A BIG KITTY!!!! [click the logo]

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Mystery and Tragedy of Death Before our Due Date

This could become a very difficult blog for me to write. Often times I say things I don't actually mean to convey the way they come out looking/sounding. You can't interpret a person's intonation through print like you can in the spoken version...and so it leaves you wide open sometimes for people to take shots at you. You also can't make those who don't know you...understand your thoughts and feelings on certain topics. Despite all that, I will try.

One of the things that is sneaking up on me is old age. It's scary. Mainly because aside from periodic back and knee pain...I feel exactly like I did when I was in my 20's. And a hell of a lot smarter, too. And mature! A lot of things I'm glad I am now that I wasn't back then. But there are signs all around me, happening way too frequently. Those things are death, and illness. And tragedy. People dying who just shouldn't be dying. 

If someone I have never liked dies? I'm not going to fret for long. Maybe briefly, and mostly for his/her family. For instance...once this dinosaur who's main staple in his diet the last 30 days (that we all know of anyway) has been his foot....dies, the only ones I'm going to feel sorry for are the pall bearers who have to carry Donald Sterling to his grave site. Whoa...I'm not getting on that topic today. Nor am I getting on the topic of Michael Sam and his polarizing affect on the NFL, its players, and society in general. Maybe another day.

I know back in my 20's and 30's I never thought about dying. Okay, maybe if I was standing on a very high cliff, or bridge...and was about to jump into the water...the thought dawned on me. Maybe in NYC when one night a car with two black kids pulled up next to me when I was walking from my bartending job to my girlfriends apt six blocks away...who told me to give them my wallet...and who, when I started running, fired off two or three shots at hitting  the rock facing of one of the buildings in front of me.  I got  away,  obviously...and yeah, thought about death that night. For a couple hours.

Yeah there was that bout with the kidney stones...when I most likely knew I wasn't going to die...but felt like I would RATHER be dead than experience  another minute of the gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing pain. Fortunately, it ended with the most delightful cocktail of painkillers I have ever experienced in my pleasant I've thought about staging a kidney stone attack! Okay, just kidding. I'd  break into a hospital and steal those drugs before wishing kidney stones on myself again!


We all die. But when? And how? Will it be quick? Will it be agonizing slow?  Will we be surrounded by our friends and loved ones? Or be all alone? These are the questions that are starting to plague my thinking. Not in an obsessive fashion. No I don't need therapy or anything. I'm just more aware of my mortality now. Does God, or some other higher power...whatever your beliefs are...predetermine when our Due Date arrives? 

In preparedness, I have taken the steps to make damn sure...that if I suddenly die, for some wife has ALL the information she needs to access EVERY possible account of mine that she would need to get access to, to make that horrible transition seamless for her. I remember last year...exactly last year two days ago...we lost Cheryl's father...who had a heart attack in our living room while staying with us recovering for surgery. He passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. 

Sonny...playing along with the Flat Stanley craze! Squirrel misses her daddy  every day.

My concept of death and the aftermath was dealt a very surreal dose of reality that week. Before you even have a chance to fully are scrambling to assemble all the details, the belongings, certain forms...etc etc etc...and it kind of just makes the whole experience even worse. That's the last thing I would want to put her through again. And so I've done everything to make it a nice, easy process for her if it should ever become necessary. Just something for all of you to think about.

This week has been tough. Really really tough. I know a lot of  you saw my subject line and automatically assumed this post would be about one person, and just one person.'s not. 

Cincere Mason: A great friend to many. Rest in Peace sweet lady.

This is someone a TON of you have known very well. When I first met Cincere Mason, she was a dealer at the Grand in Biloxi. I immediately  formed a bond with her. She later moved to the Beau Rivage after Hurricane Katrina's damage had been cleaned up. For the next 8  years we would enjoy a wonderful relationship. My wife has always thought the world of her. In fact...I don't know ANYONE who ever had a negative thing to say about her...and that is REALLY saying something...because I'm sure you all know how mean-spirited poker players can be. As I write this...Cincere is being laid to rest outside of Pensacola. And we would be there if we weren't in North Alabama for my daughter's 2nd birthday party today and Squirrel's family reunion this weekend.

It's true that I haven't been permitted to play at the Beau Rivage the past 2 or 3 years. But it didn't stop Cincere from leaving me nice notes occasionally on my Facebook wall. And I would always have comments get back to I so frequently do in the poker world...where someone might be talking negatively about me, and she was right there to defend me. She didn't owe me that, certainly not. But it was just another example to me that she wasn't one of those typical fair-weathered friends...who treated you kindly when you were in good standing with everyone...or whether you were considered the black sheep of the group. She didn't care. If you were her friend, and she cared about you...then she defended you. No matter what, no questions asked. Now ask many people do you know that are like that? Genuinely like that? There aren't too many.

