That reminds me

An interesting characteristic of our brain is associative memories.

It is throwback Thursday, after all.

I’m refering to the brain’s ability to connect two completely different items or concepts.

Music, for example, has very powerful associative properties. For many of us, hearing a certain song will awaken certain memories, some happy, some sad.

Many songs will remind us of a time in our past when we first heard the song, say a childhood event, or a year in school.

Some songs give us a vague feeling, such as “Sugar, Sugar,” by The Archies gives me a general happy feeling about my chikdhood, whereas others are more specific. When I hear “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” I’m back in the Cub Scouts with my friends taking a train down to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Some parent had brought an AM radio along and we’d sing to somenof the Top 40 hits.

Another example is, I used to listen to Black Sabbath’s first album while a teenager reading sword and sorcery tales, particularly the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.

Now, when I listen to Black Sabbath, a feeling comes over me, a mood, if you will, that is similar to reexperiencing the awe and wonder I had back then reading those stories.

So intense is this mood that now I’ll play their music when I’m writing, hoping to capture some of that magic in my own story.

Smells also provide strong associative memories. Maybe a whiff of a certain cologne or perfume will bring back memories of someone out of our past.

Sometimes the association will surprise us because it was unexpected.

For instance, the reason for this rather bland post is because I was making coffee and enjoying the aroma of the freshly ground coffee.

Now I’ve been around the smell of coffee my whole life. There are many decades worth of memories associated with it that I could have recalled.

I could have remembered my time in the Navy, where coffee was figuratively our life’s blood. We drank it nonstop from the moment we awoke until we fell asleep. Our index fingers nearly atrophied into a permanent crook from holding our coffee cups.

On the other hand, because I do drink it regularly, the pleasant scent of coffee doesn’t always trigger any specific memories, it just puts me into a good mood.

Today I was surprised when the coffee scent triggered a memory of my childhood. I was taken back to my parents’ house before they were divorced. Back when I thought my childhood was happy.

Both my parents had coffee in the morning, so our house would fill up with the odor as it was being brewed in an old aluminum electric purculator in our kitchen.

It was similar to the old perculators they’d show in the Maxwell House coffee commercials, like this one:

I remembered that my dad, who, because he drank a lot of coffee, smelled of it. Many people remember the scent of their dad’s calogne. Me, I remember that he smelled like coffee.

My mom had made breakfast and ee were eating at the kitchen table, while my dog, Thor, lay just outside the kitchen doorway watching us. He wasn’t allowed in the kitchen and he stayed obediently on the other side until we came out.

It was an odd associative memory and I thought I’d share.

Have you had any associative memories lately that surprised you?



Adventures in ADHD – Impulsivity

One characteristic people suffering with ADHD have is impulsivity. We are impulsive! We do things first, then think about it. We don’t consider the consequences of our actions beforehand. In other words, we leap before we look.

We don’t need no stinking beer. We have ADHD!

Long before the phrase, “Dude, hold my beer” came into the vernacular, those of us with ADHD said, “Watch this.” We don’t need alcohol to deaden our self-preservation center. We were born this way.

My childhood was rife with examples of impulsivity, of “Watch this.”

Friend: Bet you can’t jump off the garage roof.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen anyone do a lawn belly flop before.

Friend: Bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! Good thing that big branch stopped you.

Friend: Look at this minibike I made. Wanna try it?

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I forgot to mention it has a high center of gravity and you can’t turn at high speeds.

Friend: Go kick that cat off of our baseball field.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen a cat that mad, clinging to a person’s leg before. That’s a lot of blood.

Friend: Our dogs are fighting! We’ve got to stop them. Go grab yours.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! That’s a pretty deep hole in your wrist.

Anyway, I could go on.

And on.

And on.

But you get the point, impulsivity sucks.

It is also expensive. I become suddenly interested in something, a hobby, or what have you. I read everything there is about it. Join tons of forums so I can talk about my interest with others. And I spend money.

Then I lose interest. And again, impulsivity kicks in and I purge my life of that interest because, of course, “I’ll never be interested in this again.”

My most famous and regretable “I’ll never” was when I threw out all my Silver and Bronze Age comic books when we were moving. I had Captain America #100 through 150. I had Conan the Barbarian #1 through 35. And others. All in the trash. “I’m in my 40s. I don’t need these. I’m not interested in comics any more.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah. You guessed it. Over the last decade or so I’ve been buying them back on eBay.

