July 5, 2016

Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 11
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 49 + 50 = 99
Handicap: 24.2 / Trend: 23.8 (-0.4)

Funny how golf is. Most of the time we high-handicappers post a score we trudge to the 19th hole, plop ourselves down in front of a brewskie and our playing partners and bemoan those six or seven shots that got away from us, truly feeling (whether rightly or not) that we left shots out there that kept us from posting a real low score.

Today was not one of those days.

I chose the title of this post for two reasons: 1) I feel damned fortunate to have escaped from the clutches of Superstition Springs Golf Club with a 99, and 2) I’m ecstatic at the prospect of not having to tee it up there again for a very long time. In both ways, I have escaped the torture of the Springs and the special form of punishment it seems to reserve for The Great White Shank, no matter what game he brings to it.

I was actually feeling pretty damned good about my game going into today’s round. Per a suggestion from Alex Black during my last lesson I bit the bullet and tweaked the take-back on my driver in order to gain a more repeatable swing, and had had one of my best range sessions of the year yesterday. As a result, I think I had the best day ever driving the ball at the Springs. But the problem with the Springs is that it doesn’t care one way or the other: you can struggle off the tee and make good approach shots. You can hit the ball well off the tee and be just a hair off on your approach shots (as I was today). Or, you can hit the ball well off the tee and hit good approach shots and struggle with your short game, as I did on several holes today. It doesn’t matter: the Springs will find a way to penalize you to the umpteenth degree. In short (as you’re probably guessing by now), you have to have all cylinders firing on your game in order to post a low number at the Springs, and you can never relax, not for one shot, or you’ll be looking at double-bogey so fast it will make your head spin.

Today it seemed no matter what I did the Springs did everything it could to make breaking 100 excruciatingly hard. Every bounce – and I do mean every – seemed to go against me. A slightly pushed 5-iron off the tee at the par 3 #3 hit something and bounded far left, leaving an incredibly tricky pitch under a tree that I was lucky to just get back near the green. My approach with a pitching wedge on the next hole was a foot from being perfect; instead it bounced uphill into a pot bunker. Rather than having at worst a two-putt for bogey I ended up with a quad eight. Balls that typically bounced left would go right, and vice-versa. And not for anything good.

What held my game together today was my driver and my putter. The scorecard would show only six fairways hit, but by and large I was on target nearly all day. And between holes six and eleven I one-putted five of those holes. I’d like to have that pushed tee shot left on #14 that ended up in the pond, but it was the crappy 5-iron I had no business trying to get to the green that went OB that pretty much sealed my fate for the quad-bogey eight that resulted. As the back nine went on and the heat began to really cook both me and everything around me, I was grinding on every shot – even the two-footers I had left for bogeys and double-bogeys coming in. The Springs wasn’t giving anything away for free, and when I tapped in a two-footer for my double-bogey and a 99 their was no sense of joy or angst or anything: I was just numb, physically and emotionally drained, just glad to get the hell out of there.

With only eleven days to go before Goodboys Invitational weekend I’m not in a bad place. The Springs is just a damned tough course with no holes whatsoever that even begin to fit my eye. Had I played any other course, say, Trilogy at Power Ranch or Lone Tree or Stonecreek I really think my game today was good enough to hang something in the low 90s up there – my tee game was that good. But I know there’s still some work out there to do: I have to get more confident with my irons – Alex would be on me about not trusting my swing and fighting my weight shift. And I’ve got to figure out where the hell my 5-wood and my 3- and 4-hybrids went: I’d been hitting them so well recently and today they really hurt me on some holes. But these are minor things: as I say, Superstition Springs demands precision and accuracy on virtually every hole, and speaking only for me (others may feel differently) I can never relax when I play there. Disaster always seems to be around the corner, and the pressure to consistently make good shots doesn’t translate well to my swing.

It will be interesting to see how my game translates to New England golf and the pressure of a Goodboys Invitational weekend. My game seems quite different from the last time I teed anything up there, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. As for Arizona golf, I’m pretty much done for the year, but I’ve made great progress: I started the year as a 26-handicap and have take more than two strokes off it since. So I’m trending well heading back to New England and looking forward not just getting away from the heat, but Superstition Springs as well.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comments (0)
July 4, 2016

Happy birthday, America! May Hillary Clinton never get to be your president.

