Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm Just Peachy, Thank You

I have been inundated with telemarketing calls lately.  So when I saw the 877 number come up on the caller ID a few minutes ago, I ignored it.  I didn't feel like coping with yet another individual from a third world country trying to persuade me, in broken English, to change electricity providers.

Instead I heard a pre-recorded message from Wegman's Supermarket.  They were advising me that several varieties of fruit, including peaches, were being recalled due to a possible listeria bacterial contamination.  What was I doing as I listened to that message?  I was in the middle of eating a peach that had been purchased at Wegman's.

I finished it anyway.  I figured, in for a penny, in for pound.  I have already had about a dozen peaches in the past 2 weeks, so the damage was already done.

With incredible generosity, Wegman's  has advised us to "visit the service desk at one of its stores for a full refund which will be determined by the customer's estimated count of product discarded."  I guess we're just SOL if we've already been poisoned by the product that was previously consumed.

It is pretty bad that I may have fed the recalled fruit to my precious three year old granddaughter.  And I am immuno-compromised.  It could be catastrophic for either of us to develop this brutal bacterial infection. While I suppose it is a good thing to be advised of the recall, it really freaks me out that Wegman's knows that I bought their peaches.  It is truly creepy that I can be traced by the groceries I buy.

 Now, is it my imagination, or am I feeling queasy...


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Tanning Retrospective

Not to be lazy or anything...ok, well maybe I am a tad bit lazy, but I am digging up some of my older posts, especially ones that received a few laughs in the past.  Posts I intended to be funny, I might add.

Someone was recently admiring a picture of our family at my son's wedding and they complimented my dress.  I tried to respond politely, but I was not overly fond of that dress.  For one thing, I had not lost the weight I wanted and was no comparison to the mother of the bride, who was not only a lovely person but was thin and drop dead gorgeous.  Her dress was stunning.  Mine was too, but for different reasons.  None positive.

I have super white skin and the beige of the dress gave me the pallor of a wasting disease without any actual wasting.  So I got the brilliant idea of going to a tanning salon.  The ensuing is a description of my first visit, which I originally posted in 2008:




I cannot believe that I now have any experience with this subject, which in the past I have expressed nothing but disdain for.

Disdain, that is, until I tried on a dress that made me appear to be an illustration from “Ghosts of America”. My skin looked like the white underbelly of a fish, blending with the beige of the dress to create the understated yet hideous fashion statement of having a wasting disease.

My daughters go to the tanning salon on a regular basis. “Isn’t it relaxing?” asked Mary Kate.

Hmmmm.

Relaxing.

Why sure.

Here are some of my relaxing thoughts:

Gosh this is loud.

This is really scary.

Is it supposed to be this loud?

Maybe the bed is broken.

I wonder if the girl remembered to set the timer.

Maybe the timer is broken.

Do I have enough bronzer on? I think I don’t have enough bronzer on.

Maybe I have too much bronzer on.

Maybe I will turn orange.

I think she forgot to set the timer.

Gosh it’s getting hot.

Is hair flammable?

I am positive she forgot to set the timer.

Could this bed be defective?

Maybe it’s defective and has freakishly strong UV rays.

Maybe I am going to burst into flames any minute. Starting with my hair.

Agh!! Agh!!! I am going to end up in the burn center swathed in bandages and loaded with IV pain killers.

Actually, now that I mention it, that last part doesn’t sound too bad.

She forgot to set the timer!! I know it, I know it!!! I am going to be immolated, I know it!!! My children will gaze sadly at my charred remains, hold each other and say “I hope she left some money.”

The whole store will burn down and it will be all my fault. It will be known as the “The Great Tanning Disaster of 2008” and will have my name inexorably linked to it because it will turn out I had some weird genetic predisposition to spontaneous combustion when exposed to a tanning bed.

I will not only die a horrible death, but an embarrassing one too.

CLICK!!!!!!! The machine snaps off. Phew!!! I am alive, unscathed and, um… pink.

Alrighty then!   All set for my next fry, errrr, rather, relaxing, session tomorrow.   Can’t wait.  :(





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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do It!

I am such a passionate Anglophile that sometimes it actually makes me seriously wonder about the possibility of past lives.


