Author: Tommy


Orange Juice


   My wife hands me a 5 oz. glass of orange juice to drink every morning, which I dutifully down in a few gulps.  She believes that if I do certain things (drink orange juice, take OTC pills, etc.) I will live a longer, healthier life, and I love her for these efforts because I want to live a longer, healthier life.  As she handed me the glass of orange juice this morning, I remarked that I cannot remember drinking it as a young boy.  I’m sure we had it, but rarely.  The beverages in our “Frigidaire” would normally be water, sweet milk, buttermilk, and Kool-Aid.  I was probably 8 or 9 years old when we got our first refrigerator.  To the best of my knowledge, there were two brands—Frigidaire and Kelvinator—but regardless of the brand, all refrigerators back then were called “Frigidaires”.  Today, we mostly say “Fridge”.  Before we got our first one, I remember seeing the ice truck deliver large chunks of ice to our neighbors to be used in their “icebox”.  Our lives changed when our family got our first “Frigidaire”.  No longer did we need to store our butter and milk in the small “Spring House” (cold water came from deep inside the mountain).  I remember sitting in the kitchen and hearing the sweet hum of that treasured appliance, knowing that it was keeping our food and drinks safe and providing us with cool, cold liquids during the sultry summer heat we had to endure.  Today, we mostly take the Fridge for granted until a power outage, otherwise it sits underappreciated in our kitchen.  Reminds me of an old Estonian Proverb: “He who does not thank for little, will not thank for much.”  I don’t think it describes us, do you?       

⌘   I read an article recently that said you could predict whether someone was going to have a stroke within their lifetime by looking at their earlobes to detect any 45° lines, which meant that it would happen.  Up I jumped and headed for the bathroom to grab a mirror to see if I had any.  Sure ‘nuff, there it was on my left earlobe, plain as day.  I’m a fairly healthy guy, but now I’m a little worried.  I’m figuring that, at age 79, I may have ten more good years left and this earlobe thing has thrown me a curve ball.  I was expecting to throw a “ringer”, but I threw a “leaner” instead.  We all know what that means in the game of horseshoes; the next pitch is going to be aimed straight at that “leaner” and then it’s gonna  become just another shoe that may or may not be closer to the peg.  I had waddled down the hallway believing both my earlobes were line free (ringer) and wound up with a line on one ear (leaner).  My fear is that the next shoe that’s gonna knock down that “leaner” is gonna be the stroke the article predicted.  But after giving it some more thought, I reasoned that my health is good, which was reaffirmed by a recent echocardiogram, so I shouldn’t worry too much.  If I was going to have a stroke of some sort, I believe it would be a “stroke of good luck,” which we could all use. 😊

Personally, I prefer what old John Dewey said long ago: “Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us.  But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid.”  Now, all I gotta do is figure out which group I’m in. 😊

⌘   I was watching a former CIA analyst give a motivational speech online the other day.  There was a section of her presentation where she described ways to spot when someone is lying.  Her message was that the average person lies at least 10 times a day, speaks at 150 words per minute, and thinks 10 times faster than they speak.  She believes that you will give the first clue that you’re lying within 1 minute, the second clue within 5 minutes, and you only need 2 clues to know for certain someone is lying.  She reminded us to always remember that saying you wouldn’t do something is not the same as saying you didn’t do it.  She told us to watch hands and feet, because when someone tells a lie, they tend to make nervous movements with their extremities, even if only a twitch.

I am taken aback that we lie, on average, ten times a day.  Most of these lies are innocuous, such as, “You look good today,” or “Glad to see you.”  I believe most of us consider a lie to be deceitful, hurtful, or mean-spirited.  I was unaware that when I complimented a friend’s golfing tie, I was being anything more than pleasant, even though I was thinking I would never wear it to church.  And the part about thinking 10 times faster than you speak?  Well, I know several people who have a hard time keeping up with their own tongues (no, my friend, you’re not one of them 😊).  In retrospect, I regret watching that video because I’m gonna have to make a conscious effort not to look for those things during my conversations.  An old Czech Proverb says it exactly the way I feel: “Better a lie that heals than a truth that wounds.” 

