Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Because what’s more heroic than saving a pizza? I mean really? In the first video below you’ll see a man perform an amazing, dare I say death-defying, act of bravery as he rescues a pepperoni and cheese pie. Below that you’ll witness a Super Dad grab a flying umbrella that was sure to impale anyone who happened to be nearby. Well done, heroes. Well done indeed.

Ever heard of Prancercize? It’s the new fitness craze that’s taking the nation by storm. Founded by the electric Joanna Rohrback, Prancercise is a great workout from head to cameltoe. Check out the video, man, and watch Joanna prancercising like a boss all over that golf cart path. From trot to gallop, that lady has the grace of a gazelle. Now excuse me while I prancercise my way out of the house and right on down the street.

PS- I bet Joanna Rohrback would be fun to hang out with. Personality for days. 

PPS- That workout gear is badass, man.

PPPS- Killer soundtrack.

That’s oozing personality right there.

Do you believe in signs? As in those times when it seemed that someone, somewhere was trying to tell you something? I didn’t for most of my life. However, over the last several years things have happened that made me change my mind. What follows are six experiences I or my close friends have had where things pretty much defied explanation.

Back in 1996 I lost my best friend and brother-in-law Jigger. Jigger was a great guy, loved by many, and was involved in education his entire professional career as a teacher, guidance counselor and finally a principal. After his death several strange things happened that caused me to pause and wonder what was happening. One of these instances occurred at his funeral, which was held in his hometown of Bainbridge, Ohio. The casket had been lowered into the ground and we were listening to the preacher give a final prayer. Just after he said the word, “amen” the 3:00 pm dismissal bell rang at the elementary school behind the cemetery. We all just sort of looked at each other with raised eyebrows.

Coincidence? Probably.

But other things can’t be attributed to pure chance. For instance, a couple days after Jigger’s death my sister received some checks he’d ordered in the mail weeks prior. The problem was that the checks had her name on them, not his. That one was a little harder to explain.

In 1999 I lost another good friend, this time it was Tim. Tim is the only person who I ever felt appreciated the Beatles as much as I did. We’d talk for hours about them, arguing about song lyrics or album covers, the relevance of certain songs, who was the most talented Beatle. I was always a Lennon guy, he leaned towards McCartney. We used to argue about which was the greatest Beatles album. He always said it was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and I always argued for Abbey Road.  We could never come to an agreement on that one, debating for hours on end over which was the greatest album.

On the day of Tim’s funeral, after the burial I went down to my basement where I had a bar, my library, and my music collection. I made a drink, sat down on my couch and laid my head back, just trying to unwind after a trying day. When I finally looked up, though, something caught me eye. A CD had fallen from among the hundreds from on my shelves and was on the floor, right in the open, where it had inexplicably landed right in the middle of the room.

The album was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

It seems that Tim had gotten the last word.

A couple years ago I lost Andy, another lifelong friend. He lived in Florida, and after his death myself and another mutual friend Tom made the drive down to Florida for his memorial. On the way home we were talking about Andy and a song the three of us used to sing to each other. One of us casually mentioned that it would be just like Andy to cause that song to pop up on the radio. You know, as a sign. Soon after that Tom saw a blown semi-truck tire on the road and said aloud, “You know, I see those blown tires all the time but I’ve never, ever seen it happen in person.” Next thing you know we were passing an 18-wheeler and BOOM, that very thing happened, not 5-feet from us. It seemed like Andy had chosen another way to give us a sign.

Last June my sister Karen passed away pretty suddenly. After her burial I went to a local bar to meet some friends who knew I needed them. It’s a small place, it was early, and I was the first person there. The bartender asked if I wanted some music, I said yes, and she went over to play some tunes.

The first song she played? The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, one of my big sister’s favorite songs. I asked the bartender why she chose it and she said, “I don’t know. It just came to me.” 

You know, I’m pretty sure it didn’t “just come to her.” I mean, what are the odds?

