Kim Davis is NOT like Pope Francis

I have been openly irreverent and disrespectful regarding Pope Francis’s “secret meeting” with Kim Davis. It fosters the impression that I give the meeting as much consideration as it takes to flick from one website to another to find the latest, most interesting topic of the moment. That perception is wrong.

It offends me deeply that there was a meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis. This Pope, on his first visit to America, brought hope, inspiration, compassion, humility and humanity to the Roman Catholic church, to its following and to millions who have had nothing but contempt and criticism for how the Church has conducted its affairs in the past.

I am a Roman Catholic. I was raised following the precepts of the church and was able to follow them until I reached young adulthood. I am no longer a practicing Catholic because parts of the life I live now is in conflict with the teachings of the church. I feel sorrow and loss because of this, but I can not reconcile how I live and the people who are most important to me with what is asked of me in order to fully observe.

Let me be clear: I have no anger or resentment toward the church, I have deep faith due to how I was raised, and I have no regret that I was raised as Catholic.  I respect and love my parents, my family, my friends who are devout. I love that I can attend mass anywhere in the world and I would know what was happening during the service. It gives me great comfort.

Pope Francis has, from the start of his leadership, taken the church in a more open, compassionate and inclusive direction. The highlights of his priorities of his papacy are caring for the poor, caring for the planet, world peace and creating a church that is more welcoming to those who have felt abandoned, disillusioned, disenfranchised. As the world Catholic leader, he has begun to change the perception of the Catholic church from closed, greedy, limited, damaging, and an institution that protects child molesters while turning its back on millions of people it damaged. That is a huge accomplishment.

Pope Francis has not changed any of the laws of the church. It is still operates under the same precepts that stood for centuries before he stepped in. This isn’t a tutorial on Catholicism, so feel free to google it now if you need more information.

What I am writing about here is my outrage that the final note of his visit to America is filled with this “secret” meeting with the loathsome Kim Davis. The story is still evolving, and probably will for days, and we may never fully know the details of how the meeting happened, who arranged it, how long she was with him and what was really said. Both camps are changing the details and circumstances with each report of what happened.

This meeting, however it happened, galls me because it tainted the messages of his visit: care for the poor, care for the planet, world peace. There were dialogues regarding punishment of the abusers and molesters, of truly giving voice to the victims of rape and abuse, and of providing more humane and rehabilitative  treatment of prisoners. There was no dialogue, despite great hope, despite Pope Francis responding, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuality, about recognizing gay marriage in the Catholic Church. Therefore, Pope Francis’s meeting with Kim Davis appears to be the blanket statement. If he did tell her to “stay strong”, there’s the stance.

Here are a few more things that gall me about Kim Davis meeting Pope Francis: she is divisive. She is mean. She has a position of power and wielded that power to deny American citizens a fundamental right according to her personal religious belief. She works as a county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky and she decided, based on her religious beliefs, that she can’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her stance directly conflicted with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015), holding that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution . Ms. Davis spent 5 days in jail because of her defiance of the law due to her belief that gay marriage is against her religion.

Say what you will about how she stands by her faith, but here is the bottom line: she works in a government job and gets paid in federal tax dollars, which, to my knowledge and after a lot of searching, it doesn’t appear she refused to pocket any of her pay checks. If her faith guides her and rules her actions, than she should step down from her position. Instead, she used her position of power to deny a civil right bestowed on all Americans: the right to marry.

I think it is a travesty that she got the media attention she did. I think she should have been moved to a different position, or fired because she would not do her job, and the only thing you hear when anyone says her name is the sound of crickets chirping.

I do not think she should be punished for her beliefs. She has every right to believe what she wants, as strongly as she wants, with as much fervor as she can muster, but there’s no way on earth I believe she should impose her faith to deny anyone who seeks to rightfully marry in the United States of America. This is who we are, this is the country we live in, with all the freedom, rights, and liberties it entails.

