Friday, August 31, 2007

Time stops for no one

It's been a while since I have had a soapbox moment, so permit me to have one now.

About 12 days ago, I received a phone call during the day from my dear friend, Neil Koepke. For many of you who know Neil, he doesn't return a lot of calls quickly and he was calling me during normal business hours. I thought and hoped it wouldn't be the call that I got, but it was.

Neil's mom, Margaret "Peg" Koepke passed away at the age of 85. Her husband, Melvin, passed away about 21 years ago if my memory serves me right.

Peg was a good woman. She was very funny and had a raspy voice and she knew her son inside and out. If she saw a good looking woman who was well endowed, she would turn and ask Neil if that one would work for him ... or some comment similar.

Neil and I have talked about this day for a long time. Not because of the usual reasons that one would expect. We have a common bond of being only children.

It's something that we have laughed and talked about for ages. But every so often we would have the talk about THE day. It would be a serious talk about what will the world be like when your parents are gone and you have no brothers or sisters. We'd usually be at a bar when we would be talking about it because it was way too tough to go through the process sober.

Neil's mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago and he moved her up to East Lansing to be near to him. She was living in a nursing home near where Neil lives and it was truly a blessing to have a great place near him and to have Peg near by during her final time on the planet.

This week was the memorial service in Cleveland and Neil spoke and said that it was a great celebration of her life. I am very glad, she would have liked that. She probably would have yelled if people weren't celebrating something.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, but Paul Shaheen flew in from Chicago and Neil's ex-wife, Sue, flew in from San Diego. I know he was very touched by both of them being able to come and that Paul pretty much ran the Catholic service.

Now comes the healing time and Neil knows that he isn't alone. He knows that all of his friends are family and are here for him. But for him, like me, it's not the same. It is great to have the support, but as an only child the nuclear family is now just you. Just like growing up. It was always easy to go play with your friends and hang out.

Want to know why I am about to have my third child? Part of it is because of the only child in me not wanting to have only children. Mind you - there's nothing wrong with only children, I just wanted something different. Obviously, there are other reasons for three kids, but this has always played a part in my thinking.

Right now, though, I am thinking of Peg and my pal Neil and much I love, understand and appreciate everything he is going though. We're here Neil and will always be.

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