Category Archives: widow/widower

Just Smile

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How do some people smile all the time, while carrying worries, concerns and other

challenges in their daily lives? This information will fill an aisle of books, in a large

bookstore and possibly be the sole purpose in some blogs and television shows. What

new ways can get your ‘groove’ back? I am not sure if any of these are particularly

“new,” but I am as sure as the “sun will come up tomorrow,” some of these may bring

you a new ‘lease on life!’ (Yes, “Annie,” the musical play and movie, does remind us

that it is a “hard knocks’ life,” along with how we should try to face every new day.)

 

Suggestions for getting happy feelings started in your mind, also getting your energy

revived and other ways for getting out of your funk will be found here. If I were a

speaker, I may try a joke:

 

“There was an elderly man who wanted his younger wife to become pregnant. It was

something she desired also. He went to his family doctor asking for him to suggest

ways of making this result come about. The doctor suggested going to a fertility expert,

so the man set up another appointment. He went on his own, since his athletic wife was

busy taking her tennis lessons.

The specialist’s receptionist gave him a specimen cup to take home and bring back the

next day. She explained what he needed to do to fill it, along with telling him to put it in

the refrigerator overnight. This would get the ‘ball rolling.’ No other way to find out what

level his sperm count would be until he brought this back.

The excited man left the office, with a little more pep in his step.

The patient came back with an empty specimen cup. The receptionist could see the man’s

deflated ego, his head was drooping. She did not ask him a thing,  since she could not

imagine the complications he had run into while collecting the specimen. She had the

dejected gentleman sit down, explaining to him that he must wait to see the doctor.

After reading a few magazines and the newspaper, the man was ready to leave the office,

irritated that such a simple action, which had produced children with his first wife, meant

he had to go through all this trouble again.

When he was escorted into one of the private rooms, the doctor came in and closed the

door behind him. The specialist asked when the empty specimen cup was given to him,

“What exactly was the problem?”

The frustrated man exclaimed,

“Well, I tried it with my right hand. . . nothing.

I tried it with my left hand. . . again, nothing.

So, my wife came home from her tennis lesson, she tried this with her right hand. . .

nothing!

She decided to try her left hand. . .same results.

Then, she used her mouth. . . nothing!”

The doctor stopped this, since he was really shocked at the lack of response from

any of these practices.

The impatient man nearly shouted,

“Wait, doctor, I have to tell you more!”

The fertility specialist paused and said, “Proceed.”

“Well, we were desperate! I ended up asking my wife to invite our neighbor over,

since she is her best friend. . .”

The doctor incredulous interrupted,

“Wait a minute, did you say your wife’s friend tried this, too?”

The man exasperatingly sat down, saying in a low voice,

“Yeah, and we still couldn’t get the lid off the freaking specimen cup!”

 

Here are a few “Prevention Magazine” suggestions for ‘tapping your

inner peace and bringing some joy into your life.

 

1. “Do something called, “the ho’oponopono.”

This is a source of Hawaiian calm and doesn’t mean you need to drink

some Mai-Tai’s or dance at a luau. It is simply repeating these words

in a chant, which helps spread some warmth into your life. Murmuring

the “ho’oponopono” mantra is all about forgiveness. You, your family,

your enemy and the ones who have made your stomach get in a knot.

It means literally, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.”

By saying this in a low, quiet way, you will ease your anger, untighten

your thoughts and body, along with lowering your blood pressure.

“Try this, you may like it!”

(Source, “The Hormone Cure,” by Sara Gottfried, M.D.)

 

2. “Spritz a scent.”

There are essential oils which can bring you vitality, exuberance,

evoke special memories. Go to your favorite natural products store

and sniff testers until you find a couple of them which give you that

“Ah-h-h!” all over feeling. Good ones which bring many pleasant

feelings are lavender, orange, sage, and ylang-ylang. I like to head

to the Yankee Candle Company, which I know there are some who

will tell you that burning candles means there are pieces of ‘wick’

floating in the air. (My sister in law told me this before I ever read

this!) But, you can get a candle warmer, choosing your favorite scent.

In the fall, I enjoy and savor pumpkin spice, Home Sweet Home, and

country apple… I also found “Woodland Walk” at Meijer’s which has

a very different scent and it doesn’t cause me to want to eat cookies!

 

3. In 2011, a Michigan State University conducted a study of customer-

service employees. They found that ones who smiled throughout the

day, by thinking positive thoughts, reported feeling more serene overall.

I certainly would feel great if the customer service people would carry

this practice out. But I also did not see in the study, that there must

surely be a reward. By smiling; you get smiles back. This perpetuates

the positive activity. “Psychological Science,” (2013) published the results

which include smiling lowers your body’s stress response and also, can

even overcome ‘road rage,’ if one tries to smile in traffic jams!

 

4. Plant something. (If you are in warmer season now)

or Rake some leaves or clean your garden out. (If you are entering the

cooler season, where your plants need to be covered, the remains of

stems and messes need to be ‘mucked out.)

According to research done in a recent study, gardening is an even more

effective stress reliever than reading a good book! This was done in Holland.

