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Years ago I asked a 95 year-old gentleman in Iowa, “Who is the first president you can remember?” To my surprise he said, “Woodrow Wilson, I saw him when I was just a kid. He was riding across country on a train and stopped in Des Moines.” Amazing.

Since that time I’ve asked this question whenever I find myself with a person in their 90s or especially over 100 years. One older man remembered Hoover, another one “Silent Cal.”

It’s fun because it always triggers smiles, memories they thought they’d lost, and some pretty interesting responses. Usually they say more than just the name of the president. They talk about other things that come to mind from the same era. If they’re old enough, folks remember the first time they saw a car or rode in one.

Presidents’ terms are like that. They mark the progress of our lives and the direction of our country. People will say, “I haven’t weighed that much since the Carter Administration,” or, “I was in college during the Nixon Administration,” something like that.

Presidents’ voices are remembered too. We hear them so often in the course of four or eight years, and thereafter, that those voices are indelibly etched in our brains if not our psyche.

The first president I can remember is Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was in the 2nd Grade and can still see him in my minds eye on black and white television. I remember hearing Truman’s voice, and of course Ike’s, but Truman left office when I was just months old.

Who is the first president you can remember, and what other memories does the question, the president, or the time bring to mind?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


If you think this is morbid, read no more. If you’re a dreamer or a planner, read on.

Warner Brothers Pictures’ 2007 film, “The Bucket List,” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, surprised movie moguls and a lot of other people. High hopes cast it as a feel-good, maybe low profit film. Yet it was considered DOA by some film critics—and we all know how inerrant they are. But in the end the film grossed over $174 million worldwide.

The movie featured two older men facing terminal illnesses, who, rather than lie around and wait for the end, created a wish list of things to do before they “kicked the bucket.” Than they flew around the world visiting sites and checking off each item on their “Bucket List.” Humor played a role in the film’s success, and two old hands at movie-making didn’t hurt, but it was the story and message that put the film over the top.

Audiences loved it, at least older members of audiences. Some of my 20-something and 30-something kids and their spouses or friends watched it. They pretty much thought it was “dumb.” But my wife and I thought it was interesting, thought-provoking, poignant, and not-dumb.

It’s called age or time or maturity, I think. Something like that. We liked the film because we’re old enough it made sense to us. So if you’re over 50 I’d say “Watch it; you’ll like it.”

The film introduced "Bucket List" into the cultural lexicon and people began making their list for fun, fantasy, or forming plans. It’s an interesting exercise that reveals something about the bucket-lister. That’s why it’s an enjoyable family or group exercise. You discover things about the people beside you that you didn’t know.

My Bucket List is a work-in-progress. In no particular order, here’s the current list:

--Hike Yellowstone National Park for about two weeks with Sarah.

--Play a round of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland with Sarah and son Eric.

--Ride horses in the Colorado Rockies in the fall when the aspen turn yellow.

--Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY with Sarah and son Andrew and Kristen, who are fan-atics.

--Attend the Christmas Mass led by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Christmas Eve. I’m not Catholic, but I’ve watched this spectacle for years while Sarah placed the kids’ presents around the tree downstairs. It’s quite an interesting service re the history of the Church and Christian teaching. I’d take Sarah and our son Adam and Morgan; Adam’s begun his own tradition of late night Christmas Eve viewing.

--Attend the Olympics, summer or winter, anywhere.

--Go on safari in Kenya or other African nation.

--Take Sarah and our daughter Elizabeth and Joe to NYC where Elizabeth spent a portion of her youth.

--Bicycle Ireland for a week or two with a group of cyclers. We’ve already done this, but I’d do it again in a second.

--Travel the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

--Write the Great American Novel or my Magnum Opus, whichever.

This list evolves as I evolve. A few years ago one item would have been attending a national political party convention. Now I’d find that interesting but wouldn’t strain myself to get there. Is this new perspective progress or regress? Depends on whether you believe in evolution, I guess.

So what’s on your Bucket List?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

Christmases come and go and always Grandpa anchored events from a big chair in the corner. Now, Grandpa’s gone and Dad’s visiting my sister, so I’m the anchor. How did this happen?

There was a time when NFL quarterbacks were my age. It was good to play the game vicariously through their similar faddish words, dress, and insights. Now I’m old enough to be the quarterback’s father. His hair is funny looking—won’t see me wearing hair swooped to the center in a pointy Mohawk—he uses words coined yesterday, and his insights at times seem laughably immature. Don’t even ask me about college quarterbacks. How did this happen?

There was a time when someone else picked up the restaurant tab. We were, after all, young marrieds with more kids than dough. Now I pick up a lot of tabs.

There was a time when my kids were little eepers fawned over by grandparents. Now my kids are parents with little eepers of their own and we’re the fawning grandparents, “Grandpa Rex” in the parlance of our grandsons. Because “Grandpa Rogers” is my Dad when he’s able to come and of course our grandsons have grandfathers on the other side of their family too.