A more recent example, but not nearly as costly, was an interest in drawing. I went out and bought some drawing books and several types of drawing pencils. I worked for several months learning how to draw. I could draw a realistic human eye like nobody’s business. I’d like to show some samples, but I purged all my drawings from that period. (Somewhere I have a blog post featuring drawings from high school, if you care to look. Found it.)

Then I lost interest (or found a shiney new interest). After a few years of not drawing, I finally got rid of the books several months ago. I mean, it had been years, right? “I’ll never want to learn how to draw again.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah… Who’d have guessed? I mean, really? I went searching my bookshelves for the drawing books, then realized, oh, yeah. I got rid of them.

Today, I wisely went to the library to check out a couple beginner books on drawing. At least I’m not spending money.

Yes, impulsivity is the reason I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, about an interest, but I lose in it before I can master it.

By the way, if you play guitar, I’m thinking of selling my 2008 Gretsch Duo Jet in silver flake. I mean, I haven’t touched it in two years, right? “I’ll never play guitar again.”

Future Me: *screams*


Friday on my mind

We made it to Friday! Time to party! (Or as I keep thinking a commercial for a local Native American gaming casino says, “Some people like to BUTTAH! all night long.” Yeah, my wife gives me that same look every time I say it, too. “Why would you think she’s saying butter?”) Fine, let’s get to it.

Bad Friday Haiku

Let us hit the streets

The weekend beckons us again

It’s time to buttah!

Coffee, a little bit of Heaven on Earth

My wife and I recently (a month or so ago) found a newly-opened coffee store. But not your ordinary coffee shop that serves beverages, no, this store sells coffee before it’s brewed. It is called, CoffeeIcon. The location used to be the Java Hut –Oh, drink coffee you will– Sorry. And we frequented it infrequently. Then it was gone and the store stood empty for years. 

I forget why we stopped by. Either for the Walgreen’s on the corner and we noticed it in passing (“Stop! Coffee! My precious!”) or we were getting some pizzas from Papa Murphy’s next store. (Funny, but as a kid, I always thought people were saying, “They’re our next store neighbors.”) Anyway, I digress, as usual.

We stopped in and were stunned. Inside there were shelves upon shelves of coffee. Dark roast, medium roast, light roast, flavored coffees, coffees from Africa, South America, everywhere. It was like we’d died and gone to coffee Heaven. 

They have the largest selection of Keurig-style coffee pods I have ever seen. This isn’t your average supermarket selection. This is premium coffees. Coffee that you can sample! Yes, you heard that right. Find a k-cup coffee you’ve never had before? Take it up and they’ll brew it for you. No charge. As in free. 

That’s the best thing ever! Free coffee!

Their selection of brands includes, for example, a nice selection from Twisted Pine, which is a Green Bay Wisconsin roaster that started with their “1265 Breakfast” roast (any guesses what that address is?) and has greatly expanded their offerings. Their “Jamaica Me Crazy” is one of the few flavored coffees I like. Caramel and vanilla flavors blended with a hint of coffee liqueur.

But CoffeeIcon is more than just Keurig cups. They sell beans, as well. In fact, they have a large variety of green beans on the premises and they will roast them to suit your taste and grind it to your preference.

Our most recent visit, I picked up a pound (12 ounces once it’s roasted and ground) of their “Jaquar Espresso” (and I apologize, but I do pronounce it with an X, but I’m working hard to stop), which is an organic blend of several South American varietals. It’s a dark roast, but it’s smooth and delicious. 

The cool thing is, on the bag the barrista wrote the temperature and length of time it was roasted at so the next time I can go in and say, “Could I try it a few degrees cooler this time?”

If you like spicy, get the Marley Coffee “Catch a Fire.” It has natural chili pepper flavor in it. Delish. And yes, that’s Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, who founded it.

They’re online, too, and they ship. Coffee Icon

Running within myself

This morning I experimented running at a pace that allowed me to breathe through my nose the whole time. Usually, I run too fast and I end up gasping through my mouth. I’m not sure if that is beneficial aerobically. But it always leaves me exhausted, almost burned out afterwards. 

