Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Everyone should have an Uncle Ed

This is what we wrote for my Uncle Ed's funeral service. It was a collaborative effort from all the nieces and nephews who were gathered around my parents dining room table.

Uncle Ed Memories from the people who called him Uncle - or as he would have called us, a bunch of "hahn-yacks".

Because he never married or had his own children, we all became his children. While our parents were boring responsible adults, Uncle Ed always had time for us.

When he was younger Uncle Ed was fun. He had a camper. He had a boat. He had the outdoor gene. He loved to hunt and fish and go camping. As a kid, nothing was more exciting than getting to sleep in the camper… in the driveway.

For a couple of summers, when Barb and Ted went on their summer vacation, they took Gary to stay in Yakima. How do you entertain a 12 year old boy in the summer in Yakima? If you were Ed the answer would be, go to the auto supply store, visit other Aunts and Uncles, go fishing and hang out with retired friends. As a kid, it was fun to be included with the adults.

It showed a point that Uncle Ed wanted to make. He used to say, "If you want to learn something, go to where the old people hang out. Ask them a question, then shut up and listen."

Uncle Ed was a window into our parents that we didn’t have. He told tales on them that they would shout and tell him to stop telling. He was willing to pull back the curtain of perfection that our parents hung up and reveal all the rotten things they did as kids. They were human once, and we really loved knowing they weren’t so perfect after all.

Gary remembers once when Ed was over visiting from Yakima. He was upstairs in his room and all of a sudden he heard Ed and Ted laughing hysterically. They were watching the "Odd Couple" on TV and laughing at the scene where Oscar hit Felix with the newspaper. Karen’s Dad, Kenneth used to say that "Ted & Ed weren’t really twins, they were just born at the same time." In many ways they were the original Odd Couple.

The first wave of kids grew up and they had children of their own. A new group of nieces and nephews got their own Uncle Ed. A new group of children discovered what is was to have an adult ready to tell tales on how rotten their parents were. A new group of kids needed their own Uncle Ed.

He took his great-niece Ashley to the park and kept her entertained giving her divorced parent Karen a break. He sat with her and read her stories without Ashley discovering that due to bad eyes, Ed couldn’t actually read the story in the book. Instead of saying I can’t do that, he sat and made up stories to match the pictures in her books. His great-nephew Sam would ask, "Is Uncle Ed going to be there? Because then I‘ll have someone to play with."

You didn’t have to be born into this family to have an Uncle Ed. Marry one of us, you’re in. Get adopted, you’re in. Wander a little too close to the family, or stay a little too long, you’re in. He took an interest in what you did, and was pleased for your success. For a cranky guy, he still knew how to show you that you were loved.

Uncle Ed injured his back when he was 42. Because of the constant pain his mood understandably changed. He wasn’t able to continue working. He had to give up his camper. He couldn’t keep his boat. When Ed was sitting in the hospital looking back over his life, he told us, "I have no regrets. I’ve done everything I wanted to." Then he added, that he actually had one regret. His one regret in life was giving up his boat. Out of all the things in life someone could regret, that was his only one.

As many relatives and friends made their way in to visit him, the staff at the nursing home told Jim that Ed must have been a very special man. At first he was going to correct them and say he was just an ordinary man. But we’ve realized that even though Uncle Ed never built a town hall, donated money to a college or won an award at ceremony, being an "ordinary guy" is what made him extraordinary. He was ours and he was there for us.

Though he was getting weak, he told us over and over again, that he was so happy to have everyone come together. At the end of the day, what you have is your family. If this had to happen to him, at least we got a chance to remember how much we mattered to each other. As the end came closer, we all came together to surround him and return the love he gave so freely.

We want to extend a special thank you to the staff at Alderwood Manor for taking such great care of Uncle Ed and all the family that sat with him. It was impossible to explain to someone on the outside the unique place that Uncle Ed holds in our hearts. When the world was busy, and the adults had too much to do, at the end of the day Uncle Ed was there. He was the adult who was always available.

