Fifty Years and Counting…


dsc_4586It is fifty years since I set sail
far away from that distant shore
leaving behind all I had known
hoping my dream was not alone.

I had no reason that I should leave
away from the land that I called home
but given the chance for a future untold
a new land to visit and behold.

My Mother was there to welcome me
along with those of my family
pleased that we had decided to come
to make our American family as one.

Fifty years have passed since that day
my Mother has also passed away
the family has grown and to pastures new
all that remains are memories so few.

As I look back to that day
when a new life before us lay
I think how different if we had stayed
what other games we might have played.

The past is something come and gone
and we have to keep moving on
decisions made are there to stay
as time marches along the way.

If I could do it over again
would I still have travelled all this way
to spend my life in a country so new
the answer to that is I haven’t a clue.

 

 

Remembering…


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It seems to me as I grow Old
I remember things that I was told
years ago when I was young
things Fathers say to a son.

Most of them are in my mind
thoughts remembered of all kinds
about girls and guns and football games
and growing up and carrying his name.

Hunting tips and fishing lures
what to take the best of cures
for drinking too much and feeling the pain
that happens when you lose the game.

Words of wisdom of the kind
to help get past a difficult time
that being old and knowing so well
things that only time can tell.

Did I listen to my Dad
as he passed along what words he had
to help me as I grew old
knowing that I couldn’t be told.

Probably some words got through
saving me from mistakes anew
but others forgotten at the time
and the consequences were all mine.

When I look back at what he said
and think of the life that I lived instead
with things my way without a thought
of the things that He had taught.

One bad thing with being young
is we knew it all when we had fun
even though we heard the word
to us they sounded so absurd.

Now I am old and time passed by
I think of the words he did cry
and now understand just how wise
for he was not telling me lies.

If I had only been as smart
to listen and heed with my heart
life would have been a much simpler task
for those whose lives touched mine in the past.

My Dad is long gone from this life
away from the trials and the strife
but I remember the things he told
although too late for I’m much too old.

Thoughts on a Cloudy Day…


dsc_4626I sat staring out of the window
but not really seeing
my mind was a thousand miles away
in some far off distant universe
a thousand thoughts going through my mind
but not concentrating on any of them
it was a though my mind was in re-wind
with countless times and places
and people, many people with faces
all staring back at me.

Were they ghosts of my past
come back to haunt me
or fond memories of times long gone
in younger years
or are they memories of pleasant times
when youth was taken for granted
and we would never grow old.

My dog jumped onto my lap
shaking me out of this reverie
bringing me back to the present
and as I look out the window
I can no longer see the myriad of faces
of people from long ago.

Instead I see lush green foliage
sadly in need of trimming
waiting for Mother Nature
to inflict her frozen sword
and I see rain, not heavy but still rain
under the cloudy skies of a December day.

What a party.


12649730-Party-items-on-blue-background-Stock-Photo-party-birthday-kidsAs I reported in an earlier blog a couple of days ago, I have just had my 80th birthday. A week or so prior, one of my friends called to ask what I was doing and “how about we get a couple of the Allies together and go to dinner”.

The Allies, for those of you not familiar with my background, was a very competitive adult women’s soccer team that was formed more than 25 years ago. I had both the luxury and frustration of coaching them for many of their years. The original team when we first put the team together prior to 1983 was named after the Redstone Ranch who sponsored the team in its early days. The original idea was to try to raise the competitive level of soccer in Austin with a team that could compete against both the Houston and Dallas teams at all levels. As the team evolved over the years, it changed the name to the “Austin Allies” later dropping Austin from the name to become the “Allies”.

The players were constantly changing and the team went through several reiterations of itself before settling on a group of highly talented and dedicated players willing to work hard, train hard and play even harder. There were a couple of players that came over from Sweden to play for us for a couple of years and we often had really good players that would come in and guest play for us in the major tournaments. The team was made up of players from different nationalities and we didn’t care what nationality that was or how young or old they were as long as they could play”the beautiful game”. This group stuck together for many years and indeed a few of the players are still playing. The team has maintained its name and for the past several years, has competed in the Austin Women’s Soccer League having recruited a bunch of new and younger players as the time went on. A far cry from when they competed in the Over 30 division of the local men’s soccer league in order to have stronger weekly competition that the then current local women’s teams could provide.

Many of this original group were the ones planning this little get together of “just a couple of friends”. Knowing Suzanne, the player who had called me originally, I kinda suspected that she and the rest of them, were not going to be satisfied with just a couple of them showing up and when I walked into  Flores Mexican Restaurant on William Cannon, there were more than 15 or so of them there. It was great to be greeted by so many smiling faces and lots of hugs and kisses and just a few tears, including my own. My friends George and  Gloria and later her daughter all showed up to add to the excitement. Gloria told me later that they had been a part of the organization of this party with it originally going to be at her house.

