wrong, but decided that they needed her to go to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, and by ambulance as her fever wasn’t coming down, and a three week old shouldn’t be having a fever. So I go home to be with the Princess (Haniah, Selah’s three year old sister) while mom and dad go to Pittsburgh. It was a crazy week.

They took tests, x-rays, couldn’t get blood so tried a vein in her head, and the nurses said that Selah was one tough girl. They were testing for meningitis and other things. She was hospitalized 4 days and mom and day got to stay at Ronald McDonald House, which is a fantastic place that parents utilize to stay close to their kids while they’re hospitalized. I will not rush by the donation requests for the Ronald McDonald House at my local McDonalds anymore..

Needless to say, all came back well, and it was a virus. Thank God for that.

These two incidents brought me face to face with the blunt reality that we are all mortal. We have a beginning and an end. From my wife to my granddaughter, thoughts of the reality of the end of life smacked me in the face. What would I do if something happened to Bonnie? Or Selah? Or, actually, anyone in my family. Are we ready for this?

I’m 60 and realize that things happen as we get older. This past month also saw my blood pressure getting out of control, and have been monitoring it closely with slight adjustments to meds. I’ve been walking nearly every day, but that is no guarantee, although helpful. of a longer life. Bonnie’s Uncle Ron, who is the most fit man in his age group (early 70’s) that I know, was hospitalized with a blood clot. It could have killed him.

There will come a day of reckoning for all of us. Some sooner than others. It is with this thought in mind that I wonder if I’m doing enough for God. I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I know God loves me no matter what I do, but what do I do that shows God how much I love Him? Do I love my fellow man and woman? Do I care at all for the poor? Am I self-centered or Christ-centered?

As I reflect on these, I realize that all that matters is that at the end, Christ will say ‘well done, My good and faithful servant’. My goal now, is to make sure that all I do is for Him, not for me.

I’m finding that it is hard to do. I’m finding that I am merely mortal, and it’s God’s grace alone that compels me to do good. To serve. To love.

I think I woke up.

Step By Step
June 1, 2016

So I’ve been going back and forth regarding what to do about this weight issue. Part of me REALLY cares and other times not so much. Part of me thinks I’d like to continue this walk to 199 and another part thinks that as long as my numbers are good, what’s the difference.

Well, I’m back at it again, giving it another shot. Weight was 268.0 today, I’ve been worse, but been better. I think I mentioned I’ve had some issues with my shoulder and am getting treatment for that. I used that as an excuse not to walk. Like I need an excuse.

I’ve discovered that mileage and time was stressing me out when I walked. It was not fun. I would walk so fast (at least fast for me) and it was difficult to talk with Bonnie, who was faster than me, because of being out of breath. So, we decided to walk at a “decent” pace, which I recommend. Also, the mileage thing has been replaced in regards to goals. When we walk we go from 2.25 to 3+ miles, but what I’ve been doing, although I still use the “Map My Walk” app, I have found that there is an app on my I-Phone that counts my steps.

Now I live a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I’m a pastor/counselor. I spend much time sitting in counseling and preparing my sermons, so activity isn’t the foremost of my existence. So I walk. Now I’m told that a person needs 10,000 steps a day. For a sedentary guy like me, it might as well be a million. So I had set goals of 7000 to start with and am up to 8000, and if the walking continues, should get to 9-10,000 easily. When I don’t walk, well, here’s some stats.

Without my taking a walk, here are some days totals of steps in a day: 3,045; 1,686; 2,823, 2,402, etc. No wonder the weight doesn’t come off. But on a day like today (5/31) where I walked 2.29 miles, I achieved 9,152 steps and that was with me working today counseling! So, I’m trying to go with taking steps, walking toward that 199, step by step, day by day. Because I don’t walk daily like I was, I’m sore and weak.

I realized that Christianity is like this. Sometimes, a few days may go by without my devotions, so then I spend 2-3 hours to make up for it. Well, that’s not good.

