Nine Years

Dear Dad,

It was good to see you today. Though, I have to admit, you weren’t very talkative. Of course, for the last nine years, the conversations we’ve had have been pretty one-sided.

I have to admit, Dad, it’s hard to imagine me longing for the conversations we used to have. You remember….the ones where you’d sit in the chair at the kitchen table, and I’d be across the room sitting on the middle stair.

I loved those talks, Dad. And, I miss them. There we were, two stubborn Irishmen discussing a topic we were passionate about — neither one wanting to give an inch. And neither one of us ever did. And, yet, somehow, you always came out on top. You would get me to come right around to your point — almost forcing me to say something that agreed with your position, not mine. And once I did that, you wouldn’t say anything. No. You would sit there, and I would sit there. And while I was waiting for you to say something, it kept boiling inside of me that you got me to your point!

Sometimes, I wish we talked more. I think of questions now that I wish I knew the answers to. Why did you give up education? How come you never said much about your brother? There are more, but I think you get the idea.

I thought of those when you were alive, Dad. Of course I did. But there was no reason to think you wouldn’t be with us forever. So, I figured I’d get the answers eventually. You certainly aren’t talking about them now.

A lot is going on, Dad, that’s for sure.

The kids are growing. Everyone is busy. Mom just had bypass and came through fairly well. Slow to recupe, but that’s OK, she’ll get there. She had a funny dream about you, too, while she was doped up after surgery.

 But you know all this. At least I assume you do. And sometimes (no, make that a lot of times) I feel guilty when I don’t think of you as often as I think I should. Hoping all the while that not only are you thinking about me — but that you are watching down on my life.

And, honestly, Dad, hoping that you’re proud.



The Interview — Part III

Ok, so when I said this interview thing was addicting, I wasn’t kidding.

Today’s questions come from Molly. It’s only fair, really, that she interview me. Afterall, I interviewed her (for real) twice. I knew she’d have some good questions.

How good? See for yourself.

1. When did you know Renee was the woman you were going to marry?

Well, I don’t know if this is the real answer or not. But, Renee and I knew each other for five years before we started dating. During that time, I had thought about asking her out, but never got up the nerve. Then, a friend of mine asked her out. They dated regularly — more than a year if I remember correctly. Once they started going out, I remember thinking, “Geez, why did I let that happen?” Thankfully for me, the relationship didn’t last.

2. What is the strangest dream you can remember?

Honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I could remember a dream.

3. If you had to give up chocolate or beer for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good beer. But, sorry, brewski, you don’t stand a chance against chocolate!

4. If you could be a character in any television show, who would you be and why?

Hmmm. Norm from Cheers? Josh from The West Wing? Phil the host from Amazing Race? Marshall in Alias? Jack from Three’s Company? How do I pick? MacGyver?

I think I might go with MacGyver. I mean, I can’t fix/build anything and he could build anything with three toothpicks, a spool of thread and a plastic cup.

Then again, so could the Professor from Gilligan’s Island…and he was stuck on a remote island with Ginger and Mary Anne.

Yeah, I’m picking the Professor!

5. Bon Jovi invites you on the stage to sing one song with him. Which song do you choose?

Well, first of all, how did I get front row seats? Am I like Courteney Cox being pulled on stage by the Boss? And, my goodness, how do you expect me to sing? Heck, I’m not even sure I could stand — let alone talk, let alone sing! I mean, he picked me?!

The song I would pick? Dead or Alive. Why? Well, I would never, ever, ever steal his thunder. I mean, especially if he asked me on stage. Wouldn’t it be rude for me to take the spotlight? Or to even sing a song as his, dare I say it, equal?

Dead or Alive is perfect…I’ll take the Sambora parts — small, but so important.

I mean, come on, you know what I’m talking about. When Jon sings “Wanted….” and Richie responds with “Wanted….”. Does it get any better than that? Um, no. That’s the part I want. Integral to the song — but not taking away from the man.

God, how pathetic am I?

Well, what can I say, she hit a soft spot. 🙂

Any more questions out there for me? Want any questions from me? Let me know.