…and a big Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad – Mom almost made it to what would have been their 63rd anniversary. But love never dies, and I will still keep sending anniversary cards to my dad as long as he lives.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:21 | Comments (2)
July 3, 2016

It’s the long July 4 weekend here in the Valley of Sun and the weather is about as one would expect it to be. The monsoon of last week has departed, leaving us with temps in high 100s, the pool temperature is back to 92, and life is good.

One of the quiet pleasures of the weekend is to have my morning coffee at the Tiki bar. The heat hasn’t come on yet, and it’s a joy to watch the ubiquitous house sparrows and the mourning doves and foo-foo birds (I’m not sure exactly what their name is but that’s what I call them) come by for a drink in the swimming pool fountain. I noticed this morning that the mesquite tree in our backyard has gotten so big that I can look up from the Tiki bar and see mesquite branches reaching over to create a near-canopy of green above me. Time to get Carmelo and the boys busy: you don’t want a monsoon storm or – gasp! – a microburst felling branches on top of the Tiki bar – not after all the hard work I put in last summer to replace its thatch roof.

My favorite time of day out on the back patio is dusk, when everything is kinda sorta all shades of gray and the heat of the day is starting to subside. I’m really pleased with the redesign of the backyard and reducing the amount of lawn that needed to be watered. The dichondra clover I’ve planted still has a way to go in spots, but all seems to be according to plan: by this time next year it will look as if the Tiki bar is floating in a Sargasso Sea of clover. Not only will it be pleasing to the eye, but walking on it will make you think you’re walking on a carpet of soft green. It will be lovely.

I’m really pleased with the way our back yard has turned out. We had a nice landscape to start with when we bought the house thirteen years ago, but if I do say myself, I’ve been able to turn it into quiet and peaceful place with happy colors and well-chosen desert foliage plants in virtually every color to make it a refuge from all the stresses and strains of daily life. Having lost Mom a couple of weeks ago, I’ve come to rely on the back patio as a place where I can I find some sense of tranquility and enjoy the results of all the work that we’ve done to create this little postage stamp of an oasis in the desert.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:15 | Comments (0)
July 2, 2016

If there was any doubt whatsoever that Hillary Clinton is truly concerned about the FBI investigation into her shabby and reckless (and perhaps criminal) use of a private e-mail system to conduct official State Department business while Secretary of State and using the State Department as a vehicle to shake down connections world-wide to contribute to her and Bill’s Clinton Foundation, one look no further than the scandal that has erupted over Bill Clinton’s off-the-cuff visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while there respective planes sat on the tarmac at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport this past Monday.

Originally, Lynch characterized the visit as purely social, and one where the two of them met solely to discuss the grand kids (!) and such – a comment that, rightly so, was viewed as an insult to the intelligence of every American over the age of five. And a comment that resulted in some serious damage control at a hastily-called press conference.

Very seldom, if ever, do I agree with Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, but he is right on target here in noting that, not only does this stink to high heaven, but now, no matter what the FBI were to come up with in terms of findings and/or charges against the former First Lady and Secretary of State, the very presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, it will be widely viewed that the fix is in:

A big part of politics is appearances and perceptions. If something looks bad, people will likely conclude it is bad — even if there’s no actual evidence or proof of its relative badness. Politicians know this; it’s why they don’t wear funny hats or get in tanks (anymore).

And it’s why Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch should have known better when they huddled privately at the Phoenix airport earlier this week. Lynch is the nation’s top cop and, as such, oversees the FBI, which is conducting an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton or any of her associates broke the law in setting up a private email server for her electronic correspondence during her four years as secretary of state. Meeting privately with the former president of the United States who also happens to be Hillary Clinton’s husband looks really, really bad.

