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David Kav: Blog

29-Day Giving Challenge: Round 2-Day 1: Wake and another visit/ride with Linda

Posted on March 2, 2012 with 0 comments
I posted this entry on my profile at the www.29gifts.org website. If you wanna friend me or join me on what will prove to be an incredible journey, please check it out at:

www.29gifts.org/profile/davidkav
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My body must've REALLY been tired. I went to bed the night before at 4:30AM. I spent the evening listening to ALL of the tracks that I had written and recorded for FAWM (February Album Writing Month.) If you go to the site now, it states "FAWM OVER - WE WIN!!!" Funny - but yes. It sure does feel that way. And, of course, my favorite songs overall have changed. I favorited 5 of them (we're only supposed to favor 2 or 3. Couldn't help it. There were great aspects about ALL of them.)
I woke up today - with the help of Beth Ann - at 2:30pm. Beth Ann crawled back into bed with me after her "Little Red" show this morning. I was SO tired when she came back in around 1 or 1:30pm. Can't remember what time she came back into the bedroom. Regardless, Beth Ann looked at the time and said, "David, you've REALLY got to get going." Those who know me very well can tell you that I can be quite a bear when it comes to waking up "against my will" or rather - being told that I HAVE to get up. I've gotten better about it over the years. Beth Ann also knew that I was being picked up at 4pm to go to my friend's wake. So, I finally rolled out of bed at 2:45pm. Ate breakfast, got coffee and dragged myself to Morning Pages.
Linda called me (btw, you bloggers/readers are quite keen in figuring out who it is without saying so. Just for the record...) at 3:45pm.
"Hello. I'm parked outside. I drive a Red Honda."
"oh...you're HERE?!?!"

