Growing older

People my age are so much older than me.

When I think of old age, I to think of my maternal grandfather. When I was a kid, I considered this white-haired, 65-year-old man as old. I can still vividly remember his vegetable gardens at 101 Bickford Avenue, Buffalo and how he taught me how to trap yellow jackets.

He sold Watkins products and aprons to women around his own age. I recall going on sales calls with him in his dark blue 1948 dodge. This was a treat for me because I got to ride in the front seat of the “Blue Bird” as he called it and every client he had invited me in for milk and cookies. Instant grandmothers!

Now that I’m in my early 70’s, my concept of old age is substantially different than it used to be and I suspect I’m not alone. I am positive that everyone else is growing older and that person that I see in my mirror each morning is somehow aging at a slower pace. I frequently ask my wife how come everybody we know is getting older and we’re not, ala Dorian Grey.

If you’ve been pushing yourself for many years by working, raising a family or both, it feels strange to have time to yourself once you have retired and the kids have all flown the coop. One good thing about getting older is that you’ve been there, done that. Now you can take the time to impart what you’ve learned over the years. I try to do this by writing.

Baby boomers seem to be having a hard time admitting to the inevitability of growing older. Granted, we are all mortal, but I never imagined this referred to me. Sure, I am in my seventies and have been married for fifty years. Yeah, my children are in their forties and have grandchildren in their twenties. Indeed, I have been retired for four years and have been fighting cancer for ten. But those are only numbers to me, not an indicator of how old I feel.

When I take sum of my life, everything I’ve created, experienced and collected, I can count more positives than negatives. More than anything else I learn with each and every passing day the importance of appreciating what I have and choosing to be happy. Taking time to laugh with my family and friends becomes more important. Of all the good things about getting old, the best by far, according to older adults, is being able to spend more time with family members.

My 8 year old grandsons will yell “Papa run over here.” I have to explain, Papa doesn’t do run anymore.  There’s a lot that Papa doesn’t do anymore. Papa doesn’t drink anymore. Papa doesn’t go to the basement or attic anymore. Sure I move a bit slower, but that’s just my body that’s acting it’s age, my mind and my spirit are still in their twenties. The great irony, in this, say the experts on aging, is that this could be a healthy thing. Believing you are younger can actually make you feel younger.

“People, particularly older people, usually say they feel younger than they are,” said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State. “People who report feeling younger actually tend to live longer and healthier lives and they don’t tend to have as much of a pattern of decline.” says Chopik. In most circumstances, people state that they feel around 20 percent younger than they actually are. This is according to a Michigan State study of over than 500,000 people.

They say when you are older, you heal slower but my innate ability to recover from injuries is well known among my friends and family. Recently I hurt my ankle but I thought I could just walk it off. After 8 days of walking on it, I discovered I had broken it. I was in a boot for six weeks after that and still wear a splint. The orthopedic surgeon I went to said “The x-ray revealed that your bones are, and I going to use a medical term here, crap.” (I love a doctor with a good sense of humor). He said he wasn’t sure just how long it would take me to heal but he suggested it would take months.  I surprised him by how quickly I healed. I have had cancer three times, and managed to spit in death’s eye each time.

So, at my age, I’m on a low salt diet, do Physical Therapy, quit smoking, and have to take an assortment of meds to control my blood pressure, cholesterol, edema and pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids and But I still don’t look into the mirror and see an old man looking back and I definitely do not see a septuagenarian gazing at me. I see someone that is much younger and more vibrant than that. Then again, I never put my glasses on before I look in the mirror. You remember the age old adage “You are only as old as you feel.”? I believe this to be true. In my mind I am still only 25.

It’s kind of funny how being old doesn’t seem so old now that I am old.

Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport.

Advertisements

Surprise

Let me start off by saying my family is a loving and caring one, but even the holiest of angels has a bit of the devil in them. We can be quite devious when we want to be. My wife’s birthday is in June along with two granddaughters, daughter and my son. I won’t tell you how old she is because a gentleman never asks or tells but I am 71 and she is just a little younger than me.

