Banner Photo by Sam Padron

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Going to Church



It's been a sad few days. I didn't post any stories because I didn't think it would be appropriate. Yesterday my sister laid her husband to rest and I, and my siblings, were all there to show our respects. It was a Catholic funeral, celebrated with a funeral Mass at my sister's church. It has been quite a few years since I sat through a Catholic Mass and there seems to be a few changes since then. There was a lot of handshaking and overt friendliness. When I was a kid you simply showed up for Mass, then sat, stood, and kneeled at the appropriate time while the priest spoke a bunch of stuff in Latin. One new wrinkle I noticed was that during communion the priest didn't place the wafer directly into your mouth anymore. He put it in your hands and you ate it like a cracker.

On my way to the church one of my sisters called me. She was quite upset that one of our clan had been misplaced and let loose with a string of F-bombs. In the end our misplaced person was snatched up by another of my sisters and delivered to the church in time for the funeral Mass. What I found somewhat amusing was when the sister that had unloaded all those F-bombs, got in line to receive communion. Seriously, most of my sisters are quite capable of emulating my dad, and cursing like a sailor. I just found it just a little bit funny that somebody who could curse like that could also put "The body of Christ" in that dirty mouth.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Family



Every time people find out that I just moved from Florida to Chicago, I get "Why would you do that?" To those in the Chicago area Florida is a dream, the end game of life where you can live out your time in paradise. The truth is that Florida is no paradise to me. The only thing it had to offer was warm weather in the winter. For that I had to put up with eight months of hot, humid weather, hurricanes, and vermin. Rats, palmetto bugs, Burmese pythons, and mosquitoes. What I gave up to live in that paradise was family. Over the years I have missed weddings, funerals, and watching my nephew and nieces growing up. I missed family get togethers, and family squabbles. Now that I'm living here in Chicago again it seems that I need a scorecard before I open my mouth at family affairs. But I don't care. I'm glad to be part of it all.
On Saturday my sister's husband died. I did not realize how sick he was or I would have made more of an effort to visit him and my sister sometime over the last three weeks. Don was always a decent man and as far as I know loved by everyone in the family. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see him, but at least I don't feel so disconnected from my family as I did in Florida. A sad occasion, but I'm glad I'm here for it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Alan in Lisa Land; Bad Weather



Gray, drizzling rain, cold clammy weather. It's like Illinois is trying to prove to everybody, including me, that moving from Florida was bad. True, not having a home of our own for the interim is a bit troublesome, but my sister Lisa has been the most gracious of hosts. My brother Gary went out of his way to find us a really decent car to replace the PT Cruiser. Mark absolutely loves his new car and most shocking, he seems to be a better driver when he's behind the wheel of the Ford. Not good enough to brave the dreaded Dan Ryan, sixteen lanes of mayhem, but better. Seeing my mom almost every day has been sweet, even if she forgets that we were there moments after we walk out the door. Bette has found her pee pad pissing place in my sister's basement, so I don't have to wake up three times a night to take her out anymore. Best of all we are only twenty two days away from closing on the new house, and I think we have found our new tenant for the upstairs apartment. My friend Dennis has said he wants it. The best part about that is that when I call him up and ask if he wants to go out for a drink, he won't have far to go when he picks me up. So screw you Illinois weather. I have warm clothes, an umbrella, and I'm sure I can buy a pair of boots somewhere for the inevitable winter. Besides, I've always wanted to run a snowblower.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bette, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Florida Anymore



Tinley Park, August 23, 1956

"Blattttt... Bloooot...Blatttt...  "

Watching TV at my sister's house in Tinley Park and I am startled awake by what sounds like a flatulent elephant. It's a severe weather alert. We didn't have too many of those in Florida because if it wasn't a hurricane, it wasn't really severe. Oh sure, we had tornadoes, but Florida tornadoes are wimpy things. They might flip a semi truck or toss a shed across the lawn, but I don't ever remember one actually lifting the roof off a house. Not even a "mobile home" roof. The scary sounding weather warning on the television reminded me of my mom. Mom was, is terrified of tornadoes. I don't blame her, we experienced at least two tornadoes tearing through Tinley over the years. The first one hit while I was outside in the park with my brother. I was six years old and I watched as the giant funnel cloud tore through town just blocks from where we were playing, while my brother and his friends continued playing ball, oblivious to the carnage taking place. The second one was when I was in high school. It hit just as we were going out to board the busses. So exciting.

Back at home, All my mom had to hear was the word tornado on the radio and she would round up all the younger kids, jam them into the crawl space under the stairs, and leave them there for hours. Now that I think about it, Mom may have been buying herself a bit of relief from the horde. Before we moved to the "new house" Mom would order us down into the basement, which I hated because we couldn't see all the excitement happening out in the yard. Lawn chairs blowing around, trees creaking, lightning and thunder. I always loved Midwest storms. They come quickly, and leave just as fast. Unlike Florida where a hurricane can go on for hours and hours, with actual trees slamming down onto the roof and everything that isn't tied down blasting across the landscape. Hurricanes truly scared the living shit out of me. Tornadoes, not so much. They are like going to a casino. I have just as much chance of being hit by one as I do winning the big jackpot on a slot machine.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cruisin'



Thirteen years ago I told Mark that "This is the last car I am ever going to buy." I fully intended to keep the PT Cruiser until I could buy collector car license plates for it. So Mark wrecked it twice, Chandler covered the entire interior in white dog hair, the air conditioning stopped working, and finally the heat stopped working. So from the heat of Florida, to the cold of Chicago, I suffered, sweating and shivering. Also, over the last few years we have spent a few thousand dollars in repairs on that thing. Don't get me wrong, I liked it enough. It could carry a kitchen range in the back with the hatchback closed, and it had all my favorite radio stations on the presets. However, now that we have moved to Chicago and Mark has realized what it means to not have heat, he insisted that we get a new car. So we did. Besides, none of my Florida radio presets worked here in Chicago. Last Friday we traded in the old PT Cruiser on a nice Ford Fusion. It's a 2014 with only 14k miles on it. And as we drove away from Manteno Ford Mark told me how happy he was. Not only did he tell me that he finally feels like an adult driving that car, but he will no longer have people mistaking him for a lesbian. I myself love the car. It's really nice, and I kept my promise that the PT Cruiser would be the last car I ever buy. I made Mark buy the Ford Fusion.