The Interview — Part II

Ok, so this little interview thing is addicting.

For some of the bloggers I work with, we can’t stop talking about this thing. It’s fun to come up with great questions, and it’s just as fun to answer them.

So, without further delay, here come five questions for me from my friend and colleague Carrie.

1. We both have experienced the loss of family all too early. They have missed out on many important things in our lives that we wish they could have been here for. I know that I have a question I would have liked to ask my Dad both before he died and especially now. So this is a two parter: If you could have asked your Dad one question before he died or after, what would it have been? And what about Tim?

Wow, nothing like coming out with guns blazing! This is an emotional question, but one I’ve actually thought about — particularly with my Dad, so we’ll start there. Toward the end, Dad was under hospice care. He was coming to grips with the situation quickly, and apparently had something on his mind that he wanted to do. I don’t remember how this came up, but apparently Dad was getting ready to write each of us a letter. This about floored me when I heard it. Still gives me the chills a bit now when I think about it. We weren’t then (and aren’t now) an affectionate family. That’s OK. It’s just who we are. But if my Dad was going to do that, it would be his way of expressing his feelings to us.

So, that said, the question is, “Dad, what were you going to write in my letter?”

For Tim, the timing of everything was just off. Completely unexpected. Complete shock. No other way to describe it. Once he was at the hospital, someone was there all the time, and, for much of the time, we were all there. I remember standing next to his bed, playing my iPod so he could ‘hear’ some of his favorite music. Why? Why not. We sat in the hallway. We sat in the waiting room. We sat by his bed. All the while, he was unconscious.

So, that said, the question is, “Tim, did you know we were there? Could you feel us?”

2. If Heaven exists, when you get to the Pearly Gates, what do you hope God says to you?

Well, first of all, I believe Heaven does exist. And, I hope to God that I am going there. In terms of what’s he going to say to me, hmmm. Probably something along the lines of, “Michael. Welcome home. You weren’t perfect, but nobody is. But given the cards you were dealt, you played a pretty good hand. Now, go over there, see your Dad, your brother and just relax.”

3. If you could have dinner with any three people dead or alive (but not including family), who would it be and why?

I love this question! I’ve actually blogged about it before. It was one of my first entries, and you can find it here. I actually like one of the tables I listed in that blog. Imagine dining with JFK, RFK and Marilyn Monroe. Think there’d be much conversation?

Then I wonder, OK, what about dinner with Letterman, Leno and Carson? Or, how about Bono, Stipe and Elton John? Or, maybe Tom Brady, Big Papi and Paul Pierce. Or what about

So many different options. So many different ways to go with it.

4. If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

Two part answer coming here. Fun and serious.

First, the fun. Jon Bon Jovi. In a heartbeat. Why? Well, OK, he’s my man crush. I’m not afraid of that. But, more importantly, i want to stand on stage in a stadium and have 75,000 people in the palm of my hand. I want to be a rockstar for 24 hours. And I can’t think of a better one to be than my man JBJ. Mmm!

Now, the serious. I would trade places with my son, Aidan. I want to know what he sees. How he sees it. Anything that can get me even closer to him. And to understand him as best as I can.

5. You’re the “Word Guy,” so here is a multi-part quick answer question:

a) What is your favorite curse word?
Without a doubt, it’s the f-bomb. And, lately, I’m dropping it a lot.

b) What is your favorite word?
Honestly, I don’t think I have one.

c) What is your least favorite word?
I’m going with diarrhea. Why? Because I can never spell it without looking it up. And, if you’re using the word, chances are you’ve probably got it (and that’s not good). Finally, it just doesn’t have a flow to it. I don’t know. Mostly because, well, I just don’t like it — in all areas.

 d) What one word do you hope people use to describe you?

e) What one word would you use to describe yourself best?

There you have it. Thanks, Carrie, for some great questions.

Do you have the interview bug? If you do and you’d like me to interview you, just let me know. I’d be happy to do it.

iPod Shuffle Meme

So Hallie and Carrie have recently done this one.

