Archive for life

Rest easy, my friend. Thanks for the memories.

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

When I started high school some 25 years ago I had a fear that I would be hunted down like the freshman that I was and subjected to torture by the upperclassmen.

I feared being shoved in lockers, mocked by girls whom I thought were cute, and then left on an island — a castaway, a friendless forgettable face.

None of that ever happened. And part of me credits a friend named Eric, who sadly passed away this week from health complications. He left behind a wife, an unborn child that is due in just a few months, a sister and many relatives.

I came to know Eric very early in my freshman year of high school. He was a senior who had a sister the same grade as me, and Eric and I had two classes together, Geometry (vomit) and bowling (hell yeah!).

Eric was a cool guy who shared same interest as I. He collected basketball cards — I did too at the time — enjoyed wagering a few dollars on various games, and loved sports in general. He wasn’t Mr. Popular, but he was well-known and liked, and being around him in those first few days and months of high school seemingly made me feel at ease. I was no longer worried about the problems listed above — well, save for the girl thing. I always believed that to be the case.

I digress. At the end of Freshman year Eric graduated from high school, along with a few other upperclassmen friends I made, and off he went. I wasn’t sure when I would see or talk to him again.

Remember, this was several years before social media gripped us and ensured that we’d know everything about everyone at all times.

Many years later, we found each other again on Social Media and the friendship was rekindled.

I knew Eric to be a big Giants fan, but I’d come to learn that his fandom was on a different level. He went to Giants games all the time and no longer collected cards, but instead he’d turned his attention to bobbleheads, more specifically those that were given away at the stadium.

Eric and I texted, spoke and messaged each other fairly often in recent years, particularly when it was related to the Giants or collectibles. He wanted my opinion on moves the Giants made, wanted tips on what Giants rookie cards he should collect, and as usual, I was always on the lookout for bobbleheads that he needed for his collection.

Several months ago we met up briefly and he gave me a small box of baseball cards, items he didn’t want anymore. They weren’t rare or even worth a lot. But it was an unsolicited gift, a generous offer that he told me might be fun for my kids and I to go through.

It was after that meeting that he disclosed some health issues but he assured me he was on the mend.

It’s been several months since I’d seen Eric, but we still messaged often. In fact, we spoke just last week.

And then news came down just two days ago that Eric had taken his last breath. He was 41.

Devastating news for sure. And while the shock and pain I feel is real, I can’t imagine the feelings that his family have. Eric you’ll be missed. Thank you for the memories and for having a positive impact on my life. I shall think of you every time I see a San Francisco Giants bobblehead.

Saying goodbye to another grandfather …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve kind of been kicking this around for the last day or so, trying to sort my feelings. Over the weekend I learned that another one of my grandfathers had passed away. This is third in about eight months. He was the last of the grandfathers in my life.

Grandpa Jerry and I were never close, but that’s not to say I didn’t care. I just never really knew how to breakdown the perceived wall. And if you know me, I’m not exactly the out-going talkative type anyway so this wasn’t a situation ripe with conversation.

There were two rules I lived by when we visited him and grandma in their Fairfield (California) home back in the day: 1) Make sure you say hello to the grandparents before settling in, and 2) DO NOT sit in grandpas chair. The latter was something I deemed as a sign of respect. No one had told me not to sit there, I just assumed that as the Man of the House, he had claimed that one spot — THAT ONE — as his. And unless he offered it to someone else, the seat shall remain empty so that he could sit there when he returned from his nap, his watering of the grass, his trip to the store to buy Lottery tickets, or whatever. Besides, it was grandma’s house. She had like three couches — including a massive sectional — in the converted garage that acted as a giant living room and addition to the home. There was no reason to take HIS spot.

There were times we often were left alone in the room and it was awkward a bit, reasons stemming from our mutual lack of talking. But we often watched sports together during the holidays, especially football. Collegiate or professional, Grandpa Jerry loved to watch. At times he sat there silent, then he’d make a quiet sucking-of-teeth noise when he grew disappointed in a play. And then the word “shit” would be said in a long, drawn out way almost the way you’d imagine John Wayne saying it.

