Archive for the ‘feeling older’ category

Old Softies

June 16, 2017

bud and dadTwice a week, I find myself in rooms with many men who grew up with difficult, even abusive fathers, men who say things like, I know my father loved me, even if he couldn’t show it.   I am fortunate to have had a father who made it clear that he loved me, more often by his actions than his words.  Was he difficult?  Not by the standards of my friends in those rooms.  Still, he could be a strict disciplinarian with a quick hand (as was the nature of discipline back then) and he had a tendency to push me toward being better by pointing out the things I didn’t do well instead of my successes (also more common back then).  He was a man of few words.  My uncle once said to me, Your Dad doesn’t have much to say but when he does, he sure knows what he’s talking about.   Dad wasn’t given to emotional or philosophical discussions … that was the province of my Mom.  No one ever called my Dad a Softie and if they had, he’d likely have considered it insulting. (more…)

Memorial Day 2017

May 29, 2017

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I graduated from college in 1966, just as U.S. combat troops were being deployed in Vietnam. It was perhaps our most unpopular war, and like many young men, I was opposed to the war … giving the world the odd sight of a grey Volvo with a peace sticker parking in the lot of one of our nation’s largest defense contractors. Back then, our military was largely based on the draft, something that I was able to avoid because of my job. Was that fair? Maybe not but I am sure I was a better as a designer of submarine equipment than I ever would have been as a soldier. It was perhaps a low point in our history with conservatives shouting, My country right or wrong, and protestors chanting, Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids have you killed today? It seemed to be a war fought without a real will to win. I had a friend who served and returned with tales of being sent out on Search and Destroy missions, only to call in air support having found the enemy and find none was available. Students protesting the war were shot by soldiers at Kent State University and returning soldiers were harassed by anti-war protesters in airports. (more…)

Seven Tee Three

May 20, 2017

Since I started blogging in 2009, it has been traditional to post something here on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog for my birthday, which is today.  May 20, 1944.   A long time ago.  A long scroll down the list of years when you are required to provide your birthdate online.   A very different time and place than I inhabit at Seven T Three. I spent my first year living with my Mom and grandparents while Dad served in Italy, then in a bud 1950smodest apartment in New Haven, Connecticut.   If I look at my life now, I’d have to say we didn’t have much but I had a loving, attentive family and lots of friends. According to firsthingsfirst.org,  Recent scientific research has shown that the connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities – like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving, communication and self-esteem – are formed in these early years. Or not formed. And it’s much harder for these essential brain connections to be made later in life.   When I was five, I told a neighbor I wanted to be a nuclear physicist, so I guess those first five years served me well.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.

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Life … in Session

April 25, 2017

thermoThe first time I heard the saying, Life is in Session, was about 24 years ago in a 12-Step meeting for families and friends of alcoholics.   Someone was going through a crisis and after they shared about it, they closed with, I guess life is just in session.   I’ve probably heard the phrase thousands of times since then and it has never been used in reference to a pleasant or exciting event in life.   It has always been associated with a difficult stretch of time, probably because families and friends of alcoholics seem to have more than their share of those.   It is not so much a complaint as an acceptance that life is not always easy and that we are probably best off trying to learn something from what we are going through instead of just complaining.  The notion that life is a classroom offering lessons we are intended to learn appeals to me philosophically … it even fits with what my Mom taught me about life … that it’s for growing.   As somewhat of a lifelong student, it’s a notion that helps keep me going if I can see the value of the lessons I’m learning.   But I’ve never done well in required course if I can’t see their purpose. (more…)

Enclave

March 30, 2017

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I am most often a grateful person who can look to the good things that life has given me instead of focusing on the difficulties.  That is not an ability I was born with, in spite of the fact that I am the son of a woman who could do exactly that, even in her later years when the effects of diabetes were making her life harder and harder.   Fortunately, pragmatic optimism and an attitude of gratitude can be learned … my particular education came in the rooms of a 12-Step program but I am sure there are other places it can be found.  However, for the last few months … and in particular, the last few weeks … issues with my adult son have dragged me downward.   A clash of lifestyles made it necessary for us to (finally) push him out the door and this week, after several false starts, he moved out … not, of course, without some nasty arguments with us on the way.  To say life at home has been stressful is an understatement and it certainly doesn’t end with his moving.  He is still our son and still on our minds. (more…)

The Glass Man

February 6, 2017

tmp_26154-th41331107174I have never liked to use the phone. Conversations and transactions, whether personal or business, that I easily conduct in person become loathesome by phone.   I don’t know why.  Perhaps it is because I come from a family of phonophobes.  I don’t think I have ever had a conversation of more than five minutes with either my father or my brother, and while my mother and sister were more that willing to converse on the on the phone, neither seemed to know that it was a device that could both place and receive calls.   On the other hand, perhaps it is a characteristic of most men. In my Thursday Night Men’s Group, calling the guys, whether it is for help with a problem or just to talk, is part of the program.   Whether it is the dislike of using of the phone or of asking for help, most of the men refer to the phone as too heavy to pick up.  Having lots of company doesn’t make being a phonophobe any more acceptable at home. (more…)

Razors

January 25, 2017

gilletteWhen I was about sixteen and headed off to a high school dance with a date … which means it was probably a prom … my Dad stopped me and told me I should shave before I went.   In a town that was largely Italian, I may have been two or three years past the usual first-shave age, but I was thrilled none-the-less.   Every boy wants to be a man until they’ve tried it for 20 or 30 years, at which point he realizes how much fun being a boy was.   My first shave was with my Dad’s electric razor.   As my beard thickened, I got my own Gillette double-edged safety razor, just like Dad’s.   You may not know that King Camp Gillette was the inventor of the disposable double-edged blade and was the supplier of safety razors to American troops during World War I.  Because GIs were allowed to keep their razors when the war was over, Gillette had a guaranteed customer base for his blades, making Gillette the dominant force in shaving supplies. (more…)