What A Wonderful Life!
֎ “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” …Collette
I used that quote in a “WoW” that I wrote way back in August of 2007 entitled, “A Place to Be Alone”. That was true then, and it remains true to this very day. I am guilty of not recognizing the wonderful life I enjoy, or if I do so in prayer, as soon as I’m finished, I immediately sweep it from my mind and move on to other matters. I am reminded of an interview a TV reporter had with Senator John McCain about his terminal brain cancer. I surmised from Senator McCain’s interview that he had experienced a wonderful life, had no regrets, and was ready to accept death and meet his maker in the afterlife. I sorta assume that most of us expect life will be filled with fun things to do, especially after working hard on a daily basis and missing very few days at work. Sadly, as we grow older we find that life is full of highs and lows and that sometimes the lows can be life threatening. And, as we all have experienced, it doesn’t have to be something that happens to us, but to those we love deeply. Watching all the tragedy that the evening news produces on a daily basis makes me sad, but when tragedy strikes home, the sadness transitions to heartbreak. Like you, when tragedy strikes, I constantly strive to keep a positive outlook. That fails me when I fall asleep at night, when all my worst fears run rampant like a spooked herd of cattle in the 50’s westerns of long ago. I am relieved to get out of bed the next morning so I can put those fears behind and start a, new, positive day. That’s when I want the tranquility of heart that resides there when I am awake. Hank Green said, “I deal with stress in two ways because there are two kinds of stress. There’s stress that you can take care of, and there’s stress that you can’t. The first one, I take care of it as fast as possible, because putting it off always makes it worse. Things that I can’t fix? I think about the fact that I can’t fix them. I think about why I can’t fix them and I come to terms with the fact that this is a problem that I’m not going to overcome and that the world is not a wish granting factory.” I agree with old Hank, and I want to thank him for clarifying how stress should be handled.
֎ Recently, my wife and I took my oldest granddaughter (Robin) and her family out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants (Piccadilly’s), a cafeteria we frequent often. We enjoy the vast selection of food they offer and the fact that all their food is made onsite, including their delicious selection of desserts. Robin was in from Tennessee to visit her dad (my son Rusty) and enjoy the many local entertainment venues in our area (Bush Gardens, Water Country, Harbor Fest, etc.). I have 3 adorable Great Grandchildren by Robin and David (ages 14, 12 & 3), and it’s always a pleasure to be around them. As I sat at the table, chewing away on my delicious food, listening to the chatter of a vibrant, energetic young family, a wonderful wave of contentment swept over me. I would like to think that when I was a young man with a young family, I had the same effect on my grandparents. I spent many hours in my grandparent’s presence as a youngster, and always visited them when I became an adult. I returned home each year from hundreds of miles away just to accomplish that task. They always seemed delighted to see us, but I never sensed that they enjoyed the energy we brought. When my granddaughter and her family headed back home, after a week or so, the energy they left behind stayed with us for a while and we rode that wave as long as possible. “Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but the ability to start over.” ………F. Scott Fitzgerald
֎ As most of you know, my son passed away on June 16th and then my brother’s wife (Patty) passed away on Monday, July 2nd. Somehow, I still get out of bed each morning, raise the window shade, and watch the sunlight bounce off the floor and surround the many teddy bears in our bedroom, seemingly, bringing them all to life. I slowly shuffle down the hallway to the coffee pot and push the button that starts my daily brew. I continue to do the things that I have done every day for years, but they don’t seem to bring the excitement that each new day brought before. I live with the hope that as time passes the sorrow will become less and that one day, when I think of them, the hurt will be gone and all the good memories will come flooding back. There are times when I think that God has taken a wrecking ball to my life. Lately, for every minute I’ve laughed, I’ve cried a dozen or more. A storm seems to be following me searching for thunder. Until a lot of time passes, I will be plodding along, looking for the gems of happiness that each day usually presents to us all. A lot of good, caring people still surround me and will insure that I don’t go too far down the “black hole” of depression. I always thought that “black holes” were things way out in space. What I have discovered is that they exist right here on earth and any of us can get sucked in if we’re not careful.
