Friday, December 31, 2010


I wear this turquoise bracelet 24/7. Paul is always with me. The other side of the bracelet gives our local Suicide Prevention Hot Line number at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, reminding me how important suicide prevention is.

On this day, his birthday, and what has been our end-of-year custom, we donate to our favorite charities. Among them are those we added to our list after Paul died: Didi Hirsch, The Compassionate Friends, Congregation Tikva Jacob, and the Paul Sharples Memorial Endowment at Crossroads High School to support the jazz music program. The jazz program at Crossroads was such a great influence on Paul and his performance abilities, that I hope the endowment in his name will provide the same kind of inspiration to other young musicians.

So Happy Birthday, Paul. No matter what, you are with us 24/7.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The edge is off

Paul's birthday is tomorrow.

Usually I'm beside myself as I approach this time in December. I'm nervous, I can't concentrate, and I just want the visit to the cemetary on Paul's birthday to be over. This year I'm much more calm. He is still a huge part of my life. But my thoughts about him don't run my life anymore.

We plan to go the cemetery tomorrow as always. But this year it feels like we’re just fitting the visit in between the rest of the events of the day. I'll go to the gym as usual, do my normal morning stuff afterward, go to the cemetery, get a manicure and pedicure, take care of Oscar (maybe), and then go to the movies and dinner with Ben and Marissa. In years past all I could do was think about and dread going to the cemetery. I could hardly do anything else. So definitely the edge is off. I can honestly say I’m moving on. His death doesn’t impede the rest of it. 

Three Cemeteries
On a cool, sunny day in Normandy
the breeze does not disturb
the graves at the American Cemetery.
No matter where you stand,
looking diagonally, horizontally,
or straight back and forth,
each alabaster-white grave marker,
each chiseled engraving
in perfect precision
and symmetry
as far as the eye can see.
The grass covering the graves
mowed just the right height,
a shade of green
from a Technicolor garden.
A rectangular reflection pool,
the curved wall inscribed with the names
of 1,557 Americans missing in action,
the center bronze statue commemorating
the spirit of American youth,
and the Omaha Beach below 
create a restful setting
for the 10,000 allied soldiers
killed in 1943 or 44
during World War II.

On a gray, rainy day
in Prague,
hordes of tourists stroll
through the Jewish cemetery.
Their feet crunch
the brown and yellow leaves
 covering the ground.
Housing 800,000 graves –
some over 12 layers deep –
this cemetery, not functional since 1787,
verges on collapse.
The packed gravestones lean
every which way
in a hodgepodge of rectangular, square,
and triangular shapes
so old, so worn and broken
the Hebrew or Yiddish markings
are hardly readable.
Just like the Jews
who were forced to live
crammed together in
the Prague ghetto,
these gravestones want
to escape the barriers
that keep the visitors and vandals out.

On a stormy day
in Los Angeles
we drive through the gates
of Hillside Cemetery
and curve around the drive
to the back wall
and a small plot
of miniature, flat, rectangular,
gray and black marble gravestones
lying flush
with the closely cropped grass,
marking the cremated remains
of fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles,
and grandparents.
Full sun interrupts the downpour
just long enough
for us to kneel
at our son’s grave
on his December 31st birthday,
wipe away the raindrops,
leave a smooth black stone
and four yellow roses
and allow our tears to fall.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Madison

Madison is seventeen years old today. We first met when she was eighteen months old. That day she  took my hand and we bonded immediately.

I think of Madison as my granddaughter I love her so much. We spend a lot of time going to lunch and the movies together. She is also known as the Sundance_Kidd, the writer of a wonderful movie review blog.

During the last couple of years of Paul's life when he was living at home, he bonded with Madison too. She would sit beside him on the piano bench as he played for her, he put her up on his lap and showed her how to use the computer, and he played with her out in our yard. He was very sweet with her.

She says she still remembers those days.

Madison, I hope you're having a wonderful birthday. I'm so glad you are in my life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oh, baby, baby it's a wild world

Paul loved Cat Stevens, as evidenced by the following poem.

