You are a rock
with infinite colors
I could explore you
You are a defender
of the people
you love and of
past your defense.
Now what do we
When I talk about the impending death of radio, believe it or not, I don’t necessarily mean it in a bad way. Things are born, they live, and then they die. For some reason, I accept this.
The first real death that I had to deal with was the death of my grandpa Brown. He married my grandma Jean Matson, so he wasn’t my blood grandpa. But that didn’t seem to matter to him much.
He was a really tall white guy who worked construction and liked to drink too much on Christmas Eve. One of my earliest memories of anything was when he fell on to the Christmas tree while trying to locate a star at the top. That was funny, although the many women in the room came running to his aid with extremely worried looks on their faces.
Another early memory was going to the Virgin Islands to stay with grandpa Brown and grandma for a while. Here’s what I remember of that fiasco.
- there were a lot of really dark black people around, and I made friends with some of the kids. We wandered through groves of a fruit tree called a “kennup” and would eat them while running. I have searched my whole life for this fruit but have never seen it. Maybe it’s a kiwi. Maybe it’s an odd form of grape. Maybe you’re not supposed to eat it at all but when you’re five or six years old running around slurping fruit on your shirt, you don’t really care.
- I remember the appendicitis attack. I had it on the island of St. Thomas and, apparently, they didn’t have the means to take out my appendix in a hurry, at least not to the dexterity level that my dad wanted. I vaguely remember getting in a small plane all wrapped up in white blankets and flying to Puerto Rico. There, I stayed in an open-air hospital for like a week with some sort of tropical infection. My dad says now that he thought I might die. That’s how dads are, I suppose.
- My uncles, Dennis and Danny, lived on St. Thomas with grandpa Brown and grandma. They were maybe in junior high or early years of high school. They too had a lot of really dark black kids as friends. One of them was kind of quiet but had a lot of muscles. I only remember the guy because he would play catch with me when my uncles wouldn’t do it anymore. It turns out that this quiet, muscular black kid went on to be the leader of some sort of opposition group on the island. Years later, my uncle Danny went to the island and tried to see this opposition leader. Danny had to go through all sorts of security and when he finally got to see the guy, he said – “Danny Brown, I see you. You are the only white man I see.” There must be racial strife on the island. I didn’t see it as a little kid running around with really dark black kids eating a fruit with no name.
Perhaps these memories of my grandpa Brown come to light because it’s actually my grandma Matson’s 98th birthday today. And she’s not doing all that well. My grandma Matson could drink as much whiskey as any man and she could stay up all night playing pinochle and she could wash clothes like no one else.
Now she’s old and my wife Alexis and I will be over there later for cake and ice cream. What do you get for a 98-year-old woman?
Grandma’s 98th won’t be our first stop. It will be our second stop. First, we have to go to a funeral. That’s of Connie (Brewster) Dedelow. Here’s what the Times obituary had to say.
Constance Brewster Dedelow CROWN POINT, IN - Constance (née Brewster) Dedelow, age 71, of Crown Point, IN passed away September 30, 2017. Connie was born May 22, 1946 in Providence, RI, to the late Kingman and Mary Louise (Phillips) Brewster. Also preceding her in death are her son, Luke Dedelow, and nephew Benjamin Holloway. On May 21, 1978, she married Duane Dedelow, who survives. Also left to cherish her memory are daughter Shannon (James) Eaton, grandson Leo Eaton, stepchildren Duane Jr. (Lori), Doreen, Dawn (Kenneth) Rowland, David, Douglas (Susan), Darryl, Darrin, Dana, Drew (Adrienne); 15 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; and siblings: Kingman (Marcia) Brewster, Deborah Brewster (Benjamin Mendlowitz), Alden (Maria) Brewster, and Riley Brewster. Connie lived with with, wisdom, and persistence. She loved her show dogs and was dedicated to those she cared for at the St. Anthony Village nursing home where she worked for many years. Connie was deeply loved by Duane and every member of their sprawling family and was a rock of stability at its core. Their Summer Tree Farm was a warm home that was open to all. Visitation will be Sunday, October 8, 2017 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at CHAPEL LAWN FUNERAL HOME (8178 Cline Ave., Schererville, IN 46375). Funeral services will be Monday, October 9, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at CHAPEL LAWN FUNERAL HOME. Burial will be in Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens. To leave online condolences, please visit: www.chapellawnfunerals.com
It was, to say the least, a sad day yesterday at the wake. Connie is the second wife of my uncle Duane, my dad’s brother. It was a rather heartbreaking moment to see my dad, Duane, and their sister Gayle sobbing silently together at the casket and the body. These are proud German/Dutch people. They don’t cry often.
It was, of course, good to see the many cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and my own siblings and dad and stepmom. It gets loud in the entryway of one of these wakes when Todd Dedelow drives in from Kansas City and hugs everyone. Cousin Dawn was in from Orlando and cousin Drew was in from Portland, Oregon. Nephew Craig, the one who got drafted last year in the 9th round by the White Sox, was in from Bloomington, Indiana, where he’s lifting weights over the winter.
Connie’s was actually the second wake in five days. On Wednesday, there was the wake of my aunt Kaye Rex, the wife of the late Jimmie Rex, my uncle. That too was filled with many slaps on the back and hugs and ‘what you up to these days?”. But there was a sadness there – Kaye was also in her early seventies – and afterwards you walked to your car with the feeling that you should make every moment count.
I bring up death because it is around me these days. Two aunts and a grandma who’s hanging on because she’s stubborn and would like just one more whiskey. I feel a bit of melancholy in that I had always planned to take a tape recorder with me to see my grandma and record what it was like when she was young, what she went through in a couple of really tough spots. What my mom was like, she being dead almost 30 years now.
And it all somehow comes back to radio, like it always does. I would like to know what it was like for my grandma when she had five kids and no place to live, having been shunned by her family not for what she did… but for the sins of her husband. What was it like for my mom to live through things like this? What kind of clothes did they wear? What was their favorite meal? Did they ever watch movies? How did they get to school at St. Stan’s?
All of these are pertinent questions to the history of me. And it makes me realize that 50 years from now when the students in a broadcasting class at a small Eastern liberal arts school are assigned my blog to read, I would like to be able to answer similar questions for them. I very much would like to make it as easy as possible for these future students, who have not been born yet, to write a decent theme paper. That’s about it for now.
“Aren’t you gonna get ready?” That’s what Alexis just asked me as she walked across the bedroom, fully dressed and ready to go.
“One minute. I promise.”