There is also evidence microbes found in soil, may lift your mood, from an

older British study conducted in 2007. If you wish to clean your garden out,

digging in the dirt can also be a good way to greet Autumn’s weather changes,

along with feeling like you accomplished a big task. For me, I love the idea of

building a big pile of leaves, after using physical effort which does get your

endorphins going, and asking your children/grandkids/ neighbor kids or

a silly adult friend or two, to jump into the leaves with you!

 

5. Pet a cat, dog, gerbil or ?

If you don’t have a pet to take care of, it is always uplifting to go to an animal

shelter and offer to walk a dog. If you are a cat person, you are always welcome

to pet the kitties, there may be other unusual animals to see and touch, too. I

have a good friend whose two cats came from a farmer who was over-run with

cats. They are adorable calico cats, which I will be cat-sitting in just a week and

a half from now.

 

6. Offering to read to someone’s child, at the library. Volunteering for a monthly

obligation of being a classroom ‘helper’ or a ‘library aide’ are other ways to get your

spirits lifted.

 

Baking cookies is always a treat for me, along with my grandchildren. I am going to

share a company called “Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.” She has 400 employees,

over 2 million dollars sales in only 12 days of being located at the Minnesota State

Fair. Wow! People want cookies!! This retired elementary school teacher may be fun

to look up and get inspired.

 

Here are two books I can guarantee you will feel are ‘guilty pleasures’ but really will

entertain you! I did not skim nor read just the book jacket for these two FUN books!

 

1. “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating,” by Carole Radziwill. It is considered Popular

Fiction. The author was on the television show, “The Real Housewives of New York.” This

is a very satisfying read, one that used to be considered a ‘Beach book.’ Why does it have to

be summer-time to choose an indulgent piece of fluff, which may surprise you with some

deeper meaning, more than you would expect from a ‘real housewife!’ She was, after all,

an award-winning former journalist/reporter. Her book, “What Remains,” was critically

acclaimed, about the memoir of her marriage after her husband died of cancer in 1999.

The widow may not be based on herself, but her wry sense of humor, her simple writing

without frills, will be possibly one of the moving, insightful books you will enjoy this year.

2. “Confessions of a Counterfeit Country Farm Girl,” made me burst into laughter, each

time a new chapter started. This woman, like Carole R. above, is one who captures your

imagination and pulls your leg, getting you to picture all kinds of lively challenges in an

uprooted lifestyle. She is Susan McCorkindale, one of my friends, in my mind! Here are

some of the chapters I loved, “Days of Whining the Big Wigs,” “Get Down on the Farm,”

and the “Chick in the Mail.” The author was really running with the big wigs being the

former marketing director of both “Family Circle” and “Sports Illustrated.” Her husband’s

choice of farm living to raise their boys, involves the whole story, including learning how

to buy appropriate footwear, helping her boys to not always be the dirtiest kids, and how

to order different products, fertilizer, seeds, and of course baby chicks.

 

Eight Simple Steps to Have All Day Energy: Mini-Meals

1. Get up every day at the same time and eat something OTHER than refined carbs.

Suggestion in the August, 2014 “Prevention Magazine,”

Try some hunks of cheese, fruit and a scrambled egg.

2. When you have another hour until lunch, your cortisol levels are dipping, as is

your energy. So, go ahead and have a second cup of coffee.

3. Adding nuts to your day, will help you stay ‘full’ longer throughout the day.

Recommended only 1.5 ounces of almonds. Oh my, I hope you know how to measure

this delicious snack!

4. Lunch time.

Meat, protein if a vegan, eggs, avocado (decreases people’s appetites by as much as

40%) some fiber and vegetables. A salad with chicken, tomatoes and spring greens,

with some whole grain crackers, instead of croutons. This meal is supposed to be your

‘main’ meal of the day. You still have time to wear off the calories when you walk around

the block, catching up with your kids, friend or husband.

5. Sip water or herbal tea, (I love Bengal Tiger Tea, which is aromatic, cinnamon

and has, I believe some chicory in it.) Dehydrated people report more headaches

and dips in mood.

6. Carrots and hummus, yogurt with blueberries and a drizzle of honey, …

Suggestions for a small snack to ‘beat’ the mid-afternoon slump.

7. Dinner.

Balanced but not heavy. Your meal should not include greasy or spicy food, particularly

as we age. This can interfere with your sleep and also cause heartburn. It may also leave

you groggy in the morning.

8. A light carb-rich snack is okay, according to a new Yale review and American Journal

of Clinical Nutrition. Include a banana, milk or something that is not too heavy. I like the

idea of cookies, my favorite one is oatmeal raisin cookie. (My real favorite one is white

chocolate macadamia nut but am sure this is not allowed on this good food plan!) Often,

I go against protocol, so a small bowl of ice cream or a ‘treat’ is what will make me smile

before I go to bed at night. . . or a small goblet of wine or hard apple cider!

 

Dean Koontz quotation:

“Happiness is a choice. That sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it’s not; you can make it or not.

Readers (of Dean Koontz), over the years, say what they love about my books is that they’re

full of hope, and that’s the way I see life.

If you always dwell on what went wrong in the past it’s almost hopeless.

So, I don’t dwell.”

Check out Dean Koontz’s newest thriller: “Innocence,” at bookstores or the library.

 

 

“Be still, my heart”

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Stop, breathe and exhale! I am almost ‘breathless’ in anticipation…

for the new Pierce Brosnan movie to come out: “The November Man.”

