Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

The greatest generation, the baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, the Millennials, etcetera, etcetera, and etcetera…why is it that we have to give titles to generations of people? I’m starting a new generation. It’s called the ‘ist’ generation. Perhaps it’s not so much a generational title as it is a club or group, sort of like the Masons or Kiwanis or Rotary or one of those.

In order to join the ‘ist’ generation you must belong to at least three, but preferably more ‘gist’ groups. That’s not “gist” in the sense of getting the gist of what I’m saying. It’s ‘gist’ in the sense of belonging to a ‘gist’ of some particular type. For example, I have a gerontologist, dermatologist, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, urologist, neurologist, a psychiatrist, and a pharmacologist. I consider myself fortunate to have only these nine ‘gists’ in my background. After all, I could have a proctologist or even an otorhinolaryngologist…go ahead, say that one three times fast.

Yes, these are the ‘gists’ that try men’s souls, women too, I guess, particularly if they have regular check-ups at the gynecologist. I would call ‘gists’ a pain in the ass but now we’re back to proctology again, and it just doesn’t seem fair. By the way, there is such a physician as a gistologist – they treat intestinal tumors – at least, that’s what I’m told.

One of the great beauties of the ‘ist’ generation is that one can be of any age…we do not discriminate based on anything! We are not ageists, racists, sexists, religionists, nor any other ‘ists’ you may care to utter or hold against us…you will lose! However, there is a pecking order, and in the ‘ist’ rules and regulations handbook, it clearly states that ‘ist’ rank in the ‘ist’ generation can only be attained by acquisition of additional ‘gists.’ In addition, the number of letters in your particular ‘gist’ determines whether or not you move up on the ‘ist’ scale. For example, if you are seeing an allergist, you would rank rather low on the ‘ist’ scale, but if you are seeing an otorhinolaryngologist [that’s twice], you’ve hit the jackpot…look it up yourself; I had to.

It should be noted that members of the ‘ist’ generation do have a few restrictions on their membership eligibility. We do not accept micrometeorologists, hydrometeorologists or paleoclimatologists. We will accept some anthropologists – only for their ancient cures -but not nonanthropologists. We empathize with and welcome you if you have an oncologist, but we draw the line at accepting oceanologists. So, while you may dispute my statement regarding our nondiscrimination policy, if you look closely enough, you can readily understand our concerns about letting just any old ‘ist’ become a part of our generation…you do understand, don’t you?

If you’ve read this far, I’m amazed that you aren’t sufficiently “ist’ off to leave, but if you have the courage, read on, my friend, read on. Please understand that while anesthesiologists are welcome into our generational fold, few care to join, preferring instead to be with the angelologists, assemblagists, angelologists, algologists and the apologists, perhaps because they are generally thrown under the bus if anything should go wrong.

Perhaps it’s time to bring this entire thing to an end. In case you’re interested or wish to join the ‘ist’ generation – you may well already be a member and not have known it – there are approximately 440 ‘gist’ opportunities and well over 2800 ‘ist’ opportunities. Sometime in the next four years, we plan to put forth an ‘Ist’ Presidential candidate. Our first order of business on our platform will be “Illnesses for all ‘ists’ everywhere!

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Ah, the toes

I would like to speak with you about toes.

Most of us have ten; we upright and walking on two feet type of homosapiens, that is. Some of us are unfortunate and have only eight, nine, or fewer. This can often be attributed to improper use of an axe, chainsaw, or some other sharp instrument swung above the shoulders and in a forward, downward motion…missing our objective and reducing the number of toes protruding at the front of the foot. This portends certain problems such as maintaining one’s balance while walking, for although we walk on the soles of our feet, the toes provide balance, weight-bearing, and thrust as we walk.

Most people I know are not particularly proud of their toes. “My toes are horrible,” which translates into “I see models on television with beautiful toes and mine look nothing like that.” Well, that’s because those are foot models. Just as there are hair, face, and hand models, so there are foot models. Get over it; they may have ugly hands, tiny tits, or buck teeth. None of us is perfect, right?

