What can you say about a man who was able to stop moving steel with his bare hands? He would pick me up and put me on his lap to tell me stories of interplanetary travel and dogs, long lost, that came back. He took me on long car trips with him around Ohio during summer vacations and these were the best and richest times of my life, because he loved me and I loved him with a fierce love. That love is still there, as I lay him gently to rest in the ground, and it will always be, until I join him at the end of my time. I have no wisdom to impart to anyone else. I only wish to say with great pride, “that’s my dad they buried today and I feel sorry for anybody who didn’t get the chance to know him.”
July 18, 2010
I struggled a long time with the title of this collection of my father’s notebooks. A title can be the key to understanding the writings and the man himself. The wrong title can leave the door to this sometimes fierce and sometimes gentle spirit locked. I tried “Dad” as a title but it did not unlock his relationship to my mother. I tried “Al” but it seemed to cold and distant from his family. I tried “Velvel”, his Yiddish middle name, but it didn’t really describe him. I tried “Uncle-Daddy” but it was somehow too domesticated. Then it hit me. The key to my father was “Wolf”, his American middle name, which expresses his fierce and untamed love for all of us, a love with the potential to lash out at anyone who might have threatened us, a love that was as protective and sustaining as a soul could ever want or need. “Wolf Love” describes something primal, something that knows no bounds, something that recognizes no human laws. My father was not an outlaw. He was honest to a fault, to his own detriment. No, he was not an outlaw, but he might have been, if the law had ever tried to come between the objects of his love and his love. True, later on, when most of you got to know him, he became more and more domesticated. Age, debilitating pain, and disease can do that to even the fiercest of hearts. Some people thought they knew my father in his later years, but they didn’t. Only those who knew him before then really knew him and loved him because, when you have been loved by a wolf, you can’t help returning the same kind of primal love.
I think you have to carry this key inside you in order to understand the notebooks. Otherwise the following pages just won’t make any sense at all.
Strange about the road of life. At one end are small children. At the other are senior citizens. In between are the children who grow older as they traverse the road of life, creating pot holes along the way and getting less smart as they move along.
True intelligence must come from the little children who are like angels standing at one end of the road of life.
Life can be a bore sometime. We’ve all been there, done that. Dying can’t be too bad. Some of my best friends have done it.
Note: I don’t believe in Fate or tempting Fate. There are so many random occurrences increasing the probability of coincidences in the world, that somebody is bound to think that these are proof of a Guiding Hand. That said, I should point out that the date of this journal entry would be the date that Dad died, seven years hence.
All through life we’re learning or unlearning. We always have a choice. Strange thing is that nothing really changes when you get older. You either learn or you unlearn. You always retain an option. It’s just that you pay a higher premium for being wrong when you are older.
Two old leaves dangling from a tree; that’s my wife and me. Sooner, more so than later, we’ll fall to the ground, she and I. It’s inevitable, I guess. Wind being wind, it’s unlikely that we’ll wind up in the same place, which is particularly sad when you know that we have had at least a single season in which we held ourselves upward, proud, and full of color. What would that poor tree be, if not for the likes of my wife and me? But inevitably we will fall to the ground, but that;s just the downside. Upside is that the tree will continue to live, and new leaves will replace my wife and me.
It’s been a long time. During this period, we’ve fought, we’ve loved, and we’ve learned. Miraculously, we’ve learned.
As a husband I would like to take full credit that our marriage has tied us together so irrevocably, but really I can’t. More to the point, we have shared high values from the beginning, but these were always there.
Being truly in love doesn’t shelter you from the roller coaster of life. Maybe God can visualize the chemistry of what will be in the future, but this much you can count on: if you are still fortunate enough to have your partner during your golden years, you will still fight, still love, and still be learning.
Sometimes I feel like a rusty nail lying in the grass. Unable to move to the right or left, there is not really too much I can accomplish in this position. Frustration? Sure. Angry? Sure. In your senior years I think you feel as much, but you can’t do as much.
Probably that describes me pretty well. I feel muchand accomplish less.
Answer? I guess there is none. But one thing is for sure. Lying in the grass from one year to the next, a bare foot will step on me and that’s the most I can hope for.
I wouldn’t want anybody getting tetanus on my account, but I do want to be important, somehow, someway, to somebody.
Note: This entry caused me to wince in pain every time I read it. Why would my father think he’s like a discarded worthless rusty old nail? Did I discard him when we moved to Israel? How could he think that? Why would he want to cause pain to some poor barefooted kid walking through the grass? This was not the father I knew and loved. Was I the barefoot kid? We had endless discussions about this journal entry. I would tell him how much he meant to me. He was unconvinced.
Whimsical dreams and a
Fairy tale …
Store room full of
Candy grown stale.
Surely a sad state
Of affairs, but you can
Solve it, you know.
Just come on downstairs.
Honest, it’s possible
That you can keep
The candy shop.
Just forget that
Jack and Jill plot.
For the very first time
In my humpty dumpty years
Stop dreaming of what
You must do and get busy
Making someone else’s dream come true.
Everlasting presence is
The substance of His being …
Neither in the past or future
To be seen.
This creator we can truly meet
If we but see ourselves as …
Not perfect, not imperfect,
But merely incomplete.
Of all creatures …
Man is deadliest –
Or so it would seem …
Only to rank highest
In God’s holy scheme?
Surely the devil has not
A Lord’s angel caressed?
Surely God did not a deadly
Viper against His own bosom press?
#9 Transition Time, Maybe
He was walking along the walkway of our apartment complex and moving forward at a slow pace. The brim of his hat was pulled down low and there was a grim expression on his face.
