Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Run of a Lifetime

Through a circuitous set of circumstances, I find myself having a quiet cup of coffee at Falls City Market this Monday morning as the city of Louisville wakes up and my family still sleeps.  We've spent a thoroughly enjoyable long weekend exploring the city after Hurricane Michael derailed our planned trip to the beach for Fall Break.


Saturday evening, Jude, the boys and I waited in line at Iroquois Park, 10 minutes or so outside Louisville proper, preparing to enter the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  As I alternated between standing in line and throwing the Moon Ball with the boys, I slowly began to notice my surroundings.  Suddenly, it hit me.  I think I've been her before. 

And I had.

More than 20 years ago, I drove with a running friend, Vicki Spickard, to Louisville, KY, to race the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon.  It was a half-marathon the weekend before the Kentucky Derby and the last road race in Louisville's Triple Crown of road races.  I ran all three races that year and, somewhere in my closet at home, I have the t-shirt to prove it.  

It would have been late April or early May and I was in the best shape of my life from a running standpoint.  I was training hard, putting in a lot of mileage - probably close to 40 miles a week - and I was racing almost every weekend.  The year or so before and after that race was the apex of my competitive running career.  

I was young, brash and seeming indestructible, of course.  And, to me, running was all about getting fast, racing and setting PR's (personal records).  Now, at 52, I run for the joy of running.  To try to stay healthy and in some semblance of shape.  I run because I can and because I love to run.  It's simply who I am and what I do.

As I recall, we stayed at some friends of Vicki's, somewhere in Louisville.  It was a little cool for a spring morning.  Perfect running weather.  I felt good that morning.  I had run four or five half-marathons before including the Thanksgiving Day Half-Marathon in Atlanta w/Todd Blankenbecler two or three years in a row.  Those t-shirts are somewhere in my closet, too.

Again, I was running a lot.  I was training quite a bit in Percy Warner Park and running the  six and 11-mile loops, which are quite hilly.  I've always run hills well and I'd read an article on how to properly run downhill, of all things, in a way that didn't tire your legs out.  I also had read an article on breathing patterns that I had applied to my running.  You might say I was a running nerd.  

My goal that morning was to break 1:40:00 and set a PR at a the half-marathon distance.  I felt pretty good about my chances because I had put in the work, for sure.

I don't recall where the race started but I do recall that I quickly found myself in Iroquois Park running up and down the hills.  As other runners struggled, I smiled to myself.  Iroquois Park bore a striking resemblance to Percy Warner Park.  It was like I had trained specifically for the the race and maybe, inadvertently, I had.  I felt fantastic, like a running machine, as I ran up the hills of the park with ease and effortlessly flew down the hills as I had learned to do and, in the process, putting little or no stress or strain on my quads and hamstrings.  I passed people left and right in Iroquois Park. 

I felt like I could run forever.  And, that spring Saturday more than two decades ago, I probably could have.  

At some point just before we exited Iroquois Park and began to run back to downtown Louisville - which I recall was about half way through the race - I checked my splits on what was undoubtedly my original, Timex Ironman digital running watch.  I think I still have it somewhere.  I did double take and checked them again, doing the calculations again in my head to make sure my projected time was correct.  I was stunned to realize I could break 1:30:00 if I held my current pace of 6:40:00 miles.

I had two choice.  I could play it safe, slow down, and get my under 1:40:00 PR easily.  Or, I could stay on the gas and see just how fast I could run a half-marathon with the risk, of course, being that I could blow up and end up finishing over 1:40:00.  What to do?

It was a perfect day for running and that's how I felt.  Like a perfect runner.  Fuck it, I thought, I'm going for it.  And that's what I did.

The last half of the race is a blur but I remember checking my splits every mile and confirming I was maintaining a 6:40:00 pace.  I was flying and the miles were flying by, too.  Memory dims over time, of course, but I don't remember struggling the four or five miles of the race.  I just remember feeling strong and, well, like I could run forever.

I finished the last mile almost sprinting, or so it seemed, and crossed the finish line in 1:29:48.  I was ebullient and ecstatic, literally on top of the world.  A part of me immediately knew I was visiting running territory I wasn't likely to visit again, I think, so I savored the feeling of accomplishment.

As a runner, I run all year long - some years more than others, but always running - in search of the perfect run.  The run where everything comes together on a run of distance, usually, and I feel like I could run forever.  The running zone, I've always called.

That spring day in Louisville, KY, so many years ago, I found it.  During a race, no less, which almost never happens.

