Obligatory Post From 2013: A Eulogy!

Criminy, has it been over a year? There’s neglecting a blog and then there’s just flat out ignoring it. I’ve been so busy writing about a silly game called baseball over at Fangraphs.com that I don’t swing by here much, but I figured I’d kick my foot in the door a little just in case WordPress was about to fire me or something.

But today, I’ll probably just depress the hell out of you. Because I was missing my Mom today, who died a long time ago to that $#%*ing plague that starts with a capital “C”.

So I was missing Mom and I was thinking about her and then I thought about what a beautiful lady she was, which made me think of the giant portrait tattoo I got of her (oh, man is she gonna be pissed if I get into heaven and she sees it), which made me think of the photo I used as inspiration for it. It was the picture of when she was 21 that sat on my Great Grandfather’s Piano. I thought she looked like a movie star.

momWell, so thought process this with me… in thinking about that picture, I thought about her funeral because that picture sat on the stage. And when I thought about her funeral, I thought about the eulogy I delivered which was one of the most difficult and awful, yet somehow wonderful experiences of my adult life. What’s weird is, I wrote it literally in one draft. It just spilled onto the paper.

I thought I’d share it with you.


This past summer my wife and I took a vacation to the Washington Coast with some of our closest friends.  We all have two year olds, so we consider vacationing together kind of a support group.

Knowing Gus, I figured he would be initially cautious, but once he got a flavor for splashing in the water, he’d want to get right in.  This concerned me.  So I did some research.

I learned about sea creatures, winds, swells, and other such matter.  Then I read about rip tide and what I found surprised me.

It turns out if you get swept up in a rip tide, if you try to swim against it you’re doomed.  If you fight it it’s useless.  You’re only hope to survive isn’t to swim, it’s to let it take you – you need to completely let go.

This operates against logic, against human will.

To fight it is futile.  You have to surrender to it to have any hope.

When Mom was first diagnosed, I thought the decision on what to do next was obvious:

You fight it with all of your strength.

Go in swinging, go down swinging.

Doctors didn’t give her much in the way of hope.  Her chances were slim.  Fight it and you have maybe a year, and it wouldn’t be a very pleasant year.  Don’t fight and you have a few months.

But this is my Mom we’re talking about.  Stubborn.  Resolute.  Iron-willed.

And yet after a flirtation with a protracted battle, she did the unthinkable and she just stopped.  Stopped chemo, stopped taking her blood pressure medicine, ignored her diabetes.  She stopped fighting against the tide.

She let go.

This is my Mom we’re talking about.  Realist.  Practical.  Wise.

I can’t say that I agree with her decision, but I recognize that she gave us a gift.  She let go in order to make full use of the time she had left.  So instead of the next chemo appointment, the next meeting with doctors, the next round of being too sick to get out of bed, she connected with her friends, she was visited by family, she got to spend time with her grandchildren Jonathan, Christopher, Gus.  She got to hold little baby Ike.

She went to the casino.

She ate pizza.

She even drank beer.

She let go so she could live.

With this decision, this gift, we were able to simply love her during her remaining time and reflect on what she meant to us.

In thinking about Mom’s life I realize that she was the master of knowing when to let go.

Mom entered nursing school in a class of 43 and only 18 graduated.  It was a grueling program.  Students needed to study, intern, many worked on the side to earn money.  She was good at what she did and she enjoyed it.  One of my favorite stories that Dad told me years ago was that Mom would get home from work and leave a note about where they were going out with friends.  Dad would get home a time later, change, see the note, and drive separately.  They’d have fun all night, race each other home, wake up and swear they’d never do it again until my dad saw Mom’s note that night after work. And they’d do it all over.

I tell you this story because Mom had an endearing line she used to like to tell Kelli and me.  “My life was really over when I had you kids.” And then she’d grin and look at us with adoring eyes and say “but I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Mom never wanted to be a cook.  She didn’t want to shop for groceries.  She didn’t want to vacuum, clean the bathroom, do the laundry.  She didn’t want to do back-to-school shopping.  She didn’t want to discipline.

But she did it.

She let go of her career, she let go of her fun, and she became a Mother.  Because she was selfless.

I recall being in first grade and my buddy Andy wore a key around his neck and I asked him, “why do you wear that key around your neck?”.

“So I can get in my house,” he said rather incredulously

And I said, “You mean your mom won’t let you in the house?”

I never knew what it was like to not have Mom at home, there waiting for me, to take care of me, to ask me about my day. What I learned.  What I liked.  What I discovered.

Mom had a knack for knowing when things were beyond her control.

