Vacation Review

Vacation is never long enough!  I was off for 5 days last week and while I had some great moments to relax, I still don’t feel like it was enough.  We live in a society where people are overworked and underpaid.  I don’t think anyone would mind if the United States adopted the mindset of France, Brazil, or Finland who average 30 days of paid vacation!

There were highs and lows during my week.  One of the lows was not being able to get my boys for a couple days.  I was supposed to pick them up on Sunday, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t able to get them until Wednesday.  I was very happy to get them prior to the Fourth of July.

Without the boys, that gave me some time to get a few things done around the house.  I was able to mow the grass, straighten up the house, and work a little bit in the garage.  I have had some things out there that I have wanted to go through.  I have some boxes out there with books in them.  I probably need to get a book case to put them in, but we really don’t have the room.  Maybe I can put it in the basement??

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On Monday, my buddy Shawn messaged and said he had 18 holes of golf (with a cart) and wanted to know if I could join him.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance.  It’s about an hour drive to Mt. Pleasant and on the drive there, I finished listening to a book on CD I started a while back (The Innocent Man by John Grisham).  There was some concern as to whether or not it was going to rain, but the weather cooperated and I had a good round.  I actually made par on about 6 holes.

shot

We golfed with a couple radio guys Shawn works with.  There were a lot of laughs and it was a good time.  While in the pro shop, one of the guys pointed out these golf balls with a matted finish.  They are brighter than your normal yellow or orange golf balls.  He kept saying, “You just can’t lose these balls!”  I was curious and got one.  I actually hit it very well.  I hit it off the tee on one of the holes on the back nine and we all saw it go slightly right through a big tree.  We never saw it come down.  We drove up to where the ball should have been and checked the vicinity.  We had all four of us looking for this extremely bright red ball.  “You just can’t lose these balls,” he said again!  Well, I proved him wrong.  It was lost.  We really wondered if it got stuck in the tree!  It was crazy!

Thanks, again, Shawn!  Always a great time on the links with you!

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Thursday was the Fourth.  We normally have a big bash at the house, but with all we had going on, we just didn’t get around to inviting a lot of people.  We ended up with my in-laws and a couple of friends from college (Hope and Matt) and their spouses.  I threw some hot dogs and brats on the grill, cut up a HUGE watermelon, we had mac and cheese, and loads to snack on.

There is a family fun day with many events.  They also have a concert at the amphitheater, which we can hear from our backyard.  Also from our backyard, we have great seats to watch the town’s fireworks.  It is all funded through the fireman’s homecoming carnival.  They also take donations in town.  This year the show was about 25 minutes.  After the show was over, the guests started to leave.  We got the boys to bed, and we sat with our friends Hope and Kevin at the bonfire and BS’d for a while.

Great company and great conversation!

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Friday, there was a bit of drama (which is not even worthy of writing about).  My wife had one big paper that needed to be written for school and she was working on that.  I took the boys to play mini-golf.  There was a place just south of the house that I had never been to.  They have golf and ice cream.  The course has a train/mine theme to it.  It was actually very cool.

mine

I got the first (and my only) hole in one.  Each of us got one, which always makes mini-golf fun!  The wind picked up as we reached the end and we were lucky to finish before a HUGE downpour!  Must not have been my day, Dimitri shot 40, Dante’ shot 42, and I shot 44.  It didn’t really matter who won, though – it was about having time with the boys.

Whenever we play mini-golf, and I help them with their swing, I still flashback to those days at the Caseville Putt-Putt course.  I remember my dad, or my grandpa, reaching over me and helping me with my grip and my swing.  It’s one of those “generations” things – my dad and grandpa helped me, now I am helping them.

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Saturday I worked on the air at the radio station.  I was on from 9a-2p.  When I got off work, it was 86 degrees out.  I wanted to take the boys swimming somewhere.  There are a couple places that have pools where I could have gone.  One of the places had an indoor pool, which kind of defeats the purpose on a hot summer day.  The other place has outdoor pools, but because of the holiday weekend, they were not doing day passes (they were doing their fireworks that night).

Sam suggested this little place in Davison called Lake Callis.  It’s a little recreation complex with a splash pad, pavilions, and a beach.  I had never been there, so we went.  It was actually a very nice place.  There were many birthday parties going on that day, and it was fairly busy.  We found a picnic table on the beach and went in to the water.  It was not freezing (which is always nice), and the boys swam for a while.

shoes

For no reason in particular, I tend not to swim much in a lake.  Maybe it’s the “lake smell” or the fact that there are fish in there, I really don’t know.  This lake was man made, and as far as I could tell, there were no fish.  The water was warm and swimming with the sun beating down on us was awesome!  It was a bit breezy that day and when you got out of the water, it got chilly!!