We know bad things happen in threes, but I’m here to prove good things can happen in threes, too.

Here goes:

1. Put your iPod/iTunes on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button for your answer
3. You must write that song name down, no matter how silly it sounds.
4. Tag three people to complete this.

If someone says, “Is this OK?”, you say:
Only the Lonely, The Motels

What would best describe your personality?
Freewill, Rush

What do you like in a girl/guy?
Take a Chance on Me, Abba

What is your life’s purpose?
Thank God I’m a Country Boy, John Denver

What is your motto?
You Rock My World, Michael Jackson

What do your friends think of you?
Better Be Good to Me, Tina Turner

What do you think about very often?
Under Pressure, Boyz II Men

What is 2+2?
Crush, Gavin DeGraw

What do you think of your best friend?
Angel, Sarah McLachlan

What do you think of the person you like?
Roll to Me, Del Amitri

What is your life story?
God Must Hate Me, Simple Plan

What do you want to be when you group up?
Sexy, Black Eyed Peas

What do you think when you see the person you like?
Big Time, Peter Gabriel

What do your parents think of you?
Dizzy, Goo Goo Dolls

What will they play at your funeral?
Losing My Religion, REM

What is your biggest secret?
One Wild Night, Bon Jovi

What do you think of your friends?
The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers, Disney

What’s the worst thing that could  happen?
High School Never Ends, Bowling for Soup

How will you die?
I’ll Never Let You Go, Steelheart

What is one thing you regret?
Into the Great Wide Open, Tom Petty & Heartbreakers

What makes you laugh?
I Got That Boom Boom, Britney Spears

What makes you cry?
The Killer Inside, Better than Ezra

Does anyone like you?
All-American Girl, Train

If you could go back in time what would you change?
It’s Gonna Be Me, N’Sync

What hurts right now?
Patience, Guns ‘n Roses

Wow, some pretty interesting stuff when totally random.

I’m supposed to tag three people. Why limit it to three?! Anyone who wants to do this, feel free. Just let me know so I can check out your version of this, too!

We Almost Made It.

So I was a single dad this weekend.

Renee took off for Florida for some R&R with her family (all of whom are down there).

Erin had a doctor’s appointment Friday morning in Hartford. So, we took two cars up, and Renee headed for the airport after the appointment while I headed back home with the kids.

After dropping them at daycare and getting a few hours in at the office, I officially started solo duty at about 3:30 Friday afternoon. Renee was coming home at 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Surely we could go 49.5 hours without incident, right?

Wrong. (Although, for the record, we did go 44.5 hours!)

Despite some early morning wake-ups (4 a.m. Saturday and 4:30 a.m. Sunday) thanks to Erin, the weekend was pretty good. We ordered pizza, went to the doughnut shop, made a run to Toys R Us. It was all good.

And Sunday was shaping up to be a great day. Erin fell asleep eating lunch, so getting her down for nap was a piece of cake. Then, after we finished lunch, I told Aidan he had five minutes before we were going up to read stories before his nap.

And then it happened.

For whatever reason, at one point, he took off on a lap through our lower level. While he was on the hardwood portion, I heard a thump.

“You Ok, buddy?”

“Yes…..,” he trailed off, quivering.

Then I saw the blood. As much as he was trying to be strong, he finally realized how badly it hurt.

And, depsite the pain it was causing him, there was barely any bleeding. There didn’t need to be, the poor kid had a gaping hole on his chin.

There was no doubt in my mind we were headed for stitches.

Now, the dilemma. Ok, can’t wake up Erin.

No problem. Call sister-in-law Sue who is 15 minutes away. She was here in less than that time.

Hmmm. Check clock. Renee not on plane yet. Call her? Text her? Nope. Not going to subject her to a three hour flight full of questions and potential panic. It can wait until she’s back.

So, he’s not wanting to go to the hospital. Very apprehensive….but, I get him moving and away we go. I tell him what I think will happen. He’s nervous.

