Tag Archives: father-son

Having Run the Race

In a few days I will mark the passage of one year since my dad died.

 

 

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Remrandt’s Apostle Paul (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Just writing that sentence made me feel a little weird.  My father remains the finest man I will ever know.  Not only did he give me life but he took care of me.  For the 39 years I had him on this earth with me there was never a time when I didn’t know in my heart that he cared for me.  Through my childhood he raised me, provided everything I needed and many things I wanted.  He gave his advice, though not always in a sit-down “Son, we need to talk” kind of way.  In fact, we never had a conversation like that.  He taught by example.  I never heard him complain, not even once, about a solitary thing in life.  We laughed one night at dinner a few years back when he made a comment about not liking pot roast much because Mom had been serving it for dinner almost every Sunday for years.  He was happy with the life God gave him.

But one year earlier the light seemed to go out of his life somewhat.  He was old.  He was tired.  And he had just been dealt a terrible blow.  In October of 2015 my oldest brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I still hate that term.  My parents watched as their son, who had lived perhaps not the most exemplary of lives, literally came home to die.  Thirty years earlier they had lost three children in a terrible tragedy.  Back then Dad didn’t have time to grieve.  Now, he couldn’t help himself.  No parent should ever lose a child.  To lose four…  I can easily forgive him for coming to the conclusion that it was his time to let go as well.

My dad was fond of a passage in Paul’s Letter to Timothy.  “I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith.”  When he died these words came back to me.  The man was a fighter, stalwart in his faith.  That’s what he taught me.  I remember in the day or so after her died printing a copy of that passage.  Mom had asked me and my niece to read at his funeral.  I was honored to read at this mass.  My dad had been a lector for years when I was growing up.  From him I learned my love not only of the Catholic faith but of what was his passion – the liturgy.  I remember so many years, day in and day out, before I moved away where I would go with him to mass every day and later as an adult when I would take him with me.  I, too, am a lector and I think of him every time I read at mass.  My niece, a young girl of 13, had been reading at daily mass – the mass they’d take Grandpa too – for a while and I know how much he loved to see her read.  But something happened.  When we got to the sanctuary, she asked me where the reading was.  I mistakenly mentioned that it was in the book.  Instead it was in my pocket.  She read a different reading.  It was still very fitting but it wasn’t 2 Timothy 4:7.

I had to make this right for him.  At the cemetery I mentioned to Mom what had happened and asked the priest if my niece could proclaim that reading there at the grave.  She did.  Somehow it seemed more fitting here.

The last words spoken in the presence of his earthly remains were from his granddaughter and I know in my heart she was speaking them of him.

“I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith.”

My dad impressed upon me the solemn duty of an Irishman to attend wakes and funerals.  “It’s just what we do,” he had said to me before.

And as if to show him I had learned his lesson I stayed behind with the funeral director as the last man, his youngest boy, until my father’s casket was lowered to his final resting place.  I dropped the rose from my lapel the fifteen feet or so and watched as it landed squarely on his coffin.  I was kneeling in the dirt as I said good bye to Daddy.

Other than the impending anniversary, I don’t know why this memory is haunting me at the moment.  I still talk to the man every day.  Typically I blurt out “Dad, help me!” with one of my many crises.  I’d like to believe he’s working overtime to obtain for me whatever particular grace it is I’m seeking at the moment.

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Dad doing a crossword.  He did one of these every day for decades.  I learned to love crosswords from him.

He was an amazing guy.  Anyone who’d ever met him loved him.  He was funny, smart as a whip, and incredibly loving and kind.  His family was his world.  And my mom…  She was the sun, moon, and stars to him.  There is one thing he taught me that I think I actually get right most of the time.  I learned how to love from the both of them but I learned how to treat my wife from him.  I never saw them go anywhere where he didn’t open her door.  He laughed with her.  He thought she was the most beautiful creature God ever put on the earth and he was always happy when he was with her.

In a few days I will board a plane and travel to see her and to celebrate and remember a remarkable man who gave me life and taught me how to fight, to run, and to keep faith.  I can’t say I’m much of a fighter or a runner and I often feel like despairing; but he taught me what to do.  The reason I was a teacher for so many years was because he first taught me.

