In the first year of MSFMS, I asked my (very talented) wife to guest write a post for the blog. As the title stated, it gave her the opportunity to shine a light on what it’s like being the ‘Invisible Person Behind the Invisible Disease.” If you haven’t read it, you should. Go into the MSFMS archives (Sept. 10 2016 installment) and check it out. It’s a wonderfully written view of a group of people who often get forgotten in the mix. A great read!
I think the world of Jen. She’s a strong, independent woman who I admire and love greatly, which is why it was concerning to me when she pointed out that most of what I’ve written about her in this blog has been examples the sharp, sarcastic wit she possesses. I have a similar humor grab bag, so I love it. She stated concern that she might be coming across in the wrong light, for those of you who don’t know us personally. I’m intending on this post to remedy that!
One of the reasons why Jen’s humor is so funny to me is the fact that a lot of thought goes into it. This is the way she does everything. I believe she gets this trait from her mother and aunt. Between the three of them, I have been gifted some of the most fitting, interesting, and sometimes surprising presents that I have ever been given. This is the story of one of those times!
Jen and I are often opposites in so many ways, it’s amazing we can live under the same roof, sometimes. I am a life long Cubs fan. The year we finally break the curse to end a 108 year drought of World Series championships, what happens? We end up playing the one team that has the second longest drought at 40+ years. The Cleveland Indians. Jen’s life long MLB team. Uncomfortable series, to say the least. Friends would come over to our house, not to watch the game, but to watch Jen and I watch the game. High entertainment was had by all!
Even though I grew up in Northern Illinois, I was raised by a mother who is a hard core Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Therefore, I am a hard core Steelers fan. (STEELERS NATION!!!) Do you want to take a guess who Jen’s favorite NFL team is? That’s right! One of the oldest rivalries in the history of the NFL. The team that is synonymous with losing…….(I’ll pay for that comment)……The Cleveland Browns! Football season (my favorite season) always has a couple of uncomfortable Sundays and Thursdays (I was going to add Mondays as well, but let’s be honest. No one is going to schedule the Browns on MNF! I’ll pay for that comment, too.), since we get pitted against each other, at the very least, twice a season. Steelers, generally, are the victors (I’ll catch heat for that comment too, but the facts are the facts.), and although Jen is a very gracious loser (She’s gotten used to it as a Browns fan…..I may get a ‘look’ for that one as well, but once again….facts.), the few times when the Browns beat us, I endure several years worth of smack talk! She’s a brutal winner. That, luckily, is a rare occurrence, though.
Now, the two sides that have to do with my story involves a very old debate. Not as old as Steelers/Browns, but old none the less. The Beatles VS The Rolling Stones. As a musician, I obviously have better musical tase. Therefore, I, of course, am a Beatles fan. Jen, having little to no musical study hours, prefers the Stones (Once again, I’ll be in trouble for that one.).
I have been a Beatle fan since the mid seventies, when I was five or so. A friend of my mother’s gave us a bunch of 45s (Kids. Ask your parents.) left behind when her daughter went off to college. I sat on the floor in front of our children’s record player (In those days, kids weren’t aloud to touch the ‘good’ stereo, so we had a separate one for us.) while perusing through the fifty or so records. One caught my eye. It had a green apple on one side, and that same apple cut in half on the other side. It intrigued me, so I put it on the player.
I was both frightened and totally enthralled with the sounds that came out of the tiny speakers of the Fisher Price record player. The song had these weird, dark, echo-y vocals and an unusually ‘up front’ bass line rolling over an intermittent descending tom drum roll. Then came the lyrics!
“Here come ol’ flat top. He come groovin’ up slowly. He got Juju eyeball. He one holy roller!” Dark and frightening, to a five year old!
“Come together…….. right now……over me!” I loved it!
After Come Together ended, I excitedly turned the record over, expecting more of the same of what was on side B. Instead, the smooth sound of a crisp, clean guitar came through the tiny speakers following a solid drum fill to start the whole song. Following the short intro, gliding over a constantly driving bass line, was an almost sleep inducing rolling vocal track exclaiming “Something in the way she moves……..attracts me like no other lover.” A completely different feel than the song on the other side! I remember thinking, “This can’t be the same band!”. So, once the amazing love song had ended, I grabbed the record to check (With records, kiddos, you had to stop them from spinning so you could read the band/song info). Sure enough, on both songs, was clearly written, ‘The Beatles’.
