Five Cousins

Longer ago than I care to think, the final one of our five grandchildren made her entrance into the family.  She joined an older sister and brother, and two cousins, both girls.  Because the five of them live close to each other in the same town, they’ve spent a lot of time together and have grown quite close.

Ranging in age from seventeen to eleven, Ainsley, David, Alana, Naomi, and Abbey were the subjects of a book I published some years ago, a collection of poetry for and about them.  Titled Five Cousins, the book spun tales of their adventures at the various stages of life they had by then attained.

3 Cousins cover

Each of them received a copy from me one long-ago Christmas—signed, of course, with a suitable inscription.  At the time, the younger ones enjoyed having the poems read to them more than reading them themselves, but either way, their peals of laughter warmed the author’s heart.

Each of them had a section of the book, titled with their name, containing half-a-dozen or so poems with such titles as:  Ainsley Starting School; It’s David’s Day; Alana’s in Florida; Oh, Naomi, You’re the One; and Little Abbey’s Walking Now.

Over the years, these five cousins have seen a good deal of us, their Nana and Grandpa, often at our retirement home in Florida.  In one of life’s everlasting mysteries, they have grown older by leaps and bounds each year, while we elders have hardly aged at all!

[pause for muffled snickers of disbelief from amused grandchildren]

Regardless, it is a fact that three of them are now taller than we are; the eldest is off to university this fall; the second one will join her next year; the next two are halfway through high school; the youngest will soon enter junior high; and every one of them eats gobs more than we do!

As they have grown, their lives have gravitated less toward us and more to their friends; their interests have shifted away from us to their myriad interests and activities; the time we spend with them now is less than it used to be.  They face their futures now, rather than focusing back on what has been.


Happily for us, they visited us in Florida this year—perhaps for the last time all together, as their lives will increasingly take them along paths diverging from ours.

That is natural, of course, and as it should be.  But their inexorable journey to their own destiny has me thinking I must write another collection of poems about them, and for them, before they leave the sanctuary of childhood for the last time.

I could do it for each of them separately, beginning with the eldest, and follow up for each succeeding one as they reach the age she is now.  Or I could do it as I did the first time, with poems about all of them, suitable to the stage each finds her- or himself at right now.

I think I favour the second option, given my own age.  Time, I increasingly find, is not to be taken for granted.

Anyway, here are five short pieces I have already written about them, collectively rather than individually, in haiku form.  The poems attempt to express my love for these five cousins, my hopes for them, and my unabashed pride in them.

smiling photographs

on the refrigerator—

loving grandchildren

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

grandchildren, our hope

for the future—as we were

once upon a time

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

free your grandchildren,

hug them close, then let them go—

they’ll e’er be with you

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

more yesterdays now

than tomorrows, but it’s the

tomorrows that count


Five Cousins e-book –

The Child We Were

We cannot know where we are headed, only whence we have come.  It behooves us, then, to help those coming along behind us.

*  *  *  *  *

we’re never so tall

as when we bend down to help

a child who needs us


*  *  *  *  *

the child is father

of the man, as wordsworth wrote—

so nurture the child


*  *  *  *  *

to free your children,

hug them close, then let them go—

they’ll e’er be with you


*  *  *  *  *

those wee girls we raised—

grown now, married, mothers both—

never left our hearts


*  *  *  *  *

grandchildren, our hope

for the future—as we were

once upon a time


*  *  *  *  *


A friend told me a while back about a financial planning seminar he’d attended, where the wealth management advisers waxed enthusiastically about growth and value stocks, citing several examples of corporations and enterprises that met their criteria for each category.

Not satisfied with their explanations, he asked them where a company such as Amazon, with its vast, online distribution network, would fit in their scheme of things.  Or Google.  Or Facebook.  Would such companies be considered growth or value stocks?

The answer surprised him.  Neither.  And the reason?  None of those ventures had any tangible ‘product’.  To the financial advisers, they were too impalpable to be categorized.  Their core business exists in the ether, as it were.  It’s just technology.

stock ticker

My friend considered this ludicrous.  When one looks ahead to the next decade, one must be impressed by the role technology will play in what some have described as a fourth industrial revolution—the first occurring when machines were developed to supplant manual labour in the early nineteenth-century; the second when mass manufacturing methods appeared later in that century and into the next; and the third when digital technology began to overtake mechanical and analog processes in the late twentieth-century.

And what will this fourth revolution look like?  How will it affect, not people of my generation so much, but our children and grandchildren?  I recently read a summary of issues discussed at a conference sponsored by Singularity University, a consortium of information-technology innovators and providers, and it gave me pause.  If these leading-edge thinkers are to be believed, the revolution will encompass a period of exponential growth unmatched in previous history.

Consider the following, gleaned from the aforementioned online summary.  Computer software and operating systems will discombobulate traditional business models, as we are already seeing with such companies as Uber, which owns no cars, and Airbnb, which owns no properties.

Computers will become ever more powerful, as demonstrated by the IBM Watson, which is able to offer basic legal advice within seconds, to a greater degree of accuracy than its human counterparts, and which can diagnose cancer more accurately than doctors.  What need will there be for generalist lawyers or doctors in a few more years, as computers become arguably more intelligent than humans?

Smartphones will be available and affordable to almost three-quarters of the world’s population within the next five years.  That means everyone will have access to the same information, to the same teaching, to the same outcomes in learning, and in the language of their choice.  Education will become not only affordable, but entertaining.

A medical device will soon be beta-tested to work with smartphones; it will analyse more than four-dozen bio-markers deduced from retina scans, blood samples, and breath tests, and identify diseases threatening our health.  Within a few years, the technology will become inexpensive enough that almost everyone alive will have access to effective, low-cost medicine.

Efficient, green-energy solutions will develop much more quickly than has heretofore been the case.  Solar energy, for example, will drive traditional fossil-fuel providers out of business as it becomes less and less costly.  With the cheap electricity it generates, desalination efforts will expand, providing the world with an increase in the amount of potable water available for its ever-increasing population.

solar power

Electric and self-driving cars are already here.  When they become more prevalent and affordable—and they will—entire industries will be disrupted.  Who will need a car when a ride can be summoned as needed via smartphone?  No maintenance costs.  No insurance costs.  No parking costs.  In fact, no need for the vast tracts of urban land that are given over to parking lots.  Perhaps most importantly, a dramatic reduction in the number of people who die every year in automobile accidents.

What will happen to the Fords, the General Motors, the Volkswagens of the automobile industry when the Teslas, Apples, and Googles begin to market vehicular computers for the masses?  And what of the large insurance companies?  With fewer accidents, not to mention the medical advances cited earlier, their medical and car insurance lines will wither and die.

For young people about to enter the workforce, what does all this mean?  It is anticipated that up to 80% of the jobs we count on now will become obsolete in the next twenty years.  Will there be enough new jobs to replace them?  And if so, what sort of jobs will they be?  With the increase in longevity we witnessed during the twentieth-century expected to grow more rapidly, there is an obvious need to develop vocational and avocational pursuits for the escalating population.

So, for my friend and me, and for anyone who is thinking about financial planning for the future, where is the growth, and where is the value, if not in the technology-driven industries driving the revolution?

If you doubt these trends, please call me and make an offer on the once-valuable Kodak and Fujifilm stocks I still have in my portfolio!