Robin Williams: Coward

Comedy legend was found dead in his home Monday morning. Cause of death is reported to be a suspected suicide

I was going to start this by writing “Robin Williams Died Yesterday”, but that’s not headline grabbing. Nor is it really the truth. He didn’t die.

Robin Williams didn’t have a heart attack. He didn’t have stomach cancer. He wasn’t in a plane crash. A car accident. His tour bus didn’t roll off a cliff in Switzerland. He took his own life. The coward’s way out.

When I first saw that he was dead, I cried. I mean, I’m 50. I grew up with the guy. Form Mork And Mindy (What ever happened to Pam Dawber?- and no, I didn’t have to Google her name) to Good Morning Viet Nam and and on. I saw every movie he did. Every Comedic Special. The guy was brilliant. But as much as people will recall his comedic genius, it was the dramatic roles that I really loved. Dead Poets Society was brilliant as was Good Will Hunting, but I loved the dark drama. The Night Listener, Insomnia, One Hour Photo. Brilliant, but in the end a waste.

I’m sorry if I’m not sensitive. I understand, The man had demons. But who doesn’t have demons? Who isn’t feeling like their up- against the wall, or the weight of the world is bearing down on them. I guarantee you the guy that is losing his home, his job, his family; the guy, or girl, who feels so completely alone and helpless; who can’t see anything but the tunnel and no light at the end; the person who’s been abandoned is facing some much harsher demons than an award winning, millionaire “genius”, loved by the world, praised for his work will ever face.

I won’t say “he took the easy way out.” As someone who at one time wished to die, it’s not easy to kill yourself. You don’t just do it with as much thought as you put into starting your car. But still, the guy had more options than 99% of us do.

Coward

 

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Incarcerated!

Arrested
 Without going into details of everything that happened, and it happened quickly, I can say that what actually transpired in court last Friday during the modification of my child support hearing, is still a mystery to me. In short, although I was forthcoming on everything, provided proof of everything, and told every detail of my story, I was charged with Direct Contempt of Court for basically not checking my bank account for a month. It has become apparent that this judge hates me. In 2 court dates, I’ve been accused of being violent, aggressive, a liar, a schemer, manipulative and, oddly, very intelligent. 

I did nothing illegal or immoral, but yet, to my horror, the judge proclaimed “Bailiff, I’m going to need a deputy in here, now!” and delivered a sentence of 5 days in Peoria County Jail, leaving me shocked and mortified! 

I was cuffed and taken into a holding room off to the side of the courtroom and as the door closed, I looked at the deputy, whom I knew very casually, and told him that I had never been arrested before and had no idea of what I was in for. 

Nervously, I offered no resistance as he went through my pockets and and he reassured me that it was not going to be that bad, but he agreed that what was happening was definitely mysterious and uncalled for. I asked him at what point I could make a phone call as I surrendered to the inevitable, and he replied that as soon as I got to “county”, I could have access to a phone. It dawned on me that I don’t know any actual phone numbers anymore, so he allowed me to use my cell phone to call a friend and arrange for him to come and get my keys and take my car home. 

I waited about 30 minutes,  during which I prayed to God that the time would go easy, was led to a police van, full of prisoners who had obviously been through this many times, and off we went. Men on one side, women on the other, separated by a steel divider,  I kept quiet while the rest of the people yelled back and forth to the women on the other side. We arrived a few minutes later and I was kept behind while the prisoners were led into the building. I focused on being humble and calm. 

10 minutes passed and I was led inside, asked to remove my shoes and socks, walked through a metal detector, then given a lunch tray, my first encounter with jail food, and taken to a holding cell where 3 others were already waiting. Purple Bologna on semi-hard bread, some yellow looking juice, and some fruit, and a few other things I didn’t want anything to do with, I opted to pass on lunch.Within minutes, 2 were led out and the one who remained, I learned his name was Phil, and I started talking. We had a lot in common, both small business owners – Phil owns a towing company with a fleet of trucks – and we got along well. I told him this was my first arrest and he assured me it wasn’t that bad and that I, like him, in for a DUI and a 3rd time visitor to the jail, would be in a pods with others that were just doing a very short stay. Several hours later, I was brought a dinner tray. Purple ham steak, hard bread,  cold, sticky macaroni & cheese and peas that tasted like paste. Purple seemed to be the prevailing color for all the lunch meat I had in there. 