And, lest there be any doubt about how this meeting ended up taking place, Ken Kurson’s article in The Observer is beyond incredible in that in this day and age Bill Clinton’s actions should be so brazen:

According to the source, the FBI agents protecting Lynch “knew former POTUS was in town and another executive was coming and knew Lynch was coming so we knew there’d be congestion. We were waiting for her plane to touch down at the executive terminal area of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor where it’s best suited to control. Clinton’s plane was on the ground already. But he wasn’t there. We had been hoping to get him out before she arrived, just to avoid too much traffic. They [their planes] were 75 yards apart. We have a procedure we do to clear [space for] a motorcade. As we were ready to receive her, I saw the other motorcade coming in—we were like, ‘great timing.’ ”

The source was being sarcastic in saying “great timing,” indicating that it would have been better logistically for Clinton’s plane to take off before Lynch’s arrived, to avoid the congestion of two motorcades on the tarmac at once. The source indicated that Clinton’s people at the airport didn’t know what was taking Clinton’s motorcade so long to arrive and speculated that the delay was engineered specifically so that Clinton would not have left before Lynch arrived.

“Then I see Clinton walking over. His detail guys ran over to hers and said he’s coming. ‘He’s closing.’ He walked straight there to the Air Force guy at the door and next thing I know he’s going up the steps [of her plane].” Asked about the Air Force detail, the source later clarified to the Observer that “There was an Air Force airman at the base of the stairs of the [Lynch] aircraft, as you always see on TV with POTUS.”

According to the source, “Nobody knew this was coming. We just knew to be aware there were other events going on. There was no planned meeting. It was just chance contact. The fact is, he just started walking over. I don’t think it was pre-arranged. He just started walking over and [even her security] can’t tell him, ‘you can’t do that.’ He walked in her plane for at least 20 to 25 minutes and the FBI is standing face to face with the Secret Service and just chatting on the hot tarmac like, ‘what the hell.’ ”

You have to read the whole thing to believe it.

Given all the above one truly has to wonder whether Democrats are really going to be that willing to go the well with a candidate as unsympathetic as Hillary Clinton. Folks can say all you want about Republicans and Donald Trump as their presumptive nominee, but last I checked, Trump wasn’t the one asleep at the switch (both figuratively and practically) when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four brave Americans were killed in Benghazi. And it wasn’t Donald Trump pushing that inane, nearly-immediately discredited narrative that the attacks there were spontaneous and all over a YouTube video. Last time I checked, Donald Trump wasn’t under a potentially criminal investigation by the FBI for recklessly – against the advice of her closest advisors – running a totally unsecured e-mail system for her State Department business. Last time I checked, Donald Trump’s closest associates weren’t pleading the Fifth repeatedly during interviews with the FBI. Last time I checked, it wasn’t Donald Trump’s wife ambushing the Attorney General on her plane while it sat at an airport.

I’ve said all along that I don’t believe Hillary Clinton will end up being the Democratic nominee. I still think it’s going to be a Joe Biden / Elizabeth Warren ticket come November. Hillary Clinton has more baggage than the cargo hold of a fully-booked Boeing 747. People don’t like her. People don’t trust her. People know she’s as phony as a four-dollar bill and someone who will say and do anything to become President. She’s entirely shameless and without virtue of any kind, someone without any shred of integrity; she’s a vile (I would include evil), self-serving, elitist politician who couldn’t even be elected the dog-catcher’s pooper-scooper if her last name wasn’t Clinton.

But, at least in my mind, that’s the basic difference between Republicans and Democrats: Republicans aren’t afraid to beat each other up over any question of character or impropriety whatsoever (one look at what happened to Herman Cain and Todd Akin in 2012 will tell you that), whereas Democrats appear to have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to supporting their candidates. They can cheat (William Jefferson), be completely unethical (Charlie Rangel), and it doesn’t matter: they’ll give you every reason in the world why they support the likes of Hillary Clinton.

I would respect any Democrat who had the guts to say that by her actions involving the use of her State Department e-mail and what happened at Benghazi that Hillary Clinton is completely unqualified to be President and should be forced to drop out for the good of the Party and the country. Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders? While I don’t agree with much either of them stand for politically, both are true statesmen and worthy of the Democratic Party nomination were it to be given them. Compared to Hillary Clinton they’re paragons of virtue. The fact that there are Democrats out there – and I’ve heard them and talked with them – who unabashedly continue to support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, with all of her baggage and the scandals surrounding her, begs credibility; hence, I have zero respect for their political beliefs and will not humor them in political debate.