Cat Stevens Then and Now

As I walked up the stairs I heard Cat Stevens singing
the familiar words of his song, “Morning has Broken,”
and there I was back in 1973
in our old gray Chrysler station wagon
with the fake wood trim red-leather seats,
and Paul was sitting in the back,
belting out the words with him. He was only two then,
still clutching his green stuffed turtle for dear life
as we drove along.
His fat cheeks were rosy red, his blonde hair
cut like an upside-down cereal bowl around his face.
Then I return to this day and my table at the
westside mall where the lunch crowd
is beginning to gather not knowing or caring how I grieve
for the chubby little boy sitting in his car seat
when so little made him happy

Monday, December 27, 2010

The sound of one hand

Almost from the time Paul was a baby my husband read Zen parables to him at bedtime. As he grew older he developed an interest in them and especially liked the two books by Paul Reps: Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and Zen Telegrams, and Be Here Now by Ram Dass.

Coincidentally in this month of remembering Paul's birthday, I came across a New York Times article about an exhibit of the art of Zen Master Hakuin (1685-1768) at the Japan Society Gallery in Manhattan until January 9, 2011. And I am elated to know the exhibit will be at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from May 22 to August 17, 2011.

Hakuin, besides being a an artist, was a poet. And he was the Zen Master who came up with the koan "What is the sound of one hand?" It was later popularized with the addition of the word "clapping." My Paul indeed liked that koan.

Here is Zen Master Hakuin's poem that elaborates on the koan.

An ant goes round and round without rest
Like all beings in the six realms of existence,
Born here and dying there without release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.

Perhaps Paul finally heard the sound of one hand.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays to all

Choices will be off the air until Monday, December 27. In the meantime I want to share one of my "winter solstice" gifts. A nice addition to my Buddha collection.

Ganesh - the Hindu god of success

Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy, and successful new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

At the piano bar

We sat at a piano bar last night listening to an old master play. Within seconds I was mesmerized back into memories of Paul at the piano. This man played the way Paul had played, and he played the same tunes. All the standards with jazz improvisations that showed real music genius.

Early on Paul was told to get The Book – a compendium of all the songs a musician needs to learn if he/she wanted to be hired to play gigs at a bar. And sure enough Paul got the book and learned the tunes in it. I remember how he meticulously kept a list of the tunes he knew. He was always adding to the list.

Another thing that reminded me of Paul was the way the man sat – close into the keys with his head leaning way down as he played. Maybe that’s the way all jazzmen play.

Last night that old musician played jazz piano to perfection. So perfectly it made me cry.

My Jazzman

My jazzman                                                                       
beat it out
on the mighty eighty-eights,
played those riffs,
tapped his feet
bent his head
down to the keys,
felt those sounds
on his fingertips.
Yeah, he was a hot man
on those eighty-eights.

But all too soon
his bag grew dark.
He went down,
deep down.
My jazzman
played the blues,
lost that spark,
closed the lid.
And, yeah, you got it right,
quit the scene.
laid himself down
in that bone yard
for the big sleep.
Yeah, for the really big sleep.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Compassionate Friends revisited

I've written about The Compassionate Friends before but not about its wonderful services for parents and siblings. Here is some information for those out there who need help - especially during the holidays.

The Compassionate Friends “Supporting Family After a Child Dies.” 
Through a network of more than 625 chapters with locations in all 50 states, and Washington DC and Puerto Rico, The Compassionate Friends has been supporting bereaved families after the death of a child for four decades. Each chapter, along with the supporting National Office, is committed to helping every bereaved parent, sibling, or grandparent during the natural grieving process after a child has died. 
Its mission is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.

The National Office and its staff also provide many levels of support to our chapters, as well as individual responses to those who call on the phone, contact us through our website, or send an e-mail that asks for help. The Compassionate Friends is committed to being there for you as long as you needs its services. 

Please go to The Compassionate Friends website for more information:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It’s been raining for days. I like the rain.

