Monthly Archives: June 2010

2:12 p.m., 6-28…


Things came to pass as we expected at 2:12 p.m. on Monday, June 28.  The end was as mercifully pain-free and serene for my father as any of us could have hoped for.  As soon as my brother and I gathered ourselves, it was on to the necessary details.  As you know better than we, the planning for visitations and a memorial service don’t wait.  Perhaps that is for the good.

The family is starting to assemble.  Reid flies in the late morning today (Wednesday), while Ellen and Tim arrive by car in early afternoon.  My dear uncle Henry, his wife Mary (from Portland, Oregon) along with one of their sons, Tom (Eugene, OR) land at the Omaha airport about that same time, as do my nephew Andy and his wife Steph from California.  (The obituary is posted on Omaha.com.)

I’ve heard new terminology – ‘pinned’ ears, modeling, etc. – that I don’t need to hear again for a long, long while.  It is the language of death.  In its own way, it was an interesting element to the process because it put into context what was happening to my father and why.  The nurses of Hospice, and the facility where my father (and mother) lived out these last few months, were incredibly professional and caring.

I’ve written before that much of this will find its way into the weekly letters.  How Ellen and Reid navigate themselves around this sad process while they are here and how they handle the expressions of grief, etc., that will come their way, will be interesting for me as a father to witness.  In the coming weeks and months, the three of us will have time to digest everything that has happened and to, hopefully, share our interpretations of it all.  I’ve been storing away snippets here and there from this past weekend (indeed, the past few months) and this will no doubt resurface on the pages from a father to his children.  This may not be the sort of teaching moment we would like to have but it has come to pass and we will all see what lessons it holds.

There’s one equally sad note for me: my father will receive no more letters.  Ironically, the final letter to him probably arrived Monday or yesterday.  But you can be assured he will live on in paragraphs to others.

————

After this week I thought to ditch the idea of posting the usual archived letter to Ellen and Reid.  However, I’ve located one which was an early effort to bring the kids up to speed on the health of their grandparents.

March 16, 2009

Ellen/Reid: The ducks around here never had it so good on a weekend.  Steady rain and low temperatures made things just ducky.  This is the first weekend in months that I have not played golf at least once, but it was a good weekend to mop floors, stow extra paperwork (of which there was a ton) and just laze around.  Did the latter in quantity.  Even thought about doing taxes, too.

It didn’t stop the birds from chirping up a storm.  The trees are almost in full bud, and in a couple of weeks the units behind me will be hidden from view.  I was home with a cold Monday, and from my upstairs office (which is now clean) I watched a red shouldered hawk swoop down from his low perch.  He stomped on something, and in a flash it was a small snake which, in one deft move, was down the hatch.  Never had seen that display before.  I fetched my binoculars and watched the hawk once he retreated to the same perch.  The identification was made in the green Audubon book.  The hawk sat there for 15 minutes then swooped down again on a small bush and made all sorts of a racket before he emerged with some small rodent.  Hey, we’ve all gotta eat.

I head to Omaha next week for a most unpleasant trip.  I’ll be able to see Grandma but am not wholly prepared for it.  And the worst part may be forcing grandpa to go around to assisted living centers.  Not sure how that will work because he probably won’t want to leave her.  He is going against doctor’s orders by taking her home.  Neither of them are dealing with reality, and he knows that your uncle and I are not pleased with this.  Even before your grandmother’s first stroke, we had nosed around about a new living situation for them.  A one floor unit, perhaps aligned to a retirement home.  They stew about losing their independence but really, it just means a change of address.  I did it.  They can, too.  It’s not as if either of them would have a monitoring bracelet on their ankles.  Their situation reminded me of something this week.  Before the storm hit, I was driving home from a meeting several nights ago and the moon was full as it broke through some light clouds.  The scene was almost exactly like a painting your great grandmother, Mary Bradley, had painted when she was a young girl shortly after the start of the last century.  It was the only thing I wanted when she passed away.  Unfortunately, the painting vanished shortly after her death.  When the inevitable happens to your grandparents, I’m not sure what their equivalent will be to my grandmother’s painting.  I have Mary’s mother’s cast iron skillet (it gets used several times a week) and that’s good enough for me.

