Wednesday, February 22, 2017

THE BOX


I just returned from a vacation of two weeks that included a week in Hawaii and a week in Los Angeles.

I'll explain the reason for the title as I go along. As many of you know I lost my wife and best friend of 32 years to Leukemia just over 6 months ago.

l know that those of you that have lost loved ones have and are experiencing the same feelings.

I thought if I took this time off it might help. It didn't until I experienced the BOX. My nieces, Jill and Faith Soloway, the creators of the hit Amazon show "Transparent" could not attend the funeral but thought it would be nice to send me an all expense paid trip to Hollywood.

To try and truly explain my trip would really be an impossible task, but I'll try my best. I'll just say unbelievable or maybe outstanding or indescribable, but what they did was treat me like a movie star. 

Picking me up at the airport in a limo, taking me to the Hilton at Universal Studios hotel and putting me in a beautiful room overlooking the city. They also gave me a small speaking part in Episode One of Season Four.

Explanation of the title of this blog will follow shortly. My scene was being shot on location at a church, inside and out.

Arriving there, I was escorted back to a trailer with my character's name on it. I was then brought clothes I was to wear for my scene. Then onto makeup and hair. I couldn't believe what I was experiencing, I was actually getting the star treatment.

My nieces introduced me to everyone as Uncle Ronnie and that stuck with me during the whole week. Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffmann and Jay Duplass were three of the main characters that I met who would also appear in my brief but exciting scene that was being shot that day. 

Now this, those of you that know me might get a kick out of what my character is taking part in: a meeting for sex and love addicts and I had to talk about my addiction. OK, stop it, I can hear the smirks, it was a part in the show.

They had food catered the entire day available to all that were part of the production. Practically anything you wanted was available. I was also provided a driver that was at my disposal for the entire week of my stay. She was a very pretty young lady whose name is Lee and was waiting on me like a mother hen. "Can I get you something to eat or drink?"-- she couldn't do enough for me.

The next day Lee drove me to Paramount Studios where the show is being shot on various stages. Now comes the BOX. I believe it's something originated by my niece Jill and I'll try my best to describe what it is.

Anyone on the crew, from the actors, writers, producers, grips, sound people, everyone is included. Instead of handshaking, hugs are recommended and you can choose to stand on this actual box surrounded by 100 or more people and say what's on your mind.

I could actually feel the bonding that was going on. They spoke of personal things that were going on in their families, words of thankfulness and words of encouragement. At the end, they clapped, hugged and went back to work.

The remainder of the day was spent watching my niece Jill directing every aspect of the shooting with help from her assistant directors; that alone was worth seeing. Never in my life did I ever think about the work that goes into a production. 

I also met the great Jeffrey Tambor, the main character of the show and the most beautiful person, Judith Light.

The next day I was asked to get on the BOX. I did with very little hesitation. I wanted to tell everyone there how they had made me feel. I'll try my best to repeat what I said at the time but it went something like this: 

"My wife and best friend Norma was stricken with Leukemia and passed away this last August. I've been trying everything to keep busy, from writing my second book to watching sports and going to work every day, and thank goodness for all of my close friends and family that try to keep me occupied. You always believe that the male will go first but it was not to be, when the cancer is too far along you do the best you can to make your partner comfortable.

 "But I've been in this dark fog, not knowing my direction, until this week when I met all of you. I believe this week has taken me out of the fog and back into the sun and I can't thank you enough. My healing has taken a giant step forward.

"I had no intention of making anybody cry but I know that you feel my pain and wish me the best. It doesn't get easier but maybe you can slow it down, I'm trying."

It seemed as if being a part of this group that accepts everyone regardless of who they are was a wonderful thing to watch and to be included. After getting off the BOX, I was hugged by many in the circle that thanked me for sharing.

There is no way that I can thank Jill and Faith for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their production and have a smile from ear to ear during the whole week. Nieces, when and if you are in need of my meager talent, I'm available.

I honestly believe that Jill and Faith, by doing "Transparent" have changed the way that many people think. Acceptance may hopefully become the norm.

Before Los Angeles, I spent a week of my vacation on the island of Oahu in Waikiki Beach, just steps from my apartment where I lived over 30 years ago. I visited Schofield Barracks where I was stationed during my service time in the 50s, the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the north shore to watch some amazing surfers, the Pali lookout, and every other major attraction on the island.

 I went deep sea fishing and caught, but could not bring in, an 80- pound yellowfin tuna. My arms and shoulders gave out after 15 or so minutes and the crew had to finish the job. Age and replacement parts had taken their toll.