⌘ Did you know that your little finger provides over half of the strength in your hand?  I didn’t, and I’m guessing you were unaware of that insignificant fact as well.  There have been many times that my wife has handed me a bottle to open, and I go through a routine where I flex my muscles, groan a little as I turn the lid, and finally pop the top open—all meant to bring a smile to her face.  I always assumed that my grip came from all my fingers somewhat equally, with the little finger being perhaps the weakest.  Now I know that the little digit is as strong as all the others combined. 

I think we see this assumption of small being weak many times in our lives.  Some of the meanest, toughest people I have known were small in stature.  My brother (Jerry) was 5’7” tall, but no matter how many times you knocked him down, he would get right back up and continue the fight.  I always respected him for that.  Sometimes I thought it was stupid, but deep down I admired his toughness.  I had a high school classmate we nicknamed “Bear” who was about 5’8” and weighed about 180 lbs., but no one ever crossed him.  He was an even-tempered guy, but he was as strong as an ox.  Matter of fact, I visited with him at our high school reunion a few years ago.  

I believe there are primarily two types of strength, physical and character, and while both are important in our lives, strength of character is the most important.  When we cannot do the right thing, it’s because we are weak in character.  We fail to speak up because we fear hurting someone’s feelings.  We will not help the people in our lives who need our support because we don’t want to become “enablers”.  In truth, people of strong character find reasons to help, not excuses for not helping.  I think our goal as decent people has to be finding a way to become the compassionate, caring, and kind people we have always wanted to be.  And I also believe that it is always a work in progress. 

Lillian Hellman said it very well: “It is not good to see people who have been pretending strength all their lives…lose it even for a minute.”  Ouch, that hurt! 😊


I Love Meat


It has been two months since my last missive, and I have missed the daily jotting down of things that roam aimlessly thru my mind.  Hopefully, I have mended my wasteful ways and am now back to allocating the 15 minutes each day I use for writing.  Whenever I lose interest, I go back to 2007/2008 and read some articles I wrote then, and they give me so much pleasure.  Things long forgotten are instantly brought back to memory.  Therein lies my motivation.      

⌘⚽ I’ll bet you are unaware that the most widely consumed meat on Earth is pork.  Personally, I thought it was chicken, but pork is consumed by 36% of Earthly residents and chicken is 2nd with 33%.  My favorite (beef), comes in at a mediocre 24%.  The average person in our country eats 51 lbs of pork each year. You guys are eating a lot of pork!

I’m confident my family doctor thinks I eat too much meat because each time I go in for my yearly physical he always hands me literature on healthy eating, and it never includes very much meat.  I probably wouldn’t be taking a cholesterol pill if I consumed less meat.  I used to eat a lot of steak, but after choking on it back in 2014 and almost losing my life, I switched to meat that wasn’t so dense.  Mostly now, my meat is chicken, hamburger, or something else that’s easily swallowed.  I remember that life-threatening event and it had a lasting impression (thanks to Cindy for saving my life). 

Sometimes, I wonder if we see the past as it actually happened, or do we intentionally forget certain aspects of what occurred.  I believe that all of us have some type of burden to carry from our past, but I also think our past is unchangeable and we should always try to put it out of our mind unless they are beneficial or beautiful memories. 

Anyway, back to the meat thing.  We all know that too much of it will eventually clog our arteries and generate all kinds of health problems.  I walk around with 200 lbs on a frame that my doc tells me should only have 175 lbs.  My only explanation is that, somehow, I believe I’m a healthy 200 lbs.  My doctor ordered an echocardiogram last week, so we’ll see what damage all that meat has done to my cardiovascular system.  I dunno how it can come back showing problems because I feel as healthy as a horse.  We’ll see.  I know that I’m a grateful recipient of undeserved grace.

Update:  The doctor’s office called and said everything looked good.  That made me feel better. 

