SHOTS FROM THE FAMILY TREE

At the moment, I am once more poking around my family tree in my on-again/off-again attempt to chronicle my family.  I am lucky to have a nice collection of photos some of which I’ll share here.  I’ve posted some of them in the past.  My mother’s side of the family tree has been filling out nicely, while my dad’s side has been elusive.  I know there was a printing company co-owned by one of my great-greats on my dad’s side and that it was located in Leipzig, Germany. I cannot help but wonder if some of the descendants in my father’s family may have been enemies we fought against in World II.

Then too, in the back of my mind is a comment my father often made, warning me that digging too deeply into the family history may only turn up a bunch of horse thieves. Low ‘n behold, among the family photos I have in my collection is this one of some of the menfolk on my father’s side.  You don’t think?  Naaaah…

Having your picture taken a few generations back was a pretty formal occurrence, certainly not the same atmosphere as today as we snap our cell phone cameras indiscriminately.  The oldest family photographs I have are those of my great grandparents on my mother’s side, Elias Harris and his wife Rachael DeGroot. She was born in 1844 and died when she was 52.  Elias, on the other hand, was seven years older than Rachael and lived until 1911, making him 74 at the time of his death.

Elias and Rachael… I don’t think they were instructed to say “cheese” when they had their pictures taken. 

Unfortunately, I never met my mother’s parents, Louis DeGroot Harris and Hanna (pictured left).  What is sad is that I remember my mother speaking of the various personalities of our family, but I never paid much attention, nor was our history ever written down.   You may not have much interest in your past at this stage of your life, but don’t make the same mistake.  Gather the info now if you still have some folks alive who have the knowledge.  I wish I had.

While there are no photos, the family tree on my mother’s side has been traced as far back as Rachael’ grandparents on both sides of her family. Her mother’s and father’s parents (my great, great, great grandparents) can be traced back to the 1700’s. Whew!

My Mom and Dad as I remember them most.

Back over to my father’s branches, here are my parents, Edward William Kuhn, Jr and Lois Harris (pictured right). And, oh yeah, another great shot is this one below of my dapper grandfather (Edward, Sr.) holding up a utility pole in downtown Baltimore.

The family tree on my father’s side can be traced back to my great x3 grandparents but I just have names and nothing else. I am hoping some newly uncovered documents have surfaced since I last searched a few years ago. 

In the meantime, I leave you with my most cherished family picture. I have posted it in the past so forgive me for hauling it out once more, but it’s just so perfect I can’t help myself.  The lady in the uniform is Aunt May.  She was one of eight (!) siblings my great, great grandparents produced in their spare time.  Aunt May was a train caller.  I can just imagine hearing her rattle off the destinations for the 8:10 from Philly to Boston with all the stops in between and ending with a crescendoing, “all aboard!”  I’d buy a ticket just to hear that!

*****

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(Simulated image. Not my actual back)

I know I am not the first to come out of retirement to resume things I had previously put to rest. And, I am sure I will not be producing postings to my blog to the capacity I once did, but I will generate something when I feel I have something worthy of sharing.  That said…

This past week I got to add a new item to my list of achievements.  I officially became a cancer survivor.  Between you and me, I am not totally sure I had much to do with it. True, I was there cheering on my body and offering moral support, but it was my body that fought the mighty beast…and won!

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2013.  No surprise there; tons of men have prostate cancer.  If you are one to use a decision tree when you are confronted with a major decision, what to do about prostate cancer will have you clinging onto several branches at once.

Briefly, here are the alternatives for dealing with PC.  Note:  I am NOT medically qualified to advise you.  Just the thought of having those little cancer cells swimming around in your crotch, leads many men to hurriedly have the entire prostate removed, or “yanked” as they say. The results here more than likely:  goodbye sex, hello Depends.  If the cancer is aggressive, this may be the best choice. If the cancer is more or less dormant it may remain so for the rest of your life and you can sit back and just keep an eye on it.  This means every few months you have some blood drawn in what is called a “PSA” test. If the reading remains consistently low you can carry on and go about your business. 

Once the PSA readings begin to move upward it’s decision time again:  either yank the prostate or, for example, consider having radiation treatments to kill off the cancer cells.  I opted for this latter alternative two months back. For 21 days I had ten-minute sessions of painless radiation treatments.  I hasten to add these treatments are obviously totally unlike the chemo procedures many cancer patients must endure.  Nope, I wouldn’t begin to claim I went through the same terror. 

I am happy to report my PSA number following my radiation treatments was the lowest it had ever been.  But even more remarkable was the readout for the test I just had. There was no number assigned, just the notation: “undetectable.”

A good friend encouraged me to continue blogging.  He said he liked that my topics were not the usual ten tips toward a better whatever.  He preferred my simply sharing my day-to-day experiences and observations.  I guess it’s like sharing gossip—except the gossip is about me.  Well, you can’t get any more “me” than discussing one’s prostate cancer.  So be it.  I’m back, I guess.  Heard any good stuff lately?

*****

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GOODBYE!

