Dale Says

April 26, 2017

On My Birthday 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 2:52 pm

On my birthday, I am 66 years old. This is another ’tweener birthday – not as stressful as the big ones, but meaningful none-the-less.

For the most part, life is excellent at sixty-six! My health is good, I have the freedom to do what I want, I have a loving wife and wonderful friends, and (barring any really extreme economic downturns) I should have enough money to live the lifestyle I enjoy. I don’t feel older, but it is a little harder to get up off the floor, and lately I’ve been making that “noise” when I straighten up. My eyesight is much better than a year ago (cataract surgery), which has given me more confidence and I appreciate colors and scenes more.

There is a pall over this stage of life that involves loss – of parents, relatives, and friends. I guess it is part of the natural cycle of living, which rationally makes it acceptable, but each loss is a dark cloud that hangs over everything.

About the only significance to this birthday is I will start withdrawing Social Security. I certainly put a bunch of money into Social Security for many years, and it will feel good to take some back out.

With my life relatively level the past year, the most noteworthy events for me was the aftermath of my mother’s death and the presidential campaign and election.

I’ve accepted the fact that I am an orphan, and I’m over most of the grief of losing my mother. I am comforted by the knowledge that she did not to be alive any longer, and that she got her wish. I’m also happy with the way we distributed her belongings and with the young family that moved into her house. It’s still a loss, but it had a satisfying ending. I’ve filled in most of the time I spent helping her with volunteer work and writing, but there are still times when I feel the loneliness, and grief washes over me. I spent several weeks sorting through her diaries and photographs, writing about the records of her life and sharing it with my siblings. Now, I have good memories of her to accompany me through my days.

The presidential situation isn’t going down as well, and it is my greatest worry and consumes a portion of each day. I spent time today writing and sending notes to U.S. Senators and Representatives expressing my opposition to using U.S. taxpayer funds to build a border wall between The U.S. and Mexico. It’s the “cause” I’ve picked to resist this Administration’s efforts to de-construct recent efforts to make our world a better place, and focusing on it keeps me from being overwhelmed by the many other horrible things happening in Washington D.C.

It will be important for future generations to understand what happened November 8, 2016, and to know how we reacted to the election of Donald Trump. As far as I am concerned (and there are millions and millions of people in the U.S. who feel the same way), the presidential election was one of the worst days in my life, and one of the worst days in the history of the U.S. A good portion of the country was in shock and despair for weeks, and the country is still extremely distressed and divided. Protest marches occur nearly every week, as the U.S. is now run by an incompetent narcissist who has surrounded himself with cronies who are attempting to undo most of the progress we have made in equality, fairness, leadership, and environmental protection. Each day brings more blows, and the effort to combat it is exhausting to everyone. Future generations will be disgusted with us and wonder how we could do so much damage to the country and the world.

So how did he get elected?

The U.S. has been deeply divided for years, with half of the people satisfied with the direction and pace that was set. Under Obama, we were a respected world leader who took careful and deliberate moves to keep the world as peaceful as possible. Domestically, we were making slow, but steady progress to make sure everyone had equal access to basic services like work, education, and health care. Most people were satisfied with that movement. However, a segment of the country felt left out. Their personal situation was not improving after the economic recovery of 2010 – 2016, and they were falling behind in income, lifestyle, and savings. That segment became increasingly bitter and angry, which was further fueled by frustration over lack of concrete progress by the Federal Government, as Republican-controlled houses of Congress blocked virtually all attempts by the Democratic Administration to pass laws.

The frustrated segment looked for a new leader; someone different than the usual politician that had been able to do so little to resolve their difficulties. Enough of them bought into the promises that were made by Trump, a real estate developer, reality television actor, and snake oil salesman who guaranteed them he would bring their jobs back, give them high-quality, low cost health care, and “make American great again.” They believed him and voted for him.

What has happened during the first 100 days of his presidency is the opposite. Lacking any government experience, and having only his own interests at heart, Trump has surrounded himself by immoral advisors, Wall Street executives, and family members and has been able to accomplish very little. As a result, a majority of the country disapproves of his performance and are embarrassed by him. Other countries do not know what to make of him; he has insulted many of our allies, praised our enemies, and flip-flopped on many of his major campaign positions. His administration is shaping up to be one of the most corrupt and ineffective of all times, and the U.S. has lost its leadership role and is seen as a dangerous pariah. There is uncertainty and fear of the U.S. throughout the world.
Several major problems face Trump: a civil war in Syria; a mad dictator in Korea with nuclear weapons; ISIS continuing to conduct and inspire terrorist attacks in the U.S., Middle East, and Europe; Russia getting aggressive in Eastern Europe; the EU is under threat; and right-wing groups in Western Europe are getting stronger. It is a tense time throughout the world.

The Trump election and ensuing chaos has been the most momentous issue facing me and the rest of the world over the past year, but life goes on.

At this point in life I am healthy, financially secure, and have the freedom to do what I want. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful wife and good friends and family that support me.

Last year was a difficult one. My mother died in March, and my siblings and I spent the spring and summer cleaning out her house (the house I grew up in) and selling it. That was a sad task, involving three trips to Chappell, lots of sorting and sifting, agonizing memories, and dividing up and parceling out things to my siblings. It had a satisfying ending when a young couple we know bought it to live in and raise their three small children. I’m sure my parents would be happy it came out that way.

My writing continues to be an important part of my life and I am still working on a book about people from San Francisco. Last fall I finished the book and sent it off to 15 publishers and five agents. None of them wanted it, so I took it to an editor who pointed out the need for a substantial re-write. After setting it aside for a couple of months, I am now back at it, editing stories, adding more stories, and gathering photos. It’s a tough effort that is now becoming enjoyable.

We continue to travel, and we enjoyed four excellent trips during three past year: Cuba, the Deep South, Finland and the Baltic States, and Cabo. All were educational and enjoyable, and I wrote and published articles about the trips to Cuba and Baltic States.
We still see our circle of good friends often, and their love and support means a great deal to us. The group gets together several times each year for holidays, and at Drakesbad, and this February we spent a week together in Cabo, Mexico. And the guys get together each quarter for DHSOS meetings.

As in previous years, we continued to lose friends this past year. In addition to my mother, we also lost Kathleen Kokezas, a long-term and good friend to Patty and I, and Eva’s uncle, Jan, passed away in March. Ruth Diefenbach is very ill now, and won’t be alive much longer, and our friend Lee became very ill in February with leukemia. Life is precarious.
Life in California continues to be wonderful. The economy is strong, the governor (Jerry Brown) is an excellent leader, and the culture is varied and accepting. San Francisco is similar, in a smaller way, with a flourishing economy, strong leadership, and accepting population.

Entertainment often reflects the times, which was the case last year. Hamilton is the hottest play, and Moonlight won the Academy Award for best picture (after a mix-up that initially gave it to La La Land). In sports, the Super Bowl went to overtime and the New England Patriots squeaked out a comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Local teams did well, but lost in the end. The Giants made it to the playoffs, but lost in the first round. The Warriors made it to the NBA finals, but lost in the finals. The 49ers were one of the worst teams in the NFL and fired their coach after the season.

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