Saturday, March 18, 2017

What is life: Fare thee well My beloved brother

And so my beloved Brother we say,
fare thee well on your next journey.

While our hearts are heavy, our souls are filled with Joy for having known you.
You touched the lives of all who knew you, and we are all made better because of it

We leave your body, interred in this small cemetery,
in the shadow of the Treasure mountains of Park City.

We leave you surrounded by so many of our loved ones who have made this journey before you.
We leave you in this town where you were born 64 year ago in the miners hospital, just down the street

We leave you in this special place under the Wasatch, built by the blood, sweat, tears, love and dreams of our ancestors, who came here seeking better lives for their posterity.

You have made them Proud.

Our souls are joyful in the knowledge that even now as we grieve,
you are in the warm busom of friends and family, whose long wait to embrace you once again is over.

Clyde, Give them all a hug for all of us: Mom, Dad, Carl, Grandpa's and Grandma's Fritch and Winters, Katie, Teta, who loved you dearly, Bernice, Marie, Wayne, Marty and Trudy.

God bless and keep you in his everlasting care and love till we meet again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My brother Clyde


The stage was set for the great war.  Two armies of child warriors from the neighborhood, passing the summer days,  lined up against each other.  One army occupied the High ground armed with Sticks, Toy guns, old truck tires and boulders.  the other's task was to charge up the hill. 

The battle began with war cries and yelps as the army charged up the hill trying to avoid the tires and boulders raining down on them from the heights above.  Some kids became casualties of the boulders and tires...later proudly wearing their bumps and bruises as badges of honor.
 
As I neared the top of the hill, One older boy, in a heated moment, pounced on me. My brother Clyde was the first to jump to the defense of his little brother, just as he always did his entire life.


This is one of my first memories of my brother Clyde David Fritch  in the early 1960’s. 


We grew up in the Belleview neighborhood of Rock Springs Wyoming.  The five Fritch boys were a part of the Belleview Gang.  We were a tight knit group of around 20 boys,  ranging in age from 5 to 15 yrs. old.  It was there, in that sage brush infested, windblown town, filled with Lizards, horned toads and scorpions, where we all first learned the meaning of Loyalty, family and protecting each other. 


Clyde was the essence of those three words, loyalty, family, Protection.

It was a wondrous time for all of us as young men, and Clyde, in many ways, was the best thing about that dusty, shit town.


When Clyde was about 9 or 10,  the 5 of us were playing some meaningless game in the bedroom shared by the 4 youngest brothers.   Clyde decided to do a Tarzan swing on the curtains. 


The curtains pulled out of the plaster wall with Clyde landing on his back covered with the drapes... you could’ve heard a pin drop in the silence that immediately followed.

In typical Fritch fashion, Clyde Gerry rigged the blinds back into the wall….And when Mom pulled  open the curtains the next day they fell off the wall.  We all looked at her and said “Mom, what did you do”...


I am fairly certain Mom knew we broke them, but, she must have admired Clyde’s inventiveness because we didn’t get in trouble.



I remember anytime when one of us was distress,  Clyde was always the first one to Jump to  our defense leading with his fists and a heart as big as a mountain.. Though he and I quarreled constantly in our youth, he never allowed anyone to mess with his little brother. 


Clyde was the most loyal person I have ever known.  He would protect you to death, if necessary.

As a boy Clyde loved Christmas and had all the brothers put on the  Family Christmas production of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol, produced, directed and Starring Clyde. 


Clyde had a bright mind and in many ways was the smartest of us all.  You very rarely won an argument with him.  He always knew the facts and had very intuitive, logical insights and arguments that made perfect sense…even if you totally disagreed with him. ...and he always got the last word in.


He would get the best of you.  Always.

I will miss those conversations.


Another time, He and Carl were playing a board game called Civil war.  As I recall, Carl had a warship piece and Clyde had land based infantry piece.


Being Fritch boys ...they were very stubborn... both of them kept moving their game pieces but neither could win...and they didn't want to settle for a draw.  

Several hours later, Clyde found an intuitive, logical way to end the game...he got a pencil and drew a bridge to Carl's warship….Who would think of that?? 