Although I had not seen him before, I knew that the knock on the door would be for me and, a moment later, I heard the knock on my door.
Unexpectedly, I opened the door with a smile instead of a groan.
My tactic was to offer the stranger hospitality and lemonade, truly a strange combination.
He smiled, maybe the first time he had smiled in thousands of years, and then he said “Know what? I think there are other people I can take before you.”
#10 She Is the One
Never has there been a
[Protect…/Protest…] […ating] where
You are concerned, my love.
So if you must kick,
Please kick gently.
She’s the one who cries
At my hurt,
Winces at my pain,
Revels in my joy,
Prepares my meals,
Cleans my house,
And shares my bed.
Sometimes she even lays
On my cheek.
My beloved throughout the years,
She is the one.
#11 Is or Isn’t
Said the real estate salesman, “See this pretty house. It is pretty, pretty, pretty.”
“This house is much too small,” said the elephant.
“Not tall enough,” said the giraffe.
“Too restricting,” said the monkey.
“What house?” asked the ant.
“Just right,” said the old man.
#12 My Mother Forever
One day I found myself reaching across an endless void. “Take my hand, Mother,” I heard a voice say. It was mine, of course, but she was far beyond my reach.
Much later, I realized something I should always have known. Mother continues to live on in my heart, regardless of my age.
Her love, gentleness, and grace will be a source of inspiration to me for as long as I live.
The flame is out, but her light continues to shine brightly.
#13 Grandma’s Housecoat
In her closet it hung. A pitiful rag among riches, better it should be laid to rest, but Grandma liked it best. While fancier garments gather mold, she preferred something tattered, something old.
Housecoat, housecoat! Never dead, as long as there’s left even a single thread!
Bereft of beauty … shattered beyond belief, why couldn’t it be stolen by a generous thief?
Grandma may be gone now, but her tattered housecoat lives on.
#14 Big John
“Come on in,” said the boss, “and shut the door.” Big John came into the office and sat down silently, but he really knew what was coming. The boss said, “I’m retiring. I have a chance to sell the place but I really wanted you to be the first to know.”
“Thanks for letting me know first, Boss. Saw this coming, I guess, but I’d better be getting out there now.”
With a heavy heart, but a professional smile on his face, he went back to the bar he had known for years. As always, one was for the Boss, one was for Big John.
It was an off season and the two senior gurus on adjoining mountain tops lacked customers seeking their counsel. At least they had each other. In the thin air atop the mountains, they still could speak to each other and hear quite well.
“Do you use the ultimate rejuvenation for men?” asked one.
“That I do,” answered the other.
“Any noticeable side effects?” asked the first.
“Some facial flushing, maybe minor headaches,” the second answered.
“But did it accomplish the desired purpose?”
“Verily, it was like being 21 again, and you?”
“Yes, like being 21.” I guess old gurus don’t lie too often.
#16 Red Rose of Summer
A red rose of summer
May have aged somewhat but it
Looked up at a man and said
“True, you live longer than I do,
But then, I’m so much prettier
Beautiful, that’s me.
Isn’t that the way
You’d like to be?
It takes brains to have
Ulcers, back-aches, and
Pain by the hour.
But who ever heard
Of an ulcerated flower?
True, you can move around
While I am rooted to one spot.
Even so, what do you have
That I haven’t got?”
The man knelt down
And replied, “a pair
Of scissors,” and then
#66 Maple Seeds
Amazing thing about
Actually, they can land almost anywhere,
Like gutters, lawns, pavements,
Busy seeds, they’re smart enough to know
That they must be everywhere.
In this way a certain small percentage
Will eventually grow into trees.
So it is with life.
God has many people growing up out there
And His job is to worry about them all,
Not just one.
Some people will fall into spots
Where they just won’t make it.
Others will reach old age.
At this stage of the game, I may be one of those senior types, but I still can remember many years ago when I was just a boy. And I had super fun playing a game called “Bicycle Tag.” It was fun and probably represents part of my life in which I was truly mechanically inclined.
It was a simple enough game. All you had to do was knock the other kid off his bike usually by turning your front wheel into his and, of course, he had to go down to the ground completely.
Last man riding was a winner but usually such a winner was a good bike repairer. I repaired my bike good. You might say I was mechanically inclined.
At the time, I played that stupid game like my life depended on it. Today, I believe that I can climb the highest mountain, or lick the strongest adversary — if I had to.
Hopefully, at this point in my life, it is enough for me to feel that I can do anything I must do.
Timidly, as I approach seniorhood,
I can’t do handsprings anymore.
But I could never do handsprings
Or somersaults, or whatever.
At this stage, I’m not going
To be a great lover.
But I was never really a
Tried hard to provide for
But I fell somewhat short
of Bill Gates.
My humor is currently
Stacked with lies
But I have a long history of
Love my wife, love my son,
Love my daughter
Honestly, that’s no lie.
It was a time when Superman and Batman comics were only a dream. I went to the neighborhood drugstore and read everything available at the time.
Truthfully, my father was a dyed-in-the-wool Superman before I knew anything about it.
Unfortunately, he was a Superman without honor in his own home. I had issues with him that kept us apart while he was still living. In any case, we always respected each other. At least, I like to think so.
My father, Sam Stone, was dirt poor when he first started in business. Any practical minded accountant would have said, “Sam you don’t have enough money to start a business. Education might help, but you don’t have that either. What these accountants overlooked was that my father was truly the superhero of his time.
