Yes, I’m an older person who at times can get crabby. Hell, I sometimes get downright hateful. This is one of those times. Readers might also grow as angry as I am right now after reading this column.  
An article in the September 18th edition Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs will no longer participate in the SilverSneakers program. The partnership between the YMCAs and SilverSneakers will end on January 1, 2020. 
 According to the report, the alliance wanted more money, and one spokesman for the senior citizen program stated that, in some in some cases, the YMCAs wanted to hike the costs as much as 140%. So, approximately 10,000 seniors will lose membership privileges at Ys across the state.  
Oh, but don’t worry. The YMCA has said pricing plans will be set before the end of the year. Of course, they fail to acknowledge the fact that senior citizens usually participate in the program because it is included in their Medicare extended plans. Most of us oldsters don’t have the extra cash to join gyms. In fact, the majority of SIlverSneakers members take better care of themselves because they have those memberships included in their insurance coverage.
Other facilities will continue to work with SilverSneakers. A list can be found with a quick search on the Internet. However, for many older folks, the Y is a place convenient to them. Traveling to other places might be too difficult or too far. What are those individuals to do? Many will stop exercising, and that will lead to poorer health conditions. Oh, but it appears that doesn’t matter unless the money keeps coming in. 
I looked up the YMCA’s mission statement. It states the following: “At its core, the mission of the Y is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. We are more than just a swim and gym.” 
I’ll leave it up to readers to decide how closely the organization follows its own stated mission. I also will point out that cutting out services to a large chunk of folks who live on fixed incomes does not seem to be, at least, “in the spirit” of Christianity, at least not the way I view my religion.  
At the same time, another search revealed that the YMCA receives funds from United Way. That organization’s mission states," We help people by raising funds and supporting programs that
provide opportunity and create lasting change in our community. United Way of Greater Knoxville fights to ensure a good life for all by funding programs that focus in Health, Education, and Financial Stability.”  
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the Y is failing to uphold the mission of the United Way. Perhaps if it no longer wants to provide services to SilverSneakers, it should no longer share in the funds raised by Knoxville residents throughout the area.  
The actions of the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs seem shortsighted. They might be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Some individuals and families might find another facility to visit. Some organizations might no longer identify the business as a deserving recipient of charitable funds.  
I hope that the YMCA will change the stance it now takes and allows 10,000 senior citizens to continue improving their health and well-being. If it doesn’t, well, we all know what the saying is about karma. 


  Try to recall the countless hours involved in training small children to do certain things.  Remember how difficult it was to have a child simply sit down and complete his business on the toilet? When those little ones accomplished such a feat, we were ecstatic. Little did we know how difficult some of the other training would be in their later lives, and on occasions, we moms and dads would have welcomed dirty diapers back into our lives in place of the problems we faced with teen-aged children. At the same time, think about how much energy we parents spent in trying to teach our children the lessons of life. Just the thoughts of those days tire me.  
What might come as a revelation to many folks is that we, as adults, are trained in much the same way. However, our teachers are our pets. I like cats but don’t own any since Amy is highly allergic to them. We have had dogs, and those four-legged creatures have trained me. It’s been difficult, but my canines have kept plugging away until I learned the ropes. 
Snoop was my Jack Russell Terrier. He and I were inseparable for 13 years. Over that period of time, he taught me how to rehab myself after serious neck and back surgeries. The last thing I wanted to do was walk after those operations. However, a JRT must have exercise to calm its overly energetic body. Snoop started
me out walking to the end of the driveway and back. Little by little, he coaxed me into walking down the street until we were able to complete the walk through our neighborhood that had before surgery been our daily walks. Snoop also helped me recover. Each afternoon at 2:00 p.m., he’d come and sit at the foot of the recliner I slept in. He waited for me to lift the leg rest and then hopped up and stood until I put a pillow across my lap. Then he lay down, and for the next two hours, we slept. He woke me up with the accuracy of an alarm clock.  
Sadie came to us as a rescue dog about six years ago. Her personality is entirely different. She’s a loving, laid-back dog. She must be kept on a leash because if a rabbit is anywhere around, she’s sprints as she runs it. We’ve hunted her down half a dozen times when she tricked us into believing she was trained to stay.  
Sadie has taught me when she needs to go outside. If I’m sitting in the family room, she jumps on the couch, assumes the “downward facing dog” position, and takes my hand in her mouth before giving a slight tug. If I
don’t react quickly enough, she lets out an ear-spitting bark.
If I’m in bed, Sadie walks to the head of the bed and begins licking my ear. If I cover up, she lays her 45-pound body across me and growls lowly. Again, slow reactions on my part lead to that bark, so I’m usually up and headed to the door before that loud demand occurs. 
Sadie’s life lessons are much more impactful. One deals with love. This part Border Collie, part Schnauzer animal loves everyone. She has a gentleness that captures the hearts of anyone who comes up to her. Sadie doesn’t judge. She loves those who are kind to her, regardless of political affiliation, religious beliefs, or sexual identity. She never discriminates based on gender or race. All she wants it to love and be loved. Her beautiful face and piercing brown eyes draw people in, and her openness toward them helps to drop all defenses.  
Saide also teaches contentment. She can be happy anywhere. Sometimes we go looking for her and discover her asleep in her crate, the door still standing wide open. She’s a traveler who can quickly get comfortable in the back seat as we drive toward Nashville or other places.  
Her happiest moments are those spent with the ones she loves. Sadie and Amy are bed buddies. Each morning, Amy scans the paper while Saide lies curled up in a ball at her side. She shares a poolside lounge chair with Amy. When she’s had enough of the day, this pup jumps on the couch and sticks her nose between my lower legs. That’s the signal for me to raise the recliner so that she can curl up on the end and pass out.  
I loved Snoop and thought my life would always have an empty spot when he passed. Sadie came to us and filled that spot. She is a gift from above and came at a time when such a loving creature was badly needed by both Amy and me. Someday, she’ll leave this life, and I’m sure that will be because God has loaned her to us long enough. I also know that both these dogs have had major impacts on the lives they have touched. Maybe, if I can make it to heaven, they both will come running to greet me upon my arrival.  