It is time to say goodbye, which I thought would be relatively easy.  But when I checked on the correct spelling of the word, goodbye, even that was complicated.  There are actually several ways, depending on which style source you follow:  goodby, goodbye, good-by and good-bye.  Maybe I should just say so long and let it go at that. 

Marc’s Blog began over 700 postings ago, back in the fall of 2012. It has covered pretty much everything that has been going on with my life, in addition to events and observations I’ve encountered along the way.  It’s been lots of fun and has provided me with a creative output unparalleled to anything else I’ve been involved in.

I hope I may have entertained and inspired some of you.  And, I am grateful for the many comments and “likes” that many of you have left in response–they have made it all worthwhile.  Thank you!    

*****                                                               

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RANDOM TRAVEL THOUGHTS

One’s lifetime, it’s been well established, is made up of passages. Our journey begins in childhood, bounces around a bit in our teen years, explores our world and ourselves as young adults, matures in thought as parent and career builder, then settles in for closure as we turn elderly.

There is an ever-ticking timepiece nestled in our pocket, more so in our soul, as we make this same trek that so many before us have completed and as many others will follow after.  It is curious how each passage carries with it its own “atmosphere” accompanied by specific feelings and attitudes that help us to identify them and the things and people that occupied their time. These “indicators” not only help us remember their various representations, they also played greatly is formulating our personality.  They are stored within us, guided by memories, good and bad, and remain ours exclusively.

If you are prone to explore your individual life’s journey, you can actually remember how you experienced each of the passages you’ve traveled. It’s what makes nostalgia so welcoming, and fondly replays Christmases, birthdays, first kisses and the like.  It can also bring back more solemn moments, even tragedies. These are all the parcels of our lives.  We’ve opened them one by one, stored some, tossed others away.

As I look back, what I found consistent with each passage was how good it felt to complete each one and move onto the next.  Life is a progression and if you are achievement-oriented, you always look forward to the next adventure.  I am not sure I was conscious of these transitions as they occurred, but certainly I am able to define them as their history evolved. 

Oh, perhaps I spoke too soon.  This last passage has not been as welcoming as the others.  It is a real thought-provoker, this final passage.  There is no “looking forward” to another one.  Now, what has been years of accumulating experiences and ideas and material goods along with relationships come and gone—well, most of those things now represent your baggage.  You needn’t even worry about how you will be able to carry it all.  You will not be booking it for the next flight or tossing it into the trunk for that summer vacation.  Your baggage won’t be going on with you,  If you are lucky, perhaps some of it will remain behind and provide a legacy, or if nothing else, fading memories for those who cherished you. This is why, if you believe in a heaven and that you are eventually going there, you have been given a gift.  If you are not a religious person to this degree, well then, buckle up Sparky, there’s no telling what’s next.

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Posted in aging, Campaigns, growing up, lifestyle, living, nostalgia, social, time, travel, where or when | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Given Paws…again

They’re baaaack!  The animals, that is.  I have managed to keep our household pet-free for almost a year, but it was inevitable that some kind of four-legged creature(s) would find its way past me…out-voted again.  Since Bill the Dog died last year, I thought for sure next in would be another pooch.  But Rosemarie and I thought a dog would be a little too demanding as we have both slowed down a bit.  Arrogant Toni the Cat left us two years ago when granddaughter Haley moved to Colorado.  It was fitting that she (Toni) wound up in a much colder climate given the cold shoulder she gave everyone here in Florida.

So it has come to past that we have recently adopted two kittens from the local Humane Society.  I felt pretty confident that we would not be successful in getting all our cat “boxes” checked off.  Here’s the list we went shopping with:  1. Two male kittens. 2. Both from the same litter. 3. Both golden “tiger” in color.  So, in we walked into the Humane Society and guess what just arrived?  Yep, two 3-month old goldens, brothers, just neutered, shots up to date and chips implanted.  Don’t you just hate it when a plan all comes together?

Rosemarie is already referring to them as “the boys” although we did spend a few days auditioning names.  Each had already been given a name at the Humane Society.  One was Buddy and the other, Glitch.  We weren’t crazy about either name and since The Boys didn’t seem to mind, they were soon transitioned into Ben and Jerry.  Rosemarie knew I would not object to those names, though I had suggested the more whimsical “Chip ‘n Dale.”

So we’re off to another change in family, well really not much of a change.  It’s back to tumbling cans of cat food into the supermarket cart each week and my nagging about someone cleaning the kitty litter.  Been there, done cat! 

Hey, there is one thing I just realized about both these guys that is maybe different from all other pets we had through the years…they may actually out-live the two of us!  Me-ouch.

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FATAL DISTRACTION

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A CLEANSING EXPERIENCE

Sitting naked on a bench in the bathroom of my hospital room while two nurses, complete strangers, washed me down from head to toe, is one of the more perplexing ordeals I faced several times during my recent three-plus weeks in the hospital. Adding to my confused state of mind was the fact that my wife sat outside just a few feet away.  I am not sure it was embarrassment I felt—well, yeah, a little I guess—as much as it was my basic shyness about the whole situation.  I could not help but wonder how the two nurses felt.  Sure, it may have been just another day at the office for them, but still, washing down a naked 76-year-old stranger, may have them feeling a little uneasy too.  I suppose everyone attending this party felt a lot better after I was dressed anew and packed up in bed once more, happily eating my morning bowl of oatmeal…what naked old man? Where?

