Food for thought 6/7/13

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Little Things

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Today is Mother’s Day and I am headed over to my parents house this afternoon  for a nice dinner with the family .My mother won’t let me cook for her on Mother’s Day. She feels that one day she won’t be able to do it. 

I am blessed to have a really awesome mom. She’s one of the smartest people I know, a fabulous cook, a warm and wonderful person. While my divorce was really hard on her, she’s done so much for Frankie and I (and even Margarita) to help make us a family. It’s nothing major, just a lot of little things. Making Frankie Mac and cheese when we come over to visit, picking up books from the library he might like.

I tend to remember the wonderful little things my mom had done for me over the years.

We moved to Atlanta when I was in the first grade. I remember every other kid in my class had this glue that had a pirate on it. I had Elmer’s. I told her that a kid made fun of me because I had a cow on my glue. My mom drove around to 4 different stores to find the Pirate glue so her little boy wouldn’t be laughed at.

My 3rd grade class grew tulips and decorated pots to grow them in. It’s the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend and everyone is sitting with their pots and tulips riding home on the bus. Getting off the bus, in front of my house , I tripped and my pot was smashed. I sat on the step of our house crying. My mom told me she loved her tulip because it was unique. We planted the tulip bulb in front of the house.

For all my failures and shortcomings, I never seem to let her down. I am proud to be her son.

Thanks for all the things( big and little) you’ve done for me ,Mom.

Journeys

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Frankie and over the weekend completed a journey which we started last November. It was to watch all the James Bond movies in the order they were released in. Starting with “Dr. No” and winding up with “Skyfall”. We watched all 23 Bond movies ( we don’t consider “Never Say Never Again” an official Bond movie) .

I’ve watched all of the Bond films over the course of my life. Yet I had never watched them in the order they were released in. During the week, I see Frankie on Thursday nights. So our conversations always would turn to what Bond movies we were watching.

I asked Frankie of we should do something special to mark the end of this journey when we watched “Skyfall”. Frankie said to me, we should put on coat and ties “just like James,dad”. He was also the one that suggested we put a tie on Margarita, because “she is our ‘M’ ” . It was quite a special night.

Sadly my 007 or M did not make it to the end of the night. Both passed out cold somewhere in the middle of “Skyfall” . I wound up watching the end by myself.

Six months later, I can tell you that I can’t watch a Bond movie without Frankie around. It’s just not as much fun. I think the best way to have a root beer is not in a frosted mug,but in a martini glass “shaken,not stirred”.

We started watching Bond movies just as something fun to do. I never knew it was going to lead us a journey that took us everywhere and we never had to leave our living room.

Thank you Frankie for letting me take you on what I hope is the first of many journeys

Sunday at Augusta

I had planned to write about Sundays at The Masters with my dad this past Monday, then the bombing in Boston happened and it did not feel right. I thought to myself, now might be okay.

I took up the game of golf when I was about 11 or 12. I used to go to the range with my dad on  Saturday afternoons. Not having a set of my own, I would use his clubs. I wasn’t very good, every once in awhile I would hit a ball and it’d go were I wanted it to. Afterward, my dad and I would go to the clubhouse and I would have a Coke and he’d have a beer.  I started taking lessons when I was 13 and later that Summer he took me out to play a short par 3 course.

I started watching golf on television with my dad when I was about 6. First tourney of the year he always watched was The Masters . I can remember saying to my mom ” I’m bored” and she told me to go watch television with my dad. So I took my Matchbox Cars in the living room and my dad was tuned into what was going on at Augusta. I knew Jack, Tom, Johnny, and Gary by the end of that first weekend. Sunday at Augusta was something we always watched.

As some fathers and sons tend to do,  the older I got, the more I thought I knew everything. It caused friction and fighting between us. The golf course was one place we never argued on. We would leave whatever issues we were having at the starters shack. We could sit down in front of the television and watch The Masters together.

After my “Day of Days” and i talked to my parents.  My dad got on the phone and told me they needed a 4th for golf the next day. I played one of the best rounds of my life. We left my problems at the starter’s shed and just played a round.

It worked out this year were I did not have Frankie, so I went over to my parents’ house to watch Sunday at The Masters with my dad. Over the years, the furniture has changed and the television has gotten bigger and better (52 Inch HD flat screen) , it’s still the two of us in front of the television.

A couple of weeks ago Frankie and I drove by a driving range and he asked me what that was amd I explained to him. And i asked if he wanted to learn golf. “Yes, Daddy I do”. History has a way of repeating itself.

Opening Day

Opening Day

It is Opening Day at Wrigley Field today. I can safely say with out a doubt, the Cubs will not win it this year. Yet for every Cub fan, hope springs eternal. Works that way in baseball and life.

My first baseball game was June 8th, 1975, Cincinati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves. It was a Sunday, my dad took me. Just the two of us sitting on the first base side. We ate hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and ice cream. The Braves lost that day (the Reds won the World Series that year). The thing I remember most was being with my dad and him telling me who to watch and cheer for. It was a great day.

