It’s Over

My attitude is still positive in spite of the fact that in 2019 I lost my beautiful wife to Alzheimer’s, and just this week learned of two very close friends who passed also. Death is a bummer when taken from the earthly perspective, but it can be the greatest gift one gets when viewed from the heavenly side. Whenever I first learn of a death, I am saddened but within a few days I begin to recover and move forward. There is nothing one can do to change the outcome. I had both of these friends on my daily prayer list for more than two years, It was all I could do.

This year ended my two year term term as President of the Frankfort Lions Club. I took the position seriously and gave it my all, but I was glad it ended. The position gave me a lot of respect from the community, and I enjoyed that, but it also meant I was more available to the community than I was to peg. My term ended the day after Peg died. Needless to say, my regret was not spending more time with her because of my responsibility to the club. Could it have been different? I don’t think so. I needed to get away for a few hours regularly to keep me from going insane watching Peg fall apart.

In 2019 I reached a new milestone. I passed 157,000 miles on my car and I have owned it for fourteen years. That is huge. I never owned a car that provided reliable transport for more than ten years and 110,000 miles. By that time these autos were too tired to be reliable anymore. With my present car I would not hesitate to get in and embark on my Great Last Time Around Tour of ten thousand miles. In my previous jalopies I would never have considered it.

My bucket list is one item shorter because I entered and displayed my Intarsia art in a public show and sale. I didn’t sell anything, but I did enjoy receiving many compliments on my work. It was a joy getting the display ready and borrowing some of the pieces from their owners to display them.

I started a new art project in March only to set it aside in April because Peg needed my attention more than the new piece. A week ago, I returned to the work and this morning I had a long talk with myself about starting another work as ambitious as this one. I find myself sitting and staring at the assemblage to study the contours of the model and then to envision the same lines in the flat pieces of wood before me. What was I thinking runs through my mind. To date, I have recut six pieces, broken four during shaping, and have added more cuts to split large pieces into smaller more manageable ones.

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Although I have not decided to put my house up for sale yet, I spent three months clearing the clutter of too many souvenirs, un-needed gadgets, and clothing, it is show ready.

For the very first time since I retired from work I bounced a check. In fact, I bounced several for three months in a row. I am still trying to determine what I spent so much money on to run my checking account dry.

Twenty nineteen is over, but I look forward with relish and intend to spend as much energy as possible to not waste the precious seconds God is granting me to make humanity better.

Have a very, very happy, and prosperous New Year!

 

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Something to Think About

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These 12 short stories are all very good lessons, and really
made us think twice about the daily happenings in our lives as we deal with
others!!
1.
Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working
on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own
words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”
——————————-
2.
Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his
70s- what his top 3 tips are for success. He smiled and said, “Read
something no one else is reading, think something no one else
is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”
——————————————————-
3.
Today, after my 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’trecognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sinceresmile and said , “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”
——————————————————-
4.
Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.
——————————————————-
5.
Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the
money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got
a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too.
A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and
then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.
——————————————————-
6.
Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood
around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent
words before she died. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have
gotten together like this more often.”
——————————————————-
7.
Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a
small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the
first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.
——————————————————-
8.
Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me
to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?”
She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.”
I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the
planet?” Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.
——————————————————-
9.
Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient
laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly
realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating
it again.
——————————————————-
10.
Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on
crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for
me.
He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he
was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”
——————————————————-
11.
Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy
came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said,
“Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.”
It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.
——————————————————–
12.
Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from
Zimbabwe.
He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked
extremely skinny and unhealthy.
Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was
eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.
——————————————————–
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
——————————————————–
I am glad I have you to send these to.
====================================================
These are worth passing on..hope you enjoy them as much as I
did !
God Bless AMERICA.
Land of the FREE because of the BRAVE . . .
Every Morning you wake up with 2 choices
1. You can continue to sleep with your Dreams.
2. You can wake up and CHASE your Dreams….

REMEMBER,
Money can’t buy happiness but poverty can’t buy anything !

A Great Piece of Advice for Life

    One of my best friends and work associate sent me this piece is by  Pulitzer Prize winning editorial author Michael Gartner.  I want to meet him and thank him for this eloquently written story about his parents.

This is a piece by Michael Gartner, president of NBC News; in 1997, he won a Pulitzer Prize. It is well worth reading, even if it looks too long for you to read right now, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Please take a few minutes to absorb the meaning of this
 story, and then go hug someone…..Here goes…

      My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should  say I never saw him drive a car.
 He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

     “In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90’s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life  and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.” At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:
      “Oh, bullshit!” she said. “He hit a horse.”
      “Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”
        So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the  streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three  blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

     My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys
 turns 16, we’ll get one.” It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of uswould turn 16 first.
 But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts  department at a Chevy dealership downtown.
It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded  with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less  became my brother’s car.

      Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but  it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her  to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my  two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father’s  idea.

     “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him  saying more than once.
     For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.
      Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of
 marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)  He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the  back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a  2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.
 If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”
     After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain:

      “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”
      If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the  bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”
      “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre

     “No left turns,” he said.

     “What?” I asked.

      “No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.
As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

      “What?” I said again.

      “No left turns,” he said. “Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer. So we always make three rights.”

      “You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

     “No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It
works.” But then she added: “Except when your father loses count…” I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

      “Loses count?” I asked.

      “Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a  problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

      I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.

     “No,” he said ” If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it  a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put  off another day or another week.”

      My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her  car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought  a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

      He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he  was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body
 until the moment he died.

      One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging  conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.” At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going  to live much longer.”
      “You’re probably right,” I said.

      “Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated.

     “Because you’re 102 years old,” I said…

      “Yes,” he said, “you’re right.” He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.  He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us  look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement: No one in this room is dead yet”

     An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: “I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”
     A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns. ”

 Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So — love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don’t. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it and if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy; they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

      ENJOY IT, BECAUSE LIFE HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE!

Louie,

 Thanks for sending this story. It brought tears to my eyes.

LUV,

Grumpa Joe

Whose Nest Egg Counts?

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerWhile walking this morning it occurred to me that I spent a large part of my life away from my wife and family to earn a living. As many of us do, I spent more time than was necessary at work. I did earn and form a “nest egg.” My dream was to spend the autumn years of life with my lovely wife in play. We spoke of what we would do, we often expressed our dreams of what it would be like. We talked about living in the desert away from harsh winters.

Last night Peggy and I had dinner and conversation with the Ryans. Our time together was marvelous. We met at Villa Rosa in Frankfort. This little place, tucked into a strip mall, in the historic section is quiet. We can hear ourselves talk and think there. In addition, the food is great.  It was over a year since we had dinner with the Ryans, and we had a lot to catch up on. Our last dinner was in the Phoenix area in 2007. 

I walked along the trail listening to the birds and talking to Barb. While I spent all my time building the “nest egg” at the expense of missing time with her, she spent time developing friends. She had to do somethiing to fill the many hours that I was gone, she joined clubs in the neighborhood. She sang in the choir at church. She cultivated relationships. Barb always made sure that I met her new friends and I became a member of her circle. The Ryans are one of the couples I met through her activity in the garden club.

Since Barb died, it is her nest egg that I live on.  It was the time she spent developing relationships like the one we had with the Ryans, that has saved me from major despair. It is all of the people who she cultivated  as friends from the choir, the garden club, and the bowling league that have become my friends. They are the ones who have been my comfort.

Barbara never enjoyed any of the fruits of my nest egg, the one I spent so many hours away from her to build. All of her life she gave me love, and continues to show me her love with the payout from her nest egg.

Regrets

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.

 

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