I can say that he is happily married, so I won’t try to be too silly about

my ‘crush’ on him. I never would dream of trying to take away a happily

married man.  Nor could I! Since his wife Keely Shaye Smith is simply

gorgeous!

She has been his wife for over 13 years, the mother of his two younger

daughters. They live on a tropical island in Hawaii. Their life style is

what he considers a calm, simple life. He claims that he and his family

are content to just bask in the sun, swim, boat and lead their ‘out of

the limelight’ life.

I believe him. He and his wife are rarely seen, except during Academy

Award shows and other special events.

They don’t seem like ‘party-goers.’ It makes him even more special

to me! Also, additionally positive about this couple, Keely and Pierce,

is that they are environmentalists, supporting many causes for the

natural world.

 

Oh, and that expression, Be still, my heart!” comes from a shortening

of a phrase, in some resources. The original one was, “Oh, be still,

my beating heart.” This was from Victorian days, where a person

may be describing or thinking of someone who took their breath

away or made them, “swoon.” It also can be traced back as early as

when Virgil in 1697:

“When from the Goal they start,

The youthful Charioteers with beating heart,

Rush to the race.”

Sting (the musician) wrote a song, “Be Still My Beating Heart,” and

gives Shakespeare credit, but not sure of the source. One source,

gives a passage from “The Tempest.”

 

I don’t talk about my birthday very often, and don’t mention it on

my blog, as in ‘today is my birthday (it’s not!)’ But this man, Pierce,

who has my Scorpio birth month’s name in the title of his next movie,

is simply, extraordinary.

Since he hit the scene of television, on “Remington Steele,” he has

been in my vision and dreams. No offense, ex-boyfriends and

ex-husbands!

I would like to share some facts that I have acquired from a few

sources. No, I have not been stalking him!

Pierce is over 60, he looks like 45 or 46, tops. His birthday is May 16,

1953. He is a wee bit older, by only 2 years, than I am. He is a Taurus,

which is compatible with my sign. How do I know? Well, there was a

period of time, where he was a widower with three boys. I was a

single mother with two girls and a boy, at around the same time.

Back to some of his childhood experiences. Pierce admits to being

teased as a child. He was raised by a single mother who took him

from his birthplace. He was born and lived a short time, along the

River Boyne, in Ireland. His father left his mother and him when

Pierce was only 2 years old. It was tough on his mother, since the

Catholic Church ‘shamed her’ due to her divorce. She chose to move

to where her parents lived, in England.

Once there, Pierce was called all the mean words for Irish immigrants,

“Mick, “Paddy” and later, “Irish.” If you can find a photograph of him

while a young child, you will see a sweet boy who was a little more

husky than his present lean self, displays now. His mother was taking

nursing classes, quite busy and unable to afford child care. So, she

chose to leave him full time with his grandparents.

Pierce’s first love was for drawing and painting. He loves art still and

continues to practice painting in the back yard of his island home. He

wanted to be a graphic artist, his dream and ‘escape’ from some of the

name-calling and torments of his childhood.

Once Pierce entered high school, he was drawn to the drama department,

where the theatre students embraced him. It was such a wonderful, new

experience. A ‘change’ from being an ‘outsider,’ helping him to become

more confident. He left ‘comprehensive school at age 16, ‘ still seeking

education in the field of commercial illustrations.’ Once he determined

there were other options, he did change his interests back to what he had

followed in high school. Pierce studied acting at the London Drama Centre

for three years after his stint with drawing.

Interestingly enough, in an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, (8/10/14),

mentioned his first movie he ever saw was James Bond’s “Goldfinger.”

It was a thrill for him to see the character of ‘007’ played by Sean Connery.

It also was a fortuitous, possibly foreshadowing, event of his life.

Pierce had his ‘first call’ after drama school for the movie, “The Long Blue

Friday.”

Try-outs for the casting of this movie, meant they suggested for the male

leading role to bring a bathing suit. He jokingly says in his interview, that

he showed up in a Speedo and got the part. He played a killer/assassin and

this role made an impact on the studios.

Another interesting fact is that his first wife, Cassandra Harris, was in a

Bond movie, with Roger Moore cast as ‘007.’ They had three sons together,

along with her daughter. They shared acting as one of their interests, as well

as their desire to keep their personal lives out of the tabloids. Unfortunately,

Cassandra developed cancer, dying at the age of 43.  Another sad event in his

life years later, his close step-daughter, who he had raised with Cassandra,

died also of  cancer, at age 42. It was hard on Pierce, reliving the tragedy of

the loss of his wife and then, later someone he considered to be, his oldest

daughter.

It took many years for Pierce to get through the stages of grief. I think this

is why he seem devoted and grateful for his present wife, Keely and their

serene family life.

As part of a spy agency, with the assisting role that Stephanie Zimbalist

played, Pierce Brosnan came into our homes, as”Remington Steele.” The

television series lasted from April, 1982 until October, 1987. This was a

form of escapism, since my first child was born in 1980 and my last one

was in 1985. Television, once the children were asleep, kept me engrossed

in the interesting plot twists and guest stars.

