……a lot of laughter, a lot of love and a lot of crying in a little chapel of dreams

Today was witness to another element of beauty that you see every so often. A good friend and co-worker lost her Father this past Sunday. They are an Eastern Shore family that has been here for generations. The Eastern Shore is a lot like West Virginia. Small communities full of pride and love that take care of each other. Families proving over and over again that “It doesn’t take a village” all it takes is commitment and values coupled with sense of priority.

This afternoon, as I paid my respects in a small country church located in a quiet field of dreams and hope, I was amazed at the out pouring of love for this man. His family and friends were all there remembering him and telling little anecdotes.  It was touching and beautiful at the same time. A granddaughter, a daughter and a nephew telling their stories through smiles and tears.  The quietness of the service was touching. There was a folded American flag on his coffin recognizing his service to our country along with a huge wreath of flowers. He was laid to rest in a small family plot in the middle of a field.

Life is a circle. The story is never ending and the memories are everlasting. You come from someplace and you are going to someplace. The architect of the universe knew what he was doing when he created the frailty of human emotion. You live your life in a manner that you choose. People who make the right choices are the ones with all the choices. Life comes to them in a way that is beautiful. This afternoon in a small chapel in the country a beautiful life was on full display.

I left there today feeling like I had made a new friend even though he has left this world and gone on to the next.   The beauty of the memories made a beautiful day.  There was a lot of laughter, a lot of love and a lot of crying in a little chapel of dreams and as I always say; when you have all three of those in one day you have had a full day. When you have all three of those in your life you have a full life. This afternoon I saw in retrospect the loveliness of a full life.

Today was another full day.

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an ice cream cone, a pink blanket and a lullaby.

Today’s positive thoughts.

Heroism is all around us. But do you see it? When you see it do you acknowledge it or take the time to recognize it? My little boy’s curiosity allows me to try to do that. Sometimes people brush me off or are tight lipped. Then there are the times when I meet people who are nice and want to talk. They want their story to be told. These are the wonderful people who are heroes and who live heroic lives.

This past August while running on the boardwalk, one hot steamy August morning, I noticed a young couple sitting on one of the memorial benches that line the boardwalk. We exchanged smiles that first morning. The next time I saw them they took an interested look at me when I veered off to the side to touch Johnny’s bench. A few days later when I was finishing my run at 27th street they were sitting there watching the sunrise laughing and talking and smiling at each other. When I finish running I always sit  and drink a couple of bottles of water and watch the sun continue its majestic ascent into the sky and feel the warmth of it caress my face. This particular morning I walked over to where they were sitting and we struck up a conversation.

Their names are Linda and Jeff and they live in Pennsylvania.. They are on an extended vacation, staying at his parent’s condo in Ocean City. As we were talking about various things we both liked about Ocean City I noticed an amazing sparkle in Linda’s eyes. They are a handsome couple. All through the conversation that morning they were holding hands. I gave them a name of a restaurant where they could get good burgers and great wings (Kirby’s Pub on 94th St) and we said our goodbyes.

We would see each other a couple of times over the next two weeks. One afternoon in September I was riding my bike down the boardwalk as I always love to do and I came across Linda and Jeff again sitting down by the Ripley’s “Believe it or not” sign and they were giggling like little school kids and sharing an ice cream cone. They waved when they saw me and motioned to come over. As I got closer I saw that Linda was sitting in a wheel chair. I didn’t say anything. We were talking and I said you guys have been here for a while you must be loving it down here.  They laughed and said “oh hell yeah”.

We talked for a little while that afternoon and then Linda took Jeff’s hand in hers and said quite calmly “I am dying”. Obviously taken aback for a minute I said “Really?” She went on to explain that she has a degenerative heart disease that is incurable and that in July the doctors informed them that there wasn’t anything that could be done. She said she wanted to die close to the Ocean and that is why they are here on an “extended vacation”. I laughed and said that’s the way “I want to go out”. They were surprised that I didn’t get all quiet when they told me the reason they were here. We talked a while that afternoon. I told them my Cancer story and they told me a little of theirs.

