Family


Family Roots Can Inspire

As we grow older we can easily become very set in our ways. Routine makes life simpler and therefore more predictable and easier to navigate. Sometimes it’s beneficial to shake things up a bit. Over the last week plus, my wife Trisha and I took an opportunity to explore our family roots in the mid-west and found it to be an inspiring adventure.

The family of Trisha’s late mother was having a family reunion in Kansas. It’s not a part of the country we often visit, but this was a special event and we took full advantage. The pace of the mid-west is much slower and the scenery much different from what we’re used to seeing. Where else can you see a train track that simply stops in the middle of nowhere or a state road that actually comes to an end.

As we settled in, we began to enjoy the lifestyle and at the reunion got to visit with scores of family members, some of whom we had never met. We also got to know many of their children and grandchildren. It was truly a mid-western experience. If you’ve lived in the mid-west or have family there, you know what I’m talking about. These folks have little pretense, say what they mean and mean what they say. They are short on fancy, big on family, and generous with their time and good food. Only a few of the grandkids had their faces in iPhones. Conversation and simple games were plenty for most everyone. Sunday was church and then back to the reunion. The only difficulty encountered was after the reunion ended when we had to find a place to eat after 8:00. The sidewalks really do pull up pretty early.

Beyond the reunion, Trisha and I had great fun exploring our roots by trying to find locations where the past generations of our families lived. It was extraordinary traveling gravel and dirt roads for miles and miles hoping some of the wood farm houses, brick schools, and old churches had survived. With the Memorial Day weekend in the middle of our visit, it was heartwarming to see the way in which these wonderful people celebrated and honored those that served and their many loved ones who had gone before. We got very caught up in the patriotism that was on display.

In Trisha’s case, one of her uncles helped us locate an old farmhouse many miles out-of-town that was the birthplace of her great-grandfather. He had stayed and raised his family there. His two brothers eventually had farms just off that same road.

 

Even more interesting for Trisha was finding a very small one-story building that seemed to have just been dumped at the intersection of two gravel roads. We found out this small box of a building used to be a general store in another town many, many years ago. It was transported to the location we discovered and used as a home by her grandfather, grandmother, and their eight children. Trisha’s mother being the oldest. 

In my case, my father was also born and raised in Kansas. Trisha and I decided to try to find some of the little places he used to live and go to school. Again, we were back on gravel and dirt roads. Having lived in California for most of my life, its still hard to believe there are actual towns located on dirt roads in the U. S. We found what was left of these little towns, although almost all the businesses are now gone. In fact, in one of the small towns, we discovered the bank that was founded in 1900 was closing it’s doors the day after our visit. I remembered the stories my father had told me about the small town and how, when he was one year old, the bank was robbed by one of the famous gangs of the time. It’s a story I have been able to verify.

 

I stood for a long time in front of the brick building that was my father’s school. The interior has now collapsed, but the brick structure still stands. I could envision him being dropped off from the family horse-drawn wagon in the mornings. I imagined the laughter coming from the basement where he played basketball, a respite from his hard chores on the farm. I walked around the tall weeds in back where I know he used to run the bases of their improvised baseball field.   

 

We had found some of our roots and I know we are better for it.

 

 

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

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It’s All About Love

As those of the Jewish faith conclude their festival of freedom known as Passover, Christians around the world will observe their holiest time of Easter. I’m not a religious scholar by any means, but I do know that each of these religious observances is based upon love. They encompass love of God, love of self, love of family, and love of others.

For Jews, Passover celebrates the lessons of Moses who taught them they were created in the image of God and were worthy of self-love and worthy of freedom from slavery and the self-hatred that also imprisoned them. Christian teaching explains that God so loves, he gave his son to die for their sins and free them to live an eternal life. Two different religious views with one obvious similarity. Love.

I’m certainly not qualified to compare these two religions or their beliefs and traditions. For the record, I am a Christian. But in this time of world-wide brutality, strife, and terrorism, I believe these religions that share the values of love, family and peace should be honored and respected. 

At this time of year, having reached senior status, I’m reflecting on the concept of love and family, and feeling especially blessed. Those who read this blog know my wife and I were recently given the gift of another grandson. 

Well, eight days later, we were blessed with the birth of another grandson. This little fellow weighed in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. In an eight-day span we attended the funeral service for my mother, and received the blessings of our sixth and seventh grandchild. Throughout this time we have been showered with the love of friends and family. It is truly all about love.

On a personal note:

After three extraordinary months of highs, lows, loss, and two new family additions (one on each coast), my wife and I took a week for ourselves to rest and relax. We slept in, took long walks, went swimming, laid out by the pool, went out to dinner, reconnected with friends, went fishing, and had a great time. Some might questions taking a vacation when you are already retired. But we seniors know it doesn’t work that way. I believe most of us are just as busy, if not busier, now that we are retired. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Grandma Trisha and new grandson

My friend John with the catch of the day

                    Out for a romantic dinner

www.TheBestofOurLives

Warning: This Blog Could Make You Rich

Are you lucky?

 

I’m always amazed by the number of retired people who spend so much of their time gambling and looking for a pot of gold. But it’s not my place to judge. Retired folks have earned the right to spend their time any way they want to spend it.

