Some Things I Discovered While Looking Up Other Things

I’m a reasonably well educated guy.  I grew up in a solidly middle class neighborhood and walked to a local Catholic school. For all of its challenges you have to give the Catholic church it’s propers when it comes to education. There were 50 students in each classroom but we learned our reading, writing and arithmetic.  I was thinking about than in during a recent Facebook thread on diagramming sentences. We did a lot of that too.

But in practical terms probably the most relevant course I’ve ever took was the non credit after school course in touch typing when I was a high school freshman. We sat at manual typewriters that had no letters on the keys. In the front of the room was a large chart with the QWERTY keyboard.  A white habited Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister whose name is lost to my memory drilled us in the order of the letters of the keyboard.  We would type each letter as we recited in unison A;SLDKFJGH [SPACE]. These were the home keys. And so it went for the upper row of keys and the lower row of keys. The drills went on and on until we were adept at touch typing; that is, typing without looking at the keys.

Who knew what an important role the QWERTY keyboard would become with the evolution of personal computing? There have been suggestions that QWERTY is obsolete.  But they will have to pry my QWERTY keyboard from my cold dead hands. Although here are some input devices I would definitely try.

Lately, I been learning about all of the neat things one can do to format documents in Microsoft Word. I’m immersed in different kinds of “Styles” and how neat it works when you take a “numbering style” and attache it to a “paragraph style”.  We lawyers love our numbered paragraphs. Once you learn how to do this editing and moving paragraphs is a breeze and  the numbering  stays consistent.

Here is a neat Word trick. Say you want to experiment with your formatting and need several paragraphs of “text” to play around with. Type this command =lorem(2,3) and you will get this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.

Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.

The first number is the number of paragraphs you want and the second number is the number of lines.

Alright, I’ve posted an entire blog without talking about politics. But that silence will end soon.

Ciao!

Drynuary

It’s no secret that I have a fondness for gin. It started in law school. I worked full time and attended classes at night. Getting home around 10:00 I found it a quick way to round the edges of the day’s stress and get to bed in time to do it all over again. Ever since then most evenings end with one or two (and sometimes three) martinis on the rocks. I once watched an “ex” order a martini during happy hour. He looked at me and said; “I blame this on you, Michael”.

I have colossal respect for my friends in recovery.  I wouldn’t describe my behavior as addictive. But I know some would disagree.

Inspired by my friend Nancy I’m observing Drynuary – a month free of alcohol.  She makes a good case in her Blog:

My main takeaway was how many adults old enough to know better still drink like college students, with the multiple rounds of Fireball shots, the mixing of beer and vodka and all sorts of vile crap, all served in plastic cups in horrible bars.

My second takeaway is that there’s nothing more boring, and intolerable, as a drunk. I’ve known a few, and that glassy-eyed stare they get brings back unpleasant memories.

Days 1-3 total fail. So I’m going public in hopes that fear of humiliation will increase the likelihood of success.

Here’s a story from the New York Times about someone who has been doing this for years.

I’ll keep you posted.

Holistic New Year’s Resolutions – Redux

Three years ago I first posted my Holistic New Year’s Resolutions. I’m dusting them off again.

A specific New Year’s pledge of mine – Resolved to write more. Hopefully my writing will survive when I’m gone.

  1. Don’t be nice – be kind

There’s a big difference.  Nice people are polite, smile and are friendly.  Kind people actually care.  Last year I received a random act of kindness.  I pulled up to the drive through window and was informed that the car in front of me had paid for my meal.  That was nice and who doesn’t want a free lunch?  But we should match our kindness to need.  Be aware of people you know who have suffered a lose or are otherwise hurting.  If you go to a funeral follow up about a month later with a call or a visit.  We all know people who have been through divorce or bad break ups.  Keep them on your radar and make it a point to reach out.  Your opening can be as simple as “I was thinking about you.  Can I buy you a drink?”

2Change from Within

Instead of focusing on weight or appearance change from within.  Seek and appreciate solitude every day.  For one friend who is a single mom it’s the 15 minute very hot shower in the morning.  I’ve tried driving to work as a moment of solitude but that doesn’t work for me.  Try meditating.  There are lot’s of YouTube videos with guided meditations.  If you belong to a religious congregation seek out the more spiritual aspects of your beliefs and worship.

3. Eat Better Food

Did I say I was at a drive through window?  I’m working on this.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says I should be eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day based on my age and level of activity.  I’m not even close. You can find out what they recommend for you.  One has to shop, clean and chop  those veggies.  But once you do that roasting, steaming, boiling or sauteing them is pretty easy.  And they taste pretty good too.

