The Falling Days Drift By The Window

Autumn

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent ...

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college or professional football.  I am talking about the in-the-park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park.  A large crew of friends participated as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players, they have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I hope will never fall away, I wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a damp and cold October afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Advertisements

Decoration Day

This article has been posted before.  It has been received with a bit of skepticism over the origins of the day.  It is likely that the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War was taken up in many places during and immediately after the war, unknown to one another.  Some of these practices were reported in newspapers of the time, while others were passed down orally and written down later.  These later versions may have been supported by anecdotal evidence that is now hard, if not impossible, to prove.
Where exactly the practice of decorating graves started, and who should claim the origin is not really the point anymore, is it?  A tradition of decorating graves, and the meaning of the “holiday” are now largely lost.  This loss of historic knowledge, along with the loss of so many American soldiers, is the true sadness of the day.

Who will decorate the graves?

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. Even this tradition is starting to be eroded by commerce.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days.

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see news reports covering how Americans are hitting the road due to low gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. And the Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern women had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday (although it will fall there some years) and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

A LIFE TOO SHORT

By now, he may have been a huge international star.  There may have been concert tours and record deals.  There may have been television appearances and interviews.  His good looks and winning smile may have captivated generations.  All that was not to be.  It was on this date ten years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this originally, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 10th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

Pride

When I posted the following three years ago, I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected (at the time of this original article), old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility (the current year’s awesome revival thrills lifelong fans). The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

Note: Comments in italics were added to the original article for purpose of updating.

Decoration Day

When I first put up this article three years ago, I was surprised to receive some backlash over the meaning of the holiday we now know as Memorial Day.  The origins of Decoration Day were told to me as if there was a bit of a conspiracy over the years since the Civil War to change the day’s meaning.  It is likely that the same tradition grew up in many places around the same time. 

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. Even this tradition is starting to be eroded by commerce.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days.

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see the PBS Newshour was covering how Americans are hitting the road due to a drop in gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this drop to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. The Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern women had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday (although it will fall there some years) and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

A life too short

It was on this date nine years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this four years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 9th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

This story originally appeared on SERENDIPTY in 2014 during the “off year” campaign (Click the “Source” link below the opening lines to read the story).  There was a shift in the balance of Congress after the actual election that year.  The follow up short story regarding the Presidential campaign will appear Tuesday on SERENDIPITY

A cautionary fairy tale by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog   The King Brothers strode through the luxurious lobby of the grand Wilford Washington Hotel. It is a stately old hotel with all the modern…

Source: DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

WE STAND WITH PARIS

We Stand With Humanity, a political commentaryribbon-black_68

On September 11, 2001 we stood with our fellow citizens of New York, and Washington DC as well as those who died in a field in Pennsylvania.  It was a natural reaction to a terrorist act on the homeland.  We were not the only ones to stand up and condemn this action.  It was condemned across the world.  The acts of 9/11 were not just taken symbolically around the world as an attack on all citizens of the earth.  The bringing down of the World Trade Center was literally an attack on the world.  People from more than 90 countries died in New York.  People everywhere were outraged.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris, Beirut, Egypt over the Sinai and elsewhere across the globe, do not let your Tea Party friends explain that some right-wing bigots with hand guns could have stopped these tragedies.  Don’t let their hate of immigrants or other religions fool you.  Some of the worse tragedies of all time have happened here, they are not confined to other countries.  No idiots “packing heat” will stop a well-coordinated attack by terrorists.

We stood with Paris after the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  At that time I explained, as did many that “Je suis Charlie.”  It was not that we could identify with “Charlie.”  The magazine was a bigoted publication that repeatedly provoked a particular “religious” group.  It was because an attack on freedom of the press anywhere in the world, is an attack on all our freedoms.

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Now we stand with Paris again.  The coordinated attacks this week in the French capital are an indication of the lengths these terrorist groups will go.  Are they to be feared?  Of course, that is what they want.  Will the world stand up against ISIS and those who claim responsibility?  It is the only response.  Humanity must stand together or this type of thing will never end.  We should learn the lessons of a house divided.

It is important to point out that no matter what terrorists spokesmen may claim, this is not an act of religion.  The phrase “Terrorism has no religion” has been trending on social media.  Muslim leaders around the world condemned the attacks (Washington Post).  Pope Francis has referred to the global terrorist attacks as “piecemeal WWIII.”  It is probably in that light that we should consider our global response.

All attacks on innocents should be taken somewhat personally  As a society we must consider what is next.  Putting hand guns on the persons of right-wing bigots will protect no one and is not a plan at all.  Certain Republican candidates will now find the opportunity to spread hate and fear while spewing the NRA (National Rifle Association) party line.  We need something better.

I did not know anyone in New York or Washington on 9/11, but I watched in horror as many of us did.  They were my countrymen and citizens of the world that died that day.  We did not have to know them to mourn them.

Now I have come to realize that I have many friends in Paris, so this recent tragedy hits home to me more than it does for some in our country, I would guess.  Four of my friends reported their safety on facebook.  A few others have not yet commented.  I have sent them my concerns.  Any tragedy in Paris is like a tragedy down the street from me.  The world is our global village. Good people of all colors, nationalities, and religions must have a coordinated global response to the “piecemeal World War III” or we will be standing up and mourning these tragedies over and over.

 

Autumn

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent ...

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football.  I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Pride

Recently I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed questioning the need for a Pride Parade and Pride events in general.  Someone responded that if your group was suppressed or discriminated against for a long time, you might feel the need to speak out and express your pride in who you are.  It was an important response to the issue, but I see it as more than that.  It is also based in the need that people have to feel important, significant, meaningful.  We all look for purpose in life and we all want to be proud of who we are.

When I posted the following three years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.   

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better, I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the Benedict XVI was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.