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Four Years Ago, Today

markabell2We lost MARK BELL.

My co-worker, shooting student, sounding board, reminder of things good, bon vivant, and loyal friend.

We had just attended Kevin Baker’s blogshoot the previous Sunday, and had spoken on the telephone, yesterday (four years ago – I cannot believe it’s been four years!).

Then his beloved wife Cathy called me tomorrow (four years ago) to tell me he had dropped dead from a heart attack suddenly yesterday.

Having almost lost Walter recently, this may be a little maudlin.

I don’t care.

PLEASE, tell the ones you love that you love them, and hug them, if at all possible.

Because you never know.

Please Keep A Good Thought For Walter

Walter and I have been friends for over 40 years.  Walter

Not particularly close friends, or always in touch.  But you can see from my previous blog post (the link above) that he is a good man and friend.

I received word from a mutual friend yesterday that he’s been going through some difficult times.  To say the least.  His beloved girlfriend Bettina of (10+?) years, who has had many health problems, passed away recently.

And Walter attempted to end his life.  He is now in a rehab facility, due to the health problems linked to the medication used.

He is expected to be released Monday.

Walter’s apartment is infested with bedbugs – and they have sprayed so much insecticide that he cannot stay there for fear of illness.

Now he has no place to go.

His brother and sister are trying to help, but have their own limitations.

Please keep Walter in your thoughts, and if you pray, pray.

He IS a good man!

THIS JUST IN – I spoke with Walter last night.  He seems to be doing okay, considering.  He sounded medicated and very tired, and is using a walker.  I told him I would check back often.

Happy New Year (AGAIN), Aka, Geez I’m Old!

When I was visiting my Sister on Christmas Eve (accompanying my ex-wife, who is close with my niece and grand-nieces.  Yeah, it’s weird, sometimes!)  my ex told me she had been visiting earlier that day with her (deceased) youngest brother’s children.  One of whom had a child, who married someone already with a child.

So, they are a step-parent, and by extension, I found out I am a great, great uncle!

Now I’m not particularly close to these folks, and don’t know over half of them, so my social obligation is limited.

But the label!  And the fact it’s 2016!  That makes me….(carry the one)….(removes sock to count toes)….going to be sixty-four this November!

And my ex already took note that I am graying (Thanks, M!)…

But, I am grateful for all I do have, and the fact I am on this side of the dirt nap.

So there’s that.

Tempus Fugit, my friends.

Another Orbit

The third rock from the Sun has gone ’round yet again.  And it’s reportedly now 2016!

Happy New Year?!

I must report, not much has changed for me in the past 365 days, save increased age and perceived infirmity.

Same (low) disability income, same crummy car, same rental room.

BUT, I continue to have friends and family, who support me spiritually, morally, and sometimes even financially!

And that has made all the difference!

My thanks to you all – you know who you are.

Who knows?  Perhaps this year will be even better?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Guffaw

Happy-New-Year-Cartoon-Pictures

Thanksgiving

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with my dislike of this holiday.  NOT with the sentiment!  :-)

Make certain you hold each other close, honor each other, show each other you care and respect each other at todays gatherings.

And tell them you love them.

It’s not such a bad idea other days of the year, as well.

Because you never know…

And, it’s a good idea to make a list, even if it’s just in your head, of those things and people for which you are grateful.

I’ve a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a car – albeit a beater car.  But she runs (kinda)!

Many people don’t have such things.

And today’s feast is traditional with me:

Salad, garlic toast, and mostaccioli!

mostaccioli

MANJA!

and Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family and blogfriends™!

 

Happy Birthday, Dad, Belatedly

Dad1

Yesterday, November 16, would have been my Father’s 100th birthday. Instead, he passed at age 61.

There were so many life lessons he was unable to impart to me.

Calm reflection (he was an angry rage kind of guy); Moderation (he was an alcoholic and a compulsive overeater); Mechanical ability (I once saw him attempt to repair a leaky radiator hose with Scotch tape(!)  I was a kid, and even I knew that wouldn’t work).

But I knew he loved me.

After all, when I was born prematurely (and my twin brother didn’t make it) he hurriedly ran to the nearest church to pray for my survival.

He tried to make me an athlete, as he had been.  Alas, my developing a physical disability @ age 12 stopped those attempts in it’s tracks.  And from that point forward, he was unclear how to relate to me.

I only saw him cry once.  When he told me how proud he was of my graduating the Eighth Grade, and that I never asked him for money.  To be fair, I didn’t know I was allowed to!  When my Mother passed, he kept his grief private.

I’m certain his childhood was horrific.  A stern father who had been a Marine and railroad policeman, and his having grown up poor during the Depression.

He had not been raised to be a hugger.  I don’t remember him ever hugging me.  A firm handshake was the order-of-the-day.