It was fun to watch my boys making new friends with other kids out in the lake.  I loved watching them run around at the splash pad.  It was also fun to just sit at the picnic table eating Cheez-It’s and potato chips and talking about whatever they brought up.  It was great father-sons time!  We will definitely be going back there – we had a blast!

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Tonight is my first night back to work – and I am already ready for another vacation!!!

 

Questions and Answers #1

questions-and-answers

I have a blog that is totally ready to post, except that I was unable to figure out how to add audio (some friends have offered suggestions as to how to do that, and I will attempt that in the following day or two).  Since that blog was not ready, I went to my Facebook friends and asked for questions they would like me to answer.  I am pleased with their response, and with the questions they posed, and I have a feeling this is just the first of  many blogs like this.   Today’s blog contains the answers to those some of those questions.

Melody

Melody asked one of the easiest questions:  “What do you miss most about high school?”

I would say without a doubt – Band class.  It is no secret that I was what many refer to as a “band geek”.  When I look back at the people I have stayed in touch with, most of them are from band class.  Some of us spent hours after school practicing our instruments.  I was one of the band librarians, so I had access to the library of songs.  We would often go through the files and pull out music just to play it.  We spent hours after school playing (gee, you would have thought that would have made us better players… )!

As I have said before, I learned more about life from band class than any other class (see blog about thanking teachers). Performing a piece of music with others brings an amazing sense of accomplishment.  It also brings about the opportunity to learn about relationships.  Sure, as with most big groups, there were little “cliques”, but when it was time to play together as one, we did.  It truly was like a big family.

I remains one of those things I miss most.

Jeff

Jeff asked a particularly difficult , yet easy question.  “What sport do you absolutely love to watch, but you believe are terrible at participating?”

My first response was “define terrible” – LOL.  Seriously, though, I am someone who wishes I had been more active in sports growing up.  As much as we played baseball during our summer vacation, you would think I would have tried out for something like that.  Growing up, I thought I might be a good pitcher.  The fact that I always struggled with weight, and didn’t necessarily like the thought of rejection probably led me to not try out for things I may have been good at.

To answer the question, I would probably have to say football.  I love watching football.  Playing, however, I was never that good.  To this day, if a football leaves my hand it wobbles through the air.  I cannot through a spiral to save my life!  Catching a football is always a joke for me too.  I suppose I just never really learned how to reach up and pull it in.

Every Thanksgiving, we used to get family together and play a touch football game.  There is a lot of running involved in football, so you can only imagine what I had to look like trying to run down the field. The following day, after using muscles that I hadn’t used in years, you know exactly how bad the pain felt – and this was when I was much younger than I am today!

Great question!

James

James knows I currently work in the sleep field.  I deal with people who have sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.  His question is “Does MyPillow help with sleep problems?”

The question that comes to mind with your question, James:  What are your sleep problems?

Let me tell you what I have heard from patients regarding this and then give a few quick thoughts.  With the patients who I have seen who spent the money on this, the only real “review” they can give is that they are more comfortable.  The claims that this pillow can help give you more REM sleep, is something that no one can really say, unless a sleep lab is using them with their patients.

We check for REM sleep with all of the electrodes on a patient’s head and face.  Some of the home tests and sleep watches and such can ‘assume’ or “estimate” what REM sleep is based on heart rate, but without being able to see brainwaves, eye movements, and muscle tone, it is hard to determine.

REM sleep IS the important sleep – that is what the body needs to feel refreshed and what we need to function.  A typical human gets about three “REM cycles” cycles a night and this is based on the circadian rhythm.  Sleep apnea is always worse in REM sleep, and people who have apnea usually have this very important sleep stage cut short because of the apnea events.  In all honesty, I personally believe that a person’s pillow has nothing to do with “helping” a person’s sleep – but only helps – possibly – with comfort.

My advice – take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (you can find it online).  Answer it honestly and if your score is 9 or more, see a sleep specialist.

Jodi

My wonderful Aunt Jodi’s question is “Do you use wooden spoons?”  My aunt was often our babysitter.  The threat was that if misbehaved, she would spank us with the wooden spoon.  This is funny, because there are many T-shirts and posters out there about how Italian mothers used to use the wooden spoon to discipline their kids – Jodi isn’t Italian!