Wait. The Beatles!? The same band as the cartoon I watch after school? The band with the four mop topped British guys that play all that jangly, poppy music? ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’ came from the same band as these two songs I’ve just discovered!? No friggin’ way!!!
I was hooked! From that point on, I did my best to get my hands on anything The Beatles had a hand in. Wow! What an amazing musical world this was! The Beatles, from that point on, were my musical gods. They were the whole reason I ever picked up a musical instrument that sent me on the journey that was my career.
At this point, you are probably wondering what the hell this has to do with Jen. I’m about to get there. Keep your panties on!
At the age of 44, I still had never seen a Beatle perform live and in person. At this point, only two still survive. Ringo and Paul. The chance that I would ever see a Beatle in person, was slim. I had pretty much given up hope on that idea. No biggie. The dream reunion concert, for me, was impossible anyway. John and George had been gone many years, so reunion + two dead members = impossible. C’est laVie.
One day, while I was still working at a bar, I got a text from Jen wanting to meet for a drink after work. This usually means she has had a hard/bad/total train wreck of a day and ‘needs’ a drink. Therefore, when I arrived to meet her, I was surprised that she looked calm and happy! I gave her a kiss, sat down, and ordered a beer.
Shortly after my beer arrived, out of nowhere, Jen says, “I made you a crossword puzzle today!” (Note to reader: I love crossword puzzles.)
Me: “You ‘made‘ me a crossword puzzle?”
Jen: “Yeah. I found an app online that lets you make puzzles, so I made one for you. You should try it!”
Me: “Right now?”
Jen: “Yeah. Why not?”
Me (suspiciously): “OOOOkkkkaaaaayyyyy. Let me see it.”
Jen slid a single sheet of paper and a pen (I do my crosswords in pen.) over to me. It only had a handful of clues to solve. A very simple puzzle. I remember thinking to myself, “Aw. Cute. This should be easy.”
And, in deed, it was. Most of it.
The majority of the clues were questions about lines from our favorite movies, songs, etc. Stuff only the two of us would know the answers to. There was one clue that drew my attention most. It was a clue associated with empty letter boxes that numbered more than any other answer on the grid. This was the clue:
‘What you get when you solve this puzzle.’ Very intriguing.
As I go through and complete all the ‘easy’ clues, letters begin to fill in the empty boxes of the long, mysterious clue’s answer. It all begins to come together. And I am stunned in disbelief by the clue’s finished answer.
‘igettoseepaulmccartneylive’ was what it spelled out in the end.
Jen: “Read it! What does it say?”
Me: “I get to see Paul McCartney live!?!?!?”
Jen: “Yup! We are going to the concert the day before your birthday!”
Needless to say, I was ecstatic! I was finally going to see a Beatle perform in person! Easily one of the best birthday presents I have ever received!
When the day came (I completed the crossword puzzle in June, the concert wasn’t until October. What a long wait!), it felt like Christmas morning to me! Much to the dismay of Jen, Paul played for just short of three hours! It was everything I had hoped it would be! Paul and his band were awesome! It was completely blowing my mind, sitting there with nothing but air between my eyes and ears, and a Beatle! Pure heaven!!!!!
This is just one of the ways Jen shows she cares. It would take a lifetime of blog posts to tell you all of the ways she does this, but I felt the need to at least show you one. I couldn’t imagine going through this whole MS thing without her support and love. I wish everyone with an incurable disease had a Jen Franzen in their lives. Sadly, not everyone does, so I know I’m a lucky one.
Thanks, Jen! I love you to the moon and back!
Well, once again we’ve come to the end of another MSFMS. In so many ways, we can thank Jen for this installment. Not only as the subject of the post, but also because she suggested my posts had not been very ‘good news’ based, and that I might be getting a bit too dark. So here you go, babe! A happy post!
See you all next time!