Thinking about lasik eye surgery.  Tired of reading glasses and everything being indistinct.  May help my golf game, too, although that is not the reason I’d do it.  Just need better eyesight.

Have my biker friends Brian and George rolling into town this weekend.  Brian has been spending some of the winter in Daytona Beach, and George flies in there later this week.  They’ll take their sweet time to come up this way along about Thursday.  George will borrow my Harley for some charity ride in these parts, and he may ride it up to Bristol, TN for some NASCAR race up their this weekend.  That’s okay with me.  This will be the fourth time they have stayed with me, and literally, all I have to do is say “hello” and Brian takes the conversation from there.  He has never been at a loss for words.  He rivals your uncle in that regard.  He can turn emptying the dishwasher into a three part saga.

Reid, I hope this letter finds you employed with ______ or at least close to it.  They must see something in you that others do not.  ______’s gain and a loss for the others.  I hope you get the job.  We continue to hack away people down here, and you never know when the axe man will turn his utensil your way. If it happens, I’ll just do something else.  “Supersize that for you, ma’am?”

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Old hat to him, new information to her…


Dad and Reid share a moment

Reid flew into Omaha this weekend to visit his grandparents while there is time to visit, and his appearance was wonderful in every respect.  He spent much time with his grandfather and was an extraordinarily calming influence on his grandmother.  He handled himself beautifully with poise and maturity.  He departed Sunday afternoon after making his goodbyes.  Thus, some of what he saw first hand this weekend is old hat to him but is relatively new information to the other half of my brood, his sister.

Yet I don’t know if I have the energy to write a letter today to the kids.  Things have regressed here significantly since late Sunday afternoon, and the nighttime was one of sitting at his side, giving as much comfort as we can provide.  We are also wary of leaving his bedside to do other things.  The Hospice nurses agree.  We have said our goodbyes and told dad it is okay for him to let go.  It’s odd to give your father permission to find whatever awaits him.

——————

June 21, 2010

Ellen/Reid: A pool of water greeted me this morning when I walked into the kitchen to make coffee.  The ice cube maker is barren of cubes; all of it liquidated onto the floor.  It is more proof that if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  The freezer must be on the fritz and it has rubbed off on the crisper part of the refrigerator.  The apples were frozen like rocks.  Just another unexpected expense.  Drives me batty.

Thanks for your calls on Father’s Day.  Great to hear from the two of you.  Of course, nothing could take the place of A TRIP TO CHARLOTTE BY EITHER OF YOU.  Thus endeth the sermon.  But get down here when you can.

Your grandfather is holding his own.  He sleeps a lot yet sounds exhausted.  Not sure how that is but his nurses say he is snoozing quite a bit and he has yet to recapture his appetite.  He is taking some new medications for the fluids and he says he’s not in any pain so he’s had no additional morphine. His spirits seem okay.  Resigned but okay.  I got a call from one of the administrators at Lakeside.  It was nothing urgent, it’s just that she noticed your grandparents waiting in line, together, to get massages last Friday.  She thought it was cute and I wished I’d been there to see it.  Your grandfather says grandma is having a tough time with things in her separate wing.  This is probably as long as they have ever stayed apart in their married life.  I’m thinking of getting up there the 4th of July weekend but have yet to make plans.  Your uncle was in California this weekend to see Andy and Steph so he and I haven’t talked about the latest developments.  What will happen when all is said and done is that your grandmother will move to Grand Island.  That’s probably a good thing for both she and your uncle.  Otherwise, he’d be making a lot of 2.5 hour one way commutes to see her.