⚽⌘ It seems as if the heat index for our area in Virginia has been over 100° for the past two weeks, thus, our thrice weekly walks really took its toll.  It would be easy to say, “to heck with it” and stay inside all day, waiting for cooler weather to prevail.  But, upon further reflection, I decided that wasn’t the choice I wanted to make, and it wasn’t a hard decision.  Over 200 years ago, families loaded all they had into wagons pulled by horses and trekked all the way from the Eastern Seaboard of our country to the shores of the Pacific coast.  They did that in the heat of summer and the cold of winter.  Heck, it’s hard for me to visualize anyone today driving a car that far without an air conditioner in it.  I wonder what the settlers of that time would think of the people we have become today.  Yes, I’m confident we still have strong, sturdy people that roll out of bed every morning and work outside in the extreme heat and cold, but a lot of us don’t, we stay inside and find things to do, rather than open the door and walk into a heat index of 110°. 

Well, I decided that I don’t want to be that guy, the one that stays inside and cowers from the heat, I want to stand straight and tall, breathe in that hot humid air and say, to no one in particular, bring it on, I can take it!  What I may have failed to mention is that part of my motivation comes from my wife.  She heads outside in just about any weather, except the rain, doesn’t want her hair to get wet, other than that she’s finding something to do out there.  The odd thing is, she never sweats, nothing, nada, not a drop of salty brine glistens on her forehead.   Turn your head and look in my direction and you would assume I was just in someone’s swimming pool with all my clothes on.  I don’t quite understand why a person doesn’t sweat when the temp is nudging 99°, but then again, she doesn’t have a lot of meat on her bones, unlike the more than plump guy standing beside her, apparently preparing for his role when Satan opens the gates of Hell.  I’m thinking the Lord believes that if he turns up the heat some of this fat will melt from my body, if only I have the willpower to step into his oven. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to be a pioneer, but neither do I want to become a couch potato.  I’m going with an old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, the second-best time is now”.  My take on that goes like this, “The best time to take a stand was ten years ago, the second-best time is now”.  So, tomorrow when that old temperature gauge heads towards 100°, I’m gonna step out into that oven and take a stand, refusing to stay inside where the temps stay around 78° all day and all night.  But I will be watching to see if the fat melts away 😊.  I am reminded of a quote by Saint Vincent de Paul “Be careful to preserve your health.  It is a trick of the devil which he uses to deceive kind souls, to incite them to do more than they are able, in order that they may no longer be able to do anything”.  Hmm, maybe I need to rethink this thing?

⌘-⚽ A few months ago, our longtime neighbors (Mary Beth & John) moved about four hours away and their lovely granddaughter (Beth Ann/ Alvin) took over their beautiful home.  We now have five handsome boys, anywhere from age 3 to age 12 living next door to us.  It saddened our hearts to see our friends move, but we knew it was the right decision.  They needed to be near their daughter (Robin/Greg) to get help with their health needs.  From experience, I know that as you travel thru life, people enter your circle, stay for a while, and then move on.  Some, you miss very little, and then some you miss a lot.  Mary Beth and John will be missed terribly.  The good news is that when we are finished with COVID-19, we can go visit them.  It looks like that will happen in the Spring of 2021 (7 months).  By then, we will have been marching in place for a year.  That’s a lot of time to relinquish to a virus, especially when you get older and the years you have left get fewer. 

Our time “hunkered down”’ here at home isn’t a total disaster.  We have visited with family, always using a face mask and social distancing, and gone to the grocery/drug stores for food and other necessities.  We spend a lot of time outside working in the yard, hovering over every weed that pops up and immediately sentencing it to the gallows.  As soon as a gumball or pinecone hits the ground, it is pounced on and deposited into my handy cart for disposal.  As you can tell, I have too much time on my hands.  I also spend a lot of time on my PC, but that happens whether we are in the middle of a pandemic, or not 😊. 

If I had to decide what activity I miss the most during this stressful time, it would be visiting my family and friends.  While all the other stuff is important, bus trips to other cities, dining out weekly, attending church in lieu of virtual services, etc. I miss visiting those dear to me the most.  Arthur Brisbane said it best, “A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute.  He may not seem such a good friend after the telling” 😊. 