"Yes. Are you running late?"
"Ummm... no... I just... umm...I should be ready by 4pm. Just...uh....you're early."
"Yeah, I know. It's always hard to gage when you're coming from the suburbs."
"Yeah, that's true. Ok. I'll call you when I'm on my way downstairs."
"Ok. Take your time. I'll see you soon."
"Ok. See you soon. And thank you again, Linda." Got off the phone And RUSHED into the shower. I felt bad BUT I was a mess. A wake, in my opinion, is NOT the place to look mediocre - let alone your worst. I was finally ready by 4:15pm. I felt bad.
Upon getting downstairs, Linda's demeanor didn't seem to be swayed at all. For those of you who've had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Linda, you know what I am talking about when it comes to her grace, her charisma and her energy. She's as genuine as it gets. If I was with anyone else, I would've spent the time during the long car ride profusely apologizing. Her stance seemed, to me, to say, "don't even mention the tardiness. Let's not waste time. Let's enjoy the company, the time and the car ride." So, I did. EVEN though it's only the second time that I've EVER met Linda, it felt as if she is/was an old friend.
During our conversation, she talked about her week, about the 29-Gifts program. I talked about my experiences at the hotel. During the car ride, she asked me the obvious question that most people would ask when getting to know someone (especially someone who reads my blogs and sees Beth Ann included in almost EVERY single blog - if not, ALL of them:)
"So, tell me. How did you meet the lovely Beth Ann?"
"Umm, I met Beth Ann...back in ... 2009? I had gotten a message on Facebook from an old friend of mine. He stated that the director of the theatre was redoing the rock opera 'The Who's 'TOMMY.' He stated that they wanted me to reprise the role. I had been in it during the first incarnation. So, they wanted me to come back..."
"Wait a minute," she stopped me. "I remember my husband and I saw TOMMY. It was in a little theatre..."
"At Morton College? 3 years ago?"
"Yeah," she looked at me.
"I was in that."
She looked at me incredulously... "WHAT?"
"Yep. I was TOMMY."
"Wha.... YOU WERE TOMMY?!?"
"Yep. That was me." I had a HUGE smile on my face at that point.
"Get out. YOU were....holy f@#$!" (Sorry, Linda. Too priceless NOT to mention the surprise...)
"HAHA! Yep. Well, THAT'S where I met Beth Ann. She was in that show, too. In the chorus. So, in essence, you've already."
"Oh...my God... I can't Believe this. That is...amazing! We thought that that was phenomenal."
I was blushing at this point. "Thank you."
"Wow. That's amazing. So weird! THIS [referring to us meeting and the car ride offer] was meant to be."
"Indeed." I laughed. "I LOVE moments like this." Truly, I do. (The gifts keep on giving, huh?)
So, the energy in the car picked up considerably which seemed to help me a bit since where I was going was to a sad and unfortunate affair. Even though there was some heavy traffic with rush hour in our midst, the time did seem to fly. We got to the funeral home. I asked if she wanted me to introduce her to my friends since, as I stated before, she felt like someone I knew for quite some time at this point. However, when we walked in and saw the already big crowd of people, she kindly retreated. I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing because I know I would have.
I saw one of my friends, Mike. Besides an occasional passing while playing at Potbelly, I really haven't seen much of him - or anyone here at the wake in that matter for quite some time. I talked to him for a bit while waiting for Val - Carol's daughter. She had a line of people talking to her. I was fine with that. I spent the time talking and catching up with Mike - getting details of what's been happening, how he put the video together of Carol from events of her life, etc. During our talks, I look over to the casket and notice two security guards standing guard of the casket. Two more approached the casket. They saluted the officers "on-duty" and relieved them of their post.
"Wow. She had such an impact. And there seems to be a LOT of them here today," I told Mike.
"Oh, yeah. They're doing shifts in 15-minutes increments."
"Really? Wow!"
"Oh, yeah. There were a LOT of volunteers for this duty [Carol's watch.] So, they made sure that everyone had a chance to stand guard."
"That's amazing. Just goes to show the reach that Carol had..."
"Yeah, no kidding."
Then, Val approaches me. We immediately embrace in a bear hug. I hear Mike over my shoulder,
"Careful. Don't squish her now." I know he was half-joking. Val had experienced some severe bruising from the accident along with a sprained ankle.
"So glad you came," Val said.
"Of course. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Your mother and your family meant a lot to me."
"I have to tell you," Val says, "I played your voice message twice. I cried so hard while listening to it BUT - I did laugh at the point where you mentioned my dad saying 'WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?!?'"
I laughed. "Well, then...I'm glad it worked and that you laughed. That was the point. God, I totally remember that like it was yesterday." At this point, my old friend, Bobbi (the pastor/one who told me about the accident came to me and a group of us gathered 'round.)
"Oh, God. I still remember the time we showed up at the courthouse..."
"With me being Elvis....for her birthday." Val's face gets big with a smile and nods vigorously.
"Do you remember," I asked Val, "the lawyer who was pissed that we were being so loud?"
"I still remember the gold jump suit," says Val. "Do you remember that?"
"Oh, I hadn't forgotten," I told Val.
"Yeah, he still has the rash," Mike joked. (God, felt just like old times.)
"You know," I stated. "I'm sorry. But I seem to be getting glances as if we're too loud or being disrespectful. But, umm, a part of me is waiting for Carol to come around the corner and to say the most sassiest comment ever."
"Don't worry," Mike stated. "Those who don't know her don't understand. They came for the free coffee....down the hall to the left, by the way."
One of Val's family members came up to Val to ask, "honey, I Know you've had a long day thus far. Have you eaten yet?"
"Not yet. Don't worry. I'm going to. Come with me, Dave."
"We going in back?"
"Yep. To the break room."
"Whatever you need," I follow immediately. However, everywhere we went, there was a group of people - old VFW buddies, Library Board members, friends, neighbors, etc. stopping Val to give their condolences. We finally made it to a table. Val grabbed a plate of food (whether or not she touched it at all is another story.) While another friend approached her in the back, they had asked of the details of the accident. Naturally, I was curious and jumped in,
"Yeah, what did happen, if you don't mind me asking," I ask.
"Ok. We were going Southbound on a two-lane road. We were on the way to a VFW meeting. I was driving, my mom was in the backseat on the passenger's side. While we were crossing an intersection, a car to our right was making a left hand turn. Before the crash, my mom was in the back on the passenger's side. After the crash, she was in the backseat behind me - the driver."
"My God. I'm sorry. And the foot...."
"...was sprained from the quick change from the gas to the brake pedal...along with the pressure of stomping on the brake."
"I'm sorry. Are you ok?"
"I'll be fine. I've got to stay off of it." This proved to be a challenge as she kept moving from the front to the back of the funeral parlor. I could see that her foot was bandaged. After an hour of staying with Val, meeting with old friends, I thought that it was best to leave. I asked Mike,
"Is she ok? She seems like a trooper. But, just concerned about her foot..."
"She's ... gritting her teeth....but..."
"Yeah. I get it. Sorry, but, I have a friend here who was kind enough to drive me here this evening. Not to mention that it's probably best and more respectful to leave before the respects and ceremonies begin."
"Oh, yeah."
"Hey, once all of this dies down, let's really get together..."
"...all three of us..." said Mike.
"No, seriously, let's make it happen. Let's meet on more positive circumstances, ok? Please hold me to that. Let's visit some old haunts?"
"What old haunts?" Mike jokes. "They're all gone. Come Back Inn - a parking lot. Harry Trotter's - gone."
I shrugged and laughed. "I don't know. We'll figure it out." Val sees me. I give her a HUGE hug.
"Sorry, I have to go."
"No worries. Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by."
"But, of course. I already talked to Mike. We WILL get together. We have to. For old times' sake, ok?"
She nods vigorously. "Yes. Yes, we do."
I go up to Linda who was in conversation with Cousin Ed (no idea who that was. He was a talker...and more on tangents than I can get in these blogs.) I spend a few minutes talking with him looking for a cue to leave (it was getting dangerously close to the prayers and respects.) If we were going to leave, it had to be now. Otherwise, it would be even more awkward. And, the place was getting more and more packed by the minute.
As we walked out of the funeral home, I thanked Linda again for the ride and promptly told her,
"By the way, I have to say, 'you were right. You. Were. Right."
"Wow," she says, "those are words that my kids would never tell me."