And I've been chasing the memory ever since and enjoying every step along the way.     

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Good Day

This morning, I was up at 5:30 a.m. for a 4 mile run in the neighborhood.  Listened to Matt Damon on Bill Simmon's podcast as I ran down Belmont Boulevard and across David Lipscomb's campus before dawn.  Now, I'm finishing up coffee at Frothy Monkey before heading down to see my mom.

Our day today?  J.P. has a travel soccer doubleheader starting at 11 a.m., followed by a baseball game at 3 p.m.  Joe has a baseball game at 5 p.m.  That's on the heels of a soccer game for Joe yesterday morning and a baseball doubleheader for J.P.

J.P.'s Dodgers beat the Dirtbags, our longtime rival, 16-4, so there's that.

Yesterday morning, before things got crazy, I went to see my mom.  It's so hard for me to get by her place during the work week because I'm so busy right now.  In truth, that's probably a poor excuse and it makes me feel bad, but I have been crushed last month and it continued last week.

I arrived as she was finishing breakfast.  She drank some cranberry juice I brought, then I rolled her outside to the courtyard we often visit.  She looked at one of the two issues of the New Yorker that I'd brought with me, although she never got past the table of contents.  Sometimes the innocence - her innocence - is almost childlike and I marvel at the things that interest her or amuse her.  We're blessed in that way, I suppose, in that she's not angry, mean spirited or sad.  For the most part, she's happy and blissfully unaware of anything more than what is right in front of her.

Is that sad?  Sure it is, when I think of how closely she followed sports, politics, current events and, most importantly, her children's and grandchildren's activities in what seems like a past life.  I'm trying to find the silver lining, though.  And, for me, the silver lining is that right now, at least, she is, in a word . . . content.

She smiles a lot.  Her sense of humor is intact and she laughs, still, again with a childlike innocence at the smallest things.  She interacts with the staff in the Courtyard at NHC Place and they seem to genuine like her.  As I wheeled her out yesterday, I private pay caregiver I didn't recognize spoke to her and asked how she was doing as she waved at him when we passed by his patient's table.

Back to yesterday morning.  As we sat outside, enjoying each other's company, I read her a couple of poems from this week's issue of the New Yorker.  We weren't particularly impressed with either poem.  Mostly, she just laughed at the name of one of the authors.

Truly, it was one of those intervals I wish I could have frozen in time, so I could return to it in later years, when her conditions worsens or when she's gone.  Maybe I can look back at this post and remember that Saturday morning when, for a little while at least, my mom and sat together outside and I read poetry to her.  And she listened, and smiled.  And loved me.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Dawg

(Sitting at Barista Parlor, early, before a client meeting at Portland Brew, listening the Jason Isbel's "If We Were Vampires" spinning on a turntable).  

I worry sometimes - actually, a lot of the time - that I don't have enough photos of Joe, that I haven't blogged enough about Joe, that I don't get enough one-on-one time with Joe, that Joe never got to enjoy the experience of being our only child, like J.P. did for almost four years before Joe was born.  

And, now, with both boys at the same school - the convenience of which cannot be overstated - I don't get "Joe Time" in the mornings.  For the last couple of years, Joe and I had 45 minutes to an hour, alone, every day before I took him to school. 

He's the second child, after all.  That's just the way it is.  I do think, though, being the first child or the second child really does inform your personality to a certain extent.  Certainly, it's not the only factor, but it's an important one, it seems.

Switching gears, I moved Joe's baseball team, the Junior Dodgers, up early from the Wookie League (4, 5 and 6 years old) to the Rookie League (7 and 8 year olds) for fall baseball.  They're all 6 year olds and I knew they would struggle hitting off the machine rather than me pitching to them.  I knew that because we did the same thing with J.P.'s group, the Dodgers, and I can vividly remember them struggling in the beginning of the fall season.  I also remember them picking it up, hitting well in the second half of the fall, and winning some games.  

The Junior Dodgers started the season 0-3.  The first game, the hitting was abysmal.  Joe had 1 of 2 hits.  It's worth pointing out here that a "hit" in the Rookie League - at least the way I score it - can be a ball that is hit through the infield (a rarity) or a ground ball that the batter legitimately beat out for an infield hit.  There aren't many 6 year old sluggers who can hit line drives into the outfield off the machine.

In games 2 and 3, the boys' hitting improved, as I knew it would.  They had begun to time the pitches and get the bat on the ball.  

