We left cold and dry Minneapolis at 10 AM this morning and landed in cold and windy and very snowy Albany three hours later. It’s no fun coming home from a trip and having to park the car in the street so that you can tromp up the driveway to the garage to fire up and run the snowblower before you can even make it into the house. Is it summer yet? Or even spring? Or even a warm patch in the middle of winter? A: no, no and no. Dang.

All told, I think the weekend went as well as it could have, given what we were traveling for. Marcia delivered the eulogy at her mom’s funeral. I thought it was wise and insightful and reproduce it here with her consent, with a couple of omissions related to personal remarks made to some of her siblings:

“Since Monday, a number of people have called or stopped by to express their condolences. Most have also lost a parent and they understand what it feels like. A few lost their mothers to illness or after an extended stay in a nursing home. I have been struck by the profound impact that this loss had on their emotional well-being. It got me thinking: how do mothers penetrate so deep that we become unstable when they are no longer available to us?

Your mother is your initial link to the physical world. You get your air and nutrients through her. As a child, the world is filtered through her eyes to the point where you cannot distinguish between her thoughts and feelings and your own. Even after you are grown, this inner child is with us and your mother’s opinion on a particular issue cannot be ignored. If she tells you that Dawn dish soap works best, you must buy Dawn. If she assures you that a prospective employer will want to hire you, you believe. What an awesome power. But with power comes responsibility.

At my age, my mother was pregnant with her eleventh child: me. I can only imagine the chaos that was the Brom household in 1961. Yet she bore her responsibility to the eleven of us with grace and dignity and a smile. Each of us absorbed her worldview, her likes and dislikes, her engagement in politics and sports, and her belief in education. We are the sum of her inclinations, both good and bad. Over time, we have added to those inclinations, repressed those we disagreed with and passed them on to our own children. Our sadness comes though from the realization that we can no longer return to the source to find out what she thinks about the new governor or new team member.

I want to thank each of you for coming today to help us celebrate our mother and her full and wonderful life. Thank you.”

Powerful words, delivered well, in a room full of people gathered to remember and honor Marcia’s mom. A very touching moment.

We spent a lot of time visiting with Marcia’s siblings and their children and grandchildren, which was also nice, particularly for Katelin, who is the youngest of the 24 grandchildren, and therefore the cousin closest in age to the 17 great-grandchildren. We all spent much of the time piled up watching hockey and eating great food and watching the Oscars and eating more great food at Marcia’s oldest sister’s house in downtown Minneapolis. You can’t really appreciate the full and amazing value of family togetherness until you see one this large and multi-generational doing its thing together. I think if you put all of my known and surviving extended family together in one room, there would still be fewer of us than there are in Marcia’s immediate family. Pretty amazing.

On Lighter Stuff

The only sour note of the weekend for me was the Oscars . . . I like Clint Eastwood, but I like Martin Scorsese better, and I hate it when he keeps losing the “Best Director” title to actors-turned-directors. I’m sure at some point he will be given a lifetime-honorary Oscar, but I hope the Academy actually manages to give him a “real” Oscar sometime before then. He’s arguably the greatest director of my lifetime (the only person I would put before him, personally, might be Stanley Kubrick, depending on my mood at the time), and he’s been jobbed and robbed too many times.

That having been said, I am on some plane relieved that he didn’t win either best picture or best director . . . because the image of this great man receiving his award from Julia Roberts or the awful tag-team of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand might have been too much for me to bear. Better that Eastwood be on the receiving end of the kisses from these Hollywood hacks, I guess. And was Dustin Hoffman drunk when he was giving the Best Picture award, or was he just reprising his “Rain Man” role for the Academy? He used to be one of my favorite actors, way back when, but in the past year or so, he keeps popping up in these little toss-off, nothing, walk-through roles in films like “Finding Neverland” and “Lemony Snicket” and the like. Not to mention “Meet the Fockers,” which I just can’t bring myself to see, since Streisand makes the flesh want to jump off my body, crawl under a rock, and eat itself there.

And while I’m on the subject: why in the world was Beyonce Knowles tapped to sing three (!) of the songs nominated for Oscars this year? Why not have the real singers? Or why not at least give five singers the opportunity for such large scale exposure? Does Beyonce need the work? I don’t think so. And don’t even get me started on Antonio Banderas butchering the song that eventually won the Oscar. The reaction shot of Jorge Drexler, the original singer-songwriter of “Al Otro Lado Del Rio,” was priceless . . . he did not appear to be a happy camper. And when he won, and sang a verse in lieu of giving a speech, I think he made it damned clear how he felt about his song being treated like some token barrio jingle requiring a famous Spanish actor and guitar player (Carlos Santana) to make it connect with the American people. Bad call, Oscar planners.

As far as hosting goes, I certainly enjoyed Chris Rock a lot more than I enjoy Billy Crystal’s tired borscht-belt schtick or Whoopi Goldberg’s b-level hack work. The pundits didn’t like him, though, so I doubt he will get a return engagement, which means we’re probably going to get Billy or Whoopi again. Although I guess I can hold out hope that they might pick Steve Martin instead, the only host I’ve liked since Carson quit handling Oscar night.

Okay. Enough too-late-to-matter Oscar analysis. I think I’m gonna rent some Scorsese movies this week, just to wallow in wonderment at how this man keeps getting shut out. Ain’t no justice in Tinseltown, I guess.

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