I didn’t write the “Rules For A Good Old Age” and I have absolutely no idea who did, but I believe there is a lot of good advice for those of us that are kinda “long in the tooth”. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
Rules for a Good Old Age
It's time to use the money you saved up. Use it and enjoy it. Don't just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. Enjoy the present moment. The sand in the clock may run out at any moment.
Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren. You've taken care of them for many years, and you've taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their way.
Keep a healthy life with moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get your sleep. It's easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. Keep in touch with your doctor, get tested even when you're feeling well. Stay informed.
Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy it together.
Don't stress over the little things. You've already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don't let the past drag you down or the future frighten you.
Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor, your surroundings, your country. We are never old as long as we have intelligence and affection.
Be proud, both inside and out. Don't stop going to your hair salon or barber. Do your nails, go to the dermatologist and the dentist. Keep your perfumes and creams well stocked. When you are well-maintained on the outside, it seeps in, making you feel proud and strong on the inside.
Don't lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There's nothing sillier than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters. You've developed your own sense of what looks good on you - keep it and be proud of it. It's part of who you are.
Read newspapers, watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You'll be surprised which old friends you'll meet. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same viewpoints as ours, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them of yesterday's wisdom that still applies today.
Never use the phrase: "In my time." Your time is now. As long as you're alive, you are part of this time. You have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.
Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days in the latter mode. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people, it'll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.
Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren (if you have a financial choice, that is). Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great, but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you've lost your partner (our deepest condolences), then find a person to move in with you and help out only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.
Don't abandon your hobbies. If you don't have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess dominoes, golf. You can paint, volunteer at an NGO or collect certain items. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it.
Even if you don't feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven't seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). But don't get upset when you're not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.
Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That's a great way of reducing the desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don't go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.
Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we're all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be.
If you've been offended by others, forgive them. If you've offended someone - apologize. Don't drag resentment around with you. It will make you sad and bitter. It doesn't matter who was right. Someone once said, "Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die." Don't take that poison. Forgive and move on with your life.
If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don't waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration. Live your faith and set an example. Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them.
Laugh. Laugh A LOT. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So, what's not to laugh about? Find the humor in your situation.
Take no notice of what others say about you and even less of what they might be thinking. They'll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you've achieved. Let them talk and don't worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you've lived so far. There's still much to be written, so get busy writing and don't waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be free, at peace and as happy as you can be!
I have been studying my TV habits lately and am somewhat amused at my findings. For a number of years now, I have been recording the shows we like on our DVR (digital video recorder) and then watching them within the next day or two. When our shows take a vacation, we are often forced to watch live TV. It seems to me there are 5 minutes of the show and then 5 minutes of ads. Somehow, I know that’s not an accurate statement but it sure feels that way. Anyway, with the live TV “thingy”, I found that I had a tendency to doze off and my wife would try to keep me awake because she thought it was something I wanted to watch. I have tried to convince her, with little success, that the best sleep you will ever encounter is sitting in front of the television. What really surprised me, and the thing I want to convey to you, is that each time she pushes my shoulder to wake me up my heart sobs just a little. It wants me to go back to sleep and it thinks that by sobbing I will give in. I normally do just that. Before I started paying attention, I never knew that happened. With my new-found knowledge, I just rub my chest a few times to sooth my sobbing heart and drift back into slumber land. This process will be repeated many times until both of us force ourselves out of our chair and trudge slowly towards the kitchen to wash and dry the dinner dishes.
The other evening after I had completed my self-assigned outdoor chores, I sat down in my chair in front of my tool shed and lit up my cigar. I picked up the phone and called my daughter, planning on the conversation lasting about an hour (that’s how long it takes me to smoke my cigar). And, as she and I tried to fill the conversation with enthusiasm, we drifted towards the current presidential election between Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton. There are two things certain in this life and they are, never discuss politics and religion with family & friends. I love my daughter very much, and I’m desperately trying to convince her to vote for my candidate. She blithely says, “Well Daddy, everybody is entitled to their own opinion”. To which I gleefully respond, “but it should be the same as mine”. The laughter that erupted at the other end of the line was just as I had predicted as I uttered that sentence. For some reason, it always makes me feel good when my daughter laughs, it always has, and I doubt that will ever cease being so. She was a joy to raise and occupies some major real estate in my heart.
A friend of mine, Frank Shortt, wrote this poem:
Where are all my old friends,
The ones I loved so well?