Yes.  I use them.  To stir things on the stove.  LOL

Kristine

Kristine and I were in anatomy class together in college.  We dissected a sheep brain together. She’s a CNA now.  Her question truly made me laugh.  “Why did we never meet under the stairs?”

If memory serves me, I believe there was some couple who were kissing each other goodbye before class or something and we both kinda rolled our eyes at this.  This led to us chatting about how in high school, couples always seemed to be making out under the stairs.  At any rate, this became a running gag throughout school “Meet me under the stairs”.

The answer – there was always some other couple there!  ROFL.  Seriously, Kristine is a good friend and she has some pretty talented kids!  I always enjoyed seeing how proud she was of her boys when she talked about their football games or wrestling matches.

Kathy

Kathy’s question was short and to the point, “Do you still TP houses on the side?”

Back in high school, toilet papering houses was the thing to do for some reason. Our band class alone probably helped Charmin stock rise!  I do not claim to be the one who started this trend, but I guess I was involved in more TP jobs than others.  At one point we printed signs (on a dot matrix printer – WOW) that said, “You have been TP’d by The TP Bandits” and left it at houses we hit.  Fair is fair – if we hit them, they could hit us back.  That was how they knew who to come after.   The real question was “who was with you?”  I was usually driving, but the accomplices often changed.  Sometimes, there would be 8-12 people out doing the jobs with me.  My house was a favorite target.

To answer your question, Kathy, no.  I have been retired from “the Bandits” for some time. 🙂

Dave

Dave writes “Why is Bernie Miller so awesome?”

Bernie and I also went to high school together.  Dave, this questions answer will take me many, many paragraphs to write.  I make you a promise now – Bernie Miller’s awesomeness warrants its own blog.  Watch for it in the days or weeks ahead.

At that time, I will also attempt to answer Bernie’s question about swimming in dry ice.  No promises on a correct answer on that.

Diana

Diana asks, “What is your biggest regret from high school; do you wish you had done anything differently?”

I think that as we get older, it becomes easier to look back on things from the past and find things we regret doing or not doing.  I also think that it is easy to look back and see how you could have handled things differently.  That being said, let me say this:  I am who I am today because of the decisions and choices that I have made and the people who were a part of my life.  There is nothing that I can do today, that can change that.  With all that being said, I do have some regrets, and there are things I wish I had done differently.

I really regret not being a better student.  I regret that I did not take school a bit more seriously.  I can think of two HUGE assignments that I waited until the last minute to throw together, that had I just followed directions and spent the time I should have on them, I would have gotten better grades.  I sucked at studying.  If I had spent as much time studying as I did TPing, well, lets just say I would have been a whole lot better off come report card time.

It’s easy to sit back and look at my sons and think “You gotta spend more time on this” or “You didn’t study enough on this” because that was me in high school.  It is different today because they spend their time on video games and electronics, where as I was out TPing and goofing around, but it really is the same thing.  I wish for my sons that they would spend more time focusing on school.  I don’t want them to wait until after 40 years old to go to college.  I want them to experience success and financial stability sooner than I did.

Not sure that  answers the question, and if not, there are plenty of other regrets I can dive into ….

Angie, Joe, Eric. and John

This “asking to answer your questions” blog has shown me that I have some really funny friends.  Their questions are asked in jest – and I love it.  Life needs more laughter, and here are three examples of friends I surround myself with because they are funny – or smart asses – one way or the other.

Angie asks, “Is that your real hair/hair color?”  Yes, what little there is.  Shaving it and polishing it up to a perfect shine is much easier than coloring the grey on the few hairs that are up there!

Joe asks, “When you throw your bowling ball do you inhale or exhale?” and Eric follows with “Do you cup your ball with delicate fingers or hold on tight before release?”  My answer to both of you will be as silly as your questions – It depends on whether or not I am at Pastime Lanes!

John asks, “What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”  Kudos for a Monty Python reference!  I do believe the answer is 24 miles per hour or 11 meters a second.  Now take your coconuts and beat it!

Jason

Jason is a fellow band geek who poses the question “Do and/or can you still play your trumpet?”

If Tom Shaner were still teaching band, and if we were currently challenging for chairs … I would be guaranteed last chair!  The sounds that come out of it are no longer … quality sounds!  LOL

Now that Dante’ is no longer playing in band, my trumpet is back with me.  I still have a folder with copies of some of the music we played in band.  I still have my big ole Arban’s book for trumpet, and yes, occasionally, I pull out the horn and attempt to play.  I have been debating going back for lessons and perhaps joining a small group like the Salvation Army Band or something like that, just so I can still play.  It really is one of those things I miss a lot.

