Monthly Archives: March 2015

Dead people are all so amazing

I can’t be the only one to notice this.  Or am i just the first person to write about it, or have the chutzpah to talk about it?

IMG_0038Every person I have talked to recently about someone who has passed makes that person out to be a saint, a mensch, a pillar of society. They were all wonderful people. They never said a bad word about anyone, everyone loved them, they always wanted to help others – they were one of my closest friends. They gave so much of themselves, they were always there for me, their family always came first, they were always there to help anyone in need. They volunteered, they coached, they mentored. They were so successful in business and gave so much back to the community and everyone around them.  Holy crap, they were amazing people.

Now I am not mean, or cruel, or un-sympathetic – but really? And the more tragic the death, the more amazing they were. I have never been to a funeral or a wake or visited a  house of shiva where they talked badly about the deceased. Yes, it is common courtesy not to bad mouth the dead, but why does it have to start at the funeral home or the cemetery – this is my point.

I hear people talk about other people. They talk about that they are cheap – they never pick up the check when we go out for lunch or dinner, they never put on a fair tip for the waitress, they never pay their fair share. But as soon as they are dead they were the most generous, giving person around.

They talk about how they pushed their children too hard, they shouted at soccer and hockey games, ever got thrown out of a few games. They berated the coaches and the refs as well as the opposing players. They criticized the teachers and the principal about how inept they were. But as soon as they die, they were the most supportive caring parents who were always there to support their children and their teams. They were always ready to run the carpool and support the school.

IMG_0060They talk about how they work late all the time, and work on the weekends. They didn’t spend enough time at home, they didn’t go to school plays or teacher meetings. They went on long business trips and spent too much time at the club with friends and not at home. But as soon as they die, their families meant everything to them and they could not give their spouse or children enough love, nor spend enough time with them, or take them on enough vacations.

For children – they talk about how they don’t listen to their parents, they have a tattoo or for goodness sake a piercing.  How wild they are, how poor athletes they are and how they should not be on the “A” team. They drink, they smoke, they cut classes and drive fast.  But when the unimaginable happens, and their young child passes, they become the most compassionate and loving child, they were so funny and understanding. Everyone loved them and they had so many friends. Their teachers and coaches loved them. They talked to us for hours and were so in tune to what they wanted in life.

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Now there is a certain compassion that we all have when someone passes away, and I don’t want to disparage anyone who has passed away. But my point it this – why does someone have to die for us to see the good that they are? Why do we first see the bad and the negative and dark side of people when they are alive, and then all of a sudden they are dead and they become saints? Do we have to talk about people like we are on Real Housewives all the time?

IMG_00761We are all guilty of it, I have just become so much more aware of it being in bereavement groups now. Every child or sibling we talk about is almost perfect. that is why I enjoy these groups to some degree. They are negative in terms of why we are there, but we mostly talk in positive terms of anyone. We very rarely, if ever, say something ill about our children, or about others. They were all wonderful, cheerful, amazingly smart and loved individuals. Now I know Andrew was all of these things and more. But he was also short tempered sometimes, he drove too fast and a little reckless occasionally, left the house without saying goodbye once in a while. He and I fought about some stupid things here and there, he hung up on me once in a while (never his mom though), and was not really good with time management or showing respect for some people who he felt did not deserve respect. You would already know these things if you really knew him, or talked to me about him before we lost him.

So once again, what’s my point? Now that we talk about our lost ones in my bereavement groups, and I talk to so many other bereaved parents, spouses and siblings, I have learned to talk positively about everyone. I don’t think about their dark sides, nor do I seek it out. I don’t talk about what was bad or negative, or what I perceive as a person’s faults. I try to find something nice to say, I ask about what they were like, I look for the light and the sunshine – not the darkness.

Everyone has faults and a dark side – but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t talk about that so much, and more about the positive and what that person contributed to our lives as well as others?

And let’s face it, how do we want others to talk about us?

I never knew how good life was

Andew Mom

Look how happy they both are in this picture. It makes me smile…

“I never knew how good life was.” I hear that from Dorothy every so often, as well as others. I never really knew what I had was so good – compared to not having it. I had my home, my two children, Dorothy had a great job she enjoys, and my business was growing every year. We went on vacations; I enjoyed listening to music and cooking for my family, and looked forward to speaking to my kids and hearing what they were up to every so often. Life was good. I looked forward to a future watching my son and my daughter growing up, maturing, falling in love, and having children. Retiring one day and sitting at home, looking back on my life and smiling, and looking forward to a house full of grandchildren for the holidays. I had a lot one day. Did I appreciate it? I probably did, but maybe not enough. I hugged my children and my wife whenever I could. I told them I loved them. I smiled when I looked at their pictures in my office, I was thankful my life path was in a good direction. I was happy.  All until I received that call late at night from Boulder. We get up in the morning, and there is food in our refrigerator, and clean clothes in our drawers. We go outside in the morning and start our car, and take that car to work or shopping or to go see someone. We take for granted all these things – our food, our clothes, our car. But the day when the car is not working we get upset and angry for not having it – without really appreciating the days that we do have it. When the television breaks or cable is out and we have no TV that night we are upset because we have nothing to watch, but again, do we appreciate the hundreds and hundreds of days when our TV did turn on with the push of a button?


