These past two years have gone by incredibly fast. 730 days, 104 Sunday dinners, 8 seasons, numerous family functions and an unknown amount of possible drop ins at your house have passed by in the blink of an eye. There is a saying that almost everyone who has ever grieved another person has uttered at least once, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them”. I always thought people just said that to say it, I mean do they really think of this person EVERY day for years on end? Seems unlikely. But I can truly say with absolute certainty that not only has there not been a day in these past two years that I have not thought of you but that not a day has gone by that I have not cried or become emotional thinking, remembering, reminiscing and missing you. After your funeral I became accustom to always carrying a water bottle because I would cry myself into dehydration. To this day I catch myself shedding tears because I had to drive by your old house or a song reminded me of you and I think “This is so dumb, why am I sobbing”. I mean I’m 35 years old, I’m not a child. I’m mature enough and possess the intelligence to grasp the concept that everyone dies. Everyone loses their grandparents; you were 79 years old with great grandchildren and you had lived a full life. I think “If I know all this why am I still bothered so much?” I have friends my age who have lost a parent or both. I have friends who have burred a sibling and some who have said their last good byes to a husband or wife and they all seem to be doing OK……..why not me? Only as I sit down to write this does a light shine on the answer to that question. I hurt because I’m ashamed of what your last living thoughts of me must have been.
In the time shortly before cancer started tightening it’s grip on you I was very much struggling with my life. Within two months my ex-wife told me that she no longer desired to start a family and left me and then I was in a car accident that by all in tense and purpose should have killed me. I fell into a deep,dark and lonely depression. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about it, or at least I felt like no one would understand. So I kept things mostly to myself. People would ask how I was holding up and I would give the obligatory response of ”I’m doing OK” or ” Everyday I’m doing a bit better”. These were all lies of course. A lifetime of keeping people at arm’s length because of shyness and fear had lead me down a path where I was always trying to cope with things by myself. I was lying about everything……I was lying about how I was doing emotionally, how I was feeling physically. The car accident blew out my knees and my shoulders and given me whiplash and a concussion the like of which dwarfed any injury I ever suffered on a football field. Firemen had to pull me from the car and I arrived at the hospital strapped to a stretcher with a neck brace on. When I realized that mom and dad were on their way to the hospital I immediately demanded to get off the stretcher and removed the neck brace. There was no way I was going to compound the stress and worry they were already burdened with because of me. I sat upright in a waiting room chair and told them I just had a sore neck and that my right shoulder only hurt a bit. I don’t know if they totally bought my story but I wasn’t changing my tune. Emotionally I couldn’t move forward and physically I could barely move anywhere. Then you got sick…
I was off work for a week when it should have been months, and during my first few days back we discovered your illness. It was such shock to find out that the sand in your hour glass was almost out. I will never forget that first night with you in the hospital. You knew who I was but would jump from speaking to me like I was an adult to talking to me like a child. You didn’t know what was going on and were so confused. It took every drop of composure, maturity, strength I could muster to make it through the night. You had to have a CT scan and an MRI that night and the medication you were on made you so uncomfortable and unpredictable. You pulled the IV out of your arm three times and wouldn’t stop moving and I didn’t know what to do other than beg and plead with you because I didn’t have the stomach or arm strength to do anything else. It was the longest and maybe most important night of my life.
The stage 4 brain cancer you were stricken with spread quickly and viciously. It robbed me and everyone else of the opportunity of talking and sharing with you the things we wanted and needed to express and know that you understood our words. Actually “robbed” is the wrong word to use. I speak for myself when I say I never should have waited till you were sick to say what I wanted to. I know now all too painfully to never let an opportunity to tell someone that you love them slip through your fingers. But I was lucky, I got a window. On one of your last days in the hospital I got a five minute window where you were your old self again. There was five minutes where it felt like you were no longer fighting a losing battle and you were at peace. You sounded like yourself again. It was just you and me in the room and you asked me sit close to you. You grabbed my hand and I was surprised by the strength in your grip. You told me simply to stop. Stop pretending and stop worrying. You told me not to care what others were going to think about me. You told me not to pay attention when others started to talk about me…their opinions didn’t matter. You told me that you knew I was good man and that the way things worked out were not my fault. You told me that all you ever wanted for me was to be happy and that I should do whatever it was that would make me happy and to be with whoever it was that would make me happy. You told me that you knew I was hurting and it pained you to see that. You could always see through my crap and know what was really going on with me.