Today, I made a concious decision to run slower and I did. Sure, my time was 2-1/2 minutes slower than I had been running for the same distance, but I finished the run still breathing through my nose and actually had enough kick left to sprint to the finish. Usually you can’t tell I’m sprinting because I’m so worn out.

I guess I’ve been pushing myself too hard all this time. I need to slow down in order to build up my aerobic fitness.

Weigh-In Friday

I lost 0.2 pounds. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I spy a Monarch!

I saw a Monarch butterfly in our yard the other day. I was happy, but at the same time, quite sad.

I was happy because I’ve always liked Monarchs with their bold orange and black wings and because they are so unusual due to their marvelous migratory pattern, traveling thousands of miles from the U.S. and Canada to central Mexican forests.

As a child, that fact alone facinated me; that this delicate creature could survive an exhausting and hazard-filled flight of over 2,800 miles was simply miraculous. I still have a book from my childhood about it, “The Travels of Monarch X” by Ross E. Hutchins.

But I was sad, too, because seeing a Monarch has become a rare occurance. As a child, I remember them swarming everywhere. They were among the most common of butterflies in the summer.

Now, they are endangered. Pesticides, which are decimating our honey bees, are killing the regal Monarchs as well. They are also suffering from a loss of habitat; Man is encroaching on their winter mountain retreats. And let’s not forget climate change (which, if you’re conservative is easy to do). It too is having a negative effect upon the once proud Monarch.

It’s sad to think that one day our children, and our children’s children will not be able to experience the joy and wonder that is the glorious Monarch.

I think I’ll go read that book tonight. Maybe it’ll uplift me.



Spritzen was not one of Santa’s reindeers

Does anyone else make spritz cookies for Christmas?

Spritz cookies are a German cookie, called Spritzgebäck (the German verb spritzen means “to squirt,” which makes sense as you’ll see).

They are a delicate, somewhat dry cookie, have a rich, buttery flavor, and are full of wonderful memories of my childhood. (If you don’t get flashbacks of my childhood when you eat one, you probably made it wrong.)

These simple ingredients: butter, egg, sugar, flour, and vanilla create the dough, but after that you’re on your own.

We tried for a number of years to make Spritz cookies but they just don’t come out right. By that I mean, I remember making them with my mom all through my childhood. We’d put the cookie dough in a metal press, push the dough through the design onto the baking sheet, and yay! A little Christmas tree, or wreath, or a heart, or a Mercedes-Benz emblem, and a few others I still can’t identify.

Then my brother and I would help decorate them with red and green sprinkle sugar, jimmies, those tiny jawbreakers, some kind of gummy candy, and cinnamon red hots, which were always the last ones eaten, begging the question: why did we even use those?

And if my wife ever tells you that my brother and I decorated the cookies with weird shit like sunflowers seeds and such, don’t believe her. We only did it that one time as a experiment. I swear.

The process seemed so easy. Press. Lift. Cookie. Sure, even my mom had all few flubs where the dough wouldn’t release from the design disk, but they were few and far between.

My wife and I tried making them ourselves and I don’t know if we were doing something wrong or if something in the ingredients was changed over the years, but the whole process was one big frustration.

The cookies rarely stayed on the baking sheet when we lifted the press, forcing us to peel them off, thus distorting or totally ruining the shape. The dough was not only difficult to work with, but it destroyed a couple cookie presses. A plastic one and an metal one, both using a trigger to push the dough. Only it didn’t push the dough. Instead the dough destroyed the ratchet gear mechanism in both.

Thus, for the time being anyway, we have stopped making Spritz cookies. At least until we can figure out what we were doing wrong.

Which makes me sad, because those were my favorite cookies. They were as much anyway part of Christmas as eggnog, decorating the tree, and gift giving.

What makes me sadder is I can’t even find them in the stores. I can find Spritz-lookalikes. Some come in tins. Some are called an Italian cookie or whatever. They look like a Spritz cookie but one bite and you know its a poser. It’s a cheap imitation made of shortbread.

If I wanted shortbread, I’d have asked for shortbread! Such asked disappointment.

Do you make Spritz cookies? What’s your secret?

And can you send me a Spritz Cookie Care Package?

Happy baking. Happier eating.