My son asked us to join him at a favorite, local restaurant of ours with his wife and 8 year twin old sons to celebrate his birthday. Donna watches the boys after school so she was to bring them there rather than their home. He sent me an IM and several texts that this was all a ruse and the real reason for dinner was the give my wife a surprise party.

I take great pride in the fact that my wife, “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” if you will, never figured out what was going on. We seldom can put one over on her but now that she is seventy (oops!) years old and with the turmoil (good) we have had at our house recently I don’t think she had the time to figure it out.

Even the twins were in on this one and you probably know how hard it is for an eight year old to keep a secret. It all started with the twins. At the time we had to leave for dinner, even though they had just gone to the bathroom 15 minutes earlier, they BOTH decided they had to go poop. They were told by their parents to stall leaving our house until 5:45. Of course I had to use the bathroom too and seeing as we only have 2, I was outside the bathroom door waiting my turn.

Donna was pulling her hair out. She didn’t want to be late. There was no way we were going to be on our way at 5:30 like she wanted and she didn’t want to make our son and daughter in law wait. She had lost control.

The one twin kept yelling thru the door, asking Donna what time it was because he was told to stall until 5:45. Donna wondered why he asked her to let him know when it was 5:45 and thought she was dealing with Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.  Why did he have to remain in the bathroom till 5:45?  The other grandson developed this sudden problem with tying his shoes. Even though I was instructed to stall her I didn’t know at this point what they were doing.

When we finally hit the road the boys were in the back seat. Donna likes to be able to see out of her rear view mirror and when the boys are waving their arms in the air she will actually pull over until they stop. As soon as a song they knew came on the radio, they started dancing in their seats, waving their arms, and Donna pulled to the curb. That’s when I realized just what was going on because up until then I didn’t know they were in on the plot.

Once we got going again I flipped down my visor and watched them in the mirror. They were whispering and then suddenly we would hear “Donna, Ian pushed me.” It was at that point I joined into the subterfuge. I would start yelling at the boys full well knowing that this was pushing Donna’s buttons. At that point she would pull over again and start yelling at them. They never act like this.

They calmed down and Donna started driving again. Once more time the boys started acting up and I began yelling. Donna pulled to the curb again and yelled at them one more time. All the time, Ian had a silly smirk on his face and I yelled for him to wipe that smile off his face. He took his arm and wiped it across his mouth but that didn’t last long.

The whole time they were giggling and that only added fuel to the fire. They are having a sleep over Saturday and she yelled their behavior caused them to lose their television privileges. This made them laugh even more. Donna said that’s it and she was going to drive to the front of the restaurant, throw them out and drive home.

When we got there, I put on my best “It’s hard to get out of her van.” act. You see I had broken my leg the month before and was still in a boot. This was quite believable if I say so myself. When we entered the restaurant and Donna told the hostess “Reservations for Rug.” The Hostess smirked a bit and took us to a screened off area and when Donna rounded the corner my family members yelled “Surprise!”  Donna stopped dead in her tracks and was speechless.

We’ve only been able to trick her once before, at a Bison’s game, but that story will have to wait for another time because I am out of space.

I am an independent journalist who lives in Lockport as do my children and grandchildren. I also blog at norb-has-opinions.blogspot.com

It’s the little things that make life better.

When Donna and I got married I was in the service. We moved 500 miles away from home and we were dirt poor. I used to steal food so we could eat. It was at that time that I learned it was the little things that mattered most. We lived in low income housing and everyone there would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. The poor were the most generous people I had found. I also found out that you didn’t need a big fancy car. We drove several “rust buckets” over the years. As long as your car got you from point A to point B that was all you needed. I didn’t need to dine in four star restaurants, a 50 cent, freshly cooked crab from the corner bar was as good as gourmet cooking.

When my daughters were about 7 and 5, I woke them up one cold winter night and threw them in into the back seat of my car. We drove out to the country away from the light pollution of the city and watched the Aurora Borealis. We froze but it was worth it. They are now in her forties and this will still come up in conversation.

The little things in life can include finding a bird’s nest or a warren filled with baby rabbits, witnessing the renewal of life first hand. We had a Mourning Dove build a nest on our garage this year and it was the first thing I looked for in the morning. It was nice seeing Mom (or Dad) sitting on the nest every time I looked. Some people could learn parenting skills from birds.

