Discover Your Family Treasure

Stories of familyThe encore years of life offer Baby Boomers a time for reflection and conversations to discover valuable family stories. When you uncover the stories you hold for your own life you create greater awareness of how you fit into your family. And, when you share your stories with others in your family, you expand their perspective of their own lives, as well as of the family as a whole.

Reflections on your own life stories can help you design your retirement lifestyle. What do you remember as the most important? Are there any repetitive themes? How can they inform your choices for the next stage of your life?

Discovery Process

There are many ways you can discover your family treasures, including:

  • Journals and diaries that you and others have kept, or currently write.
  • Asking other relatives what they remember about events that you remember – their memories may be illuminating.
  • Allow other relatives to interview you with their own questions which you may never have thought of.
  • Record your discoveries to share in the future by writing them down, or by making audio or video recordings.

Sharing Your Stories

Family members may think they know each other well when they have grown up together. Other relatives may know each other superficially because they see each one another infrequently. Instead of keeping conversations on a mundane level, I encourage you to share the wisdom you have accumulated throughout your life when you reach your retirement years. Your stories will allow others of all generations to know and appreciate you more. Your perspectives on life can inform family members of new ways of experiencing life.

Throughout the ages, and in other cultures, the wisdom of the elders has been highly regarded. I recommend that you gather your own stories and the stories of your family and actively keep them alive by sharing them with one another often.

What family treasures will you discover in your encore years?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,

For These Gifts, I Am Thankful

Raging storms
That shift minds
And open hearts
Snowflakes falling
Family texting
Simply saying
I’m safe, we’re fine
A lingering hug
A loving look
A soul shouting
A kindness
A touch

Drifting to sleep, unencumbered
Chasing fears back under the bed
Waking to whispers, uncharted
Wonder unfiltered, explorer of moments
Dreams forming, shaping futures
Grateful moments, amidst challenging times
Grasping, reaching, achieving, and growing 

In all ways, always growing

Joni Kovarik |

Facing Grief, Unflinchingly.

What is a good metaphor, or simile, for grief?

Grief is powerful and inevitable. It occurs to all of us. It can be disabling.  It can feel like a tsunami – an unimaginably powerful force overtaking and smothering every other aspect of… reality.  Grief can feel like a magnet – one occurrence of grief becoming a magnet for every other possible grief response we might have imagined, but never did, and so when a knife-like grief experience occurs, suddenly…. other grief responses are invited into spaces that existed before… but now those spaces also have the added burden of grief.

So what are good similes or metaphors for grief, I ask my writing community? Please! I want to know! Comment on this post, or create a post of your own that links to your personal website. Please.  Similes and metaphors are powerful tools in writers’ toolboxes for dealing with…  and shaping… grief.  (And also other powerful life experiences.)

Many of us know the power, value, and utility of simile and metaphor.

Simile is saying something “is like” something else.

Metaphor is saying something IS (identity-like) something else. A bit more powerful and abstract than simile.

Similes AND metaphors have their place and their usefulness as we understand our human experience.

So what are the metaphors (or similes) for grief?

Grief is like the rogue wave, unexpectedly roaring in and covering, maybe obliterating, everything in its path. (That is a simile.)

Grief is a cranky bitch. (That is a metaphor – the “is,” construction, not the “is like” construction.) But this statement invites questions about the meaning of “cranky” and the meaning of “bitch.” I will not expend my own life force on explaining this metaphor at this time. But let me know in a comment if the metaphor intrigues you.

So I return to my original question: what is a good metaphor, or a good simile, for grief?  Because metaphors and similes allow us room, and space, and vocabulary, with which to deconstruct and understand life experiences that otherwise would be…. obliterating of our own lives, or of the meaning of our own lives.

We grieve all kinds of losses.

We grieve the loss of the heart-beating lives experienced by people we know and love, even when the ending of that life is a loss more to “us” than to the person who lived that life.

We grieve the loss of… jobs… marriages…. friendships… tomato plants that did not thrive in clay soil.

Like many people, I retreat from the nearly overwhelming, death-dealing, breath-squeezing, reality of authentic grief to the….. safer… less breath-squeezing level of… humor.

I feel, in this moment, when asking for a simile or metaphor for grief…. that I would like to know: “I do not know what I am talking about; do you know what I am talking about?”  (That statement/question is my idea of humor.)

My beloved and respected writing friends’ authentic wisdom about grief is invited. We all experience grief. May our collective and caring words about grief serve to increase compassion in the world. And thereby change the world and the future of humanity.