Clyde had very little need for material things in life.  Besides Family and Country;  A good cup of Coffee, some potato salad, conversations and old television shows were all he needed.


He was a man of modest means but would give you the last  dollar he had to help you out and then take the coat off his back to make sure you were warm. 


I witnessed his generosity, Giving his family everything he had to help and protect  them with no second  thought about the financial consequences  to himself.  He was all heart.

My brother went thru dark times but I never saw him happier then when he was surrounded by his family.  He loved His two sons Michael and Johnny and their wives Jana and Adri…He was happiest when he was with them and His 6 grandchildren. 


Our Dad had nicknames for all of us boys and Clyde was known as his “itty bity Buddy”.  It was Later shortened and he was known to many of the family affectionately as “bitty bud”.


My grandson Tosh reminds me a lot of my brother Clyde..That's why I call him "my little buddy"


When I remember Clyde the Bruce Springsteen song “Blood Brothers” always pops into my head.


...


We played king of the mountain…out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill …and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time … time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride … and chances we gotta take

We stood side by side… each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be… blood brothers
Now the hardness of this world ..slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin' a fool's joke …out of the promises we make

And what once seemed black and white… turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work… Work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride,… and there ain't much cover
With no one runnin' by your side… my blood brother

On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always moving ahead and never looking back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't know why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burning bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep moving through the dark with you in my heart, my blood brother

Clyde had the rare strength to live life his way and according to his principles.  If he had regrets, I am sure they were too few to remember.  How many of us have that kind of courage.

Farewell Big brother,  be sure to give Dad, Mom and Carl a hug for us.…


I will never forget your laugh.

I shall miss our conversations, and while I never won an argument  with you,   I can finally say I finally got the last word in,

though  I would gladly trade that to have you here standing beside me..

I'll keep movin' through the dark...

with you in my heart…
My… blood brother

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Struggle with Heart Disease and The High Price of Staying Alive

Many of you know about my 20 year battle with Heart Disease.  A life long runner, I was on a leisurely 8 mile run after work in Atlanta Georgia when I had my first heart attack.

I was cruising along at a 7-8 min per mile clip when I suddenly collapsed on a dark peach tree lined road in 1998. I was 38 yrs old.  After a few moments of Dizziness I struggled to my feet and started a slow jog.  2 minutes later I collapsed again.  Attributing the collapse to fatigue, I stayed down for a few minutes to catch my breath and made a promise to take some much needed time off when I returned on to Utah.

The next day I flew home and ended up in the ER that night where I underwent coronary bypass surgery.  I was lucky, 30 yrs of continuous running had saved my life.  I had lost 25% of my heart but within one month I was well on the road to recovery and began to run again, thankful for a second chance at life.  The cost? $363,000...Thank god for a health insurance plan that paid more than 90% of the cost.

I returned to my normal life, running, skiing and Golf.  Over the years the .doctors came to the conclusion that genetics, more than any other factor, was the key ingredient in my attacks...

Think about that...I ate healthy, exercised (ran 30 miles a week), did not smoke, was not obese, no drugs.....I did everything I was supposed to, but, by luck of the draw (or grace of god?), I was blessed with heart disease.

12 years later, even  after regular checkups, tests and ,medications, I suffered another series of debilitating heart attacks that left me with so little heart function that I am appraised every 3 months by a team of transplant Doctors to determine if I need a heart transplant.  The cost for the second set of bypass grafts?  $600,000.  I am on my second Pacemaker/defibrillator...total cost for those two devices?  Over $200,000.  Once again, a great insurance plan has paid for most of the cost.

When you add up the cost of premiums and out of Pocket expenses I am lucky to only pay $12,000-$15,000 dollars a year to stay alive.

I have spent a great deal of time pondering the high cost of staying alive and I am truly thankful that I have a great Job with a salary that makes the high price of my living only cost a fraction of the total cost...Simple math shows that I have had more than $1-$1.5 million spent on my behalf. Just to keep me alive....

This blog started more than a year ago when I read about the price gouging of common prescription drugs Daraprim a live saving AIDS medication went from $13.50 a pill to $750 PER PILL overnight.

