If you walk around our house…and I say this candidly…you probably wouldn’t give a second thought to some of the things you see.


You’d probably miss that piece of wood in the corner…if you walk by a little to quick…

and even if you noticed it you might think…”it’s just a stick.”


In the corner of our kitchen…that piece of furniture…over there…chances are you’d pass by thinking…”it is just a chair.”


Your eyes might find the pen and ink drawing…if they find it at all…

and even if they do you might think…it’s just another picture on the wall.”


If you happen into our laundry room…you might give that weathered old collar a look…

chances are you’d say, “It’s just an old collar”…hanging on that hook.


And you’d be correct in your assumptions for how often we see things as we find them…but the meaning is not in what we see… but in what we see behind them.


That old collar was our dog Whitman’s who would match me stride for stride…

as we walked together every morning…until the day he died.


My father drew that self-portrait when he was a young man…I think around 22

It’s a nice remembrance of the man…now that his life is through.


Deborah’s father made that little chair and it rests in our corner because…

It serves as a constant reminder of the kind of man he was.


And that was Deborah’s mom’s walking stick in the corner for all to see…carved by Deborah’s dad from the branch of an old orange tree.


But it is more than a decoration…it’s not just there for idle talk.

It reminds Deborah of her mom every morning…when we take our walk.


It’s funny isn’t it…the things we might not even notice when we walk through someone’s door…

We might see just a stick, a chair, a drawing, a strap…

when they are really so much more. 

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Listening to the live

“Terrapin Limited” Dead show


Uncle Phil’s 50th birthday

and surprise, surprise

a show I actually

managed to attend


I didn’t really remember

the show

as being

one of the band’s finer moments

but the discs

reveal my error

It were a well played show


and listening to shows

you actually attended

can open a floodgate

of all those glorious memories

of those wondrous times

when you still believed

in the positive vibe


but one memory

that strikes a deep chord

is that I broke up a fight

in the parking lot

and was bummed out

all day that a fight

broke out at a Dead show


I was thinking,

“What the Hell is this?

A tractor truck pull event?

Or an NFL game””

People acting like assholes

at Dead shows

always pissed me off


They ruin the festive mood

with their pissy attitudes

I really wanted

to bitch slap the both of them

for fucking up the good vibes

otherwise gone down

without their transgression



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I love that we are blessed with memories…how each and every one of us…all of humankind…has this wonderful ability to store images in our minds.


It’s one of the miracles of creation in a world moving ever forward…so fast we often lose track…how we were created…while moving forward…with the ability to look back.


To choose from a myriad of memories…different people, different times and different places…moments that, when remembered…put a smile on our faces.


Sometimes I wonder if our creators, anticipating in our life there would be good times as well as bad…didn’t gift us with the ability to remember…for those times when we are sad.


For those times when we are grief stricken….lonely…feeling totally on our own…where we can look into our memories and know we’ve never been alone.


Certainly sadness, grief and sorrow are feeling we should not hide…but memory, at least for a moment, helps to push our grief aside.


Allowing us through our tears and sadness…to remember at least for a little while…when we have forgotten….what it feels like to smile.


Yes, how lucky are we to possess within us such a treasure as a heart that has been clad…with a multitude of memories we can turn to when we’re sad.


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I spent my childhood in Ohio…it was a wonderful place to grow…

I especially like the change of seasons…and playing in the snow.


I remember how the snow could cancel school…and I never will forget

the feeling of creating a snowman…when the snow was wet.


I’d start out with a small snowball which I’d pack together in my hands…

then I’d slowly start to roll it…and then push it across the land.


Which each roll my snowball grew a little larger than the roll before…

until it got so large…I could not push it anymore.


Knowing the base was finished I’d smooth it with my hands…

thinking it was me but knowing it was the snowman who decided where he’d stand.


And then I’d roll another ball…one I could lift and set upon the base…

and finally one a little smaller I made into his face.


I’d give him two arms, two eyes, a nose…and a smile to make him kind…

with any twigs or stones lying about…with whatever I could find.


And I was happy with my accomplishment…I’d stand admiring him for a while…and I always felt he was happy too….there was something in his smile.


The miracle of building a snowman is…even on the hottest summer days…the memory stays with me…it will never melt away.


I’ve spent my adulthood in Florida…another wonderful place to grow…where the winters are more mild and there’s never a chance for snow.


But that doesn’t stop me from remembering as a child…rolling snowballs across the land…and re-creating that feeling by building a snowman…

in the sand.


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One of his fondest memories of his dad as he was growing up was how at every meal he’d drink from the same cup.


It was little, red and made of metal…the only one of its kind in the house he ever saw…which, over the years, he noticed developed a chip…on its brim…a little flaw.


One day he asked his dad, “Why not get a new cup…Why use that old one with a chip around the brim?”  His dad set the cup down…then smiled as he looked up at him.


“I know this may sound strange…but this cup is a comfort to me…the more I’ve used it over the years the more it seems part of my family.”


“I drank from this cup when I was finding the courage to ask your mom to marry me…and I was blessed…to drink wine from this cup with her…the moment she said yes.”


“I drank from this cup when we found out your mom was pregnant with you…and again in the early morn…the day I witnessed a miracle…the day when you were born.”


“This cup has seen me through good times and bad.” He said as with two hands he picked it up…”and somewhere along the way it became more than just a cup.”


