Made In 1957… And Built To Last!

When I turned thirty, it had absolutely no effect on my psyche what so ever; and why should it have? I was strong, healthy and for the first few years of my thirties, still being asked about (high) school! I felt that my whole life was ahead of me and the opportunities were infinite.

When I turned forty, it too was just another number to me. My body was in great physical shape inside and out. I liked the slight, subtle touch of grey that had begun to fleck my hair on the sides of my head, and even at forty-nine years old, while taking a routine stress test for an annual physical, I was asked by the stress test technician, if I’d like a job, touring the country, demonstrating the machine at medical fairs and conventions. I felt like a “Superman.”

I entered my fifties with the same optimism and enthusiasm as the decades that had proceeded. For goodness sake, at fifty-three years old, young (and quite fit) men at the gem were telling me that my body was their goal!

However sixty hardly carries all the same cheerful prospects that the 30’s, 40’s, and yes, even 50’s did. Lately I was chatting with a stranger in the market who asked almost childlike, “what’s the big deal, so we’re middle aged?” Middle aged nothing, I thought. Who the heck do you know who’s 120 years old?

There’s a reason I am being chased down by AARP and worse yet, hounded by insurance companies to make sure my “final expenses” will be covered. If that’s not bad enough, I receive weekly invitations to come and enjoy a free meal at various restaurants around my community to start “PLANING MY OWN FUNERAL” and I’m even being offered wonderful two-for-one deals on cemetery plots as well as discounts on cremation. This didn’t happened when I turned forty. Clearly I have been placed into a new demographic. One that, if you please, I’d rather not think about.

Sixty is apparently an age that etiquette deems to be socially acceptable for organizations to constantly remind one that they should start preparing now, because they are closer to death than they’ve ever been before. I get it; I have one foot in the grave, but if you don’t mind, I would like to still go on living until such time that the Grim Reaper actually grabs me by the throat and drags me into the hereafter, kicking and scratching all the way. Is that too much to ask?

As you can plainly see, 60 is not a friend of mine. I am not graciously embracing 60, tossing it around as just another number. I do appreciate that in actuality, I’m merely one day older than I was yesterday, but I also know that I need help from younger people with my “tech” problems, who snicker at me because I don’t use my smart phone for anything more than calls or photos. If I have to climb a ladder it is no longer done with the same quick sense of purpose and reckless abandon of my youth but instead rather cautiously, always aware that one wrong move can leave me with some badly broken bones, and I relish getting into bed by nine o’clock each night, as if I’m meeting an old dear friend. All this said, inside I feel every bit the same as I did when I was twenty-seven; it just seems to come with rather old packaging nowadays.

So sixty, I say to you, beware. I am not going to allow you to get the better of me. I may be older, but I didn’t reach this age without a multitude of struggles, each and every one of which, I conquered with sheer determination and stubbornness beyond compare. If you do however think you want to take me on, remember that you have been warned!

In fact, I’ve decided that I am not going to sit back and just “accept” 60 as my newly “assigned” number. From now on when someone asks me how old I am, I think I’ll simply answer, “five dozen years old!”

Jan, Don, and Maur 2

Celebrating 60 with two of my sisters

Until next time,
Don

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My Last Word On Last Man Standing

OMG! Has it actually come to this, we’re going to be led to believe that a TV show was canceled because the character on it has “right wing conservative” beliefs? It leads me to wonder, just how many people complaining even watch the show!

As a regular watcher of Last Man Standing and one who has been since the series began (until recently), I admit that the past two seasons have gotten stale and silly at best. I went from a guy who DVD’ed the show in case I should miss it, to “I don’t need to tape it; it’s no big deal if I miss it,” to searching other avenues aka Netflicks, etc., for something “good” to watch instead of Last Man.

The fact is that the show has ALWAYS been what it is, and ABC bought the show knowing so. They then ran it for SIX SEASONS, a truly excellent run for any TV show. Very, very few series have the staying power of an “All In The Family,” “Friends,” or “Law and Order.” Last Man, and the out-in-out horrible, poorly written, and poorly acted show, “Dr. Ken,” have both been put to pasture as ABC tries to revamp their Friday night, prime-time lineup with newer fresher shows for the upcoming fall season. In the meantime, the cast of Last Man Standing, will be enjoying the “really big money” as the show runs in syndication, bringing them all a heafty paycheck, without the effort of any work, for a long time to come. So your energies are better spent on starving children, war torn countries, and horrible, incurable diseases.

I wonder how many people who are fast to write ABC a letter about this silly and very imaginary issue have also written letters to congress demanding, healthier foods served to our children in school lunchrooms, or for that matter, to Ambassador Mr. Cui Tiankai to stop the annual torture and killing of innocent dogs in Yulin for a festival.

Let’s PLEASE STOP the political belly aching, especially on ludicrous issues like this, solely to make a point (or try to) and get on with a more productive and intelligent life once again. I for one really miss those days.
Until next time,

Don

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Will Someone Please Just Shoot Me?