But, he did teach me a few important things.  Loyalty (be true to your friends – he was to his); Honesty (your word IS your bond); and yes, Love.

He loved his wife (my mother) with all his heart.  Watching her die @ age 41 of emphysema must have been horrible. (I was in the Second Grade, what did I know?)  And in spite of the fact they were estranged, my (half)sister was his jewel.  He was very protective of her, which probably in-part caused the estrangement.  But she was another connection to his wife, which I don’t think she ever saw.

And he kept his heart disease hidden from me until it was too late.

He was flawed – he was human.

I love you and miss you, Dad.  Happy Birthday!

Doppelganger(s)

Doppelganger (n.)  a duplicate person, as in someone who looks exactly like __________.

I never used to believe in such a thing.  I mean, each human being is an individual, there is no one else like them, right?

WRONG.

I have seen three in the past 20 years(!)

About two months ago, I was grocery shopping at the closest market to home.  Not because it was my favorite, but because it was close.  (Laziness?  Heat?)

I’m standing in the checkout line, and five or six folk ahead of me was a familiar guy.  Tall.  Large.  Built familiarly (if that’s even a word?)  He turned to push out his cart of groceries, and I almost yelled out his name!  He resembled strikingly BOB, my former PI and gun store boss!  Except the previous week I was informed by the original Bob that he just has had the lower part of his left leg amputated.  And I knew there was no way he would have been across the Valley, 30 miles from his home, and so ambulatory right away.  And this guy had more hair, a goatee and a pony tail!  Nope – not Bob!

But certainly closer looking to him than his brother!!

Another time, we were in a Mexican restaurant.  Because it was cheap, not because it was good.  And we were seated by the back door, and could see folks seated outside on the patio.  And there was Marla, a former girlfriend.  Same figure, same face, same laugh and mannerisms.  Except Marla passed away in 2004 – I have a copy of the obituary!

And there was my first observance with a doppelganger.  In 1995, about 4 months after the accident.  You know where I’m going with this…

The ex and I were window shopping at a large mall, largely because it was late Summer and air conditioned.  And a couple walks by with three children.  And number-two child looked exactly like Molly, except with blond hair!!!

I’m not normally the kind of man who faints, but I leaned up against the wall and closed my eyes to keep from losing consciousness.  And to keep from screaming and crying.  And my ex (who obviously had not seen her) asked me what was wrong.

And I nervously pointed.  At air.

There was a couple with children.  TWO children!  And neither resembled our daughter.

Sigh.

To only be able to see her again…

Rose In The Garden

Life doesn’t always go as we plan or desire.  We certainly cannot control others in their personal plans or desires.

Especially, in matters of the heart.

Sometimes, we must let them go…

When love is good, it’s very, very good.

And when it goes away, it sucks.

Twenty Years Ago, Today

(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)

There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.

The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.

My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.

A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc.  The reasons don’t matter.

Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.

I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad.  The Protector.  The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.

I carry a sidearm.  I’ve done so for 41 years.  Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends.  It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.

And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father.  It’s what father’s are supposed to do!

We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road.  A little after 1 PM.  Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback.  Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping!  The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then.  It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong.  Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.

And many lives changed forever.

I’ve no memory regarding what happened next.  Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later.  I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.

I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!)  Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship.  Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs.  Ribs pushed into a lung.  Broken collar bone.  Broken arm.   Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.

My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could.  Not wanting to answer the obvious question:  Where was Molly?

In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.

My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support.  Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery.  I am forever grateful to her for this.  A number of folks benefited from her decision.

The funeral was that following Tuesday.  I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.

Thank God.

Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.

I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.

Until I could pay my respects.

That came weeks later.

I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath  –  Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!

Because you may never get another chance.

AND be an organ donor.

I try to remember the good times.  The IMPORTANT ONES.  It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.

My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.

(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel.  Thanks, again.)

Things About Which We Have Passion

superbowl_redditExactly!

Most of you know, my Father was sports addict, and as a result (because of my inability to play after the onset of my disability at age 12), I was a sports orphan.

And the culmination of all this for me is I don’t have a passion for most sports.  Watching, playing, appreciating.  Because I can’t play, and because I was saturated with it as a child.

(If YOU love your sports, enjoy!  It’s no problem for me.  But, like religion, please leave it outside my door!)

I oft wondered about the American fetish for the love of team sports – especially baseball, football and basketball.  It’s been explained to me that it has to do with civic pride.  And, of course, friendly bets around the water cooler.

Or the bookie.

Marx says religion is the opiate of the masses.  In this country, the opiate is also sports!  I guess it stops folks from discussing religion and politics(?)

MY passion is the ability to live free.  To make my own choices.  To not be compelled to give to others through the power and force of government.  If I choose to do so, that’s one thing.  At the point of a gun, that’s another.

And, of course, my passion for the love a good woman.

Currently absent. 😦

But that’s for another post…

h/t FB

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

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