"A person's life can be compared quite nicely to the four seasons of the year. This blog is from someone in the Winter of Life enjoying the fruits of his "Summer and Fall" and looking forward to assisting the growth and nourishment for the next generation.

My Father and Grandfather passed on their wisdom through their actions and their stories. This is probably be the most impactful way to pass on wisdom. But the written word can have an affect on lives that extends beyond the memories of a couple of generations. This blog is an attempt to reflection on my life experiences and pass these reflections to future generations of my own family as well as any others who might come across these pages.

Tuesday, August 31

"Give me that old time religion"

Please permit me a blog post of a personal nature without the need to provide advice about something or to expound on a religious topic. 

During a discussion with one of my customers and his wife, I mentioned my Blog “I Believe”.  Thinking he might stump me, he asked me to briefly state my beliefs.  I responded with the Apostles Creed which begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord....”. As I got into the Creed, he and his wife both joined me as we ended the Creed with, “... the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting”.  The three of us laughed and parted as brothers and sisters in Christ. As they walked away, I thought, “Why had that Creed popped into my head so quickly?” As I pondered this, I began to understand the legacy of my many years in the Methodist Church (now the United Methodist). The constant and often boring repetition of certain portions of the service were silently criticized by us young folks. “I get nothing out of saying those things. I know them by heart and could say them in my sleep.”  What seemed terribly old fashioned then served the real purpose of cementing them and their message in my mind and heart.

I attend a local Baptist Church and always leave the service with a sincere feeling of having worshiped God and having been filled with the Holy Spirit through the music and the inspired message of our pastor. 

Saturday, July 31

Who is that Super Woman?

I went grocery shopping the other day.  “Honey", she said sweetly, "we need to do more things together.” “Okay, I’ll go shopping with you.”  If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, I would find some other way to spend more time with my beloved, like skydiving or auto racing at 200 miles an hour.

Let me go on record: my wife is a good cook. She works and we eat out a fair amount of time, but when she is cooking, my mouth waters in anticipation.  What she puts into the food or whether it is “good” for me or what it costs are not important.  Do I have enough time to savor this meal is all I feel compelled to ask.

Back to the grocery store.  Since I eat cereal for breakfast with some banana slices on top,  I picked out a couple of boxes of cereal and carried them to the cart.  Nothing in life prepared me for her questions.  “What’s the price? Did you check to see if they were 2 for the price of 1? How much fat is in them? What is the sodium content? How many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving?  How big is a serving? Can you eat just one serving amount?” and the topper, “Let me see if I have a coupon for that specific cereal.”  Then she informed me, with a self confident grin, “I have a coupon and they are cheaper at Kroger so I will pick them up on Tuesday which is Senior Day.”   All I wanted was a box of cereal!

As so the time we spend together at the grocery store went like that through the canned goods, the lunch meats, and the produce, “I’ve seen bananas for 39¢ a pound at Harris Teeter.” I searched through hundreds of coupons to find one worth 25¢ for a tube of toothpaste. Not only must you find the right coupon but it must not have expired yet. Huh! I learned you don’t squeeze peaches you smell them to see if they have a peachy smell. You thump watermelon and gently squeeze oranges and search for a hard head of lettuce.

Monday, June 28

If I had a Million dollars

With the Tennessee lottery, it is common for folks to dream about winning an enormous sum of money. Would you take the lump sum, or would you opt for the security of a guaranteed payout of the full amount for 20 years? How much would taxes cut into the amount? More importantly, what would you do with the money after all taxes are paid? Everyone, even the good Southern Baptist among us, have pondered these questions.

When my kids were young, we would play a game with them. “What would you do with a million dollars?” Their young eyes would light up at the prospect of, what seemed like, an unlimited amount of money. As they named the items they mentioned, we would put a value on it and subtract it from the total. First a new house for Mom and Dad, value $65,000 (remember this was back when $1 million was worth $1 million), a new TV, at least a 21”, and new bikes, and a new car, one of those new Vans. And so on the game went until they ran out of things to buy. We always gently reminded them to remember to give to the church and give to a charity. They gleefully agreed but only after they had “bought” all the other stuff as well.

We laughed about our “purchases” and moved on to the next task like real shopping, my personal favorite, ugh. Over the years, the items changed as did their understanding of the value of things. Things like prom dresses, a fantastic vacation, a computer, and so on replaced their earlier choices. I like to imagine what their “purchases” would be today with, say, $10 million. I suspect church and college funding for their children would be higher on the list than a new home for Mom and Dad, as they should be. It would be interesting to see how their values changed as their years and maturity levels increased.

Wednesday, June 23

“A” – Angie Dickinson, “B” - .....

This past week the hot weather at home drove my wife and I into the welcoming arms of Sunny South Florida. Well that and the offer of a free week at a friend’s condo in Naples. If you think Tennessee is hot, go to South Florida. I was never so thankful for air conditioning. But I digress.