But I guess that’s why what Bob Hope so famously (and accurately) said about Democrats still holds true today.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:05 | Comments (0)
July 1, 2016

A bunch of my liberal Goodboys friends are positively aghast at Great Britain voting to exit the European Union, but it’s not hard to figure out, really. You’ve got all these snotty elitists in Brussels subjugating the sovereignty of EU nations to take in more and more poor and indigent Muslim refugees who will: a) overwhelm the social services infrastructures wherever they are sent, and b) take jobs away from those country’s legal citizenry. Oh, and did I mention the fact that they are pushing this knowing full well these refugees have little interest nor desire in integrating themselves into the culture of the countries they are being sent to? Britian is just the first country to wake up and realize this is a big lose-lose situation for everyone in the EU. Good for them.

But that’s what liberals are, both “across the pond” and here in America. They all think they know better than everyone else and have absolutely no shame in shoving their values and their perceived ideas of right and wrong down the throats of everyone else. I guarantee you that there isn’t one – and I truly mean this – one liberal out there willing to take in a family of Muslim refugees and house, feed, and clothe them. Far easier instead to show just how “compassionate” they are by supporting increased and unvetted Muslim immigration and leave it to governments at the federal, state, and local levels to act upon their so-called compassion.

Oh, and all the moaning, groaning, and hand-wringing about what the GB vote to leave the EU would mean to financial markets? err…never mind.

Come November, I truly believe Donald Trump will shut all of them up, and they’ll be positively shocked, shocked, I tell ya. Because they never saw it coming. Because they live in their own little insulated world where everything they hear and know comes from their own little smarmy, elitist circle of like-minded friends and acquaintances. Because all the news they get comes from the Boston Globe, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. Because they all think they know better than anyone else, they’re more compassionate than everyone else, and anyone who doesn’t think like them is a racist, sexist, homophobe, or xenophobe. Because to them the ideas of what diversity, tolerance, and acceptance are all about are on their terms.

I’ve come to despise the liberal elite and the mainstream media that serves as their mouthpiece to shame those who dare to think differently. They’re all nothing but a bunch of vile hypocrites.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:49 | Comments (0)
June 30, 2016

We had the loveliest thunderstorm last night. While the storms produced damaging microbursts (I’ve come to hate microbursts!) elsewhere, here we had a little wind, some beautiful lightning and a few peals of distant thunder before the heavens opened up for the second straight night. Me? I peeled off my clothes and jumped into the pool where the 92-degree temp was like ten degrees warmer than the deluge falling on me. It rained hard for the better part of a half-hour. Very refreshing, and with all the stress I’ve been under lately, very welcoming.

With all the rain the past two nights our pool temp has dropped four degrees, from 94 to 90. We’ll take it!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:48 | Comments (0)
June 28, 2016

Back to Arizona. Back to the Valley of the Sun. Out of the lovely, clean air of a summer in the Northeast and into the withering murk of a monsoon week in Arizona. Rather than the bright and blazing heat of the past two weeks, the monsoon brings with it an uptick in the humidity, so rather than 115 and blistering hot you get 106 and humid. By the time mid-afternoon comes around everything seems washed out and wilted, much like the Red Sox pitching is whenever Clay Buchholz or Eduardo Rodriguez are starting.

We had our first monsoon storm last night. The clouds to our east were piled up and salmon-colored against the setting sun, but I really didn’t think we were going to get anything until I saw a couple of flashes to the east around 9 PM while walking back from the mailbox. Dutifully checking the Accuweather website I saw we had a blowing dust advisory in effect, so I poured me a chilled Pinot Grigio and went out on the pool deck to watch the storm come in. The lightning got a little closer and a breeze came up, but I don’t think we had much dust. All of a sudden there were two flashes of lightning right overhead and the first cracks of thunder. And then the rain started, and what a joy it was to behold! We got a real soaker – the first rain in 3 1/2 months for a good fifteen minutes. The temperature dropped some ten degrees to around 90, and I could hear all our neighbors out on their patios enjoying the spectacle.

