Wednesday, April 28, 2010




It was a big joke in my family that when they moved from Montgomery, NY to CT in 1971, I never got a room. I had just gone to college in the hills of NC and for all intent and purpose, at 18 I had moved out. I was always welcome and always had a spot to sleep- a borrowed bed, a pull out couch, a pile of coats on the floor in the corner....So the other day as the old man lay in his bed, barely able to move, he pointed to a little louver door, high on the wall, leading to storage in his bedroom. "Put a sign on that door." he instructed my sister Mrs. Budinski. "That can be Michael's room." Right 'til the end he could give a needle as well as he could take one.

Early yesterday morning my father Richard Alfred Osterhout died. I've cried so much the last two weeks i thought I was cried out. Of course I was wrong. But now the tears don't last. His passing was anticipated and hoped for. After a few sniffles I suck it up and smile. Time to get on with things.
As much as I'll miss seeing him, what I'll miss the most is his frequent phone calls. "What's going on over there?" he would ask. Most times nothing was going on, but we would always find something to talk about. "Checking in and checking up." was another of his favorite phone greetings. He didn't have to try to stay in touch. He did it so automatically that if one short of the whole family was gathered around him, he'd pick up the phone and dial the missing person. It drove the rest of us crazy.

Last night, after working all day with Bird, we went back to my shack and called the Voegelins. But Vic and Georgia had beat us to it and invited us for dinner with the whole clan. Bird couldn't make it (his own family was his priority), but I wouldn't miss it. I was OK until Vic led me outside the house and instructed me to lower the flag to half mast in honor of his best friend- Dick. The tears flowed but were cut short when we realized we had locked ourselves out of the house. The cold wind howled and Vic and I hugged and laughed. We circled the house knocking on windows but everyone was having such a good time telling Uncle Dick stories, they couldn't hear us. Vic had a bottle of Bailey's in his pocket and I had some matches. So we went over by the edge of the pasture and started a little campfire to stay warm. We huddled together, watching the sparks swirl and spit to the heavens and toasted his friend and my father. I looked at my watch. It was 5:20 pm. Mom would be pouring her glass of wine and for the first time in 59 years having happy hour without the love of her life. God speed Old Man. You leave this world filled with love in your memory.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Less than two weeks until turkey season and the old man is hanging on by a thread. I spent last week on duty, relieving Bird from his week of no sleep, helping dad in and out of bed. I was scared and nervous at first. I may have a church but I'm no pastoral strong man. In fact of all of us Osties I'm the one who chokes up the easiest and seems to have the least patience for these things. You want a minister to listen to your troubles or administer to the congregation? This ain't the church for you. That said, I'll do whatever I have to do for my family.
In and out of consciousness, dad rallied enough one afternoon to have me read him a letter sent by Savage Lynch. Two sentences in and I was a blubbering fool. Savage writes a good letter. "Give that to me." the old man grumbled when he saw I couldn't get through it. But his eyes were too bad to read it. So I took it back, sucked it up and plowed through. When i was through, he smiled and stated that that was one helluva good letter. It seemed to perk him up. So that evening I moved him over to the hospital bed, cranked up the back and Mrs. B served him left over lasagna like he was in a restaurant. Two bites in and he hollered "BRING ME A BOTTLE OF COLD BEER." I complied. That night was a rough one.
Now he's going down for the count. No more food. (He can barely swallow.) A little water. Some morphine. All hands are on deck in order to make him as comfortable as possible. Mom is a tower of strength. Happy hour every day at 5:20pm. So much love emits from her tiny frame it can bowl you over. Turkey season is fast approaching as the old man slips through our fingers. I fear it will it will be a lonely one. But if he taught us one thing it is to appreciate each other and get on with it. In the toughest of times he always said- "This too shall pass."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010



As I prepare the hymns for the upcoming service, pouring over the old yellow programs, lovingly illuminated by the little green monks, I realize just how different those days were when the church was formed. And sense there is some trepidation about child appropriate content within the service. So I'll let you judge for yourselves. Get the kids to sing along.


Rub a dub baby in Neverland
In Jacko's large bed
Beware of his hand
A king of pop habit
Makes him confused
Rub a dub baby
A rubbing on you....AaaaaaaaaMen.


I love me. You love you.
You do pee- pee
I poo-poo

With a nickel bag
Really wacked
Rolling up a bone
The Little Green Man comes stumbling home

The Little Green Man he had two
Two for us and none for you

With a nickel bag
Really wacked
Rolling up a bone
The Little Green Man comes stumbling home

The Little Green Man he loves thee
Was it good for you?
It was god for me

With a nickel bag
Really wacked
Rolling up a bone
The Little Green Man comes stumbling home.


See you in church Sunday May 30, 2010 2pm 143 Old Glen Wild rd, Glen Wild, NY 12738

Sunday, April 11, 2010




To say my grandfather Wray Osterhout and I were close is an understatement. When the old man went to Korea 3 days after i was born, on a hot August morning in 1952, Gramp was the one, along with my mother, who I imprinted on. For my first 14 months of life he was my father. Then a stranger walked in the door of our tin can trailer and took my mother's hand and attention away from me. Before I knew it i had a couple of brothers and.....well you can guess the rest. My life as an only child in that trailer with my beautiful mom and visiting, doting grandfather had come to an abrupt end. Traumatic? You have no idea.
Fast forward 57 years and here I am living a couple miles from the family cabin my grandfather built at Wolf Lake, an artist, a church builder, a carpenter, a turkey hunter. I just got home from my parent's house in Ct. All my brothers and my sister were there. I'm exhausted. They asked why I wasn't posting on this blog. I told them I didn't have anything to say. And this was true. Turkey season wasn't until May and I was at a loss for words. Work and planning for the Mortgage Burning Church was taking up most of my time......oh and by the way my father was dying.
When my grandfather died i remember my old man telling me he knew how close we were and he was close to him as well, so he could relate. He knew I was hurting and angry and pissed off at the world. We had that in common and he hoped maybe we could build on that and......then he kind of dropped it. I appreciated his condolences, but knew he never could have loved that old coot as much as I did. You have no idea.

Until I was about 22 or 23 we butted heads constantly. (And still do from time to time.) But then a funny thing happened. As I matured we became friends. We accepted each other. And about that same time he began to drill in me the importance of a close family. "Did you call your brother, sister, neice, nephew, etc, etc. ?" became his mantra. He may have loved his father, but he never had ties with his sibs. He didn't want that to happen to us. And it didn't. There's only one or two people in this world I like hanging out with as much as my family. And I have a lot of really fun, great looking, cool as shit friends. So when i get the call that all of my siblings are gathering at my folk's house and my presence is requested i get in the car and go.
The old man watched his old man die in the mid-sixties and it shook him. Now we are watching ours go and tough doesn't come close. Plus mom has been sick for years and seems in the pink compared to dad. Yet, no small part due to the upbringing we have received from these two amazing people, this is no sick house of mourning. We are always loud. But now we are louder. I bring hymns to sing with titles like "I'd like to Make the World Ashamed" and "Snatch of Ages". Duke brings rum and cooks a ham. The kids from the youngest great grand daughter up, lounge and join in the razing and bull. Bird and I undress and dress the old man as he bitches, grumbles and lets us. He tells Bird to wake him up the day before turkey season. As the night progresses we cry, laugh, argue, drink, cry some more, fight, cuss each other, run away, come back, get hurt, kiss and hug, drink some more and tell each other how much we goddamn love each other. I have no idea how we will survive without our parents and feel like I'm the first person on earth to have dealt with such a great loss. You have no idea.