Salutations Small and Great

Whenever our grandson comes over to the house to play, we trade greetings similar to what many people do. Usually, I greet him with an eager smile, howdy and “How are you?” He smiles back, a broad smile. Then in his most sincere voice, he responds with, “Great!” (Not just good, but great … and not a bored “great,” but a lingering, meaningful “great.“)

20140308_162814Today, many greetings tend to have a throwaway aspect to them. I’m not saying we’re not genuinely interested in how someone is doing; it’s just we have these greeting phrases that get thrown out and are responded to in casual, almost absentminded, fashion … we do this so we can move on to the meat-and-potatoes portion of our conversation. Continue reading “Salutations Small and Great”

Wasting Time

Earlier this week, my younger daughter and I were on the phone and the subject of sleep came up. Her habits are much like mine used to be:  work hard all day (she home-schools), feed and bathe children before bedtime, focus on husband until he retires for the night, and finally, collapse on the couch to breathe in the wonderful, relaxing silence, the blessed me-time.

harried-momSometime during that last interval, the urgency to notch various “accomplishments” (onto the day’s figurative belt) hits full force. For the next several hours, determination rules. Whether it’s a writing project or some other creative endeavor, the drive for project completion outweighs all tiredness … until at least 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. When this accomplishment machine is engaged, all-nighters are not uncommon. Continue reading “Wasting Time”

Hurting To Heal

When our elder son was just a boy (not quite three), he had surgery. I remember the situation and how I dreaded having my son cut on, even though I had total confidence in his physician. Our son was so young, so precious and utterly trusting … yet I had this terrible sense of guilt that we (his parents) were engaging in a kind of mini-betrayal.

AdamLittle2In the picture above, our boy is standing at the hospital desk, just prior to admission. He holds a lightweight suitcase with his right hand, a nerf football in his left and he’s wearing a smile and his favorite ball cap. The surgery occurred in early September, weeks before his end-of-the-month third birthday. Continue reading “Hurting To Heal”

The Golden Brigade

Earlier this week, I posted my comments related to enduring marriage. Given that my Beloved and I will celebrate our 45th year of marriage tomorrow, I’ve been contemplating my current perceptions of marriage and comparing those views with what I recall from my much younger self.golden-anniversary-script-reply-cards-finished-back-motif-celebrating

As if bidden to the surface by my subconscious, three unique recent posts on marriage came to my attention. The first (written by The Boston Globe‘s Billy Baker) features a brief sketch about 75 couples, all of whom have been married more than 50 years, who were invited to a gathering where their unions would be celebrated.

Sponsored by an organization with the official-sounding name, Boston Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, this gathering brought the couples together in one room with the stated purpose of answering a simple question:  What’s the secret to a long marriage? This wondrously exclusive group offered their views, providing opinions that were at times similar and occasionally unique. Continue reading “The Golden Brigade”

The Devil’s Details

For most young people today, having a Social Security number (and its accompanying identification card) is normal. Since parents wishing to claim their dependent children for tax deduction purposes were required to obtain Social Security cards for each child starting about 1986, many of those young people don’t remember ever not having a number.SSCardWhen the government’s Social Security program was first instituted in late 1935, the intent was for the issuing agency (the Social Security Administration, SSA) to track lifetime wages for individual citizens in order to calculate eventual retirement benefits. Few people in those early days understood the program. For example, when a leather company inserted a sample SSA card in the wallets they sold, as many as 40,000 people adopted the “specimen” number as their own!

ElvisSSAOver the years, the SSA number has taken on greater significance. Though the actual card warned “Not For Identification,” this caution was mostly ignored (and has been removed from the newer generation of cards). See the card above for an early, notable example.

Continue reading “The Devil’s Details”


A woman wants to be told she’s beautiful to someone. I don’t think this is simply a 21st (or 20th) century phenomenon. When I read details from Genesis 2:18-24, it’s clear how Adam felt about Eve. Imagine Adam looking at the gift Almighty God had set before him! He was so full of excitement, he couldn’t contain himself! (He might have been doing back-flips.) “Bone of my bone,” he says, “Flesh of my flesh!” In essence, he was saying to Eve, “You’re beautiful!daisyLikewise, Eve surely basked in the admiration Adam showered upon her. Even though she was the only female on the planet, every word of adoration Adam verbalized to her was an intoxicating music to her ears. She didn’t need daisies and the loves-me, loves-me-not method. There was no doubt in her mind that Adam loved her, he adored her. She was everything he could have imagined and the feelings were mutual.

