I was born July 24, 1947 at Nazareth Hospital in northeast Philadelphia, twelve miles from Bristol where my parents lived and where I would grow up. I was a baby boomer, my father was in the Navy during the war; mom worked and waited for him. They were married in 1946. Since they were the first their group to have a child, my father was sometimes called “father” by friends. I doubt if many care about the details of my life but after 70, 71 to be exact, years, I find the need to reflect and record.
My life history is one fairly typical American. No Tom Jones or Ishmeal here. Immigrant grandparents, religious family (Roman Catholic), small town, self-employed parents (father, Vince, an appliance store, mother, Cis, a dress shop), four sisters (Cissi, Vicky, Marylee, Liz), college, married young, Peace Corps, one child (Jenny), two grand children (Eli and Viv), single family home, 40 plus years in high school and college teaching and administration, political and community involvement, local and international travel, hobbies (reading, writing, photography), 67 at retirement, too quickly followed by major medical issues. My life in under 100 words.
This morning at six I am sitting in a screened porch on Ayers Pond, Orleans, Cape Cod, MA. The sun is up and beginning to reflect the sailboats in the marina. I have a cup of coffee and blueberry muffin from a great local bakery, yogurt and blueberries. The bird feeder needs to be filled. In the next two hours the rest of the house will get up, Jen, Rob, Eli and Viv, my wife of 50 years, Diane. It’s our third year in this house; six consecutive years with the Kwait’s on the Cape and decades of spending summertime in New England. Life is good, still.
Last year we had to leave Orleans after one week — what do they say, “getting old . . . you can fill in the blank. At home in Yardley, I ended up in St. Mary’s Hospital for ten days. Then months recovering. In 2015 I was hospitalized for months. Last night I got into the kayak, paddled around the Pond. Although I needed help getting out, I proclaimed a second recovery, back to what is now normal. My birthday wish is that I can ride a bike sometime today. It’s been two years, but I thought it was something you never forgot. I remember getting my 80 year old father on a bike in Nantucket.
Recently I’ve heard echoes of my mother’s admonitions, “Can’t means I won’t” or “It’s the little things that count.” “Haste makes waste.” On parents: Tim Russert, “The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” And then there was Twain, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Took me till 71?
My new tagline’ slogan, is “reflect, recharge, renew,” seen on a church in CN while driving to the Cape. I could add “relax” and make it the four “Rs.” Blog and journal writing documents my reflection. I constantly look at the present through the past. Our personal history flows from all that we’ve experienced and done. Our present is also influenced by our world, economics, politics, social trends, technology, war and peace. John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” It’s frightening but the current administration in Washington is influencing who I am today.
For months I’ve been in overdrive recharging. Now that time has passed, I need shorter periods of recharge. It may be an afternoon nap; a shower, a day alone at home, two weeks on Cape Cod, anyone. It’s a constant process; always has been; but more critical as we age. A long walk this morning along the bay shore was refreshing (another “R” word. Lunch was a lobster roll and clam chowder from Young’s at Rock Harbor. This afternoon I’ll rest and recharge before a Birthday dinner, hopefully at the Marshside in Dennis.
The task of “renewal” has been more difficult for me. I want to have some plans, goals, dreams, something new in the final period of my life. At the Smithsonian, retirement year one, I bought a small journal with a historic world globe on the cover. It was to be for my dreams, aspirations, a bucket list if our will. It’s still pretty blank. For most of my life, photography has been a creative outlet. I’d planned on a new more professional camera and lenses. But I haven’t bought it yet; just take many pictures with my phone. I thought about volunteer work. More traveling. Writing a book. Change. Renew?
My mother again, “For good ideas to be worthwhile; they must be put into action.” I’m not worried. Life is good, remember. And I know I’m “moving on.”