He started a company which he called the Stone Malt Co. That company spread over three states during the time of prohibition. It was legal to make your own beer. What you didn’t do, was sell the recipe.
What Super Dad accomplished in the Stone Malt Company was beyond belief.
I might not have been there to see it, but I think I know my father very well. Enough so, that I am completely willing to testify that the incident that I’m about to relate took place.
Super Dad was acting as a supervisor. He inspected a store and caught the manager stealing.
At that time stealing was a real no-no. He may have mellowed a lot. But at that particular time, you might say, he was troubled. With one hand, he catapulted over the bar, and knocked out that manager’s teeth. Somehow, I believe that the manager must have realized the error of his ways.
In fact, Super Daddy bought him a set of new front teeth. Also he gave him his job back and, presumably, that man was a good straight manager after that.
For some unfortunates, pain can be a 24 hour thing. Even so, life is not meant to be shoved aside. Life still has to have some meaning, just as long as you don’t drown it out with opiates.
In a perverted sort of way, there is that senior who experiences true pain only part of the time.
I’m referring to pain that you can’t put a Band-Aid on. When icy fingers strangle the life blood out of you, when you just can’t John Wayne it any more, that’s real pain.
If a combination of Davacet and Tylenol can work for you, without making you too hazy, go for it.
Theoretically, there must be at least some seniors who have no hurt.
They can only be commended. Apparently, nothing was wrong with their past to mess up their present.
It is truly amazing the contortions that little children can put their bodies through and, seemingly, without any effort.
As seniors, none of us can do handsprings but we hopefully have “common sense” which we may not have had before.
True, as a senior, we just may not do handsprings or somersaults anymore. And possibly our trips to the bathroom are more frequent at night and require some care. But you know? If I could go back to my youth again, I wouldn’t.
Body parts are not meant to last forever. Truthfully, seniors spend more money on doctors than children and young people do.
Hopefully, they have no desire to steal their body parts. They just want them to work as well as possible.
It’s a trade-off actually. As you age, maybe you can’t do somersaults or handsprings anymore. Hopefully, you have acquired a wisdom that juniors have yet to acquire.
When man first started walking, he wasn’t so dumb. He knew that all he had to do to eliminate his adversary was throw a stone. As adversaries got bigger, he met the problem by throwing bigger stones.
Sadly, that adversary never disappears. After stone throwing came cross-bows, spears — not necessarily in that order. But the bad old adversary still managed to be the one blight on man’s life.
Clear up until modern times that adversary is the one thing man truly wants to get rid of.
As seniors we actually have it pretty nice. Out there is one thing we all have in common.
We have a mean old adversary to cope with.
Since ancient times, we’ve had to deal with fear of some sort. That can really be at any point.
As seniors possibly we are too sophisticated to try to make this world into a better place. Hopefully, we are too smart for that.
What we can do is love a lot. Loving is what we do best.
Never met an immortal senior, so presumably as a senior, you better have fun because the clock ticks. But is that your only reason? Probably not.
When we have finally reached old age, you could say that we have been there, done that. But have a good time. Why?
Maybe as a senior you feel that all your good times are in the past. The days are chipping away at such an alarming rate, you don’t feel entitled to any fun.
But be grateful. Possibly, you can’t do handsprings anymore, and your body aches from the sheer effort of getting up in the morning.
But you have so much to be glad about. Sounds trite, but a day shouldn’t go by that you don’t count your blessings. Be really grateful.
No, it is possible that life is not a forever thing, but that’s strictly okay.
What all of us have in common is the continuity of life. It may not include you in particular, but your life will be perpetuated through those you love.
With the life you do have left, you are more than entitled to have fun. It’s likely that a definition of what constitutes a good time may vary from person to person. But being a senior is no excuse for not having fun.
As a senior, when your wife leaves you to visit her sister for only one week, he you lonely? Sure.
Truly it is amazing all the things she has done in her absence. For example, she left the refrigerator unusually well-stocked and then, of course, there were those day-by-day instructions. Added to this, my daughter called to see how I’m doing during these perilous seven days that I’m alone.
After all, maybe I can’t fold laundry as well as my wife can, but so what?
Basically I do appreciate all the attention, but I’m 79, of sound mind, and most importantly, I am not an incompetent.
My wife, while she’s away, has the awesome responsibility of making her own bed, but she does deserve a rest from me, I suppose.
Maybe it really is true that men are from Mars. Women are strictly from Venus.
My only gripe is that back on Mars I never used to have to fold any clothes.
When you have had a long lasting and successful relationship with your mate you may reach a point, after a suitable period of mourning, when you want to remarry.
Surely you are lonely, which is entirely understandable, but be careful about it!
You lost one of a kind and you never will replace her if you make unreasonable comparisons.
What you have to search for is someone who is true above all to themselves and really respects that wonderful relationship you enjoyed with the wife you unfortunately lost. Actually that marriage made more of a person out of you, not less.
Now it is time for you to move ahead and fully enjoy those years remaining in your life.
You do have a life to live and each moment should be enjoyed to the fullest.
Man just wasn’t meant to run his tank on empty.
True, my wife of 50 plus years has no ability to climb from skyscraper to skyscraper like Spiderman; nor can she lift a plane out of the sky like Superman, still she’s a Superwoman.
She has real super powers, and me, I hold a franchise on her amazing capabilities, nobody else.
Whenever she finds someone in this world who is in need, somehow she’s there. When someone should have a good solid kick in the pants, she’s there too. It took me awhile to understand that magical powers like these are not to be fooled around with.
God, I really lucked out on this superwoman.