They met in college. He was walking to class one day and they collided in a hallway. It was love at first sight. As luck would have it they met after their classes and sat and talked for an hour and they both missed their next class. They were inseparable from that point on. They graduated together. They got married shortly after graduation. They wanted to wait a while before having children and wanted to enjoy each other. They were on their way to a lifetime of happiness until one day she passed out at work from fatigue.

After a battery of tests the doctors told them the news. They were devastated but they decided to live until they couldn’t live anymore. That was five years ago. The medication worked for a while but the deteriation of her heart continued and “well here we are” she laughed.

I saw them again a few days later. I was running along the boards on a beautiful bright sunny day with a vivid blue sky dotted with big marshmallow like clouds.  She was getting physically weaker but her spirit soared through the bright puffy clouds of that afternoon. They were sharing an ice cream cone again. This time she was in the wheelchair but wrapped up in a pretty pink blanket and she was glowing as the sun reflected off her angelic face. They were laughing and she got ice cream on the tip of her nose and he lovingly wiped it off with a napkin. We chatted for a while and I ask them what the experience was like. She replied “I feel like I am slowly drifting off to sleep and Jeff is singing me a lullaby”. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and she said “Don’t do that”. The warm sun was shining directly on her face and as I left them to their moment she looked at me and smiled.

As I ran back up the boardwalk I thought how cruel life can be sometimes and how some people can put an element of beauty in an element of cruelty. I left my friends to enjoy their moments on the beach and the boardwalk and I felt the tears roll down my cheeks as I ran back to my Jeep.

 I saw them one more time about two weeks ago. She looked happy even though her face was a little pale but her smile was still sparkling. Her breathing was getting a little heavy and she struggled to talk. I told her that I liked to write stories about everyday heroes and if it would be okay if I wrote theirs. She said it would be okay but to write it “after I am gone”. I said okay. She said for me to make sure that Jeff is the hero of her story and not her.  I asked if they could both be heroes and she said “no I have the easy part he has the hard part and that makes him the hero”. Then she laughed and said that if I made her the hero “I will come back and haunt you”.

This morning I received an email from Jeff. Linda passed away in the early morning hours wrapped up in that same pink blanket she sat with on the boardwalk and in the safety of her husband’s arms. The beauty of the ocean served as the perfect backdrop for someone to say her goodbye to the world. There is another angel in heaven now my friends and she has a sparkling smile and a pretty pink blanket wrapped around her shoulders. And the world has another hero here in Earth. RIP Linda.

Linda and Jeff this link is for you…….

                                                                                                                                                                     Jimmy Bacco

 

 

 

 

…when destinies cross a little boy thrives.

Today’s positive thoughts.

My fascination with every day heroes continues today as I heard another story of love and sacrifice. As a lot of you know I have spent a lot of time in my hometown of Fairmont West Virginia these past two years. During this time I had re-connected with a lot of people from my childhood and I also made a lot of new friends in Fairmont, Clarksburg and Morgantown. It was an amazing experience that started when I attended my fortieth high school reunion in August of 2011 and came to an end this past June as the words from the movie “Splendor in the Grass” rang true: you can’t go home again.

It was during this visit with my past that I met a young real estate agent who works in Morgantown WV.  She and her husband have been trying to start a family and the blessings never came. This afternoon there was a chain of emails that came through my inbox that her dream of adopting a child came true this past week when she and her husband became the parents of a healthy baby boy.

This is a story of two heroes. It is heroic when you bring a child in to your life and provide a life for him that he may not have had. It is equally heroic when a young Mother, whatever her reasons may have been, makes the ultimate sacrifice for her child by giving him up so he can have a better life than she may be able to provide.

Yesterday I talked about destiny and today destiny rings true again. Two courageous women whose destinies crossed and they are now forever linked. Someday there will be a little boy playing little league baseball while his Mother cheers him on and another Mother will smile as she thinks about him. One will watch and one will dream and a little boy will thrive. He will go through his life with two loving parents and he will feel the smile of one whose love for him will never wane. In his future he will raise his own family and the love of these two women will no doubt guide him through his future.