I want you to know that I consider those 5 minutes a gift from God. They meant so much to me and are the biggest reason I am doing so much better today….other than missing you so much. I can’t promise I’ll stop getting emotional when I think of you but I can promise that I’m doing my best to chase happiness and to also let those I care about know how I feel about them. I miss you with all my heart.
Hello everybody I e-mailed this link to. Thanks for humouring me and taking the time to read another post. I don’t know if it’s because the holiday season just passed or if it’s all the grey hairs that seem increasingly easier to find when I look in the mirror but lately I find myself reminiscing about the past all the time. I don’t know why I keep strolling down memory lane. Maybe it’s because the future scares me so much. Maybe the thought of growing old alone with no one to love has me longing for the days when I was spoiled rotten with attention and love as a bratty only child. Maybe the realization that my dream of being a father may never materialize is making me think back to growing up surrounded by all my cousins. While I truly love all my cousins and have cherished memories with all of them one stands out to me more than others, my cousin Alex.
It’s no surprise we grew up so close, our parents are first cousins and in terms of age he was the nearest one to me. Geographically we didn’t live close, I lived in the city and he lived in the country. I would literally try my best to spend as much time as I could at his house during the summer months. I had asking my parents to sleep over down to a science. If their answer was no I would throw a timely but measured hissy fit then sneak out of the room. I would then go upstairs and change into the pj’s I always kept at his house making it almost impossible for my parents to deny my wishes. The first night of a sleep over was always the same, glutinous eats and a movie. Usually baked cheese hot dogs with crispy fries. The movie was either House Party or White Men Can’t Jump, odd combination to pick from I know but those were always available to rent at the store in Metcalfe. The following days were divided up by various activities. We would swim ……a lot. We would be in the pool for hours, usually until one of us noticed that the others lips were turning purple. We would play a variety of sports as well, from soccer to basketball to baseball to a little came we called “throw tennis balls at Alexandra” (his little sister). I remember the wicked terrible splinters we would get from the bat we played baseball with. It was cracked in half and held together with electrical tape. Any ball that cleared the chicken coup was a homerun, anything else you had to run the bases. In the winter hockey was played on the rink Alex would build every year but in the summer it was played in the garage. Hockey quickly turned into a game of trying to hit the other guy in the nuts when he was in nets. Young boys are weird like that.
We would also do a lot of frog and snake hunting in the swamp behind his house. We would put on a pair of his dad’s rubber boots and wade out into the water in search for the reptiles. Alex was the braver of the two and would always go further than I did and thus catch the bigger frog. WE wouldn’t harm the frogs that we caught. We would bring them back to the house and keep them in a bucket with water. I’d like to be able to say it was educational or that it was done out of curiosity but I can’t. We did it cause we wanted to scare the hair colour off my mom who is deathly afraid of frogs and snakes. We would wait till my folks would pick me up and Alex would put one down the back of her shirt when he gave her a hug or I would drop the frog into her drinking glass with hopes that she would only see it at the last second. She would scream bloody murder and we would kill ourselves laughing. We were awful!
I was always impressed by how Alex could build stuff. I remember he would do things like building a fort out of old rabbit cages or running a speaker from his stereo and placing it in his headboard so he could listen to music at night. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was jealous of him and what looked like skills that came so easy to him. Even though I’m older I often felt like the younger sibling.
I remember we would always be teammates or partnered up some how. When we would have family gatherings and the boys inevitably found some reason to wrestler or fight it was always me and him against whoever else. When we learned to play the Portuguese card game of Sueca we were always each other’s partners and tried to take on the older men to varying degrees of success. When I was invited to participate in a Little League baseball skills camp I asked Alex to come play with me even though he didn’t play Little League baseball. I can easily say that he was the closest thing I had to a real brother.