There was a time when we piled the kids in the car and went to the grandparents’ house. Now the family comes to our house. Not a bad deal, this. Grandma works more in the kitchen but enjoys it and Grandpa can steal away to write a blog. Meanwhile the house is full of noisy boys. Pretty good.

I remember my grandfathers, patriarchs in their own way, both men short of stature with take-over-the-room personalities. Now I am, I guess, an “emerging Patriarch.” What this means besides picking up the tab I’ve not yet figured out, but I’ve picked up a few things so far:

--Patriarchs pray over meals.

--Patriarchs good-naturedly endure jokes about gray hair, putting on weight, snoring, and falling asleep at the cinema.

--Patriarchs offer opinions, solicited and unsolicited, on pretty much everything.

--Patriarchs take out the trash, bring in the wood, and stay out of the kitchen.

--Patriarchs read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve.

--Patriarchs love the resident Matriarch, modeling this for all to see.

--Patriarchs grow into this idea of being the oldest one in the room and try to wear it well.

Being the oldest one in the room has its own joys and privileges. Your horizon’s bigger, so you see farther. You understand things differently and more deeply than you did when you were younger. You get to be amused and bemused by your progeny. You appreciate God more because you’ve seen more of what he’s done. Pretty good.

I’ll watch Dad when he’s in town. And I’ll keep working on this patriarch business. Judging by how my grandfathers handled it and how Dad is conducting himself now, I know patriarchs are supposed to finish well. Pretty good.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

Dr. Tony Evans once observed people are always saying they’re “Dying to do this or dying to do that. Pretty soon, they’re just dying.”

Evans further noted that no one really knows who the old people are, i.e., if you’re 25 years old and you’re going to live until you’re 40, you’re fairly old. If you’re 40 yrs old and going to live to be 100, than you are fairly young. So no one really knows who the old people are. (International Forum on Christian higher education sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Dallas, April 2006.)

So what’s the moral of the story? We’re all in the same process—if we’re breathing, we’re aging. We’re getting older and there’s nothing we can do about it. Though there’s something we can do about how we go about it.

In commercials we’re sometimes treated to pop culture maxims like “You’re only as old as you feel.” That’s encouraging, because sometimes I get up or go to bed with aches. So I guess I feel old?

Or “Age is only a state of mind.” OK, try that one when your mind says “Go” and your bod says “No.”

Or “50 is the new 30.” All right, I can get into that. Except there are things I could do when I was 30 that I can’t do in my 50s. More importantly, there are things I could do, maybe did, in my 30s that I don’t want to do in my 50s. So does this make me older or wiser? An aging Boomer or an emerging Brainiac?

I’m 58 at the time of this writing. Even if I live to be considered elderly, I’ve already lived most of my life. This isn’t a morbid thought, just a realistic one. Do I have another 10, 20, 30 years? Another day? Blessedly, I don’t know. I only know that God’s given me a certain number of days and I’m accountable to him not for how many days I have—that’s his call—but for how I use those days.

In the past couple of days two notable men died, one at 84 years who I knew only by his public persona and work, one at 96 years who I knew personally.

The first: Leslie Nielsen, an actor who will be most remembered for comedy films, Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, late in his career. Nielsen had a successful acting career, but he was well into his 50s before he “hit it big” with his hilarious comedic gift.

The second: Peter Cook, a man who lived his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a locally respected businessman and philanthropist, one of the kindest, most gracious men I’ve known. He was financially successful in automotives earlier in his life, but he’ll be most remembered for his considerable generosity and the humility with which he gave in the last three decades of his life.

Both men accomplished great things in their “older years.” Not everyone can do what they did, but everyone can do what he or she can do.

There’s no rule written in the sky that says people must put stop aspiring, stop growing, or stop achieving simply because they’re older. Besides, as Tony Evans noted, nobody really knows who the old people are anyway.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at



For a lot of reasons people don’t like to get older. But there are a few advantages, too, if you look for them. Here are some:

- Getting to know your own kids as adults.

- You know things now you didn’t know then.

- Ideas, aspirations, goals, in time, turn into “successful failures” or achievements, but either way, a life of your own making.

- You come to understand that “This too shall pass,” a maturing and an enormously liberating grasp of reality.

- You learn giving really is better than receiving. (BTW, I have a cat to give to you—give me a call).

- Come to understand that most parents and most pastors were right after all.

- Learn that grandchildren are great when the come (to your house) and great when they go (to their house).

- See more rainbows.

- Realize that the pursuit of happiness can be an unending tyranny, whether briefly attained or not.

- Learn that money matters, but not as much as we think.

- Realize that “Just Married” is great, but “Still Married” is better.

- You get to see “how you turned out.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at