There have been several adoption twists in television shows of late to the point where I almost expect it. Recently, it’s been part of a Grace and Frankie episode where Coyote meets his birth mother but she does not want to expose this secret to her new family. This is common in reunion stories. In the Netflix series Safe, based on a Harlan Coben novel, a daughter stalks her biological father in an effort to reveal their secret relationship. This one thankfully turns out positive for both of them. Adoptees and bastard children have certainly risen to the forefront of modern entertainment drama.
I’m obviously more sensitive to these situations than most because I am an adoptee, but first a lovable bastard. I have admittedly stalked and written to my birth mother, but have received no acknowledgment. I even circumvented the scenario of keeping the secret discreetly between mother and son, by also writing her family. Still no response. On the other hand, the birth father has long passed, but his family was graciously receptive to my inquiries. I don’t know where to go from here?
I could have popped-up during a different chapter of their lives, but there were no inheritance issues, rights to the throne, or other claims that are too often Hollywood-ized. I want nothing except some questions answered and perhaps some insight into health genetics. I’ve tried to find some of this information by building an Ancestry.com family tree and finding common DNA connections. I have now identified about 200 DNA relatives on my Jerry Banister Family Tree, including a separate test that I took on 23andMe. There are now over 22,000 people that have been added to my branches just to find these 200 close connections. It’s a very cumbersome process that has taken over 3 years, considering that in order to find one match on the tree it’s necessary to add 100 more names.
The challenge is that most all the voluntary DNA testing has been in recent years, excluding those who are no longer living and never had access or reason for testing. This means that the majority of my DNA connections are with younger generations whose identities are often only revealed in the obituaries of their parents or grandparents or finding more intrusive sources. Ancestry was designed to maintain privacy for the living, so seeking information through other member trees is often marked as “private.” You need permission from family members to see the newest members. I haven’t really been accepted into the Ban(n)ister family, with a few exceptions, so my work might be considered to most as stalking – just like in the movies.
Punxsatawney Phil did not see his shadow, meaning that spring is quickly on the way. We’re waiting for Portland Zoo’s hedgehog to hopefully confirm this prediction. Also, today’s date is a palindrome, the first eight-digit, backwards-forwards reading identical numerical series in over 900 years. It’s also the day the Chiefs, once the Dallas Texans, return to the Superbowl in 50 years. They did win the fourth NFL-AFC World Championship game in 1970, the precursor to the trademarked modern day Superbowl. In fact, it was the Kansas City Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt, in 1966 who “kiddingly” came up with the name to hype the annual battle. The media expanded on it using even more superlatives like “Super Week,” “Super Sunday,” “Super Teams,” and “Super Players.” It apparently became official after the first two AFC-NFC match-ups, as “Broadway Joe” and the Jets claimed the first AFC crown in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts. This is the 54th (LIV) year of the distinctive roman numeral designation. It’s indeed a Super Day of football, shadow-hogs, and crazy numbers.
02022020 is where the craziness begins that ends with an LIV Champion. In the meantime lots of food and drink will be consumed. We’ll be having wings, the most popular of the Super choices. Speaking of crazy, as a pre-game warm up, I continue to watch the bazaar Netflix series, You. It reminds me of the twisted HBO program, Barry with Bill Hader. Looking out the two windows in front of me, there’s actually some blue sky today, although temperatures are in the mid-thirties. My run this morning was definitely not Super, with slow heavy steps through the trash-littered homeless camps of downtown. At least it was not raining, but the 3.1 mile route seemed endless. I was glad to finally arrive at my writing desk in front of the television between views of the rooftop next door.
Yesterday afternoon we went to see Uncut Gems with Adam Sandler, another Super strange story on this lazy first weekend of February. Then there was more butt-sitting as we finished Season 4 of Better Call Saul and started Grace and Frankie while feeding our faces with Chinese food. The Super Bowl will soon be over and while everyone else goes to bed with thoughts of work tomorrow, I’ll get ready for another Super day of retirement.
In a few short weeks, we’ll be off to Florida and perhaps opening a new chapter of our lives. The New Year begins with both my wife and I in full retirement, as we begin the search for a final home along the Gulf. After 32 moves, I’ll be ready to settle down. We still have 15 more months here in Portland, and each day we shed more and more of our worldly possessions. With the loss of both Frankie our cat and Tinker our oldest schnauzer, we also have fewer responsibilities. It’s now just the three of us in a two-bedroom apartment. I’m also thinking about selling one of our cars since public transportation is so easily accessible. We now have to find ways to further reduce expenses as we start to rely heavily on our lifetime savings.