But, as soon as we got there, he was a trooper. Did everything asked of him by the docs and nurses and he spoke clearly throughout our time there.

The numbed his chin with a cream, so that was good, no shots.

Then the work started. The guy was very good. He was a physician’s assistant. Great bedside disposition and that helped keep Aidan comfortable — especially since the guy turned his position at the table so Aidan could still watch TV while thsi was going on.

Now it was warm and I still had my winter coat on. Then I felt it.

“Um, Aidan, you’re doing great. I’m so proud of you. I’m just going to be sitting down right here. Nothing to worry about.”

The PA looks at me and tells me to sit on the floor if I think I’m going to drop. Nice! Once I took my coat off I was (mostly) fine.

Of course the glass of water and ice pack they got for me might have helped a bit, too. Might have. I’m just sayin’.

So he wraps up the work, I feel my legs back under me and Aidan is ready to go — happy to know he’s leaving with a green lollipop (his favorite color) and two stickers.

He’s not, however, happy about the band-aid he’s got to wear over the stitches. He’s self conscious about stuff like this, and I know he’s already wondering what the kids at school are going to think (because he’s got them in for almost a week).

After leaving the hospital, we come home and everything has gone well with Erin upon waking up and not finding mom or dad here. Everything went well with Aunt Sue.

We then took an impromptu trip to Toys R Us to get the very brave and well-behaved patient something for his Thomas collection.

Just as we’re getting out of the car, the text comes in from Renee. She’s landed.

I respond, “Out. Will call you in 15 minutes when back in the car.”

She was glad to know Aidan did so well at the hospital and glad, too, that I hadn’t told her before she got on the plane.

The rest of the night found him in good spirits and well-behaved — just incredibly tired.

Sort of how I am right now. Tired.

And very proud of a strong 4 1/2 year old boy with his first set of stitches. The first, I’m sure, of more.

The Interview

I’ve been tagged a bunch of times to do different things here at I Got Nothin’. However, I never seem to end up doing them (sorry, taggers). 

In this case, I’m self tagged, so to speak.I saw this Interview concept at Sara’s place. I couldn’t resist requesting an interview – mostly because I know Sara would ask five great questions. And also because if any of you ask me to interview you, I get to come up with five great questions.Why? Because here are the rules:

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

 And, here are the five questions Sara asked me (along, of course, with my answers). And, who knows, it wouldn’t surprise me if you like the questions better than the answers.

1. Why did you start a blog?
To bring out my inner 25 year old female. You see, Molly used to work for me. And she was a blogger. And we’d talk about it from time to time with me always thinking, ‘well, maybe I should try that’ without having the guts to throw my name in the ring. Then, one day, she said, ‘why don’t  you start one?’ Was it that easy? Apparently it was.

Then, in the process, I gained a pretty heavy readership of 25-year-old females. And then I was reading their stuff, too. Hence, the first line of this answer. I used to say, I’m nothing but a 25-year-old female trapped in the body of a 39-year-old male!
Regardless of age, gender or what not, the most surprising thing to me about this blogging thing is the establishment of real friendships with real people. It’s sort of incredible really.

 2. What was your dream job when you were 11 and why did or didn’t you pursue it?Are you kidding? What 11-year-old doesn’t want to be the PR director of a maritime museum? Find me one! Um, well, OK…..truth be told, I didn’t pursue my dream job of starting at first base for the Red Sox primarily because I could never hit a curve ball at age 11 or even higher.

 3. What is one lesson that you would want your kids to learn the easy way?
That death sucks. And it affects everyone. I don’t know how they can learn this the easy way. But I’ve learned it the hard way – twice. And it’s the last thing I want them to experience. And, especially since I don’t want them to lose their father because, well, that would be me.