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.  I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives.  Until next time, be well….Tommy


The Two Most Important Days in My Life


 I ran across this quote by Mark Twain the other day: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” 

It takes most of us a long time to “find out why.”  Unfortunately, I was in my early 50s before I finally figured it out.  I always assumed that my goal was to advance as far up the ladder with my company as I could and to provide an enjoyable life for my family.  That was the goal of my parents and of our extended family, thus it became my goal as well.  Only in my 50s did I realize that my life on this beautiful planet went beyond that simple goal. 

We have all heard many times that money cannot buy happiness, but a recent study contradicts that emphatically.  It shows that over the last few decades people are more inclined to say that having sufficient money in their savings account relieves a lot of financial pressure and makes life easier.  That has been the case in my life, and I don’t know anyone with sufficient financial resources who is unhappy unless they have health problems.  On the other hand, I know several who lack those resources and struggle daily as a result. 

   The only bone of contention I have with the study is that it cannot acknowledge the degree of happiness that financial independence brings.  Personally, I believe it only gets you on the first rung of the ladder.  Other things allow you to advance upward, such as sustained health for yourself and for your loved ones; having a significant person in your life to share your life with; and having an extended group of family and friends that are involved in helping you live a robust, yet relaxing lifestyle.  

Some say that as we grow older we gain a “crystalized intelligence” that will continue to get better as we age, and that we will often become more agreeable and less prone to anger.  Scientists haven’t been able to pin this down but they think that older people are able to control their emotions better and focus on how to make life happier. 

Now we get to the “find out why” in Twain’s quote.  When we eventually get past the desire to collect as many “things” as we can to prop up our feeling of self-worth, and after we have travelled to the many places we thought would add adventure to our mostly dull existence, we come to realize that something is missing.  It took me a long time to think outside the bubble of my life where the question was always, “What’s best for me?”  As I got older, I thought about what I could do for others.  My wife and I live a comfortable life and can help.  We have decided that we want to help those people in our lives who need a helping hand.  We have all heard the old axiom, “It is better to give than to receive,” but I doubt many of us felt that to be true, especially if your life has been a series of financial struggles.    

   As a younger man, I could donate to charity by having my employer withhold a generous amount from my bi-monthly paycheck and each year I could look with satisfaction at the amount.  After I retired, that option wasn’t available, so I had to figure out another plan.  Now when December rolls around, we sit down and write checks to our favorite charities.  The satisfaction derived from this effort definitely lowers my stress levels because we know that we are helping people who are, perhaps, unable to help themselves. 

   Yup, it took me a long time to find out why I have been placed on this earth.  I am confident that a lot of us never figure that out.  If I had asked my parents that question, they would have responded, “to raise you two boys,” and they would have been content with that answer.  I remember my mother calling me about a year after my father passed away in 1986 and saying, “Tommy Joe (she never called me Tommy), I want to let you know that I have $50,000 in the bank.”  This was Dad’s goal in life—plus a Lincoln Continental sitting in the driveway😊.  That was it, no higher motivation, no helping the sick or poor, no helping the sad looking Vietnam veteran sitting at the stoplight with a cardboard sign pleading for money to buy food.  This is the way it was back in my hometown all those many years ago.  There was no safety net if your life took a rapid turn for the worse, so people weren’t inclined to help.  

   But in my many yearly trips back home, I have seen that change, not because the people there are now wealthier, but because they have become more enlightened.  They too, have come to realized why they have been placed on this planet, and they know it’s not just to accumulate $50,000 in the bank.  You may think I’m being critical of my parents and the people in my hometown during that time, but you would be wrong!  I’m proud of my hillbilly heritage, and my core values came from those fine people, but it’s difficult to visualize a higher purpose in life when you’re struggling to put food on the dinner table.  I probably have an ulterior motive in my enlightened attitude: “I’m not looking for a hole in the ground, I’m looking for one in the sky.”  —Keen Mountain Boys.

