Saturday, February 6, 2016

Take care of those who are there, not those who did not show

We buried my Aunt today. It was a very fine service that had fewer glitches than the last Catholic mass I attended. Her viewing on Friday was sparsely attended, the storm that brought a lot of snow to Long Island on Friday kept a lot of people away.

It's getting tiresome only seeing family at funerals, so we have to so something about that. I am putting a moratorium out there right now.

Nobody I know dies for two years. Got it?

I spent a good part of Thursday in her apartment. Gathering pictures for the photo board at her wake. There were hundreds of pictures to assess, so many people I did not know, so many family members I do not recognize - and now there does not seem to be anyone left who can identify them.

This is very sad to me. I cannot take charge of all the pictures and I do not know who will want them. As a cataloger it makes me cringe. I did find a lot of cool pictures for the board, and for my own research. It was unsettling being in her empty home, knowing she was not coming back. My Brother is in charge of her estate and I can't travel back and forth to help clear her possessions out. His work is cut out for him on so many levels. He did a fine job in arranging her services.

What I did find in her apartment was rather remarkable. My Great Uncle's wallet that he had when he was killed in WW2, along with a stack of letters he wrote to my Grandfather. I have not even begun to process these yet and have no idea what to expect. I am also in possession of his Purple Heart, which I had never seen until today. She saved so many things from her life and career. It got so overwhelming I had to get out and walk around the upper west side for an hour or so. Ok, I stopped in a cool Irish bar that had a bartender with a splendid brogue and one hand.

At the end of the day I had a bag of framed pictures in one arm and my satchel full of pictures, paperwork and a binder of family genealogy she had done twenty years ago. There is so much to organize.

It was good to meet a lot of my Aunt's friends. Been hearing about them for years but never met them until this sad day. She was loved, admired and held in high esteem by those close to her. She did live a full life, but the last years, too darn cruel.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Not the last words

My Aunt Sandy died on Friday. After she retired, her health deteriorated. It makes me angry that such an active person was not able to enjoy her final years on her terms.

I owe much to her personally and culturally. She gave me a lot, took me on my first plane trip to D.C. when I was 12 and a bigger jerk than I am now. She should have left me there. She made time for me just to talk adult things, turned me on to a good portion of my music collection, got me tickets to The Rolling Stones and The Who, backstage passes to Aerosmith, Cats and so much more. Geez, there were things we outgrew and lost like the “God Save The Kinks” t-shirts she gave us, or the vinyl Yellow Submarine tablecloth.

She’s been a very important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Her own life was amazing. She worked as the office glue for the entertainment industry for 50 years. From the Brill Building, Capitol Records, RCA, Atlantic, Geffen, Dreamworks, an EGOT and SONY it was a wild career that she worked at with amazing professionalism. She was called a “Paragon of discretion” by a household name and I’m seeing the respect and love her colleagues had for her on social media today. Yes, she was cool as all that.

It’s quite touching to learn about this part of her life as she rarely went into detail. She’d tell me that, “George Clooney came into the building, nice man very handsome.” Or, “Woody came into my office because he wanted to use it in one of his movies, all he said to me was when he asked if the air conditioning could be turned off.” “Had lunch with Andy Partridge, brilliant man.” And I’d be, please go on. Really, really wanted her to write it down and unless there’s a diary in her belongings, I think a lot of those stories are lost - which is a damn shame.

As her health wavered a lot of people looked after her. It was frustrating for me as I was far away and have my own challenges here. So the work and care of so many family and friends is gratefully appreciated.

Her services are Saturday in New Hyde Park, and she is going to be buried in the plot with her parents.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The ridiculous cost of airfare

The past two nights have consisted of me being home alone, as my wife is working, waiting for a phone call/email/message that will contain the inevitable bad news. It is once again tough and frustrating being so far from loved ones who are nearing the end of their journey. Making the trip multiple times in a short time span is not feasible with my custody schedule, my wife's new job and the amount of time left I can get off work. Have to pick and choose the situation, and feel like I'm still doing it wrong. So I wait, try to function as best as I can and await further instructions.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seeing and Waiting

In case you missed it, I had a poem published in last Sunday's edition of The New Verse News.

It's brought on what is, for me, a flurry of submissions.

Now I wait and see what happens. Could be weeks before I hear back, could be months. Could be not at all. This is what you accept when you play the publishing game.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The bears make him react

Sleep has once again become a challenge with my son. The last couple of weeks he has been going to bed early enough, around 10-10:30 but waking up singing, shrieking or bouncing on his bed about 3AM. It makes a tough next day. Last night he finally slept through after an absolutely horrible weekend.

Today we were watching the news and there was a story about some bears hanging out in trees and my Wife said, "The bears were waiting for spring," which is the plot point of one of his favorite books.

A couple of minutes later, he was rummaging in the stack of his books, pulled out the book and brought it over for me to read to him.

It's those moments that keep me going, and recognize there are so many challenges ahead.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday morning stuff

Pleased to announce my poem, To Joe Biden and Beyond, is in today's issue of The New Verse News.

The State of the Union can be inspiring.

Also a very clever person put Buster Keaton to the music of David Bowie's Modern Love.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

He was cool before Snape

Another British legend has died this week, also at the age of 69.

Alan Rickman made every film he was in, even the crappy ones, stand out more. A few years after Die Hard, he starred with Juliet Stevenson in Truly, Madly, Deeply, which is a weepfest of a film that is better than Ghost. I'm pretty sure this is how I first remember him, and his remarkable acting talent.

He left us with so many good roles, and we have those to go back to.

Cancer sucks.