Leaving a Legacy

 

buzzard[1]

Growing up, many of us remember how all our mail was sent threw the post office, especially personal letters to friends and family.  I have lived long enough to experience the transition of communication from “snail mail” to email.  We have all experienced the variety of emails we receive from spam to couples breaking up.  We have read jokes that once were interoffice memos and, by the way, I have saved much, if not all, of those memos for my files.

The point of this post is for those of you that are only aware of the computer age, and the association of texting, cell phones, and Ipads.  I want to remind you that growing up in this new world of communication will obfuscate the paths and roads of your future lives.  I want to express to you the gravity of not being cognizant of things around you, until you get to the age of regret.

Please allow me to be your “Paul Revere” and issue you a “call to arms” by letting you read some personal email that I have received with the realization that emails are also sensible and endearing, rather than just a contact.

I must develop a prologue for you, as the rest of the text will be an email sent to me, and my response to that email.  There is a group of friends from my teenage years (from the 1960’s) and by some chance, we were all reunited recently after 43 years of absence.  I left for the Navy in 1970 and never returned to my hometown except to visit my parents on short weekend trips.

We are all in our 60’s today and this post concerns one particular (female) friend in particular, whose husband had an accident and is now in long-term repair.  She also is suffering with her own physical health issues, but she manages to work a little each week.  The emails are below, and take notice the time it was sent to me, because it took me by surprise.  For all of you, please read the email as a tribute to your future lives if nothing else.

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Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:11 AM

Xxxxx- just a brief heart felt note.

I would just like to thank you for so many gestures of kindness.  First and foremost, I can’t thank you enough for being there for me at all times of the day & night.  Knowing that someone was there when I needed to talk, cry, complain, rattle nonsense, needing to hear the right words, etc.

Someone, who was my cheerleader, confidant, and guide.  Someone, who was a TRUE FRIEND who asked for nothing but gave much in return.

Words cannot express my gratitude for being able to pour my soul without being judged or criticized.

And knowing that you’re doing what you can because you truly care & want to help.

As you’ve said that “your funds are limited” but your true wealth is deep.  To give, of yourself, is the greatest gift one could give to another.  And you, my dear friend, have deep pockets to share.  And you give without being asked.

I lovingly accept all your heart felt generosity that has allowed me to take this unfortunate journey I know I’ll be traveling for many months ahead.

Dear friend, many, many, thanks.  I know you’ll always be there ready to help.

My sincerest love & gratitude.  Until later…Your Xxxxxxxx!

 

Dearest Xxxxxxxx,

After reading your words, I am truly humbled.  Since I have left all my friends in 1970, I have traveled, met people, and learned so much that at my age, and being incapacitated, my only recourse is to share what I know.  Hopefully, I can offer some semblance of peace and knowledge.  You are correct in saying I do not ask for anything except the love of friendship of those that I have lost over the years.  We all deserve a little respect and kindness that perhaps some of us need to experience now at this time when age has a grip on our physical & mental stages.

Even though I do not know many of the spouses, I still feel the connection, as they are a part of my friends’ lives and security.  I know what it was like without a partner at one time of my life.  Though I felt partly released of burden, I also felt much heartache knowing that someone I had loved is no longer as close as I wanted it to be.  Isolation and depression was on the menu at that time.  After separation, I became an insomniac for weeks until I mentally broke that part of my life.  I retraced my daily routine to include new things to explore and reconnect with the world around me.  I wish the friends of my past could have been there, but I experienced every disappointment that one could possibly not understand.  As new venues began to appear, I carefully scrutinized every avenue to not allow myself to experience those feelings again.  It hurt me deeply, that no one can ever understand because I was and still am very sensitive about my relationships with others.

 It all comes down to the fact that for everyone that I know, I will be there for them, no matter what it takes, and as you say, even though I cannot be there financially, but I can always be there to help someone feel needed and appreciated, way beyond what they can experience from their partners.