I have felt the pull of England ever since I can remember.  Childhood reading always leaned to plots that took place in the UK.  The same with any kind of movie or television show.  However, if I really analyzed the attraction, it would be simple and straightforward, nothing to do with mysticism or reincarnation.  For one thing, many of the people I grew up around, neighbors, family and family friends, were from the British Isles.  My father worked for what was then B.O.A.C. , now British Airways, and many of his colleagues were transplants.  Three of my childhood best friends were from England and Scotland.  I was surrounded by ex-pats and, for the most part, these were very, very nice people.  So in my little head being British was synonymous with being kind, interesting and funny.
  
Additionally, there is the whole history thing.  I am captivated by the idea of connections to the past.  There are still huge chunks of Roman walls dotting London!  The antiquity is hugely romantic and attractive to me.   I also love churches.  All of them, little country stone ones and soaring, self-conscious cathedrals.  England has so many marvelous specimens.   All these factors add up to an irresistible allure. 

As a freshman in high school, we were assigned to write our autobiography, along with what we wanted to do in the future.  Naturally, I wrote I wanted to move to and work in England.  My father made me change it because he said it sounded pretentious.  Only in my family would you be made to change your own life story.   Sigh. 

To be fair, many people are raised to be wary and restrained.  But the not-so-subtle message I received was don’t follow your dreams, hold onto doubt, don’t be good to yourself, be cautious, be fearful.

At any rate, there was an article in the New York Times this week, by the writer Jane Smiley.   She had recently been traveling in the Northeast section of England, an area of wild and occasionally bleak landscape, overflowing with historic, literary and religious connections.  All right up my alley.  She is a wonderful writer and her description of the area was so evocative you literally could feel as though you were there.  But I wasn’t there, no matter how badly I wanted to be, and I never would be there.  I was sobbing by the second sentence.

Most days I can hang in there and just deal.  But sometimes I am simply overwhelmed by the losses I have experienced.  Reading this blissful description of a bucolic trip that would be a dream come true for me, but one I can never again take, pushed me over the edge.

Never one to mince words, I jumped onto the comment column.  Most of the commenters were leaving notes of fond memories of either similar trips or nostalgia from growing up there.  My comment was this: GO!  DO IT!!  Don’t wait for a perfect time or a perfect anything.  If these illnesses have taught me anything it is that clichés are true.  You can’t take it with you.  Life is too short.  You do only live once.

I had four kids to raise and I do not regret any sacrifice I had to make for them, although nothing ever seemed like a sacrifice.  I would have done anything for them.  A few years ago I had briefly considered taking a short trip to London by myself, but ultimately realized that being there with them is what would be a truly wonderful experience.  And it was.  I treasure those memories.  But I wish I had been more organized in planning my dreams.  I wish I had gone again and again, no matter what I had to give up to get there.  I thought I had all the time in the world.  And I was so wrong.

My mantra to my children has always been “Reach for the moon”.  But I am extending it and amending it.  If I can impart any advice it would be this:  Reach for the moon, and do it now.  Don’t wait.  Follow your passion.  Do what you love.  Do it, just do it.

I must have struck a chord, because my comment is the number one recommended remark following the article, endorsed by 88 people as of today.   I hope those 88 have a blast pursuing what they love.  Just as I hope that for all of you as well.

The Cooper children outside the Salieri Restaurant, The Strand, London  May, 1999




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Friday, May 16, 2014

One Smart Cookie


My daughter, her little girls and I got together on Monday for Mother’s Day.  It was one day late, but as I have been under the weather, and her husband was working late, it worked out fine.  She is so easy going, her company is just a pleasure.


The only thing is, she wanted Chinese food for dinner and I am simply not a fan.  I used to be, but I worked in a Chinese restaurant when I was in high school and I just developed Chinese Food Overload. To dispel any horrible misconceptions or fallacies, I will tell you from the get-go, the restaurant, family-run and based in a store front, was immaculate.  The food was what it said it was and the owners were kind, modest, extraordinarily hard working people.  Although the Grandma viewed me with perpetual suspicion.  Always peering at me out of the corner of her eye, she apparently never quite believed I was not going to sabotage their good name in some careless, disrespectful, American teenage way.  Remember, also, this was the early 1970’s.  Despite being a clueless, harmless dork, I was viewed as a treacherous hippie by some of the more conservative older generation. 