   Two weeks ago, my wife and I were walking one of our favorite trails and came upon a fellow standing by his bicycle taking a break.  As we approached him, he started a conversation, so we paused to talk with him for a while.  He informed us that he rode this trail on his bike every day and wanted to know how often we walked it.  I informed him that we walked it every Wednesday, and then I pointed out in a friendly manner that the trail was three miles long, but for him to get the same cardiovascular benefits as us he would have to bike 21 miles.  A one-mile walk was equal to seven miles of biking.  In retrospect, it was probably impolite for me to make that point, but I did, and he didn’t seem offended.  During our conversation, I also glibly told him about the monthly walking challenges I have with my three granddaughters.  He responded that at his age (he appeared younger than me), he no longer wanted to create challenges in his life.  That caught me by surprise because challenges to me are part of what makes life interesting.  Reminds me of a quote often attributed to Glenn Campbell (the singer): “I can still jump as high, I just can’t stay up as long.”

   Come to think of it, my life is full of challenges: writing this weekly missive, getting 10,000 steps daily, getting 7 hours of sleep each night 😊, lifting weights—I could go on, but the list would be way too long.  I can only imagine how boring my life would be if I didn’t have daily challenges.  Some are a lot tougher than others, but they all dance to a tune that make my life taste like a piece of pecan pie with a big ole slab of vanilla ice cream on the top. 😊  “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” —Joshua J. Marine

  New Word for the Day:

  Philomath: a lover of learning, a student or scholar.  One of my granddaughters is a philomath.  I just love learning unfamiliar words.  I hope wherever you are on this wonderful planet that the people you love return that wonderful feeling in abundance.  —Tommy


The Big Iguana


        In Out of Africa, Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) wrote:

“In the Reserve, I have sometimes come upon the Iguana, the big lizards, as they were sunning themselves upon a flat stone in a riverbed.  They are not pretty in shape, but nothing can be imagined more than their coloring.  They shine like a heap of precious stones or like a pane cut out of an old church window.  When, as you approach, they swish away and there is a flash of azure, green and purple over the stones.  The color seems to be standing behind them in the air, like a comet’s luminous tail”. 

“Once I shot an Iguana.  I thought that I should be able to make some pretty things from his skin.  A strange thing happened then, that I have never afterwards forgotten.  As I went up to him, where he was lying dead upon his stone, and actually while I was walking the few steps, he faded and grew pale.   All color died out of him as in one long sigh, and by the time that I touched him, he was gray and dull like a lump of concrete. It was the live impetuous blood pulsating within the animal, which had radiated out all that glow and splendor.  Now that the flame was put out, and the soul had flown, the Iguana was as dead as a sandbag”. 

“Up at Meru I saw a young Native girl with a bracelet on, a leather strap two inches wide and embroidered all over with very small turquoise-colored beads which varied a little in color and played in green, light blue and ultra-marine.  It was an extraordinary live thing; it seemed to draw breath on her arm, so that I wanted it for myself, and made Farah buy it from her.  No sooner had it come upon my own arm than it gave up the ghost.  It was nothing now, just a small, cheap, purchased article of finery.  It had been the play of color, the duet between the turquoise and the ‘ne’gre’, — that quick, sweet, brownish black, like peat and black pottery, of the Native’s skin,— that had created the life of the bracelet”. 

To me, the author is trying to convey that we shouldn’t covet what is not ours and attempt to obtain it by whatever means available to us at the time.  We have an expensive pickup truck sitting in our driveway that we bought three years ago thinking it would give us a lot of satisfaction.  Now, our big lizard (Nissan Titan) sits there in the driveway beside the small lizard (Prius), getting much less respect because it ambles down the road getting 13 miles per gallon (3.8 liters) while the innocuous little green lizard gets 50.  The lesson is easily understood: what we perceive to be beautiful now will not necessarily remain so as time passes.  We eventually find flaws in the things that fascinate us as we continue to look for more beautiful objects that we hope will add value to our lives.  Oddly, I can remember the very first shiny thing I was given as a young lad at about four years old.  It was Christmas, 1945, and I was living with my maternal grandparents.  World War II was approaching its end and most of the people in the small community where I lived in didn’t have very much.  But under the Christmas tree that year was a fairly good-sized package, about the size of a shoe box, with my name on it.  As I excitedly ripped away the paper and opened the box, there before my very eyes was this brilliantly red firetruck with silver for the ladder, wheels, and grille.  Isak’s iguana had nothing on my firetruck, and you know that without me telling you because 75 years later I can describe it in detail.  Probably the reason that big iguana is sitting out in the driveway right now is because of that silly little firetruck that I fell in love with all those many years ago. 😊  Kathleen Norris said, “To children, childhood holds no particular advantage.”  I beg to differ.    