You can always tell when the rain is about to stop and the storm about to move on. You’re drinking in the (relatively) cool air when all of a sudden you feel that first sickening wave of humidity return. Five minutes later it’s all over and the air becomes wet-blanket heavy, almost suffocating. Then half an hour later all the hard surfaces are dry and it’s like the storm never happened.

I went to bed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:55 | Comments (2)
June 26, 2016

It’s hard to believe just a week ago Tracey and I were dashing to get back to Massachusetts in time before my mother passed away. In some cases you can say a period of time seems to have gone by like it was just yesterday, but in this case it seems like the last ten days has gone on forever. The call with Mom’s nurse discussing her condition, the urgent travel arrangements, getting to the Phoenix airport only to hear that the family had been called to her bedside, the hassle and extended wait at the Logan Airport rental car center, the call from my brother saying that she had passed away while we were waiting for our car, seeing her in death and kissing her goodbye, the negotiations over her arrangements and writing her obituary, meeting with the funeral director, coordinating the funeral service with the priest, then helping Dad with all the calls and e-mails was a virtual whirlwind of non-stop activity.

But then you have this awkward period (for us it was Tuesday and Wednesday) where everything is in waiting mode, so we used that time to visit family and begin making plans for Dad’s transition to his new, single existence. It gave Dad a chance to meet his new great-grandson, Jace, born just two days before Mom died:

Then came the next whirlwind of activity and the renewed ramp-up of emotions: the visitation (remember, it’s not a wake!), funeral, post-service luncheon, and, a day later, the final goodbye at her resting place in the church memorial garden:

But you’ve still got tons of family around, of course, so spaced in between these events and then afterwards, before everyone heads for home, are various gatherings, large and small, where folks are given time to spend time together and start decompressing from the past few days. Of course, in these experiences I’m not telling y’all anything you haven’t all experienced before. While it’s a part of life no one likes to talk about, it’s still life. You got your beginnings, you got your endings. I’ll tell you this: Tracey and I had been putting off and putting off getting our wills and affairs documented, and it was only weeks ago that we started working with an estate planner to get these decided and documented; you can bet that will be expedited in the coming weeks! Me? I don’t really care what happens to me and my “stuff” when I’m gone, but you don’t want to burden those you love and who survive you any more than absolutely necessary, and getting it all down – and I mean all down – in writing is essential for everyone’s sense of security and emotional well-being.

But I digress.

I remember the last phone call I had with Mom two days before she passed and her telling me how old she felt and (once again) how she had outlived her usefulness and was a burden to others. I told her we were both dinosaurs living in a world quite different from the ones we grew up in – in some ways for the better, in others not so much. But a very different one, for sure. And I was thinking about that call Friday night as we “kids” sat around a table with my aunt and uncle reminiscing about us all living in the same house together the first ten years of my life, and the times Auntie and my mom lived in when they themselves were young and growing up during the Depression. Some of the stories and memories were familiar, others not such, but all recalled with fondness and laughter. Yet underneath it all lie more than a hint melancholy, because so much of it was from another time: one so strange and so distant from the present day as to be virtually unrecognizable if we ourselves hadn’t lived it.

I thought about this as Tracey and I sat at Logan Airport waiting for our flight back and seeing all the families traveling together, with children in some cases carrying larger pieces of luggage than I did. A far cry from the last vacation our family took together 45 years ago when we traveled to Niagara Falls and back by car, cooking on the roadside with a hibachi and cramming ourselves into tiny motels we’d find along the way! It’s not just my Mom and I that were dinosaurs, I thought, but the entire family unit known as the Richard and Fudge clan. Which is OK – again, this is what life is all about: those families with the kids and the luggage will have their own lives and own experiences to share down the road when it comes time to say goodbye to one of their own. Not sure what kind of world it will be for them at that time, but you can count me as someone damned content to be my age and happy to have been born and grown up in the era I did.