Hawaii is as beautiful as I remembered and I still have fond memories of my time in the islands.

After reading this blog, please check one of the boxes below. Have a beautiful life and send me business.
 








Monday, January 30, 2017

A REPEAT

Saturday, December 19, 2009


RONNIEISMS

AS TIME GOES BYE
During the last couple of weeks I've constantly heard the phrase "Where has the year gone?" "It seems that it was only a month or so ago when they turned out the Plaza Lights." Even my adult children are experiencing the fast way that time seems to travel. "Dad, I can't believe you've been married over 25 years." Seven years longer than my first marriage that ended in 1974 after 18 years. "You're going to be how old?"

These last 25 years, with my extended family have been beyond expectation. We've watched our children have children who seem to grow taller by the second and become more beautiful and handsome every day. When each child was a toddler I taught them all my simple phrase. "Who loves you?" answered, "You do", "How much", "too much", and to this day we still use it. Just hearing it brings a great big smile to my face and the fact that they remember. 

Time is a precious thing and it's a shame the way some people abuse it by pushing aside a time in their life to accomplish their goals. After my discharge from the Army I was planning to go back to college to get a law degree. But as a poor excuse and probably a lazy one, I went to work to support my new family instead of fullfilling one of my life goals. Looking back, I still regret that I didn't take advantage of the GI Bill to continue my formal education. It was over 50 years ago and I did accomplish many things that I never knew that I could.

The NIKE ad that says DO IT NOW, is true. Look to tomorrow and do it now because before you know it, tomorrow is here. So as time flitters away, enjoy every day with your family, your friends and make the best of what you have. We've all shared deaths in our families, even more so since we've become the Sr. generation but time goes on as does life. Do away with the petty arguments that keep families apart. Learn to forgive so you can enjoy life without bitterness.

I'm not trying to preach but with age comes a little of life experiences that you hope to pass on to those younger. My biggest problems these days is waking up 3 times a night to relieve myself, it's much better than reverting to childhood and not getting out of bed. Going back to sleep is getting harder because my past life starts flashing through my mind as if I were in a movie. As the expression goes, "It's better than the alternative" The alternative being death or senility. I now have a fourth generation in my family, my great grandson Connor who will continue the Shapiro name. Maybe some day he can look back and see where his family came from and see the resemblance he has to those before him.

I'll end this diatribe with a simple edict to enjoy your life, count your blessings and if your name is not in the obituaries, you can shave.

CONNOR WILL SOON BE 12, BUT JUST AS 
HANDSOME.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

HELLO, I'M HOME

Every night when I come in the door, I announce my presence. But now, there's no response.

It's been 13 weeks since I lost my best friend and wife of 32 years. I say my best friend because we did everything together, even watching the Royals, Chiefs and KU basketball games. She started watching when she saw how much I enjoyed the games and eventually became a fan with me. 

I'm still trying to cope with my loss but it's not getting better as everyone has told me that it would be. Besides, not hearing her voice or seeing her, adds to my depression which I try to cover up, but do a lousy job.

Many of my customers that come by my desk to say hello always ask how she is doing and when I tell them that she passed away I can see the sadness in their eyes and most are at a loss for words on how to express their feelings. I try putting them at ease telling them how much I appreciate their thoughts but my mind goes into immediate reminders of what she meant to me, our children and great family and I can feel the lump in my throat trying to stifle the upcoming sadness.

 Going home or going to the grocery brings on more of the same questions. What can I buy that doesn't require cooking, so I end up getting a microwave meal or some kind of deli. Time, time is the answer but I really doubt if I'll be whole again.

I can't sleep more than three hours before I leave the bed for the recliner and try to finish sleeping for the night. She's not there when I reach out.

This week I'll be with the family for Thanksgiving and I know it will be hard on us all. I hope I can keep it together, I want this to be a great family get together just as she would want it to be.

I know this is sort of repetitive but trying to put into words my true feelings is not that easy for me, so please excuse my attempt of remembering the love of my life. Please have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay well.















Wednesday, September 28, 2016

HOW YA DOIN?

I feel like saying, "How the Hell do you think I'm feeling?" But, I don't, I know that the person asking the question is genuinely interested in my well being,

I'm actually feeling pretty shitty, I miss my honey more than anyone can imagine.

Everyone keeps telling me, it's normal to feel that way but it will get better. It's also OK  to cry, there's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. I know all that, I'm old, not stupid.