It’s been over two days since this story broke. Details differ between the church and the Davis camp with each clarification of the meeting. In looking back on his visit, the thing that surprises almost as much a the actual meeting is that it took so long to surface. I mean, Pope Francis had media coverage of every single moment he was here! How did no one carrying a camera not see her 15 minutes of Pope audience? And I’d like to point out that Ms. Davis is notoriously recognizable. She’s also not exactly a package of peanuts either–not like she could slip into under the coffee cart to get close to the Pope unnoticed. There are serious gaps in the details (and you know who lives there, right?) and I don’t think we’re going to get much of the truth from either side.

The arc of Pope Francis’s time as the leader of the Catholic church will be, I hope and pray,  for years.  I don’t have any expectations that the sacrament of marriage will change under his leadership but I do hope that he will continue to reach out to the poor, the marginalized, the suffering, the victims.

I also hope Kim Davis falls off the face of the earth–or at lease the media map. Her fifteen minutes, however she spent them, are up. I’ve seen enough of her and all she stands for, thank you.

Posted in essay, gay marriage, Kim Davis, Observations, Pope Francis, religious rights, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Is The Day. Your Life Will Surely Change.

“Well you didn’t wake up this morning ’cause you didn’t go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red
The calendar on your wall is ticking the days off

This song, off the album Soul Mining by The The, goes back with me for over half my life. It came out in 1983 and is still one of my favorite songs–the lyrics, the harmonica, the ACCORDION! How could there be a great song in 1983 that has an accordion and isn’t Polish?

The song helped define my life on August 5th, 1986 when the doctor handed me my son, James. Those lyrics were running through my head thoughout a night of labor. It was a long night and the song was my anchor, even though I had no idea how much my life would surely change.

“You’ve been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you’ve changed
All the money in the world
Couldn’t bring back those days.

I instantly grew up when I became James’ mother. It was hard and frightening and sometimes lonely and, looking back, I have no idea how I managed to do all I did as a young, single mother. It was an honor and a blur. I wonder where all those years went, as he is now 29. I know that I wouldn’t have changed anything.

“You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes,
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.

Ten years later, another son, Charlie, was born. Into an entirely different time in my life. In those ten years, James and I moved into a very stable, successful existance which is entirely due to my husband and James’ stepfather, Dan.

When it was time for James to go to college, I was so sure I would be a wreck. My son, my anchor, was launching, leaving, going off to be who he would be. Of course there were many tears. And heartache. It’s heavy and hits when least expected, but I had someone to buffer all of that. Charlie was only eight years old. We had a lot of time to keep parenting.

“THIS IS THE DAY — Your life will surely change.
THIS IS THE DAY — Your life will surely change.

In a week, 29 years of our focused parenting will be over. Charlie is going to college in Vermont. My ten year buffer from the heaviness of my heart, my darling, the son that I somehow skipped thinking about when he would leave until it bore down upon me like a freight train, is making the leap. Dan and I will look at each other and…I have no idea what the hell we’ll do.

“You could’ve done anything — if you’d wanted
And all your friends and family think that you’re lucky.

I know so much about this. I know the language, I know that you never stop being a parent, I know they come home, I know I didn’t invent this, I know that I don’t own it, I know that life is amazing when you have kids and gets even better when they grow up.

I know how lucky we are that our kids made it to college, I know that there are so many obstacles and derailments that change everything, I know they were born capable and able, I know that we are fortunate they were able to chose college and we have the means of sending them, I know, I know, I know.

“But the side of you they’ll never see
Is when you’re left alone with the memories
That hold your life together like

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Silence, silence, silence.

I have been in the most colassal road blocks of all writing road blocks. It’s unbelievable. I look at my keyboard, and all its beautiful little letters and just…can’t do it.

I’m blocked. Totally blocked. It is inconceivable because I have so many prompts and thoughts in my head but when it comes to the keyboard…

Screenshot 2015-07-18 17.23.53

…it’s just not happening.

