A Tribute To A Good Man

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The world is a darker place today. We lost a good man. Our loss is Heaven’s gain.

My wife’s stepdad, Don, has suffered a great deal over the last couple of years. First a series of mini strokes robbed him of his ability to speak. Then he fell and broke his hip. He had surgery, rehab and was even able to go home for a couple of months. But his health started to deteriorate further. To cut a long story short he spent his last few months alternated between a nursing home and hospital. The last few weeks his kidneys failed and he ended up on dialyis. It has been so hard to watch him go through all this. But his suffering is over now. What he went through I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He truly didn’t deserve to go like that. He was a proud man who valued his independence. All that was taken away from him in the end. He bore it all with incredible bravery. But it’s over now. His heart gave out Tuesday morning. We had the wake on Friday and his funeral was Saturday.

Don was a good man. One of the best. He would have given you the shirt off his back if you’d needed it, without expecting anything in return. He wouldn’t even want anything in return. Any time anyone needed him to do something he would do it without hesitation. There aren’t enough men like him in this world. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. I’m glad I had the chance to know him. He was a wonderful stepdad to my wife, Christine. This has hit her hard. But she is coping. She has many wonderful memories of him. We know he will be around us and letting us know in all sorts of ways that he is still with us. He used to like to kid around so it’ll be interesting to see how he chooses to make contact. But physically, we’ll miss him. He wasn’t the most talkative man in the world, but he was a pleasure to be around. He was just so calm. I’ve never heard him say a bad word about anyone.

Don, just know there are a lot of people down here who love you and will miss you enormously. You used to love the family gatherings. I’m sure your name will come up frequently at future family events. You have truly earned your place in Heaven.

Thoughts On What Might Have Been

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It saddens me to realize I have more in common with my dad since he passed away than I ever had when he was alive.  Granted, he died when I was just 14.  It was very sudden.  I lost him just at that age when you start to see your father as more than just a father figure.  At that age he becomes more a guide and mentor as you transition from child to adult. 

Here are two major passions I now share with him that I didn’t when he was alive.

Photography and classical music.

I developed (pun intended) an interest in photography in my early 20’s.  At that time I was going to a lot of football (soccer) games and would take photographs of the action on the field.  But the images would never come out as I would see them through the viewfinder.  The players always appeared too far away, too small in the photographs.  So I bought a photography magazine one day, thinking it would help me figure out what I was doing wrong.  This had two effects.  First, I quickly realized I needed a better camera.  Second, a new passion was born.  I bought two cameras, a Praktika and a Canon.   Over the years I have taken hundreds of photographs, even several weddings.

Just like my dad.

Now, in my 40’s, I have a passion for classical music.  This also happened by chance.  I often watch videos on YouTube.  I like to watch stuff from the past, comedy clips, TV shows etc.  For nostalgia, really.

One night I’d just watched something and saw a few links to Popular Classical Music videos.  I watched one on impulse.  Mainly out of curiousity to see how many I knew.  On watching that, two things struck me.  First, I actually knew every piece of music in that video.  Second, I really enjoyed listening to it!  So, after watching a few more I decided to delve into the music of each composer.  Everyone knows the popular stuff.  I wanted to see what else I was missing out on.  So the first night I began with Beethoven.  Then I moved on to Mozart.  Next I tried Tchaikovsky and the next night I delved into the music of Dvorak.

My passion quickly grew into obsession.  I listen to classical music every night.  I just can’t get enough of it.

Today it struck me just how much I have in common with my dad.  It makes me happy to think how like him I’ve become.  He was a good man who brought me up right.  I had a wonderful childhood, full of love. He always listened to his music on with headphones on, I guess he wanted to hear it loud without disturbing anyone. So I never really heard the music as a child. Perhaps if I had I would have taken a liking to the music at an earlier age.

But it saddens me to think of what I’ve missed out on.  The conversations we could have had.  Listening to classical music together.  I like to think he’s watching over me with pride at the man I’ve become.

My Greenwich Village Concert Review

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I just got home from a classical music concert and wanted to post this blog while it was still fresh in my mind.  The Greenwich Village Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto as well as Elgar’s Enigma, Variations On An Original Theme.

The first thing I want to say is I’ve only been into classical music since the middle of January, 2014, so that’s just under ten months.  This was only my second live classical concert.  Oddly enough, my first was also at the Greenwich Village Orchestra, in March.

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is one of my top three favourite classical music pieces.  Another of the three, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, is also going to be performed by this orchestra in April 2015, so I’ll be going to that one, too.

So, on to the concert.  It was amazing!  The Greenwich Village Orchestra are a very talented group of musicians.  It only costs $20 a ticket and they’re great value for that price.

