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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

JIM

Now Jim Manning was a retired gentleman whose daughter happens to be married to me. He retired when she said she was marrying me, figuring: What else could go wrong?

Jim in his retirement lived for the news, Sunday mornings particularly, while his dumb ass son-in-law was watching all the pregame shows for the NFL: he was watching ‘Meet the Press' among other politically oriented shows that aired on Sunday mornings in the 1970's. Sitting in his chair, a chair I still covet, he made observations and announcements about what he heard. A Democrat at heart, and very liberal, his sympathies aligned with the House Investigative panel, he set in for a long and enjoyable haul in front of the TV.

Everyone was wrapped up in the Watergate scandal, and watched all the news clips and read all the newspapers, as Americans witnessed something so unthinkable. It was a scandal made for the Internet, when there was no Internet, as the testimony presented daily brought new revelations almost by the hour.

For me, reading the newspapers in the morning on the train and at night going home from work, I had enough of it and wanted to get away from the hoopla at night and weekends, but Jim loved it! Give him his chair, his Sunday Times and his TV, and he put his own perspective on the news and I had to hear about it. It was now his passion, his love, and his job, to give me zingers, dingers and opine on the current state of affairs.

But I had a little secret, I never told him, I was part of the Watergate hoopla! Yes, me, that always-skinny kid with two babies was a part of the Watergate drama. It seems my boss was on Dean's List, the infamous list given up by John Dean, White House Council for the President. Apparently, Mr. Nixon had a bone to pick with anyone who had access to the media and political clout that didn't coincide with Nixonian mythology. I designed the button that said: "I'M ON THE DEAN'S LIST" which either made you smart if you went to college or in trouble if not.

Not telling my father-in-law that I was behind a button he kept seeing, pumping out propaganda he was reading and being paid for it would have spoiled our relationship. He would have then probably kept his opinions to himself in front of me, and I enjoyed hearing his rants, remarks and daily reports as he interpreted them. Plus, I was politically a dog, not caring who ran the country, since whoever it was, was going to run it into the ground anyway. This, of course, is still my belief, but with a more informed attitude towards all political parties and their promises.

When the Watergate scandal was over, Grandpa Jim went back to his daily New York Times crossword puzzle and his weekly routine of correcting the typos he found in the Sunday Times and mailing them on to the newspaper to note. His career ended when Nixon waved goodbye on the Marine helicopter, and like Nixon, Jim's career rose into the sunset for good.

But why do I tell you this? Today is his birthday, had he kept better care of himself he would have been 107-years old!

I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. I would say traditionalist is who I am, a man that does not defy convention. I am not a conservative in a real sense, and not a liberal, just someone who likes to hear a good argument and weigh the pros and cons.

I have left the impression that I am conservative, and maybe I dress like one, but I do follow some of the life's conventions. For instance:

Many years ago, when I asked TLW (The Little Woman) for her hand and the rest of her in marriage, I never asked her father for her hand. That was because I knew what a great gal she is and was afraid he'd say no, and I didn't know which hand to ask for.

But a funny thing happened, he never tried to stop me, in fact, he came to the wedding!

Jim was the kind of man that made me laugh, he had opinions, moods and was in all of that a gentle soul, gentle enough for me to respect him as a man, a great father and provider, and really an embodiment of the American Dream, coming here to America from Ireland as a young man.

Today is his birthday, and how can you not go by this day without thinking of him? He wasn't anyone for fanfare, boasting was not in him, just the goodness he taught his children, and I was lucky enough to see it in his daughter and children.

If you met my mother-in-law, Helen, you would say what a sweet woman, and you would be right, Jim was smart enough to see that. Along with Jim, Helen also worked to get their kids through a Catholic elementary and high school for all their children, and sacrificed and did without so their children could have the education they deemed to be the best.

He was a liberal at heart but washed his hands of extremism, he would probably not have accepted intolerance of any kind. He never tried to impose his will on anyone or become offensive to people with his political bent. I guess people were glad to see him, but he would never know why.

My brother-in-law Steve, Sister-in-laws Sara and Angela and I have been lucky because we got to know him through his children.

We miss you, Jim, we really do, but you did do something good, you left your children, and I for one am grateful.

But it still occurs to me, I never asked Jim for his daughter's hand in marriage!

Happy Birthday Jim, from the cad who married your beautiful daughter.

There are people in this world that when you meet them, they are forever in your mind. They stay with you in their voice, outlook, and demeanor. They stand in your mind like Mount Rushmore, well after they pass on. Such a man was Jim Manning. Jim has been gone too long, and I think I miss the old codger; his mind was unfortunately not utilized to its fullest extent because the world was too stupid to tap it. But in spite of the world, he did leave of legacy of children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren. He also left great memories.

TLW (The Little Woman's) younger brother Dennis took the time to make a family tree, and I think although it is wonderful to do, he should really write a history of his father, and whom he was. This historic Bio should be written for all the grandchildren or great grandchildren of Jim Manning. They would see how they became who they are. They could take great pride in the fact that their grandfather or great grandfather was a man of high morals and a great sense of what is right and wrong. I think of the word: "Integrity" in the Webster Unabridged Dictionary is a picture of Jim Manning.

I was only a son-in-law, I don't really know if he liked me or not, but I do know that my children have a bit of him in them, and for that I am grateful.

He loved his wife Helen, who was a perfect mother-in-law to me, and he raised 4 wonderful children, who made some great choices for mates, with the exception of TLW, so he did pretty darn well as a father and symbol of morality.

I think in his children's hearts and minds, he IS still alive, still leaving his wonderful sense of right from wrong in their hearts. I know he would have been very proud of all of them today, and what they have done with their lives.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM! There should be a statue to commemorate your existence.

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