Posts Tagged ‘healing’

A Date In Stone

February 8, 2014

Monday February 3rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It has been roughly six weeks now, and I’m still riding a high from the thought of reconnecting with my siblings. It has already changed my entire life for the better, and I feel it every day. I am very realistic in what I’m expecting from the actual meeting, and whatever happens I can handle.

All I ever wanted was closure, and I do think I’ll get it. The email exchanges I’ve had with my brother Bruce have gone tremendously well, and I can tell that he’s on the same wavelength that I am. Him getting our sister Tammy to come along was huge, as I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I don’t even know how to get a hold of her, but she agreed through Bruce to be a part of it.

Our other brother Larry is in too, and that’s everyone. I never really had a falling out with him, but for whatever reason we just fell out of touch. It’s been years, and I’ll be glad to see them all. It could have happened one at a time I suppose, but it’s going to happen all at once and I love it. I’m glad we’re all on the same page, and we’ve waited long enough. I’m looking forward to this.

Bruce will be flying up from Florida in March, and our scheduled meeting date is set for March 8th. Of course I have received several inquiries for bookings on that night – and well paid ones at that – but this is one time I wouldn’t think about budging. I’ve cleared my calendar, and that’s it.

There will be a lot of emotion I’m sure, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I never thought I’d get this opportunity, and I don’t intend on blowing it. I know there’s a possibility it could get uncomfortable or even ugly, but even if that happened I won’t be upset. It won’t come from me.

I highly doubt it will come from the others either. This has been painful far too long, and even getting us all in a room is a major accomplishment. I don’t want anything but peace and closure, and from the tone of Bruce’s email that’s what everyone else wants too. If I have to sit through a few awkward moments I’m more than willing to do that for the chance at turning this all around.

Whatever happens after that date is really unimportant. I would love to be able to stay in touch with all of them, and at least have an open door for the rest of our lives. We are all getting older, and life isn’t guaranteed to anyone of any age. I’m glad we can do this while we’re all still alive.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m ecstatic this is happening. It has made my whole life better before it even happens, and the rest is gravy. It’s affecting the rest of my life, and I’m finding the change to be exactly what I wanted. All kinds of new people are coming into my life, and I feel a healthy and positive vibe everywhere. It should have been like this all along, but now it finally is.

The load that has been lifted off of my entire life is enormous, and I know now six weeks later that this was no temporary bipolar manic upswing. This was exactly where the source of my pain was for so long, and it has been addressed dead on. The results will have a major impact forever.

They already have. Absolutely everything about my life is markedly better, and I attribute this fact directly to this particular event. This was exactly what I needed, and I hope we can all come out of it better people with hope for the future. If nothing else, I want us to end any hostilities of the past and let the healing begin for us all. It already has for me, and it’s the best I’ve ever felt.

I don't know exactly how long it's been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it's been decades. We're scheduled to do it March 8th, and I'm thrilled beyond words.

I don’t know exactly how long it’s been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it’s been decades. We’re scheduled to do exactly that on March 8th, and I’m thrilled beyond words.

The Merriest Christmas

December 27, 2013

Thursday December 26th, 2013 – Amarillo, TX/Flagstaff, AZ

This year is going to go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever – diarrhea and all. At the start of the year I made a goal of wanting this to be my best year ever, and it sure looks like I will get what I asked for. 2013 was also rough in many ways, but after today I know I got my wish.

I had about 100 funny Christmas cards laying around that I bought several years ago, but never sent out. I discovered them during my move last month, and decided to send them out to people I like and respect or that did me a solid this year. I also had bought a roll of stamps so it didn’t cost me anything other than the time to address the cards and add a personal note. I sent them all out.

I received all kinds of emails and phone calls from the people who got them, and it put me in a really super mood as I drove from Amarillo, TX to Flagstaff, AZ today. I tried to add something personal to each card, and it totally worked. I got the reaction I was looking for and then some.

I also texted a ton of people yesterday that I didn’t have addresses for, and that also got a very positive reaction. Just making that small personal contact worked wonders, and it helped to make my long drive a lot shorter. Hearing back from so many I like and respect made me feel special.

On a total lark, I sent my younger brother Bruce a Facebook message wishing him not only a Merry Christmas, but to hope that at some point my older sister Tammy and older brother Larry would be able to all get together and start communicating again. That would be good for us all.

Our family makes The Sopranos look like Ozzie and Harriet. We’ve taken dysfunction to new heights, and it’s the source of my pain for Christmas and all that it’s supposed to mean. We were never allowed to be kids, and our innocence was taken way before it should have been. It stinks.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take another stab at trying to turn this horrific situation around. I’ve heard of siblings having ‘squabbles’, but this is a whole lot deeper than that. Tammy and I haven’t spoken in twenty years, and it’s at least ten years since Larry and I saw each other. Bruce and I were never close, and have been at odds since childhood.