Booked
 After about 2 hours, I was taken to booking, had my prints and mug shot taken – why do they always make you look like you’re a serial killer in those? – and was interviewed. The booking officer was shocked that he couldn’t find me in the system,  until I told him I had never been in police handcuffs before. So far, everyone I spoke to, I did so like I would anyone, respectfully, and I was shown the same in return, something that carried over my entire stay with all the personnel at the jail whom I encountered. Then I was led back to the holding cell where I sat until almost 9:30 that evening. During my time, I prayed that God, who I acknowledged had put me here for a reason, would show me how he wanted me to respond to this event in my life. I would find out his purpose on Sunday. 

A young guard finally came to take me to the back. We went to a locker room area where I was given a striped jump suit, which I quickly changed into, then to a supply room to choose a blanket, sleeping pad, a sheet, and towel. We made small talk about this being my first incarceration, and he told me that it would be pretty easy time and handed me an extra amount of soap bars, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Something that came in handy while in the pod. Then he led me to where I would be staying. 

SP-6
 SP-6 is a smaller pod with and open area with 3 stainless steel tables, 3 cells on the lower “tier” and a shower and toilet to the right. Stairs went up the middle to an upper tier with 4 more cells. The guard told me to find a spot on the floor to put my things, and quickly he was gone, leaving me in a room full of about 20 prisoners. I found a spot by a wall and dropped my gear and looked around then heard someone calling “Hey you!” Looking up at a man sitting at the top of the stairs who was calling for me to come up, so I climbed the stairs and said hello. He asked me how long I was going to be there, and I told him 5 days and his shoulders slumped. Sitting next to him was a kid they call Tattoo due to the large number of tattoos he has from the neck down. Scott told me that this was his “Celly” who was leaving Monday and he was looking for a new Celly, but since I was only there a few days, I wasn’t gonna work out for him. Scott and I became pretty good friends while I was there. He was someone that had respect amongst the other men. He looked very familiar and I mentioned that he said the same was true for me, then advised me to move my things under the stairs, saying that was the best spot. We talked for a few minutes and then I went down to make up my spot and sat down looking around. Few people really paid attention to me, but I realized that I recognized a lot of them as people that came into the Circle K, where I used to work. 

A few minutes later, an older guy, named Rob, asked me if I played Spades, which I do, very well, and I was invited into a game with him and 2 others, Sheff, a former Peoria Pirates Arena League Football player and a guy named George. As I answered the inevitable question “Why are you here”, I offered my hand and introduced myself. It was obvious, this was rare to these guys. We played a few games and got along great, then the call was made for lockdown, meaning the TV was off and the guys who had cells had to be locked in. There were about 6 of us who were “On the floor”, and we sat close and talked for a while. So far, everyone I met was actually pretty cool. And none were there for criminal acts, but for violations, drinking or drugs. Eventually, I laid down on the hard floor and under way too much light, I prayed a bit and then I fell asleep. 

Saturday
 Saturday started off with a  6:30 wake up and a line of towels appeared at the shower, so I added mine and sat down and started talking to some other people, while the mop bucket and cleaning supplies that had mysteriously appeared in the door was used by people to clean out their cells. Again, everyone was pretty friendly. So far, this was not so bad, and nothing like I imagined. After a shower, breakfast arrived. Snotty oat meal, purple juice, rancid looking blueberries, I barely ate but saw how the trade game worked as people bartered for items on each other’s trays. This was my last meal that I didn’t eat. To be honest, the rest of the time, the food was pretty decent. Coffee, beef stew, ham and beans, goulash, etc…. Not so bad. Other men I hadn’t seen the night before appeared out of their cells and a few of us got to know each other. 

The day was basically spent playing cards watching TV and the arrival of my biggest annoyance began to set in; the echo. Being in the pod is like being in an empty, indoor swimming pool. That echo never goes away and by the end of my stay, I was pretty tormented by it and how the battle between the volume of people talking and the volume of the TV, which distorted horribly, the louder it got, went on endlessly.

