Posts Tagged ‘All Good Things Must Come to an End’

Make A Wish

In Family, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on August 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm

During our recent trip to New York, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday.  Actually, we celebrated her birthday three times (on the actual day, with my family and finally, with my wife’s family).  Suffice it to say that we got our fill of birthday cake.  At each celebration, my daughter would happily blow out the candles and “make a wish”.  At her age though, I’m not so sure that secret wishes are really made, considering the fact that she was constantly verbalizing the things that she wanted.  In fact, the timing of our New York visit was determined by her repeated wish to go to the beach on her birthday.

By the time that the final candle was blown out on the third birthday cake, we were all a little bit heavier from our indulgence, and my daughter’s Pavlovian mindset had her associating presents with dessert.   And though she was very happy with the gifts that she received from everyone, there were still some gifts that she couldn’t get until we got home because of the limited space available in the luggage that we were bringing on the plane.   But she didn’t seem to mind at all.  She got to do everything that she wanted to do on her birthday, and ended up with many of the things that were on her birthday list.

Saying “goodbye” to everyone at the end of our trip was difficult (as we knew that it would be).  Even though we were all exhausted by the time that our visit came to an end, I think that if my daughter had one last birthday wish, it would have been to stay in New York even longer so that she could spend more time with family.  But as the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.”

As much as I would have liked to have stayed in New York to spend more time with family and friends, I have another reason that I wish that we could have stayed a little bit longer.

My friend, Trish, who lost her daughter (Olivia) in December to a very rare metabolic storage disorder called I-Cell was bringing her son, Mikey, up to Long Island just days after we left New York.  I got to meet Mikey earlier in the year at the first-ever “Bowling For Cookies” event in Florida (where we raised money for the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation).  However, my wife and kids – who have fallen in love with Mikey through pictures and videos – have not gotten the chance to meet him, and this would have been a perfect opportunity.

Our visit to New York can best be described as “bittersweet.” We knew that, when it ended, we wouldn’t be seeing everyone again for a long time (probably until next summer).  Trish’s visit with Mikey, on the other hand, goes way beyond bittersweet.  They are staying in a beautiful beach house on Long Island, but they are doing so courtesy of Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Mikey, like his sister, Olivia, was also born with I-Cell, and the life expectancy for children with this disease is relatively short.  Olivia passed away just days before her fifth birthday and the Make-A-Wish Foundation trip that was planned for her.  Mikey celebrated his fourth birthday at the “Bowling For Cookies” event in April, and will be celebrating another birthday of sorts (4 years post bone marrow transplant) at the upcoming “Bowling For Cookies” event taking place on Saturday, August 14th at Sheridan Bowl in Mineola, NY.

Sometimes, a little perspective is all you need to make you realize just how lucky you are.  As bittersweet as our visit to New York was, it was nothing in comparison to what Trish is going through.  Staying in a beautiful, relaxing beach house on Long Island with Mikey is a memory that will stay with Trish for the rest of her life, but I am sure that she would gladly trade it all in for the restless nights that I spent on pull-out couches and air mattresses, and the sore back that I ended up with due in large part to the endless hours spent in the car (nearly 2000 miles travelled over the course of three weeks).

I’m very happy that my little girl got to “make a wish” as she blew out the candles on each birthday cake.  I’m glad that we were able to celebrate her birthday with the family that has not gotten to see her growth first-hand over the past year.  I don’t know if she actually made a wish or not, but it doesn’t really matter either way.  She had a great birthday, and enjoyed every minute of every celebration in her honor.

I wish that we could have stayed in New York to visit with Trish and Mikey, and attend the upcoming “Bowling For Cookies” event on Long Island.  But more than anything, I wish that Trish’s New York visit could be only as bittersweet as our visit was.

The Memories Remain

In Family, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

The sun rose this morning at 7:03am.  Normally, the exact time of the sunrise on any given day is pretty insignificant.  But today was different.  At sunrise today, Texas Stadium (the former home of the Dallas Cowboys) was imploded.  And though I have never attended a game there, I have been a Cowboys fan since I was a kid, and the stadium has always held special meaning to me.

In 1995, I attended a tradeshow in Dallas.  It was the only time that I had been in the area before moving here last summer.  Words can’t describe the feeling that I had as I saw Texas Stadium as my plane approached the airport just a few miles away.  Something that had always seemed larger than life to me finally seemed real.

When I was done working, I took a taxi to Texas Stadium to take a tour.  It was probably the best $5 that I have ever spent.  The Cowboys were dominant at the time, in the midst of their Super Bowl runs.  Even though I was in the stadium during the off-season, it still was an incredible feeling.  I can still remember running patterns on the field, and being surprised to see the pitch on the 50-yard line to allow water to drain.  On television, it always seemed perfectly flat.  With a magic marker, I signed my name on one of the goal posts (although I’m not sure that we were actually allowed to do so).  And then came the highlight of the tour…the Cowboys locker room.  It was before we all carried cell phones everywhere, so I called my girlfriend (now my wife) from the pay phone in the locker room.  When she wasn’t there to answer, I called my mother and told her where I was.  It was surreal, and one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had.

As I laid in bed with my son watching the implosion of Texas Stadium live on TV, the memories of that day came rushing back.  Even though I didn’t have many memories of the stadium, it was still sad to watch it disappear before my eyes.  Thankfully, we’ve driven past it several times since arriving in Texas, so at least my son got to see it (albeit from the car on the highway).  Watching the replay of it with my wife brought back an entirely different kind of memory.