For some reason that I can not explain to this day something happened when we got to our late teens. We grew apart and I have no idea why. While we’ve never discussed what happened during those years I blame myself entirely for not remaining close. I really didn’t like who I was in my 20s and thought I needed to change everything about me. I distanced myself from my family and the Portuguese community I grew up in. Being that person is the biggest regret I have in my life. We would see each other at Christmas and Easter but it wasn’t the same, we weren’t the same.
It wasn’t until after my Avó passed that I smartened up and realized what my family meant to me and how sad it was making me being away from them. I have been making more of an effort to be around those that I love including Alex.
I’m very proud of the man Alex has become. He’s a loving husband and amazing dad to his 2 little princes. He found himself a wonderful wife and they are great together. I really treasure getting to spend more time with him and his family. Slowly it’s starting to feel the way things used to be. I pray that we continue to grow closer and rebuild or relationship.
On Christmas day me, Alex, his wife and his sisters went to visit his grandmother. She is very sick and was not having a good day. At one point the girls had to take her into the other room to help her clean up leaving me and Alex alone together. He teared up cause he couldn’t stand to see his grandmother in that condition. I teared up for that same reason but also because I couldn’t stand to see my cousin in pain. We tried to be strong and keep up appearances but we were soon crying. We gave each other a hug, not a wussy one pat on the back hug but a strong adjust your spine type of hug. It was the closest we’ve probably come to saying I love you. We didn’t say it…..but I think we both know that we do.
When it comes to giving Christmas presents I’m either on point or I’ll have missed the map completely. There’s usually never any middle ground. Some of the better gifts I’ve given have elicited the flow of tears and I was really able to tap into the essence of who the person was. But when I miss the mark I really miss the mark. I once saw my gift in the trash before I even left the Christmas party. As the Holiday Season is quickly approaching I’m trying to get on top of my game and really do good job with the few presents I have to buy this year. This has made me think about what is it that makes a great present and I started to recall all the gifts that I’ve received over the years that have touched me. Three in particular really stood out……Let me tell you about them.
The first one that came to my mind was my stuffed Gordon Shumway toy. You might know him from his earth name Alf. I got him when I was 9 years old and it’s the only one of these gifts I still own. Alf was the hottest thing going on back in ’87. He was everywhere, book-bags, lunch boxes, clothes, cartoon show, commercials, board-games etc. The funny thing is I didn’t ask for Alf, my mom bought him with no indication from me that I wanted him. I was a big fan of the show and watched every week but to be honest I didn’t even know the stuffed toy existed. My attention and focus was dedicated on the Nintendo Entertainment System, I didn’t think about anything else I wanted that year. I though it was a cool gift at the time but it’s value to me really came to light as the years have gone by. I would talk to him, take him places, hold him while I watched TV…..called him “Him” instead of “it”. Gordon currently resides in my room. While I don’t talk to him any more seeing him on my bookshelf reminds me of a time when I was a lonely boy and he was there for me. I would never get rid of him………mostly because that motherfucker knows ALL my secrets and I wouldn’t want him to drop a dime!
The first sound system I ever owned is the next item on this list. My Fisher Price record player. It was great, portable, durable and able to spin both 33′s and 45′s. My Grandmother got it for me Christmas 84. It came with these “Read-a-long” story books. The record would play a story and you would follow or read along with a picture book, turning the pages when you heard a chime. I had “A-Team and the Maltese Falcon, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fox and the Hound and Alvin and the Chipmunks”. Needless to say I played those records into dust. I also started to play a lot of records that belonged to my parents music collection. My Dad’s stuff, Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Guess Who, Wings, Abba was a varied mix but cool none the less. My Mom’s records were all Portuguese singers, Roberto Leal, Jorge Ferreira, Marco Paulo, Joao Teixeira etc. I didn’t understand the lyrics but that didn’t stop me from singing along. Why the accordion and the electric piano sound so good together I’ll never know but the fact is that they do! Listening to those records was the fist time that I ever took an interest in anything Portuguese on my own without being enticed by a family member. This was important because I always needed to discover things out on my own and hated being told what to think, what to listen to, what to eat etc. If I didn’t have that record player I might not have discovered this link I have to my culture.