Pierce became a popular name and more familiar to all audiences. This

role of being the suave and debonair spy, led directly to his being cast

as ‘007’ in his first role as James Bond. Along the way, he was cast as

a thief, in the remake of “The Thomas Crowne Affair.” The original

characters were played by Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

One of the many humble comments that Pierce Brosnan mentions in

CBS Sunday television interview was that he is ‘grateful’ and is filled

with ‘gratitude’ for his wife and family, his mother, grandparents and

being cast as the famous character that Ian Fleming created. He was

in four popular James Bond movies.

He also mentioned that his life has been ‘easier, more relaxed’ since

he met Keelley. He has acting in his ‘blood,’ always thinking about

the next movie, whether he may produce or direct it, too. A man of

many talents, who has still the quiet presence of a kind man.

The most ‘fun’ movie I ever saw Pierce Brosnan in was “Mama Mia!”

I enjoyed the singing, the way the plot twists went, with Meryl Streep

playing a woman who could potentially have three prospects for

her daughter’s father. The daughter invites, without informing her

mother, all three of the men to her wedding!

Which man of three is her father? I’ll never tell!

It has ABBA music throughout, lots of atmosphere on a beautiful

Greek island, with the sweet voice of Amanda Seyfried. There is also

the British actor, Colin Firth, as one of the potential fathers. The

third possible choice is played by Stellan Skarsgard. Seeing Pierce

Brosnan belt out, “S.O.S” with Meryl Streep filled me with an

inexplicable joy.

Pierce mentioned in the CBS interview, that his two younger

daughters got ‘sick’ of him singing it everywhere he went, trying

to practice while listening to his Ipod with ear buds in. If you

just want to enjoy a carefree, musical movie, this will be one of

your favorites, trust me on this!

Another lighter movie that Pierce made was, “Mrs. Doubtfire,”

with Sally Fields and Robin Williams; now 22 years ago. He

has posted recently and spoken about who he considered the

great and close friend’s death. I enjoyed seeing Pierce Brosnan

“lose” in the movie, to Robin Williams, in the battle for Love.

If you ever want to see a unique plot and interesting character,

check out Pierce Brosnan in the film, “The Tailor of Panama.” He

is a tailor who is asked to be a British spy, based on the novel by

John Le Carre. The other actors in this movie, Jamie Lee Curtis

and Geoffrey Rush are fascinating in their roles. I have watched

this film more than once, high praise indeed!

Coming Soon! . . .

“The November Man.”

Is it your kind of movie?

Will you watch it at the movie theater, rent it or skip it?

Famous T. V. Dads

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Famous television fathers were quite conventional, sometimes filling

current stereotypes, but they usually seemed above normal in their

tolerance and patience. We were talking at Friday’s midpoint mark, in

the breakroom about how we may have formed misconceptions about

the way dads should act from watching these early family shows. After

all, most of us did not have traditional fathers, who would go to work in

suits and ties, come in cheerful, pull out a newspaper and quietly unwind.

I am sure my father wished he could have been ‘so lucky!’

My family consisted of two bread-winners and the three of us children,

were often in the winter months the last ones picked up at our baby-

sitter’s house. I remember looking out of Mrs. Boos’ picture window

into the darkness, wondering which day it was that Mom was doing her

oracle debates, drama or Spanish club meetings? I would sigh with an

almost exasperated ‘whoosh!’ when I finally saw her station wagon’s

headlights in the driveway. Mrs. Boos had two sons who played with my

brothers, occasionally I would join in or get a chance to sit on Diana’s

bed, her teenaged daughter and look at pictures of the Beatles or the

Dave Clark Five, or sometimes there would be magazines full of fashion

and hairstyles. My Mom was pleased when Diana went to Kent State

University and invited me to spend “Siblings Weekend,” as Diana’s baby

‘sister,’ Robin.

When we got home, my Dad, usually, would be home shortly, pulling off

his tie, after he took off his jacket, asking what he needed to do to ‘pitch

in.’ Spoiled me, made me think all fathers were like this. Today, Saturday,

June 14th, 2014, they had on the CBS Morning Show, a segment on the

percentage of fathers in the fifties, sixties and seventies that helped out

in child-rearing responsibilities. Sadly, they still said in the more recent

years the percentage of household responsibilities, even with working

moms being in the majority, it is still not a 50/50 deal.

Anyway, Melvin’s Mom and Dad were more like my parents, sharing the

chores and also, enjoying family times together. He admitted most of

his African American friends had either a limited amount of fatherly

involvement or none.

Tammy said that her mother had stayed home, whenever she would ask

for help inside the house, her father was quick to remind her, “You don’t

work.” She was dismayed at this behavior, remembering, even as a young

girl in her imagination, “I won’t stand for this in my adult life!” (Tammy

and Mike have been friends since childhood, “fence post buddies,” but have

never tied the knot.) She certainly is open that she doesn’t even have a

joint account with Mike, they just split the bills and love each other. She

is an independent woman, almost the ‘polar opposite’ from the parents

she dearly loves.

Trevinal said his parents are more together now, but in his childhood his

father sounded like my first husband, wished for dinner on the table,

kids cleaned up and early to bed, and lots of time watching his favorite

sports shows on television. There is a whole different love that he and his

wife share, more understanding and encouragement. He is so ‘blessed,’

he says to have someone who believed in his ability to think. The family

cannot believe that he is in Nursing School, working fulltime to pay his

bills and rising far above the expectations of Special Education. He feels

that by meeting the ‘right’ woman to share his life is a ‘daily blessing.’