More recently Eppipens, made by MYLAN,  jumped from less than $100 per pen to $700....coinciding with a law that requires all schools to have them on hand.  All because or bought and paid for politicians can not set price controls, another Big Pharma law.  Do you think it is a coincidence that the president of MYLAN is also the daughter or Democrat Joe Manchin the Senator from West Virginia??

It has culminated today because my team of  Doctors want to start me on a new cardiac medicine just coming into the market.   My monthly copay will be $291

I state again, I am grateful that I can afford this cost, but, what if my salary was only $75K or $100K?....$15K annual out of pocket would have driven me to bankruptcy by now....I shudder to think about the cost for those less fortunate than I.  You see, I remember not having enough money to make it thru month and juggling bills and bill collectors....praying for that next check...I will never forget.

Or worse...what if I had NO insurance?  I would probably be dead now.....

So folks spare me your hate... AFFORDABLE healthcare for all our citizens...is a basic HUMAN RIGHT. I will not shut up until all of my fellow brother and sister Americans have access at a reasonable cost.

I will be as blunt and direct as I can.  If you do not believe in affordable healthcare for all. you:
A.  Are Lucky to have never been ill....just wait you will be.
B.  Naive...Get educated.
C.  Willfully Ignorant....I can't fix stupid...wont even try.
D. Just plain mean.....Please get out of my life, I don't need you

But for the grace of god I would be dead now....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Russ Horan

8 May 1999

My Uncle Russ died today of a heart attack shortly after mowing the lawn.  There were no bands playing or holiday’s across the nation as is done for presidents or heroes; just quiet sorrow to mourn the passing of a husband and father.  I doubt I shall ever know a finer man in my life.  He died the way he lived his life; quietly doing the little seemingly ordinary things that were extraordinary to those whose lives he touched.  There was nothing ordinary about my Uncle.  He made everyone’s life a little brighter and the world is a better place because he was here.

You have an “Uncle Russ” too.  He may not be you uncle, but, you have one; he is that relative or a friend who is always “there” when you need them the most. Non-judgmental, encouraging, you never asked him for help but he always seems to show up at the right time? The “Uncle Russ’s” are the backbone of society. The person who builds your Character and make you want to be a better person because of the support they gave you. That was Russ Horan.

My first memory of him was at a retirement ceremony to honor my grandfather.  I was a small child at the time and such events were a great source of boredom to my young mind.  It was late and I was tired. As we were leaving Park City High School, I was swept off my feet and on to the shoulders of my uncle.  He immediately said something that had me laughing all the way to grandpa’s house.  Russ always had a gift for connecting with children.  Children swarmed around him and listened on the edge of their seats, never tiring of his stories.  Russ always seemed to have a joke and a piece of candy for the kids.

Years passed.  My family moved to Alaska.  I looked forward to our trips to Utah to see family and friends.  When my father had taken quite ill with heart problems, Russ and Marie invited my brother Dan and me to go on short vacation with them.  What a wonderful time I had with Gary, Dan, Marie and Russ.  We saw the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas for the first time.  I remember Russ constantly had me roaring with laughter.  I didn’t realize till later that Russ was giving me a much needed break from the problems that were dominating my life.   I have thought back on that little vacation many times over the years and am amazed at how much that small effort on his part helped me.

When your father passes away and your 14 years old, you are mad.  You’re mad that he left you.  You’re mad that you have to move from a place you love.  Mostly you’re just mad.  I was probably madder than most.  There were a lot of people who wanted to step into my life and be my father.  I resisted this and became furious with anyone who tried. “How dare them” I thought.  One day Uncle Russ came by and took me golfing. 

No one loved sports more than he did.  Russ led the tiny town of Park City’s football team to the state championship game and narrowly lost due to a dropped ball by his lifelong friend. He knew I loved sports too.  He equipped me with an old set of clubs and as I hacked my way down the fairways and greens, Russ showed me how to hold the clubs, aim, swing and putt.  Anytime I ran low on balls, Russ always loaded me up with his endless supply, fetched from one of two army duffel bags full of them. I cherished those times with him on the golf course.  I felt I could always talk to him but never had to.