4. Spend Less Than you Earn

This is financial equivalent of burn more calories than you consume.  Keep track of your spending.  It’s surprising how many people don’t especially when using credit cards.  For $39.95 you can get Quicken’s Money Management software. You can automatically link your bank accounts and credit cards to down load and categorize all of your expenses. A free on-line version is available at Mint.com.  I’m not comfortable with all of my financial data and passwords on the cloud but I’m no expert on this either.  Make monthly contributions to your retirement as important a payment as your rent or car note.

5. Be a Mentor

Parents with children at home can skip this one.  Reach out to a niece or a nephew, a kid in the neighborhood or someone at work.  Give them the gift of your time and your wisdom.

6. Volunteer

You know how to do this.  Do it.

7. Be Creative

Former President George W. Bush took up oil painting.  The critics have not been kind but who cares?  I’m going to try to edit video…and be a bit more faithful to this Blog.

bush paintings

8. Get Rid of Toxic People in Your Life.

This may sound unkind but it’s really not.  You know who toxic people are.  They contribute nothing to your personal growth, talk about themselves way too much, whine but do nothing and are constantly critical about everyone and every thing.  I remember one such person criticizing mutual acquaintances to me and it made me wonder what he said about me to others.  Life it too short and we have choices about who to include and who to exclude in our personal environment.

9. Learn a New Skill

If it’s a creative skill you’ve got a twofer (see no. 7).

10. Be Mindful of Your Life’s Purpose

Indulge me as I get a bit “New Agey” here.  I do not believe we are accidents of evolution.  We all have a purpose.  Most of us are fulfilling our purpose without realizing it.  Being mindful of ones purpose makes it’s fulfillment all the more satisfying.  One’s purpose includes each of these three characteristics.

a. You are very good at it.  Be it writing, teaching, cooking, writing code or painting houses – you are better at it than just about everyone else.

b. You enjoy it.  My father used to say they don’t spell work “f-u-n”.  To an extent he is right.  Work is work.  But when we are engaged in our life’s purpose we are most likely to get into the “zone” in which all of our concentration and attention is focused and time loses its meaning.

c. You Make the World is A Better Place.  When it comes to saving the world few of us can do more than baby steps.  But all of those baby steps accumulate.  And they are very important to those around us that experience and benefit from our life’s purpose.

Happy New Year everyone.  I’m hoping it’s joyful, healthy and prosperous.

The Smartest Man in the Room

I’ve come to believe when one has lived long and accomplished much we should not mourn their passing but celebrate their lives. And that’s what I want to do here; celebrate the amazing life of David W. Adamany.

This is not an obituary. You can easily find several including here and here with a summary of his remarkable career in urban higher education.

It was my great privilege to serve for 16 years on the Board of Governors of Wayne State University. For 8 of those years David was the University’s President. It was once observed that the only real role of a university board is to choose the President. That’s an exaggeration but there’s some truth to this. Boards are involved in matters of broad policy but it’s the President who runs the show. David ran quite a show and I had a ring side seat.

David was the smartest man I’ve ever known. He had a keen intellect, near photographic memory and an incredible ability to instantly analyse any situation. But my admiration came from his values. These were the overall context and motivation for his work. He believed in excellence. He practiced it himself and demanded it of everyone else. He believed in the University’s urban mission and took to heart the fact that many of Wayne’s students were the first in their family to go to college. Without  Wayne State a university education would not have been available to many young Detroiters. Less than a dozen years earlier I was one of those kids.

The chairmanship of the Board was usually for a one year term and rotated among the members. As it turned out I was the Chair when David’s predecessor resigned. I co-chaired the search committee. This was 1981 and the the country was in it’s worst recession since the great depression. As the saying goes when the country gets an economic cold Detroit gets pneumonia. Wayne State faced deep cuts in it’s funding. This was not an attractive job in the national academic community.

I first met David in the Marriott hotel across the street from the Rosslyn Station of the Washington D.C. Metro.  There is a reason I remember this. The Board flew to Washington to interview several candidates. At National Airport while the other board members were lining up at the Taxi stand my colleague former Michigan Governor George Romney (yes, Mitt’s dad) punched me on the shoulder and said with a grin, “Let’s take the Metro. I think we can beat them to the hotel”. Now George had also served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and knew Washington a lot better than I did. Off he ran carrying his suit case with me trailing behind. We didn’t beat them but we came close. When we emerged at the top of the 207 foot escalator (one of the of World’s longest), their cabs were pulling up to the hotel entrance.

