Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It Could Happen To You

"It's not a gay thing. 

It's not a straight thing. 

It's a human thing."  -Chelsea

For some, no proof is required. For others, no proof is sufficient.
If your heart and mind are open to another person's reality...

"It Could Happen To You"

BRIDEGROOM (currently showing on OWN -The Oprah Winfrey Network)

Silly Questions

I ran into an "old" friend (actually, a friend of long-standing) and colleague on my way to Tokyo yesterday. You know, the kind of friend who sees you and whose face ILLUMINATES in such a REAL way and who makes a b-line straight for you. After a quick kiss-on-the-cheek and "great to see you" (it always is), you part and continue the day, already in progress.

What just happened? Is it meaningless? Frivolous? Done? How can anything so brief have lasting value?

When I arrived in Tokyo, I plugged in my phone and noticed I had received a text: "You are always the sweetest man. It is always a better day when I run into you..." 

Thank you, my "old" friend, for answering my silly questions!

My life is happier because you are in it.

(NOTE:  I recently read a passage that keeps haunting me, "his smile didn't quite make it to his eyes..."  I'm sorry to say that I know exactly what the author means.  In my opinion, the eyes will always reveal truth:  happiness, sadness, or, worst of all, indifference.

My friend's eyes revealed love, pure and simple.  I hope mine repaid the kindness!)

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Way B A C K W A R D

Social media have no conscience...

They are tools and, as such, depend upon the user for responsible, moral and ethical use. As with any other tool, they allow the user to do things that s/he could not possibly accomplish without them. Therein lies the problem.

Because we enjoy freedom of expression in our society, a user of social media may say, write or hypothesize anything. It is then incumbent upon the recipient of the message to determine its relative value. The starting or perpetuating of potentially harmful, baseless fear-mongering is tantamount to shouting


in a crowded theater, in my opinion.  The author of such should be held just as accountable in the one instance as the shouter in the other.

When used irresponsibly, social media are just as potentially dangerous as another tool...a loaded gun.

Think I'm exaggerating? Ask the grieving parent of any child whose life is lost because of online bullying.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Special Ones

The truly special among us are not the ones that raise their voices, make waves, attempt to make their presence known in every conceivable way.

No, the SPECIAL ones are those whose presence is like a feather on the unbroken surface of a serene pool; making no effort to have its beauty recognized.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Full Military Honours

This past Friday, Mom and I attended the memorial service for my friend and co-worker Ed Jarose.  While I have known OF Ed for years, I only met him this past spring while he was hospitalized here in The Woodlands for treatment of the illness that ultimately took his life.  Ed suffered from myositis, a condition which affects the muscular system, similar to ALS.  It incapacitated him, immobilized him and slowly, inexorably shut down his body's autonomic systems.  All the while, Ed was alert, aware, engaged.  He continued to be Ed.

Although I hadn't met Ed before last spring, his life-partner Gerry Aubert and I have been friends for years.  Since we are near one another in seniority at our airline-employer, we've often flown trips together.  It was through speaking with Gerry that I learned Ed was "marooned" in the medical system, being bounced from hospital to rehab and back again, due to his condition.  Since my job affords me significant free time, I thought I would visit Ed to help him pass the time away from home.  That decision was a seminal event in my life.  (I have written here previously of my visits with Ed.)

Perhaps I visited with Ed a half-dozen times for a grand total of 2-3 hours.  I really can't say.  But the man I came to know was so warm and engaging, so welcoming and happy, so full of life, that it almost seems we were lifelong friends.  His circumstances when we met were so grave, yet he never lost his "spark" for life.  So, when I learned of his passing, I knew that I wanted to be present to help honour and celebrate his life, a life well-lived and tenaciously cherished.

Mom and I returned from closing the cottage in Maine just in time to attend the service on October 11th.  In a warm space full of friends and family, beautiful flowers surrounded Ed's portrait and the triangularly-folded American flag.  "Doesn't such a flag denote military service?", I thought at the outset.

Conversations quieted as Gerry entered the room with a priest to begin the service.  Comforting readings from the gospel, an inspired and TRULY INSPIRING voice raised in song, testimonials of those whose entire lives had been touched by the magic of Ed Jarose:  these events led to, what was for me, an unexpected catharsis in the proceedings.  The room was hushed, all was still, in a moment of contemplation and reflection.