Vince

Vince asks a political question:  “How come Hilary Clinton blames everyone but herself and the Dems for losing the election?”

Well, Vince, I think that  (The following has been deleted by the US Government because it goes against policies or procedures that even we don’t understand.) …and that would be my best guess.

Chris

Chris wants to know “What was the best vacation you took with your parents and Christopher?”

I have blogged in the past about Caseville.  We went there often on weekends in the summer, but I don’t think that I would put those visits in the category of a vacation.  The only one that really stands out for me is a summer trip to Mackinaw.  I was probably about Dimitri’s age when we went, and I have some great photos to remind me of that trip.

I remember staying at this hotel in a second floor room, and there was a white, metal guard rail along the edge.  There wasn’t a whole lot of room to walk and there were chairs outside the rooms.  I have a picture of my mom and dad sitting outside the room that is one of my favorites.

I remember going to the Grand Hotel, and were were only allowed to stay for a minute or two because we were all dressed in shorts and T-shirts, and maybe there was a dress code or something, I don’t know.  I remember taking the boat to the Island and visiting the Fort.  That was one of my favorite things about the trip!  I remember the cannons and I remember mom taking a picture next to us in the stocks.

We went there when the Dukes of Hazzard was a huge TV hit.  How do I remember this?  Well, we used to ride bikes around the neighborhood and I would always pretend to be Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.  I had a blue cowboy had that I loved and while at a gift shop I found a sheriff’s badge.  That was one of the only things I remember bringing home from that trip.

I am in the process of scanning some pictures – I am sure some Mackinaw pictures will end up here or on Facebook.

Deb

My cousin, Deb, asks a simple, yet difficult question.  “What is your dream job?”

You know, I think I have been lucky enough to have done a couple of them, but at the same time, there are others that are appealing as well.  I love my current job as a sleep tech.  I get to help people.  That’s a very satisfying thing.  In some cases, what I do leads to life saving treatments for people who are on the verge of a heart attack or stroke.

Radio was a dream I had in high school  I was lucky enough to do almost immediately after graduation.  I had never done it before and I got to learn the ropes from some of the best!  I admit my first 5 years in radio were less than stellar, in that I was so new to the business that I really hadn’t learned how to use my creativity.

Radio is addictive.  The more I listened and learned, the better I got.  I got to meet so many great people, celebrities, and non-celebrities.  I got to shake hands with legendary radio people and producers.  I got to be creative and do things that I envisioned and put those things on the air.  I got to raise money for children with cancer, raise money for local neighbors who lost homes to fires, raise awareness for autism, breast cancer, heart disease and more.  Radio was a dream job come true! (more on this in a future blog).

I think if there were a dream job that I have yet to do – there would be two of them:  teaching and acting.  In a couple previous blogs, I mentioned the want to teach.  I wish I had gone to school for that.  There are so many things about teaching that would validate this as a dream job.

Acting.  I don’t know that anyone would ever want to see my ugly mug on a screen, but I would love to do it.  I worked with a guy, Jeff Kelly, who does it.  I’ve seen trailers for his films and am always amazed at his abilities.  He’s such a jovial and nice guy, yet I saw him in a trailer where he was a mean killer – he was totally convincing!  I think I could do it, but who knows.  I think it would be fun.  I already do some “acting” in regards to voice work, and I would love to try it once, just to say I did it.  I always laughed when people told me I remind them of Dom Deluise…I always liked him as an actor.  I think it would be pretty damn cool to act in a film or on TV.

Phyllis and Shelley

As I read the questions from these two friends, I felt that the answers to their questions would be enough to write separate blogs responses.  Phyllis wanted to know about famous people I have met and more specifically my “OMG moment”.  There are a few of them – and I will tell you all about them.

Shelley wanted to know about radio listeners who have become friends and how that evolves.  I have been lucky enough to have made life long friends through the radio.  Some of them have been friends with me since my first radio job 30 years ago.  Great stories to share…and I will.

Thanks for your questions!  We’ll do this again soon!

 

The Red 8 Track Tape

8-TrackTape

Recently a friend went to buy a new car.  He was appalled when he found out there was no CD player in it.  As a music lover, I totally get this.  I want to be able to pop in the music of my choice when I am driving.  Up until recently, the CD Player was a standard option.  Now they provide a USB port for you to plug a thumb drive or iPod into for music.  This wasn’t always the case.