As we draw near to that day, I will carry him ever more in my heart remembering the lives he affected and how much better we all are because he fought and ran and kept the faith.

God bless you for reading this far.  Say a prayer for my family if you would be so kind.  And say a prayer for me.  40 years from now if even one person could say of me that I kept the faith I will die a happy man.

Oh, and I started running again.  I’m 40, I’ve got a major spinal problem, I just quit smoking after 22 years, it’s cold, and I suck at running but I’m doing it.  Dad is probably laughing.  But perhaps I’ll be able to say literally that I’ve run the race.

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Strange Dream of the Century

I would hazard a guess that about half of my readers are not quite familiar with my attitude regarding titles for various blog posts.  So, for the both of you (I round up), here it is in a nutshell.  I firmly believe that a good title will write a good post.  That being said, there’s no accounting for many of my posts…

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As you can see, it’s a stock pic.  Dad’s, though, was pretty much the same.

Yesterday morning the most bizarre thing happened.  It was Sunday and the four of us all woke up in plenty of time for the 8AM mass in our parish.  This is unusual only because we typically rush to the 10AM and if we’re really tired (and feel like punishing ourselves) it’s the noon mass.  If we have to go to the 5:30PM mass on a Sunday we see it as penance for the sin of laziness for that is the mass with the “teen choir”.  Enough said.

My wife thought this was going to be a great day because we now suddenly found ourselves at home, having already been to mass, at 9:15 with a whole day open wide in front of us.  The only flaw in this thinking is that some of us were so tired from having been up so early that he (I) drifted off toward a nap.  And a most pleasant nap it was too.  Until…

I Had A Dream

No one really knows how these things work except God so I won’t attempt to explain it.  At some point during my less-than-an-hour nap I found myself sitting in the drivers seat of a car that was parked at a curb in a familiar-looking location.  I recognized the car right away.  It was the last Buick my dad had owned.  He liked Buicks.  This was a dark blue 1994 four-door Century and I found it strange that the car looked so much better than the last time I saw it sometime around 2008.  It almost appeared to have come right off the assembly line, it was that pristine.

I looked out the window and saw my passenger coming across the street.  Somehow I knew I would be driving someone.  It was my father.  I was fairly surprised considering he’s been dead for over a month.  But I didn’t let that bother me too much.  In fact I either thought the following or said it outright in my dream: “This will be fun!”  He was dressed sort of how I remember him with a black woolen overcoat over his suit, a tweed fedora, and carrying a folded newspaper.

He got into the backseat of the car on the drivers side and Started unfolding the paper.  None of this was strange to me.  He owned the fedora I was seeing.  He did the folding thing with his paper in such a way that I could copy it move for move, it was that routine.  The only things that were a little off were the overcoat (I don’t remember him ever owning a black wool variety) and the fact that I was driving him.  He had let me drive him places but not normally in his car.  If we took his car anywhere, he’d drive.  The other thing that surprised me was how healthy he looked.  He wasn’t any younger than his 80 years at the time of his death.  He was just not “old” looking.  I took note of the fact that he was not rail thin.  He looked much like I remember him from around the time he retired.

Turning to my passenger I said “So, how are things?” to which he replied “Good,” while glancing at his paper looking for the crossword.  It was at this point that – even in my dream – I knew I was dreaming.  I figured I’d have a little fun with the old man.

“So,” I asked him rather coyly, “Where’ve been you hanging out these days?”

My father didn’t even look up from the paper.

“You know that,” he replied.  There was a hint not of pride in his answer but rather of matter-of-factness as if to say “you know where I am because you have faith.”

“I know, Dad.”  And I couldn’t resist needling him once more.  I mean how often do you get to spend time with your dead father just the two of you?  I had one more question.  I asked it with full knowledge that he had received an Apostolic Pardon.  Click the link if you don’t know.

“Did you go right in?”

Almost getting a little bothered at this line of questions, again for the seeming lack of faith, he said “Of course!”