At any rate, in the end everything went about as well as can be expected under these circumstances, and by and large the family got through it OK. My Mom is at rest and at peace, the rest of us are starting the process of moving on, and we’re all now getting back to the day-to-day lives we’ll all live until this kind of thing happens again. Because it will. Because that’s the way life is: no use sticking one’s head in the sand about it. My Mom understood that better than most, and she kept her smile until the very end. Here’s a pic of her and Dad the day before she passed away:

Me? I’m back here in the Valley of the Sun and still haven’t started decompressing, for there is still much left to do upon my return for Goodboys Invitational week – yes! – two weeks hence, when Dad and I plan to finalize all of Mom’s affairs. We’ve already started going through her things trying to figure out what will be saved, what will be tossed, or given to family, or brought to Goodwill. These two weeks will be good for Dad, giving him time to grieve and reflect and think about things in private; the kinds of things you just can’t do when you still have family lurking around.

Life goes on.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:49 | Comments (0)
June 22, 2016

These are the longest days of the year, beautiful days to be back in New England with warm, breezy days and air that kisses your face, not blasts it like a furnace like it presently is doing in the Valley of the Sun. And these are also the longest days for our family as we go through the difficult and mentally-taxing process of making my Mom’s arrangements and getting ready for her visitation (“it’s not a wake!” in family lingo) and funeral tomorrow.

As the oldest son in the family, it’s been my appointed task to ensure my mom’s final wishes are being followed while still ensuring other members of the family have a voice in things as well – after all, arrangements of this nature are as much, if not more, for the living as they are for the dead.

You always hear of raging battles amongst family members following the death of a parent (or parents) because of any number of reasons: dough-re-mi, sibling rivalries, long-simmering resentments, issues or slights never resolved, etc. etc., but fortunately that hasn’t been the case here. Oh sure, there have been differing ideas and pointed discussions about how and when things should be done and such, but everything seems to have been worked out pretty much to everyone’s satisfaction. Of course, there’s been a bit of eggshell walking, but that’s to be expected when you’re in a situation where emotions are so raw and so exposed. In the end, I think Mom would be pleased with how it all has gone, and that’s all that counts in the end.

What ended up being kind of funny was working out Mom’s obituary, with everyone tossing in ideas about what should or needn’t be included. My uncle was savvy-enough to bring a recent obituary from someone who had died recently that provided the general construct for what we ultimately came up with. What was very cool was for Tracey to find a piece of paper where Mom had documented her last wishes that included that beautiful paragraph that ends her obituary: it was beautifully stated in her own words, and we put it in word for word. What made it funny was the fact that, after reading it over and over aloud to make sure we had it all organized appropriately, with proper syntax and in proper order, my uncle tells me the next day that we had forgotten to include Mom’s youngest sister Gwen, who had passed away in her youth. Unbelievable.

…it kinda makes me wonder about the group-think involved in the creation of historically-great documents like the Magna Carta, or the Nicene Creed, or even our Declaration of Independence or Constitution, and what might have been left out of them by mistake after the final written version got sent to the printer. I can only imagine Ben “The Doc” Franklin running up to Thomas “T.J.” Jefferson to tell him that x y or z got left out of the final product. Who knows, history could have been radically changed!

Anyways, everybody, whether ready to or not, has sort of started mentally transitioning into the next phase of a post-Mom existence. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at these kinds of things), my folks lived a fairly uncomplicated existence and never accumulated much in the way of possessions: all that got taken care of when they transitioned from the large family home to a condo thirty years ago, and then to an apartment from the condo ten years ago. As a result, there aren’t piles and piles of paper, and countless banks, insurance companies, and government agencies to notify, but there’s still work to do. Coming back in a couple of weeks for the Goodboys Invitational, therefore, will serve two purposes: give Dad some downtime and alone-time to grieve and get accustomed to his new existence, and give the two us time to make all the calls, notifications, visits, and mailings needed to put Mom’s final affairs in order.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:56 | Comments (0)
June 19, 2016

My mom passed away yesterday at the age of 92. She never liked people making a fuss over her, and if you started throwing compliments her way she’d always find a way to kind of pooh-pooh it, but this is one time she’s not going to get a say in the matter. And while I’m guessing she wouldn’t want a big deal to be made of her passing – certainly not to the extent of a blog post such as this – I think deep down she’d feel proud and honored by the sentiments expressed here. And knowing her as I think I do (after all, it was rare for Mom to share her innermost feelings with just about anyone), just seeing how much she was loved by all of us and how much she will be missed, I think would suffice, only as long as we all promised to get on with our lives and be happy while keeping her close in our memories. I think she’d be satisfied with that. At least I hope so.

