Friday, November 9, 2012

For the Love of Maddox

Hey, there.  [Sheepish grin] Yeah, I'm still alive.  Sorry, I know it's been ages since I've written.  I should have called.  I meant to.  I got a new phone and couldn't transfer my contacts. . .or something.  Actually, I can give you a million reasons for being MIA for so long, and some of them are even valid.  But I won't.  Not today, at least.  I'll save them for another day.  I'll be around. 

The only excuse I'll offer right now is that I've struggled for topics.  No, I wouldn't say I've had writer's block; or that I didn't have anything I wanted to say.  If you know me personally, or have read my posts, you know I always have something to say.  Usually too many somethings. 

And that's been part of the problem.  I've got a lot on my plate these days (I'll spare you the details for the present); and have needed to take a break from posting to attend to other parts of my life, at least until I came across an idea or topic that I could not not write about. 

Sadly, I have found such a topic. 

I've lost a lot of sleep this past week over the loss of a little boy named Maddox.  A little boy I've never met.  A little boy who is not a relative or anyone connected to me.  Maddox Derkosh was an adorable little 2-year-old who lived with his mother and father in Pennsylvania, and who died in a horrific and profoundly tragic accident while visiting the zoo last weekend.  His mother, Elizabeth, had placed him on a railing overlooking a wild-dog exhibit so he could get a better view of the animals.  Somehow, Maddox lost his balance, and fell into the exhibit, where he was attacked by the dogs, and died.  The entire incident spanned only a handful of minutes.  In those minutes, a rapid series of events, that in any other context would have been inconsequential, perhaps, in and of themselves, were woven together in a way such that the resulting consequences were the violent end of Baby Maddox's life, and the shattering of the world as they knew it for all of Maddox's loved ones. 

And I've lost a lot of sleep over this.  I've been walking around with a dull, twisting, ache in my stomach because my challenged mind that insists on bouncing all over the place - including to places where it has no personal business being - conjures images of an innocent child lost in a moment that must have been joyful for him only a second before; and images of a mother who is suffering now more than I can possibly even begin to imagine.  And for some reason, it feels very close to home.  Too close to home than there is any logical reason for.  Kids die in accidents all over the country every day.  Admittedly, I don't lose sleep over most of them.  But there's something about this situation. . .

To make my own pain worse (which I don't claim is anything of any significance compared to the pain that Maddox's loved ones), is that I have an annoying impulse-resistance problem when in comes to reading forum comments on news sites.  I shouldn't read them.  No one should read them.  No one should post on them.  They are a place where cowards go to freely vent hatred, and where well-meaning folks share pithy remarks and pearls of wisdom that fade into nothingness because people really aren't all that interested.  I think most of us who venture into the underbelly of the comment forum do so out of morbid curiosity and because on some level, we want to get riled up.  We certainly don't go there because we want to get schooled by other sad people just like ourselves, all of us hiding out in the comment forum.

So despite knowing that I should never read them because it's just emotionally unhealthy for me to do so, I do.  And sometimes I even post, when I'm bored.  Or when I feel strongly enough about something. 
For some reason, I've felt very strongly about what happened to Maddox and his mom.  Strongly sick and sleepless, and compelled to make sense of it all, including why I care so much.

I think I've figured it out.  This horror of this situation invokes my very deepest fears:  my fears of harm coming to my children; my fears of the thought of ever losing my children; my fear of having something horrific happening to my children . . . and of it being somehow my fault. 

There's no question here about the cause and effect relationship of what happened to Maddox.  A loving mom took her only child out for what was supposed to be a fun trip to the zoo.  She took him around the various exhibits to see all the cute and interesting animals, and eventually, they came to the African painted-dog exhibit.  Aesthetically, these dogs are beautiful - definitely interesting to look at.  Little boys like to see dogs - I know my little guys both love cute doggies.  Mom wanted her little guy to have a good view, so she positioned him where she thought he could better take it all in.  And here we reach the threshold between joy and unimaginable sorrow. 

I don't know why Maddox's mom thought it would be okay to have him on the ledge.  But she loved Maddox and for whatever reason, she thought it would be okay and fun for him. But as we know, it was from this ledge that Maddox fell - in an instant - into the expanse of Time, Time that would bear no resemblance ever again - for him or his family - to that final moment of innocence that preceded it. 

