What is it about milestone birthdays? I remember 30 like it was yesterday. My marriage of less than a year had ended at about my 29th birthday. My year since had been active, but meaningless. I had filled the empty spaces with a daily tennis doubles match with two professors, a medical student and me, as a resident in pathology. I played a kid’s game. It was fun, but it was escapist fare.
The day of my thirtieth birthday I had no special woman in my life. It was a dismal day of acute self awareness.
At 75, thank God I have found a woman who has accepted my many foibles for close to forty three years. Our marriage has had its obstacles. But, at it’s core, for me it has been a joyful experience in the hands of a loving God.
It was December of 2007. Our son Chad was a 17 year old, SoCal, high schooler. His dream was to have a pick up truck for school, friends and surfing.
We were fortunately in a position to buy him one. I asked him to come with me to the Toyota dealer to see if I could get a new, reasonably priced Tacoma. At about fifteen grand, it looked like the best deal I would have ever have on a vehicle.
I wish I would have taken a photo of the smile on my son’s face when we purchased the truck. It was unforgettable.
Sometimes, by God’s grace, you cannot help but make the right decision. In the last year, about to move 3000 miles, with a twinge of regret, Chad sold the truck, which, still retained a remarkable retail value and a place in his heart.
It was around November of 1955. I was ten. We had just moved from Dayton, Ohio to Miami, Florida. I had picked up more of an interest in school by fifth grade in Dayton and looked forward to the experience in Miami.
In Miami, the students had advanced in math to fractions. I knew absolutely nothing about them.
The teacher began a lesson on them one day by asking me to go to the blackboard before the class. She placed a fraction problem on the board and asked me to figure it out. I was dumbfounded. The class began to laugh. The laughing got louder and louder.
In some portion of my mind deep down I can still hear them laughing. This was hands down, the most embarrassing, humiliating moment of my entire life. I hope if you have children they will never have to experience anything like what I went through. On the other hand maybe, just Maybe, it has made me more sensitive to others. I sure hope so.
At 75, I have lost my youth. It won’t come back in this life.
In my youth, I could play in a tennis, doubles match for hours and singles in shorter bursts. Today, my low back spasms after hitting one serve. That accelerating first step towards the ball is non-existent. The painless, tennis serve won’t be happening without surgery that may not work.
Then, I could eat whatever struck my fancy without concern for my blood glucose. That practice went south about a dozen years ago.
Then, I could go upstairs to a room and consistently remember why I made the trip. Most names came to me easily. Those skills have withered slowly, thank God.
I could use my hands without arthritic pain. That doesn’t happen much anymore.
But, what I do have are the gifts of life, a spouse, a home, two children and two grandchildren. They are gifts from an all-powerful God who loves me more than I can even imagine. He touches my soul and enrichens my life. Thank God, I don’t have to achieve a performance standard.
I need to love more deeply, pray more fervently and grow up.
First, 31 year old Bob, I know you want to pave your own way. You would prefer to completely disregard what I have to say at 75. After all, I am a crusty, old guy.
So let me address your favorite subject. Whatever obstacles you are facing now, Love will get you through it.
This is not a pitter patter in your heart, or, dreamy parts of your day, where, you just cannot stop thinking about her. Love is a deep seated, powerful force that gets the two of you through the worst of times.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Listen for the transcendent voice of the Creator through Scriptures and through others. He wants your life to be abundant.
It will take some tough times, some conflict to get there. And, in this life you will not completely arrive. But you and your loved one can grow towards God and towards each other if you both are listening to His voice, full of hope and trust.
After 75 years I can tell you, that path is worth every sacrifice.
We had hints in adolescence of the heartbreaks in life, the veil of tears. They were largely heart wrenching when romantic relationships didn’t quite work out.
When we were just a little older we were looking for compatibility and a life shared together with a romantic partner. One current philosopher, Alain de Botton suggests compatibility is something that occurs only after one ties the knot. He put that more expansively in the most popular 2016, New York Times article on 5/28/16 as follows:
“The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the ‘not overly wrong’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”
Sounds reasonable to me.