We’d like to thank all of you for coming. Ed always said he never had any friends. He was humble, didn’t like to draw attention to himself and he might have been pulling our leg. By the evidence here, we feel, he was mistaken.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I've been sitting in the still of the night. Listening. To the oxygen.
To the woman across the hall. To my uncle trying to sleep. None of it
is easy.

I've been "the adult". I volunteered. I'm in a good place inside my
head, making peace with the shitty way I feel. I don't have to "do"
anything. I just have to "be".

I am used to doing, and fixing, and solving and entertaing... anything
to make it okay. I suck at sitting still, waiting, letting others,
listening... or letting things happen on their own.

Can't say I'm all cried out. I've got gallons left to go. I was there
by myself. I was there in a crowd I was never alone.

Not sleeping, but I wouldn't call it being awake. Hovering. Right next
to my uncle, behind the curtain. Seconds from leaping into action,
resigned to listen and let this happen. Out of sight, ever present,
mindful, benign, wishing, sorry, thankful, sad, overwhelmed.

My father's twin brother passed away tonight. I am sad. I am releived.
I wish we'd had more time. I have no regrets.

Over the last five days I have given everything I had to give. If he
were still struggeling, I would still be there. If pressed, I would
have given another 200%. There was nothing I wouldn't have done to
make his journey more comfortable.

Over the last 48 hours, as he lay with his eyes closed, medicated
against the pain I held his hand, I repeated to my uncle "I'm right
here. I'm not going anywhere. We're all here for you. You're going to
be alright. I love you Uncle Ed."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My parents backyard

It's pitch black at night, but the frogs are gettin' it on. Spring has
sprung in my parents back yard.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Olympic recap day 03

This is the Yaletown Subway entrance/exit. I think you can count about ten volunteers in the blue Olympic parka. They are waiting for people to come up and ask them questions. The most amazing thing about Vancouver was the volunteers. On every corner, at every turn, twice as many as you'd expect, all giving freely of their time to make sure the guests of their city had the best possible experience. When you watch the closing ceremonies, and the representatives of the Vancouver Volunteers is presented, take note of the deafening roar of the crowd. It was certainly heartfelt by the 60,000 guests inside GM Place that night.

Day 03 in Vancouver for the final Winter Olympic weekend. It's a bit fuzzy. Mostly, everyone was trying to firm up exactly where they were going to be on Sunday for the big US versus Canada Men's Gold Medal Hockey game. In the midst of that, we toured. The friends that Mikka was staying with had been given last minute tickets to the Gold Medal Curling game. Mikka called to say she was on her own and would we like to see her? Hell yes!

So we met downtown and went for coffee. Then we caught the subway one stop to Yaletown and headed for the LiveCity venue. Mikka claimed to have connections to someone who offered to get her (us) in ahead of the lengthy line.

We got there and the line wasn't nearly as long as it had been on other days. Was it wrong to be disappointed that we were only cutting ahead of a half hour line instead of getting to feel superior for cutting ahead of a three hour line? Please note, Mikka's commitment to the hat. Once the hat is on, all photos for the rest of the day will be with "the hat".

Mikka's connection, Roy, came through and we were sent through with ease. When Mikka asked him what he was in charge of at LiveCity, he gave a sweep of his hand and said, "All this." We were duly impressed.
(pssssssstttt.... it's a big flat doughnut)

Roy gave us a brief tour and told us that the Coca-Cola tent was probably the longest line to go through. He said he would see what he could do, and found a Coke representative to see about getting us in "VIP". As the Coke representative radioed their boss, Mikka interrupted, "Are you asking for Dave _____? Does he have a twin brother? Tell him it's Mikka! We went to High School together!"

And that is how our VIP experience in the Coca-Cola tent came to pass.
Coke has sponsored the torch relay since 1992. In the entryway they showcased torches of previous Olympics. On the far left is Vancouver, next to it is Beijing, the blue one to the right is Torino and the last one at the far right is Athens.