But back to the restaurant.   Dealing with all the food just got to be too much.  Each shift the work was relentless.   I rolled wontons, made mustard from mustard powder, prepared rice and fried shrimp toast.  It was always broiling hot, with dozens of pots and pans continuously spewing grease and steam.  Sometimes I was the only one working who spoke English.  I answered the non-stop phone and took non-stop orders.  I got yelled at constantly by Grandma, who would never accept a Westerner could prepare the food as well as someone who was Chinese (she probably was right).   I answered zillions of questions from the customers.  What’s in this, what’s in that, what does this taste like?  As if I could explain to someone what something tasted like.  I was such a brat I used to say “It tastes like chicken” and then would try not to laugh.  My Number One personal favorite question, however, was when customers, apparently surprised to find an American kid working there, would ask me if I was Chinese.

Now I would be honored to be Chinese.  We are talking about an incredible culture of art, music, literature and philosophy.  Who would not be proud to be of Chinese descent?  However, I look about as Irish as you can get.  I look as though I just emerged from the valleys of western Ireland, which is exactly where my ancestors did immigrate from.   So, again, being a clown/brat (take your choice), I started replying “Yes.  Yes, I am indeed Chinese.”  I always wanted to add “…you knucklehead.” Because I figured anyone dumb enough to ask that question deserved a snarky answer.  Although I realize now the chances of them getting the joke was pretty much nil.   So I just got my own private little giggle.  Add all these things together, plus an unfortunate return on an investment of too much Egg Foo Young one night, along the way I just lost my taste for Chinese food.  But Mary Kate loves it and she is so good to me, I couldn’t give her a hard time.  So Chinese food for Mother’s Day it was.

After she and the girls left, I saw the ubiquitous fortune cookies had been left behind on the kitchen counter.  So I made a cup of tea and opened the first one, expecting to have a good laugh at the preposterous syntax and ‘message’ I was about to be presented with.

I know they are random.  I know they have no base in reality what so ever and are spit out by a machine in a factory somewhere in Queens.  But here is what I read:

                          “Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.”




Anyone who has been reading this blog knows I am dealing with a very poor cancer prognosis.  But even worse, I have faced some devastating issues involving family members I love deeply.  These concerns, these losses, are on my mind almost constantly.  Life is too short.  And hating is a total waste of time and energy, even if you are not sick.  
         
At a time when there is so much rancor in my family, I just pray that this otherwise worthless piece of paper might suggest a message of peace and forgiveness.  I wish more than anything that people I love can find compassion and tolerance in their hearts.  Nothing on the face the earth could feel better.  

Of course, because the universe loves a good giggle, the next fortune cookie read:

             “Statistics are no substitute for judgment.”



?!?!?

I’ll stick with the message I actually understand, thank you very much.          




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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Promises, Promises

Wow, I have never gone so long without writing a blog post.  Over two months!
 
Writing this blog is probably one of the most rewarding, gratifying, fun things I have ever experienced.  It has given me a chance to do the things I love the most: write, make people laugh, reflect on subjects that seem interesting or current, brag about my adored children and grandchildren.   I have received feedback, not just in comments, but in e-mails, from strangers telling me how much something I have written has touched them, encouraged them and/or inspired them.  Unfortunately, I feel I have been letting myself down in not keeping the blog current. I suppose part of that lapse is because things have changed so drastically since I started writing it.  Although it also could be because I have been so sick.  But surely I should be capable of at least a few words?  I am really disappointed in myself.

I had promised myself I would write certain number of posts per week, or even as few as one per month.  I’ve tried giving blog posts catchy titles, to remind me to keep on schedule, like Photo Friday.  This one would be a no brainer, I thought.  I have a zillion snaps I can tell stories about.  And it had a built in reminder.  Who could forget it was Friday?  Well, me for starters.  “No brainer” seemed to be the operative phrase here.

Then I had the brilliant idea of combining a prayer with a clip of something funny.  See afore mentioned no brain.  Anyone else would have realized, practically immediately, there just aren’t that many amusing prayer subjects out there.  At least not ones that would lend themselves to a laugh-out-loud video clip.

I have sadly neglected my other two blogs as well.  The one about books should be the easiest thing in the world to write, as it is a subject I can go on about for hours.  My MS Renegade blog has also been left flapping in the breeze.  There is so much to say about living with MS, so much I could share with others that might help even a little, but I keep breaking my promises.

However, as we all know, promises break all the time, don’t they?

Sunday, April 17, 1977, I became a mother for the first time.  I promised myself I would be the best mother ever.  I read every book I could get my hands on.  I embraced new age theory, breastfeeding, the family bed, marsupial mothering.  The counter-promise was apparently an emotionally fulfilled child, the most important thing, of course.  But for me, of a peer group that was fraught with challenges between the generations, the other exciting assurance was true and deep friendship with my children as they grew.

