#dadupdate – Funeral Arrangements

05/06/2016

Sometime during the first overtime.

Reality walloped me.

Right in the back of the skull. Like an accelerating two by four.

Like a battering ram. Reality came crashing through the walls of my defenses.

We got home around … hell, I don’t remember … 10:30? It was the third period of the hockey game. That’s all I know.

Sharks and Preds. Game four. Round two.

That’s how I tell time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I’m not joking.  The world sorta stops for a few hours almost every single night for two months. A playoff game is on!

And it’s thanks to Dad that I watch with such fanatical fervor.

Like a kid. Still. Almost 58 years old.

That’s a topic for another time. More later.

But this week… and more particularly on this night… things are different.

I sat on the right edge of the bed. My side. TV on. Hockey game on. Kathy sawing logs behind me.

I’d taken my contacts out, so I was pretty much blind. Didn’t bother finding my glasses. I sat there and stared at my smartphone.

I looked at some Facebook notifications, posts and comments that Facebook decides are important to me. I saw Doug’s post about Dad’s funeral arrangements. Then Stephanie’s post.

I  shared Stephanie’s post on my Facebook page. Then I decided to share the actual obituary.


Earlier in the evening, before we left Mom and Dad’s house, I made the last-minute decision to cancel my appointments this morning.

It was too late to call anyone. I have a rule not to call a client after 9 PM. I sent texts and emails to cover all the bases.

One client acknowledged me immediately via text and asked for details about Dad’s services. I wanted to share a link to the obit.

The obit on the funeral home’s mobile website didn’t appear to be shareable. Before I shared it with my client, I tested it out to see what page opened when I typed the address into my browser.

It took me to a generic page for Simkins Funeral Home.

“Well, that’s no good. I want to give him information, not send him on a wild goose chase. He’s being very kind.”

I wanted whatever I sent to be complete information… didn’t want to make him work to answer his own question.

There was a link to the full website. That’s what I was looking for. Clicked on the obits. Clicked on Dad’s name.

There was his obit. With that great picture.

Was the link shareable? That was the most important part of this experiment.

I tested it.

Yes. That link took me directly to Dad’s complete obituary.

I sent the link to my client.


So there I was, sitting on the bed. After sharing Stephanie’s Facebook post, I decided to share this direct link to the full obituary.OI2047625967_Kwiecinski

Countless numbers of people have replied to Facebook posts and have sent me personal messages.

I haven’t seen most of them. We’ve been too busy with funeral arrangements, the cemetery, funeral Mass prep, fighting traffic…

As I sat on the edge of the bed, TV no more than four feet away (all I can see are shadows without glasses or contacts), I read some of the messages.

All of the emotions of the words written by friends and family welled up inside of me as I read and responded.

But none of the words hit me harder than gazing at that picture of Dad’s smiling face.

I’ll never see your smiling face again.

I’ll never hear another smart-ass wisecrack.

Doesn’t it look like he’s got one on his lips?

One look at that picture and tears flooded my eyes. I sobbed hysterically. And I pretty much haven’t stopped since.

I’ll never hear him tell me “Love you, Dave” again.

I’ll never hear his voice. I’ll never hear his laugh.

I’ll never kiss his puckered lips again.

Yes, we kissed each other on the lips.

Men, if you don’t kiss your Dad, start. Look directly into his eyes. Tell him you love him. While looking directly into his eyes.

And give him a kiss. Doesn’t have to be on the lips. But if you kiss your Mom on the lips, find a way to start kissing your Dad on the lips. Or on the cheek. Make it tender. Make it loving. Make it heartfelt.

I’ll never get to do it again.

Here’s Dad’s obituary:

http://www.simkinsfh.com/obits/obituary.php?id=602989

 


Donal Trump, Chicago’s Blackhawks and Rioters Are Just Like You and Me

03/13/2016

The Chicago Blackhawks, my favorite professional team playing my favorite sport — hockey — act like human beings, lose badly, and I get pissed off at them.

Rioters and protesters shut down a political event in the city of Chicago and I get all bent out of shape.

A man attempts to launch an assault on Donald Trump at one of his rallies and we see a vulnerable, human side of him. And ponder along with him whether the run for the White House is worth the sizable risk.

An infant girl dies. A father posts the horribly sad details and share a family photo. Amidst the heartbreaking sadness, there is a beauty in all of it… truly a peace that passes all understanding.

Hear me talk about all of it:

 

These are the events that occur in a period of 15 or 16 hours of my life. And I slept for seven of those hours!

All the events tie together. They are all part of this grand human experience. There’s a reason for everything.

And there’s an inevitability that we will experience pain, suffering, heartbreak, anger, annoyance, sadness.

And death.

It’s because we are human, imperfect, and finite.

It’s all a metaphor for Lent.

We are brought into this world. As Christians, we have a role to play in the world. As humans, we experience an imperfect existence. We will endure hardship of one sort or another. We will suffer. Our hearts will be broken, because we are loving creatures. And we will die.

For what?

Because we are imperfect. Because the world is imperfect. Because the real call… the true call… is to become holy as Jesus is holy so that we can enter heaven.

Remember, the one who dies with the most dies doesn’t win. It’s the person who dies with a heart full of love who wins.

The suffering perfects us. Like iron strengthens iron, suffering strengthens the human spirit.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Who the Heck Says YOU Are a Writer?

07/28/2015

I love hockey. Fanatic. Maniacal fanatic.

I played as a kid. Skokie Park District team and my high school club team, the Niles West Indians.

I stunk.

Well….

… maybe that’s a bit harsh. But I wasn’t very good.

Was I a hockey player?

Sure I was! I wasn’t a National Hockey League superstar. But I was a hockey player.

It’s okay to call myself a hockey player. It’s not okay to say I was a star in the NHL.

Jeff Goins is a writer, and although I have never met him in person, someone I consider a friend. He wrote a brief post on why you aren’t really a writer until you decide to call yourself a writer.

I agree.

Do you write? No? Well, then you’re not a writer. But if you write, then you’re a writer.

It’s that simple.

Was I a hockey player?

So who are you trying to convince? Somebody else?

Or you?

Listen and watch what happens when you confidently tell a person that you are (or introduce yourself as) a writer.

Try it. Observe.

Two takeaways:

(1) They believe you.
(2) You start to believe it, too.

Over time, you replace your internal dialogue. A person who doesn’t know you immediately identifies you a certain way. You, however, know you. If you haven’t already identified yourself as a writer, how can you convince yourself?

Unless you convince yourself.

Tell yourself you are a writer.


The National Hockey League is back!

01/08/2013

It’s not yet official.  But after four months of bitter wrangling, the National Hockey League owners and players appear to have forged a new labor agreement that will get the boys back on the ice, hopefully put fans back in the stands, and makes this writer a whole lotta happy.

Hockey is my favorite sport.  I could watch every day of the week.  I could play it as often, too.  And it doesn’t matter what kind… ice hockey, floor hockey, Garage Arena (yes, in the garage), table hockey… heck, I’ve even got a board/card version of NHL hockey that’s 30 years old.  And Uncle Bob and I used to play hockey in the kitchen on our knees using old wooden rulers covered with a sock (so we didn’t damage the floor) and a ping pong ball.

Uncle Bob, Dad, and Uncle Wally got in trouble for playing hockey with real stick and a tennis ball, I think, in Babcia and Dziadzia (Grandma and Grandpa) Konieczka’s basement.

And that was as adults!

We are a hockey-crazed family.

Actually, we’re a sports-crazed family.  Hockey has played a prominent role.

And it’s my fave.

The owners still have to approve the contract.  So do the players.

Everyone expects that to happen.

The players and coaches will get seven days or less to prepare for the season.  Then, a 48-game sprint to the playoffs will start late next week.  If it’s anything like what happened in the NBA last year, there will be some bad hockey and a rash of injuries.

That’s a shame.  And it didn’t have to be.

The owners locked out the players in 2004 and the entire season was cancelled.  The following summer, the owners essentially told the players what they would give them.

This year, the owners locked out the players again when the collective bargaining agreement expired; the opening offer they made to the players was truly a slap in the face.

Owners should have a right to pay what they deem appropriate.  I am not fan of unions, particularly in professional sports, but I sympathized with the players this time.  The owners are the guys who offer large sums of money to the players for multiple year contracts.  Nobody forces the owners to offer and sign these contracts.

So when the owners, collectively, told the players they wanted to pay them about 75% of what the players were earning just a few months earlier, the players said no and I immediately sided with the players.

The owners were playing hard ball.  After several of them made large contract offers to players over the summer, signed them to long contracts, and then told them they didn’t want to give them all that money.

Irresponsible.

Who suffered?

The non-superstar players making at or near the minimum contract.  The front office staff of each team.  Concession workers.  Parking attendants.  Local restaurants.  Businesses selling hockey-related merchandise.  The local municipalities, who lost out on tax revenue as well.

Unnecessary.

So we salvage the season.  I don’t know how fans will react.  Will they come back in earnest?  Will they be more vocal when they perceive a player or coach — or perhaps even team ownership — is underperforming?  Will they hold everyone to a higher standard? 

Or will they simply be thankful and relieved that hockey is back and forget the four months of neglect and disregard?

I know this post has jumped around.  Just wanted to get some thoughts on paper (electronic paper, that is!).

I’m still infuriated at how this transpired.

But when they drop the puck for the first time, the pain will begin to fade.


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