Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
Category Archives: My Life Story
The story of my life as I remember it starting with my early years
One of my little dogs, Buddy, short for Buddy Holly, who was almost blind, deaf as a post, no sense of smell, very senile and almost 14 years old, took a turn for the worse. I had taken him to the vets a week before as he was not eating and they ran a whole bunch of tests, kept him for a week and then sent him home with a stack of pills that I had to administer on a daily basis. The little bugger fought me all the way as I literally forced the bloody things down his throat. He seemed to be doing much better until Thursday when he was more confused than ever and would walk his way into a corner or up against furniture and would just stand there for 10 minutes or so before moving again. He could still figure out the doggy door and when he did go outside on a walkabout, I had to go with him to be sure he didn’t fall into any of the ponds as he would get very confused and rush around from place to place unable to figure things out. On Friday, I had to go to pick up my truck that just had the on board computer replaced and when I came home, Buddy was in a terrible muddle. He had walked under a chair and could not figure how to get out. He had peed everywhere and could not stand on all 4 legs and no matter how hard he tried, he could not do it. So, with a very heavy heart, I took him to the Vets for one last trip and they put him to sleep. I brought him home and buried him alongside of all of the other dogs where he will rest forevermore. So now, our little pack is down to 2 dogs, Mikey and Sandy.
I am not sure if I will find another dog to fill the void left by Buddy but maybe if the right one comes along and gives me that special look, we will bring another one or two, home. Both Mikey and Sandy are acting really quiet as if they know that Buddy has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. My Sister passed on the same day and I will miss them both. Maybe it is because I have a guilty conscience for having to put Buddy to sleep something that I hated to do especially with the memory of Ginnie still very fresh in my mind.
I have lost six dogs, Pete, Richie, BB, Gizmo, Ginnie and now Buddy these past couple of years albeit that most of them were growing old but it is still hard to handle and I miss them all.
I previously blogged about my Sister who was almost 10 years older than me. You can read those blogs here and here.
There were four of us in the family, my two brothers Norman, the oldest and Peter and then my Sister Peggy as she was known. (Her real name was Barbara Eileen and I have no idea where Peggy came from).They were all grouped closely together and then there was me, who arrived 10 years after them. Later on in life, I learned there was a lot of chatter about my Mum having an affair with a guy named Basil from Punnetts Town and the gossip goes that he was my real Father.
Anyway, the point is that I really didn’t know any of them very well until much later in life when we were all adults (sort of adult in my case). Back then, there was a war going on and all three of them enlisted. When they returned, they were all grown up and I was still just a kid and I never got to know them at all. Peter died of the after effects of rheumatic fever that he had contracted during his time in service and which left him with a very weak heart. That left Norman and Peggy who were busy getting on with their own lives. My Mother had met a GI and left us to come to the USA and my Father remarried which was followed by my stint at living with my Step Mother, whom I disliked intensely. I moved again to live first with my Aunt Elsie in Sandy Cross until she became too sick and then moved in with Peggy and Ron and her family in Hailsham for a couple of years as I moved around in my earlier troubled life. I remember that I was often called upon to be the babysitter for their two kids Jim and Sheila, a job that I thought of as unfair to keep me from being with my friends and kicking a football (soccer) ball around.
