Amazing Aug02

Amazing

Met an absolutely true gentleman tonight during Roselle Park’s National Night Out. We were waiting in line for the water slide with Mariposa and Ezekiel as our youngest gets more excited with each little step that brings us closer to the slide. A bit in front of us some young pre-teen girls are blowing raspberries at each other in a joking manner. This young man (who we later find out to be) eight years old is between us and the girls. He looks around as they do this and must have seen some reaction in my face. The young boy whispers, “I don’t think they should do that. That’s not a nice thing to do.” I tell him, “You know what? I think so too.” He smiles back and says, “I like the water slide. This is fun.” His wet face shows he had been on it before. I say to him, “You are a really nice young man.” Without missing a beat nor with any sense of self-import he responds, “I want to work to be a good man someday.” What eight-year-old says that?!?!?! I just instinctively put out my hand and say, “Hi. What’s your name?” He shakes it and says, “Michael. But you can call me Mike or Mikey.” I look to Lis and say, “Amazing!” That young man has more sense than I ever will. For all the disappointments we express about our little hometown, there are wondrous examples of decency with people such as Michael and his parents. Simply amazing. Seriously, what eight-year-old says...

Mother’s Day 2016 May08

Mother’s Day 2016...

Some pretty f*$%@ I mean messed up sh*#, I mean stuff, you find out about your mother and father that are terrifying and amazing. Out of all things, it started with her wedding ring falling to the ground. For those who do not know, my mother suffered a pretty severe stroke on January 2nd. She is recuperating now and what started out with half her body being completely paralyzed is currently lack of strength in her left hand, especially her index finger and thumb. But that night she and my father went out to eat and were dancing and suddenly my father heard her wedding ring hit the floor and went to pick it up and ask my mother what happened. It was then he realized something was wrong and it looked like she was having a stroke. She had suffered a mild one 16 years before. He immediately walks her out and gets the car to drive her to the hospital. When they get there his and her fears are confirmed. She was suffering a stroke. After preliminary necessary stuff the doctor comes in to tell them that there is this procedure that can possibly reverse the damage being done to the left side of her body. The two risks are that it might not work (only a 5% chance) and it might kill her (50%). Mind you, I hear about this later but in those early hours with just the two of them, she asks him, “Well? Do you think we should do it?” My father says to her, “I don’t know. What do you want? It’s a tough decision.” It is at this point that my mother says, “Remember what we told each other about not wanting to have one of...

Speechless Jan08

Speechless

A beautiful gift from a wonderful woman. I am speechless. The Qersdyn family is beyond grateful and blessed to know Cathy Drake.

Memorial May25

Memorial

Andreotta, Glenn U., 20 On April 8, 1968, 20-year-old Glenn Andreotta was the door gunner on a Hiller Raven helicopter in Vietnam who was killed while taking enemy fire. He never made it home. His name is on panel 48E, line 50, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is just one of the estimated 1,354,668 American soldiers, sailors, airmen/women, Marines who died while serving our country in the military. But to understand something about Memorial Day, you might want to know about something Glenn did about three weeks previous, on March 18, 1968 to realize sacrifices military men and women make. For what we believe in. For what America stands for. Glenn Andreotta was part of a three-man helicopter crew led by 24-year-old Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, Jr. and Glenn had just jumped out to grab a little boy injured by gunfire to get him back on the helicopter. The small village this took place in is My Lai. A quick primer on My Lai. For some time, the Viet Cong set up camp in My Lai at night and threatened the villagers with death if they did not shelter them so they could attack American soldiers stationed and patrolling some distance away. In the morning the VC would pull back further into the jungle and the Americans would come in asking where the Viet Cong were, knowing they had been there the night before. On that March day, American soldiers, tired of day after day of being attacked night after night by the VC and scared for their lives had reached their breaking point, but they crossed the line. They began burning the village to the ground started killing the villagers – unarmed villagers. Throwing grenades into huts filled with...

Lilia May11

Lilia

Okay, so what is a mother? I ask because today is the day to say ‘love you’ to mom. Great mom, best mom, wonderful mom, mommy, mama, mother. But, whether we really think about it or not, these women are people, beyond that title. For me, I just want to take a moment to talk about Lilia, the woman who is my mother. Now, before I start I must let you know I do love my mother and she is still alive so this is not going to be one of those I wish I still had my mom around (I do) or glad she is out of my life (I do not) kind of rambling. This is about taking some time to talk about the woman who had a history with dreams, aspirations, and a life before I came into the picture. She was a little girl with friends and dreams, a teenager with friends and dreams, and a woman with friends and dreams who had expectations of what she wanted out of her future. She grew up, went to school, got a job, fell in love, got married, and then I came along. In between all those things was her developing identity as a person – not a mother. Not sure I was what she envisioned for a son. I will tell you she does not understand my choices in life. But still she loves me. I know that for a fact. But still, this woman has friends, relatives, co-workers, and acquaintances who see her and choose to be with her for her own merits, beyond and apart from the woman I know as mom. But what if she was not my mother? Would I choose to have her in my life...

First Down Jan13

First Down

January 13, 1982. So remember that Polar Vortex we experienced last week? Well, imagine being stuck in that with no coat. Add that your clothes (and entire body) are soaked in ice water and that snow is falling hard . . . all this because the plane you were on slammed into a bridge and hit the river you are now drowning in. That happened on this day 32 years ago. Amid that tragedy is a guy who might be called a hero. Now, I am not someone who has many heroes in my life. The list is short and includes my father, my eldest son, Malik El-Hajj El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), the unknown postman (he is for another day), and a guy named Lenny Skutnik. Now while the first two might be understandable and the third is well-known, there is Lenny – Martin Leonard Skutnik III to be exact but I have always known him as Lenny although I have never met him. Just a guy. On his way home from work, he became one of many bystanders on the side of the Potomac River watching a tragedy unfold. A passenger plane had crashed amid afternoon traffic and was sinking into the river. Air Florida Flight 90 had just taken off from Washington National Airport but something went horribly wrong and it stalled, careening into the Potomac, killing four people who were in their cars just sitting in traffic before bulleting into the river. As the snow fell, the crowd that instinctively gathered saw about a half dozen people floating in the water. What no one knew then was that all but one of those people in the river were going to be the only survivors of that crash. 79 people on board, 5...