Super Waves

January 30, 2019

“Live in the present; launch yourself on every wave; find your eternity in each moment.”
~ Henry Thoreau

I have fond memories of doing the “wave” at Dodger stadium with my dad.  He was a loyal Dodgers fan.  He also followed the Rams.  My dad had Rams season tickets back when they used to play at Anaheim Stadium.  He would be happy that they had returned to be the Los Angeles team again, not only because he was a fan, but because every time I hear about the Rams, I am reminded of him.

In 1986, my father was rushed to the hospital after collapsing from back pain and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  He was told that he had between 45 days and 18 months to live.  My dad was a stubborn s.o.b, so even though he was told he wouldn’t walk again, he was back to his hobby of swing dancing six months after his diagnosis and surgery.  After his first round of chemo, the hair he was accustomed to dying shoe polish-black grew back thick and silvery.  Not being inclined to feign an unawareness of his natural good looks, he began referring to himself as “The Silver Fox.”

Then, when another tumor showed up in his right arm, he was told he had permanently lost the use of it.  My dad wasn’t having any of that and was back to golfing several months after surgery.  The subsequent round of chemo caused him to lose quite a bit of weight and to lose his hair.  As a result, even though he was only in his mid 50s at the time, he looked like an elderly man.  Never mind, my frugal dad used this to his advantage, asking for and getting a senior discount wherever it was available and still enjoying life.  His doctors at the USC Norris Center used to refer to him as “Miracle Man”.  Finally, seven years after he was given 18 months to live, his illness got to the point where he had to move to end-of-life care at a convalescent home.

It was the winter of 1993 when he first entered the facility and the Super Bowl was coming up.  He was bedridden and had no TV available.  A thoughtful friend loaned me a small television set and I took it to my dad’s room on Super Bowl Sunday.  One of the workers at the nursing facility helped me hook up the set and adjust the rabbit ears so that we could watch the game.  My dad had asked me to bring popcorn, fried chicken and some of those little mixed drinks that come in a can.  Another caretaker got us a bucket of ice and looked the other way with regards to our use of it, even though alcohol was, I’m pretty sure, not allowed in the facility.  So there we were, my father and I, on Super Bowl Sunday, watching the game, hoopin’ and hollerin’.  The man who shared his room, lying unconscious in the other bed, his mouth open in a semi-permanent gasp, was the only reminder that we were not viewing the game from Dad’s living room couch.  Every half hour or so, one of the caretakers would peek in the door, smiling, to ask us the score and see if we needed anything.

To anyone else, this might seem like just a cute little story, merely an anecdote, but it was much more.  For my father to have that small slice of normalcy in the middle of strange and stressful surroundings was huge.  It was impactful for me as well.  My dad did not live in the same house with me as I was growing up, so this is the only memory that I have of us watching the Super Bowl together.  For me it is a most precious one.

My father passed away later that year, 5 months after his 59th birthday.

In the years since, I have become an avid football fan myself.  Thanks to that friend who loaned me the TV and because of the caretakers at the end-of-life care facility who helped us have such a special day together by taking the time to bring us a bucket of ice, some paper plates or just a smile; every year when I watch the Super Bowl, it’s like I’m watching it with my dad once again.  This year, with the Rams playing in the big game, it will be extra special.

Like pebbles tossed into a lake, these simple gestures of kindness made in the past reach out to the present in waves, perpetually, over and over, reuniting me with my dad, carrying love through time and supporting me joyfully through missing him, still, 26 years later.

A wave can be described as a disturbance that travels through a medium, transporting energy from one location to another.  I don’t know where all the people who helped and comforted my dad and me in his final months are today.  They came into our lives only briefly.  But they were mediums through which joy, healing and transformation passed.

Just like a dolphin that dives into the middle of an ocean may not see the effect of the wave that it puts into motion reach the shore, you may not be aware of the future effects of the kindnesses you show someone today.  But, they are happening, whether you are there to witness them or not.  A seemingly small action, in a single moment, can hold within it an eternity’s worth of love.  You are each only one individual, but every day, in every moment, you have the potential to make an ocean of difference.

~~~~~~~~~

Sweet and savory Cream Soda-Caramelized Onions will give your Super Bowl snacks the winning edge.

Cream Soda-Caramelized Onions
This simple recipe makes a unique and delicious condiment.  It’s good on sandwiches, salads, burgers, hot dogs, quesadillas and more.  I used Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer for this recipe (available at Whole Foods and online).  Although it’s called “Beer” it is non-alcoholic, like Root Beer or Ginger Beer, which would also make for good variations on this recipe.  Whatever soda you choose, make sure it is a good quality, cane sugar sweetened, naturally flavored one.  The real cane sugar makes the extra caramelization happen.  I made a super-yummy and simple spaghetti dish with these.  I’ve posted that recipe below this one.

 

1 large yellow onion or two small ones
1 (12 oz) bottle of good-quality cream soda
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tablespoon butter
Balsamic vinegar, to deglaze pan

 

Trim ends and peel from onion.  Halve and slice into thin strips.  Add onions to a wide-bottomed heavy skillet (I used a Le Creuset Braiser) along with the full bottle of soda.  Season with a bit of salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is evaporated (20-30 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium and stir in 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Continue cooking, over medium heat, stirring and checking often so they don’t burn, until onions are a deep caramel-brown color (about 15-20 minutes more).

Deglaze the pan by adding a splash or two of balsamic vinegar, then stirring to loosen and incorporate the caramelized bits at bottom of pan.  Turn off heat, let cool a bit and store in a glass jar or container in fridge.

This yummy condiment will probably be eaten up quickly, but try to consume within one week of cooking.

 

Quick pasta idea:

Brown 2-4 Italian-style sausages (I used an organic chicken variety, which has less fat, so I added a tablespoon of olive oil to cook).  Stir in the Cream Soda Caramelized Onions.  Keep warm over low heat.  Boil 8 oz of pasta in salted water, according to package directions.  Stir some of the pasta cooking water into the onion/sausage mixture.  When pasta is just barely al dente, drain and add to onion mixture, stirring so that pasta absorbs the liquid from the mixture.  Add freshly ground black pepper and a bit of salt to taste. Serve hot.

Note: you don’t need any cheese on this; the sweetness of the onions and savory-ness of the sausage combine to give this dish the perfect flavor.  If you want some cheese, serve it as part of your appetizer, or at the end of the meal, with fruit.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer

 

 

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