As of this writing, it's the evening before the birthday of Matthew Minches, my stepson.
He would have been 25 on April 27, 2015.
We all have our own memories of Matthew, but I think everyone would agree that he was kind and gentle; he exhibited admirable sportsmanship in many areas of life, and he was a wonderful son, brother (biological and step), cousin and friend.
These are simply facts, but there are lots of unique memories that we appreciate about Matthew as well. Two of mine center on Sundays.
First, Matthew (and I) deemed Sunday "NO negativity" day.
Here's why: When Matthew was in high school and in the first year of college, he and David mowed, edged and weed-whacked the lawn on Sunday mornings in the spring and summer. By 12 or 12:30, they were showered and ready for lunch and by 1, they were zoned in to baseball for the rest of the afternoon. The 3 (or more) of us would sit down together for dinner and it was this mealtime conversation which provided the impetus for us to refer to Sundays as a negative-free zone.
Why? Because of David, and here's the reason. He had a tendency to go off about his frustrations during this time period - Sunday dinner - with regard to various athletes, politicians or lobbyists around the world. For those of us familiar with David, we know that he has strong views about a lot of things, and with such zest while we were captive at the dinner table, he would explain in great detail everything that he found so troubling. (If you're one of his Facebook friends, you're probably quite certain about his strong stance on gun control, for example, and his dislike for those whose beliefs are in total disregard of the harm that has plagued humanity when the wrong people get control of guns.)
Since I agree with David on this issue and many others, I'm often OK with his rants, but other times his robust dose of negativity could be draining, and Matthew and I wanted to wind down at this time, not get all revved up. So we rebelled by instituting a ban on negative comments for Sundays. At first, David seemed shocked that we'd suggest he temper his remarks but, over time and with persistence, he became a fairly good sport about it. I recall that he even thanked us for limiting his refrain to just one day each week, and we appreciated that he would respectfully become mute when his infractions - there were always some - were brought to his attention.
I have thought about "NO negativity" Sundays when David starts going down that familiar path, but I can't do it. I'm too sad to even say the words "NO negativity," as well as to think how David would feel hearing them, so I don't do it, even though every Sunday I think about it. Now through reading this blog he will be reminded, in case he ever forgot. [Note to David: I won't bring this up again.]
The second part of the Sunday reference relates to blogging. I have to credit Matthew for my Sunday ritual of blog posting, as it was this savvy young man who introduced me to this medium through his own blog, where he shared his love for movies. He took great pains to dissect movies that he especially liked and respected so that his readers could also see them through new eyes. At the time, I was more impressed that as a teenager he was so tuned in to the art of movie making (he even made one himself) than I was about the act of blogging, but the fact remains that he was the first in our family to blog, and I thank him for inspiring me to get started.
So to all of us who have memory upon memory, let's let them light up our Monday.
Happy Birthday, Dear Matthew.