From five through twelve years of age, I was a fat kid. At the table my head was buried in the food. My weight was also compounded by the speed with which I ate.
By age 12, I was 25 pounds overweight. I hadn’t seen my feet in seven years. Friends were hard to come by. I heard the word fatso several times a day. I am not sure how I tolerated the abuse. Maybe it was by eating even more.
However, there were several points in my life that produced weight loss: 1. At 12, I discovered girls. 2. At 50, a family video revealed a paunch that really bothered me and 3. At 63, I was told I was prediabetic. With vivid memories of the amputated, horrific, diabetic legs I examined as a hospital pathologist, for the last twelve years the problem has been keeping weight on, on a diabetic diet.
Hey, life is full of twists and turns. By the grace of God, most of us get through it, until, a much older version of ourselves arrives. Thank God we can grow old enough to see our kids and grandkids change for the better.
It was the winter quarter of ’63-’64. I was a freshman at Emory University. Some of the wetness behind my ears had dried.
At a beautiful building with a marble exterior on the university’s quadrangle, I was about to take a final in history, my mental wheelhouse. At 18, I had a short term memory like a sponge. It is more akin to concrete as I compose this at 75.
Over the next three years, my love for history merged with that memory to enhance my overall, grade point average. That was fortunate, aimed at a medical school admission where, a good memory was an essential aspect of the “accepted.”
That winter’s day in 1964, I had over-studied to that point to both make my nervousness a non-issue, and, provide my noggin with images of my notes. The exam was the last of my winter quarter finals.
As I completed the exam and headed for the front door of the building, the academic pressure was settling behind me. I passed through the door and felt the crisp winter’s air. A smile as wide as a truck broadened across my face. My heart leaped.
I had been an unknowing freshman, but now I felt more a part of this place. I so looked forward to a few days of warmth at our home in Miami, Fl. By the grace of God, it’s this kind of beautiful moment of pure elation that one doesn’t forget, even at 75.
So Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were good friends. Why not?
They both wrote clearly and beautifully, appreciating the quality of each other’s scholarship as jurists. They both loved opera. They both had minority, Mediterranean ancestry. They both grew up in New York.
Families have strong bonds despite their differences because forgiveness and love are twins. They can be particularly evident in those who mellow with age. Jurists Scalia and Ginsburg were of that ilk. Theirs was a lovely friendship
The San Diego Padres started from scratch over fifty years ago. I was still in school living in another corner of the U.S., Gainesville, Florida. I hadn’t even been to California. California to me was the sound of the Beach Boys and the beautiful sunsets at the Rose Bowl each New Year’s Day.
But now, my wife Kristine and I have lived in San Diego for 26 years, years in which I followed our local ball club. The best they had done was face the Yankees in the 1998 World Series with two outstanding Padre, position players: Tony Gwynn in right field, Ken Caminiti at third base and the brilliant Kevin Brown on the mound. We lost that series to a great Yankee team. It was our misfortune to enter the fracas with the 2nd best closer who ever lived, Trevor Hoffman, while they had the best, Mariano Rivera. The players knew Mariano would throw the cut fast ball in a pinch, but they still couldn’t hit that mysterious pitch.
Now, here we are about two dozen years later. For about the last dozen, the Pads have played under .500 baseball, consistently. One of those years the network and the Padres could not come to an acceptable arrangement. We could not even watch them on television. Things were going from bad to worse.
Suddenly this year, I heard a lot of hype about the media’s belief that the team finally had a bona fide winner. I watched nearly every inning. It got better and better. Then just before the annual trade deadline, AJ Preller, the General Manager, shored up their few remaining weaknesses.
Yesterday, I surprised myself. When they clinched their entry into the playoffs with yet another come from behind victory, tears of joy flowed. Sometimes, a fan’s years of frustration just melt away.