Last Saturday, we played a buddy of mine's team (Andy Corts).  His boys were a little older than ours but no too skilled.  

To my delight, our boys really got the bats on track, from the top of the lineup to the bottom.  Remember, of course, that there is no real lineup on my teams at this age.  We bat the boys by their uniform numbers, lowest to highest one game, then highest to lowest the next game.  It makes for easier "dugout management," by far.  My bench coach appreciates it, I know.

Somehow, I've ended up running the machine for the Junior Dodgers.  Where have you gone, Dan "the Professor" Ayres?  It's good for a control freak like me but I die a little each time I strike a kid out and have to remind him to go back to the dugout as he stares out at me and that damn machine.  

Again, Saturday was different.  Two of my least skilled players, Noah and James, had legitimate hits their first time up.  I was thrilled!  Noah and his dad have worked their asses off since he first played for me last fall and had probably never held a bat in his hand.  He's improved tremendously.  James' father played baseball in college James doesn't appear to have touched a baseball before this fall.  To see him hit the ball down the third base line and scamper to first base, smiling, was tremendous.

Joe?  He's one of the youngest boys on the team, I think, but one of the most advanced in terms of actual baseball skills and hand-eye coordination.  Not the fastest and not the most athletic, by any means, but he has the strongest and certainly, the most accurate, throwing arm on the team.  Like his brother at that age, too, he is intense and understands the game.  

Joe wast the only player with two hits on Saturday.  He scored two of our five runs.  He also threw a kid out at first base.  The Junior Dodgers won, 5-0.  A shutout.  They celebrated like, well, 6 year olds as we ran into right field - as I've done so many times after so many baseball games - with J.P.'s Dodgers - for a brief post-game celebration.  It was cool.

Joe, or Joe "Dawg" Newman, as he's know by all on the baseball field.  Or, to me, just "Dawg."  

I'm proud of him.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Life Hack

When we got back from vacation out west in early August, I decided to embark on a 30-day life hack.     There was no real reason, but I thought it would be interesting to change my drinking and eating habits for 30 days, partially to see if I could do it and partially to change my lifestyle.  August 4 was my start date.

My initial plan was to give up alcohol for 30 days.  Not the end of the world, I thought, as I'm not a binge drinker by any stretch of the imagination.  I had fallen into the longtime habit, though, of having a beer or glass of wine most nights, certainly more nights that not.  I often had a glass of wine with dinner, or walked down to Edley's for a couple of beers after the boys went to bed.  Many times, I stopped by Edley's after a night run in the neighborhood.  Again, I rarely, rarely got drunk, but I rarely went more than a night or maybe two without having a drink of some sort.    

Then, I thought, I might as well give up bread, too.  And potato chips and french fries.  Hell, all potatoes.  And pasta.  And sweets and things with refined sugar (no Cliff bars, Balance bars, etc.).  

That, I thought, is raising the stakes a bit.  That, I thought, is a "life hack."  For me, anyway.  A 30-day life lack.

I didn't know if I could do it.  I didn't know how I would feel.  I didn't know if it would be hard.  I didn't want to blog about it.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.  For me.

And, as always, I was interested in the process.  I was very curious to see how difficult it would be and to see how it would make me feel.

My personality, I think, lends itself to all or nothing lifestyle adjustments.  This is probably a good time to mention that in my late 20's, I decided to see what it would be like to not eat meat or chicken for six weeks.  For no apparent reason, just to see if I could do it and to see what it was like.  Sound familiar?  I ate my first meat five plus years later - a hamburger at Brown's Diner.  You see what I mean?

So, how did the 30-day life hack go?  Swimmingly, to be honest.

Surprisingly, the alcohol prohibition was no big deal.  Especially at first, I missed the social aspect of having a drink at a bar.  Especially at Edley's, where the bartenders have become friends of mine.  I missed sitting at the bar, alone, and having a couple of beers while I quietly read that week's New Yorker magazine.  I did miss, just a bit, what I called the "two beer buzz," where I was able to take the edge off my workday or my worries about my mom, but not be impaired, intoxicated or drunk.

There's a line in a James McMurtry song - Hurricane Party - that speaks to that feeling.

The hurricane party's windin' down
and we're all waitin' for the end
And I don't want another drink,
I only want that last one again.

As for the change in my diet, once my body got adjusted to not eating bread, french fries, potato chips, etc., it seemed to stop wanting those kinds of foods.  Strangely, it became no problem to hand out to go burgers and fries from BurgerUp to Jude and the boys, knowing I wasn't eating fries and that I was just going to eat veggies.

