Sunday, October 27, 2013

Obstruction of Justice

The World Series game 3 ended on the most bizarre call I have ever witnessed to end a baseball game.  It started with a remarkable play to get the runner at the plate, but an errant throw to third caused the runner and third basemen to get tangled up.  When the runner tried to advance to home, he tripped and that delay caused him to be apparently thrown out at home.  The umpire reversed his initial call and awarded the runner home plate, thus ending the game.

I don't know that I agree with the call given the factors involved, but we all have to play by the same rules, so I have no choice but accept the decision that was made on the field.  The entire play caught me off guard, and evidently, it "blind sided" the umpires too!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's a Game of Inches

Life is full of measurements.  Golf courses are thousands of yards long, we run marathons of 26.2 miles, our odometers trip after the thousands of miles we drive, and Fenway Park has a wall 37 feet tall called the "Green Monster".  Ironically, although most of these are larger units of measure, sometimes it comes down to the smallest units to make a difference.

The World Series began last night in Boston surrounded by the mountain of media hype and coverage. In the bottom of the first, Big Papi connected on another long drive with the sacks jammed.  When Carlos Beltran reached over the fence to rob him of yet another grand slam in this post season, the crowd reacted accordingly.  If it had been just few inches further, the Red Sox would have enjoyed a greater lead than they had anyway.  Unfortunately for the Cardinals, one of their leading hitters had to leave the game because of an injury he suffered when he hit the wall making the catch.

A little shallower and that fly ball would have been caught on the warning track; or just a little farther and it would have had the Fenway faithful erupting.  Fortunately for Red Sox fans, those few inches didn't have the negative consequences we have experienced in the past.  But just remember, if you give us an inch, we'll take it.  Go Sox!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We're Dancing

Often times, before toddlers even take their first steps, parents may hold their children pretending like their dancing.  There are occasions when this activity simply helps to soothe a restless child.  There might be some singing while carrying out this little rite of passage, but before you know it, the kids are off and running.  Behaviors like these morph so quickly however, that it's hard to even remember sharing some of those tender moments.  It's interesting, but as we age and become more dependent again on those who provide us care, we seemingly revert back to those cherished times, although the roles are typically become reversed. In the case of my mother, she was no exception.

For the last several years, my mother had become accustomed to sitting in her automated lift chair.  However, she later acquiesced to the other recliner that my father had occupied for years.  Why the change?  I think my father just decided he needed the lift chair, so that was that.  Unfortunately, my mother required some help from her  comfy chair; so when it was time for her to make her way to the kitchen, I would help her up by having her cradle her arms around my neck and then have her stand with my help.  Once we were up, that was my chance to relive those tender moments as a parent.  I'd pretend that my mother and I were dancing, just like those early days with my daughter.  It allowed us to hug and be "young" again, although, I don't know who was the parent in this situation.  However, the whole experience was, well beautiful.

Even in those final days before she died, when we'd roll her over to bathe and change her, I'd break into the same little dance routine.  I knew she felt the exchange of emotion, even though she could no longer respond.  Here she was giving me yet another gift, as we were trying to care for her.

Mom, I'd ask you to dance, but I believe dad already beat me to it for this one!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

IM a Red Sox Fan and It's Grand

Sox fans are on Top
The Red Sox have a long and storied history.  They were World Series Champions in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916 , and 1918.  But after this impressive start for the franchise, the trade of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees began what was known as the "the Curse of the Bambino", a World Series title drought for the next 86 years.  Most of those near misses, too, were historic in nature.  However, the breakthrough came in 2004 with a sweep of the Cardinals.  After all those years, even that seemed like an impossible dream year, until the championship trophy was hoisted signifying the achievement.

Recalling many of those disappointments, it's difficult to overcome the anxiety that those previous experiences fostered.  In the recent series with the Detroit Tigers, several of the situations that the home town team found themselves in had a deja vu feeling that was hard suppress.  But, unlike those teams of my youth, this group outperformed the opponents, much like the World Champions of 2004 and 2007.
Go Sox

Starting with Johnny Damon's grand slam in 2004, and then the two that were hit during this recent ALCS propelling the Red Sox into the World Series again, I'd have to say that being a Red Sox fan of late, sure has been grand!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dad, do you have a pen I can borrow?