This last story involves my sister as well. A couple that was very close to Sis, Shelley and Joey, were at the beach on their summer vacation the day of my sister’s memorial. The memorial was to begin at 2:00 pm, and as they sat on the beach talking and thinking about her they decided to have her favorite drink, a Rum & Coke, in my sister’s honor. Neither had any money on them and they wanted to have the drinks at precisely 2:00, so Joey got up to run back to their room to grab some cash to buy the drinks at a nearby Tiki Bar. Then, just as Joey stood, he looked down in the surf. There, floating right up to him, was a $10 bill.

That $10 was exactly what they needed for the drinks.

They just looked at it, then each other, and knew it was a sign.

And these six aren’t the only things that have happened. I have a few other incidents that gave me pause as well and caused me to wonder if there was something other than coincidence was going on, something bigger than all of us.

The Universe? God?

What to you all think about this? Have you been given any signs?

The 80s, man. What a decade. Big hair, spandex, high-wasted jeans, leg warmers, neon colors, cut-off sweatshirts, mullets, I could go on forever. I taught at a middle school in Greenfield, Ohio back then and everyone looked like they were straight out of Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Anyway, I ran across this gem today and it’s so 80s it hurts. Denim for days, man.

PS- I had no idea Jordache jeans still existed, but damned if they don’t.

PPS- That one guy looks like the lead singer of Fine Young Cannibals. Google it.

PPPS- If I was that denim I’d be distressed, too.

Just spectacular.

Ingenious.

French luxury sports car brand started showing off the new Bugatti La Voiture Noire, which has an eye-popping price tag of nearly $19-million. Bugatti rolled out the one-off supercar to celebrate the brand’s 110th anniversary and to pay homage to the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, an extremely rare all-black luxury coupe it made in the 1930s. The car is notable for an all-black, one piece exterior “without any irritating lines” in its design. In fact, the company says the “bumpers are smoothly integrated into the body and the windscreen seems to flow seamlessly into the windows at the sides, like the visor on a helmet.”

Cool car and all, but I’d take that 1930s model over it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you? And is it me or does every new car model looks like a Toyota Camry? Let’s see some creativity, car people. You’re better’n’at.

PS- A $19-million car, bought on a 5-year plan, would be around $320,000 a month. Seems reasonable.

PPS- This is the only car of its kind. Rich people annoy me, man.

 

Live Science: Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear ice-encrusted fur.

Yikes.

Fluffy, an adorably resilient cat recently survived a brush with the polar vortex after her owners found her covered in chunks of ice and snow.
The owners rushed Fluffy, who looked more ice-ball mop than feline, to the Animal Clinic of Kalispell in Montana, where veterinarians essentially defrosted the cat more than a week ago, according to news reports. Fluffy wasn’t frozen solid, Andrea Dutter, executive director of the Animal Clinic of Kalispell, told the Washington Post. But her temperature was well below 90 degrees — the lower limit on the hospital’s thermometers. Cats normally run temperatures a few degrees warmer than humans’ average body temperature of 98.6. “We immediately began to warm her up,” Dutter told the Post. “Warm water, heating pads, hot towels . . . within an hour she started grumbling at us.” Fluffy is normally an indoor-outdoor cat who knows her way back home, but was likely immobilized outside after an injury — which doctors discovered after they warmed her up, according to the Post.

Just like a cat, amirite? A dog would have been eternally grateful after being defrosted, but a cat immediately starts grumbling at the people who saved its damn life. Cats, man. Such assholes. Good for Fluffy though. Maybe cats really do have 9-lives?

PS- I once found a dead, dried up frog under the fridge in my apartment at Ohio State. I took it outside, threw some water on it and it hopped away like nobody’s business. Not even kidding.

