⌘ I was sitting in my favorite chair in front of my workshop a few days ago, around 5 p.m. after several hours of work, and I was enjoying a good cigar. Just as I finished it, I noticed a boat filled with people tying up at our pier. My first thought was that they were lost and needed directions back to the Poquoson River. That has happened before, so it was a natural reaction. A tall handsome man in his 30s got out of the boat and walked through the backyard to where I was sitting. “Hi Tom!” he exclaimed as he approached, which took me by surprise. He informed me he lived down the street from us, pointing to his home not very far away, and he said that my wife had informed him he could tie his boat to our pier anytime. He further clarified that the reason for his visit was that a married couple in the group was interested in buying our home when we were ready to sell. My wife had informed him about our plans to move to a retirement community when one of their cottages became available. We have been on their list for almost 3 years, though we were 8th in line at the time. We have no idea how long we’re going to wait, so we have spent a moderate amount of time downsizing.
Anyway, four people gathered around me, including the couple who wanted me to know their intentions of buying our home. I invited them to take a tour of our house and they welcomed it gladly. Before she went inside, my wife had informed me she was going to take a shower, so I had to make sure she was dressed before I took them in. She was, so the tour began. As it progressed, I could tell they were having trouble deciding how they would raise the money they would need for the purchase. They live in our 12,000-strong small town, so I hope they’re successful. My wife and I have agreed that we will help them if we can.
When I see young people getting excited, it always lifts my spirits. I think enthusiasm is the one characteristic we lose as we age. When you look into the eyes of younger people, you see the hope and expectations of what the next day will bring. Our grandson (Brandon—yeah, the same one mentioned above) helps us do chores around the house every week, and I see that same thing in him. He always has a cheerful smile on his face and his eyes dance in his head as if he hears special music that we cannot. He turned 26 a few days ago. My wife and I were dating when he was born, so I have known him all of his life and he is like a grandson to me. I proudly call him my “Bonus Grandson.” I got that term from his older brother (Christopher), who included me with his natural grandparents in his college graduation pictures. He had four granddads in that frame, and the photographer asked him how he had so many grandparents. He calmly answered that “these two are bonus grandparents.” That made me feel good. So, I now have bonus sons and bonus grandsons.
Anyway, back to the people on the boat who entered our lives a few days ago, who finally got back aboard and sailed down the river. I could hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they slowly slid out of sight. As my wife and I sat down for supper that evening, we could still hear and feel the laughter and joy they left inside our home. We hope it stays a while.
Benedict De Spinoza said that “the more joy we have, the more nearly perfect we are.” I agree wholeheartedly!
⌘ Our yard has been demanding our attention lately. I sowed new grass in early October and refrained from any maintenance until the seeds had at least a month to germinate and grow to a height of 3 inches. We had multiple storms pass over us during that time, which caused pine straw, tree branches, pinecones, and leaves to pile up. I was nervous as I surveyed the work needed to get the yard back to normal, because it looked like a lot of work. Our grandson (Brandon) usually lends us a hand, but he’s been off to Atlantic City for several days of fun. He absolutely enjoys going up there with his friends and trying to win in the casinos. I suggested to him that if casinos were continuously losing money, they couldn’t stay in business. I could tell from his grin he thinks they haven’t seen the likes of him yet. 😊 My suggestion to him is to make sure he has lots of fun, then he can count his losses as entertainment.
Anyway, back to the yard. Brandon returned home two days ago but has promised to stay away from us for at least a week to ensure that he doesn’t pass COVID on to us.
Bottom line is, our yard couldn’t wait another week for cleaning and mowing, so it was up to me and my wife to get it done. It took us 3 days, but our front and back yard look great, although sadly there are plenty of leaves still floating down to reverse all of our hard work. I hope that by the time they are all down, Brandon will be available to lend us a hand.
But I really shouldn’t complain as I know the exercise involved in that effort is good for us, raising our heart rate and keeping our muscles healthy, which stops me from sitting in front of my PC all day. 😊
As William Feather said so eloquently, “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is in having someone else do a first-class job under your direction.” I think Bill’s on to something, eh?
⌘ A few days ago my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table and the view from our breakfast nook told us that the rain was relentless, and that our activities need to be scheduled indoors. I told her of my plans for the day and her eyes widened and an enormous smile covered her face. “I know what you could do today!” she exclaimed. My reply was too stern: “I don’t need for you to find things for me to do; I never plan your day, and you should not plan mine.” The smile fled her beautiful face as easily as a bullet leaves a gun’s barrel. And I knew straight away that I had expressed myself too harshly. I am right that I don’t want her to schedule my day unless it’s something we’re doing together, or something that needs my attention, but I really didn’t express myself in kind terms and she deserves better from the man, who, until the end of his time here on Earth, vowed to love her.
All I can hope is that it reveals no meanness of spirit lying deep within me, tucked away in an unlocked room in a far corner of my heart.
I was watching an interview with Alex Trebek, the longtime “Jeopardy” host who died recently of pancreatic cancer. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he softly answered, “that I was a kind man.” He wasn’t interested in being remembered as the famous game show host, only as a kind man. I think that’s how I also want to be remembered as I navigate my way through the “Old Age” labyrinth and face the possibility of death. So all I have to do is find the little “meanness” room tucked away somewhere in my heart, put a solid padlock on it, and throw away the key immediately. “All cruelty springs from weakness.” — Lucius Seneca. There’s more truth in that quote than I want to accept. Being a good husband doesn’t change who I am, it reveals who I am. I need a moral compass that doesn’t always land on me. An old Russian proverb says that “the wolf must pay for the sheep’s tears.” I know that means I am responsible for my words and actions. It’s up to me to find a solution to my dilemma!
