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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TIME & PLACE

So we’re off and running into another year, another month, another day.  Funny how we take it all for granted.  One hour we’re a child, next day we’re raising one, then another. This week we run a marathon, next month we need a walker.  A minute ago I cried for my mother, at week’s end I’m at my grandson’s game.

To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.  Somewhere amongst this ever-going process we fit in, both collectively and individually.  Some of us keep up, some fall back while others accelerate far ahead. The two constants are time and place.  We are always at a specific place at a specific time.  Either element can have profound influence on our life, or absolutely none at all. Usually it’s the latter, considering all the places we are placed in within a lifetime.  How many times have you heard about someone who missed their flight or decided not to go on a trip only to find out later had they gone, they would have been in a terrible accident. Time and place.  The reverse is true.  Think about every minute you are not somewhere where something bad happens. Yet it was just as easy for you to have been in that place at that time. You may call that fate.

I have always been fascinated with the concept of time and place.  It is the theme of one of my novels, THE POPE’S STONE.  We all have second thoughts about how we may have handled a particular circumstance that may have worked in our favor, or not.  It may have been a dumb mistake you made on a test; or maybe you left the wrong impression during a job interview; or the girl next door, the one you’d really like to ask out, thinks you’re a dork. All these situations were caused by you’re doing something contrary at the intersection of time and place, exactly when and where the crash took place.

It’s enough to make you superstitious.  You may find yourself leaving for a destination a few minutes earlier, or later.  Maybe the route you drive every day is one you should deviate from today…or is it tomorrow?

I know this.  In the wee small hours on the night of April 3, 2020, I fell out of a chair I had fallen asleep in.  My face smashed into the new hardwood floors we had just installed.  The degenerative arthritis that spread through the bones in my neck did not absorb the shock.  If I hadn’t been in that specific place at that specific time, I would not have just lived the most miserable year-and-a-half of my life and I would not be facing a third surgery inside my neck as a surgeon attempts to salvage what’s left of my cervical spine and all the sensations of life and mobility that exist in that small space.  Time and place, two elements we confront every moment of our days and weeks and months and years…over which we have absolutely no control.

*****

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ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER BALL

Well, New Year’s Eve has passed and we are already a bunch of days into 2022 and I’ve yet to post anything about it.  I went back and reviewed my previous posting for New Years, back to 2012 when I started this blog. I found I wrote nothing really profound or even exceptional to the sentiments usually expressed about New Years.  Nothing new there. When it came to making resolutions, I usually opted to resolve not to resolve.  This year is pretty much the same.  Symbolically, I’m just happy to see 2021 end.  It was not the best of years for me.  If it were a good one for you, well then, I wish you likewise for 2022.

I have to admit, I am a man with few superstitions, but once in a while I’ll give into a vibe or gut feeling.  I made a point of watching the ball drop in Times Square this year.  I missed it last year and while I certainly don’t see any tie to that influencing my having a tough 2021, I thought I’d just make sure to watch the ball this year as a sign of good luck if nothing else. Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch. 

But look at all those people who gather at Times Square every year, not to mention the millions who watch on television.  Drunk, stoned or sober, most of these people, as millions have on past New Year’s Eves, gather at this same place and same time for one purpose:  to say goodbye to the year passing and hello to the new one arriving.  It’s a new, clean slate, a cleansing of body and soul, a total forgiveness of past sins and encouragement to start anew.  What more could you want, what more could you fantasize merely by watching a round glowing crystal ball descending a pole atop a city skyscraper.  It’s all very crazy but what the hey.

If anything, I guess New Years is a good excuse.   In its own gimmick-free way, we can use it to suck up our woes and toss out the mistakes we’ve been collecting the past 365 days and once again look to the future, glitzy-eyed and guilt free.  And why not?  What else did you have planned for the week after Christmas?  

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