The best Christmas gift comes with an interesting back story. For the most part I don’t really display the traits normally associated with being an only child. I grew up very close with my cousins and thus learning to share and get along well with others was something I learned at a very young age. One Christmas though I let my self be overcome with one of the seven deadly sins…..Jealousy. I had come home from next door where I was playing with the two boys who lived there. I whined to my mom about how they each had five presents under the tree while I only had three. My mother explained to me that I should be grateful for what I did have and not to be jealous of the things others had. Unfortunately this heaping plate full of wisdom my mother was trying to feed me went uneaten as I continued to be a miserable bastard. Finally my mom gave up trying to make me a better person and told me that I still had another Christmas present that she hand’t had the opportunity to wrap yet. She left for a while and true to her word returned with another present for little old me. She told me this was a very special Christmas present that I would really love. When Christmas rolled around and it was time to open my presents I made sure to open that special present last as it was sure to be the best of the bunch! I tore off the wrapping paper very quickly but I took my time opening the box as I didn’t want to damage the treasure that was waiting within. When I got the mystery item out I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. My mother says she’ll never forget the look on my face that day. In my tiny hands…………laid out in front of me was…………a pair of underwear?!?!?!?! Back when I was whining and bratting up a storm about my lack of presents my mother calmly left the room, went to the hamper…………pulled out a pair of my father’s tighty whiteys……… and wrapped them up as a Christmas present for yours truly. To say my mom derived great pleasure from this would be a huge understatement. She lost her pickle laughing at me. She was bent over howling at me while tears sprinted down her face. I’m surprised her cackle didn’t shatter the windows. To this day I have never seen her come anywhere close to laughing as hard as she did that day. I stormed out of the living with my lower lip sticking out like a peer over the water, devastated that the person I loved the most made me the victim of her prank. My sourpuss lasted only so long as I quickly realized that this was a great gift as I learned an invaluable lesson….but not the one you think I did. I already knew that I should be grateful for what I had and not to be jealous of others. The lesson I learned was how great it felt to pull off a prank. From that moment I knew I wanted to be on the laughing end of an incident like this. My mom showed me how much fun it could be messing with those you love. Most people think I get my sense of humour from my dad because he’s loud, boisterous and quick with a joke. But I think I got a lot of my sense of humour, sarcasm and all around smart assness from my mom, and it all started that day. Thanks mom for shaping, fostering and encouraging what has grown to be the most predominant feature of my personality. xoxoxo
“Sit up straight, Shoulders back, Chin up”. These are all things I’m sure everyone has heard at some point in their lives. The benefits to good posture are numerous. Good posture reduces back pain as well as preventing fatigue and arthritis. It is also widely believed that proper posture is beneficial to brain function. These are all solid reasons to straighten up, but the best reason of all I think is that you’ll get better presents when Christmas time comes. How you might ask, let me explain….
If you know me personally it won’t surprise you to hear that as a child I was what nice people would consider as husky (that same thing could be said for me as a baby, teenager going through puberty, man about town in his twenties and so on). Body image was always something that bothered me. As an adult I’ve come to grips with it and am cool with my sexy rolls and folds, but as a youngster it was a constant source of embarrassment and anxiety. Because of this I became some what of a chameleon when if came to fading into the background and going unnoticed. One classic move is to grab a couch cushion every time you sit down and put it in your lap. This really helps to hide the “smushing” affect that takes place when you take a seat. Another thing I did was to slump the ol’ shoulders all the time. Gave me the worst posture but the technique really helps provide extra fabric to the front portion of the silk shirts my mother would always dress me in. This would eliminate the “tight fit” look and provided some much needed relief to the buttons who were hard at work trying to hold the whole operation together. Because of these ninja like tricks no one really knew how to Christmas shop for me as it related to buying clothes. God bless my family as most of them just took a shot in the dark and guessed what size I was resulting in clothes that ranged from Medium to XXL, pants that would fit a 6-4 man and some dress shirts with sleeves that would go just past my elbow. I became pretty proficient at smiling really big and saying thank you while on the inside I knew that within a few weeks this particular item of clothing would be dusting the coffee table and smelling from pledge.