Hoping to save some money since we had the free lodging, we decided to drive to Naples. After all it’s all Interstate 75 from Chattanooga and Chattanooga is only two hours from the house. How hard could that be? Well, I will tell you it is not hard driving, just set the cruise control on 75 and set back and guide the car. But it is boring as all get out! My wife finished the newspaper by the time we climbed Monteagle Mountain. We had breakfast in Chattanooga. The book on tape lasted to Macon and we still had not gotten out of Georgia nor were we half way there.

Over the years, we have developed a fairly simple game to pass the time. There aren’t a lot of rules, in fact the rules are broken regularly, nor is it hard. The game does require a two unique characteristics. You have to have watched a lot of movies and TV shows and have a good memory.

Starting with A and continuing through the alphabet, name a movie star or TV star whose first or last name begins with your letter. “A” - Audie Murphy, “B” - Bette Davis, “C” – Catherine Zeta Jones and so on. The first round is fairly easy and the second isn’t bad. And some letters aren’t bad. But can you name three movie stars with a first or last name beginning with “Q”? Anthony Quinn and Quentin (what’s his last name?) How about “Z”? or “U”. The fun part of the game is naming a movie they were in or naming their co-star or laughing over a line from the movie.

The real fun comes after you have played the game to exhaustion and moved on the something else to

Monday, June 14

Laughing at yourself is good!

These aren’t necessarily deep thoughts or pieces of sage advice; I just thought they were funny. Thanks to my good friend Bert Wakely for sending them to me. Was he trying to tell me something? I have added a few quotes as well.

An older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia, he asked to speak to his son. 'Yes, Dad, what is it? ' 'Don't be nervous, son; do your best and just remember, if it doesn't go well, if something happens to me, your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife....'

Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me! I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

My personal favorite: A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor's office. 'Is it true,' she wanted to know, 'that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?' 'Yes, I'm afraid so,' the doctor told her. There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, 'I'm wondering, then, just how serious is my condition because this prescription is marked 'NO REFILLS'.

Monday, May 31

Life Ain't Fair

Almost all parents have heard their children lament, “That’s not fair” when confronted with one of the thousands of disappointments that come their way. “Why does Jane get to stay up and I have to go to bed?” Why can’t I have a new bike like Charlie?” The disappointments don’t stop as we get older, they just change. “It’s not fair that Marshall gets a car and I don’t” “It’s not fair that Mrs. Johnson gives good grades to the band kids and not the rest of us.”

Like all of us, I have had my share of “It’s not fair” moments. Most have been trivial in retrospect. I don’t think any have been life changing. Over the last two years, however, I have been experiencing an “It’s not fair” moment that has put something in prospective for me. After retirement, I began working part time at a local department store during the Christmas season. After the season, part time became full time. Starting pay was not great, $11 per hour, but the work was easy, it didn’t need to be carried home with me and it was fun talking to customers.

To maintain this pay level, you have to maintain a certain sales per hour. Being naive as to the retail business and basely an optimistic person, this requirement was no major concern. And then the recession hit and business predictably slowed dramatically. My first review resulted in a $.50 per hour reduction. The second review, after the recession deepened, resulted in a $1.50 reduction to $9.00 an hour. Since this was totally unacceptable, I requested and was allowed to go on a straight commission basis. Since then, pay per hour has been averaging $12.50 an hour.

Now this is not written to solicit your sympathy, but to give you a feel for the situation. In the same department is a gentleman, about my age, who constantly produces sales per hour sufficient to warrant $18 per hour, and he is only part time. But, and this is the basis of the article, he works part time three evenings a week from 5:00 to 9:00 and all day Saturday and Sunday. If you are familiar with retail sales, these hours are generally the times of the most traffic, larger sales and thus a higher sales per hour.

Wednesday, May 26

You Never Know!

High school class reunions are ____ (you fill in the blank) For me, recently I had my 50th high school class reunion and I had a blast! I was apprehensive about the reunion when I signed up to come several months ago. As the time drew closer, my apprehension grew by leaps and bounds.

I was going to meet people I had not seen in 50 years. Obviously I would not recognize them and properly would even forget their names. Talk about embarrassment! Imagine walking up to someone, looking at their name tag and then saying something stupid like, “Oh yeah, I remember you”. And that’s with the guy’s, imagine how that sounds when glancing down at a woman’s breast!

Fortunately, my apprehension was misplaced. Sure, faces and bodies change but the names came back immediately. The pleasant memories returned and the not so pleasant memories stayed in the background. We hugged and shook hands and slapped each other on the back. Conversations began with, “How are you? What are you doing now? What did you do before you retired?” We really didn’t care what the answers were, we just wanted to talk to old friends and laugh once again. I had one of the major self esteem boosts in my life. Two ladies approached me and confessed they had had a crush on me during our high school days. Talk about grinning from ear to ear!