Saturday, December 31, 2016

End of the Year Thoughts

It is the last day of 2016. Thank you for "tuning in" to read my posts; it is a rare event when something new pops up here (and I really must change that). If I was a true believer in resolutions, I would resolve to write more. But my cynical side tells me I am setting myself up for failure. The excuses will fly left and right why I don't post more often.

Instead, I will write today -- mark time as the year ends -- and see what tomorrow brings.

The past year was very memorable, but for mostly the wrong reasons. So many famous people in the entertainment industry died this year and I've taken a few minutes to compile a list (certainly not exhaustive):

  • David Bowie
  • Alan Rickman
  • Dan Haggerty 
  • Glenn Frey
  • Abe Vigoda
  • Maurice White 
  • Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • Sir George Martin 
  • Frank Sinatra, Jr.
  • Garry Shandling 
  • Patty Duke
  • Merle Haggard
  • Prince
  • Morley Safer
  • Elie Wiesel (author of Night)
  • Garry Mashall
  • Gene Wilder
  • Bobby Vee
  • Kay Starr
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Florence Henderson
  • Keith Emerson (founder Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
  • Greg Lake (founder Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
  • Alan Thicke
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • George Michael
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Debbie Reynolds

Others who passed this year include:

  • Nancy Reagan
  • John Glenn
  • Fidel Castro
  • Janet Reno
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Dennis Green
  • Pat Summitt
  • Buddy Ryan
  • Joe Garagiola
  • Arnold Palmer

These are all famous names and the number is staggering. But one name not on that list cut the deepest and made all others fade into the woodwork.

Everyone in my family still feels the radiant sadness and emptiness of losing my sister-in-law, Kathy. I will try not to dwell on the void of her passing and instead celebrate the good times we had together, even over this past year.

The best memory of the year: surprising (sort of) my aunt Sandy and uncle Ray in Las Vegas. They winter there every year and the Budahns and Branstners flew out to Sin City in February.

It just so happened that Kathy and my brother Bob were there at the same time. We all met up that first night on Fremont Street and had so much fun. We didn't know it then, but it would be one of the last times we would all be together. These are memories I treasure and I am so thankful we have a few pictures of the moment.

Fremont Street -- Feb 15, 2016

Freemont Street -- Feb 15, 2016

Uncle Ray sneaking beer on Fremont Street. Kathy looks amused.
It is hard to believe this was less than a year ago. I am so glad we took this vacation and we could all be together one more time. We weren't thinking about illness. We weren't thinking about what little time we had left together (after all, none of us knew). We were simply having a damn good time. 

Even though Kathy is gone, she still has a presence in our home. She made this light for us as a gift years ago (hand painted and home made). We've taken it out every Christmas and kept it out until spring.

This year it is even more special.

We will keep the light on tonight in her memory and hope for a better 2017.

Happy New Year to the nearly 40,000 folks who have clicked on my blog to read my thoughts. I hope the new year brings you good health and good memories.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's All You've Got

As this incredible election fades away in the rearview mirror, I feel I should mark time here. I know most people will stop reading right here because I mentioned "election," but there is something I feel I should say based on what I'm witnessing around me.

Social media has become a poisonous place, especially post-election. I am troubled that friendships are being destroyed and families have become divided over this election. Think about what we are doing to one another.

I know this is a Simple Simon idea, but there is one solitary truth that everyone should understand...

No one cares about you except your family and your friends. 

Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton really didn't give a damn about you. She wanted your vote. She had her own agenda.

Donald Trump doesn't give a damn about you. He wanted your vote. And he has his own agenda.

Yet, with limited time on planet earth, we are slashing each other's throats over two vile human beings who wanted just one thing: the most powerful office in the the world, the Presidency of the United States.

We should not be surprised of this violent post-election backlash. Both campaigns were founded on fear of the other candidate. Americans were pitted against one another. Both candidates were downright hateful to each other; it started at the top and trickled down to me and you. We should all take a moment to think about that.

We should be embarrassed.

The only way we can make this a better nation is to be better people. Be kind to each other. Be respectful to each other. We can agree to disagree; hate is not the answer. It starts with me and it starts with you.

I'm normally not a Polly Anna type, but there is no other option.

Believe it or not, the sun came up on November 9th. And you know what? Loved ones were still dying of cancer. Parents were still going through divorce. We still needed each other.

Friends and family: in the end, it's all you've got.

And that's all that really matters.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Mom's Favorite Sport

An unforgettable and historic World Series has come to a thrilling conclusion and somewhere up there, my mom is smiling.

My mom loved baseball. It was probably her favorite sport. In fact, the main reason I enjoy baseball to this day is because it reminds me of her. Of course, she loved the Minnesota Twins and when I was a kid, the Twins play-by-play was tuned in on our kitchen radio every summer evening (this was back when we only had one t.v. channel -- yes, only one! -- and it was very rare to be able to watch a regular season Twins game).

I am so thankful she was able to see the Twins win a World Series in 1987; she was absolutely thrilled. She had her favorite Twins sweatshirt which she wore all the time. I have just one picture of her wearing that shirt, but for the life of me I can't find it.

In fact, when my mom died unexpectedly on May 2, 1990, she was wearing that shirt.

I found this picture online. It is identical to my mom's favorite Twins shirt.
But here is a little known fact that has probably been long forgotten: my mom was also a Chicago Cubs fan.

The truth is, I probably would have forgotten this myself if it wasn't for the wonderful letters she wrote to me in the late 1980s (and yes, I kept them all). One of those letters contained a sentence which I remembered after all this time, and it was the reason I was pulling for the Cubs during this year's World Series.

I had to sort through dozens of pages to find it. It took a little while, but here it is, in my mom's handwriting:

The letter is dated October 10, 1989. She writes, "Vikes did pretty good didn't they? but my darn Cubbies got beat."

 I did a quick bit of research and this refers to the Chicago Cubs losing to the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the 1989 National League Championship Series on October 9, 1989.

Sadly, Mom passed away just seven months after writing this. She never got to see the Twins repeat another World Series championship, which happened just two years later.

And 27 years after writing this letter, my mom's Cubbies finally did it.