I’ve been wondering how to handle ‘the call’ when it comes and am not sure how I’ll react when it does occur.  I’ve been pretty stoic so far but such a feeling is very brittle.  I’ve been silently made my goodbyes and my pastor friend John at church has been very supportive.  No doubt I’ll be on the horn to you as soon as possible.  It will be a coat-and-tie situation for the men, although if it is very hot we will ditch the coats at the graveside service.  I think the thing to do is remember all the years and decades as he was, not how he is in this short term.  He seems very comfortable and that is what matters.  The nurses and Hospice are on top of that score.

The weather is just a bastard right now.  Saturday on the golf course was one of the most oppressive days I can remember.  Not a breath of wind and it was in the mid-90s with the humidity off the charts.  Just beastly.  Plus my game stinks.  For the first time in a long time I stopped keeping score.  Good for the tomatoes but bad for everything else.  And to think the summer is just starting.  My air conditioner was on the blink too but the repair guy said the problem wasn’t the unit itself but a damper in the attic that someone had tampered with last year.  It restricted the air flow.  Apparently what happened was another firm had come in last summer to pump a bit of Freon in the A/C and used the opportunity to strongly encourage me to buy a whole new device – right now – because it was liable to “go out at any minute.”  They spent a fair amount of time upstairs poking around.  Once they left the cooling was never quite the same.  In summary, the damper was fixed and it’s been ultra-cool ever since.

Again, thanks for the calls yesterday.  I’ll keep you posted on events in Omaha, and feel free to call your grandfather.  The best times would be about noon and 5:00.  Both are when he should be awake and ready for however much food he can eat at mealtimes.  As usual, he always asks how you two are doing.

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Reading between the lines…


Below is today’s letter to my parents.  I hope it’s legible enough for them to read.  After hundreds and hundreds of typed letters, this is the first time ever I’ve been forced to resort to a handwritten version (see my aversion to handwriting in the April 28 post).  My printer at home is on the #$%^&* fritz.  There’s a certain romance or artistry to hand written letters but if you saw my cursive, you’d call the printer repairman for me.

I appreciate that you’ve stuck with me during what is essentially a protracted family situation of watch, wait, and pray.  What we face is far from unique.  I appreciate, too, your support based on what many of you have already gone through.

As you’ve seen, the kids have been kept up to speed on everything in as much detail as can be provided.  But in the rush to supply as much candor as possible, both Ellen and Reid have nosed around aloud as they read between the lines; i.e. ‘how are you doing, dad?’, ‘what are we going to do when the time comes for us down the road?’, among other observations.  In times like these letters are just one element of the familial dialogue.  Perhaps each serves as food for thought or as a single page of conversation starters.

There are no adequate answers right now to what they ask.  My guess is that answers will be arrived at over time as today’s sequence of events begins to gel and take on the perspective that only time can provide.  Letters will figure in there somewhere but will be far from the only arbiter of what makes sense.

—————-

June 25, 2010

Mom and Dad: Excuse the longhand.  My printer went AWOL and this is the best I can do.

There is a little bit of good news.  Reid will join me in Omaha next weekend.  We both arrive at about the same time in the late afternoon.  Dad, we will head to the house for your car then head to L_________.  If you are sleeping, we’ll wake you up briefly to say hi and then we will see you again first thing Sunday for breakfast.  We are both excited to see you and grandma.  We have a lot of old photographs of family that we would like to identify.  That has really captured Reid’s interest.  Ellen may come, too, if she can make it.  In more good news, she has a second round of interviews Monday for a teaching job in the Minneapolis schools.

My tomatoes are coming in although small; the size of tennis balls.  I clearly don’t have your gardening skills.

We all love you guys very much, and we can’t wait to see you.  Hang in there!

Love,

Dave

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The greatest reward…


My father and I have talked on the phone every day – the calls aren’t very long, a few minutes tops – but it’s good to hear his voice.  I’m all ears for however much time he’s got.

The letters have made it to his new address.  Amazingly, with all he has to deal with his anticipation for the pages is still there.  We don’t spend much time on what the letters contain.

