Monthly Archives: September 2012

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

What the?????  I woke up this morning and went to the bathroom.  When I looked in the mirror some “old dude” with thinning gray hair and tired eyes was staring back at me.  It creeped me out until I realized… CRAP!  The old dude was me!!!!!!!  

Life’s greatest joke is that while you’re young, you think time marches ever so slowly… then when you realize it’s actually racing by, it’s too late! 

I read on Facebook that my cousin is getting ready for her 50th high school reunion. Fiftieth?  How can that be?  When did she even get to BE 50, let alone celebrate 50 years since a milestone in her life?  How’d that happen?  More importantly, WHEN did it happen?  I myself have reached an age where I’d love to go BACK to age 50…  When did THAT happen? 

I’ve been going through some old photos lately. I was a huge picture taker in my youth, capturing not only milestones and celebrations, but the simple moments in the day-to-day life of my family and friends. There was something about seeing those faded photographs of wonderful memories that quite literally, had my life passing before my eyes.  It has thus far been a very good life. Oh it has had its share of ups and downs but that’s what life is; a series of good and bad times.  It’s the lesson you learn from each experience that helps you to grow and become the person you are today.  The best part is; we are all constantly growing and evolving. The choice is ours, we can complain about the bad things that befall us and blame them for not becoming the person we know we should be… or, we can rise above the ashes to live an inspired life. 

Getting back to the photos; I worked on restoring several of them and shared them on my Facebook page.  The response they received was so heartwarming.  These tiny moments captured on film also sparked a joyful nostalgia for many others who have shared life’s path with me.  Though their comments, I could almost see the smiles on their faces. 

Yes, life does indeed move quickly.  Far more quickly than we realize, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a moment to stop and smell the roses. It’s nice to reflect on the good that we’ve been blessed with. Being aware of the good in our past, will help us with our future. For if there is no other lesson we learn from life, we will always know that things will continue to change.  If we’re going through a bad time at the moment, we should take solace in the fact that one day (sooner than you think) this too will merely be a story from our past.

 I was especially touched by the wonderful things people posted about my mother.  Although she has been gone for nine years now, she is still remembered by those whom she touched as, “elegant,” “loving,” “beautiful inside and out” and as my cousin Marcia put it, Aunt Trudy had something amazingly different and special about her than anyone I have ever known.” There were dozens of comments about her and these were not by any means, all from her family, but from friends, neighbors, in-laws and just about anyone she had come in contact with during her 78 years on this earth.  I find that inspiring!  That’s how I would want to be remembered as well. 

So I say to all my young friends, nieces, and nephews; make good choices, be kind to others, love with all your heart, take care of your health and take time in your day to thank God for what He’s given you (seriously, five minutes of prayer to start and end your day). One day you will find that these things are all that truly matters.  In the end, a man is not judged by what he made… but by how much he loved and the way he touched others. That’s what they’ll remember.

Then…

and Now

Until next time,

Don

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Who’s Sorry Now?

Technology can make our life easier or when we depend upon it too much, can also make it frustrating and at times, even embarrassing. Many of us (I as the biggest offender) have learned to rely on “spell check” in our computers and “auto correct” for our cell phone texts. As if these options are not blessings enough, my phone now has voice command for my text messages. It’s really quite awesome, you simply touch the little microphone icon, speak your message and voila… in two seconds, voice command has it all typed out for you! Pretty nifty heh? Well it is when it understands what you’ve said, otherwise you can be sending a totally different message than the one you intended. Case in point; once when a friend asked me about a project I wanted to accomplish around the house, his text said, “you know if I were there, I would be glad to help you out.” What I intended to respond was, “If you were here, I would surly tackle it.” The answer he actually received (thanks to voice command) was, “if your wood was here, I would surely tickle it.” Talk about bringing your relationship to a whole new level quickly! Hahahaa…

I have been on both the sending and the receiving end of such texts, more often silly sounding than really embarrassing.  However recently, I sent THE text of all texts to my sister in New York. Allow me please to set the picture for you so that you can understand the reason for the text in the first place.

You see, for decades here in West Palm Beach there was a breakfast restaurant that had become quite a classic eatery within the community. Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen was known for their scrumptious menu and oversized portions. After something like 50 years, they sold the property they were on to CVS Drugs (naturally, we only have one on every other corner) and closed their doors forever. Shortly before they closed down, my sister Sharon and her husband Joe were here visiting and of course we made the pilgrimage to our favorite breakfast haunt. Sharon and Joe were in awe of the quaint restaurant and its old fashioned down home cooking. I remember that when our food arrived, we found it necessary to take photos of each plate as if it were a cover of some food magazine.

 Several months later, when they came for another visit and requested a trip to Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen, we had to break the bad news to them that sadly, Grandma Sarah’s was no more. Since that time we have gone out to breakfast together many, many times but still somehow our conversation always goes back to Grandma Sarah’s and how there will never be another one like that.

Well we recently found out that Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen is back!  They have reopened in another location and changed their name to simply Sarah’s Kitchen. The menu, staff (well a lot of them) and great food is all the same. James and I went there this weekend for breakfast and it was as wonderful as we remembered. So much so, that I felt it necessary to text my sister back in New York to share the good news. As we got into the car I took out my cell. That’s when I did it… sent out a text I had to call and explain (don’t ask me why I didn’t just call her in the first place). What I said into my phone was, “James and I are just pulling out of Grandma Sarah’s… They’re back!”

