Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do Your Job

I drove 400 miles today and worked about 15 hours. All the while I was thinking about people who don't do their jobs to the best of the abilities every day. You all work with someone, right? Someone who would rather piss and moan about what they're not getting than what they have.

I was thinking about all of this in regard to my brother. Perhaps someone didn't do their job the way that they should. I know for a fact that there was a nurse that worked so hard she could have pulled off wearing a sign that said 'world's best nurse.' I also know that there were a couple of real idiots that kind of mailed it in a shift or two, and I thought of this in context of what we lost. Not that doing their job to the best of their abilities cost my brother, but it certainly didn't help, did it?

So, it galls me to think that there are people who feel they are owed a job, a paycheck, medical benefits, and sick time, personal leave time and vacation time. Yeah, we all need those things, but it shouldn't be your first thought every morning or your constant mantra.

Perhaps I'm just tired and cranky, but at the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, I can say that the people who hired me got more than what they expected - and if that is the one lesson I can provide for my kids, I will have done my job.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Faith, Coincidences and Beliefs

Everyone sort of needs something to hang onto, right? Some sort of faith in what we've always believed is still somewhat believable. Over the course of the past three weeks or so, I've been loking for signs that show me that it's all right to live and smile and play and work and bitch about the WGAF things in life.

That light that flickered and went off. The door that suddenly opened in the middle of the night. That dream that had Jeff speaking to me as if he had simply left to get a gallon of milk and didn't really mean to scare us. How about the pull on the slot machine that won me $500 just after I glanced up and said, "Help out a brother?"

Do any of those things mean anything? Could the light bulb just have cut out on its own? Did the door suddenly open because the windows were open? Slot machines are blind luck, anyway, right?

I've been around the corner and back on this one - Blind Spot was a book about understanding loss and dealing with grief. I wrote it well before I knew what it really required, but found that I'm in line with the character - not blind luck, I was the character anyway, right?

One of my favorite lines of Mellencamp's is: People believe what they want to believe when it makes no sense at all.

Good old Mellencamp was speaking about George W and his less-than-forward-thinking policies, but it applies in a lot of places. Does everything you believe make sense? Do our limited abilities to understand serve to make the extra-ordinary non-sensical?

I've certainly felt less than intelligent over the last month or so - all the things I had written down as gospel truths have sort of slid off to the back corners of my mind.

I can't explain lights going on and off. I can't get my mind around winning a scratch-off when you never win on those damn things. I can only deal with the here and now and understand that the core beliefs that have served as the basis for my life are somehow still intact.

Keep the faith - people often say at a time like this. I suppose that just like everyone else I've searched for a true sign that God still exists and that He still cares.

I didn't find that sign in a flickering light. I haven't found it in a door opening for no logical reason. It wasn't about the magical pull on the slot machine lever. No, it was there in the eyes of three young children - John Jeffrey, Farrah Lynn, and Rocco Jeffrey. The light shining in those six eyes makes me believe.

"Are you going to write a book about my daddy?" John Jeffrey asked me yesterday.
"Yes, if you'd like me to," I said.
"I do," Johnny said. "I don't ever want to forget about him."

Me either, kid, and we'll see him again.

I still believe that. Even if it doesn't make a lot of sense right now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Wife Was Right - Yet Again!

We have a small roller coaster that comes apart into five pieces. Five pieces of crap that I need to kick out of the way whenever I want to get the mower out of the garage.

Five sonouvabitchin pieces that are always stuck directly under my feet whenever I'm carrying materials to and fro.

Five m-fing pieces that never get picked up out of the driveway after a party and always get rained on and are always filthy.

Our conversation took place last summer:

Me: Can we get rid of the damn roller coaster yet? The kids are ready for friggen' college.

Her: Let's hang onto it. It's a symbol - when the roller coaster goes they are officially not kids anymore. It'll make me sad.

Me: I'm telling you - it's either me or the coaster.