The content is secondary at this point.  It’s nice knowing it brings him a a small amount of comfort and a sense of normalcy in the midst of what is admittedly an institution.  In all the years I’ve performed this weekly function this is the first time I have had the inkling that if the envelope didn’t arrive, the recipient – my dad – would miss it.  I don’t want to disappoint him.

I suppose the greatest reward a letter writer can hope to experience is sensing the anticipation by someone who is anxious to receive what you send.

Over the years dad has asked ‘did you send a letter?’ if it was delayed even day past its usual arrival.  It’s important to me, too, that he receives something each week.  As long as he expects to hear from me, that’s good enough.

—————–

This being Wednesday, I’ve plucked out and pasted in an older letter.

Nov. 27

‘Cakes/Reid: Well, the one thing about bathroom scales is they don’t lie and they have no way to break the bad news gently.  They call ‘em like they see ‘em.  So as soon as I stepped in the door yesterday after returning from Omaha, I sucked it up and stepped on to see how much poundage was added with mo’ turkey, mo’ dessert, still mo’ turkey and mo’ taters.  Oh, and that pan gravy slathered over everything.  To my surprise, I hadn’t gained much of anything and I would’ve been willing to bet a modest sum that I was up 3 – 5 pounds.  This is after not being shy around the table.  One thing you can say about your grandmother, that lady knows how to cook, not only in quality but sheer volume.  She can really bring it in the kitchen.  She asked about you guys repeatedly.  I told her all was good.

For the most part, the Christmas shopping is over and done with.  Maybe a few small things now and then, but your bigger gifts were shipped to South Shore Drive last week for arrival tomorrow (Tuesday).  I stopped at the house on Saturday before playing golf with Kenyon, Oleson and Allen.  Things looked good, Henry could be saddled and ridden like a bronco, and I dug up some chive to take back to Charlotte for my new copper window planter from Smith & Hawken.  Your mother and I went over to the mall to buy a couple of things, and it was good to be around her.  Weird, but good.  For the most part she appears to be happy, and it’s good for her to have her mom and sister and the gaggle of friends to help her.  Wish I had that in Charlotte.  But we had a pleasant enough time and it was good to see her.

The Colo. – Nebr. game was closer than the score indicated.  EB, my good friend going all the way back to 3rd grade, Bill C_____, was able to use the ticket so things worked out just fine.  The Big Red has clearly slipped a few steps but they will play Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game this weekend.  Your Uncle Ralph wants to go to the game in Kansas City, but he can’t find anyone to go with him.  He wanted me to buzz up for the weekend, but one game every 10 years is plenty enough for me.  Reid, did you know Butler won the Preseason NIT in NY?  Yeah, they rolled over Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga and some other flunky.  It was quite the show.  So you’ll have something to look forward to when you get back.

The weather sure is a hell of a lot different.  40s and 50s in Nebraska, 72F when I returned home yesterday afternoon.  Now, that is a bit over the norm, but people say that’s how it can be almost all the time.  It was in the upper 30s this morning, but no wind.  So it was nice.  But it will be 70F this afternoon.

Sort of settling into some routine around the house.  Leave work, hit the gym, go home and cook something.  One of these days, I have to get organized.  EB, I ain’t moving the office downstairs until I can assure myself that the mountains of paper littering the family room and current office are under control.   I’m paying most of my bills online, but I need filing space for stuff.  Got out on the Harley yesterday for about 50 miles.  It was good to ride if only for a while.

You guys do not need to worry about any sort of gift for me.  I’ll get you both down here soon enough and that’s enough of a present as far as I’m concerned.  So really, don’t send anything down this way.  I’ve got enough stuff on my plate – and on the couch and on the floors – to keep me occupied.  People are already out selecting Christmas trees.  I’m not there quite yet.  If the mall ever has a Scrooge exhibit, I hope they call me to serve as Old Ebenezer.  I’d fit in pretty well.  Well, gotta go and serve the corporate master.  Be good, be safe, be healthy.