Both Norman and his second family, having divorced his Egyptian wife that he met during the war, and my Sister and her family followed me over here to America and we all settled in at Fort Plain, New York where our Mother lived with her husband Hermie. That was the closest that we had ever been as a collective family and it only lasted a few years as I moved out to Texas following my marital break up. I barely saw them much after that and then only on the very few trips that I made back to Fort Plain. I came back for Normans funeral when he died of Alzheimer’s and for my one last visit to my Step Father, Hermie prior to his death of lung cancer. Then our Mother died at the ripe old age of 94 and after that, I didn’t see Peggy again. She was the only one of the original family left. She lost her husband Ron and then moved to Florida to live with her Daughter and their family. I kept saying I would go visit but much to my regret, I never made that trip. That was all probably 15-20 years ago and although we stayed in touch we never physically made any more contact. We kept in touch either by letter or by the occasional phone call. One day, a couple of years ago, when I called to speak with her, Gary, Sheila’s husband and with whom Peggy was living, told me to say that she wasn’t mentally doing well and was in the first stages of Alzheimer’s and was very confused. This got progressively worse and when I called a couple of times after that and I tried to talk to her she just ranted on about where she used to live in Hailsham and had no clue to whom she was speaking. That was my last verbal contact with her. A couple of months ago, Gary and Sheila moved her into a special old folks home where she was living out her life and seemingly doing very well. On Friday last, I got a call from Gary telling me that my Sister was gone. She had died in her sleep at the age of 93.
All in all not a very good day all around. The truth is that we never grew up together and I was just a teenager when I lived with them and not really knowing which end was up. Now, as an old man I lack the compassion to feel much of a loss as time and lack of contact has eroded much of the sisterly or brotherly feelings between us. All I can say is that she was my Sister and in my own distant way, I loved her. Because of the Alzheimer’s we had stopped communicating a long time ago. Such a shame but that is the way of the world.
Now, I am the only original member left of this family…
Have you ever had “one of those days” when you are full of good intentions but somehow, when it comes to the actual doing, it just doesn’t work our? I had one of those days yesterday as I went through a series of events of doing and then not doing and finally doing nothing at all.
It was a bright sunny day, just right to continue the brush clearing that I have been working on my property. I only have a half acre lot but over the course of the years have built four ponds two of which are 5000 gallons and 6000 gallons so are a pretty big size. The other two are 3500 and 2000 gallons. I also have two streams of different lengths to add to the water features. All of these ponds are interspersed with gravel pathways making it easy to walk around. Just right for Buddy, my fourteen year old male Dachshund who is not only old but has very poor eyesight, no sense of smell, deaf as a post and I swear is more than a little senile. He manages to find his way around the paths and occasionally wanders down to the bottom of the garden to the area of the Murmuring Creek which, by the way, only murmurs when we have a gully washer of rain. Most of the time, it is a grassy area where he proceeds to lose his bearings and madly rushes from one place to the next until he can get back on track.
Over the years, I have allowed the lower end of the yard to grow a little wild either by the sprouting tree saplings which are now eight to twelve feet tall and are interspersed with out of control Thyalis and Leadwort Plumbago making for one unholy tangled mess and completely cutting off the view of that end of the yard from the house. As I have already had one episode of Sandy digging her way out resulting in me replacing the electric fence all the way around, it also made sense to cut back all of the extra growth so that I could observe most of the bottom end from indoors. She may not attempt it again as she has already had a shock with the electric fence resulting in her running screaming back to the house so she knows what the wire can do. Incidentally, it is only a doggy shocker and although enough to give her a start, it is not going to really hurt her. Rather the shock than to be dead on the road outside of the fence.
I have already cut down all of the overgrown brush and the tree saplings and cleared all of the Thyalis but the problem is cleaning up the mess. What I have to do is drag the cut material all the way to the double gates and then outside to the temporary brush pile which is already getting out of control and that is currently where I am stuck. Not physically but metaphorically stuck lacking the effort and the willpower to complete this task. It is not that the work is heavy duty but there is a certain amount of effort that goes into it. The hardest part is trying to work the material on top of the existing pile which is already pretty high so as not to take up all of the space at ground level.
It all sounds simple enough and it is. What is not so simple is actually pushing myself to do the work. For several days, I have tried to work up enough enthusiasm to get out and get it done. After all, my part of the heavy work, cutting the material down with my chain saw, is already done but somehow, finding the willpower and energy to do that last little bit seems to elude me.