Christianity needs to be a walk, a daily walk with Christ. Not a sprint then three days off. Some of the days it feels like I walked 2000 steps with Christ, then do a 10,000 step day, then the next day or two under 4000. So I’ve decided to come to Christ step by step also. It’s the only way to get strength. If not, then I get sore and weak.

So those trying to lose weight, take it step by step. And those who are walking with Christ, walk Him step by step also. It’s easier to keep up with Him when you’re walking with Him daily.

Already Gone
March 1, 2016

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Not trying to copy Bob Dylan (as if I could do it justice), but time is ridiculously quick. As I type this, it’s the end of February, and I can’t believe it’s gone, even with an extra day.

I remember my dad used to tell me how fast it goes as you get older. And now February 2016 is gone.

It doesn’t seem long ago it was New Years Eve 2000, and we all feared the planes would fall from the sky, the computers would crash, we’d have no food, not water, no gasoline. And here we are 16 years later.

It’s funny how things go as time passes. I’m not going to have the body that my head said I could have when I gained weight back 30 years ago. Still overweight, but realizing that I won’t have the “beach body” I thought I’d have. It’s that realization that is overwhelming now. I can probably lose some weight, diet the right way and exercise, pray that God gives me the strength to do that. But “beach body”? Nah. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get good at the guitar. I’ve had a guitar for 15-20 years. Oh, I can pick a few songs, but not where I can look at the music and play any song. It was hard to reach some of the chords. I don’t even touch it now. I practiced some for a few years, said I’d pick it up again, but it won’t happen. Not that I’m old and going to die, but just because that desire has pretty much left me. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get Bonnie the house she deserved. We lived out in the country for 21 years, 4 acres of land. Always wanted to get her a wrap around porch. Put a rocking chair out there, sit back and drink coffee in the evening watching the sunset, and strum my guitar. Sort of like Andy Taylor in Mayberry. I live in the city now. That porch isn’t going to be built out in the country. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get to England. Always wanted to walk Abbey Road, check out where Apple Studios was, visit the Cavern, go to Liverpool. Oh, and some other non-Beatle things are there I hear. But I’m not going to spend money on that now. Time went too fast.

I’ll never learn Italian. Bought an Italian course, never kept up with it. It’s a hard thing to learn a second language. At least for me it is. It’s too much work for now, and seriously, what’s the point?  Time went too fast.

I don’t want this to sound depressing or “woe is me”, like I’m old and ready to die, because I’m not. I suppose that if I desire, I can get back with the guitar or learn Italian. The key is “if I so desire”. The beach body and house with a wrap around porch in the country just ain’t going to happen. But see, it’s like John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Dylan is right on with this. Time flies, we grow old, our views change, and nothing stays the same. But like he says, “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. Oh the times they are a changing”. Everything changes. But here’s the good news.

I am writing blogs. I am studying the Scriptures more than I ever have. I’m mentoring young guys at the church. I know God better than I ever have. I’ve learned how to pray, not how a book tells me to pray, but how God tells me to pray.

I play with my grand kids and spend more time with Bonnie and my kids. I enjoy the sunset and sunrise. I’ve rediscovered Buhl Park. I stop and smell the roses. I don’t drink, smoke cigarettes or pot. I remember “the night before”. I have deeper relationships with friends that are deeper than any I’ve ever had. I have a love for my wife that can’t compare to what it was 30 years ago or with any other type of love I’ve felt. Before I used to care what people thought of me. Today, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and discovered that most everything is small stuff. I don’t worry like I used to. I have learned to keep expectations low on people and high on God. I’ve learned to lean on Christ more and me less.

Actually, life is good right now. The past is the past and it’s already gone. But today? Man, I really am digging it. And tomorrow? Can’t wait……..but let’s not go so fast!

 

 

Give Peace A Chance
February 12, 2016

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Why is everyone so angry? When I watch TV, they say, “America is angry”. The debates are angry, the moderators are angry, and apparently, the voters are angry. Why so much anger?