Women are prone to something called hammer toe. They generally get it from wearing high heels. Hammer toe is a buckling of one of the joints in the toe to the point of dislocation. I don’t wear high heels, yet I have had hammer toe. No, I never wore high heels, so knock off with the smart comebacks and retorts. There are other toe deformities such as trigger toe, claw toe, and the infamous what-the-fuck-is-that toe. The last is exceedingly common and found most often on beaches by those walking with their heads down.

I am very proud to state that my toes are just as ugly as anyone else’s toes. In fact, if there was to be an ugly toe contest, I would not hesitate to enter. Several of my toes, including the big toe on each foot, don’t exactly have toenails. They have what has been described by some as “Holy shit…what the hell are those?” or “Is that foot cancer?” and other such witticisms, too many of which are questions regarding where my big toes might have been trespassing. There is a reason why these toes and several others are lacking toenails. The reason is simply this: It is very difficult for a non-competitive, non-runner to run-walk 7.2 miles in a pouring rain, through hubcap-deep water without having something happen to one’s feet…including toes. This is exactly what I did, and within two weeks, there were no nails on any of my toes.

For a number of years…from 1999 to 2014 to be exact…I have performed what has been called by one podiatrist “bathroom surgery,” as in, “Oh, I see you’ve been performing a bit of bathroom surgery,” after I had accidently sliced into a big toe while trying to remove part of whatever is substituting for a toenail. Never went back to see the son-of-a-bitch-with-the-smart-mouth. I prefer to call what I do, “bedside surgery” because I sit on the side of the bed, hoist one leg at a time onto the mattress, and dig, dig, dig, whatever there is to be dug! How do I know when I have completed this surgery? I begin to bleed. This is why I keep a large supply of band aids on the night stand by my bed.

Over the years, I have grown weary of my predicament. There is a podiatrist about 20 miles away, the man who gave me my first orthotics – for four hundred plus bucks – and with whom I have maintained contact over the years. I finally went to see him. Although, my shoes and socks were off, and he was sitting facing my feet, he looked directly at me and asked, “What’s the problem?”

“Look at my feet, Brian,” I practically screamed.

He did. Without making any big deal of it, he wiggled the second toe on my right foot and said, “Well, this one’s certainly dislocated; has been for some time; not much you can do about it unless you want surgery…you don’t want surgery.” Simple, straight forward, no BS answer. It also explained why there are times when pain shoots through that toe like a red hot poker. He looked at all of the other toes and without making any more comments about them, began digging and probing, periodically stopping, and tossing a piece of whatever he’d just dug out onto a plastic sheet. There was no pain. For about fifteen or twenty minutes he just dug, all the while asking me what had happened since last we met, and telling me about his own life. Then he sanded my feet with some kind of electric sander that sent dust everywhere. There I was watching my toes and then each foot get attacked by a professional. The difference between an amateur toe-digger and a professional toe-digger, I am convinced, is that the pro knows how to dig without drawing blood. Had I done what he did, there would have been arterial spray everywhere…and I don’t think there are any arteries in the toes. It should be noted that “Of the 26 bones in the foot, 19 are toe bones (phalanges) and metatarsal bones (the long bones in the midfoot). The way I look at this whole thing is that I probably have several bones in my toes that are dislocated or downright broken, or maybe even have been broken and healed improperly. Yes, I walk funny. Yes, I still have whatever-the-hell-that-is for toenails on my big toes. Is my friendly podiatrist concerned? Not at all, because he gets to see me in another three months and he can do more digging. When I told Juli this story, she merely smiled and asked, “Did he ask you to whinny for some oats?” Me and my big mouth!

