An item in my email this week caught my attention. With wedding season gearing up, my credit union sent an email hawking what they characterized as “EverydayLife Loans” providing extra cash for the big events of life. Naturally, the promotion drew my attention.
Yeah, those “big events” tend to be costly nowadays and the credit union is there to help … including “expenses for your wedding, honeymoon and all the little things along the way.” With rates as low as 8.75% APR, the picture (shown below) showed a celebratory bride and groom and the tag line: “One less thing to worry about.”
In a recent New York Times post, columnist David Brooks opined on The Cost of Relativism. Brooks references a recently-released book by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam entitled Our Kids (with the subtitle The American Dream In Crisis). Putnam’s book provides data with incisive analysis and the stories of real people to conclude kids (and young people) no longer have a shared system of values.
In his column, Brooks uses one comparison to make the point. In the 1960s and 1970s, whether parents were college graduates or never went beyond high school, the norms of behavior for parents and children were roughly the same. Families ate dinner together, attended church together, engaged in activities as families.
Today, family wholeness is diminishing and the norms of behavior within the family have been shaken. There’s a huge and worrisome gap between offspring of college grads and high school grads: only about 10% of children born to college grads will grow up in a single-parent home, while nearly 70% of children born to high school grads will. That’s a sobering reality! Continue reading “That’s How It Should Be”→
The obituary was glaringly spare … So-and-So was born in the community of Hither-and-Yon on Such-and-Such a date, beloved child of So-and-So-Mom and So-and-So-Dad, dear sibling of other So-and-So persons, several who predeceased So-and-So. Deceased leaves behind offspring and respective spouses plus more than a couple So-and-So grandchildren. The celebration of So-and-So’s life will occur under the direction of Here-and-There Funeral Services and in lieu of flowers, donations to This-and-That Charity will be gratefully received. (Names not used for privacy’s sake.)
Notice anything missing? Perhaps because we knew So-and-So, it was immediately clear So-and-So’s former spouse of four decades failed to make the cut. The spouse with whom So-and-So had produced offspring was never mentioned. The spouse with whom So-and-So had adored and nurtured said offspring in a shared, loving home was seemingly non-existent – insofar as public records were concerned.
After more than forty years of marriage, divorce split this union … one whole suddenly became two parts, pieces, uh, wholes? Contradicting the “Gone but not forgotten” sentiment in the above image, So-and-So’s ex-spouse has been effectively purged, similar to a Soviet commissar, from official accounts. Continue reading “A Measure of Life”→
On his syndicated radio show Paul Harvey News and Comments, broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918-2009) used to celebrate the long marriages of audience members. Everyday at noon, he’d begin with his distinctive opening, “Hello, Americans! Stand by for news!” Then he’d go through various news stories of the day, usually the stories he most cared to report, and toward the end of the 15-minute broadcast, he’d mention one or another 50-years married couple and wish them his warm congratulations.
The eminent radio personality would have known something about enduring marriage. He and his wife had been married more than 65 years before her death in 2008. With his broadcasts now consigned to the history of radio, it seems there’s no one else to offer a salute to today’s couples who’ve grown old together. I think that’s unfortunate.Continue reading “Saluting Real Success”→
Buried in my iTunes rotation is a 1986 song by the singing duo The Judds. It’s called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)” and the song became the sixth Number One hit The Judds enjoyed on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts. They earned a 1986 Grammy for the song, capturing Best Country Performance By A Duo or Group.
The song came up today in my music rotation, and although it’s not one of my favorites, I let it play. As I half-listened to the lyrics, I thought about the nostalgia we often entertain for that mythical period we refer to as the Good Ol’ Days. With this particular song from twenty-eight years ago, Grandpa hearkens back to values from an even earlier era. Continue reading “You Can’t Have It All”→
Today, I offer another sonnet, written long ago, that echoes a slightly familiar theme. Though I don’t use the word divorce in this poem, it should be clear that’s what I’m referencing.
