Monday, December 22, 2014

A Funeral for a Cousin - #5 at MSG

The very idea of going to a funeral is depressing. Especially a funeral of someone younger - 57 years old to be exact. But once you get there and talk to people and celebrate a life instead of mourning you end up feeling better.

We spent most of Sunday in New Jersey at my cousin's funeral and post funeral lunch. He was my first cousin's son - my mom was his dad's aunt. His dad died about 10 years ago and left a 2nd wife with 3 grown children, who became the deceased step-family. One of his wife's daughters called me on Thursday to tell me the news - the cause was complications from pancreatic cancer - a disease that is the scourge of the earth - Loretta Prisco died of it last June. Recovery rates from Ebola are significantly higher than pancreatic cancer - my mother-in-law also died of it at 71. And she is buried in the same cemetery we went to today. Funerals - so many memories of so many people.

The post funeral lunch at a nearby Olive Garden was hosted by the step-family -- the deceased father's wife and her children, one of whom is married to the CBS/FOX helicopter traffic reporter Joe Behrman, who today played the role of host to a mob of people and was so funny and so gracious. It was not the first time we met Joe but got to sit with him at the luncheon and he helped turn what could have been a sad occasion into somewhat of a celebration.

I didn't know my cousin very well - whatever contact we had over the years related to a few areas of common interest. Sports, the stock market and his brief time teaching math in the DOE about a decade ago -- he was a brilliant math guy but had some typical problems with horrendously run schools and soon left to do private tutoring.

He was a heavy day-trader in the 90s - until the tech crash of 2000 -where we both got smashed -- but his smashing was pretty bad and he seemed to lose some interest in the market. A few years earlier I met him downtown where some broker had some real-time computer stock tickers - he had a system and when some stocks would drop or go up an eighth he would race to the phone. We played with the computers for a few hours - the screens were loaded with info -- that was the early days of the internet and getting such info in real time was rare.

Then he took me to a fancy Brooks Brothers clothing store on 5th Ave where they had a Bloomberg Machine that was available to the public. What's a Bloomberg Machine I asked -- I had never heard of a guy named Bloomberg who made his fortune renting out these machines. It was an amazing real-time news, financial, etc machine -- sort of like our cell phones today. Neither of us looked like we belonged in Brooks Brothers. I was pretty uncomfortable. He wasn't -- being self-conscious wasn't his thing.

He left a career as an actuary where he was making good money to work as an usher at just about every sporting and entertainment venue in the metropolitan area.

Many of the people who came to the funeral were fellow ushers. 
Every time I would go to a Yankee or Met or Knick or Ranger game I would ask the ushers if Lance was working that night - and a few times he led us to seats right behind the hockey net or the backboard. (Steinbrenner got rid of all the guys at the Yankee games so I couldn't get to see him there.)

There were flowers sent from the Mets. And his health insurance came from Madison Square Garden.

Even after working at some of these venues for decades Lance had trouble rising in seniority because guys rarely left. That was why he mostly worked on top levels -- they system work based on who showed up each night and then they got assignments based on seniority -- I guess Campbell Brown may show up to complain about it. Sometimes he got to work the lower levels when senior guys didn't show for lousy games. I hadn't realized he was still working at MSG - I thought they replaced many of the ushers with security people. I should have asked for him when we went to the Fleetwood Mac concert last year - the last time I was at MSG. We found out today that his seniority had risen in a serious way over the years.

Apparently one of the things Lance was proudest of was rising to #5 on the seniority list at MSG.

Most of the sports and entertainment venues in the metro area will never be the same without Lance.

Here's one for #5.

1 comment:

  1. Norm, regardless of how close to blood relations, losing a loved one is always tough. I am sorry for your and your family's loss.
    I hope the shared stories within the family helped bring a few smiles of cheer and togetherness during a time of somberness.

    ReplyDelete

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