Happy and sad memories of childhood and growing up
It seems like a blur to me now as I realize I am drawing upon a midpoint in my life. How could the time go so fast? Why does it seem like I still have the same view of life that I had as a child? I am an adult, a working professional, a husband and a father of an awesome kid yet sometimes I feel like I haven't changed all that much given the fact that I have lived through 5 decades so far. As I look back on the years past I can remember certain times of my life as if it were yesterday. Music has a way of capturing moments in our life and we instantly connect to those times when that song we hear on the radio resonates within us triggering those special memories.
When I think back to the years gone by in my life there are age milestones that stand out and I feel like I can still envision the time and place as if I can magically be transported back to that time and that age. I still remember sitting in my first grade class waiting for our teacher to start her lesson. I remember standing for the pledge of allegiance over the school speaker system and I remember the cute girls in their plaid rompers and Maryjane's. I also remember flipping baseball cards in the school yard with my friends and on occasion having the priests catch us in the act and taking our cards away from us. It was 1967 and I was 6 years old and I still have that image of sitting at my desk, listening to Sister Mary Rita and talking to the cute girl next to me by the name of Karen. I was just a kid yet that time stands out very clearly.
I remember watching the Met's win the world series with my mom back in 1969 when I was 8 years old in mid October as Cleon Jones caught the last out against the Baltimore Oriole's Davey Johnson and the images of the players celebrating and the fans running on to the field stick out vividly in my mind even though we were at home watching on the tv set. I remember the broadcasting trio of Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy and Lindsay Nelson and how they made the games so interesting to watch and listen to.
I also remember in that same year back in July of 1969 when broadcast on the tv was Neil Armstrong making history as he walked on the moon's surface and spoke the famous words "This is one step for man and one giant leap for mankind." That was a very special achievement for our country landing on the moon as that was John F. Kennedy's vision as president in 1961 when I was born.
I feel like a kid again when I think back to that special time and I can remember 1969 as a very interesting year because of the Met's. That was also a great year for music and the prelude to 1970's music. I was so excited about the Met's and my idol Roberto Clemente that I started playing baseball and I have fond memories for my achievements in little league baseball as a team member of the 1970 championship team Indians and also the league's MIP (most improved player). That was a personal highlight for me in my childhood.
In growing up we experience many things in life that are very happy and exciting. Unfortunately we also witness sad events in our life as well and there are several moments that stick out in my life that seem frozen in time. The year that sticks out to me as one of my first recollections of tragedy was 1972. I have vague images of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 but more vivid recollections of the Munich tragedy at the Olympics in 1972. I remember it because it was the summer when our family moved from Brooklyn, New York to Bellmore, Long Island after I completed the 5th grade. It was an exciting summer because I was preparing for a new school and new friends and it was the Olympics that I was enjoying as we moved. I could never have imagined that on an early September day tragedy would strike in the Olympic village where Israeli athletes would be kidnapped and subsequently murdered. The words that still ring in my ears were spoken by Jim McKay as he reported that "They are all gone" referring to the 11 Israeli athletes taken as hostage and killed within the day that it transpired as I stood in shocked silence.
I remember 1976 as a special year as that was the bicentenial year celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence, I remember all the special events tied to that year including operation sail where sailing vessels from all over the world participated in the year long celebration.
I have fond memories of my high-school which my father helped build as an ironworker and one of the best things to happen to me was being recruited for the track and cross country team by the coach. I had great times running and training and I learned a great deal from the experiences. I ran hard and trained hard and coach was a good disciplinarian and a good leader. I made many good friends also on the track and cross country teams. I also enjoyed playing baseball with my friends I went to school with and remember having some exciting times on the baseball field. Those were great times. A sad part of our high-school days was learning of one of our friends untimely death in a car accident while driving up state to visit a college campus. It was a very sad day for all of us going to his funeral. His name was Scott and he was only 17 years old and he was a great friend.
Growing up in the 1960's I became a fan of the Beatle's, all 4 of them, John, Paul, George and Ringo and their music and I always thought John Lenon was a real interesting person and one of the most talented song writer's and performers ever to live. So when I heard the news of his shooting death on December 8, 1980 I was in complete shock and very saddened as we lost someone who was a musical genius and a peaceful man who promoted world peace through his music and his personal crusade. It was a very sad day and one that is forever frozen in time as I remember being in my first year of college at Nassau Community College when I learned of this very sad news.