One week ago I saw him for the last time at my brothers wedding.  I had not seen him in some time and he had lost a lot of weight.  The trials of aging and radiation treatments for cancer had certainly taken a toll.  He was talking about his health problems and joked about how he loved peas and how he “hadn’t had a good pea all winter”.  I have heard this joke of his thousands of times over the years; it always made me laugh.  As we parted, he suddenly hugged me and told me that he loved me.  I was surprised and concerned because while I knew he loved me, Russ had never hugged me.  It felt more like a farewell than a goodbye.

I am filled with a sad/happy empty/fullness now that I know he is gone.  I wonder how many heroes are out there who, like my uncle, quietly go about improving peoples lives while all the fame and glory go to less deserving people who crave the spotlight.  More should be done to honor them.

Russ was not just my Uncle, he was my friend.  He took away a lot of the anger I had as a child and he was like a father to me.

I love golf.  Russ gave that love to me. I’ll never step up to a tee box without seeing him there smiling, whistling, searching in his pocket for a piece of candy and enjoying the little things in life.


P.S.  6/24/13.  UPDATE, since his death, I teed off  the start of each golf season with the old Sam Snead Persimmon 4 wood which was the sole surviving club from the original set Russ gave me. I did this to honor and thank him for the great gift of golf he gave me. Sadly in 2009, the club exploded on impact and now is part of history.  I miss that club and still dedicate my first drive to my Uncle.  I always feel like he is smiling down on me every time I make birdy.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Eulogy for my Big Brother, Carl Fritch; A Life Well lived

The heavy rain from the thunder storm quickly fills the wash in the desert hills behind the Belleview neighborhood of Rock Springs, Wyoming. The water flows quickly over the sandstone rock creating a rushing river from an otherwise dry creek bed. 

Further down the fast rising stream, a gang of boys, ages 6 to 14 stand just above a newly made earthen dam waiting to see if their latest engineering improvement, a spillway, will relieve the pressure on the berm and retain some of the water for a muddy swim-hole. 

One foot, two, soon three feet of water fill the narrow valley of the wash forming a massive lake, 100 ft. long and 30 feet wide.  At four feet the water begins to flow through the u-shaped trench carved out of the soft sand stone rock with picks, shovels and strong young backs.

As the spillway flows, cheers erupt, Shovels and picks are dropped to the ground and the gang jumps into the mud stained water thinking only of the fun to be had, not the mess that mothers would have to clean later. Waves from all the splashing slowly cap the top of the dam, suddenly; a small crack appears in the massive structure.

 The muddy boys rush madly for the picks and shovels trying vainly to stem the growing tide of water flowing out of the dam. The engineering marvel fails and a 4 foot wall of water and mud rushes down Bunning road toward the unsuspecting homes below.

Such was a typical day for the five Fritch boys in the Rock Springs Wyoming in the 1960's

Thanks to understanding neighbors with flooded basements, the matter of our punishment was handled "in house" instead of courts.

One of the masterminds of the “The Great Belleview Dam project of 1963" and leader of the "Belleview" Gang was my oldest brother Carl Fritch.  Carl always had new ideas on how to make such a desolate place a childhood fantasy…If you have passed thru Rock Springs you know exactly what I am talking about.

Carl finally freed himself last Saturday from the chains of cancer after a 10 year battle with that vicious disease. His life has been a constant source of inspiration to not only me, but, everyone here today.

Our family first vacationed in Yellowstone in the early 1960's and 10 year old Carl fell in love with the place.  It was a love that would last a lifetime. He went there almost every year of his life to marvel at nature’s wonder and beauty.

Upon returning home from that magical place, young Carl created his own version of a national park in our neighborhood. He designed and created Rock gardens in our yard and forged Nature trails in the hills behind our house, complete with stoned lined paths (like Yellowstone) and signs posted at various stops, explaining the rock,  desert algae and Cactus formations to help educate the Neighborhood masses.

Our playground went miles up the mountain from the backyard of our home and Carl's inventive mind always greeted each new day with exciting ideas, changing the barren sand, cactus and stone of the Wyoming desert into a childhood paradise.

