Eyeless in Athens

I had been in Athens, Greece, with my partner only three days. I was using his laptop while he was visiting with his mom and sister when the left lens of my glasses dropped out onto the rug. Eureka! I was blind, at least when trying to read anything up close. According to Dimitris, there are no Visionworks in Athens, only privately owned optical shops. The other problem was that it is August when many Europeans traditionally take their vacations and close their shops. Believe it or not, I found the miniscule pin that holds the lens in place. Now, all I must do is find an open optical shop.

P. S. Fortunately, my sunglasses are prescription, but I look like a snobbish American celebrity.

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My Two Lives

Since I met my Greek partner, my life has been split into two worlds: St. Petersburg, FL, where I ride and Athens, Greece, where I walk. Dimitris has no car, so, when in Athens, we must walk to the bus and train stops.I realize that the exercise is good for me as it gets my heart beating. However, there is another beating that occurs, a beating to my knees neither of which is in excellent condition. The right knee has been replaced; the left one is not dependable and cannot be counted on for support. Before I left on this Greek trip, I had a shot of cortisone in my left knee. Although I’m not in pain, each step is an effort. Since determination is my driver, so long as I can, I will go where my partner goes and will walk with him to the ends of the earth, God willing.

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A Timely Manner

I have never been a terribly organized traveler. Oh, yes, I have a travel list that I can print from my computer, but it’s getting the items I need into a suitcase in a timely manner. Now, “timely manner” is the catch phrase, as I am a total procrastinator. If I pack ahead of time, I need what I’ve packed. If I wait until the last-minute to pack, then I sweat like a pig and end up having to take several showers before my departure. My organizing is disorganized, I guess. However, I am now living with my partner who has no procrastination genes whatsoever. As we prepared to leave on this trip to Greece, he began packing two weeks ago, not only his suitcase but mine as well. I fought with him regarding clothes as I couldn’t see planning what to wear over a two-week period. He won. Here it is the day that the airport shuttle will pick us up to take us to the airport. I am not sweating, and I am basically, except for a few medicine bag items, ready to go. Wow! Packing for a trip can be done in a timely manner.

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Miss Sheely

My senior English teacher in high school was easily the politest person I have ever known. Whenever she orally asked a question of a student, her reply to an incorrect answer was inevitably, “No, but thank you for trying.” Her policy of humility paid off too in the respect she earned from her students. Besides her primary task as teacher, she was also our senior class sponsor. Just prior to our departure for the traditional senior trip to Washington, D. C., she called first the girls to the auditorium, then the boys to discuss a subject we decided must be too taboo to present to mixed sexes. The talk turned out to be nothing but a warning to stay together in groups of three or four to avoid the perils of the big city. Returning to our classroom, one member of our class, who was always wise-cracking, was heard to remark, “Well, if anyone should try to pick Miss Sheely up, she’d just say, “No, but thank you for trying,” and I think he was right.

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That I In Awesome Wonder…

I wrote the following passage in my journal on August 9, 1962. I think it bears repeating. I was then 24 years old:

There are many things around us each day that we take for granted — beautiful things that proclaim the true existence of God. The stars shining brightly in their ebony background, the tinted clouds at dawn and sunset, the wind turning the underside of the leaves upward, the fruit trees, vegetables, and all the other greenery that evolves from one tiny seed, the human life that is produced by the fusion of male and female. These things are what we take for granted daily, yet each is a miracle in itself that only one great omnipotent God could perform. If ever God permits earthlings to visit other planets, I feel certain that the astronauts will bring back the news that those not of this earth also worship a great Creator. We have strayed so far from the teachings of our ancestors that our beliefs and rituals have become so modernized. We worship our own 20th century God. I wonder if He understands. I wonder.

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Heart of my Heart

I have only one heart, and I suppose I have given it quite a workout in these 76 years of my life so far. I had angioplasty eight years ago followed by a heart attack three years ago. I have four stents holding my arteries open and take four prescriptive pills plus a baby aspirin every day. Today I am scheduled to go in for a routine checkup with my cardiologist. I could not be less prepared. I almost never forget to take my medications but, if I do, never more than one day. However, last Sunday morning, when I refilled my weekly pill case, I somehow never removed it from the kitchen table after putting pills into the slots for each day. This morning, I awoke with a slight headache and took a cold and sinus tablet, something I hardly ever do as it elevates my blood pressure. After taking it, I glanced down at the sink where my pill holder usually resides–no pill holder. I had a sinking feeling then, realizing that I had not taken my pills yesterday. In fact, I had not taken any pills since last Saturday afternoon when I took the last pills in the pill container. That was three days ago. I will confess both misdeeds to my cardiologist this afternoon, hoping by taking my pills for today, they have done their job. I will also promise never to forget again.

Readers: I am off on another travel adventure for the next six weeks. I will write as often as possible but bear with me.

Thom Bobo Cooper

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The Wall

In 1982, I read about the completion and dedication of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. I read of the thousands who poured past it every day, many becoming very emotional. The wall contained the names of every known military service fatality that occurred during that horrible page of American history, and there were newspaper stories of people who pressed wax into the engravings in order to take home a piece of the memorial. With all my heart, I wanted to see that incredible tribute to those who had fought for our freedom and ended up being misunderstood. My opportunity to visit in Washington, D.C., came two years later when I was invited to stop in D.C., on my way home from New York City after visiting another friend. I immediately told my buddy who lived and worked in Washington that I had a strong desire to see the wall. He therefore made plans for us to visit. On the way to the mall, I had a thought that turned my blood cold. What if I didn’t feel emotional when I saw the names on this long wall? What if I found that I was immune to the patriotism reflected by this wall? Did I dare expose myself when I might find that I was callous and unmoved? I took my chances and wept as I walked down the long way, reading name after name that, though unfamiliar to me meant everything to me. The ultimate sacrifice that they had made overpowered me and reassured me that I cared.

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