Again I added, “Yeah, I know…” before struggling to find the next thing I’d want to ask him knowing I could wake up at any moment.

“How’ve you been?”

That seemed like a stupid thing to ask and a question I had already asked at least three times in different words.

“Well,” he said, “your mother is upset with me…”  And here’s where it just got plain weird.  “Because I never thanked her for a pair of pants she bought me a few months ago.”  “Well, Dad,” I said, “Why didn’t you thank her?”  His reply was classic.  “Well I meant to, I just didn’t get around to it.”

They say all good things must come to an end.  At that moment my phone – the one in my the hand attached to my very real unconscious body lying on the couch – rang.  I knew it was over.  I opened my eyes and looked at the screen.  It was my mom calling.

I shared this story with her.  She laughed.  “I’m very happy to hear that,” she told me.  It turns out that she had bought him some new clothes a few months ago.  My father was very particular about the clothes he wore.  “I never thought anything of it,” she said, “but I was a little annoyed that he didn’t even try them on.”  You see, at that point in his decline bouts of confusion had begun to set in.  He would sometimes get dressed in ways we were not used to (for a man known far and wide for his natty appearance).  These pants, it turns out, were made by a company that had started to save costs on production by, of all things, shortening the zipper.  For Dad, this simply would not do.  Also, he couldn’t distinguish whether they were navy or very dark gray and it was hard to match them to his shirt.  For the record, they are black.  I know because they hang in my closet and I’ve worn them several times.  And the shorter zipper is a bitch.

Dad, I don’t know why you chose to speak to me or to use me to get that message to Mom; but I’m sure glad you did.  Do it again!  I’d love to chat some more.  Maybe next time I’ll actually get to take you for a spin in that old Century.  Until then, as always, I love you.

Another Anniversary

Two days ago we celebrated the 35th anniversary of my twin sister’s passing.  I say we “celebrated” yet I did little more than treat myself to a few hundred extra calories.  But that’s part of a new bulking diet and I’ll write more on that in another post.  Those calories, by the way, came from sprouted grain wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and hard boiled eggs; not exactly a trip to the Dairy Queen.  In years past I actually celebrated the day with more festivity.  We’d go out to dinner at least.  But times are different and after shelling out quite a bit to cover travel expenses for Dad’s funeral, a low-key remembrance is fitting.

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Like father, like son. Harvey’s old man in the late 1950’s (age 21?) and Harvey in 2009 (aged 31) Dad switched to a pipe not long after.  I guess that’s one way to be more like him.

Today was the anniversary of my brother’s passing.  That would be my older brother Owen who was six when he died as a result of the same house fire that claimed my sister.  There’s one more in two days and I’ll cover him then.

Imagine, if you will, what that week was like for our family.  Put aside for the moment the absolute tragedy and shock of losing your home and all your worldly possessions in the middle of the night (not to mention the trauma of how it went down).  Now imagine you’re a relatively young couple with an enormous family.  My parents were in their early 40’s.  For Dad it must have been hell.  Before the fire’s even out your wife is lying critically injured from a jump out the second floor window, your children are being loaded into ambulances to be dispersed to multiple hospitals in the area, your house is gone, it’s cold, there’s snow on the ground, you’re in your boxers because that’s what you went to bed in.  And you’ve just realized that your four year-old daughter is dead.

If ever there was a case for daily mass, this moment proves to me where the man got his strength.

Two days later with your wife and many of your children still in hospitals being treated for broken bones from being tossed into the snow from the second floor porch and while you’re planning a funeral for your child, your six year-old son succumbs to the smoke inhalation.

As with my twin, I have no memories of my brother.  Years later I did use his middle name for my son (and to honor the pope).  Yet, he is the brother I always wished I’d gotten to spend more time with.  He was the next closest sibling to me in age (after my twin).  Thinking of all this three and a half decades later I’m completely in awe of my father.  When my kids get sick I freak out.  I can’t imagine losing either of them, let alone both.

Do you know what Dad did?

He planned a double funeral.