The news kept showing the implosion from different vantage points.  From every angle,  the only thing that remained were some beams and a cloud of dust…reminiscent of what we saw from our Jersey City condo on the water on 9/11.  On that day, we watched the towers crumble before our eyes, and the dust cloud hovered for months afterwards.  Up until today, the only times that I have relived that moment is on each anniversary of 9/11…when it all comes rushing back.  Of course, the sadness of my 9/11 memories is profound, while the sadness of seeing a stadium imploded is purely nostalgic.

While seeing Texas Stadium crumble to the ground was not easy, it was nothing compared to the feeling that I had when I found out that Shea Stadium was being torn down to make room for Citi Field.  Out of all of the venues in sports, Shea Stadium is the one that means the most to me.  It is the place that I would go to ballgames with my family.  It is the only place that I ever saw a ballgame with my dad before he passed away.  It is where my son and I went to our first ballgame together.  It is the place where I saw my first concert ever (The Who’s “First” Farewell Tour in 1982).  It is a place that always has been, and always will be, a part of me.

When Billy Joel announced that he was going to be playing the final concert ever at Shea Stadium, I knew that I had to be there.  Amazingly, I had gone all of those years without seeing him live for one reason or another.  But going to see him for the first time was only part of it.  Being there for the last concert ever was the main reason.  I probably would have gone even if was an artist that wasn’t one of my favorites.  And though it might seem a bit ridiculous, I only wanted to go on the final night.

It turned out to be one of the best concerts that I have ever seen, with some amazing guest performances.  The highlights for me being Paul McCartney (who was incredible), and Roger Daltrey (because my first concert ever was The Who at Shea).  As my wife and I watched the show, I know that she was totally wrapped up in the music.  I loved the music, but also found myself getting lost in the nostalgia of it all several times throughout the performance.  I distinctly remember looking up at the sky and thinking about my dad…hoping that he was there with me one last time at Shea.

My son and I went to a game at Citi Field when it opened.  Part of me didn’t want to like the stadium because it replaced Shea Stadium.  But it didn’t take long to let those feelings go.  As much as I loved Shea Stadium, it didn’t compare to the Citi Field experience.  And though I never attended a game at Texas Stadium, I did take my son to the first game ever at the new Cowboys Stadium (pre-season vs. the Titans).  The experience was like no other stadium experience that I’ve ever had, so I have to imagine that it made the Texas Stadium experience pale by comparison.

The nostalgia in me makes the tearing down of old stadiums and arenas a bit forlorn.  In all likelihood, the Nassau Coliseum will be torn down at some point in the not-too-distant future.  Like Shea Stadium, the Coliseum also holds a lot of great memories for me…hockey games with my son and more concerts than I can even recall.  In fact, whenever I attend Islander games with my son, I habitually park in the same area that I did when I went to concerts in high school, and we would all tailgate before the show.

As the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.” Having been to newer stadiums and arenas, I understand that older stadiums and arenas eventually become obsolete.  While the buildings may no longer exist, the history that was made in each place will always exist, and for those that were a part of it, the memories will always remain.

A Disappointing Ending

In Family, Pursuit of Happiness on April 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm

One of the things that I looked forward to most about moving to Texas was the chance to attend minor league hockey games.  In fact, we attended the first pre-season game as a family shortly after we arrived over the summer.  Right away, I knew that it would be something that we would enjoy as a family. There is something about being right on top of the action that makes attending minor league sporting events very exciting.  It also doesn’t hurt that everything is reasonably priced, whereas taking a family to a major league sporting event has become very costly (and time-consuming).

Last night, we went to the final game of the season as the Brahmas were knocked out of the playoffs.  For a good part of the game, it seemed as if the home team would prevail and send the series to a seventh game on the road.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  So as the visiting team scored a goal in overtime, I was left feeling very disappointed.  Not the kind of disappointment that I expected though.

As an avid sports fan, I have gotten used to “the agony of defeat.” But this disappointment was not as much about seeing my favorite team eliminated as it was about not being able to attend the games again until next season.  Although most times it was only my son and I attending the games, there were a handful of games where we went as a family.  Surprisingly, my 3-yr old daughter really enjoys going with us (even though she inevitably ends up sleeping on my wife’s lap about half way through the game).  Attending these games made for some fun family nights out, which is the main reason why I wish that the season would have continued for a bit longer.  As the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.”

We’ve already started talking about going to minor league baseball games when the season starts in May.  While I am looking forward to it, I know that it just won’t be the same.  There is a lot of downtime in a baseball game, which makes it hard to keep the kids engaged, whereas sitting two rows off of the ice at the minor league hockey games made it virtually impossible to disengage from the action.  At least the hockey season ended with a “bang” (both literally and figuratively).

During a playoff game last week, one of the Brahmas checked a visiting player into the boards right in front of us, instantaneously shattering the plexiglass, with small bits reaching us in the second row.  I’m thankful that we weren’t sitting in the front row because my daughter was sleeping on my wife’s lap at the time of the “crash,” and she could have gotten cut up pretty badly.  In retrospect (knowing that we’re all fine) it was kind of cool to experience the shattering at close range.

Last night’s game didn’t have the same kind of drama, but it did end with a “bang” for my son, who got to ride on the Zamboni between the second and third periods.  Little did we know that he would have the final ride of the Brahmas’ season.

While I am disappointed that the season is over, I will savor the good times that we all had as a family throughout the course of the year.  The minor league baseball season will probably not be as exciting for us, but the most important thing is that we’ll be there together as a family.  Fortunately for us, the minor league experience is very affordable, so we will get to do it more than the budget-busting major league experience.

I don’t think that I truly realized until the overtime goal that ended the Brahmas season was scored that going to these events is much more about family bonding than it is about the actual game.  When it comes down to it, seeing your team win is really just the icing on the cake.

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