Her: Do what you have to do - one more year on the coaster.

Fade to early this morning. John, Farrah and Rocco were over for fun. In fact, counting the neighbor kids there were eight children here. I took them all for a walk around the quiet block and they picked up rocks and sticks and whistled and beeped. I felt like Peter Pan leading my minions around - it got a tad ridiculous when I decided we all should skip.

Take my word for it - me skipping is not a pretty picture.

When we got back into the driveway, I found my salvation - yes five pieces of plastic with a little car.

I had a line of kids ready for the ride. I pushed Rocco and then Farrah, and then Rocco and Anthony (the neighbor kid) and then Farrah again.


She was right again!


Why is such a small word yet it carries so much in the way of description when you consider all of the possible meanings. When my kids were young, and probably when all kids were young, why seemed to be their favorite word.

"Dad, why are there clouds on some days and no clouds on other days?"
"It has to do with the air," I'd answer. "I don't know a lot about it but when cold air and warm air meet they make clouds." (I don't even know if that's quite right, but the joy of it all is that kids will normally buy your answer, even when you're bullshitting them. Of course, there is always the follow-up question).
"I don't know."

Through the years there have been so many discussions that started with the kids asking why and me admitting, sometimes because I didn't feel like talking about it, that I just didn't know. Other times, I fed them bullshit and tried to see how far they'd carry it.

"Mom, Dad said the moon is made of cheese."

Some of the questions I heard through the years that we're borne of wanting to know why:

"Dad, why did God make some people short and some people tall? Why did God let that hurricane kill all those people? Why does it snow so much in Buffalo? Why can't the Bills win? Why did God make dogs? Why did God make sharks mean? Why do we go to church every week? Why do you eat pasta every week? Why do we have to go to school and learn?"

Just natural, every day questions. Today, a why question stopped me dead in my tracks.

Jake and Sam were off to see their cousins. I asked them to help out.

"If Johhny, Rocco and Farrah are causing trouble don't laugh at them. Help them be good and pick up their stuff. Help your Mom and Aunt Lynn teach them. They need to learn to do things the right way and we have to help teach them."

"Why didn't God leave Uncle Jeff here to help teach them?" Jake asked.

"I don't know," I said.

And this time I wasn't bullshitting anyone. I just told my boy that sometimes we just never know the answer to why.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Winnie Cooper Got Married

As if the month hasn't been bad enough...Winnie actually got married. I used to love The Wonder Years and I felt all of Kevin's angst as he tried to get Winnie Cooper to love him.

I'm not kidding. My heart ached each week for poor Fred Savage because Winnie was just so perfect.

And did you see her as an adult? She still looks real good to me.

Yet the thing about the show that was so effective was that it took a long, hard look at love in the purest of forms - the first love. And Kevin romanticized each and every moment. He was nervous holding Winnie's hand, nervous kissing her, nervous that she was looking at another boy.

During high school and most of my way through college, I had that bigger-than-the-world view of love and that was why I was so in love with Winnie. She was every girl in the world to me and to millions of other guys, I imagine.

I suppose the world is a different sort of place today - freaking Winnie Cooper is married.

I suppose she couldn't wait for me forever.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jim

My brother's birthday is today and he just ate a steak as big as the back tire on my car. He also had a lobster tail, rolls, corn, and a pasta dish.

That was at one sitting. As we finished up the chat, his wife served him a piece of chocolate cake.

God Bless him.

To sum up Jim, you only need to know a quick story about a trip he made to the hospital one morning to relieve me from the night I spent there. He showed up at 5:30AM and handed me a breakfast sandwich as soon as he walked into the room. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, took the sandwich, and I caught a whiff of him.

"What the hell is that smell?" I asked.
"You smell that?" he asked. "It smells like shit."
"It's on you," I replied.

Jim turned his sneaker over to find a big clump of some sort of feces on his shoe. He immediately started to gag and impulsively wiped his foot on the carpet in the waiting room.

