Some of you may or may not remember a post I wrote about 13 months ago titled The Jigsaw Man. If you missed it, it was about my 83 year old father who had Alzheimer’s and dementia. I thought of him as The Jigsaw Man because that’s what his brain, his memories seemed like to me, a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces didn’t fit or match up with each other anymore. He had bits and pieces of information in his head and it seemed as if he were constantly trying to grasp them but they would slip through his mental fingers. Even his memories of who I was seemed out of his reach over the past couple years.
Yes, he passed away about ten day’s before Father’s Day. What was interesting to me was that my memories of him changed with his passing. During his last several years he wasn’t the man I grew up with. Initially I thought that to be very sad, and it is, but the process of laying someone to rest requires sorting and sifting through their whole lives. Ironically, and maybe intentionally, my dad saved pictures going back through his entire life, possibly knowing when his memory was fading that he would need these to remember who he was. He missed the internet revolution, so all of his pictures are of the printed out, Kodak film type, that never got a single like on Facebook. Something about that makes them seem a little more special.
It was good fortune that he did, because it was a wonderful reminder to me of who he was over the course of his life, and it softened the painful memories of the last 5-10 years.
One thing that my father’s disease and passing has given me is an appreciation of the here and now. We always think we have more time. My dad, who was 84 when he passed, lived a pretty long life, but from day to day, he didn’t remember most of it for the last several years. He lived in the moment because it was all he had. On my last visit with him at the memory care facility he’s lived in over the past year, in the moment all he wanted was to sit in the courtyard and feel the sun on his face. So that’s what we did, and he smiled.
Here’s to hoping that in the afterlife he’s finally getting the internet and can read this. Thanks for everything dad. ~Phil
The title got your attention didn’t it? Yesterday The Golden Boys and I played the 27th annual Nipple Ring Open. The 1990 Nipple Ring Open was the first of the official Golden Boy weekend functions. We were all out of college and Chuck had gone off to the Navy. He was back for a week after boot camp and of course could think of nothing better to do than to spend time with The Golden Boys. As I said in Chuck’s write up, The Golden Boys were, I believe, more responsible for raising him to be the man he became than his own family was.
Apparently we did a very poor job of instilling our values in him. He runs off to join the Navy and comes home with…a nipple ring. As his mentors and role models you can imagine how disappointed in him we were. Of course you can also imagine how much abuse we heaped upon him, including a fair bit of painful tugging on his ring. The Nipple Ring Open was an informal golf tournament we played amongst ourselves and videotaped a large part of our idiocy.
I’m not sure if Chuck still has the nipple ring, but I wouldn’t bet against it. About 10 years later we had the 10th Anniversary Nipple Ring Open and we all wore matching shirts that we had specially made and which said, “The Golden Boys: Nipple Ring Open 2000.” We only realized later, as we all sat in McDonald’s in our matching Nipple Ring shirts, how gay we must have looked. The sun was hot, the beer was cold, and the golf was bad.
This year we played our 27th Nipple Ring Open, and apropos to the title, we all went shirtless, but no one had a nipple ring.
My life has a soundtrack. Although I have nearly zero musical ability, I am an avid music listener and concert goer. In my head, many of my happiest memories in life are attached to the songs that were playing when the memory occurred. It’s never been a conscious effort on my part to pair memories with music, it just happens. It’s a wonderful time machine. I hear a song on the radio and suddenly my imagination takes me somewhere years ago with my friends. On my own, I’m all about modern alternative rock, but when I’m with The Golden Boys we hop in the Way Back Machine and fire up the songs from our youth. My life-long friends and I are together this weekend and when we’re together music is always on in the background. Here is The Golden Boys playlist:
Crazy Train: Ozzy Osbourne
Back in Black: AC/DC
Fantasy: Aldo Nova
Your Love: The Outfield
Just Between You and Me: April Wine
Fight For Your Right To Party: The Beastie Boys
The Safety Dance: Men Without Hats
Don’t Fear The Reaper: Blue Oyster Cult
The Stroke: Billy Squier
Sunglasses At Night: Corey Hart
One Thing Leads To Another: The Fixx
I Want You To Want Me: Cheap Trick
Come On Eileen: Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Jukebox Hero: Foreigner
Simple Man: Lynyrd Skynrd
If you have a cell phone and go out to bars occasionally you should get the TouchTunes app. For a very small fee the app lets you choose the music for the jukebox in whatever bar that has it. Whenever The Golden Boys go out, we are happy to pay to have our music played all night long. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my novel White Picket Prisons, available on Amazon in paperback or e-book. So what songs are on the playlist of your life?
Self-proclaimed grand poobah of leisure and author of humorous suspense novels The Sneaker Tree & White Picket Prisons, the humor essay book Fifty Shades of Phil and the long running blog The Phil Factor.