Shattered Glass Shattered Memories

I have always had a visceral reaction to shattered glass. Not out of any particular phobia or sense of loss. Not out of any particular apprehension of injury or stitches. But the sound triggers a memory buried deep within my subconscious.

Many years, neigh decades, ago, I was a carefree four or five-year-old living on Robinson Avenue in Pawtucket, RI. when something that can only be explained as a moment of weakness took place through the actions of my father.

He brought home a German Shepherd puppy. Demonstrating the future brilliance of my then undeveloped creative skills, I named the puppy Shep.

I know, sheer brilliance in its originality.

The puppy was my sole focus for many weeks. Living in a tenement house, the selection of a dog that could grow to 90 or 100 pounds may not have been the wisest of choices, but for me, it was the best thing in the world.

The dog slept in a garage next to the house. I have no memory of this, but I would suspect it was the garage for either the dog or my father at my mother’s insistence. Every morning, I would rush out to feed the dog and play with him in the backyard.

I am not sure the dog ever came into the house. That part of the memory is forever missing, but I know he was the center of my life.

One day, after rushing out to feed him, I found Shep lying on the ground, lethargic and whimpering. Not knowing what to do, I ran to the one person I thought could fix this: my mother. She and my father, then just getting ready for his return to the Rhode Island State Police Barracks where troopers stayed back then during their tours of duty, came out to examine the dog.

From this point, the memory clouds. The last I saw Shep, my father was taking him away. The once exuberant puppy had the saddest eyes and was clearly in pain. We never replaced him, how could I?.

I later learned that the older boys who lived in the house had been playing in the yard, broke a small window in the garage, but never told anyone. The shattered glass fell into the food dish where I had put his food and Shep ingested the shards.

Thus, shattered glass always triggers the memory. I can still see those sad eyes as he left. They were a mixture of confusion, sadness, and, I hope, forgiveness.

Most times, we forget the shattered shards moments after we sweep them away, but sometimes they remain embedded in your heart forever.

Beach Logistics 2022 vs 1972

The other day, we ventured down to Capt. Roger Wheeler State Beach (aka Sand Hill Cove although there is no cove or hill to speak of) to let our grandson enjoy the pleasures of covering himself in sand and seaweed and ingesting whatever tasty morsels he could uncover in the sand and thrust into his mouth before I could extract them.

As I was making my third trip from the car, it occurred to me that the logistics of my beach experiences have changed considerably since my days of beach expeditions at 16 or 17.  I don’t even recall hauling this much stuff when we took my daughter to the beach.

The logistics for the landing at Normandy were simpler.

Back in 1972, all that was required was a car to get there. Towels, blankets, chairs(never) were optional. Once we’d acquired the mandatory altered driver’s license attesting to our faux legal status as adults, a supply of cold beer was essential.

Had we had to choose between blankets and chairs or the beer, well, you know the answer to that.

Sunscreen was something we never even considered. On the contrary, we wore our sunburns and peeling skin as proof of our time in the sun. So far, that hasn’t come back to haunt us.

But back to 2022. After laying out a beach covering assigned to us by our daughter—a covering I might add that could be used during a rain delay on the infield at any major league ball field—arranging chairs, setting up the tent-like structure, and distributing the myriad toys, the real work began.

Trying to get a fifteen-month-old who has fully embraced his newfound skill of walking (albeit a bit like the exodus of a bar after last call) to cooperate while one covers him with sunblock on every square inch of his wriggling, arching, leg-flailing, arm-waving body is an exercise in futility. Within seconds he is coated with a layer of sand which either enhances the sun block or magnifies the sun rays.

Then, after he skillfully avoids spending any time on our carefully covered acre of beach, he drags me to the water’s edge where he spends time examining each rock, selecting it, picking it up, glancing at me to see if he could manage a quick taste, shuffling to stand in the seaweed engorged waves, throwing the rock into the water, then repeating this act with the obvious goal of returning EVERY rock back to the ocean. (Do you know how many rocks there are at Sand Hill Cove?)

Soon the responsibility of our duty to care for him kicks in and we have to extract him from the beach and the sun. He let’s out a few last squeals of excitement at passing seagulls, airplanes flying by, or at anything else that catches his eye.

We make the first of several trips back to the car, my wife getting him settled into the car seat and topping him off with a bottle or one of those squeeze packages of squished mush with the strangest combinations of ingredients (bananas, apples, and peas? Really?) while I trudge back, disassemble our bivouac site, roll up the infield covering, and reload the car.