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Now, about the receivers…


Enough about the sender.  How about those on the receiving end?

I do wonder from time to time what people think when they find a letter from me in the mailbox.   To be honest, no permission to send is ever asked.  Things just sort of arrive and the readers are left to their own devices.  (It’s a different kettle of fish with Ellen and Reid.  They know what’s coming and why.)  To tip people off would be akin to asking someone if its okay for me to send an email.  It just isn’t unfeasible.  My version of don’t ask, don’t tell, I suppose.

I’ve never once asked if what I sent was received and, more importantly, how it was received from their point of view.  Rather than point to the letter, the page is allowed to stand (or fall) on its own merit.  Folks can take the contents for what the few hundred words are worth.  The presumption here is that their thinking ranges from ‘why this, why now?’ to this is okay or maybe it’s nice to get something in the mail that isn’t a bill.  If it piques their interest for a couple of minutes, so much the better.  Far be it for me to assume it is of importance to them.  Everything is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

———————

Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

June 14, 2010

Ellen/Reid: The only way to take things in regards to your grandparents is one step, and one day, at a time.  Things seem to be stabilizing a little bit in that right now there are no more planned moves, no more pulling the two of them hither and yon.  They each have their own rooms and that really meets each of their needs.

Your grandfather is in good spirits given his condition.  In some ways the nine days there were very good.  Our conversations were just very conversational.  I think that to talk about things openly is good in lieu of dancing around or avoiding the topic.  It was refreshing to him and cathartic for me.  We got a lot done; the service mostly mapped out and some of the other arrangements in order for casket and clothing (blue blazer with an Air Force lapel pin, white shirt, gray slacks).  When I walked in the first day, he handed me a legal pad with his wishes for pallbearers (Reid, that means you and Tim), honorary pallbearers, etc.  It was surreal in a lot of ways.  But there was no place else I would rather be for those days.

He is sleeping a lot.  He’s not many weeks from major abdominal surgery on top of his cancer.  We’d be beat, too.  He does not seem in a lot of pain although his breathing is labored only because of the fluid build-up (edema).  The head nurse there, Erin, was very good with him.  She walked him through what was happening and why, and he was very understanding.  It’s just the normal progression of the disease.

Your grandmother is having a hard time with all this.  She doesn’t quite understand why they can’t be together in the same room and it makes her frustrated and angry.  As your grandfather and I both said time and again, it’s not her but her ailment.  Still, I twice lost my temper with her.  Once was not 30 seconds after Erin had laid out the candid scenario for him. Your grandmother came into his room, very angry with him – let’s go home, you’re not sick, etc. – and the dichotomy of the two situations just couldn’t be further apart.  But while it rolled off his back, I took it to heart.  She turned her walker around and bolted out of the room and I just lost it.  She and I had quite a set-to out in the hallway.  That was my one regret during the entire time in Omaha.

In fairness, we made her move very quickly without her knowing much about it.  If we had told her she’d be in a new space, and potentially locked up for two weeks with no visitors, it would have been very, very tough for her.  My cousin Eric and his son Klint helped move everything while my mom was kept occupied.  When the time came, I gave her personal sitter the high sign that it was time to take her to her new lodgings.  Ostensibly, the rules are that once a new resident is in the memory wing, there is no leaving the unit, plus no visitors, for 14 days to help them acclimate to the new surroundings.  But your uncle and I prevailed on the staff to bend the rules, and they agreed.  Grandma and grandpa have seen each other regularly.  It’s hard to watch them separate when the time comes.  But there are glimmers for her.  She said she likes her new room – one of the best in the memory wing – and she likes all the photos of you guys and Andy and Joe.