His being in his thirties, reminds me of my own son, and I also remind

him of my belief in his ability to be a good father, when the time comes.

Here are the above persons’ and other coworkers, along with family

members who have cited some excellent, funny and different television

situational comedies for “Best Examples of Television Fathers:”

1.  My favorite father of all time, is from the show, “My Three Sons.” This

show allowed a non-traditional father, in amongst the ‘drones’ that I

found on other television shows. The combined household of widower,

played by Fred McMurray, his brother, who was the boys’ Uncle Charlie,

and the three rowdy boys always made me admire the patience, fortitude

and compassion showing what I considered “true family values.”

 

That is not to say, I didn’t laugh at the antics of Dick Van Dyke, Danny Thomas,

John Forsythe  (“Bachelor Father”) or Brian Keith (“Family Affair.”) I also liked

“The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” an almost first time reality show, since the family

was played by actual family members. I liked the sense of humor and the handsome

boys in this one! (Diana, my babysitter’s daughter, also had a few articles in her

teen magazines which featured the Nelson boys, especially the “cute” Ricky!

 

2.  Hugh Beaumont, who played the Dad on “Leave It to Beaver,” was the one

that my coworker, Mark, listed as his favorite. The different ways that influenced

his choice was first he liked that Beaver’s mother wore an apron, like his mother

did, daily. Also, that the father character hardly ever yelled, even under stressful

times.

3.  Tammy said the whole family in her household liked, “The Danny Thomas

Show.” I still like that Marlo Thomas was an independent woman, not hurrying

into marriage until she fell in love, in real life, with the talk show host, Phil

Donahue. I also personally enjoyed the fact she is a columnist in my “AARP

Magazine.” Tammy said she liked Danny Thomas, since he presented a few

shows, mentioning different cultures. I would have to check this out, but do

support and believe in St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Marlo has said that she

got her Dad’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which carries her through

tough times.

4.  Trevinal still remembers almost every show that “Family Matters” had

on television. He has found this to calm him, looking at Urkel’s silly dress

code, high water pants and his often expressed question, “Did I do that?”

The sense of humor and the family were something he admired and felt

that Urkel’s character was one that gave him confidence when he made

mistakes, throughout many of his years,  in life.

Trevinal’s words are very powerful, expressing this to me:

“Whenever Urkel goofed up, people would roll their eyes, sometimes

bellow at him, but always forgive him. That is how I wish to be when I

am a father.”

Reginald VelJohnson, who played the father in “Family Matters,” is

in one of my youngest daughter’s favorite shows, “Hart of Dixie.”

(Rachel Bilson and Tim Matheson play doctors on that country

setting show.)

Trevinal also noted that Urkel was a neighbor,  the family next door’s kid,

but he became part of the family and included, whether wanted there or not,

anyway.

5.  Keith told me, laughing, while lifting a box in the aerosol room, in what we

call the “Bomb Shelter,” that his favorite father character was Archie Bunker.

That show was called, “All in the Family,” where all sorts of issues popped up,

Archie sticking his neck out, saying all kinds of bigoted or prejudiced comments,

but usually backing down on them. Meeting people of all ethnicities, while they

were in an urban setting, with his wife being accepting, his daughter also very

open minded and often, Rob Reiner, playing “Meathead,” took the brunt of

Archie’s anger. I asked why he thought of this character? He told me, a little

bit sheepishly, that his own father was ‘backwards’ and ‘ignorant’ like Archie

had been. This made him become aware that there were other perspectives

on people. I appreciated Keith’s candor. He also added his parents were from

Kentucky! He added this with a laugh, like that explained everything!

He also said he respected the actor, Carroll O’Connor,  who had gone on to

play a cop, with a black partner, in the show, “The Heat of the Night.”

6.  My son, James, joked that he liked Homer Simpson, for the same reason

that Keith liked Archie Bunker. He said they were the ‘opposite of everything

he hoped for in a father.’ He also said that making mistakes for Homer, making

poor judgments, did make him feel more comfortable in his own parenting

skills.

7.  My oldest daughter said she liked Patrick Duffy, in the show, “Step by Step.”

She had a crush on him, from early days of watching, “Dallas,” and also had

a young ‘crush’ on Cody, the cousin who lives in a van in the driveway on this

sit-com. I liked it because Suzanne Somers was a hairdresser, average single

mother, who found a man with children to marry. I think the idea of stepkids,

appealed to me, also in ‘The Brady Bunch.”

When I mentioned my oldest daughter’s opinion, the men still were ‘hooting’

and ‘hollering,’ in a playful manner. They said she ‘made’ the show, “Three’s

Company,” and still looks great to this day.

8.  No one named, “Father Knows Best,” but all cited this as their 2nd and 3rd

choice of Best Television Father.

9. Charlene, whose young son, Ian, was in on my ‘Opinion Poll’ on Thursday,

had said she loved, “Wonder Years.” Since the mother character is on our

favorite soap opera, (Allie Mills), she remembered to point out she is good in

“The Bold and the Beautiful.” She also mentioned that the Dad on “Wonder

Years,” had to tackle difficult teen subject matter, since the boys grow up on

that show, from junior high through high school. I have to check out the dates,

be back to tell you the years: 1988 until 1993. The father’s character was

played by Dan Lauria. The couple who ended up taking the show into the

more mature theme included Danica McKellar and Fred Savage as “Winnie

Cooper,” and the kid next door, “Kevin Arnold.” In the Arnold family, the

mother stays home while the father worked. An interesting fact that I found

out was, Danica’s sister could have won the part of “Winnie,” the directors

say it was a ‘toss up’ between Danica and Crystal McKellar.