So, now I read - against all my better judgement - the comments on the news forums.  Comments dripping with vitriol and judgement.  Comments that proclaim Maddox's mother to be a criminal, stupid, someone so vile and unworthy that she should never have been permitted to have children.  Someone who deserves her pain and then some, for killing her own child. 

As heinously ugly as such comments are, they do not reflect the worst I read.  People have even more hateful things to say that I can't bring my fingers to type here.  Trust me, you don't want to see them anyway. 

Then I think about Maddox's mom, and know in my heart, that the words of these commenters are probably not nearly as damning and hurtful as those she would use on herself.  As a mom who can put myself in her shoes to only the most tiny degree, I can't imagine how the guilt she must be feeling doesn't just kill her.  I imagine that if it were me, my heart would just stop with my child's.  I wouldn't be able to go on.  I'd die with the dogs too.

As much as all mom's fear our kids being harmed, I'll throw a little ADHD into the mix.  For my entire life, I've been challenged by distractability, difficulty keeping track of small details, challenges with foreseeing potential outcomes to impulsive actions that seem like "no big deal."  Yes, I can see myself doing exactly what Maddox's mom did, or something along those lines.  In fact, I'm certain that at some point, I did do what Maddox's mom did - make a little judgment call that unbeknownst to me, carried the risk of unimaginably awful consequences. Yet by grace or chance, we were spared from a tragedy, without me ever seeing it come or go.  My feeling is that we all have such moments in our lives. 

My father often said to me that the greatest blessing in life is that we cannot know the alternative destinies of our lives,  because to see the might-have-beens would be far too painful for us to be able to stand.  Because however bad we think we have it in any given moment, there is a worse alternative.  I don't think I ever really understood what he meant by that until now, now that I've gotten a glimpse of what might have been that time - all those many times - I momentarily took my eye off my baby when I probably shouldn't have. 

In the end I couldn't help but post my feelings to that seedy comment forum.  By now, my comment has probably been mocked.  Haters have probably upped the ante to say even more awful things about Elizabeth Derkosh.  Other readers/posters will have read my comment and quietly agreed with me, and moved on.  I'm okay with that.  I'm not going to go back in and look.  But, for the love of little Maddox and his mom, I will share my post here, on my own blog, in my own "house," remembering that there but for the grace of God, go I.

"There is not a human being alive who has not at some point, in a momentary lapse of judgement, or second of distraction, contributed to a consequence that we did not expect or want. Perhaps 99.9% of the time, we don't ever even see the bullet we dodged; or we survive and move on from the results of our actions that could have been much worse. But then there is that rare occasion when the unthinkable happens. Would I have put my little boy up on that ledge? I don't know. Perhaps not. But I have - and every mother and father out there who is honest would say the same - have turned my head for just a second when I should have been paying attention. I have allowed my child to do something that seemed harmless without thinking it through carefully enough. I have made what I thought was a good decision with the information I had available to me at the time, but it turned out to be the wrong decision. Maddox's mother is not a criminal. She is a mother, who in the blink of an eye, didn't realize the enormity of a risk. But her fate was cruel, and a blink of an eye was too long, and she was afforded no chance to fix it. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine the guilt and suffering of this grieving mom. Yet each one of us could find ourselves grieving at some point over something that happens in the blink of an eye, despite all our best efforts to control ourselves and the world around us. Trashing this mother, stoning her, calling her a criminal in a public comment forum is a dog attack more vicious than the one that took little Maddox. Comment forums are a great place to vent cruel unwarranted hatred without having to show your face. Please, please, please, let's not do this here, to this family. We can be sure that however stupid or criminal we might feel this lady's actions were, we've done something in our own lives - whether we realize it or not - that was at least as criminal or stupid. We were just luckier."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

When Life imitates. . .Cranberries!

Recently, I ran a search for Ryan Higa videos, and I came across this little gem.  As much as I love to laugh, rarely do I laugh to the point of tears; but I did when I watched this at least twenty times.  It's probably not that funny, really. 

But for this mom of a boy with ADHD, this portrayal of an ADHD-affected Harry Potter just hits so close to home that about all we're missing at my house is a skeleton.  I have no doubt that within a couple of years, I will receive a phone call from a troubled biology teacher wanting to speak with me about a disconcerting incident involving a classroom skeleton.  In fact, I will bet on it.  I'll let you know when it happens. 