⚽ The English dictionary doesn’t give a particularly good distinction between joy and happiness, but I think it should. I believe joy is related to a particular event in your life. For me, it would be throwing a “Ringer” in horseshoes or having the power generator fire up every three months without me having to work on it. In other words, for me, it is normally a singular event.
Happiness is a totally different animal. That is something that covers you like a warm blanket in the dead of winter and allows you to sleep the entire night without waking up. It is something that stays with you until something happens that brings you back into the constant ups and downs of normal life. Mostly, I think terrible things stop the “happiness train” and that can be many things; health problems for yourself or someone you care about, deaths, financial problems, or family problems like drugs and alcohol.
I have been on that “happiness train” for almost 28 years and there have been a few times that it screeched to a halt. But sooner or later, it came back to life and continued on its journey with my wife and I onboard. A friend (Reese) told me recently that life for him has been like a bus ride with people getting on, riding for a while, and then getting off as new riders got on. What we all know is that as we get older people get off and fewer and fewer get on. Finally we get to the end of the ride and only a few people are still on the bus and only a few of those were on it from the start.
My “happiness train” is still chugging along, some getting off and some getting on and all of us bringing happiness, or joy, to each other in some way. Yup! I prefer happiness to joy because it lasts much longer.
An old German Proverb goes, “When a man is happy, he does not hear the clock strike”. Now, that dog will hunt! 😊
⚽ By the time we die, most of us will have spent a quarter of a century asleep, of which six years or more will have been spent dreaming—and almost all of those dreams are forgotten upon waking. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, head for the bathroom, and upon returning to bed, pick up the same dream again even though I purposefully try to avoid it. Most of them are nonsensical and I ignore them but occasionally they are meaningful and leave an impression. Last night I had a dream about my dearly departed sister-in-law (Mary Ann) and that will stay with me all day.
So, I don’t think all dreams are a waste of time, although I do think most are. From everything I have read about them, they are believed to serve a purpose in rebooting our brain to re-energize our cells. I do know that when I fail to get enough sleep I tend to make poor decisions, at least that’s what I’m blaming it on 😊. I have also discovered that I can sometimes determine what I’ll dream about by thinking of whatever is on my mind as I drop off to sleep. It doesn’t always work, but often it does. I was once asked if my dreams were in color or black & white? Honestly, I don’t know. If they are in color, they’re not very bright, because that never seemed relevant to whatever the dream was about. I believe the only time I don’t have dreams is when I go to bed dead tired.
Truth be known, I probably don’t get enough sleep each night, hovering somewhere around 6.5 to 7 hours. Doctors want all of us to get from 7 to 8 hours, but I only get the maximum about once a month. I like to think that I’m an “Early Riser”, but deep down I know that I’m not. I go to bed at midnight and get up at 7am. My daughter gets out of bed at 4:30am to get ready for work. She needs to look exactly right before she gets in her car to make the daily commute. She’s a true “Early Riser”. Walter Dwight said, “Early risers, as a rule, are a notably arrogant set.” My daughter isn’t arrogant, she just wants to look her best before going out her front door 😊.
⚽ I have had 20 homes in my life, my wife only seven. Of those 20 homes, I spent 17 years in one and 28 at my current residence. Most of my moving was during my 20s and we were always renters, not homeowners. It often gives me pleasure to trace the course of my life thru the places I have lived. I remember the very first time I moved in my life. I was nine years old and living in “Page” coal camp. A house about 50 feet away was being vacated and it was much bigger and better than the one we occupied, so we were told we could move into it. I believe the rent was about $20 each month. Well, the big day arrived for the move and we began transferring everything in our old home to the new home. It took all day and what seemed like a thousand trips to get everything moved. I remember being surprised that we had that much stuff. My family and I certainly enjoyed living in that “upgraded” home. Compared to homes today it wouldn’t have been such a great upgrade, but life is all about what you’re used to having, especially when you’re nine years old 😊. I remember Mom being so excited and that transferred to my brother (Jerry) and I. It had a finished basement for Mom’s washing machine and rinsing tubs and a shower for Dad to use when he came home each day from the coal mines.
I had a lot of fond memories while living in that house. I wanted to be on the high school football team in the 9th grade and P.L. Williams, the coach, came to our home to convince Mom & Dad to let me come out for the team (our school was small and he needed players). Dad bought a new 1955 Ford Fairlane while we lived there. My Great-Uncle came to visit one Sunday and didn’t know how to use the bathroom. He had an “Outhouse” with no running water. I was outside playing in the yard and he slyly came out and asked me where the outhouse was, and I told him we didn’t have one, that he needed to use the bathroom. He embarrassedly asked me to show him how to use it. We went inside thru the back door to avoid everyone inside, and I dutifully showed him how it worked. His eyes opened wide in amazement as he observed this “newfangled way” of using the toilet. I had my first date while living in that house, played a thousand hands of “Knuckles” poker there during the winter months.
“Yeah, I had a lot of good memories in that old house, and in almost every place I have lived during my long life. In some of those homes, I experienced a lot of success and in others failure. Michael Jordan said, “I missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games and 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” I can surely relate to that 😊.