life and love


An_Old_Man_Sleeping_By_His_Birthday_Cake_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_090427-222753-125009

I Get It. I’m Getting Older

          This is a tricky one. I value all my family and friends dearly and don’t want to offend anyone. But enough is enough. For some reason, a number of folks in my age group seem to be obsessed with getting older. That’s fine and it’s really none of my business nor should I be evaluating their fixations or state of mind. But some lines are being crossed. 

If you have reached your golden years, perhaps you will identify with my dilemma. In a nutshell, it seems I can’t go a day without someone telling me how worthless they’ve become because they couldn’t think of a name or some other fact. This is always accompanied with the obligatory complaint about growing old. Also, every day my email contains more than one “funny” cartoon and/or forward about the perils of growing older. 

In a lesser vein, I also receive numerous emails taking strolls down memory lane. Did you know everything was better back in the good old days? Performers, automobiles, and virtually every other thing you can think of. Really? You may actually have some memory issues. 

Now before someone actually gets angry, let me say I understand. Fact is we do slow down in almost every way as we age. And yes, I would love to be riding around in my red ’56 Chevy. But here’s the deal. We are living in this world today. Key word here is living. Sure, we have some years on us, but there are questions we could be asking and answering each day. What would be productive and interesting for me? What can I accomplish? Who can I help? What would be fun? 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not up in some ivory tower scolding and passing judgment. I’m an observer of the aging process. In my humble opinion, we don’t really miss those old cars; we miss ourselves at that age driving those cars. Were drive-in movies really better than watching our big screen plasma with surround sound in the comfort of our home? No, but we remember being at the drive-in with that hot date on a Saturday night and miss all the fun of being young and having our lives in front of us. It’s perfectly understandable.  

But this is life. I’m always inspired by those who accept life and live it fully to its completion. You pick the cliché, but while we still have the ability to think and love, I would hope we would embrace life with every bit of energy and passion we can summon.         

Advertisements

What is Love?

 

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”

-Sophocles

 

As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we may better be able to answer this eternal question. After the lust and attraction of youthful desire somewhat diminishes, the true meaning of love may be better understood.

 

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

-Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version

 

Before his marriage, our oldest son came to me and asked a question that momentarily caught me off guard. He wanted to know at what point I knew for certain I loved his mother. After a moment, and wanting to answer his serious question honestly, I said, “Sometime between our second and third year of marriage.”

 

“True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning.”

-Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

 

As seniors, I’m sure most of us probably look back and believe the complexities of romantic love, especially at a young age cannot truly be understood. Emotions, hormones, peer and family pressures, and societal conventions all converge to confuse youthful decision-making. In fact, most of us probably believe romantic love does not conform to nor does it lend itself to logic and rationale decisions.

 

“The heart has reasons which reason knows not.”

-Blaise Pascal

 

Like most people, as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that love is not the mystical and tingling feeling that one experiences at the mere sight or touch of another, but is the conscious desire and actions to be the best and do the best for another person with whom you share your life, interests and values. Long term romantic love such as marriage requires that each person in the relationship continue to have and demonstrate these desires and actions, as well as the capacity to change and age with their loved one.

 

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

In other words, romantic love is not the often expressed feeling of “being in love,” but is an active term that requires us to give rather than expecting something from another.

 

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to  give.”

-Katherine Hepburn: Me: Stories of My Life

 

 

Before his marriage, son number two came to me with a similar question as his older brother. I told him that we can never truly be sure, but try to imagine your life without her. Where romantic love is concerned, there are never any guarantees.

 

“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn your house down, you can never tell.”

-Joan Crawford

 

You might wonder what has put me in such a reflective and philosophical mood to be pondering the meaning of love. There are two reasons. First, this has been an equally wonderful and emotionally trying year. New lives and love have come to me in the form of new grandchildren and new friends. For this I’m blessed. I have also lost more friends and family this year than I’ve ever previously experienced. I suppose it’s part of the price of a long life, and I’m grateful for knowing and loving them all. 

 

“When someone is in your heart, they’re never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times.”

Mitch Albom, For One More Day

 

There is another reason for my reflective demeanor. In a few days my wife Trisha and I will share another wedding anniversary. Fifty years ago I met this young woman whose beauty and charm mesmerized everyone she met. But she was much more than a pretty face. She was smart, kind, and a genuinely warm person with  strong moral and spiritual values. She was, in a few words, too good to be true. Now, so many years later and to my daily amazement, we share a loving family and a wonderful life together. What is love? It’s all the things mentioned above and more. It’s mystical and tingly, risky and complex, challenging and rewarding. and the greatest single gift we can give and receive.  

