On Turning Eighty

Well I’m sure most of you intelligent renaissance men have women have seen a number of the incredible images taken by the Webb telescope of places we have never seen.  The images are of stars and galaxies some thirteen billion light years from earth.  Thats thirteen thousand million light years.

Considering the big bang theory postulates the universe is 14 billion years old give or take, the Webb images are of the universe when it was less than a billion years old.

Many scientists have been studying these new images seeking confirmation of theories that have stood for many years. The big bang theory essentially states that the universe began some 14 billion years ago in an incredibly hot and dense state that has been expanding ever since. According to the theory the characteristics of the galaxies that are furthest away should be relatively small and disorganized. What the James Webb Telescope has discovered is that those galaxies are the complete opposite. An astronomer at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Alison Patrick, spoke about this new evidence with great panic. According to Patrick, “Right now I find myself lying awake at three in the morning and wondering if everything I’ve done is wrong.”

The new evidence might debunk the Big Bang Theory in a big way, as the initial idea is the universe exploded into existence and began to expand. In fact, it should be ever-expanding. But the new galaxies found are said to be older than when the Big Bang was said to have initially occurred. The young stars in those far galaxies should be hot and blue in color, as most young stars are.

However, the stars being discovered are all cooler and reddish in color, indicating they are older than when the Big Bang would have occurred. So where did all of these galaxies come from? Naturally, these new findings would have a massive impact on the scientific community. The Big Bang Theory being debunked would result in years of research being useless.

Of course, the religious communities that believe that God created the stars and the universe in 6 days would be overjoyed if the Big-Bang is debunked.

Billions of years and billions of Milky Ways should be enough to put humanity in its place.   Civilizations uncountable have probably risen, thrived and then disappeared without a trace.  Civilizations are probably out there now, perhaps a billion light years distance.  We will never meet them.  There will never be a warp speed or a worm hole.  We will be very lucky if our own planet is habitable in 500 years.  Meanwhile we will try to reach the moon again.

I’m going to be 80 next month.  Not a billion or a million.  Not a thousand or even one hundred.


Tens of billions of years went by before I opened my eyes.  And I believe it will be thus after I am gone.  Non-existence.  Existence for a moment.  Non-existence In the view of the universe my life doesn’t mean diddly-squat.  Nothing to fear really.  I am simply no more important than my late cat.

Except to me of course.  And those I love.  And those who love me.

I was born on September 10, 1942 in America; a man of the second half of the 20th century. Not in ancient Egypt or Rome.  Not in Tudor England, Mughal India or Ivan’s Russ.   Each of us is born at a unique time and place to live our lives.  The children of the Sioux lived on the great plains and hunted buffalo.

Not me.  I was raised in Brooklyn, a child of the city where one could explore and learn street smarts.  Though we were poor, I never felt want.  There was always a roof over our heads, food on our table and hand me down clothes. Mom was always home for snacks or a scrapped knee.

The day I was born the Russians were again retreating at Stalingrad and it sure looked like Germany would win the war against the Soviets.  By the time I was 4 months old the German 6th Army was lost.

The Japanese were attacking Port Moresby.  They never took it.

I never experienced war though I served four years during Vietnam.  If I had been born just 20 years earlier in Germany I might have died at Stalingrad.  In the course of eternity, it was just sheer luck.  I grew up in a loving, extended family.  No alcohol, drugs or abuse.

I skipped the 8th grade in high school, graduated and went to work in a bank mail room at sixteen.  I began attending Brooklyn College at night.  It was free.  Not open enrollment mind you.  I had to do a year with a B average in order to matriculate.  I recall my father meeting me at the bus stop, where I normally transferred to a second bus home, to drive me the rest of the way.  He was there for me in the darkness after a long day on a construction site.  He had an 8th grade education and wanted more for his sons.

I never got rich, but I made a living.  We always owned a home and my girls got out of their undergrad studies without debt.

I found love at twenty and we spent forty years together.  We had four children and buried two.  Did I mention sorrows?

Sorrows are a mother passing at 43; a father at 56.  Cousins in their forties from diabetes and heart disease.  Our youngest brother at 56.  JoAnn at 58 just when we were all set to do what we always wanted to do but never had the chance.

Those of you who reach 80 know many of those you loved will probably be gone.  It is the sorrow that comes with living a long life.

I have travelled much of the world and lived longer than I ever expected.  What with type one diabetes, a burst appendix in ’65, a heart attack in 1995, a stroke in 2004, a period of blindness in 2010, a ruptured spleen and a lung surrounded by fluid in 2020, I am amazed I still breathe.

And I still have joys.  My daughters, a grandson, in-laws, nieces and nephews that love me, call me and keep in touch.  Whenever I am in need, I can simply pick up the phone.  I can say with complete honesty that I have no enemies.

I am indeed a wealthy man.

I’ll let you know about the party.


I don’t recall which day it was
of the thousands I have lived
when I realized that nothing lasts
and what a shame it was
that perfection is for just a moment
before the downward slope begins.

I don’t know when that moment was
when the world was mine
and you were mine
and all would last tomorrow and tomorrow
and  I was at my height

for just a moment, then it passed
unrealized ‘till looking back
that nothing lasts forever

The sun is lower now
the days numbered, the shadows darker
as options fade to become commands;
no longer so distant the flashing red
above the exit door.

“All your problems can be solved
it you will just give up the ghost!
Your arms are sagging flesh
teeth in a glass
Can fantasies still stir the root cellar?
Don’t you hear the dulcet tones of Gabriel’s trumpet?”

I will not go gentle through the portal
into that good night.
I will warm my face in the September sun, smiling
while  searching the memories of all my days
for that moment when all was perfect.




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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9 Responses to On Turning Eighty

  1. beth says:

    how wonderful and you’ve earned it –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your poem. Felt it in my heart. Happy birthday and many more to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. beetleypete says:

    Great to see the poem, and to refelect with you on a life well-lived. I will be on holiday when you turn 80, so send my very best birthday wishes now. I hope to be writing something to you when you turn 100, and I am 90.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie says:

    I love your perspective and outlook, Frank. Happy early birthday to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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