 When I reached the point of my life when I knew it was time to realize that life has finally come knocking at my door, I asked myself, “What have I accomplished to leave some sort of legacy for those I will be leaving behind”.  I had none.  I began to restart my artwork, rewriting my music, publish what I can and be a different person by trying to be better than I was.  I want to create anything I can with my hands, whether it is the jewelry, carving, and woodworking, fly tying, etc.  Even as we speak, I am facing the deterioration and the failing sensitivity of my hands and fingers.  It will be soon that I will no longer be able to do just that.

 There are just little things in life, one would not think of until it happens.  When I sold my parent’s house after they passed on, it was such a difficult thing to release.  I shed some tears as we were leaving, but not as difficult to realize that the phone number that I had to cancel and shutoff, was a part of their lives when the digits 23 were substituted for BE-verly back in the 1950’s.  And their 23x-xxxx number was the only number they ever had after 1952 to 2011, a period of 59 years.  It was something that not many people have experienced or gave it any importance.

Yes, it is always the things we never think about that are a part of our lives, when and if we take the time to reflect upon it.  The memories rush in and we wonder what do we do with it and why.  I hope that those small memories are an indication of some personal heartfelt feelings that we still hold close to ourselves and as a reminder that life has been a true experience of some good and that good should overweight the bad things we have experienced.

 In retrospect, I have obligated myself to reach back into my memory banks and try to recall all those happenings and small nuances that many of our [teenage] “gang” and you have forgotten.  I try to reach back and remind all that there was much good in our teenage years and perhaps that will allow all to think about the times after, and to the present, about the good things and only dwell on the hardships for a shorter time.  Life is getting too short to dwell on the misfortunes of ourselves, but we can take a thought and make it amusing to remember those times of friendship.

I can only do what I can to ease one’s mind, but it is truly amazing you can recognize and honor me for something, that we, as people and friends, should do for others.  I often think about what I could have done to change my past to make it better and more satisfying, but that day will never come.  I live with the reluctance of my decisions.  Good or not good, I eventually traveled that road.

 I cannot explain fully how much I love my friends from the past.  It will keep me focused on you and them so that I will always know I was a small part of their lives and I have hoped that no one will forget those days…that is the legacy I will leave behind…just a small memory!

 Love & Hugs always….Me!

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 I hope you all will take heed and remind yourselves that life passes all too quickly.  Stop and be an icon, not on a desktop, but in the hearts of others.

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Trading Spaces – The Toggling of Friendship

buzzard[1]You might read the title and ask yourself, “What does it mean trading spaces?” All through history, we have read about friendships and how it impacted those written about. You even read it in mythical epics and find it in all ethnic relationships. So how is friendship important to you?

Friendships are heartfelt relationships. Some are extremely strong and many are just average. But why is friendship such a variable issue in our lives? From the time you are aware of other kids around you, and finally begin to socialize with others, you unconscientiously begin making friends because you like them being around doing things together. We never think at that youthful age, what it is or why it exists, until you get a little older and begin gaining some wisdom concerning the loyalty, caring, and happiness that bonds you to that person.

Little did we know that as you age, journeying through a year of kindergarten and the halls of grammar school, we would not fully be prepared for what the vicissitudes of situations and friendships we will encounter during the next four short years ahead. The years prior to this next phase of our lives are only memories that we now hold in our minds. Not all the friendships we found early in life will continue as we transform our paths from one objective to the next. The middle teenage years inaugurates the manipulation of our minds, our hearts, and our love for the friends we now yearn to accept into our lives.

I know that not all those first friendships were full-blown. They were just buds on a rose bush, thorns and all, the good and the bad. The passing of our youth, progressing into that mini adult stage, is the blossoming of the true friendships we will encounter. These new relationships are the toggling and trading of friendships from old to new. The old will soon turn into a mist in our minds because we were too young to understand the importance of it. It did not penetrate deeply enough because of our young undeveloped minds.