By the end of the day, I was pretty well settled in and had gotten great news. My 5 days was going to be more like 4 days. Friday was considered a day served and instead of leaving Wednesday, I would be out Tuesday at 5AM 

Sunday
 I didn’t sleep well as the floor is really uncomfortable and cold and guards come in and out during the night for counts and other various reasons, so Sunday morning, I was up early and got on the list for Church. Afterwards, I could see that I had some really good friendships starting and had fallen into a sort’ve clique. Scott, for one, Mike, a hippy from Chillicothe – a bunch of guys were from Chillicothe, – ‘Drew, nice enough guy from the ‘hood who had been in and out a few times, Nick, a smart kid who was there for a DUI and who we later threatened to hunt down if he ever had to come back, another guy whose name I never learned that cheated at cards, some really odd dude that reminded people of a young Jim Carey and amongst a few others, a kid named Jeremy. 

Jeremy was in for the first time and was depressed that he might not get out in time to see his first kid born. He was really upset about being there, and worried about his girlfriend. We really connected and talked a lot, as he kept to himself, for the most part. This was it. I knew right away, God was at work here. By the end of the day, Jeremy confided in me that he was disappointed in himself and was committed to putting gang banging, drugs, negative influences and bad habits behind him and focusing on being a good father to his daughter and a good man to his girl. I told him I’d get a message to his family when I got out, reassuring them that he was OK, promised I’d be there to pick him up when he got out, and be there for him if he needed any help on the outside. We talked about God, my faith, and as the conversation ended, he asked me to pray for him. I told him I’d been praying for him since the day I got there. 

I walked away, thanking God for giving me this opportunity to be a part of Jeremy’s new found love and dependence on God and accepting Jesus. Later that night, he showed me a rap he wrote about putting his past behind him and allowing God to lead his life. God is so great. 

That night, I had more fun than I had in a long time. The pod was like a big party. Groups of people talking and laughing, card playing with a lot of joking around, and other than the echo that was becoming more and more of an issue with me, it was pretty fun night. One of the things that people do is pace. Walking back and forth from end to end, alone or in groups, talking. It’s weird, but a real part of passing time in jail. Eventually, lockdown time came, and those of us on the floor sat up awhile talking, joking around, passing time. 

Tattoo
 Tattoo was probably the most jail seasoned kid there. He wasn’t very big, but he was the guy that ran the trades between our pod and the one next door, getting food, tobacco, which was rolled in toilet paper, devised a way to light it with pencil lead and an electrical outlet – Jail innovation is pretty cool – and had a lot of respect from the other inmates. I never talked to him much, until Sunday night, when we ended up as partners in a game of Spades. I asked him how old he was, 23, how long he had been there, 30 days and he told me he had done 2 prison stints and was looking at 12 years when he got out. I said that he didn’t have to live life like that and could change it, but he replied that he had been in institutions since he was 10. I asked him if he wanted to change that pattern and he informed me he was a heroin addict, and that when he got out in the morning, he had some waiting for him and would be high before he got off the property. I felt bad for him. His life had been rough and he was comfortable with it. 

Monday night, ‘Drew called his grandmother to see how he was doing. That shot of Heroin he had waiting for him, it killed him…. 

I’m still pretty broken up about it, as was the entire pod, and I’ll be going to his wake this Friday to pray for his soul and give my respects. All the laughing and joking was underscored by the truth of the rough life these people live. 

Monday Night
 I spent the last few hours making plans to get together with some of them after they get out, traded phone number, Facebook pages, and talked to Scott about hiring him to come work for me, hoping I can help keep him off the Heroin that landed him there. Leaving with me in the morning, Nick and talked a lot of smack, but in the end, neither of us slept well. I was anxious to get out, but I felt, and still feel that I left something behind that I wish I could go back and revisit. People that I wish I could play Spades with and tell jokes and just make sure that they’re all doing easy time. I can see how profound jail time is on a man, as I feel the effect from just a few days behind bars, and I hope that the lessons I learned never leave me. I thank God for the opportunity I had. With God, everything is an opportunity to develop character and prepare yourself for a future in his kingdom, if you can identify where he is working and join him in that work. 

Freedom
 I was already awake when the guard came to lead Nick and I out. Turning in my gear, getting dressed, out processing, all of that was a blur, and with bus pass in hand, I walked out into the cool morning air to hear a horn and see the lights come on from my car. Kevin was unexpectedly there to pick me up!

 

From October 17, 2012

Metamorphosis (Or, How I Found God)

Is this what it feels like when the butterfly begins to emerge from the cocoon? Reborn, seeing the world, although vaguely familiar, through new eyes?? It defies my life-long, logic filled thought patterns. 