If you knew me as a kid, I always had some baseball cards with me, not unlike the way kids these days take their electronics with them. I’d often flip through the same stack of cards, memorizing stats and details and from time to time Grandpa Jerry would peer over and ask what it was that I was looking at. We never shared a lot of talk about collectibles. I secretly hoped that one day he would tell me about his stash of cards from his youth, or tell me a story about sports and cards. But no such conversation came up. The closest I think we ever got to that was him telling me that he had collected a lot of the first two years of the Kenner Starting Line-Ups, which would have been 1988/1989 or so. I forget the exact the circumstances that would have lead to him buying them, but I think it had something to do with him being some sort of retail deliveryman/merchandiser.My contribution to the conversation was that those toys had gained some value at the time.

I can’t say that I knew a lot about the man, which in hind sight is kind of sad. I had’t seen Grandpa Jerry in about 15 years, ever since he and grandpa packed up their California home and moved to North Carolina, a place I’d never visited. I have a Polaroid picture I took with Grandma and Grandpa in front of their home just before I bid them farewell in 2003, but I’m not entirely sure where it it at the moment.

But as I sit here working through these emotions, there are three distinct items for which I shall remember Grandpa. 1) A trucker-style University of Kentucky hat that hung on the wall just inside the front door. I’m not sure I’d ever seen him wear it, but it was always there. I’m somewhat recalling that he may have been from Kentucky. 2) His powder blue 1980s Chevrolet Silverado that had a scene of horses galloping through an open field emblazoned like a window tint for the cab window. I’d gone with him once or twice to buy lottery tickets in the truck and I recall thinking how different it felt to ride in a truck instead of a sedan. And 3) The round silver ashtray that sat on the table next to his recliner. Grandpa was a smoker. There was no doubt about that. Thinking about that ash tray reminds me of a time, shortly before he and grandma moved, when I saw two of my grandfathers — old US Air Force buddies who wound up foes for a long while and then were seemingly on good terms before the departure to the east coast — and my uncle Frank sharing coffee, conversation and cigarettes together on the driveway. It was an odd sight at the time but I recall making a conscious effort to remember that moment and take a snapshot in my mind. All three of them have since passed away, all within the last 18 months or so.

It’s a really weird feeling to go all through childhood without really having to deal with death in the family, and then suddenly get slammed with a series of deaths as we get older. It’s not something we have control over, and each time I am reminded of it. And every time we say goodbye to a loved one, I think about my time with my kids and what messages I want to convey and experiences I want to share with them.

I’m not much of a talker; I chose writing as my preferred method of communication. If you were to ask me about Grandpa Jerry I might not have verbalized any of this. But if you’re still reading at this point, I thank you got taking the time. It means a lot.

Is it Spring yet?

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

**Note:  I wrote this this morning and shared with friends.  I hope you enjoy it, it’s something a bit different.**


Is it Spring yet?

I like the rain, but I’ve felt enough for now.

I miss the sunshine beating upon my face. I miss late-night sunsets an hour before bedtime. I miss mid-week baseball games that make me smile the same as they did when I was seven.

I like the cold, but I’ve grown too numb for now.

I want dry roadways so that I feel alive all the time, not only when I lose the back-end of my car while flooring it on the wet pavement. I want a reason to be out of the house and away from the time-suck that Netflix has become even though Kevin Spacey as Francis J. Underwood is one of the finest characters I have ever seen. I want to escape the real-life political drama of “alt-right” and “alt-left,” and all the in-betweens, and ctrl+alt+delete all the rhetoric and enjoy the life I have.

I like the dark, but I’ve become too sullen for now.

I hope the sunlight breaks through the clouds like the bedroom light used to pierce my eyes on a school day. I hope this time passes quickly, but not so fast that it passes me by. I hope that the message here within is not one of despair, rather one of truth and optimism.

Is it Spring yet?

No. But it will be soon. Nothing can stop that.

-Ben Aguirre, Jr.