There I was, minding my own business doing some work that needed attending to in our front yard. I was in a “Big Band” kind of mood so I had Pandora set to just such a station on my cell phone.

While I went about my work, happily singing along to Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo, a fellow who appeared to be about 30-32 years of age, pulls up in a small pick-up truck to ask me directions to “Curly Cut.” Delighted that this is indeed a street I know in this crazy maze of a development, I direct him around the corner.

After thanking me, the fellow decides to offer some unsolicited small-talk. Nodding his head toward the music he says, and I quote, “It’s great singing along to the songs of our youth”

Smiling I tell the guy that Chattanooga Choo Choo is from 1942. He smiles back and adds, “Cool, I bet it really takes ya back hah?”

Tilting my head in dog-like confusion, I repeat the year again, slowly this time making sure I emphasis the date lest he should think I said 1972. “This song is from nineteen FORTY two!”

“Wow,” he says in total astonishment, “That was like the World War Two days right?”

Thinking he has now seen the error of his ways, I say, “Yes, it absolutely was,” only to have him ask me if I fought in the  freakin’ war!

Now anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a man who would avoid conflict at all costs. That said; it was evident that diplomacy was getting me nowhere. In total disbelief, I explain to the young man (who clearly has trouble with arithmetic) that 1942 was seventy-five years ago.

All he did was shake his head and say (and once again I quote) “I sure hope that I can remember the words to songs seventy five years from now!”

I know that the past seven years or so have not been kind to me. My face shows the stress of a man who suffers chronic pain from both nerve damage and disintegrating bones, but do I actually look thirty-three years my senior? Could ANYONE ever look thirty-three years older than they are?

Frustrated I tell the young man, “you do realize that even if I were fresh out of high school in 1942 it would make me 93 years old today?”

“You’re kidding?” he questions more amazed than before. “That’s awesome!”

Then with a smile and a wave, off he went to do whatever he was going to do on Curly Cut, leaving me to ponder whether he thought I looked really, Really, REALLY bad for 60 or that he is going to go home tonight and tell his wife that he met the finest specimen of a 93 year old that ever lived…I’m hoping for the latter.

Untitled-1

Your Truly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Don

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What is “Holy Thursday?”

A non-Christian friend asked me if I could explain exactly what Holy Thursday is and why it is celebrated. For anyone else who might not know and is interested, Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, commemorates the beginning of the three pillars of the Catholic Church: The Sacrament of Holy Communion, the creation of the Priesthood, and last but not least, the creation of the Mass, which you may have friends who you know to usually attend on Sundays.

At the last supper, which was a Passover Seder, Jesus blessed the bread and the wine and instructed his disciple to eat and drink of them, that they were His body and blood, to be sacrificed for the salvation of man. When Jesus told them to, “Do this in memory of me,” he was creating the mass and blessing them as the first priests. It was at this supper that Jesus commanded his apostles to, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Last supper

Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”

Holy Thursday also commemorates Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. John tells us in his Gospel, that Jesus did this as a way of teaching them to be servants. They are then instructed to “love and to serve.”

Holy Tghrusday 1

Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples

It was on this night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and turned over to the chief priests and the elders, leading to his passion and crucifixion on Good Friday. It was these events that led to the Resurrection of the Christ on Easter Sunday, which is the very basis of Christianity.

Judas and the Last Supper

Judas leaving the Last Supper to Betray Christ

Usually on Holy Thursday, there is not any other Mass celebrated until this, “Mass of the Lord’s Supper,” which takes place after sundown.

Wishing everyone a happy and blessed Holy Thursday’

Until next time,
Don

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Coming Soon, “Unforgettable – Trudy’s Story”

After literally years and years of working on my novel (based upon my mother’s life) I can finally say that the last of the chapters should be completed in about two months’ time. Then it could go into final editing before getting ready for release.

This book has been a true labor of love and the writing of it has, at many times, been quite cathartic for me. I must admit that a lot of the procrastination I experienced during the writing has been based more upon psychological reasons, rather than “writer’s block.” Something inside me was not ready to give up the total story for fear of having to once again “let go” of my mom. This book will be the last thing I will ever get to do “for her.” It is however very important for me to finish this manuscript on her behalf.

I realize that I will in fact never let go of my wonderful (and much missed) mother, as she will live on forever in my heart and in all the hearts of those whom she touched throughout her lifetime. I know that she would be very proud of my work and I truly believe that from above; she has guided me through the project.

I don’t know exactly how long the editing part of the book will take, but I do know that I am closer than ever before and that each passing day brings me closer to a release date.

I thank you all for your patience and for your words of encouragement. Having you in my corner has touched my heart and I cannot thank you enough. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few names here. These special three women, only one of whom actually new my mother, were privy to reading Unforgettable as a work in progress. Their enthusiasm for the story to continue and for more chapters to arrive into their in box was an incredible inspiration to me. So I thank you Jeanne Steinberg, Chire Harvey, Cookie Vetere . Your encouragement, input, and most of all your interest to follow the story, kept the fire burning inside me. I would also like to give a special thank you to my cousin Susan Tunnell, who each day read a chapter or two of the book to her mother, Eunice, my mom’s only sister, while visiting her in the nursing home where she lived out her final days. My only regret is that I could not have completed the story while my dear Aunt Eunice was still alive. However I do know that she is up there with my mom rooting me on.