Something is happening to me, and it’s so good, I’m almost afraid to let it carry me off. To cut to the chase, after searching, questioning and doubting for my entire life, I finally found, and felt God. It’s just that simple. I’m sure thoughts of every bad thing you’ve ever heard or thought about religion are storming through your head, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the purest examples of God. A sense of calm; so calm it’s making my head spin. Love. Not physical love, but just love for everything I see and everyone I know. I absolutely feel love for the people in my life, instead of the normal feelings if disdain I’ve always had. And direction. I feel like I’m well armed, instead of the feeling of defenselessness I’ve always had. 

Kevin and Jim and their families have been very supportive of me, and have gently steered me in this direction. I’ve resisted, struggled, accepted at times and tried to see whatever it is that they see, without success. But this past Sunday, on a strong urge to go to Church, I truly believed God finally made his presence known to me. For the past months, I’ve spent a lot of time, curled up in a ball, feeling hopeless, lost, miserable; crying, no – sobbing – non stop sobbing, thinking it was on deaf ears. That whoever this God was, he wasn’t paying attention to me. He didn’t know or care about me. 

I always hear that it happens when you are at your most vulnerable. When you are at the bottom of the pit, and death is looking like a comfort. 

In Church Sunday, listening to the Pastor talk about Joseph and his murderous brothers, the pit he was cast into and how it relates to our lives, I suddenly, and unexpectedly felt like I was alone in that building. I truly could not sense the presence of the congregation behind me. And every word that came out of Pastor’s mouth, described me and my life perfectly. Not just described it, but it was me that he was talking about, and me he was talking to, and as I half muttered prayers under my breath, asking God to PLEASE just come to me, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I started to quiver, and felt displaced from the entire crowd of people and all I could hear was Pastor, describing how we put ourselves in similar pits; describing me to me; warning about Satan’s lies, and it all just happened. I wish I had the words to describe it, but afterwards, I felt like a different person. Like I was a blind man just getting sight for the first time in my life. 

Now, I can’t get it out of me and I don’t want to. I actually wish that traumatic moment would happen to me again and again. Like a jolt, keeping me conscious. Now, I’m not ready to grab a Bible and robe and walk the earth proclaiming God’s word. Hell, I don’t even know God’s word. But I do know his presence. That I am positively sure of and that God made that presence known to me, in the front row at Riverside Church this past Sunday. 

Could anything in life be as good as that? 

Well, I did meet a girl that I am just head over heels about, and I don’t even know her yet, but it just feels right. A woman that is walking the same direction I am, shedding a similar past. 

The hell with logic. Following my heart seems like the way to go.

 

From January 11, 2012

 

Days Of Tears

Each year at this time, I repeat a routine I have in honor of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. I don’t watch any programming about that terrible day until after September 10th, and I do that for a reason. On September 10th, I was happy. The world was happy. It may have been the last happiest day I’ve known, outside of when my children were born, since. 

I don’t remember much about September 10, 2010. I know it was a Monday. I worked. I probably spent some time dealing with my Booking and Promoting business. I may have spent time talking to my friends, and family, and i’m sure that night, like every night before, I went to sleep with very few worries on my mind. The next day…. was the worst day I can ever know. 

I’m not from New York City. I’ve never lived there. I had been to New York City many times, but I wasn’t there when the city was attacked, yet in New York, it doesn’t matter what part of New York you’re from. Whether it’s Upstate, Down State, Plattsburg or Binghamton; Chautauqua County or Jefferson County, New Yorkers are bound together. It’s one of those states, like several others where you can meet someone else from New York, and you just know. You just feel the bind. 

This year marks the significant tenth anniversary, and I’ve been watching a series about rebuilding  the 16 acres that were destroyed that day called Rising: Rebuilding New York. Each episode is about the reconstruction of  a different segment of the area known as Ground Zero and the amount of care, and technology and engineering… the thought put into the reconstruction is overwhelming. 

 One episode is about the new Tower One; 1776 feet tall. It’s not just a new tower, but every aspect of it it designed with a purpose. Be it tribute or structural integrity. Another episode is about the new Transit Hub, highlighted by an above ground structure that represents a large, steel spine, with structural ribs at angles, jutting out from the center. The designer took into account the angle of the sun when the first tower was hit and the angle again when the second tower collapsed and designed the piece to echo those angles so that when the sun gets to a certain point, the light shining down creates an aura of a welcoming, great place. 