֎ “Goodnight Miss Calabash, wherever you are” …. Jimmy Durante
I used to watch the Jimmy Durante Show back in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s and he always signed off wishing Miss Calabash a goodnight. To the best of my knowledge he never told his viewers who she was and why she was important to him. I think all of us have a Miss Calabash in our lives, someone that’s important to us, and no one else knows why. I believe, that for Jimmy, it was someone that was special when he was a young man and they had grown apart and lost tract of each other, or maybe she passed over to the other side and he was letting her know that he was thinking of her. Yes, I’m guessing we all have a Miss Calabash in our history, maybe more than one.
֎ I was listening to an audiobook a while back by Julie Andrews (Home: A Memoir of My Early Years), and she was describing being taught to sing as a young girl. Her mother listened to Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and many other classical composers. I listen to Jackson, Paisley and Jones (Alan, Brad & George) and that doesn’t seem nearly as impressive. There are times that I believe that I have missed out on so much by not listening to the music of great composers and reading books written by world renown authors. But, then again, I am a man of simple taste, feasting on fried chicken, hamburgers and French fries. That spills over into my taste for music and books- John Grisham & Nicholas Sparks come to mind. I do admire people that read the finest of books and listen to classical music, and I consider them to be more intellectual. But I somehow doubt they read more than I do or listen to more music. I guess it’s sorta like comparing a high school athlete to a professional athlete. They’re playing the same game but the pro plays at a much higher level. I’m of the opinion that it matters little what songs bounce around in your head, or what books you read, as long as they satisfy that inner need to be entertained or learn something new. Andre’ Gide said, “I am no good except when alone. In a group it’s not so much the others that bore and annoy me; it’s myself.”
֎ My wife and I took her oldest son and his wife out to dinner the other day to celebrate his 50th birthday. The meal was delicious (steak for me) and the conversation abundantly fun. It is always entertaining to watch the interaction of my wife with her two sons. They are decidedly different personalities and you would never guess they were raised by the same parents. The oldest son is more outgoing and easily engaged in conversation, while the youngest is quiet and reserved. I have found that I always enjoy the company of both. It has always been clear to me that good conversation is better than any movie I’ll ever watch, or any show that’s playing on the TV. I spend time on the phone and texting, but I much prefer sitting down next to someone and having a face-to-face conversation. As we travel thru life and get older, we lose people we love for many reasons. We should never regret that we didn’t spend enough time in their presence. J.K. Rowling’s said it very plainly, “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Let’s all pledge to start making better choices 😊.
March 13, 2020
Baby Names (WoW#56)
⚽ I read recently that the top newborn baby names from 2010 to 2018 were Noah and Emma and in general children are more likely to be given fewer common names today than in the past. The top names came from a total of 18 million male births and 17 million female births. That surprised me because we have been told for years that more females were born each year than males. As a matter of fact, in 2017 there were 166 million women in the United States compared to 159 million men, and the projection is that it will continue to widen. That reminds me of a cruise my wife and I were on several years ago. We had disembarked on one of the islands in the Caribbean and were on a tour bus. The lady from that island was giving the tour and informed us that she had two young boys and that on that island there were 13 females for every male. I remember thinking that was a young man’s paradise, how nice it must be to be the only game in town. Of course, for the female population, the choice of a mate becomes extremely difficult because he doesn’t have to earn her love and respect. We know from experience, when men are left to their own devices, they are not prone to the best of conduct. I suspect there is just too much testosterone flowing thru our body. An area that suffers for us men is our social skills. We tend to be loud and boisterous with a tendency to brag about our accomplishments. Mingle in a few women and we become more civilized. Thomas K. (“Stonewall”) Jackson, the famous Confederate Civil General, had these rules for conversation: Be at peace in your speech, speak respectfully of others, try to be no more wise than the people you are speaking to, never be hurtful, nor deceitful, avoid bragging by saying as little about yourself as possible, and always speak late (refrain from dominating the conversation). Now, that’s seven simple rules of conversation that make a lot of sense and would, perhaps, make us a little humbler. For anyone interested in the Civil War, I just finished “Rebel Yell” by S. C. Gwynne, about Stonewall Jackson during that great struggle. I gave it 5 stars. I use that high rating sparingly.