⚽ The late John Prine included the following verse in his song, “When I Get to Heaven”: “I’m gonna get a cocktail, vodka, and ginger ale, yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s 9 miles long.”  He was asked about that line in an interview, and the reporter wanted to know if he thought people could smoke in Heaven.  “Why not, why have a Heaven if you can’t smoke?  You’re not gonna die from it.  I wanna cigarette that’s 9 miles long.” 

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about what I would be doing when I’m accepted into Heaven.  I just always assumed it would be the perfect place to be.  I seriously doubt the residents of that magnificent place smoke, drink, or carouse.  In my opinion, you only do those things here on earth in a vain attempt to make life more enjoyable. Sometimes they do, but a lot of times it has just the opposite effect.  My belief about Heaven is that you cannot make it any better, or any worse, because it is perfection.

I think most of us have our own conception of what Heaven will be, and our Christian Bible does little to explain exactly what it will be like when we get there.  We do know the rules we must follow to get in, but we haven’t been told too much about the details of what exists there.  I have read several books about people who died and went there but had to come back to earth for various reasons.  The most memorable one was written by Don Piper: 90 Minutes in Heaven, which you can get on Amazon in the paperback edition for $7.

We have been told that we need not take anything with us from this realm to the one up there (Heaven is always referred to as being “up there”) because we will have everything we need provided to us by our Lord and Savior.

So, in my opinion, if old John Prine made it “up there,” he’s not gonna ask the angels if he can “smoke a cigarette 9 miles long.” 😊  But I do know that if I get there, I’m gonna ask the first angel I see, “can you tell me where the Hales & McCoys hang out?”  After that visit, I’ll start looking for everyone else I loved and enjoyed on this wonderful planet.

Agnes Replier wrote, “There were no marriages in Heaven because women were there no doubt in plenty; but not a man whom any woman would have.”  Hmm, I gotta think about that for a while. 😊


“Two Happy Days Are Seldom Brothers”


  ⚽I got out of bed on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago and went through my normal routine of getting ready for my day’s journey: down the hall to power up my old pal Einstein (my PC), then off to get my daily cup of “Morning Joe.”  My wife came by my desk a little later on her way to the garage and we spoke briefly before I turned back to the task at hand.  A few moments later she came back and, with dread in her voice, said, “Tommy, the water heater in the garage is leaking.”  As most of you know, your heart immediately sinks when you hear these words because you know it can’t be good. 

So out I head to our attached garage with a flashlight in my hand.  I looked in the closet where the hot water tank is that supplies our kitchen, laundry room, and guest bathroom, and sure enough, there was water on the floor.  We then surmised, without a doubt, that it needed replacing.  I turned off the water valve and walked over to the electric panel to throw the breaker that sends over electricity so it can perform its magic, then I walked around to the back of the house for a water hose, which I attached to the faucet at the bottom of the tank to begin draining it out into the yard.

I did some research and found a highly rated plumber, called him on the phone, and he informed me that he would come over immediately and give me an estimate on how much it would cost.  A few hours later he arrived, looked things over, and said it would cost $1,200.  That seemed a little high, but I reluctantly said okay.  He informed me that it cannot be done the following day because it’s a holiday (Memorial Day) but said he can do it the next day (Tuesday).  Fortunately, we have another hot water unit at the other end of the house so we can still shower when needed.  On the appointed day, he arrived and busily sets about working his magic.  Within a few hours the task was completed, I pay him, and he leaves.  As he drove away, I calmly reached into the jar I keep by the door, rummaged around, and pull out my happy face.  Within a couple of hours, our faucets were filled with hot water and life got back to normal.  With that I am reminded of an old Bulgarian proverb, “Two happy days are seldom brothers”.   