4. In the movie of your life, what would the soundtrack be (it can be one album or a compilation of songs)
Augustana ~ Boston
Barenaked Ladies ~ What A Good Boy
Billy Joel ~ New York State of Mind
Blessed Union of Souls ~ She Likes Me for Me
Bon Jovi ~ Story of My Life
Bowling for Soup ~ 1985
The Divinyls ~ I Touch Myself (and you don’t?!)
Howard Jones ~ Life In One Day
James Taylor ~ You’ve Got a Friend
Pat Benatar ~ All Fired Up
Styx ~ The Best of Times
Youth Group ~ Forever Young

5. What do your readers know about you that your friends or family may not?
When I first read this, I thought it was the question to end all questions, but then I realized, wait, most of my family and friends actually reads here. (And then I realized that the time I put in to thinking about 3 and 4 made them the questions to end all questions.) Maybe I should answer a question with a question and ask them what they’ve learned about me here that they didn’t already know? Is that cheating? Did I just completely avoid this, or was my move cool and smart? I’m going with the latter.

So, can I interview you?


Another Aidanism

Ok, for this one to make sense, a little background.

Holly is a cat at the house where Aidan and Erin go for daycare. Actually, let me rephrase that.

Holly was a cat at the house where Aidan and Erin go for daycare. An unfortunate accident has put Holly to the big litter box in the sky.

That said…

Tonight at dinner (and this report comes from Renee, because I wasn’t home), Aidan was talking about his favorite flashlight that no longer worked because the batteries were dead.

In a joking fashion, Renee said the batteries were, “Dead as a door knob, dead as a nail.”

Without missing a beat, Aidan comes back with:

“Dead like Holly.”

That’s my boy.

Inauguration Recap

OK, so I get that today was a big day. It’s very impressive to watch the simplicity in which we transition the person who, arguably, holds the most important job in the world.

At 11:59 a.m., one man is in power. At noon, another is in power. (give or take a few minutes, of course). And while that is going on, there are moving trucks, painters, workers and a whole lot of other people doing things we’ll never see.

I’m amazed at the simplicity — the seemlessness of it all.

I’m also amazed, quite frankly, at how some (er, most) people were so into this. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but I haven’t put all my eggs in the Obama basket — not yet. It’s not that I don’t like him. And I certainly don’t envy him and the job he has in front of him, but, let’s face it, it’s an unbelievable task.

That said, getting back to today, what an unbelievable sight — millions of people on the mall to witness history. And millions more in front of TVs or computers to do the same.

Which, to me, leads to the most important job in this whole process being the person who is in charge of the ceremony. And that, quite frankly, is who this post is geared to.

Where do I start?

OK, how about the invocation. Up comes someone named Dr. Rick Warren. Doctor. Not Reverend. I’m sorry, but this guy wanted to be the show — not part of the show. And, I’m sorry again, but if it’s a religious thing, I want a reverend on hand, not a doctor.

Given the importance of this day in the history of our country — if not the world, heck, why wasn’t the Pope available? What do you think he was doing in Rome? Watching it on TV just like the rest of us!

Then came Aretha….sweet, Jesus, Aretha. I mean, seriously, who picked her? Couldn’t we have dusted off Whitney Houston for this? Alicia Keys maybe. But, Aretha? We want change, not the same old guard who could have sung at Truman’s inauguration.

And, besides, who told her it was OK to wear that hat?

The chief justice tries without notes?! Ugh. Are you kidding? Two million people and you can’t read off a piece of paper. OK, Barack stepped on your first line, but you have to recover better than that. Can’t get flustered in the moment. He ruined Barack’s moment. Ah, but that’s OK, Obama will get to sit the next judge, so that’ll be OK!

The poem? Not so much.

John Williams wrote a piece that was performed by a who’s who of musicians. I love John Williams. And this piece was fabulous. Finally, planning man gets it right!

Then, the one good thing that happened — Reverend Joseph Lowery. Ah, a reverend for the benediction. What a concept!

And, talk about saving the best for last. Planning man made up for everything with this guy. Are you kidding? He. Was. Fabulous. And, quite honestly, he’s the highlight of my day.

What was the higlight of your inauguration day?

Picture Perfect

Ah, snow.

First, a sense of accomplishment.

First, a sense of accomplishment.

Aidan before we tackled the sledding hill.

Aidan before we tackled the sledding hill.