With its chips and flaws you wonder why I keep drinking from it…because it’s easy for me to see…how this old cup with its chips and flaws…is a little bit like me.”


“This might not make much sense to you now…how one old chipped cup can give me such a thrill…but one day when you’re older I imagine that it will.”


And one day, long after his dad passed…his son, now growing up, asked him why he always drank from that old, red metal cup.


He smiled and with two hands he lovingly picked it up…

“Let me tell you a story, son…

the story of this cup.”



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One of the things I love about memories…besides the wonderful feelings they can bring…is their ability to attach themselves to a myriad of things.


Yesterday I heard MC Hammer’s ‘You Can’t Touch This’ on the radio…which my mind was quick to salute…while promptly moving past MC Hammer and his pants made of parachute.


There’s something about that song…when you hear it…even if by chance…that makes you at least want to move your feet…and at most…get up and dance.


When my memory heard that song…in an instant it transported me…back to a time when our two oldest grandchildren were staying with us in NC.


The four of us were sitting on the deck of our cabin when that song came on the air…and immediately we started dancing…how we looked…we didn’t care.


For what could be better than dancing to ‘You Can’t Touch This’ by MC…

with our grandchildren on the deck of our cabin in NC?.


Then Damien and Taylor got it in their heads…I suppose that’s the power of what music can do…to see if they could dance around the cabin before the song was through.


They looked to us for approval…wondering if we would worry…when Deborah turned up the volume on the radio and said…”If you’re going to make it…you better hurry.”


And here is what’s etched into my memory…of that truly memorable day…the butts of our two oldest grandchildren as they happily danced away.


And of Deborah and I watching them…running…dancing…laughing as children are apt to do…with smiles on our faces a they made it back before the song was through.


So as two super dope grandparents from Florida…

yes, we are often known as such…

we’d like to thank MC Hammer and his music 

for giving us a memory in NC we will never forget…

a memory…it’s safe to say…you can’t touch.

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We were walking around an arts and crafts festival when we happened upon a piece of folk art that got Deborah’s heart to thumping…

It was a colorful piece…made out of wood…in its center was a yellow mullet…jumping.


And when she read the message on the art:

‘The happy mullet jumps for the pure joy of being alive’

Her memory instantly transported her back to a day when she was five.


In a boat…with her dad upon the water…is where this memory led…

When he asked her, “Why do you think that mullet jumped?”

“Because he’s happy to be alive.” She said.


Seeing that folk art mullet jumping was truly a surprise…

and it brought a smile to her face…and a few tears to her eyes.


For a moment…when she saw it…her dad was alive…they were together…and a little girl was, once again, enthralled…

Needless to say that jumping mullet…now hangs upon our wall.


Where every time she passes it…

she’ll feel a lot of happy…and a little sad…

as she remembers a time in a boat upon the water…

with a mullet jumping…

and being together with her dad.



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I imagine when you first see it…all you see an old cast-iron pan…you don’t see where it’s been…you only notice the outside…not the history within.


But every time we use it…we handle it affectionately…because when we pick up this old cast-iron pan…that…is exactly what we see.


Some of this pan’s history we know…the rest we must infer…it was Debrah’s grandmother’s…passed down to her mother…then passed on down to her.


Now take another look at it…imagine, if you can, three generations of meals…cooked inside this pan.


Think of all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners served up lovingly…think of what this old cast-iron pan has meant to our family.


I wonder if that’s what makes anything cooked in this pan taste so good…as we think about how long ago it was cast…as the flavors we are tasting today blend with all those flavors from the past.


I suppose that’s why we get a little sentimental…why we use this pan so reverentially…knowing its age and history is what makes it special…knowing it’s a lot like Deborah and me.


And hoping how the three of us…Deborah, me and this old cast-iron pan…with a little bit of care and a lot of love…will keep cooking as long as we can.


We only hope there is at least one item in your house filled with memories…filled with its own history…an item like our old cast-iron pan…that’s part of your family.

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The aroma of a cigar in the morning and that same evening Stevie Van Zandt on the cover of a book…what do these two things have in common…let’s take a closer look.


That morning on our walk as we neared the water…something quite bizarre…mixed with the distinctive smells of the ocean…was the aroma of a cigar.


Immediately triggering in me a memory…a memory that brings me joy…of how my Dad enjoyed a good cigar when I was but a boy.


I was greeted with a smile by the man smoking…I’m sure he never realized how he had from the aroma of his cigar helped me walk a moment with my dad.


“Is that Stevie Van Zandt?” A woman asked me in the bookstore that evening soon after my shift began.  I nodded as she held the book telling me, “My husband was his biggest fan.”


Sadness filled her face for a moment…until joy pushed it away so fast…

“My husband would have loved this book.” She said. “Unfortunately he’s passed.”


“She told me a little about her husband and their life (but I think she was talking mostly to herself) then she lovingly touched Stevie Van Zandt’s face as she returned him to the shelf.


There is a beauty in not knowing what things we might touch, taste, smell or see…that will…without a warning…trigger, in us, a memory.


A joyful memory of someone we loved whose path we were lucky to have crossed…reminding us, for a moment, how much we had…not how much we lost.


On this particular day…as it began…and as it ended…all it took….

was the aroma of a cigar…and Stevie Van Zandt’s face upon a book.

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