What a Year!

            It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

A Tale of Two Cities-Charles Dickens.

 2014.  What a year!  2 weeks ago, my daughter Dana made me a Grandpa for the very first time. Kazuo Bryan Folick graced the world with his presence.

What a cute little guy.  He even cries cute.  There is no doubt there’s Show Biz blood flowing in his baby veins.

As a proud Grandparent let me say with all modesty the little guy is a scene stealer who stole my heart.

If you are reading this piece, the odds are you are over the age of 50.  That means there is a good possibility that you too might be a Grandparent. So, it goes without much fanfare to state that Grand-parenthood is a very special club.  There is no special handshake but members are afforded very special status.

There is nothing quite like it.

On the other hand, one of my very best friends died yesterday.

His on-air name was John Darin.  His birth name was John Christian Miller.  In Southern California, John Darin was a very well-known Radio and Television news anchor.  Before turning to news, he was a leading DJ personality at many of the top Radio stations in LA.

If you ever saw any of the early Ginsu knives television commercials, then you know John Darin.

It was Pancreatic Cancer that did him in.  His passing left a gaping hole in my life.  He was a best friend, a mentor, a joy and a lot of laughs to hang with.  And, I know I’m not the only person feeling this loss.

I’m not sure an IRS audit constitutes some stabilizing middle ground position but, it’s what I must contend with at the moment.

And, we’re just into March.

Babies, Death and the IRS have their own set timetables that don’t necessarily adhere to any clearly understandable protocol.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I got the word that my daughter was in Labor, which put us on official “Baby Alert.”

We took the first plane out from Los Angeles over to Houston to meet the newest addition to the Heatherton clan.

Seeing and then holding my Grandson for the first time transcends any worthwhile, meaningful or accurate verbal description.  It brought me to tears.  The experience is something so spiritual.  The Japanese language sums it up best, “Shi gatta ganai”; meaning it can’t be explained.

An event like this helps put things in proper  perspective; as in what is really important in life.  For me, it’s love.  This child was brought into the world by love. He is the result of love.

Watching my daughter, Dana nursing little Kaz while my son-in-law, Andy is stroking Dana’s back was an experience I will treasure for the remainder of my life.  It was Love taken to a 3rd  echelon.

It was nothing short of a spiritual experience.

We get so worked up about the Incidental things in life; Taxes, Traffic, Career, etc. that it’s all too easy to neglect the meaningful and ignore the Essentials when what really matters are those rare moments of inexplicable rapture and harmonious solace that give life real meaning.

At the same time, my friend, John, called to let me know he had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  He told me this as if it were no big deal.  Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, by any definition, is a death sentence.

Since I am a Cancer survivor, I suggested to John, keep a journal.  Write down what you’re going through, what you’re thinking, how the Cancer changes your outlook so that when the Cancer goes into remission,  you’ve got a best selling tome ready to hit the book shelves along with TV/Radio interviews as well as many in-person presentations.

He agreed.  I wanted to give him hope but, I know him well enough to know that he saw through my charade.

I asked John to give me his sister’s contact number as she lived nearby his treatment center so, I could get an update.  The next day I spoke with her.  She told me the Doctors had told John the recovery outlook was grim.  He had anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months left to live.

Talk about the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.

With both events happening at the same time, I’m not sure if I’m crying Tears of Joy or Tears of Sorrow.  Honestly, it’s exhausting.

And then, there’s the IRS.  I’m being audited.

Right now, I could give a S- – t about Taxes.  They’ll get their pound of flesh and then-some on a payment plan.

At this moment, I am numb.

I can’t wait to see little Kaz again and I’m missing my pal, John.

The only consolation for me is Gratitude.  I’m so glad I’m here to see and hold my Grandson, little KazB (as in Cosby) while at the same time grateful to have been honored having John Darin as one of my closest friends.

John had a very unique sense of humor.

After I received the call regarding his passing, both my wife and I were just a wreck. We had planned to go out that night but neither of us were  really in the mood for fun and games.  But, I didn’t want to go home.

We tried a few places but nothing seemed right.

I don’t know why but we wound up at a Mexican Restaurant with a sizable Mariachi Band serenading the customers.

Even though we were in an adjoining room, we could still hear the music.  It was enough of a distraction where my wife and I could commiserate without being conspicuous in our sorrow.

We needed to be lost in a crowd and we were.

As I mentioned, John had unique sense of humor.

Out of nowhere, the Mariachi band and the singer went into their rendition of “New York, New York.”  New York, New York in a Mexican restaurant?  OK, maybe at a Mexican restaurant in Gptham but in LA?  This was a serious case of the strange.

It was sooo unexpected and so out of place that it turned our tears to laughter.  Hearing “New York, New York” Mariachi style is one of the most surreal experiences ever.

I will never be convinced otherwise that my recently departed friend John caused Divine intervention to take hold and was completely responsible for this laugh-out-loud incongruity.

That was John Darin.

2014.  What a year.  It really is the best of times and the worst of times.

So, I am left with wonderful memories of a great guy.  I look forward to seeing my Grandson, KazB and now must contend with an IRS audit.

I can only hope that during my appointment with the Internal Revenue that somewhere  nearby and within listening distance, there’s a Mariachi band playing “New York, New York.”


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