She may be a Superwoman, but I’m still the man who has the franchise.
What have we really learned from those early days, honestly? Life isn’t a bowl of cherries. Seems like an obvious cliché. More to the point, for some it is, for others it isn’t. You just can’t have everything you want, when you want it. More likely, that’s it.
If you want, we can waste a valuable life crying about what we should have done, but didn’t.
Being a senior only means that it is finally time for you to grow up. But forget yesteryear and make today as reasonable as you can.
Nobody, but nobody, ever promised you a rose garden. If you have one, consider yourself fortunate.
Basically you’re dealing with your present, and certainly not the past.
Built it, plan it, use it. It is your present and your future.
What is there to gain from delving back into our distant childhood?
At one time or another all of us have had the experience, spinning the milk bottle or whatever.
Regrettably, as children, it would have been nice if we had learned faster, but we didn’t usually.
As seniors, it’s a crime that we should have to wait until we have finally reached that age, before the full impact of what love isn’t about really hits us.
If we love honestly, it has to be solid like a rock and not likely to vanish in a puff of wind.
If you go through life as one of those unfortunate ones who has never found his soul-mate, don’t be too sad. Maybe real love just wasn’t meant to hit you. That hardly means you are a bad character.
One thing is for sure, we know that true love has nothing to do with spinning milk bottles or that sort of thing.
Real love is just not about that.
You can do it, you know. Today is a beginning. Strange thing about it is that, even if you are a senior, you still have a chance to start fresh.
But, if only … Leave the past alone. What choice do you have about it? Whatever happened, happened. So maybe it shouldn’t have happened that way, but it did. You can’t retrieve anything buried in your past.
What you can build on is your present and planning for the future should keep you extremely busy.
Who cares if we are seniors? Actually I’m ok with that and I wouldn’t step back into the past even if I could. Face it, I can’t.
Here and now is what it is all about. I am very grateful to be one of those who are here.
Excuse me. I think I have some planning to do.
All that hard way up to your senior-hood, did you earn at least one medal? Not even one? Don’t be sad, there still may be hope for you.
In effect, it’s high time that you got yourself involved. Maybe it’s time you realized that what you do isn’t half as important as how you do it.
Now you are a senior and being essential isn’t just a luxury. It’s a necessity.
You may have beloved members of your family who love you greatly but still manage to look at you strangely. After all, years ago you could do things better. Now you can’t. What does it mean, really? Maybe you just aren’t good for anything anymore.
Honestly, being a senior really isn’t that much different from being a junior.
There always was a time when you couldn’t do what you did before, so you compensated.
Herein lies a secret that many juniors don’t know. Life has a beginning. It has an end. Most seniors are alright with that.
But it’s never so late that you won’t have a chance to be good for something. Almost anything.
You can shed tears if you want, but you’ll only cry alone. Seniorhood is not a sad time. It’s a fun time.
Thank God you made it. There are many people who would have given their eye teeth if they could only be where you are at.
Tears? Forget tears. Plan your day and your future. You are living? That in itself is great.
Obstacles in your way? At this point obstacles can be easily brushed aside.
You have a very real possibility to move forward as you have never done before.
Surely you haven’t forgotten the past. You know those good old days when you wondered “Could you?” “Should you?” “Would you?”
And more – you don’t have to be flawed with self-doubt. All that remains is for you to honestly enjoy your present and plan a future.
As you get older it can truly become important to keep young people around you.
After all, those youngsters will look at you adoringly and fully trust that you will tell them the truth even if you have no intention of doing so. Amazing what a straight face can do.
Your children? They’re not children anymore, are they? Surely you have earned the right to bask in their indulgence. They do have an objective, and that objective is to nurture you, so enjoy.
Unfortunately indulgence comes with a price tag. Your children love you but they also patronize you. It’s as if your children might say “Mom, Dad — you really need me now, don’t you?”
Of course we need our children now. We always did. We always will.
Truthfully you can stay a little younger if you can keep young people around you.
Assuming that you do not have young people around you, don’t be too sad about it.
Your life should still prosper.
When the old Eskimo bit into that last piece of shoe leather, it seemed so hard and unyielding. Surely it had to be because old teeth had been worn down finally to bare gum.
Surprisingly the old Eskimo had a smile on his face, rather than a frown. Surely his time, after years of hard work for other villagers had come.
Moments later a village elder appeared and said, “Old friend, you have been of the greatest value to us all, but now it is time for you to go.”
Shortly after that the village elder and some of his duly appointed assistants carried the old Eskimo to an ice flow nearby where he was left to die.
Sad? Hardly so. That old Eskimo had been a valued member of his society until his teeth finally gave out on him.
You could say he was in the loop until the end.
Truthfully, how many old Eskimos would prefer an ice flow to an old Eskimo’s home if there were one? Probably most of them.
Alien bugs too often meet a sad ending by being crushed, scooped up in paper, and flushed down a toilet. After all, what reason do strange bugs have for invading our space?
Actually those bugs have no reason at all, but could you ever imagine the possibility of being on the planet Mars where we were the aliens? We might be flushed unceremoniously down a Martian toilet.
And so we are oldsters. What’s it all mean? Surely if an itchy worm invades our space, are we to be disturbed? Sure! A worm invading my space does so at his own risk. On the other hand, a worm knocking on my door could be from outer space. Probably I would open the door and welcome that alien in.
It always helps to keep your options open, know what’s going on, and be constantly curious.
That friendly tap on your door is most likely a neighbor. But possibly it is a worm or some other visitor from outer space.
