Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year's Departed

2007 Celebrity Roll Call

Dan Fogelberg
Singer and songwriter
Aug. 13, 1951 - Dec. 16, 2007

Joey Bishop
Comedian and Rat Pack member
Feb. 3, 1918 - Oct. 17, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson
Former first lady,
wife of President Lyndon Johnson
Dec. 22, 1912 - July 11, 2007

Evel Knievel
Motorcycle daredevil
Oct. 17, 1938 - Nov. 30, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith
Model, actress and TV personality
Nov. 28, 1967 - Feb. 8, 2007

Joel Siegel
Film critic
July 7, 1943 - June 29, 2007

Wally Schirra
March 12, 1923 - May 3, 2007

Sean Taylor
NFL player
April 1, 1983 - Nov. 27, 2007

Charles Nelson Reilly
Jan. 13, 1931 - May 27, 2007

Dick Wilson
Actor best known as Charmin's
'Mr. Whipple'
July 30, 1916 - Nov. 19, 2007

Porter Wagoner
Country music singer
Aug. 12, 1927 - Oct. 28, 2007

Julia Carson
July 8, 1938 - Dec. 15, 2007

Jack Valenti
Motion Picture Association of America president
Sept. 5, 1921 - April 26, 2007

Paul Tibbets
Enola Gay pilot
Feb. 23, 1915 - Nov. 1, 2007

Beverly Sills
Operatic soprano
May 25, 1929 - July 2, 2007

Deborah Kerr
Sept. 30,1921 - Oct. 16, 2007

Tom Poston
Oct. 17, 1921 - April 30, 2007

Sidney Sheldon
Feb. 11, 1917 - Jan. 30, 2007

Brooke Astor
Philanthropist and socialite
March 30, 1902 - Aug. 13, 2007

Norman Mailer
Jan. 31, 1923 - Nov. 10, 2007

The Fabulous Moolah
Professional wrestler
July 22, 1923 - Nov. 2, 2007

Ingmar Bergman
Film director
July 14, 1918 - July 30, 2007

Ike Turner
Nov. 5, 1931 - Dec. 12, 2007

Johnny Hart
'B.C.' cartoonist
Feb. 18, 1931 - April 7, 2007

Jerry Falwell
Televangelist and Moral Majority founder
Aug. 11, 1933 - May 15, 2007

Merv Griffin
TV host and Hollywood mogul
July 6, 1925 - Aug. 12, 2007

Marcel Marceau
Mime artist
March 22, 1923 - Sept. 22, 2007

Art Buchwald
Oct. 20, 1925 - Jan 17, 2007

Leona Helmsley
Hotel magnate
July 4, 1920 - Aug. 20, 2007

Brad Delp
Boston lead singer
June 12, 1951 - March 9, 2007

Robert Goulet
Singer and actor
Nov. 26, 1933 - Oct. 30, 2007

Henry Hyde
U.S. representative (Illinois)
April 18, 1924 - Nov. 29, 2007

Yvonne De Carlo
Sept. 1, 1922 - Jan. 8, 2007

David Halberstam
April 10, 1934 - April 23, 2007

Liz Claiborne
Fashion designer
March 31, 1929 - June 26, 2007

Don Ho
Musician and entertainer
Aug. 13, 1930 - April 14, 2007

Phil Rizzuto
Baseball great
Sept. 25, 1917 - Aug. 13, 2007

Bob Evans
Restauranteur and businessman
May 30, 1918 - June 21, 2007

Tammy Faye Messner
Televangelist and TV personality
March 7, 1942 - July 20, 2007

Tom Snyder
TV host
May 12, 1936 - July 29, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut
Nov. 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007

Arthur Schlesinger
Oct. 15, 1917 - Feb. 28, 2007

Jane Wyman
Actress and first wife of Ronald Reagan
Jan. 5, 1917 - Sept. 10, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti
Operatic tenor
Oct. 12, 1935 - Sept. 6, 2007

Richard Jeni
Stand-up comedian and actor
April 14, 1957 - March 10, 2007

Tommy Newsom
Musician and backup bandleader on 'The Tonight Show'
Feb. 25, 1929 - April 28, 2007

Thomas Eagleton
Sept. 4, 1929 - March 4, 2007

Chris Benoit
Professional wrestler
May 21, 1967 - June 2007

Donald Young
Trinity UCC Choir Director
Elementary School Teacher
April 5, 1960 - Dec. 23, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

2007 is almost over! Needless to say this was a life changing year for Monica and me.
Things will never be the same. A year full of loss and learning and so much more.
A year I'd never want to repeat but never want to forget.

Thank you all again for the care and support. Thanks for the calls checking on us, the shared stories, shared tears and most of all for the laughter.

Now for Aretha and Billy's Auld Lang Syne. We going to church up in here. Sway with me yall!

Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007

I was saddened to hear that Benazir Bhutto, the only woman to ever run a Muslim nation, was gunned down, murdered, assassinated on Thursday. I am sad because since her return to Pakistan in October of this year, and her decision to run for Prime Minister again, I have learned of her history and seen many interviews and actually came to like this woman because of her obvious courage and the hope and stability that I hoped she could bring to that nation. A nation that by it's own culture is cut up into many sects, and has been politically cut up into many factions including military rule. A nation armed with nuclear weapons. This is a terrorist organization's dreamland. Al-Qaida thrives in Pakistan now. Chaos is their friend.