The Takeout: In the admittedly narrow world of Cheetos-fast food mashups, Burger King’s Mac-And-Cheetos and Taco Bell’s Cheetos Quesadillas have some new competition. KFC announced it is testing a new Cheetos Sandwich in selected restaurants at locations in North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. KFC lovingly describes in a press release: “Made by coating a juicy, hand-breaded Extra Crispy chicken filet with special Cheetos sauce and placing it on a toasted bun with mayo and a layer of crunchy Cheetos, the Cheetos Sandwich will give you a blast of craveable Cheetos in every bite.” In this manner, KFC doubles up on the Cheetos-ness, providing a Cheetos sauce as well as actual Cheetos in the sandwich.

Listen, I’m not a big KFC guy but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Juicy? Check. Extra crispy? Check. Toasted bun? Check. Cheetos sauce? Check. CHEETOS? Check. I’m in. Who’s up for a Road Trip to Virginia?

Lord God almighty that looks tasty. Yes, please.

Note: Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.

The story goes like this. A homeless man was admitted to the hospital. After he was taken inside, the nurses noticed his family patiently waiting for him outside. They waited and waited, and the hospital staff kept them comfortable with food until the man was taken care of and released. It turns out this man often went hungry to feed his family so they, in turn, were loyal to him.

Dogs, man. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I have something in my eye.

Yep. Whiskey vending machine. That is all.

This speech was given just 2-months after Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30th, 1981. Listen, I was never a big Reagan guy at all (although he looks pretty damn good in retrospect) but this is a stone cold move. After hearing a loud balloon pop he doesn’t flinch, just casually says “missed me” to the masses. Reagan, man.

PS- Again, this was just 2-months after he was shot. Hell, the Orange Tweeter couldn’t go out in the rain to honor our veterans.

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The story began when a guy named Jamal Hinton received a random text from a woman named Wanda Dench. Seems Wanda had texted him mistakenly. Here’s here initial text:

 

Jamal, perplexed, of course asked who the heck was sending him this text, since he knew no Amanda nor Justin. He was answered, and the following conversation ensued:

Wanda complied:

Of course Jamal couldn’t resist responding, and Wanda did too:

So, this happened:

Long story short, the initial text came in 2016 and Jamal has gone to his second grandma’s house every year since:

I’ve never understood racism and I never will, but in these sensitive times a story of how one kind, simple gesture can lead to a friendship sure makes me feel good.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Stan Lee died today. He was the creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, and many more. Stan Lee was also ahead of his time in many ways. Read what he wrote in 1968. We can still learn from his words today.

READ THIS.

The Anthem Veterans Memorial is a monument located in Anthem, Arizona and was dedicated in 2011 to honor the sacrifice and service made by members of the United States Armed Forces. The memorial’s five white pillars represent the nation’s military branches and are arranged in Department of Defense order of precedence: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and finally Coast Guard. Each pillar has an elliptical opening that slants downward toward The Great Seal of the United States. On Veterans Day the design allows the sun’s rays to spotlight the Great Seal at precisely 11:11 AM. Amazing stuff.

[click, enlarge, scroll]

The Dancing Doctor will warm your heart. It’s the best thing you’ll see all day. He’s actually a physician’s assistant and his name is Tony Adkins.

A man in New York City named Charlie went to a shelter to get a dog. However, the one he had his eyes on had already been adopted. However, before Charlie left he decided to take a lap around the facility to see what other dogs were available. Just as he was about to leave he saw a little mutt in a the corner of a cage. The little dog’s back legs didn’t work, he had 3 teeth and his ears had been frostbitten. At that point Charlie had a thought: “If I don’t take him, nobody will.” Ladies and gentlemen, meet Engelbert.

This is beer, battered and fried. The beer is poured into little ravioli pockets which burst with scalding suds upon first bite. To make it, the beer is placed inside a pocket of salty, pretzel-like dough and then dunked in oil at 375 degrees for about 20 seconds, a short enough time for the confection to remain alcoholic. When you take a bite the hot beer mixes with the dough to create a delicious taste sensation. And yes, kids, you have to be 21 to eat it. Deep Fried Beer, an idea whose time has come.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a backup quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s played previously for the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and New York Jets. He played college football at national powerhouse Harvard. He’s started the first 2-games for the Bucs in place of #1 draft pick Jameis Winston, who is currently serving a 3-game suspension. Fitzy has responded by throwing 8-touchdown passes, just 1-interception, and has completed 78.7% of his passes in two victories. He is also handling his notoriety with both style and aplomb. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a National Treasure.