The only person who always got it right, always seemed to know what to get me……was my grandmother. She never let me slouch. She was always telling me to straighten up and if I didn’t I would get a pinch behind the arm that would make the burliest of men cry uncle. She also had an advantage because she was the family seamstress. All the ill fitting clothes that I would get for my birthday she would have to fix, giving her a good idea of what I needed and in what size. Regardless of what I looked like or what size I was she always made sure to tell me how handsome I was and made a big deal of how good I looked. She was always my biggest fan. Needless to say every seamstress I’ve seen since her has paled in comparison and hasn’t made me feel as good about myself as she did.
She always got me the coolest clothes too. Because she worked at The Bay she would always ask the younger females she worked with what was cool for boys my age. During my Vanilla Ice phase she was the only one able to find the pleated pants that were wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.
While I’m currently in the market for a girlfriend/ partner/soul mate/ cuddle buddy/ Burt to my Ernie, I must say that I’m really enjoying some of the aspects of being a 30 something bachelor. I get to chose whether the toilet paper gets hung in the over or under position and not having my decision making process analyzed, questioned and dissected is sort of awesome. Only me and the most opulent of sheikhs know the satisfaction that comes from eating a hot pocket in bed undisturbed. But the best part of my singledom has to be not having to account for my whereabouts. If I want to go to the movies and see three pictures in a row I can. If I want to spend ten hours playing the penny slots at the casino I can. If I want to spend my weekend learning to ride a unicycle and feeding ducks Chef-boy-R-dee in the park I can, I shouldn’t but I can. Take this past weekend for instance. I was lucky enough to be invited to my cousin’s house for supper with him and his family. This type of engagement is usually a 3-4 hour commitment but it ended up being much longer, in a good way. As it turns out I’m pretty popular with those who don’t need a second hand to count their age on their fingers. More specifically my cousin’s 2 boys Milo and Bentley, 4 and 2 years old respectively.
After a riveting game of ”Here are a bunch of my trucks that I don’t want you to touch” Milo asked me ” You’re gonna sleep over right?” At first I thought to my self “I’m too old for a kids sleep over”. But then after some thinking and soul searching I said “hell yeah I’m down with a sleep over!” It’s not like someone else will be wondering where I am and hanging out with two kids that think I’m cool beats crying in the dark listening to Sinead O’connor’s greatest hits any day of the week. After Milo was able to confirm that he did in fact have two pillows so we wouldn’t have to share I was all in. After supper I read Milo a very long book about Wolves while Bentley played motocross on my Iphone. Milo had a million questions about wolves that I answered to the best of my ability. I apologize in advance to the 3rd grade teacher who will someday read his project on wolves and scratch her head wondering why Milo thinks wolves have sharp teeth because their toothbrushes are made from rocks and twigs.
In the morning I though I’d grab some quick breakfast and head home. As it turns out I was still kind of cool in the morning and Milo wanted me to go with him and his mom to Portuguese school. How could I say no? When we got there I heard Milo tell all his friends that I had slept over. Their facial expressions were painted with the colour of disinterest but I could tell deep down inside they were jealous……… :S
Without the freedom that comes from being single I might have missed out on this family enriching moment and ego boosting weekend.
Authors Note: While I loved the events that happened this weekend I was just kidding about how great it is to be single. I would give up all the freedom that comes from being unattached in a heartbeat for a woman with all her teeth and a tone of daddy issues. Just kidding obviously………she doesn’t need all her teeth.
I might not have any nieces or nephews but I still think I rock when it comes to taking care of my cousin’s kids. Who else would play “just the foot pedal” so that the kids can rock out?
Everything seems to be “easy to find” these days. The interweb has made getting information, directions, recipes, news, scores, available singles, items for sale, opinions, religion, entertainment and so much more as simple as typing a few words into a browser on our computers or smart phones. (Yes I realize that I left out porn when I listed the various things one can find on the internet. On the off chance my mother figures out how to master the VCR in the next little while and decides she wants to conquer the internet I want her to be able to read this and still think I’m perfect.)
