Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Having spent a week with a 2 ½-year child in the wonderful person of my beautiful granddaughter, Darby Shea, a certain amount of recall is happening in my mind. She has captivated my heart and soul and given me an education on what is right with this world. Her mamma treats her like a person, never talks down to her and listens to what she says.

Grandpa is in love with this child, my memory of her as I see her today will stay in my mind like an etched stone message, it will live with me forever.

Behind me, as I write this on a flight to JFK International Airport is a child about the same age as my Darby. She sounds like Darby and I could easily mistake her for Darby. However; Mamma is another story.

Speaking with a child at an adult level should be one of equality, conversing on the adult side with dialogue that fits the child's level. One must assume that a child is equal in all aspects of humanity. Mamma is talking like a robot, who is sounding like she is writing a thesis on child-rearing.

"Now I look outside and I see two trucks! One says Airchef and one; luggage. A chef is someone who prepares food for the people on the plane to eat. The other truck is loading our luggage onto the plane."

"We will now talk about lunch. You have two options. Here are your two options: Option One is a hard-boiled egg, and option two is a peanut butter sandwich. I will let you decide which option you would like to choose. This is said by mamma with a robotic voice, free of inflection, emotion or levels of sound modulation, just one continuous drone, where at one point I thought she would tell the kid about the overhead mask, the exits on both front and back of the plane on both sides and her flotation device seat cushion!

I know it is important to educate our children and get them into the best colleges and universities possible. I can sense this mother is putting pressure on the poor child to excel, getting into Yale, Harvard and Princeton all at the same time. I truly wonder what she really will accomplish, will her psychiatry bills be large, will medical bills for nervous breakdowns amount to large figures, and what about disappointment if the child rebels? How will Mammy deal with that?

Monday, September 26, 2016


As I left the UCLA Ronald Reagan Memorial Medical Center, a sadness overtook my disposition. Walking past it, I knew in my heart I would be missing something special.

As I walked with my daughter-in-law Courtney and my grandchild La Principessa, I carried this rather large Teddy Bear, given to my son from the cast of The Big Bang Theory, it was so big, one of the security guards stopped and demanded the bear release me!

The occasion: my son was being released from the hospital and we were bringing the many balloons and gifts he acquired from well-wishers home.

But back to the something special I mentioned, it was good, very good in fact. The manner of professionalism and the pride in the work being done, important work I may add, led to my sadness.

It seemed every day I looked forward to being there, part of the joy and wonder that it was, after all: this was a medical center, this was the #1 medical center in both LA and California, and rated among the 50 states as #5! This HAD to be #1 and it proved it!

Yes, in fact when I celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary, I am packing up TLW (The Little Woman) and flying there from NY to celebrate by dining in it, the finest cafeteria ever designed for a hospital, the place where hunger goes to die.

And so I say goodbye to Hollywood, La La Land, the freeways that go nowhere even though the drivers have given up as they wait for 30 minutes to exit onto the 405 South.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


When you have near tragedy in your life, whether it be you or a loved one or friend, the aftermath of it all is the realization that doctors and nurses and technicians are really a God-send. It is they that right the course of your troubled ship so you can continue your journey across the calm and stormy seas of life.

We look at the incidents that confine us to fear and apprehension, anxiety, and despair but soon realize that no matter how bad it is when a nurse or doctor appears in our midst, the horizon starts to appear slightly, we know we have hope at that point.

I am a champion of nurses and doctors and all the auxiliary groups that comprise the medical profession. Theirs is a difficult and complex road of evaluation and medical know how that must fit into each individual's malady and the doctors must be right in their diagnoses and treatment. God forbid a doctor decides wrongly after all his dedication to healing from years of practice and compassion, instead, he gets sued. Nurses with all their training, take on abuse from family and patients if they do not answer immediately someone's call for the most trivial thing. But they all keep on trucking, doing what they do best, care and curing for people, they are God's healing hands and comforting voice.

