Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bridge Crossings

It is supposed to be another gorgeous autumn Sunday here in the State of Concrete Gardens. An excellent day for a road race - especially since the road to be travelled is far less lengthy this morning than it was this time two weeks ago. My law partner Arnold Gerst - as if he does not have enough on his plate -has put together again this year a 5K race in Livingston, New Jersey (where he lives).

This year - as was the case last year - he and his crew, which includes Margaret, have received simply terrific weather. It is a cliche perhaps but it really could not happen to a nicer man. This was a very nice event last year with a ton of activities and attractions for small children in addition to the 5K race. If you are a runner or a parent of a little one and you are anywhere near Livingston New Jersey this morning, head on over to the high school and take part in today's festivities. You will be happy you did.

Presuming everything in the Sunshine State is proceeding according to Hoyle (and who the heck is/was Hoyle exactly and did he/she ever complete a task with something less than 100% precision?), today is the day that Mom swaps the delightful surroundings of one of Palm Beach County's Institutions of Higher Medicine for her own home. She has been in the hospital for the past couple of weeks secondary to heart surgery (and yes, I am aware that in the event I ever require heart surgery other than the time associated with probing to locate it, the procedure shall require scant little time or resources). Today is her Homecoming.

Jill is manning the local well of good wishes in Jupiter while the rest of us are doing so from our various postal zones. There are things in the world I presume that make one feel more powerless and more emasculated than one's elderly mother being hospitalized in order to have invasive surgery. I simply cannot call any up to the forefront of my mind at present.

Final thought (giving that term its broadest possible meaning) for the day. A million years ago, when we both attended W-H as members of the Class of '85 I counted among my friends one of my soccer teammates George Hagstoz. In the quarter-century plus that has passed between the day of our high school graduation and the present, we fell out of touch. In fact, until I saw George last October at the 25th Year reunion for our class I do not think we had seen one another since we were still in college.

I attended W-H during the era that saw all three Hagstoz siblings go to school there. George has two younger sisters. Lisa was a couple of years behind us and Kirsten was (I think) a year behind Lisa. Back in the day, the Hagstozs lived in Plainfield - right on Woodland Avenue. A great home in which to host teenage/college-age parties. And they did.

Well before us lawyers got involved and created the legal concept of social host liability, Mr. and Mrs. Hagstoz ensured that while the friends of their children were welcome in their home to enjoy themselves - recognizing that enjoyment might include imbibing an adult beverage or two - from the moment any of us entered their home we became their children. That meant if upon entry you told either Mr. Hagstoz or Mrs. Hagstoz that you were going to have a beer or a cocktail - or either saw you having one - your car keys were surrendered to one of them. The Hagstoz home became - for an evening anyway - the Hotel California.

They did what they did - not for fear of social host liability - but because as parents who loved the hell out of their kids they realized that all of their friends and all of the parents of all of their kids' friends felt the same. Mr. and Mrs. Hagstoz simply would take on the role of being everybody's Mom/Dad when you were at George's for a party. You were the beneficiary of their hospitality. You lived by their rules. It was a perfect operating system.

Just a couple of days ago, I saw something Lisa posted on her Facebook page regarding her Dad and the fact that he had died only a day or two earlier. Mr. Hagstoz - from what I read - waged a spirited but unsuccessful battle against cancer the past couple of years. I am constrained to admit that upon reading what Lisa wrote I rewound the tape in my own head from our class reunion one year ago. I searched it for the audio clip during which I asked George how his parents were doing. It does not exist.

I bore witness to my bride's Mom's own epic battle against breast cancer and the toll it took not only on Suzy B but on Margaret. I do not pretend to know exactly how any of the Hagstoz family is feeling today for while I have observed the path being walked, I have not walked a single step in those shoes. I offer my condolences and my regrets. And the wish that there was something better to offer. Something more to give.

There is a Land of the Living and a Land of the Dead,
and the bridge is Love, the only survival, the only meaning.

-Thorton Wilder

-AK

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