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How many dry skin creams have you tried? Winter comes on; the skin starts to crack, and it’s “Okay, which one shall I try today?” It’s worse when you’re old. Your skin has thinned out. You definitely don’t have the seven layers with which you were born. There are some creams or lotions that you try and you have to rub the darned things in for the day. If anyone went to grab your arm they’d slip away as if you were the greased pig at the fair.

I think I’ve probably tried every skin cream known to man, including…yes, I admit it…some of those one o’clock in the morning television ad creams that you know are fake. I have two bottles of Vaseline Intensive Care sitting in my nightstand. I can’t make them work for me. Neutrogena proved a failure from the outset when a finger-full slipped off and landed on my new khakis. Like most of the rest of them, it stains. Clinique, Oil of Olay, Gold Bond, and a variety of others have also been wanting. The reason I bring this up is that the skin of the elderly loses its moisture. When you get an itch and go to scratch it, you stand a good chance of removing enough of what’s left to draw blood. It is ugly. So then you bleed all over the book you’re reading or the dinner you’re preparing – don’t gag – or whatever else it is you’re doing and it’s very, very embarrassing. ‘No, the meat isn’t that rare; it’s just me.” I mean, come on, you want to say that to your guests…tacky, tacky, tacky!

All of these skin creams must be absorbed into the skin for them to work, right? This does not mean that one dabs on a light application and pray for osmosis. It means that the lotion/crème/gel/whatever, must be rubbed into the skin. Let it be sucked up by the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. That’s fine, except that the sneaky epidermis, the one that is supposed to be the outermost, strongest layer that gives us such great protection also has some layers. These are the stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the stratum corneum [you don’t have to remember this; it won’t be on the test]. So or Therefore or yuk, it appears from an article in The Journal of Dermatology, that the epidermis does, in fact, lose cells to some degree as we age. In one study that was done, they took skin from near the navel to study. I don’t know much about this but it seems to me that if they were going to do that, they should also have taken some from the face or any other area that is more exposed during a lifetime. I mean, how many people do you know who rub Aveeno around their navel?

Anyway, I have concluded from all of my Internet research that I am completely and utterly screwed when it comes to using any skin softening crème, or lotions for my poor hands and arms; I will just {head thrown back and the back of one hand gently touches the brow in an expression of “I’m doomed} suffer through the winter months with skin that tears like tissue, fingers cracked and bleeding..ah, suck it up and behave like a man you wimp!


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“Aortic root enlargement in octogenarian patients allows for insertion of larger aortic valve prostheses without any apparent increase in operative morbidity or mortality. The larger prostheses demonstrate better hemodynamic performance and less patient prosthesis mismatch, but no apparent functional or survival advantage.”

“Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in octogenarian patients has been associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to assess acute and intermediate-term clinical outcomes among octogenarians undergoing PCI . These results show that clinically stable octogenarian patients undergoing PCI have favorable procedural and intermediate-term prognosis. In contrast, cardiogenic shock has a profound negative prognostic impact on octogenarians despite ‘aggressive’ PCI attempts.”

This is the kind of shit you look at when you pass 80 – that’s an octogenarian for the uninformed – and it’s the kind of shit you read about when you’ve survived three heart attacks, have five stents in your heart, lived through a blood clot in the lung, an aortic aneurism in your abdomen, and a bunch of other nasty crap you’d rather not re-experience (if there is such a word). The above two paragraphs are from the NIH US National Library of Medicine. If you have any tendency toward hypochondria, researching the web for your supposed illnesses could put you in the grave faster than any real illness that might kill you.

I remember reading over a decade ago that more than 100,000 pages per day were being added to this thing we call the Internet. If that was true then and Net content is being added exponentially, can you imagine how much information is being added daily a decade or so later. There was a coffee ad a few years ago where the husband comes staggering into the kitchen in a ragged bathrobe. His wife is sitting at the kitchen table, and he begins the process of pouring himself a ‘cuppa’ with a shaky hand. “I thought you were surfing the Internet?” she queries. Pausing before he takes a sip, he answers, “I finished!” He then adds some inane remark about how such-and-such coffee will revive him.

