Thursday, October 10, 2013

525,600 minutes - The Quarterback

525,600 minutes...... how do you measure, measure a year?

"In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife... In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life? .... How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love......... 525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?"
(above lyrics are incomplete)

July 13, 2013 was an extremely painful day. It was the day Marisa cried uncontrollably after learning her favorite actor, one she had a huge crush on, and one whose sweet face could be seen on numerous posters across her bedroom walls, had died.That night, we all cried. I love Glee and I loved Finn too. The girls - Catherine and Jennifer - also cried. But no one cried more than Marisa.

"Why? Why?," she sobbed loudly and uncontrollably, to the point of falling down."I love him. I love him with all my heart."

It was painful to watch. All I could do was hold her. We cried together.
What do you say to something like that? Especially since the cause of death was a drug overdose. There was no consoling her.
Finally she looked up and said, "At least Finn didn't die. Just Cory." She was serious too.

Did she really not know the difference? Did she really not know it was the same person? Or was this her way of coping?

Tonight, Glee honored his memory with "The Quarterback" -- a heart-wrenching episode honoring his memory and one that helped Marisa, myself, and fans, with closure. The opening number "525,600 minutes" was touching.

How do you measure a life?

In one of my favorite books - The Fault in Our Stars - which I read recently, is a line I love: "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."

Why couldn't Cory's life be one of the "bigger" infinities?

Suddenly, I am thinking of another life cut short. One of someone who was very special to me. One of a person I loved with all my heart -- my brother in law, Albert, who died in 2003. Oh, how I wish he had one of the latter infinities.

Albert and I were close. Very close. After I was left alone as a single mother with three small children, ages 1, 3 and 10, he became one of my best friends. A "free spirit" who came and went, he lived with me off and on for years and was always there for me - as a brother, nothing more. Nothing inappropriate.

An artist - Albert painted our windows - a Winnie the Pooh for Jennifer, Hello Kitty for Catherine, Brian from the Backstreet Boys for Marisa, and a white background with yellow butterflies for my bedroom window. I could never wash those windows and to this day, they still have the artwork on them.

My home's front windows still have a snow scene and snowman on a sled, little critters pulling him, on one window; and Bambi playing in a snowy meadow (that spring he added green grass to it) on another window.

When the girls said they wanted a tree house, he built them one in my grapefruit tree. I have climbed it many times over the years.

Albert was also my faithful, frequent companion to Oaks baseball games. Once, when I was without a car, he gave us rides to the game -- on his bicycle. First he took Catherine and Jennifer - Catherine sitting on the handlebars and Jennifer on his knee, one arm around her tiny body. I still am not sure how he steered the bike with just one hand. He dropped them off at the main gate, making sure they were all inside with baseball friends. He returned for Marisa and took her sitting on the handlebars. We only live down the street, so by the time he returned for me, I was almost there and we just walked the last few feet.

When I mentioned I wanted a baseball jersey I had bid on and won signed by the player who wore it, Albert took the jersey from me, snuck into the clubhouse (we were not even at a home game - we were in Bakersfield) and returned with it autographed. "Here you go," he said.

And I will always remember the night he confessed, "I think I am in love with Chatter." -- technically, it was not the mascot he loved, but the girl who wore the outfit. Heart warming memories.

In the fall, it was all about football - his main passion. It was Albert I caught Monday Night football games with on big screens while eating $1 tacos at the Lamp Liter Inn, or while enjoying sandwiches at The Depot.

He would take me dancing on Saturday nights to The Depot and bought me my first margarita.

He knew I loved Harrison Ford, so he accompanied me to the movies once -- even though, he admitted, "Six Days, Seven Nights" was not his type of movie and he would much rather be watching "Star Wars", which was on another screen. "You want to see it. That's all that matters."

Albert would occasionally babysit for me so that I could go with my friend Dennis to catch Porterville College basketball games. When the team made it to some championship-type games (can't remember what exactly - either Elite Eight or Final Four Championship - kind of games, it was Albert who drew on big white sheets - which I took to the games in Irvine (he also did it for me to take to Reedley and one for a COS game.) I remember also making it to Sacramento for a game but don't believe I took a sheet.

