Allow me, please, to depart from my usual blog topics about writing or weather.

Today is different.  I’m 80.  I’m old.  “Senior middle-ager” doesn’t cut it any longer.

And for the record, that old saw about age being just a state of mind is BS.  As much as I try to convince myself I’m merely a large, pokey Energizer Bunny, I’m reminded over and over that I’m really no different from a DieHard that’s died hard.  My terminals are corroded, my connections are loose, and my amps have opted out.

But somehow I manage to start each day . . . and actually look forward to it.  I don’t exactly shoot out of bed like I had a bottle rocket on my butt (unless I have a leg cramp), but I do manage to get vertical without scaring myself or my Shih Tzu.

Okay, time out.  I’m going to toss in a few semi-serious remarks here.  And yes, you may run for the exit if you don’t want to sit through this, because I certainly hold no special prominence in this world.  I’m an unremarkable old fart—unique, as each of us is, but unremarkable—who has a few observations on a relatively long life.  At least I’ve exceeded my actuarial life expectancy. 

I should mention that cancer has tried to nail me a couple of times, but my docs caught both assaults very early.  So I’m happy to be entering the late innings with a 2-0 lead.

All-in-all, I’ve had a blessed life.  But, like most of you, I’ve suffered disappointments, loss, and grief along the way.  I’ve lost a younger sister, a younger brother, and my wife of over 50 years.  Not to mention a lot of good friends.  But life goes on.  And here’s one thing I’ve learned: when you’re walking into a gale, you lower your head and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Fortunately, I’ve been favored throughout my existence by two callings I love—meteorology and writing—both of which serve to keep me off the streets and outta the bars as I toddle into geezerhood.  The weather stuff grabbed me when I was about 8 or 9 years old and never let go.  Writing grew as a passion later in life, and after my wife died, served to keep me from tumbling into an unlit, bottomless abyss.

As I mentioned up front, I don’t have anything profound to offer.  But there are a few aphorisms I lug around with me.  One my dad laid on me decades ago when I had gone hitless in a youth baseball playoff series and become overwhelmed by frustration—even though my team kept winning.  “Keep swinging,” he said, “the hits will come.”  So I did.  And they did.  I got two hits and scored a run in the championship game.  (Yeah, we won.)

What he told me, though not particularly profound, has stuck with me far beyond kid baseball.  It parallels the walking into a gale maxim.  In life, as in baseball, I just keep swinging until the hits come.  It’s certainly served me well as a writer.

Another thing my dad told me lo those many years ago has also proved true: Things are seldom as bad as they first seem, nor as good as they first sound.  So life has shown me.

Mom offered some good guidance, too.  The best one, and something I’ve always tried to employ: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  I tend to be a non-confrontational guy.  But, like most everyone, I have a breaking point.  And I’m usually embarrassed when I do snap, so I try to avoid overt conflict.

Of course, I’ve learned a few things on my own as I’ve stumbled toward codgerville: Everything in moderation, including moderation.  And: The only thing impatience kicks into high gear is your blood pressure.  Impatience can kill, especially if you’re flying an airplane or driving a car.

Finally, God.  I’m a Christian.  And a scientist.  I believe in God.  And I believe in science.  I truly believe that God and science work hand-in-hand.  (No, I’m not a Christian Scientist, that’s something entirely different.)  God has given us a spectacularly complex, one-off world and the tools to study and understand it.

I accept all people as God’s children, His unique creations.  I have Black friends, Jewish friends, Muslim friends, agnostic friends, gay friends, and [gasp] even Republican friends.  I don’t classify an individual by his or her religion, skin color, or political party.  I evaluate each by only one thing: character.

I don’t say any of the above for approbation, criticism, or even to start a dialogue.  I present them only as observations from an ordinary man who’s hung around for 80 years.

Okay, back to work, everyone.  Ya ain’t gettin’ any younger.

19 Comments

  1. Rick Bernard on January 17, 2021 at 6:54 am

    I love you, my brother as one of the lights in my life….You have shown me inspired views of how we regard tough times. We have positive lives and continue to anticipate the next day with gratitude. God Bless all of us!

  2. Jalane Rolader on January 17, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Wonderful words of wisdom. Thank you!

  3. Lewis Keizer on January 17, 2021 at 8:32 am

    See ya in eightiesville come April!

  4. Barbara Barth on January 17, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Wise words. Lovely post. From one who loves personal writing rather than fiction.

  5. Tom Burkett on January 17, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Buzz, how insightful. Who would have thought as we left Beaverton HS back in ‘59 our paths would have taken where it has. As the youngest of the class, I never thought of where my life would lead me, at the time, I just wanted to leave, and my first legitimate option was attain the ripe old age of 17, where with my dad’s blessings shipped me off into the US Navy.

    Many places and occupations since then, but I never regretted that first step upon turning 17. As I look back, and as I read your observations, one thing really comes to mind. I was willing to go anywhere, and do anything, had to be legal and preferably something most people did not want. I agree with you about the avoidance of confrontation that may turn out less than agreeable.

    I’m glad you wrote your story, maybe when I reach your advanced age, I will do the same. Thanks for writing it down. I should try to get up to Atlanta sometime, as I seem to have many friends, ex-coworkers, and relatives living there. Best wishes, and I hope I am around for your next 80 year roundup.