Today, if you began your research with “Association amicale des amateurs d’andouillette authentique» and ended with Zzzzz Mattress, you’d probably be bone dust in your casket by the time your descendants finished the project.

As unfortunate as it may be, we live in an age that is obsessed by youth. When Apple announced its new I-phone VI or whatever the hell it was, you didn’t see an octogenarians camping out a week ahead of time to ensure that they were among the first in line. There are several reasons for that: First, we enjoy our own beds too much; not hotel beds; not resort beds; not beds on some Caribbean island (unless it’s a really cold New England winter); and most assuredly not some friggin’ sidewalk covered with cigarette butts, old chewing gum or dried spit. There might have been a couple of septuagenarians in the crowd, but you know how those youngsters behave. I have learned that the greatest gift of all at this age is breathing, exercising, eating pretty much what I wish, and sleeping in comfort in my own bed beside a woman I love. Are there limitations to turning 80? Of course there are. Unlike one of the linemen on the Florida State University football team, I can no longer bench press 600 pounds…what am I saying? I could never bench press anything close to 600 pounds…ever! The loss of muscle mass begins at 40, so I guess at my age, I should be thankful that I can bench 50 pounds plus the bar!

“Age is only a number. You’re only as old as you feel. Life begins at 80.”  It’s all a bunch of jargon bullshit. As my friend, David Ellis, was so fond of saying, “It is what it is.” That is so true. There are days when I believe I can take on the world and win; then, there are other days when I feel as though the world has decided it’s payback time…and I’m in real trouble!

Life is life. There is no dress rehearsal. We can do things at 20 that we can’t do at 80. However, at 80, we generally have the common sense to realize we can’t do what we did at 20. One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is, “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.” That is one thing that I’ve learned over the past several decades. However, it’s not until one ages and either doesn’t give a damn or is sufficiently honest to be able to say it. Of course, Twain also said, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.” I’m not as certain of this one as I am of the former. Somehow, I get the feeling that, despite our accumulated wisdom from eighty on backwards, we would still find a way to experience the ignorance of the things we did at fifty, forty, thirty, and twenty…not to mention the agonies of those last two teenage years.

I leave you with the best advice that our friend, Mr. Twain, could possibly give, “Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

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I’ve found the humor

Me and my big mouth!

There is good news because I have found humor about which to write!

Yesterday, I forgot a luncheon appointment with an old friend who is the comptroller at a private secondary school in the area. We generally get together every three or four months to discuss…nothing  of great importance, but we enjoy each other’s company and swapping yarns about “the old days,” whatever the hell that happens to mean. However, being my responsible self, I forgot to put the appointment in my telephone calendar, on the printed calendar that hangs on a closet door in the kitchen, or on the calendar that is on the kitchen table – we try to cover as many bases as possible here: after all, wouldn’t want to miss an appointment.  Ed, my friend, kept the appointment; we generally confirm the day before, but we did not. Upon entering the restaurant, he inquired after an “elderly gentleman” (what a bastard on both counts…I’m not old and hardly could be called a gentleman). “We did show a gentleman to a table a few minutes ago,” he was told, “and said he was waiting for another party.  I believe he went to use the men’s room.” The hostess showed Ed to the table at which the elderly gentleman {her words…the bitch!] had been seated. My friend sat down, ordered a drink, and began munching on the hot bread that had already been served, and believing that I would return from the men’s room momentarily. A few minutes later, an elderly gentleman [hate that stuff] appeared and sat down at the table adjoining my friend’s. Ed continued to drink and munch until the gentleman sitting at the adjoining table said, “I didn’t know you would be joining us today.” Ed said nothing, finished his drink, stopped chewing on the bread, got up and left the restaurant [cheap bastard probably didn’t even pay for the drink], thoroughly humiliated and embarrassed! He e-mailed me in the afternoon, omitting no detail from his encounter. Reading it, I knew that humor had come back into my life, and also knowing that I had to, at all costs, share the story.