The ones I thought would never leave
Oh, words could never tell,
Of the times we spent together
Through sunshine, snow and rain
Where are all my old friends
Will we ever meet again?
I ran across it while reading a story he had written on the website www.spectatorron.com .
My wife & I just completed a wonderful cruise from Quebec City, Canada to Fort Lauderdale, Florida (10/22 – 11/5). It was kinda cold while we were in Canada (Nova Scotia & along the northeast coastline) and both of us caught and tackled a cold. We were still able to enjoy whatever was happening at the time and both of us tried not to put a damper on each other’s day. As our cruise progressed, I came to realize that what made each day special was the “unknown” part of it. We would get off the ship at a port and go on an adventure that took us on a tour of wherever we were. Our tour guide would fascinate us by telling of the local history and pointing out special features of the local landscape. At the end of the day, as we made our way back to the ship, with way too many photos, we boarded it with new memories that would stay with us a long time. In Saguenay, Nova Scotia, where we hiked up a mountain to take in the breathtaking views, our bus tour guide was an old guy (my age) that sat directly across the aisle from us. He was very animated in his descriptions of whatever was outside the bus window and I could tell he was proud of where he had spent his entire life. Taking a cue from this old guy leads me to the conclusion that we should all be proud of what we have accomplished and where we have chosen to live our life. An old Russian proverb says, “There is more light than shines thru the window” (there is more to our lives than we see).
We are in the final stages of Fall here in Virginia and Winter is just around the corner. It is a known fact that we humans have, basically, six emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise. As I watch the tree leaves turn from a robust green to several shades of yellow, red & orange, I’m tempted to select from one of these emotions about how I feel about Fall (Autumn to others). I think I have decided to use the emotion associated with the word “Awe” (An overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration). To watch as nature goes thru the stages of death, rebirth and robustness is a thing of extreme beauty. It lends hope to my belief that the same will happen to us. We humans tend to believe that life is the exact opposite: birth, life & death. On a lighter note, I am in awe as our seasons change and Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. By the time Spring arrives, I will have rotated around the sun 76 times. Lots of reasons to celebrate!
Sometimes, you come in contact with people that astound you with their approach to life. During our recent trip to North Carolina & Tennessee, we stopped to visit our friend Millie in her retirement home. She just celebrated her 92nd birthday and recently lost her sight. She is an excellent artist and pianist, and shared those talents with us all. I expected to see someone disillusioned by life’s unexpected twists and turns. Instead, she was her usual, cheerful self, discussing all manner of subjects and very little about the fact that she could no longer enjoy the benefits of sight. As I sat in my chair, across from her, I noticed that she smiled a lot, and I wondered if I could do that under the same circumstances. I have a hard time smiling with just the slightest adversity and here sits a woman with a disability that would overwhelm most, smiling and chatting with perfect contentment. I left her apartment realizing that I really never knew how special she was before that visit. I know that I lack the ability to handle life’s extreme hardships with grace. But, when you encounter someone that does, you recognize it immediately. Makes me a firm believer that you can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again. Thanks, Millie, for being a wonderful friend and role model!
Clay Barbour wrote an interesting article that I would like to share with you: “Disconnecting is not easy. Jobs, family, friends; each finds purchase in a corner of your mind and demands attention, and escape is problematic when you willingly, obsessively, carry a Wi-Fi-capable ball and chain around in your back pocket. But there are places still beyond the reach of cell towers, where the only twitter is in the trees, and moments are experienced, rather than captured. Take a breath…. the world ain’t going anywhere”. Sometimes, someone will reach into the air, grab words and place them in exactly the right order to make a point or clarify something in such a poignant way and it makes you think, wow, that really makes a lot of sense. Sadly, few of us have that talent. I can only wish that I did.