Benazir Bhutto was educated at Radcliffe and Harvard and spent much time in the U.S.
She said she wanted her nation to experience the freedom we take for granted. Freedom to criticize the president, to even take him down by impeachment. She wanted freedom for Pakistan. She said she wanted to bring political moderation, end the terrorist stronghold, and help the desperately poor in her nation.
So now on the morning of her funeral, grief stricken, angry Pakistani people are in the streets. Their liberal Pakistan Peoples Party candidate who wanted democracy is gone. We will never know if Benazir Bhutto would have been successful at the polls or in fulfilling her dream of bringing moderation and stability to her homeland.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Jackie and Monica

Shopping in Chicago

The holiday season weather is always an adventure and you never know what to expect here. Saturday it was a balmy 50 degrees. All the snow and ice was melting making it a bit sloppy but sloshing around is OK as long as it's warm. But it was also very dreary, no sun all day.
Needless to say, Monica and I will have a hard Christmastime this year without our moms. Today is Monica's birthday. Happy Birthday Sweetie! Her mom always called her at 7:20 am (the time of her birth) with an overly dramatic happy birthday song. So many little hurdles to get through, but in time they will hopefully become fond remembrances.
While decorating the house, I pulled out the beautiful, intricate, lacy snowflakes hand crocheted by Jojo.
These are now of course little treasures and hopefully won't continue to cause a major meltdown in years to come.

Back to Chitown shopping conditions being weird, Sunday, it was 18 degrees and snowing and blowing something fierce. Of course some folks were still dressed for balmy and looking all shocked. Meteorologist love Chicago because unlike LA we have actual weather and folks really depend on them.

Wherever you are, I hope you're all toasty and comfy waiting for Santa tonight and I hope you all get your holiday wishes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We Three Queens

We all know about the Three Kings who followed a star that led them to the Christ child. Here are the men.

Well, here is some old Christmas humor but, it's new to me and very funny.

Wise Women
You know what would have happened if it had been three Wise WOMEN instead of Three Wise Men, don't you?

They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.

Shepards pie pehaps?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Please Come Home For Christmas

The Eagles released this record in 1978. It's my favorite non-traditional Christmas song. It's full of soul and warmth and blues and hope. I love the Eagles.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

With a Lot of Help From My Friends

When you are faced with circumstances in which you have no control and you can't even begin to explain your feelings, it helps when someone who has been there wraps their arms around you. It helps to know friends have you in their thoughts and prayers and check in on you. I am very lucky to have good friends. Believe me, it means so much.
My friend Alex lost her mom Mimi, unexpectantly. She had no time to prepare. Although I had that time, I was still not prepared. There probably is no such thing as being prepared. But Alex, having had more time to deal with the loss of her mom, has written a lovely post to help me understand what I'm feeling and give me hope. As she does so often Alex reminds us of our humanity and how much alike we all are. It's a lovely tribute to both our mom's, has some fun memories and a great perfomance of Jojo's favorite song.
Thanks Alex.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Monday night Dec 3rd
I'm sitting here alone with my mama in this hospice suite. She is at the end of her life, her breathing is very shallow now. Today everyone in our immediate family was in this room all day. Now they have gone home to get food and clean clothes. I'm in my jammys and wearing mom's robe. She is so peaceful now.

I feel weirdly numb. I'm exhausted that's for sure but I never dreamed I could do this so calmy, so acceptingly...this is Jojo after all. My nephew Nolen, had questions and truly believed there must be something else we could do for his granny. He wanted no stone left unturned. So, he went over to the next building to see mom's doctor who has such a wonderful report with mom and our family. In the oncology office while waiting to discuss his 76 year old grandmother, Nolen talked with a young college student waiting to find out if he had cancer. After talking to the doctor about Jojo, he expressed concern for this young man fearfully waiting in the next room.
When Nolen returned to mom's room he seemed now satisfied that all possible had been done for Jojo.

It's funny how a simple statement from a doctor can change the world. When mom was first diagnosed, the oncologist said simply, without compassion, "you have about six months" period. No treatment options or anything. Oh, he did take time to remind her that well, you knew smoking was bad. Our family doc recommended Dr. Mark Kozloff. After examining mom, Dr. Kozloff said simply with a hand on her shoulder, "we're going to help you". This man never promised a cure but promised to give her time, maybe five years or more. More time to be with her family, do her crossword puzzles, watch her precious classic movies and Andy Griffith and Beaver and Lucy and something new she loved, reading blogs. Time enough to get to know her great-grandson Nolen jr. and to pick names for the new baby due in April.

After office hours, Dr. K came over to the hospice to talk with our family. He and Jojo were quite a pair. They loved to tease each other. He was very fond of her and he was her hero. He not only talked to us about what was happening but about what my mom and our family has meant to him. He showed us his new grandchild and shared with us his family battles with cancer. We could see how hard it was to talk about and that he knew first hand what we were going through. He loved the fact that mom had named the new baby. Before he left, Dr. Kozloff thanked Nolen for his concern and assured him the young man in his office would be just fine.

While waiting for the family to come back that night, I put on Wynona Judd's, I Want to Know What Love Is. Jojo loved that song. We all slept in snatches watching mom's breaths get farther apart until the next morning with us holding her hands they peacefully stopped. Sounds cliche, but it was a beautiful passing. We were with her for a while before calling the nurse. Bill came in and lead us in prayer. Other family members came and we had prayer again, had coffee and made calls-all with mom right there. Writing this, I can't believe that happened.

Marcellus is 9. He has had to grow up and step up a bit during his great-granny's illness. Having raised him from a toddler, she was his parent and his champion. He is the one she dreaded leaving the most. I walked into the room and found Marcellus talking intently to his granny stroking her hands. I gave him his privacy. We weren't sure about how to handle his being so close to a death. It was sad but it was so peaceful and seemed so natural, not scary at all. Can't explain it. He asked questions, cried and said his goodbyes. We all did and then as always for family gatherings, we went to Jojo's house.