Without my wife’s employment income, our four-legged retirement stool is now down to three – social security, pension, and 401k. I think we have enough savings to last another twenty years, even with an aggressive travel schedule. However, there are so many variables in life. I guess that’s what makes it interesting! Besides, “all you need is love.” All my friends are now in the process of retiring as the Class of 69 approaches age 70. I’m only 20 months away from that monumental birthday. A mere blink of an eye from what I once thought was an ancient milestone.
More and more people address me as “sir,” and want to give up their seat. It’s a good indication that I’m older than I feel and certainly not what I see in the mirror every day. I still get up every day and run, but the deterioration in my stride and balance is clearly evident. I sometimes wonder how long I’ll be able to maintain the daily streak that is nearing 11 years. Today was day #3,995 and I ran 3.1 miles. If I calculate a conservative average of 2.25 miles a day over its duration, I have traveled over 9000 miles, or the equivalent of over 3 coast-to-coast excursions from New York to Los Angeles. “Run, Forrest, Run.”
This morning is quiet, as my wife tries to catch-up on a sleepless night. She’s taken the loss of Tinker very hard. She’s also trying to find her retirement legs in making that abrupt change from a stress-filled job to a leisurely lifestyle. She met a former co-worker for their weekly walk yesterday afternoon, and I’m sure there were some reminders of her abandoned career. It took time for me to settle-in to a constructive retirement routine. Writing this blog was the key transitional piece for me in shifting down from high gear. I’m now content with reflecting about the past. Over the course of time, she will too. Tally, Tinker’s younger sister, is anxious for her to wake up so they can cuddle. Tally is also a bit depressed, mourning the loss of her canine companion. They’ll be off on a walk soon, and I’ll catch-up on the unfolding chapters of my weekly shows like the Curse of Oak Island and Vikings.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Condo for a week in Las Vegas $330
Pet Sitting $800
For retirees who want to travel, pet sitting is the biggest expense. For our two dogs, it’s about $100 a day for someone to come into our home. A kennel stay isn’t much less, so we’ve always opted for the personal attention and security of having someone stay here. By next year, sadly, we’ll probably be down to just Tally, since Tinker is blind, deaf, and quickly losing her sense of balance. Tally will probably then enjoy the social interaction of boarding. At this stage, it would probably kill Tinker.
Tinker leaves the apartment every day by carriage. When we get to the nearby park I carefully lift her out to do her business. Six times a day it’s a never-fail poop, as even old age has not tarnished her dubious reputation as “The Poopingest Pup on the Planet.” There is little delay when her feet hit the grass, while sister Tally always takes her sweet time. My wife claims that she has many secret canine messages to “decode” with her nose. We miss our precious pups when we travel, so it’s worth it to have someone carefully looking after them. We typically rotate between two sitters, based on availability. One is a little less money than the other, so we tend to favor her a little more.
My wife’s daughter occasionally provides pet relief for us when we travel. This has been complicated by a recent marriage, a new house, and her new adoptive addition, Falco, a mixed terrier. Falco spent time with us during her recent honeymoon, but Tally had some adjustment issues with the new niece. She likes her time with “Mom” after I’ve left our bed every morning. Falco tried to hone-in on this treasured time. To be honest, I’m not sure if Tinker was aware she was even here. None of the dogs have much demand for me when their “Mom” is home.
All Tinker cares about is food, and needs the input to create the output. She has become persistently annoying in getting fed and has an incredibly accurate internal clock when it comes to dinner time. This is about the only movement that we see all day, as she begins to stalk us at about 4:30 p.m., in anticipation of the five o’clock feeding. She also begins to bark when I fail to feed her from the table, a habit that we have to change. Tinker, despite her lack of hearing, has an innate sense for an open refrigerator door. As far as both dogs are concerned, I’m just the guy that takes them outside and often interrupts their comfort in the process. At least, I’m no longer charged with kitty-litter duty, but I do miss Frankie that passed just before our apartment move a few months ago.
It’s ideal when we can take Tinker and Tally along when we travel. They’ve done a few day trips and recently accompanied us to Canada. Tinker has the most travel miles, with seventeen states and British Columbia under her belt, or should I say collar. Tally has been on road trips from Texas to Indiana and Texas to Oregon. They are both great car-riders, even when the cats joined us on major moves. We had hoped to get Tinker to California for a visit with my wife’s other daughter, but we’re not sure if her health with allow another state. We always save money when the dogs are along because there are no sitting fees and we tend to stay in the cheaper hotels that are dog friendly.