10. My mother loved the shows with Bill Bixby, including his role in “My

Favorite Martian” and “The Hulk.” But when I would come home from

junior high and high school, I would have the lights off, my Mom sitting

on one end of the sofa with her feet up on an ottoman, watching, “The

Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” When I overheard that song on the radio

and recently, on a commercial, I would almost “tear up.” Mom was much

more tired when I was that age, she would not volunteer to be coaches,

helpers or club counselors at Westlake High School. She would be the

chaperone, with my Dad by her side, for dances. That was as much energy

as she could ‘wrangle up,’ in her forties. I love Harry Nilsson’s song, the

memory of her sometimes lightly snoring, until the song would play

and she would sit up, watch and share those moments. My one brother

would be in track, (Spring), water boy in basketball, (Winter) or in

Cross Country, (Fall). This was ‘our time.’ The song began with these

words: “Let me tell you about my best friend,…” (The song includes

the father saying, “My pride and joy.”)

By the way, the jingles or songs for television would make an excellent

memorable post. When we were noticing the songs, we all agreed that

the piano playing and the off-key singing by Edith Bunker, played by

Jean Stapleton, was iconic: “Those Were the Days.”

That “Wonder Years” song, “I Get By With a Little Help From MyFriends,”

is legendary. We were nostalgic, reminiscent of family shows when there

weren’t as many choices on television and everyone’s family gathered together

to watch the shows. Even the commercials were memorable.

10.  The last contributor to this post on television fathers was my youngest

daughter’s suggestion of “Little House on the Prairie.” She enjoyed the setting

out West, through tough times, settling and learning how to live as a family

in a different time period had intrigued her.

She grew up watching this in reruns on Nickelodeon. This television

dramatic series ran from 1974 until 1983. (She was born in 1985.)

She reminded me that she read most of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books,

after I introduced them to her. She felt Michael Landon portrayed a

very charismatic and dynamic father. I am happy that she remembered

him in this role. (His personal life, somewhat like the much admired

Bing Crosby; left much to be desired. I feel the same about Eric Clapton,

Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Troubled, but still admired for their

personal talents and  the ‘body of their works.’)

What was your favorite television father?

Letters from Our Soldiers

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A man who collects letters from those wartime men and women

who died, gathered them together to donate a huge amount to

a university. Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times

best-sellers, “War Letters” and “Behind the Lines,” donated

his collection of 100,000 letters to Chapman University in

Orange, California.

For those of you who liked “Reader’s Digest” magazine and

their equally valuable reading place, “Reader’s Digest

Condensed Books,” I would like to share that I dreamed of

having a position and getting paid for working for one of

those highly esteemed reading sources. I always thought

what an interesting job it would be to ‘cull’ and ‘sort’

through newspapers, magazines and newly published books to

discover which ones would be worthy of being condensed and

read by millions of readers.

After all my days in doctor’s offices and hospitals with my

youngest daughter, (who has lived with JRA since she was 11,

diagnosed at age 13) I would like to nominate those special

and easily read magazines for some kind of Pulitzer Award!

The books were ones I could take to a babysitting job, while

12 and up, read one or two of the ‘books’ encased in those

esteemed volumes and feel I was ‘in the know’ for a time, on

what was considered popular literature, nonfiction and other

kinds of writings. They sometimes led me back to the library

to get the complete book, wanting more details.

What I am doing today is presenting you with an article and

a lead on some books, which may ‘whet your appetite’ for more!

I am considering myself, ‘duly elected’ to this position and

consider finding these ‘gems’ to share with you. In each letter,

there is a story.

Had my cousins written during their Viet Nam War experiences and

shared the letters with my mother, she would have kept them. I

wish I knew more of their experiences.

I will always remember when my twin second cousins, Johnny

and Eddie, came back from the Viet Nam War. My cousin, Ed, went

back to being a pharmacist at Tuck’s Pharmacy, located in the

small, notable town of Rockport, Massachusetts. My cousin, John,

came back to California, briefly found out that his wife had

been unfaithful, and left the West coast permanently. It was my

16th summer, the one my parents let me go work at the candy

counter, learning how to be independent since my Great Aunt Dot

and Great Uncle George, gave me working hours, dinner hour and

the curfew of 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. during the weekend.

I learned firsthand about PTSD, through deep and dark discussions

with Johnny. He was not happy with his war experiences. I wish now,

that I had written notes down, during that three month period.

His life irrevocably changed, whereas his twin brother, who had

been in the ‘medic’ field tents and not in direct contact with

weapons. No, he just handled their aftermath results, seemingly

unscathed.

Andrew Carroll has collected letters from the Revolutionary War,

the Civil War, WWI and WWII, Korean War, the Gulf, Afghanistan and

Iraqi skirmishes, too.

