Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Unlikely Hiro

Hiro is simply adorable. His child-like belief that he can save the world has helped make "Heroes" worth watching.

Hiro is my favorite Hero.

His character became even more interesting after we got a glimpse of one version of who Hiro may become.

The more one watches Heroes the more you see that no one's future or past is set in stone.

The ability to time travel changes all that.

In fact, if we had this ability I would think History, might not be taught as often in school as Contingency Thinking.

Since nothing in the past or the future is certain in this world, how you handle what you see now, when you choose to back or forward to correct or adjust your desired life is all contingent on what critical thinking skills you use now.

Even though I have limited ability to physically time travel, I believe that Contingency Thinking is still a skill that may be needed with our youth.

The ability to really think things through, weigh the costs and benefits of decisions may be as important as studying others lives in a History format.

I remember being asked just before my 10 year reunion to fill out a survey.
One of the questions was:
"What would you do if you could go back 10 years?"

My answer at the time:
"Jump ahead 10 years."

I think if I were to answer that question now I would have to say I would also write a letter to myself on all the things I have learned and then, I would still probably tear the letter up and jump ahead 10 years.

The me of today is still not wise enough to be able to write that powerful of a letter to the me of yesterday.

Maybe if I jump ahead 10 years, I could get some help on that one.

Meanwhile, my husband remains my number one Hero.
My Dad is right there with him.
Our sons show promise of being world changers as well.

Yep- Now is a good place to be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

So Much To Say Grace Over

Looking back on other Thanksgivings and holidays in general,
I have learned that holidays can bring out the best and the worst in people.

For this moment, let’s focus on the best.
I heard a friend tell me how 40 people fed 400 in the streets of Puerto Rico.

I watched on the news as many here in Nashville dropped off hundreds of turkeys and other
food items to shelters.

I saw on the news that more people were out shopping this holiday.
They spent less this year as they hunted for bargains.

I saw no reports of people fighting while in line on Black Friday.

We had 14 sit down at our house.

All were well.

Everyone was kind to one another.

I missed the other 18 or so people who I would have loved to have seen in our home this holiday.

It rained and rained. So needed here in TN.

We built a fire and snuggled against the chill after all our family and friends headed home.

So much to say grace over.

We are blessed indeed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Love YOU

My Dad always did things to show he loved us.
He was home in time for dinner every night.
He was a scout leader for my brothers.
He was active in Rotary and insisted we get out there in the community to help others.
He lectured.
He would watch TV with us if it was PBS.
He stayed up all night building my play kitchen.
He still loved me after I said I wanted the truck my brother had gotten.
He still loved me after I got him a pink stuffed elephant that year.
In our toughest years when money was tight and in later years when we had more than enough…
He still loved us the same.
He tried to teach me to golf.
After 33 whiffs on the 2nd Hole at 6:30 AM, he nicely said,
“I bet the 3rd hole will be better”
When I came home with a Tuba and said I wanted to march, he still loved me.
It did not matter that he had been paying $10 a week for Flute lessons for 5 years.
Was Dad perfect, I don’t remember him being less than excellent.
Perfect is for God after all.
Last week we went to go see Dad.
He quietly brought up “I Love You”.
He did not know why he had a hard time saying it.
He knows that when I have said it over the years, he could have said it back.
He does love me.
He said he did not want me to worry if he started to say, “I Love You”.
He was not losing it. It did not mean there was anything more wrong than what we already are fighting.
He had a friend tell him it would be good if he tried to say it.
So, when we left him on Sunday he said it first.
I Love You.
I know Dad. I know.
The words are good. His desire to change this late in life is good.
The way he raised me. The way he showed me he loved me.
I love you too Dad.

Monday, November 05, 2007

No Left Turns

My wonderful sister in law sent me this. As I read this, I was so touched by the love story. I was also humbled by the wisdom and the ability to know who you are and live well within that reality.

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed.

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbor s all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us wouldturn 16 first.

But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father' s idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he wou ld wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile wal k and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was dri ving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

"Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live
much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:

"I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet"

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, Or because he quit taking left turns. "

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it."