Witnessing my son's visit for a heart by-pass operation, and all the care the nurses provided, the confidence the doctors instilled in him and his family, makes me realize how lucky we really are, that we need to take the power of lawsuits and tailor it better to make for a saner world of medical insurance to guarantee the doctors ability to continue his practice, taking him from under the cloud of litigation.

My son was attended to at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, the best heart facility in California and rated #5 in the nation, to me it is the best, period.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Many years ago I had little children running around my house. When they learned to talk, they went on a spree and never stopped. That was a good thing since it made it easier to answer their question, the only question they ever ask when processing information: WHY!

Fast forward to another time in another land, the land of the sunshine and palm trees, balmy breezes that turn to scorching noon times and cool nights, the California land of La Principessa.

If you don’t know already, La Principessa is my beautiful little granddaughter Darby Shea. ‘Darby’ is the name my daughter-in-law choose; a pretty and different name, based on taste, originality and is fitting for the wonderful little personality the baby owns and ‘Shea’ is #1 Son’s choice, based on his years of attention from the endless years of frustrations and tears that always held the promise of next year will be better, a place that once existed called; Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets!

Today’s world of child play holds a different slant, one more toward sound and animation filled with a surprise, the surprise is, of course, Grandpa can’t get the damned thing to work, and with a vocabulary that is rapidly growing, my difficulty is understanding La Principessa; it is not her fault but mine, since I am old.

But to watch this little wonder leaves an old guy like me in amazement as I marvel at her reasoning which is slightly better than mine, but she is still young yet, to her innovation in taking toys and making them do things they weren’t designed for!

But she has a secret weapon, used solely on her grandpa; that face! Oh, that face!

“Grandpa, will you read this to me?” “Grandpa, will you fix this for me” “Grandpa! Not that way, this way!” “Grandpa, can I have…’ and so on it goes. The answer to all her pleas is a resounding “YES!” she is the apple of my eye.

But like every child that is beautiful, that IS every child, they all ask the proverbial question: “WHY?”
“Why? Because!“
“Because Grandpa wants it that way.”
“Because it is good if Grandpa wears red socks.”
“Because Grandpa wants to commit himself to the psychiatric ward for a few days, without Grandma telling him to wear red socks?”

And so life goes on, with boxes and boxes of toys, books, and playsets, accompanied by millions of little parts that will eventually end up all over the house, musical and electronic playthings that carry the imagination deep into the world of entertainment and enchantment. She is entertained and I am enchanted by her. Granddaughter; the most beautiful word in the English language!

The single best gift I have had in my old age is my grandchild. She is loving, beautiful, smart and knows grandpa will only see it her way, she is the reward from the many years of old age.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


The Los Angles traffic was frustratingly slow and lazy that morning as my daughter-in-law tried to negotiate the maze of roads and traffic lanes that led on or off the freeways. Propped on her dashboard was her cell phone that gave us the score: LA Traffic 100, us 0!

The lady on the phone was giving us orders on what to do and where to do it, advising us of construction and jam ups. Being a man I am used to taking orders without protest, but this morning was different, the heart operation my son was having was beginning and so our anxiety began along with it. Being how neither one of us could take slow for an answer on this occasion we looked for alternate traffic lanes that moved better than the others and the closer we got to the hospital the more we were pumped up.

Suddenly the cell phone came alive and Courtney answered. The hospital was calling! Our ears perked and our hearts stood still, waiting for our stomachs to make the slow journey from mid-torso to mouth, which was dryer than usual. What did they want? Could the lady on the other end give the doctors in the operating room Courtney's number? They needed to be in touch with Courtney it seemed. Courtney was also told they would call her.

Suddenly the urgency to get to the hospital became greater, the distance from it seemed to grow, palpations, sweats and clam-like wetness of the palms invaded our conscience; whatever in God's universe do they want to tell us?

Reaching the hospital, the phone never rang again, jumping out of our seats with the valet grabbing the keys we raced into the building, the anticipation one of desperation, jockeying into positions around visitors, and hospital staff to the final destination, the reception desk for the operating room visitors. Courtney almost breathless asked about the call and the person behind the desk made a phone call and handed the phone to Courtney.