My darling children, circa 1990
Best intentions notwithstanding, being human, I have not been a perfect parent.  I did not come close to the lofty goals I set for myself, although I do not believe I was all that bad.  I had enormous fun with my children, was graced with tremendous joy in watching them grow as people and mature into adults that I was so proud of, people I was so happy to spend time with.  We had fun together.  We traveled together, got together and played board games, made each other laugh.  And despite my failings, I thought we were still friends.

But those promises have shattered as well, with agonizing estrangement from two of my beloved children. 

As I have written before, the year I turned fifty my children and my sister threw me a spectacularly affectionate and loving birthday party.  It was a blast.  They planned it as a surprise and later told hilarious stories of how much fun they had organizing it.  I was thrilled and grateful that they had taken so much trouble to make me happy.  But, taking things completely for granted, I had stupidly assumed these relationships would simply continue to flourish and thrive.  These were literally my best friends.  They publicly announced their love and admiration for me at the party.  But what changed?   Were they making it up?  Had they always despised me but just kept it to themselves?  The promise of loving each other forever seemed to be there that wonderful day, but appears to have evaporated into thin air.  The void this has left is unspeakably painful and literally causes me to howl with grief at times.   I have lost so much already, to lose them on top of everything is unbearable. 

Thirty seven years of memories as a mother flash through my brain, all organized around my overpowering love for my children.  And underneath all I can see are all the things I have done wrong, despite my best intentions, despite my promises.

I will continue to try to write my blog despite being broken hearted and miserably sick.  While I was given a blissful reprieve by the steroids, as I predicted, my symptoms have returned with a vengeance. The cancer has spread yet again and a trial of chemo started 10 days ago had to be stopped when the side effects, particularly shortness of breath, became untenable. Without chemo, I do not have a great deal of time left.  My doctor ordered a hospice evaluation this week.  By continuing to write, I want to share successes and achievements.  I want to laugh.  I want to write commentary on issues that matter to me.  I want to live until the end.

I am surrounded by loving, fun, supportive friends who cheer me on and celebrate my writing.  I cling to the premise that there must be a reason for this cordon of support, this core of loyalty and affection.   But this is not easy.  The individuals who are so bitterly angry with me, family members that I loved and trusted, assure me that my wonderful friends are kind to me only because they don’t know what I truly am: an evil, selfish, manipulative liar.  

For someone like me, with inherent Low Self Esteem, it can be easy to buy into such a pronouncement.  After all, it comes from people who have known me their entire lives, people who profess to know me better than anyone on the planet.  So they can make such a proclamation, right?

But here’s the thing…I cannot accept that.  While my heart is utterly shattered by the estrangement from my children, I have to believe that God surrounded me with the love of my friends, my remaining children and my grandchildren, as a comfort and a gift.  His love is a promise I have to believe in.  It is the only thing that can keep me going.  I will pray for the few who harbor such animosity towards me, that they might find peace and tolerance and maybe even reconciliation.  But I will rejoice in those hundreds who celebrate me and who share joy and generosity of spirit. 
  
I will be honest.  It is devastating having cancer, MS and very few treatment options.  But missing my children is worse than all those disasters put together and has rendered me a sniveling, weeping, sloppy mess. As part of an effort to stay calm and strong, I am trying to meditate and pray.  According to the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, this assurance, this promise, comes directly from God’s mouth:

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

He promises!  And when my knees are buckling with grief and fear, that promise is holding me up.  Thank you, Lord. 

Amen.


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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Poison Miracle


It does exist.  AND I WAS AWAKE FOR NEARLY FORTY EIGHT HOURS AS LIVING PROOF.  Its name is Solumedrol and it is a steroid. 

 
The Miracle Part:  I have been virtually incapacitated since I got out of the hospital before Christmas.  Walking was agony. The soles of my feet have been on fire due to neuropathy.  Having anything press against them, even brush against them, was torturous.  My legs were too weak to swing up onto my bed anymore, so what little I slept was either in a recliner or sitting on the side of the bed, leaning against a pile of pillows.  Because it hurt so much to take even a few steps, I could not sew at the sewing machine.  Or get to the bathroom promptly.  I have been getting progressively shorter of breath.  Even though I am using the ventilator, I am gasping for breath with the least exertion. Getting to the kitchen to make so much as a cup of tea brought me to tears because it was just so darn hard. As a matter of fact, that is practically all I did, sit and weep in spurts as I brooded over everything and anything.  I was frantic and terrified about having metastasized cancer.  I sobbed over the children I miss so much and prayed desperately I could make things right again.  I don’t like television, and couldn’t focus anyway, so I didn’t watch it.  I couldn’t concentrate on reading.  Wondering how long I even have left, I just saw a lifetime of this humiliating  suffering ahead of me, knowing despite what some people believe, I am neither brave nor dignified.

