Altogether Fitting and Proper

7

May 27, 2019-

The morning dawned,

and all were present.

The rain was here,

to bless the events of the day ahead.

The clouds lingered overhead,

to offer the promise

of further blessings.

The Sun peeked,

to let us know

that there is

always hope.

The politicians are here,

to show that they

at least appreciate

our right to be freely represented.

Friends are here,

to remind me

that I’m not alone.

Foes and naysayers are here,

to remind me

that no one

can meet everyone

else’s expectations

and wants.

Conservatives are here,

to maintain the best

of what we have.

Liberals are here,

to ensure that society

does not remain

uniformly static.

Children are here,

because mankind has

a bright future.

Seniors are here,

to share the better part

of our immediate past.

The choirs, male and female,

are here,

because everyone has

a voice that is

worth hearing.

My mind is here,

to keep a lid

on the whimsies

that sometimes

threaten

to carry me off.

Memories and appreciation

will remain.

Thank you, for having been, my grandparents,

my father, little brother,

departed aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Thank  you for your service,

Uncles Carl, Ernie, Charlesie, Jimmy,Eddie, Tom, Bob , Sonny, Al and John;

Aunt Toddy; Cousins Gordon Spousta and Mike Madigan;  friends Stan Egan, Dicky

Devine,”Little” Charlie Stack, Mike Kmita, Paul Smith, Lori Ann Piestewa.

On this day, all who served with honour are to be honoured themselves,

for having given the supreme sacrifice-either dying in combat,

or later, from its effects.

Mr. Lincoln had it right:  It is altogether fitting and proper, that we give such remembrance.

 

 

In The Blood

4

February 14, 2019-

It’s been a rough few days- with a dear friend falling and suffering some serious injuries, another friend diagnosed with cancer and still others with chronic illnesses, not getting any better. The weather here has been rambunctious- soaking rain, a good thing in the long run, has fallen steadily for the past thirteen hours.  More is on the way, followed by snow in the latter part of this weekend.

I have had much time to reflect on the nature of love, on this day of cards and chocolate.  I have to look at myself, as always. I don’t hold grudges; if a person who savaged me later comes to me in need, I find a way to help meet that need.  I have made terrible errors in judgement- and find it critical to make amends to the person, where possible.  I don’t always feel loved, and have to then look at what I am projecting outward.

Love shows itself in a myriad ways-the bottom line being that the beloved feels the goodness of heart.  Words alone are not one of those ways.  Neither is merely providing a place of residence: Slavemasters, after all, provided a home of sorts, for those who were frequently brutalized.  Constantly abusing another, and getting by with apologies, is NOT love.

Love is in the blood.  My parents’ love for us came naturally and never receded.  The same is true of my love for my late wife, and for our child.  Suffice it to say, any children coming from his own marriage will find three truly loving grandparents standing behind their mother and father.

Love is in the blood.  Any way I can help a suffering friend, I will.  Grand gestures, though, have to be kept to a minimum.  Those are the first things, upon which a hater or critic will seize, as evidence of one’s fecklessness.   I’ve had that thrown in my face, more than once, and sometimes rightfully.

Love is in the blood, and thus can’t be erased easily, if at all.

Season’s Greetings

13

December 18, 2018, Prescott-

So now, my full days of school, for 2018, are in the rear view mirror.  Three abbreviated school days remain, before we all take a break for the period which, for many, is a time of celebration and revelry.  For others, it will be a time of remembrance of a Great Being, Whose sacrifice and teachings are fully intended to bring peace to those who understand them.  For still others, it will be a time of lying low and making do with very little.  Then, the Gregorian clock will reset itself, and we will have 2019 AD/CE. (I am old school, and prefer the former, in figuring time since the Birth of the Christ.  Further disclosure: We Baha’is determine our place in time, dating from the Declaration of al-Bab, in May, 1844 and thus will refer to next year as 176 Baha’i Era, or B.E.  For general social purposes, though, I will continue to date my posts by the Gregorian system.)

During this period of  revelry, rest, reflection and resilience, I wish these things, to the following:

Seniors (75 and onward):  May your curiosity continue and may it bring you the recognition and relevance that ought to come with accrued wisdom .  The elder among you raised our generation and can take large credit for the best that we have been able to offer the world, through your parenting.  The younger among you are our older cousins, siblings and mentors.  It would have been harder growing up without your shared experiences and occasional babysitting. You remain friends, and vital presences in my life-Mom, Uncle Jim and Aunt Jackie, Aunt Janet, Aunt Carol, both Aunts Helen, Aunt Gail, Uncle Jerry,  and my online friends and older cousins, (you know well to whom I am referring).