With the greetings out-of-the-way, the stories started to flow as some of the girls recounted the things they remembered most about some of our travels and the games we had played in. It was difficult to spend time with everyone and I know that I missed a few people and I apologise for that. Most of them are married with kids and all of them look really good and it was not hard to believe that they had been and in some cases, still are, super athletes in their younger days. At least 3 of the ladies have daughters of their own getting ready to enter college and hoping for soccer scholarships. They are that good as their mothers skills have been handed down to them.

As with all social get together of this kind, the stories came thick and fast of the many places we had been for tournaments and the magical moments that had occurred at some of them, not all of which were on the playing field. Stories like the time we won the Texas State Cup when we beat our local rivals, a team called Thunder coached by Ray Iddendun in penalty kicks after our full back, “Pecker” had tied the game up in the dying minutes of overtime sending the game into those penalty kicks.  Our goalkeeper, Lisa saved 2 of Thunders first 3 kicks with the other one going wide. We made all 3 of ours to win. Much different than when we went to Corpus Christi for a tournament and it went to 12 kicks each side before we won.

Or when we played a team from Florida in one of the National Championships who had a very large, very tall and very talented center forward that our team had nicknamed “The House”and Suzanne, who at the time probably weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, had the very difficult task of trying to contain her.

A special mention must be made of one tournament we went to that another of our players had flown in separately to join us. We all partied the night before the last days worth of games and one of our group, had a little too much to drink. She played the next day with a hangover and I swear that the other girls had to point her in the direction of the goal that we were trying score in. She managed to get through the game with regular intervals to throw up on the pitch much to the other teams disgust. We won the game and maybe the throwing up gave us the edge as the other team didn’t want to get near her. We took her to the airport as she was flying home on a separate flight and the last we saw of her was her forlorn looking figure as she made her still hungover way to catch her return flight. When we returned to practice the following week, the big story was Laurie’s hangover and it took a while for her to live it down.

The stories went on and on and then someone mentioned “the van”. For the uninformed, the van was a big Blue Ford converted van that we used to drive to many of these fairly local games and tournaments. Places like Beaumont, Corpus Christi, New Orleans and such. There would be as many as 7-8 young women all crowded together and me, the only male as the driver. Well, I might just as well have been made of stone or maybe, not even have existed, when the ladies got wound up especially if someone had brought beer. The things I heard would have made their mothers blush or even worse, be shocked that their darling daughter could talk about such things and in such a descriptive way. They would have been more shocked to know that in many of the stories, they were recounting actual things that had happened either to them or with them. Me, I just sat there and smiled occasionally at any particular juicy piece came out. I have always said that I can do one of two things. Either write a bestseller entitled, The Van, You Wouldn’t Believe What I Just Heard… or I could just plain blackmail the girls for me to keep quiet. It was all good fun and passed many miles of otherwise tedious journeys which by the way were never straight through as with all of that beer, it required many pit stops sometimes with only a solitary tree or a bush in sight.

There was a lot of picture-taking with the new fangled cell phones and funny hats and glasses which I noticed that I was the only one wearing. Whats up with that? There were presents and a cake that luckily only had a dozen or so candles and not the required number of 80, which I managed to blow out at one time.

As the evening wound down and after enjoying the very good Mexican Food from Flores Restaurant, the girls began to leave in one’s and two’s all coming to say goodbye and kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug. Some whispered thanks in my ear  and I had to fight hard to keep the tears from flowing as did they. Finally, those remaining gathered together for a last group photo rich with the memories of days gone by and years lost in time. We all have our own memories of those wonderful times with such a talented group of young ladies. It must be said that my own marriage had ended in the early days of this team and having the friendship of all of these ladies helped me get through those difficult times.

As a team, the ladies and I travelled to many tournaments at the State and National level managing to reach the National Finals twice only to lose both of them. There were many successes over about a 10 year period. I coached those ladies until the year 2000 when I decided to move on to coaching youth. I have to say, that it was just not the same. Different challenges, different ages, some successes but not the same camaraderie that had developed with the Allies and no Blue Van.

When we are young, time is something we do not even think about. As we grow older, it becomes more important because we realize that it is slowly running out. All of us that gathered together this evening to recount those memories of times gone by are all a lot richer for having been a part of them. These are memories that I cherish and will carry with me to my grave.

Thank you ladies for allowing me to be a part of your lives.


If you click on the first picture, it will go full size and then use the side arrows to see the next picture. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal

And then there were two…


Mini,Be-Be,Manley and Fat Cat

Mini, Be-Be,Manley and Fat Cat on the couch…(All deceased).

Life has this horrible habit of sneaking up on you.  Just when you think everything’s going just fine, you got through Christmas, you did some real work on and around the house and now you’re getting all set for the start of the New Year and looking forward to another birthday.

And then, one of the dogs starts moping around and won’t eat anything. You know it has to be serious for this dog to turn down any form of food as she is an overweight, fat little Dachshund that delights in eating anything that the other dogs leave or that I happen to put on the floor in front of her.