The whole situation has been a big oozing sore for decades, and I’d have to think even Dr. Phil would scratch his bald head and wash his hands of it. There are a lot of hurt feelings and broken spirits, and we were never close to begin with so we’ve stayed apart. Actually, they stayed apart from me but that’s how it has always been. I was raised by my grandparents, and they were not.

This whole disgusting mess has lingered on into adulthood, and has been a huge source of pain for years and years. I’m not without blame, and never claimed to be. I had an enormous blowout with Tammy in 1993, and said some things I’m really sorry for. I’ve tried to apologize, but it has not worked. I feel horrible about it but that was the amputation of our communication and still is.

Well, to my delighted shock and surprise Bruce wrote back and said he would be willing to try and get all four of us together in a room somewhere for a chance to if not reconcile at least let the healing process begin. We’re all broken inside from our horrific childhood scenario, and only the four of us can relate because we all survived it. This will be something only we can appreciate.

Just the thought of hope that this long overdue meeting might actually happen put me in a place of sheer ecstasy. THIS is what is hurting and always has been, and there is finally some attention being paid to the source of all that pain. Comedy has been something to cover it up all this time.

All kinds of performers look to numb their true source of agony, but it’s never what truly ends it. Fame and fortune might help to cover it up, but deep down inside there’s still that smoldering little ember that can easily turn into a raging fire at a moment’s notice. That’s where it all starts.

That’s where it starts with me too, and getting the response from Bruce was like a healing salve for my psyche. He sent a long detailed letter and made some terrific points. He is very intelligent, and has had plenty of his own demons and hurdles to jump. He’s doing an outstanding job, and it would be beyond words to be able to finally develop an adult relationship with the three of them.

This is far deeper than comedy or marketing or anything else I can think of. I know I’m not the only one with a shaky family relationship, but ours has been unbelievably volatile. Being able to finally start to heal would be my greatest Christmas or any other wish. It’s seemed so impossible.

Nothing has been set up yet, but Bruce wrote back and said he talked to Tammy and she would be open to the idea of getting us all together in one place. Even knowing that the possibility of it is being talked about is making my deepest inner child do cartwheels and jump for joy. It’s what I’ve been hoping for forever, but haven’t had the opportunity. The time finally seems to be right.

I wrote to Bruce and told him how excited I was that this was even being talked about, and told him also that I was coming into this with a spirit of extreme humility. I don’t claim to be without reproach, and I’m sure I’m going to catch an ear full from everyone for the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m willing to accept that, and although it’s never pleasant to admit one is wrong it’s necessary to let the healing begin. Most of the idiots in our family were so dysfunctional they would never accept responsibility for their actions and that was a huge source of the problem. They were not ever wrong in their eyes – not even once – and blamed everyone else for every problem at hand.

Now they’re all dead, and they left their toxic residue behind for us to clean up. That’s what we will hopefully do, and it will take the rest of our lives to do it. It will be a process, but if we don’t start it somehow we’ll all go to our graves with giant gaping holes in our souls. This is crucial.

We’ll never have that ideal family bond I see so many have, but like a burn victim we’ll have a second chance at life. There will be ugly scars, but at least we’ll be alive to talk about it. We will appreciate life a lot more, and it will be a major source of joy for us all. I see nothing but good.

I can totally see myself getting out of the standup comedy game and not looking back. I’d still want to perform, but in a MUCH more meaningful way. Maybe I could be a counselor to broken families, or help others patch up their lives. I know we’re not the only family to experience this.

I’m giddy with excitement right now, and I will have a wonderful run of shows in Tucson. This may be the end of the comedy club chapter of my life, but I feel a much better one beginning. It’s what I’ve always wanted, and if it happens it will be the greatest Christmas gift I ever received.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don't ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don’t ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it. What a rush!

Healing With Humor

November 13, 2013

Monday November 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

This has been a rough year health wise for more than a few of my friends. It’s been no polka in the park for me either having to deal with my recent kidney stone, but that’s nothing compared to what some other people I know have had to face. Many are comedians, and it doesn’t seem right.

I would think since comedians provide a service to humankind we’d get some sort of free pass, but we aren’t exempt from the same health horrors everyone else faces. Sometimes it even seems like we get it worse, which I could never understand. There are a lot of people I know suffering.

Jim Wiggins had cancer surgery just a couple of months ago, and he’s having to get used to life with no prostate or bladder. He is now cancer free which is something to celebrate, but that came with one hell of a price. He’s recovering nicely from what I hear, and hopes to work again soon.