Then, from the rear, an immaculately uniformed Army sergeant solemnly, silently proceeded up the aisle toward Ed's portrait and our flag.  He stopped there, turned full-face to Ed's portrait, came to attention, and saluted our fallen friend.  From the rear of the chapel, a comrade-at-arms blew the sweetest, most perfect rendition of "Taps" that I've ever heard.  Within the confines of a room that might hold 200 people, it was a powerful, evocative few moments.  Once "Taps" was complete, the bugler, also a sergeant, proceeded up the aisle to meet his colleague and to "present the colors".  Methodical, precise, solemn, moving...the ceremony of it all was to honour the memory of our Ed, a fallen comrade.  I was nearly breathless as they folded, checked, and double-checked the perfection of the triangle formed by our nation's banner in preparation for its presentation to the family.  The sergeant turned, solemnly positioned himself to face Gerry in the front row and knelt:  "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

"Full Military Honours":  I have known of this ceremony honouring veterans for most of my life.  I have witnessed it a few times personally.  But NEVER have I felt the poignancy, the immediacy, the meaning more acutely than on this day.  In presenting the flag to Gerry, my nation, my people recognize the legitimacy of the commitment between Gerry and Ed.  An institution which has traditionally held my life and so many others like it in contempt, bent a knee and paid tribute to the loss of a comrade, a noble soul, a MAN, just like any other!

And I have NEVER been more proud to be an American than in that moment.

Ed's earthly path ended on October 3rd.  I have excerpted his obituary here:

"Edward Jarose Jr, was the only son of Edward Jarose Sr. and Elizabeth (Betty) born on December 16, 1951 in St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic, N.J. Ed lived in Passaic Park, N.J. for most of his life. His formative years were good; as he grew up in a large family with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, along with a great many friends. When he was quite young, he showed an aptitude for dance, and his Mother enrolled him in dancing school. He soon found another family there with the whole dance community at Niki Simon's School of Dance in Passaic Park and eventually went on to teach dancing there. Ed was a very creative person, who loved to bring beauty and fun into anything and everything he did. He graduated from Passaic High School in June, 1972, and was drafted into the Army. After serving 2 years he returned home where he enrolled in Capri Institute of Beauty and became a hairdresser. He started working and eventually became the salon manager at J.C Penny's salon at the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, N.J. He then formed a partnership with his Aunt Maria Cappiello in November, 1985 and opened up Salon 88 a full service beauty salon in Elmwood Park, N.J. In 1986, they opened a second full service Salon in Garfield N.J. –which they continued to work in for the next 4 years, before he moved on to become a Trainer for Revlon- covering the entire East Coast, including the Carribean. Eventually through his travel & adventure, he met the love of his life, Gerard (Gerry) Aubert, who encouraged him to become a flight attendant. He entered training at Continental Airlines, and began working as a flight attendant on Aug. 9, 1990 working there until 2003. Ed loved to decorate, entertain and cook. He was his happiest surrounded by his pets, friends and family. Although these last few years have been difficult for him due to his frail health, he still enjoyed having his pets surround him, and having friends and family visit him. He was especially close to his cousin, Cassie Cappiello. He treated her like the daughter he never had, taking her on trips to Florida, Hawaii & Las Vegas, and was thrilled when she came to Houston to stay with him when she entered college. He will be dearly missed by all of his flight attendant friends who became his second family. The Cappiello family will miss him very much, as they grew up together, and very close every since he was a child. And last but not least his partner Gerry for the last 25 years, will miss him dearly. He took excellent care of Ed throughout his illness – arranging for him to have the best care possible. If it wasn't for Gerry's outstanding dedication and care, Ed would have left us a lot sooner. There are no words to describe the care and love Gerry gave to Ed. I know God will reserve a special place in Heaven for him. We are all sad to have him leave us, but know God had a better plan for him and he is now in a better place – reunited with his mother, grandparents and assorted pets that preceded him."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Conflicting Messages

It doesn't just happen at work...

I've been doing high-intensity aerobic workouts 3-4 times a week since I was 18 (I'm 53 now). I learned early that "vocalizing" while training increases your intensity and calorie burn. So, me being me, I can really "carry on". 

Two weeks ago in "athletic conditioning" I cut loose as normal. After class, a fellow participant chided me saying that I was "distracting". I apologized and forgot about it.

Today after "step", another class participant went out of her way to say how she enjoyed my enthusiasm, how it made the class more fun for her. The instructor was behind her and joined saying it made leading the class easier, too.

So, who was right?

My point is that we can "buy into" all the negative we may hear at work, at the gym, wherever.  We can let it ruin what we enjoy and what we KNOW that we are good at. But for every negative voice we hear, how many supportive ones go unheard?

"Dance like there's nobody looking" and face the day with joy and confidence.

In addition to being the "face of UNITED", I'm also one HELL of a stepper!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Standing on the Precipice

I am standing on the precipice and looking over;

Beckoned by all that lies ahead,

Tethered by all that came before.

Shall I take the next step in faith

and test the mortal boundary?

Or stand in place, in comfort, in fear.

What force inspires the passion to LIVE?

What light inspires the passion to SHINE?

I am standing on the precipice and looking over;

Beckoned by all that lies ahead,

Releasing all that came before.

I take the next step in faith

and wonder.

Will it be my last 

Or is it to be my first?