My uncle Henry and his wife Mary were driven down from the Twin Cities by their son Tim.  It was a highlight of the week for him to see his sister, your grandmother.  Henry is an incredibly dynamic person, but he has his own issues: early onset Alzheimer’s.  We took them all out to eat except for your grandfather who stayed behind.  Family time doesn’t get much more precious than this.  I don’t know if Henry and Mary will make it back for the service, so it was the right time for everyone to say their goodbyes.  It was a great moment, and it’s what your grandpa truly deserved.  It’s just a process that rolls onward to the conclusion we expect it to be.

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Filed under Contact, Creativity, Mailing

A dose of creativity…


Man (and woman) does not live by bread alone.  The analogy is that we need a creative outlet to counter-balance the stress of whatever else consumes us; work, daily living, and then again maybe more work, etc.

Your tonic may be to dabble in art or cook up a perfect storm or some other unmentioned productive relaxant.  To paraphrase Spike Lee, we gotta have it.  Cavemen mixed berry juice and blood to scribble on smooth stone walls.  They knew it, they felt it, they had a certain intuition there was something more than subsisting as hunter gatherers.  So should we.

Mine happens to be writing and as you’ve seen here, there’s a long way to go to even claim a loose grip on this art.  But half the fun is in the trying.  My friend Mort (http://www.churnhead.blogspot.com/) in ATL knows this all too well.  Ghost Dance is his outlet, and he’s been pecking away at the chapters for a while now.  There’s even creativity to be found in my parent’s predicament; i.e. reportage and accurate recounting of events for Ellen and Reid, the sharing of emotions and tears, and creation of some lasting memory that perhaps the kids will set aside for later years.

Point being that a dose of creativity never hurt anyone.  No matter how downhill my day has gone or how miserable the confluence of events might be, there is always the creative element to look forward to.  Sure, the result may be far, far removed from high art, but it’s the doing that counts.

——————

Thankfully, there is another Friday that allows me to write to my ailing parents.  Here is today’s letter that’s fresh in the mail.

June 19, 2010

Mom & Dad: Summer officially has landed with a damp thud and it feels like the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla that will sit anywhere it damn well wants to.  Hot (90s) and humid (off the charts) and in general miserably uncomfortable.  My tomato seems to like it and although the varietal may be a Better Boy, the fruits are like Small Boys.  Just don’t seem to get real big.  But it’s a far cry from last year when I harvested one – 1 – that was the size of a golf ball.

Ralph called me yesterday before they took off for California to see the grandkids.  He was just checking in.  We haven’t talked since which is the first time in a long time that even a few hours has passed without us touching base on things.

Ellen and Reid are doing fine.  Just think, one year ago tomorrow you guys were in Des Moines for Ellen’s wedding.  It’s just hard to believe that amount of time has passed.  She got a bit of good news this week: she has an interview early next week with a school where she might teach Hmong children to read.  She’s excited and my fingers are already crossed for her.  Really hope she gets it.  Reid got some really good news in that his ad agency has named him the lead for the Hampton Inn account plus some other beefy work.  So his worries about leaving the agency are somewhat abated although the Hampton work will dissipate later this year when the account bolts to another shop.  It’s the way of the ad world but it is a ray of bright news for your grandson.  He’s really excited.

Dad, I came across a stack of photos from years ago in the bottom drawer of the bureau in the spare bedroom with the twin beds.  I have demanded your other son trot those out to you for identification.  Looks like your dad and Mary, plus other people I don’t know.  There’s also a great shot of you and Hank in front of what must be the boarding house where you guys lived in Lincoln.  It was great fun to rummage through that stuff before leaving town.

The staff there have been pretty good about keeping us up to speed on things.  The Hospice lady has called a couple of times and she seems to think you are holding your own, which we take as good news.  You sound better on the phone.  This deal about getting mom to the dentist is a little disconcerting because they said they would transport her – and you – to any appointments you need.  We’ll get it worked out.  I’m glad you two get to spend some time together even though in the best of worlds it’s not the ideal any of us would hope for.  I suppose some time together is better than none.