Prior to the CD player, it was the cassette tape that was the choice for music.  You could record your music to these 60-90 minute tapes and have your favorite cruising tunes at your finger tips.  The only trouble was that if you wanted to hear a song again, you’d have to rewind it (or fast forward the other side if there was no rewind option).  Prior to that mode of media – there was the 8 Track tape!

The 8 track was a continuous looped tape that had 4 stereo tracks (8 tracks total), and the player head would move play which ever track it was positioned over.  You could buy 8 tracks with music already on them or, if you had a recorder (like my dad did), you could record your own.  With prerecorded 8 tracks, all the songs played in their entirety with no type of interruption.  My dad recorded his own, and sometimes a track would run out during a song and switch to the next track, so the player would “click” in the middle of a song.  It’s humorous to try to explain it in words here, but if you know what I am trying to explain, you are chuckling!

My dad had quite the collection of his own 8 tracks.  We’d listen to them often.  My mother asked him to put some songs together for her.  He put them on a red 8 track.  He may have had other red 8 tracks, however, this one in particular I remember. It contained mom’s songs … mostly ballads.

As a child, we’d go to Caseville for weekend summer vacations.  From our house, it was approximately 2-3 hours to drive there.  We’d sit in the car bored out of our minds and listen to music.  I remember when mom’s 8 track went it, it was like someone gave us a double dose of Benadryl.  Oh man, TRY to stay awake with these songs on.  The only thing that would keep me awake was listening to my mom mumble through the first 3/4 of the lyric (the part she didn’t know) and belt out the last two words of the line. “mumble, mumble, almost intelligible, mumble, half a word, mumble ….CAUSE I’D REALLY LOVE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT!”

To this day, there are songs that make me think of those rides to the trailer.  When they come on, I think “Caseville 8 Track!”  I remember driving up 53 through the towns of Romeo, Almont, Imlay City, Marlette, Cass City, Owendale, Pigeon, and finaly arriving at Caseville and listening to them all!  Here is a partial list of some of them:

  • Sad Eyes – Robert John
  • Babe – Styx
  • You Needed Me – Anne Murray
  • Heartlight – Neil Diamond
  • Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
  • Sweet Music Man – Kenny Rogers
  • You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker
  • You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone
  • Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Crystal Gayle
  • Your Song – Elton John
  • If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
  • Lyin’ Eyes – The Eagles
  • Longer – Dan Fogleberg
  • Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
  • Annie’s Song – John Denver
  • Keep On Loving You – REO Speedwagon
  • I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley
  • Who’s Crying Now – Journey
  • Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot
  • Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond
  • Could It Be Magic – Barry Manilow
  • The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand
  • Three Times a Lady – The Commodores
  • All Out of Love – Air Supply
  • If – Bread

….and those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head!  I am sure there are plenty that I am forgetting.  I am sure there are probably a few more Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond songs that should be on here, too.

While most of these songs are never going to make my “favorites” play list, they do take me back to a time when I was a young boy driving in our station wagon up to our favorite summer get away.  They also remind me of mom.  What I wouldn’t give to hear her mumble through some lyrics today.

I only got 11 years …

tire

I was 11 years old when I was forced to deal with a death in the family. As an 11 year old, you don’t really understand or comprehend what that really means. “What do you mean we’re not going to see him again?”, “Why do people die?”, “There are a lot of bad people in the world, why is he the one who had to die?” Those are many of the questions that ran through my mind as I tried to make sense of it all. My grandfather would have been 95 today. This year he’ll be gone 37 years. Still, after all that time, the lessons I learned from him (either by his example or by him vocally) remain with me.

One of the things I remember most about him was playing cribbage. He had a cribbage board that we played on when I was at his house. He always beat me. He was good! One day I noticed that there was something written on the back of his board. He told me that when I finally beat him, I could “sign his board”, too. Well, now I had something to play for! On February 3, 1980 it happened. “Super fourth grade student wins the big man on this day. Super student feels great. Big man feels bad. I love it” is what I wrote. He got me back on my own cribbage board – twice!
On my cribbage board, he wrote: “Skunked Charlie on this board 7-18-80. H.D. And we know who Charlie is, don’t we” is what he wrote the first time he beat me. Followed immediately by, “Did it again on 12-31-80 – on New Years Eve”!cribbage

That was the last game played on that cribbage board!