There are a couple of things that help, ie; watching sporting events where I get totally engrossed in the game. I still watch all of the Royals games and now the Chiefs and soon, KU basketball. The other thing that helps a lot is working. Going to work everyday and being around all the sales people including management that treat me like royalty. They can't do enough for me. What a great bunch of people.

The toughest as you can imagine is going home to an empty apartment. My support group of friends and family have been wonderful. I only wish I could find a pill that would allow me to sleep a full night.

I apologize if this sounds like too much "whoa is me" or looking for sympathy but its how I feel and I guess by getting it off my chest I will feel better, if I do, I'll let you know.

One way to make feel better is to come into Hendrick Toyota and buy a car from ME.

To many of my friends, I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

IT'S HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

How do I say goodbye to  the most important person  in my life?

Norma and I were married for the best 32 years of my life.

Besides being my wife she was my very best friend. We shared everything together, especially laughter on a daily basis, because it was my pleasure to see her smile every single day, and I accomplished that feat. Our love was unbelievable.

When I tell people how we never went to sleep without expressing our love for each other always ending in "I love you more." Followed with a kiss.
Even when we were apart we made sure we spoke and conveyed our love. 

 She was the bravest person I've ever known. When she was diagnosed with AML Leukemia seven months ago, she never complained "why me". She knew at the outset, what her life expectancy was and lived her life with no crying and thank goodness, no pain.

My best friend and the biggest part of my life is gone.
I ask myself, how will I live without her, without her lying next to me, feeling her warmth against my body.

I remember all the great times we had together, all the fun things we did with our many wonderful friends, the cruises, fishing in Canada, trips to Las Vegas and the Ozarks, the time we spent on the Hawaiian cruise that had no casino, our Wednesday night dinner group and our football buddies. Those memories will stay with me forever.

Whenever we attended a wedding I would always  wish the bride and groom that they would have the marriage that we have.

All of our good times I hope will overshadow the constant tears flowing from my body. 

At one time or another we all lose a loved one and eventually, in time, it gets easier.

I'm sure it will for me too but dammit, it's hard to say goodbye.

Be at peace my love and thank you for the greatest 32 years of my life, our extended family and going from Shapiro to Shapiro.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A BIG THANK YOU


For the last seven months or so I've been taking my wife Norma to St. Lukes South hospital for her Chemo and transfusions.
 
This blog is a heartfelt thank you to the staff that took care of my wife. I especially want to thank her Oncologist Dr. Gaur and his great nurse Kim. They always gave Norma the feeling that she was someone special and not just another patient. They were always upfront and honest from the very first day. Alyssa in the front office always made sure I received the information requested and followed up.

Two very special nurses also deserve my eternal gratitude for the love and care they showed to Norma, including a personal hug, Michelle and Marilyn in the oncology department on the fifth floor. They could not do more than they did to make her comfortable and at ease during her visits.

Downstairs in the Short Stay department where she received her blood transfusions, a big "Thank You" goes out to Laine and her associates for their great care.

The nurses in the ICU department, especially Jason, were unbelievably caring and professional. I can't remember everyone's name because I'm old but St. Lukes South should be proud of the way their staff represents the hospital.

Norma is now at KC Hospice another great place.

I will try to keep you updated on her condition but she's comfortable and experiencing no pain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TODAY IS THE DAY


Another bionic added to my body. By tonight, barring complications, I'll have a new left shoulder. 

Originally scheduled for 8am, canceled, then rescheduled to 4pm. looking forward to having pain removed after a year of procrastination. Not that I plan on pitching or playing golf, both of which I don't do, but being able to go through a day without constant shoulder pain.

The hardest thing is going without food since midnight and no water since 4am, being diabetic doesn't help. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, which I am, but waiting all day is not fun. The only good part is that I get to spend a good part of the day with my wife.

What a woman, she's going through this tough part of her life with an unbelievable attitude, one that will pull her through this shitty leukemia.

As I've mentioned before, her support group of friends and family are outstanding. Without asking, they volunteer, she considers herself so lucky to have them around. Because of all their help, I'm able to still go to work 40 plus hours every week. 

Please keep me in mind if you are in the market for a new or used car. Excuse the commercial break.

My second book , now titled THE NEBISH, which may change, should be finished in just a few months. It's not a memoir like my first, MAKING HAPPY, but a fun detective story and definitely fiction.

We just celebrated our 32nd anniversary and our love is as strong as day one and if possible, better by the day. 

I will now return to my recliner trying not to think of food, which is impossible because of the constant food commercials on TV. Until the next blog, stay well.