"Brilliant," I said. "Now you have to sit in here all day smelling it."
"Aw, dude, go get the cleaning lady."

On my way out of the unit, I stopped by the front desk and asked for the cleaning lady. When I was nearly home, my cell phone rang and Jim was laughing hysterically.

"What's up?" I asked.

"The poor cleaning lady came in and retched and gagged her way through cleaning it up," Jim said. "She even said that she thought it was human crap."

"What did you tell her?" I asked.

"The only thing I could," Jim said, laughing. "I told her it was the filthy pig that slept here during the night."

Perfect. That's my brother. Happy Birthday, Pal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting Out of Dodge

Despite my belief that tramps like us, baby, we're born to run, I don't much believe in running away from tough times. After all, a sad, pitiful bastard getting on a plane in Buffalo gets off the plane in Florida as a sad, pitiful bastard, doesn't he?

Yet despite my distaste for laying around and doing nothing - it is exactly what I intend to do. I have a great desire to look up at the sky, shake my fist and ask why.

Not sure I'll get many answers, but I do know that I might get some sun and I definitely am aware that there will probably be a few Heiniken Lights mixed in.

So where do I stand in this battle, you ask?

There are many hours when I don't believe that it all went down like it did and that soon, things will be back to normal.

There's also a tremendous void in everyday conversation with the only guy who's call I always took. It didn't matter if I were climbing a ladder, or yelling at a client, I always answered that call because I knew for a few minutes each day I would have an ally there.

I don't talk on the phone much right now.

As for me and God? We still haven't had a civil conversation about all of it yet. I know it's coming but I feel like I was sold angel wings that were full of lead.

The train of life came crashing through and I'm still at the scene trying to pick up the pieces.

I decided to leave the derailment for a week and take the first plane out of Dodge.

Hopefully, a sad sack doesn't make the return trip.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

I suppose that we are all searching for enlightenment in one way or another. I find myself looking to the clouds as if there is an answer written up there somewhere. Trying to understand life has been a lifelong affliction of mine, and I don't suppose the past few weeks is going to break me of the habit.

Yet what good does it do to consider the consequences and balance out the difference between right and wrong if the whole universe seems to be some random lottery of sorts?

I can't help but feel the sorrow of the most recent number of people who were innocent people shot and killed by one rampaging lunatic or another. I can't help it, that's who I am and it hurts to think that every third of fourth day there are mass killings that we won't even recall three months from now.

There was another plane crash yesterday and 7 of the 14 people killed were children. Imagine the hurt and despair that a single incident caused.

And I think of all the moments in my life when I escaped one catastrophe or another -I distinctly recall spinning across the Thruway in the wrong direction and getting hit by a little Toyota instead of the semi tractor-trailer coming right behind it. Was I lucky or just not on that day's list?

The sun is shining bright and I'm still trying to unravel the mystery and swim through the despair.

If I knew what one hand clapping sounded like I'd most certainly share it with you through this blog. Chances are, I'll never figure it out.

And neither will you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flat Tummy

I just got an e-mail telling me that I too can have a flat tummy. Excuse me for being skeptical but that ship may have sailed.

Sure is fun to watch the people protesting the AIG Executives bonus program - said it before - would love to receive a seven-figure bonus for screwing something up as big as I could screw it up.

Speaking of screwing up - Obama really blew it with his special olympics joke, huh? Thank God the president before him never said anything stupid. The way I have it figured the stupid statement scoreboard reads as such: Bush 1,456,789,888 - Obama 3

It does appear that Obama is paying attention though, doesn't it?

Opening Day is just a couple of weeks away for the Yanks - $2,650 a front-row seat? Nah, college for the kids is what I'm thinking - by the time they're ready to go I can use that $2,650 to buy them a book or two.

Opening Day will be another rough one for me, but I'm thinking that they'll get a little more help from those in heaven that love baseball. World Series this year - mark it down.