Our dining room table has had jigsaw puzzles on them and when you passed by you would add a few pieces. This was kind of a community project. I used to tell my children bed time stories as a way to encourage them to read. I see my children have passed this along to their children.

When we would all gather around the dinner table (yes people used to do that) we would all have to all tell us a useless fact of the day. A fact that you would never, ever need in conversation. A fact so obscure that they wouldn’t even ask it on Jeopardy.

One of my granddaughters spread paper hearts around our house. They were stuck in the vanity mirror, on top of a dresser and even in the frame of our television. Even though she is across the country, every time we watch television we think of her.

At night we used to play games around the table after dinner, like Checkers, Cards, Chess and Othello.  My children have passed this along to my grandchildren. I now play chess with them and I am starting to have to watch myself so I don’t lose. My oldest grandson regularly beats me at Canasta now.

My kids still remember going to a local park and flying kites. I had made my kids kite winders years ago and we gave them a workout, all except my daughter. She just couldn’t seem to get her’s flying, I would set my winder down and get her kite in the air. As soon as I passed the string to her, the kite would turn upside down and commit suicide by crashing into the ground. This happened several times.

Learning to ride a bicycle, picking berries from Nana’s secret raspberry patch behind the garage or homemade popcorn while watching a movie at home. These are things the things a child will remember all of their lives.

Donna and I love to sit on our porch watching a storm roll in and the more lightening the better. When you are older you will understand how precious little things, like the memories you share with your loved ones or sitting on your porch in the early morning, sipping tea and listening to the birds. These things are seemingly of no value in themselves, but they can be prized as they convey peace, love and happiness.

I can still remember building a “Fort” out of couch cushions and blankets, playing stick ball in the street with a sewed off broom handle and a tennis ball, making snow forts and having snowball wars with the neighborhood kids or playing hide and seek, outdoors at night. Not too shabby for a 71 year old. What are some of your childhood memories?

Let me encourage you to get up every day and focus on what you do have in life. Be thankful for the blessings of the little things, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the sound of wind chimes, the feel of raindrops hitting your skin on a warm summer afternoon or hearing the laughter of little children as they play.

Even though when you don’t get what you expect, learn to appreciate the little things in life. A thirteen year old girl, wise beyond her years, once told me, “You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.”

Norb is a loving, independent journalist that enjoys sharing his memories. You can share yours with him at nrug@juno.com

Facial Recognition

I am for the implementation of the Facial and Object Recognition System (FORS) in the Lockport schools. There I said it. I know this might be an unpopular stance but it is the way I feel. I believe an integral part of journalism is to present both sides of an issue and to write how I feel not to just agree with the prevailing opinion. I expect very little support and a lot of blow back due to my opinion but with all the articles condemning FORS I thought it was time to hear from the other side.

Perhaps the most persuasive reason to have FORS in schools is that it could make our children safer. FORS allows the software to look at it’s photographic database to identify a person and see if he or she is supposed to be on school property. It can also identify a person who is prohibited to be near a school like sexual predators, fired employees and gang members. It can then alert an armed, trained school resource officer, a Lockport city policeman or a Lockport policeman moonlighting as a school security guard to approach the unknown person to evaluate their intent.

Initial security should be to lock all the doors while school is in session so no one from the outside can get in. The doors in Lockport are being locked right now.  I know this isn’t a perfect solution because a person could wait near a door till someone opens the door so they can gain access. This also wouldn’t stop a person who is supposed to be there from committing a crime and we can’t lock all the doors from the inside due to fire and other safety concerns but FORS would add an additional layer of protection.

Facial Recognition is the highest speed biometric technology available. This has only one function and that is to recognize human faces. Forget the eye scanners and thumbprint readers, FORS currently analyzes the unique characteristics of a person’s facial images that are taken by a digital video camera. It’s the least invasive way and provides no delays and makes people completely oblivious to the process.

Whether you know it or not, FR software is out there and is currently being used right now. Facial recognition has been around in one form or another since the 1960s but recent technological developments have led to a wide proliferation of this technology.

Face recognition has been used to find missing children and victims of human trafficking. If missing individuals are in a database, law enforcement can be alerted when they are recognized by face recognition in an airport, retail store or other public space. Three thousand missing children were discovered in just four days using face recognition according to the website facefirst.com.

