New Hampshire, Family and Friends

My friends; Edwin and Diane live/reside in two locations, simultaneously.  They have the option of living in Cambridge, MA or in Kingston, NH.  They both benefit from their  late marriage.  Both had acquired material benefits from lives in public service.  Edwin had been a psychiatric social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Diane had been a first grade teacher in Massachusetts most of her adult working life. When Edwin and Diane met, she had only recently become a widow due to the passing of her previous husband. It had been  a very close, very stable, long term relationship.

Edwin and Diane can choose to spend their time in either Edwin’s Cambridge apartment or Diane’s Kingston, NH condo. They choose on the basis of personal need, and inclination.  Edwin was heading to Kingston so that he could spend some time with Diane.  I was therefore blessed and gifted with a ride from Cambridge to NH.

Upon arrival in Kingston, Diane had a scrumptious meal prepared: Lobster chowder, organic salad with all the trimmings, and topped it off with freshly baked rhubarb pie.  I am one lucky fellow.  It was delicious and as good or better than any restaurant fare anywhere.

Diane has become an avid birder.  She has arranged hummingbird feeders in front of windows.  She has binoculars and a listing of the many species she has identified in her yard.  It is amazing to me that after putting up the appropriate size/style of bird house on the side of a tree… that there is a nesting pair of bluebirds living there.

I had previously made it known that I was expected to visit with other friends in Manchester, NH.  After dinner and appreciating  Diane’s special gardening skills and her birding efforts they rode together and gave me a ride to Manchester, NH.

I was greeted in Manchester by more most excellent friends and spent the night in a luxurious comfortable bed in a place familiar to me. Good friends are one of Life’s priceless treasures. I have respect for those who prefer to preserve a more anonymous and private life. Thank you for your continued friendship and for your kind and gracious hospitality… you know who you are.

Next day… I went through the process of charging my no contract, simple as it gets, basic, mobile phone. Last year, after returning from a year and a half motorcycle journey, I had to call and get a new sim card sent to me to restore it to working order.

In South America there are small ‘mom and pop’ street front stores and sidewalk stands where people can change sim cards (for different service providers) and purchase ‘minutes’ of service. Nearly everyone has at least one mobile phone device… including the latest ‘smart phones’ and tablets. Nearly no one has a ‘monthly plan’. They rely on the ubiquitous availability of cards and minutes from nearly anywhere, anytime.

I was very pleased when the card I bought to charge my three year old, super/ultra basic phone actually worked. My son was pleased too.

The first call I made on my newly charged with minutes phone was to my son. One of the first things he said to me was that he nearly wet himself in joy that I had accomplished this feat all by myself without requesting his assistance nor complaining about numerous malfunctions.

My son put himself through college… nearly completely on his own. He graduated from Southern New Hampshire University, a private university that is widely known and respected worldwide for it’s international business programs.

My son has fashioned for himself a career in the ever changing field of digital communications. I have ardently followed his career path. I have listened intently to each of his harrowing and often heartbreaking,  tales of how he has bobbed and weaved his way through this modern milieu.

My son is a self-made man. I know virtually zero about the complex world of his field nor do I comprehend his corporate relationships. When he describes his working life it sounds like a script from a television series to me.

I am very proud of my son’s amazing,  unpredicted, self-generated, accomplishments. His mother  and I can take some credit for his underlying temperment and attitude towards the challenges of Life.  Beyond that… his achievements are a result of his own relentless and dogged determination to succeed.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.

My mother used to repeat this mantra to my young ears… so many times that they were drilled into my consciousness: “Riki… you are nothing but a stubborn Dutchman”.  My mother’s meaning for that came from the fact that in Connellsville , Pennsylvania, where she grew up, many people were of mixed German, and Dutch descent.  They referred to themselves as ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’… even though my grandfather’s full name Frank Mack. (originally from the 1630’s German spelling of ‘Mock’)

My great, great, great, great, great great, grandfather’s name was Alexander Mack (Mock), the ‘tunker’. He immigrated to Pennsylvania during the same period that William Penn came. ‘Tunkers’ were people who believed in full immersion baptism… which was strictly forbidden in Germany in those days. Alexander Mack, ‘the tunker’ was the founder of what became the ‘Church of the Brethren’. They were very instrumental in the founding of the ‘Peace Corps’.  My grandfather, Frank Mack was an engineer (the guy who drove the train) for the B&O railroad during the ‘great depression’ and his subsequent working life.

My son and I roller bladed across the United States in the summer of 2002 to create a national unity event which I dreamed up, entitled ‘Libertystand’. During that journey we passed through Connellsville,  Pennsylvania.  I spoke at the Church of the Brethren and invited the congregation to participate in ‘Libertystand’. I thought it important for to get a sense of this branch of his roots.  Americans are a scattered people.  Families have dispersed to the point that it is like some huge explosion went off and tightly knit family structures have been blown apart.  Before the 1950’s tightly knit families were the norm.

A part of living in times when the process of change itself is in extraordinary acceleration, is that anything ‘traditional’ is challenged to maintain itself.  My generation has seen unprecedented advances in scientific knowledge and achievement in areas of: aviation (including ‘space travel’), electronics, plastics/materials, medicine, re -examination of everything historical… all these things amount to several different kinds of ‘revolutions’.  All of these things have occurred simultaneously with the expansion of multinational corporations and ever expanding consolidation of power. I have witnessed these things firsthand.

My son is very fortunate to have forged a very strong bond with another very special Human being, his fiance, Kristin.  I am continually humbled by what both of them have endured and how they have faced the challenges that they have confronted.  To me they are both epic heroes of the same scale as anything attributed to Homer. (     (

My son and his fiance picked me up the day after I returned from Cambridge. We had not seen one another for almost seven months. We have what I would describe as an excellent father/son relationship.  Each being ready, willing, and fully capable of both listening and at sometimes insisting on being heard.  I have had to learn to listen more than speak… to hear how HIS world is… to no longer play the role of ‘father/instructor’.

When I respond to some of his casual comments, he often interprets my response as ‘instruction’, which is no longer the case for me… but that is how he ‘hears’ them. We are still learning how to be ‘fellow adults’ rather than ‘parent’ and ‘child’.  Sometimes difficult for anyone observing our talks. His fiance is very patient and is near sainthood for having endured some of our more difficult exchanges in times past. We are drastically improved from what we were even two years ago. We are happily learning.

It is good to have perspective. It is good to see progress. It is good to have functioning FAMILY. It is good to have FRIENDS.

It is good to feel AT HOME.

more later… next up… ‘The Welcome Home Party’