PS- I would trade Jameis Winston today.

PPS- If you didn’t know, that’s a Conor McGregor look. Der.

Sometimes when you’re way behind, everything in your body is telling you to quit. Here are 5 people who didn’t.

“From the depths of hell!”

From 5th to 1st in the last lap.

Ohio University’s Dave Wottle wins Olympic Gold in the 800-meter run.

And finally, the legendary comeback by the USA’s Billy Mills. “Look Mills! Look at Mills! LOOM AT MILLS!”

On June 11th, 1776, Thomas Jefferson was asked to articulate the thoughts of the American delegates in a written document. If the congress is to vote for independence on July 1st, this “declaration” will explain the decision to the world. It was noted badass John Adams who recommended that Jefferson write it.

Thomas Jefferson was shocked. “Why me?” he asked. “Reason first,” Adams replied. “You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and very unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you write ten times better than I do.” Jefferson responded, “Well, if you are decided I will do as well as I can.”

At that point Thomas Jefferson went to his rented Philadelphia house, sat down, and began to carefully write the 1,337 words that would change the course of world history. After just a little input from a few other delegates, the “Declaration of Independence” was born.

Included in the second paragraph were the most earth-shattering, amazing words ever written for its time – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That’s right. ALL MEN. And although no country in the world believed the tiny American colonies could defeat the most powerful army in the world, that’s exactly what they did.

Note: I know some people don’t understand how I can write about the personal life experiences that are often the subject of my writing. I understand not everyone is comfortable opening up about such things. However, writing and articulating my thoughts is therapeutic for me. It helps me, and I’ve also been told by others that it has helped them on occasion. That said, if it bothers you go ahead and hit that back button up there. Totally your call.

As some of you know I lost my Dad on August 13th. What follows are some memories of one of the most amazing men I’ve ever known . . .

Some of my fondest and earliest memories of my Dad involved sports. Dad was a great athlete who pitched for Ohio University and once outdueled the future major leaguer Harvey Haddix in a game when Dad was just 16-years old. Haddix went on the be a 3-time Major League All-Star who once threw 12 perfect innings in a game that is considered by many to be the best pitching performance in major league history.

So yeah, Dad was good.

I can recall many times where Dad and I were out in the driveway shooting hoops. He even had a light installed, and our house hosted many a late night game with a bunch of local kids participating.

We also played catch in the front yard on a thousand warm summer evenings after dinner. Dad would be the catcher as I pitched, giving me pointers as we threw back and forth. I’ll never forget those evenings.

I recall Dad and Uncle Myrl or Uncle Paul loading up 6 or 7 of their kids and assorted friends in the back of a pickup and driving us to Cincinnati to a Reds baseball game or a Royals basketball game. Somebody would inevitably lose a shoe or hat, and it’s a damn miracle somebody didn’t get shoved over the side of the truck bed on Columbia Parkway. Hell, today a parent would be arrested for transporting kids like that.

Note: You’d be amazed how cold it could get going 70 mph at 1:00am on an August morning in the back of a 1963 Chevy C20.

They’d also take us to Ohio State football and basketball games, and even the old Columbus Checkers hockey games.

Sports was a huge part of my life, all because of Dad. But sports weren’t everything. There was much more.

Back when I was little, Dad was a smoker. It was the winter of ’60 or ’61, maybe even ’59, I don’t really remember. I just recall it was winter because there was a fire in our fireplace. It was in the evening, and I climbed up on Dad’s lap as he sat by the fire burnin’ a Lucky Strike. At one point I reached up and tried to grab his cigarette, because hey, I was a kid. I got my hand slapped, and it was then the following conversation took place:

Dad: “Hey, what are you doing? Stop it.
Me: “I want to try it!”
Dad: “You can’t. You’re too young and besides, cigarettes are bad for you.
Me: “Then why are you smoking one?”