Basic Spritz Cookies Recipe

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup soft butter, 1/2 lb
3/4 cup sifted sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla (I believe my mother used almond)

Have baking sheets ready–do not grease. Start oven 10 min before baking; set to moderately hot (400 deg F). Sift flour and measure. Cream butter until shiny, add sugar gradually, creaming well. Beat in yolks until fluffy, then flavoring. Stir in flour in 3 or 4 portions until smooth. If dough is soft, chill an hour. Now shape dough into a cylinder and drop into cookie press, fitted with desired design plate. Press dough out onto cold baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake about 8 min or until a delicate brown. Remove from pans immediately to cake racks to cool. If difficult to remove from pans, return to oven a minute. Cool thoroughly. 4-1/2 dozen medium cookies.


There was a time

There was a time when television united us. It was a communal experience. Before that, it was radio.

It was said that back during the peak of radio, on a warm summer evening, a person could walk down the street of any community in America and listen to an entire, uninterrupted episode of “Amos ‘n’ Andy” as it wafted out of the open windows of all the homes.

That’s what I mean by a communal experience. The next day, you could stop anyone on the street and ask, “Did you hear last night’s show?” and strike up a conversation about it.

The same could be said for movies, to a lesser degree. It was a shared experience.

When television took over, it became the dominant form of entertainment and everyone watched Uncle Miltie on “Texaco Star Theater.” They watched “Gunsmoke.” They talked about the Ponderosa and the Cartwright family on “Bonanza.”

All the kids at school talked about “Howdy Doody,” “Captain Kangaroo,” “the Mickey Mouse Club.” Family entertainment included “The Wonderful World of Disney” and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” hosted by Marlin Perkins.

As a child of the 1960s, if I were to run into someone else who also grew up then, no matter what part of America they grew up in, we have television to unite us. Shared communal memories of “Lost in Space,” “Leave it to Beaver,” “My Three Sons,” “Rawhide,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Combat!” “The Addam’s Family,” “The Munsters,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and possibly even shows from the 1970s, like “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Carol Burnette,” “Dean Martin,” “All in the Family,” to name a few.

(As a sidebar, the same thing could be applied to music. In the 1960s — and before — music was fairly unified. Pop music was nearly universal. The radio played rock ‘n’ roll and British Invasion right along side Motown and country. In the space of an hour a person could hear the Beatles, Stones, Troggs, Elvis, Fifth Dimension, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Supremes, Kenny Rodgers, and Johnny Cash. Music was communal until they opened up the FM band, allowing more stations and more splintering of tastes.)

But in the 1970s television began to see a splintering of viewer-ship. Instead of just three major networks on VHF, more independent stations appeared on UHF. HBO started up, beaming into homes via these ugly metal antenna on a few homes. Then, cable started becoming wired into neighborhoods. More channels meant less communal viewing, a splintering of the audience.

Sometimes a show came along that encouraged communal viewing, like “Cheers.” But those were becoming fewer and fewer.

Today there are very few communal shows. Not everyone gets HBO or ShowTime, so although shows like “Game of Thrones” are popular, only a few really see them. Similarly, shows like AMC’s “Mad Men” or the BBC’s “Doctor Who” seems wildly popular, but really only cater to a specialized audience and are hardly universal.

And this situation will only grow more fragmented because today’s younger generation are abandoning cable for web-based services like Netflix and Hulu that cater to their desire to see the shows they want when they want for a lot less than cable charges.

Some will argue choice is a good thing, that we’re not a homogeneous peoples, but a collection of free-thinking individuals able to seek out their own form of entertainment instead of marching lockstep, following the herd.

Which is true. We are all individuals, but we’re also social animals who often seek commonality in order to understand, communicate, and associate. We need to relate to each other and without having a shared communal experience how can we possibly ever understand each other? Television once gave us those shared memories, but those have faded over the last few decades.

When the Internet and the world wide web burst upon the scene, many saw it as a great way to universally connect with people all over the world. It has, but unfortunately, it has also become a catalyst in increasing our distance from each other as more and more sites dedicated to each and every taste imaginable, good or bad, has sprung up. Instead of sharing our lives, we’re becoming more isolated.

