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 .
I was invited to a party the other night when a dear friend was being honored for his services for our local Soccer Organization. His was for forty five years of service as the Legal Council and founder member of this League from all of that time ago.
I first met Phil just after I moved to Texas in 1977 with my third wife, Susan. We had moved down from New York State mainly because of a job offer that I had and also to get as far away from the awful winters that is a part of that State’s makeup. We settled in Austin and Susan, knowing that I liked to play soccer (football to the rest of the world), asked around and finally hooked up with Phil who asked me to come and practice with his team named Santos. He considered me good enough that I signed on to play. I played for the team for a few years and also the subsequent team named Santigous formed to play in an Over 30 division as the younger punks in Division 1 were really running us ragged. Time and age was already catching up with us.
Over the course of the next thirty or so years, our paths crossed on the soccer fields and in the League Meetings where I was also very active as the Administrator. Although we never played together again, we remained good friends until I finally quit the soccer scene in 2008 due to knee problems. I had one knee replaced but have managed to get by on the other even though the cartilage has gone. As it doesn’t hurt, why mess with it. Phil is still showing up to the fields to play although he is suffering from macular degeneration and can’t see worth a damn but he likes the company and camaraderie that playing with a bunch of old guys that you have known for a very long time, brings.
The party was a surprise and even though eighty odd people had been invited, the secret never got out and Phil was suitably impressed when he walked in the door to the cheers and claps of all of those present. We had all been asked to arrive early, get a drink and socialize which wasn’t hard to do as we were in the company of people that we hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see someone you recognized but could not place a name and in other cases, the name came straight back to you. I had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest person there although many others were not that far behind. As I surveyed the scene trying to recall the names of the many men gathered there, I was struck by the fact that the passage of time had not been kind to some of them. In some cases, it was hard to recognize them as their faces had grown old and their bodies had shrunk with the passing of time. I compared them now to when they were playing all much younger healthier and vibrant men and bemoaned that the passing of time is so cruel. Many of the men were still playing albeit in the Over 50 division and at a much slower pace but they still enjoyed the game and the company of their fellow players. Team sports and football in particular does that for you.
The evening ended following a procession of speakers who made their way up to the mic to relay what Phil had done for them in their lives. Everyone spoke in glowing terms of his different exploits both on and off the soccer fields recalling memories of Soccer Camps of long ago, notable games against teams long gone and of the players who have passed on. All in all, the evening was a huge success for those of us lucky to attend to honor a very dear friend for his outstanding soccer accomplishments.
Today is July 4th, Independence Day here in America with visions of parades and barbecues and people getting together with friends and neighbors up and down the entire country. I remember my first July 4th barbecue way back in 1967. We had only been in the country for four months and so many of the American traditions and celebrated holidays were still new to us with the Independence Day celebration no exception. Actually, it was the first of the American Holidays that we celebrated.
My Mother, and her American Husband, Hermie who had sponsored us over, decided that they were going to put on an American July 4th picnic for the family with a few of the Neighbors thrown into the mix. We all drove to one of the local lakes and staked ourselves a spot that came complete with a barbecue pit and a couple of picnic tables. We were surrounded by other groups all duty bound to celebrate July 4th in the Good Old American Traditional way of the Barbecue. We were no different and although all this merrymaking was a bit strange to us stalwart British types, we vowed to join in and enjoy ourselves. As much as I can recall from an event that happened more than fifty one years ago, we had a good time and quickly learned the ropes of how to consume barbecued hot dogs covered in mustard and relish and in my case, drinking lots of beer. We even learned the good old standbye game of volleyball and the rudimentals of baseball as people from all different groups mixed together for the occasion and played pick up games for which we joined in with much enthusiasm and very little skill or knowledge of what we were doing.
Since that first July 4th celebration, many Independence Days have come and gone. Some have been celebrated with a different cast of players much as in the same way as the first one. My Mother and Stepfather are both gone and the children all grown with families of their own and far flung in this country. My wife at the time, you may well ask, a different story. Many Independence Days have been ignored either because there was nothing to celebrate at that particular time of my life or other circumstances that age by itself produces. I no longer eat hot dogs in any form or variety having decided that they are not the healthiest of food and due to an unfortunate run in with a local judge several years ago, no longer drink beer or any form of alcoholic beverage. To me, July 4th, Independence Day to this Great Nation, is just another day on the Calendar as are so many days as I age. Now, every day is something to celebrate.
Looking back to that very first celebration all of those years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm shown by the many revellers at the picnic site we were at. We too were young then comparatively speaking with a whole new life ahead of us and it seemed very apt to be celebrating it the way we did on July 4th. Now, I am more than a little sad thinking of those events that happened half a century ago. Too bad that things didn’t work out as planned but that is a different story.
It’s that time of year again
when the world a little crazy goes
the houses all put on a show
to best their neighbor all aglow
with Christmas lights the house festooned
no rhyme nor reason to the theme
Santa’s in sleighs with reindeer in tow
galloping forward with nowhere to go
Jolly snowmen standing where there is no snow
and lights a twinkle and all aglow.
Indoors is a Christmas Tree
festooned with lights and sprinkled snow
and under the tree are many gifts
for the children sleeping now
waiting to see what Santa has brought
in the morning all aglow
only the babies really believe
that Santa left the gifts they receive
for the older kids know full well
that Mom and Dad delivered them all.
It matters not from whence they came
just so long as it is their gain
and is the thing they want the most
at least until tomorrow comes
when something else will catch their eye
remembering Christmas of my youth
at the end of Christmas day
the empty boxes were more fun to play
maybe because they would soon be gone
and then the presents would remain
there for me another day..
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".