This is what Coca-Cola employees wore at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 to work in the Coke pavilion. You may not be able to tell the boots are shiny silver, and the pants are a sparkling red. The hat, is not optional.

Inside the tent is a whirlwind of Coke propaganda and Olympic spirit. As we waited in line, Canada won a gold medal. A Siren/Horn wailed and my first thought was, "Tsunami! Run for higher ground!!!" But then the giant Coke bottle in the center of the room turned glowing gold, the event finale was projected all over the roof of the tent, announcements were made and the party kicked off!

At last we make our way to the front of the line and it's our turn to touch an Olympic torch!

Two gay guys and a girl with a big prop, official photographer, how will we ever stand out and make this photo our own?
Good Morning Charlie's Angels!

We left LiveCity and walked along False Creek toward the Russian Pavilion. Across the water was the athlete's village.
You can see flags on the balconies to give you an idea of who was staying where.

I was having major deja-vu on the walk. This was the former Expo "86 grounds. I spent almost every day here on this site way back when. I thought it funny that two completely distinct, international events could happen in the same spot and give me so much joy. As I walked, I flashed between current moment and 1986. Things have changed (I can buy more that a McDonald's ice cream cone for dinner for 39 cents), and things are the same (I have the best most amazing friends!).

The Russia Pavilion was closed by the time we got there, so we doubled back to the Quebec tent. We ducked in to get warm, get dry, get a snack.
Mikka still working "the Hat"!

Maple syrup butter tarts with whipped cream.
I wish I'd bought the whole tray!

We parted way so everyone could re-group, have a real meal and meet again for the fireworks finale at LiveCity. Roy had been kind enough to give us VIP passes to return with later that night. I love Roy.

While Robb and Lewis took a much needed rest, I hauled ass back to the cauldron and my elusive view of the "Five Golden Rings"! It was 7:30, it was dark, no umbrella or woman was going to stand in my way.
Simply gorgeous.

We went for dinner with friends where I learned that all businesses had to receive their shipments between 6 am and 11 am. Most restaurants weren't normally staffed those hours and had to bring on additional help. The businesses weren't complaining. They were all full!
David, Mark, Me, Robb and Lewis.

We walked down to LiveCity and went past what felt like Time's Square on New Year's Eve. MASSES OF PEOPLE lining every sidewalk, street, balcony all waiting to see tonight's final fireworks show over False Creek. We raced to the back VIP entrance and walked right in. As we gave our passes, the woman checking them asked for our names to go with each ticket. I reached for my wallet to give her my ID. "Oh not that. Just your name. SO when you want to use them tomorrow, you won't have any problems." Tomorrow? "Yes, these are good for either LiveCity venue tomorrow as well."

And BANG! Just like that we had in our hands the golden tickets to get into one of the hottest venues for Gold Medal Hockey in the city!
LiveCity, from day... into night.

As if the night couldn't get any better, we were about to watch a fabulous fireworks show!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Olympic recap Day 02

Every good day begins with a even better cup of coffee. On Day 2 Robb and I bolted out of the house at 11 am. I love sleeping. We walked past the Bay's Official Olympic Superstore. Or rather, we walked past the Bay Official Olympic Superstore line to get in. Over a block long and rumored to be from 2 to 3 hours wait time. All just to get in and give them money. I'm a savvy shopper and will only wait half an hour. So we went for coffee.

There were many foreign pavilions and and cultural houses to see in the city. Robb knows me best and we immediately hit the most important places to see in Olympic town, shopping. We started at Holt Renfrew (the Neiman's of the North) and then H&M (Robb, you better have purchased new jeans by now) then Gucci. You know, to round out the internationalness of it all.
We did manage near the end of the day to capture some Olympic magic. Robb and Graham are holding an official Olympic torch. If you look closely in the background you may be able to see Catherine and I ready to start our bobsled race!