Infinitely more complicated than the beach days of 1972, but whoever said a simple life is the best life never had the pleasure of a beach day with my grandson.

Yet despite the difference in the logistics, and while I know the endless summer days of my youth were memorable, these memories are some of the best one’s to hold onto for a lifetime.

Confession is good for the…

I have a confession to make. Confiteor Deo omnipotenti…(that’s about all I recall from my time as an altar boy,)

I’m not proud of it, but I am certain I will never give it up.

Not one day at a time.

Not by the intercession by a forgiving and loving God.

Not through any well-meant intervention.

I will march into hell upon my death if need be, because I will never give up this addiction.

Yet I am compelled to confess to the world.

I have eaten, secretly and repeatedly, raw cookie dough.

Not the fake stuff in ice cream. Real—made from scratch (did you not know I am also a closet cookie baker?) flour, sugar, and raw eggs—cookie dough that is nirvana on the taste buds.

Judge me if you will. Scorn me, belittle me, hold me in contempt, Warn me, caution me, tell me all the risks it entails. I don’t care.

Because I will never stop enjoying the pure ecstasy of raw dough despite everything.

I would rather die for what I love than live on things that are healthy. For life is to be enjoyed not prolonged by abstinence of things we desire.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things…

Watching the world though the eyes of our fourteen-month-old grandson, it is easy to see how those first memories that stick with all of us are so vivid and enduring. To those bright, blue eyes, everything is new, intriguing, and worth investigating.

Everything is memorable to a memory just in its early stages.

But I wonder, in this very different world from my time as a child, if he’ll miss out on some memory opportunities. Not the big stuff—birthdays, first days at school, first love—but the less significant albeit often most enduring experiences.

The other day I was teaching him several important life lessons, the lyrics to “great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and “Comet, makes your teeth turn green. Comet, tastes like gasoline…,” when the memory of another anthem popped into my head. Something that he may never experience in the same way we did.

On the last day of school leaving Ashton School in Cumberland, RI, during that glorious bus ride home—without bus monitors, seat belts, or restrictions on jumping between seats—heading into the first days of summer vacation, all the way to our final stop—and not at the end of our driveway but at a central bus stop where we all scattered to our homes— we would scream at the top of our lungs,

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.”

We undoubtedly damaged the hearing of the poor bus driver as we repeated the chant over and over. The entire way.

I wonder if Levi will have such an experience.

Or, during the middle of the winter, waking to see snow falling at a healthy pace and the sound of WPRO radio and Salty Brine’s distinctive voice intoning, “No School, Cumberland.” Just those words seemed to keep you warm enough all day to play in the snow. As a side note, since it seemed even on cloudy days there was no school in Foster-Gloucester, I wonder if anyone ever finished a school year there?

Or the simple joy of wandering in the woods between Broadview Acres and Lippett Estates in Cumberland at the tender age of six or seven-years-old without raising any parental concerns or triggering the summoning of search dogs and police officers to track us down.

While I have no doubt Levi will experience many memorable moments, some of which will stay with him for a lifetime, I hope he does remember all the words to “Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and holds tight to the memory of the simple things.

After all, traditions are the framing of our character.

Equal is not the Same

No one should be judged by the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their physical abilities, BUT their character, their treatment of their fellow man, or their judging of others by those same three criteria is fair game.

If equal means the same, I should have been a shortstop with the Yankees. After all, I can play ball. I can hit. I can chase ground balls. Why should someone else play that position if we are all equal?

Is it perhaps we are different and not the same yet still equal?

Life is not fair. If life were fair ugly billionaires who resemble Hobbits drawn by Picasso would never have the kind of women we see them married to. Women towering over them and sort of smiling. Mind you, I don’t blame the women but come on, we all know it ain’t love in most cases.

In our quest for equality are we sacrificing the qualities of our differences? The very word “quality” is contained within equality, indeed it makes up most of it.

Quaeramus aequalitatem in differentiis nostris (Let us seek equality in our differences)

Joe Broadmeadow

This focus on identifying ourselves with nonsense pronouns as a way of mitigating discrimination is like painting a crumbling house. It might look nice for the moment, but eventually it collapses.

The reality of our differences, be it male or female, black or white, tall or short, athletic or clumsy, cerebral or dull is not something any label—no matter how sincere the intent—can change.

