Be (in) the Present

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I’ve had so much trouble writing this. I must have started it three or four times. Whenever November rolls around, there are more than enough graphics, journaling prompts, and memes asking us what we’re grateful and thankful for. I won’t suggest that we should be thinking about gratitude all year long, but… 

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. For many of us, this is a time to gather with family, some of whom we don’t see all the time, put away our “issues”, gather the cousins, set up the kiddie table, and eat good food.

This last Thanksgiving and this upcoming one have probably been a little bit harder for some, after the election and all the baggage that came with it. Whatever side you are on, one thing that has proven itself is that we feel strongly about our thoughts and beliefs. 

For some of us, losing loved ones makes this holiday all the more harder. We lost my mother-in-law last summer. Last Thanksgiving was not easy. This one won’t be either.

I was just gathering some thoughts and went to Facebook for a breather from the keyboard. Trust me, this is (somewhat) relevant.

David Cassidy died yesterday. He was a favorite of mine and despite knowing that his death would happen this week, it doesn’t make it any easier. His daughter, Katie was on one of my favorite shows, Supernatural, and is currently on Arrow, both on The CW. Jim Beaver, another actor from Supernatural, posted a condolence to her, and that’s where the internet showed off its empathy. But not really. What about his son? No condolences for him? He and Katie didn’t even have a relationship? Why does she need condolences?

Wow.

It’s like we can’t turn off the self-righteous manufactured anger anymore.

I can say with certainty that Jim didn’t suggest no condolences for the rest of the family; he was simply talking to and about his dear friend, Katie.

Sometimes, we need to simply slow down, think before we speak (or send), give the benefit of the doubt, leave cynicism at the door, and have a little faith.

On Tuesday, my friend celebrated her mother’s life. She died from cancer at age 58. I didn’t know her mom, but I knew my friend, and I know how close the two of them were. I can see her mother in her, through her actions, in the way she treated people, with kindness and love, with empathy and positivity. They both had a strong faith, and believed in their salvation through Jesus. She’s sad that her mother’s not a phone call or a short drive away, but she knows where she is, and for the rest of us, who didn’t know her mother, we will continue to know her mother through her.

On Tuesday, at around the same time, I was attending the funeral of a friend from my church, who also died from cancer. She also had a strong faith. The last time I saw her was her fiftieth wedding anniversary. She was in a wheelchair, but she was happy and positive, looking forward to her evening with her entire family, to recovering. When I went to wish her a happy anniversary, I reached my hand out ot hold hers, and she wouldn’t have it – it was time for a hug. She pulled me in, and it was lovely. She was lovely, very simply just a wonderful woman. She always had a kind word for me. She asked about my family and our holiday plans or about the kids’ schools. She welcomed me without hesitation into the church family, and was always available if I needed anything. We participated in some of the same ministries, and from her, I saw how to act in committees that I was unfamiliar with. She was a role model and a mentor.

These two women, separated by different cancers and fourteen years, five kids between them, one in New York and one in Arkansas, and both pillars of their families, the rocks that hold their people in tandem, that teach the faith, the “rules” of life, and they bring people into their orbit and make them better for it.

I’m thankful that I was able to know and to continue to know people who make a difference, not just in my life, but in others, to be an example of who I can be, who push me with their spirit and their being.

Look around at the family this weekend, tell them how their lives impact yours in the good ways, ignore the politics for a couple of days, and be there, be present, and give and share the love.

Jack Larsen (1928-2015)

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He (as Jimmy Olsen) was probably one of my first exposures to writers writing for a living, and one of my childhood dreams – a journalist for a newspaper. It doesn’t seem that long ago even though it’s a million miles away.

A life well lived deserves a rest.

Rest in peace, Jack.

NY Times Article
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I’d like to share this tribute from actor, writer, playwright, and overall super human being, Jim Beaver:

I’ve been working on a biography of actor George Reeves for decades now. It’s what brought me to Hollywood, and it has been both an albatross about my neck and an enormous blessing, lo, these many years.