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

 

 

 

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

Happy Mother’s Day

Some say Mother’s Day originated in ancient Greece, still others contend it began in ancient Egypt. Regardless, this Sunday we honor moms and I wish you all a wonderful day.

For readers of this blog, you know I lost my mother two months ago. I’m still in that phase of disbelief. Just yesterday when my wife and I walked into a familiar store, she grabbed a cart in the parking lot. When I asked her why, she got teary-eyed because she realized it was something she’d always done for my mother. She would grab the first cart she saw because holding the cart helped mom walk more steadily. It’s going to take a while.

This will be my first Mother’s Day without mom. But to me, “special days” are just like any other day. It’s one of the lessons I learned from my mother. While it’s nice to celebrate certain occasions such as birthdays and other similar cultural conventions, my mother taught me to live each day with enthusiasm, love, and respect.

Growing up on a farm, life for mom was not complicated. No shrinks needed. If you encountered a problem, you dealt with it. In dealing with people, you were always to be honest, polite, and show good manners. You were to get up each day and groom yourself, whether you were going out or not. You worked hard, were loyal to family, friends, and co-workers. Mom expected the same behavior from others and truly could not understand why anyone would not follow these simple rules of life. Many times she would see or hear a story about something like someone stealing something. She could never understand why anyone would do such a thing. In recent times, she would see women wearing pajama bottoms in a store and would be embarrassed for them. She considered it to be very disrespectful and an affront to good manners.

Some might consider such a rigid approach to life as being snobbish or prudish. Quite the contrary. Mom simply lived the Golden Rule. If others did not exhibit the same sensibilities, while she didn’t understand, she still showed them courtesy and respect.

Both my mother and father lived relatively modest lives. Interestingly, through his business, my father was once offered an opportunity to make a fortune with a long-term state contract if he would secretly kick back money to a certain state official. I was a young teenager at the time, and I overheard my parent’s  conversation. Here was a man who worked two jobs for thirteen years and his wife who supported him by taking care of the kids and maintaining a wonderful household. It was their chance to grab the financial golden ring. The choice was easy. They were not going to do anything even slightly dishonest, no matter how wealthy it would have made them.

The lessons were simple, and by today’s standards, perhaps considered a bit old-fashioned and out of touch. I very lucky to have had parents like mine. 

Thanks Mom.   

www.TheBestofOurLives.com         

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

Finding a Treasure

As my friends and other readers of this blog know, my father passed away in 2010. He was a wonderful father and my best friend. If one lives to retirement age, losing loved ones is something we all must endure.

When dad passed, we did not rush to go through his belongings. From time-to-time, my mother and dad’s wife of 65 years, sits down and looks through old photos and various memorabilia. A couple of days ago she handed me a time-yellowed piece of paper. It was a newspaper clipping she had just discovered in dad’s pocket bible, the one he carried on Guadalcanal during WWII. As I read it, I could not help being moved by the simplicity and eloquence of the words. I wondered how many times my father must have read this clipping and wondered what the future held. Let me share it with you. Thanks Dad.

 

 

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

From the film Don Juan DeMarco, 1995

“There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio.
What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made?
What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?
The answer to each is the same. Only love.”

Imagine this scenario: One day you feel your chest tighten and before you know it, you are in the hospital having heart surgery. Now imagine things going from bad to worse and you eventually require a total of five serious surgeries, you spend over four months in intensive care, you flat-line (die) several times, encounter a number of other life-threatening health issues, and are given the last rites more than once by the attending priest. It’s a nightmare most people would not survive.

The fact is, my good friend Lee lived this nightmare and survived. He not only survived but is now living with a positive outlook and a renewed zest for life. How did he do it? Well, on a recent visit, as my wife and I sat and talked with him under the stars of the Arizona sky he calls home, he explained. In a deeply philosophic tone, and tender romantic spirit, he said: “You know, most people cannot point to one person and say that person saved my life. But I can,” as he pointed across the table to his loving wife Susan.

It would take an entire book to describe all that Susan did for Lee. She fought battle after battle taking on everyone and everything that stood in the way of her husband’s health and recovery. The odds were never in their favor, but she did not give up, and in the end, neither did Lee. To describe even the little I know about the hell they both went through would not do justice to their story. Without question, this is one of the most extraordinary love stories I’ve ever witnessed. 

After only months back home, once again learning how to eat, stand, walk, etc., Lee is now in the gym, in the pool, and well on his way to living life to the fullest. It’s a great story, a passionate love story, and a testament to the power of love and the human spirit. Can love conquer all? In this case the answer is a resounding yes. A wonderful life-lesson for us all.

 

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Next Page »