Today’s my dad’s birthday. He was born John Casey Toner on December 9, 1922. To most people, December 9th is not a day that stands out any differently than any other day on the calendar. No one gets the day off work. School is still in session and the mail is delivered as usual. But for me, it’s a very special day because my dad was an amazing man. He was a strong man. He was masculine when being such didn’t require an apology. And he was my hero and my friend. He lived through the Great Depression as a young boy. He fought as an Army paratrooper in WWII with the legendary 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles, Easy Company (the same company featured in Band of Brothers). He flew airplanes. And he jumped out of airplanes. Many summer nights he would regale the local neighborhood kids on our front porch with stories of jumping out of planes in Nazi territory in the pitch dark of night, not knowing how far he was from hitting the ground…or sometimes a tree. And we hung on every word.
Following his service to his country, he honorably served the city of Chicago as a police sergeant for 30 years. He raised a family of seven and sacrificed to send us all to Catholic schools and provide college educations for us. He was an artist and, at the begging of us kids, would sit at the kitchen table with us and say, “Okay what do you want me to draw?” And I would then watch the magic that he created. He took calligraphy classes at St Xavier College with my sister-in-law. Can’t imagine many daughters-in-law wanting to take a class with their husband’s father. But I always thought that was pretty cool. His handwriting and printing were pure perfections. He approached everything he did as an artist. He loved to cook and watching him slice a roast was a thing of beauty.
But the thing that will always stand out about him was his courage he displayed in the face of darkness. Without a care given to his reputation or his family, he was callously used as a pawn in the dirty politics of Cook County. He was considered nothing more than collateral damage as criminal charges were brought against him when he wouldn’t play along in their pursuit of much bigger game. The Cook County State’s Attorney thought with enough pressure and mounting charges placed against him, he would eventually break and say what they wanted to hear. But they thought wrong. I can still remember seeing him on the evening news exiting the courthouse. With microphones shoved in his face, his clear blue eyes looking earnestly at reporters he simply said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
After several long years of being dragged through the mud and the threat of prison looming, he was finally fully exonerated by a unanimous decision and acquitted of all fraudulent charges placed against him. That momentous event happened on this day: December 9, 1979. His birthday. He was honorably reinstated to the police force, given his stripes back and awarded full back pay for the years he’d been suspended.
During these years, I’m sure he must have been terrified. He still had seven kids at home. He couldn’t afford to lose his job, his salary, his benefits. But he never showed it. As my brother Kevin so eloquently put it, “He was an icepick in a frozen ocean.”
My dad passed away suddenly on August 17, 1987 at the age of sixty-four, the day after my son, Mike’s 1st birthday party. He left this earth on good terms with his family, his friends and God. And that is a great consolation to me.
Though my dad’s case was not part the much larger Greylord case, the tactics employed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office with regards to the “Marquette 10” mimicked his case almost identically.
Yes, he was my hero and my friend. Happy Birthday Dad, ya done good 😌
There have been a few moments in my life that stand out as bonafide “grown-up moments”. Case in point…when I scheduled (because yes, making the appointment was cause for a nice pat on the back) and then actually showed up for my first mammogram. That was a biggie.
Second on the big-girl list…getting a passport. I felt like I no longer had to pretend that I could hop a plane to Paris at the drop of a hat. I could really do it! Well, sort of. I mean, if it weren’t for that pesky issue of money. I still haven’t mastered that grown-up feeling of having discretionary income. 😒 And I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Unless that damn lottery win ever comes through. But, just knowing I have a passport, though, makes Paris a thing that COULD happen. Continue reading
The polar vortex is over and we’re out of hibernation! On today’s episode we’re talking about the joys of air travel. That’s right…the stress of checking in EXACTLY 24 hours ahead of your Southwest flight, checking your bag, dealing with TSA and security lines. All the best stuff. What’s your least favorite thing about flying? Let us know!
Click on the link or type “Where are my glasses” in the search bar on your smartphone podcast app. Seriously, that’s how easy it is 😬
Before we get started…just to let you know, I’m all about the fabulousness of Direct Deposit. I have it. My husband doesn’t. So, now that we got that out of the way…
Why is it that when a check is deposited into my bank account, it’s not available to me for 24 hours? Not even 24 human hours. Twenty-four BUSINESS hours. So a check deposited on a Saturday is treated as though it’s been deposited on the following Monday, which means it won’t be available until that following Tuesday. FOUR days after the deposit. Okay, I get that they need to know the check is good. I understand that. But, DAMN. That’s NINETY-SIX HUMAN HOURS. And ya know who NEVER, EVER, E-VER waits a “business” day to withdraw money from my account???? Our mortgage company, that’s who. And our Parent Loan servicers (PLUS LOANS – straight from the Satan himself – but that’s a post for another day). And any other automatic payment I have set up. That money gets SUCKED out as soon as the clock strikes midnight on D-Day (Due Date). So then, on top of having a negative balance in my account, I have FINES to pay, all the while seeing that “Pending Deposit” just sitting there, DOING NOTHING. Just smirking, like…Oh, you thought you had those payments covered?? Gosh, you’re cute. Yeah, sorry about that (SOOOO not sorry)
And don’t even get me started on holiday hours…
I hate bank math. But I still love using capital letters. They really make a written rant so much more satisfying.
Still not sure what to get that special percussionist or pianist in your life for Christmas?? Check out this beautiful solo piece written by my son 🙂
Peter Naughton composed Two Rivers through his tenure at the Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin. The pastoral sounds of this charming marimba solo were inspired by the rich farmlands and rustic architecture of that stretch of land.
For those of us who may not understand the intricacies of performing music, we can still immerse ourselves in the “feel” of its hymnlike texture and flowing melody, which evoke the sounds of Early American folk music.
And for you music prodigies out there…the piece features a main, song-like melody which is embellished throughout. As the piece progresses, the harmonies supporting this melody become more and more dissonant, with the original melody restated at the end, in its original unadorned form.
Two Rivers ships in a printed, professionally bound folio with a full-color cover.
Well done, Petey 😌
As the hours of another Thanksgiving Day wind down, I’m reminded of all the things I am thankful for in my life. I know, I know, everyone can recite the usual litany in their sleep, but, indulge me as I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I am thankful for…the gift of my parents, the greatest people I’ve ever known…who taught me to always search for the glimmer of light, even in the darkest of nights…the fact that they lived long enough to know me as an adult…the mercifully quick and painless death of my father, even though its unexpected nature felt like a sucker-punch…the profound journey I was blessed to take with my mother as she showed me how to live life to the very end with humor, while suffering from the scourge of cancer…my sister-in-law, who has humbled us all by her amazing recovery from a debilitating stroke and her powerful testament to the human spirit and for never giving up hope…my Catholic faith…my husband, who insisted on Catholic education for our kids, even as it squashed any hope of retirement…my kids, the best thing I ever did…my husband’s parents, who have been the model of generosity to me and my family throughout the years…my sister-in-law and brother-in -law, whose hospitality today was endless…”The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” cartoon…and, finally, the fact that I didn’t have to cook a turkey or clean the house today.
I’m sure there are scores of other things for which I am thankful that I neglected to include in my list, but these thoughts were just off the top of my head as we returned home with full bellies and immediately changed into our comfy sweats. Oh, one more thing: I’m really thankful for these sweats.
So, have I become a “softie”? Maybe a little today, but, don’t worry, it won’t last long. I’m already getting completely grossed out by the disgusting bodily noises, followed by howls of laughter coming from the next room. Reality has returned with a vengeance.