When the Board unanimously decided to offer David the job it fell to Executive Vice President Ed Cushman and me to return to Washington to negotiate the terms. We spend most of the day in David’s condo near DuPont Circle. As we talked about the University and economic conditions in Detroit David quoted to us the Michigan State Constitution, the terms of our union contract with the AAUP and the University’s Code of Procedures. This was my first real exposure to this renowned Constitutional Scholar who never, EVER, showed up unprepared. He was intrigued by our offer but he had a dilemma. He candidly explained that he was sitting on a offer to serve as Provost at Princeton. “I can spend a few years at Princeton and then be a President just about anywhere. I can also serve as President at Wayne State during this recession and never get another job”.

In hindsight I’m not surprised he chose us. The work was harder and the challenge was greater – and that was David.

David Adamany and me at my final meeting as a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

David Adamany and me at my final meeting as a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

During his tenure as Wayne’s President David was the subject of much gossip about his personal life.  The prevailing “wisdom” of the early 80’s was that it would be very difficult for an openly gay man to lead a major institution dependent on the legislature and donors for its success.  It’s not that David lived life in the closet. His particular version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was more like “don’t brag, don’t deny”.  The Board of Governors knew. But we were so overwhelmed by his leadership in that very difficult time no one thought it was relevant.

We are inevitably shaped both positively and negatively by the people we are fated to meet. My work and friendship with David Adamany is one of my life’s blessings.

The Shock of 11/9

I need to give NPR and the New York Times a rest. That goes for Nate Silver too – not that there’d be any reason to read his stuff now anyways. I feel like I’ve been the victim of a 18 month con.

A friend of mine said the shock of 11/9 has been worse than the shock of 9/11. He’s right. Over the next few months much will be written about how all the Polls could get just about all of the data so wrong.  Certainly there was some sort of “Bradley Effect”; closeted Trump voters who were too chicken shit to admit to  their true colors. But there’s something else going on here.

My emotions can get the best of me when I’m sleep deprived. Yesterday morning I found myself holding back tears. In the afternoon I was angry. Now I’m just sort of numb.

Here are some random thoughts. I’m sure I will be more coherent after I’ve had some more time to process things.

This election will change so many things. Life will be more difficult for a lot of people I care about. I’m an older, self-employed, white male. I’ll get a pass from a lot of the coming shit-storm. If there’s another economic recession I’m cooked. But I’ll be pretty immune from the overt bigotry of the Duck Dynasty wing of the Republican party and their fellow travelers.

During the Nixon and Reagan years we questioned the administrations’ commitment to civil rights. But we took solace in the firewall provided by the Federal Courts as guardians of the Bill of Rights. Not so much now. The old litmus test for Republican Supreme Court Nominees was overturning of Roe vs. Wade. You can bet the overturning of Obergefell v. Hodges is now part of the test. Oh, and voting rights too.

Diplomacy is not transactional. Treaties are more insurance policies than business deals. There may not be any immediate benefit but we enter into them because we might need them in the future.

Of all the rolls a President is called upon to play the one I can imagine least is “Mourner in Chief”. Can you imagine this guy showing up at a Black church and providing any meaningful comfort to the families of some future victims of gun violence?

Even the most powerful man in the world cannot change the laws of physics. If the tipping point on Climate changes has not come already it’s likely to occur on his watch.

The oath of office is no cure for clinical narcissism and it’s need to lash out at every perceived slight. Our country will be embarrassed often. They will need to install a revolving door at the staff entrance to the West Wing.

As I withdraw from news cycles I want to be much more intentional in cultivating my relationships with family and friends. We can maintain our spirits and our optimism within our own villages. If you and I haven’t hung out in a while call or text me for coffee or a drink. The answer is yes. I’m literally going to make a list and check it twice. I’m also going to spend more time with kids. I’m pretty good at being the cool uncle. I just don’t do it often enough.

Maybe this Republican can channel the first Republican President in his inaugural address.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

 

Love Is In The Air

I made my calendar entry when I got the “save the date” postcard and didn’t up date it when the formal invitation arrived. That’s why we showed up at 5:00 PM for a wedding that didn’t start until 6:30. No problem. We were on Belle Isle and made a slow drive over to the Yacht Club for a pre-wedding drink. On our way we counted four other weddings; one at the Casino, one at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and two at the Yacht Club. Five weddings on the same night on a 900 acre city park.

Love is in the air.