It is now the dawn of four years of much trial and error. Our minds face the onset of hormones, our likes and hates, our trusts and loves, and eventually the fruition of all these emotional conflicts on the last day of those years. It was a time of licenses and driving cars, of dating and breaking up, working, studying, sports, and picking and choosing which friendship is more important than another.

As we leave those teenage years behind, we look forward to achieving goals, new places, new jobs, and new relationships. Some will become permanent and many will pass and be forgotten because of changes we make from one place to another. We trade relationships once again, but for some of us, we burn our past relationships deep into our memories, knowing we will never experience those feelings again. We trade our past into a future of unknown circumstances. Often it is trial and error once more, until we find that niche in life called family.

We work, vacation, and create more new friendships until we face that time we all dread, the fall and winter of our lives. How often will we ever get the chance to relive that past? How often do we remember those that were the best influences of our characters? Is it nostalgia or is it depression? Is it better to smile and laugh about those years of remembrance or sink into that ravine that speaks to our minds, it is no use, it’s over.

We faced a changing of an era. It was once our time to be nutty, serious and daring. Now we often feel downtrodden. Our children are grown, and their children begin the cycle we all once shared. We hope they will enjoy the same glorious times we have experienced in life.

This old man, sits and composes the thoughts of those who know the truth of having friendships. He, for one, won’t allow himself to forget. It means too much to throw away the memories that molded his aging future. He will struggle to gain what has been lost for so many years, and keep those memories intact and smiling. He will be thankful that when he reaches that day of finality, he looks back and knows he has done his very best to remember and share all that he had seen and felt.

Forty-Three Years of Lost Memories…Rejuvenated

buzzard[1]September 21, 2013 will be a day I shall never forget.  I apologize to all you bloggers, but this particular blog is intended for memories lost and found between childhood friends.

My friend, Pete, called me in July to let me know about a reunion that he and Gary decided to stage for all the YMCA Leaders Club members, friends who attended the Y every Friday and Saturday from 1965 to 1970, the last year when I left for the Navy. I’m including YMCA day camp friends who we haven’t seen for forty-three years of our lives along with the many who were affiliated in some way or another.

When one comes to the winter of his or her life, past memories just swarm, through my head at least, about all those I thought I would never see again before we all take that long dirt nap or scattering of our ashes, no longer being a part of such amazing times and unforgettable memories of friendships.  I am having a difficult time in writing this as tears are filling my eyes and blurring the damn print on the screen and keyboard.  My emotions are swelling up inside my brain, along with my failing heart and my somewhat broken heart.

We all shared times at the Y, since it was co-ed, by doing gymnastics, not Olympic quality, but definitely on the fun side.  Trampoline or not, we did everything to keep us active, and later going to the pool downstairs for more fun.  Some would say it wasn’t all fun, but when it came to working with the kids, teaching basics of tumbling, etc., and the infamous learn to swim campaign that went on for one week each year, it was work, but it still was fun.  I don’t know about our fellow girls workers, but I know the guys appreciated it since we got to see the girl teachers in their bathing suits.

Personally, I never thought to see that many at the reunion, and truly missed those that couldn’t or wouldn’t make the effort for the gathering of old acquaintances. It was a stroke of luck that Pete called me as I had a very trying year with my health since January of this year.  And for those of you who didn’t know, the first four months were devastating as I had actually died twice in the ER.  It was then I realized that I may never experience what transpired on Saturday the 21st.

A few years prior I had developed CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I never had a heart attack, it just decided to stop working at capacity and it only pumps 20% of normality.  It was a horrible feeling knowing that at one time when we all were together at the Y, I ran a lot and often I’d jog 10 miles a day, but mostly 3 miles from home to the Y.