  6. Heather Tesch on January 17, 2021 at 11:20 am

    I love your words of wisdom Buzz. Thank you!

  7. Buzz Bernard on January 17, 2021 at 11:41 am

    It sure would be fun to get together sometime and compare notes, Tom. If someone had told me when I graduated from high school in Oregon (shortly after fire was discovered) that at 80 years old I’d be living in Atlanta, with my roots solidly down, and writing novels, I’d have said, “Your crystal ball has obviously iced over.”

    Life has been an interesting journey over a long and twisting road.

  8. Edd Lawhon on January 17, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Happy Birthday 🎉🎂 Buzz. I’m thankful that I read your message clear throu to the end, as I learned a few things about you that I didn’t know.
    It’s interesting, how we were introduced through your longtime friend Sherry.
    Knowing that you are a Christian assures me that I will get to meet you one day in eternity. My prayer for you is that God will grant you many more years of healthy life. Keep on writing. Happy Birthday my friend.

  9. James Kevin Lavin on January 17, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz and best wishes for many, many, many more. Welcome to a growing group of USAF Weather Octogenarians! Your baseball comments reminded me of the now 91, BGen Al Kaehn with his favorite comment, “Keep Pitchin!”.. Thanks for all you do and best wishes for continued great words/stories!

    • Buzz Bernard on January 17, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks, Kevin. I remember Gen. Kaehn well. Good guy. BTW, you might be interested to know the novel I’m working on now is set against the pilots who flew “The Hump” (over the Himalayas) in WWII. It’s told from the standpoint of a weather officer (and pilot) in the 10th Weather Squadron, commanded by then Lt. Col. Dick Ellsworth (for whom Ellsworth AFB is named.)

  10. Robin Ives on January 17, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    This is wonderful. And I’m sharing. Love that I know you and for a brief instant, of about 10 years, I actually had a couple conversations with you on the ground floor of TWC. These are the small, but bursts, of life that make me smile as I reflect at 60 years. You give me hope that despite the ups and (a lot of) downs, if I keep on keepin’ on, I’ll be as wise as you are today!

    • Buzz Bernard on January 17, 2021 at 9:02 pm

      Great to hear from you, Robin. Loved those days at TWC with you an the others. I remember you as a wonderful lady, so keep on keepin’ on. (You don’t have far to go to be as “wise” as me. You were pretty smart to begin with.)

  11. Bob Dittus on January 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Well, Buzz, I’m probably your most recent acquaintance. I feel we have a certain bond, or brotherhood, since we are of comparable age, me being your junior by fourteen months, and enjoying many common bonds. We both have had our experiences serving Uncle Sam, you Air Force, me Army, each about 30 years or more, because we didn’t know how to say, enough, and probably glad we didn’t. We enjoyed fast cars, Corvettes, and beautiful women that helped ensure we were successful during our forty-five year marriages, til death do us part. And here we are on social media, having met because we both enjoy the open road and adventure. My first connection with you was we both traveled the longest continental highway, US Route 20, Boston to Newport, Oregon, 3365 miles coast to coast, and many other roads in this wonderful country. My only hope is, that we both continue to enjoy our many friends, family, and the miles we have left on our odometer. Hope we meet before we crash. Best regards, and Congratulations on reaching 80.

    • Buzz Bernard on January 18, 2021 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you for your friendship, Bob. We do have a lot in common, and it’s too bad we can’t get together for dinner from time to time to talk about our experiences. I love dinners with old friends and new where we can rehash memories and tell tales and relive the good times in our lives. I’m glad I did the open road stuff when I was younger. Sure don’t think I could handle it now. Well, maybe if I did 200 miles a day or something like that. My travels now are mostly vicarious. I spent this morning flying over Burma in an AAF C-46 on my way to China. (Working on my newest novel.). Please stay safe and well. And let’s try not to crash.

  12. Ann foskey on January 18, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Buzz. I remember you fondly from my first ever writers group at Barnes and Noble, and your descriptions of preparing to fly a plane into a
    Storm. Glad to hear you are still writing. I need to find a new critique group but there will never be one like that one! Sincerely, Ann Foskey.

    • Buzz Bernard on January 18, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Hi, Ann. Gee, great to hear from you. Where are you and how are you doing? I agree, that group Barnes and Noble was unique. It’s too bad our 20th anniversary slipped by in the middle of COVID. It would have been fun to have a reunion. and learn of the different journeys everyone has taken. The group was still going on last I heard (at least until COVID hit), although with a completely different cast. Haven’t visited it in several years. Take care and stay safe.

  13. Jon Nese on January 20, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Wonderful commentary, Buzz. I learned a lot 15 yr ago from your early morning wx briefings, and I’m still learning from Yao. Thanks!

    • Buzz Bernard on January 21, 2021 at 7:56 am

      Wonderful to hear from you, Jon. Been awhile since those great days at TWC. I certainly miss your weather wisdom. Believe me, I probably learned more from you than you did from me. I hope all is well. Stay safe and busy.

  14. Denice on January 30, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    May God Bless you Buzz. Thank you so much for the inspiration you shared and the wonderful books you have written. You are a true inspiration

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