By Tony Fitzpatrick
Well, it’s over, the fat lady has sung and the kinder, more sensitive Rahm has won another term. Chuy Garcia ran an honorable, honest campaign and honorable and honest gets you shit, and shoved in it—when it comes to Chicago politics.
No big deal. Baseball season started and it is still colder than a nun’s ass on Good Friday. On opening night the Cubs forgot that, after all of that Old Style, people would need to take a leak and started filling their beer receptacles with the personally brewed amber fluid. Jesus, shut it down to one bathroom and the whole park turns into “Lord of the Flies” in a blue ball cap.
Such are the pleasures of spring in Chicago. Not that my White Sox had it any better. Jeff Samardzija and the Sox bullpen got shelled in their first game in Kansas City 10-1, therefore making it hard to harass Cub fans about the rivers of piss over at the friendly confines.
I bought a ticket package for the Sox this year. Realizing that, after my heart surgery, I hadn’t been to a ballgame in about three years. That on the way to being a single-minded workaholic, I’d missed a lot.
So I’ll be around both parks this year.
I guess going to the games makes me remember what is good about living here. I feel the same way walking around the duck pond at Lincoln Park Zoo, or going into the bird environment there. These were things that truly made me happy. I’ve not remembered to do these things for a long time. It’s time to do these things. I haven’t been to the Uptown Poetry Slam in a decade. I used to go every Sunday night; it was kind of the church I worshipped at. I met many of my dearest friends there.
I missed the Printers Row Lit Fest last year; a two-day festival devoted to the written word. Well, I won’t this year. I have a book coming out and there are a bunch of authors I’d like to see speak. This year I’ll do this.
In early May, there is a gathering of birders that congregate around Miller Beach, Indiana to watch the returning migration, particularly cranes, egrets and herons. I won’t miss this. For the last year, I’ve devoted most of my work to making images of birds; laying in the hospital for six weeks I think I figured out why. In my somewhat limited brain, birds represent the eternal, creatures not bound to the planet by the laws of gravity. For some reason they ignite my imagination and I am happy for this.
My children have become adults. This happened one day when I blinked my eyes; suddenly they were grownups and had opinions and thoughts of their own to get lost in. One minute I was holding their hands, walking them to the bus, the next my son was walking around the block with me for cardio-therapy and steadying me when I got dizzy while my daughter made sure I ate nothing that wasn’t heart-healthy.
I’ll remember to thank the amazing physicians who saved my ass—and all of the nurses and physical therapists who extended kindness and care to me. I had the good fortune to be delivered to Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital and these people saved my life:
Dr. Khaled Abdelhady
Dr. Adalberto Campo
Dr. Jaime Bolano
Marta Semeyn A.P.N.
Dr. Kristin Duque
Mary Cafarelli R.N.
Dr. Robert Fliegelman
Dr. Mark Dworkin
I owe these medical professionals a debt I cannot adequately repay. Because of them, I have a second act. I won’t make the mistake of letting work and ego rob me of the joys that used to sustain me.
It all happens so damnably fast, and in the end you want more and more of it. Life. Spring. The crack of the bat. Magnolias in bloom. The bird you’ve never seen before alighting on your back-porch bird feeder. The guy who sells popsicles ringing his bells. A Temptations song from an open window…
The sound and touch of your wife sleeping next to you.
It is spring. Hold your face up to the sun. Enjoy every warm breeze. Put your cell phone in a drawer. Take some slow aimless walks with your dog. Talk to the older folks you see sitting on their porch or waiting on the bus. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.
Unburden yourself of grudges and petty resentments. It’s like dropping a ton of ancient armor; you feel better that you don’t have to carry it anymore.
Breathe. Smile. Repeat.
Keep close your memories, they will keep you.