How do we evaluate our life…to know if…with our life…we are enthralled? 

One way is to look back and try to remember all the names we have been called.


Early on…in my mother’s womb…baby was the first of all my names

When I was born, from the Bible, I was given the name of James.


I’ve been called Joy (my initials), Otto (my middle name), Elf (don’t ask-too grim)

I’ve been called Yermy, Yerman, Jimmy but most people know me as Jim.


I’ve been called, too short, too young, too old and though my perspective is a bit sunny

apparently I’m the only one in this world who has ever called me too funny.


I’ve been called a boy, a teenager, a man, a student, a teacher…a friend

And after spending 40 dollars on the internet…I’m also called Reverend.


I’v been called mister, and sir…and some names that have made me angry or sad

I’ve been called boyfriend, husband and father…although it sounds much better when they call me Dad.


I’ve been called PopPop four different times now…and the other day I was given pause…

when a little boy I never met before, called me Santa Claus.


All the different names I’ve been called…have gone in to the creation of me…

Each title carries a meaning all its own…each name evokes a memory.


I don’t mind all the names I’ve been given…I don’t care that they’re not all the same

I’m just glad to be making new memories every time someone call out my name.


Perhaps the best way to evaluate our life…

the best way to feel enthralled 

is to sit back, smile and think about…


all the names we have been called.

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As the cloak of evening was spreading and daylight was beginning to fade

we meandered down to the waters edge to watch the annual boat parade.


We sat with friends and strangers while stars twinkled In the sky

and watched boats, lit up for Christmas, in the distance floating by.


Behind us, high in the sky, shining, as bright as she could be…

the full moon cast a blanket of light that floated upon of the sea.


I found, in the darkness, as the evening progressed…my eyes became attuned

to the boats floating there before me as well as the distant moon.


My eyes, my heart, my soul…all happily besieged by so many wonderful sights 

From the moonglade shimmering on the water to the masts of ships in colored lights.


And I thought how once a year the parade of boats is beautiful 

as they pass by in colors both sparkling and bright…

but the clouds that float across the moon provide their own parade each night.


And I realized sitting on the dock as the boats began to fade away

How lucky I was because I could count all the parades I saw that day.


As the sun rose up in the morning a parade of colors crossed the sky….

down by the water on our morning walk a host of birds and fish paraded by.


As we continued our walk…a parade of animals and people we would greet…

as we neared our house and turned for home…a parade of ants across our street.


A parade of clouds in all shapes and sizes…the sun being hidden…then revealed…

a parade of children in contrasting colors running back and forth at the soccer field.


A parade of birds at our bird feeder…some squirrels and even a mouse…

Our friends grandchildren laughing and singing as they paraded through our house.


Then once again at the boat parade kissed by moonbeams and an ocean mist….

And if these are the parades I saw today…imagine the ones I missed!


Yes, today’s annual boat parade was a sight to see but over time it’s memory will fade…

to be joyfully replaced by a life filled with memories…


of so may everyday parades.

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She was alone on a bench in the middle of the park when walking along I spied her

I’m not sure what drew me in…but I ended up sitting beside her.


For a while we sat in silence…me…and this old woman I’d never seen before

until my eyes met hers and we exchanged a smile…which seemed to open up the door.


We talked of trees and butterflies about how the sun shone off the creek

and before I knew it…I was meeting her…on that park bench once a week.


She could be sweet, she could be kind, she could be soft, she could be gruff 

and as we spent those days together…she taught me the meaning of enough.


When I think of the love I’ve had in life, she’d say…one touch was enough.

When I am sad…to drive away the shadows…one sunbeam is enough…


When I look up in the night sky…the light of one star is enough.

When I linger in a garden…the aroma of one flower is enough.


When I’m walking in a forest…the shade of one tree is enough.

When I’m with my family and friends…one moment is enough.


I only have one life, she’d smile…if I live it right…once will be enough. 

and If I should die tomorrow…well…then I’ve lived long enough. 


Yes, when I look at all the happiness I’ve had…I know I’ve had enough

and If the only prayer I ever say is thank you…then I have prayed enough.


My meetings with her would come to an end 

enough was finally enough

and though I was saddened at her passing…

I know I had time enough…


Time enough to make a friend…a friend both kind and gruff…

Time enough to have been lucky enough…to learn the meaning of enough.


Now when my life is peaceful and happy…or when times are sad and rough

I return to the bench where we sat together…

to remember I have enough.