Here you go
Who doesn't need a writing instrument from time to time?  Certainly, those of us who have to sign our name multiple times a day ought to carry one, and if you are a "rock star", it would make sense to be armed with a pen.  In the 70's, if you had several pens in your pocket, you were considered a nerd.  I know one person who you could always count on to have a pen in his pocket, because without it, he wouldn't have been dad.

My father was a crossword aficionado.  Often times, he'd do two or three a day, and if he didn't complete it one day, you'd find him working on it the following day.  I recall how excited he'd get when he solved a particularly clever answer in the Sunday crossword.  Additionally, if he seemed somewhat stumped, he welcomed the input of those around him.  This activity offered another opportunity to share what became a much beloved ritual.

Now that my father has passed away, it's the little things that surface during the course of a day that remind us of the loss.  It's a three word phrase that begins with "W" and ends with "U".  I got it; we miss you!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Birthday Wish

Who doesn't want to have their birthday acknowledged, even those of us who have celebrated that 29th birthday for the umpteenth time?

Well, birthdays are meant to be celebrated, even after there are no more birthday cakes with candles to be blown out or gifts to be opened.  Yes, some birthdays are just meant to be days to remember those we loved who are no longer with us.  

Happy Birthday mom, and not to worry, we're happy.   May God watch over you and keep you well!

Bing Crosby: Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (Thats An Irish Lullaby ...

Monday, October 14, 2013

One if by TD, and Two if by Single?

If you are a Revolutionary War buff or just happen to have grown up in New England, perhaps you are familiar with the heroics of Paul Revere.  History was forever immortalized that night in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

             One if by land, and two if by sea, taken from his famous poem,  "Paul Revere's Ride"
I thought we were fighting the British

Well, history has a way of repeating itself, and on this holiday weekend in Boston, history was made again by two of its sports teams, first the New England Patriots and then the Boston Red Sox.

The Patriots were playing at home against the New Orleans Saints in a clash of titans.  Trailing late in the game, in spite of playing some of their best football of the season, the Patriots displayed some of the magic that we here in New England have come to expect.  With just 10 seconds left, a vintage TD pass from Tom Brady completed the first leg of this improbable day in Boston sports history.

Of course, if that wasn't enough, Boston fans were ready for the encore, a Red Sox victory against a Detroit team that had man handled them the night before.  However, Detroit had their own ideas about history making, and that involved extending their prolific dominance of Red Sox hitters with the "K" parade.  Admittedly, it was hard to watch the over matched Boston lineup against the dominant Detroit pitching staff.  But then came the signals Boston fans were hoping for, first a hit, then a run.  The uprising had begun.   In spite of ridiculous odds, much like our Revolutionary war militia, the Red Sox mounted an almost more improbable comeback than the Pats--a Papi grand slam to tie and then a walk off single by Salty.  

This all made for a remarkable night of sports stories here in New England.  Comparisons were being made this morning to other legendary moments in Boston history, like the Fisk home run, the Flutie "Hail Mary pass", the Bobby Orr goal, but I prefer to think of it perhaps from a modern day Paul Revere's perspective, "one if by touchdown pass and two if by walk off single".  Do I hang one lamp or two in the Olde North Church tonight?  For Boston fans, the victory lamp was lit up, not just once, but twice!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

From Here to Eternity

The summer of 2013 has been one for the ages, but for my parents, it has been one for the "aged".  The years had taken a toll on both of them, but their love for each other and their family, kept them going.  However, even though their minds were willing, their bodies simply became weakened by the years, and for two nonagenarians, their love story awaited the inevitable change.

