Monthly Archives: July 2010

Thanks Dad

It’s been more than two weeks since I detailed our ordeal with little Alex, and I’m still getting crap from anti-choice zealots. Like these gems:

I am confused. Why is the couple supposed to feel better about having an abortion and cutting the obviously living baby’s life short? Why is that supposed to be better than letting nature take its course and delivering the stillborn baby? Is it because it’s less trouble for the parents? So they can get the baby’s death over and start the grieving process sooner? Wouldn’t it be harder to be the cause of my baby’s death after seeing an ultrasound, as they did? It seems to me there IS only one choice, to let this baby live as long as possible.

Here is the problem with the logic of this video. This guy is upset because he put great value in the 16 week old fetus that he calls “our baby”, but his lack of understanding for what these protesters are trying to do seems to give no value in the other “babies” that are killed at this location. He says it was one of the most difficult days of their lives, but has NO EMPATHY for the other babies murdered there and those trying to prevent their deaths.

The pro life lady was not yelling at anybody, you were yelling at her. Abortion is on demand worldwide, the killing of innocent human life is not rare but has become way too common. You should take a look in the mirror because you need to Repent.

Nice huh? Some real Mensa candidates in that bunch.

Thankfully, they’ve been the minority and all of you have been fantastic. As in spectacularly fucking supportive. I thought the best way to fight back was to send vitriolic responses to each and every one of them. But now I see the error of my ways. Instead, I’m going to be noticed. By as many people as possible. As difficult as it is to talk about this at times, I want to be heard. I want every protester possible to know our story so they realize exactly who they’re hurting when they stand outside shouting at people like gutless cowards. And you all have helped make that happen.

And now it’s my dad’s turn. Although he works for a stainless steel company, he used to be a journalist too. And even now he’s a columnist for the local newspaper in our hometown. So he wrote something and now I’m posting it here because I thought it was great and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

Thanks dad. I love you.

Abortion – it’s an ugly term.  It has a deservedly harsh connotation to it, conveying an untimely ending and something gone horribly wrong.

My son and daughter-in-law had to make a decision to terminate their pregnancy recently, a pregnancy nearly four months along.  They chose to do it, although in reality there was no choice.  But it was still incredibly difficult.

Their baby – my grandchild – had a rare and fatal congenital birth defect called Sirenomelia, otherwise known as Mermaid Syndrome.  Due to a vascular malfunction, the baby’s legs were fused together.  The baby had no bladder, no kidneys, and no chance of surviving.  The defect occurs once in about every 100,000 births.

The pain this caused my son and his wife, who very much wanted this second child, is indescribable.  You cannot possibly fathom the depths of their despair unless you have been in a similar position.  And while nowhere near as bad, the pain of having to watch our children go through this is something my wife and I pray we never have to experience again.

Our kids handled their situation with all the class, dignity and responsibility human beings can be expected to muster.  We are so proud, even as our hearts break for them.  Their strength and devotion to one another and their two-year-old son is the stuff of legends.

But their ordeal was made even more unnecessarily awful by the politics and social controversy surrounding the abortion issue.  On one of the worst days of their lives, they became victims again – this time at the hands of those trying to do God’s work while in fact doing just the opposite.

Although my daughter-in-law was treated at a major Boston hospital, the time-sensitive nature of the procedure necessitated it be done at an affiliated establishment.  After she and my son mustered the necessary courage and emotional strength to get where they had to go, they were met by something they had not considered in their grief – abortion protestors.

Two women were picketing outside the establishment, carrying signs and “communicating” with women walking in the door.  One carried a sign of religious symbolism.  As my son and his wife tried to enter the building where they would lose the baby they already loved so much, they were approached by the women.

“You’re killing your unborn baby!’ was the remark they would remember most as they walked past.  They were both furious and devastated, but held their tempers and concentrated on what needed to be done.  But once my daughter-in-law was in surgery, my son decided to take on the protestors.

In a calm but firm tone, he told them of his wife’s condition.  How they had accosted her at the most vulnerable point in her life.  How they had hurled accusations when they had no idea of the circumstances.  How they claimed to be protecting, yet seemed more intent on hurting.  And better yet, he recorded the entire conversation on his cell phone and posted it on his internet blog.

These particular protestors care about the unborn, but apparently are not concerned with those who have already come into the world.  They made no attempt to discover the circumstances and just assumed this was a couple ending an unwanted pregnancy.  To them, my kids were simply collateral damage in an ongoing war – the price to be paid for later success.

