Monday, August 30, 2010

The last time I will see you?

Mom met Mary Foster while the two young mothers walked their infant children in Montrose Park in Washington DC. The year was 1948. World War II was a recent memory. Harry S. Truman was awaiting his first election run.
Growing up, I knew that Mary wasn't related to me. But we were at their apartment in DC for all major holidays. The Fosters were part of our family.
Mary is 90 now. She lives with her daughter in Traverse City, Michigan. Mom kind of invited her to visit. And then Mary took her up on the invite. The thinking was at 90-years-old, Mary Foster wanted to see her great friend one last time.
How do you plan that? When is it the time to say good bye to people you love? Sure, we can die at anytime but can you stage a good bye tour to see everyone one last time?
But back to the present. Oh, gosh, Mary Foster is so old now. She has walking sticks. She will fall down. Mary booked a bus ride (8 hours) to come here and we (Mom and I) were to meet her bus in downtown Chicago at 8:30 p.m. Wait a minute? Isn't that the same bus that Mom and Ed (soon to be 89) nearly died on a few summers back?
Luckily that plan died as well. Mary's cousin brought her down to Evanston where Mom and I picked her up. Wouldn't you know it Mary is doing fine at 90. No need to fret. She gets around fine. Mom was amazed she looked so good. Better yet, she didn't have to call 911 for her friend.
I always liked the saying, "God chose your family, thank God, you can choose your friends." Imagine having a close friend for more than 60 years. Good for you Mom and Mary Foster.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Don't Fit In

It was really my theme song when I worked for the Orioles. I worked 5 years for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and did some good things. Also got drunk and muttered I wanted to be a writer. But in 1979, a new wave band called the Beat with Paul Collins released an amazing album. One of the great singles was called "I don't Fit In." It was true, the Orioles didn't know what to do with me as I didn't fit it.
So I drove last night to Fullerton and Western in Chicago to a bar called the Empty Bottle. It took forever to find a parking spot but around 10, I secured one. My name was on the list (10 bucks) to see Paul Collins. I thought I might be a little late but a warmup band was on stage. While the rest of small crowd drank Pabst Blue Ribbon (redneck beer) and Hamm's (crap), I nursed a Goose Island IPA. Next up was a great Metropolitan Lager. And then the second band came on around 10:30. They had a few good songs. I did wonder near the pool table and spotted folks selling Beat stuff. I jumped on the "I don't Fit In." tee shirt. Collins, now missing his hair, came on at 11:30. It was excellent. Of course, he sang about six songs from the super album. He said his new band didn't know, "A Different Kind of Girl," so he did that by himself. That album should have had 3 number one singles. It was incredible. I made it home at 1:10 a.m.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My golf tournament

Yes, it's very hard to talk about my golf tournament without bragging. But I will try. This week marked the 12th Pioneer Press Foursome Tournament. 17 golfers came to a gorgeous course in Grayslake called Stonewall Orchard. There they played 18 holes free of charge. I collected three gift certificates from the cool restaurants of Lake Forest known as Southgate Cafe and Bank Lane Bistro. I also had a heavy trophy from Awards and Engraving of Libertyville for the winner. The players involved had their names written on their golf carts. Despite threats of rain, it was totally dry. I was the only reporter in attendance so I got all the news.
Flash back to 1997. My good boss, Kevin, asked me what I wanted to report on during the summer. It came to me. I had married Eileen and her father, Marty, had tried in vain to make me a golfer. So I say, how about Marty and I go out golfing with the two best players on each golf course. Switch to the phone. I called golf courses. They eventually got back to me. This Pioneer Press Foursome golf program was inaugurated. A year later, a course in Mundelein (now torn up) offered to host my tournament of the players I had golfed with. It rained hard that morning but the players dressed for it. The next year, I did the same thing. But I made an almost fatal mistake. I didn't invite the players from the past year. I had four players at the tourney. One got hurt and I was left with three. I thought of the scene in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett O'Hara proclaimed she would never be poor again. And I would always keep a list of my players.
The only requirement for this tourney is that a golfer plays 18 holes with me. I take notes and golf terribly at the same time. In the tourney yesterday, golfer Ned ripped off a 32 on the front nine and prepared to claim his first tourney. Alas, he had a tough back nine. Golfer Chris (who is very good) won his third title with a 71. Yes, this is another reason, I hold on to my job at Pioneer Press.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On second marriages

My friend Dave says "get that first marriage out of the way." But all kidding aside, it's one of the worst things you can hear in life. "I want a divorce,'' my ex-wife uttered to me some 17 years ago. It was crushing. It was unbelievable. I felt I didn't do my job to watch out for my family (the two of us). But on second thought, maybe it wasn't my fault. One of her friends noted to me that her marriage didn't fail, it just ended.
Of course it was the best thing to ever happen to me so I could move on. The way God looked at it, it was six days after that horrendous announcement that I met my best wife for the first time.
So what do we know about second marriages? Isn't a very good idea to marry a person who has at least some marriage experience? That's invaluable. That person should know something about sharing and taking care of expenses.
I did tell my friend Joel upon his second marriage that if you hear the same complaints in the second marriage that you did in the first, those comments are probably true.
Do your best not to divorce with children in the picture. If you do that, you might not have a choice on who raises your kids. That in itself should frighten anyone. Your ex might marry some loser and your kids and you will pay for it.
When I was growing up, I knew nothing of divorce. But my friend Brian's mom lived alone so I guess she was divorced.
These days it's not easy to find folks who have been married just once. It makes you wonder.