From that moment I was pretty much hooked on baseball. I collected cards, followed box scores. I wish I could tell you that I was a good baseball player, but I wasn’t (I had a decent glove, no bat). And I was okay with that. We moved around a few times when I was a kid, so I became a fan of the team of the city where we were living. I got to see Hank Aaron play when we lived in Atlanta, saw Rod Carew when we lived in Minnesota, when I was in college I saw George Brett play in Kansas City. I’ve lived in Chicago the longest and consider myself a Cub fan. I got to see Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, and Andre Dawson amongst others. My grandfather used to tell me stories of Cub players of old. I’ve been a fan of the Cubs since forever.

I don’t not like the White Sox, for the record. I remember when they won it all in 2005 cheering and yelling with friends after that final out. I just prefer the Cubs is all.

I saved all my Cubs and Red Sox hats from when I was a kid. And after years of trying, I finally got my son to wear a Cubs hat yesterday. He also said this Summer he would go to a game. I actually started teaching him how to read the box score in the paper yesterday. I don’t think he had a clue of what I was talking about, he smiled and seemed to enjoy it. Maybe it was just the expierence of being with his dad. I don’t know.

I can tell you that first baseball game, I had no clue of what was going on the field. I just remember being with my dad and thinking it was pretty cool.

In the past few years, I’ve hit some pretty lowest of lows. I’ve had a few jobs, I’ve parted ways with some really good friends, struggled mightly. I’ve never not given up hope. I know the Cubs are headed in the right direction. It’s going to take some time to get where they are going. And so am I.

Rest assured, when the Cubs win the World Series, I am going to be sitting there with Frankie.

A Good Day

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A Good Day is any day that you’re alive
– Paul Westerberg

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate having to take Frankie home on Sundays. I simply loathe it. Iam in a bad mood for the rest of Sunday night amd it’s best to stay away from me.

This past weekend we had a great time. The weather finally cooperated for the most part. I taught Frankie how to fly a kite ( i think I might’ve had more fun kite flying then he did). He rode his scooter that he got for his birthday everywhere.  And a weekend with Frankie is not the normal unless we watch a couple of James Bond movies.

I hate having to feel like I have to compete with his mother on “who does more for Frankie ” level. I try and avoid it all together as a matter of fact. I know I’ll lose every time as far as giving gifts. I tend to take a different approach. I try and introduce things into his life he’s not going to see when he’s with his mom
Flying a kite, James Bond, having a root beer in a martini glass ( shaken-not stirred), teaching him how to grill on the Smokey Joe. He loves to go take Margarita on a hike in the woods. I can teach him a little bit about the outdoors in the process. It’s fun because when he comes over he knows he’s going to do these things. And we are building a strong bond. It’s good for him and it’s good for me.

Frankie’s parting words to me today, were ” I had a blast this weekend, dad”. I’ve talked about my day of days, and my struggles the past four years. A comment like that makes it all worth while. It’s something that no one can take from me.

I’ve never claimed to be a perfect person or the “World’s Greatest Dad”. I pass the qualities that I value on to my son.  Be polite, be nice to everyone, have your friends’ backs, smile, hang on.

Today my son wore a baseball hat all day, told me he wanted me to take him to mini golf,  and the driving range. Last year he told me he did not like all these things. I call this progress. A truly great day.

I bitch about my struggles way too much sometimes. I heard the song “A Good Day” by Paul Westerberg  the other day. I am reminded why weekends like this one are important to me

Today was a good day. I am strong and truly blessed

A boy and his dog

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When Frankie comes to stay on weekends, our Fridays have always been kind of mellow. We usually watch a James Bond movie and he goes to bed. He loves to sit in the comfy recliner and chill out. Margarita has been into crawling into the chair with him lately.

A boy and his dog. I can remember being a kid and I had a hound dog that looked nearly the same as Margarita. We moved around a few times when we were growing up. Chicago to Atlanta, Atlanta to Minneapolis ,Minneapolis back to Chicago. We got our dog when we lived in Atlanta. She remained by my side until the day she died ( I was 15).

I can remember living in Minnesota and I was 8 years old and this kid lived down the street from me. He had this giant poodle, that doubled as an attack dog (no joke). And if the kid didn’t like you l, well he’d sick his dog on you. So all over the neighborhood there were kids being chased by this giant poodle. One day I managed to piss this kid off and he sent his dog after me. This dog chased me all the way to the last step of the front of my house were I looked up and there was my mom and my dog. I looked at my hound dog and smiled . My mom opened the door. You heard this bark that started on on the tip of her tail. The poodle froze and then looked at my dog,and like all cowards ran.  My dog took off after the poodle. The poodle nor his owner never bothered anyone again.

I remember being in junior high and nothing seemed to go right for me. I felt scared and all alone in those days. I wanted to run away. And then I looked at my dog and wondered who would take care of her if I was gone. I did not have an answer, so I stayed.

My dog got sick with cancer when I was going into my sophomore year in high school. My mom told my sister and I that they were going to keep the dog alive for as long as they could, when she started to suffer,  they were going to put her down. And she made it to February and my dog couldn’t do it anymore . It was a Tuesday and my mom said it was time to say goodbye. My sister and I were in tears.  And as my mom was walking my dog out the door one last time , my dog looked back with just that look that said “thank you”

Margarita is going to be 8 years old this year, she’s not going to see Frankie go to high school. Yet there is still time to create plenty of memories together. When you are a boy, one of the most important bonds is with your dog