I will be 64 one week from tomorrow. I am in no way responsible for this accomplishment. It is the happy result of the union of two attractive, intelligent, and perfect human beings a little more than 65 years ago; and having successfully made the trip around the sun on the spinning blue marble 64 times. All the while, our sun hurls through space in an expanding Milky Way galaxy contained (at least as far as we know) within an expanding universe; covering millions of miles a day as it reaches out further and further into …
Having a birthday always make me think too much. So, I like to take a trip about that time of year. A road trip, preferably, with plenty of hours to reflect and talk out loud to myself and anyone else, alive or dead, that I have business with that is really more my business than their business (if you know what I mean). I play my old 70s music, and sing out loud where no one is subjected to the abuse.
I left for this trip on Tuesday and covered 1400 miles in the first two days (through gale-force winds in Kansas, monsoons in Missouri and Illinois, and thunderstorms in Kentucky) to spend some time with a cousin in Oak Ridge, TN. She is the daughter of one of my three favorite uncles, and I hadn’t seen her in nearly 20 years.
We were able to catch up with each other and connect on a level that hadn’t been possible when we were younger. There is about 15 years difference in our ages, which was a big difference when we were younger. My cousin has struggled with learning disabilities, which made it difficult for her to pursue education. She is wonderful with children, but cannot afford the required certification process; and struggles with a sense that it will be too difficult for her to pass the requirements. Although able to live independently and maintain an apartment; she is one of the tens of millions of people who work more than one low-wage part-time job with no benefits. She admitted to me that she relies on SNAP benefits to survive. I was not surprised, but I noted in her tone a real desire to not have to be in that position.
When I hear people talk about the lazy poor, I want to punch someone. There are so many differently-abled people among us. They are our cousins, our siblings, and our children. We cannot dismiss them all as lazy or looking for a handout. Why should they feel like they are doing something wrong by accepting help to eat, when life has already conspired to make it difficult for them to do so?
On Thursday, I drove to Mint Hill, NC to visit with a friend from my early days in the Air Force when we were both young and skinny heart-breakers and awesome NCOs. It was one of those visits that validates that there are people in your life that were there for you, by elegant design. We had a glorious time sharing stories, revisiting some of the old stuff long enough to explore the lessons there, and comparing differences in the way we think, our preferences, etc.. It was here that I got a long hot shower, a sit-down dinner with all four food groups (wine is a food group, right?) and a wonderful cloud-like sleep on a feather bed. I left with gifts, both material and spiritual. The way I remember it, it was always that way.
On Friday evening, the dogs and I rolled into Maryland and our base camp for the Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me tour. We have some very fun stuff planned! I’m only 64 once; but, if I work it right, once should be enough, right?