Bob and I fell in love on a rainy day in March so we always welcome the rain. We like the sound of it on our roof. I love the way my garden looks in the rain or just after. We grow mostly succulents in various shades of green and pinkish red, and the rain makes those colors pop. It’s almost like a garden of wild flowers especially since so many of the plants are shaped like flowers. I also like to see the hills after the rain. They seem to take on an extra coat of Technicolor green. The rain completely revitalizes the usual dry tan fields  so prevalent in southern California.

The storm we’ve been having is the worst in ten years they say. But I remember one about a year before Paul died. It rained for a lot of days in a row like it's doing now, and he hated being cooped up in the house. He couldn’t get out and do his usual wandering or smoke breaks outside. He said it was driving him crazy and then he chucked, realizing what he had just said. At least he had a sense of humor about his bipolar disorder once in a while. Weather seemed to affect him. As a child he loved the cold weather. That’s what attracted him to New York. But after he got sick he couldn’t stand the cold and dark winters there. He must have had a touch of seasonal affective disorder as well.

Here's an article (December 8, 2010) that denies the myth that suicides are more prevalent during the holiday season:

Winter Holiday Suicide Myth Continues to be Reinforced in Press 
Annenberg Public Policy Center Study Finds

The annual analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of news reporting during the previous winter holiday period reveals that newspapers continued to perpetuate the myth that suicides rise during the holidays. The proportion of stories that supported the myth during the 2009-2010 holidays remained at approximately the same level as during the previous holiday period.

Released today, the APPC study shows that nearly 50 percent of the articles written during last year’s holiday season that made a direct connection between suicide and the holiday season perpetuated the myth. That represents a small and statistically non-significant increase from the previous holiday period when about 38 percent supported the myth.

The rate of suicide in the U.S. is in fact lowest in December, and peaks in the spring and fall. Data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics show that this pattern has not changed in recent years (2007 is the most recent year for which national data are available).
As part of its efforts to improve coverage of suicide in the press, APPC has been tracking holiday suicide reporting since 2000 when it released its first press alert on newspaper coverage of the myth. There has been improvement in coverage over this time period, but progress in recent years has slowed. In the 1999-2000 holiday period, only about 23 percent of the stories that made a link between the holidays and suicide debunked the myth. Although this percentage has increased over the years, it only increased dramatically during the 2006/07- holiday period when it reached 91%. In other years, it has hovered around 50%.

“It is unfortunate that the holiday-suicide myth persists in the press,” said Dan Romer, the director of APPC’s Adolescent Communication Institute, which conducted the study. “Aside from misinforming the public, the sort of reporting misses an opportunity to shed light on the more likely causes of suicide.”Considerable research indicates that mental health conditions, such as depression and abuse of drugs, can increase the risk of suicide. While persons suffering from these and other treatable mental conditions are at increased risk of suicide, getting help from an appropriate health professional can reduce this risk. The press can play a role in encouraging those suffering from these mental health conditions to seek help and to do so at any time of the year.

“The press has an important role to play in debunking the holiday-suicide myth,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “It is essential that the public be given accurate information on this important subject.”

Persons with serious mental health conditions are also vulnerable to media reports of deaths by suicide, particularly those that describe the method or glorify the act. The press can help to reduce the chances of such “contagion” effects by following the media coverage recommendations developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the APPC among others (see American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). There is also a national suicide prevention lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) that is ready 24/7 to assist persons coping with suicidal crises.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide ranks as the eleventh leading cause of death among adults. Among adolescents, it is the third leading cause. More information about suicide is available at the following sites:

Monday, December 20, 2010

A big confront - holiday cards

Madeline, Ben, Marissa, Bob - August 14, 2010

Holiday cards and greeting cards in general have been difficult since Paul died. Before it was always easy to sign them with all our family names: Madeline, Bob, Paul, and Ben. And for a very long time after he died, I just couldn’t sign Madeline, Bob, and Ben – if I sent out cards at all. It just didn’t seem right.

Also I certainly wasn’t up for sending a family photo with our holiday cards like the many cards we receive every year. I think the last time I sent out a holiday photo card was in 1993, six years before Paul died.