I remember being a young boy… and let’s just say my Mom and my sister were having trouble seeing eye to eye.  Mom did the best she could but there wasn’t much she could say or do that would derail my sister’s determination to be her own person.  I recall Mom telling me, “honey, I love you’re your sister but I just can’t fix her right now.” And she let her go.  I believe it was this decision that allowed my sister to make her own choices, grow up, learn from mistakes, and mature.  It’s why she became the empathetic, intelligent person she is today.  Mom let her go to let her grow.

I also remember wondering why Mom cried so much when I was leaving for college.  It wasn’t as if I was going to Central.  I was only going 90 minutes north.  I’d certainly be coming home for a good meal and to do my laundry on the weekends.  It was much later that I realized that she cried because she had to let me go – she had to let me go and make my own mistakes, my own decisions, and learn from them on my own.  When other Moms called night after night, mine let me call her – and I credit her for that.

Helen Hunt Jackson wrote:

Motherhood is priced
Of God, at price no man may dare
To lessen or misunderstand

When I first read that, the understanding part struck me – it reminded me of something I wrote for Mom that I never gave her.

Last year, I started to write her a letter for Mother’s Day because I was now a parent and I had a new respect for her with Gus in my life.  Ironically, I never finished it largely because I have Gus in my life.  In reading it over, so much of it seemed appropriate for today.  I’d like to share some of it with you now.

Mom, I understand how you must have felt when I was born and they told you I wouldn’t survive.

I understand now why you always read me one more book before bedtime if I asked.

I understand why you didn’t want me to play football.

I understand why going out for pizza on Saturday was so important to you.  You didn’t have to cook for us – and prepare two different meals:  one for your finicky daughter, and one for the rest of us.

I understand why you spoiled me.

I understand why you couldn’t stand my hair long in college.

I understand why you forced me to go to confirmation.

I understand why you asked me to clean up my room.  I also understand why it upset you when I never did.

I understand why you always made me send thank you notes promptly.

I understand why you couldn’t come to my baseball games because you’d throw your back out.

Mom, I still don’t understand gazpacho, but I understand why you made it.  Because Dad liked it.

I understand what went through your mind when you heard the tires screech outside our house when I got hit by that car.  And Mom, I hope you understand why the first thing that I told the medics was that Mom was going to kill me.

I understand why every time I left the house, you told me to “be careful”.  And as if I couldn’t look at the gauge myself, you asked if there was any gas in the car.

Mom, I’ll never understand why you packed two kids into a 1981 VW Rabbit and drove 800 miles to Reno Nevada, but I’m sure you had your reasons.

I understand why you didn’t like some of my girlfriends.

I even understand why at Christmas time you always hung that picture of an ox that Kelli made in grade school even though it really had nothing to do with Christmas and it barely looked like an animal to begin with.  I get it now.

I understand now why you always shopped on the sale rack.

I finally understand why you sobbed when I broke that ugly green vase that sat on top of our 1960’s television in the basement.  It was the last thing your mother had given you.

I understand why you had a well stocked bar.

I understand how much you cared for us.

I understand how much you loved us.

I finally understand all the sacrifice.

And Mom, I was going to say that I don’t know what I’ll do without you – but in fact, I do know what I’ll do without you.  I’ll honor you by attempting to live up to your example, and you all can do the same.

To be selfless.

To sacrifice for those you love

To be loyal to your friends

To be loyal to your family

To love your family almost to a fault

To know when to stand and fight

And to have the wisdom to know when to let the tide take you.



Four Year Old Wisdom



A recent conversation with my 4-year old.

Kid, “Daddy, I want to see the Pyramids”
Me: “Do you know where they are?”
Kid: “Far, far away. And it takes a looooong time to get there.”
Me: “you’re right.”
Kid: “But don’t worry, Daddy. We’ll take sleeping bags and water. And when we run out of water, we’ll drink from a cactus!”

Sperm Test For Men In Drugstores?



Yes, indeedy – a company plans to sell an in-home sperm sample kit available at your local Wallgreens just about any day now.

I have several thoughts about this:

1. They claim it’s convenient and private. I’m sorry, but your wife handing you a box and saying “go produce a sample” is neither convenient nor private. Now, I’m the guy that had to leave samples down the hallway from my mother-in-law, so believe me, the private thing rings true — but I seriously doubt many men are going to be given the option of doing the deed on their own time. There’s going to be a tapping foot outside the door. Good luck, gentlemen.

2) “Results in 10 minutes.” I don’t know, this just screams crude comedy to me. Insert your joke here.

3) It’s possible that men are going to tell their wives the results are inconclusive so that they have to do it again.

