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Posts Tagged ‘USC’

We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.

-Anonymous

 *~*~*

02-29-1984 (2:30 pm Pacific Standard Time)

to

05-30-2001 (5:47 am Pacific Daylight Time)

 *~*~*

This week would have been my late son, Keegan’s, 29th birthday (or 7¼ years old, depending on how you look at it, since he was born on Leap Day).  I can’t believe it’s been that long since he was born, because he’s forever 17 in my mind.  Seventeen is how old he was when he died … and he died almost 12 years ago.  It seems like yesterday.  It seems like forever.

 

Keegan was born with Cystic Fibrosis.  I’ll describe that another time, but it’s a genetic disorder.  You can also look it up.  Keegan had a double lung transplant at the age of 16 at Stanford Hospital.  That was the best gift he ever received … the gift of life.  We are forever thankful to his donor family.

 

Right now … I’ll explain Keegan as a person, because he was truly an exceptional person.

 

*~*~*

Hmmmm … how do I explain Keegan?  Nothing can explain Keegan.  He was an entity and a force all on his own, with a will of iron, a desire to prove himself, and a personality that affected all of those around him.  He positively influenced people for the better more in his short 17 years of life than most people can in 100 years of life.  Even his newborn baby picture taken by the hospital showed how truly unique he could be.  I laughed till I cried when they sent this to us (since that was back before the instant digital picture).

WTF

WTF is THAT weird looking thing at the end of my arm?

 

 

 

Keegan loved life.  He loved to laugh.  He loved the absurdity of it all.  He played hard … he studied and worked hard in school … he was fiercely independent … and he was very proud of his brother, Logan, and his sister, Kara.  He fought to live life all the way to the end.  He was never a quitter.

 keegannlogan

So … what can we do to terrorize Mom today?

 

 

Keegan loved his 6 cats, Meower, Tabu, Bandit, Spike, Chewie, and Ewok, with a passion.  He loved Star Trek, Survivor, Taz, rollercoasters, and the music of the 60’s and 70’s … or music made famous by Dr. Demento and Weird Al Yankovic.  He wanted to graduate from Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA, in the year 2002, along with the rest of his class, and he wanted to go to the University of Southern California, as had his maternal grandparents and his cousin, Chris, to study to be a lawyer.  He liked to tease his sister and his cousin, Allyson, about their “floofy hair”.  His family and his friends were his life.  He was, as are all my children, one of my best friends.

 keegannkara

 Can your hair BE any floofier on this cruise?

 

 

Nevertheless, I think that one of the best ways to describe my beloved 2nd child is in the words of some of his friends that emailed me a year ago on his “real” birthday, since it was a Leap Year last year.

*~*~*

Happy birthday Keegan. Technically, you’d be 28 today, but because you were a leap-year baby I’d be giving you a “Happy 7th Birthday!” card if you were still with us. Because we were in high school when you left this world, you’ll always be immortalized in my heart as the crazy green-haired kid under the tarp with our gaggle of friends, in the pouring rain, at the Santana concert… the “passenger” when we got kicked out of Walmart for “shopping cart racing” …and the kid with the “hot date” (aka your oxygen tank) when we played “Chinese Fire Drill” at the Fairgrounds’ drive-thru Christmas light show. You never missed a pre-dance dinner, even when your condition was too fragile to attend the actual school dances with us. You never burned me a mix CD without slipping the Mortal Combat theme song in there for no apparent reason. I still crack up when I hear that song. Thank you for all the awesome memories, and all the other stuff happening today that I’m going to credit to you. Let’s start with free pancakes today at Ihop. That totally sounds like your doing! Bizaar weather changes? Your mom is right: It’s all you, buddy! If Mortal Combat comes on over the radio today, I’ll send you a Twinkie offering via the microwave… which actually sounds like a pretty awesome thing to do anyway… Great. Now I have to call the radio station and make a request that’ll make me sound crazy. Thanks Keegan, you did it again! Miss you buddy!!

*~*~*

Dear Keegan, I would like to take this moment to thank you for being in my life. Impacting my views of friends and showing me that awesome people come in amazing packages. And for as far as I can tell starting my love affair with Pisces. Just wanted to let you know you will always be missed and thought of often and fondly. ❤

*~*~*

Happy Birthday Keegan. You were one of, if not, my best and dearest friend in middle and high school. We shared so many memories and good times. I truly am a better person for knowing you. I happened to find an essay that I wrote about you in high school today and I will always remember your faith, love and respect. God Bless you my dear friend. Can’t wait to see you again someday – you better be waiting for me by the gates because I will be looking for you. I love you.

*~*~*

… a former teacher wrote:  I sang to him. ❤

*~*~*

… a former teacher wrote: Even my students knew what day it was.  Amazing, the power an exceptional human being has to touch people forever.  Magic.

