2016 Recap

simpsons-rapture

I’m only recapping 2016 because it is pretty universally agreed that the year sucked. It seems like one of those times in history that somebody may ask me what it was like in the moment. Like “How great was it to experience 1969?” Or “How terrible was 1929 or 1941 or 2001?”

It seems like the negative sentiment is driven mostly by the enormous number of celebrity deaths and fatigue from the presidential election cycle, which was even worse for the half (actually 80%) that didn’t vote for Donald Trump. It will be interesting a generation from now to see how 2016 is remembered.

But how was 2016 for me? The celebrity deaths barely register for me. A buddy of mine seems to take every death like a punch to the gut. I don’t want to be that impacted, but I always feel weird that I basically have no feeling other than the occasional “That’s a shame.” As much as I like Reggie Jackson, Paul McCartney, Allen Iverson and Larry David, when they die I don’t expect to mope around because of it. They are all strangers to me. The only famous stranger that may bum me out is when John Sterling dies. But he’s almost not a stranger since I probably hear his voice more often than most of my family’s.

As for the election, well, it sucked. I expected Hillary to skate in untouched. I didn’t count on the press needing a close race, so they gave Trump a pass on everything and blew up anything they could find on Hillary. So much for the “liberal” media. This election made it clear that more than any ideology, the press wants a story. Besides the media, I also didn’t count on the FBI and Russia picking sides either. Oh, and I forgot we don’t live in a democracy…thank electoral college!

Not that Hillary is my ideal candidate – I think that she would’ve been fine as President – she is definitely qualified and capable. The problem is Trump. He is the least experienced President ever. And he’s so soft. He probably has the thinnest skin of anybody that has had his level of success.

Trump’s unpredictability makes him a huge risk. But maybe that means there is a slim chance that he surprises me in a good way. Let’s put it this way, the possible outcomes under a Ted Cruz presidency would’ve been narrow, but all terrible. For Trump it’s probably wider than anybody else. Yes, the down side is frighteningly bad, but maybe he flip-flops into an acceptable result.

As for me, well, a Trump presidency is a lot like the celebrity deaths – I’m not going to let it impact me. My favorite quote is this tweet:

Whether we’re talking about god or Trump, I can relate it the same. I am going to continue to work hard, succeed and take care of myself and my family. Neither god nor President Trump is going to dissuade me. I do feel bad for those that this becomes an obstacle for. Unfortunately all I can recommend is work harder, change the system, and vote in 2020.

The rest of 2016 wasn’t that bad. I started playing softball again this spring. I also ran my fastest 5k ever at 23:36. I took some great vacations too.

New York City
https://jeffgirgenti.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/pops-70/

Pittsburgh
https://jeffgirgenti.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/pittsburgh/

New England

OCNJ
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Disney
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And the best part of 2016 is that we booked our trip to Italy…

…wait, does is a 2017 trip OK to count? If not, well, at least 2017 already looks promising!

Ron Connors

Colleen’s dad died on Sunday. He was a good dude. I would see him 4 or 5 times a year at Dave’s house. He seemed like he should be gruff, but I always found him affable.

He had been sick for awhile. I think like 6 years. He had “one of everything”…heart attacks, cancer, COPD, emphysema, etc. Honestly, being a step removed, I couldn’t keep track. I do know that if he was a cat, he well out lived his 9 lives. He had a lot of reasons for his health issues. It was a combination of smoking, exposure to Agent Orange while fighting in Vietnam, and even possibly working in a commercial bakery (fine flour in the air all the time).

A couple weeks ago he had a stroke. We found out the night we went to Moms & Pops for Pam’s birthday dinner. Col wasn’t there. She was shooting us text message updates throughout the evening. In the middle of all that she managed to apologize to Pam for missing her birthday. She is too considerate.

He made it out of the hospital, but never fully recovered. He was weak and fell and wound up back in the hospital. He was then diagnosed with kidney failure, sepsis, and probably some more stuff. He only lasted a couple days more.

The funeral was on Wednesday. This was the first time that the girls were going to a funeral. They wanted to go to support their cousins. Pam and I were fine with it. We felt like they were old enough to handle it. At no point through his up’s and down’s over the last few years did we ever hide any info from them. We’re generally pretty honest with them about everything. I think kids are more capable of dealing than most people give them credit for. Plus, they know when something is going on anyway. We figured this would be a relatively good funeral to expose them to for their first one.

In preparation for Wednesday, I gave them a rundown of what to expect. The main thing I wanted to make sure they were ready for was the open coffin. I tucked in Julia first Tuesday night. Before I left the room – unrelated to anything – she asked me how many seconds there were in a day. I told her we would look it up tomorrow. “Go to bed!”

Next up was Susie. We talked for a while. We came back to a discussion of the open coffin. Good thing we did. She said she was envisioning something out of Indiana Jones. I’m not sure if she meant one of the mummified bodies or the guys whose faces melt off. Either way, I’m glad we got it straightened out before I left her because she probably would’ve been up all night.

After I left her room I figured I better go back to Jul just in case she had the same misconception. I popped open her door and she is sitting up in bed, reading light on and pan and paper in hand. “What are you doing?!?” “I’m calculating how many seconds there are in a day.” Little wacko!!! She asked why I came back. I explained Susie’s confusion. Julia, confused by Susie’s confusion, “He’s just going to look like he’s sleeping, right?”

I’m usually not really bothered by funerals. I don’t know if it’s because I never lost anyone I really cared for or if it’s just because my black heart inhibits me from having any feelings about anything. I remember being a little weepy at Grandmom Girgenti’s funeral. I was 14. It wasn’t because I personally felt a great loss – she wasn’t a warm person (as evident by the generic name “Grandmom Girgenti”). I think it was because I was envisioning my other grandmom dying.

Of course when my other grandmom did die 11 years later, I don’t recall being broken up about it. I knew that I would miss her – she was a great lady…I have lots of special memories with her – but I don’t remember crying at all. Maybe because she was very realistic about life and death. (I’m realistic too, but dammit, I want to live forever!) Maybe because my mom wasn’t outwardly upset. For the record, if emotions can be passed through hereditary, this is the family line that I can blame for me not having any. My mom has been nicknamed The Rock because she doesn’t break for anything. I know it’s a stereotype, but there might be something to the thought that Germans lack feelings.

Ron’s funeral pretty much played out the way I expected. Susie cried a lot, Julia didn’t cry at all (Rock v3.0), and I just took everything in a practical manner. But then Colleen got up to give the eulogy. It was awesome! She really did a great job highlighting interactions from his life. And it was…moving? I guess. What were these feelings I was having? I really got choked up, especially when she talked about moments her dad had with his grandchildren. I can’t believe I got upset. I was shocked, confused…and excited! Yay, I do have empathy!

The last highlight of the funeral was communion. It was getting close to lunch time at this point. Julia saw they were handing out food at the front of the line. She looked at me like “heyyyyyy, can I go get a cracker?” I should have let her go just to see how quickly Pam could pull her out of that line. I’m sure it would’ve been less than a second.

Here is Ron’s obituary:
http://obituaries.expressionstributes.com/?of=fb46357843