The best in facial recognition technology is currently available. The Apple’s iPhone X represents the beginning of a new era by using Facial Recognition Technology to unlock a smartphone. This is made possible by the cautiously running infrared and 3D sensors that work with a forward facing camera. The system’s unlock would is practically instantaneous and does not need the user to press any buttons.

But this is hardly the only example. There is the infamous Facebook facial recognition software whose power and accuracy is better than the FBI’s systems! Each time you post a photo or tag your friends on Facebook, you provide massive help for thier facial recognition algorithm.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection began testing facial recognition technology at around a dozen U.S. airports. The New York Times reported on the use of FR for security purposes in the private sector, notably in Madison Square Garden and at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Despite broad experimentation, there is no federal law governing the use of FR, although Illinois and Texas have laws that mandate informed consent. Whether used by governments or in private enterprise, the technology appears to be developing faster than the law.

Instead of utilizing manual recognition, which would be done by a security guard or the approved representatives not on the premises, the facial recognition technology automates the identification process and ensures its flawlessness every time without any pause.

Anyone that has a problem getting photographed by “Big Brother” might be advised to look around. There are cameras everywhere like Walmart, Home Depot and Walgreens to name a few. With the low price of digital, video surveillance systems, even my neighbors have them.

Facial recognition software can be used to quickly detect perpetrators of identity fraud. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles’ Facial Recognition Technology Program has been doing just that, with 21,000 possible identity fraud cases identified since 2010.

Aside from public usage by airports and railway stations, stadiums. There is even an adaptation of facial recognition for use in medical applications by diagnosing diseases that cause detectable changes in appearance.

Some citizens may resent the idea that the government obtains, holds, and uses their biometric data without their consent. Anyone who holds a passport or has sought a visa should not be surprised that the government at least has this information, even if the individual has not expressly consented to allow the government to retain it.

Like I said, I am for anything that has the potential to protect our children.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport. His children and grandchildren have been/are Lockport students.

Watching Children

Donna and I watch our grandchildren and a few other children. As we counted them up, we have watched over 20 children not counting our own children. I think that babysitting your grand-kids improves and extends your life and studies have confirmed that.

If you discovered the secret to a longer and more meaningful life I am sure we would all do it.  Apparently, watching children is that secret. People frequently say that being around children will make you feel younger and reports can actually measure and identify the benefits from caring for children. If the experts are all saying that “caregiving” gives older people a purpose in life and helps keeps them active, then maybe even small doses of babysitting may extend your life.

 “Caregiving may give caregivers a purpose of life because caregivers may feel useful for the others and for the society,” said Bruno Arpino, who was the associate professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, in 2016, according to Reuters Health.

Researchers have actually found that grandparents who watch their grandchildren have a tendency to live longer than seniors who don’t. Researchers with Berlin Aging Study conducted investigations over almost 20 years on the effect of caregiving on mortality. The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in 2016.

The Berlin study showed that after factoring in grandparents’ age and state of health, the risk of dying over a 20-year period was one-third less for seniors who took care of children as compared to those who didn’t. More than 500 seniors were interviewed and had medical tests at their homes, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, and these tests were repeated every other year between 1990 and 2009.

Participants were asked how often they cared for children of during the last year. This was defined as looking after or doing something with a child without the parents being there. Then this was scored from 1 (never) to 7 (every day). The sample did not include any primary caregivers who had full custody of the children, though it did include those who watched non-family members.

We are watching both grandchildren and children of friends that I affectionately call the strays or OPCs (Other People’s Children). The oldest OPC, Andrew, will be 22 in August and lives in Arlington Texas. Donna started watching him after the company Donna was working for closed. We are looking forward to seeing Joedin this summer another of our OPCs. She and her family moved to North Carolina seeking employment. She comes up during the summer to spend time with us. We think of them both often. They feel just like kin to us.

This study concluded that spending time with your grandchildren and helping friends and family members with their children most likely gives people a feeling of purposefulness and assists them to keep mentally and physically active running after a child. Anyone who has looked after a preschooler can attest to having to be physically active.