Yesterday, I battled with these thoughts and finally decided I would go for a hike instead. Much more interesting you would think but after I arrived at Reimers Ranch, it being the closest hike to my house, all I did was drive the roads in the park, sit for a while and meditate and then drive back home. Like they say, it’s all in the mind and mine is going through a lazy spell right now. It’s like going to the gym. The hardest part is actually getting there and walking through the door. The working out is the fun part but first you have to get past that mental blockage of making the effort.
You might be wondering what I plan on doing with this large pile of brush which is currently blocking my driveway to the back gates. I have two choices. One is the Brush and Tree clearing company located right across the street from me with one of those big Wood Chippers that blow the material into the back of a covered truck to then be taken away to the composting place. The other is to call the Tree Trimming company that did work for me a couple of years ago and have them haul it off in their trailer. Either way, cost will be the deciding factor.
And then again, who knows when I will find the energy and push myself to complete my end of the task. I read somewhere that it is not that as the body grows older it lacks the strength but that the mind is controlling the situation and making the decisions to do it or not. Just like going to the gym…
Hopefully, by the time you read this it will be all cleaned up and I will have a tidy driveway again.
I had another day today when I could not think of a thing to say that others might find interesting to read and stay awhile their curiosity in need of something stimulating and bright or make them laugh with all of their might alas no humor in me today as I go about my way with the world a somber place and wildfires threatening the human race animals in need of a helping hand as the fires spread throughout their land closer to home we have troubles of our own as Congress sits the President to de-throne turning this country to an upside down place as the Politicians take sides whether to displace and impeach the President of this land if there are enough votes at hand making the people to choose sides awaiting for the Members to decide even while waiting for these actions to start the country is hurting being torn apart with no hope at all to politely disagree and friends and neighbors will be enemies such is the way of the modern world where news spreads fast the mind in a whirl I too am an immigrant to this land from England where it was originally planned that America as it was known would always belong to the English throne but the subjects who were already here had different ideas and with no fear sent the English back to their land causing them to disband declaring the country the Land of the Free and giving the Nation its liberty but Americans being the mix that they are no longer like strangers from countries afar they are not welcome to inhabit this space no more the land of the free a terrible disgrace the people here have memories so short that everyone was welcomed through New York’s port. and erected a statue for everyone to see that you are welcome here to the Land of the Free.
January 20th was my 84th birthday. Happy Birthday to me…
Who would ever have thought that I would have managed to last this long. From avoiding the bombs and doodlebugs of World War 2, to playing soccer all of my life and suffering blows on the head causing concussion, numerous broken limbs resulting in time spent in a cast, from irate husbands for daring to flirt with their wives and girlfriends including a spell in hospital by one who really did a number on me, living through three broken marriages including outliving one of those wives, losing the lives and friendship of countless doggy friends and living a solitary batchelor life for the past twenty eight years giving up on women and wives as a lost cause at least for me and preferring the company of those same doggy friends. Did I mention the trip across the Atlantic to a new life in a strange country? By the way, after fifty three years of living here, this country is still strange and bewildering.
Looking back on all of those years wondering what I would have changed if I had foresite really becomes a bit of a puzzler. Thinking about it, if I could have changed just one thing early in my life, which would have changed the whole sequence of events and making the future different, it probably it would have been that when I was ten, my Mother never left my Father to come over to America to marry a GI she met in the war. Who knows what would have happened if our family had stayed together back in those troubled times. One thing for sure is that I would never have come to America which for all of its greatness does have a lot of problems especially in the modern day political picture. Even after all of these years, I very much miss the old country although it has probably changed to where I wouldn’t recognize it.
Still, all of that is history as is my life up to this point. Nowadays, my concerns are much more mundane. Things like when and where to go for the next hike, what problems do the ponds and fish have today, is that a Heron out there? are all of the dogs OK and what to eat for dinner tonight. I do worry a bit about what little future I have as the body grows older and weaker and the mind is not as sharp as it used to be. Should I sell the house and move where? Into an old folks home to join all of the other old fogeys sitting around and waiting to die. I am not ready for that so I will probably live the way that I am until I am senile or I get carried out feet first in a wooden box preferably a plain old pine box with no trimmings to be buried under a tree in a natural setting.
