Archive for February, 2016


Thursday, February 11th, 2016

My father died in ’85 and my mother in ’09. To this day I share more with him than her, but then, just today….

“Dad,” are you busy?”
“I’m sitting here with Max Mitchell and Cousin Norm. You ok?”
“Yeah,” I assured him. “Just wanted to tell you something.”


“It’s my mother calling. What should I do?”
“Conference her in if it’s something she can hear.”
“C’mon, Dad. They have hearing aids in heaven!”
“Not how I meant it, funny boy. But actually I’m surprised you know how to get us all on one line.”
“Your grandson showed me,” I assured him.
“Not Dickie Lomaz?”, he asked.

“You forget. I lost him in the divorce.”

“Right,” he signed. “You know I never told Ralph.”

“OK, hold on …”


“Wait a minute,” she shouted, apparently juggling something, “I didn’t think you were going to pick up. Sam, could you get me a pillow?”
“Mom I’ve got my father on the phone with us. OK?”
“Al?” she posed quizzically
“Elaine.” he responded politely.
“HEY! I have a good story for you guys. Can I speak?”

Moments of silence

ME: “Dad, remember when you went to the World Gin Rummy Championship years ago?”
MOM: “Do I need to hear this?”
DAD: “ In Vegas. I took Harriet.”
MOM: “Do I need to hear this?”
ME: “Well guess what I’m doing?”
DAD: “Please don’t tell me you’re playing head-to-head against Walter again. Haven’t you learned your lesson?”
MOM: “Should I let the two of you talk? (To the side: “Sam get me a valium”).
ME: “No, Dad. But guess where Carrie and I are going?”
DAD: (To the side, in a hushed tone: “Deal me out”).
MOM: “What about me? I carried you for nine months.”
ME: “I’m playing in the World Series Of Poker this summer — the Seniors Event.”
DAD: “In Vegas?”
MOM: “Sam!”
ME: “Yeah.”
DAD: “I’m so proud.”
MOM: “I could brecht”

Continuing on, I told how my wondrous wife had encouraged my resolve to knock down this Bucket List dream … how indeed we were flying ‘cross country … how first I’d toyed with the idea of selling shares in the project but that Stace said “No” in December and Michael said “Of course not” in January … and that Kanter said yes (Go figure)… but that we’d ultimately deduced the journey was ours to embrace.

— And that we were “all in”.

MOM: “When will this blessed event occur?”
ME: “We’re flying out June 16. It’s a Thursday.”
DAD: “What a wonderful present! That Sunday is Father’s Day.”
MOM: “That’s also our 67th anniversary, Albert. Or did you forget?”
ME: “I could brecht”.

More moments of silence. The backdrop featured sounds of chips riffling and dulcet tones of my kind, dutiful stepfather urging my mother to “calm down”. Finally, the silence was broken…

DAD: “Anything else, Sonny Boy? I’m holding up traffic here.”
MOM: “What’s new with the children?”
ME: “They’re fine.  Mom, can I ask you something really important?”
MOM: “Anytime.”

In the background —somewhat muffled — I heard “You owe two blinds, Al”.

DAD: “Gotta run.”
MOM: “Nice talking to you, Al”.
ME: “He’s gone, Mom.”
MOM: “Well, then —what was the important thing you wanted to ask me?”
ME: “Be honest with me, Mom.  Do you want me to go to Ed Turner’s stone setting?”

Five more seconds of silence until finally:

“When are you going to grow up Bruce?
“I love you too, Mom.”

We  would hang up in unison. By then my father, Camel perched deftly ‘tween his lips, was calling out of position. My mother (chances were)  was watching “Dr. Phil.”

And me? I remembered once again that the hero my father was to me was the hero my mother gave to me.   In all the years — from their divorce “before it was fashionable”  through her near half-century that followed — not once did she badmouth her ex.  My mother so often … perhaps too often … would fold with a smile —

Leaving me the big winner.


Saturday, February 6th, 2016

“I want you to cheer up!” chirped the voice Tuesday morning. The smile in her New York accent was unmistakable.
“Caryn Miller!”, I exclaimed, “How’s Brother Stuart?”
“Stuie’s fine,” she responded. “But it’s enough already.”

Fact is my fog, six choppy weeks later, was beginning to lift.

Had it been the loss of my aunt? The nightly rehearsals? The dry of the winter?
Perhaps the issues of family? The pale of my health? The ennui of the artifacts? (Ed. Note 1: After all, how many dusty documents, old photos, or stirred memories can one man take?) …

Perhaps it was the post-Vegas letdown? The mere tedium of work? Or… or … the missed Wednesday breakfasts with the boys?

I was prepared for the end of Aunt Helen; we all were. What I wasn’t ready for, quite clearly, was the end of her era.

Yet I plugged away, daily. All January. Pedaling. Pedaling. Reaching out. Talking. Sharing. Trudging.

I said my prayers in the morning, hit my marks through the day, made the commitments of night. And never did I forget that as God held my hand, Carrie held my heart. I wasn’t alone.

Then January ended.

Michael called with the boys in the car. Lucy Facetimed, dancing and singing. I moved my office, played some poker, and got a car wash. (Ed. Note 3: No, that’s not a typo).

My rhythm returned.

There’s a box of pictures — two hundred or so – stashed in a closet. Lord knows how long I’ve been planning to sift through them … to assemble my favorites … to post in my workplace.

This could be the weekend. The time may be found. Oh, WAIT! There’s the debate to watch… and I’m walking with Bill … and the Super Bowl Poker Tournament in Euclid … and Peyton’s Last Stand.

I’ll think about the photos, I guess — but I may not get to them.

After all, mourning has broken.