The violin solo was played by Itamar Zorman, who began studying violin at the age of six.  He was outstanding and received a richly deserved ovation at the end.  His violin playing elevated an already great all round performance to a whole new level.  The whole of the first movement I just revelled in the glorious music.  The second movement is slower and quieter and that’s where I hit the only sour note on the whole afternoon.  Some person, or people, seemed to find the need to walk around a lot during virtually the whole second movement.  High heels on a wooden floor are not quiet!  And the same person, or people, seemed to feel the need to keep opening the doors at the back of the hall.  Those doors are heavy and make quite a noise when allowed to slam.  I know there were a few people there with very young children and I can only assume those children became restless.  But even that distraction, along with the inevitable coughing that always seems to happen at events like these, couldn’t spoil what was a fantastic performance.  When Itamar Zorman makes a return visit I’ll be there whatever he plays.  It was a pleasure to hear him!

The concert ended with a surprise rendition of Pomp and Circumstance which, as a Brit, I really enjoyed.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who love classical music but don’t go to many live performances because the price can be quite prohibitive.  Especially the philharmonic orchestras.  But the Greenwich Village Orchestra is well worth a visit.  At $20 a person they are amazing value.

Classical Inspiration

I posted this months ago on a writing blog I have.  I thought I’d post it here as I’m passionate about classical music.  In a way this type of music could be called the fifth path to wellness as the music is so relaxing, so soothing it’s as good as meditation.  Anyway, I got into classical music by accident in January 2014. 

Okay, so I now have another obsession.  Like I don’t already have enough, what with writing, Doctor Who and football.  But several days ago I was browsing on YouTube, looking for something fun to listen to.  I saw something about popular classical music and decided to listen,  I was in the mood for something different.  So I listened to pieces such as 1812 Overture, Moonlight Sonata, William Tell Overture and several others.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to them.  So I decided to take this new interest one step further and seek out individual composers to hear what else they had.  After all, when you go to a foreign country you don’t just stay at the resort, do you?  If you want a true flavour of the country you go off the beaten track.  You take the road less traveled.  Well, just listening to the popular classics is a bit like staying at the resort.  It’s fun, but you can’t help wondering what else you’re missing.

So I did a search on Mozart and spent a couple of hours listening to various pieces he’d created.  I don’t think I heard a single piece I didn’t enjoy.  The following night I tried out Tchaikovski and spent another hour wallowing in the most beautiful sounds ever created.  The next night I checked out Chopin.  And the next night I butted heads with Beethoven.  Those are my top four composers so far.  I also listened to Haydn, Brahms and Bach.  Everything is so good, but those top four I mentioned are my firm favourites.  So far.  I just can’t stop listening to it!

I’ve even taken to listening to classical music at night before I fall asleep.  It’s so relaxing.  Last night I listened to Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker.  It was wonderful. 

Here’s one of my absolute favourite classical pieces…

The music is just amazing.  And I love watching the conductor.  He really gives it everything he’s got.  And he visibly slumps with exhaustion when it’s over.  I remember first hearing this piece when watching Torville and Dean win Olympic gold in 1984.  Has it really been thirty years?  It seems appropriate then that I should develop a taste for classical music on such a great anniversary.  I actually watched their performance on the anniversary of their win.  I didn’t even know at the time of watching it WAS the anniversary.  Synchronicity at its finest.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from any other classical music fans out there. Maybe you can point me to composers and music I

Finding Your Purpose

Sometimes it can be a struggle to come up with a topic for a blog.  And sometimes a topic just drops in your lap!  Today is such a day.

While browsing Google + earlier, I came across this image.  To me, this image sums up all that we love about the company we are partnered with.

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I’m sure we’ve all struggled with that age old question as we go through our daily lives.

What is my purpose?  Why am I here?

We just enrolled our first nonprofit group called Victory 4

The Voiceless.  This amazing group rescues stray cats, and cats that have been abused, on Staten Island, and finds them new loving homes.  Last night we had the pleasure of visiting their base of operations and we spent an amazing hour and a half in the company of the many cats they’re currently holding.  Some of the cats are strays and were unapproachable as they have probably never really had any human contact before.  But many of them were very friendly and came to us to be petted.  One of them even made himself comfortable on my lap for a while.  Christine and I are big animal lovers and we both especially love cats.  So we relish the opportunity to help this small but extremely dedicated group to bring in much needed funds.

The four groups in that image that define your purpose:

1: What you love to do.   Well, we love helping people and knowing we’re making a difference.

2: What the world needs.  So many people are suffering and many of their complaints are caused by everyday toxins they have in their homes.

3: What we do is share our healthy products with people..

4: What you are good at.  I like to think I’m good at writing and Christine is definitely good at talking! 😉