*~*~*

… a former teacher wrote:  I could not agree more.  Keegan did more in his few years than most of us ever hope to do in 80.  The fact that his birthday is a most unusual date was simply an early message of the legacy he would create.

*~*~*

As his mother, I sing to him every year.  I bake a cake for him every year (FunFetti because he loved that kind of cake).  He was born by emergency c-section on Leap Day, 1984.  Like I said in a prior blogpost earlier in the month, he was due on Valentine’s Day … but I knew by the way he felt during my pregnancy that it would either be Ground Hog’s Day or Leap Day.

It was truly Leap Day … and it wasn’t even planned that way.

He was and still is an exceptional and very old soul.  His spirit is an amazing force.

Celebrate the life he lived.  His wish is that we not be sad and somber for him, because, as he told us a long time ago, “If you’re sad, you aren’t being sad for me, you’re just being sad for yourselves because I’m off enjoying my new self.” 

Even when he died, he didn’t want a sad somber funeral or memorial service.  He wanted us to have something he would have enjoyed going to and to remember him as he was … full of joy and full of life and full of his own wicked sense of humor.

Celebrate Me

By Max, The Poet

Remember the good we shared,
In all you do.  Celebrate me!
Remember how I taught you things,
Like what our lives are meant to be.

Smile for me when you’re feeling blue.
Think only of joy when thoughts of me enter in.
Do not cry for me.
A new chapter in my life, do I begin.

I am certain that I’ll miss you.
Sure as snow upon the mountain,
My love for you will not end.
It pours forth from my heart’s fountain.

So, as you mourn, and begin to heal,
Remember always: it is you I adore.
Forever and ever, I am at peace.
Celebrate me, once more!

 

Keegan’s maternal grandfather used to tell us to “play the cards you’re dealt in life; enjoy the game while you’re in, and never ever ever fold.”  Keegan exemplified this spirit all the way to the end. 

Keegan’s desire to do everything on his own, even when he needed assistance, exemplified that.  I remember that, even when he was 2 years old and having difficulty dressing himself, he would shout “SELF!!!” when someone (generally me) tried to help him.  He’d make his entire body stiff as a board so that no one could help and so that he could do it on his own. 

Keegan definitely played the cards dealt in life all the way to the bitter end.  His Grampa Glenn and I continue to be proud of that fighter’s will, even with Grampa Glenn (my father) as well as Keegan both long-deceased from this life.

One of Keegan’s biggest fears was that he’d be forgotten after his death. 

Keegan, we will never forget you (how could we forget that goofy grin and giggle of yours as well as your multi-colored hair), and we will always love you.

bluehair

Hmmmm … what weird color can I make my hair next?

 

 

Keegan, we again celebrate your joy in life and your will to live.  You even changed the life of Roy, who never had the pleasure of meeting you.  He is influenced by your strong presence and spirit.  Your joy and your will carry on.

irish 

I think, laddie, that I’ll do a jig for you now.

 

 

*~*~*

www.keeganfund.org

This is the memorial scholarship fund in his name.  It will be changing focus this year to a slightly broader base, but this will give you the idea of what he was like.

*~*~*

I will miss you forever and always, baby boy … and I will miss your gravelly voice, your deep guttural laugh, and your million dollar smile.

mickey

Ok, Mickey, let’s get this boat moving now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“She’s got an MBA and a plush corner office.

She’s got a ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude.

She’ll close a deal she don’t reveal she can’t feel

The loneliness, the emptiness ‘cept when she comes in here,

And she’s a product of the ‘Me Generation’.

She’s got a rock and roll side when you get her agitated.

She’s got the tattoo there on her derriere from a spring break dare …

Hell, yeah!  Turn it up!  Right on!

Hell, yeah!  Sounds good!  Sing that song!

Guitar Man!  Play it all night long …”

MONTGOMERY GENTRY

 

 

(Well, I may not have that “plush corner office”, as I have a little cubicle at work … but … whatever …)

No one has ever figured me completely out.  Hell, I haven’t figured me completely out, so I don’t know why someone else might.  I come from an interesting mix of heritage, but that’s what makes me uniquely “American”.  Everyone has a different and unique heritage, and, at least in the past, this was an ok thing to have.  I hope in the current socio-economic climate, it stays that way.

I was born in the middle of the American Baby Boom generation in the suburbs of Los Angeles.  We moved all over the country, as my father was a corporate transferee, but essentially I was raised a suburban kid, with most of my time being in California.  I was schooled in the public schools back when they were good, and I graduated in 4 years from the University of California at Davis with 2 majors (International Relations with an emphasis on Political Science and Spanish).  I was aimed at the fast track into the corporate world or government analysis.  (I’ve done both, by the way, which is only in the “for what it’s worth” category, as it certainly didn’t get me fame and fortune.)

