My brother, John Morgan, also a writer, wrote a provocative blog stating he intends to boycott the NFL and not listen to any games until the NFL cleans up its act. I told him I was not quite at that point, although I did agree to boycott all the Games of the Week. But I will still peek at Steelers’ games because I am a masochist and like to be punished! However I am disgusted by the cover up by Roger Goodell of the Ray Rice violence against his wife. I am sure this complicit commissioner, who pockets 35 billion dollars a year, will protect his business interests. This controversy also touches my present concern with Alzheimer’s and dementia victims. It is a fact that 1 in 3 NFL players will develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It has taken years for the players to seek justice. However, now 5,000 players are suing for damages. The NFL is such a brutal game, with head injuries all too prevalent. I wonder if this violent game can ever be made safer or more accountable. For a sports lover, thank goodness for the amazing run of the Pirates toward a playoff berth. Some think baseball is boring, but for me it is refreshing.
It’s a new world I now live in as an octogenarian + 5. So much now is going virtual and I miss the old printed books. Now my daily paper has gone to a new format, printing a much smaller paper in smaller print. I really have to strain my feeble eyes to read it, and do the crossword puzzle. It is not age-friendly. But, despite all these changes, some things remain constant. I had a wonderful experience engaging with students by phone from Asbury Seminary last week. They asked great questions and the time flew by before I knew it. When I told Dr. Beverly Johnson-Miller how much I missed teaching, she replied.”But you are teaching.” She’s right! No longer do I have have face-to-face dialogue with students in a classroom setting. But, thanks to the marvels of the electronic world, I can still teach through conference calls, web seminars, and emails. My day was brightened by hearing from two former students. One, now a nurse, works with a psychiatrist ,and reminded me how much my Psychology meant to her 30+ years ago. The other was an older adult, who had attended my Remembering Your seminar in Florida 15 years ago and had taught from that book for several years. “Cast hour bread upon the water and it will return . . . ” It is heart warming to hear from former students. But, it is also a joy to still teach from the telephone and computer. Heraclitus was right, Heraclitus was right.” Nothing is as constant as change>” John Greenleaf Whittier said it well, “We know not what the future hath of marvel or surprise, assured alone in life and death, God’s mercy underlies.”
As you look at the photo don’t be concerned. I haven’t gone to the dogs. I was taking a picture of a beautiful sunset and started to fall. I needed the support of the fire plug to prop me up and keep from falling. I didn’t want to be be like old Eli in the Bible. Eli was 98 years old and was blind. When he heard of the Israelite defeat and loss of the ark of the covenant, he fell backward from his seat by the side of the gate, broke his neck and died. I live in mortal fear of falling, and use a cane to help me steady my unsteady gait. Maintaining my balance is a constant challenge. I had a good African-American friend in Lenoir, NC, a real Christian, John Hammond, who managed a clothes closet for the poor. His constant prayer was, ” Lord, prop me up on every learning side” Amen.
Labor Day was rather dull until two granddaughters enlivened our day. We had a spot visit from granddaughter, Brannon, who is 17 years old and lives ten minutes away. She is a senior at Norwin High School, and plays the bass clarinet for the Norwin Band. Music is one of her many passions. She has applied to four colleges, but her hope is attending North Dakota State which has her desired programs in Aviation. I would be shocked if this bright, intelligent young lady doesn’t gain acceptance. Her visit was special to both of us, The other granddaughter, Kaitlyn lives in Yorba Linda California, and we talked to her by phone. She is a graduate of Sonoma State in Kinesiology and has just received word of her acceptance at Lake Washington Technical school to become a licensed physical therapist assistant. Kaitlyn has had much adversity to overcome with a strange bone disease which which caused two major surgeries. She is resilient and we congratulated her on her good news and her courage. Erik Erikson has called the 7th crisis of life, Generativity vs. Self Absorption. Although this crisis occurs in late middle age, it is also true for older age. I find myself more and more concerned with the next generations than my own issues. We have ten wonderful grandchildren, and they bless us with their meaningful lives. What had been a rather boring Labor Day was transformed by our visits, in person and by phone, of these two special young ladies.
I read an article in Time magazine today entitled, “What Is The Good Life?” It told about Charlie White, who died recently at the age of 109. It said, “Charlie learned to separate those things he could control from those thing he could not;” “he didn’t fret about matters beyond his power.” Charlie added, “If I let people irritate me, I would have been dead long ago.” This is wisdom from a centenarian. I abhor some of the cutesy names given to those of who are “older.” I even shun being called a “senior citizen.” Even “golden agers” bothers me, for we often whisper those words under our breath like a curse. I like what the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria call their older people, WISDOM PEOPLE. Another “wisdom person” is Salvatore Caruso, who is now 106 years old (nice to hear from someone older than I am) When asked for the secret of his long life, he replied, with an impish smile, “No drinking, no smoking, no women.” Yeah, right. The question remains: Would you want to live to be 120 years old? That all depends. The Wisdom Solomon in the Apocrypha says it well. “Length of days is not what make age honorable nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, this is grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age.” One of my good friends here in also named Charlie White; he is now 96 years old and I don’t know if he will live to be 109. But, he has wisdom, garnered from many life experiences, keeps active and is a role model for me.
One movie I watch again and again is The Natural. It is not just a movie about baseball, but a movie about life. One sees the battle between good and evil in the clash between the Judge, hiding in the shadows of a darkened room, and Roy Hobbs, a person with integrity who will not sell out to evil and blasts a game winner home run as light erupts. In 1949, a mentally ill woman, Ruth Ann Steinhagen shot Phillies 1st baseman, Eddie Waitkus. She disappeared into obscurity living a quiet life in Chicago until she died A year ago. That same scene is repeated when a psychotic athlete killer woman shoots Roy Hobbs, who disappears. Then, 21 years later, Hobbs reappears and signs on with the New York Knights. The scene that caught my attention occurs when Iris, his home town fiancee, looks across the table at a cafe and asks, “What’s happened to you, Roy?” Roy fidgets, looks out the window, and replies. “Life just didn’t didn’t turn out as I expected. and then adds. “Was I wrong to expect so much for my life? ” I resonate with his reply. As I look at my life, now closer to age 90 than age 80, it didn’t turn out like I expected. When I finished college, I wanted to attend Vanderbilt University an study journalism. I wanted to be a sports writer, like Max Mercy, in the movie. Instead. I went to Seminary, entered the ministry and had a long career as pastor, teacher, and chaplain ~~ It was only when I “retired” that I found a whole new career as a writer. So, in the end, my life did turn out as I expected with a strange twist, I became a writer, not of sports, but of life.
Henry Drummond wisely wrote, ” You will find as you look back upon you life that the moments that stand out . . . are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love.. . as i look back I see standing out above all the life that has gone, four or five short experiences when the love of God reflected itself in some small act of love of mine . . . . .” How true! I remember counseling a young widow, who felt guilty about a new relationship as if it was a betrayal of her husband. I helped her realize that she was free to move on with her life. I recall reaching out to a young college student who became pregnant and performing a wedding ceremony for her and her GI friend, even though it got me in hot water with the college President. An elderly widow had kept her husband’s ashed on the dinner table, and I convinced her to scatter his ashes and held a memorial service for him as we cast his ashes into the river. I go back to a moment of crisis for a college student who seemed lost about her future, and I got her to the proper person and a graduate school education which changed her life.Recently when I was there for ,an old man, confined to a nursing home, with no family to help. I brought him some shoes. These and other such moments remain when i forget all the books I have written and all the sermons I have preached.