And really, that was all it took. At that point Dad paused, looked at the cigarette in his hand, and flipped it into the fireplace.

And he never smoked another cigarette in his life.

I asked him about this recently, and he too remembered that evening. He told me he just didn’t feel he could justify smoking while at the same time telling me how bad it was for you. So he quit to prove a point, on the spot, for himself but mainly for me. And guess what? Although I’ve had a cigar or two in my day, I never took up smoking.

Dad was one of the toughest people I ever knew. When I was around 14 he was sharpening the lawnmower blades in our driveway as I watched. He had the push mower tilted on its side and was using a wrench to tighten the bolts that held the blades on. As I watched, the wrench slipped and his hand was sliced by the blade. He then grabbed his wrist, held up his hand to have a look, and there was his thumb basically hanging by some skin. You could see the bone and everything. As I stared in horror, Dad calmly said this:

“I probably need this looked at. Nobody else is here so you’re going to have to drive me to the hospital.”

Wait. What? First of all, “probably”? Second of all, I was 14. And the emergency squad was not an option for Dad, man. Couldn’t appear weak to the locals, ya know. Next thing I knew I was driving the old 1967 Buick Sport Wagon at a brisk pace to the ER. Oh, we did have to stop 4 or 5 times so Dad could wring the blood out of the towel that was wrapped around his hand, but somehow we made it safely.

And what did we do after Dad’s thumb was attached back to his hand? We went home and mowed the damn yard, of course.

Dad also had a pretty wicked sense of humor, something that a lot of people didn’t realize. Once he and Mom had installed an electric fence on their property, and I pulled in just as they were finishing up. I was probably 18. Dad was standing by the fence and Mom was doing something a couple hundred feet away. I asked Dad if it was working and he said yes but they hadn’t turned it on yet. At that point I absent-mindedly reached down to touch it and got the living hell shocked out of me. After I screamed like a cat on fire, Dad yelled this:

MOM! It works! I KNEW he’d touch it!”

This was followed by a maniacal laugh.

Yep, Dad had used his only son to see if the electric fence was working, and he thought it was hysterical.

Another time Dad had a friend at his house and they were building something in his workshop. I happened to walk by and the friend asked if I was going to help. Dad said, “Are you kidding me? Dave thinks Manual Labor is the president of Mexico.”

Real funny, Dad.

Dad was really a man ahead of his time in a lot of ways. He was a strong Democrat, albeit a conservative one, but he was pretty liberal for his time regarding civil rights. I remember driving in the south on vacation around 1961 or thereabouts and Dad pointing out to all the kids how terrible it was to have segregated bathrooms. He would often say this loudly, right in front of gas station and restaurant owners. I remember once we’d all gotten out to stretch our legs at a little store and had loaded back up in the car, only to have Dad come back and get me. He took me around back where the words, “WHITES ONLY” was painted on the bathroom door. Beside the door was a sign that said “COLOREDS” with an arrow pointing down a small hill in the woods. Dad took me down a path and showed me a log bench with a hole cut in the middle of it, which was used by African-Americans as a toilet. I was shocked and confused, which was the whole point of him taking me there. My father had followed the arrow, gone down to explore, was disgusted, and thought it was something I needed to see.

And to this day the image is still burned into my mind.

Another time we had an African-American kid move into our school from Detroit, I think around my 3rd or 4th grade year. Bourneville, Ohio wasn’t the most racially diverse area in the world, and I hadn’t heard the n-word in my life. The day this kid walked in my classroom that changed, as I heard some other kids whispering it at recess. Later that evening Dad was sitting in his recliner reading the paper when I casually walked by and informed him that we had a new kid in my class, a ****** from Detroit. In the next instant Dad had risen from his chair, given me a swift kick in the ass, and was looming over me:

“You will NEVER use that word again, do you hear me? It’s a a bad, bad word!

