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When Do We Forget

Do you remember the significance of these three dates? December 7th, November 22nd and September 11th.

Each of those dates are significant dates in American history. Each marks a day that impacts everyone today but also is more associated with a specific generation.

December 7, 1941 is the date of the surprise attack by the Japanese Navy Air Service on the American military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which directly led to the entry of the United States into World War II. That is 77 years ago next month.

News of the attack is a memorable event for the many parents of boomers who often could recall where they were when they heard news of the attack. Do people who were alive that day make note of it on the anniversary each year?  Is that date any less significant if few people remember without a reminder? 

November 22, 1963 is the day then President John Kennedy was assassinated in a celebratory motorcade in Dallas. That day is forever etched in the minds of many boomers, mysel…

Are They Trying To Tell Us Something?

Several times during the past few months I’ve read about or encountered people who died too young. 

An event promoter I knew in Maryland who had survived colon cancer died from complications related to diabetes and heart issues last month. Age 53. 

A partly retired New Hampshire newscaster I met once when he lived in Virginia survived several health issues but had a heart attack while driving home from work and died either from that or the resulting car crash last week. Age 62. 

I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s new book. Her father lived with Multiple Sclerosis for around twenty years. In the 1980s he eventually had other issues possibly related to the MS and died. Age 55. 

A few chapters earlier in the book, Michelle talked about a very good friend who exemplified ‘carpe diem’. She seemed to know she’d die young and wanted to experience as much life as she could while she could. She died at age 26. 

All this reminded me that a former girlfriend of mine from my 20s in Louisiana died …

Would You Rebuild?

Paradise is a word associated with a pleasant location. Maybe someone arrived decades ago in such a location out west, took in the peaceful surroundings, breathed in clean crisp air while viewing picturesque mountain scenery and referred to that setting as paradise.

That scenario is one of several legends relating to the naming of Paradise, California. Most of the 26,000-plus residents probably felt they truly lived in paradise, a noun defined by my dictionary app as “a place of extreme beauty, delight and happiness.”  Paradise also means “heaven.”

A few weeks ago, however, the town of Paradise became hell as one of several California fires roared through town forcing the entire population to evacuate the inferno.

The fire eventually destroyed the entire town. All of it. Think about this: 14,000 homes burned to the grown. Fourteen thousand!  It’s hard to picture that many homes. Even harder to visualize all of them gone. Crumbled brick, twisted metal pipes, mounds of ash, crisscros…

Giving Thanks

Does your family have Thanksgiving Day traditions?  Did you grow up with food-filled festivities, a table topped with turkey, dressing, cranberries and pumpkin pie?

That’s sort of the Norman Rockwell painting version of this American holiday and fortunately many boomers grew up with that scenario in their own homes.

My Dad’s side of the family was second and third generation Italian, so we often had Grandma’s incredible lasagna too.  It was always fun and anticipation was amply rewarded.

Through a long stretch of my adult years, I experienced “holiday depression” around Thanksgiving. The day did not match my memories or expectations, for a variety of reasons. I believe that is the case for many people. Aging, divorce and loneliness are often the reasons for the emotional mismatch. Youthful joy is often replaced by adult reality.

My worst Thanksgiving was in 2001. September: the fear surrounding the terrorist attacks. October: sadness and frustration as we moved my parents into a n…

If Neckties Could Talk

Dark blue, light blue and gray diagonal stripes stretch from a Windsor knot at my neck down to a point slightly obscuring my belt buckle. White shirt, gray pants and a black jacket make up the rest of my wardrobe. I’m sitting in the second pew at a Baptist Church waiting for a funeral service.

The casket is fifteen feet to my front left, one half is open, revealing the deceased. They did a good job with his body. He does look the same as when I last saw him a couple of years ago, more or less. Chuck is my girlfriend’s cousin, so I’ve met him a few times at family events, but I didn’t know him very well. And I didn’t really want to sit that close to a dead body, but there wasn’t much choice.

I only wear a tie a few times a year. I like dressing up but there is rarely any need to. As I was tying my necktie, it occurred to me that this tie has observed several events and people in the seven or eight years I’ve owned it. It’s not my only tie, but it is the one I wear most often.

So wh…

Veterans

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My dad was my favorite veteran. This Navy boot camp picture was taken near the end of WWII. He didn’t see combat but his ship almost went down in a typhoon in the Pacific. Veterans Day is an awkward mix of emotions for me because Dad died on this day several years ago due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, a much more unpredictable enemy than the countries we fought in the war.
I don’t really know how Dad felt about war or the military, but I do know he had deferments for a few years because of the nature of his work and he enlisted when those ran out. The war ended while he was in boot camp. I wonder how he felt about that.
The salutes to veterans that dominate media on Veterans Day remind me that Dad rarely reminded anyone he served.
The tributes and messages remind me that I am a veteran too, but don’t waste your breath thanking me for my service. The Vietnam War was still on, I ran out of deferments and enlisted because I thought I’d have more choices than if I was draf…

Are We There Yet Are We There Yet?

Remember when you were 10 or 12 years old?  A year felt like an eternity. A month did too. 

“I have to wait till SATURDAY?  That’s like five more whole days.”

When we get to our 50s or 60s, it feels like time flies faster than a jet. 

“How did it get to be November already? It feels like our summer vacation was only last week.”

I read an interesting reader letter in AARP The Magazine recently in which the writer explained the speed-up phenomenon in math terms. 

“As you age, each unit of time comprises less of your life,” she writes. At age 10, one year is 10% of your life; 2% at age 50, 1.3% at age 75. Simple math. 

Interesting observation, isn’t it?

I sometimes compare aging to a football field. On the 10-yard line, the other goal post seems miles away and it’ll take forever to run there. When you get to the 50-yard line, it seems like it’ll take less time to get to the end zone. The 40 or 30-yard line in field goal range?  

“Uh, can I stop the clock for a few minutes?  Or years?”

I bet 80 wi…