Simply what I see in the world.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
No one of us wanted to be Lohman
Mostly we just swore we never would
But here we are all sixty and so suddenly
We’re the old guys in the cul de sac like Willie
With the young ones that are living all around us now
Viewing us as all the old folks in the neighborhood by most
And I’m not sure how that occurred but I known that our neighbor is a kid
We all ran off to the CYO to hear the latest twang
I know for sure than everybody there thought just the same
We thought we’d live forever and be always younger than the folks
And it felt that way for some time while we were stomping Bristle not the old
Raised kids when they were still small and we still looked the part of youngest old
And somehow missed the age of thirty maybe we ignored it all the same
We did look in the mirror checking just to prove we hadn’t changed
But anyway I had a chance to visit Death of Willie Lohman once again
Why our school felt fifteen year old sophomores should read such a thing.
I think they did it so, when we got old, we could recall our time in school
And read it once again at sixty so it made more sense and taught us what intended
So I did and unexpectedly it seems like I have never read or heard of it before in youth
A story I could not recall and yet I know I read it as my old book still is marked
I even passed the test I think because they asked us what on each page
I should have checked the title then I would have caught of who it was about
Who it was that this short tale was all about but sixty-year old men
How goofy was it that I thought the story was about the son
About the sidekick Biff as if he was the reason for the book
I never even understood the story was about the dad
His sudden end of what was trying to be life
In this imagined land of ours be as such
A special mark upon the face of earth
But gone as quickly as he came
With little but a memory.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
This year, I will turn 60 years old. It’s a ways off, not until September. But there is something authentic about seeing the number 2010 on calendars, letter head and other places where dates are regularly indicated.
I remember thinking how far back 1900 was when I was 10 in 1960. It was before both wars, when movies ran fast, cars mixed with horses and people wore their best clothes to baseball games – including hats. My, didn’t we all look like a bunch of immigrants back then. In truth, we were.
Some time later, I saw the picture taken of Charles and Irene McNulty on their wedding day. Grandpa was in the one suite he likely owned or borrowed. Grandma looking so much older than the groovy chicks I knew in the late 60’s that were getting married. How tired and worked they looked and at such a young age. They took the photo in the back yard of a house in Chicago. Nothing fancy. And Grandpa’s brother Jim looked like my uncle Jim. For a time I thought it was the Jim I knew, my dad's brother - until I figured out the impossibility of that.
Delia Dupuis was well into Ben Gay by the time I was a “tween” staying at grandma’s house during the summer. My mother was having another baby or one of her back surgeries to ease her lifetime ailment. Goodness surrounded Grandma Dupuis. Large numbers of aunt and uncles sat around her. Her children all gave me small clues about what living was like, mostly in the 30’s and some in the 40’s. I was young when Grandpa George was living though I have a very fuzzy memory of sitting on his lap.
We all felt so modern in 1965. So removed from all those old days “on the farm” and “in Chicago” that were part of every conversation that occurred as we sat around and listened to aunts and uncles talk about their time at home. Both Grandma’s sat listening nearby. Grandma Mac participated. Grandma “Dupe” just listened and made sure us young kids had water and a banana to snack on while we listened.
The McNulty’s conversations around the kitchen table demanded everyone’s attention. What with Betty’s bellicose laugh, Babe’s clamorous giggle and all three (adding Grandma) roaring at the expense of some poor Wop, Mic or Pollock. Dad laughed too but not in soaring tones. More like Grandpa Mac. Equally at the women as the brunt of the joke.
The Dupuis’s conversations were more subtle. More between small groups - within the large Dupuis clan but intense never the less. They were more versatile. Each one could demand the stage and did a mighty job of it including Billy who was probably best at it - because he stood with one foot in each generation of the Dupuis Clan. Rita could tell a great story and Joanne was convincing. Mom’s stories were less on content and more on delivery which magnetized as much as the others. Theresa’s ending line would soar into that high pitch swoop to the upper registered followed by a hearty exhaled plosive laugh. Chink punched though as the only male sound in the group – particularly since Lee had launched much of it and was reveling with a grin while the others laughed. Frank observed, being the oldest, and Irma and Margarette where not here enough for me to remember but Irma was surely a good time when I stayed at her house.