Rather than wolfing down a sandwich an a half of a bag of chips on Saturday or Sunday for lunch, I ate what call "ham rollups."  Ham wrapped around a slice of cheese.

And, of course, no chips.  No more grabbing a handful of chips when I get home, right before dinner. No more snacking on Triscuits or Wheat Thins while I'm working late at night.  Really, for the most party, no more snacking after dinner.

What have I eaten?  A lot of salads.  Meat and cheese.  Almonds and other nuts.  High protein, low sugar/low car energy bars.  Chicken.  Burger patties with no bun.  Even a hot dog or two with no bun, of course.

How do I feel?  Really, really good.  I guess it's been kind of a gluten-free diet, thought not intended to be that way.  Kind of a Keto diet.  Kind of a Paleo diet.  Not in any formal way.

I ran 4 miles, effortlessly, at an 8:13 pace the other night.  That was cool and not because I'm running high mileage lately, because I'm not.

I'm wearing khaki pants I've not worn in a few years because they were little tight for me.  My suits pants are too big for me, which is comical but cool.  My shorts are big on me which, again, is comical but cool.  My dress shirts are looser at the neck when I put a tie on in the mornings for work.  And, I realized this morning, I've got maybe one or two pairs of jeans that actually fit.

Where do I go from here?

Well, I'm almost 50 days into the 30-day life hack.  I've eaten no bread, one popsicle, no pasta, no potatoes of any sort and no Cliff bars, etc.  I've a had a handful of beers and a drink or two, but that's it.

I like how I feel.  And that's important to me.  More important, I think, than returning to snacking and eating foods that aren't good for me.  Empty calories, so to speak.

I'm going to keep it up and if things ease up a bit at work, I think I might crank up the running and exercising to a higher level.  I'd kind of like to see what kind of shape I can get this 52 year old body in if I take a little better care of it and put a different kind of fuel in the tank.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Diminishing Expectations

More and more, when I arrive to see my mom in the Courtyard at NHC Place, she's sitting at her normal table, head nodded forward, asleep.  On weekend mornings, when I'm always there, it's quiet with no activities ongoing.  Sometimes, the television will be on, playing a box set of I Love Lucy, the Munsters or Andy Griffith.  But, from a staffing standpoint, it appears there is no activities person there on weekends.

In the beginning at Maristone and even when we moved my mom into Aspen Arbor at NHC Place, I would have been mortified to see my mom sitting in the common area, slumped over, asleep, nothing within reach to occupy her time.  In fact, I complained to the administration at NHC Place in her early days at Aspen Arbor about the inactivity on weekends.  For a while, one or two of the CNA's played dominos, cards or worked puzzles with the residents who were interested on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

In fact, I often thought to myself how sad it was when I arrived at Maristone or Aspen Arbor and saw a few of the residents slumped over, almost like they were very literally bored to death or had simply given up on life.  Or, maybe, that life had given up on them.

And, now, that's where I find my mom.  Slowly but inevitably, she has become one of those people who is bored to death, or closer to death, maybe, or has simply given up on life.  Or, maybe, life has given up on her.

The question that nags at me, that I can't stop considering is this - Have I given up on my mom?  Have we - Tracy, Alice and I - given up on my mom?

By not complaining to the administration at NHC and raising hell about the lack of planned activities on weekends, am I showing my mom I've given up on her?  Sometimes it feels that way.

Alzheimer's disease and the journey on which it has taken me, with my mom and my family, is strange.  And fascinating, in a way.  One thing I've discovered is that what I expect in terms of what my mom is doing on a daily basis - well, it diminishes over time.

She used to color in coloring books constantly when she first arrived at Maristone, for God's sake.  Not anymore.  She used to wheel herself all around Aspen Arbor and interact with the nurses and other residents.  Not anymore.

And, what I'm willing to accept in terms of how she is doing - it diminished over time, too.

I call it the law of diminishing expectations.  

It's sad and it breaks my fucking heart.

I wonder, sometimes, should I be there every day reading to my mom, insisting that she try to play games with me?  Should I be there every day taking her for walks all over the facility?  Should I be standing on a table in the Courtyard, jumping up and down, demanding more activities for the residents?  Should I be banging on the director's door and complaining about the lack of activities on weekends?