My Contemporaries (55-74):  My siblings, many cousins, classmates, immediate elders and juniors, and a good many of my friends-We have gone through many of the same experiences, hard times, great celebrations, triumphs and tragedies, victories and losses.  We have seen Woodstock and the Men on the Moon; the gradual “shrinking” of Planet Earth, and changes that we never anticipated. Considering that my first phone call, to my late Aunt Hazel, was aborted by a shrill voice telling me to get off the phone, as it was a party line “used  by grown-ups, for important matters”. I did as I was told, and remember my mother’s eyes rolling, as she quipped, “important matters, like everyone else’s business!” Now, the picture phones and calls between vehicles, of which I once dreamed, are de rigeur.  May our days not be hamstrung by health-related woes, to the extent that we can use natural remedies, exercise and a well-varied diet, to keep us going.  May we continue to love those older and younger than we; and because we first know to love ourselves.

Millennials and Generation X (20-54):  You have brought many of the ideas of which I once dreamed, as a child and teen, into being.  Many of you were my students and counselees.  I helped a fair number, confused some and let others down, but loved all of you.  Among you are my nieces and nephews, and my own beloved son and daughter-in-law.  You grew up in my hometown of Saugus; or in the woods of central Maine;  or in the elite families who sent you to  a boarding school in the midst of the Sonoran Desert; or on the Navajo and Hopi nations, reared by loving, but often struggling extended families, who gave me more than I could ever repay; or in the western Sonoran Desert, a string of communities that gave newcomers a wary, if cordial, welcome-even when several were newcomers, themselves; or you grew up, as our son did, moving from town to town and making the best of life, even when it felt lonely.  I wish you a future far better than the recent past has shown you, and know that you have it within, to make wondrous things happen.

Generation Z (Newborns to 19)- I am thrilled to see the older among you come of age, shed the misgivings of your elders and take on the challenges that the Universe has sent your way, either because of the nature of life or because of what the rest of us have managed to create.  Every generation hands down both blessings and banes to its progeny, so do forgive us and know that you are also very much loved.  You have come into my life, as my working years are winding down and you have given me the confidence, the sense that my volunteer, travel and, quite possibly, grandparent years will be as bounteous and fulfilling as all that has gone before. May we all greet and nurture the generations  that come after you, as well.

To all, I treasure my time among you and may it long yet continue. A Merry Christmas, Bountiful Kwanzaa, Joyful Solstice and Healthy, Prosperous and Happy 2019, to each and every one.

 

Gratitude Week, Day 5: Family

11

November 22, 2018, Prescott-

There is no more important institution in this world than family.  I  have spent time, this year, with people who cherish their families and those who despise their families.  Counting myself among the former, I enjoyed communication with one of my siblings, and left messages for my mother and two other siblings. Son and daughter-in-law are on for tomorrow, by Messenger phone.

My family also includes those close to me here. In late morning, I went with one of my better friends to an early holiday meal. A young couple included me in their noon Thanksgiving gathering, so five of us enjoyed a perfect, complete traditional dinner, in the couple’s comfortable home in Dewey, a twenty-minute drive from Prescott. The meal had a British, rather Celtic, touch to it, having been largely prepared by a delightful young lady form England, who is a co-worker of the husband.  I ate with relish, but in moderation, knowing there was another gathering in store for me, later on. After a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation, following the meal, I headed home for a brief rest.

Towards evening, I headed out again, for yet another perfect gathering, at the forest home of another of my best friends.  The family, whom I have known for five years, was joined this year by my friend’s older daughter and her bright, engaging 2-year-old grandson. It’s always a sublime pleasure to watch a child experiencing things which we may regard as commonplace, for the first time, and with great enthusiasm.  He had great joy showing me each of his toy vehicles and telling what they were.  His other pleasure was in helping decorate his grandmother’s Christmas tree.  My friend pulls out all the stops in her holiday meal, with plenty of help from her two daughters and a sister.  After the meal, we all watched “The Greatest Showman”, which reminded me of the very basic commitment that is family and how easy it is to lose track of what matters.

I have had my variation on the dilemma faced by P.T. Barnum- Does career matter so much that family becomes trivial?  My choice was similar to his; when career threatened my marriage, I pulled back from work.  When Penny’s health declined, work became nearly irrelevant, much to the consternation of my superiors and their politician-benefactors.  Like Barnum, I bounced back and survived.

In the long term, my son is doing well, as are my siblings.  Mother is holding her own.  I am in a good place, in terms of work and in terms of friends.  The bedrock, though, is in how I was raised and in the importance I have given to those closest to me.  That will only get stronger, as time goes on.