The closest we come today to any shared communal thoughts are within politics where people identify themselves as either liberals or conservatives (or independents). And although the people within those groups do share common beliefs, the real problem is the bitter divide between one group and another.

Many people used to see television as a negative influence upon society, but now it appears it was what unified us, brought us together. Without its communal influence, we’ve seen a rise in anger, bitter animosity, and violence. There is a demonization going on and we’ve stopped seeing each other as fellow humans. Instead we’ve reduced each other to a faceless, derogatory name: neocon, libtard, teabagger. We’ve lost the capability to empathize, to care, to share experiences, and without this capacity to see our similarities that television brought to us, the senseless violence of today will only grow worse.

For those of us who grew up on Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” and his futuristic vision of a unified Federation of Planets where all mankind (and most alienkind) lived together in peace and harmony, then the Present, with all its splintered hatred and fragmented ugliness, sucks.


Snacks and junk food and soda, oh my!

As a child, my parents had to make some tough choices when putting food on the table. We just weren’t very well off.

So we did not get snacks very often, if at all. A bag of Geiser (Be Wiser, Buy Geiser) or a tub of Mrs. Howe’s potato chips were a rarity.

Now popcorn, we had. It was probably one of the most inexpensive snacks, and my parents or I would pop some on a Saturday night. This wasn’t your modern microwave variety, we made this on the stove the hard way. In a pot that we shook and stirred.

And soda? Never. The best we could hope for was my mom brought home a gallon jug of soda syrup and we’d add that to a glass of tap water. Not carbonated soda water. Tap water. So we essentially drank flat soda. This probably explains why I like to open a Coke and let it sit until its flat before drinking.

Oh and not that it was a snack, but we rarely had fresh milk. We got powdered. Similac. My mom said it was because I was allergic. Yeah, OK. So I’d always go to my friend’s house who had Bordon delivered and drink it there.

Now as an adult, we have snacks and soda in the house. Maybe unconsciously its a symbol of affluence, a snack status symbol. And I do tend to give in to cravings too often, munching on a whole bag of Ma Fischers or Mr. Gs potato chips.

But I think its healthier to have these things around the house so the children learn how to monitor their own input and develop healthy snacking habits rather than deny them altogether.

At least that’s what I’ve convinced myself as ai enjoy a warm, flat Coke.


Memories of my brother, part 2

Time is relentless and moves forward without regard to the human condition. In other words, whether we pay attention or not, the present will slip through our fingers and become the past. So its best to not take anything for granted and to live today as if there were no tomorrow. Because one day you might just realize that there are no more tomorrows.

This is how I feel about my little brother who passed away Wednesday, November 6, 2013, just seven days shy of his fifty-first birthday.

I wrote yesterday that as children we weren’t the best of brothers. We weren’t the worst either. Probably somewhere in the middle, we loved and tolerated each other, but there was the 5-1/2 year gap we had trouble overcoming. That changed when I returned from the Navy.

My first day home, I was wandering through the maze that was our mom’s basement. Back then, it would have made for a good episode of hoarders.

After my parents had divorced, my mom went into collecting mode. The basement was filled with all sorts of antiques, memorabilia, and flea market items stacked hither and yon, with just space enough for some meandering paths.

I was like Louis or Clarke that day, exploring for the Northwest Passage. I didn’t find it, of course, but I did find a skateboard. Bear in mind, this was 1983. Skateboards were fairly primitive then, just a little better than a board with a skate nailed to it. Nor was skateboarding the craze it currently is. Honestly, it was the first one I’d ever seen. So being the adventurer, I took it out into the alley.

Naturally, I sucked. I had no idea how to make it work, so I’d just stand on it and let gravity roll me down the alley. Or I’d give it a push with one leg. Needless to say, I grew bored with it. So I picked it up to take it back downstairs just as Tom came home from work.

“Whatcha doin’?” he asked. I explained I’d found the skateboard and thought I’d try it but I hadn’t gotten very far.

He took it and said, “Let me show you how its done.” He didn’t say it smugly or arrogantly. That wasn’t Tom. No, he genuinely meant he would show me so I could try again.

I guess I should mention that my brother was now over six feet tall and was battling a weight problem (or not battling it, if you catch my drift). I think back then he was close to, if not over, 300 pounds.

I was like, “Are you sure?”