It has been an indescribable couple of years, as evidenced by the last few posts–particularly pertaining to the ones of the deaths of friends and pets. Don’t get me wrong, I am not immune to death, of friends, or pets…it’s simply that they came quickly, unexpectedly. I wasn’t ready. But honestly, who is–right?

There is the planned and the unplanned. And both of those phenomena happened at once which made me think, at the time, I could handle all that was coming my way without any repercussions until I tried to do something creative.


Then I tried something funny, and newsy, and ironic.


Try something short, biting, sweet, sharp.

Blocked, blocked, blocked.

I took a writing class at my beloved Grub Street. Thank God I got in with a desperate subission, and sat among wonderful, caring, open writers who drew me out and helped me write my assignments for class, but anything else was completely shut down.

I have experienced writing lulls in my life. There are times I have said as much as I want to say, then need time to recharge, and rebuild in order to be a better writer. I am not the kind of person who is able to build upon a body of work that launches better, more insightful writing. I wish I was. I wish I could compartmentalize that part of myself to keep moving on and outward, I really thought I was, but this episode has made it enormously clear that I am quite attached to what’s going on in my life, and the escape of writing suffered with the drama of my existence.

There was a lot of drama in the last couple of years. The things I could bring to the surface for public examination were displayed, with a tremendous amount of support on this forum. But behind the death of a dear friend–who I miss so much, even more as time goes by, and a beloved pet; there are the machinations of recounting, reassembling, and rectifying the things that need to find a place in my head in order to assimilate my creative, carefree introspection and observation of things around me.

It has been a long, strange trip, to be certain.

My oldest son is in South Korea. He has been there since February of 2014. He is teaching middle school-aged South Korean children how to be fluent in English. I miss him every day.

My youngest son just graduated from high school. He will be going to college in another state, about 400 miles away. He was accepted into prestigous colleges in Boston, only 35 miles away but chose to go the distance. I am going to miss him more than I ever imagined.

These are just the surface realities I am managing. I am the mother of sons, and it has been my expectations that sons go out and conquer the world…except when they are MY sons. Then I want them to stay close and find a way to conquor the world and find happiness close to me. Because I am their mother. And I just can’t imagine life far away from where they are.

My husband has been the rock of my existence, even when I believed he wasn’t. He stood firmly beside me and stayed when I presumed he was underminding all I thought we stood for. I am so grateful for that, and wonder if I could have withstood that kind of purjure? It’s not worth my thought.

Therefore, here I sit, writing–just trying to write something because I don’t feel the rock in my throat when I sit at the keyboard, trying to think of something pertinent to say. I know there is a relevent message, it’s not useless. I believe I can convey a thought now that will have a reader say, “Yes, I know what that is like.”

I can’t script life. I can not begin to script my life, as much as I want to have control over what I do, think, produce, effect. My intentions are to do good, to help others, to leave behind something that will be remembered with happiness, or awe. I want those I love to know I love them. I want the things that matter to me matter for a good reason, not because they made me angry, annoyed, inconvenienced, blocked.

Posted in essay, Observations, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye To My Dear Friend

I have to say good bye to one of my dearest friends. I don’t want to, it’s awful, and I wish I could somehow change what is now life without him in it because it’s going to be far too quiet.

Don. Donnie. Donald B. We graduated from a small high school in Central Massachusetts in 1981. Everyone knew everyone else, and as it turns out, thanks to social media, we were  close despite most of us going off in various directions.

I am pretty sure I can count the times I’ve seen Donnie since our graduation, but it might be safe to add one or two drunken parties to that list. I know every time I saw him it was a blast–I mean a BLAST. He was the life of the party. Loud, funny, the center of the room, the person you wanted to stand next to because you knew that was where the fun was happening. He was that guy.

Class of '81 Turns 50

Class of ’81 Turns 50

Fortunately for me, it wasn’t just parties that I saw Donnie. After my first marriage ended, I moved back home with my parents. It was a hard move because I was starting over as a single mom. I was angry and bitter. It was humiliating to see people I knew because I felt like a loser. Donnie called me to see how I was doing and I launched into my tale of woe, bashing my soon-to-be-ex, fully expecting a rally of support from my old friend. Instead he shut me up by telling me straight out that he knew my husband to be a good guy and asked, “What did you expect? To be treated like a princess every friggin’ day?”