I don't how I can live my life, though, and be the attorney I need to be for my clients at work; and be the father I need to be and the husband I need to be; and be the coach of two baseball games I need to be; and be the friend I need to be; and be the runner I need and want to be; and find a new truck to buy now that mine, after 12 years and 214,000 miles is finally at the end of the road - how can I be and do all of those things and be at the Courtyard visiting my mom every day?

I think my mom would and did figure out how to do all of those things when she was caring for my grandmother and my Aunt Sara.  It sure seems that way, now, looking back.

I wish I would have asked her how she did.  I wish I would have asked her how she maintained some semblance of balance in her life.  I wish I would have asked her how she answered the nagging little voice in her mind that was telling her she wasn't doing enough.

But, I didn't ask her then.  And, now . . . well, now, she can't answer me if I do ask her.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Morning to Remember

I had a long week at work, which left Jude with extra duty caring for the boys.  She's covered up in her new job, as well, so yesterday morning, we agreed I would take the boys to see my mom and run some errands.  That way, she could go into work to try and catch up on a few things.

Almost as an afterthought, I told the boys to pick out a book each to read to my mom, or Meemaw, as they call her.  After careful consideration, Joe picked out "The Bear Snores On."  J.P. selected one of my favorites, "The Night Gardener" (after I vetoed a book in "The Fly Guy" series, much to his chagrin).

When we arrived, my mom was sitting at a table in the common room, near the television, with Carol.  She and Carol normally sit together and take their meals together.  They're compatible, or so it seems, both laughing a lot and, as I've been told by staff, both with good appetites.  I think they would have been friends in a different life.  In fact, I'm sure of it.

Tracy, Alice and I have taken a liking to Carol.  I've given her an issue or two of the New Yorker, because she seems to enjoy reading it, or actually, looking at it.  It make me a little bit sad because I never see anyone visiting her.  I don't know if she has any relatives in town.  Perhaps they come during the week when I'm usually at work.  I hope so.

When we arrived, Joe read his book first.  Carol, especially listened raptly.  She marveled at how well Joe could read.  She asked J.P. two or three times how old Joe was.  My mom held down the edges of the pages so Joe could focus on his reading.  It was special, a shared moment between my mom and her youngest grandson.

It kills me, sometimes, to think that Joe will never get to experience my mom in her prime.  She would have loved Joe's personality, his sense of humor and even his stubbornness.  They would have gotten along famously and I think she would've taken a special interest in him as her youngest grandchild.

My mom used to keep J.P. for us on occasion, when he was 3 or 4, which seems like it was a lifetime ago.  And, I guess it was.  It's hard to believe she used to drive him to the Brentwood library to check out books and for story time.  I can still see him in the playroom floor when I arrived to pick him up in the afternoons, surrounded by all of the toys of my youth.  Now, the playroom is partially empty and partially full of boxes.  The house is devoid of spirit and life, as no one has lived there in almost two years.

As J.P. read his book to my mom and Carol, my mom reached over and held Joe's hand.  He looked at her and smiled.  They continued to hold hands while J.P. read his book.  I snapped a quick photo to capture the moment.

After the boys finished reading, they took turns rolling a styrofoam cylinder of some sort back and forth across the table to Carol, my mom and each other.  Every time the cylinder rolled over to my mom, she pried it open and looked at in wonder.  I gently took it away from her, pushed the edges back together rolled it across the table to Joe.  They kept this up for a few minutes as I watched contentedly.

We left after a while and stopped by to visit a friend of mine's father who is at NHC Place to recuperate from complications he suffered after a knee replacement.

I wonder what my boys will remember about their Meemaw.  I wonder what they'll take away from these visits with her near the end of her life.  I hope these visits are positively impacting them in some way.

My sister, Tracy, sent me a text yesterday after I described our visit in a short text (and video) I sent to she and Alice.  Below is what she said -

So sweet . . . love it.  Through these visits, you're instilling even more compassion, patience, selflessness, and love in these boys than most kids their age.  What a blessing that will serve them well, later in life.  

I hope she's right.  There's just no way to know what is the right thing to do in a situation like this.  There's no blueprint, no handbook.  All I can do is the best that I can.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Triumphant Return of Johnny Bag of Donuts

There was a time, more than half a decade ago, when Johnny Bag of Donuts roamed the halls of our Elliott Avenue house at night, especially around bedtime.  He lived in J.P.'s imagination, and in mine, throughout the day, really, but he visited us every night when I put J.P. to bed.  