The venue for the wedding we were attending was the Flynn Memorial Pavilion. I knew this building as the skating pavilion. I had not been inside since I was a kid. Ice skating was a very popular and inexpensive winter family activity. My dad would park the station wagon at this building and we’d go inside and lace up our skates then to out on the opposite side and skate around the islands created by Belle Isle’s canals. It’s fancier now than I remember it.

flynn

This was the fourth same sex wedding I’ve attended since the Supreme Court legalized such unions in Obergefell v. Hodges, in June of 2015. In two of these the partners had already been together for more than 30 years.

In this case Nick and John were both in their late 20’s, the age of so many traditional first marriages. I’d like to report that the fact that there were two grooms was a complete non-issue and it almost was. These families come from smaller communities; Nick’s in Bay City and John’s in Fowlerville. Both of their fathers’ spoke of the pride they felt for their respective sons and welcomed their new son in law into the family. But John’s younger brother’s remarks caught an emotional cord. He kidded about his older bother torturing him as older bothers do. But then spoke of his admiration and respect for how difficult it was for John to be true to himself especially in a small town.

Cue the special effects department. When the ceremony was over and the families were lining up for pictures a rainbow appeared over the Detroit River. You can see the shot I got of it with my camera phone.

And why not? Love was in the air.

Don’t Call Us Trekies

I’m an unrepentant Treker (don’t call us Trekies). 50 years ago yesterday the first episode of the original series premiered. I remember watching this innovative show on Wednesday nights while I was in High School.

In premiere episode of the spin off series “Voyger” Captain Janeway’s ship goes into a worm hole and comes out 70,000 light years from earth. I remember turning to Diane and saying “it will take them more than 70 years to get back”. Then Janeway said the very same thing on the television screen. “How did you know that?” Everyone knows a Galaxy  Class Starship’s maximum velocity is Warp 9.9. You can find a much more detailed discussion of this question here.

I had a chance to meet Leonard Nimoy when he was doing a personal appearance on behalf of George McGovern in Michigan. Long before selfies. I would treasure a photo with him

On the occasion of his death a year ago February the “Today” web site described 5 lessons Mr. Spock taught us. Including;

3. “Every life comes to an end when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned, but only if the life was wasted.”

Spock’s logical side often gave him practical insights into matters that humans had difficulty processing. He sacrificed his life without hesitation in 1982’s “The Wrath of Khan,” ducking into a radioactive chamber to fix the ship’s drive so the rest of the crew could escape.

With his last breaths he told Admiral Kirk not to grieve. “It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh …” to which Kirk finished, “… the needs of the few.” “Or the one,” added Spock. (But this was space opera, so in the next film Spock returned.)

Writing this I realized I haven’t seen the new film Star Trek Beyond which opened this summer.

This week end I will Make It So.

Movin on Up – To the Eastside

Last February I put my house up for sale. I asked a trusted realtor to suggest a realistic price then I added $50,000 and gave him the listing. I expected a long wait for the right buyer but I found myself packing up in May.

The buyers were a family with three teen age kids from suburban Troy. They wanted to be part of the Detroit Experience. Good for them. Mayor Duggan says he wants to be judged on whether or not people are relocating to Detroit. The last time I saw him I let him know I got him five.

This move was one of the toughest experiences of my life. It wasn’t difficult to leave the house. I was ready for that. But dealing with all the stuff in the house was much more emotional than I expected. I was going from about 5,500 square feet to 1,200. At least 85% of the contents had to go.

A good example was what to do with the box of LP records that I acquired in high school and college. I don’t own a turn table. These albums had been in the box in a corner of the basement where I placed them when I first moved in. But holding Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends” and mentally reviewing the playlist of songs, most of which I know by heart to this day was, um, emotional. Did I need this physical object to keep me connected to an earlier era of my life? After agonizing over it for 24 hours the answer came very clearly – NOPE. I spent the rest of the move humming “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. Feel free to click the link and listen to it while reading the rest of this.

So now I’m back on my native Eastside in an “Penthouse” apartment for a year while I figure out what’s next for me. I’m in River Place – the old Parke Davis Pharmaceutical Plant on Jos Campau below Jefferson. When I was born we lived down the street on the other side of the Water Works Plant on Lemay between Jefferson and the River. We moved over by the City Airport when I was seven. But I remember being able to walk to a park and sit on the riverbank and look at Belle Isle.

river-place

Here’s one more song you can listen to.

I wouldn’t say I’m finally getting a piece of the Pie, but I’m enjoying being here.