These are my first conscious memories.  Standing in the funeral home I remember the thousands of people who came, and to the church for the mass.  I remember it was Catholic Schools Week and the principal of the parish grade school halted whatever activities were scheduled.  Close to 700 children in perfect uniform in the church with us.  I remember a procession of priests that, to me, seemed to go on forever.  The Benedictine abbot from my father’s alma mater, I think, was there.  I’m sure one of my siblings will correct me if he wasn’t but I remember seeing a mitre.  Coincidentally, I think this is where my love of Catholic schools was truly formed and to this day it is my life’s work.  I remember things like the drive to the cemetery with a line of cars stretching well past where I could see.  And I remember feeling like this was huge, like my life was completely different now.  And I remember gray skies, light snow, and cold.  And from their grave I could see the Twin Towers and I was a twin and that was cool.

He never talked much about it.  It’s a wonder the stress of that week didn’t kill him outright.  The thing is that he was a man.  He was an honest to goodness, genuine man; without swagger, without false machismo – the kind of man we used to hear about and read about and see in Frank Capra films.  He wasn’t soulless, he wasn’t a robot.  He cried.  But he knew and lived his faith.  These two were safe and supremely happy.  The rest of us needed love, protection, and support.  Who had time to wallow, though that wallowing was more than deserved.  The fact that he lived another 35 years is a testament to his faith.

And I’ve realized I need to be more like him.  I need to return to mass every single day without exception.  I need to provide more for my family.  I need to show my children what true strength is.  From my dad I learned that it involves a healthy dose of having a lot of fun with your kids.

There’s a reason for that.  Dad used to say (especially in the last few years):

“Some men invest in their retirement plans.  I invested in children.”

Well, I started out talking about my brother’s anniversary and wound up talking about Dad.  Please forgive me for these posts of late.  I certainly don’t intend to be morbid or to depress anyone.  I walked into a friend’s classroom the other morning before school started and he was crying.  “Why’d you do that?” he asked, almost angrily.  Turns out he was reading my last post about my sister.  “Do you enjoy making me cry?”  Sidenote: if I told you he’s also the trainer-friend I’ve mentioned before then you can imagine it was a kind of payback for the tears I’ve shed that I’ll never be in his shape.  But I never want to make people cry.  “Some men can move heavy weights around,” I said.  “I guess I can move words?”

Truly I am celebrating the beautiful lives of the people in my family and I do rejoice for them.  I’m also realizing so much more now that he’s gone how very special a man my father is.  And I’m seeing now so acutely just how much I’ve wanted to be like him.  And for now I’ll stop writing.

The Other Half of Me

I couldn’t let this day go by without pausing to wish someone very close to me a happy anniversary.

35 years ago today, my twin sister went home to heaven.  Although I have no real memories of our short time on earth together, the bond between twins is very powerful and I know she has been with me in spirit all this time.

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One of the few pictures of me and Teresa.

Now she has a long-expected visitor with her.  I imagine the moment Dad breathed his last and his soul entered the heart of his Creator that the first thing he did was to behold the face of his little girl.  What joy that must have been for both of them!  She, along with my three brothers, have waited patiently for him in a place where there is no time nor space.  They welcomed him home as if no time had passed.  I imagine whatever the spiritual, body-less equivalent of a young, vigorous Daddy running toward his children and wrapping his arms around them is; he did it.  He had faith all these years on earth that he would be with them again.  It’s strange to me that all of these things happened around the same, dark, cold time of year.  The five of them now have anniversaries within weeks of each other.  That’s nice in a way.  We on earth can saunter through their remembrance of their lives all at once.

Thinking back on this particular day I remember the last time I saw Dad.   When I leaned in to give him a kiss and say good bye I whispered “Tell her I said hello.”

I know he did.  And I know that joyous reunion is going to go on in heaven for as long as eternity will allow.

And I am happy for them.

My Dad and Auntie Mame

What a strange day in a strange week…

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Broadway!

It all started over the Christmas break when I had a bit of free time and two kids who were eager for their free time to be filled with fun stuff.  With my son, it was easy.  We built Legos together and I made incredible progress in my effort to read to him the Chronicles of Narnia.  We’ve had great fun and we’re now on the fifth book.  With my daughter it’s a little harder.  She seems to be obsessed with different things, girl things, little girl things.  As I am a full-grown man I find it harder to relate.  Do you know how hard it is to fit a 6’2″ jacked frame (had to throw that in there) into a seat at a tea party when the chair is barely off the ground?