All these people formed a bedrock that took over 40 years to grasp. Their words take a lifetime to “hear.” It is all just happening around you for so many years until those voices go away and you “hear” them for the first time when they’re absent.
Never was there a time when a conversation or point made by my dad didn’t demand one’s full attention. It’s hard to recall a “throw away” statement even in later years when his questions were more frequent than answers. His conversations with us and within his family pulled us down “eye to eye” level with someone that was “paying attention” and gave you the sense that there was a lot of wisdom, little need of forethought and plenty of conviction behind anything that he said.
We all rushed out, rushed away. We turned in on our world, our kids, our spouse, our home, our time. None of us are quite old enough yet to fully feel as though we are like Delia, Chuck, George or Irene – but we are. We are in that age that matches theirs but there are differences. Our times were not theirs and they did not have themselves to influence their thoughts as we had them. It’s really quite simple and redundant. It's a web of overlapping tendons that connect and, due to purpose, disconnect from generation to generation.
We are not them – they were not us. There is a “we” part that connects to all those inside the same kitchens, the same picnic tables, the same weddings, the same funerals or horseshoe pits - when we all arrive and take inventory of the ties that bind. When we check to see that the tied strings still connected? What are those that have become undone? What still connects to everyone?
Is there more sameness than difference? Or is their more difference than sameness.
Is each one of us a variation on the collective we?
Or are we a composite of each one of us?
This is my 60th year
When I reach that age in late September,
I will mark a life longer than my father - who died at 59.
At that point, I’ll truly be on my own.
I’ll have fewer things to reference if I see 2011.
Happy New Year.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
How happy are such older gents and ladies of the midlife bent
That we might live so long to see such things that in our youth ‘oft flee
That old and wise inspired thought that we’d know more than we’d know not
And chase away our early years of knowing all that we had thought
Was all that life was going to be and surely all that would be seen
But long enough to sense the fact that no one knows one’s life exact
It takes some time to live new things and know the changing times with kin
Not knowing how some days begin to show that new arrives again
For we who try to find what means to live a life and know what seems
To be the state of static time on earth is what appears in worth
And value once it first appears but changes as one’s life’s end nears
Then mirrors ourselves as young escort their children to their future years
I noticed all the different folks who found their way to family’s fold
And sure can call themselves as we as me though I am older told
But new unknown among us be the "those" with new proximity
Would see the same connected line between the “us” that lived through time
That now one present speaks of knowing some sustained and thus ongoing
But not the same old ones that breathe nor touched the hem or shirt coat sleeve
But thus I’m just a witness to the way known lineage forms anew
Sure those who in these days arrive have none of what we know behind
Who were just there as much as us but now are gone and watch us thus
And maybe laugh to see how quite we are like those gone in one night’s light
And rousts the joy of seeing new a line of loved one’s family few
Together in such normal ways without such thought for those past days.
