“You Are Welcome Here”

I guess we all have our Sunday-morning rituals. For me, the last couple of years, it has included a trip to Manor Grove nursing home in Kirkwood to spend time with my mom, who lived there in the late stages of her fight with Alzheimer’s, and with my dad, who came directly from church to have lunch with her, as he did every day. Earlier on in her illness, I would go on weekday evenings to visit her, but as the illness progressed, she would often go to bed right after dinner, so it became, for the most part, just Saturdays and Sundays that I could go visit.

She passed away on the morning of July 15, just as the sun was rising on the exact midpoint-day of the summer. Her death was the culmination of the long, slow decline that is Alzheimer’s, and was certainly not unexpected. In retrospect, though, I’m amazed at how much my in life has changed since that morning.

It was a Friday that she died. Later that morning, we met with the minister of our family’s church, First Congregational Church of Webster Groves. My parents and my brother Phil have maintained the connection with First Congregational over the years, but I pretty much fell away when I was in about ninth grade. In the years since then, I’ve gone to Catholic masses with Jean when required, but as a non-communicant, I was always there as an outsider.


To digress for a moment, part of the events that led up to my giving up on my parents’ church were described much better than I could by the author Jonathan Franzen, who was in my …Keep reading

Music For The Winter Solstice

I do NOT recommend that you watch this video:

Seriously, don’t watch it. It will ruin your day. I only include it to demonstrate what I think is the absolute worst example of an awful genre, the pop Christmas song. Every year, more and more artists get the idea that they can make a quick buck or two by dressing up some old Christmas songs with the newest synthesizers and putting out a “holiday disc.” In this case, McCartney didn’t need to draw from the canon of existing carols; he wrote it himself. More’s the shame. This truly sounds like it’s ideal for a preschool.

I’m given to understand, however, that my opinion is not universal. According to Wikipedia, McCartney makes $400,000 a year from royalties on this song alone. It also says that “McCartney has since gone on to state that he is now embarrassed about this record,” which can give us all a little hope in this season of despair. The guy who wrote Let It Be and Yesterday should be embarrassed about this.

Unfortunately, many, many other artists are apparently reaching for …Keep reading

A Day Of Remembering

There was a surprise for me on Facebook this morning: a message from  Sinan in Provincetown, asking if I had any digital pictures of my brother Jim.

I met Sinan through Jim, before Jim died of AIDS in 1987.

Today was World AIDS Day, and Sinan wanted to post a remembrance of him in honor of the day. At work, I only had access to a couple, pictures that I had used in a previous blog post. I sent those off to him. A while later, I logged on to FB, and there was one of the pictures as Sinan’s profile picture for the day. Next to the picture was his post, which read simply, “Remembering Jim”

It was jarring, but beautiful and perfect. Before long, several of his friends who knew Jim had posted brief remembrances of him. Sinan posted the other picture, and a few more people weighed in. I’ll tell you, it felt great to see people who …Keep reading