So during one of my many trips to the library to return one Narnia book and pick up another I came across a DVD of the Lucille Ball classic movie-musical Mame.  It’s got singing.  It’s got dancing.  It’s got elegant costumes.  It’s got drinking and sauce and spice and Bea freakin’ Arthur.  I checked it out, brought it home, and made a movie night of it.  And thank God I was right.  My little girl loved it – especially Bea Arthur.  The next day she said to me: “Daddy, my favorite was Mame’s best friend, the one who talked like a man.”

In fact it was a lot of fun.  We even checked out the non-musical, earlier version starring Rosalind Russell – Auntie Mame and watched that.

The thing is that we’ve also been dealing with Dad’s death.  I don’t mean that we’ve been going through stages of grief or that we had anything to occupy our time regarding planning his funeral or calling insurance policies in.  No, we found ourselves driving from Dallas to Newark and back inside of a week.  It was in the car that we actually watched Auntie Mame.  Sure beat looking at Arkansas (although it is a remarkably pretty state).

Tonight, as a surprise to me my daughter had given me tickets for the both of us to see a concert version of Mame at the lrving Arts Center, our local playhouse.  Normally I don’t mention real names in this blog but this deserves a mention.  She was so excited.  This morning she woke up and proclaimed it “Mame Day”.  I, too, was excited.  My sweetheart has become my theater buddy.  Since I no longer live a stone’s throw from Manhattan and since my wife is more into movie theaters than Broadway houses I relish that my daughter enjoys accompanying her old man to a show here and there.  And we have lots of fun.  Usually during intermission I buy her some souvenir from the lobby and myself a drink.

And then came the downer of the day.  Sweetheart got sick.  She actually didn’t want to tell us she wasn’t feeling well for fear she’d miss the show.  We noticed, though, and called her out on it.  My well-intentioned wife asked me if the theater might be able to switch our tickets to another performance.  Knowing how these things work I knew it would be a fool’s errand but I had to at least try for my baby.  Since the box office was already closed for business I decided to drive across town.

Along the ride I thought of my dad.  He enjoyed the theater.  More importantly he would do anything for his girls.  They looked up to him and he simply adored them.  I found myself talking to him.  “Dad, help me out her…  I can’t disappoint my little girl.”

I parked, walked into the lobby, and went to the will-call window.  To the older gentleman behind the counter I said:

“My wife bought our seven year-old daughter and me tickets to tonight’s performance.  Unfortunately she’s crying her eyes out at home right now because she’s sick.  Any chance we might be able to possibly transfer these tickets to a different night?”

I said this with a bit of breathlessness because I really didn’t believe he’d do it.

Well… not only did he do it but he did it with such kindness and decency!  He even gave us better seats!

You can’t convince me my father had nothing to do with that.

I turned to the man and said “You know, in New York this NEVER would have happened.”  He looked at me.  “We do things a little different around here.  I have a daughter myself.”  And I’m glad they do.

The rest of the night may have been spent cleaning up after a sick child in a bathroom but we were pretty happy about it.  My dad came through.  My daughter thinks I’m a hero.  And for Mame Dennis, it will still be today tomorrow.

I also have some tales of working out and such but I’ll posts them soon.

The Card in the Spray

One year ago almost to the day I posted a picture.  It was an image of a beautiful arrangement of red roses and baby’s breath with exquisite ribbon intertwining throughout.  It was a floral spray that sat atop my brother’s casket.  The flowers were placed there by my mom and dad.  They had just lost their oldest son at the age of 51 to pancreatic cancer.

The words on that card were almost unimportant compared to the realization that no parents should ever have to write such a card.  And yet, he was the not the first child they had buried.

Remarkable people, Mom and Dad.  Strong, faithful, resilient.