I think about those old and gone when we would trip to grandmas home
And we were lacking lineage sense of all the whole entire meant
That likely made our aunts and men of days gone past imagine same
Of our new place in their same minds of those before in earlier times
And wondered if we’d get the sense of what the group would represent
Then came to sense what we now do that only older of us knew
So fresh and loved today’s young light once seeing all youth’s shear delight
To understand groups time expanse beyond the present clear light glance
The next young decade’s family line connects to us though we in decline
And thus a place in brief times past when groups like us depart at last
And look to new young family trees the former older ones will still there beAnd then our age will thus reveal what we just found and elders feel
Friday, October 16, 2009
What space does God or someone put between two thoughts inside here
What’s making it appear between two parts of someone’s life fear
Some kindly force is placed and thus dilutes two sections best
So we can think in separate and think thoughts in much pain less
What rearing or instinctive way regrets it's very presence
That one could think outside oneself and pain be felt in the past tense
Some mental blunted plan to help avoid the first day’s feeling
Still haunted everyday to keep the first day’s pain unheeding
For somehow less is felt about one’s merit when it is practiced
To implement the planned approach to make us feel less active
And stunt the painful feeling by omitting day one’s impact
Commit to holding pain in some internal psychic abstract
For those who all are left behind make daily mental choices
Survive as days go by or hasten hearing mournful voices
But space appears between and lets us separate in two
And makes some clearer choice create what mourning losers do
Is there no deeper love but taking on that first day’s pain
And carry it forever making days feel all the same
And sacrifice the notion to continued daily growth
And let the thoughts of loss become the feelings we need most
Some gift is passed to us or is inherent from thee
A space between the pain of then and what tomorrow's see
For we continue on and must find grace you freely give
And not believe pained feelings will be present as we live
But if a loss so close and sudden, suffered and so pained
Effecting close akin in equal measures unexplained
In haunted guilt that you should not let agony escape
Become a tribute to the one you hoped that you could shape
If time is said to cure it seems those suffering endure
And could it be that separate thoughts are needed to be cured
But still I feel the guilt of using separated spheres
Since on that day when we first heard, no separate thoughts appeared
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
There is a time past age of fifty
That’s not awaited throughout life
That aging men find unsuspecting
When shifts occur in who and what is right
For years we spend our time deciding
On actions, starts, considerations weighed
Established as the one decider
On what should be or paths to take
So common is to lead not follow
Assumed the stead of other’s choice
Assigned the family’s noted chooser
Creating weight in a father’s voice
But decades pass neglected watching
Young kids find stride and act dread not
They start assuming other's needings
And siphoning off one father’s lot
As sudden as a decade passes
Like single years rushed by time spent
From father's name grandfather passes
To other ways not father’s meant
And now new fathers, mothers start
Their time to guide, their time to choose
To shape their children’s future lot
And start the same clock’s ticking mark
Like blooming flowers a first rejoicing
They seek some other than his choice
The aging man sees what bequeath him
When small grandchildren seek just his voice
Auspicious to have such a chance
Live long enough to hold their hands
And let their parents make their choices
As playgrounds call and children dance
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I have said from the beginning that Barack Obama, while nice guy, is totally unprepared to be president and does not have enough experience either in politics or business as a leader. I believe his administration will be measured this way when it is all said and done.
Once the personality politics of the Obama administration is totally worn off we’ll be down to leadership and that means he leads and he executes and others follow. That’s not happening because he doesn’t think that way. He talks a big game but in the end he’s a “work behind the scenes” guy that doesn’t want to anger anyone and he’s a “we verse them” guy when the pressure is on.
My evidence? No where in his background has he ever run a company. Also, no where in his background has he led in politics until the campaign – and despite what the press indicated (Obama making all the calls), history will prove that he was the “China doll” and the strings were being pulled by the likes of Axelrod, Emanuel and others – who only know how to rabbit punch in the Chicago style.
He was an untouchable in Illinois and he did very little as a legislator no matter what is drummed up on his resume. He never stayed in one place long enough to develop position or lead a cause even. The health care thing is being attributed to HIS cause etc. He’s never had that cause till now. It’s a democratic cause but it’s not his. He’s at the point now. As I have indicated in previous notes, we NEVER bothered to visit Obama on our lobbying trips because OBAMA NEVER DID ANYTHING.
Today, the head of the Afghanistan military theater - his top general - called for 30 to 40 thousand surge troops for Afghanistan. Leftist Democrats in congress are already screaming. Obama totally hedged with reporters today when asked if he would fulfill the request of his generals. "No position Obama" said – 1) he wants to get it right (i.e. “gee we have to use the right process) and 2) we don’t want to do anything that puts our young people in harms way (wow that’s innovative). Point is on #1 - THAT’S A GIVEN. Point #2 – THAT IS ALSO A GIVEN.