So once again, I ask you to be patient with me for just a little bit longer. In the meantime I have posted a small photo slide show to my YouTube channel so those who plan to read the book can get a glimpse of the “real” Trudy.

Thank you all.

Until next time

Don

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Janice, A New Beginning…

By the time I was six and a half years old, there had been enough tragedy and change in my life than most people experience into adulthood. I can vividly recall holding tightly to my sister’s hand as we stood in horror and disbelief watching our father die in our mother’s arms, just days before Christmas. Then on that very Christmas day, while waiting for our grandfather to come and visit us, we received a phone call informing us that he too had died. Grandpa had suffered a fatal heart attack in route to our home!

As time went by, my mother became very close with a man who had made it his mission to take care of our needs after my father’s death, and eventually, that man became our new dad. Before we even had time to adjust to life with a new father, I was told that there was a baby to come. We then moved away from the only home I had ever known and within months, my big brother also passed away. What’s more, all this took place in only two short years. At six years old, that was one third of my life!

I remember being somewhat excited about the prospect of a new baby, but to tell you the truth, at that young age, it didn’t quite seem real until the day arrived when my mother was coming home from the hospital with baby Janice. We rode in the car to pick up mom and the baby. Maureen and I sat in the back seat, while mom held her new baby ever so close to her from the front passenger seat and dad of course, did the driving.

Finally we were in our home and I was permitted to touch baby Janice on her rosy cheek. Her skin was soft and she had a beautiful fragrance that I had never smelled before. I was told that it was what new babies smelled like. Then I was seated in a chair and Janice was gently placed onto my lap for me to hold. That moment right there, holding this precious and fragile new member of our family, changed my life forever.

Although saddened with grief, something inside of me, as I held onto baby Janice, made me feel hope. I felt unexplained joy and caring fill my heart because of her. For the first time since my father died, I felt like I belonged. I knew that somehow, everything was going to be alright.

I remember wondering, is this the family that God had intended for me now? Then I looked back down at Janice’s happy and rosy face, and knew the answer.

easter-1966-donald-janice

Janice and yours truly at 2 and 8 years old respectively

Of course our family continued to grow, blessing me with two more sisters, whom I love dearly, but I will forever view Janice as God’s way of healing our family and as the beginning of a new and happy life to come.

Today we celebrate my sister Janice’s birthday. She is now a grown woman, happily married with two grown children of her own. Janice is a teacher of fourth grade students, and her special brand of love, kindness, and humor makes her a favorite and memorable teacher who truly makes a difference in her students’ lives.

I couldn’t be more proud of the woman Janice has become and of all her accomplishment, but I must admit; to me, she will forever be the beautiful baby whose arrival was the beginning of all things good for our family.

So Happy Birthday Janice, I hope your day, and the year (and years) ahead, are as special and wonderful as you are. I love ya kiddo!

319405_1925520912326_1671249774_1298974_580501046_n

Janice & Me Today

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sukiyaki????

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up with a song in your head that you just can’t shake? This morning, for some strange reason, I woke up humming a tune I had not heard in a dog’s age. It was an oldie from 1963 that my sister Maureen and I use to like quite a bit as children. The song is “Sukiyaki,” by Kyu Sakamoto and it was a rather big hit in its time, reaching the number one position on Billboard’s Top 100’s in June of that year. Sakamoto was the first Asian to ever to go to number one on the American charts. His song went on to sell over 13 million copies!

It had baffled me all my life as to why the recording was named Sukiyaki. For all the times that I had listened to the song over the years, decades in fact, I had never heard the word Sukiyaki in the lyrics. Surly the song must be a catchy tune about food or at least have something to do with a meal, so after fifty-three years, I decided to investigate.

As it turns out, the song is about a man fighting back the tears of a broken heart, from a lost love. It’s actually a very tender love song, but why the name Sukiyaki? Well, it really isn’t titled Sukiyaki. The true title is, “Ue o Muite Arukou,” which translates to, “I look Up As I Walk.” Sukiyaki was simply a familiar word that Americans could easily pronounce. Why they didn’t simply use the English translation instead of Sukiaki is baffling, but that’s a whole other story.

The tender ballad is about a man who looks up to stop his tears from falling because, as he says in the song, “I am all alone tonight.”

Sadly, Kyu Sakamoto died tragically at the young age of 44 in the deadly 1985 crash of Japan Airlines flight 123. Thankfully he will be forever immortalized by his haunting melody. I have located it on YouTube complete with lyrics that have been translated, so you too can now hear and feel the song as it was truly meant to be felt.

Until next time (or should I say, Syanara?)

Don

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized