INTO MEMORY – Rich Paschall

In Memoriam 2018, Rich Paschall

Many people go into our memories as the years go by.  Some will linger there always.  Some will pass by for a fleeting moment, remembered and then forgotten, as the years put clouds in front of them. Some memories we will cherish always, some not at all.

This past year, as in those preceding it, awards shows and year-end retrospectives highlight those we have lost through their “In Memoriam.”  This phrase is from the Latin term meaning “into memory” so it is into our memories we commend those who have left but meant much to us in our lives.

These passings do not only bring sadness for those who are gone, but they also remind us that we are entering a later time in the autumns of our lives. For this thought, we also have sadness for ourselves, knowing winter is near.

I will offer ten names that meant a lot to me in the past.  There will be no numbers.  It is not a top ten in the usual sense.  I looked over some lists and picked ten that have been committed fondly into my memory.  You may add yours in the comments.

Stan Lee

On the short list, I also had Sen. John McCain, although I disagreed with him often.  There was Stan Lee for creating the comic universe of superheroes. Also listed was Stephen Hawking, who had a beautiful mind locked in a diseased and twisted body.  The prolific playwright Neil Simon brought us many great movies and plays. Also passing was the former lead of Jefferson Airplane, Marty Balin, and the lead of the Irish pop group Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, who died too young (46).

Waving a fond goodbye but staying forever in my memory:

Jerry Van Dyke, 86.  The younger brother of Dick Van Dyke began his career by playing Rob Petrie’s younger brother in a few episodes of the Dick Van Dyke show.  He is most fondly remembered as an assistant in the long-running sitcom, Coach.

Nanette Fabray, 97. She began her career in vaudeville.  I remember her as someone who appeared frequently on the early variety shows of television and later as a frequent game show guest.  She fought to show the importance of closed captioning in media, as she had been losing her hearing for many years.  Here she performs in the musical “the Band Wagon:”

Tab Hunter, 86.  The actor, singer, and writer became a movie star in the 1950s and ’60s.  He was a teen heart-throb to many young girls and a few young guys too.  He had a number one hit with “Young Love,” although this 1957 performance on the Perry Como Show may not have been his best effort.  At least you will get to hear the girls scream:

Harry Anderson, 65.  The magician and comedian scored two successful comedy series on television.  The first was the long-running Night Court where he played the judge of a Manhattan court at night.  Next up was Dave’s World, loosely based on writings of Dave Barry.

Burt Reynolds, 82.  Although he had many iconic movie roles as well as highly regarded television series, I enjoyed him most in the sitcom Evening Shade. My memory recalls it as a thoughtful, well-written program with a top-notch ensemble cast.

John Mahoney, 77.  The veteran stage and movie actor will be best remembered as the dad on Frasier (and Niles) on the sitcom of the same name.  Locally, John was often seen on stage in Chicago in productions of the renowned Steppenwolf Theater.

Roy Clark, 85.  The country singer and musician played host on the variety show, Hee Haw. Think of Laugh-In populated with country “hicks.” Having many southern relatives, we were greatly amused by this show and watched regularly.

Bill Daily, 91.  Daily was born in Des Moines, Iowa but the family moved to Chicago.  He graduated from high school in my neighborhood (long before my time) and went to the famous Goodman Theater school here.  He scored two successful stints as a sidekick on television, one in I Dream of Jeannie and the other was the Bob Newhart Show.

Penny Marshall, 75.  Best known for playing Laverne on the Happy Days spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, Marshall went on the be a well-respected producer and director.  “Big” is a favorite film, the first one directed by a woman to gross more than 100 million dollars.

Aretha Franklin, 76.  The Queen of Soul earned a lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T in her life.  The talented singer and musician excelled in many musical categories and earned her place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The Chicago based musical Blues Brothers is a favorite with us and the following is one of the best numbers in the film.

THE TENACIOUS WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

 Holding Fast – Tenacious 
Weekend

Weekends used to speed faster than the mosquito you’re trying to smack. When I was working, there were a few things you knew about them.