That was Donnie: blunt, honest, no filters. He then gave me some financial advice because I had a kid and a picture framing job because I worked as a picture framer. That was Donnie: he would give you help when you needed it. He made me laugh and cry during that phone call but most of all, I felt better after talking to him. He helped give me a perspective and some strength and guts to start moving on.

Our paths crossed over the years, alway fun, always feeling like we had just seen each other just a few days ago. We could launch into baseball (usually good), politics (always bad–polar opposite political views), families (great), and funny memories that left us laughing until we couldn’t talk.

The thing about Donnie is, somehow he got a pass for being loud and annoying and oppositonal and saying the very thing VERY LOUDLY that I know I could never get away with saying. I’ve thought a lot about how and why he got away with it, and all I can come up with is that he was genuine and stood by his opinion until he knew he was wrong. Or when he admitted he was an asshole. But somehow he always made you laugh until you were gasping for air.

The loss I’m feeling right now is absolutely nothing compared to what his beautiful family must be going through. His wife, his children, his parents and sisters and brother. His nieces and nephews and in-laws, his cousins, close friends, his children’s friends, his neighbors, people who worked with him, those lucky enough to see him often. He was bigger than life. He was a force of nature that you never forgot once you knew him.

Despite his contrary nature, he cared deeply. He stood up for the underdog, for causes, for what was right. There was no way I was going to do the Ice Bucket Challenge until he called me on it. Then there was no way I could NOT do the Ice Bucket Challenge. He thanked me after I dumped the freezing water on my head and told me he not to worry about giving the money, he’d already donated for me which breaks my heart right now.

In the past couple of years we had gotten together with two other high school friends and the time spent together was beyond what I can give credit here. It wasn’t just catching up, it was creating a new level of friendship. We went to a baseball game at Fenway Park. Red Sox vs. the Mariners. They were down by six runs in the nineth, it was a game they trailed from the top of the first inning which was a minor drawback to the fun of being together. We stayed because we were having so much fun talking, laughing, catching up, and honestly, switching seats to take a turn sitting next to Donnie. Until the 9th inning when the Red Sox started to come back. What was definitely a fun night turned into an amazing night in our friendship, and in the Red Sox 2013 season. They won it all. I believed we would all get together many times for many years to rehash that incredible night.

I just can’t get my mind around it. My dear friend Donnie is not here. He’s gone. It is such a huge void. If I could do anything for his family right now, I wish I could take some of their grief and loss because I can’t imagine the vacuum of his death to them. To quote Watson, when faced with Sherlock’s death, all I can say is, “I want you to be not dead.”

Donnie loved Joe Castiglione’s tradition of reading part of Bart Giamatti’s poem Green Fields of the Mind at the end of every season. It is fitting here, now, as I say goodbye to you except I wish with all my heart that you would come back. Rest in Peace my dear friend.

“The Green Fields of the Mind”

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

Boston Red Sox vs. Mariners 8/1/13. Greg, Mindy, Lizy, Donnie

Boston Red Sox vs. Mariners 8/1/13. Greg, Mindy, Lizy, Donnie

Posted in baseball, Boston Red Sox, Donald B., essay, family, Friendship, Sorrow, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Elf-On-The-Shelf…or that little effing narc

It’s that time of year again. You must know it–the yearly visit of that creepy The Elf On The Shelf.

Look at me! I'm the little snitch that's reporting you to Santa every night.

Look at me! I’m the little rat that’s reporting you to Santa every night.

I have no idea when his phenomena of the elf turning into a Judas took hold. We did have two of those elves that sat on our mantle at Christmas time but they were just decorations. We didn’t even want to play with them because they had freaky faces and were missing feet.

Look, he has no feet. If he can walk, it would be on stumps

Eeeeeeew, no feet. And what’s with that smirk and those side-wall eyes?

Neither of my sons were subjected to Snitch Elf. I somehow missed that phase, probably because social media had little impact when Christmas traditions were in the making.

The most internet thing we did was NORAD’s Santa Tracker–which was awesome. We still check in every year and I highly recommend it for little kids. Something about the bells and hearing service members stationed all over the world report Santa’s location. It is quite magical. Here, I’ll even give you the link so you can start your tradition this year:

Now why am I shoving Santa Tracker instead of The Creepy Little Whistle Blower? Well, I think it’s rotten that kids have another set of eyes watching them and going back each and every single night to Santa to file a report.

Casually stalking you, kids

Just hanging out…stalking… you know… watching for anything Santa might want to know about…

The whole premise of the elf really smacks of something less than wholesome and is such a remove from the spirit of Christmas. Honestly, if my mother tried to pull off this caper on us kids, that elf would be stuffed with hamburg and given to the dog before the first day of it’s surveillance was over.

Prescriptive guide to scaring your kids into being good right before Christmas.

Prescriptive guide to scaring your kids into being good right before Christmas.

I mean, really, I just couldn’t take this if I were a kid.

It reminds me so much of this movie that I think I might have broken into a national security firewall:

The Corporate Model for Elf on the Shelf is based on the movie The Informant

The Corporate Model for Elf on the Shelf is based on the movie The Informant

If this is the case, and I disappear, please tell your kids that Santa is kind and the season is about peace, giving and good will toward others.  And turn them on to Santa Tracker…it may help ease some of that feeling like they’re being watched.

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Oxford Dictionaries New Words and Phrases

I love learning the new words and phrases that make the Oxford Dictionary radar, although I really don’t like the website-I believe it’s a site loaded with malware and hacker ability to destroy my computer-but I digress.

New words are usually funny and acurate in the depiction of the evolution of our lives. Some of them are annoying and, thankfully short-lived, but others are creative and have, I hope, a long and useful life in our lexicon.

Here are the top ten.

10. Al desko. Sad desk salads, soups surreptiously slurped while on conference calls, and sandwiches half-eaten because of the nervous energy supplied by a looming deadline all have an overarching term to describe them. That it’s a play on “al fresco,” used to refer to dining out of doors, only makes it more perfectly cruel.

9. Shiny bum. An Australian term for an office worker. It sounds pre-emptively derisive, which is likely intentional.

8. Economic man. “A hypothetical person who behaves in exact accordance with their rational self-interest” — or, the “shiny bum” after he got his first promotion or two.

7. WRT. One of the more pleasant abbreviations to make the list, although Oxford’s version swaps in “reference” for a term also known as “with regard to.”

6. Five-second rule. The idea that food dropped on the floor for less than five seconds escapes contamination is probably a myth, but who among us has never justified a quick pickup with it in mind?

5. The ant’s pants. Sure, ants in a human’s pants might not be the best thing. But if an ant is wearing pants, it’s probably a fairly big specimen, as this Australian term referring to a particularly great person implies.

4. Misery index. Those short “i” sounds make this shorthand term for a country’s inflation and unemployment rates sound much more pleasant than its definition implies.

3. Mahoosive. Lengthen the “oo” in the middle according to how large the object you’re describing might be.

2. Crony capitalism. Bad practice, good term — this phrase refers to economic systems where business honchos and government officials are in cahoots.

1. Carne asada. This spanish term for marinated, grilled steak tops the list because taco time is all the time. The race for best food-related term was a close call between this and “arancini,” the Italian word for fried rice balls.

Posted in blogging, humor, Observations, society, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pink Slip and a scottie.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.01.25 PM

Oh my, could life get any better than this? Vintage ads are the best.