We are in our 70’s and are still looking after grandchildren and OPCs. Every time a child leaves our care due to entering school, moving or a change in their family situation, we discuss taking on another child. We both agree that we don’t need the money or that it’s tiring for us to do but then someone asks “Are you still watching children?” We always answer yes and take on another child.

As per Reuters Health, half of the grandparents who took care of their grandchildren were still alive 10 years from their first interview. Whereas, those who didn’t provide help lived for only about five years. It is extremely important however for every person to decide, just what “moderate amounts of help” means. As long as you do not feel frazzled about the help you provide you might just be doing something good for others and for yourself.

Researchers have found that grandparent babysitters had a 37% lower mortality risk than adults of the same age that do not provide care. Research has also indicated that people involved in providing care to children had a reduced risk of dying during the study follow up than people that didn’t watch children. But the study can’t prove cause and effect can only suggest this correlation.

So if you are a senior, go find some relatives or neighbors who need your help or support part-time. It might be a challenge but there are all sorts of ways you can help others. Watching kids so mom and dad can work or have a night out, picking kids up after school or providing a “bridge” between the time the kids get out of school and the time their parents get home. We have done all three.

Additional research would be required to find out the cause of the longer life expectancy of caregivers, however researchers present a few explanations. But I really don’t need some expensive research from some razzle dazzle organization to tell me just how good watching children makes me feel, how it lets me connect with my youth again.

How will you Live

How will you choose to live your life? This isn’t a trick question. I am asking if you have chosen to live your life fully or just exist day to day. Not being able to control your circumstances is exasperating but it doesn’t mean you are helpless.

In my opinion there are two types of time. One is when you sit around and wait until things happen to you. I think this is wasted time. The other is when you take control, when you make every second count, when you are learning, growing and improving. It’s your call.

Many years ago, I accepted a job at a textile company shortly before I was to be laid off from a job that I was working at. A job that I loved. A job where I learned quite a bit.  A job that I had devoted over ten years of my life to. They were downsizing the plant I was in because they had opened a new plant in Denver, Colorado that was built with all brand new equipment. I hated to leave but the writing was on the wall and I jumped at the chance to join this new company as a maintenance man.

The pay was less but the job came with a promise that I would receive periodic raises the longer I stayed there. I received a promotion to Maintenance Manager and a small raise. The job was great and I enjoyed working at what I thought was a “secure” business. I worked there nine months before they went bankrupt. I was devastated.

I took control of my life and cold called on some local businesses resume in hand. I was hired to repair the machinery and building at one of them. I ended up running thier second site and once again I was in control of my life. We had discussed a raise and I was told it was coming as soon as the paperwork was done. This was the same answer week after week.

Then one night I received a call from a millionaire in Toronto that had bought the textile company I had worked for, lock stock and barrel. He wanted me to run the place as the plant manager for more money. Most of the old employees came back and I hired a few friends that I knew were looking for a job. My second in command hired a woman who I later found out was his mistress. The two of them joined forces to undermine everything I was doing. This job turned out to be a disaster.

I grabbed the bull by the horns and started applying for every job I was qualified for (and a few I felt I could fake my way through) and was eventually hired as the maintenance manager in a food manufacturer. During the interview, the plant manager offered me complete autonomy in running the maintenance department.

This promise was quickly broken though when the owners came in and oversaw every decision I made. So I decided I would make the most of every moment I was there. I started my exit strategy hoping to be able to support my family by running my own business. They finally decided they could run the department without me and again I was blowing in the wind.

The most horrible thing in life is to have is a job that you dislike, one that stifles your creativity. This might make you uninspired, a person who does nothing more than the minimum necessary to ensure their job, a drone.  We have to choose to make use of every minute of our lives and yes, relaxing or spending time with your family or friends is good use of your time. We all need some down time to recharge and get ready for what comes next. We have to make a willful decision to live in the present. Carpe Diem.

I do not imply that you should quit your job immediately if you don’t love it. Spend the time choosing how to spend your days. Learn everything you can about the job and yourself. Fill every nonworking second in productive reading and research.

Life is constantly asking us, is this going to be productive time or wasted time? On a long commute do you zone out or listen to an audiobook or think about your future? When our flight is delayed, are we getting some exercise by walking around the terminal or stuffing your face eating a cinnamon roll?