 When Carl was 12 he got a Kodak 8mm movie camera for Christmas.  He immediately assembled the Gang to produce and direct several full feature action movies.  The most famous film, titled "Ambush", was an 8 minute war epic shot in full color that included laser gun blasts and Bomb exploding special effects...

 All created post production by Carl carefully scratching each frame of film with a magnifying glass and a tiny needle. Now think about that…8 mm film is the size of my little finger nail…and at 35 FPS Carl had to scratch 100 frames for each 3 second effect.

These movies live on today and are owned by each member of the Fritch family.  Treasured memories that will live on forever.

Just think Carl was YouTube before YouTube….He made YouTube cool

Here is the movie, Ambush:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfEYTQQic_4


When our family moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1967, Carl had to change high schools for his senior year.  Dad helped him get a car to be able to get around.  

The 1960 Corvair was not much to look, but, you could always tell where it had gone by following the trail of leaking oil on the street or follow the blue smoke cloud that poured out of the exhaust.

 I loved that car because I could entertain myself by watching the road pass by underfoot through the rusted out floor.  It was constantly being repaired and all the oil it burned into the atmosphere was probably a big contributor to the current melting of the polar ice cap.  Carl however, embraced the freedom that it gave him and proudly drove it around town.

One day, after a recent repair, the car stopped running abruptly, and then we went over a big bump. Grumbling, Carl said "Great, now the engine probably fell out".  Imagine the look on his face when Mike (the mechanic of the family) got out and saw the engine 20 feet behind us on the road!

Carl's love of music began relatively late in life for a virtuoso...at age seventeen. Dad bought him and me two $20 guitars.  My Big brother and I learned how to play together listening to a "Learn to Play guitar" record by the "Ventures". 

The first song we learned together was a 60's hit called "Wipeout".  My interest in the guitar soon waned, but, Carl had found his life’s talent.  Though he never learned to read a single note of music, Carl developed a skill on that instrument to rival Hendrix, Blackmore and Clapton, three of his idols. 

He learned to play by ear…as many of the great masters did.  Constantly replaying old vinyl records time after time till he could at first copy their style then created his own…

 I still can hear his remarkable, wailing riffs of “Along the Watch Tower", "Smoke on the Water" and "Cross Roads" played with a tiny amplifier in his bedroom on that dime store guitar.

Dad passed away in 1973 and the family moved to Utah to be closer to family taking with them, many wonderful memories of the land of the midnight sun

In Orem, Utah, Carl joined a band called "Survival" where he met fellow musician and percussionist Walt Jones.  The two soon became lifelong friends.  After the breakup of "Survival", they formed the nucleus of the group "Peace and Quiet:" with Doug Salter on Bass.  

Various artists were a part of “peace and quiet” over the years but eventually our cousin Gary Horan, joined the group on guitar and the group became a very popular band in Utah in the 70's and 80's  

Together the four developed a hard rocking style that was the opposite bookend to the band’s name. They played countless gigs until late last year, entertaining tens of thousands

Last summer on one of his last Gigs, Carl was so ill from cancer that he finished the show playing on his back…literally….”The show must go on” he always said.  Talk about rocking till you drop.

When our Mom passed 1988, we five brothers became close in a way that only siblings who have lost both parents can.  An irrevocable bond of love and trust, that we still feel every day...even though Carl is gone.

Carl loved Camping and felt that camper vans, trailers and RV’s were the best way to vacation and enjoy the world. He purchased an old tan Dodge van and he and Dan converted it into an RV camper.  The dodge was a quirky vehicule, for example, after you started the engine and put it into drive there was a 20 second delay before the transmission engaged and you could drive. 

 One day, Carl could not get the ignition to turn over so he popped the hood and shorted the starter motor to troubleshoot and localize the problem. The van fired up. 

Suddenly he realized that on the previous night, he had left the transmission in drive...The van suddenly lurched forward and nearly ran him over.

The sight of Carl chasing that Dodge down the street shaking his fist in the air is a memory that we both laughed about to his dying day. 

Oh Carl.  Every Vacation with you was an adventure, what shall we do to carry on without you.

14 years ago Carl met the love of his life Kristie.  They married and Carl’s lifelong wish of a family to call his own was finally fulfilled. 