Scot Wickmann is another comedian friend who has been dealing with health issues for a long time. He has been on kidney dialysis for quite a while, and recently he had triple bypass surgery. That’s serious enough, but apparently there was an infection and he had to have more surgery.

Bill Gorgo has been getting updates from Scot’s wife Jackie, and she said Scot just had one of two more surgeries he needs and everything went smoothly. He had an abscess on an artery, and that sounds frightening. I don’t have details and the last thing I ever want to do is bother Jackie.

The bottom line is, even if his next surgery goes well he’ll be lucky to be out of the hospital by Christmas. Crikey. I thought the eight or nine days I spent in the hospital for my surgery in 2011 was horrific – and it was. I can’t begin to imagine having to be in a hospital bed for six weeks.

Again, my problems really aren’t problems compared to what Jim and Scot and so many others are going through, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of them. There are a lot of people in a lot worse shape than me, and I want to help comfort them if I can. It’s all about human kindness.

All that actually matters in life is what we are able to give – especially to those that truly are in need. What could I do myself or help to organize that will make someone’s life even a little more pleasant when there’s a long road of recovery ahead? There has to be some way of reaching out.

I was delighted to be able to organize the big benefit comedy show last October for Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert after he was almost killed by a drunk driver going the opposite way on a freeway on ramp. His injuries were beyond a nightmare, but we were able to assist financially.

Peter Jest of Shank Hall in Milwaukee donated the hall, and the all comedians donated our time to perform. Drew Olson was a fabulous host that night, and Officer Albert’s work partner and my cousin Katie Anderer and her whole family got the word out to make it a success. We received a blanket of media coverage as well, and it ended up being a successful event that helped someone.

That’s what life is about. Period. I know we all need to pay our bills, but after that it’s what we are able to give that has any lasting meaning. Seeing my personal friends having to endure all of the personal hell they’ve been through makes me want to jump up and take action to help them.

But what could that be? I’d like it to be comedy related somehow, but I don’t think doing a live show is the answer. I would gladly volunteer to do it in a second if that would help, but it doesn’t strike me as the solution. I think there needs to be something that is able to reach more shut ins.

Scot Wickmann is going to be laid up in bed for a while. Even if he wanted to see a live show I doubt if he could make it unless they wheeled his bed right into the performance area. I’d be fine with it, but I can’t see it happening. A room full of beds with people from ICU would be silly.

It’s hard enough to be funny in a traditional comedy setting, but this would be off the charts to try and pry laughs out of hospital patients. That’s not what I had in mind. I would like to create a product that could be used to touch people depending on their condition, and that’s a wide scope.

One idea I had would be to interview comedians who have endured health issues, and try to put a comedic perspective on things that as a rule aren’t funny. When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t help but notice there are a lot of potentially funny events that only someone who has experienced them could relate to. I bet it would be of great comfort to have a video for new patients to watch.

There has to be a way to produce a video of comedians telling their hospital stories, and have it run on a constant loop on one of the hospital TV channels. I’d bet there could be several releases over time, as a lot of comedians have stories. I’m sure some celebrities would jump on board too.

David Letterman went through major heart surgery a while back, and I’m sure that gave him an abundance of stories that are a lot funnier now that he’s fully recovered. Sometimes it seems like the situation is overwhelming while in the hospital, and something to offer comfort would help to put a patient’s mind at ease. I remember how I felt when I was laying there and it was a bad trip.

Another idea I’d love to pursue would be establishing a humor library in all hospitals so people could watch and listen to comedy as they recover. It could be standup comedy CDs and DVDs or funny movies or even written publications like Mad magazine or comic books. It could help pass the time for patients, and even the employees could use it. I’m sure a medical staff has stress too.

I realize that these are all pie in the sky dreams, but I want to put it out there in the universe so hopefully someone else will see it and act on it. Even if it’s bouncing an idea back at me, I’ll take whatever I can get and move forward however I can. This is an idea that has no time restrictions.

We always see photo ops where celebrity athletes go in and meet sick kids in the hospital, and I think that’s a great thing don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see more of it, but what better source of cheering people up who need it is there than comedians. This would be a way to really be of use.

I think this would be a great place to develop the King of Uranus character. It’s so goofy that it can’t help to at least get the attention of somebody in a sick bed and take their mind off their pain for the moment. One way or another, I really want to reach out and make a hurting person laugh.

Hearing of Scot’s current situation and Jim’s recent issues has brought this idea to the forefront of my thoughts. It would be a great opportunity to match comedians with recovering patients and I’m going to keep thinking of what I can do to get this ball rolling. Service is what life is about.

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!