For years, my mother's health seemed somewhat more fragile than my father's, but the story behind the scenes was that my father was medically more fragile.  His failing adrenal glands couldn't rise to the stress of every day life any more, and with it, he simply awoke on a Sunday morning in July and knew that the end was near.  Often times, he'd remark at the dinner table that my mother would live forever because she had such a robust appetite.  Meanwhile, I think he was warning us that his was waning, so when he announced he had no appetite, we knew what that meant.  He died two days later with his family at his side, but not before making sure his conscience was clear of any unfinished business.  He spoke with his remaining brother and several grandchildren who weren't able to make the trip in time, but when he passed away, he had the reassurance that his work was done.  It's remarkable how, even under such duress, a person's resolve can mount the energy necessary to complete those tasks.  There is no explanation, except thy will be done.

Although surrounded by her loving family, my mother had enjoyed such a fulfilling and happy married life that to overcome the emptiness that was created by this kind of loss, at her age, likely wasn't going to happen.  We enjoyed the remaining weeks of summer caring for and supporting mom, but without her "daddy", we knew mom wasn't going to be far behind.  Just weeks before she died, my sisters escorted her into her favorite room, the sun parlor, for an afternoon nap.  She insisted on sitting in one of the other chairs in the room rather than her comfy recliner, so they made adjustments for her to plop down in this other chair.  Shortly after getting settled, she spied the wedding picture that graced the table across the room, and she  proclaimed, "that was the love of my life".  You knew with those few words, that she had processed the loss.

Now that both of my parents have passed away, the void that exists is for those they left behind.  Death is a natural part of life, and we all knew that the family would be faced with this inevitability some day. However, to have had both parents go so closely in time, only magnifies the absence.  More accurately however,  we recognize there is no cure for a broken heart, and my mom confirmed that yet again.  Time will help us through this process, but saying good bye hasn't been easy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No, IM not "Bach"

What makes a Renaissance man?  If you look at the dictionary definition, you'll see it defined as:
A man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.
Well, knowing that my mother loved to sing and play the piano, I decided it was time to become a Renaissance man, so I began taking piano lessons.  As people age, even though some talents may fade, music seems to be a common thread that carries on, and for my mother, her love of music never seemed to be affected by time.  I'd often hear her singing along with the radio or humming to the music she'd listen to on the TV.  But what I loved most was her accompaniment when I played a piano piece that she recognized.  Hearing her critique my playing from a distant room only made me more aware of her presence.  It was a delight.

Even though she is gone, I have continued with my lessons, but still struggle to play well.  However, knowing that she inspired me to play, regardless of my present or future abilities, she will be with me always.  How can you "B flat" knowing that?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Old House

PBS has a wonderful show that has been on the air now for many years showcasing homes that are in the process of being remodeled or updated.  It has been a favorite of mine for many reasons, the least of which is that these old homes just have so much character that one doesn't feel in the newer homes of today.

Just before I was born some years ago now, my parents moved into the "stately" mansion they have lived in ever since.  My mother's brothers thought my parents were crazy for buying such an overpriced home when they bought it, but my parents would soon be expecting a sixth child, and the previous residence just wasn't big enough or on a safe enough street for their young kids.

Well, this grand old home has and continues to serve the family well.  My parents saw their family expand to a total of eight kids, nineteen grandchildren, and soon a second great grand child from this home.  The old homestead has seen its share of activity over the years too, what with birthday parties, Christmas and Easter celebrations, weddings and wedding showers, baby showers and a whole host of other social gatherings.  The memories are endless.

However, in all that time, there have been only a few sad occasions that have "graced" the hallowed halls we call home.  My grandfather died here in his later years and recently my parents passed away in the very rooms where we all used to gather and listen to bedtime stories.

A house may be an inanimate object but it's remarkable, even a house has a personality.  However, what makes a house a home is the family that lives within, and that's how it gets its life blood.  If only the walls could talk, what a story they would tell.

Even with the stress of the circumstances, this old house stood up to the challenge.  We had 25-30 people in residence, eating, sleeping, and bathing for that week, and it survived.  Granted, it had been tested on a number occasions beforehand, but she endured the test yet again.

When one of my friends said to me after entering for the first time, "now this is a house that has been lived in", I knew exactly what he meant.  There is no place like home, but you have to breathe life into it first!