Basically, I think whoever made this video has been peeping through my windows at night.

And I'm grateful to them for doing it! 

As a mother raising her own hyperactive wizard while struggling with ADHD herself, daily life can be filled with so much frustration.  Trying to remind myself that "kids will be kids" isn't always helpful when tempers are flaring and I'm frustrated, tired, scattered, and just yearning to complete a little househould business before my head explodes.  In that moment, I don't want to "look at [you]" or "pull [your] finger;'' and a child's insistance that I do so, is less than amusing.

But then I see this video.  I take a step back and see a tiny slice of my life against a backdrop of parody and realize that, indeed, this child - my child - is amazing.  Funny, light, creative, whimsical, interesting, and challenging in wonderful ways. 

Based on the viewer comment feed, I suppose some folks might be offended by this video.  I hope you won't be.  If you've spent any time on my blog, you know that I DO believe ADHD is a laughing matter.  Otherwise, I'd be crying all the time, and that's just no fun at all.

If you're offended because you believe this little comic depiction is a gross and unfair exaggeration or hyperbolic mockery, I invite you to peer in my windows some evening.  You'll change your mind.  


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is that Ritalin in your pocket, or are you just too oblivious to see me?

Happy New Year!  It's not too late to say that, right?  It's still January.  Well, I'm finally getting back into the mental groove of normal life after the holidays.  My Christmas lights are still up, but I don't plug them in anymore.  Progress!  Despite the fact that I've been doing it for years now, celebrating Christmas - with all of its complicated logistics- still requires some getting used to.  You see, I'm Jewish.

You'd probably never guess that based on my stellar church-attendance record, or periodic blog references to my Protestant faith, or by a lot of other superficial criteria about me.  My father was a Hungarian Jew, born and raised in Budapest.  He was a Holocaust survivor, in fact. I was raised Jewish and spent much of my young life in the synagogue and Hebrew school. I studied Judaism in college. Some of by best friends are Jewish. Although my faith has taken me on a different path spiritually (maybe a topic for a different day), I self-identify, ethnically, at least, as quite Jewish.

You wouldn't know it by my English surname. My maiden name, on the other hand, would reveal my ethnicity quite obviously . . . if you happen to be a genealogist with special expertise in 19th century Jewish communities that resided along the Hungarian-Ukraine border. Otherwise, you'd probably have no idea.

My first name, on the other hand, is about as Jewish a name as a woman can have, as one translation of the Hebrew means "Female Judean," or "Jewess," as it were. But in post-Biblical times, it's a reasonably common name across the Western Hemisphere. At least it was in 1950.  When I was born nearly 20 years later, my immigrant parents apparently hadn't gotten the memo that "Jennifer" was now the "J" name of choice.

My name was also sort of popular in the 1980's, during my teen years, when virtually every teen-age-coming-of-age-sex-romp movie featured a hot girl (usually named "Jennifer") whose best friend, sidekick, and "wing woman" was a fat, nerdy, ill-complected, sarcastic girl with my first name. As it turns out, my immigrant parents were not only old-fashioned, but also prophetic. But, as you know, I digress . . .

My fair skin and blue-green eyes probably wouldn't clue you in. The photos from my children's baptisms would throw you off the trail entirely. If you happened to be around at the right time, you might overhear me utter some rather obscure Yiddish expressions. And you might then accuse me of being some sort of Judeophilic ironic hipster. Okay, maybe not.  No one says that.

More likely than not, you don't actually lose any sleep at all over whether or not I'm Jewish.

That is, unless you are also Jewish. From experience, I can tell you that Jews in my little patch of America enjoy playing a game I'll call, "Is S/He Jewish??" For full effect, when you utter the name of this game, you have to tilt your head to one side, scrunch up your face, and sound incredulous.

Several years ago, Saturday Night Live featured a skit depicting a game show parody entitled "Jew, Not a Jew," of which the object, as you might guess, was to correctly identify pictured celebrities as Jewish or not. The skit was hilarious; and to one in the know, it was easy to see the affectionate ribbing of an ethnic tradition.

The real-life game starts something like this.  You see someone on TV or meet someone who, for some subtle reason or another, leads you to think s/he might be Jewish.  But the observable facts would suggest otherwise.  Or vice versa, you meet someone who you would swear was Jewish by every standard you can think of . . .but for the fact that he's a Catholic priest.  And you grow curious.