 

To answer my own question, I’m very lucky. Not in gambling, but life in general. I grew up in a wonderful family with great parents and my personal life and family has continued to bring me great joy. 

 

Years ago, sometime back in the last century, I asked a young lady to marry me. In a moment of obvious confusion, she said yes. The night before the ceremony, my fiance and her parents, my parents and me, all went to dinner at a small Chinese restaurant. When dinner was finished I opened up my fortune cookie and the message said: “Your upcoming marriage will bring you great wealth.” I stuck the fortune in my wallet where it remained for many years. One day while at work, I took out my wallet to look for something. There was a picture of my wife and three children, and out popped the fortune with those prophetic words. I was thinking money back when I first read it, but years later I realized what it truly meant.  

 

Today, I’m actually talking money. Or maybe property or some other form of riches. Each year, millions and millions of dollars, property, etc., goes unclaimed. Years ago it was almost impossible to find out if you had a claim on such riches. In most states today, laws have been passed requiring businesses and financial institutions to submit their records to the state. Through the magic of computers we can easily determine if we have a pot of gold waiting for us.

 

Because most of my readers reside in California, I’m going to provide a link that will take only seconds to find out if you have any riches coming your way. Other readers should go to their state’s home page and look for the link to “unclaimed property.” It’s that easy. Although I wasn’t on the list, I did find a neighbor who was surprised when I told him he had about $500 coming.

 

By the way, if you do strike it rich, you know how to reach me. Good luck!

Click here: UCP Inquiry System

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

The Best Christmas Present

Each year my wife Trisha and I invite friends and family to our home for a holiday party. The party serves many functions. First, our home gets a great “deep cleaning.” Secondly, we actually have lots fun and laughs while we try to figure out what goes where and which lights aren’t working this year. We enjoy planning and using both old and new decorations we have purchased over the many years we’ve been married. We plan our decorating together and I’m responsible for getting most of the decorations and lights in the right places while she prepares all the snacks, dinner, and deserts. It’s a pretty big task, but we love doing it and the rewards are many.

This year was very special. One of our friends who lives out-of-state had been critically ill for some time and not expected to survive. Not only did he survive months in the hospital, he now works out each day with his wife and looks great. They both flew in for the weekend and everyone at the party enjoyed catching up with these wonderful folks. In attendance were old friends, new friends, moms and dads who used to come as teenagers, children who are growing up, and new little ones. We shared lots of laughs, some heartfelt conversations, but mostly enjoyed the company of people we love.

On Sunday, we had breakfast for those who stayed over and those who had spent the night in local hotels. The girls did most of the cleanup, while my buddy and I settled in for a well-deserved afternoon of watching football. Well, thanks to Tim Tebow, we shared one of the best games we could have imagined. Great fun.

All of our friends have now gone home and we look forward to a wonderful family Christmas. Having our friend’s health restored, seeing he and his wife so happy again, sharing a great visit, and spending a wonderful evening with family and friends has already given us our best present.

As retired folks, socializing is an important factor in the aging process. People who live in isolation tend to have higher rates of depression and live much less healthy lives. As we get older, its important we maintain our contact with friends and family, stay active and socialize. Understandably, for some it’s physically more challenging, but it is necessary. Once we stop socializing, we really stop living.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

                                   www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Years ago before my wife and I had children, I read the results of a research study conducted at UCLA. The researchers were trying to determine why some families were successful at maintaining close relationships, and why others were not. The results of this study, like much academic research, seemed so obvious. The primary reason was that the successful families all had a common interest. In the United States, the number one common interest was an interest in sports.

Of course. Families who play together stay together. Isn’t that the old saying? I was reminded of this study during the weekend. With baseball winding down to the playoffs and football just getting underway, our family communication, even though our “kids” are all adults, seemed to center on the sports scene.

I was reminded further when I received these photos of our youngest grandson Liam taken at a Charlotte sports restaurant. He is only 11 months, but already an avid Dolphin fan.

Of course, the topic of interest isn’t as important as the fact that each family needs some common focus. As retired persons, this is something we all probably learned along the way. It’s nice to know that younger folks, in this case Mama Michelle and Daddy David, already employ the principle in several areas of family life. Whether it’s church, books, school, etc., the future bodes well. And I can’t wait to take Liam to a Dolphin game.

In Memoriam

We lost a dear friend this last week. Dougie Trierweiler, beloved wife of Jim, passed away suddenly. Our love and prayers go to Jim and the Trierweiler family. Dougie was a wonderful wife, mother, and friend. She will be missed.

Fund Raiser

Yesterday, my wife Trisha and our good friends Lyn and Herb Schub, participated in a fund raising 5K run/walk to help research for the purpose of defeating lung cancer. Our team, Team Frank, led by Larree Renda was dedicated to her late husband Frank Renda who recently passed away due to this horrible disease. Our team was joined by the entire Cal baseball team and coaches. Several thousands from other teams participated in this wonderful event which took place shortly before sunset as the San Francisco fog rolled in. Larree said our team took in over $54,000 dollars. Bravo to all of those who participated and/or contributed.

Update

This will be the last blog for a while. Trisha and I are ready to embark on a long-planned travel adventure. Bon Voyage