 Squirrel came home from work...I think it was Tuesday...and had this cold, expressionless look  on her face. I've seen that look. It's the look that says something is very, very wrong. I just looked at her...and asked what was wrong?

"Cincere died today!" and her eyes welled up with tears. What? How? I thought she was out of the wood with her second bout of breast cancer!!?? She was. Which is what makes this so tragic, so unfair...but a death that would symbolize what Cincere was all about. The lives she has touched is immeasurable. When I went looking for a picture of Cincere to post here...of course I  looked on her Facebook account. Shockingly, there was nearly nothing to pick from...really just one photo. But then, on second make perfect sense. Why? Because Cincere was one of those rare ladies...who didn't live for herself...didn't need fancy things...didn't need to be the center of attention. She was happy just to live among us all, to share her love, to make others around her feel better. That was who she  was...of course her Facebook wouldn't be filled with pictures of herself. 

For those who don't know what happened. Pensacola was recently hit by torrential storms that led to massive flooding...taking out roads and causing millions of dollars of flood damage to homes. As a homeowner in Pensacola with a new tenant (finally!) I was relieved personally to learn that I incurred no major damage other than a large sinkhole in the backyard...common in Florida. Others weren't so lucky. One such person was a friend (maybe a family member, I'm not certain 100%) of Cincere's. So what did she do? Of course, she went over to help her. Sometime during her mission, she contracted some kind of a bacterial infection that landed her in the hospital. And despite all efforts to save her...she succumbed to the infection.

Not one of my best looks! But it was for a cause! I'm sticking with that!

About two or three years ago...while Cincere was going through her second battle with friend Kai and I decided to rally behind the cause and do something to honor her. Now...mind you...I am a total alpha-male..and dressing in drag is not my forte! But hey...this was for a cause bigger than any amount of machismo. So I let my wife go to work on, hair, the who nine yards...then I took a couple pills, drank a couple shots and walked into the Imperial Palace...where I met Kai...who I've decided to let off the hook and not post his picture to spare him further humiliation. Most of you have seen it...for those who haven't? He looked like a trailer-park-livin LSU gal...decked out in Tiger colors, a blonde wig, fake boobs, and looking she'd just come off ten-day bender after another humbling loss to Alabama, and likely a healthy amount of physical abuse from her part-time mechanic husband Boudreaux.

We had already cleared it with their poker room manager, AND tournament supervisor...that we could come in, dressed as ladies, enter the $100 Ladies Event..and play with the intention of giving anything we might win to Breast Cancer Society. I came with a large envelope, already addressed and be mailed to them...and whatever Kai and I were able to addition to any donations that might just be handed to us (which, in fact, some were...totaling $1100) which we would leave and let the tourney folks mail for us. 

One thing I steer way clear of...ANY chance whatsoever for ANYONE to ever question my integrity. Don't even give them an inch to gamble with...because gamble they will! Kenny Milam..a great guy a lot of you know,  put a $300 bounty on each of that he earmarked as a donation for Breast Cancer. 

Well...we arrived, and had the rug pulled out from under us. Told we were too late to register. Huh? We were there 25 minutes after the start...they were in the 2nd level. Registration was set to allow buy ins up until the end of the 3rd level. We were getting the total run around...and running around looking for answers while dressed as women, really ugly women. It was unsettling to say the least. Eventually the truth came out...and we were offered free entry to that evening's $200 Mega. We both declined, as we'd both already secured seats...and frankly were feeling pretty pissed, shamed, and didn't feel like sitting there for 5 or 6 hours in drag with a bunch of rednecks. No thanks.

Apparantly, what had occurred was that one or more women, who'd learned that Kai and I had intended to do this, pitched a fit to the tourney director...demanding that we not  be able to play...that it wasn't fair to the other players. I guess that means we should have been flattered, that they were that fearful of our skills! I have a feeling no one probably shared with them WHY we were playing, and who we had dedicated our efforts to. Had that been shared...especially in a $100 event? I think maybe it wouldn't have been such a big deal. But if they still continued to bitch and moan about it? Well...whoever you ladies are out there...I hope you feel really, really good  about yourself, and your life. Because in my are vermin.

Cincere caught wind of what had gone down...and in her graceful manner, without bad-mouthing the IP, managed to express her gratitude in such an eloquent fashion to me and Kai that  her reaction completely made me forget why I was mad.

That is who she was. I ask: Why? Why does god take these kind of people from us? I can only come away thinking it's because there are things we just don't know about...places where people like Cincere are needed. Her two bouts with breast cancer? Were they just to prepare her for the next mission in her life? I choose to make myself believe that. We all lost a great friend, and a wonderful person. I hope you had a chance to know Cincere while she was here with us on Earth.


(Ive just been ordered, in a very stern voice from Squirrel...that is NOW TIME for me to stop blogging, get in the shower...and get ready to go get Carley's birthday party set up! I know when it's time to fold...and it's time to fold!)

No comments: