Thursday, March 29, 2012

Journey's (Almost) End

This trip - Bali to Singapore to Melbourne to Hobart to Sydney to Los Angeles to Chicago to Albany and a 2-hour drive to Rutland - seems tough. No, correct that. It is tough. But as I was flying home last night,  it occurred to me that it only ranks #3 of my most challenging flights.

Number One will always be the trip that started with a drive from Rutland to Boston where I had a meeting with some executives in the company. I then caught an overnight flight to London where I attended a board meeting at a hotel in a London suburb. I then caught an overnight flight to Singapore, where I hooked up with Linda and Shirley as we all connected to an overnight flight to Beijing. Pretty cool - three redeyes, sleeping only on airplanes. Sure saved on hotel bills.

Number Two is probably the commute I made a couple of years ago. I had a budget meeting in San Francisco, so I flew from Sydney, arriving in the morning, attended the meeting, had dinner with some friends and caught the 10:30pm flight back to Sydney. That makes it a commute of 7,400 miles (12,000 kM) each way.

Until then my longest commute had been a same-day trip I took from the Newark airport outside of New York to San Francisco. Out in the morning, visit a magazine to drop off a PC they were going to review and back to the airport to catch the red-eye home. I recall it was important to get back because Peg was visiting us and we had been given use of a private box at Monmouth Racetrack. Wouldn't miss that for the world.

Anyhow, I am now in the lounge at Sydney waiting for that last leg home. I seem to have listened well to my bride who, quite sternly, told me as I was leaving on this epic journey: "You be very careful. I'm not going to be there to look out for you and tell you what to watch out for!"

It will be good to see her. Hugs and kisses in a few hours!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The first time I flew home from college, my father picked me up at the airport. On the way home he told me he wanted me to be prepared because my mother was acting odd lately.

"What do you mean?" I asked with a sinking feeling taking over.

"She's just been acting a little out of it lately," he said. "Just yesterday I found her in the bathroom with a saw, cutting the toilet seat."

"Cutting the toilet seat!" I said. "What in the world is the matter with her?"

"I'm not sure," he said. "She just kept saying she had to get the house ready because her half-assed son was coming home."

My cousin Jerome remembered how my father recounted that story with relish just last year.

Aunt Edith remembered her husband, my Uncle John, telling how he and Dad were walking down the street one afternoon when my father told John he wanted to introduce him to two attractive women who were walking towards them. John smiled at the women and stopped in front of them, waiting for the introduction that didn't happen as my father kept walking past the two strangers.

Which was probably a little more embarrassing than the time my father and John were in a car getting on the New York State Thruway. As they approached the toll booth to get a ticket, my Dad told John they were only going two exits so he should tell the attendant he wanted a Quik Trip Ticket. And apparently John kept insisting he wanted a Quick Trip Ticket until the attendant told him there was only one kind of ticket and John realized he had been tricked again.

Kind of like the man my mother recalled, who came home from work with Dad to have dinner with us. At the door, Dad told him he had to take his shoes off because my mother was Japanese. And so this guy met my very non-Japanese mother and she was wondering why he wasn't wearing any shoes.

Sure there have been tears this past week, but lately lots more laughs as people remember my father who was one of the world's great pranksters and story tellers. He was a man who made people laugh a lot. He was so good at it that we're still laughing a lot even though he's not with us.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coming Home

Before I write anything else, I want to thank all of you who have left messages here or sent e-mails. The thoughts of friends and family have easily been the greatest help in dealing with the sadness of losing my father. I know I always stumble for words when offering condolences, but I now realize the words hardly matter. It's just letting people know you care for them and hope they are getting through their sadness. So thanks to all of you who let me know that.

I have been in Rutland with my mother for the last couple of days. With impeccable timing, I arrived after my brother Bob had helped her with most of the difficult tasks of dealing with funeral homes and sorting out financial stuff, and my "tasks" have been to run a few errands and eat my mother's cooking.

Getting here was one of those journeys that beg not to be repeated. LK and I were in Bali when the bad news came, and the flight I rescheduled out of there required me to fly north to Singapore before transferring to a flight south to Melbourne. From there I flew home to Hobart in the early afternoon to repack, grab my passport and catch a flight the next morning to Sydney. OK, I also had enough time to have a wonderful visit from Jason and Laura - wonderful except that Jay continues to beat me badly in Wii Golf.

Arriving in Sydney, I made my way to the international terminal to take a United flight to Los Angeles. There I had a 14-hour layover before going on to Chicago. Fortunately, Linda had tracked down a day rate at the airport Travelodge hotel, and for $49 I was able to get a room which gave me a chance to sleep a few hours, take a shower and BEST OF ALL have dinner at the Denny's connected to the hotel where the big decision hinged on sticking to the South Beach low carb, low fat diet or giving in to their latest promotions involving a drink that they described as "peanut butter and chocolate via a straw" or a dish comprising "double chocolate pancake puppies with peanut butter sauce".

I must be getting old, but it was easy to stick to the diet.

Anyhow, I checked out after dinner and caught the red-eye to Chicago, which at 4 hours is way too short to let you get enough rest before landing at 5am. A couple of hours layover there, then a flight of about 2 hours to Albany New York where I rented a car and drove 2 hours to Rutland.

It was time-consuming, but the older I get the more I get used to being tired anyway. It's really good to be here with my Mom, even if I have ended a lot of our conversations by falling asleep in the middle of them.

I am not sure if this whole journey illustrates how far away we are or how it is possible to be together in only a few days no matter where we are. Either way, I will be leaving Tuesday morning and back home by Thursday afternoon. I suspect I will be happy to stay on the ground for a while.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vale, Dad

Red Kennedy, my father, died this morning.

It is too hard to sort out feelings and thoughts right now, but I will miss him very much.

He was a great father. I am old enough and have heard the stories of so many other people to know how blessed I was to have such loving, supportive parents as my Mom and Dad.

And he was a surprising man, as well. Many who knew him would be unaware that he loved writing poetry. Given the time of year, I thought it might be nice to run one of his poems here.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Waiting for Spring

By John "Red" Kennedy

I am hopefully waiting for spring to appear
To wash away all the winter fears
Of slippery roads and piles of snow
And give the flowers a chance to grow

They are sticking their heads out ever so slight
But the frost comes back most every night
I know they will win out in the end
And their lovely blossoms on stems will bend

The vegetable gardens are in men's thoughts
They will have to wait awhile to prepare their plots
The sprouting and growth will surely come
As His labor of love has just begun

Fishing season seems to fit in here
With a reel and a rod and a couple of beers
They roam the streams all about
Hoping to catch that elusive trout

The hay in the meadows is starting to grow
And come July the first cutting they'll mow
But for now the sugaring season is here
Their yield will be short and sweet I fear

Baseball has started, so it must be spring
As the bat on the ball has the familiar ping
The roads are full of potholes and bumps
When you drive over them, they give you a thump

And in conclusion I would like to say
Spring is not always this way

Monday, March 12, 2012

Joe's Gone

We haven't seen Joe for five days now, not since he put the finishing touches on the bathroom he renovated for us. Our lives seem a little empty without him. After all, he was here nearly every day for seven weeks and we grew quite fond of him.

Oh sure, I always knew this was just a summer thing that would end some day when Joe went on to other projects. And to be honest there is a limit to how many times in our lives we want our tiles laid or need a good grouting.

Rob the painter is here now, but it's definitely not the same. This is three or four days of slap and roll and then he too will stop coming around. And then there will be only one tradesman left, the guy who will put in the carpets.

But with only the bedroom and closet, there's no question it will be a quick lay and see-you-later on the way out the door.

Such is life with tradesmen in reno land - the center of your world for a while, then never to be seen again. But at least we have lovely memories of our times together:

The shower is great - but it's tough seeing much with the window reflecting on the glass panel

The room may never look so neat and tidy again, so enjoy

Not sure why they call it a vanity, but there you go

A throne fit for a king