For Kristie’s two daughters, Brandi and Tia, Carl became the father they had never known.  For Carl, they were more than daughters, they were his friends.

 He constantly bragged to me of how proud he was of them and their accomplishments. As life moved on and his joy grew, grandchildren arrived and Carl’s life was complete. 

Sean Ivy, Carl loved you as his own son and he especially wanted you to know that.

Last January, friends put on a benefit rock concert for Carl to help raise money for mounting health bills.  Three top local bands, Shadow, Dirty Love Guns and M.E.A.T. were asked to perform.  When they were told it was for my brother, their response, without hesitation was "When and where...We will be there for Carl". 

 The three groups put on a great performance in front of a packed club raising thousands of dollars to help their friend.  A friend who was always there for them
As I watched in awe and amazement at the out pouring of love, I was approached by many of Carl's friends (some of you may see a resemblance), who expressed their great love for him and how happy they were to support him in his hour of need.  Partial repayment for the support he had given them as musicians over the years.

Toward the end of the show his friend Tommy Love coaxed him into singing a song with his band.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house

So Tommy Love, Darrell Zitting, the gang at Gino’s Bar and Grill, Brandy and Tiffani, Thank you for your love and kindness, Carl loved you and constantly talked of you.  I was glad I was able to meet you, but, you know, I already felt like I knew you from my brothers’ stories.   I hope you check in on my life from time to time. You are part of my family now.  Whether you like it or not.

There are many others I haven’t met, But, who touched, or were touched by Carl, Please take a moment and introduce yourselve to us.  We would love to meet more of Carl’s extended family. I have read your words of comfort on Facebook the past few days, and the love you have shown is overwhelming.

 We reap what we sow.  Carl spent his life sowing the seeds of love in everything he did and everyone he met.  Was anyone really surprised that so many people stepped up to help him in his last days? 

Last Saturday, as Mike, Dan and I sat by his bed, cradling him in our arms, Carl ended this earthly journey to begin his next adventure.

My mind drifted back to those carefree childhood days in Rock Springs...days of Horned toads, lizards, nature trails, failed Dam projects, war movies, and the enthusiasm for life Carl infused in each new day. I was comforted by the fact that a new day had just begun for my big brother.

I closed his weary, but peaceful eyes, and the memory of the last road trip he and I were able to take to Las Vegas to see the Broadway musical "Jersey Boys", something he had wanted to do for years.  I closed my eyes and the words of  those great hits played thru my mind and I shall never forget the look of pure joy on his face as he sang along with the troupe "Sheri", "Begging", Ragdoll", "Maryann" and others....

The drive home last Saturday night for me was long and hard.  I flipped the nob on the radio to calm my grieving mind.   I tuned to the 70’s channel on Sirius radio and the songs   "Oh What a Night" followed by "Who Loves You" began to play. His two all-time favorite hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I cranked the volume up and wept tears of joy thinking “How fitting”.  Following is the link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEDzh1RBVpU


In the end, they say the love you take with you is equal to the love you made.  Big brother, I know you took a lot of love with you from this life

Rest in peace and quiet Carl….  

Rest in the loving arms of Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa Winters, Grandma and Grandpa Fritch and the many others who have gone before you. 

We shall miss you, but, this I promise you my brother, we shall never forget you.  Your legacy of love will live on in each one us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Moms

After two grueling hours on the phone, I took a break and hopped in my Dodge and started the drive to Starbucks, anxious to get the caffeine high that has to carry me through another day.  As the sound of Glen Millers "Moonlight Serenade" played on the satellite radio my thoughts turned to a night many years ago when I danced with my mom.

 Mom loved the "Big Bands". Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra were two of her favorites. She was 5'1" and 90 lbs. Fully clothed. Though Small in stature, she was one of the strongest people I have ever known. Her courage has inspired me throughout my life.

Born in the midst of the Great Depression, she grew into a beautiful woman, married her high school sweetheart and raised 5 boys. She devoted her life to her god and her family.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer while dad was trying to survive a series of 6 heart attacks in two years that eventually took his life.  Barely recovered at age 40, she moved the family from Alaska back to Utah, to be near family and friends . Needing money to survive and support her family, she returned to the workforce at age 41. Having no job skills, her starting salary was minimum wage (1.50 Hr.) at Kmart in the fabric department.