That is until this year. I bit the bullet this year and sent out a holiday photo card that shows our new family of four: Madeline, Ben, Marissa, and Bob. And I sent it out with joy. Marissa joined our family in August, and we couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two of my greats

I love the Jewish tradition of naming babies after loved ones who are deceased. After Paul died a niece and her husband and later on a nephew and his wife decided to each name one of their children for him. The little red-haired beautie (one of my great nieces) in the top photo has Paul as her middle name. And the cutie boy (my great nephew) in the bottom photo is named Ian -- Paul's middle name. I feel so honored that my niece and nephew felt so strongly about their cousin Paul to name their children after him. His memory now lives on through them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

About NaSmaStoMo - National Small Stone Month

A Stone Called Son

I've been living with a stone for a long time. See how it rests on a little silk pillow called heal. The stone and the pillow are both comforting and calming.

So when I heard about NaSmaStoMo I was immediately interested. Just the word stone drew me in. And of course since this is a writing challenge I was drawn in even more.

Fiona, who created NaSmaStoMo, has asked us to "to write a small stone - a polished moment of paying proper attention - every day during the month of January."  Fiona explains: "I’m a believer in making use of the writing process to help us connect with ourselves and with the world." And with that I was hooked.

I've dabbled in Haiku and writing Twitter length poems. I think this will be a continuation of those practices. I've also taken several poem-a-day for a month challenges. So, for me NaSmaStoMo is perfect -- a perfect way for me to start my 2011 writing year.  

For more information about NaSmaStoMo and how to join us go to:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Help for the military

The National Resouce Directory connects the many, many wounded warriors, service members, and veterans and their families to the agencies that are able to provide much needed support.

Here is a list of survivor organizations that assist survivors of service members and veterans:
National Association of American Veterans - Services
Serves Veterans and their dependents, severely wounded warriors and single parent Service Members and Veterans by providing services including emergency financial assistance, counseling, scholarships, housing assistance and medical transportation.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Financial Assistance This is a government resource
Provides members of the Navy and Marine Corps and eligible family members and survivors with interest-free loans or grants to help with emergency needs such as emergency transportation, vehicle repairs, funeral expenses, medical bills, food, rent, utilities, child care expenses and more.
USA Cares
Offers financial assistance for wounded warriors and families, prevention of foreclosure or eviction and help with basic needs.
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services This is a government resource
Contact a free mental health counseling service that can help with problems relating to alcohol and drug addiction, depression, bereavement and other counseling and treatment needs.
Wounded Heroes Foundation
Assists severely injured Service Members with physical, emotional and financial support, such as paying a missing mortgage payment, purchasing an accessible van, building or remodeling homes, securing a new mortgage at a lower interest rate and more.
Our Fallen Hero
Provides financial support to families who have lost relatives in service to their country, grief camps for children and spouses and support for Fisher House and other rehabilitation programs.
Operation Family Fund
Provides financial grants for those injured and families of those who have been injured or killed as a part of the Global War on Terrorism, whether domestic or abroad, military or civilian. Assistance is available for food, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, emergency transportation, vehicle repair, funeral expenses, legal expenses, medical/dental expenses and more.
Rebuild Hope
Offers an online financial support network that brings donors and recipients together. Beneficiaries display personal profiles and specific requests for assistance, and donors either advise Rebuild Hope as to how they would like their donations to be distributed, or ask Rebuild Hope to make this decision in their behalf.
Wounded Warrior Project
Offers programs and services including benefits counseling, employment assistance, family support, recreational activities and more, to assist severely injured Veterans of the Iraq, Afghanistan and other recent conflicts transition back to civilian life.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
Provides support to surviving mothers and their families and works with Veterans and other Veteran organizations.
United Warrior Survivors Foundation
Offers peer-to-peer support, survivor transition assistance, emergency aid and financial planning and bereavement counseling for surviving spouses of Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations personnel killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001.
For the Fallen
Provides financial assistance to military members and their families in times of need and distributes donations to families of soldiers that have been killed or severely wounded since September 11, 2001.
Armed Forces Foundation
Provides injured support services, housing assistance, family bereavement assistance, direct financial help, career counseling and recreation opportunities. Download the family assistanceapplication form.
American Widow Project
Provides peer support to widows of Service Members through sharing stories, tears and laughter on an interactive Web site.
Fallen Patriot Fund
Helps families of U.S. military personnel who were killed or seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation
Provides financial services for wounded warriors including funds for day care expenses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, hospice suite for Walter Reed patients with terminal cancer, payments for emergency financial needs and laptop computers for wounded warriors at the Fisher Houses at major military medical centers.
Air Force Crossroads - Casualty & Loss
Contains information on handling the loss or casualty of a loved one, including dealing with grief, benefits, necessary papers, funeral arrangements and memorial services and more.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
Supports and assists surviving families of those who have died in service to America through a wide variety of programs including those for grieving children and peer support programs.
Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund
Offers college grants and other financial assistance with housing, repairs, utilities, medical expenses, groceries and more for children and spouses of Service Members with disabilities and those who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Widowed Information & Consultation Services (WICS)
Provides a supportive environment and services to widowed men and women in Washington State through their grieving process, and into their lives as a single person.
Marine Corps Gold Star Family Support
Provides resources to connect with grieving spouses and family members of deceased Marines. Part of, users can access message boards and chat rooms, and learn about family gatherings for Marine Corps family survivors.
Society of Military Widows
Provides services and support to widows of members of all branches of the uniformed services of the United States.
Bereaved Parents of the USA
Learn about a support group for parents who have had a child die, at any age from any cause. Find chapter locations.
Compassionate Friends
Offers friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.
United States Army Survivor Outreach Services This is a government resource
Provides information and access to services where and when the surviving family members desire. Go to this link to find all the benefits available through the Army for survivors.
Fort Stewart Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) This is a government resource
Connects survivors with local support services that include but are not limited to grief counseling, financial counseling, benefits coordination, support groups and Garrison and surrounding area events.
Gold Star Wives of America
Provides support and resources for surviving spouses and information about benefits and legislation concerning survivors.
An image of a flag next to a resource denotes that it is a Government ResourceGovernment Resource