The trees planted at the Memorial Site are arranged so that if you walk North-South, it’ll resemble walking a random path the to the Waterfalls. East-West is reminiscent of  walking through the aisles in a sacred temple. The waterfalls themselves, are built in the foundations of where the original towers stood. The plumbing work beneath the towers is some of the most impressive ever conceived. The fountains themselves are surround by bronze plates, bearing the names of each person that died here. And not just listed in random order, but thoughtfully arranged so that people who had any type of relationship are cut into the plates near each other. 

 The tower is designed with incredible structural integrity making it one of, if not the strongest building in North America, along with being the tallest. The museum houses remnants of the World Trade Center and the people who died there. The famous tridents that surrounded the towers are some of the more memorable images, and two were salvaged and will be the center pieces of the new museum. Even the glass atrium surrounding the museum was designed with the glass etched to reflect the lines of the original towers, fading as they near the spot of the the tridents so that maximum viewing can be seen, unobstructed from the outside. Even the reflective quality of the glass is designed so that from the outside, your reflection will make you look as though you are inside, standing with the ghosts of the remains of the World Trade Center. Even the placement of the new towers was designed to allow an unfettered beam of light to shine down on the spot of the north tower at the exact moment of the first attack. 

Each night for the last few days, I’ve immersed myself in remembrance of what happened that day. And I’ve spent most of that time in tears. It doesn’t take much; an image of a destroyed fire truck being lowered into the basement of the museum; A parent’s tale of the loss of a child in the attacks; an image of the damage; of someone that died. It rushes back and it takes over my soul and my emotions and I’m transported back to that day. To that minute when evil revealed itself to all of us, and tore a piece of every single American away, never to be recovered. I’ve cried a lot, needless to say, and it’s affected my overall mood, which has been sullen and angry. 

People may ultimately see this as a form of self torment. They may say it’s not necessary. But I believe that this sado-masochistic ritual is very important, because without it, I’m afraid of becoming complacent. I’m afraid that I may start to forget the way I was affected on 9/11, as I, along with the world, stood transfixed by the images of  the horror that was unleashed that morning. And I cannot allow myself to forget. 

The attacks on the World Trade Center, on a city I love, New York, and on my country have affected me in way that nothing else in my life ever has, and I hate it that I had to see that. Nobody should have had to experience what we did that day, and I long for September 10th, 2001, when I was happy.

 

From September 13, 2011

Tragedy Outside Of Buffalo, NY


I don’t know why I waited so long to post anything on this. The plane crash Thursday night, near Buffalo really hit me hard.
First, it was within a mile of my Mother’s house. Slightly further to my Brother’s.
It’s a neighborhood that I know people in, although I did not know the people in the house that was destroyed in the crash.
Perhaps, it’s the fact that it was close to home that affects me. That people there are so closely knit and that everyone will be affected on some level.
Maybe it’s because I’m not there to grieve with my fellow Buffalonians that makes me feel so empty.
Or that I have driven up and down that road, so many times, that I can picture the houses , the landscape, where that road goes to…

I know that plane only had a few hundred yards to go and it would have been in a corn field, and the irony of that makes me wonder why one house could be pinpointed to be a target for the fiery deaths of so many people, many of whom are very important to their peer groups. I mean above and beyond being family members.

The city is shaken by this, I know. The Buffalo Sabres played the following night, a game that they could have postponed, and turned in a spirited effort in defeating one of the best teams in the NHL, and for a few hours, the city was able to be together, joined by one of Buffalo’s best features: The sense of community our sports teams provides.

I’m sorry for the loss of life there, and I pray that this tragic event can be quickly put behind us as we move forward in our own lives.

 

From February 15, 2009

Son’s tribute highlights memorial service for Tim Russert

Luke Russert: “I love you, Dad. And in his words, let us all ‘go get ’em!’ ”

Luke Russert borrows from ‘Big Russ & Me’ to comfort all those who mourn newsman from Buffalo

WASHINGTON — Walking to the podium at the Kennedy Center before a crowd of 2,000 that included a former president, the secretary of state and countless other “Meet the Press” guests, 22-year-old Luke Russert on Wednesday repeated the perfect words to comfort the millions who join him in mourning the loss of his father.

Luke Russert couldn’t find those words in W.B. Yeats, James Joyce or Mark Twain, but he found them in Chapter 20 of his father’s book “Big Russ & Me.”