There is plenty you can do to make this productive, purposeful time even if the situation is not completely in your control. Read a book. Write something. Make a phone call. Observe your surroundings. Learn something. Open yourself up to new ideas.

The future is not something that happens to you or is even guaranteed, it is something you make happen. People say that this moment does not define your life, but it is just a moment in your life. How will you use it?

Norb is a freelance writer from Lockport. His restaurant review website is https://lovinspoonful.my-free.website/

Hugs, they’re not for everyone.

There’s currently a Puritanical idea that has pervaded our culture in which touch and sex are inherently linked and it is doing us a great disservice. I think that people are afraid to touch each other no matter how platonic.

I will admit it, I’m a tactile person. I give and receive hugs every day. Touch is one of the ways I communicate. I’m also a shoulder patter, and a hand holder. Hugs are free and there is no purchase required.

We Americans are often “touch starved” because the casual, nonsexual contact that happens between friends in other cultures just doesn’t happen here. I think we were never meant to hold each other at arm’s length.

 According to Readers Digest, hugs are more than just a friendly greeting, they’re a surprisingly powerful health booster you’ll want to take greater advantage of every single day. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The connections of self-worth and tactile sensations we received in our early years are still implanted in our mind as adults. Hugs affect our ability to love ourselves.

Hugs are much more than a friendly greeting. Holding a hug for an extended time is said to lift one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. Hugs supposedly strengthen the immune system. Hugging is reported to boost self-esteem.

Touch is incredibly important for us as human beings. Studies have shown that hugs can reduce blood pressure and release oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that has been associated with empathy, trust, and relationship-building among other things.

A good hug relaxes muscles and releases tension. Hugs can help ease pain and soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.  Hugs teach the importance of giving and receiving. There is an equal value in receiving a hug as there is to giving one. Hugs show us how love goes both ways. As a loving person, I get an abundance of hugs from my family. I find that hugs are like a miracle drug.

A Swedish study of 172 nursing home residents found that those who received hugs and physical touch, connected more with family, friends and visitors, were more socially active and had a tendency to thrive better than the residents who didn’t receive the physical contact.

When you are in a relationship, it is too easy to take the other person for granted. A benefit of hugging that is frequently overlooked is that a hug can reaffirm your love. I think it’s valuable to know that something as simple as time spent touching or hugging has been shown to have measurable benefits.

I had a doctor who was very professional but unemotional. He was an excellent doctor that in my mind saved my life on more than one occasion. The first time he proclaimed that I was “In remission” I jumped up and gave him a big hug, I was so elated. It was like hugging a tree.

 In his culture, men did not hug. Over the course of several years and 2 remissions, I hugged him many times. Our relationship warmed so much that the last time I saw him, he initiated the hug. He also had a student with him on this particular day. He said to the student that he might as well hug me because I was going to hug him too.

A few years ago, I had a person report me to HR that I had hugged her. She was telling me about her horrible battle with cancer when I said “sounds like you need a hug”. I did not approach her or grab her, just stood and opened my arms. She then stepped forward to get her hug. She didn’t protest at the time or say “No thanks.” but seeing as I was in a position of superiority over her she didn’t think she could refuse.

 She taught me to always ask if people are comfortable with a hug or possibly even a warm handshake before assuming that they were. It was a boundary I needed to understand and something I needed to learn.

I now recognize that for lots of people, touch can be not only be something unfamiliar but has the ability to transmit aggression or dehumanizing and scary messages.  I mean nothing more by it when I offer you a hug other than make an effort to connect with you or to offer comfort to you, not to invade your space or make you feel uncomfortable.

So while I will continue to offer hugs to people who seem to welcome them. I will never foist them upon anyone. I will say though that if I see you crying, eating cold pizza and you explain your troubles to me and ask for advice, offering a hug to you seems as reasonable to me as offering you a tissue.

Hugging might also be a wonderful way to resolve a disagreement. I think that giving each other the touch they need may have the ability to reverse the damages.

To me, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to consensual hugging, I just have to ask first. Norb is a loving husband, father and grandfather who doles out hugs in Lockport.