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To be, frequently mistaken

But never, to be wrong

To be, part of the group

And yet, not belong


To be, so really scared

But at no time, be afraid

To be, a frequent failure

Yet, always make the grade


To be, a teller of tall tales

But, never tell a lie

To be, so deeply saddend

Yet never, made to cry


To be, sometimes obstructed

And yet, not be delayed

To be, so undecided

That you, cannot be swayed


To be, consistently a loser

And yet, never to lose out

To be, so well convinced

That you, never have a doubt


To be, filled with desire

But not be, filled with greed

To always keep in mind

That others also need


To be, so exhausted

But, never to letup

To be, a last defeated

Yet never, to have given up


To be, in time forgotten

Yet, always be remembered

For all those helpful deeds

That you, so often rendered

BOEMS BY JA 169    

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Image your life, without a friend

Now imagine, it goes on without end

Not a kind word, could you say

To anyone, each and every day

Not a thought to talk about

No advice without a doubt

No smile, no laugh and no hello

A lonely life, to live it so

Imagine life, with this longing

Now, imagine life, without belonging


To belong is our life’s newel

To live without, is just too cruel

BOEMS by JA 672     

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We don’t know

What life’s about

Sometimes it’s just

How it turns out


Our time on earth

Is not forever

We come and go

Just like, bad weather


At work and play

Our time is spent

But in the end

What has it meant


To change the world

If we succeed

Are we, remembered

Or, just the deed


Does what we’ve said

Or what we’ve done

Have meaning only

When we’re gone


And if in time

We are forgot

Our life on earth

Was all for not


Is what we do

Or what we say

Kept in a record

In some way


If what we’ve done

Whether good or bad

No longer matters

Is that not sad


If we didn’t contribute

Had nothing to bring

Are we null and void

Not worth a thing


The only way

That we endure

Is in a memory

That’s for sure


Is this our destiny

For what we’ve wrought

Are we worth a memory

Or are we not

BOEMS by JA 85  

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It’s been said life is an adventure…but I believe it’s more complex

Life is not just one adventure…it’s one adventure…then the next.…


Then the next one, then the next one, then the next one…then the next…

Life is a series of adventures…as I say…a bit complex.


It’s true, when you stop to think about it…when one adventure is abating

up ahead, just around the corner…another adventure is awaiting.


Any adventure hinges on you…as to how it is defined

It depends on how you experience it…how you see it in your mind.


The Grand Canyon is magnificent…as you look out over the vastness of the land

but have you ever watched a ladybug…as it walks upon your hand.


An adventure can be simple…doesn’t have to bring acclaim.

Have you ever watched your granddaughter at a child’s softball game?


Reading a book can be an adventure…no matter what its shape or size

Even reading this poem can be an adventure…(for that I apologize!)


Yes, every moment can be an adventure…every move you make

every time you step outside…every breath you take.


If you look at life with adventure in your eyes…

think of all the things you’ll learn…

think of all the wonders you’ll experience…


when you see adventures at every turn.

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Mark Twain famously said long ago…words that, today, still apply…

He said, ‘The two most important days in your life 

are the day you’re born

and the day you find out why.’


I’ve been told it was a cold day in December…sometime in the early morn…

but I have no personal recollection…of the day when I was born….


But I do remember the town where I grew up…because it’s influence never ends…

and many of the people I grew up with…I still proudly call my friends.


And I remember the day I became a teacher…

Standing in my first classroom filled with apprehension…filled with fears…

and I remember many of the students…I taught in those 39 years…


And I remember the day I became a father…how proud I was…how glad…

And I remember the day Bryan first smiled at me…

and I transformed from a father into a Dad.


And I remember the daughter who followed…I remember life beginning to swirl…

for I was just getting used to raising a son…and now I’d be raising a girl…


And I remember the day I married Deborah…and how when that day was done..

what started out as two separate families…we found a way to blend into one.


And I remember the birth of my grandchildren…

1 amazing girl and 3 wonderful boys….

And how, when I hear them call me PopPop,

my heart still fills with joy….


It’s true I can’t remember that cold day in December…

when I arrived sometime in the early morn…

but how blessed am I to have discovered


so many reasons why I was born.



I did not ask our cashier’s age of course…as etiquette forbids.

I imagine she was in her 80’s because she kept addressing us as ‘kids’.


She was effusive, kind and talkative as she undertook her cashier’s task

She mentioned she was from Oregon…

“What brought you to Florida?” I asked.


She smiled though her eyes seemed sad, then sighed, 

I’m sure she was working up the nerve…

“My husband and I were visiting here,” she said, “when life threw me a curve.”


Her sadness drifted onto us…we found it hard to orient…

We were not sure what to say or do…for we knew what her words meant.


“Now I’m on my own.” she said, “It’s not the way it was supposed to be…

so I moved here to be closer to my daughter and help with her family.


“Life goes on!” she said forcing a smile as she took a bag off of the shelf…

but I wondered…was she still talking to us…or trying to convince herself?


We talked with her a while…perhaps we made her load a little lighter

and I noticed as we left the store…we held each other’s hand a little tighter.


For, once again we were reminded of how quickly life can pass

and why…while we’re still on this planet…

we need to make each moment last.


So hold the hand of someone you love a little tighter today…

show them you love them with respect and passion and verve…

because you never know when tomorrow comes…


If life will be throwing you a curve.