Continue reading “Beastliness”

School Time Blues

News reports the last couple days are buzzing about the American Academy of Pediatrics report advocating later start times for the school day. This idea, they say, would prove advantageous for children, promoting better mental alertness and general health for kids (especially teens). As a professional association of more than 60,000 pediatricians, AAP is advocating that the school-day start about 8:30 a.m. or later, particularly for middle school and high school students.Tired-Girl

AAP’s report has generated plenty of discussion with articles here, here, here, and here … among a host of others. News anchors on radio and television have highlighted the discussion as well. Continue reading “School Time Blues”

An Officer And A Son

My older son is a police officer. Soon to celebrate his 35th birthday, he’s served proudly over the last decade with our local police department. He is pleased to be a member of an excellent department where officers are expected to excel at the highest levels. He and his fellow officers are conscientious and dedicated. OfficerAdamOnMotorcycle

Over the last week, I’ve read numerous disparaging remarks (either on Twitter or Facebook or in the blogosphere) and viewed news reports where the broad brush of hatred paints all policemen as pigs. These descriptions don’t comport with what I know to be true.

I’ve already posted my initial reaction to the situation in Ferguson MO. As this situation continues to receive additional sensational coverage from news outlets far and wide, the disturbing aspects become harder to dismiss. Before I revisit the matter, though, I think it’s important to emphasize all the facts are not yet known to the public. As with any situation of this serious nature, facts should trump rumors. Discovering what happened ‒ in toto ‒ is the only acceptable path.

At the same time, facts are subject to interpretation. In this case, we already know several facts including the fact (based on clear security camera images) that Mr. Brown accosted and intimidated a store clerk, and then proceeded to leave the store with merchandise for which he hadn’t paid. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude from this one security camera image-capture that Mr. Brown was a garden-variety thug who, given his large (300 pounds) and menacing presence, was capable of (and willing to use) physical intimidation. Continue reading “An Officer And A Son”

Help to Live

From the first time I heard the euphemistic term Death with Dignity, I thought it surely had to be a joke. This laughable term describes one’s desire to ease into death, much as one might slip into bed one night … and never wake again. hypodermicThe principle adherents of the death-with-dignity mentality are usually individuals who’ve received a terminal diagnosis. Some supporters are hoping to avoid the high costs of dying while others hope to minimize the pain associated with extended illnesses or others just prefer to pull the trigger (so to speak) at a time of their choosing. 

I’ve always argued the notion of death with dignity is absurd. First and foremost, we’ve all been given a terminal diagnosis; the day each of us was born, we were born with the exact same destiny: death. Is that harsh? Regrettably, it’s true. Continue reading “Help to Live”

An Imperfect Couple

Were my father-in-law alive (he died in 2008), he and my mother-in-law would be celebrating their 72nd anniversary tomorrow.MaxChar1

Every Independence Day, their four adult sons (with families in tow) would descend upon their Texas home. During the days that followed, we’d all enjoy gathering around the pool and patio and dining table for good meals, lots of laughs and a general celebration of the world we shared because a young couple had married back in 1942. These gatherings allowed time for the grandkids to know their grandparents as well as their cousins.

There were times when I know the influx of family was a huge imposition on my in-laws because they made every effort to be the perfect hosts and meals (my mother-in-law’s specialty) were prepared with lots of loving care and creativity.

Since my father-in-law’s passing, the 4th of July torch has been passed to my Beloved and I, mainly because we live nearby the assisted living facility where my mother-in-law currently resides. It has been a privilege to carry that torch because we knew how important the tradition was for my Beloved’s aging mom.

I’ve posted previously on this blog about the sometimes tenuous relationship I’ve had through the years with my MIL. Later this year, she’ll mark her 92nd birthday. She isn’t likely to remember it though. Due in part to her failing memory, the annual gathering hasn’t taken the priority this year that it had in previous years. When her grandchildren or great-grandchildren come for a visit, she is more nervous about the chaos and commotion, and not as eager to entertain little ones.


Before my father-in-law’s death, the couple had achieved sixty-five years (plus) of marriage. Like every other couple, I’m sure they shared good times and bad, but in my view, reaching that 65 year mark was a significant achievement that should be applauded.

While I’m not familiar with the writings of David Meurer, the author of this quote, I do appreciate this sentiment which is attributed to him:  “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” 

I think my in-laws learned well how to enjoy their differences, and tomorrow, we will acknowledge the happy circumstances that brought them together … and how that coupling multiplied their offspring into successive generations.