Erin likes the snow -- as long as she's not actually in it!

Erin likes the snow -- as long as she's not actually in it!

What else? I got nothin’.

Birthdays, Part 2 — Family

In the past, this was a day when I always had to buy two birthday cards.

One for Tim. One for Tom. My twin brothers.

Today, I only need to buy one. Actually, I didn’t even buy one. I texted Tom his Happy Birthday greeting. My how times have changed.

But, this isn’t about texting or cards or birthday dinners.

It’s about my two brothers — one of whom actually gets to celebrate (if he truly can) his birthday today and the other whom instead of sharing cake or pizza with, we simply remember fondly. Because he died.

If you’ve spent time here with me, then you probably know the story of my brother, Tim. I’m not going to rehash it here. Let’s just say tragic is an understatement, based on the circumstances, and more importantly, the timing of his death. To read about it, just click on the Tim category on the left.

The point for today, his birthday, is that I always feel horrible. I think of him a ton during the course of the year. But two days are always the worst. The anniversary of his death and his birthday. That’s when it hits me more than usual.

What can I say? I miss him. A lot. We can be described best as probably as caring yet unaffectionate as you can be. But just because there aren’t hugs and kisses and the like doesn’t mean I feel any less about anyone — or they me. It’s just how we deal with things.

After Dad died, Tim was the leader of the family. Then he goes and now what? He left a wife and two kids — not to mention three siblings and a mom. We feel his loss every day — at least I do.

Forty by Forty? Because of Tim. My Dad was 65. Tim was 45. Average male age in my family now is 55. So I’ve got 16 years left? Um, no. Tim scared me. And I’m trying very hard to change some things because of him.

Tim’s not coming back. What’s good about that? Well,  nothing. But what it does is ensure that all the stories, memories and personal things we hold close to us are never going away. It’s how we, or at least I, keep him with me every day.

Happy Birthday, Tim.

You’ve read a lot about Tim here — but you haven’t read much — if anything — about Tom. And there’s no real reason for that. So, for the next few paragraphs, let me give you the chance to get to know Tom.

Tom checked into the world three minutes after Tim. And that bond they have, well, I’ll never understand that. That’s why I don’t know how he really feels today. And, you know, I could ask him. But, I don’t. The ‘twin thing’ is a private one in my mind.

If you think I’m funny (well, ok, most of you probably don’t, but if you do….), then you should know Tom. He’s the real comedian in the family. A very dry, subtle wit.

I probably got most of my music taste from Tom. He played in rock bands for a long time and I’ll never forget all the vinyl albums he had in his room. It’s from him that I first head Aerosmith, Ozzy, Judas Priest and so many more. I used to love listening to him practice his guitar. And I loved even more when I had a chance to see him play — which wasn’t alot because of my age.

I mean, who knows, what if he and his band made it? How cool would that have been. They did fairly well — and it was neat to know that the guitarist was my older brother. He went to music school, but dropped out — and we always tease him for that.

But, the bottom line is that he’s made a career for himself — without a college degree. And he’s done pretty well. Doing what? Computer stuff. And he’s self-taught. Heck, I can remember as close as about 10 or 12 years ago when he didn’t even know how to turn a computer on.

Now, purely self taught, he’s a hospital IT guy…and he’s my own personal tech support. It’s pretty impressive what he’s taught himself.

And the same with photography. He found a hobby that he loved and he made it into a little side business. Some of his work has been published and, again, all self taught. He takes amazing pictures.

I think Tommy probably thinks that he’s been ‘overlooked’ a little bit in our family. Tim was first born (even though they were twins) and Lynn is the only girl. And then there’s me. You don’t always hear a lot about Tom. But, that’s not a bad thing.

His influence on the family is strong. It always has been — and it always will be. I would say his best ‘work’ goes unnoticed by a lot of people. He makes us laugh. He’s raised great kids. He’s made himself into a professional. He’s done a ton for my Mom.

He shouldn’t have to worry about being anything other than what he is. Because in our family, it’s exactly what we need.

Happy Birthday, Tom.