My ER experience was due to my CO2 levels reaching near 100% and my lungs failed due to that excess.  My implanted defibrillator helped as I was told and by the end of the next two months, I was home from therapy, barely walking and on 24 hours of sucking down oxygen. This past month, I am only on oxygen at night while asleep for my apnea.  I lost 76 pounds since I left the hospital in April.  It’s a day by day effort. There is more to that story, but I won’t bore you with it, so moving on…

I realized for some time now, that there lies a fine line between depression and nostalgia.  When that line stops or continues, I can’t tell you.  I suppose it’s how you handle the memories of days long past that determines the results on how the two opposing situations are dealt with in each of our lives. Hell, I take antidepressant pills twice a day…..how’s that for dealing with it? But I have to admit, I still get teary eyed thinking about all of you people.  What the hell, just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t care about all of you.

Admittedly, I never thought that I would have been of any importance when I got to the Y camp on Saturday. I was literally in awe of the people that remember me (at least the good times) all except the Adams twins…just joking girls.

There were many stories that we all shared, and yes many were hilarious, and some were embarrassing, but at our ages, I know we can’t be offended as that was so long ago.  It was just so terrific that the stories were remembered.  I never forgot most if not all of them.  I’m hoping that as time goes on, I will share with all of you as many stories as I can.

I was in awe that no one got trashed…..  I suppose that at our age, we are more sensible or maybe just too stupid to realize that we could get a little drunk.  But it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime, and believe me, I have experienced a lot.

When Pete contacted me, he sent me a list of people he had trouble finding.  He thought I might have the ability to track down some of you people.  I still do a lot of research for my writing.  I just cannot fathom thinking back in high school, I got so many D’s and F’s in English and I ended up being published in a magazine with my own column and other writings over the years, including this blog, but I did my best.

You girls were the hardest to find since you all changed your last names (sometimes twice or thrice….just kidding).  And so it began…the search for the oblivious ghosts of years past (and it isn’t even Christmas yet).

After Pete gave up his search, I remained the bloodhound. I often think I feel like one, but persevering and two days before the reunion, I found the last one, Betsy M., my long lost flickering strobe light dance partner at the Y’s occasional weekend dances.

At the reunion, I never thought that it was going to be so ecstatically rewarding.  I never thought of myself as anyone special, I thought I was just a nerdy kid (I still carry a pocket protector, loaded with stuff) who wanted to help out, have some fun, and prayed that sometime in those years I would have the Kahunas to ask some of you girls out.  But the words, scared s***less only comes to mind.  I continued to be just me.  But all of you made my day…perhaps my life, now knowing how many of you thought of me (and once again, except the Adams twins who couldn’t remember me, but came around after a couple of stories). The closeness of all of you will be something I will cherish always.

I realize this blog is a tad lengthy, so please bear with me a little while longer.  This is important for me to vent it out of my system.  My life has been somewhat difficult for me as I truly am a sensitive person, but I never showed it.  I traveled from Navy base to Navy base, job to job, city to city.  I always had to leave certain friends behind, knowing that the possibility of never seeing some of them ever again before I leave this earth (I know how you feel Pete).  Sometimes I wish I had a time machine and be at the Y to do it over again.

To this day, as I muse about all of you who had dated, had crushes, but most of all, and no matter what happened back then, we all are and will still remain…friends.  The old YMCA no longer stands and a new one stands erect.  I have never entered its open doors knowing that the ambiance of all of you and the charisma of the old place no longer exists.

I now realize that we were a part of a generation that was on the cusp of a changing society.  In those short years, we lived in this unique bubble of intense emotional connection to each other without realizing it until now (sorry, my eyes just blurred again).  We all evolved into what we all hoped to be and hoped to accomplish, whether it did or did not endure the plans exactly as we planned it.  But without any regrets, except for the fact this special occasion did not occur earlier in my timeline, I say to you all, I thank you for making my life complete now and before.  To those wonderful teenage years that inspired us to be the best from all our learning experiences. My only hope is to have all of you keep in touch and perhaps increase the attendance for another in a couple of years.  May you all live long and prosper and I thank you for being a part of my life…from the bottom of my heart….Emery