11pm on Sunday night.
When you're a teenager and Sunday night rolls around you fill with anxiety because there's usually homework that you put off all weekend so you're caught at the kitchen table all evening trying to catch up. It's not so different when you grow up. It's Sunday night and there were things that you shoulda done over the weekend and the anxiety sets in. Oh well. Some assignments you finish and hand in on time. Some you don't.
Yesterday and today I deliberately stepped away from radio. You gotta do that sometimes. I could feel the show getting a little stale last week and that's usually a sign of burnout or lack of focus or exhaustion or grief or all of the above. The only real salve you can put on a stale show is to recuse yourself from #MyRadioLife for a while. As my mom would have said - Just F--- it for a while.
Speaking of my mom... and my nieces and nephews and sister and aunts and grandma... Alexis had to work today so I had the Sunday to fill and what better way than to seek out a little family. My sister Jennifer innocently texted me that nephew Jack was playing a scrimmage so I stopped by that for a while (photos above). Niece Maddy (seated at the picnic table) and I slipped away from a boring game to Starbucks for some caffeine. In an almost empty Starbucks, Maddy told me about her freshman year in high school. I just don't remember as a kid having that that much academic pressure.
Then it was time to JEDgolf. I drove towards Crown Point and called Robert at White Hawk Country Club to see if I could get out on the course to do this weirdo running golf thing that I do. Robert said OK but I should probably wait about an hour or so. So with an hour to kill I stopped by my mom's grave in Schererville. She died on Halloween, 1988. That's a long freaking time ago. I used to go to the cemetery all the time but I don't do it so much anymore. Same gravestone. Still dead. Still really sad.
My mom died when I was 26. She had been sick for a long time so by the time she finally passed you could say that there was a part of all five of us children that was 1. devastated beyond explanation and 2. relieved. My sisters lived their high school years with a mom fighting cancer. Oxygen machines in the bedroom. Surgeries. Hope. Despair. Death. It wasn't just not pretty. It was horrible.
But that was a long time ago. I share it with the three or four of you because it's certainly a defining moment in My American, Radio Life. It might even be the penultimate moment in #MyRadioLife. It's been so long that I can talk about it if the three or four of you want, but that would take too long and at some point I gotta lay my head down on the pillow so I can worry myself to sleep.
I enjoyed a good 10 minutes of quiet and sunshine at my mom's grave... then I realized that I still had a good 45 minutes to kill before I could get on the course at White Hawk. So I went by my uncle Danny and Debby's in nearby Merrillville. They happen to live right by the cemetery. Danny and Debby weren't there, but the three funniest people in the Calumet Region were.
That would be my grandma (Jean Matson), my aunt Mary (Dabrowski), and my aunt Irene (Dedelow). They were in the middle of a game of pinochle (pronounced PED-nockle) so I could engage them with conversation only during the deals. But still there were enough laughs to remind me that I should stop by to see my grandma more. I didn't realize, come to think about it, that she lives only blocks from where my mom's buried. Me, I gotta drive a good eight miles to get there, through a ton of stoplights and two-lane roads that should be four-lane roads. Grandma could get there in less than five minutes. I wonder if that's just a coincidence.
My aunt Irene is really my grandma's youngest sister but she was closer in age to my mom than to grandma Jean. My mom and aunt Irene would talk five times a day on the phone when we were young. And a lot of the time they were complaining about their husbands, who happened to be brothers.
That's right, in this convoluted back-country way of mating and marrying, my mom and her aunt married a set of brothers. And then they went forth and had a bunch of children. Aunt Irene had nine and my mom had five. Every once in a while we'd all go to Tiebels for Sunday dinner and it would be a table for 11 from the Aunt Irene Dedelows and seven from the Jeanie Dedelows. That's a table for 18 between two rather fertile families. To this day, if I ever run out of gas in the Calumet Region, I'm usually not more than a few miles from a relative's house. As a matter of fact, if you plotted all the relatives on a Google map, you'd be hard-pressed to place a dot north of route 231 that's more than three miles from a relative. So it goes.
That's because my dad's side came to the Calumet Region south of Chicago in 1871, right after the Chicago fire. That's a lotta Germans and Dutch. My mom's Polish side came to the Frogsville section of Hammond in 1910 to work in the steel mills. On both sides, people rarely leave. That means that if you're gonna bed down with someone around here you should probably first compare pedigrees to make sure, you know...
That oughta do if for tonight. I'm still not tired. Not a bit. I JEDgolfed until it got dark and on the way home I was thirsty so I drank the rest of the tea that I'd gotten earlier with Maddy at Starbucks. As the three or four of you know, anything from Starbucks is loaded with caffeine, so it could be a while. See you on the radio in six hours.