I remember hearing our country and the school's across America were looking forward to being given school lessons from space as the first school teacher, Christa McAuliffe was designated for that prestigious position along with the other astronauts designated for that mission on the space shuttle Challenger. I remember I had recently graduated from Hofsta University in 1985 and was working in my first professional job as an accountant in 1986. I actually was home that day because I was sick and was very upset when I heard the news of the launching of Challenger taking a tragic turn in mid air as it exploded and disintegrated shortly after takeoff on January 28, 1986 within 73 seconds. I will never forget that day as I looked in complete horror as the onlookers witnessed firsthand what had happened and were in complete shock. I felt so bad for Christa's parents watching initially with such pride and within minutes were in complete puzzlement and shock. It was a very sad day that I wished never happened but realize that it did unfortunately.
For me 1986 despite the tragedy of Challenger was a good year for baseball as my team of choice the New York Met's won the world series in exciting fashion against the Boston Red Sox in a memorable 7 game series with an unforgettable game 6 that is one for the record books. I have the special memories of sharing the enjoyment of watching them win with my mom who was one of their biggest fans.
!990 was one of my toughest years as I lost my mom and my dear uncle within a span of 2 months and that was a life changing event that really affected me for quite some time. I had to be strong for my dad who was grieving and going through a difficult time.
For me my life was enriched when I met my wife to be Maria in 1997 and we married within a year and had our son Matthew. I was so happy and felt that this was the happiest moment of my life sharing in the birth of our son. I was 37 years old when I became a father and it is the proudest moment of my life.
We married in December 1997 and our son was born in December of 1998. That was a whirlwind year for me and I don't have anything to compare that special time in my life to for I admit that that is the best time of my life.
September 11, 2001 is a day that I will never forget where I was when I heard the tragic news and witnessed on broadcasts the complete destruction of the World Trade Center. It was the most horrifying images I have ever seen and the day was so surreal as I still can't believe it actually happened. It was the worst day I ever remember living through seeing such death and destruction though I was distant from it and in a safe place. Having to explain this to my son was the most challenging thing I had to do as a parent.
Two events that stick out in my mind for the happy endings was 1) The rescue of little Jessica McClure the little baby that got trapped in the well in her family's back yard in Oklahoma and was saved in an amazing rescue that lasted for a day or so with so many heroes that came to her and her parents aid and was broadcast on national television. 2) The miracle in the Pennsylvania coal mines with the coal miners that were trapped and rescued in an amazing feat of engineering and human spirit which was depicted in a Disney movie. With happy endings unfortunately there are also sad endings too.
When I learned of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994 and all the little babies that died I just cried and felt so depressed wondering how such a tragedy could happen. I was equally shocked and saddened when I learned about the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech when my dad called me and told me about it. I had attended Virginia Tech back in 1982-1983 as a mechanical engineering student and loved the school, the community, the students and the faculty and I was just so devastated to hear of the tragedy.
I have lived through many decades and experienced many happy times and also personally very sad times and was witness to many memorable and happy occasions and very sad and terrible tragedies as well.
I often wonder if we are supposed to have an even balance of happy and sad in our life because it certainly seems that way and we all face the inevitable in our lives so I wonder why we all get so worked up over things when in the end we all will die anyway.
I face a new chapter in my life now as I lost my dad last year and feel very sad about it but realize we have to learn to let go and move on. It is my family that keeps me focused and strong. It is my son who keeps me grounded and gives me a purpose as I need to help him with his challenges.
The one thing I believe we all have to learn to deal with and cope with in our lives as we get older is depression. It is very important that we keep a good outlook on our lives and realize that we have to do our best and keep a good sense about our selves and our life. We all wish to do our best and never disappoint our parents, our spouse, our children, our employer, our friends and all who are close to us.
As I approach my midpoint in life I feel I am entering another chapter in my life and I am looking forward to seeing my son achieve and make strides in his life as my life now centers around his life. He inspires me and makes me happy as always.
Edward D. Iannielli III
- Surviving the Midlife Crisis
Midlife Moments' columnist Mike Bellah offers practical advice for surviving the midlife crisis.