4) “Easy to read results” is pasted across a ribbon on the box. Oh, right, because if there were words with more than three syllables, men would start grunting like an ape and throw feces at the wall?

5) There’s now something in the drugstore that’s more embarrassing for men to buy than tampons.

But really, I guess this is a cool development – maybe couple’s can narrow down what their issue is quicker and cheaper. And that’s a good thing.

I Thought I Knew The Punchline, but I was Wrong…


, , ,

Been a while since I checked in here, but I thought I should share perhaps the most ridiculous and ironic turn of events in my life recently.

If you’ve read the book, first of all a big thank you. If you managed to make it to the end of the book, you’ll know why this is just so friggin’ perfect.

A quick summary for you: Wife and I did four rounds of In Vitro Fertilization, and they all failed miserably. I had to leave “samples” in a room in which I developed quite a relationship with the poor couch that was cursed to live there. I had to leave these samples about 10 feet from where my mother in law sat – at her desk job. Yeah, just stupid embarrassing. What’s more, if you read the book, you’ll recall that she actually bought me dirty magazines for “inspiration,” apparently thinking that I was somehow doing it wrong in there. Sigh…

So anyway, we’re moving on to international adoption because we are given little to no chance of ever having a biological baby. And then, poof – we’re preggers. And then, blammo – we’re pregnant again. And then, yes — pow — we’re pregnant again. None of this makes any sense whatsoever.

So right now, we have a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and an almost 1 year old — all biological (ostensibly all mine, although I have threatened a DNA test…), no medical intervention, all seemingly flipping miracle babies. And about a month ago, we had a little scare that #4 was on the way and I almost peed my pants. We went from praying to God for one baby to praying to God to turn the faucet off.

So, as unexpected FNB’s (again, you’d need to read the book) who weren’t supposed to be able to have babies, I found myself on the operating table having the contents of my manhood cut and cauterized much to my dismay. This, I thought would be the ultimate irony of my life. I was told I’d never make babies, and here I am making sure that I’ll never make any more.

But no. I was wrong.

During the procedure, there was a lot of chit-chat with the doc as he’s actually a very interesting, personable, and funny guy. So along the way I asked when I was supposed to come back in to have “the boys” tested to see if there are any swimmers left in there. He told me roughly two months. Should I come in or do I simply bring in a sample, I asked. And that’s when things got interesting.

We have a new policy, he said. They’re no longer doing the tests at the office. They’re having another office collect the samples.

“Have you heard of the Infertility clinic near the hospital?” he asked.

And I lost it. Laughing out loud, right there, with his tools buried in my most private of areas — I was in tears.

That’s right folks, the place where I had to leave all those samples for all those failed IVF rounds with dirty magazines purchased by my Mother-in-Law, who just happens to be down the hallway. The guy that couldn’t make babies with the worlds most advanced technology is going back to sit on the suicidal couch and leave a sample to make sure I can’t make babies ever again.

And I should add that I’m the very first person to “take advantage” of this new policy. The first person.


This life refuses to be predictable. It’s really quite perfect, don’t you think?

Best to you all — and I wish for everyone that you get what you want in life, and if that includes a little one, I pray to God you get your wish.

And Happy Holidays. Virtual hugs.

– Michael

My Interview at “Creating A Family”

Just a heads up that if you’d like to hear me blather about the book and talk in general about how men handle this whole infertility thing, you can listen to my interview with Dawn Davenport at Creating A Family here.  It was great fun, actually. Dawn asked me a few questions I didn’t anticipate and made me really think…which, you know, I probably should do more often…

What Happens When You Pay Men to Donate Sperm


, ,

In I wish I was making this up news, the New York Times ran an article about a sperm donor that is the biological father for potentially more than 150 people.

I have about 150 snarky remarks to make about that, but I’d like to think I could be mature enough to look at this objectively as a pretty thorny ethical issue. And I sort of can.

I kind of wish they’d have actually interviewed some of the offspring, but the article never goes there. It could have been about a 2500 word piece that got crammed into 700 words or so, and thus it just barely scratches the surface of the nuttiness this issue can spiral into.

But man, 150 kids. That guy wasn’t Catholic, I’ll tell you that much.


Scientists Discover “Cloaking Device” — Men Around The World Suddenly Interested in Own Fertility Again

Blah, blah, sperm, blah blah CLOAKING DEVICE, blah, blah babies, blah blah, infertility, blah blah, CLOAKING DEVICE!!!

They even worked Harry Potter into this post. Amazing what you’ll do for SEO.

But seriously, good on you “researchers” — this actually sounds like a pretty big breakthrough for men and their swimmers.