Monday, June 20, 2005

Yesterday was Father's Day.

Jack gave me this present. How awesome is your brother.

I was okay until about 11:00 am and then I started to think about you and got really sad. I started to feel like I had no energy to do anything. But it was "my day," and Mommy asked what I wanted to do. I said that I wanted to go to the cemetery.

First we went to Galayan's, which is now called "Dick's." Go figure. We bought rollerblades for Jack and Joe. When we were there we ran into our friend, Obbie, who happens to be Uncle Andy's cousin. Andy and Obbie are first cousins, just like you and Michael.

We left there and went to the cemetery.

The grass was really dry and not comfortable to lay on, but we did anyway. I wish that we could put down some really soft turf. I think will ask the people who operate the cemetery if I can bring in my own grass. There is actually a place out near the cemetery called a "turf farm." I want it to be green and soft on top of your grave.

Joe busied himself playing with all of the little Pokemon and other things that are on your headstone. Jack wasn't particularly pysched to be there, so he went back and sat in the minivan and listened to music.

Mom and I went and saw Grandma and everyone else buried there that we know. I didn't cry this time.

When we got home everyone put on their roller blades and we went around that track where we went for Michael's soccer birthday party. Here is a photo of you, me and Mom from Minnesota. I was thinking a lot about our apartment on Lake Calhoun. It was so nice that we were all together and neither Mom or I were working. It was great being together so much as a family -- even though it was all because of you needing to get new blood.

Today I went to Boston to do something fun for work. I gave a fifth and sixth grade class money to help them with a project they are doing. It is all about good sportmanship. It felt good to be able to do this. I thought about you a lot.

Students get A for effort

Radio service donates $10K to Acton elementary school

By Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff | June 19, 2005

The Yankees and Red Sox never did agree to shake hands, but the good sportsmanship campaign by a group of Acton elementary school students -- which got the country wondering whether the rivals would shake -- is paying dividends just the same.

Washington, D.C.-based XM Satellite Radio will present the Merriam Elementary School with a check for $10,000 tomorrow morning in a case of what ad-types might well call synergy.

The check is a one-time gift the company is giving to the school because the handshake project so closely echoes its advertising campaign, ''Why can't we be friends."

The project drew national attention earlier this year when the school's fifth- and sixth-graders campaigned to get the Red Sox and Yankees to shake hands on opening day in Fenway Park as a show of good sportsmanship. Everybody from Sports Illustrated to Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, weighed in. A spokesman for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said the boss himself liked the idea. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he admired the students' initiative -- they started by sending letters to the Sox -- and he'd talk to team captain Jason Varitek about it.

But, ultimately, it was the players' decision and they demurred.

That said, the kids took heart when the Yankees applauded the Red Sox during the world championship ring ceremony at Fenway Park on April 11. Apparently not everyone had read the good sportsmanship memo that morning, however. During the ring ceremony, at the tail end of a moment of silence to honor the recently deceased former Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz, one fan in the stands yelled a vulgar remark aimed at Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

The remark was followed by a terse ''thank you" by Red Sox announcer and master of ceremonies Joe Castiglione.

The XM Satellite advertising campaign centers around the 1975 song ''Why Can't We Be Friends?" by the group War and plays on the idea that even though fans of different Major League Baseball teams may antagonize each other when they root for their home team, they are all part of a larger community of baseball fans. XM subscribers can listen to almost every baseball game from anywhere in the country.

''We became aware of what the kids were doing around the time we launched the campaign and we thought they complemented each other," said Allen Goldberg, a spokesman for XM. ''So we got in touch with the school and teachers, and even sent them the spot before it aired."

The money is meant to be spent furthering the ideals of the handshake project, said Goldberg, but can be used however the school sees fit.

An oversized check will be awarded at a schoolwide ceremony Monday morning and will be followed by a panel discussion with some local news reporters who covered the story, as well as Bill Maver, Acton-Boxborough High School football coach, and Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

After the panel discussion, the students will take a bus to Fenway Park, where they will take a tour and meet with Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox vice president in charge of public affairs.

On Tuesday, the students will participate in the ''Ripken Family" baseball radio show, hosted by Cal Ripken and his brother Billy on XM Radio.

''This whole thing has been a wonderful experience," said Ed Kaufman, who organized the effort with fellow teacher Mary Ann Brandt. ''It surpassed what any of us expected."

''I think the kids learned they can make a difference in the world and they can get people talking about something if they show enough passion and sincerity about what they believe in."

I got to talk to the kids at their school and then we went to Fenway Park, which is where the Red Sox play baseball. While I was waiting for the school bus to pull up, I saw two Boston Children's Hopital buses go by. I thought about the time when you were there for heart surgery and Mark took me for a walk up to Fenway.

This is me with all the kids. I am in the middle. This felt great. I am very lucky.

Yesterday at Fenway, they had a special Fathers' Day event. After the baseball game, dads and kids get to go down on the field and play catch. How cool is that.

It is great for the dads and their kids, but hard on the grass. Today they had all these people working on the field to make it nice again. You know I was thinking how great it would be for the cemetery to do the same thing.

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