One of our local churches had their annual flea market and my wife and I always enjoy attending. They lease plots of land around the church on which people can place the items they have for sale. Seems like a lot of people have things to sell, and it’s like hitting the jackpot for those of us that enjoy yard sales (tag sales up north). As I browsed thru their offerings, I was aware that, at my age, I should be downsizing but there I am, buying things I will probably never use, or not use very much. For $25, I purchased a pair of new gloves, a couple of clamps, a set of forged stamps for punching letters & numbers into things like wood or metal. Whenever I build something, I like to punch the date and my name on it and wonder what the fella will think 50 years from now when he decides it’s ready for the dump and he sees when it was built and by whom. As I was dismantling our old picnic table, replacing it with a new one that I had just completed building, I wondered how old it was. Now, when the one I have constructed is replaced, that guy won’t have to ponder that question. Anyway, back to the flea market thing, the last item I purchased was a metal stand that is used primarily to support lumber that you are cutting, sorta like an adjustable saw-horse. Those five items proudly sit in my workshop waiting for me to pay attention to them. I will be using the stamps within a few days to proudly & discreetly stamp the picnic and end tables that I have just completed, the gloves will come in handy this winter, and the clamps and stand will just have to wait until my next project. Aside from the apparent glee of buying things on the cheap, there is a more beneficial aspect to this experience and that is it gets me out of the house, away from my computer, and allows me to meet interesting people. The banter that’s present at events like this is uplifting and gratifying. As my wife and I got into our truck and drove away, we both had interesting stories to tell about our experiences and anxiously awaited “Show & Tell” when we got home. Life doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
We have been planning a cruise from Quebec, down the east coast, which stops at nine ports before arriving at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. To be eligible for a $250 military discount, I needed to present Princess Cruises with a copy of my Department of Defense Form (DD214). Since my discharge from the US Air Force was in 1963, that form was no longer in my possession. Nothing left to do but go to the website of the National Personnel Records Center and print out their request form and mail it to them asking for a copy of my record. I was told it might take 4-6 weeks to get the document. In about three weeks it arrived. As I sat at my desk opening our daily mail, I was surprised upon opening their letter because as soon as I saw it a flood of memories spread thru my mind like an overflowing lake spreads into the surrounding communities. I was a young airman (22) in the Personnel Unit at the US Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO) and my four-year tour was coming to a close for I had chosen not to re-enlist. There I was, in the far corners of my mind, typing this form for my commanding officer to sign, looking out the vast plate glass windows that encompassed our office building, wondering what surprises my future had in store. I had no job lined up when I arrived back home, and I had a wife and two children (ages 2 & 3) to provide for. Alas, that 22-year-old fellow wasn’t the least bit concerned, he had 47 days of vacation pay and plenty of time to find a job. I was tempted to reach out, touch that young fellow on the shoulder and say, “psst, I can tell you exactly what will happen for the next 53 years so you can logically decide whether to stay in or get out”. As I sat there pondering over those days of long ago, I decided not to interfere with that young man’s decision, admonishing myself to never let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. After making a copy of the form and mailing it, I tucked the original back in the envelope and marked it for my “Permanent” file, to be opened again somewhere in my future, and revisit again that time of long, long, ago.
I have been on a mission since December 2014 to lose weight, and I am, slowly but persistently, accomplishing that goal. What I have observed during my journey is that the numbers are in a constant battle with each other. For example, right now 198 and 199 are battling each other for supremacy on my weight scale. I never know which one will win out on a particular day, but I know that eventually 198 will be in a battle with 197 and those battles will continue until I reach my goal of 192. I believe we go thru life with similar battles, making decisions, vacillating, deciding on a course of action, and moving on to the next daily challenge, repeating the process until we plop down to eat dinner and relax by watching something on TV. I discovered several years ago that the only way to get off that treadmill was to leave town. That may seem to be over-simplistic, but I have concluded it is my only escape from the tribulations that often encroach upon my life. Sitting in the car as my wife and I tool along some remote highway looking for a flea market or junk shop (my wife prefers to call them antique shops) seems to make me happy. Visiting different parts of our wonderful country is indeed a joy and there are so many interesting people to interact with. Going somewhere every 3-4 months seems to be just about the right schedule for us and we always return refreshed and ready to return to our normal daily routine. That daily routine is important because it imparts a sense of security, the confidence a feeling of independence conveys. Some wise person once said, “Optimism is a cheerful frame of mind that enables a tea kettle to sing though in hot water up to its nose”. That perfectly describes my optimism.
I have been retired for 3,650 days (10 years). I read an article in Time magazine recently that said most of us, after having been retired a few years, are not identified by our working careers. I have found that to be absolutely true. As a younger man, my self-worth was tied to my career and the two were inseparable. Now, my feeling of value is tied to how much I can impact the ones around me in a positive way. For some, my wife and I help them financially; for others, it’s words of encouragement and perhaps pitching in with a helping hand when needed. The Times article stated that “the years three to fifteen are typically the most satisfying because you are still relatively young and have gotten through the sometimes brutal discovery phase and found your new self”. I’m not sure that I found a “new” self. I think what I am now was always there and just needed the right time and place to become apparent. To quote the recently departed Arnold Palmer; “Home is not a place you go to, it’s where you got your core values”. So, yeah, I think my “new” self was there from the time I got on that bus in Oakwood, Virginia in 1959 (age 18) and headed for the US Air Force training facility in San Antonio, Texas. No doubt I have changed a lot in those 57 years, but that little guy that was sitting on my shoulder then, well, he’s still there and he hasn’t changed a lick.