Tornados have a dirty business to perform, but they are business-like in a strange manner of speaking.
Destroying everything in its path is what a tornado does best, and if ever you have been unfortunate enough to be in the path of one, you realize that a tornado applies itself to the job at hand with vigor and efficiency.
At its best a tornado may totally destroy one side of a street and leave the other side completely untouched.
Frightening? Sure, but so are hurricanes, floods, or any of the other natural disasters.
Maybe it’s a bullet or a speeding vehicle or only a knife, but you know what? Possibly I’m wrong but I just don’t think anybody really wants to hear about travails of the past.
Sure, I had some sad moments, as did we all, bust as a senior I have an essential job to do. This is here. This is now. My requirement is to enjoy my present to the fullest possible extent.
Life itself has to have more significance than any frightening disaster.
As a senior I’d like to believe that I didn’t really get the smarts until I finally reached seniorhood. Truthfully life itself is a learning experience.
It’s only when you’re a senior that you can hardly afford to sit back and stop learning. When you were a graduate from high school or college, hopefully that learning process never stopped.
Hopefully you never reached a point where you honestly felt that you had learned all there was to know.
Life itself is the sum total of all our experiences along the way.
As seniors we may be just the slightest bit smug, as though we had some sort of franchise on wisdom. We don’t.
Life itself is a learning experience and we are not the sole beneficiaries.
When you get right down to it, what are old people? Doddering? Incapable? Only if you believe it to be so.
Sad point is that most elder citizens have a preconceived notion as to how they should be. Granted, we don’t live forever. That would be too boring or expensive if we did.
As we experience life, it is an exhilarating privilege to enjoy for as long as we can.
Live. You have no reason at all to fall into a non-productive stereotype. You can be productive until the end.
All soldiers march, and they approach their seniorhood with what I visualize as a certain trepidation. Truly big question is what are they to find there, if they are fortunate enough to reach that long sought goal.
What you are expecting is pretty much what you are going to find when you finally arrive. Honestly there are not going to be too many surprises when you finally reach the end of the road.
If you have fears they were just the ones you brought along with you.
Maybe some congratulations are in order for having arrived at a fun place, not a sad place. You have lived much, battled much, and fought hard for your right to arrive at this place.
Keep in mind, old age is just a destination, not an ending. Difficult as it may seem to be, your past belongs in the past. It can only detract from your glorious present.
Many years ago I was a young man trying vigorously to work my way up in my father’s bar-restaurant organization which was the largest, at the time, in the state of Ohio.
Since I was one of the boss’s sons, in his infinite majesty, my father gave me a glorious opportunity to work for Mr. Apple. Mr. Apple truly knew something about food. Why he picked our bar and grill in Canton to manage is a mystery to me even now. He could have been a chef somewhere, if that’s what he wanted.
Anyhow I wanted desperately to make a good impression on Mr. Apple when I met him for the first time. Things rapidly fell into place, almost the way I had visualized.
He met me at the door with a few of his crisply dressed waitresses, and then I had to open my mouth and say, “Hello Mr. Apple, glad to eat you.” Everything went downhill from that point onward, but actually we got along fine, despite my little slip.
Years passed by, but I never lost that moment of embarrassment. Actually it stayed with me for more years than I’d like to remember, until I learned a hard truth.
All of us have been embarrassed at one time or another. Stepping beyond it merely means that we have used our past as part of an educational process, and nothing worthy of retrieval for our future.
We can learn from past experiences but we can’t bring them into our present or future.
When I was a little boy I did enjoy a freedom of sorts, but I was really dumb, looking back at that time. How I survived was a miracle in itself since I seemed so hell bent on self-destruction. I really believe that somebody upstairs must have been looking out for me since I wasn’t smart enough to look out for myself.
For example, I rode my bike furiously and repaired it with the same fury. I had a pocket full of firecrackers and put my punk in the same pocket. I jumped from a second story window, using an umbrella as a parachute. Thank God for the bushes below and, needless to say, this experiment didn’t work. So it went, on and on, but surely my parents must have said, “Isn’t he cute?”
Then I turned twenty. Strangely that little boy was still in me. At that time I just didn’t know it.
Then I was forty. By this time the little boy had claimed my heart irreversibly.
By the venerable age of sixty that little boy played with my heart and soul like a miniature demon gone wild.
When I was close to eighty that little boy was really running rampant at that point.
Beyond eighty, who knows what that little boy will do next?
It was a day that started routinely enough. My wife was at the steering wheel of our car and she turned the corner too sharply coming out of our parking area.
I cussed her out properly, as any good husband would, under the circumstances.
Uneventfully, we reached our favorite fast food place with no problem. But when we started back for home, we suspected the tire was flat.
From that point on, our day went downhill. We just didn’t know it.
That night as I got into bed, I had a slight problem. I could not raise my body to an upright position.
I called the security man. He was scared to turn me. Actually, he was the one who called the emergency squad.
By the time they had arrived, a short time later, I had twisted my body into an ungodly position but, even so, I couldn’t raise my body to an upright position.
What could they do? Five of them were there, all angry and strong, but, truly, I figured that this problem was a little beyond their capabilities.
I was wrong, of course. And in no time at all, they had reassembled my body like some jig-saw puzzle. I was soon standing. Also, no bones had been broken along the way.
I had experienced no pain. This had been my second contact with an emergency squad, not the same guys, of course, but I found them to be just as gentle.
Would I get back in that bed again? No way. My wife fixed me up in the bedroom rocker where I spent the rest of the night.
