Monday, June 16, 2014

Gratitude for 67: It's only a number

Rachel posted this on Facebook two days ago ... one of the
two "selfies" I've ever taken; this one on her I-Pad.
       Rumor has it that today is my birthday. Rumor? Ha. Facebook has it, so obviously it's no secret.
        So thank you for all the birthday wishes. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to send greetings. Once a year, at least, we should feel special. I get more than my share of good feelings.
       This is my fourth Facebook birthday; it's funny -- a good funny -- to see the birthday messages begin coming in eight days ahead of time. It's my third birthday as a regular blogger, which is about all the work I do these days.
        And it's not really work; it's an incentive to continue writing and, as many of you know, to recount my life/work experiences and to share the story of my mother and father and their families -- especially as they relate to the days of the Holocaust.
         The previous two years I wrote blog pieces for my birthday; the first, at age 65, was about becoming eligible for Medicare and then turned into a Q&A with myself. Last year I wrote about my birthday and Father's Day falling on the same day -- first time that had happened in 11 years -- and I then listed a long series of birthday wishes, some serious, some whimsical. (OK, some stupid ... how's that?)
          Some of you might know that I do a daily gratitude journal and I generally keep it up to date. It is not for publication; no one has seen it but me ... and maybe someday my daughter and/or my wife will read through it and hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
          There is something to be grateful for every day. You don't have to think about it long.
          Many of my topics are family-oriented and sports-related, but the journal also extends to TV shows or movies or books or shows that I -- we, if Bea agrees -- have enjoyed.
          So I'm going to turn the rest of this blog into a gratitude journal, and I hope you can relate and enjoy it. Some of it will repeat thoughts of the previous birthday blogs (but then Bea reminds me that I tend to repeat myself repeatedly ... about everything).
          Here's what I'm grateful for ...
           -- Turning 67. Not so bad. Staying young mentally is a mindset and, except for days when I'm a little sore from exercising or after I didn't sleep well and feel tired, I get up with the intention of having a good day.
           -- Good health. (I know I'm repeating this from previous years). There is nothing like this, except ...
           -- My family. Bea, the kids, kids-in-law, three grandkids (my favorite role is being "Opa") ... and one to come in late August or early September. That baby boy already is on the gratitude list.
           -- Extended family ... my sister and her family, Bea's sisters and sister-in-law and all their crew. Fun to be around all of them, and it doesn't happen enough.
           -- Enough friends to last a lifetime -- the ones from Shreveport-Bossier and Sunset Acres, Oak Terrace, Woodlawn, Louisiana Tech, North Louisiana and the state in general, from Holland, those from the journalism/newspaper field, those from athletics, the Facebook friends ... and I still haven't covered them all. Nice to have.
           -- My teams. Oh, they all test me and -- no surprise here -- I detest losing as much as ever. But I think I've stayed loyal to them and I love following them as much as I always did. I also try more than ever not to let them dominate my life or my thinking. (Bea is laughing at this.)
           (That said, how about The Netherlands' opening game in this World Cup? Three days after my blog declaring the Oranje as "my first love in sports," that 5-1 rout of Spain -- defending champion Spain -- was glorious and unexpected. I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but ...)
           -- (Another aside: Forgive me if I'm not grateful for the Dallas Cowboys' owner and, damn, general manager. I don't want, or need, to elaborate. OK, so he's far from the worst owner in our major sports world -- there's this total whack job in the NBA, in Los Angeles -- but he's a big reason the fun is out of the NFL for me.)
            (Darn it, I meant to keep this positive. Sorry.)
           -- Journalism and athletics. For me, it was a perfect combination. I had passion for both, and they gave me a career. Yes, I have some regrets; no, there's not a thing I can do about it now, except look back with fondness at the positives.
           -- Books. I don't read daily newspapers anymore (I can explain, but don't want to here), so I've read more books in the past two years than maybe in 40 years combined. Plus, following daughter Rachel's example, we're doing audio books regularly. 
           -- A flat-screen TV. Our next addition, two weeks ago. Welcome to the 21st century. What now? Hi-def? Not yet.
           -- This country. We have our faults, we have our political battles, our social battles, there's too much division, too much poverty ... pick your complaints. I was so blessed to come here at age 8 1/2, with my family; I never take being an American -- naturalized -- lightly. I can't be President, so I don't have to worry about showing you my birth certificate.
           -- That birth certificate is written in Dutch. I also was blessed to be part of that little country seven hours to the east. I think it's at least the second-greatest country in the world.
           -- It's a year later, but my third trip back to The Netherlands -- but the first trip back with Bea -- is something for which I will always be grateful. That was a memorable two weeks.
           -- Speaking of trips, going back to Knoxville once or twice a year, to beautiful East Tennessee and to our girls up there, is a blessing. Plus, we go other places such as a wonderful (and long) journey to Savannah, Ga., recently.
           -- Being in Fort Worth has so many advantages. This is one of the best places to live in America -- a big place that's not overwhelming. Museums, the library, the symphony orchestra, Bass Hall, the zoo, Colonial Country Club, TCU, Stockyards, the libraries ... I could keep going. Everyday life here is good.
           -- My daily walks, whether it's hot or cold or windy (don't like it). I love the warm/hot weather, but I've gone in the snow or rain, too. Lately, at the physician's suggestion, I've added a little work (very little) in the gym several times a week. Plus, in the summer, there's some laps in the pool. I'm not terribly fit, but I'm not unfit.
           -- Facebook, Twitter. They're fun ... most days.
           -- The blog. It's fun to do and I've tried to do at least two pieces a week. Don't know how much longer I can do that, or want to. I'm trying to recap my career, but I also want to stay current. Some things I write will appeal to a wider audience; some things won't. Main goal is I want to stay mostly positive; no use being too critical of anybody or anything. (Don't bring up the Cowboys' owner, OK.)        
            I could go on and on, but I'll save some for my 68th birthday. But one more gratitude ...
           -- My parents. The blog has become a place to honor their lives, to recap their stories. I want the kids and grandkids to have these stories on record, so I hope the readers understand that. And the lessons of their lives, and of the Holocaust, should not be forgotten.  

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