Such gorgeous and genuine smiles.

What I have learned through this is that I appreciate my daughter so much more now. I appreciate every second I spend with Nicole,  every meal we eat together, every phone call and every text I get from her. I smile when I look at the pictures of her on my desk, and browse through the pictures of her on my phone. I look at the pictures of her growing up – and I am glad that I was there for so much of what she did. I appreciate the fact that I was able to coach her for so many years, that I went to every concert and play she was in while at school, and that I went to every parent teacher conference and heard her teachers praising her (most of the time). I appreciate it so much more, just thinking about it makes my eyes tear up. I appreciate it when she is home and we sit on the couch and watch a Rangers game. We don’t have to talk, but just sitting there with her makes me happy and fulfilled. When she is home for the summer and watches baseball with Dorothy, it makes her so happy. I don’t particularly enjoy watching the games, but the time that I get to sit there with her, watching her, being proud of her, is time that I will never get back, and I don’t want to miss out on it.  When I go to her games and see he dressed in her college jersey, it makes me proud that she has worked so hard for so many years to reach that level of hockey – we must have done something right when we raised her. I have always appreciated these times, but the appreciation is so much deeper now and so much more emotional. I also have learned to appreciate what my father had given to me so many years ago. What he taught me, what he said to me, and the legacy that was my father. Although my time with my father was short, far too short for a young boy to appreciate, I have learned to cherish that time and really appreciate it. But I see others; others who do not appear to appreciate what they have. They take their lives for granted, they take their money for granted, and they treat what they have as if they can’t lose it. I look at them and say to myself, please appreciate it.  Please. Especially – please appreciate your kids – please appreciate your parents. One day you might receive that call that they are no longer with you. CCI03032015_00001I do hope that you never receive the call that we did one night. I hope no one would ever receive such a devastating life-changing call. But I also hope that you appreciate what you have, whatever that is. Look at your children and smile. Take every breath and memory in, and realize that they are limited in number. Do you have another ten memories with those you love, or another ten thousand? Who knows? Will they say you appreciated life and lived it to its fullest, or will there be regrets and sorrow when you are gone? Will you think of all the things that you should have said to your children, or your parents, or your spouse, when they are no longer here? Or will you be at peace when the time comes. We all generally have good lives, some better than others. We smile, we play, we work, we travel, but do we really appreciate how good our lives are? I see friends who don’t have a relationship with their children, and I have players I have coached who don’t really talk to their parents, sometimes over minor or stupid things. Then they are gone one day and it is too late. I talked to one of Andrew’s teammates / friends after his game last year who had moved pretty far away. I asked him about his dad and he said he really doesn’t talk to him much, they don’t get along. We talked a little about it, and I told him what I would give to have a relationship with my son at this point in my life, and that fact that I will never be able to have that relationship again. A few months later I see he posted new pictures of him and his father on facebook, shaking hands and hugging. Now I don’t think my conversation with him precipitated this, but I smiled and was happy about it. I was happy that they were talking again. I was happy that they learned to appreciate each other – and leave the crap aside. Think about what you have now. Not just your material possessions, but also your family. Look at your spouse, your family, and your friends. Look at your home, your job, the things you collect and enjoy… Now close your eyes (after you finish reading this). Think about the unimaginable. Think about life without them, without any one thing. So appreciate what you have. And for your family and friends – let them know you appreciate them. As Dorothy says so often now – “I really never knew how good my life was before”   PS – I have a few close friends review and edit what I write prior to me posting the entries. They make sure the post makes sense, they look for spelling mistakes, and check grammar. After reading and editing this one, my editor, and one of my closest friends since second grade, sent me this note – I really do appreciate it. “I hope you realize this philosophy of yours was not a result of Andrew’s passing.  That you believed and lived this all along and that Andrew was the beneficiary of it.  I remember well and often recall when i was working my ass off and doing well financially, and you reminded me in pretty strong terms about what is important…..”