A Tale from 2007


March 5, 2022- It has now been eleven years, since Penny winged her flight to be with our Lord. As her passage took place on a Saturday, this day was especially poignant. Having been in Phoenix, and the cemetery, on Thursday took some of the edge off of this day’s ambiance. I also followed my Saturday morning routine, and having a Baha’i Zoom devotional, that was itself based in Phoenix, as part of that routine was also a plus.

Ten of our twenty-nine years together were spent in Phoenix. Although the community is large and the people are quite busy with their daily lives, Penny made a positive impression on a lot of people. Her joie de vivre was irrepressible, almost to the end. She did not use her disability as an excuse to refrain from living her faith. Fifteen years ago, in the midst of her decline in mobility, and just after she had to be wheelchair bound, we were invited to attend a prayer meeting that was on the second floor of an apartment complex, and there was no elevator.

She asked me to help her to the stairs, and proceeded to carefully climb the stairs, on her hands and knees, reversing the process by coming down each step on her buttocks when the meeting was over. I brought the empty wheelchair up and down, standing behind, then in front of her, as was prudent. The device was her chair while we were in the apartment.

There went a genuine hero.

The Road to 65, Mile 306: Sis


September 29, 2015, Chino Valley- I spent the afternoon up here, meeting parents of some of my students and going over materials and procedures with which I will carry on this teaching enterprise, starting October 12.

Today is my only sister’s birthday, so I gave her a call.  She and her husband are in the midst of a long-desired trip, seeing fabulous wilderness, in another part of the country.  It does my heart good to see this, with her life of service having in some ways eclipsed my own.  Her four children and seven grandchildren stand in testament to this.

Sis has been my friend and confidant for most of our lives.  She has survived challenges that would make a lesser person fold up the tent and head for cover.  She has kept on, taken one day at a time, and has never lost her joie de vivre, or ever-present smile.  She  has never lost her love for family, or sense of what is right.

On this day, I can only offer thanks for her presence, and for her unwavering support through the tough years of my beloved wife’s decline.  I am blessed with the best of families, and Sis is no small part of that.  May these birthdays long continue.

The Road to 65, Mile 122: The Lifeboat Exercise


March 30, 2015, Prescott-   My job today involved guiding five classes of Eighth Graders through choosing seven people, out of a possible twelve, to hole up in a bomb shelter, following a hypothetical nuclear holocaust.  This is the culmination of their study of the Cold War Era.

It is, as many will have guessed, a variation on the Lifeboat activity, which many of us have done, in Psychology 101 or as an icebreaker at a business convention.  One gets to play God, or at least presume to advise the Supreme Being.

The students took this responsibility very seriously, and with the re-population of Planet Earth in the balance, being young and highly intelligent worked to the hypothetical survivors’ advantage.   The lone hexagenarian was left out in the Nuclear Winter.  Then again, a nineteen-year-old, of average intelligence, was also culled from the sack.

Each of us does the lifeboat exercise on a regular basis.  We let some people get close to us, and others, try as they might, are kept at arm’s length.  It is human nature, though thankfully such selectivity does not result in harm or death on a regular basis.  Most people who are cut out of one situation find that, as that door closes, another opens.

When I was growing up, and throughout my twenties, I learned to stay flexible and to circulate widely, so as not to depend to excess on any one person or group.  Thus, my love of travel became more than just a means to joie de vivre.  It was a path to survival.  After nearly thirty years of marriage, I learned calmness and patience, in place.  In widowhood, life is more of a mix.  While I will not let myself be either cast out of the lifeboat or shackled within it, the safe haven is a fine place to have close by.