Life has a way of working out.  A door slams shut and a window opens. It will rain all morning and then the sun will come out and shine brilliantly all afternoon. A beautiful sunrise will be followed by a glowing sunset and a day will flow. A little boy is born and for a brief moment his future may be in doubt but with one smile from God his future changes.

You know what I always say: When you laugh, love and cry all in the same day you have had a full day. I am sure this is going on in Morgantown WV right now.

 

 

a statistic of hope and a song of hope………..

Today’s positive thoughts were many, It was a beautiful fall day at the beach. The sun had the bright glow that a fall sun has. The sky was a deep blue and served as a perfect backdrop to the startling sun and the crisp autumn air.

The day started with a phone call that I had been waiting on for some time and today it came through with the news I had been waiting on along with an assignment to find them one more high end property in Ocean City.

My family is back and I spent the morning with Eathan running around the house and watching him in all his wide eyed innocence as he explores the world of my backyard. We rode bikes and picked up sticks to add to the never ending bonfire pile. It is getting to be that time again for open air bonfires and backyard memories. We watched cartoons for a while on my laptop and as he watched and laughed he touched my heart as always. My grandson has an amazing personality and has a way of making people laugh. Especially his grandfather. I am so lucky to be able to spend this much time with both my grandsons and every day is a new adventure with them.

As I finished working I went for a run on the boardwalk. It was a nice 68 degrees and a little breezy but it made for great setting to run in. The beach was serene and simply beautiful as the afternoon sun slowly made its way to the west. The ocean had the winter blue colors and the waves were breaking with the spray blowing off the crest of them. I never get tired of the ocean and watching it. As I started to run I could feel a big smile spread across my face and a feeling of contentment in my heart.

The wind was caressing my face and the sun was soothing and with each step my thoughts wandered as they always do. The music playing through Pandora stayed consistent and my mind and body just seemed to glide together in one continuous emotion of motion. I thought about my friend Kimet Vilar and his never ending fight to regain his health. Kimet is waging a heroic fight against a cowardly disease that doesn’t fight fair. His stamina and attitude are strong and he has many people who love him and are behind him. He is heroic and he has heroic friends. I know that he will be another statistic of hope.

The run was amazing. People were smiling and the day just seemed to never want to stop breathing life in to everything in the universe.

This day ended with a conversation with my amazing daughter and Eathan and I watching cartoons again. Derrick joined us after finishing his homework. Their combined laughter at cartoons that were over fifty years old (Might Mouse and Woody Woodpecker) filled the room with love and beauty.

Christine always says that if you allow yourself to have faith, hope and love in your everyday life you will have a good life. It is faith, hope, and love that allows you to love, laugh and cry. When you have them all in the same day you are having a great day.

As I was driving home with the sunroof open and the windows down this song of hope was pumping through the radio.

Lessons learned from the wide eyed wonderment of my Grandsons

Today’s positive thoughts are many and varied. My day started as it always does working out. I ran in the gym today because of the weather so had to do the three miles on a treadmill. I was maneuvering through the technological 5k course, wearing a headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes, and my mind wandering as it always does. Today my thoughts meandered to a time in May when I was struggling with running. I almost quit until I changed my shoes and took off from there.

I began to think about stuff and I slowly realized that for the first time in a long time I am truly happy with where my life is. The beach lifestyle is a great way to live, I get stronger every day, my kids are all doing well, I still have my parents and I get to spend a lot of time with my Grandsons. Somebody sent me an article about “Happiness being a disease” this summer, which I thought was stupid. It was sent by a narcissist atheist who loved to impose their views on people for whatever benefit that may serve. I was told to “change my perspective” which I refuse to do. Me? Change my perspective? Oh please. The person who told me that isn’t even on my level. Happiness is a feeling that you have to earn by the quality of the life you build for yourself. You also earn happiness by the quality of the people you allow in to your life and not the quantity of the people you allow in your life.