A story of our pets as teachers

A recent post by fellow-blogger Steve Kenagy brought back poignant, important, consoling, and peaceful memories.

One beloved cat (Ginger) simply stopped showing up. We never knew what her life was like after the day she did not show up for dinner. This cat (an independent-thinking, fun, challenging, and loving manx) had “shown up” in our lives, at the start uninvited, but Continue reading “A story of our pets as teachers” »

LifeBook thoughts and expanding permutations

There are 76 million baby boomers and another fifty plus million others who could use the Living Legacy LifeBook as a framework for honoring themselves, each other, their roots, futures, and their descendants.

The more I discuss my book and ideas with others the more ideas for application arise. Please add more in your comments below (Thanks)

LifeBook or LifeBooks could be:

  • Part of a welcome packet for an independent living or retirement community.
  • Part of a Pre-burial plan contract purchase (if you are buying a hole that has not been dug, a monument that has not been cut to be erected on a plot you yourself will never really enjoy, have one of these to complete between now and the time you will be using your plot. It also makes for a well-written eulogy…)
  • Home care agencies, instead of watching one more soap opera with their home bound client – they can ask great questions and listen to some truly astounding replies.)
  • Senior downsizing movers and De-clutterers could use this.
  • Senior housing placement agencies can offer this as part of their services.
  • Senior centers could use this as inspiration for activities.
  • Retirement or other financial counselors could offer this to clients as a service.
  • Divorce counselors, attorneys, mediators can offer this to couples in distress to help them clarify their marriages and intentions, conceivably help restore health to damages relations.
  • A gift from:
    • Adult children to their Senior parents which would make visiting their parents much more enjoyable and productive
    • Senior parents to their adult children which would make visits much more enjoyable and productive
  • A gift to:
    • Newlyweds so that they can start their Living Legacies right away, and learn each other[s families early on in their marriage.
    • Oldy-weds (a relationship enhancement tool) who can take their intimacy and compatibility to the next level by sharing their lives in this manner – one tell their stories or bucket list, the other scribes – then switch roles, then discuss between them.
  • A service for religious congregations.
    • Honoring their senior members,
    • younger members, youth groups, can visit and listen and record older members as they retell their stories, share their wisdom.
  • And much more yet to be conceived. 
  • There is even a memory board game in the works… (imagine)

Anything you can do or say that will help me reach 150 million Americans would be deeply appreciated.

You can write to me directly at






Living Legacy LifeBook – the movie!


    Our Reticent Writers and Bloggers Support Group has been an enormous resource for me this past year. Our support group member Scott Bell produced this excellent video for me; Susan Straub-Martin designed the beautiful covers.

Here is the link to the video.

Living Legacy LifeBook video, six minutes.

Here is the link to the website:

The Living Legacy website

Here are the Living Legacy LifeBook’s high-points:

You can’t take it with you – but you can leave something of abiding value behind, your Living Legacy.  Downsizing your life should not mean you need to garage sale your mind nor compromise your identity. The Living Legacy LifeBook is a simple, easy, do it at your own pace guide that permits adults to:

  • Process a lifetime of memories.
  • Review life accomplishments.
  • Achieve an enhanced sense of self and safeguard identity.
  • Create a memory aid for when remembering becomes a concern.
  • Downsize living quarters and distribute long-held possessions – without losing the memories associated with those possessions.
  • Enhance relationships with those who are closest.
  • Experience and enjoy meaningful, good quality time spent with family and friends.
  • Keep vital life documents close by, readily available for reference.
  • Create a personal Living Legacy, a contribution, a posterity that will last for generations – a true immortality.
  •  And much, much more.

Please send me your feedback, thoughts, networking suggestions, and responses.

Thanks for watching.

Paul Zohav


Whale Rain

Water and clouds

Water and cloud castles

I stood atop a high stone wall today, little stars-in-my-sky, looking out over the water and thinking of you. Rain pattered all around, plashing up from the courtyard, patting on my hood, and leaving tiny, icy kisses on my cheeks. There was magic in the air, and in my mind you shared it with me.

Wide water stretches away below our feet, brushed and prickled with the falling rain, the island’s beaches curving away to each side. Curtains of rain drape from the clouds nearby, glowing slightly with the sun that’s almost breaking through. Across the water, the dark trees glow softly in sunlight, misty and insubstantial in the rain, and above it all floats a perfect castle of clouds. White and gray and towering against a blue sky, full of promises of adventure, it shines out, reflecting on the gentle hammered-silver of the water. “Come,” it says, slowly sculpting into new, fantastic shapes. “Come and ride the wind with me.” White cloud bellies edged with gold push out and up, making sail for far-off Japan, ready to journey through sunset and sunrise and sunset again. What would we see? you wonder.

