Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Office

As some of you know, I have only recently found the U.S. version of The Office. I really enjoyed the first series of the BBC version by Ricky Gervais, but for whatever reason never watched the U.S. version. It was probably because I don't watch much TV. However, thanks to my friend Kim constantly telling me about it and because of Netflix's instant viewing option, I decided to go ahead and watch it.

OMG!!!! I really like it. It is so, SO funny. And with the Jim/Pam storyline, it's like a romantic comedy miniseries. And I love romantic comedies. So in a little less than a week, I was able to watch all three seasons. Now I have to get the DVDs so that I can see all the extras and hear the commentaries.

So, last October there as a The Office Convention in Scranton, Pa., at which they had a costume contest. VH1's Best Week Ever covered it.

The person with the big Dwight head being interviewed at the end? My friend Kim!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Quote of the Day - 3/21/08

"Group projects are for fifth-graders, not law students."

- Third-Year University of Louisville Law Student

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SEC Coach of the Year

I don't care what anyone says, this guy is alright by me.

Private Eyes

So, I was searching for something the other day and I came across a song that I now cannot get out of my head. Ever heard of Hall & Oates? Surely you have. If you haven't, please don't tell me that, I'll feel older than I already feel.

The song stuck in my head?

How great is that?

What a quintessential '80s band. Being a child of the '80s I still love these groups. I don't care what anyone says, these are good songs.

And what about these gems?

(i think this one might have been pre-80s)

and one of the greats...

And now here's a tangent for you... that last song reminded me of a movie I saw when I was a kid. My Dad and I loved it. It's called "The Private Eyes" with Tim Conway and Don Knotts.

Check it out if you haven't seen it before.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Aftermath

That title makes this sound kind of ominous, huh? I guess in a way it is. And for that reason I figure it's best to give the brief version of the following days. I'm sure those of you who have been reading these entries are ready for the end. So...

Preparing for a funeral is horrible. Previous to this I had lost two close family members on two occasions. My maternal grandpa died when i was in junior high and then my maternal grandma died the year after I graduated college (I believe). But truthfully, I don't remember the steps that were taken to make sure the everything was in order. I don't know why I wasn't involved when grandma passed away, but I wasn't. Guess I was still a kid relatively speaking and wasn't needed in that capacity. Anyway, I was very involved this time around. Let me tell you, taking care of arrangements while you are trying to grieve is a horrible experience.

Luckily, my Dad had already purchased the cemetery plots and stone for them, so we didn't have to do that. And he had decided which funeral home to use. When we went there (in this case we was Mom, me, my sister, my brother-in-law and my nephew), they expressed their condolences for our loss and discussed all the possibilities for the service. We established when the viewing would be (yes, we are a family who allows grieving to include seeing the deceased -- if you aren't that way, believe me, I understand, but I am also a strong believer is this method -- I would have hated not being able to see him again), when the funeral would be, we had to decide what type of vault there would be (in the Kentucky, it seems, there is a requirement that a concrete box be placed in the ground in which the casket will go) and then we went on a tour of the "Casket Room." It reminded me of Six Feet Under. There is an episode where they purchase a wall that displays the ends of all the possible caskets. It was like that except it was a whole room. Once deciding on that, the funeral director made it clear that payment was due prior to any services. See, they are a business, too, and have to look after their bottom line, but while you are grieving it can appear to be a little insensitive. Luckily, Dad had an insurance policy that could be assigned to a funeral home in just such instances. This meant that the funeral home designated a company through which the insurance company would assign (turn over) the amount of the policy. Once that was done, the company would pay the funeral home and then the remainder would be released to the beneficiary of the policy. Of course, getting this accomplished was a pain, and had us worried because it wasn't an easy process. Obviously, the insurance company needed the death certificate before they could do anything and then they had to pay the other company and so forth. Luckily, the funeral home, once they knew that assignment would be made, went ahead with the service. In the end they did a wonderful job.

I think I'm digressing a bit. Sorry.

We had one day of visitation/viewing. They opened the viewing room an hour early for family. Mom and I walked in, followed by my sister and her family, followed by my paternal grandpa and then my dad's brothers and sisters and their children. He has a large family (which I'm grateful for), and there were lots of tears. It probably took an hour or so for everyone to compose themselves again. Then friends were allowed to stop by the rest of the day.

What a long day that was. We had a table set up with photos of Dad at various stages of life. We were allowed use of the kitchen. I was introduced to people I had last seen when I was a kid or who I had never seen. I heard a couple of stories I had never heard before. A lady from Dad's pharmacy (whose name I'm sorry I don't remember) came up to me and told me how fond of Dad she was. She said that he would bring her UK media guides all the time. See, for those of you who don't know, I worked in athletics for a few years, and I would give Dad media guides that he would then give to people he knew. Anyway, she was talking about that and she told me that he always talked about me and about how proud he was of me. You know, I heard it from him as well, but when you hear second-hand that he was saying those things, it made me feel good. I got to speak with former co-workers of Dad's who I had known forever. And of course, there was the "ceremonial" looking of who sent all the flowers in the room.

