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Remembering good times

Register • Mar 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Last week I wrote about how a quotation I read years ago, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” has helped me deal with the misfortunes that have been a constant in my life.

I listed a litany of things that have gone wrong over the years and only scraped the surface.

But that column was misleading to an extent. My life has countered my frequent bad luck and timing with far more than my share of amazingly good things, and I’d be painting a one-sided picture if I didn’t share some of them

I’ve been a fan of the Cleveland Indians since my dad took me to my first ballgame in the mid-60s. In 1972, I wrote a 50-word essay on why I wanted to meet the team and won grand prize in a contest sponsored by WJW-TV. I was on the pregame show, sat in the dugout during fielding practice, got a ball autographed by the entire team, and special attention from my favorite player, Graig Nettles. I sat in the TV booth during the game with broadcasters Harry Jones and Dave Martin. (So Oakland demolished the Tribe; It was still an awesome day.)

I won first place in another Tribe contest for which I’d been automatically entered when I bought some Smucker’s products. I didn’t even know there was a contest until I got a call telling me I’d won: Four great seats, caps, an autographed ball, $100 in Wahoo bucks, my name on the scoreboard, a camera, a tour of the ballpark and more.

In between I covered several spring trainings for this paper, the Norwalk Reflector and Indians Ink magazine, not only meeting but actually interviewing the players with a chance to find out the things I wanted to know. I even went through a McDonald’s drive-thru with pitcher Tom Candiotti to get a promised interview.

I had two monthly fishing columns in The Outdoor Journal at the age of 15, have fished in tournaments (and even won a few), won the annual award for biggest bass in our fishing club for 11 out of 12 years, had a fishing show on the radio for 12 years and had several articles published in magazines such as Ohio Fisherman. Right now I’m waiting to hear back from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine on a couple of short stories I’ve submitted.

I love music and through my job have been able to meet, interview and occasionally have a beer or two with musicians and groups I adore, such as Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, the Strawbs, Porcupine Tree, Shawn Phillips, dada and many others. I even got to see Elvis before he died, thanks to my mom.

Thanks to my career in journalism, I’ve been at the scene of many exciting events, flew across the country in the cockpit of a Leer jet, floated in the world’s largest hot-air balloon, manned an ultralight airplane and met countless celebrities and politicians, including President Jimmy Carter and Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy.

I’ve also worked as a veterinary assistant, a time study/methods engineer, a quality control engineer, a moldmaker in a foundry and presently as a customer service rep for a pet health insurance company. I owned my own comic shop for several years and sold it — because of the sudden and unexpected birth of my daughter — just before the bottom fell out of the business.

That daughter was unexpected because my wife and I had been told we would never have children, and sudden because she was born literally days after we learned of the pregnancy, a mere 1 lb., 5 oz, 11 1/2 inches long. Mary, who was given almost no chance, will soon celebrate her 23rd birthday!

I have two awesome stepkids, Mickey and Winnie, who I couldn’t love more if they were my own flesh and blood.

I have a sister who has always been there for me whenever I’ve needed anything, whose love for others shows in her work as operations coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland.

We had a mother who did her best despite deep-rooted emotional problems, and a dad who did everything he could to make up for what mom didn’t give us.

I’ve been blessed with magical moments — money essentially appearing out of thin air when desperately needed, a sign from my father when I was depressed over his death, and other amazing and uplifting experiences too many to fit in this space.

And I’ve learned that no matter how gloomy the outlook, no matter how hopeless things may seem, I always come through it somehow. Maybe I don’t get everything I want, but I get everything I need.

It’s easy when things are going wrong to throw a pity party for yourself, to only focus on the bad and put a negative spin on anything that would normally cheer you.

It’s not always easy to remember that you’ve had bad times before and come through them just fine, and that you’ve had good times as well.

When things are going great, we seldom think of things that have gone wrong before. Likewise, when things are going bad, we rarely remind ourselves of all the things that have gone right.

Sometimes when we’re feeling down, we don’t always have to compare ourselves with someone who has it worse to put things in perspective. Sometimes, we just have to remember there is more to our life than the problems at hand, and recall those moments that make life worth living.

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