Obama has no strategy. He’ll have a meeting. I just hope that our troops can wait. Obama’s political advisors are pressuring him HEAVILY to avoid becoming LBJ of Afghanistan. The way for Obama to save a second term? Stand up to the antiwar Democratic liberal crowd and act like a commander and chief. Obama RAN on this war – “George Bush took his eye off Afghanistan” Now he’s stuck. He needs to ignore the political advisers and TAKE ACTION to do the right thing in Afghanistan and he will become a leader worthier of ANY historical analysis.
In the mean time, the FBI found 12 back packs in Aurora, Colorado today - tied to the ones in New York. If you don't recall the terror network that blew up the Spanish train did so with back pack bombs. The network thrives - and were actually trying to close the Cuban jail - duh!
In another mean time, Obama’s doing David Letterman and a bunch of other shows about the “non-crisis” of health care (he called it that in his speech to congress.) Max Backas gave up trying to get Reps to vote for the health bill today. Brought it out of committee - dead on arrival.
The real crisis is Afghanistan – not health care. Obama is a rookie regarding war. He has no choice. He will HAVE to support his generals. If he doesn’t then there’s no hope. If Eisenhower was in office – he could argue the points with his General. Obama must go with their suggestions. He knows nothing about it.
Not everyone can be Eisenhower but Obama went way out on a limb in his anti-Iraq, anti-Bush chatter during the campaign because he knew that he would get the liberal democratic vote if he did. Hillary is stronger here. (Oh, and bye the way, look for Hillary to quit mid term and gear up for her 1012 run against Obama and whomever the Republicans put up – if they can FIND someone).
Americans EXPECT the process to be sound. Americans EXPECT their president to consider the troops. THAT’S NOT THE QUESTION THAT WAS ASKED over the weekend, Mr. President. Ok, you don’t have to take a stand at a press conference. I'll give you that.
But he is learning on the job. He knows that if he goes to congress (and of course he’ll HAVE to do so since the Democrats bitched the whole time because Bush didn't come to them), the congressional, war baby, anti war crowd in congress that has NEVER left the 60’s behind (as has been stated here before) will have to fight with him. I can tell you that 60’s children will not be for war EVER. Even Obama acknowledged in the campaign that there are "good" wars. He did so in his victory speech in Chicago on election night. So here’s Obama facing another dilemma and split in his own party.
As government always does, Obama messed with free trade by imposing a trade tax on tires imported from China. Politicians do this all the time to get votes (both Dems and Republicans). There’s an old saying, “don’t get in a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel” (the press). Similarly, don’t get in a fight with the people who are financing your debt. China has retaliated and our economy will, at best, draw even on this one. BUT – the unions are happy since union shops make tires. Look at all the stuff that Obama and Dem congress do. It’s all about Unions who give them a lot of money and votes.
Health Care - will fail
Afghanistan - will rip the Democrats apart
Environmental cap and trade – It’s already dead
2010 – Major gains for the Republicans will weaken Obama within his own party
Stimulus? – Nothing’s hit yet except government union work.
The market is fixing itself and it’s not done yet. Business is cutting costs – including staff – which is why jobs are still shedding. What the heck happened with the plan to buy bad debts (under Bush) and put the bad debts under government to protect the good? Instead they just gave money to the banks and the banks still didn’t make loans AND they still have those bad debts on their books. The fed actions have yet to fully impact but the net effect of the trillions spent will be debt. The tea parties and a lot of other Americans have started to figure that out.
It’s not going well and I believe the 53% hated Bush so much that they voted against Bush (even though he was not running). Nobody did their homework on Obama because the wanted to believe he was a savior – they bought the hype and the hype was drummed up by the major media – many were duped.
