When you settle an estate and dig through the stuff someone else thought was important enough to keep around, it is good to give pause and try to figure out why. The watch was my grandfather’s, passed to my mom, and made its way to me from the bottom of a dusty metal box. It was never intended for me, or it would have been given to me when everyone associated with it was still alive. But it made its way from an old man’s arm to his favorite grandson. That’s cool.
But I think I have found a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I saw an ad last night for a lawyer looking for people who have been abused by priests. This tells me at least one person in the CNN ad department thought it was a good idea to take this lawyer’s money so he can help those poor people and put a bad guy in jail.
The trip began from Pauls Boats in Rumson. We could make the trip out, fish, and get back after work and before dark in the summer. I remember bouncing around in our boat as we passed over the shoals several times with our lines in the water. Trying to maintain your footing in a heaving boat with a fish on the line was always an extra challenge. Mom would make Chicken Kiev and wrap it in tin foil to maintain the heat. (Who the hell eats Chicken Kiev fishing on a boat, near capsizing, on a shoal outside NY Harbor? My mom was an excellent cook, and Dad liked to eat). I recall watching him biting the Kiev balls right out of the tin foil wrapper, butter running down his face and onto his shirt, the other hand steering the boat.
We attached a kerosine lamp to the front of the rowboat and headed out into the black of night. Only a small area ahead of the boat had any light. We spent a couple of hours creeping through the rivers’ inlets peering under seaweed looking for some portion of a crab hiding there. The net-less end of the pole propelled us through the night sky until we filled a peach basket or two with crabs. You had to be fast, and it was more than once that one of us tumbled overboard into the river’s silty mud. We laughed and cussed because we knew it would be cold the rest of the way, and there was no going back before the tide turned.
When I was a kid, a minority of any kind was ostracized. I am not declaring victory—we have more work to do. Consider this: We have had a black president, a woman ran and almost won the last election, a man who was on the Wheaties box in 1977 has adorned the cover of Vanity Fair, as a woman. We are have had an outpouring of love and support for the gay community, which endured such pain in Florida—by straight people. White people are protesting the injustices done to black men by police officers. There was no such thing as a marriage between two women or two men when I was a kid. Think we haven’t progressed?
My career was coming to an end. I didn’t want to become a scumbag like my coworkers after decades of being on the right side of the trade. I figured a good way to spend my time on someone else’s dime was to find a hobby. I couldn’t play golf and build a team, but I could write. So I did. My writing was mostly about business through long-form posts. I used them as a way to communicate with my employer. I worked for a trashy company named Scivantage and tried to help them. The board who hired me and I were on different pages, in a different book, written in another language, by someone else.
My mom had a heart that knew no boundaries. That is why she called me Sweetheart.
Over 40 years ago, when it was evident I was going to actually attend college, my Dad gave me a gift. The Craftsman toolbox arrived in my bedroom full of like-named tools. I remember thinking it was odd as we both knew I didn’t know how to use them and had no interest in learning. I still have the box and some of the original tools, some of which look almost new and unused. I guess it was some sort of security net for me if college didn’t work out.
There is no going back once you get out here. I have arrived in the unstructured, unrefined, and unfulfilling world of retirement. Doing whatever you want reminds me of just what a bore-ass I am. A friend of mine said, “all you need is a beach chair and tablet to entertain yourself.” I didn’t have to consider it long to be reminded of my lack of physical activity. I spent a career in Marketing and Sales, most as a senior executive no less, and can count on one hand the number of rounds of golf I have played – I do love to watch it on TV though.
We cannot avoid the apparent reasons we suffer, conflict, death, etc. But we can prevent the pain we accept from societal noise and friction. If we can separate ourselves from it, we can focus on doing real work, like helping another.