Then, as he pointed to his chest, he said this:

“You judge a person by what’s in HERE, not by their color, whether they’re a man or a woman or anything else.”

Got it, Dad. Crystal clear. And since that day I’ve tried my very best to do just that.

I can still recall the first time I saw Dad cry. I can remember the exact day because it was Friday, November 22nd, 1963. I got home from school, and I can’t remember if Dad had come home from work early or it happened after he got home a little later. Anyway, I’d been outside playing and walked in to see Dad looking at the television. They were talking about the Kennedy assassination a few hours prior and were showing photos of Jackie and the Kennedy children. I saw that Dad’s eyes were watery, and then he wiped them with his shirtsleeve and just got up and walked outside. That made a big impact one me, seeing my father showing (for him) what was a lot of emotion.

I’ve written about my Dad on this site before, including the time he wouldn’t let me quit Cub Scouts and when he taught my very difficult Junior Achievement class at school. Click on those links for some more insight on my father.

My Dad and I didn’t have the best of relationships during my middle years, and it was mainly my fault. I was a rebellious, stupid kid. Oh, I was fine until I was 13-14 years old, but then things went sideways. Dad was a tough, old school parent. We fought over the length of my hair, how I dressed, and a million other things.

This continued for years. It was more often than not an awkward, difficult relationship. I knew he loved me but I never really saw evidence of it. He certainly never told me. There were no hugs, no proclamations of love, none of that soft stuff from Dad. I realized later of course that it was a generational thing. Guys like Dad who grew up during the Great Depression wanted to make their sons tough. This meant being hard on you, and by showering love upon you made you weak. He was trying to prepare me for the future, and it wasn’t until I was older that I realized this.

And I wasn’t the only kid with a father like that. Many young men my age had fathers who were very similar. Not all, but many. For me, all this would change later in life, but trust me when I say that from the age of about 14 to 28 Dad and I could barely be in the same room together.

One day I ran into one of Dad’s friends, one of the guys in a group that Dad met at McDonalds every morning for breakfast. He mentioned that Dad had talked about me one day and I said, “Uh-oh. I bet that was interesting. What did he have to say?” The guy replied, “Are you kidding? He never stops telling us how proud he is of you.”

I was shocked. Dad, proud of me?

It was then I realized how he really felt, but coming from his background he just didn’t vocalize it to me.

As for the grandkids, great grandkids, kids at church or any other kid Dad met in his life, they have absolutely no idea of this side of him. As my son Kip put it, “Growing up, I always heard stories about Pap and his tough love but that was not the man I knew. He was slow to anger and quick to tell you he loved you.

And Kip is absolutely right. For a couple generations removed it was different. And our situation wasn’t unique. Many people my age will recount the exact same experiences between themselves, their parents and their children.

So yes, the truth is that Dad and I had an up-and-down relationship over the years. Those early years were great and full of amazing memories. The middle years were a little tougher, as I was trying to find my way and decide what I wanted to do with my life. Looking back I totally understand why my father was frustrated with me. As a father I’d have felt the same way. Thankfully I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, got at least a little grounded, and things between us improved a lot. We still hadn’t had that breakthrough though, and I was pretty sure I’d have to be content with a friendly, yet not really close relationship.

But as Dad advanced in age and started to slow down, things began to change. Cracks started to develop in those old walls. I think we both sort of realized it wasn’t worth it. Maybe he knew he didn’t have a lot of time left, I’m not sure.

Then at one point about a year ago we were sitting on his front deck, overlooking the lake. I’d began asking him questions about WWII because I was trying to keep his mind sharp and I’d read where stuff like that helped. He was telling a funny story and started laughing, I mean really laughing, and I soon joined in. I suddenly realized that I’d never really laughed with Dad like that, that we’d never opened up together so much before. It seems like such a simple thing but believe me, it was not.