About 7:30 A.M. my wife covered me with a robe. She fell down backwards, hitting her head as she went down. Actually, she got up quickly but, damn, she scared the daylights out of me.
Nice to live, but sometimes the price we pay can be too tough.
You know, I’ve done
All that I could.
Had my turn in the sun,
Not in competition
With Methuselah for sure.
How well we live
Is what really counts.
This I believe
We each have our
All we have is ?simple
Use that time well.
So shed no tears,
Oh a little is okay,
Then move on.
A leaf falls
So that new leafs can sprout.
Besides, offspring are around
To do what I should have done.
No ___ deny, you see,
So shed no tears for me.
Many, many years ago, I was a relief manager, just short of being a supervisor. For what was, at that time, one of the largest bar restaurants in the state of Ohio. That company was run by my father and doesn’t exist anymore, which is another story.
Anyway, I took my job seriously. There was a store in Elyria, which had good food, and was not noted for having client problems of any sort.
This opportunity was going to be a breeze, or so I thought of course, any place that serves alcohol can be a serious challenge. I had yet to learn that fact.
I worked in the upstairs office which had an ample view of the entire place. Also there was a low concrete abutment which overhung the stairs.
Really, you had to duck down a bit, when you started down those steps.
I happened to see a fight starting to break out. Like any good manager would have done, I bounded down those steps. In my youthful zeal I ignored that concrete abutment and it stopped me completely.
Actually I don’t remember that much. It made me sit me down on the steps and then I saw a few droplets of blood, plus a few pieces of concrete which I must have knocked out of place.
You know, I never knew who resolved that fight. Really, I didn’t care. Somebody must have resolved it or it resolved itself.
I’m well into my seniorhood now but I’ve learned much from that experience.
For example, it could have been someone else’s head that had slammed into the concrete abutment. No law says it has to be your head.
Never allow your zeal to get the best of you. After all, I’m still here to talk about it.
All problems are resolved, even if you aren’t the one to resolve them.
Traveling meticulously through the runway of life, it figures that there are at least some of us who look at a road map blankly as if it was beyond comprehension. Actually, I’m the same way when it comes to assembling kids’ toys.
My wife, on the other hand, reads road maps as if they were no problem at all. And when it comes to assembling kids’ toys, she does it so easy.
Many years ago, as a boy, I attended what was then an exclusive boy’s camp in Northern Michigan.
At night, as a means of entertainment, we had regular boxing matches. By weight and size, I was matched with another boy who was almost as goofy as me.
From the first moment that the bell rang it became obvious that it was the other boy who was going to win.
He boxed fairly and well. I depended more on sheer will than any actual fighting ability. Actually sheer will didn’t work out for me at the time.
I was beaten to a pulp, fairly, of course. A camp counselor, acting as referee, stepped between us finally, and put an end to what was really a sorry mess. We had to shake hands, which was a difficult chore for me at the time.
Many years have passed since that day. Maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but I finally realize that someone can be your size and weight, and he can still knock the stuffing out of you.
But in the long run, you can still be a winner by taking an easy path, not a hard one.
At the age of 83, I realize that some people are just not meant to be boxers.
I’ll never be able to do more than be the best person I know how to be.
Envy your pain.
Bless your reverses
These are man’s pleasures
Not his curses
Really want to straighten your mind in the future?
Possible, you know,
But do your looking in the
Present, and get off your
I am a senior now but, many long years ago, I found myself being introduced to the bar business.
What I worked in, at the time, was regarded as a somewhat rough bar. At least, I remember it as a rough bar.
I had just come on duty and was tending bar, when a customer asked me for a drink. I wouldn’t give it to him because I decided he had already drunk too much. For some reason, he took that as an insult.
With two brothers backing him up on either side of him, he called me a “yellow chicken shit bastard.”
At that time, it was more than I could take and I came around from the comparative safety of a bar to face my adversary. True, he was bigger than me, but he was really intoxicated. His two brothers never budged from their bar stools, lucky for me. It must have been this way in the days of the Old West.
After facing off, we began slugging each other and I finally forced him into a booth.
I landed on top of him and I realized that my moment of glory was at hand. I had his arm locked and was trying to decide whether or not I should bend it the wrong way.
At that point, two policemen came in, obviously trying to break up a perfectly good fight.
Out of my peripheral vision, I saw one policeman saying to the other, “Don’t hit him, that’s the owner’s son.”
The other said, “My God, let’s just break them apart and get out of here.”
Ancient history now, but I really won that fight and was proud of myself for many years after that.
Hopefully, I’ve grown up since then. I realize now that what seemed a victory for me was no victory at all.
Real truth has to come in little bits and pieces. Any truth larger than that would have hit me over the head like a sledge hammer at the time.
My wife graduated from high school with all sorts of honors. Me, I was a straight C student. She’s had a bad case of smarts ever since we were married over 50 years ago. We had two children, who are full-fledged adults at this point and terribly smart in their own right.
I’m just a father and who loves the hell out of all three. But actually, I’m stupider than stupid, a guy who really hasn’t a clue. Why did a wife who was so smart with the added bonus of prettiness and children who are so great and smart pick a husband and father like me? Born under a lucky star? That’s a real distinction.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve conquered all the ___ in the world. Also, I’ve held onto a closely guarded secret. I’m guilty of ___ t___.
My grandson was born 33 years ago. My wife and I had the awesome privilege of pressing our noses against the looking glass and actually seeing this strange very amazing creature, who had been born only a few short hours before.
As a grandparent, my cup truly runneth over and I became possessive. As I saw this strange creature lying there, all so innocently, with his little eyes shutting out that whole mean world, looking at him quite objectively, I thought mine, all mine.