As we toured town, the clock was ticking to our actual Olympic event. This would be the Men's Hockey match between Canada and the Czech Republic. Canada had to win this game to move forward to win Hockey Gold. Mikka's friend Tanya & Derek had a bar in Gastown they were meeting a gang of people. These venues would fill up quickly. We were told to be by 4:45 for a 6:30 game. Derek & Tanya got there at 3.

Historic Gastown was decked out in all things Red & White.

So much to buy, so little I needed.

Mind you, I did manage to grab a "Canada" T-shirt so I could fit in like a native.

Derek wins the prize for best Canadian shirt of the night!

After the game ended (Canada won and advanced to the Gold medal round!), we made our way down the street to the German Haus. A culture envoy from the people of German to the people of Vancouver. Rumor has it that after the first 5 days they had run out of beer and had to send back to Germany for reinforcements. Canadians definitely love their "culture".
Tanya's best photo of the night with Mikka.
Your eyes are open!!!

The mood inside was über-celebratory and the beer was undeniably tasty.

The band on stage played mostly 80's music and added that German twist of an Oom-pa-pa swing to it.

Nearing midnight, we left Germany and walked over to see the Olympic Cauldron and off in Coal Harbour, the Olympic rings. It was slightly raining and everyone had their umbrellas up. I kept waiting and waiting to line up my perfect shot of the gorgeous golden rings, then I snapped my photo.
BLUE? They were gold a second ago! "Oh, it must be midnight," someone said as they looked at their watch. And then it was explained to me that the rings are blue unless Canada wins a gold medal that day in competition. Then the rings change to gold and remain that way until midnight. Curse you umbrella lady in my way! You'll only outwit me once!

Then we paused in front of the Olympic torch.
Pretty stunning.

Cathy got her photo taken with it.

So did Mikka.

I think we all knew that was going to wind up on my head sooner than later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Olympic recap begins.... NOW!

Let's launch this blog post into outer space!

Forgive me Blogger, it's been over a week since I have written anything. I've been overwhelmed.

It's not that I took a 6 day tour of the Great White North, or that I have all this work to do. Nor is it that my parent in-laws are visiting. My problem is that I am still trying to process everything I saw and did at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And what I am slowly realizing is... that it's impossible.

There is no way to explain the level of hype and expectations that I was feeling just getting on the airplane. No way to share how those astronomical expectations were EXCEEDED. When they tell you it is a "once in a lifetime" experience... BELIEVE IT.

Although I hope not. Because the Olympics are like crack, now that I've had that high, I am going to be chasing it for the rest of my life. I think this explains why all those athletes come out of retirement, participate in spite of broken bones, or hang on well after their moment may have passed. I get it. I need it. Now I too, am an Olympic Junkie.

We join our Olympic tale at midnight the night before I am going to Vancouver. My flight is at 6 am. I will need to be in a cab (no way Lyle is driving me at the time of day) at 4 am. I will need to shower at 3:30 am. I normally go to be around 2 am. Screw it, I'm staying up. And that is how I arrived giddy, and punch drunk at the customs and immigration counter in the Vancouver Airport. I've been awake for 38 hours. My flying companion, Mikka, sensibly got 5 hours of sleep. She is so wired, you'd never know.At the baggage claim carousel, there are TVs showing Olympic coverage. While waiting for our bags, Canada wins a gold! The entire airport staff and all Canadians in the waiting area erupt into a joyful cheer. I've never seen such a friendly, joyful, smiling airport in my entire life. Olympic Fever crack, the first hit is free.

Driving into the city everything is red and white. Normally there are a lot of Canadian logos that utilize red and white. But this? This is different. Yards have signs, flags are flying everywhere, block after block of store windows have Canadian flags draped elegantly, hastily, crooked, repeatedly. This land of polite people seems to have found a pride that no longer hides. Olympic Fever makes me giddy.