This column is not about a woman’s right to choose, although I have my own opinions on that matter.  It is about the culture of hatred and disrespect that people today foster when they single-mindedly focus on one goal to the exclusion of nearly all else.  It is about allowing the end to justify the means.

I am so proud of my son, and perhaps even more proud of his wife.  At a time of great personal turmoil, they did not just retreat inside their own grief – though no one would have blamed them.

Rather, they cared enough to take the time to explain to these people how their actions can destroy others.  How their words can scar forever.  How nothing is ever as clear or as simple as it seems.

I love them dearly, and I will never forget the lessons they have taught us all.

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On Your Ass

Everyone deals with stress differently.

Some people drink or turn to drugs. MJ gets very focused and intent, and usually cleans the whole house from top to bottom. I truly didn’t think I had a problem dealing with stress, until my wife told me in a not-so-subtle way that I’m eating us out of house and home.

At first I got defensive and told her she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. But then I took a good look in the mirror. After that I stepped on the scale, which confirmed her theory. I’m a stress eater. I literally eat my worries away. Some people get hammered, others cry hysterically…apparently I think I can eat my problems away.

I cannot believe I never noticed it before but I see it now. I’m not even hungry most nights but once Will and MJ go to bed and I’m left to my own devices, I inevitably begin to think of Alex. And I get sad. Which then leads me to the fridge where I will house an entire gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Yeah, you read that right. A gallon. I also have no problem eating an entire box of pasta these days.

Needless to say my waistline hasn’t just suffered, it’s disappeared under my fat man gut. And I can’t let it go on like this.

So I spent all day yesterday fixing up my old bicycle, which has been outside in the rain and three harsh New England winters since last we saw one another. Unbelievably, it wasn’t in terrible shape. It needed some tinkering and a shitload of WD-40, but I can still ride it. I vowed that today (my day off) I would jump on the bike path and ride my stress away instead of shove it down my gullet.

I did 10 miles in a little over an hour. Not good, but considering I haven’t ridden in three years not terrible either. My legs are pretty sore, but that’s nowhere near the pain I feel in my ass. I don’t remember a bike seat hurting that much in the past, but right now my ass feels like it just spent the night in a Colorado hotel room with Kobe Bryant. My ass didn’t sit on the bike seat so much as absorb it. Seriously, I think a piece is still lodged in there.

Anyway, it was a beautiful Cape Cod day so I rode on the bike path in Falmouth. There were lots of people on the trail. Kids with parents, retirees keeping in shape and women. Lots of women. Lots of scantily clad, sweaty, toned women.

As I traveled toward Woods Hole I came upon one such specimen who had an ass that should’ve been bronzed and studied by the world’s top scientists for cloning purposes. It was phenomenal. Truly. I know I’m married to a beautiful woman but if MJ had been there, even she would’ve been salivating and agreeing with me.

Needless to say I took my time behind her and enjoyed the “scenery.” When I finally decided to jet by her I moved to the other side of the path and prepared to give the standard audible courtesy of “On your left.”

And that’s when Dr. Freud interjected.

“On your ass,” I said, cringing immediately after it slipped out of my mouth.

A smart man would’ve just kept going. A smart man would’ve kept his cool and pedaled hard, never looking back. A smart man would’ve also realized she was listening to her iPod and didn’t even hear the offending remark in the first place.

But I am not a smart man.

Instead I slowed down and veered in front of her, which startled her and put her on edge.

“I’m sorry I said ass, I didn’t mean ass,” I said, talking way too fast and nervously.

At this point she stops running and looks at me suspiciously as she takes off her headphones.

“What? What’s wrong?” she said with confusion.

“Oh nothing, I didn’t mean to spook you,” I stammered, getting flushed in the face. “I just didn’t want you to be offended when I passed by you and said ‘On your ass’ because I meant ‘On your left.’ But I said ass instead. So…I’m sorry.”

Smooth I am not.

Common sense finally kicked in and my fat ass pedaled away as fast as my chubby, out-of-shape legs would allow. And while I’m hopefully on my way to losing a few pounds, I confirmed there is absolutely no hope for my game with the ladies.

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I was looking at a friend’s Facebook page yesterday. She joked about losing her cell phone and feeling helpless because she doesn’t have a land line to fall back on. I don’t know why, but the fact that most people I know don’t have land lines anymore really made me think.

Everyone had a land line just a few short years ago. Not having a phone in your house was just inconceivable. But with the advent of cell phones and reasonable calling plans, you just don’t need one anymore. So naturally I started thinking about all the other technology and commonplace items of my youth which had gone, or are going, the way of the Dodo.