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This Morning On My FaceBook News Feed…

This Morning On My FaceBook News Feed

Sister Mary is at the top of the feed with this:

The final player to wear a single-digit number for the Yankees, Jeter spoke with “Today’s” Matt Lauer less than 24 hours after he played his last game at the…
  • She titled this navel gazing love-fest with: “He’s the best.”
    As a die-hard, cry-hard Red Sox fan, I wanted to throttle my screen and yell, “Why? Did he find a cure for cancer? Did he stop a meteorite from smashing into a daycare? Has he figured out a way to stop global warming?”
    But before I could dash off something really snarky like, “Yeah, sister, look at his stats and the team performance for 2014…the only reason they weren’t in LAST place was because of the the wretched Red Sox (you’re welcome).
    But I couldn’t write any of that, because of the my darling nieces (twins, Naval Academy, so proud of them, won’t burst their bubble):
    Niece Jane and Niece Susan like this.
  •  Why do they like something like The Yankees? Because they can’t help that they were born into a Yankee-loving family. I don’t blame them for that. I blame my sister Mary for jumping teams. She used to be a Red Sox fan! But she moved to Connecticut and poof! All of a sudden she’s wearing pinstripes!
    I kept my cool even when Niece Susan piled on.
    Niece SusanWhat a class act!
    But when Sister Mary decided to message me (translate: HARASS) to Like and Post Clever Things about the splediferous glory of Derek Jeter-after, note this insult to injury-she commanded me to sit through a clap-trap, vomit inducing interview where he Explains His Spotless Reputation. Pardon me while I just…BLEUURRRRRGH!
     I was in a bit of a pickle. I don’t like to behave badly toward my nieces but I wanted to send a gentle, subtle reminder to my dear sister that I really can’t take the D-bag Jeter love-fest. That I found the entire 2014 Yankees season an over-the-top farewell tour to a great player who’s best days were behind him and he should have been riding the pine for the year instead of popping out and bumbling infield plays.
    “Sour Grapes!” You say? Yes, you’re right. The Red Sox sucked worse than Jeter in 2014 and I just can’t muster any fake r2spect for #2.
    Sheesh, does anyone else get that? He’s Number 2!
    This is my best ripost to Sister Mary’s  demands. I believe it is in the spirit of what she asked and certainly in the spirit of what Mr. Jeter clearly believes of himself.
  •  Me: Stay Majestic Derek Jeter
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  •  Me:  For you are nearly as legendary and mythical as a Merman
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  •  Me: Men don’t just admire you, they want to BE you
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  • Niece Susanplease stop mocking my future husband
    Uh oh, I think she’s onto me… but I can’t stop now…must bring it home!
  •  Me:  Common men can no longer wear mala beads because you have shamed us with your how you perfectly display them on your manly chest
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  •  Me:  Thank you for all you have given us during your brief stay on our planet
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  •  Me: This is how we feel with you gone…but we will remember your awesome message to all of us mortals: “No one will ever be as amazing as me”
    Elizabeth Sweetman's photo.
  • Sister Mary: Most excellent tribute to Jeter, Elizabeth, your sincerity is undeniable. Derek says thank you!
  • Elizabeth Sweetman
    Me: You are most sincerely welcome.
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The Whistler

I am confounded by social media. There are days I swear I’ll delete my FaceBook account and transform that wasted time into a productive hobby such as a search for a cure for dropsy or bilious fever. I am afraid to tally the hours I’ve squandered scrolling and re-scrolling through my “newsfeed” for… I have no idea. I can’t stand the viral posting that overflows (literally these days: Ice Bucket Challenge-Enough!) with the latest FB thing.  Yet there are times I am so happy to have found and old friend or distant cousin that I haven’t spoken to in years. It allows me to keep in touch with my oldest son in Korea with little to no inconvenience to our lifestyle or bank accounts.

Today was the kicker. Today I shut my mouth. Today I stumbled upon something from my teen years that explained a man that was, as best as I can describe him, my first Urban Myth.