 
It finally occurred to me to call the doctor and ask for some help.  Thursday I started a course of intravenous Solumedrol at approximately 3 p.m.  By 4:30 Friday morning, I had significantly less pain on walking.  I was already a little less short of breath.  My feet were not burning as much.  I did spend the night in the recliner in the sunroom (even though I didn’t sleep), but I was relatively comfortable for the first time in months.  I watched two British TV series (Broadchurch and Collision, both fantastic) and actually was able to concentrate.  I even made a cup of tea without crying.  This won’t last forever, relapses are inevitable, but steroids truly are a miracle for now.

 
The Poison Part: Steroids affect every part of your body, just like MS, only in different ways.  They cause weight gain and salt retention.  (Although I am the only person in existence who could develop a wasting disease and not actually waste).  It causes increased blood sugar.  A higher likelihood for infection.  Lowered immunity.   Hair loss.  Mood disorders.  Skin problems.  Increased blood pressure.  Weakened bones.  Kidney problems.  INSOMNIA.  Is that enough?  Ironically, I don’t get a common side effect that I am prone to when I am not on steroids: depression.  Perhaps it is simply relief, or maybe I am going nuttier than usual, but I am positively giddy with happiness right now.

 
Belated Holiday Update

Christmas was lovely, thanks to my daughter, who, despite being eight months pregnant, made it a peaceful, blessed holiday.  She decorated the house beautifully and we had a fun Christmas morning with Maddy.  The only pall over the season was the absence of my other three children.  I miss them so much sometimes I literally cannot breathe.  Just talking about them or looking at their pictures, those beautiful, precious faces that I love so much, makes me cry.  I lived for them.  Without them I often feel I have nothing left to live for.  I try to force myself to remember to focus on what I do have, my God, my daughter, the two grandchildren I know, my fifth grandchild due any minute, my friends and loved ones.  They are my blessings.  I must be grateful for them.  I am grateful for them. But I am truly bereft at what I am missing.

 
Computer Issues

Because I sleep so poorly and because I am on this wild cacophony of medications, I am notorious for spontaneously falling asleep.  I fall asleep talking on the phone or in person, it makes no difference, and there is usually no warning.  At least twice I have conked out on my dear friend Robin, who is a perfectly interesting and entertaining companion.  But to my humiliation and regret, I have managed to lose consciousness despite her many charms.   She has let herself out.

The worst part of this is falling asleep with a cup of something in my hand, whereupon I will wake up bathed in the substance.  This is not fun.  Thank goodness I have not had a boiling cup of tea in my hands, but I have had many a tepid one.

Not too long ago I dozed off holding a small cup of ice cream.  It melted and seeped under some of the keys on the left side of my laptop.  When I did finally wake up, the keys were sticky, but functional.  After two weeks of this I got a brilliant idea.  The ice cream didn’t hurt the laptop, but the stickiness was irritating.  So, I thought I would try a few drops of water to wash away the ice cream.  Yes, that is correct, I, the product of approximately 22 years of education, decided to wash out my laptop with actual water.   

It took me roughly 30 seconds to completely destroy it.

I tried blowing on the keys to dry them (I have a lot of hot air, as anyone who reads this blog is aware).  I tried the hair dryer.  I tried the ever popular shake-it-real-hard and its cohort, bang-on-it.  Finally I admitted defeat.  Mary Kate took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, but they couldn’t salvage it either.  I had to get a new lap top, although I did get a bargain and the Geeks transferred my hard drive to the new one.  But something must have traveled with the old files, as I am having tough time with the new computer.  I cannot access my e-mail, Foxfire or Facebook.  I am working on cleaning it up, but it is taking long time.  Lucky thing time is one thing I have plenty of right now.


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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Reverie


In this season of promise and expectation, my thoughts go to the myriad of Everyday Angels that surround me, my powerful circle of love and hope. You all, who have given me so much, will be in my heart forever.  I know you will be richly rewarded for your gentle kindnesses and loving generosity.  Especially those of you who know my many flaws but love me anyway, thank you for being role models of compassion.  Your humanity inspires me.  I pray that you all will be showered with blessings.