When I was a young lad, let’s go back 50 years, it was 1966. We were in the midst of a horrible war in Cambodia and Viet Nam. There were racial tensions, there were gang fights, there were fears. Today the racial tensions are more severe, the gangs are REAL gangs, and there are fears.

Fear of not having a job, fear of ISIS, fear of “the other guy”, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of the unknown. I remember people protesting the war.  JFK was killed, fear of Russia dropping nukes on us. I remember in grade school having “tests” where an air raid siren would go off, and we’d hide under our desks. Fear.

They gave us dog tags in school so that if there was an attack, they would be able to identify us when our bodies were charred like overcooked burgers. Want to talk about PTSD? Fear.

Everyone is angry because they are scared. Those on one side say that the presidential race will determine if we go to socialism which will lead to communism. They say that “those people” don’t like the United States. They made deals with Iran and they will nuke us when they make their atomic bombs.

The other side says we’re in the midst of global warming. Everything will melt, we’ll all die. They say that “those people” hate everyone different than them. They want the rich to succeed and the poor to stay poor. They want you to remain quiet and they hate minorities.

Fear. Nothing divides us more than fear. Nothing makes us angry more than fear.

The 12th of this month (today in some parts of the world) is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I remember he used to be a hero. We had the day off of school, that and the 22nd for George Washington. They now combine all the presidents into one, this year celebrated on the 15th.

Lincoln used to be a hero. So did Washington. Jefferson. Columbus. Franklin. But because of fear, which produces anger, people start slamming these men, stating they were either murderers, rapists, or slave owners.  There’s a great divide in this country. We have a separation. Just like “those in charge” want it.

Can we decide not to be fearful? Not to be angry? Can we choose to love people? Maybe I’m just an old hippie, but can’t we look past the differences and look for what we all have in common.

My dear friend Rich is my former boss. He’s liberal, I’m conservative. He’s Jewish, I’m Christian. He’s a Steeler fan, I’m a Browns fan. There are only three things we have in common. The Yankees, the Beatles (he saw them at Shea Stadium), and a common respect.

I just talked with him tonight as he lives on the other side of Pennsylvania. He’s a good man with a lovely family. We continue to laugh and love on each other, with a genuine concern for each other and their family. We talked tonight about how great it would be to go on the road together and to maybe bring a little peace into the world. It’s a nice thought.

Are we ready for peace? Are we ready to not get angry? Are we ready to forgive and come to the point where we feel we are owed nothing? If we are, then we are ready to give up fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

How about I start. If you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, atheist, transgender, male, female, tall, short, skinny, tall, then I choose to love you. We will have differences and that’s ok. But how about we do what John Lennon said. “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

Hello (Not Adele)
February 7, 2016

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This winter has been extremely mild, probably the mildest I ever remember for western Pennsylvania (the five winters in Florida don’t count, for obvious reasons).

Bonnie and I have been pretty faithful in our walking at Buhl Park, our favorite place to walk. Today, for example, it was sunny and 39 degrees, a bit brisk but if dressed properly, very doable. The coldest I’ve walked in was 12 degrees, but I wasn’t dressed properly.

Sometimes we walk in the morning, which is preferable unless bitter cold, and sometimes in the afternoon. We walked this afternoon, and Bonnie and I talked about the differences between morning walkers and afternoon ones.

Morning walkers seem to be more pleasant and friendly. They spot you from 15 yards away and begin their eye contact. As they approach, brief conversations occur. “Good morning, great day isn’t it?”. “Yes, unbelievable warm winter”. “Best I can remember”. “Hope it stays that way till spring”. “Have a good day”. “You too”.

Pleasant, friendly, and engaging. One of the things I like about small town living. You get to know people and people aren’t afraid to talk to each other.

Unless you’re an afternoon walker. They seem to be a little more “uptight”. Maybe it’s because they’re in a hurry or they’re on a break from work or maybe they think they’re better than you.