How about those Sabres? Mix in the Bills and that's 80+ years of very little in the way of championships here in the Queen City - we'll get 'em next year.

So, Sunday doesn't have that awesome feel yet, but there's always pasta.

WGAF about a flat stomach?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Found Some Joy

Rocco and Farrah were with us all morning and into the afternoon. When Rocco smiled his devilish smile at me I saw my brother's eyes. For a long moment, a sharp pain hit me behind the eyes and threatened our little visit. It didn't last long.

We played kickball, ran a few foot races, and hung out with the dogs. After a couple of Kool-aid drinks, Rocco settled in, just wanting to hold me close. Before long, he was asleep, curled up on my chest, and snoring lightly.

When my kids were young things were real hectic. I enjoyed holding them and being with them, but the pace seemed way too frantic to just lay back on the couch and feel them breath. Of course I did that, but it felt a lot different today.

When Rocco woke up he decided to tickle my "big belly." He did that for a few minutes before doing a number of raspberry's and then marveling at the dark abyss that is my belly button. "What does that button do?" he asked.

Yeah, it's sad, it'll always be sad, but today I saw a way through the fog, and it was in the deep, dark eyes of my niece and nephews.

Jeff's children will most certainly still have a wonderful life. It will be a life filled with questions and perhaps uncertainty, but being a part of the Fazzolari family they are guaranteed love, and yes -soon -a lot of joy.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I had to travel out of town yesterday. A couple of my real good friends wanted me to go out for a couple of beers, perhaps to make me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I was looking forward to it for a little while, but as the day wore on, I was less than enthused.

That's the problem here. All of the things that seemed like great fun about two months ago are now devoid of any joy. I am certainly hoping that it changes, but right now, today, I'm wondering about joy and whether or not it will be a missing element.

I went to the bar, arriving first, and feeling like a fish out of water as I ordered a Heineken Light. I suppose that is my beer of choice now as it was Jeff's favorite. In any regard, I never felt like a fish out of water ordering a beer before.

There were a lot of people around me, chatting about their jobs, their loves, the upcoming basketball games, and on and on - all stuff that makes me want to give them a WGAF.

My friends showed up and offered a hug. My fish out of water feeling continued as I wondered about what they wanted to say to me about it, and how badly they felt for me. I hated that feeling!

We chatted about WGAF stuff for awhile and my empty beer was replaced. In days gone by perhaps I would drink as quickly as I could. Last night I nursed three or four beers in over two hours time.

Guys know that the best part of hanging out is making fun of each other - eventually we got around to that - and it was fairly comfortable - I threw a few zingers, but in the end I left a half a bottle of beer on the bar, and left early.

No joy yesterday. None scheduled for today. How long?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NCAA Tourney

Well, today will be one of the rough days - the first day of the NCAA Tourney was always a day of back and forth phone calls with Jeff. We would certainly compare notes and trash talk back and forth, and that will be sorely missed, but this morning I found another worthy adversary.

"Can I stay home from school today?" Sam asked Kathy.
"Why? Not feeling good?" Kathy asked.
"No, the NCAA is on at noon."
"You're going to school," Kathy said. "You're eight years old. You aren't a bookie yet."

So, I stumbled into Sam's room. I was certainly feeling sorry for myself. I had filled out two brackets just to keep the boys on their toes.

"You picked Duke in the Final Four?" Sam asked.
"They're playing well," I answered.
"God, you're dumb," Sam answered.

It struck me as a variation on Jeff's "You're so stoooopid," line from years gone past.

"It's going to be so much fun," Sam said. "Can I call you during the games? Or will you be working?"

"I'll be working," I said, "But you can call me 30 times if you feel like it."

It won't be quite the same, but Thank God Sam saw enough of my banter with my brother to fill a small part of the void.

"Louisville is never going to win it all." Sam said as I made my way out of his room. "God, you're dumb."

