Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerFinally, I printed volume three of my memoirs titled “Jun-e-or.” I began writing them seven years ago. I thought it would be great to document my earliest childhood memories for my grand children. I scibbled every memory I could into a tablet by hand, recalling FDR declare war on Japan, riding home with Dad in his new -used car(1929 Buick Special). I stood on the front seat next to him and looked out the back window over the top of the seat. As I wrote each vignette, more memories surfaced until I had recorded over three hundred. The next step was to have them converted to the word processor. I talked my good friend Judy into doing this for me. What an angel, she did it without changing a thing. The final step was the hardest. I had to clean up the grammar, and make the stories sound interesting. 

I published Volume One and presented it to my children and grandchildren for Christmas 2006, Volume Two came in 2007, now Volume Three. It is not completed yet, because I still want to insert art and family photos to enhance the text, and to make it more meaningful to them. Finally, I will bind the book with a nice cover and it will be finished. The three volumes complete my story up til hIgh school.

 My next work will be called “My Love Story.” I want to leave the kids with the narrative of how Barbara and I met, fell in love, and began our life together. This story will end with the birth of our last child. I figure the kids can begin their own stories from that point on.

Here is a sample vignette from Volume Three of “Jun-e-or, Recollections of Life in the Ninteen Forties and Fifties.” 

There were many street vendors such as the ice man, the milk man, and others. They used horse drawn wagons to carry their wares. The horse often dropped a load in the middle of the street. If Mom spotted a pile within a couple of houses to either side of ours, she’d shag me out to pick it up. I shoveled the pile into a bucket. It was lousy duty, but I did it. Mom used the manure for fertilizer. Before she did, she aged it for a long time. Fresh manure is too acidic to use. It will burn the vegetation that it’s used on. Aging it cuts the potency. Aged manure is excellent in the garden.







Monet Vision

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerMy vision of the new garden is a Monet painting. Lots of soft muted colors with textures, and rooms galore. The vision began as a single idea. I won’t afford a house on a lake, so I built the lake in my backyard. The lake is a pond. By making a pond, I can look at water views all year long. Right now the pond is still void of plantings. A large baby step occurred this week,  I went shopping for plant materials with my garden club.  Yesterday another baby step, I dug out a few Rose of Sharon shrubs from a friends yard. Together we unearthed a ten foot tall shrub. It was a joy to stuff the root ball into the trunk of my meticulous Avalon, the shrub hanging out over the end of the bumper. Yesterday’s baby step also included planting the shrubs into their new home around the pond. Today, the baby step was to spot the 13 perennials that I bought on Wednesday. I also planted a miniature  spruce that my deceased wife bought over ten years ago. I planted it into the pot for her. The tiny tree had a place on our patio. Today, It became a permanent part of the pond-scape. Slowly, ever so slowly, the vision becomes more of a reality.

As I place things into the ground, new details of the vision emerge from the depths of my sub-conscious and the garden expands. I will continue  to purchase plant materials all summer. Each plant will find a proper place in the vision.  Eventually, with many baby steps, the garden will evolve into a mature picture of beauty, and solitude.


Regrets, Part Two

Grumpa Joe Looks at Flower

 Being that my intent is to impart wisdom regarding motivation, I failed to do so in my last post. Previously, I spoke on the point that every negative has an equal or greater positive. In my post on regrets, I failed to point out the positive to the horribly negative emotion of regret. My late wife Barbara always told me “that what you don’t do for one, you will do for the other.” I never believed her at the time, but now I see the wisdom of the phrase. Many of my regrets are the things I failed to do for her, like the frequent “I love you,” the hug, or the kiss.  I took for granted that after forty years she knew that I loved her. Yet she craved to hear it said. Those regrets apply to the first part of the phrase, “what you don’t do for one…” Therin lies the positive to this terribly regretful negative, I get a chance to do it differently with my new wife, and so the second part of the phrase, “…you will do for the other,” applies. That is the positive born from the negative.

I am lucky to have another chance with a second wife, but how many widows and widowers never allow themselves that chance. They will never find the positive in their negative, at least not the way I found it. 

The best course of action is to make a goal to never, never, never, never, say or do something you will regret. Certainly not easy to do, but worth the effort.


Grumpa Joe Looks at Flower
Late last night, I watched Barbara Walters on the Oprah show. I don’t really like Oprah so I don’t watch her program often. This time, I wanted to hear what Barbara had to say. She just introduced a book of her memoirs titled, “Audition.” During the course of the interview, Barbara said a word that rang true to my ear, “regret.” Barbara said she regretted not having been at her sister’s death bed, because she had a speaking engagement to keep. 

How often I have repeated that same word to myself over the last five years. It is nearly that long since my wife Barbara died. Now one would think that five years is a very long time to grieve for someone, but as hard as it is for me to believe it myself, I am still grieving. Even though, I have met and married a wonderfully, beautiful, loving and sensitive lady, and I am truly blessed to have a second life, I still miss my Barbara.

I have coached my three children to live their own lives so they will never have “regrets.” Regrets are haunting. They lurk in the recesses of the sub-conscious and jump out at you at the strangest times. How many times have I regretted not saying “I love you,” more often, or giving that bear hug, or a kiss for no reason. How many times have I regretted staying late at work while Barb was home alone. What was so important that I neglected to see that the little things are what count?

I never expected to be writing about grief, because a man is usually the one to die first. I always planned for Barbara to have to live without me. All of my energy went into “providing” for her. Yet, her I sit with all of those “provisions” in my lap, and all I want is her to be with me physically as well as spiritually.

Live your life in a way that you will not have regrets.


I Blew It Away

Don’t ask me how it happened. I simply don’t know, nor do I care to know at this point. While trying to improve this BLOG, I blew up my website. It is no more.  Most of  my posts, and all of my pages with the many photos are gone into the ether-world we call the computer. All of my baby steps to make a beautiful site that millions of you would want to visit is vapor.

That is just a minor set back, in every negative thing there is an equal or greater positive. All we have to do is to find it, visualize it, and believe it. Then with a few more baby steps we can turn a negative into a positive. That is what I am doing at this very moment. This post is the first baby step toward a new and better website. Hopefully, I can fill the pages with insightful and exciting lessons on life.

 Let me know how you deal with your set backs.

Confirmation Day

This was a very emotional day for me. Grumpa Joe was the proud sponsor for his oldest grandaughter’s confirmation. To make matters more emotional, she chose her deceased grandmother’s name for her confirmation name. I thought I was over my grief for my late wife, but not so. The tears welled up in my eyes as the choir sang some of Barb’s favorite music. Had she lived, she would have been the sponsor, I’m sure. If she hadn’t been the sponsor, she would have sung in the choir.

Either way, Barbara was at the mass with Dana and me. Her presence at our side was strong. Barbara was proud of her first grandchild and spent alot of quality time with her as a baby and a toddler. Barb was known as the “street walker of Aberdeen.” Every time she had the baby, she walked the mile to the end of Aberdeen with Dana in the stroller. Every neighbor that saw her stopped her to talk. Everyone was introduced to Dana.

A month ago, during our Lions Strides Walk for Diabetes Awareness, I introduced one of my grandchildren to a friend who lives on Aberdeen. He immediately knew the child because he remembers seeing her grandmother wheeling her down the block in the stroller.

Barbara was beaming in heaven today,  as her first grandchild accepted Catholocism on her own.

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