Then I imagined myself talking to Will 10 years from now. Maybe we’re cleaning out the attic one day and stumble upon a box of antiquated items. What would that conversation be like?

WILL: “Hey dad, what’s this thing?”

ME: “Oh cool, my old Walkman!”

WILL: “Huh? It doesn’t look like a man and I don’t think it walks.”

ME: “No no no, this played music. You put your headphones on, slap a cassette tape in there and you could listen to music on the go.”

WILL: “So it’s like a really ugly iPod. But what’s a tape?”

ME: “It’s what they stored music on before CDs.”

WILL: “What’s a CD?”

ME: “Oh sweet God.”

WILL: “Dad, what the heck is this thing?”

ME: “No way!! Buddy that’s a rotary phone!!”

WILL: “That thing is a phone?? But it’s bigger than my head!”

ME: “Yeah. You used to have to put your finger in the slot and turn it all the way to the right one number at a time. Calling someone used to take hours. You knew it was important if someone with a rotary phone was calling you just because of the time commitment it involved to place one call. And God forbid you screwed up the number halfway through.”

WILL: “That sounds awful.”

ME: “Well it was better than having to use a pay phone.”

WILL: “Everyone still has to pay for their phone.”

ME: “No. A pay phone was a public phone located outside on street corners. You used to go into the booth, put quarters in the phone and then you could make a call. But it only lasted a couple of minutes and then you had to put more money in.”

WILL: “You guys should’ve just signed up for unlimited minutes. But dad, I still don’t understand this rotary phone. If this is a phone why does it have a cord? And where’s the LCD screen for videos or the speakers for music? Heck, how did you even know who was calling you?”

ME: “There was no caller ID back then son. You had no idea who was calling. It was an adventure every time you picked up the phone because you had no clue who was on the other end. Like you were tempting fate. It was kind of a thrill.”

WILL: “So I would’ve had no way to ignore all the calls from you and mom back then?”

ME: “Frightening isn’t it?”

WILL: “Hey what’s this thing? Is that like the first iPad ever made?”

ME: “No, that’s a pocket calculator. Your mom used to use that to tally up all of our bills and do the finances. You set it next to you and do all your math.”

WILL: “You guys didn’t have calculators on your phones and laptops?”

ME: “Rotary phone, remember pal?”

WILL: “That’s just sad.”

ME: “Hey buddy, grab those phone books so we can throw them out OK?”

WILL: “A book of phones? What are you talking about?”

ME: “Those huge books over there. They have everyone’s phone number listed in them so if you needed to look someone up you just flipped through the phone book, found their number and dialed. They also doubled as booster seats for young kids who couldn’t reach the table, and sometimes your Uncle Nate and I used them as weapons.”

WILL: “What about these books with all the pictures and stuff in them?”

ME: “Oh wow. Our Encyclopedia Britannica collection. I used to use these for book reports and research projects when I was growing up. They have all the information you’ll ever need on everything.”

WILL: “Isn’t it all on Wikipedia? And isn’t the Internet better than having all these huge books in the house?”

ME: “Well wise ass, before the Internet you either could use these in your house or you had to go to the library.”

WILL: “What’s a library?”

ME: “I’m gonna have a heart attack.”

WILL: “If you were having a heart attack and I had to use this rotary phone to call for help, you’d be dead before I could dial 911.”

ME: “Very funny. Now come over here and help me bring these things downstairs. If this VCR still works we can watch home movies of when me and Uncle Nate were just little kids.”

WILL: “I don’t get it. These tapes are like plastic bricks. How do they play movies? Does this VCR thing hook up to YouTube somehow?”

ME: “No it doesn’t connect to YouTube. In the old days you had a video camera and you taped people. Then you put the tape in the VCR to watch it. Soon you had a whole collection of tapes and you had to label them to make sure you knew what’s on which tape. And I think this is the video of when we went to the Grand Canyon. Do you know where that is? Here, I’ll show it to you on this Atlas.”

WILL: “OK. Let me get this straight. You had gigantic phones that took forever to dial and had no way to see who was calling you. And if you didn’t have a phone, you went out and kept putting quarters into a slot in a phone out on the street. If you wanted to call someone you had to look their number up in a huge book. If you wanted information on anything else, you needed to sort through a series of other gigundo books. And if you didn’t have those, you needed to go to this library place that did nothing but store other huge books. You did your math on huge ugly calculators. You stored your memories on massive tapes which, judging by the look of them, you forgot to label so you have to sort through each one manually to find what you’re looking for?”

ME: “Yeah. Those were the good old days.”