She could have complained at the lack of life insurance (Dad’s policy was just a few weeks short of becoming effective that would have assured her some financial security) But she never did. She could have asked for a handout but wouldn't  Working full time and taking advantage of Social Security Survivors benefits, she not only survived and raised her five sons, but made a vow to complete her college degree.

After several yrs of sweat and toil, she obtained a custodial job at Brigham Young University. Not much better pay, but, a job with health insurance for her family and more importantly, educational benefits. He had always wanted to be a school teacher and at age 45 she was about to make that dream come true.

Year after year she worked tirelessly at a thankless job, yet somehow, class after class was completed. She graduated after 10 years with honors and obtained a job teaching at an elementary school. Her days were very busy yet she never missed a track or wrestling meet. This often resulted in not completing House work that needed to be done, but, it was  more important to her to spend time with one of her 5 boys.

I remember teaching mom the "hustle" in my teens . Family was always the most important thing in her life. I do not know how she did it. Unfortunately the breast cancer returned and she passed away at age 58.

As I waited  in the long line to place my order, I had an Epiphany.  I noticed a young mother with one babe in arms, a toddler and another one on the way.  She was the size of  my daughter Kristen...who is the same size as my mom. 

It is an amazing thing to see the love of a mother for her children.  Without skipping a beat, she was cleaning the toddlers face, gently swaying the baby in her other arm and ordering a "Grande decaf skinny caramel machiato"....amazing...women really can multitask.

 My mom could as well.  So can  my daughters, my wife and the many Moms who are my friends.

So do people I pass in the mall, the street or the airport,  appreciate the sacrifice their mom made to give Them the life they live?"  I wonder

When I hear any of the Big bands...I think a calm nights long ago dancing with my mom.  Now you know why I love the big bands and "the Voice", Frank Sinatra.  A  art of me will always be lost in memories. Priceless time spent dancing with my mother and remembering the her courage and strength in life.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Brother the Rock Star

My Oldest brother is battling cancer. He has undergone radiation, chemo, hormones,,,pretty much any and all therapies to battle the disease.  He is a gifted musician.  He never learned to read music but taught himself to play the guitar at 17.  He turned into one of the finest lead guitarists I  have ever seen.

Several years ago, tired but determined, I started my drive to see my Brothers Rock Band play in Salt Lake City after a  20+ year hiatus.  I was determined to see how the silver back rockers had aged. Their combined ages are around 200+ yrs, so I was curious to see whether they had aged like a fine wine or slowly faded, like a setting sun.

As I entered the bar, I was overwhelmed by the diversity of the crowd. Gangsta brothers, Harley boys, Trailer trash and an amusing, preppy Asian in levis and a polo shirt. "Great" I think, I fit right in.

The warm-up band was a solo....I guess the the other half of the band quit and somebody forgot to tell the lead singer that solo acoustic songs are better in the Jack Johnson, John Mayer mold. I drowned the 40 minutes of gut wrenching bad "poison" and "Def Leopard"  songs with greasy pot stickers and two coronas.

Peace and Quiet was a big band in the local Utah rock scene during the 1970's. While they never achieved top 40 success, they stayed true to their Rock roots and still play great originals and covers. Thirty years later, they continue to deliver a high energy show. Doug Salter (bass) and Gary Horan (guitar) compliment Walt Jones on drums and Carl Fritch on lead guitar. 

Walt and Carl have played together for 35 years and are a combination that would make Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton envious. Everyone should take the time to listen to Walt's  drum solos on "In A Godda Da Vita" or Carls  wailing riffs on "Freebird".  

On his last gig I hear my brother was so exhausted from therapy that  he started the night on a stool and vowed to finish the gig on his back if necessary.  The last 30 minutes of the show he literally was lying down....such is his love for his craft. Way to go big brother....ROCK until you drop,

Peace and Quiet still Rocks Utah!! See them while you can. The sun always sets, but, Peace and Quiet like a great wine only gets better with age.

Check them out, they are "Peace n Quiet" on Facebook.