After sharing the above story with my companion, she reminded me of another event that occurred recently which, in retrospect, was rather funny. You see, she is an avid gardener, and this has been a nearly perfect growing season in New England. From six crook neck squash seeds, we probably received over 20 squash. From three jalapeno plants, I wouldn’t even care to count what we have received. From out four tomato plants, plus the volunteers, we’ve hardly been able to keep up with the harvest. What are the “volunteers,” you may be asking yourself. Volunteers are those tomatoes that somehow cast their seeds. According to all of the farmers with whom we’ve spoken, tomatoes don’t survive New England winters. However, someone has forgotten to tell our tomato seedlings this, and for the past several summers, we generally find six or eight “volunteers” growing around the yard. They are gently transported to beds and often produce a fine crop of Early Girl tomatoes.

Anyway, back to the story. The excess of our garden I take to the gym. Juli has a special tray that we use. She lines it with parchment paper; I load it into the car, and, after my workout I set the tray on a table at the exit and slide the parchment paper carefully onto the table. In that way, I can return the tray and not have to wait around until all of the produce has been snatched away. Recently, a fellow gym rat was asking me if we would be interested in some really how peppers. “Sure,” I said, and he promised to bring some in for our salsa. He brought in a bag which contained the peppers, but which also contained summer squash (oh no!) and a zucchini. That night, my partner noted that I would have tomatoes to take to the gym the following morning. Understand something very clearly: When I’m driving to the gym at 4:30 a.m., I’m not fully awake. This is said not to justify what happened but to justify what happened! After the workout, I went to the car, recovered the tray, laid out the produce, took the tray home and put it in its storage spot, i.e. the oven.  When my companion arose, she came into the kitchen and asked, “Where’s the tray?”

“I took it to the gym.”


“You told me last night that you’d have tomatoes on the tray for the gym.”

“Not that tray. That one had the produce on it that your ‘buddy’ gave to you. Was he there?”

“Omygod! No, thankfully, he was not there.”

“Weren’t awake, were you?” she asked


“Damned fool.”

When I saw the other gym rat a few days later, I felt obligated to tell him the story. We both had a good laugh, but I was still embarrassed by my faux pax.

The moral is that humor is where and when you can find it. I think that now I’ll just start looking for humor in more places. I hope you can do the same.

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Okay, here’s a question for you…what brand of jeans do you wear? You do; why, why would you wear that particular brand of jeans? Sorry, both of those questions are unfair. However, will someone kindly tell me why in the name of God there are so many freaking brands of jeans on the market? C’mon, slap on a pair of Levi’s and get off your fat ass! Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to infer that Levi’s make your ass look fat. Maybe you should try a pair of Bongo’s, Todd Oldham’s, Marithé + François Girbaud’s, Gitano Jeanswear, Chip & Pepper’s, B.U.M. Equipment, X-AM Jeans,’ or, well, you get the picture. The kicker is that I probably didn’t name one pair of blue jeans you’ve never heard of [I know; I ended a sentence with a preposition; bug off!]. Just think, I never mentioned True Religion, Diesel, Wrangler, Calvin Klein, Killer, Nostrum, Lee, Pepi Jeans, London, or Big Star, and those are supposed to be the big sellers.

What the hell is it with people? A pair of blue jeans is made from denim. Do you care that it has this tag or that rivet, or this embroidery. People are so fucking fussy about the type of jeans that they put on, probably over dirty underwear – not you lady; it’s all those other people who wear dirty underwear. It just boggles the mind…not the dirty underwear; it’s the number of brands of blue jeans that boggles the mind.

Years ago, Izod was the brand of polo shirt that one just had to have. It was the IN-style if you were to be anyone at all. I remember my late wife buying a couple of Izod shirts and when the kids wore them out, she would cut off the alligator that had become the brand symbol and sew it onto Marshall’s finest…which cost less than half what the Izod shirt’s did.

I remember finding a Pierre Cardin suit in a discount store. My family insisted that I purchase it despite the fact that the tailoring cost goddamn near as much as the suit itself. I don’t do that stuff anymore. I find that the clothing I enjoy wearing comes more from Ocean State Job Lots and while I do get my cross trainers from New Balance, it’s from their factory outlet store and they’re all seconds. I will admit to buying some T-shirts on line but those are the shirts with slightly risqué sayings on them. It’s fun to watch the expressions on the faces of people at the gym. I have yet to get my face slapped or have one torn from my bod, not that I’d give a damn anyway; I just do it to get attention…now there’s an admission you won’t hear every day.

I just don’t see the big deal with wearing designer clothing that is always overpriced and that, in many cases, turn people into walking billboards for Tommy Hilfiger, Old Navy, the Gap, Under Armor, or some other company.  Perhaps I’m just too old to understand the importance of wearing Alexander Wang, L.L. Bean, J. Crew, or Givenchy. Of course, if I ever reached the point of seeing an actual woman wearing anything by Victoria Secret, I’d either have to wake up or keel over.

Perhaps style is everything to some people. I remember when my oldest grandchild wore her first pair of Ugg boots everywhere except to bed. I don’t know that she didn’t wear them to bed. I was just too grandfatherly to check and too much of a gentleman to ask. There was a time when my late wife and I were informed that any clothing we were planning to buy for our teenage son could only be purchased at Banana Republic. This information was given to us by our teenage daughter because our son was too embarrassed to tell us himself. Damn, but I had a hard time not lording that over him in his later years. After he began his career as a swim coach, his tops generally consisted of T-shirts, polo shirts, or sweats that bore the name of the team he happened to be coaching at the time. It was particularly great when he joined USA Swimming because Dad picked up a great deal of USA Olympic gear. Now that he’s at the University of Michigan, I get to be the proud recipient of the maize and blue.

Perhaps men just aren’t as brand conscious as women are, but I will tell you that when I was working at a small, private, and rather prestigious institution of higher education – read as “a college mentioned by U.S. News & World Report – the young men were extremely fashionable in their choice of attire, right down to their top siders in the fall and spring, Bean boots and outerwear in the winter, and other proper accoutrements at the appropriate times.

Call me an old fart or old fashioned; it doesn’t matter to me, but I’ll be damned if I will ever pay ninety-nine dollars for a dress shirt just because it happens to have someone’s name on it; a person I will never meet and really don’t care about meeting. Neither will I pay $200 for a necktie that I would wear only once, and that would be at my wake, were I to even have one. Not too long ago, two of my high school classmates passed away within a couple of months of each other. At the first wake, my friend and fellow teammate was dressed in a pair of khaki’s an open-collared shirt and a nice sweater. That was exactly how I remembered him; that was him in every respect. The other classmate looked like a stiff in his black suit, dress shirt, and necktie that looked like it might have run around $150. He didn’t look all that happy, but what the hell, it probably wasn’t his choice anyway.

Just seems to me that rather than pay a lot more than you have to, you should get the best that looks good on you for the least price. However, if you’re determined to wear only the best, don’t forget to let the tags hang out so everyone can get a better look.

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Tell me, do you know anyone, anyone at all who isn’t fascinated by cemeteries? From Stephen King to Doris Kearns Goodwin and everyone in between, nearly all of us have this blind attraction to these death beds. If we happen to be driving somewhere in the boondocks of New England, and I spot a small – ten to fifteen headstones – I just might stop…which is a bitch if you’re on a two-lane country lane and there’s hardly any room to pull over. These are the cemeteries that have no entrance for automobiles. They are wonderful for the history they give us and for the questions they raise within us.