Chief among the blessings have been the people I met in the course of my research who became friends. And most certainly, chief among those friends was Jack Larson. Jack played Jimmy Olsen on Reeves’s SUPERMAN TV series in the 1950s, and it is for that iconic role that he will always be remembered. But he was much, much more than that. He was a playwright, the first ever to be given a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He was a librettist, creating the text to the great Virgil Thompson’s last opera, LORD BYRON. He knew EVERYBODY. His bosom friends and lovers included Montgomery Clift, Leslie Caron, James Dean, John Houseman, Christopher Isherwood, Salka Viertel, and Libby Holman, and, especially, director James Bridges, with whom Jack shared a life for 35 years. They lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Brentwood, where they were neighbors of mine for many years. I would see Jack walking his beloved dogs daily, and we often stopped to chat.

I got to know Jack because he was a figure in the story of the subject of my book project, but when I think of him, I think of him as a friend. I had interviewed him once or twice without any particular connection arising, but the combined subsequent facts that I had plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville and had a fling with a staffer he knew well there (he was the Rockefeller Foundation’s scout for interesting playwrights at the time) led him to feel close to me. Indeed, for the next 35 years, he never failed to ask me how that girl from Louisville was, though I hadn’t seen her in years. I was enamored of him and fiercely envious of his style, his grace, his congeniality and his place among brilliant, thoughtful, fascinating people. Most of all, I appreciated his friendship and his abiding friendliness and good nature. I loved him. Not because he was Jimmy Olsen on my favorite childhood show. Indeed, I rather rarely think of him in that way. I loved him because he was everything a man ought to be – smart, kind, gentle, gracious, giving, talented, funny, and just damned nice.

I will miss him forever.

Jack Larson (1928-2015)

REPOST – Verdigris – A Play by Jim Beaver

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verdigris

As part of my salute to fandom week, I’m switching up Thursday’s Weekly Recommendation to post today. I am so excited to be able to promote this (and I’ll be reposting it a couple of more times this week and next until they reach their goal.)

This is a kickstarter to raise the funds needed for Verdigris to be performed March 13 though April 19, 2015 at Theatre West in Los Angeles, CA.

Verdigris was written by Jim Beaver and previously performed by Theatre West in 1985 with Maureen Stapleton in the leading role. It was the winner of the Los Angeles Dramalogue Critics Award for Playwriting and a finalist for Actors Theatre of Louisville Great American Play Contest.

jim beaver

Jim is well known from his roles in Deadwood and Supernatural. He is also a film historian and his memoir, Life’s That Way about his wife, Cecily’s cancer diagnosis and their daughter’s autism diagnosis shows the heartbreak and the faith and love that this man has for his family. He’s a good soul who’s all heart. (Full disclosure if it wasn’t apparent: I’m a fan.)

Theatre West – for information and to support their other projects

To support Verdigris through their Kickstarter (there are only 16 days to go, and the minimum pledge is $1 – let’s help them out!)

If you want to connect with Jim on Facebook, he speaks his mind and offers insight on whatever’s on it. Follow here.

REPOST: Rec – Verdigris – A Play by Jim Beaver

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verdigris

As part of my salute to fandom week, I’m switching up Thursday’s Weekly Recommendation to post today. I am so excited to be able to promote this (and I’ll be reposting it a couple of more times this week and next until they reach their goal.)

This is a kickstarter to raise the funds needed for Verdigris to be performed March 13 though April 19, 2015 at Theatre West in Los Angeles, CA.

Verdigris was written by Jim Beaver and previously performed by Theatre West in 1985 with Maureen Stapleton in the leading role. It was the winner of the Los Angeles Dramalogue Critics Award for Playwriting and a finalist for Actors Theatre of Louisville Great American Play Contest.

jim beaver

Jim is well known from his roles in Deadwood and Supernatural. He is also a film historian and his memoir, Life’s That Way about his wife, Cecily’s cancer diagnosis and their daughter’s autism diagnosis shows the heartbreak and the faith and love that this man has for his family. He’s a good soul who’s all heart. (Full disclosure if it wasn’t apparent: I’m a fan.)

Theatre West – for information and to support their other projects

To support Verdigris through their Kickstarter (there are only 16 days to go, and the minimum pledge is $1 – let’s help them out!)

If you want to connect with Jim on Facebook, he speaks his mind and offers insight on whatever’s on it. Follow here.