On the street, there is red and white on all the people. My Gucci scarf of grey, green and red seems out of fashion immediately. Lucky for me, my advance team has warned me and I have packed a vibrant full red scarf. I change scarfs before we get to my friends home. "Bienvenue, Canada! Je suis Canadian, aussi!" my scarf cries out in French, because of course as any good Canadian scarf would tell you, he is bilingual.
My scarf is also very respectful of the native arts, pausing to pose in front of these official sanctioned blow up totem poles with LED lights.

Our first Olympic act was to get to a viewing venue to watch the Women's Hockey Gold Medal game. We walked toward LiveCity downtown and the line was a shockingly short at only 30 minutes to get in. We met a friend of Robb's, Ben, who told us that he heard there were seats available at the gay sports bar Score! a few blocks away. We left the line and high-tailed it over to the Sports bar. There were two seats, outside, on the smaller unheated patio. We were three people. We squeezed in. We arrived and the score was already 2-0 in Canada's favor. Clock running out on the third period and... Canada wins the GOLD!

The volume on this is VERY LOUD.

The volume on this is VERY LOUD.

Thank god I was outside. I was stunned. I was overcome. These people are nuts! Inside, it was crazier. All that noise all that testosterone (quite a few lesbians in attendance) and all that joy forced to live inside a square box. Unbelievable.

The locals had been doing this for almost two weeks at this point. I asked a few people how they were managing to keep going after two weeks of this kind of energy? Most everyone agreed, PURE ADRENALINE.

After dinner we walked the two blocks from Robb & Lewis's house to Robson Square. A fantastical light show was performed here twice a night. The bright orange blasts in the video are fire. From a block away you could feel the heat on your face. There was a zip-line across the sky spanning two blocks. By day, you could wait four hours in a line-up to pay and take the 10 second ride over the crowds. By night, they added another dimension to the light show. Watch in the first half for the skier in the sky!

We caught the first light show at Robson Square because we had plans for later. We were watching a different fireworks show 10 blocks away! Robb's friend Ben hooked us up with a 15 stories high skybox views in a condo next to the launch site with floor to ceiling windows.
The lighted village on the lower right is "LiveCity" on False Creek. The two small blue rectangles to the front of it are the stage. About 5000 people fit in front of the stage. The red and white square in LiveCity is the Coca-Cola pavilion. We'll see that in a later post.

Donna and I are working our "Italian Super-Model on the ski slopes" look with our skinny jeans tucked into our boots. It may not have been snowing in Vancouver, but I promise you, it was definitely cold enough for my silver puffy. (Keep in mind, I wore my silver puffy coat to walk the dogs here in Los Angeles two nights ago as well.)

And so, after being awake about 40 hours in a row, we made our way home to sleep. Tomorrow promised to be another banner Olympic Fever day and I was going to need my full 6 hours of rest!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Vancouver Winter Olympics Closing

The closing ceremony started at 5:30 pacific time. As an official attendee, my ticket requested I be at the stadium by 3:30. I got to the stadium in a panic at 4:30. Well, I got through security at 4:30. (picture 1) I got to my seat at 5:20. (picture 2) the torch, unlit.

The torch was lit, and we were off!

Michael Buble sings "the Maple Leaf Forever" in a giant production number.

By 8:30 we were done and out if the stadium. Around 10 pm, we went out to meet some friends. The party was still going strong downtown, more than 7 hours after the hockey game.

Final photo, my feet were killing me, I was starving, but man, was I having a GREAT TIME!!!

USA v. CANADA hockey final

I walked around Vancouver early in the morning on Sunday. The second pic is a street hockey game being played in the center of town. People were burning off energy before watching "the most important game of their life".

There's a picture of Derek and Tanya who were GOING to the game. When people in the restaurant heard they were actually attending, they cheered for them and Derek got high-fives all around. I kinda cried a little, I was so happy for them. Derek described the feeling as "like taking every Christmas and birthday you had from age 1 to 14, wrap it together with getting your drivers license and graduation, and you have almost 10% of what he was feeling."

We watched the game from inside CityLive. I'll never be able to describe it. I may never recover my hearing.