Summers were spent in Caseville, MI (long before the Cheeseburger Festival began). We’d go up to the trailer and spend days fishing at the back lake, riding the mini-bike, and eating dinner at the picnic table. I remember helping lay down the rocks for the driveway. I remember one holiday weekend the family was there and my grandpa had left his glass of peppermint schnapps on the table. I thought it was water and when I tried it I remember thinking “wow, this is tastes different” and drank it all (which was maybe 2 ounces). When he came to the kitchen looking for it, he found the glass empty and me sitting in a chair. “Buddy, you are gonna sleep well tonight”, he told me.

backlake

In Caseville, there was only like one or two radio stations that came in. Early on, there was no TV at the trailer, so it was the radio or cassette tapes for entertainment. Two tapes I remember very well. Johnny Paycheck’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 and Willie Nelson’s Stardust. My grandpa played that Willie Nelson cassette over and over and over! It drove my mom and others crazy! I remember him saying that his favorite song on the album was September Song. Probably just a coincidence but he passed away in September. That album remains one of my all time favorites.

Booklet Out

I remember we were out walking the railroad tracks during one of the summer stays. Whether we were in Caseville or on a trip up the road to Port Austin, or Pidgeon, I don’t recall. They had put in new rails. As we walked my brother and I spotted old railroad spikes. These are the big nails that they pound into the rails. My grandpa told us each to get one. They were old and rusty, but he said he would “fix” them. He worked a a place where he nickel plated them for us and I still have mine to this day. A fun memory for sure.

spike

I only got in trouble with him twice. Incident number one involved water balloons. Kids are stupid. For some reason we thought it would be fun to roll water balloons out into traffic at the end of my street and watch cars run them over. So here we are at the corner, during lunch time rush hour rolling these things in to traffic. Who drives by? Grandpa. He honks his horn and makes eye contact with me while he is waving his finger at me. Without saying anything, he was saying, “Get away from the road dummy! You could get hurt”. I remember when my dad got home from work and after dinner we were told we were “going to see grandpa and grandma”. The entire trip my stomach churned. I was sweating. NO ONE had said anything about the balloons since I saw him drive by. Upon arriving, my dad casually said something like, “So I hear we had an issue with some balloons today…” He pulled me on his lap and told me how dangerous it was for us to be that close to the road, and how it may have caused an accident. Never did that again.

The only other time I was in trouble, was also the only time I saw him angry. He had a big basement with a bar and pool table. Behind the bar was a door set into the wall that you couldn’t really tell was there because it was paneling and the door blended into the wall when it was closed. I don’t recall much of what was in there with the exception of a table lamp that was a hobo or something and a box of dance wax. Here’s all I knew about it: when you put it on the floor, it made it slippery. To a boy of 8 in a basement sliding around in his socks on a slippery floor – it’s pretty fun. I remember my aunt, who is only 4 years older than me, came down and probably instantly realized what I had done and said she was going to tell on me. She did. My grandpa, who was always so gentle and jovial was livid. Wow. When his voice boomed at me I was scared to death. I never felt more ashamed in my life. I don’t recall the words he said, but I remember crying, and him hugging me afterward. I’m glad that I only truly mad him angry once.

The last time I saw my grandfather, he had come over to our house. When he left, I was sitting on the floor in the front room with headphones on listening to “Minnie The Moocher” from the Blues Brothers Soundtrack. Knowing my grandpa’s love for big band music, I told him that when I saw him next time, he just had to hear this song. I never got up to say good bye to him. I didn’t hug or kiss him that day. He went on a business trip across the state and we talked to him from his hotel a night or two before he passed. I don’t recall much, but he told me he had pizza and beer for dinner. I do remember telling him I loved him. That was the last time I heard his voice. He had a heart attack while on that trip and died September 24.

The first real life lesson was learned by me that September. If there is someone special in your life who means something to you – tell them! If you love someone – tell them! Never pass up the opportunity to hug or kiss someone! You may never get the chance to do it again.

After he passed away, my brother, my father and I all went golfing in Caseville. My dad and my grandpa used to golf all the time when they were up there. This time, dad took me. As we left to go to the first tee, the starter asked if it was ok to pair us up with someone. Out walked a man who was the spitting image of my grandpa. I remember how nice he was and how he helped me stand and putt (it was one of the first times I ever golfed). It was like HE was there with us. I remember afterward, we got in the car to go back to the trailer and I said, “Dad, didn’t that guy look like….” and before I could finish, my dad firmly said “YES”. Deep down, I wonder …..

I only had him in my life for 11 years, and those 11 year were very special ones – because he was in them.

grandpa