Those We Lost

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I was going to write a post about how much of my childhood I lost this past year. It seemed that every other day a new name was being memorialized on my television, on my Facebook, on my heart.

Our family lost my mother-in-law and a close family friend. My friend lost her father. Another friend lost his grandmother.

We will always continue to find inspiration somewhere, but that doesn’t make any of these losses, family or celebrity, any easier.

Death is a part of life, and with the turning of the calendar page, 2016 passes away, and 2017 is born.

We Lost a lot of Progressive Artists

Generation X Lost too many Touchstones

We Lost Carrie Fisher and so Many OthersRemembering Those We’ve Lost

Timeline of Celebrity Deaths – 2016

Memorial Video

My mother-in-law. (c)2016

Grandma with her grandkids (my kids) after the third one was born. (c)2006-2016

John Glenn (1921-2016)

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John Glenn is an American Hero. I do not use that description lightly. I’ve known John Glenn’s name since I was a child. I’ve spoken about my memories of the Moon Landing in 1969 and my love of Star Trek throughout my life, but John Glenn epitomized so many of the passions in my life.

I didn’t want to be a princess; I wanted to be an astronaut (and about a thousand other things). I watched anything space related that was televised including shuttle launches and landings. I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum at The Smithsonian. I took my class on a field trip to the Cradle of Aviation “museum” at Roosevelt Field when it was just a warehouse, but it had the space equipment to see and explore. I can still remember visiting Kennedy Space Center on one of our family trips to Florida. I still have a stuffed astronaut doll/pillow in a plastic bag somewhere in my garage. Even the mold on it won’t get me to throw it away. I have horrible, vivid memories of the Challenger.

John Glenn was a pioneer; a space man. He was gthe last surviving member of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He was the first American to orbit the Earth and was only the fifth man in space. Prior to that he was a member of the Marine Corps and he flew combat missions in World War II and the Korean War. He broke a transcontinental speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York, going at supersonic speed. He was a Senator from Ohio, serving four terms with the Democratic party, leaving his mark on my political junkie self. And then after all of that, he returned to space again, becoming the oldest man to travel in space when he served aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Remarkable.

And more important than those milestones was the kind of person he was. Kind and thougtful, patriotic and dedicated, gracious and never losing sight of where he was from and still encouraging new generations to strive upward and onward, ever moving forward.

Please read this remembrance from journalist, Connie Schultz:

Difficult to Fathom a World without Gracious Hero John Glenn

The New York Times Profile

John Glenn’s NASA Profile

Original Art. Colored pencils. (c)2016

Muhammad Ali (1932 – 2016)

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I spent the day thinking about what Muhammad Ali meant to me and I couldn’t put it into words. He was there as long as I followed news and sports and civil rights and everything. He was always a part of my life. I remember that my father liked him, which is probably how I was introduced to him and I spent a couple of years as a real boxing fan, watching every match I could. I know that will surprise some people. The idea that he had Parkinson’s was a shock to me – Ali was invincible. He was The Greatest.

Well, he was still The Greatest.

His athleticism, his confidence, his faith. They didn’t define him as much as he defined them. They were a part of him.

My deepest condolences to his family; may he rest in peace in G-d’s embrace and may his pain be stilled.

Simply,

Float like a butterfly,
Sting like a bee,
Muhammad Ali is The Greatest,
and He inspired me.

That is his famous challenge mixed with my insignificant words; these are his:

How I Would Like To Be Remembered

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous, and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”

When Doves Cry

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Prince died earlier this afternoon. I took a peek at my Facebook while my daughter was getting her hair styled as a special treat. My friend on FB who I trust with these kinds of things mentioned Prince. I denied. Big time. No, that’s not true, I thought. I hit my browser and there was a TMZ link and then CNN. With CNN and ABC7 it was confirmed for me and I told the people around me.

To say we were in shock and more denial would be an understatement.

I remembered Prince being ill last week and making an emergency landing to go to the hospital, but he was fine. He was fine.

And then I remembered 1984. I graduated from high school. I got my driver’s license. I was a freshman in college. It was a pivotal year.

That was the year my friends and I went to see Purple Rain. A music movie was a big deal and Prince was new to me. In retrospect the movie wasn’t as great as I remembered it as a teen, but it was something unique and different, words that would come to define Prince as he became indefinable. He was inspirational. He was creative. His difference was permission to us to free ourselves and be ourselves.

I played that cassette of Purple Rain every time I got into my car. I think I wore out the tape. The only musician I played more than Prince was Duran Duran.

At the end of 1999, we were embroiled in the panic of Y2K. I had friends who had to work in case something happened overnight when the year changed. We had bottled water, and pigs in blankets. We had a two year old and we spent the New Year with my parents just in case the bridges would be out, at least the toll ones. Nothing unexpected happened. Probably because we were prepared. We played Prince’s Party Like it’s 1999 over and over. It was on television and the radio, and it was the perfect anthem to our evening.

When he changed his name to a symbol, it was a bit odd, but it was Prince and that was okay. He redefined what it meant to be innovative, a musician, an entertainer, and how to do things his way.

I saw his picture recently online. I think it was his passport photo. He had a huge afro. I had never seen him with an afro. In my times, he had his hair slicked and combed or coiffed to perfection. I remember thinking that he was going for a new look. I hadn’t realized that this was an old look for him, but I did notice that it suited him. He wore everything well.

Instead of links to obituaries and causes of death (which are still unknown at this time), I’ve decided to share with you four videos that speak to me of Prince.

The first two are two of my favorite songs. They are not performed by Prince, but he wrote them. He wrote many songs for many performers and kept himself in the background, letting them do their thing.

Nobody Compares 2 You – Sinead O’Connor:

Manic Monday – The Bangles:

Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl Halftime Show in the pouring rain. It was as if he orchestrated it himself.

His mystifying and spectacular guitar solo in tribute to George Harrison in the performance for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While My Guitar Gently Weeps:

I’ve seen three tags today and I share them with you as an epigraph:

Rest in Peace.
Rest in Power.
Rest in Purple.

Rest and be blessed, Prince. You are home, and you will surely be missed for time to come.