 

Bumps in the Road

My brother, Ken Einheuser asked me to give a eulogy at the memorial service for his wife, Joy. I was fortunate that I had about three weeks to think about it and I thought about it a lot. I came up with of number of themes which I was able to weave together into a coherent whole. I never wrote anything down and delivered the talk without notes. I’ve received inquiries from some people asking for a copy of the eulogy. Here is what I said as I best remember it. It’s obviously not a verbatim transcript and probably a much better version of what I actually said.

Bumps in the Road

We’ve all hit bumps in the road, haven’t we? We usually mean figurative bumps in the road trivializing bad news or setbacks. Just another bump in the road. Sometimes we experience literal bumps in the road.

One of my earliest memories is of the street we lived on when I was 5 or 6 on the lower east side of Detroit. We lived between Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River. I could walk two blocks to the park  and sit on the riverbank and look across at Belle Isle. Detroit had grand elm trees that formed leafy canopies over the streets. They are largely gone now; wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease.  Sometimes the trees were planted too close the the sidewalk. As the roots at the foot of the tree grew they would push up the concrete slab of the sidewalk creating a 5 or 6 inch bump.

I remember the morning my father brought home my first two wheel bike. I wanted to ride it immediately so he held on the the back of the seat to help me learn how to balance. When I realized he had let go and I was riding on my own I pedaled as fast as I could until I hit one of those raised sidewalk slabs. I went one way the bike went the other.  And in that moment when time seems to stand still, just before I started to cry I realized that my father was right behind me and had been all the time. He reached down took my arm and said “it’s okay Mike. Let’s go home”.

Joy taught us a lot about bumps in the road didn’t she?

Joy was true to her namesake. She brought joy into the lives of each of us. She was a loving daughter, sister, aunt and friend. And she was a loving wife.

Joy was also a healer. You may think I’m speaking figuratively about the healing power of her joy. But she was literally a healer.  Medical care is provided by a team of professionals. Communication among that team is essential. As a master medical transcriptionist  she turned the spoken words of a doctor’s dictation into a document that became an important part of the patient’s chart. She was a key member of that medical team and assisted in the care and healing of thousands of people.

AND JOY WAS A WARRIOR! Can I get an Amen on that? Joy was a warrior.  She fought her battle with fierce courage, bravery, confidence and dignity. She took set backs in stride and said to her foe; “Is that all you’ve got? You are just a bump in the road”.

As hard a Joy fought she did not fear death and neither should we. I remember when my son, Dan was eight or nine years old and at that age when kids start asking difficult questions. He asked, “What happens to us when we die?” I remember saying I can tell you what we believe but I suppose we won’t know for sure until it happens. And I told him I was very curious. He got upset because somehow he heard that I wanted to die. I quickly resolved that. “I’m curious but I’m not anxious. I plan to be around here for a very long time.”

But like Joy we should not fear the inevitability of death. Because when that time comes we will celebrate a joyful reunion. I will see my father. I will see my brother in law, Jack. And I will see Joy. Because when Joy hit her last bump in the road and experienced that moment when time seems to stop, that moment between this world and the next, she realized that the one that we all call Father was right behind her. And He had been right behind her her entire life. He was especially close during the past two years. He took her by the arm and said; “It’s alright Joy. Let’s go home”.

I suspect that, like me, you all are curious but not anxious. So I want to end these remarks with a question. “What are we suppose to do between now and then?” It’s an old lawyer’s trick you know. Never ask a question you don’t have an answer to.

Yesterday in my church we celebrated the feast of Pentecost. Following the death, resurrection and assenion of Jesus, God sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Apostles.  The Holy Spirit is here in this church today. The Holy Spirit is going to give us God’s grace. It won’t happen tomorrow or next week or even next month but we will receive the healing power of that grace. The grief we feel now for what we have lost will gradually become gratitude for what we had. Our memories of Joy will bring a smile not tears.

Joy is alive in each of us. Our mission is to be Joy to those around us. Be Joy the loving parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, friend and spouse.  Be Joy the healer. Be aware of and be present for those around you who are hurting and in pain. Be Joy the WARRIOR! When adversity comes your way, as surly it will, look it in the face with Joy’s courage and confidence. Tell it; “is that all you’ve got? You’re just a bump in the road.”

Remember a few years ago it was popular for Christians to wear wrist bands with the letters WWJD? I once heard a sermon titled “What Would Jesus Do?” The only thing I remember from that sermon was the pastor saying “The next time you ask the question ‘What Would Jesus Do’ remember among your options is flipping over all the tables and going crazy.” That’s a pretty good thing to keep in mind.