The game, I believe, is an inevitable byproduct of being part of a minority group that "blends." There is a very basic truth about human beings, and that is, we find comfort in connections between ourselves and others who are like us in some meaningful way. Especially when we feel alone. So when you grow up Jewish in a mid-sized factory town on Lake Erie, as I did, with one small synagogue that serves an entire county, you want to know who the other Jews are . . . in case you have to borrow some gefilte fish . . . or not feel like a weirdo.

Like any game, this one has some rules, or more like traditions. You probably won't ever play, for example, while seated in a New York City synagogue on Yom Kippur. There's no sport in that. Unless you notice that the Torah scrolls are being carried by an Asian-looking man wearing a sombrero. And then you grow a little curious.

The real fun is when, some Friday evening, you meet a blond-haired football player from South Dakota named "Chris Goldsteen" who bothers to point out that "it's 'Steen' with a double 'e.'" He tells you about his recent fishing trip, which reminds him of a story from his childhood. You've got a lot on your mind, so while he shares his story, you drift off and start thinking about nail polish remover and calling in your Concerta prescription refill. But you suddenly snap back into the moment when you hear Chris say something that you swear sounded like "Grandma danced the hora at my bar mitzvah reception." You have a hard time believing this guy had a grandma, much less a bar mitzvah; so you quickly decide that you heard wrong, and what he really said was, "Damn that whore's wine-bar mitts and pass interception!" Now, that makes sense to you because Chris follows football. . . and you don't.  Abruptly, Chris looks at his watch and announces that he's sorry, but he has to run.  He has to get to the bakery before it closes and be home before sundown.  You follow his gaze as he glances over to his car that you notice has broken headlights.  You nod sympathetically, and mutter that you understand; you have to get your car fixed too.  You part company.  Chris jumps in his car and drives off. . . as he flips on his fully functioning headlights.  "Sweet Home Alabama" blares from the car stereo.  You wonder why this guy - who looks like someone who should be headed for a frat party or a strip club - would be racing off to a bakery on Friday night, like a Jewish housewife in search of a challah for the Sabbath.  Wait. . . could . . . he. . . ?  Broken headlights, the Sabbath, sundown, Dancing Grandma, wine-swilling whores, a guy named in honor of The Man from Nazareth . . . called to the Torah on his 13th birthday. . .in South Dakota. Your overstimulated brain is trying to make sense of all this paradoxical information in order to understand who it is that you just talked to; and, without thinking about it, you feel your head tilting to one side, your vocal chords tighten, and your face scrunches up. You ask out loud to no one, "Is he Jewish???

And with that, the game is in full swing. You ask your friends what they know about him. You take informal opinion polls from your Jewish friends and from your really observant Secular-Humanist-with-Goddess-Worshipper-Leanings friend who's married to a Jewish guy. You look him up on Facebook in hopes that his page is public and that you'll find there a picture of his dancing grandma or, perhaps, a picture of a whore in a football helmet, wearing wine-bar mitts. You ask your friend, the Jewish guy's wife, what the hell "wine-bar mitts" are because, if such a thing exists, she owns a pair.

You hope you'll see something that helps you answer that all-important question. And soon too, because your face is starting to hurt from all the scrunching.

It's kind of an odd thing that we do, when I think about it. I mean, really, who cares? We're not supposed to care what people are. It's not really PC to care. It's sort of unamerican. When we're that curious about whether or not someone is Jewish, and we eventually learn the answer, we are inevitably like the dog who caught the bus: Great! So . . . what? After all, there aren't too many legitimate contexts in which one must know the ethnic/religious background of a total stranger. So why do we do it?

Let me say here that I think we ALL do it; it's not a habit peculiar to those of a particular ethnic or religious group.  Regardless of how we define ourselves, we all meet people at times and wonder, is this person like me?  As I mentioned, I think connection is one reason. But in the bigger picture, I believe, identifying other members of "our group," however that group is defined, helps us to understand who we are, where we stand, and how we might look to the world.  The dirty little secret in this, is that sometimes it's not connection we seek, but rather distance. When we meet someone we admire, like, look up to, we are delighted to learn that we a share a common background. When we meet someone we fear, dislike, or don't understand, we would perhaps prefer to learn that we have nothing in common with them.  To learn that this person with whom we don't identify is actually more like us than we'd care to recognize, forces us to reconsider our definitions of ourselves and others. 