1 – You weren’t going to get half the things done you had planned because there weren’t enough hours to fit them into one weekend;
2 – You knew how much you hated your job by how whether you hated it on Friday night or didn’t hate it until Sunday;
3 – Why didn’t people make weekdays an hour and a quarter longer so you could have a three-day weekend?

A three-day weekend was enough time to sleep for one day, do stuff that needed doing on another, and have some fun on the third. That one extra day of not-working was a big deal.

Spring
April canal and river

Towards the end of my working years, much of it was spent working electronically from home, so the pressure to somehow get “everything” done on the weekend was greatly reduced and of course now, retired, I find weekends annoying because offices are closed and I can’t deal with “stuff.” I have to remember to do them on Monday — or Tuesday in case I forget on Monday.

Retirement, after a few years during which you keep time like you used to, starts to be all of a piece. Every day is like every other day. The only reason I have an inkling of which day of the week is passing is that I schedule posts in advance. Also, when I’m planning out bill payments, I need the calendar. And, I need to remember the beginning of the month because that’s when I give the dogs their heartworm medicine.

I check the calendar to see when we have doctors appointments.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – July
August

All of this makes me think about time, calendars, weekdays, weekends. Other than appointments that occur on a specified schedule, do the weekends matter? Are they relevant? Do I care whether it is the ninth of the months or the eleventh? Other than calculating the arrival of our Social Security checks, how does calendar time affect my reality?

Effectively, time barely matters. The seasons’ matter, but I have a better sense of the seasons from being outside and feeling the weather than via the calendar. Summer is longer, winter is long and the in-between seasons — the good time — are much shorter.

September
October

Time slows in winter and the weeks go slowly when you can’t go out much. Winter lasts a long time in New England, especially when the snow begins early and the cold of winter lasts until late.  Birthdays become increasingly less critical as you get older. Not only less critical but sometimes rather unpleasant.

I don’t want to turn 72 in March. I’m pretty sure Garry doesn’t want to become 77 in April and I’m equally sure my son doesn’t yearn to be 50 in May.

First blizzard – January

Meanwhile, today is Sunday. I don’t remember what I did yesterday. I literally don’t remember anything. It came, it went. The weather is cool this weekend, but it will warm up later in the week — and there’s a possible hurricane wandering around the south Atlantic which might have something to do with us, but we aren’t sure.

March

I know it’s the weekend because Colbert and Trevor aren’t on, but football has come again. The Red Sox lost yesterday at home against the Astros. Not good.

So basically, Sunday is a day. On Monday, it will rain.

SUDDENLY, THE YEAR TURNS

Suddenly …


Age is a very strange thing. You are a child, then you are young and these days, you are young for a very long time. Young really up through your fifties and for many people, pretty youthful into their sixties. Then, it changes. Maybe a little. Sometimes a lot and quite suddenly.

Macro birthday bouquet

The face that has been almost the same since your twenties is different. Older. Not just wrinkles, but there’s a “look” of maturity that tells the world — and you — that’s you’ve been around. You’ve seen a lot. You know things. Older eyes are different and it’s impossible to explain what that means. It doesn’t mean they do not sparkle with joy, but there is a knowingness that is missing in young eyes.

More birthday bouquet

This year has vanished even faster than usual. In fact, this entire last decade has been a wink and a shrug. I do not feel older this year than last. Actually, I feel better this year than last, but I’ve been gradually recovering from earlier surgeries and it’s nice that there’s a semblance of progress. Still, I sometimes don’t understand how I got here. I remember the years. I mostly remember what I was doing for most of them … but how do they add up to such a big number?

Yet here I am.

Macro bouquet

This twirling, whirling, busy world is a bauble in the great universe and we are just little crawly dots on its surface. In the even greater scheme of things, we are barely here at all. I’m not sure whether or not that perspective is comforting or chilling. Maybe both?