Tiger is showing his stripes at the U.S. Open.  He was bitching opening about the bad greens, and that would seem to be far below his station to whine about things.  The TV commentators are riding him like a rented mule, as they should.  The bum.

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Undermining our focus…


Try as I might to strike a balance between populist hi-tech and my brand of admitted low-tech, along comes news that bursts my bubble.

Like this headline in Tuesday’s Charlotte Observer: “Plugged in, but not engaged.”

In short, scientists say we cannot process the constant deluge that pours through the information portals.  It seems our “ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.”  Even die-hard multi-taskers who profess their gadgetry makes them more productive have, on the contrary, even higher thresholds of trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information.  Hence, they feel still more stress.  Even for those moments addicts are removed from their electronic lifelines, the inability to stay on point persists.

Little wonder we bite off more than we can chew.  People consumed three times as much daily information in 2008 as they did in 1960.  Then there is our compulsive nature.  Today’s workers check email nearly 37 times per hour.  The findings are damning.

All this is a bit of salve for me.  Already, my mental processors have formed the backbone of Friday’s letter to my parents.  Topics – their health, the concern of family members, etc. – have been proposed, then mulled over to be accepted or discarded.  Paragraphs are constructed, reconstructed and then rearranged.  All of this is absent of distractions that are not of my own making.  Rather than my attention becoming diverted or otherwise undermined, my focus on this single page remains relatively intact.

——————-

Today is Wednesday, and given the spate of recent sorry events, here is a letter to Ellen and Reid from happier times.

February 28

Reid and EB:

“Flurries”, they said.  It’ll only be “flurries.”  Yeah, well let me tell you if I end up shoveling 4”-6” of “flurries”, this will be on red-hot da-da.   The snow is falling and it’s falling hard.

By the time you receive this, however, we will be into the widely acknowledged and all-important psychological start of spring.  In theory, that is.

Remember the book we read over and over and over to you guys when you were tiny tots: the terrible-awful-no good-very bad day?  This is one of those days.  In fact, it surpassed terrible before we reached 9:00 a.m. and abutted up against very bad a few minutes before noon.  The title of my new column was already registered by another party (hmmm, by a New Yorker just days after I leaked the name of the column) and now I’ve got to arrive at other names and go through all the legal diatribes – not to mention legal costs – associated therein.  And the New Yorkers won’t return my calls.  No one returns my calls, not even Grandma and Grandpa.  That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Actually, this is just a continuation of the back luck/misfortune/generalized woe that started last week.  You know all about us missing our flight to San Francisco.  It was all my fault.  I thought – swore – that my ticket said 2:00 departure.  Then, when your mom discovered at 11:45 as we stood in the kitchen that it was actually wheels up at 11:45 and not 2:00, I swore again.  Loudly and often.  What a monumental goof-up.  Totally my bad.  Believe me, it was one quiet car ride to the airport.  Instead of getting there early for a nice dinner and walking tour, we went stand-by on separate planes and arrived at separate times.  The moral of the story: look at your tickets.

Once we got there, it didn’t get a heck of a lot better.  We had virtually no walking around time, and I blew $450 on a round of golf at the Olympic Club – greens fee, rental car, caddie (plus tip) – that I though would be comped.  “A fool and his money are soon parted,” I always say.  Look no further for living proof.

We did have one adventure.  It was a dinner theatre show called Teatro Zizzanno.  Hard to describe, but it was a combination meal-vaudeville-musical review at some funky spot down on one of the piers.  We laughed out loud almost the whole time.  The talent from singers to jugglers to performers was really good.

But we got back in good order on Friday without any further difficulties.  But I wish we could’ve stayed through the weekend so we could’ve at least seen the sights.

With spring break on the horizon, you guys better get your acts together in terms of rides home and the like.  Any and all of your friends are welcome to stay here on the way through town.  After my $450 golf junket, I’m staying here.

Ciao.  Adieu.  Adios.  Ta-ta.  See ya.  You get the picture.

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