So what does all this have to do with ADHD, you ask?  Well, because ADHDers do it too, and since I have been diagnosed with ADHD, I have almost a reflexive urge to mentally run through the diagnostic criteria anytime I run into someone who seems a little too chatty, scattered, jumpy, wistful, impulsive, tardy, forgetful, messy. . .I could go on and on.  Literally, I could.  But I'll try not to.

When I scrunch up my face for a round of "Does S/He have ADHD," sometimes I want the answer to be "Yes!"  I want Steve Jobs to have had ADHD.  I like the idea that my brain might have had something in common with his brain.  On the flip side, some people really annoy me.  I might think about someone I have found very annoying and run that person through my mental screening test.  I will sometimes conclude that yes, this person has ADHD, or something like it.  And then I'll mentally give them a "pass" for being annoying.  In fact, once I conclude that someone has ADHD, I might come to admire that person's spontaneity and energy and decide that he isn't annoying at all. 

Unless I don't like that person, in which case, I might prefer to continue thinking of that person as an inconsiderate idiot.

Is this nice or fair or how I want to be treated or how I want to treat others?  Definitely not.  But it is - as am I - woefully human.

Much like it's possible to be a Jew who loves Jesus, I suppose it's entirely possible for someone to have ADHD and also be an inconsiderate idiot. But I don't want to ponder that one too hard.  The potential ramifications of this possibility are just too awful to contemplate . . . when the end goal of the identification game is to fit everyone into a neat and tidy box. 

Recently, my son was watching a video on YouTube that made him belly laugh harder than I've ever heard him laugh before; the boy has never been much of a laugher, so I had to inquire.  My son explained that it's a video by Ryan Higa, who I learned later is a young video producer, film student, and Internet sensation.  I'd never heard of this guy before, but I was definitely curious to know what my son found so funny.    Mr. Higa's video and all the others that I've viewed since then, reflect a modern style of comedy - fast-paced, disjointed, ironic, pointed, and sometimes just plain silly, that I just didn't know what to make of.  My son knew what to make of it - just watch and laugh hysterically.  But I'm a little old school, and although I enjoy irreverent comedy more than just about anything, my first thought about Mr. Higa's work was Well, this is just stupid.  This nonsense is everything that's wrong with kids and America today!  And by the way, you kids get off my lawn . . . and take that crazy Higa boy with you!!! 

But my little guy insisted that I keep watching, so I did.  This was my chance to have mom-and-son time that didn't require me to do anything hard.  He showed me video after video, and before not too long, I was laughing my head off.  This guy is so stupid. . . but hilarious! 

As I continued to watch his videos, something happened.  Whenever we take a step back from our own assumptions and prejudices, interesting things happen.   I began to appreciate how not stupid Mr. Higa's work is.  In his videos, I saw a quick and agile mind--the ability to humorously connect things that have no obvious connection; to mentally be in many places at once; to physically perform many characters at once; to turn a simple phrase in such a way that it elicits delight from word nerds like me and my boy; to poke rather sophisticated fun at some ridiculous stuff.  Hmmm. . . this is all starting to look rather familiar. I found myself now watching the high-energy, fast-talking Mr. Higa through diagnostic eyes:  Does he have ADHD??

So I did a little checking.  I learned that the rumor, at least, is that he does.  Higa has a series of videos entitled "Off the Pill," which, allegedly, are videos that he creates when taking a break from his Ritalin prescription.  Having seen several of the "Off the Pill" videos, I'd say it's quite plausible.

On the other hand, I have not seen Ryan Higa's medical files.  I know nothing about him other than what is written in his online bio, that he seems like a super smart young man, that he makes some really entertaining videos. . .and that he makes my son laugh really, really hard, which is a joy to any mother's ears.  I like him.  I think he makes a nice role model for my boy, an aspiring filmmaker himself.  Now I've got these two boxes in front of me, one labeled "Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Creative Genius!" and the other, "Stupid Anti-Intellectual Foul-Mouthed Slacker Youngster."  I choose not to force Mr. Higa into either one.  Maybe, instead, I'll use the boxes to finally put away my Christmas lights.

Speaking of Christmas lights that still need to be boxed up, this holiday season marked an anniversary for me.  New Year's Day 2012 was exactly ten years since my father passed away.  I've been thinking about him a lot.  Like now. My father was a very charming, and very short man - only 5' 2".  But what he lacked in height, he more than made up for in opinionatedness. 