What was sent instead was, “James and I are pulling out of Grandma Sarah… bareback!” Clearly these are two very different messages and it painted such an absurd and freakish image that it became comical. Out of all the messages that I have let escape without proofing first, this one was the mother of all mistakes!

So here I sit; a guy who claims to be annoyed by the misuse of “I” over “me” and I just sent a perverted message to my sister! Perhaps I should learn to be as concerned about trusting auto correct and voice command as I am about simple grammar errors? After all, I would have far preferred my message to have said “James and me …” over, “pulled out of Grandma Sarah bareback!” Guess it was my turn to be humbled {{{blushing}}}.

Oh well, until next time,

Don

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They Are Called the “Greatest Generation” for a Reason…

The other day my sister had this story posted on facebook.  Whether or not the story is true isn’t really relevant.  The fact is; it COULD be.  Please read this touching story and see if it awakens something inside of you.

A sweet lesson on patience.
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly…
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.  She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse…
‘Nothing,’ I said.
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life…
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have ever done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.  The End

Again, whether this story is true or not is of little importance.  What is important is its message.  We often forget that the elderly weren’t born that way. They had a whole life that led up to the moment that we finally met them.  They were children full of energy and promise, young adults about to embark on life’s path, newlyweds, and new parents.  They have lived through hard times and good, wartime and peace.  Their generation had changed the face of our nation and our world.  How dumb can we be NOT to take the time to sit and listen and learn from these jewels of humanity?

It’s the very reason I am writing the story of my mother’s life. I remember as I began to give her eulogy, I looked out onto the faces of the wonderful people in the chapel who came to her service.  I suddenly realized how sad it was that so many of them had never known her as anything more than an old, sick woman. I knew at that moment that her story had to be told; not only for my mother’s sake, but for all of those seniors from… the greatest generation.

Until next time,

Don

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What’s Wrong With Me?

I hate to be obnoxious, but I have a pet peeve that of late, has been driving me crazy.  It is not bad enough that we have totally bastardized the English language by removing whole words as if they’re simply too much trouble to say for example; Kentucky Fried Chicken is now officially KFC, extra virgin olive oil is EVOO, salt and pepper became S & P, and now even JC Penny’s department store has joined the band wagon with their new ads for “JCP.” Don’t even get me started on TTYL, OMG and TY. I have a theory that all this chaos started with IHOP, but that’s another blog. 

My literary peeve this time, is about a simple (yet common) grammatical error. It appears to me that no one seems to know when to say “me” over “I” when speaking. I’m not talking about any gangsta clown who thinks that he is too cool for school; I’m talking about news casters, talk show hosts, DJ’s, etc. 

This morning while reporting on the upcoming Katie Couric talk show that will be debuting this Monday; our local anchorman said to his co-anchor, “she’ll be taking on a lot of subjects that are important to you and I.” Seriously?  You and I? You call yourself an anchorman? 

People seem to fear the word “me.” Maybe it takes them back to their childhood when they would rush into the house to ask their mother, “Can me and my friend go to the movies?” only to have their mom correct them by saying, “my friend and I.” In that case, mom was right. It would be; “can my friend and I go to the movies” … well it actually SHOULD BE May my friend and I go to the movies?” but again, another blog. 

The rule is very simple; “I” is a nominative pronoun and is used as a subject of a sentence, while “me” is an objective pronoun and used as an object. If that sounds too confusing, try this easy rule of thumb; simply remove the second party from the sentence to see if “I” or “me” is correct. For instance:

“Would you like to join James and I for dinner?”

Now remove James:

“Would you like to join I for dinner?” See how that can’t work? Now try it this way:

“Would you like to join James and me for dinner?” Once you omit James, it would still be correct, “Would you like to join me for dinner?” 

I remember my mother explaining it to me this very same way. My response was, “who is going to take the time to run the whole sentence in their head before they speak? It would take forever to hold a conversation!” She laughed and reassured me that once I had it down, I wouldn’t be running it in my head first. It will just come naturally. “You will however,” she continued, “always be aware of the people who get it wrong because it will sound silly to you.” She was 100% right. James laughs at me now as I sit and watch television, correcting out loud as if I can be heard by the offender. I guess it’s my version of being an armchair quarterback!

 I don’t know why people are so afraid of the word “me.” Maybe they think it just sounds smarter to say “I” but honestly folks, a misused “I” can make the listener cringe just as much as hearing you say “aint.”

 To be fair, this is one of the most common mistakes in the English language and I have even heard British people make the same mistake. I must admit with a British accent, it is even more amplified. I guess that everyone with an English accent automatically sounds somehow smarter to us Americans, so an obvious grammar mistake is all the more shocking.

 Please don’t misunderstand me; I would be the last person on earth to stand up on a soapbox to preach the benefits of proper grammar. I don’t’ even know all the rules of grammar.  Heck, I never even finished high school! That said, if I a guy like me can know enough not to say, “a guy like I,” then can’t we expect as much from our television news casters?

 Whew!  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Me is going to sign off now LOL!

 Until next time,

Don

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