"Well," I laugh, "you were. It was much better to come earlier rather than later - especially with the huge crowd of people here now."
"I just believe it's more personal and meaningful if you show up earlier."
"Like I said, you're absolutely right. So, thank you - again and again."
We get to her car. "So, what do you say? Wanna grab a bite to eat?" Linda asks.
"That's up to you. Are you hungry?" I ask.
"I'm starving!" she states.
"Well, that settles that debate," I state. "But, where?"
We decide on Mexican. She suggested a place called The New Reboso in Oak Park. I had never heard of it let alone have ever been there. However, it was featured on BOTH the TV shows, "Check, Please" AND "Chicago's Best." Upon entering the establishment, we saw newspaper write-ups with the headline reading "Oh...My...God." The poster for "Chicago's Best" was signed with the catch phrase as well. As Linda explains,
"I've been here once before but that was during the lunch hour. So, we didn't get the chance to see or meet Chef Paco. However, 'Oh...My..God' seems to be his catch phrase. I saw that on his show. He always says that...."
And just like clockwork - Chef Paco approaches us. He's a big, balding Hispanic chef with a seemingly huge heart and warm charisma and welcome. He approaches Linda with the double-cheeked kiss, "Buenos Noches, como estas?"
She laughs, "it's been a while with Spanish. I forget how to say, 'good.' I'm sorry."
He replies, "Bien. Bien." He reaches for my hand in a firm handshake. "Buenos Noches. Como estas?"
"Bien, bien. Gracias!" I was so warmed by this welcome.
"Two of you tonight?" he asks us.
"Well, two for now," Linda replies - but there'll possibly be a third one joining us later on."
"Ok. Give me one minute, ok? Gracias."
Linda, of course, was referring to Beth Ann. During the car ride there, she called several times asking our whereabouts and if she could join us. She was still with her father after looking at condos and they were finishing their dinner. After some back and forth, I got it out of Beth Ann that she really wanted to join us.
"But, by the time I get there," she states, "you'll probably be done with your dinner."
"We might not. And I'm sure Linda won't mind."
"No," Linda states while I'm on the phone. "I'd love to meet her."
"Ok. You sure?"
"Absolutely," I say. "I'll text you the address as soon as I'm off the phone with you, ok?"
"Ok. Love you."
"Love you, too."
When Linda and I were seated, Chef Paco comes over to explain the specials. I couldn't describe the deliciousness of the appetizers or the special. However, I remember that Chef Paco did say, on several occasions,
"...with the portabello mushroom, goat cheese and spices, it's a different and weird combination...but...Oh...My...God...it is muy bien!" What I remember the most after every "Oh...My...God" is the genuine and cute giggling from Linda as a response to every "Oh...My...God." That, in itself, was a gift.
Linda decides on trying BOTH appetizers to share and taste. I had NO objection to this choice whatsoever. She put her menu down and I asked,
"What were you thinking for the dinner portion?"
"Oh, I wasn't going to order dinner. I usually don't."
This shocked me. "What? Why? I thought you were starving."
"Well, I'm a slow eater. Plus, I talk so much that..."
"...you get full from the appetizers from taking your time."
"Yeah. Feel free to order dinner. Don't let me stop you."
"Are you sure?" I was confused. "I'd feel weird or out of place doing so."
"I may have a bite of yours."
"I'm ok with that." I state. "I was thinking of trying the chorizo burrito. I'm a sucker for both burritos and chorizo. Would you want to try that?"
"Yeah. That sounds great."
The appetizers come. I kid you not - with EVERY bite, I found myself saying,
"OH, my GOD! This is ... wow!" Yeah, EVERYTHING was that amazing.
She laughs. "Isn't it great?"
"Well, it's not surprising when you have someone as warm and compassionate with people. With him being a chef, the food has got to compare in turn."
"Absolutely."
Beth Ann walks in just after the appetizers and just before the Chorizo Burrito came out.
"Hi, dear."
"Hi."
"You made it ok. That's good. That was quick."
"Yeah. I was on my way in the car when I called you."
"Ah, gotcha. Beth Ann, this is Linda. Linda, I'd like you to meet Beth Ann."
"Hi!" Beth Ann warmly said and shook Linda's hand. "It's SO nice to meet you. I've heard SO much about you."
Linda replies, "nice to meet you. I know a LOT about you through your blogs."
At this point, my energy level Tanked. It was most likely, a combination of the wonderful food, the events of the wake and the lack of sleep. So, I know pleasantries were exchanged. Beth Ann also talked about the condo properties that she looked at with her father. There were two major contenders today both with their own lists of pros and cons. I asked Linda for her thoughts. She was more than happy to offer her advice and areas of expertise. After this, I remember little else. The bill came and Linda reached for it. I was trying to offer. Beth Ann was talking at this point. I had to stop her.
"Beth Ann, hold on. Linda, do you....want any....help with..." I try to edge in.
"No, I told you...I wanted to treat you guys."
"I know," I said. "But, you've done so much already with the ride to and from the wake. I feel...."
"No, don't. I want to..."
"Are you sure?" I sheepishly ask.
"Yes, absolutely. This has been great."