And so it went, one situation after another, as they all began to blend into a daily routine of pill-taking, blood pressure checking and a constant pulling and tugging of my t-shirt as one medical guru after another peered at the trail of stitches and staples that ran like railroad tracks over the contours of my back.  “Hmmm, looks good,” each would say, fully aware that I had no idea whether their assessments were accurate, given I could not see the exhibit at which they poked as if I were the Pillsbury doughboy.  Hmmm indeed.

Did I mention the three-a-days?  These were sessions with the physical and occupational therapists.  These good people would assign me all kinds of challenging tasks…like walking, something I now could not do without the aid of a helping arm or a walker.  It was going to be a long recovery back to Normal, although I suspected that location will have changed a bit once I approach its border.

The hospital food was simply not bearable the first week after surgery.  I lost ten pounds for cry’n out loud.  But as time went on I either grew hungrier or they hired a new chef.  Meals became the highlight event as each was hastily brought in three times daily by my new friend, Wilson.  Wilson, I noticed, was especially adept at hustling in and out of the room faster than a speeding antacid.  He probably had heard just about every complaint and request regarding the offerings we patients usually stared at while wondering how many different ways chicken can be prepared.

As they say, all good things must come to an end.  Likewise, all other things too.  And so it is on the morning you awake in your hospital bed keenly aware that this day is different…it is the day you go home!  With all the exuberance of a sixth-grader hearing the final bell before summer vacation, you find yourself packed up, dressed and ready to go hours before the nursing staff has processed your release papers.  But with the end goal in sight, you cool your jets and savor the moment.  There is something to be said for the value of familiar surroundings…your own bed, the over-stuffed couch in your living room, the freezer load of ice cream in the kitchen, your own bathroom…and especially your own bath—alone!

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LUCKY ME!

Some of you who have been faithful to Marc’s Blog these past few years may recall my postings in early 2020 about the “Great Fall.”  Falls, I understand, are a leading cause of death for people my age.  Well, my fall back in 2020 hasn’t killed me…yet.  I have given it a good fight and while I will not claim victory just yet, I seem to be winning the battle.  The past month of February has had me at the University of Miami’s health complex where some of the best medical magic is performed.   I underwent eight hours straight in the OR as two surgeons removed and replaced faulty hardware in my neck, fused broken parts, pulled and tugged the muscles in my back to form a large flap covering the entire wound. There wasn’t even an intermission when I could have gone to the bathroom and bought some buttered popcorn at the concession stand.  

So here I am, at home healing and hoping my dear Rosemarie has survived it all.  I have much rehab in front of me, but all this has really played second role to what has been provided me these past four weeks…and the “what” has been an incredible outpouring of love and support as friends near and far have kept constant vigil over my wellbeing.

If you do not have even one loyal and ever-present friendship your life is incomplete.  I have been incredibly lucky to have friends, near and far, who have not let me go through my ordeal without being there almost daily.  Their good cheers and wishes had much to do with my sitting here able to peck away once more at this keyboard.  Some are former schoolmates—back as far as middle school. Others are former co-workers, bosses and neighbors.  For once I shall use a phrase I often treat as humor.  This time, however, I offer it with all its sincerity, caring and love…oh the humanity!  

*****

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C-Yuh!

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MORE TIME, MORE PLACE

In my previous posting I mentioned my fascination with the concept of time and place—that being in the right or wrong place, at the right or wrong time can result in events and experiences both great and small, both good and bad.  Imagine all the automobile accidents we’ve escaped simply because we were seconds early or ten feet behind. 

Think about all the elements that go into our being at some place at some time. Places we have to go, times we have to meet; how we get to where we have to be, and what kinds of things interfere with the process.  Yeah, I know, I gotta get a life. But I have one in the here and now. It has been many places at many times and has done many things.  And now its pace is slower, the events fewer and the time less critical.

Today I found myself being short with my wife.  I regretted my reaction.  I was frustrated with her forgetting something we had discussed several times…but that is a circumstance of age and something with which I need to be more patient.   And there it is—patience—an element of time. How long do any of us tolerate something that is not happening at the level or span of time that we want it to?  How severe is our reaction?  Are we more tolerant of some events, some people, or some circumstances than we are of others.  Sure we are. 

And what about time?  Not only the time that we have to wait for something, but where we are in time—our age.  I have found the older I get the less patient I seem to be.  Is that because I am just tired of waiting, or because I know time is running out? 

And what about place?  Would I have been more patient with my wife today if we were not alone.  If we were in line at the supermarket would I have been as openly annoyed with her memory loss?  I think not…I know not.  My tolerance was at the wrong time and in the wrong place.  Otherwise, I would have been more patient.  Hmm, time and place.

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