One of his most passionate opinions was about Gene Simmons.  Yes, that Gene Simmons.  Gene Simmons, the famous and infamous, founder of and front man for the legendary rock band, KISS.  The painted-faced, tongue-wagging Demon, who wore crazy platform boots and had young ladies tossing at him more panties than can be found in a Victoria's Secret warehouse.

My father hated that guy.  I'm not just speculating or exaggerating.  My father would say, "I hate that guy!"  My dad was a very compassionate and open-minded man, generally speaking.  He wasn't a hater.  I know he hated Hitler - that went without saying.  And he hated a couple of talk-radio personalities.  But that was about it.  And then Gene Simmons.  I'm not sure exactly why Gene Simmons ended up on Dad's Top Five to Despise, but anytime KISS came on TV when I was a kid, I dreaded the upcoming hour because I knew I would have to listen to a diatribe about how "That Guy" was stupid and ignorant, and how his nonsense reflected everything that was wrong with kids and America today.  If we had had a lawn, surely Gene Simmons would have been ordered off of it.  My dad had nothing whatsoever in common with that obviously drug-addled, tone deaf, narcissistic moral degenerate now shoving his freakishly long tongue into his band mate's ear.  Or did he . . . .

A guilty little "secret" about me is that I love "reality" TV.  A couple of years ago, I discovered "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," a show that follows the home and business life of Gene Simmons and his family.  Now, I'd never really been up on my "KISS," so when I first sat down to watch "Family Jewels," I knew next to nothing about that guy.  But the show amused me.  And surprised me.  Mr. Simmons looks like a "grown up" now, more or less.  He's a successful entrepreneur and loving family man, more or less.  His long-time partner, now wife, Shannon Tweed, is witty, charming, bright, and interesting.  The Simmons children are every bit as charming and bright.  The show doesn't portray a chaotic life of an out-of-control rock maniac, but rather the life of a successful man with a sharp mind and quick wit, deep affections, vulnerabilities, and yes, some "issues."  Who knew!

As I watched multiple episodes of this show, something started to nag a me.  There was something familiar about that guy.  His facial expressions. The way he carried himself.  The style of his humor.  The tone of his voice and the way he teased his lady and talked to his beloved children.  It really bugged me.  Who does he remind me of??  OMG, he reminds me of Dad!  And then I felt the muscles in my neck flex.  My face got all scrunchy.  Is Gene Simmons Jewish?!?!

Well, it may be common knowledge to people who are up on this sort of thing, that the answer is "yes."  But I did not know this, and when I finally watched an episode that confirmed my suspicions, I nearly hit the floor.  Not only is Mr. Simmons Jewish, but he was born in Israel--as Chaim Witz--the only son of his . . .wait for it. . . Hungarian mother, who was herself a Holocaust survivor.  Mr. Simmons is college educated with a degree in education and has been employed as a school teacher among other very respectable, nonrockstar-like occupations.  He abhors alcohol and speaks with great affection, in Hungarian, with his precious mom. 

My dad would have LOVED that guy!!  But for an astronomical disparity in size between their respective bank accounts, along with a few other minor distinguishing details, my dad could have been that guy!  If I could find a way to travel to The Beyond, then back, I would . . .just so I could tell my dad all this and watch him plotz.  Because even the most loving and respectful child enjoys informing her parents, once in a while, that they had it wrong.

Whenever we shove people into boxes, we usually get it wrong.  Maybe not all of it, but at least some of it.  What we assume we know about people based on their origins; affiliations; appearances; physical, psychological, or neurological conditions, tells only a tiny fraction of anyone's story, including our own, and out of context to boot,  When we shove people into boxes, we certainly do them a disservice; but we limit ourselves almost more than anyone else.  We restrict ourselves from experiencing the richness that comes from knowledge, understanding, and communion with people who are like us, sort of like us, or not at all like us.  We shut our eyes to self-reflection.

When the time comes for Mr. Simmons to pass from this world, I hope he and my dad run into each other in the Afterlife.  I'll bet they would share some great laughs over heavenly chicken paprik├ís and pastry.

I just hope, that whatever they talk about, they steer the conversation far from politics.  If my dad knew some of Simmons's politics, he would absolutely hate that guy.