Home > Fifty Five Is The New > Eight is Enough….or is it?

Eight is Enough….or is it?


Today I had an MRI to see how arthritis is effecting my back. Anyone who has experienced one of these things knows the “joy” of laying perfectly still in a gigantic magnetic doughnut for 30 minutes while the gizzmo banged, whistled, whirred and tweeted. UGH!

But it did give me a chance to think about things, including the blog…and I ended up wandering back in time to 1963, when I was eight years old.

A lot went on that year…it started out very “up,” very positive. All the cars looked cool, teenage girls wore their hair high and their skirts below the knee, teenage boys looked and acted a lot like Wally Cleever.

For the most part, childhood was childhood with winter and Christmas, summer and the 4th of July parade…everything seemed great, and we were heading for an equally great 1964.

November began with my brother Bob’s birthday, followed in rapid succession with my mother’s….we celebrated both events in true family style. We went to school and church and started getting ready for the holiday season.

November 22nd started off like any other day. It was a Friday, so we kids were in school. I remember being in the classroom, sitting at my desk near the back of a long, long aisle. This was back in the day when there were about 50 to 60 pupils, boys sat up front and girls in the back.

It was hard to see the black board. I had coke-bottle type glasses so you’d think somebody would relocate me to the front, or at least a little nearer. But no.
At least I had a window for daydreaming.

I was in the middle of this day dream when the principal’s voice came over the room’s loud speaker. I think it was toward the end of the day. Suddenly everyone was upset. I wasn’t sure what I’d heard, other than something about President Kennedy.

The nuns made us say several prayers before dismissing us. Everyone was quiet
as the older kids started shepherding us younger kids down the halls and out onto the street. I wanted to ask for sure what happened. I forget who finally stopped and told me, it sent shivers up and down my (then non-arthritic) spine. The President had been hurt or shot or killed.

I remember stopping and just standing there for a moment. When I found my legs again, I just ran and ran and ran until I was home. I didn’t want to be out in the world, didn’t want to be anywhere. I went inside and saw my mother, eyes red with tears, hands grasping her rosary.

My parents have been staunch Republicans since anybody can remember, but they voted for Kennedy, and were planning on doing so again. Until a hale of bullets ended it all. They would never vote Democratic again.

By the end of the day, we had a new President. Mrs. Kennedy was pictured, still wearing her blood stained suit, standing near LBJ as he took the oath of office on the airplane.

After that day, nothing felt quite the same. Although only eight years old, I sensed the tide turning. The innocence and good times we’d experience up to that point were overshadowed by boogie men, conspiracies and violence.

JFK’s funeral, days later, saw all eyes glued to the television set. Mother fell to her knees when she saw little John-John saluting his father’s flag draped casket. My heart ached for her, for Mrs. Kennedy and for the country.

I wondered why this memory should break to the surface today. Maybe it had something to do with the MRI, all that magnetic force buzzing ’round my spine and cranium. But then, after thinking about it, I guess it does make sense.

I’ve been trying to understand what’s going on politically these days…go figure. There was so much hope, so much positive energy as President Obama began his term. It didn’t take long for the crapola to hit the oscillator, though. And look at where we are now.

The government, on both sides of the aisle, is a travesty. A circus. A political free-for-all. The press feeds this, again on both sides of the aisle. Pollsters say we Americans either do or don’t want health care. It depends on which news station you watch. Well, my teeth are falling out and there is no more dental coverage for us legally disabled people. The choices we make aren’t what do we want to eat tonight, but if we’re going to eat or buy our prescriptions?

Looking at where we are today, I feel just about as insecure as I did back then when JFK was shot. The rug, floor boards and foundation are being dragged out from under us no matter which way we turn. It is nauseating.

So for today, Fifty Five, to me, feels like the new Eight because I’ve got the same vibe now as I did back then…..HUH?

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