Telling J.P. a bedtime story was so very often the highlight of my day.  Bedtime routines with little ones are always special.  Always memorable, especially when viewed through the prism of raising a child that's hit double digits in age.  Even more so when you traffic in nostalgia and sentimentality, as I do.  Ah, yes, the good old days. 

Johnny Pasta begat Johnny Bag of Donuts and he stayed with us for at least a couple of years.  

Every night, at bedtime, J.P. would hop into bed without a fuss eagerly anticipating a new story or the continuation of a story from the night before - Vol. II or, sometimes, III, IV or V.  I had a whole intro I would do first, then I would recap the previous night's story.  This was key when it was a multi-part story, continued the night before at the penultimate moment.  In my recap, if I missed a key fact, J.P. quickly corrected me.  

God, it seems like yesterday - literally - that I was laying on the floor in the dark on the rug, next to his bed, with a pillow under my head, letting my imagination run wild as I spun a yarn about Johnny Bag of Donuts' latest adventures.  He would get so excited during the story that he would sit up in bed, enraptured by the tale and worried about what might happen next.  

I always wove him into the story, along with various and sundry characters from our every day, neighborhood lives.  The setting, often and particularly as he got older, was a sports event - an NBA game in Memphis, bobsledding at the Olympics, Vanderbilt football, Titans' football, etc.  Sports figures were ever present, some more than others.  Kobe Bryant was a regular and, for some reason, Zach Randolph was, too.    

The cast of characters at Bongo Java - in the old days, of course - almost always played supporting roles in the stories.  E.J., Megan, Adam, George, Chad, Chuck, Mitch, Hunter and so many, many more baristas, long since gone from our Bongo Java - that's another story - all whom had showed J.P. so many kindnesses in the early years of his life and were rewarded with recurring roles in the adventures of Johnny Bag of Donuts.  

The best and most special part, for me, was that those few minutes at bedtime were something J.P. and I shared together.  Just the two of us.  Father, son and our imaginations running wild.  Just.  Being.  Together. 

When Joe came along, of course, bedtime routines were different.  It was virtually impossible to focus on Joe alone, because J.P. had to be put to bed, too.  Then, again, maybe I had other things weighing on my mind.  Real life things.  Maybe I didn't use my imagination enough or spend enough time thinking up stories to entertain Joe at bedtime.  It made me a little sad, when I thought about it.  Either way, I tried a few times off and on with Joe, but telling him stories at bedtime never really caught on with him.  

Until recently, when Johnny Bag of Donuts enjoyed a renaissance after her appeared in our home, again, this time accompanied by his sidekick, Joey Mustache.  

By way of explanation, Joey Mustache was the character I'd created a few years ago to serve as Joe's alter ego in my stories.  A 3 or 4 year old boy with a long, brown Fu Manchu mustache that was the envy of everyone he came into contact with.  It didn't catch on with Joe, then, but by damn, it has now.

A few weeks ago, around the time of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Joe was having trouble sleeping through the night.  He'd wake up at midnight or 1 p.m., crying and upset, because he couldn't fall back to sleep.  Jude and I took turns going upstairs to check on him but it made for a few nights of fitful sleep for us.  

One night, to change things up at bedtime, I told him a Joey Mustache story in which Joey and Johnny Bag of Donuts - brothers, of course - were selected to play for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game.  It was a multi-part story, Joe slept through that night and the next several nights and I'll be damned but Johnny Bag of Donuts - and Joey Mustache - were back in town and staying at our Linden Avenue house for a while!

Now, each night, Joe rushed to get in bed by 8:15 p.m. and asks me to tuck him in first, so he can hear about the latest adventures of Joey Mustache and Johnny Bag of Donuts.  Currently, our heroes are playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the world champion Houston Astros, in Chavez Ravine.  It's the top of the 7th inning and the Dodgers are up 3-0.  Lance McCullers - he of the wicked curve ball - has replaced Justin Verlander and is pithing for the Astros.  

Much to Joe's surprise and delight, the Bentonian (a.k.a. Benton right, J.P.'s friend) has replaced Clayton Kershaw and is pitching for the Dodgers.  Joe sat up in bed and squealed last night when the Bentonian struck out Jose Altuve with a 104 mph pitch. 

And I smiled, content, as I watched him from my spot at the foot of his bed.  

I wish this baseball game would last forever.  I wish these times would last forever.  I wish my boys would (and I) would stay young forever.

Welcome home, Johnny Bag of Donuts and Joey Mustache.  I've missed you.  Why don't you stay with us for a while? 

In fact, how about if you never leave?