I recently started a project that I have been thinking about for a while. My ex-wife passed away almost two years ago and I have observed the impact it had on my two adult children. So, I have decided to write a letter to each family member that will be read after I transition to the other side. The first one is to my wife, next will be my son, my daughter, and then my three grandchildren. I have already written three of them and I must say it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I guess those letters would be considered love letters, for in them I tell each one how much they were loved by me. I’m guessing you would assume that I tell them that while I’m living, and I have. But, I wanted to give them something tangible to hold on to after I’m gone. At the ripe old age of 75, I’m pretty sure I won’t be around too much longer. Physically, I’m in good health, don’t take any prescription medication and have very few physical ills, but I am aware the end is not that far away. By the time I finished my first letter tears were streaming down my face. I knew the next time those words were read I would be gone. The letters will be sealed in an envelope and placed in our safe deposit box. The love I have for my family will be in print and will survive long after I’m gone.“The lips know only shallow tunes. The heart is where great symphonies are born.” Calvin Miller
I read an article the other day in Time Magazine titled, “How Long Will I Live?”. Women should start at age 89 & men start with age 86 to calculate their lifespan:
Laid back attitude? Yes, add 5 years to your age (86,89); No, take away 5 years. Ok, I’m 91 now.
Do you have a family member that lived to at least 95? If yes, add 10 years. If no, subtract nothing. I’m still sitting here with a score of 91.
Do you exercise 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes? If yes, add 5 years. No, subtract 5 years. Now I’m up to 96!
Do you regularly challenge your brain with interesting or challenging tasks? Yes, add 5 years & No, do nothing. I’m up to 101 years, wow!
Do you maintain a healthy diet? If No, subtract 5 years & Yes, do nothing. Thanks to my wife, I do not have to subtract anything.
Do you smoke? If Yes, take off 15 years & if No, subtract nothing. Since I smoke a cigar every other day, I had to take away 15 years and so, here I sit sadly, at where I started (age 86).
The picture is clear and simple for me: All I need to do to live a much longer life is to stop smoking, yet I find myself unwilling to do so. I’m guessing that when I’m standing in front of Saint Peter, he will look down from his perch, wag his finger and say, “Why didn’t you follow the warning signs and stop smoking?”. My feeble reply will be, “I didn’t think it would happen to me.”. I can just see a smile spread across his face as he responds; “And how did that work out for ya?”.
Some of the hardest things in life involve doing what is, simply, the right thing to do. I’m guessing this quote sums up my attitude: “"It's like, at the end, there's this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid?"
- Richard Bach
At times I seem obsessed with taking the hand extension tool hanging on the rack above my workbench, getting my hand cart and heading for the yard to pick up sticks, pine cones, gumballs, and whatever else litters our front & back yard. Most of the time I have my iPod plugged in and I’m listening to an audiobook, other times, I’m thinking about something that’s happening in my life that needs my attention. I started wondering why I clean our yard so often? Most of the time it doesn’t really need it. After giving it some serious thought I have concluded (without any psychological training whatsoever) that, perhaps, this is a safe zone for me. It seems to be a part of my life’s structure that provides me a place, at times, to be alone with my thoughts or to travel to another place & time via audiobooks. I do know that I enjoy that time, and while doing so, I also feel that I’m being productive in a small way. I guess some of you are thinking that my life could be somewhat dull, but it is in fact just the opposite. If you were to ask me the last time I was bored my answer would be that it was probably as a kid. For some reason, finding something interesting to do has never been a problem for me. Writing this missive is the most obvious example. Daniel Boorstin said it best: “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it’s the illusion of knowledge”. Whoa, wait a minute, maybe I don’t really know why I’m out in the yard picking up debris!