I’ve touched on divorce previously (here and here and here, just to cite three). I reiterate my comments from the December 5, 2013 post in which I emphasize how the situations of others often affect me deep, deep down and most of the time, I seem to work these things out via my poetry.
I think today’s sonnet is probably less jarring than the one from December, but it’s difficult for me to imagine divorce not being something that shakes a person to the core. (Maybe it’s just me?)
Within the last couple weeks, my Beloved and I have learned about friends (long married) who have divorced. Each time news of this sort reaches us, we tend to react as we would to a death. It’s painful and wrenching … and we’re not even the ones who are experiencing it firsthand! But make no mistake, like ripples on a pond, the effect is still profound.
Long ago, I learned one never knows what goes on in relationships. People who appear to have splendid relationships when they’re in public may be fighting like the proverbial cats and dogs when they’re behind closed doors. Who would know, unless they accidentally broke cover at one social situation or another?
When you love both people, once a confirmed married couple, it’s hard to know how to react. Of course, you wish them well … you hope they find a measure of solace in the midst of difficulties … you grieve for their children. (I mentioned some of this in yesterday’s post.) And truthfully, you wouldn’t really want to know the sordid details, whether their conflicts built up over decades or only in recent months, what made them decide to call it quits. It’s awkward though, the next in-person meeting … is communicating your sympathy appropriate? Or maybe you just avoid possible meetings simply because you don’t know what to say or how to act? Continue reading “Hungry Heart”→
Today is the seventeenth anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. Though she was an Albanian by birth, this diminutive woman lived most of her life in India serving the poorest of the poor. She began her life as a Catholic missionary at age 18 and devoted the rest of her 87 years to mission work, living among those for whom she cared.
Even though I’m a non-Catholic, I’ve respected the dedication of Mother Teresa whose sacrificial service was significant. I found her especially endearing when (in 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC) she spoke before a crowd of more than 3,000 attendees and boldly advocated on behalf of the unborn.
One quote must suffice here because the speech is lengthy, but in part, she told her audience: “… the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion … if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
Notwithstanding her status as a Nobel Prize winner (1979), she was widely criticized for her decision to speak so fearlessly about her deeply-held convictions. Among the dignitaries on the dais as she spoke were President and Mrs. Clinton as well as Vice President Al Gore.
An accident occurs along the interstate. Usually on an interstate, metal-colliding-with-metal is going to happen at a high rate of speed, thus increasing the likelihood of injury and/or death. Whether it’s a simple fender-bender or a more serious multi-car pileup with injuries and even fatalities, most drivers respond in a predictable manner.
They react with natural but morbid curiosity. They will avert their eyes from the road to see what has happened. In such instances (even for accidents that occur across the median) normal interstate traffic chokes to a crawl. Like sick voyeurs, we find our eyes irresistibly drawn to the misfortunes (perhaps even bloody misfortunes) of others.
I wonder about this rubbernecking of culture. The death of Robin Williams (see yesterday’s post here) was only the latest example of this phenomenon. First, we had the 24/7 media storm. Not just the simple fact that Williams was dead, but instant retrospectives appeared, featuring his life and artistic portfolio, even online photo displays of the inside of his home. There was an intensity in the examination that felt creepy … almost as if his underwear drawer had been laid bare for public scrutiny. Continue reading “Rubberneck Culture”→
A poetic form that closely resembles the sonnet is the terza rima. Italian poet Dante is said to have originated this form and he used it in his epic work, The Divine Comedy.
The terza rima form was later used by Chaucer and eventually, English romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley found the form workable for their poetry. Probably one of the most familiar English poems to employ the form is Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. This ode offers five stanzas of fourteen lines each, with each stanza comprised of four tercets (3 lines grouped together) and a concluding couplet.
Since the foundation for terza rima is its fourteen-line format, it may be easily mistaken for a sonnet. However, the rhyme scheme (a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-e) distinguishes it from the sonnet. (For a sonnet celebrating the sonnet form, see my post here.) Continue reading “Three’s a Crowd”→