Some of the hottest days of summer have descended upon East Tennessee the last few weeks. Like much of the rest of the nation, we are firmly in the grips of an oppressive heatwave. Temperatures have soared into the 90’s, and the “feels like temperature”-something we never heard of as kids-reaches to 100 or above. I have no doubts that some of the unusual weather occurrences of late can be attributed to global warming, but I also know that at this time of year, it’s supposed to be hot; it’s summer time.  
Something else I’ve noticed is few young people are venturing out of the house. It’s a safe bet that several of them are dead asleep after having stayed up until the early hours of the morning. Many more of them are stowed away in their bedrooms awake, but not really. Instead, they are zoned out of consciousness as they exercise their thumbs in battles of Fortnite or some other video game. Even if youths make it to the outside, their stays are brief. Complaining, “It’s too hot,” or “I’m getting sweaty” have them high-tailing it back into the shade-drawn rooms where the air conditioning is set in the mid-60"s.  
I’d like for young people to go back with me to live in the 1960’s. We sang praises to cool summer mornings. Air conditioning wasn’t a convenience most families had. Window fans and box fans stirred air enough
to cool temperatures or at least make us believe we felt relief. By mid-morning, the cool air had disappeared; humid, sweltering temperatures arrived. We were already outside. Sometimes jobs around the house had been assigned. Weeds needed pulling in the garden. Grass around the house, flower gardens and paths needed trimming with hand held cutters.  
Sometimes a ball game had been scheduled for the morning, and boys rode their bikes to a yard where it would be played. Sometimes we rode bikes to Hardin Valley from Ball Camp to spend the day with a friend. That kept us cool as we made our own breeze by pedaling just a little faster.  
By the time noon rolled around, we were melting outside. Still, it beat frying in the house. Trees offered shade for relief from the sun’s rays, and we sat as still as possible on the grass to keep from being hotter. Boys found other things to do at those times. Taking a blade of grass to stick down a crawdad hole occupied time, although no one ever seemed to pull a creature from its lair. More daring souls played games of “stretch,” where a knife was thrown into the ground and a boy stretched his leg to the spot. The loser was the first one who couldn’t reach that far.  
In the evening, we sat at the supper table, ate food from the garden, and washed it down with at least two big classes of milk. Then we headed back outside. The waning hours of dusk were spent chasing lightning bugs or taking unsuspecting buddies on snipe hunts. The worst sound of the day was a parent’s call for a child to come inside.  
Night was filled with baths and just a couple of television shows. Then it was off to bed. With a little luck, the wind blew through the bedroom window or a summer shower would fall. We all knew the next day would bring the same routine, and we loved it. 
Summer might have been hot, but outside is the place we always want to be. Young people today would have a fuller life if they would venture out just a few minutes each day. They might be surprised what was waiting for them. I’d tell them to give it a try. 


It's time to speak out. All of us are responsible for the actions of our government because-in too many cases it’s shameful-we elected the folks who are supposedly representing us. Silence is equivalent to support and alliance with the terrible things that are occurring.  
Nearly 700 “illegal immigrants” were rounded up by ICE. Some of these folks have been in the country for more than 10 years. Perhaps they came to this country in an illegal fashion; perhaps they should have
been dealt with at that time. However, it is cruel to nab them in some kind of sting operation after they’ve been in this country for so long and have set down root, built lives, and begun families.  
Our government needs to rework the immigration policies and laws to better fit our world. Yet, it shouldn’t deport those who have been here for so long. The jobs they work are often ones that no one else wants. The characterization of them as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers comes from people who are trying to whip up fear and anger in an attempt to remain in a political office. Those beliefs are held by extremists who are racists and white nationalist, not Christian. 
Christians, by definition, are those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That means they believe in his teaching. He told his followers, 
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” 
When they asked him when they had done those things, he replied, 
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” 
Don’t kill the messenger here. My intentions are not to deride anyone. I say these things because the fabric of our country is being ripped apart by the fear and anger being sewn by some. The truth is that we will never stop immigration, legal or illegal, from continuing. This country is founded by immigrants; only the native Indians can lay claim to the land.  
Yes, the government must develop a sound, logical, and sensible immigration policy. Yes, people should come into the USA legally. What we cannot allow is the government to terrorize families and separate parents from children. That crosses the line that separates decency and cruelty.  
From the point that new immigration laws are enacted, officials can quickly process each person to decide if he or she should be admitted. That is the fair way to deal with the situation. It removes politics and angry, scared people from the process. 
We are better than this. Our country has for years accepted immigrants. The words on the plague of the Statue of Liberty charge us with continuing better behavior than what we display now.  
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 
Each individual in this country should look at the words of Jesus and from the Statue of Liberty. Are we being true to them? How close or far from the do we fall? What should our next course of action be. The answers to these questions might well determine the kind of country the United States becomes.