1. A Revolutionary War letter~

Writing from father to son, James Williams began a letter to Daniel,

on June 12, 1779:

“This is the first chance I have had to write you. I am, by the cause

of Providence, in the field in defense of my country.” He describes

missing his children and wife. I love the way he shows his emotions

about her,

“Your mother, who sits like a dove that has lost its mate, having the

weight of the family on her shoulders.”

Sadly, James died at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.

He had written these foreboding words,

“The uncertainty of life ought to induce every man to prepare for

death.”

2. A Civil War letter~

When a soldier has been mortally wounded, their words are even more

heart-breaking, since time is slipping away from them. Here is a part

of a letter from John Ross Wallar, who volunteered to be a drummer boy,

in the Civil War. This is most sad, since he was only 15 years old.

He dictated these words in a short letter, sent to his family:

“Dear Sister, Father, Mother and Friends,

I received your letter, but I don’t think I ever shall see another

that you write. This is Friday night. But I don’t think I will live

to see morning. But my kind friends, I am a soldier of Christ. I

will meet you all in Heaven. My leg has been taken above my knee. I

am dying, at this time. So don’t mourn after me. For I have bled and

died for my country.

May God help you all to pray for me. I want you all to meet me in

Heaven above…

My wound dresser is writing this letter.

Write to Alexander Nelan, for I won’t live till morning.

So goodbye, my friends. May God be with you

all. God bless my poor Soul.”

3. A WWI letter (in France)~

On September 11, 1918, a Columbia University student who had volunteered

for service, leaving school. Sgt. David Ker sent a letter to his mother

the day before the attack on Saint-Mihiel, France. He wanted to keep his

family’s spirits up:

“Tomorrow the first totally American drive commences, and it gives me

inexpressible joy and pride to know that I shall be present to do my

share….Should I go under, therefore, I want you to know that I went

without any terror of death and my chief worry is the grief my death

will bring to those so dear…”

4. A WWII letter~

Tommie Kennedy, 2nd Lt., only 21, knew he would not come home alive.

He was captured by the Japanese at Corregidor and spent nearly 3 years

as a P.O.W. He was ‘fatally malnourished and incarcerated on a ship.’

Kennedy scribbled a farewell message to his parents on two family

photographs:

“Momie & Dad:

It is pretty hard to check out this way without a fighting chance

but we can’t live forever. I’m not afraid to die, I just hate the

thought of not seeing you again.

Buy Turkey Ranch with my money and just think of me often while

you are there… make liberal donations to both sisters…

I guess you can tell Patty that fate just didn’t want us to

be together…

Hold a nice service for me in Bakersfield and put head stone

in new cemetery…

Loving and waiting for you in the world beyond.”

This letter was smuggled from one POW to another and it was

finally mailed, getting there in late 1945. Four years after

Tommie had left home to be in the service.

5. A Vietnam War letter~

Lt. Dean Allen wrote to his wife, Joyce, on July 10, 1967.

“…Being a good platoon leader is a lonely job…” Pondering his

position and not being able to discuss things with her, he said,

“I guess it (writing a letter) helps a little though because you

are the only one I would say these things to. Maybe sometime I’ll

even try to tell you how scared I have been or now… Sometimes,

I wonder how I’ll make it. My luck is running way too good right

now. I just hope it lasts…”

He tells his wife, “I love you with all my heart.” Four days later,

Dean stepped on a land mine.

6. An Afghanistan War letter~

Mainly during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, service members have

usually ‘Skyped’ or emailed letters. There have been some exceptions,

for which it helps for posterity’s sake, to have them as examples of

this period in wartime. Sgt. Josh Harapko, with the 10th Mountain

Division, preparing to be part of coalition forces, for Operation

Anaconda, was 23 years old. A major assault on the Taliban and al-Qaida

was planned, before advancing into one of the worst Afghan campaigns,

he wrote this letter to his mother dated March, 2002:

“Dear Mom,

I’m writing this letter before I leave. I couldn’t say what I

wanted to over the phone. First I want to say I love you so much.

You were always there for me even though I would never talk about

my problems.

Second you gave me the options to be a man, giving me slack in the

rope to try to make the right decisions. No matter what you always

believed in me, no matter how much of a punk I was to you…

I don’t want you to worry about me. (I know you will cause I’m your

son.)

Mom, I’m not afraid to die for something that is right… I just hope

that I made you proud… I’ll always be with you…”

This young man, Josh, survived combat in Afghanistan but died exactly

one year later, on March 11, 2003. His Black Hawk helicopter crashed,

during a training mission at Fort Drum, N.Y. Shortly before he died,

he had given his mother this letter. She cherishes it.

The words of the nearly dying and the ones who fought for our country

are very brave and sure in their convictions. I am in awe and amazement;

there is such selfless-ness through their written correspondences.

Andrew Carroll’s words are good ones to close this article and to give

a summarization:

“On a more personal level, these correspondences provide a tangible

connection to the past and humanize our men and women in uniform,

capturing their distinct personalities, experiences and aspirations.

Through their words, we see them as more than just soldiers, Marines,

airmen and sailors. They are a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse,

a fiancé or a best friend.”

May this fine and early tribute, through Andrew Carroll’s words,

to all of our servicemen and women, living and gone ahead, a week

early…

for Memorial Day, 2014.

