I have definitely been off my stride for a while now. Being retired does not mean having time to do all those things you said you would accomplish once you no longer had to report to the shop, or desk, or wherever that fiscal harness awaited. I have discovered that concept is a myth. On the other hand, don’t ask me to give a rational accounting of my actual time expenditures. You would not be convinced that I wasn’t goofing off and I would be embarrassed to own up to Richard’s Version of Reality.
Admittedly, I have been put off for the better part of 14 months by having to mentally deal with the incredible, apparent disintegration of the expression of what I had taken to be civility and relative forthrightness of our political process evidenced in our presidential campaign/election. I’ll not go into detail here, as the constant disruption of any semblance of due process and personal integrity by our elected and appointed officials is detail enough and can do without my feeble two-cents worth. (I will add some observations and commentary at the end of this post.)
Once the inauguration was over and this voyage of the USS Absurdia was launched, I was caught flat-footed as it were and spent hours trying to figure out what happened and why and more importantly, how was I going to order my own life going forward. I think I have worked out a plan of sorts.
Much time of 2016 was spent tracing family history, verifying family documents of birth, marriage and death so I could file for what is called Foreign Birth Registration in the Republic of Ireland. (Thanks to my grandfather having been born in Cork city and his son Raymond, my father having successfully generated 4 offspring, among whom I am the youngest, our generation was still eligible under Irish law, to apply for citizenship, no strings attached.) This was no easy feat, considering that, in true Irish-American Catholic tradition, we had very limited factual information who our forebears were, or where they married or died. There were many things adults didn’t share with children in those days. But that’s a whole other tale.
All documents were sent to Dublin for review and approval on June 6, 2016. With nothing important left to do; (mind you, “important” is used in the retiree’s privileged, relative vocabulary and not to be dismissed as “without essence and impact on one’s life and daily duties) we set off for another u-drive-it, 1300+ mile trip to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to visit family. We dillied and dallied and ate foods we hardly ever ate in Florida. Nothing extravagant or extraordinary – just not our usual fare as we like to eat as Romans eat and not upset their sense of healthy consumables. Diets can always come later.
Time dribbled on and eventually we landed back in Florida, picked up our accumulated bundle of mail but alas, Dublin had not been heard from. “Rats!” I said, the system was grinding slowly and surly the fine lads in Dublin’s Foreign Office were doing all they could to honor my request. Privately I was plagued with questions – What did I leave out? Were the documents all authentic, long form, stamped and sealed,??? etc.
Finally, early October, I got a very large envelope in the mail with my citizenship document and all the originals I had sent in nearly four months before. Honestly, I was slightly amazed as I thought that the FBR (Foreign Birth Registration) office might be overloaded, thanks in not small part to Yanks like myself who were answering the Government’s invitation to all who might qualify to submit requests, and the recent Brexit phenom in England.
Too bad, you other folks. I’m in, if not on my way!
Along with the official citizenship document was a very welcome application for a passport, which was already my next question and quest. Off again, along with a few more Euros, went an application to Dublin with the expected turn around time of about 6 weeks.
I should point out that once we were home from New England and the citizenship docs were in hand, we had more pressing and really important business to tend to. Vacation!! Pity the restless retirees. Back in the boring home surroundings we figured out we could still visit Denise’s niece in Texas and get our hands on the cute-as-buttons ten-month old twin boys before they lost their incredible cuteness and antics. Then if we could manage the itinerary carefully, we could still make use of nearly 2 weeks of time-share stuff we had mostly paid for already, so we went up to Myrtle Beach, So Car, and Destin Beach, in the Florida panhandle. We were able to get home with 2 days to spare before we had to fly – yes, had to – to Minneapolis to see 6 1/2 y/o granddaughter Hannah, with her first year’s introduction to ballet solidly behind her, perform in The Nutcracker, appearing once as a snowflake and once as an Angel. That alone was worth the trip but we were treated to one of the coldest days of the year, a brisk -24 degrees and 8-9 inches of snow. Oh, Destin, where are you now???
Then for the first time in almost 20 years we had Christmas day together with daughters Amy and Laura as well as grand kids Hannah and Ethan. Wonderful trip. Our presence at that particular time happened to coincide with Amy’s leaving MN for 5 days in the where?? the Florida Keys ?? go figure. Her partner, Wade, had vacation time and hotel lodgings already paid for on Key Largo and we were there, in St.Paul, to look after their 2 terrific dogs. Grand kids and grand puppies, all in one visit.The stars were certainly aligned. Except Daughter was in the Keys, Puppies were well cared for, fed and played with, but Mom and Dad we still in freezer shock and hoping it would not snow.
Back home in Fl 3 days after Christmas with a cold and sinus infection that would last 10-12 days. Bad enough to be ill but was also trying to brace myself for the installation of President #45 in a few days. Yet…I was truly elated. Jan 19, the day before the inauguration, my beautiful Irish passport arrived by FedEx. That made my day, my week, my month. I never dreamed I would have dual citizenship anywhere, with passport to travel, and the possible cure to any future malignant case of Trumpitis I might develop. The rest of this story waits to be played out. I’ll let you know.
Now, the other story. A couple of years ago, when I decided I needed something to bring a lot of family literature together, mostly written by my father and my oldest brother Ray, both of whom have departed us years ago but left an amazing amount of poetry and short stories and half a dozen novels behind, which, like the family information I had to dig up, were scattered among several family members, in boxes and closets from NE to MN. Besides taking up the challenge of constructing a blog of my own, I now saw a vehicle to bring all those writings out into the open. My father’s vast collection of hand written poems dated all the way back to 1962/63. Thankfully, my mother had typed the all on a small portable typewriter. Most of what brother Ray had written was typed but in dire need of review and editing. My wife Denise did a great job of typing several thousand of his pages into digital format, along with Dad’s poems. Ray (jr) died in 1997. They needed to be given a voice.
So my plan for the blog was a modest one and my contribution was to be low-key, daily or weekly happenings that caught my interest and whose virtue or significance was to be left to any readers who stumbled up my”Path”. I was not interested in earth-shaking prose or political or religious debate. I wanted to find a mode of interacting with the times that meshed with my belief that being honestly human did not demand super human strength but only an attentiveness to the world around us, human and non human, all matter, all the universe and our desire to honor life wherever we find it.
As I pointed out in my opening remarks today, I have been put-off by the current political events and have spent many hours trying to get a better grip on where to stand today. I have concluded that it is more important to find a functional, personally satisfying response for my future, than to contribute, endlessly to the cries and lies that make up too much of our awareness today. The unleashed forces will work their purposes and the best I can hope for in my remaining years is to live a life of active love and compassion for every person I have contact with. A kind of embrace of life itself that will perhaps bring a sense of “being ok” in a world going berserk.
I am posting a recent article from the blog of my good family friend and incredibly perceptive author, Tony Equale and hope you make time to read more of what he has to say throughout his postings.
For my original blog posting (re-posted last summer) please click the link below. (https://rharding0728.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/about-off-the-beaten-path/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true)
For Tony Equale’s blog post and comments see:
Unwittingly, I have been mirroring his conclusions and expectation for the future:
“If we are to have a future as a species it will have to be characterized by international cooperation, negotiation, and collaboration derived from mutual respect and a sincere esteem for all people as people. We are never going to stop 63 million people from doing what they think is the best thing for them. Our only hope going forward … and in the long term … is to help them to understand what the best thing for them really is. They must begin to think of their well being in terms of humankind itself. That is the enduring task, there is no alternative.” Tony Equale, An Imperial People.