As he grew up a little, I found him to be beautiful, obstinate, difficult, impossible, and loveable.
I enjoyed that little kid fully and, 33 years later, a picture of him sits here. To still be beautiful, still obstinate, still impossible, and most of all still lovable is beyond wonder.
He has his own daughter now, a real beauty queen in her own right, a super wise son, and one hour ago I received an important message. Tom was born.
As a proud great-grandpa, I suspect that Tom will be just as beautiful, obstinate, difficult, impossible and loveable as his father ever was.
I’m a proud great-grandpa now and enjoying every minute of it.
From the time of early childhood there was hardly a day where we didn’t lose some dignity. Actually it’s an impossibly long list.
As a child we learned that jumping out of a window with only an umbrella to sustain your body weight, doesn’t work.
As an adult we learned that trying to start a good business with insufficient capital doesn’t work.
Specifically, as we approach our seniorhood, we learn that it was everything we learned wrong, the way which shaped us, that molded us into the people we are. Good, bad or otherwise.
Hopefully, as seniors, we have gained a lion’s share of dignity by losing our dignity.
It’s nice to know that some of the things which may have seemed so purposeless at the time were actually purposeful.
All of us have a destiny. All of us have the same objective.
Simply put, we want to live as long as we can. But there has to be something more, infinitely more.
Realistically, we can’t know the years we have to live. Death is most likely a going of some sort. I can’t actually imagine what that would be like.
Living to a ripe old age is something we all aspire for, but there has to be more.
Living your life well has to be what really counts.
Strange thing about reaching seniorhood. If you were a conniver or cheater before, you won’t change just because you’re a senior. Actually, you’re no better or worse than the sum total of all you have been.
Something else is there when you are fortunate enough to reach seniorhood and it is a time limit.
Hopefully you won’t live forever. What with inflation and all, that would be a bitter pill to take.
Being a senior does mean you have a last chance. Are you going to be the person you always were?
Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make a senior. Sadly, wings won’t sprout because of the fact you are one.
Have you ever found that you want to crowd as many minutes into your life as you can? Strange, isn’t it?
You have the ability to look back into your past. Maybe you should have done better. Maybe it might have been different.
Maybe, but you can’t go backwards. You only have the ability to go forward. Thank God.
As a senior, shed no tears over an imperfect past. All that is required of you is to enjoy your present and have unadulterated fun in the future.
Live your life while you have a life left to live.
Since you have devoted your life to making things more logical, not that you yourself are such a logical person, life is a very nervy experience. Now you see it. Now you don’t.
Maybe golden years have their drawbacks, what with all the aches and pains. Even so, it’s nice to be here.
How are we to make sense of nonsense? No way.
But as seniors we are here, so enjoy it.
Let’s face some hard truths. If you are talking about life, nothing adds up. So what?
Despite the aches and pains, plus a few groans, I’m still here as a senior. Don’t you envy me just a little bit?
Certain things I can notice easily at this point. Going down to the floor could have fatal implications. It’s possible that I would not be able to get up again.
A healthy sense of humor can never hurt at any point in your life, but life was never really patient.
Life has never been logical in the past nor do you have the privilege of having a logical present.
Many are the things that carry us forward. First thing that comes to mind is food and drink. This surely would be true if you were an animal.
But we humans require something more to push us forward, much like putting gasoline in a gas tank.
Not to say, that as humans we don’t require food and drink. Of course we do.
But spirit is what counts for us, big time.
What we need is what makes us the creatures that we are.
As a young man I found it enjoyable and necessary to prove my manhood. How I accomplished manhood wasn’t really what mattered. Wrong —- wrong!
I thought I might find entry into some imagined fraternity of men. Truly, grossly wrong.
Not that I was so special. But I did do a lot of dreaming at the time.
Finally I became a golden-ager who was honestly grateful for having reached that point.
Still, when a little girl sought me out in conversation at a grocery store, I learned that my opportunities to be wrong had been squandered in the past.
Not that I had reached any sort of sainthood, but this little girl had obviously evaluated me as being “safe”. I’m sure she must have determined that I was a cute old guy.
I’m not so sure that I’m comfortable being just “safe.”
As a golden-ager I can only look back nostalgically on those opportunities to be wrong, which I threw away so wastefully.
Being born was not exactly fun. True joy was knocking around in the embryonic fluid. But eventually, you did have to come out into this world. And we know that you started out with a complaint.
At that time people looked at you and said, “Isn’t he or she cute?”
It never occurred to anybody that you might have been much happier if they just would have had the courtesy of leaving you in the embryonic fluid to which you would have been better suited.
Time passes by and you are a senior citizen now. Not that you worry so much about dying. Everyone has to do that sooner or later. You’re still complaining except now they call it “worrying.”
You worry excessively about your wife, about your son, about your daughter, about friends.
Worry as much as you want, but it accomplishes zilch. People are ordained to do their thing. Most people have a life of their own that does not include you.
You can love family members. You can love friends, but when you worry about them, you do them and yourself no favor.
Why write? Are you a future Ernest Hemingway? Not likely.
Instead, let’s all believe that we have a story. That story deserves to be told.
Who needs to be great? What is necessary is that we are honest with ourselves, even if it hurts. Considering its reward, that’s okay.
Possibly, writing is not the only way of cleansing the soul, but it’s one way.
Visualize, if you were Lady Godiva, you’d be riding your horse naked through the city streets, baring your soul and all else for everybody to see.
Not necessary that you have to be a great writer, just a therapeutic one.