One thing I've learned (both over the years AND through the 29-Gifts movement) is that the only way a gift can be given is if the person reciprocates in kind by receiving said gift. Therefore, I swallowed my pride and said,
"thank you....so much again."

"But, of course." Linda smiles her warm smile yet again. After the bill was settled, I could gather that Linda and I were on the same page. Frankly, so was Beth Ann. We all seemed to have long days.
"Shall we go?" I state.
"Yeah, I think it's time." Linda replies.
Linda was kind enough to drive Beth Ann and me home. Before I get out of the car, Linda offers me another gift. This time, it's a CD of a collaboration from Folk Artist's. The art work - in itself - is incredible. The CD title? "The Church of the Never Wrong." LOVE the title itself.
"Wow. Thank you. I'll definitely listen to this! This is great!"
I get out of the passenger's side. While doing so, Linda gives Beth Ann a huge hug. I make my way to the driver's side to hug Linda. She beats me to it by approaching my side of the car.
"Wow. Ok. Beat me to the punch," I say.
I give Linda the warmest hug. "Thank you SO Much! It's been grand!" I said.
"Of course."
"Have a safe trip home, ok?" Beth Ann and I make it across the street.
I get inside the house and put on a pot of coffee (no soda in the house.) That MAY have been a mistake since it's 3:04AM as I finish this blog entry. However, Beth Ann and I wanted to catch up on "Switched At Birth" episodes (which we have as of this point right now. Yep - we're all set for the All New one this coming Tuesday) AND I wanted to get this blog entry in since, as I predicted, I knew it would be a long one. ;)
It is great to be starting yet another round of 29 Gifts in 29 Days. Already, this day has given so much. Just by the simple gesture of giving my time and offering it up to the Universe (and this site,) I got back SO MUCH MORE in return. Linda, I am forever touched and full of gratitude for the gift of you, your grace, your charisma and friendship in my life. For that, my eternal thanks to you. I REALLY hope that this is the first of many exchanges. I know that I don't "owe you anything." Regardless, I look forward to the opportunity to give you such a gift as you gave me today. :)
In closing on Round 2 - Day 1 with my blog and with my gift choice, it can be argued (with myself....and probably only myself as others here at this site/group can attest to) that my presence at the wake isn't a gift. Some may argue that being at the wake is an obligation. However, I know without a doubt in my mind that that is not true. Being at the wake was a gift - a gift of my time. A gift of my heart. A gift of my soul. Being present at the wake today reminded me (and all of us, I hope) that every day while above ground is a constant gift. It's what we do with that gift while we're alive that counts.
Make the gift of your day an incredible one! And thank YOU for the gift of your time for reading this yet again. You help me by reading this and commenting as such. :)