The Power of Determination

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A memoir led to the movie, “This Boy’s Life.” The movie came out,

to much critical acclaim, in 1993. It is well worth seeing all

over again, just to see how Leonardo DiCaprio began his career,

with such finesse and quality acting.

The movie tells the true life story of Tobias Wolff. The screenplay

was written by Robert Getchell. The movie was directed by Michael

Caton-Jones.

It all begins in the year, 1957, where a boy who is known to be

a troublemaker has been moved around a lot with a mother who has

her own issues. Toby is around the age of 13 years old. I could

relate to some of the subject matters, although I would have

only been two years old when the story begins.

Ellen Barkin plays a scattered woman with low self esteem, who

desperately loves her son, trying to always figure out ways

where they can be together. Her intent is for them to have a

good life. You can see how sincerely loving she is towards

her son, although you will probably wonder about her choices.

Their life has included a father who took off once Toby was

born, a boyfriend who is very controlling and then, an escape

from this bad situation.

They land in Seattle, Washington, with only a few suitcases

and even, despite Toby’s inquiring before leaving,

“Don’t you want to take the canned goods?”

His being accustomed to the packing and leaving sequence is

evident in that simple question.

A seemingly ‘perfect man’ comes along, playing a proper suitor.

The mother’s excited and so are her waitress friends. He is a

widower.

The ‘new guy’ displays some suave and sophisticated airs, like

lighting a woman’s cigarette, with a sweep of his arm and flash

of the lighter. Later on, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Toby,

imitates the ‘new guy’s’ tone of voice and flashy behaviors,

“to a T.”

While wooing the mother, played by Ellen Barkin, he is very

boastful of the town he is from called, “Concrete.”

I won’t tell you too many details, but Robert De Niro plays

the new stepfather who is jealous of his stepson. It becomes

apparent, when he marries her before taking her to his home,

to meet the three children, that he needed her in the role

of being a mother.

the mother to be there to take care of his own three children.

Once there, they find themselves in an attractive and well

kept house in the ‘boondocks.’ There is a moment where the

older son, Toby’s stepbrother, mentions that it is 40 miles

to get to school from their house in the country. His father,

who is argumentative and tyrannical in his behavior, argues

about this fact.

The true story is narrated by Tobias, Toby or as he wishes

people would call him, “Jack.” He gets in with the ‘wrong’

crowd, soon enough. There are moments where you cringe,

others where you feel the lyrical beauty in a story that

you just hope will turn out okay. It is a hauntingly and

painful story that unwinds until the credits roll, telling

you where each member of the family is (in 1993, when the

movie was released).

The carefully choreographed, spinning tale slowly unfolds

of a ‘punk’ or a rebel who realizes his only way out of

Concrete is to make it into Prep School. He takes his older

stepbrother’s advice, taking the admission test, fudging on

his ‘resume’ and actually getting a blank transcript where

he has the ability of using the old typewriter to fill in

the blanks.

This much you may have known from your first viewing of the

movie. I barely touched on the details that had faded in my

memory bank. This is a fascinating memoir which led to a

great movie of triumphing over obstacles. It is more than

any boy’s life, it is one of someone who had a rather horrific

childhood and overcame all the odds. I don’t think I grasped

the potential for death or realize that the harrowing escape

meant everything, when I saw, “This Boy’s Life,” for the first

time.

I highly recommend seeing this movie, if you haven’t seen it

in awhile! Or if you haven’t, If you would like to try an

engrossing and in the end, uplifting book or movie, borrow

“This Boy’s Life” from the library!

Let me know how you liked this, if you have seen it…

The Fabric of Their Love: Tapestry

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You hit for the jugular;

I will aim for the Heart!

Some friends with unusual names are

celebrating five years of marriage!

I was happy to have met them about a year ago.

They give me encouragement in all things LOVE!

The couple, Arlene and Axel, met through a church

group where parishioners could talk about the loss

of their partner or spouse.

This grief and spiritual counseling helped to build

a firm foundation for their early friendship, then

their close dating life, and finally in their marriage.

Out of the complete shock of losing spouses in their

fifties, two broken hearts became one. They feel

renewed in their love together.

They celebrated marriage by going to Hawaii for their

honeymoon. Then again, last Fall, 2012, they walked

the beaches holding hands, kissing and felt the warm,

sunny breath of the winds upon their skin.

Sometimes, when I call, I hear Axel pounding as he builds

or fixes the house he lived in with his deceased wife. I will

hear Arlene sigh, she will tell me things sometimes literally

fall off the walls from Axel’s “ghost wife.”

I know she is not sad, but sometimes I feel they need

to find a completely new home, built on their mutual

interests in colors, fabrics and furniture choices.Both

of them have children and multiple grandchildren.

It is a busy life filled with laughter and family

gatherings.

Their lives are bright, colorful and decorated with

the sparks that fly across the table when they play

cards or when they are sitting in their living room

in separate Lazy Boy chairs, his and hers. I see their

chuckles and giggles and say, “I want some of that!”

I think of the cotton commercial that plays on t.v.,

where they talk about “The Fabric of Our Life.”

I am not sure but I think each day that passes with

this lovely couple, there are threads connecting and

weaving them closer, tighter and making a most

amazing and beautiful tapestry.

Today, on this special occasion, I wish them a

“Happy #5 Anniversary, Arlene and Axel!”