I'm dumb, stoooopid and sad today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What God Wants

We say the prayers with the kids every night before bed. To be honest with you, over the last couple of weeks, I've been going through the motions. Not that my faith is shaky, by any means, but I'm kind of in the 'I'm not talking to you right now stage.'

We've all been there - usually with a spouse - you know when you have a difference of opinion and it's not quite bad enough to keep the argument burning, but it's not quite all right to where you can just let bygones be bygones.

I have a Crucifix hanging over me as I write this. It is wrapped with a rosary, and now, my brother's Yankee tie. I glance at it every now and again, and I can feel it looking down upon me, but we aren't all good yet.

The elephant in the room is that I don't understand. Yet deep down, I know that I will never understand. I'm human enough to know that it will have to suffice and that I won't ever be intelligent enough to figure it out.

Still, I believe that there is a better place for all of us - life is about struggling, and this is but a journey to prove our worth - I get it. The nuns beat that crap into me.

There is a creeping doubt associated with all of it too, and I know that the opposite of faith is doubt, and that to continue on down the right path, I can not give into the doubt.

So, where do we sit?

I can't keep giving the silent treatment, right? I do believe. I'm not mad. I won't understand. I just need to accept it, intellectually, somewhere down the line.

The arguments with the spouse or the close friend usually conclude through some sort of act of love. There comes a point when you realize that the silence has really accomplished little, and to move forward, you have to sort it out, re-dedicate yourself to the mission, and somehow forgive.

What God wants, God gets.

I just wonder why He wanted someone that I needed so much.

I can't bargain with Him, but hopefully, someday He makes it somewhat clear.

I'm betting I'll get the message through an act of love, and I'm reminded that I've felt love in so many ways over the past two weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Wife

Man, I don't know how I did it, but Kathy is here and she stands by me. Actually all of this was pretty much her idea and her vision of what our life could be was way better than my vision of drinking beer, writing books and laying on the couch.

It's often hard to admit when you're wrong, but my wife has made my life immensely easier in good times and she has held me up during the roughest of all stretches.

And I count my blessings that you're mine for always
We laugh beneath the covers and count the wrinkles and the grays
Sing Away, Sing away, my darling sing away
This is our Kingdom of Days.

Happy Birthday

Thanks for just being you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scared of My Shadow

My wife was always the paranoid one. My absolute favorite was when she put the baby gate at the top of the stairs well after the kids were grown - I never noticed it because I was usually in bed before her, but one night I saw it and questioned her.

"It's to slow up a burglar if he breaks into the house," she said.
"You're insane," I replied.

Also, every night we have the same discussion about all of the doors being locked - it borders on the ridiculous. I stopped her by telling her I unlocked the doors before I came up.

"Really? Did you lock them?" she'd ask.
"You're insane," I'd reply.

She once phoned the school to see if the kids arrived safe because the bus driver wasn't the usual guy.

"You're insane," I said.

She once went to the school to ask if the children arrived safely.

"You're insane," I told her.

Yet now, I'm scared stiff. I've bolted awake each of the past two weeks - usually around 2:15 AM. I have to work hard to control my breathing and get back to sleep and of course, it is because the worse possible news is slow to be digested, if ever.

I drove to work today looking at all of the cars around me. Aware that any thing could happen at any moment to end all that I've worked for.

I'm suddenly insane, and now I know what my wife has battled for years and years.

I want to build a moat around the property to protect all that are dear to me. I want to grab all of my relatives and friends and wrap them in plastic. I want everyone I know and care about to have a full body scan to ensure that they are healthy.

I'm even ready to re-install the baby gate.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Mornings

Each and every Sunday morning, somewhere between 7 AM and 9 AM our telephone would ring. Everyone in the house would yell out, "It's Uncle Jeff!"

The call always started with a discussion of the previous night, moved onto a few moments about dinner plans for the day, and quickly turned to sports and the coming week. Jeff was always concerned with what I had coming up in the week, and if there was a sporting event that needed to be bet on, we did that. Once in awhile we touched on Bruce and we always spoke of the Yankees and the state of their union.

