Until Next Time…

This is the eulogy I wrote for my friend John McLaughlin, which I read at his memorial service at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, on December 12, 2014.

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I met John about 14 years ago. He and Barb wandered into this place not long after Jen and I did, and we hit it off right away. As friends, the four of us clicked. Ryan was maybe 6 at the time, and Evan would come along a couple of years later, and the kindness Jen and I enjoyed was extended to our boys too. We loved the old house, the yard, and that big old swing in the back. We connected.

When I joined the Cedar Lake Seven in the fall of 2000, we were between guitar players. The previous guy has moved to Hawaii, and while we didn’t have too many guitar numbers back then, when he left, we were all a cappella. Our lead tenor had recently left the group too, so we were a little undermanned. After John strolled in to this place, he was quickly recruited by Greg – He was a twofer — he could play guitar, and he had a lovely high tenor voice, both things that we needed badly. Continue reading

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Road Trip

I write in bursts, and now seems like a good time to pick it up again.

My friend John McLaughlin died yesterday, and it is weighing heavily on me today.  John was a friend of mine for 15 years.  We started going to same little church right around the same time, and we hit it off right away.  He was 17 years older than me, but that didn’t matter.  It just worked.  I feel sadness and loss, but a busy day at work mostly kept me from thinking about it.  Now that I’m home, I need to get this out.

John died because of a disease called PSP, which gradually robbed him of his charm and dignity, year after year, bit by bit.  It was a terrible thing to watch an intelligent, vibrant man slowly deteriorate in such a way.  At first, many years ago, we didn’t know what was going on.  In hindsight, it all makes sense. I don’t want to talk too much about this though, so I’m going to tell a story instead.

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You go, Cris Carter.

Preach it Cris. Just because we’ve always done something, does not means it is how we must always be.

For The Win

Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter made a poignant speech about disciplining children and relating it to his own childhood Sunday in light of a grand jury indicting Adrian Peterson on a charge of injury to a child.

“This goes across all racial lines, ethnicity… People believe in disciplining their children,” Carter said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. “People with any kind of Christian background they really believe in disciplining their children.”

Carter related the story to his mother, who raised seven children by herself. “My mom did the best that she could do … But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong.

“This is the 21st century; my mom was wrong… And I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want them…

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Don’t Be Stupid

I have something I need to confess.  I share this so that I may unburden myself, to submit my actions for your collective consideration, and ultimately, your judgment.  Here we go.

I helped my son build a beer pong table for his dorm room.

Now I’m sure you can now see why I needed to confess that.  It’s something I’ve been wearing as a yoke around my neck for the last week or so, I need some spiritual relief.

Beer pong, for the uninitiated, is a game frequently played by college students. It involves a pool-rack configuration – a triangle – of cups at each end of the table.  Contestants try to throw or bounce ping-pong balls into the cups, which contain various types of beverages. If your ball lands in an opponent’s cup, they must consume said beverage. All your cups are gone?  You lose. House rules vary, but that is the general idea.

You may be asking yourself, why would Rick do such a thing?  Why?!  Doesn’t he know that this is only going to encourage the kind of ill-conceived shenanigans that we warn our college kids to stay away from? Doesn’t he know what a bad example he is setting for his son, that he is providing tacit permission for his kid to carry on, to indulge in Animal House-like behaviors, ultimately at the expense of his college success?  Doesn’t he know that he has made the path to debauched excess that much easier to navigate?  Haven’t you thought of these things?  Good grief, man.

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Will You Be There?

In honor of what would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday (I had no idea his birthday was only two days different than mine), it is worth revisiting this magnificent video of Will You Be There.  I encourage you to look up the lyrics and read them, perhaps while watching this clip. Think of someone you love. It is wonderfully moving and uplifting….simply gorgeous.

In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair, will you still care? Will you be there?
In my trials, and my tribulations, through our doubts, and frustrations.
In my violence. In my turbulence. Through my fear, and my confessions.
In my anguish, and my pain. Through my joy, and my sorrow.
In the promise of another tomorrow.
I’ll never let you part, for you’re always in my heart.

This is taken from his Live in Bucharest DVD, available on Amazon. It is not a particularly good rip in terms of video quality, but the audio is very good. Enjoy.

Gooyash

I found this while cleaning up some files on my hard drive.  It is something I wrote for our second Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church cookbook.  I am a member of a gospel choir called the Cedar Lake Seven, which is based out of BMPC, and this story chronicles some of the adventure we had when touring Hungary in early 2002. It also provides my take on Hungarian Goulash, one of the more memorable meals we had on our trip.

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In the early 2000’s, the Cedar Lake Seven had an opportunity to visit Hungary.  They was the result of an exchange, a partnership with the Reformed Church of Hungary.  The Hungarians had been to Minnesota a few years earlier, and made the gesture of inviting the Americans to come and see them.  It took a few years for it all to come together, but we made a plan to go in the fall of 2001.  After September 2001, the world changed, and we had to alter our plans.  We would up delaying our trip by a few months, and it moved forward in the spring of 2002.

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