They spot you from 15 yards away and immediately lower their eyes. They move towards you but further to the side away from you. I like to force them to ignore me. I stare at them until they make eye contact, and if they don’t, I say, “Good afternoon” or “hey”. Sometimes they respond politely, but mostly they ignore or pretend they don’t hear. These are the ones not wearing headphones. The ones with headphones don’t acknowledge anything.

The girl yesterday was beyond ridiculous. We hit the 15 yard mark and she was wearing headphones. She wouldn’t make contact, not even a glance. And THEN as she is within 10 feet of me, she turns in the opposite direction of me and looks into the sky! I’m thinking, “Lady, I’m 260, what the heck is bigger that you’re looking at in the sky?”

And there’s no shame. I feel they go home and write in their diary, “Dear diary, I walked in the Park today and talked with no one. Oh, one or two tried to engage me with a “hello”, but I stared off into space as if I had spotted the Second Coming. Well done, diary, a good day”.

My wife Bonnie is the nicest person I know. She is ridiculously nice. I think I caught my diabetes from her sweetness. She has held the door for so many people when we’re shopping, I could get a burger and a haircut and she’d still be holding the door. She has a sign in our house that says, “Because Nice Matters”. People make fun of her, but I tell you, when people start to complain or judge, she gives them the right advice always and says afterwards, “And why do we do that?”. And the person she is talking to says “Because nice matters.” They know her.

Why is it that people refuse to be nice? A simple “hello”, a heartfelt “How are you?”, must be too taxing for people to say. It would require caring, interest, and possibly, oh no, love? When did we become a world of tin men? Trying to go to the Wizard to get a heart. How have we become so cold?

It reminds me of Matthew 24:12- “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold”.  Is that where we’re at? Have we chosen to build walls around us so not to get hurt? Can anyone break those walls?

The walls, my friends, come down from our side. We have to choose to trust, to engage, to “be bothered with other people”, and even to love. It’s as simple as a “hello”. Yet that appears to be, at least in the afternoon, the hardest word to say.

 

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.

 

 

 

Sixty Eve
September 30, 2015

Tomorrow is a big one. I’ve had a lot, but not this big. Tomorrow, I turn 60.
Crazy, not sure how I got here. My goal was to be in my best shape ever at 60, better than I was at 50.
My blood work says I’ve done what I wanted to accomplish. Also, I wanted to be at 260 or below by October first, and as of today, I am exactly 260.0! Considering in March I was 279, and in June I was 277, I’m happy.
This walking has really gotten into my blood. I can’t wait for the walks, and although I prefer with Bonnie, I have no issue walking solo.
Sixty is weird. And I’m totally cool with it. I’m liking getting older, I’m liking how I feel, I’m liking how I look, and after 30 years, I’m still loving who I married. I’ve been married half my life. I don’t remember life without her. I don’t think I had a life before her.
The walking works. Maintaining a discipline of just being careful, but not giving up anything. I can still eat sweets, I can still eat pasta (real pasta, not the brown kind), I can drink a Coke, eat mashed potatoes, anything, but all of it in moderation.
That’s the key to everything, isn’t it? Moderation. I can overdo anything. Well, anything I like: food, games, football, anything. So, eventually, the light clicked on, and here I am. I am confident I will never see 270 again, if I keep doing what I’m doing. I can’t wait to say that about 260, but it will happen. Looking forward to 199.
Sorry, I can’t do the diet thing. I’m Italian. That diet stuff just goes against everything I’ve learned. Mangiare bere e divertirsi, which is “Eat, drink, and be merry” in Italian.
I figure I’m 2/3 done with life. My plan is 90. Hey, Ben doesn’t have kids yet and I have to make sure all my kids are raising my grandbabies right. God willing, I’m dancing at my grandkids weddings.
So on this Sixty Eve, I march on. Under the strength of Christ, the love of my wife, the encouragement from my kids, and the prayers of you, I will carry on. I want to encourage all who read this, that we need to embrace this life. No fear and no regrets.
Like Red Skelton said, (You youngsters can look him up), “Don’t take life too serious. You’ll never get out of it alive anyhow”.
Let’s do this.