Of course, that call didn't come today and it really hurt. Tomorrow night we would be meeting up with friends and picking names out of the hat for the NCAA Tourney. I'm not doing that this year but perhaps we will do it for the kids and pass that tradition on down to them.

And where does that leave me this morning?

I watched the sun come up, and wrote a little bit. I'm getting used to the constant ache in my chest, but I'm also comforted in knowing that Jeff would be real upset if he saw me in such a state of distress.

He was all about making all of us happy. He wanted nothing more than to make me laugh.

So, there will be sauce today with the extended family and I just know that there will be some tears again today.

I just wish the freaking telephone would ring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Carrie Us

Sorting through some old notebooks I found this and was lifted up:

There are some things which carry us through our lives;
there are people we can lean on and people we can love,
who lean on us and love us too.

Sometimes all the joy that comes from that
is curtained by a sorrow so powerful
that for some moments,
even the most joyous occasions
are beyond recollection.

Sometimes the people who bring us that joy,
who bring us that laughter,
who just are,
are the ones we lose to God.

But with God comes Grace
and with Grace we are consoled by
memories of those who once lived,
those who once embraced us.

And in our life we live with that Grace.
We get through every day for
the sake of the one we so deeply miss...

And we find that pain can move us and
memories can comfort us in ways that we
never imagined.

These wise words were written by Carrie Lynn Fazzolari. Carrying us through.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You Heard it Here First

I bought a black notebook today...and the only one's who really know what that means are my wife and Cindy Sterling, my great publisher.

I've purchased a black notebook ten times in my life - 9 books that have been published and one that is 3/4's done.

That last one can wait.

I would much rather write fiction than non-fiction, but the new book is a true story.

It will be a story about life.

It will be a story about laughter.

It will be a story about unbelievable love.

It will be a story about my brother.

And it'll be the best book ever written.

Life, Love and Laughter.

Mark it down.

Coming in 2010.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Important Sporting Event

My son Jake is an athlete built in the same mold as his old man. That's to say that he can't jump, has little court sense, and runs like an old, worn-out dump truck. Yet he also wants to do well and will work hard, and when he gets the ball, he's looking to shoot first and ask questions later.

Yesterday afternoon, he ran into the house screaming delight - "We have a playoff game," he said. "It's tonight at six o'clock. Are you going to come and watch?"

I didn't give him a real definitive answer because I certainly wasn't growing excited about the prospect of doing anything.

"I'm going to be playing for Uncle Jeff," he said. It was an innocent statement that brought tears to my eyes.

I didn't tell my wife that I was going to the game until we were ready to leave. I certainly didn't tell her why I was going either. (I don't go to a lot of the games because the over-bearing parents usually drive me crazy - and besides, my kids never win).

The game started innocently enough - parents screaming at the refs, Jake's team looking god-awful, but a funny thing happened about a third of the way through Jake's first set of minutes.

One of the kids on the team missed a shot, and Jake grabbed the rebound and from about seven feet away put it back up - and of course, with his uncle gazing down - straight in. I jumped out of my seat, pumping my fist as if Jeter just ended a World Series game with a homer.

"It's cool when he scores, isn't it?" Kathy asked.

She had no idea.

The rest of the night was spent watching a nail-biter of a contest. Jake looked lost out there at times, but he blocked a shot, played good defense (all right, so I never did that), and hustled on every play - I had never seen him play so well - but in the back of my mind, I knew he was playing for a grander purpose.

Jake's team won by two when one of his buddies scored with ten seconds left. Jake ran off the court doing painfully awkward high-fives.

"How'd you like the game, Dad?"
"You were awesome," I said.

Even if he never makes another basket, he hit one for me and my brother, and it was certainly bigger than any of those three homers Reggie hit in the '77 Series clincher.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How's Everything?