I realized something else this past week. I have great friends both in Fairmont and in Ocean City. My friends from Fairmont are the best people in the world. We talk on line like we are still in school and we support each other in tough times and in good times. We lost another friend this week and everyone supported his close friends. It was one of those sad experiences that bring out the best in people and make you realize that there is an element of beauty in everything if you keep an element of beauty in everything.

I spend a couple of hours every morning with my youngest grandson and we eat breakfast together and then we watch the “Bad Cat” on you tube. We talk. He explains things to me and I listen. He explains things through his wide eyed innocence and sense of wonderment. He sparks that little boy curiosity that I have inside me and allows me to see the beauty in the world. He along with Derrick have taught me some good lessons lately. The day is broken into minutes and minutes are like snowflakes; everyone is different; allow that sense of wonderment in all of us to flourish every minute and smile. Change my perspective; yeah right.

When you all read these stories and you let me know that my words touch you and kindle your memories it makes me smile. If they inspire you then all the more better because life by its very nature is inspiring. Your gifts to me are many and my gift to you is my words.

My smiles have been many lately. The veil of guilt has lifted sometime ago and for the first time in six years I look forward to waking up every day.

As you all know this blog is dedicated to everyday heroes and today my heroes are my Grandsons who have given their Grandfather back that sense of wide eyed wonderment and have helped him enjoy the snowflakes of time.

Remember my friends any time you can laugh, love and cry in the same day you have had a full day……and today I have already done all three. Jimmy Bacco

Three friends and a legacy of accomplishment

They were the “three amigos of brains” (a term borrowed from a FB friend of mine). They are the most intelligent, yet personable group of young men, to ever walk the halls of East Fairmont High School. The amazing thing is (unless I am wrong) they didn’t meet until they entered high school. Their names are Maurice Prendergast, Clyde Wilcox, and Mark Nigh.

They would meet in the halls before classes would start and have the most amazing conversations. They had the most incredible debating skills for young men of their age along with acting skills. I can remember listening to their dialogue and wondering where they came up with this stuff. When the student teachers would come in to teach any of these three it amazed me that they were more intelligent than the teachers. They were probably smarter than a lot of the teachers we had at EFHS.

You could see them in a lot of the activities that weren’t sports related except for one who was the announcer at East West Stadium for all the games and activities. He had a voice that you could hear all the way down to Seventh Street.

Sadly; we have to say goodbye to one of our friends this week. Mark Nigh has passed away from an infection he encountered and couldn’t get rid of. It is sad to lose a friend. It is even sadder to wonder if there was anything any of us could have done to help prevent it. The answer to that is always no but you wonder anyway. 

I remember Mark from grade school. He was different. He had read the entire World Book Encyclopedia by the time he was in sixth grade. When I heard this I tried to do it but couldn’t get through the “A” volume. He was quiet in grade school but in high school he found his voice and along with Clyde Wilcox and Maurice Prendergast the three amigos of brains was born.

High School led to college and these three men all became highly educated professionals in their fields. Maurice is a Internal Medicine Physician, Clyde is a professor at Georgetown University, and Mark became a Lawyer in North Central West Virginia. Mark argued and won several landmark cases before the WV supreme court. The quiet kid from East Park School, who found his voice in EFHS, had a successful debating career at WVU, became a superstar in the courtroom. There are countless people around WV who have benefited from his legal expertise who don’t even know who made it possible.

The years have gone by as they do. We are older and living in the futures we prepared for when we were kids. We have raised children and built lives. We walked through the halls of school and then through the hallways of life. We encounter hardship and we fight our demons. Our lives go to amazing places but through it all it is the friends we grew up with who we still regard as our best friends. The miracle of technology has made this all the more possible. The three amigos have shown this to be true.