⚽ I have three granddaughters, all living far away, and I don’t get to see them very often. So, in April 2019, I started sending them a text on Sunday mornings asking them to,” Tell me something I don’t know (TMSIDK)” about themselves. Within that message to them, I tell them something about myself they don’t know. All three eagerly accepted my challenge, and each week when they respond, I copy their answers and put it in my journal under their names. Two of my granddaughters are in their mid-thirties and the other one is in her mid-twenties. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of their answers, and I’m sure they were surprised at some of mine. Last week in my TMSIDK (tell me something I don’t know) to them, I said I was 19 years old when their dad was born. One of them replied, “Goodness, that was young!” Playfully, I wrote her back, “Too young, but not uncommon in the mountains of Virginia. Of course, without that happening, I know of three wonderful girls that wouldn’t be roaming this wonderful planet” (she and her two sisters). I’m confident that brought a smile to her face.
This simple little act each Sunday morning allows me to maintain contact with three of the most important people in my life, even though distance limits our physical presence. I know these three girls love me unconditionally, just as I love them in the same way. This also allows them to know a little more about their grandfather. My grandparents never kept in touch after I left home in 1959, but I wish they had. I always visited them when I went home each year, but they never initiated contact. If I could roll that ball back up the lane, I would make sure that changed. Rosa Parks said, “Memories of our lives, of our works and deeds will continue in others.” I believe this is true.
⚽ There are 7 people on my cellphone plan with Verizon, and recently I noticed a $5 monthly charge on two of those phones that I had not seen before. So, I signed onto their website and clicked on “Chat” and a lady came on and I explained the problem. Twenty minutes later, thru some other adjustment, I knocked $54 off my monthly bill. That made me a happy camper! She then informed me that they have a new router that will increase my internet speed by 65% and my Wifi by 63%. Nothing left to do but order that jewel! Within 2 days, it was sitting on my porch ($318) begging for installation. I chose to buy it verses rent at $20/month for the rest of my life. Anyway, I got it installed and checked my internet speed and was very surprised. The average internet speed in the USA is 25 mbps (megabits per second) and mine was 928. I was getting very close to jumping out of my chair and dancing a little jig, but there was a disappointing downside to my cheerfulness. A lot of my Wifi gadgets needed the slower speed (2.4 GHz) to connect to the internet, meaning my security cameras wouldn’t work, neither would the smart plugs I used to control lights within our home. When I walk into my computer room and tell Amazon’s Alexa to “Turn on Tommy’s lamps”, all my lights come on and the radio starts playing my favorite station on XMRadio. Now that doesn’t happen because my router is too fast. You would’ve thought my best friend died. I was saddened when I realized I would have to turn those things on manually. I guess it’s sorta like getting in your car and having to manually crank your windows up and down. I was completely unaware that my life had become so easy and me so spoiled.
Anyway, I got back on the phone with Verizon to try to solve my problem and, as it turns out, they can help me fix it. I’m waiting on a new router as I write this missive that should get me back to my old spoiled self and allow me to also keep my Richard Petty internet speed.
Update: I received my new router and installed it as directed, but the same problems persisted. I eventually resolved the problem myself, and now everything works as intended. I felt awesome because three of their “experts” were unable to resolve the problem and the “Old Guy” did. Life still gives me pleasures!
An old Proverb says, “Everyone is wise until he speaks”. Regrettably, that applies to me.
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.