In a chapter called “Loss,” Tim Russert wrote about his friend Michael Gartner, who lost his 17-year-old son to acute juvenile diabetes.

“After his passing, my dad phoned Michael,” Luke Russert said. “And he said to him, ‘Michael, think of it this way: What if God had come to you and said, ‘I’m going to make you an offer. I will give you a beautiful, a wonderful, happy, and lovable son for 17 years, but then it will be time for him to come home.’ You would make that deal in a second, right?’ ”

“Well, I only had 22 years, but I, too, would make that deal in a heartbeat,” the young Russert, beaming with pride, said in a strong and resolute broadcaster’s voice.

So would countless others who admired Tim Russert, the iconic “Meet the Press” host and South Buffalo native who died of a heart attack Friday.

A day after Russert fans drove from as far away as South Dakota and flew in from California for his wake, official Washington got its chance to pay tribute to the NBC newsman, first at a private funeral where Luke Russert delivered the eulogy and then at the memorial service where he shared the stage with the likes of Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams and Mario Cuomo.

Brokaw noted the extraordinary impact that Russert’s death has had on the nation.

“Since Friday, all of us have been swamped with e-mails and phone calls, strangers on the street, tears in their eyes, sharing their grief and sense of loss,” Brokaw said. “A postal worker with a heavy Spanish accent stopped me on the streets of New York sobbing, saying that he was sick — sick when he heard the news of Mr. Russert. A construction foreman stopped me and said he was so, so smart, and he seemed to be one of us.”

Like several of the speakers, Brokaw made special mention of Russert’s father and inspiration, “Big Russ”— Timothy J. Russert Sr. — who recently moved into an assisted-living facility in Orchard Park and could not attend the services.

“Big Russ, you may remember about a dozen years ago, you sent me this,” Brokaw said, showing off a mug from American Legion Post 721 in South Buffalo. “And for every morning since that time, it has been my first companion as I brush my teeth.” But no more.

“I’m going to set this mug aside. I’m going to save it for election night. I’m going to fill it with this Rolling Rock that I pilfered just today from Tim’s cooler, here in Washington,” Brokaw said. “And so on election night, Big Russ, I will raise this glass to you. For your gift to us of Tim and to your favorite saying, it was his and mine as well: ‘What a country.’ ”

Brokaw’s successor as anchor of NBC News, Brian Williams, noted that Russert’s last words before he collapsed, spoken to an editor at the network’s Washington Bureau, where Russert was chief, were words he spoke all the time: “What’s happening?”

“And he never made another sound,” Williams said. “[It’s] fitting probably because Tim was all about what’s happening, what’s happening with everybody and everything, especially along his power corridor, Buffalo to the Beltway.”

Although only one person from Buffalo shared the stage Wednesday, the city was as present throughout the memorial service as it was in Russert’s life.

One of his seventh-grade teachers, Sister Lucille Socciarelli of Buffalo, recalled how the 13-year-old Russert urged her to join the pupils on the athletic fields outside St. Bonaventure Elementary School.

“ ‘Go, sister!’ he’d say. ‘Run!’ Tim would shout, urging me on — rosary beads flying, veil flying,” she said. “Not only did Tim choose me for his team, he always picked the kids that he thought might not be chosen at all.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo recalled a visit to Buffalo with Russert, who served as an aide to the governor at the time, shortly after the state enacted its then-controversial seat belt law.

The governor’s car got struck from behind — and the governor, who sat in the front but forgot to buckle his seat belt, flew forward toward the dashboard. That prompted the governor’s car to come to a halt and the press to swarm around it, shouting: “How’s the governor?”

Russert, emerging from the car, replied: “Thank God for the seat belt!”

That was just one of the countless stories told at the service that showed both Russert’s wit and his warmth.

Former NBC reporter Maria Shriver — now California’s first lady — recalled Russert’s comforting calls when her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was going in and out of intensive care this past year.

“He talked with me about losing his own mother,” who died several years ago,” she said. “He talked to me about how it felt, how hard it was for him. He talked to me about where he found support, about the role of his faith in that struggle. He shared his struggle with me so that mine would be a little bit easier.”

And in a surprise appearance via video from Europe, where he is touring, Rust Belt rock poet Bruce Springsteen recalled performing at the “Today” show and seeing Russert beaming in the front row.