No matter what, I am so grateful for my children and the many treasured Christmas memories that revolve around them.  Throughout the years, you four, individually and collectively, have given me more joyful moments than you will ever know.   There is nothing you could ever do or say that could change my love for you.  That love is for eternity.





December is such a busy month, and not just because of Christmas.  In our family, we have significant dates on both ends of the spectrum of life.  I have two precious grandchildren born in December.  And, sadly, my husband Dennis died in December, five days before Christmas, twenty years ago this month. Our kids were 6, 8, 15 and 16.  I was 39 and he was only 40.

His death was a hideous shock.  He was an active guy, slim and athletic.  But he apparently had congenital heart disease that was never picked up.  The worst thing I have ever had to do in my life was witness the suffering my children endured at his loss and not be able to fix it or make it go away.  Every subsequent family milestone that I went through alone at first was excruciatingly painful, then gradually faded to a dull poignancy.

We have four grandchildren now, will have five in February.  He would have been a marvelous grandfather, because he was a big kid at heart.   He was always up for playing a game, reading a story, going for a walk or making up silly sayings. 

A tugboat pilot, he was very good at his job.  But it was a career he had been caught in, not a career he had chosen.  At 17, a neighbor gave him a job at Circle Line, the Manhattan sightseeing boats, as a line catcher, the lowest job on the pier.  (This neighbor just happened to be a VP at Circle Line).  Dennis was a reliable, hard worker and popular with the other guys, so he easily worked his way up to deckhand.  Because he was ambitious, he studied for and obtained his pilot’s license, a notoriously hard accomplishment.  He became a captain at Circle Line and then a pilot on the tugs.   

But what he really wanted to be, more than anything, was a high school gym teacher.   He would have been fantastic.  He loved kids and he loved sports, he was a natural.  When I “helped” our kids with their homework, I was shrieking maniac within 15 seconds.  He was endlessly patient.  But he never had the luxury of quitting his job to go back to school, he had a family to support.  So he settled for being an autodidact and was quite learned in many subjects, especially the Civil War and geography.  We used to challenge each other to Jeopardy.  Getting comfortable on the sofa, our younger son would sit between us and keep score.  We’d turn the show on and most of the time it would be neck and neck.  But if I won, it was usually just because I had a faster mouth.  He was always a good loser, whereas if I lost, I would pout.  It was years before I could watch Jeopardy again.  It just made me too sad.

He was a die-hard New Yorker, something that had bonded him with my grandfather.  These two complicated men had a genuine respect and fondness for each other.  And like my grandfather, not-so-deep-down, Dennis was a quiet romantic.  His favorite movies were West Side Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Quiet Man and Dog Day Afternoon, all films about flawed men with huge capacities to love.   He had a soft spot for animals, with their helplessness and unconditional affection.  He was especially fond of an obscure TV movie from 1969, J.T.   It has only been broadcast once or twice since (although it is available here on YouTube, in 4 parts).  J.T. is set in Harlem, a touching but raw story about a lonely boy who secretly nurses an injured alley cat while trying to cope with the challenges of inner city life.  Dennis saw himself in that little boy and talked about comparisons often.  Although he had his melancholy streak, he was incredibly funny and had a sharp wit, but plain old slapstick, like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, could leave him crying with laughter.  

Golf was such a passion that he would have pitched a tent out on the green if he could have.   He was a great athlete and probably could have played professional baseball if he had had the encouragement and support he needed as a kid.

Twenty years is an awfully long time. We had been married for 17, known each other for 20, had four wonderful children together.  He had a hard life and dealt with many challenges, some more successfully than others.  He was a very good man at heart, but I know he always wanted to be better.  He was always striving.  I am so sad for him that he has missed so much.   Sometimes it seems as though he will walk through the door any second.  It happens far less now, but I still find myself occasionally thinking, “oh, I have to tell Dennis” and then I remember.  I think he would have been very proud of my accomplishments.  It feels desperately unfair that his life was so short.   But I want to believe he is in a place of happiness and healing, far better off than I can comprehend.

Merry Christmas, Dennis.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Fragment of a painting, Shooting Star, by


Thank you Lord, for making Yourself one of us.  Please strengthen our faith in You.  Please make us worthy of Your love and of each other.


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