The short answer is...not real good. The long answer is that it won't be good for a long time...maybe years.

I hate that people don't know what to say. I hate that I feel like this. I hate that nothing else matters.

My wife and I have shared a saying over the last few days - we broke it into initials so the kids don't break it down too - WGAF - Who Gives a ____ (fill in the blank).

TO is a Buffalo Bill - WGAF
A-Rod is out two months - WGAF
Economy is still in the shitter - WGAF
Spring is around the corner - WGAF
"She said this and he said that" - WGAF

It isn't the way we live. And someday it won't be the way we communicate, but now?

You eat to eat. Sleep to survive. Grieve more than you feel alive.

How's Everything?


Not very uplifting for my blog readers, but we can work through this together. Today I felt like writing these words down. Bear with me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To Our Friends

Thank you...

Yeah, nothing works in a time like this - not words, not food, not beer...

Too many hugs, too many handshakes...

Only love makes it bearable...

The love of college friends who drove hundreds of miles...

The love of relatives and friends who comforted my parents...

The love of the children who had never seen us so vulnerable and grieving...

The love of my brothers and sisters... I can't make it without you...

Thank you...

There has been a college fund established for Johnny, Farrah and Rocco - three beautiful children... If you would like to donate please do:

College Fund, c/o Community Bank, North Collins, NY 14111

Only more love can make this even remotely acceptable...


Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Not Supposed To Be

You're supposed to be standing beside me as I roll a 3-foot putt by the hole, saying, "Ah, that's a damn shame."

You're supposed to call me on the phone after winning a bet, telling me, "You're so stuuuuuuuuuupid."

You're supposed to call me after I step off live television and say, "I know the camera adds ten pounds, but how the hell many cameras did they have on you?"

You're supposed to be there, two trapeze artists, my wrist waiting for your wrist.

You're supposed to be here for 40 more years, making fun of me, rooting the Yankees on, side-by-side as Bruce sings for us, teaching me new receipes, comparing notes on the kids.

You're supposed to be calling me every day, getting me involved in all the scams, inviting me to pick NCAA teams out of a hat.

You're supposed to tell me, like you told me two days before you got sick that I should enjoy life instead of trying to understand it.

You're supposed to be hoisting your kids high, and teaching them all the best swear words.

You're supposed to be here, so proud of me and our other brothers and sisters. You're supposed to call each of us on weekend mornings just to catch up.

You're supposed to cook me unbelievable meals and laugh at how much I'm eating.

You're supposed to think right along with me on every possible subject imaginable.

You're supposed to be my best friend.

You're supposed to be here, and hopefully in time I'll understand why you can't.

As Bruce sang, They say you can't take it with you, but I say that they're wrong, because when I woke up this morning, something big was gone.

My dear brother, you left me with one comfort and that's in knowing that I'll always know how you would have felt about something because our hearts beat to the exact same rythem.

You're supposed to be here helping me move this mountain of grief.

You're supposed to be...and somehow, some way, some day, I know you will because I could always count on you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ae You Kidding Me?

My brother, my best buddy,passed away today.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... and now what?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

God Is Not Great

There's a book making the rounds, written by some guy named Christopher Hitchins and it is titled "God is Not Great."

Well, let me tell you I've been a tad disilusioned lately and more than a little upset, but that guy is a moron.

This morning I headed to the hospital - still haven't slept past five in about six weeks. Whatever. I was down, real down, over the course of the last few days, so much so that people are starting to worry about me. Well, I'm fine, and you know why? Christopher Hitchins, do you have any ideas?

Because I found comfort in my faith. When I arrived at Jeff's bedside his eyes were wide open. I talked to him about baseball, Bruce, and the family. We were in the room alone, all lights off, sharing the best we could. I told him that we were there for him, and that he was getting better every day. I smoothed things out, and made sure that he was comfortable. I held his hand and stroked his cheek and told him that I'm much better looking then him, that I was always a better shot in basketball, and that he sucked at golf. He was really trying to work a smile.