When Marisa graduated, he did the same thing for her..... drawing Marisa's image, with cap and gown, on a large sheet. He was an amazing artist.

Why couldn't Albert have more infinity minutes?

"You get me through Christmas, and I'll get you through New Year's," he would tell me each year.

He hated Christmas. I hated New Years. But that's a whole other story and I'm not going there tonight.

"Listen," he told me once, cupping my chin in his hand and forcing my tear-streaked face up so that I could see his face. "It may not be this year. It may not be next year. But one day -- maybe in December, maybe on New Years Day -- something wonderful is going to happen to you. You will know the moment it happens. And you are going to remember this day. You are going to remember me telling you this. "

Oh Albert, why did you have to go? You were too young. I miss you. I need you - and not just on New Year's Day. 525,600 minutes. Where are you? I want more minutes.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two hearts, two families - now one

Two hearts, two lives, two families - now one.
Everything about Kristina and Gary Buckingham's wedding yesterday was beautiful. From the moment their children took the first steps down the aisle to the final dance - I could not stop smiling. This family is beautiful and blessed. I love them so much and it was an honor to be at their wedding.

It was held at Everygreen Island - a lusciously green wedding venue with pond, waterfalls, fountains, thick grass and hundreds of trees and plants -- and flying Monarch butterflies through the entire ceremony. Beautiful!

First down the aisle were the parents - the father of the groom, a recent widow, accompanied by a friend.
My sister Lily, - the mother of the bride - walked down the aisle on the arm of her handsome son, Daniel. Too precious!

 Then came the children of the groom and bride. I loved seeing them walk down the aisle before the wedding party walked down. "Marry You" played as five of their seven children walked in. First, gorgeous Sabrina, the eldest, on the arm of her boyfriend, Jordan. Followed by Rebekkah, Gary, Alyssa and baby Jacob. Aaron and Anthony walked in later.

"It's a beautiful day.....hey, baby......I think I want to marry you."

The bridal party entered next, couples and the little flower girl, Bella - cousin of the bride.

Just before the bride, Aaron walked down the aisle alone. He was holding a wooden plaque with "Here Comes the Bride" written across it.
If you looked to the front, Gary was down on one knee, with two arms outstretched, beckoning him forward. Precious! But it was what I saw next that almost literally took my breath away. I always love watching the groom as the bride walks in..... and seeing Gary - with so much love, I can not even describe it. It is something I will never forget. I turned to see what he was looking at and there she was - the most beautiful bride ever. My tears rolled down - happy tears, as Marisa calls them - as I watched Kristina walk towards the front; "A Thousand Years" playing as she walked towards the altar - towards Gary.

"Time stands still, beauty in all she is. I will be brave. I will not let anything take away what's standing in front of me. Every breath, every hour has come to this....."

Their own wedding vows, the kiss, and the fun fast-beat number as the bride and groom, and wedding party, walked and danced down the aisle after the ceremony -all different and cute.

The sweet bar, hors devours - stuffed mushrooms and stuffed jalapeno-bacon wraps, along with chips and salsa - and the dinner: smoked triptip, chicken, zucchini, scalloped potatoes, garlic bread and that amazing spinach and walnut and feta cheese salad in vinaigrette dressing was to die for! (But glad we didn't.)

The dance was so much fun! And Kristina asked the DJ to play one of my favorite dance numbers - that's right - "Play that Funky Music, White Boy!" -- I had to hit dance floor and James even got up and danced with me. Fun fun fun.

I loved being there yesterday. The ceremony, the bride and groom's children, my family, the butterflies, the flowers, the cake, the dinner, the dance - I loved it all.

I had so much fun and felt so much love. I love this family. (ok, I'm crying again)

Mr. and Mrs. Gary Buckingham - I adore and love you, your lives, your family! Thank you for letting me be a part of your special day.

If I can figure out how to add video clips - I'll add some, but so far, no such luck.