I don’t hear the liberals pounding their chest anymore. The too know that it’s not working. They don’t know why because they never studied the issues when they voted. They hoped for Change. Obama was never pressed for facts and the public DID NOT ask "where's the beef." They voted on hope instead of solid analysis. They also voted as if America is the only factor in the card game. It’s not. Even the Obama and company thought they’d lead the world. We don't make all the calls anymore.
Germany’s speech had no effect. His trip to Egypt had no effect on Iranians and he’s managed to totally anger the Jewish state at a level not seen ever before (and Jews at home by the way – a group of people that have been supportive of #1 Democrats and #2 Civil rights since the 60’s) .
Bush was the one everyone in the world hated – remember? It was all trumped up and it was untrue. Bush laid a huge democracy gauntlet down in the Middle East and now we have a democratic state right in the middle of it all. The Iraq today is what the Philippines and Hawaii was in 1939. Whether they or the political left likes it or not – we’re there and it’s a good thing we are or there would be chaos.
I pray Obama gets the sense and history of his office and becomes commander and chief and leads in Afghanistan. The war, he stated on the campaign trail, was the war that was IMPORTANT against terrorism. I think America would believe that. So Obama will have to back those word against his party.
On a final note – the White House announced another two months delay in close Guantanamo Bay today.
One more thing. Don't yell at my President when he's giving a speech in Congress - no matter what he says.
One more thing. Mr. Carter – shut up! (A Georgian attributing everything to race - ok our roots are not that far way.)
With that said. I like Obama as a person. Smart, gentle and considerate. He’s just not ready for the seriousness of the job – let’s pray to God that he learns on the job. America needs a strong President.
They certainly aren’t getting leadership out of Congress.
Pray for Barack Obama and our country. I still have faith that he will turn against his party on this. I base this on the presence of history in his oval office. All men are changed by that position.
Friday, August 28, 2009
It would surely surprise my conservative and liberal friends to know the genuine sadness with which I mark the death of Edward “Teddy” Kennedy. As anyone that knows my politics, Teddy Kennedy would be far to the left on any given issue that might float across the notions of the United States Senate or any other less dominant political landscape in this country.
But Teddy marks another conclusion to the youth of many of us from the 60’s. Most of us in the early 60’s were wrapped up in the excitement of John F. Kennedy as an image of our time.
For an Irish Catholic kid, the election of JFK was as equally significant to us as was the election of Barack Obama was to all African-Americans in this country. Teddy was a replacement for Jack. Bobby was a replacement for Jack so for many years, many of us saw Teddy as a convenient Boston-sounding Kennedy figure that placed us back in time when Jack was alive and reminded us of our very early youth and the excitement of those times, prior to Viet Nam, prior to the Beatles and prior to the psychedelic time that ushered us out of optimistic innocent youth and into the details and calamities of our time as the 60’s ended.
I think Teddy was probably a better man as he grew older and the mantel he was given as a young man was well beyond what any of us could appreciate. My admiration for him is because of the burden he bore following Jack’s death, Bobby’s death, his son’s health issues and all the other tragedies that have always followed the Kennedy family since the war when brother Joe was shot from the sky.
What’s most dramatic about the passing of Ted though is the total end of the Kennedy experience. We’ve certainly lived beyond the adoration of the Kennedy’s and nearly all – but not all – of the pain and loss of the assassinations of John and Robert is a distant memory. But Ted’s death makes it all return once again if not for just a short week. At least Ted was able to plan his end. Jack and Bobby were not.
Remove all the politics and Ted would be all fun as is evidence of his friendship with Orin Hatch, John McCain and others. I will always hold the Kennedy family in a special place in my life time memory. It’s part of my personal American experience and my Catholic and Irish heritage. Even the most adamant, conservative advocate should be - if they are not – sad this week for the death of Teddy Kennedy and the death of another part of our rich, rich American and Irish-American heritage.