For more information about the National Resource Directory go to:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Like a Buddha

photo by Madison Poulter

Here are a few of the Buddhas in my collection. I began to gather them around me, not because I follow the religion, but because Paul always seemed so like a Buddha. He sat cross-legged in his room with his musical instruments or papers around him on the floor. He also had a very calm expression on his face during most of our conversations. He spoke slowly and clearly and looked me right in the eye. So I  have my Buddhas almost all over my house to calm me as well. 

The Link's National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention

The Link Counseling Center, located in Georgia since 1971, is a nonprofit community counseling center. The Link provides quality, affordable, confidential counseling, psychotherapy, and support groups to all ages.
In addition to counseling and psychotherapy services, The Link also offers three specialized programs: Suicide Prevention and Aftercare, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Children and Adolescents in Crisis and Grief besides community education, training, and supervision.
If you are in the Sandy Springs or Atlanta Georgia area find out more information about The Link at:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Great American Poetry Show Volume 2 - first review!

The Great American Poetry Show
Volume 2
Poems by
Edited by Larry Ziman, Madeline Sharples, Nicky Selditz
The Muse Media
West Hollywood, CA
Volume 2 Copyright © 2010 by Larry Ziman
Hardcover, 157 pages, $35
Review by Zvi A. Sesling

This book of poetry really is a “show.” It is 8x10, hardcover and provides 157 of poetry, followed by a bio of every author. Moreover the authors are presented in alphabetical order which is especially useful if you want to find the poem or author again.

As for the poetry, it has some old poetic friends like A.D. Winans, Lyn Lifshin, Alan Catlin, but for the most part I am not familiar with the poets, though their poems are of high quality and belong in “the show” which is baseball talk for the major leagues.

Of the many poems a number caught my eye let me name just three: 
To My Daughter on a Fine Fall Day, by Carol Carpenter, Big Daddy by Carrie Jerrell, Remembrance by David Parke about a lost love which closes:
At night when I stand in the chilled desert breeze
and feel it lightly kiss my face,
I close my eyes and feel the phantom of your lips against mine.