It also is times like this when you find out who your true friends are. Not to say, I didn't know already, but this is when some will go above and beyond what you may think is necessary. Frankly, I was not surprised by the flowers that were sent my people I knew. I lived in Lexington and so did they, so I had no thoughts that they would be able to come to either the visitation or the funeral. At the time, I had two friends from work who I told not to come, but they did anyway. And I couldn't tell them enough how appreciative I was. (unfortunately later that year, around Christmas -- the first without Dad -- when I needed them again, they weren't there and labeled me selfish for feeling disappointment in their reaction. Great friends, huh?) So, the visitation was through, we were all exhausted. And went home to bed.

I forgot to mention something else. A friend of my Mom's owns a flower shop in Henderson and we had to go by there the day we made arrangements so Mom could pick out the flowers for the service. Once we left, I felt an overwhelming desire/need to get my haircut, so I went just across the street to the barber shop my Dad always took me to as a kid, and where he got his hair cut until the end. I walked in and it was weird. Mike, my Dad's barber and friend, noticed me and nodded a bit. I had a seat to wait my turn and I think he then dawned on him who I was, and he talked about how much he liked Dad.

Also the day before making the arrangements, we were at the house talking about the arrangements. Mom had mentioned to me before that Dad was really looking forward to getting back to church once he felt better. Typically, at least in my experience, the funeral takes place in the funeral home. For some reason I didn't think that felt right. So, know Dad's intention to return to the church, I asked if it would be possible to have the service there. Luckily it was available.

Okay, back to the friends discussion. True friends... My best friend lives in North Carolina, and I knew she wouldn't be able to come back to Henderson because of her job. But she still wanted to do something. With her job, she racks up frequent flyer miles. One of my cousins was in school in Michigan at the time and she was trying to figure out how to get home for the funeral. I was telling my friend about it and she asked me my cousins name and where she lived. She said let me call you back. A little later, my friend called and said that there was a ticket in my cousin's name waiting for her at the nearest airport, a round-trip ticket for home. She used her miles for that.

So, the day of the funeral arrived. Our paster led the service, our Minister of Music sang, and I gave the eulogy. I've never done anything that difficult before in my life. I had spent the previous two days trying to write something eloquent about Dad, but for whatever reason wasn't able to. At one point I had been going through some of the papers in my Dad's desk trying to find his Navy discharge papers (this was required in order to have the local American Legion post give him a military burial). I came across a letter I had written to Dad for Father's Day 1999 (7 years earlier). My Mom and Dad had been separated at the and we all were going through a rough patch. And in the middle of it, I moved back to Lexington (I may regret that to my dying day). Anyway, I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved him and how proud of him I was. I knew what I would say at the funeral.

When the time came, I stepped up to the podium in the church I had been raised in, where my Dad would give me Life Savers candies during service. I kept it simple. I told everyone that I had been trying to figure out what to say, what great stories to tell, but that they all knew him and cared for him and nothing I could say would be new to them. Except for one thing. So I read the letter I wrote him. First off, I couldn't believe he had kept it all those years. But he did, and then everyone there knew how I felt about my Dad.

But let me tell you about the best thing that happened at the funeral, and this goes back to the friends thing. We were sitting on the front pew. It was my grandpa, me, Mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. And people were stopping by prior to the service starting. At one point I looked up, and there was my friend Donna. I have know Donna since 1992 when I was a student worker in her office at UK. At some point in our lives she met my parents and they all took to one another like friends do. And as much of a friend as she was to me, she was a friend of my parents and always enjoyed when they would come visit. And of course, she was crying. The four of us had had lunch back at Christmas time when my folks visited me in Lexington. But the bigger surprise was that my friend Joyce was with her. I had worked with Joyce in UK Athletics. I couldn't explain then or now how that felt. But that wasn't the biggest surprise of the day. As I said before, I never expected anyone to come from Lexington. Obviously I had been wrong, but then right before the service started I turned around and saw my friend Patrick. You think you know someone and then they do something you never expected. It's moments like that that cement a friendship.

So, the funeral ends, and I struggle with my goodbyes to Dad. See, it's at this moment that I will see him for the last time. We leave and head to the cemetery. It's a windy day. But we sit down on graveside as the Pall Bearers place the casket. Our pastor says a few words and then we pray. The local American Legion Post is there and they give Dad a 21 gun salute. If you've never been present for one of those... let's just say that it's something you will never forget. Seven men shoot three times and on each shot my Mom shutters. Afterward, one of the Legionnaires walks over to Mom, hands her a folded U.S. Flag and says, "Ma'am, it is my duty and my honor to present you with this flag in memory of a man who served his country." He had picked up the discarded shells from the rifles and placed three inside the fold of the flag as he did he said, "For duty, For honor, For glory." And then he handed me the rest of the shells.

After a final prayer, we get back in our cars.

The hardest thing Mom and I did after the funeral was let Sammy go. Sammy was really young, he wasn't housebroken, Mom didn't think she could take care of him the way he deserved (not with having to return to work soon and from mourning). So, we told his vet where he was still kenneled to find a family for him. The Saturday before I left, I stopped by the vet's to see Sammy one last time and to get the bill for his stay there. It broke my heart a little because he had already been picked up by a new family. And the vet was so saddened by what had happened, she didn't charge Mom for any of the costs incurred during Sammy's stay. Additional proof that there are good people in the world.

It's been two years, and sometimes I can still hear those gun shots. I can still remember the horribly long drive home. I can remember my family together at my Mom and Dad's house saying the Lord's Prayer, remembering my Dad and wishing he were there. I can still remember that cute little Sammy.

And I remember my Dad.