Last Friday night I stood in the same room of the same funeral parlor.  I looked upon the man in the casket and he looked so much like my brother.  Peacefully reposing was the body of my beloved father.  DNA’s a funny thing.  Last year when my brother died and Dad, already 79 years-old, I think he knew it was OK to grieve a bit.  You see, the first time they lost children, three of them, we had had a house fire in the middle of the night.  Mom’s injuries were severe enough that she could not attend wakes and funerals.  And Dad, well he was marvelous but he had to return to work, hold the family together, and help us move forward.  He couldn’t grieve then.  He was 46.  This time he could experience the terrible pain he could not give into then.

It came as a shock to no one when the slowing down of his life and the “letting go” seemed to hasten.  It was time.  He knew where he was going and he wanted to go there.  Listen, the man was a daily mass-goer.  By my estimation he received Holy Communion somewhere in the neighborhood of 27,000 times in his life.  He fought the good fight, ran the race extremely well, and left a legacy of Wisdom, who is always vindicated by her children.

Turning toward the same casket spray I had seen the year before I stooped over to read this card.  Different man, different message.

We expect that spouses will die and leave one behind.  What she wrote, though, summed up the man perfectly.  a “man with true convictions, undying faith,” and one who “provided our family with love”.

The signature?  I don’t ever remember a time when my father didn’t refer to my mother as his “child bride”.

Forgive me for posting so many times about this.  Daddy (that’s what I always called him except when I was calling him by his first name, Dick) was a man among boys.  People simply don’t live the kind of life he lived anymore.  But that didn’t stop him from insisting that his children try.  He took care of us.  He loved us.  He loved my mom – she was everything to him.  He loved playing with his grandkids who were the joy of his old age.  I had moved away about ten years ago.  My children didn’t know the joy of that special relationship and spending time with their grandfather.  The best I can do is to try feebly to be like him so they can see who he was.  But I was doing what he taught me to do.  I was trying to teach the faith and provide a loving home for my wife and children.

It’s only been a week.  Trust me, I’ll have much more to post about him.  For the moment, though, look at that card again.  I mentioned this to a close friend.  Showed him the picture.  He’s a younger guy, mid-20’s, married a few year – long enough to know the value of sacrifice but not long enough to see its fruits.  Then I asked him this question.

Wouldn’t you die to know that your wife could say that of you when you die and truly mean it?

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Mom and Dad at my wedding. Dad always made good choices.  The best was asking Mom to marry him.

Musings from 35,000 Feet

Yes, I’m on a plane.

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‘Bout to get my flyin’ on…

Where am I headed? Well, let’s start with a quick recap. I started writing this blog for my kids. Everything I write here is because of them. Ultimately I want them to be able to read this and see how perfect a life they made for me. So even when it seems I’m writing a funny post with no bearing on their lives it all still comes back to them. I can laugh because they exist and they make me smile.

I’m headed to the Fatherland. Regular readers of this space (both of you) know that I’m referring to New Jersey. Technically I’m headed to LaGuardia – a “nifty” little airfield at the far reaches of Queens, NY. When you have to book a ticket with 24 hours notice you can’t be choosy.  When it first opened as Glenn Curtis Field in 1929 (work with me here, I’m trying to teach, you twat), Queens was a sleepy borough of about 50 residents and a handful of chickens.  By 1960, former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s wish to be immortalized by a slower-than-molasses, aging, crumbling public works project would come to fruition with “LGA Phase 1”, alternately referred to as “the building of the Central Terminal Building”.  In fact, in the 1960’s this facility was seen as the airport of the future.  Unfortunately for the good people of Queens, the future held such things as the Jumbo Jet, airline deregulation, and not-asbestos.

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She (they) followed me onboard, honest.

I once had a friend – a makeup artist on a television show on which I worked – refer to Queens, his home borough, as, and please pardon the expression, “the most f*cked borough”.  “Where else could you have 69th St. intersect both 69th Pl. and 69th Rd. all at once?” he opined.