The magazine has a penchant for personal poems 
as a good many of them are first person, though Lois Swann’s short poem (8 lines) is quite enticing:


The frost has left a simple beautiful pattern
on the black car roof
Like stars clustered or marcasite
threaded with silver.

Shivering, undressed, I find such marks sparkling
on the skin of my inner thigh,
The sign of you I am loathe to bathe away,
fearing to squander diamonds

To be sure there will be poems you do not like, but in 157 pages can you really expect every poem to grab you? No, but in
The Great American Poetry Show my guess the majority (probably more than a simple majority) will be enjoyable, and since every reader is different, many readers will connect with a number of the poems and poets.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Age four - so happy, so innocent

And an organization founded before Paul was born in 1971. Another one we should have known about.

American Association of Suicidology

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is
a nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and prevention of suicide with the goal of understanding and preventing suicide.

AAS accomplishes this mission by directing efforts to:
  • Advance suicidology as a science; encouraging, developing, and disseminating scholarly work in suicidology.
  • Encourage the development and application of strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors.
  • Compile, develop, evaluate and disseminate accurate information about suicidal behaviors to the public.
  • Foster the highest possible quality of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention to the public.
  • Publicize official AAS positions on issues of public policy relating to suicide.
  • Promote research and training in suicidology.

Founded in 1968, AAS promotes research, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. For more information about the American Association of Suicidology go to:

Monday, December 13, 2010

My memoir - also an homage to Paul

We had dinner with a group of friends last night and one of them asked me if working on the revisions to my memoir manuscript made me cry. And, of course the answer was yes. But, the crying is well worth it. Now I have a revised manuscript that I've just sent off to my publisher, and I'm that much closer to my book being released for the public. My goal has always been to tell the story of Paul's bipolar disorder, his suicide, and how our family survived in the hopes of helping others going through the same kind of experience. And, now I'm that much closer to reaching that goal.

My husband Bob also says he cries every time he reads parts of my book. I just hope the sadness my book evokes won't be a turnoff to getting people to read it. Well I won't worry about that now. I know Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking was a best seller. If I get a fraction of the readership that she did I won't complain.

I also want my book to be an homage and a way of remembering my son. I want the world to know that a beautiful and talented Paul Sharples existed and that he was very much loved. I'm getting closer to that goal as well.

The Compassionate Friends is an organization that assists families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.

The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”

—Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends
Yesterday was worldwide day to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. Candles were lit at 7 pm to create a wave of light and unite bereaved families around the globe. The Compassionate Friends provided a memory book for posting memories, thoughts, musings, prayers, and expressions of love for our lost children. The book is closed for posting now, but will remain on view until the next Worldwide Candle Lighting. 
For more information about The Compassionate Friends go to:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reminders are everywhere

We saw the Randy Newman show "Harps and Angels" last night -- an ensemble performance of his marvelous words and music. The graphics, skits associated with the music, and the band were excellent and very entertaining.

The band played in the back above the stage and wasn't visible throughout most of the show. That reminded me of the time Paul was in a band that accompanied the circus portion of the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Texas. His band was way above the stage and out of sight of the audience throughout the circus acts.

It's interesting where the reminders come from and how they hit me square in the gut when they appear - like when I was at a shopping mall and heard a some music Paul liked as a child.

Cat Stevens Then and Now

As I walked up the stairs I heard Cat Stevens singing
the familiar words of his song, “Morning has Broken,”
and there I was back in 1973
in our old gray Chrysler station wagon
with the wood trim and fake red leather seats
and Paul was sitting in the back
belting out the words with him. He was only two then
still clutching his green stuffed turtle for dear life
as we drove along.
His fat cheeks were rosy red, his blonde hair
cut like an upside down cereal bowl around his face.
Then I return to this day and my table at the
westside mall where the lunch crowd
is beginning to gather 
not knowing or caring how I grieve
for the chubby little boy sitting in his car seat
when so little made him happy.