When I left later and fully realized what had happened, it hit me really hard. A wave of emotion came over me, and I rest my head on the steering wheel and cried. We’d just been laughing and talking just like regular guys.

Like friends.

So yeah, in the end we came to an understanding, patched up and healed old wounds, and made up for a lot of lost time.

And on one of his last days, as I said goodbye before leaving his bedside, he told me he loved me.

I guess the point is no matter how hopeless things may seem, how entrenched some behavior may feel, it’s never too late for change, never too late to make things right. Somehow, someway, Dad and I figured it out.

And I’ll be forever grateful that we did.

Have you ever dropped your phone and broken the screen? Because I haven’t. Oh, I’ve dropped my phone before but it’s never broken.* It seems like some people are cursed though, and break their phone every other week. You’ve seen these people, the ones whose screen looks like it was stomped on by a pissed off hippo. Anyway phone droppers, your worries are over. An enterprising young engineering student has invented the “Mobile Airbag” that deploys whenever you drop your phone. Genius really. Check it out.

*I once dropped my phone in the urinal at a restaurant. Awkward. 

      

My sister Karen passed away one week ago, and it’s taken me awhile to even think about writing about her. The emotions are still raw and near the surface, and there’s just so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. Since I really have no idea where to start, I guess I’ll go back to the beginning . . .

My Mom and Dad had three children, starting with Karen, then Sara, then myself. I’ve always been really close with both of my sisters, and they’ve helped me out more times and in more ways than you can ever imagine. I love them both deeply. Today I will focus on Karen, who I’ve called Sis for as long as I can remember. I’m just going to write whatever thoughts come to mind, so stay with me . . .

Sis loved me unconditionally. She was my best friend, my secret-keeper, my confidante, my defender, my savior, my music sharer, my role model, my alter ego, and my rock. It didn’t matter what mistake I’d made or what trouble I’d gotten myself into, I knew I could go to her. Oh, she’d tell me if she thought I’d been an idiot or made a wrong decision, but I also knew that, no matter what, she would always love me. You could not find a better protector and defender than my sister Karen. She always had my back.

Sis’s emotions were always near the surface. She’d cry over anything. She’d cry while hearing a song, reading a book, or seeing a commercial on television.  I envied that, because she felt everything. Most of us sort of become hardened over time, jaded and a little immune to showing how we’re feeling, but not Sis. She had no problem showing us exactly how she was feeling, without embarrassment or regret. How many of us can say that?

Sis loved almost everybody. Oh, if you wronged me, another family member or a friend she could be your worst enemy, but she gave virtually everyone a chance. It’s an old cliché, but Sis never met a stranger. I remember being on Oak Island, a place we began visiting in 1978, and we’d just come back from dinner and were relaxing on the deck. Soon a couple walked up the steps, a man and woman I’d never seen before, and they were carrying a bottle of wine. Long story short Sis had walked up the beach earlier in the day, struck up a conversation with them, and ended up inviting them to our beach house. First off, who invites total strangers to your place while on vacation, and secondly, who shows up? That was the power of my sister’s personality.

And believe it or not, this happened several times over the years. Hell, I act like I’m on my phone to avoid people in the supermarket yet my sister made friends with total strangers wherever she went. Amazing.

As I said, Sis was always there for me. When my ex-wife and I split up in the early 00’s, the first person I told was Sis. Before you knew it I was living in the room over her garage, a place I remained for 6-months, and I knew I was welcome to stay longer. In addition, I wasn’t the first or last person to stay in that room. Sis welcomed more than a few people to stay there when they needed a helping hand.

Back in 1964 Sis did something that changed my life forever. I was on the couch in our living room, listening to music on one of those big stereo cabinets that were the size of a coffee table. I was playing an album by somebody, probably Bobby Vinton or Gene Pitney or somebody like that because it’s all we listened to at the time. Mom and Dad were big Al Martino and Dean Martin fans, so we had a few of those LPs in the collection too. Oh, we had some old Elvis records but mostly our home was a rock and roll free zone. But one day, in walks Sis . . .