Whatever

3

May 5, 2018, Prescott-

(Part 3 of the Mr. Ribeiro story will be dated tomorrow, May 6.  In the meantime, this came up.)

You said you hoped to be my friend.

Then, when I started to get too close,

you backed off.

You wanted to be my friend,

Yet, when your good buddy trolled me

and I stood up to him,

you became very distant.

I’ve seen this before,

and it’s okay.

I am no more alone now,

than I was before you

came on my site.

Do what makes you happy.

Just leave me out of it.

2018 and the Four F’s

15

January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

Conversation

4

April 20, 2017, Prescott-

Boy:  “You’re old!”

I:  “True, that.”

Boy:  “You have no friends.”

I:  “Actually, I do.  One is very special to me.  Many others are also in my heart.”

Boy:   “No one has friends, so that’s a lie.”

I:  ” Well, I have friends.”

Boy:  “Pants on fire!”

I:  “Her name is _____”.

Boy:  “She doesn’t exist.”

I:  “She would beg to differ.”

Boy:  “People treat ME, like I don’t exist.”

I:  “You very much exist, to me.”

Boy:  “Well, no one likes you, or me.”

I:  ” That’s sad to know.”

Boss:  “Alright, you two.  Quiet in there!”

I:  Silence

Boy:  ” See what I mean.  She would rather we don’t exist.”

I:  “No.  You just need to follow rules.”

Boy:  “I’ll never follow rules, ever!”

I:  Silence

Second boss:  “_______, sit against that wall for one minute, then come out.”

Boy: (After five minutes of not sitting against the wall:  “Let me out, so I can do what the first teacher said.”

I:  “Certainly.  Go clean up your mess.”

Boy:  Goes and cleans mess.

Second boss:  “Hey!  You didn’t follow MY instruction!!”

I:  ” Look at what he’s actually doing.  Let’s choose our battles.”

Second boss: “We’ll have this conversation later.”  (Leaves room in a huff.)

Boss, to boy:  “Welcome back, _______!  Thank you for following instructions.”

I:   “Let’s follow the rest of the plan.”

Boy:  “Okay, Mr. B.  Thank you for putting up with me.”

(The above is an altered version of a tale out of school, indicating what is wrong with both the education system and the American concept of hierarchy. The biggest lie ever told is “Children should be seen and not heard.”)

Three Verses

3

August 13, 2016, Prescott- I have a lot on my plate, so today, and for the next two days, I offer three separate topics, in verse.

No Upgrade Needed

I was blessed with the gold standard, as my son and I con

Then, she was called to the Placeless, and physically alone, I demurred.

I am in a good place, nonetheless, living in comfort, at least as I see it.

The roof  does not leak.  There are no scorpions, skittering about.

My work pays the bills, and volunteering cheers my spirit.

I see the bright blessed day, the dark, sacred night; joy, within and without.

The Universe saw fit to present me with a new car.

Collaborators, colleagues and friends, are never far.

Years back, I longed for someone special.

Her spirit lingers, tells me to fear no ill.

No upgrade is needed, whispers my Shining Star.

 

Change/Constant

Reports of our demise are premature.

The desert shimmers; the sunsets dazzle.

Cars bunch up, each morning and evening.

Ants march in unison; each looks straight ahead.

The only surprise, day by day, is what the Maestro of Chaos has to say next.

There is no surprise, coming from the Lady of Hope.

Toys sit, unused.  Children stare into screens, bemused.

Those who erred on the side of wicked find there are precious few places to lay their heads.

Dulcet dreams, though, bring my heart and mind to solace.

Each dawn rises, and warmth awakens my heart.  I find the constancy fills my spirit, no less.

Playthings; Really?

Men in hardhats, men in suits, men on furlough

Same as ever, taunts and hoots

Come from many, without a thought.

I acknowledge the lovely, the “hot”.

The mind, though, is more captivating.

The snarkiness, the challenge, the striving,

These are what I most treasure.

I had the joy, upon a time, of long conversations,

Into the night-once until first light.

She made me promise not to let our words and thoughts stray so far again.

She made me promise never, ever, to lift an unkind hand, or give voice to an injurious thought.

I kept those promises.  The goal was the golden strands of the spirit,

the Heavenly Rapunzel, letting down the cascade of coiffure,

that she and I would, hand over hand,

hand in hand, achieve the eternal,

as one soul.

Women are never playthings; partners as objects is a mindless construct.

People are not implements; viewing the Other is a means to self-destruct.