As I watched her face, it slowly worked itself into a grin of happiness, as she handed the phone back and headed to a chair, slowly sitting and her head in her hands between her knees.

The phone call? Oh, just to tell us everything was going well.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


The Little Blond Boy and La Principessa

It was a beautiful sunny early evening as we sat around a table sipping our drinks and laughing among ourselves. The beach behind us was washing away the last vestiges of summer, but the crowds of vacationers still lingered as if they were saying goodbye to an old friend forever.

As we shielded our eyes from the bright Cape May sun my cell phone came alive, it was my daughter-in-law in Burbank, California calling to tell me that the fun was over, my son Anthony (#1 Son) was rushed off to the UCLA Ronald Reagan Memorial Medical Center in Westwood for what would be heart surgery, as the doctors found some blockages.

The blue sky I sat under no longer mattered anymore, the drink was tasteless and the dinner that followed was simply a routine, something to do to while the time away until I could get out to see my son. I kept wondering how this could happen and it seemed to me to be the kind of thing I was taking in stride. As a parent you know not all days are pleasant, or sunny, sometimes a little rain must fall but this time, it was pouring once again.

The trouble was we were hundreds of miles away from home with friends who looked forward to this little vacation and we still needed to live our lives in spite of the current crisis. This has been our method of operation most of our lives for TLW (The Little Woman) and me.

Having to be chained to my imagination, seeing in my mind's eye the little blond boy I helped raise, all the times he called and greeted me with "Daddy!" and how good it made me feel, I twisted and turned in the agony of the unknown. I remembered all the times we played ball, watched the Mets and cried equally for both the Mets and Jets, made me want to hold his hand, as big as he is, but he is only the little blond boy. When his sister was growing up, lost in her world of disabilities, he tried to make up for that, after all, he was the little blond boy.  After his little brother died, and we were swept away in our own tears, he made the difference, helping us see tomorrow on a permanent basis, the little blond boy.

When challenges strike your children, it is you who must stand the ground, you must hold their hands and show yourself for him to know it will always be alright. He is older now, went through some tough times, weathered some pretty horrid storms that life threw at him, but he was rewarded ten-fold. He is blessed with a loving wife and the most beautiful little girl I ever knew. God is tough but he IS good.

So I got to Burbank, and saw the little blond boy, laying helplessly in a bed with tubes and bandages, crisscrossing his whole body, the pain was mine and grateful I was that his Mom didn't have to feel it as much since she was back home.

The little blond boy will not disappoint, not his wife, his mom or himself. He will fight through his pain and the trooper he really is, will do what it takes and just move on. The little blond boy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Many years ago when I commuted on the Long Island Railroad, life on board was a social event. People boarded the commuter trains with newspapers, friends and even games. You could actually see the people who sat next to you, and by chance even acknowledge a good morning!

Recently on a trip to California, I decided to take the ‘Train to the Plane’ and board a commuter train during the height of the rush hour. Life has changed in 40 years, there is no life on these trains, and like the plane, I boarded afterward, only the dullness of owning a cell phone that is nothing more than a nose warmer.

As I sat on the train, looking around me, all I saw were people on their cell phones, looking bored and totally alone in this hollow attempt at life.

Where are all the newspapers that were opened and the many different types, the Times and Daily News? What about the conversing that occurred between seatmates and those that sat across from you, where did they go? There were puzzle solvers and card players, even jokesters and book readers, where did they go?

They went to the way of electronic technology and the cruel world culture killing monsters they call I-phones and androids, isolating themselves from humankind once and for all.

Many of the friends I made in life came from fellow commuters. People with different jobs and points of views, cultures and the willingness to communicate with one another. Sadly, as I looked about in that train, all I saw were the zombies and their cell phones tuned out to life and the wonderful experiences I enjoyed so long ago.

On Friday evenings on the way to my weekend, many of my friends pooled money and bought food and booze and partied from Hunter’s Point Avenue in Queens all the way out to Mastic/Shirley, enlivening the trip and helping set the tempo of the next two days. Today I have to wonder where their cellphone will take them to, their emails and Yahoo?