It’s never been easier to find what we want, get what we want and get it fast. Obviously I’m not breaking any new intellectual ground by stating that our culture is obsessed with instant gratification. What I want to write about today is what gives us gratification? What makes us happy? I’m not trying to be deep or answer any “what’s the meaning of life?” shit. On a very micro scale I’m asking what types of activities, food, music, movies/TV or anything else give you a Serotonin and Dopamine dump? Since I think you’re all creepy and weird I have no idea what does it for you, but here’s a short list of what does it for me.
1. I put a lot of meat in my mouth. More specifically I grab some eats from Hintonburger. For those who have never had a Hintonburger you have no idea what you’re missing. It’s an independent old school burger shop that buys all it’s ingredients local. Soooo good!
2. Music soothes the savage beast. Like lots of people music is a great escape for me. I love popping on the headphones, closing my eyes and forgetting where I am for a while. Old school Motown, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie are my favorites for letting lose.
3. White men can’t jump but it doesn’t matter. A lot people say working out makes them feel better or that yoga is a great stress release. For me the best type of recreational activity to change my sad sack into a glad bag is shooting some hoops, preferably by my self so no one can see how awful I am. I have to finish off each session by hitting two 3 pointers in a row. Needless to say sometimes I’m out there for a very long time .
4. Lights, Cameras, Action. After a bad day at work or a loss by my Fighting Irish I often don’t want to be around people. Not because I don’t like people but more so because I want to save them the anguish of hanging out with me when I’m going to be a sour c*nt. On those nights I like to distance myself from others and watch a good movie. Now different movies conjure up different emotions; since I’m taking about getting happy quickly I’ll just mention the top three smile makers for me. First one is Dumb and Dumber. It’s impossible not to laugh and feel better about yourself after watching this movie. The second is King Pin. I roar at every Bill Murray line and don’t get me started on the scene where Woody Harrelson has to “pay” his landlady. The Third is Home Alone 2. It’s not so much the movie that makes me happy as much as the memories associated with watching that movie at my Grandmother’s house that bring me joy. It was one of only two non “Jesus” movies (the other being Titanic) that she had so it always ended up being played when me and my cousins were there. I used to be able to recite the whole movie from start to finish.
5. Youtube Gold. Youtube is to watching movies what 5 hour energy is to coffee. There are way to many clips to mention so like I did with movies I’ll mention my top 3. First is this clip entitled “Epidemic of gold digging whores” by Bill Burr. I know it’s a comedy routine and Bill doesn’t mean it, but the genius and balls it took to put together that string of thoughts is amazing to me.
The next one is a clip from a FOXNews show. The panel was debating whether a DJ team should be fired because someone on their show made a joke about rape. The comedian on the show is Patrice O’Neil, by far the funniest comedian in my opinion of the last 20 years. The lady is from a feminist group called NOW. The reason this makes me laugh is not the subject matter but the reality of what happens during the interview. This lady left her home in the morning, got ready for a debate on national TV, organized all her arguments about how a rape joke is not funny…….and Patrice makes her laugh…at a rape joke.
The last is a clip from Richard Simon’s appearance on the show “Who’s line is it anyway?” The clip speaks for itself.
Really can’t believe I’m about to say this but……Football isn’t that important. Actually let me rephrase that, the outcomes of football games aren’t that important. My happiness on a 7 day basis used to depend on whether or not the Vikings and Irish won their respective games. I mean I used to really be a sour cunt if either or both of them lost. It wasn’t a smart or healthy way to live and it was really unfair to those who cared about me and could handle being around me. I’ve realized lately that even when my teams win the positive affects on demeanor pail in comparison to the negative. That being said this post is my way of saying I’m going to try and a little prospective when it comes to weekends in the fall. I’m going to try and realize that it’s ok to PVR a game and watch it later if it means I can partake and be a member of this thing we call society. I’m not going to frown all throgh supper at my folks because the Vikings couldn’t beat the terrible Cowboys. Easier said than done but here’s hoping