Where in the hell was I?  Ah yes…

I’m flying in to see my dad. He’s had a massive stroke. I think my mom said the doctor called it a “big” stroke. Apparently not calling it “massive” makes it sound less severe. But it’s serious enough that I got the ticket and here I am.  Dear readers, I’m handling this, as I always do, because the two people who gave me life taught me to do this, with humor.  Work with me.  And a few paragraphs back when I referred to you as a twat, I meant it as the British do.  Slipping back to my story…  Dad’s always been competitive and I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of teenage boy, bawdy joke hiding in the fact that he’d be pissed to not have it called a “massive stroke”.  For the record he had a massive stroke once before when I was 16 and he was 56.  Miraculously he recovered from that one almost immediately.  I don’t see that happening this time.

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If I understand, we’ll land and then the Sharks and Jets will go at it.

Kids, when you read this years from now I want you to know something. I love my father. Our relationship (his and mine) is not like yours and mine. We’ve bonded over bizarre things. I figured out how to make high-end cocktails for him. He gave me a copy of the book The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy for Christmas when I was in 7th grade. See? There you go. Children, he’s a good man and everything I know about how to be your father comes from him. I know I’m not perfect. I don’t think I can say that about him. And he taught me a sense of responsibility and of family and of just doing what needs to be done.

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Here’s my dad, my twin sister, and me during one of my first forays into an airport.  So it was HE who started this whole obsession!

And I read that book cover to cover several times so all of you who know me in real life and wonder how I know something about everything, well there’s a small glimpse at an answer.

That’s why I’m on a flight to LaGuardia on a Monday night. I have a row entirely to myself which is good because I don’t think I’d want seatmates seeing me like this. I really want a cigarette. Sorry. Steam of consciousness. I hate that style popularized by Stephen Crane. I can actually hear my dad telling me some fun fact about Crane and how he grew up in Newark like us and how Civil War vets would have sworn Crane was old enough to have fought in the war because his writing was so vivid.

Let’s divert a moment.

I’m watching a documentary on the plane about Anthony Weiner. Pig. Disgusting cretin. As Dad would say “the man will never get hemorrhoids. He’s a perfect asshole.” And yet… this film is so fascinating. It’s about New York more than Weiner. It’s about my home. It’s the nexus of the universe wherein I grew up. And I love New York so much. The people – though we’d probably disagree on 9 out of 10 things politically – are good people and I miss them sometimes. It’s nice to know that in an hour I’ll be flying in over the East River, over the greatest city on earth. I’ll see the Freedom Tower and Roosevelt Island and Queens. I just wish it wasn’t for this reason. I’m a little scared because I don’t know what condition he’s in.

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Watching Weiner.  If that was my face I’d probably want to showcase other parts of my anatomy too.  Couldn’t be any worse.

Man this Weiner is fascinating.

The flight attendant just gave me two drinks and only charged me for one. God bless him.  Unfortunately I think he wants something from me that ain’t never gonna’ happen.

There was a woman standing behind me at the gate back in Texas prattling on and on with someone on her phone.  Conversation went something like this.  “Then these two self-righteous jerks tried to tell me all passive-aggressive that the two of us shouldn’t have kids and then my husband was like ‘Well we can but they’ll never learn music.  I forbid it.’  And I was all ‘Who do you think you are?  I’m a musician and you suck.  I seriously wanted to cut her.'”  It was too perfect.  I had been hoping for something for paragraph 14 since I arrived at the terminal and here this lady was just spouting it forth for me.  I didn’t care if she could see me.  I put my coffee down, took out my phone, and started jotting down every word she said.  You’re welcome.

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The Big Apple at night, in January, from 9,000 feet, when your dad’s had a stroke.

This flight is bumpy. The captain came on before we took off and announced it was not going to be an easy flight.

My God this movie is incredible. It’s like a train wreck. I want to watch but I can’t. But I must.

My nephew is picking me up at the airport. He’s a rideshare driver too. He’s agreed not to charge me for the pick-up. I’m laughing at that prospect. He’d NEVER charge me.  Or I’d kick his ass.

What else could I tell you? I have some fun pictures to run through my flights entertainment options. They kind of describe my flight style these days.

But the reason I started writing this is to ask your prayers.

And now that I’ve done that I think I can get back to my Weiner.