She’d been to town shopping and immediately pulled the needle off the album that was playing, which annoyed the hell out of me. But before I could say anything, she shushed me and said, “Just listen.”

At that point the guitars kicked in, and the lyrics began: “Well she was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way she looked, was way beyond compare . . .”

Yep, life as I previously knew it was over. Sis had dropped the needle on the album Introducing the Beatles, and I probably listened to it at least 1000 times in the months to follow. Sure, I probably would have discovered them anyway, but thanks to Sis I was clued in from the beginning.

Sis graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Ohio University, where of course she fell right in with the counterculture movement of the late 60’s. My father, although a middle of the road Democrat, wasn’t real of fond of the long haired, free love, anti-war hippie culture. What made it worse was that Sis happily brainwashed her little brother every chance she got. I clearly recall one Sunday afternoon when my sister and her then boyfriend Jigger were pulling out of our driveway in their little Karmann Ghia, headed back to OU. As they drove off, Sis shot me a peace sign to which I immediately responded with one of my own. I then promptly received an ass-ripping from my Dad, quite clearly making his feelings known about those damn peace loving bohemian flower children. Sis? She was headed to Athens, headband, shades and bellbottoms on, windows down and hair blowing in the breeze.

Damn, she was cool.

Sis was a huge basketball fan, especially college basketball, and she understood the game. It was not uncommon for me to get a call at 10:30pm and suddenly be in the middle of a conversation like this:

“Are you watching Duke and Clemson? Clemson is getting screwed! Coach K is an asshole!”

Just another thing my sister and I had in common. Sis hated Duke.

My mother and Sis were the main reasons I became a teacher. I watched Mom, and then Sis, and the love they had for teaching, which in turn made me want to do it as well. Throughout my career I tried to emulate Sis and the way she treated kids with love and respect. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have been nearly the teacher I became without her influence.

There are a hundred other stories I could tell about Sis, a few that wouldn’t be appropriate for this site.

No worries, Sis. We’ll keep those private.

My sister Karen knew things about me that nobody else on this earth knew, because there’s nobody I trusted more. Like I said, she never judged, and her unconditional love was an incredible thing. I’m going to miss it more than anyone can ever imagine.

As I mentioned earlier, Sis had been going to Oak Island since 1978. A couple weeks ago, even though she was sick, she went one last time. For the 40th straight year she got to breathe in the ocean air and smell the smells of the place she loved so much. I’m so happy her husband Army and the kids made that happen.

We lost Sis last Thursday, June 21st, at 12:03pm. She died at home and was surrounded by the family she loved so much as she passed. She left incredible, unforgettable memories with all of us, and she set an example that we can only hope to try and live up to. There was a steady stream of people at her services on Sunday, and every single person came out of pure love and respect for her.

Sis was everything you wanted in a sister and a best friend.

Sis and I talked every day, whether it be to share a song one of us had heard, a book one of us had read, or to just talk about politics or basketball or something that had happened in the news. Several times since she’s been gone I’ve started to reach out to her about something, only to remember that she’s not here anymore. It breaks my heart.

I know that someday the good memories will begin to outweigh the sad thoughts, and that someday we’ll smile and not cry when we think of her.

Someday.

On Thursday evening, the day Sis passed, I went to a local bar to meet some friends who knew I needed them. It’s a small place, it was early, and I was the first person there. The bartender asked if I wanted some music, I said yes, and she went over to play some tunes.

The first song she played? The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, one of my big sister’s favorite songs. I asked the bartender why she chose it and she said, “I don’t know. It just came to me.” 

Thanks Sis. I love you.

And I hope that you, Jigger, Andy and the rest are all sitting on a beach somewhere, laughing, telling stories, and remembering all the good times. Lord knows there’s plenty of them, and like you they will never, ever be forgotten.