A picture of The Whistler. He was a guy who walked everywhere-I mean Everywhere. We would see him almost every day walking through our small town. Then several hours later, if we drove to ten miles to Worcester or fifteen to Clinton, we might see him again. Whenever we saw him, we’d beep or yell and he would respond with the loudest whistle I’d ever heard from a human being. Sometimes the whistle was quick, other times it was several notes and if he knew you, it was a ten second symphony. If I was riding my bike or with a group of my girlfriends, and waved at him, he’d whistle then yell, “You’re getting prettier every time I see you!” He never broke his stride, which was faster than most people jog, and he was in fantastic shape, as you can see by this T shirt which gives his name and age: Walter Barch, 60.

This is what his brother wrote over his picture: “He had a swagger like no other! Punchin light poles, and hearing his whistles from blocks away….he was a childhood memory….the Fox…The Whistler…Walter Barch

The Whistler

The Whistler

He wrote his story on his clothes. Usually it was just his name, sometimes his age. He had one sign that said “HEYYYYY!”  which made me think he liked Fonzie from “Happy Days”. Sometimes there he wrote a long paragraph but that was impossible to read because he was always moving too fast to see what he wrote.

This is a copy of the comments regarding Walter Barch. The photo was a TBT, or Throw Back Thursday photo, posted by his brother. The comments in italics are by his brother, all other comments are from people who remember seeing Walter Barch, or the Whistler around central Massachusetts.

  • 45 People like this.
    If only they had Nike trackers back then. I would see this guy all over central Ma. The good ole whistler!”
    My favorite time was seeing him carrying wood on his shoulders walking down Rt 9!!”
     “We’d drive by and yell “The Whistler!” and he would blow us a loud whistle!”
     “Omg we would toot and yell and he would wave.”
     “I remember him”
     “He was cool…..I always love to see him because he would whistle for us”
    “OMG! He had his life story written on his clothes and body! He was also known as The Whistler! Remember him ________?”
    “There is a movie _____ called titicut follies a documentary on bridgewater st hospital. He is in it.. I remember him walking everywhere too…”
     “I remember him well!!!!”
    Great picture. Where on earth did you get it?”
    “was wondering what happened to him.”
    “Worcester’s icon yes I always as a kid would love to see him walking down a street my father beep and see this man turn and bellow out the whistle you never forget…..”
     “Wow totally remember him punching light poles !! How the hell did u find him?”
     “Its called “throw back” Thursdays…or I like to call it a blast from the past…I don’t divulge my secrets….here’s a little bit about Walter…..he was a veteran, he was convicted of fondling a young girl and did 12+ years…when he got out he would always whistle to let people know he was coming and where he’s been so he’d always had can aliby and never be caused again. He lived on Eastern Abe in Worc. And was a Sgt. In the u.s. army….also a top boxer in the 50’s & 60’s….he was shot in the neck while serving time and part the cause for his memory loss and his “claw” hand. Did you ever notice he would swing his arms vigorously from side to side(and one hand was always bent)..that’s the claw….ohhhh now you remember huh????!!!
    He could hold a conversation with you while walking blindly backwards as well but you’d never see him not moving…..
    Walter died in the fall of “95” and is burried in Otis Air force base’ National cemetary, Bourne Mass.
    Walters favorite quote: your getting prettier and prettier every time I see ya!”
    “I loved the signs he’d wear hanging off his neck on his back….HEYYYYYYYY”
    How about Angelo? White haired and beard up and down Route 9 with a grocery cart.”“And Reggie. Black guy with a Yankees baseball hat.”
    Angelo…yes…we called him Moses…he lived under the bridge on rt. 9, lake quinsigamond…..
    The yankee…died in a tooling house fire….
    That was rooming house! Lol
    “____! How do you know all this! WOW!”
    He wasn’t just a friend…he was my brother
    “Wow! I remember him…the whistler. He would walk so proudly. Didn’t know the whole story. I do remember that he had his story written and he wore it. I can’t remember though if the story was about what happened to him. Thanks ____ for sharing.”
     “____, he was your brother truly? I used to think he was such a strong man…..I never knew his story either….. Remarkable! I want to see that swag from you too !”
    he was accused and sentenced to a crime he never commited that was his cause for walking
    Spent a long time locked up for bullshit

    There are times I am amazed by what I stumble onto on social media. Today is not a day that I’ll moan and groan about how stupid I think FaceBook is.