“What in the hell brought this on?” you could be asking right about now. I’m glad you did because it leads right into my little story. You see, my Mom died some time ago. My sister came out from California for the services and then flew back with her husband. My younger brother had been handling our mother’s affairs over the past few years and indicated that he would continue to do so. Unfortunately, he developed some personal problems, became ill, and died…another cigarette-related passing. Anyway, time went on, and I didn’t give much thought to my parents or for that matter, my brother’s passing. Life moved blissfully and ignorantly along.

Last week, Juli and I were having lunch at a local restaurant. “Would you take a ride with me?” I asked.

“Since you have the car, do I have much choice?” she  queried.

“No, no, not like that.” I said. “I just got this weird feeling that I should visit my parents’ graves because I’m betting that no one had my mother’s date of death ever put on the stone.” I’m sort of weird in this way. Something will strike me and it’s like a dog with a bone; I just can’t let go of it, and this was a bone that was really stuck in my teeth.

“Do you even know where your folks are buried?” I was asked.

I had attended the funeral but it was a number of years ago. The only thing I could remember was the name of the cemetery. It was Mount Wollaston in Quincy…and by the way, it’s pronounced Quin-zee, not Quin-cee like Jack Klugman’s old medical examiner role on television. Beyond knowing the name of the cemetery, I hadn’t a clue as to where.

The people at the cemetery were tremendously helpful. We were told the section and row and even given a map of the cemetery…which is full…and huge. Every lot, not plot, but lot contains the remains of some citizen or other. It was founded in 1855 and has been laying people to rest since that date. It probably has several miles of paved roads that runners, walkers, and cyclists enjoy daily…the cemetery is massive.

We found the grave without a problem, despite the fact there seemed to be “Bishop” headstones everywhere. More about that later, but sure as shootin’ Mom’s date of death was not on the stone. I called the cemetery office and asked how I could have the date carved in the stone. I was told what to do, who to contact, and we are now in the business of having everything done.

The lady who met with me about the carving – and this is where this story takes a twist – was from Monti Granite in South Quincy. It’s probably the oldest granite company in the city as well as one of the oldest in the country. Linda Monti, 94, is turning the reins of day-to-day operation over to her son…soon. At 94, Linda is as sharp as a tack. I had done business with her 20 years ago and she had me in stitches when she talked of my paternal grandfather’s monument business that had been located in the same area.

Perhaps I should have realized when I first saw the headstone that my Dad’s father wouldn’t go for anything less than the best. After all, he was in the monument business. The stone is called gold pink or golden pink westerly, meaning it came from a quarry in Westerly, Rhode Island and is a cross between gold and pink in color. It stands close to six feet high and is carved with both a Masonic seal and leaves that extend outward from the centered seal to each side. I’ve been told that the intricacy of that carving can only be done on granite as fine-grained as westerly. It may be that you’ve never taken the time to look at headstones in cemeteries; although I was never knowingly part of the business, perhaps something is ingrained in my DNA that makes me look carefully at them.

I may coin a word here by saying that we “cemeterians” are fascinated by both the people buried in them and the headstones that mark their final resting place. For instance, buried in Wollaston is old-time actor, song and dance man, band Broadway star, Billy de Wolfe. I haven’t looked for his grave yet, but I wonder if it says de Wolfe or perhaps Jones, for that was his given name. Mum used to talk about him saving a seat for her at a theater in Quincy. He was an usher or began his career as such and every Saturday morning, mother would go to the movies, to the seat saved for her by Billy Jones. The manager of the theater, George de Wolfe, offered Billy his name for theatrical purposes and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, next time you’re looking for something to do as well as getting some exercise, park the car inside the entrance and go for a walk in a cemetery. Should you choose where the headstones are made of slate – the really, really old ones, you might want to bring paper and pen. Some of the sayings below the name of the deceased are worth writing down. Wherever you go, remember that cemeteries may provide a final resting place for some, they can provide great entertainment for those of us who still smell the flowers ‘from above.’

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