November 17, 2013

The Grumpy Side of 60 - Role models

For those of you who often ask, my life does not revolve around the kids I teach at school. I love my grandkids, too.

I have four in Montana who are adults… or soon will be. I did my best to spoil them years ago; not much I can do for (or to) them now. I have two here in Ohio who are just starting their journey in life.

Can anyone say “the terrible two’s” or “the horrible three’s?”

I’ve heard people moan about that all my life. I have yet to see it. Is that because they’re “my own” or because I’m just Papau and not Daddy?

I saw a “memory” at the store… animal crackers!

I loved them when I was a kid, so I bought two packages – one for each. Bella liked hers. Landyn ate a couple and decided “nope, not interested.”

That’s okay. I’ve got plenty other options in my “spoil them rotten” arsenal.

Then, as weird senior minds have a tendency to do, I thought about my recent drive to Chicago and memories of long drives when I was young.

After fighting SUV’s and half-ton pickups that wanted to ride the “draft” of my little Escort on the stretch between Indianapolis and Chicago - sometimes only a couple feet from my rear bumper – I thought back to when long drives were more enjoyable.

One particular drive was when I was heading from Nebraska to Texas A&M in my little Renault. I was going to be living off campus (it was cheaper) that semester.

The car was cute and got 50 miles to the gallon but had about as much spunk as a Tinker Toy with a rubber band power train…

It was Kansas and the speed limit was 65. I came up behind a Chevy on a long, slight incline doing 55-60. Had no clue why he was going so slow, but being the young and stupid kid I was, I decided to pass.

In my Renault.

I managed to get along side of him but then the Renault realized it was on an incline and said, “Nope, I ain’t doing this.” And I was stuck there. Foot to the floor, not moving ahead, too stubborn to fall back.

I glanced to the right and the guy was cracking up! I shrugged my shoulders. He grinned and I guess decided to put me out of my misery… he gunned his 327 V-8 and left me in a trail of dust.

The next day I went to the local book store and bought one of those bumper stickers… “Give me a break! I’m pedaling as fast as I can!”

I was on the road this Veteran’s Day. Susan and I drove under an overpass where some Purdue students had draped a “Support our Veterans” banner.

It felt good to see that.

We have much to be thankful for… the ability to travel from state to state, freely discuss our opinions, frustrations and concerns… even the idiots who climb onto your tail are enjoying that opportunity thanks to our vets.

All of our freedoms – wisely used or not – were purchased with the blood and sacrifices of those we honored Monday.

I’ve thought about “quality people” often over the last year. Our vets. The friends I’ve made here in Darke County…

I remember two youngsters – twins in their twenties – Iraq veterans. I believe both are married today, one with a little one – she’d be four or five by now.

They fought for our country, came home and were still willing to give you the shirts off their backs. All you had to do was ask.

Kids need role models. The lucky ones have good role models at home. For those who don’t… I have a few I can suggest.

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