The Road to 65, Mile 306: Sis

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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

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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.