I recently bought a weather vane at our local hardware store and I got it at a really good price. I arrived at their store, with their sales advertisement grasped firmly in my hand, showing the price of the item to be $80. I located the weather vane (in a box) and the price tag said $48. Trying unsuccessfully to stifle a grin that was starting to emerge, I quickly, and gleefully, placed it in my cart. This place is a man’s store with tools everywhere, any tool that you could imagine was in this place. Needless to say, I was there for a good hour just roaming up and down the aisles looking for things I might need that I wasn’t aware that I needed. On some level, that doesn’t make much sense does it? I got the weather vane home and decided that in two days I would begin to piece the thing together. I allowed myself several hours to complete the task because putting things together has always been a challenge for me. Looking at the diagrams showing how things fit isn’t always clear to me. I have been known to take the diagram to my wife and say; “Can you make out how this goes together”? Let me tell you, that is a humbling experience. Fortunately, I have a next door neighbor (John) that can understand those things like a professional. So if my wife is unable to help I trudge next door for expert advice. As it turns out, I am able to decipher this diagram and, thus, begin to assemble the 50 pieces of metal into one unit. I finally got all the bolts firmly ensconced and placed the rotating fan and tail fin on top of the 8-foot-tall structure. A strong puff of wind arrives, the blades start turning unexpectedly, and hit my arm and hand creating two nasty little gashes. I moved the vane to the desired place in the yard, and we can now proudly tell the direction of the wind and how strongly it blows. I’m thinking it will come in handy this winter when the wind chill is so important to us, especially in our backyard. This quote kinda sums it up: “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all”. …..Sam Ewing
I just finished a book written by professor Michael Droit entitled; “A History of The English Language”. I listened to the audiobook during my daily 5-mile walk. I must admit the book was boring at times, but I should also admit that I learned a lot about the origin of our language. For example, did you know that English is the only global language? Or, that China has mandated that English be taught in their schools? Professor Droit asked this question at some point in his lecture; “What is the one English word spoken in all 6000 languages in the world”? Before he gave the answer, I stopped my iPod and thought about his question. Possible answers that entered my mind were; yes, no, stop, etc. Then, unexpectedly, the work “okay” popped up and I knew right away there was an excellent chance that was the right answer. Turns out it was! There is an online test that can be taken after finishing the book but I opted not to take it. I didn’t want to kill the celebration that was bouncing around in my head.
The other day I pulled an old Rubber Maid toolbox from my shed that I bought a month ago at a flea market for $15. As I recall, it was a bright sun drenched day and the flea market was beside the highway we were travelling on, but on the opposite side of our 4 lane road. My wife loves to break up our trip by perusing thru antique shops and roadside flea markets, so I found a place to turn around, and drove back to its location. Normally, I stay in the car and read something, or listen to one of my many audiobooks. As a matter of fact, I’m probably the only person you know that would tell you that half of what he knows was learned from listening to audiobooks. Yes, I am aware that is a sad statement to make. I am currently listening to book 467 (A Sense of The World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts). Anyway, back to the flea market thing. This time I got out of the car and strolled by the different venders looking for who knows what, and I walked by this old toolbox setting in front of this guy’s table and, out of curiosity, I start rummaging thru it. I picked up a small tool and asked how much he wanted for it and he said; “$5, but you can have the whole box for $15”. I reached for my wallet so fast that I almost broke the index finger on my left hand. I guess that as I’ve gotten older little things make me happy. Now, back to pulling the toolbox out of the shed. As I took each tool out of that old box and examined it carefully, I cleaned it and placed it in a pile with its next of kin (screwdriver, wrench, etc.). I’m settn’ there thinking I hit the mother lode with that $15 purchase. There were tools in that box I didn’t know existed. I removed the grime on each as I took it out of the box, then I cleaned the box with a degreaser and brought that old Rubber Maid back to life. That toolbox now sits proudly in my shed waiting for me to tenderly open it’s lid and begin using the wonderful contents inside. Some unknown person once said, “Don’t frown, you will never know who will fall in love with your smile.” I seem to be smiling a lot lately.
I hope that wherever you are on this beautiful planet your day is going well. Thanks for reading my missive……Tommy
I read recently that only half of the people you consider as a friend are actually friends. Granted, the study was small and only included college students, but that is a worrisome conclusion. The criteria to become my friend has always been easily met and, certainly, friends come and go throughout the passage of time. I would be very disappointed if only half of them actually considered me their friend. Heck, I’m looking for a 95% score. E.M. Forster’s view on friendship is, “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country”. I don’t think I would carry things that far, but the point is that friendship ranks pretty high in the scheme of things. I don’t think I ever had a friend that I just dropped. Mostly, they just moved away and weren’t close enough to maintain a relationship. Friends are those we turn to for consolation when we’re sad, share joy and concerns, and give us a sense of self-worth when we doubt ourselves. I am a better person because of my friendship with others.
