Friday, September 29, 2006

Ya Gotta Believe

A Saturday Rant 9-30-2006: Ya Gotta Believe

Those of you with some Hollywood writing experience will know that in the 50s and 60s the network executives required every TV show (especially sit-coms) to have written into the script what was called the "Moment of Sentiment"... where Ward tells Beaver how honesty is the best policy and Kitten learns that even if punnished, "Father Knows Best." Many (jaded) TV writers (among themselves) referred to the MOS segment of their script as the "moment of s--t."

It seems like just a few days ago that I got married. Weddings are pure MOS (defined either way!) yet we all go through them and get married, at least for a little while. It was probably different three-hundred years ago when hardly anyone lived past forty. Today marriage seems like.... forever! Lots of folks can't cope with it and this is why you don't see too many sliver wedding anniversaries among my generation.

It's been a hard twenty-five years for me. Maybe its hard for everyone, but it sure looks easier for others! Sometimes I look at Jane and think "I've been married to this woman for what seems like a million years now, and I don't know who she is! Who is this person?"

You work hard, you fight hard, and you hope to build a life that has more happiness than sorrow, a life that has more joy than sadness, and a life that has few if any regrets. It's hard. I think it's really hard. And I must be right because so few people stick it out for twenty-five years or more.

I really have not accomplished much in my life, and I've screwed up a lot of things. But the one thing I didn't screw up was the one smart thing I ever did, and that was to marry Jane. We've somehow stayed together... and this may come as somewhat of a surprise to you, but I'm not exactly the easiest guy in the world to live with.

Many of the long-time readers of this space know that in the past ten years my first, current, and very expensive wife has had a multitude of health issues, serious surgeries, and related problems. Both of her hips have been replaced, one of them twice! Her knees and ankles are shot from arthritis.

Every year on our anniversary we would go to the bank and deposit $200 or $250 or $300... whatever we could spare. In fact I think that might have helped keep our marriage together because the deal was that the one who walked out... the other got to keep the bucks... and no-way was I going to let her be the one to get it!!

So we saved up our pennies and dimes and through the years Jane went through her therapy learning how to walk again and gaining strength and learning how to live when "mobility challenged." There were times when we thought she would never get off the walker and there were years when all she (we) knew were pain. And there was the time they thought she had a "death-sentence" cancer (which sort of put a damper on THAT holiday season... and of course they were wrong! Doctors... my ass!)

Over our life, we have had moments of great joy... and we have had moments of quiet desperation.

But we kept at the therapy and we took the meds and had the operations and even when things didn't look so good, we were encouraged by the spirit of others. We always recited the old Jewish saying "I cried because I had no shoes... until I met a man who had no feet."  We walked, we exercised, and we always kept our eye on the prize... that one day, if we believed, if we had faith, this would all be a memory.

And as the years passed, things got better for Jane... a little at a time, but better. We paid off our medical bills, and always put a few bucks in the bank for when "that" day would come. And over time our little silver anniversary fund mounted up to over $7,000.

Now finally, after so much work, effort, hope, prayer, and just plain old force-of will, "that" day is here. This week we leave on a "Celebration Of Life... a Celebration of US" trip... to Paris. We have always wanted to see Paris together. I know that when she walks down the jetway (with her cane that somehow unfolds into a little seat), there will be a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. We are on our way after twenty-five years of hope and dreams.... and being together.

It can rain in Paris or snow in Normandy. I don't care. We have fought disease, we have sometimes struggled to stay married, and we still ARE. When I told her years ago that "on our 25th, it will be Paris" I honestly believed that one day it would. And now it will. So this space will be empty for a few weeks while Jane takes in the wonders of French art and I look for the perfect brandy and crême glacée.

Growing up a few miles outside New York City (in Great Neck) in the early 60s, I was a Mets fan. They were an expansion team to take the place of the Giants and Dodgers both of whom had taken the last train to the coast. The early Mets teams set new records for being terrible. But they kept on going out there game after game, year after year. And in 1969, they started winning some games. And they won more. And even more. I remember the motto of the 1969 Mets: "Ya gotta believe!" They won the World Series that year. It was a miracle.

Walking arm-in-arm down the jetway will be just as big a miracle to me.

Ya gotta believe.

Au revoir

Al Canton
Adams-Blake Company, Inc.
http://www.adams-blake com

Copyright 2006 by A. Canton and Adams-Blake Company, Inc. This piece may be freely copied and published in any media with proper attribution to the author and including his company and URLs.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

L'shanah tovah

A Saturday Rant 9-16-06: L'shanah tovah

Do you have a Jewish friend? This week and during the next three feel free to tell them: L'shanah tovah (sha-NAH toe-VAH) meaning "for a good year". The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah (rush ah sha nah) is this week, followed by Yom Kippur.

One of my best memories was when I was in my first few weeks at the University of Virginia and just getting used to people with a southern accent. There was Charles, but he went by Chas, a very non-Jewish guy on our hall from Alabama and I guess he did some research because he came up to a group of us and said "Hey, SHANE toe-vah, y'all." It touched our heart... a guy from the deep South who had probably never met a Jew until two weeks before made an attempt to bridge a cultural gap. We made him an honorary Jew right there on the spot! (Y'all not gonna do that circumcision thing, that's for damn sure!")

This is the time of year when Jews ask a pardon to all those they have maligned... and for me that's about most of the world and probably everyone here! But seriously, do forgive me of whatever grief I've caused. We are not allowed to ask God for a pardon until/unless we have asked our fellow men and women. I guess it's to teach us a bit of humility.

Rosh Hashanah is a happy occasion... full of good wishes, fellowship, and hope for a better time... followed a week later by the very serious "Days of Awe" where we repent and ask to be inscribed in the "book of life" for the next year... "before the gates begin to close."

This time of year I always remember him. Chas had became a good friend of mine.. the first non-Jewish "real" friend I'd ever made. We would double-date... and even swap dates! I taught him how the stock market worked. He taught me how to drink bourbon (I got the better of that deal!). We laughed at the Smothers Brothers show. We cried when RFK was killed. On graduation day in June of 1969, in cap and gown and clutching well-earned diplomas, we hugged each other, shook hands and vowed to stay in touch. We had our whole lives ahead of us. It was a good time... an exciting time.

I went off to teach school in West Virginia.

Chas, being a son of the south and of a military family, went to the service as an ROTC officer.

I got a card from him that September.

All it said was "SHANE toe-vah, y'all." I laughed and laughed and laughed. I think I still have that card somewhere.

I never heard from him again.

He was killed in Vietnam three months later.

To all of you, L'shanah tova... to a better year.

Al Canton
Adams-Blake Company, Inc.
http://www.adams-blake com

Copyright 2006 by A. Canton and Adams-Blake Company, Inc. This piece may be freely copied and published in any media with proper attribution to the author and including his company and URLs.