The water is calm, reflecting sky and clouds and sun in shades of silver, pewter, iron, slate, gold, and robin’s-egg blue. Ribbons of bright currents braid the surface, glowing veins of light now reflecting the cloud castle and bright sky, now the westering sun, now the gray rain clouds. And over everything, a breathless expectation. For somewhere before us, beneath the water, beneath the shushing rain that glows in the sun, beneath the castle of clouds, there are whales.

We stand close together, sharing our warmth, laughing at the raindrops when they splatter on your nose, watching, watching, for the magic of the whales. As the tide slips gently out, we watch it reveal scooped-out places where the whales have fed on the bottom, round as coins, shallow enough for Sabrina-Bee to splash in. So very, very close. One fat seagull waddles importantly up the beach, his silly orange feet in odd contrast to his formal gray and white feather tuxedo. Beyond him paces a blue heron, pompously striding through the water, pausing to tip his head to look into the ripples at his feet. Fast as lightning, he spears a tiny fish and flips it into his beak, and your eyes get wide. Ducks in exotic patterns of black and white quarrel with the seagulls over the emerging whale ponds. And just over our heads, one enthusiastic songbird pours a bright melody like a golden thread.

“Are they really out there, grandma?” you ask. “Oh yes, love. Right before us, under the silver rain. Gray as twilight and silent as clouds and big as imagination. Father whales, and young whales making their first journey back to California where they were born. And mother whales, heavy with new babies, journeying together to the warm waters where whale life begins. Can you feel the magic? Where the rain touches the water, can you feel the whale dreams rise up? Can you feel the silky cold water, taste the rich mud of the bottom, hear the far-off surf?”

“Yes,” you say. “Yes, it’s like flying! But it’s nearly night. Where will we sleep?”

“Right here,” I say. “You’ll float close to your mother and listen to her great heart beat, rocked on the rising and falling of the waves and tides. You’ll be comforted by the rough barnacles on her side and the sound of her breathing. You’ll dream dreams of sunlight on the waves, and deep green waters, and crabs and fishes and seagulls. For a day or a week you’ll play right here, raising a whale-baby rumpus and peeping above the water to delight the children on the shore, before moving on to new adventures.”

And so in the rain we stand, little stars-in-my-sky, four hearts together, waiting for magic. And if we never see the whales, we have magic enough. We have a rain-kissed evening, silver water, and a castle of clouds, with mystery swimming silently in the deep.

It’s enough to be here, and know they’re here too.

Sins of My Father

It’s been said that the apple never falls too far from the tree and in this case I see the truth in this.  I had a chance conversation with friends recently.  Nothing too earth shattering was talked about, just more or less the events of the day.  I find it incredibly amazing how at times we can sometimes get a glimpse into who we are from the simplest of comments from friends and family.

I am a caretaker by nature, or so I thought.  They say our friends know us better than we know ourselves and in this case it was a picture perfect bulls-eye.  One of my friends just said it, so matter of fact that it felt like I was naked for the whole world to see.  She said, yeah, you are a caretaker.  That was it.  No more no less.  So why was I so ashamed by this?  Was it because I knew it was true.  I’ve heard this all of my life actually in some shape or form.  People say it like it is a bad thing.  I get that I was an easy target for those in need to take advantage of me and how I, in my own way used this for my own validation sometimes.  But, how did I get here?  Where did this all come from?Father holding a child's hand

I took a day or two to sit back and reminisce about my parents and grandparents and how I fit into all of this.  I knew this gift had to come from somewhere.  As far back as I can remember my father was this man, same as I.  I grew up with his tales of dragging my grandfather home from bars drunk off his you know what, only to watch my grandmother pick up were he left off.  Taking care to keep up appearances.  From the outside everything looked perfect.  Over time, her bitter resentment was turned on my father in the form of verbal jabs and rants about how he should take care to not repeat the sins of his father.

When I was young I watched my father care for my mother as breast cancer punished her for years.  Through her remission and until her last breath after 28 years of marriage.  Then his second, who struggled with diabetes, depression, other defects and as she too has lost her life 15 years later.  He is now in his third and I see him care for her as gently and the ones before them as they struggle to care for one another as they get older.  I often wonder how much a man can take and somehow think that this is his gift to the world.  To always be there for someone, to make sure they have what they need.  To do those things that aren’t visible to the trained eye and yet so subtle that you never realize that it wasn’t there in the first place but you miss it when it’s gone.