BeBe is seventeen and a half years old of which I have had her probably at least fifteen of those years. I got her from a friend whose marriage was breaking up and she needed a home for her two Dachshunds and I ended up with one of them. We have between BeBe and myself, buried six of her buddies in the intervening years and now, the only ones left from the eight that were living at the same time are Richie and Ginny, both considerably younger and both rescue Dachshunds. We have gone from an eight dog family to a two.

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Be-Be on the left, Richie in the middle and their big friend, Danny (Deceased)

BeBe started to have breathing difficulties a couple of days ago and then stopped eating. I knew after having buried so many dogs over the years that her time was near and that I needed to make that short trip to the vets, once again. So, after making a big fuss of her and crying tears of sorrow for what I knew would be the last trip to the vets for this little girl, I called ahead and an hour later, put her in the car and kept her on my lap for the short drive.

When it was my turn to be seen, I stood up ready to go into the examination room, suddenly she gave a little moan, bent back her head and died in my arms. Dr Donop, forever the most sympathetic of doctors, examined her and just to be sure, gave her a sonogram and then pronounced her dead. The entire staff were very sympathetic as they boxed her up for me and Dr Donop carried her to my car.

When I arrived back home, the two remaining dogs both knew that something had happened to BeBe and both acted differently than they normally do. It was as though they were trying to pass along their own doggy sympathies for the loss of our mutual friend and housemate. They both paid special attention to me and both stayed close.

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Richie-the man of the house.

Richie, the male, helped me to dig a hole beside Abigail, Manley and Minnie who are all buried right next to the big pond. They each have a little doggie garden statue of their breed with their collars around them and the whole area is stacked with rocks just like a cairn. Now, I need to get another Dachshund statue for BeBe.

I would like to say that life goes on which of course it will. But it will be just a little emptier than before and there will be one less little mouth to feed and to look after. Losing a dog at any time is really tough but to lose two dogs in less than six months is heartbreaking.

Ginny the new girl

Ginny-a sweet little girl

There is sometimes a plus side to losing a pet. Things like not having to worry about a more aggressive dog like Abigail stealing the others food or chews or discovering that the “accidents” in the house are not so frequent. In the case of BeBe, she had developed a bladder control problem which I discovered when I made the bed the other day to find that the mattress was ruined and now I need a new one. It would not have been worth buying one until after BeBe had passed on but I had no idea nor did I wish for it to be so soon. This also means that the two remaining dogs can now go walking as a manageable group. On a more practical note with her gone, and with me eighty years old, it is one less worry for me if I should happen to die before the other dogs do and just a little easier to make “arrangements” for the future.

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail (Deceased 2015)

I will miss BeBe. We have been together for many years and seen other dogs come and go. It was not like she was super amusing like Richie or soft and cuddly like Ginny but she had her own attributes and a place in my heart.

Sleep well Beatrice. We will miss you.

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe – a sleepy little girl (Deceased 2015)

 

Reminiscing or for real?


Datura

Datura

The man sat on his porch looking out into the dark
his eyes did not see anything as he was far away and deep in thought
of how his life had shaped out and what happened along the way
and he would have given anything to be able to change it
but, as with everything connected to life, there is no changing
no going back, no second chance only thoughts of what might have been.

With a sigh, he brought himself out of his reverie and back to the present
as his current wife and lover pulled into the driveway
he watched her walk with that faintly erotic swing of her hips up on the porch
as she disappeared through the door he wondered if she had seen him sitting there
and was ignoring him for the umpteenth time
he sighed again and heaved himself from his chair
and disappeared into the house.

In truth,there was no wife, there was no lover
she had died a year earlier from cancer
he had nursed her through her sickness and suffered her pain
and had been with her when she died and had wept over her grave
and all he had now were his memories strong enough to bring her back
at least in his mind as she walked to meet him
and even though he knew it wasn’t real but just his imagination
he gladly welcomed her back with open arms.

With a jolt he awoke and could remember the dream he just had
but, was it a dream or had she really come to him in his sleep
as he lay there, he could recall every part of the moments
as she was in his arms, warm to his touch and very alive
and he could see the depression in the pillow where her head had been
and could still feel the warmth of her body and her lips as she had kissed him
as she walked through the door he knew that he was not dreaming
and realized that the body in the bed was his and that it was very still
and that he was with his beloved wife in spirit as that was all he had
as his body had died and he knew now they were together forever.

Start of a New year


The year is now twenty twelve
Is that significant you may ask
only to those whose age extends
beyond that when the tasks
of running and jumping and being young
and loving and laughing has long passed.
Until all that is left in this shell of a man
are desires and thoughts and memories when
all of those things he was able to do
he does through others unbeknownst to them
he lives off their youth and absorbs their hunger
for life even though they haven’t a clue
that by his teaching, sharing and playing too
is yet another way for him to hide
growing old before his time.

Young and old and in between
we are all living the impossible dream
of that day when our maker must face
and we can say that in our place
we did run and jump and play with the best
and when the time came we did not rest
but passed on what we had learned in our life
that others may learn and without strife
our place to take in this world of life.

*****