    “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”


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My first "selfie". It was to show how happy I was with Artie

My first “selfie”, December, 2004. It was to show how happy I was with Artie

Artie, the One Dog Party. The perfect description of this Artie.

I found Artie on the internet, I admit it was love at first sight. I had wanted a scottie since  my fourth grade report on FDR’s scottish terrier Fala. I had been on the Scottie Rescue list for a couple of years with no luck, so in 2004 I decided to try to expand my search. I found him from a Texas breeder who showed scottish terriers.  Artie, real name Double D Sir William, didn’t make the show dog cut due to a very skittish personality.

ArtieMy timing couldn’t have been worse; it was a terrible time to think of another dog. We already had one dog, she was a great dog and didn’t seem to be pining for company.

Not only that, we were going  through a lot with our family in 2004. My husband was traveling back and forth to his parents house every weekend, a three hour trip each way every weekend when I sprung, “I have found the perfect dog!” on him.

I remember his face when I tried to explain how much I already loved this “Artie” dog.  I could see he was tallying it up yet as yet another thing to do when he was beyond overloaded with family, job, house, travel, dog…now another dog?! We talked it over (through many tears on my part) and we agreed the time wasn’t right for another dog. But I continued to look at pictures of Artie and mope around about not having him. What really happened was that Dan contacted the owners in Texas and surprised me with Artie for my birthday.

Happy Birthday ArtieI can’t tell you how surprised I was, how happy I was, and now when I think of it, that I don’t deserve such a wonderful husband. Artie was the best birthday present. Ever. Then I lost Artie. Twice.

The first time was on the very first night we had him. He took off down the street when we let him out. Luckily two people saw him bolt into a neighbor’s yard, but it still took an hour of searching a dark yard in the middle of the night to find a little black dog who either didn’t know his name or his new owners.

The second time I lost him was two days after the first. I had taken him to the beach to experience the ocean for the first time. He was walking on the jetty when suddenly he disappeared between the rocks. I ran up to get him and I just couldn’t find him! It took another ten minutes of searching between every crevice in the jetty to finally pull him out. Honestly, I had my doubts that the dog would last a week.

Artie settled in

Artie settled in

He survived the first week without getting lost again. Then our first dog died unexpectedly which made him more skittish and I remember wondering how on earth this dog rationalized his new home? Either he was getting lost or the established pet died off when he showed up. Thankfully, he settled in, became my very favorite and the darling of my eyes.

photo 1


He grew less skittish over time, and in looking over  all my photos, I see that Artie is everywhere. Vacations, ski trips, hikes, and bike rides.

photo 4

You see I had the above image of me on my bike with Artie in the basket. Yes, that’s what I saw in my mind and expected all sorts of wolf whistles when we hit the pavement. Sadly, all I got was the theme song of “Wicked witch of the West” when people saw Artie in the milk crate on the back of the bike.

This is what Artie looks like on the back of a bike

This is what Artie looks like on the back of a bike

We got a second terrier named Honey about five years ago to help bring Artie out of his shell. She quickly became alpha, a complete attention hound, which endeared Artie all the more to me. Despite their many differences, they seem good for each other.

Dogs in the window

Dogs in the window

Dogs with haircuts

Dogs with haircuts

Dogs lying down...okay, you get it.

Dogs lying down…okay, you get it.

We did a lot with the two terriers as well.

Hiking/camping in Maine

Hiking/camping in Maine

But there’s Artie, always my darling.

418669_4347864421809_69212031_nArtie died today. He was ten, not very old for a terrier but he had cancer and it was at the point that he was in pain all the time.

The hardest part about having a dog is that you outlive them. It’s just a harsh fact goes along with the territory. You have to say good bye in the saddest way, even when you think you know how much it will hurt, nothing really prepares you.

He was a great little dog and I’m grateful that he was able to share a good life with us.


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