The pastor of our church asked us during his Sunday sermon if we remembered our very first job interview (my wife and I were watching his sermon online).  Pastor Jeff is exceptionally good at engaging his congregation with thought-provoking questions.  As I pondered the question, my mind went back to when I was 15 and a job came open at a Chrysler dealership about 10 miles away from our home.  It was in the small village of Royal City and the owner needed someone to do odd jobs around his repair shop.  I walked up to him and asked if I could have Elwood’s job, whom he had fired just a few days earlier.  “How do you know Elwood?” he asked, and I responded, “He’s my cousin.”  He said, “If you’re anything like him, I don’t need you!”  That caused panic to race through my heart because I needed this job!  I immediately answered him by saying, “Let me work for you for one week and if you don’t like what I’ve done, then you don’t owe me a dime.”   That was a deal he couldn’t turn down and he promptly told me to start work on the following Monday.  I worked the entire summer at that dealership, repairing flat tires, washing cars, sweeping garage floors, and helping the mechanics.  When the summer was over and my last day on the job was ending, the staff gave me a little farewell party and wished me well.  As I left the shop and walked across the road, I stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride home.  I felt good about myself.  I was paid 50¢ an hour, worked ten hours each day, six days a week, and gave half of my money to Mom.  She was grateful and put it to good use.  Dad controlled the purse strings in our home, and she had little discretionary income.  Back then, purchases were put on your tab and were paid by the husband on payday. 

I haven’t had a lot of job interviews in my lifetime because I served four years in the US Air Force and then 43 at our local shipyard.  I am aware that the big “Interview” is yet to come, which will happen when I transition over to the other side and Saint Peter kindly asks me, “Why should we let you pass through the Gates of Heaven?”  I’m thinking about responding, “Let me in for a week and…”  Somehow, I kind of think that’s not how it works. 😊   

Martin E.P Seligman said so eloquently in his book, Flourish that “very little of what is positive is solitary.  Laugh uproariously, have indescribable joy, and it will always take place around other people.”  He goes on to say that people are part of the solution to the ups and downs of life, and the single most reliable up.  His theory is that doing kindness produces the most dependable increase in the sense of well-being. 

Upon reflection, I agree with him.  I have a hard time thinking of anything positive that I did alone.  There was always someone in my life to share it with.  When my first wife and I divorced, I immersed myself in doing things for others but, because I had no one to share those experiences with, the feeling of self-worth dissipated quickly.  Am I trying to say that it’s necessary to be in a relationship in order to have a meaningful life?  Absolutely not!  But in my opinion, to encourage that feeling to hang around longer you need someone to share it with.  Why write a book if no one reads it, why play a musical instrument if nobody wants to listen to your music? 

We all need people in our lives to help us handle the curve balls that come our way, to cover our backs when needed, and to give advice when wanted.  As a young boy growing slowly into adulthood, my go-to person was my Mom.  Being a father of two children, I know I played an important part in my children’s lives, but I also know their mother played a greater and more important part.  She was the first person they went to with their problems, and it only came my way if money was part of the solution.  With my Mom, it wasn’t the money thing, because I knew she didn’t have any, but rather it was the “what do I need to do to solve this dilemma?” type of problem.  True, she was the gateway to Dad if money was involved, or if I was going to be away from home overnight.  He was always very insistent on my younger brother (Jerry) and I being home at bedtime every night.  I can remember my Mom having to plead with him to allow us to spend the night with our friends.  I could never figure out why he was like that.  I tried not to be that way with my kids, but I would never allow them to stay with a family we didn’t know, or if the parents weren’t going to be home. 

My son told me shortly before he passed away, in the summer of 2018 with pancreatic cancer, that I was the best dad he could have ever wanted.  I was glad he told me.  You should never assume that a person feels that way about themselves.  I was unaware that he felt that way about me.  I always knew that he loved me, but I thought it was in spite of my warts.  To my surprise, he didn’t think I had any warts!  As much as I loved my dad, I would never have said that to him.  He wasn’t mean to us, he just caused us a lot of unnecessary worry.  But I should have said it to my mother and I didn’t.  I will always regret that.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”  Personally, I couldn’t agree more.