We are all human. Our efforts should not focus on whitewashing our differences as a way to curb discrimination but focusing on addressing the historical continuity of ignorance that preserves such behavior.

The reality is not everyone is going to like you, respect you, agree with you, support you, or endorse your behavior, lifestyle, or attitudes. That is reality. All you can reasonably expect is they do nothing to interfere with your choices.

There are shades of human existence—internal differences we may not understand—that only require us to accept them. Not approve, support, promote, demote, degrade, or destroy. Just tolerate as we expect to be tolerated.

That is all we are owed by our fellow human, tolerance and an equal opportunity to be ourselves.

All you can expect from any form of government is the same; that they do nothing to interfere with your choices except when those choices adversely impact the good of society. And this includes a woman’s right to absolute and total control over her body and what should be the inviolable right to terminate a non-viable fetus.

Period!

For society to impose their will against anyone absent an overwhelming societal necessity—particularly regarding such an intimate and personal issue—is tantamount to reimposing slavery. Such an imposition is merely the bellwether of more restrictive acts against significant numbers of our fellow humans who may live in ways we do not understand.

Because we do not understand something doesn’t make it any less equal or valid to our choices.

There are over 300 million people in this country, More than 7.9 billion people on this planet. Chances our you’re going to dislike or find many of them offensive in their character or choices. What one has to bear in mind is this dislike and offense works in both directions.

Whether they call themselves she, he, it, they, or we, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “neither picks my pocket or breaks my bones.” As long as anyone lives a lifestyle or makes choices that neither “breaks society’s bones or picks society’s pocket” what they do is none of our business.

To Honor, Love, and Cherish…All the Days of Our Lives

As was inevitable, one of these special people passed away recently. Ray Moreau was the kind of person everyone should try to be. He and Theresa were, and will always be, the true rocks of the Broadmeadow/Moreau clan.

I wrote this piece several months ago and it still holds true today. If there are such beings as angels, one may no longer be here in this mortal plane but he will always be with us.

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Within every family there are those who are the foundation. In the Moreau and Broadmeadow families, Theresa (Broadmeadow) and Ray Moreau—to paraphrase from another story—were the rock upon which the family was built.

They were both born in 1928—although Ray is much younger because Theresa robbed the cradle— and have been married for seventy-one years.  Think about that for a moment…seventy-one years. Some people don’t live that long, let alone stay married to the same person.

But in their case, there was never any doubt it would turn out this way.

The Broadmeadow clan—Edward, Catherine (Szpila), Theresa, Rosemond (Alves), and Joe (my father and namesake)— were a prolific bunch with a plethora of off-spring. There were myriad cousins of all age levels. Whenever there was a holiday, special occasion, or just a nice afternoon, we always seemed to find our way to Bellmore Dr. in Pawtucket or Redgate Rd. in Cumberland once the Moreaus moved there.

Christmas was almost always at the Moreau’s. There’d be someone dressed as Santa handing out gifts for everyone.

Every year we would also have a family picnic.  I recall one incident which reflects the sense of humor Theresa embraced.  This particular year the party was at our house on Harriet Lane in Cumberland.

My father and I were getting things ready in the backyard just as Theresa and Ray arrived.  As we were walking out to meet them, my father sunk knee deep into the apparently overfilled septic system. He struggled to extract himself, with me doing what I could to help—which wasn’t much.

Theresa happened to walk around the corner at that exact moment. I could see by the look in her eyes she recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran back toward the front of the house, I assumed to get Ray and my cousins, Bobby and Dave, to help.

Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Which she did.

But before she actually let them help, she whipped out her camera and took a bunch of pictures. She was laughing the entire time we hosed my father off.

But it was during those difficult moments every family experiences that the true nature of Theresa and Ray shone through. Whatever the issue—health matters, divorce, unplanned pregnancies, death—they were there as a source of support and comfort.

They shared their own difficulties, surviving the passing of their two boys, Bobby and Dave. Yet even in their sons’ too short lives, they were remarkable parents and took much pride in their boys. And they experienced the joys of becoming grandparents.

Yet it is their enduring relationship of more than seven decades that is the most awe inspiring.

Back in the 60s and 70s cars came standard with front bench seats. Girls would often sit in the middle seat, near their boyfriend driver, as a sort of symbol of young love.

We all did it when we got that magic driver’s license.

So did Theresa and Ray. They only stopped when they bought a car that didn’t have a front bench seat.