Well, it is to God alone we give all praise, honor and glory. But I don’t think God would mind it one bit if the next time we thought of the letters WWJD we asked ourselves the question; “What would Joy do?”

Pretty In Pink

I remembered to bring my pink polo shirt to the office yesterday. Those who know me well would assume I’ll forget about things like this. Diane and I left early to drive to my brother Dave’s house in Metamora for our 2nd “Pink Party”. This time we were joined my (much older) brother Ron’s family visiting from Seattle.  His granddaughter Penny was making her first appearance in Michigan.

Our Pink Parties are our opportunity to stand in solidarity with my Sister in Law Joy Einheuser. Over the past couple of years Joy has become a fierce and courageous warrior against Cancer.

I hate Cancer.

Less than an hour before we had to leave Fred Hoffman posted this on Facebook.

Dear Facebook Friends: Let me invite you to a new journey with Jim and me. After a hellish three weeks of tests, I just got the diagnosis of advanced stage cancer in several places – and an aggressive treatment plan to battle it will begin soon. I am so grateful for the medical professionals who picked this up from a routine physical blood test and got on it so quickly – two ultrasounds, two MRIs, a colonoscopy, a gastroentrophy, a CAT scan and a PET scan, plus more blood work than this pin cushion should endure. At least we now know the enemy and we know that prayer (Father Solanus!), a positive attitude, the best caregiver in the world (Jim) and modern medicine are all on our side. And yes, our doc says I will be OK on our big day, Nov. 29. . . .Thanks for being there for Jim and me!

Troubling words, “advanced stage”, “several places” and “aggressive treatment”.

I actually knew Fred and his partner Jim before they knew each other. I met Fred in the early 70’s when he wrote about politics for the Dearborn Press and Guide and he interviewed me as a candidate for the Wayne State University Board of Governors. I went to High School with Jim.  He’s been a friend since we were both 14.

Jim brought Fred to a class reunion many years ago. I interrupted Jim when he was introducing me. “Jim, I already know Fred”.

About a month and a half ago I was thrilled to get the invitation. After nearly thirty years together and one important Supreme Court Decision they are getting married. We will all be there on their big day, but…

I hate Cancer

Jeanne Ellis was 32 when she came to work in my law firm.  She was a brilliant lawyer and a competitive volley ball and co-ed football (I don’t mean soccer) player. Just after the firm’s holiday party she came to me to say that she had discovered a lump and that it was confirmed to be malignant. She intended to fight it aggressively and we were all in her corner. I told her to take the time she needed for her treatment. I knew she could continue to do the work and the rest of us would cover for her when necessary.

I made it a point to go into her office every morning, perch myself on her desk and ask her what was going on and how she was doing. She was a woman of great poise and optimism. But one morning following a doctor’s appointment she had fire in her eyes. She looked up at me and said; “If I hear one more doctor start a sentence with the words, ‘The evidence suggests….’ I will scream!. Mike, they have no goddamn idea what they are doing. They are guessing and making it up as they go along.”

The absolutely hardest thing I’ve ever done as an employer is to sit down with Jeanne and tell her to go home. The cancer had metastasized to her bones. Watching her constantly shift positions in her chair during a staff meeting I realized she was in pain. “We are keeping your office for you. Take the time you need to deal with this. You come back whenever you feel up to it. ” She never did.

She was skeletal and in a hospital bed in her parents living room the last time we spoke. Making what I thought was small talk I asked her about what she thought about the quality of care from our insurer’s HMO. “Everything was great, Mike. My only complaint with them is that they sent me home to die”.

I hate Cancer

Jack was my sister Carol’s high school sweet heart. When their three boys were all teens Jack went to have a persistent cough checked. He never smoked but had a lemon sized tumor in his lung. The cancer didn’t take long to spread to his brain. Jack had a number of great gifts. Among them was him comforting me in my distress when I thought I had come to comfort him.

I don’t like the notion that cancer survivors are heroes.  What does that make those who don’t survive? Something less than a hero?

The real cruelty of cancer is the inevitable “Sophie’s Choice” of quality of life versus length of life.

Let’s always honor the survivors and fighters as well as those who are no longer with us.

Joy and Fred – we are with you with all the thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and whatever else we can provide.  Your courage inspires us.

Jeanne and Jack – we are grateful that you were such an important part of our lives. Your courage continues to inspires us too.

GOD I HATE CANCER