Springsteen and his band played a song called “The Promised Land” at the time. “It’s funny that we were playing that song,” Springsteen said. “I think Tim had a real belief in that promised land and in the American idea. And that was the passion that you heard behind all those tough questions on Sunday morning and — and in that big smile.”

Springsteen closed the memorial service with an acoustic version of “Thunder Road.”

Earlier in the day, the presumptive presidential nominees, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, sat next to each other during the private funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and New York Gov. David A. Paterson also attended.

The afternoon memorial service was no less star-studded. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N. Y., made her first public appearance here since suspending her presidential campaign 11 days earlier. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, accompanied her.

But all the while, the focus was on the stage, and especially on Luke Russert, who eulogized his father with a mix of humor and honor that would have done his father proud.

“I ask you, this Sunday, in your hearts and in your mind, to imagine a ‘Meet the Press’ special edition, live from inside St. Peter’s gate,” Luke said. “Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for the full hour debating.”

Calling his father “a force of nature,” he added: “Now his own cycle in nature is complete. But his spirit lives on in everybody who loves their country, loves their family, loves their faith and loves those Buffalo Bills.

“I love you, Dad. And, in his words, let us all ‘go get ’em!’ ”

 

From June 19, 2008

Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day and that has me thinking so many things at once.
I love my daughter’s, who are too young to get Father’s Day, but to me, they make everyday like Father’s Day.
As far as the traditional things that are supposed to happen on this day, it won’t be like that here. I’ll still be the primary parent all day and the one that takes care of the house, kids etc.
But that’s ok, because soon, I won’t have these other people here, and that will be very hard.
Housework will be nothing, but not seeing my little girls go to bed everynight should be the worst thing a father can face, other than the loss of a child.

I know alot of “dad’s” these days, are not up to the job, but to me, being a father is what keeps me breathing. It get’s me up in the morning and it wraps itself around me, every waken moment.

My Dad, well, he died almost 20 years ago from Cancer.
But he was never in my life much. My parents split when I was four and I only saw him sporadically throughout the year. Maybe twice at the most, but I still remember my Dad and Mom together. Something my younger brother will never know.
My Dad and I were buddies. I was his favorite, by far, and he made every moment that he was there worth it by treating me like I was his favorite.
We’d go to “the pop shop” (the bar) together when I was a kid and I’d play pool with the other regulars.
When I was older, he’d take me to Pro Wrestling events, hockey games, etc.
I remember that when my parents were together, my dad would come home and make me find the treat he’d always have, usually a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, which I still love today.

When I was in the Army we wrote more than I did with anyone else, and afterward, we did a few small construction jobs together.
My Dad was rugged, a tough Norweigan brick layer who took no shit, and never backed down from speaking his mind.
But he was a drinker, and that led to the end of his marriage to my Mom and ultimately the cancer that took him.

I remember him coming over when I was about 9, and talking to my Mom while I hid on the stairs. He gotten pulled over, was drunk and beat the crap out of the two Cops and split. Back then, they didn’t call your plate in before they stopped you so he never got caught for that.
My Dad also never disciplined me as a kid. That was my Mom’s job. One night, before they split, I was four, my brother one, My Mom had gone out and he fell asleep so my brother and I decided to make a cake….. on the kitchen floor…… with every and anything we could open from the fridge and cabinets, then we put ourselves to bed.
I think I still have marks from the beating I got over that.

When my Dad died, I hadn’t seen him much that last year, and My mom told me I best go before it was too late. I couldn’t comprehend anything beating my Dad, so I was slammed when I saw him, in a hospital bed they had in the house. Frail, weak, old, looking (he was 56 but looked 100), he looked dead already. His wife woke him and asked if he knew who I was. With alot of effort, he raised his head and whisperd “my boy.”

I cried that night in my girlfriends arms and a few hours later he was gone. Funny, I had premonitions for two weeks and that night, about 4AM, something dramatic happened in my room. I was momentarily paralized by a white “light” that lasted a split second and shook me up badly. A few hours later, the phone rang.
I never shed a tear again, until just now actually, nor did I ever visit his grave, but once soon after. I couldn’t find it now if I had too.
But, I wonder if he watches me now. See’s my kids, my hardships. Knows my secrets and my joys.
I hope he’s not too disappointed.

I love you Dad. And I miss you alot. I wish you were here because I could really use you in my life right now.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

From June 15, 2008