I read an article the other day that archaeologists have determined that by 1900 BC, the ancient Assyrians had established one of the first postal services, and I recalled that in my lifetime I have known two people that could not read nor write. One had a very successful life in our coal camp and the other was the wife of an important family member. As a young boy (age 8-9), I cut the fellow’s grass and the tall weeds on the hill above his driveway. It would take around 1 ½ hours and when I finished, he would reach into his pocket and pull out a handful of change, open his palm, and tell me to take 35 cents. I never thought much about the fact that he didn’t hand me the correct amount. I just knew that he was, perhaps, the wisest man I knew at that time. The only woman I knew that was illiterate was a kind and gentle person and was an expert cook and homemaker. Several times I offered to teach her to read & write but she always told me that: “I get along just fine”. She passed away about 25 years ago but I still think of her often. As Nido Qubein says; “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start”.
Do these lines sound familiar: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”?
They are carved in stone above the entrance of the monumental James A. Farley Post Office in New York City. We assume this is the motto of the U.S. Postal Service, but the USPS doesn’t have one. It was just the world’s largest postal service nodding respectfully to one of its most illustrious forebears, King Darius of Persia (1900 BC). His mail service was so efficient that historian Herodotus said: “These men will not be hindered from accomplishing at their best speed the distance which they have to do, either by snow, or rain, or heat, or by darkness of night”. The Farley Post Office, opened in 1914, and one of its architects read Greek for pleasure in his off-hours and selected a modified translation by a Harvard professor to adorn the building. I wonder how many other things are floating around inside my head that are profoundly untrue. “Men ardently pursue truth, assuming it will be the angel’s bread when found” …….W.M. Dixon. Hmmmm, don’t know about that!
Doctors are saying now that obese women are three times more likely than their thinner peers to get Alzheimer’s Disease. The report stated that one of the early signs of dementia is the change in a person’s walking gait. Allegedly, you will also find it difficult to walk and talk at the same time. A popular test, they say, is to count backwards from 100 while you walk. I thought that part amusing because I started counting backwards from 100 several years ago while holding my back in an arch off the floor during my morning exercise routine. I tried it out on my very next daily walk and, of course, nailed it! I’m left wondering how such a simple test could be indicative of dementia. I think, maybe, it’s because you’re having to divide your brain resources between the different tasks and that’s where the difficulty lies. Bottom line, eat your greens, exercise daily, maintain your social connections, and use your brain a lot. I have often said that TV will dumb you down faster than anything else you can do. Unwittingly, there were studies that supported my theory, I just wasn’t aware of them. As Albert Camus said: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend”.
I have started a new project that relies entirely on my carpentry skills. We found a marble table top insert, during one of our daily walks, that someone had placed on the curb. I brought it home thinking “someday I’ll find a use for this thing, it’s just too nice to make that trip to the garbage dump just yet”. Well, a couple of weeks ago I decided to replace our kinda worn-out picnic table and bench that sits out by the shed and to use the marble piece as an insert in the middle of the table. Of course, I have to draw up the plans, purchase the materials needed, and then apply my carpentry skills. Well, that’s where the rub comes in to play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this project and the possibility to see if I can really summons the skills necessary to do a good job. Right now I’m waiting for some sunshine to appear because we have had rain for weeks. I think it’s important to always have something in my life to look forward to, if not to make it exciting, make it at least interesting. I cannot remember the last time I was bored, oh, wait a minute, it was while watching American Idol on TV with my wife (her favorite show). If she finds out about this, I’m in a lot of trouble :. Robert Louis Stevenson aptly said: “A man must not deny his manifest abilities, for that is to evade his obligations”. I’m just not sure that carpentry is part of my manifest abilities.
We recently travelled to PA, NY, CT and my hometown of Oakwood, VA. During those travels we visited a lot of people that are near and dear to our hearts. I would like to include a note penned by Beatrice Drummond that sums up how we feel: “Today, I opened memory’s door and softly stepped inside. I looked around and soon I found old friends were by my side. I’ve thought of them so many times since days of long ago, though miles and years have made a change- each one, this day, I know. I saw my special schoolmates, too, and recalled the days of yore, of pleasant conversations held outside the classroom door. I also saw my neighbors there upon my memory’s page; some were happy youngsters…and others…bent with age. For me this once time has stood still, allowing me once more, to visit with old friends of mine, just inside memory’s door. I’ll shut the door so softly now, as though to close a book, but someday I’ll reopen it and take another look”.