Compared to a lot of people, I have been fortunate to have lived as long as I have and with relatively good health and being comfortably enough off to enjoy it. I hope that I can continue living for a few more years as long as my health stays good. If I do become senile, then I give anyone permission to shoot me just as they did in the old Wild West as I don’t want to become a vegetable.
Today outside it is rainy and cold and my interests in being out there are on hold as I had planned to hike today but the inclement weather has made me stay indoors along with the dogs in the heat who are all snuggled up warm and asleep all of them have their favorite places where none of the others dare show their faces Mikey has a chair right next to mine where he spends most of his time when I am working at my desk this is the spot that he loves the best just a paws length away and close to his Dad surely the best spot of all to be had and occasionally when he thinks it is time he will jump from his chair and onto mine looking for attention that he knows is there spending time on my lap which the others can’t share although Sandy is not going to be left out her favorite spot is without a doubt one of the dog beds that are spread around of which at least four can be found but the minute I get up or stroke Mikey’s head she is right there beside us with a, stroke me instead making sure she gets her fair share of attention wiggling away to be part of the action and the minute she figures the treats are all through back to the beds more snoozing to do there is only one more dog in the clan since Ginnie has gone to the Promised Land Buddy the little old man of them all at fourteen or so and not very tall who is deaf and half blind but still trucks around on walkabouts in the garden where he can be found wandering on pathways where he gets confused and quickens his pace as he tries to choose the right way to go to get back inside as his senility is sometimes a little hard to hide he always eventually gets it right and pushes through the doggy door with all of his might and heads back to his basket where he can sleep and dream of the walkabout his memory can keep it’s great to have four legged friends who are loving and faithful right to the end who sense my moods if I am down or join in with me if I act the clown who ask nothing more than to be by my side with love and affection they do not hide if dogs have a fault then it has to be said their short lifespan breaks hearts when they are dead till another comes along not to replace but to fill in the voids in that big empty space that their passing does leave as Nature does say that the cycle goes on for another day I will always have dogs right to the end until my flesh is so weak that I cannot fend for them or for me and my time will cease as I lay down by their graves my spirit at peace.
Funny thing that when you are young and your life has just begun you never think of that day when your life starts slipping away as the present is all fun and play and the body reacts in a normal way then one day what used to be fun now takes more effort as aging has begun the aches and pains and all the hard knocks take longer to heal and are more of a shock bathroom breaks come faster it seems and walking past one the impossible dream the hair is gone and now there’s a gut no matter on how hard you suck to try to make yourself look thin for that is an unlikely dream pretty girls are still worth the time to watch them out of the corner of your eye for to stare at them admiring their form only gets you treated with scorn and labelled as a dirty old man though what it is that they don’t understand that looking at them is all you can do as age has left you a little askew and things that used to work so fine now are reminders of a different time with physical pleasures a thing of the past alas good things just don’t last you sigh and walk slowly away with thoughts abound of a long lost day when girls looked at you with smouldering eyes handsome and confident needing no disguise not thinking that this day would come and an old man in more ways than one and that is about the extent of my life which now resembles more of a strife to get my body to work just fine even though it takes more time to crawl out of bed so cozy and warm with the company of dogs who true to form snuggle up in the night which is no mean feat staying close to me to get the heat that my body puts off to keep them warm thinking that this is the norm and is what dogs do in their natural way to protect their hooman from going astray the body may be weak but the spirit is strong though it takes more effort to drive it along it’s still worth the time that the effort does take as even an old man has a future at stake it’s not time to lay down and die but to give it a shot and your best try and to work through the aches and the pains and be smart about what is possible to attain as an old man still has his pride in allowing his body to be his guide if he can physically perform each task then there is nothing left to ask and until his dying day this old man will do things his way…
Stories about family, faith, friends and funnies. Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh, cry, ponder and inspire about ordinary events of this wonderful, ever changing, bubbling pot that we call "every day life".