If someone were to ask me to describe Mom in one word, it would be that she was a MOM. It’s what God called her to do as her life vocation, and she did it well. While she did many other things in her life between work, church and travel, more than anything else she was a mom, even to those who weren’t her children. Whether it was Tracey (who saw her as much of a mother figure as her own), or to Tracey’s twin Tammy, or to my various friends over the years, Mom had that way of making anyone feel welcome. Growing up in house with three other boys all born within 3 1/2 years of each other (two brothers and two cousins) both Mom and my Auntie Marge put up with a lot when we were young, and even more so when we entered our late teens. But no matter how much we might have screwed up, and how put out with us she might be, never once did we ever think we weren’t loved.

And, I guess, speaking as her oldest son, that was always the most important thing to me. Unlike parents today, Mom and I weren’t friends, or buddies, or pals, or whatever the heck parents these days try to carve out as a relationship with their children. She was my mother, I was her son, and I never thought otherwise. Growing up, it was Mom who was the disciplinarian in the house; while I think I got the strap only once, you knew damned well you had messed up simply by the tone in her voice or the look on her face – that was usually enough to get the point across.

Once we kids were grown and pretty much on our own, Mom and my dad enjoyed traveling but remained home-bodies at heart. Unlike so many New Englanders, neither Mom nor Dad ever had the itch to snowbird their winters in Florida. And while my Dad has always enjoyed taking walks outside and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, I always found it funny that Mom was never much of nature person. She was a faithful church-goer until her later years, but she never stopped being faithful to God: she kept a cup on her bureau that she would put a quarter in each day as a way of giving thanks. And until her feet gave out, she enjoyed volunteering at our church’s “Thrift Shop” and knowing all the regulars who frequented there the days she worked. She had a melodic voice, loved music, and loved to sing: she sang in church choirs for years, and her habit was to sing harmony to any music that might be playing at the time. I told her many times the greatest gift she ever gave me (besides a mother’s love, of course!) was my ear for music.

It seems that for someone who lived nearly ninety-three years there should be oodles of experiences to write about, but at heart Mom was a very simple and down-to-earth person. She loved whenever family would come to visit – especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and it seems especially right that her last full day on earth was spent surrounded by family, a visit from two of her great-grandchildren, and the news that she had become a great-grandmother for the fourth time. The cycle of life! She faithfully watched her “story” – General Hospital – each day, and loved watching her game shows and the Red Sox (not baseball, the Red Sox!) who she missed dearly until Spring Training came back around. She enjoyed an occasional trip to the casino (Sam’s Town in Vegas until both she and Dad got weary of air travel), then Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun for just a day with the money she’d saved strictly for that occasion, and when it was all gone (she rarely won anything gambling!) she was content to leave it until the next time.

In her last decade of life things got kind of tough. Losing her youngest son (my brother Mark) at such an early age wounded her deeply. And while her health issues accumulated began to accumulate she had spent the first eight decades of her life in pretty good health and kept her wits right until the end. Increasingly, she would bemoan all the medications and treatments that she felt kept people alive long after they outlived their usefulness; I know she sometimes felt like she was a bother to us, but nothing could have been further from the truth. When the end came, both she and her body were more than ready to go, and we are all grateful and comforted that she went out the way she did – in peace and surrounded by loved ones.

It’s going to feel strange not having a mom around to talk to, to share things with, to just call and chit-chat with, and to get cards from on special occasions. I’m sixty years old, and losing my mother makes me all of a sudden feel old and rudderless. I’m sure over time that will pass, but it’s hard to think of someone who has been part of your life from the day you were born not being there anymore. I know for her it is all for the best – she’s now at rest and in God’s hands – but it’s gonna be tough for the rest of us who must carry on without her love, wisdom, and abiding presence in our lives.

Her name was Dorothy Geraldine Richard, but to me she was Mom. As your oldest son, I hope I lived up to your expectations more often than not and that I made you proud. I love you and will miss you greatly. Rest in peace.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:29 | Comments (6)

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