Yesterday as I heard the news via Facebook I was sad. I talked to a good friend of mine through the PM feature of FB and to Clyde as well. I went to the yearbook and was thumbing through the pages of my seventeenth year and looking at Mark’s pictures. There were many of him and Clyde together and I could hear the conversations again. For a while I was standing in the hallway waiting for the bell to ring and hearing Mark and Clyde going at it over some topic they were involved in. I remember that in almost every conversation one of them would say “Well; where is the analogy in that”? Then the other would explain in words that had six syllables. I can see Clyde explaining something and Mark patiently rebutting what he said. For a while last night I was sitting in East West Stadium waiting for the game to start and hearing that booming voice coming through the PA system clear as day “Good evening Ladies and gentleman and welcome to tonight’s contest between…… For a brief moment I was staring at a chessboard where Clyde and I were in a epic battle of chess and I could hear Mark in the background saying “Clyde look at the board”. Clyde now has the honor of saying the eulogy for his friend and I wonder when the debate will start and who will win.

As we say our goodbyes in our own way we will remember in our own way as well. We are all part of something special and as our friends go on home we will remember them with a lot of laughter, a lot of love and a lot of crying. Anytime you have memories that will make you laugh, love, and cry you have memories that are full.

Goodbye Mark, your friends miss you, and your best friend will be honoring you in a way that only you will understand.                                                                                                          Jimmy Bacco 10/12/2013

…the bright blue eyes of a child and the dancing blue eyes of courage all in the same day.

October 2, 2013
It has been about a week since I have written anything in my journal that I wanted to post but today is one of those magnificent occasions that warrant writing about and sharing with anyone who wants to listen.

It is been a beautiful day at the beach. I worked out at Powerhouse in the morning and then went home to spend my time with Eathan as I always do when Maris goes to cross fit. My youngest grandson is two years old and is developing an amazing personality. He is in all sense of the word adorable. I get to spend one on one time with him on a regular basis now and it is unbelievable. We ride bikes, we clean the garage, we play baseball, and do yard work. His smile and bright blue eyes radiate the happiness of a young child and make me realize more and more that I truly am the luckiest man in the world.

It was a bright blue sunny day. The suns magic rays were reflecting off the ocean like a million tiny stars peppering the day with tiny laser beams of beauty. As I rode my bike on the boardwalk this afternoon I saw a lot of friends and people enjoying the gifts that God has given us in a day like today. As the sun warmed my face and the salt air filled my lungs I rode and rode and just marveled at the beauty of it all.

Today is Wednesday and as always in the offseason BJ’s on the Water had their deck party going in full swing and the locals were having fun. It hasn’t been the same lately with my friend and owner Billy fighting his valiant and courageous battle with brain cancer. As I walked in to the place I migrated back to my usual “assume the position” place by the back bar.

Walking through the bar I glanced to the side and saw those bright blue eyes and the ever contagious smile that could only belong to Billy Carder. He was standing where he used to always stand. He was smiling. His energetic eyes were dancing again. He told me he is in remission. His two latest tests had those magic words we always long to hear: No Evidence of Disease.

The clinical trial worked. He is in remission, off of chemo, and he is getting his strength back. He is going to do a bone marrow transplant and will be able to be his own donor. He still has a ways to go but he is getting there. We stood there listening to the music and enjoying the day and for the first time in a long while we didn’t talk about the “C” word we just had fun like a group of friends should be able to do. We were all laughing like we always did and the day that couldn’t get any better just went in to the record books.

Seeing my friend thriving again brought tears to my eyes. I have this fascination with everyday heroes and this afternoon another everyday hero has stood up. My friend is fighting and winning with dignity and courage. Maddy Carder and Billy are another statistic of hope that we all need to recognize. Prayers work. Believing in a higher power works. Surrendering yourself to something greater than yourself makes you greater than yourself. Billy Carder is proof of that. His attitude and courage are simply amazing and yet amazingly simple.

This day started with bright blue eyes of a child, wound through the bright blue October sky reflecting off the blue waters of the ocean, and ended with bright blues eyes that have stared cancer down. Everywhere I turned I was surrounded by something blue watching over me and a song by Elton John came to mind.

It has been a good day to laugh, love and cry. And my friends when you do all three in the same day; you have had a full day. Today was a full day.