He got on, gave it a few kicks to get up to speed, then he promptly wiped out in spectacular fashion.

“My ankle! I broke my ankle!” Yes, he certainly had shown me how its done. I tried not to laugh, but you know how it is. Anyway, I struggled to get him to his feet and helped him hop over to the car, then drove him to the Emergency Room at St. Joseph’s.

He had indeed broken his ankle. Second time, too, as I later learned. This time he needed a pin for support and he spent the next few weeks in a cast.

That was my reintroduction to my little brother. I learned he was as prone to leaping without looking as I was.

Throughout the ‘80s we both lived with our mom. I went to college, he worked whatever job it was he had at that time, and then we’d spend the evenings watching television together and riffing on them like we were part of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We discovered our senses of humor were very similar: dry and warped. Probably inherited from our father.

We watched shows like “Riptide,” “Airwolf,” “Star Trek, the Next Generation,” to name a few. (At this point I’d like to point out that it was my brother who turned me into a Whovian. I had come home from leave back in the 1970s and he and my mom were watching this weird show on PBS.about some wild eyed crazy man with a long scarf. It was Doctor Who. If I have nothing else nice to say about my brother, just turning me on to Doctor Who should be enough.)

My brother was a geek, too. He had the entire series of “Speed Racer” on VHS, although I don’t know what became of it. He also had several sci-fi/fantasy figurines, such as ships from Star Trek and dragons and wizards. And he was a gamer. One day he brought home a Sega Genesis and we played against each other for hours.

On my first visit to see him in the hospital when we learned he had cancer, I wanted to bring something he might find fun. I tried to get a model of the Mach V, but the hobby store clerk told me those were hard to come by. So I picked up bendable copies of Gumby and Pokey. When I mentioned I had tried to get the Mach V, he said he already had a nice diecast version of it. He was animated in his description of it. That made me glad because Tom was the sort who always made sure everyone around him was happy at his own expense. I’m sure that Mach V meant a lot to him.

My brother and I became close during the 1980s. We had tons of inside jokes. Sometimes the joke was so inside, it made no sense to anyone, but we thought it was hysterical. For instance, we’d both crack up if either one of us said, in a deep bewildered voice, “The boy?” usually to indicate our bafflement over something. (Maybe one day I’ll explain the reference.) And there were many more. We probably drove people crazy when we’d just exchange random dialog from the many television shows we had watched.

As the ‘80s drew to a close, he moved into an apartment with his friend Mark. We’d still see each other, sometimes going to a bar together. Sometimes he’d come home to do some laundry because it was cheaper than a laundromat. It was a ritual he continued even after he was married. If it was Sunday, you knew Tom was at our mother’s. I think Sundays from now on will be very rough for mom.

Tom was always enthusiastic about things. When I was looking to get my own car, he came along, and when I found this little sporty silver car and it became obvious I was going to buy it, he ran over to it, arms wide, and gave it a hug. He was happy for me.

But time marched on and eventually I married. Then he married. And life became busier, children came along, and we saw less and less of each other. Mostly holidays at our mom’s.

But we’d call once in a while. We had this phone thing that I know drove my wife nuts. If one would call the other, it went something like this:












And this would go on and on until one of us would finally go, “What do you want?!”

My ringtone for Tom, appropriately enough, was the Three Stooges doing their “Hello. Hello. Hello.” routine. Now, I’ll never hear that on my phone again.

We all know its part of life to lose people. Some you expect, like aging parents or relatives. Some you don’t. Siblings are in the some you don’t category. In fact, you expect siblings to be around your whole life. You expect to grow old together so you can get together at the holidays as grandparents and reminisce about the past, about all the good times you had together.

You don’t expect them to be gone, taken unexpectedly in their prime, leaving you with the regret that you didn’t spend enough time together. That you let the opportunity to spend time with them slip through your fingers.

The last twenty years flew by and I guess we lived them expecting at least another twenty more years together. But Fate had other plans and now my little brother is gone. Its still hard to believe. It happened so quickly with barely time enough to say we loved each other.

If there is a Heaven or an afterlife and Tom is up there, I hope he knows how much he meant to me even though I never was the sort to show it or say it.

I’m going to miss my little brother. And one day, when my time eventually comes (which I pray will be a long way down the road), I hope the first thing I hear is