 

 

“She grew up in the city in a little subdivision.

Her daddy wore a tie.  Mama never fried a chicken.

Ballet, straight A’s, most likely to succeed …

After graduation, they sent her … for some higher education,

Put her on the fast track to a law degree.

Now she’s coming home to visit …

And she’s ridin in the middle of his pick-up truck,

Blarin’ Charlie Daniels, yellin’ ‘TURN IT UP’.

They raised her up a lady

But there’s one thing they couldn’t avoid.

Ladies love country boys …”

TRACE ADKINS

 

 

My suburban upbringing however does not define who I am at all.  I can’t really say that I *ever* felt like I “belonged” in the ‘burbs … and particularly not Southern California (although I do like my Beach Boys and Beatles, like most Baby Boomers).  I credit Roy for helping pull more of who I am out of me.  I was in the corporate world and the government service world, wearing my power suits, and rising through the ranks.

 

 

“She’s gone country.

Look at them boots.

She’s gone country,

Back to her roots.

She’s gone country,

A new kind of suit.

She’s gone country.

Here she comes …”

ALAN JACKSON

 

 

My father was born in eastern Colorado and raised in western Kansas before coming to California in the middle of the Great Depression, during the Dust Bowl years with his divorced mother (my paternal grandmother) and a younger sister.  {Read The Grapes of Wrath , and you’ll understand a bit better at least this part of my heritage.}  His father was a Kansas wheat farmer and a salt of the earth type of man (that’s the part of my family that came from a group of 7 brothers thrown out of Ireland in the 1600s and sent to “The New World” because they “didn’t fit in” … which seems to be a pattern in my life …).  Anyway, my father did not have an easy early life, but after enlisting in the Navy during World War 2 and then putting himself through the University of Southern California (USC) on the GI Bill in the late 1940s, he met and married my mother, a 2nd generation Southern California girl.  My mama however was not and is still not what Hollywood and the rest of the world considers a “California Girl”.  She’s descended from Big Gramma (see my prior posts) and, in the 40s, also went to USC and graduated with her degree, which was very rare for then.  She was a teacher while I grew up and later worked at Sears Roebuck & Co (back when that was a large retail giant), retiring as a store manager.

 

 

“I ain’t never had a problem with California.

There’s a lot of good women from Sacramento to Corona,

But them Hollywood types after a while wear on ya,

Struttin’ around in their size zero’s,

Skinny little girls, no meat on their bones,

Never even heard of George Jones!

Ain’t you glad we ain’t all California girls?

Ain’t you glad there’s still a few of us left

That know how to rock your world,

Ain’t afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle?

Ain’t you glad we ain’t all California girls? …

GRETCHEN WILSON

 

 

Well, anyway, my mama probably *can* wear a size zero (she’s a little bitty thing and feistier than most everyone put together and I love her dearly) and she’d *NEVER* dirty dance to Merle (*I*, on the other hand, would … in a heartbeat …) … but she sure isn’t afraid to eat fried chicken … THAT is for sure!

Anyway, again, I digress (see other posts … I may digress, but sooner or later, I’ll circle back to my topic at hand).

All of this background, however, has made me an interesting combination of personalities as a 3rd generation California girl and a Grapes of Wrath Dust Bowl descendant … among other things.  Maybe that’s why I like where I live so much now, in Northern California in the Gold Country / Mother Lode.  I live out in the sticks, up a dirt road, in the hills.  I’d like to think I’m a country girl but I’ve got “city” and “suburbs” mixed in … and I work on Capitol Mall, 2 blocks from the State Capitol Building in Sacramento as a government analyst.

My mixture confuses everyone (not to mention my relatives in particular).

 

 

“Well, I ain’t never been the Barbie Doll type.

No, I can’t swig that sweet champagne.

I’d rather drink beer all night

In a tavern or in a honky tonk or on a 4 wheel drive tailgate …

Cuz I’m a red neck woman.

I ain’t no high class broad.

I’m just a product of my raisin’ …

So here’s to all my sisters out there keepin’ it country.

Let me get a big ‘HELL YEAH’

from the red neck girls like me …”

GRETCHEN WILSON

 

 

Maybe my whole point with this is to say … I truly relate to the following song … because my parents raised me with good family values.  I’m sorry to see so many people have abandoned those.

 

 

“Clear creeks and cool mountain mornings;

Honest work out in the field;

Cornbread in my mama’s kitchen;

Daddy sayin’ grace before the meal;

Family ties run deep in this land;

And I’m never very far from what I am.

I was born country, and that’s what I’ll always be,

Like the rivers and the woodlands, wild and free.

I got 100 years of downhome, runnin’ through my blood.

I was born country, and this country’s what I love.”

ALABAMA

 

 

 

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