(Published in the Horizon)
Being a man of 81,
Looked into the bathroom mirror
Objectively as I can be
You know, I thought. I like me,
I may not ___
But smarts, I’ve surely got.
Mistakes burden my past
Currently, I’m still not last.
Victories, had my share
Somehow escaped that lion’s lair
Basically, family molded me
Into that guy I want to be.
God’s love is consistent by nature. He must visualize us as his little children, so prone to make mistakes.
But mistakes are not what we have to do. We can be better.
We can have the benefit of being better than we have been in the past. Comforting thought? Yes.
I have climbed such a high mountain. Not so bad for an 81 year old man who tried real hard. Get to the top. Me, I made it, and many of my companions, who were better than me and stronger than me, tried to make it this far but didn’t.
I don’t have a clue as to why I am here and not them.
Just enjoy the fact that you are at the top. Don’t worry too much about how you got there.
About the only thing I have yet to experience is death, and I’m in no hurry to depart this life experience.
I’ll hang around for as long as I can.
And God for a reason, unknown to me, spoke loud and clear and said “It is My wish that thou take unto thee a real woman for your wife.” And so it was that my wife entered my picture.
That was over fifty-two years ago and truly she has stayed with me on all occasions. Her staying power has been nothing short of miraculous.
I promised her a life of riches, wealth, and ease, if only she’d marry me.
But as a man of eighty-three, sometimes I feel as if I got her under false pretenses.
No matter really. Fifty-two years later she’s as feisty as she ever was, absolutely refuses to lose her beauty, and this is when I get religious. This woman God gave me so I could become a better man than I was.
She is so remarkable, this woman I have shared life with for fifty plus years.
I’ve fought with her often, loved her constantly, and have always been blessed by her presence.
Beyond me, she has maintained a great loyalty to friends and realities despite the fact, that God allows me to claim her as mine, all mine.
Together, we have raised a remarkable son and a remarkable daughter who, in turn, have raised remarkable children of their own.
I am one contented man.
My wife and I have been together for years now. As a loving husband I can still remember those years I washed the floor better than anybody else, refinished things much better than anybody else and, in general, was more valuable than anybody else at hand.
During that time she rewarded me with a pat on the head, beautiful meals, and a smile which she gave just to me especially.
Unable to do the same things now, she still persists in rewarding me with a pat on the head, food like you wouldn’t believe, and a smile which is mine, all mine.
Weird isn’t it? My wife will always keep my soul gently captive and, as long as I live, I’ll enjoy every moment of my captivity.
At this point, I’m more like a faithful dog than anything else. I may growl occasionally for no reason at all, but I would protect her in an instant, even though I’m fully aware that she is most unlikely to need my protection.
Most particularly, she rewards me with a pat on my head, beautiful meals, and a smile which is mine, all mine.
This sad old world has always had
Suffering and pain in it,
That makes anything we experience
Tame by comparison.
When you have the ability
To cry at someone else’s hurt,
That is the definition
Of a real man or a real woman.
Alf, you might say, was physically strange in appearance and yet he was highly intelligent. I know this story to be true because I met Alf when he finally got to the planet Earth and told me this story. Me, I was just gullible enough to think that his story had to be true. My contact with Alf was one of pure pleasure.
Actually Alf hailed from a different planet which he called ‘Chickendom’. On this strange planet chickens were unquestionably the most highly evolved form, since they had far more intelligence than anybody else, even humans on Earth! And then came Alf. His parents looked like everybody else. Sadly, Alf was different from the very beginning.
Actually, he had a nose on him that made you think of a pig on Earth. Other chickens breathed a sigh of relief when he decided to leave his home planet. Even his parents had no objections to him leaving. After all, Alf was ‘different’.
First stop along the way was to a real colony of space chickens on a comet. This comet was due to collide eventually with rock debris. Alf took great pains to inform the space chickens that disaster was about to befall their comet.
They paid no attention to him and so he left. As to whether or not they might have accepted him, he never found out. And so he moved on, at last, for the planet Earth.
What Alf wanted more than anything was social acceptance. It had taken so long to get to earth. Alf found a farm which had a lot of chickens and a few pigs. From the very beginning the chickens didn’t like him because he was ‘different’ and had no proper place in the pecking order of chickens. Obviously he was too smart for them.
As for the pigs, they had a snout highly reminiscent of Alf’s but they had this weird tendency to roll in mud and this was something Alf wouldn’t do.
All in all his stay on the farm was brief and the chickens and pigs breathed a sigh of relief when he finally left.
Surely there was some place on the primitive planet Earth for an odd creature like Alf. He didn’t have much hope but he had to try. After what seemed to be an impossibly long journey, he was tired and hungry enough to eat bark off of trees to survive. At that critical point Alf stumbled onto a hobo’s camp in the woods. It was obvious that he needed food and drink. More than that, he just wanted to find a friend. In the hobo’s camp, people were very quick to recognize his needs. They may not have had much, but what they did have, they were glad to share with anyone. Finally Alf had found his Mecca.
He listened to their stories with awe. When they were done, Alf told his stories of his life in outer space. For hobos, the stories were hard to believe, but that was ok for them because they liked Alf so much.
Alf remained in their camp for many years after that. Finally Alf decided to move on in search of a new adventure. At this point the hobo camp breathed a sigh of happiness for Alf, yet was truly sad to see him go.
A story written for me (Leah Stone) by Grandpa.
Rest in peace, Grandpa. I am breathing a sigh of happiness for you, yet sad to see you go.
Written about 2 weeks before he passed away.