WILL: My phone makes calls quickly. I can ignore calls quickly too because it tells me who’s calling. And I don’t need to continuously carry quarters around to keep my phone working. It also plays music. I can take a video of you right now, upload it to Twitter and store it on YouTube so everyone in the world can see it in a matter of seconds. If I need a phone number I can look it up on the Internet. Which, coincidentally, I can also use to find out any information I need to know much quicker than breaking my back with this thick encyclopedia. In fact dad, I didn’t want to bum you out but I haven’t read an actual book since I was a little kid. All my reading is done on my Kindle now. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is where people read all of your news stories right? And FYI, the Grand Canyon is in Arizona. Wanna know how I know that? Because it took me 3 seconds to Google Map Grand Canyon which gave me precise GPS coordinates. All before you even found Arizona in that huge Atlas book. So tell me, how can you possibly consider those the ‘good old days?'”

ME: “You damn kids these days…”


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My Joker

How does a parent even begin to move past the trauma of losing an unborn child? Well, it helps when you already have a lunatic 2-year-old who has you shaking your head and cracking up at every turn.

This is what MJ and I saw when we checked on him last night, an hour after he went to bed. At first I thought he was monkeying around. Sometimes he likes to just chill in his room, jump on the bed or sing to himself. But as I got closer I realized he was dead asleep. Out like a light. Yet both of his feet were on the ground and half his body was off the bed. But that didn’t stop him from slumbering away. MJ and I just stood there, dumbfounded. When I went to move him he opened his eyes, looked at me and said “Grapes, dada.” Then his head hit the pillow and he was out again.

And then we cracked up laughing. Deep, genuine belly laughs. I was laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

I know it doesn’t seem that funny, and it probably wasn’t. But laughs and smiles in general have been few and far between in these parts recently, and it was nice to see MJ’s return. To be honest I didn’t know what it was going to take to bring joy back into this house. Now I realize it’s going to be all Will.

The boy who, in the last month, has learned to say “OH MY GOD!” and “CALM DOWN!” The kid who constantly requests The Dropkick Murphys song “Shippin’ Up to Boston” by screaming “Ship up Boston, whoa whoa whoa!!” while pumping his arm in the air. Our baby, who has suddenly morphed into our little man, who may not possess the complete vocabulary to communicate with us, yet knows everything we’re saying to him.

This morning, while we were all in bed together before work, there was an incident. It was the thing I’d been fearing since we knew we’d lose the baby. Will was cuddling up to MJ and he started tickling her. He started tickling her stomach but then stopped suddenly, dead in his tracks.

“Oh sorry baby,” he said, talking into MJ’s stomach, apologizing to the baby he still thought was inside.

My heart sank and I started to panic. I looked at MJ with a “what the hell do we do?” glance. She shrugged her shoulders. I didn’t know whether to ignore it and hope he forgets, or to try to explain to him in simplistic terms what had happened.

“Buddy,” I began slowly. “I’m sorry but there’s no more baby in Mama’s belly.”

“What??” he said in his high pitched, surprised voice, with a heavy emphasis on the “t” sound.

“Your sister went bye-bye. No more baby in mama’s tummy. She’s gone buddy.”

He looked confused for a few seconds, glancing back and forth from me to MJ. But then, with the kind of acceptance and finality only a toddler possesses, he seemed to get it. Just like that.

“OK. Bye baby,” he said, as he planted one last gargantuan kiss on her belly.

I know that sounds sad, but strangely enough it wasn’t. It was endearing and cute and completely sweet. Will is a handful and sure he might demand to watch Toy Story 2 roughly 4,972 times a day, but he’s also going to be the one who pulls me and MJ out of this abyss.

One goofy, cute, adorable, ridiculous stunt at a time.

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The Bet

I was SURE the Celtics were going to beat the Lakers. I mean REALLY sure. So sure, in fact, I made a bet with J.R. at Sex & The Single Dad and Jack at Jack Be Nimble in which the loser had to paint his face in the opposing team’s colors and perform a song or cheer on camera and be humiliated across the Internet.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I am the loser.

Not only did my wife paint my face in the hated purple & gold colors of death, it seems my face is having a nasty little reaction after washing it off. Meanwhile my camerawoman/wife was questioning her choice of spouses as she wondered how the hell a sexy, successful woman like herself wound up painting her fat husband and watching him embarrass himself on camera for all to see. Truthfully, I wonder what the hell she’s doing with me too.

So here I am in all my awfulness. JR, Jack, I know you’ll have fun with this. That’s OK. I’ve steeled myself for the mockery. Enjoy yourselves fellas, you won:

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