I’ve also asked myself why he never asks for anything from anyone.  Now I know.  He learned at an early age not to ask.  It was taken from his soul.  Through the bitterness of my grandmother who chipped away his joy to my grandfather who forced him to grow up sooner than he should have and be the man of the house in those times when he couldn’t be.  Out of fear, never sure if anyone could possibly be there for him the way he was for them.  At times I felt his resentment for my asking, only to have that which I wanted be denied not only by him but by myself as well.  I too stopped asking, as did my brother and sister.  Only now do I fully appreciate the man he is and the path he has traveled.  At times I feel ashamed for how I acted in my youth not knowing the incredible journey life laid before him only to have the ones he loved the most slip away from him.

So, as I look into my mirror I see the sins of my father in me.  No better no worse.  I understand him as I understand myself now.  Yes, I am a caretaker.  Not as good as my father yet but, I love who I am and promise to be the best caretaker I can be.  I no longer see it as a bad thing.  It just is a part of who I chose to be.  Embraced with open arms and an awareness that there is more to me than I knew before and have learned how and when to give care.

The truth is we all have a little caretaker in all of us and there are situations and events that bring it out of us.  Some don’t like to give that much of themselves and be that vulnerable and there are those of us who for what ever reason don’t want to be taken care of for fear of looking weak.  I guess what I’m trying to say is find your balance and you will know who to take care of and who will take care of you.   Until next time my name is Gerald Grinter, be well.

You can also visit me on: Conversations With Gerry for more and different post like this.  Thank you for reading my words.


Holiday Nostalgia


This gallery contains 15 photos.

Evolution (or de-evolution) of one of the nicest Christmas trees I’ve ever seen.  (thanks to Stephen Magladry for helping me flip images.)  If you’re facebook chums with me, there’s these and a lot more, auto-flipped, there. A couple years ago I … Continue reading

Remembering my Grandfather

I wrote this eulogy for my Grandfather just a little over 3 years ago…posting this today in an unaltered format…Why am I doing this? This has been saved in my email ever since I wrote it (with tears streaming down, I might add). I enjoy re-reading this on occasion and thought it’d be nice to put it out there. A bit of help – all cities are in suburban Philadelphia, Pamela is my Grandfathers wife, and the “island” is Long Beach Island, New Jersey where my family has owned a house or two for my entire life. Enjoy!

My grandfather embodied the ideals of Philadelphia – charming, intelligent, well versed in literature, and “tough as nails”. Whenever I needed someone to talk to I knew I could always count on Grandpop to listen to what I had to say and provide his opinion.

When I was a kid Grandpop took me to the shore for the day. It was off season so the island was pretty much deserted. He took me to Hands in Beach Haven and bought me one of the nicest kites they had. I remember flying this kite with grandpop, just the two of us on the desolate beach. Well the wind got a hold of the kite and crashed it right through a window into one of the big houses that sit right on the beach. Grandpop didn’t hesitate…..he let himself into the house and rescued the kite that meant so much to me.

When I was 16 Grandpop drove me up to Dublin to take my drivers license test. Although he said I was a great driver, I still remember thinking that he had a look of fear on his face as he let me drive his car.

Another time Grandpop and Pamela took me out to the movies and then to Chi Chi’s in Willow Grove for dessert. For one reason or another our dessert took forever to get to us. When the waitress came by to ask how everything was, I remember Grandpop really laying into her and saying “Everything was just terrible! Just terrible!”. Of course everything was fixed for us rather quickly after that, and it really made an impression on me, I thought Grandpop was so tough!

I came home to visit Grandpop two weeks ago. I knew our time may be limited, but I didn’t want him to see how upset I was. I presented a tough, happy attitude to him – utilizing some things he had shown me over the years. We talked and talked that weekend about little things, family, politics, sports….whatever came to mind. We watched a little bit of the Eagles game VS. Cincinnati and Grandpop asked me to come a little closer. He said “NEVER SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN RID OF GARCIA”. Spoken like a true Eagles fan!

When I left Grandpop let me know how hard it was to say goodbye. He had no idea how hard it was for me to leave, to take the plane back to Seattle. I saw a tear rolling down his face, and I felt the same way.

I can only hope and pray that my visit impacted him as much as he impacted me growing up. A great writer once said “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” With the impact Grandpop has clearly made on many many people, I feel this statement applies to Grandpop, and his life journey.

I will miss Grandpop with all of my heart and soul, for the rest of my life. Farewell my friend, we will meet again.