And then the light came through his blinds as the day began. His eyes remained open and I told him that the sun was coming up bright and strong. I told him that God had granted us another day, and it just sort of hit me. I locked eyes with the photo of Jesus above his bed, and a lot of the sadness melted away as I held onto those eyes. Without much thought I said an Our Father, out loud as Jeff listened and his alert eyes darted across my face.

And I exhaled loudly, and I felt better. For just a little while, I felt better. And in that prayer I thought of the line Thy Will Be Done and being upset with God wasn't much of an option anymore.

I feel bad for people who don't have faith in something. I feel bad for a man who writes a book about how God is a punishing God. I haven't read the man's book. I have no desire to. I want to believe. I need to believe. I find comfort in believing.

So stick that in your ass Hitchins.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How'd It Miss?

The Bruce line ripping through my head this week comes courtesy of Lucky Day - I've seen good hearts give way to the burdens of the day.

Saw a story about an asteroid that missed the Earth by just 40,000 miles. They say that if it were to hit it would have been like a nuclear bomb going off in the South Pacific. Those in the know never saw it coming either, and they are still concerned because it is still being pulled towards us by the gravitational pull of the Earth.

First off, how the hell did it miss? With everything else going on, what the hell is one more asteroid plummeting to the Earth. I say bring the son-of-a-bitch on - send it straight into Wall Street and the sinking Dow Jones. Or let it hit Rush Limbaugh and bounce back to the heavens.

Seriously, isn't there enough to worry about. The economy, I'm told, will recover in 2012. Just tread water until then. The war in Iraq will conclude in 2010. That's about eight years later than it should have been. And now we're dodging freaking asteroids.

Of course I don't want to be blind-sided by something hammering us to oblivion, but there ain't much we can do about that, right? Especially if we don't see it coming. Those are certainly the things that'll knock you down, right?

I just don't want everyone to go at once because standing in the long line to be judged will be pure hell.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thank You, May I Have Another?

I recall a day about thirty-five years ago when my father and mother placed a bowl of peas in front of me. My reaction to peas was almost sub-human. I could not eat them, I would not eat them, not on a boat, not with a goat - you get the idea.

Guess what?

"You aren't moving until they're all gone," my father announced.

So, there I sat, torturing myself by trying to eat one pea at a time, holding my nose closed tight as I did so. I think I was even busted for trying to hide a few under my plate. They smash easily enough, but they are also simply discovered.

My mother was solidly in my father's corner on this one too, so I had little help there. The minutes ticked away. The peas got cold which made them even more tempting. My siblings were running free, popping back in the room every now and then to see how I was making out with my stand against the establishment.

Pea after miserable pea, I worked my spoon. Finally, growing frustrated with the idea of sitting there until morning, I started shoveling them in. My father was across the table watching and I remember the sound of his laughter. I ate every last pea in the bowl and pushed it back from me, the taste in my mouth threatening to make me show my cookies.

"How were they?"
"Fantastic!" I yelled.
"Good, have some more," my father said. He put a couple of scoops into the bowl, but my mother intervened and I was set free.

I bring this all up because my children all have very specific tastes that have little to do with vegetables. I try to get them to try different things, but they resist. Remembering the great pea experiment, I don't subject them to such torture. Yet I also want them to know that there are going to be things in life that are hard to digest and that wishing those things away won't work.

I was always proud that I finished those peas. In the long term that one bowl of peas probably did not make me a better person, but guess what? To this day, I always finish everything on my plate (which isn't always such a brilliant notion), and day after day I have learned to understand that even if things aren't exactly as they are supposed to be, with a little time and effort they can be changed, or shoveled in and swallowed.

To top it off, as I write this, one of my favorite all-time dishes is - drum roll please - macaroni and peas.


I was ordering lunch on the road and one of the choices was a meatball sub. I wanted to eat something a little healthier than that, but I as...