Even the bizarre tradition of the padiddle (perhaps it was a local Cumberland or Rhode Island custom of unknown origin) of the two front seat lovebirds, close together on the bench seat, kissing each other when a car with one headlight out approached.

Theresa and Ray did that as well.

Words are incapable of showing the enduring love of Ray and Theresa Moreau. Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Now that they are in the twilight of their days, these images say it all.

We could all learn a lesson from these two special people. With people like Theresa and Ray Moreau gracing this planet, there is hope for humanity.

You’ve Got a Friend…on Social Security.

We went to a James Taylor concert the other night in Providence. Let me start by saying Taylor has not lost one bit of his voice or musical abilities despite reaching 74 years old. The fact that Taylor can still perform at this level is remarkable and encouraging, no matter how troubling it is that one of the most outstanding musical performers of my youth is now, well, old (even if the term is relative.)

This brings me to the point of this little piece. As we walked to our seats, I couldn’t help but notice that two-thirds of the crowd were on Social Security, and almost all the rest were closing in on that milestone.

Of those under fifty—the kids as we called them—I’m willing to bet they were there as drivers for those who now hate driving at night. Yet despite this aging crowd of fans—whose enthusiasm was no indication of their current level of longevity (although the standing ovations were perhaps shorter in duration and they sat down after the display of appreciation which was glorious)—Taylor sold the place out, as evidenced by the very few empty seats.

Columbia Records

In the past, I might have attributed the empty seats to too much pre-concert partying—particularly with the now more rational public perspective of the use of marijuana—but it is just as likely they didn’t live long enough to make it to the show.

Getty Images

That’s the reality of my generation’s time.

While it is true we unquestionably had all the coolest bands and musicians in recorded history, the sad fact is these tours may be more closely related to finality than simply marketing old acts.

There is a correlating diminution for the prospect of future reunion tours. Perhaps they might be called the “Those Remaining” tours.

As Taylor so beautifully sings, the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. I just wish this passage would slow down a bit instead of zooming by at what seems like the speed of light.

Jesus Take the Wheel…

While it may not be the most significant testimony to arise from the January 6th hearings, it certainly is the most illustrative of the maniac of a President that once burdened the country. And of course, in typical fashion, the same maniac and his fellow maniacal fanatics set out to deny and discredit the witness.

But when I heard the story, as often happens whenever I read about something, a song immediately popped into my head. For some reason, I enjoy the concept of putting a soundtrack to things. So in this case, when I read how the President tried to “take the wheel” and drive to the Capital where those armed rioters were not “there to hurt me,” the song Jesus Take the Wheel started playing.

Of course, the lyrics were adjusted to fit the story (kind of like how the former President and his minions always resort to ad hominem attacks rather than offering to testify under oath themselves.) So if you can sing this to the tune Jesus Take the Wheel it all makes sense.

“Jesus, I’ll take the wheel
Take it from your hands
‘Cause I can do this on my own
I’m not letting go
So give me my chance
I am the ‘effing President
Jesus, I’ll take the wheel”

vintage car parked besides green plants
Photo by Pamela Marie on Pexels.com

Rumor has it the Secret Service agents involved have offered to testify under oath. Great, let them. Then we can all take a measure of the witnesses, judge their credibility, and determine the value of their testimony like occurs in courts across this country every day.

Until then, let’s hope Jesus, or some other reasonably trustworthy entity, takes the wheel of the country and puts us back on the road, saving us from skidding into oblivion.

Jesus! TAKE THE WHEEL!

Ponder This

Why is it whenever any natural or manmade disaster occurs, or a tragic event unfolds, or a violent act is committed, or an innocent life is taken, or humans are deprived of their loved ones by calamity, people beseech, pray to, or petition their God—the one being who at least in theory could prevent such occurrences—to offer comfort to those afflicted?

silhouette image of person praying
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

It seems counterintuitive to seek such consideration from a being believed to be omniscient and omnipotent; the very abilities necessary to prevent such things in the first place.

I, for one, have a question for this being should I ever find myself in a position to ask it.

“God, why do you allow pediatric cancers and how come there’s never been one miracle in the history of the world where you grew back a limb?”

Pray if you like, beseech your god if it gives you comfort, but bear this in mind, this same being either couldn’t or wouldn’t stop it.

(Author’s note. The image is not who some might believe it to be. There are no photos from 2000 years ago so please take no offense)