Monday, May 4, 2009

Laugh It Off

It's been said that when you are about to die your whole life flashes before your eyes. Who said this is a mystery. did this person almost die and it happened so now it happens to everyone? Whoever isn't important. What happened to me is why I'm writing this.

For the past few days I've been in a nostalgic mood. It hit its peak when I heard Danny Gans died. He was 52, a talented performer in Vegas who had a show that was family friendly, clean, patriotic, spiritual--all those things we seem to believe Vegas is not. Yet, he had been crowned Best Act for several years. We had been privileged to see him twice. He'd just signed a new (and probably BIG) contract with the Wynn Casino as their headliner in February. He produced the Donny and Marie show in Vegas and was, they say, just a good man, good husband and father. He went to bed Thursday and died in his sleep.

Last Wednesday at one of our small groups we had a lesson on our Bucket List. We had to write down our present age and the age we thought we'd live to. I wrote down 88 but Reid only wrote 78, which means he has about 5 more years. That got me thinking things I really didn't want to think about. And the past began running in my mind.

We went to a Pops symphony Sunday afternoon called Viva Las Vegas. The conductor was one of the best, Steve Reineke, who begins conducting the NY Symphony in October. Four singers sang Las Vegas songs. One of the men dressed as Liberace sang and played the piano. He's so good that the Liberace Museum approves of him.

The ensemble of two men and a woman sang songs from the era of the Rat Pack, Bobby Darin, Steve and Edie Gorme, Elvis and others. Their acts entertained so many people in the past. Today there are the likes of Danny Gans, Celine, Bette, Elton and the ever-present Wayne Newton.

The songs they sang: "Luck Be A Lady", "I Gotta Be Me", and many more brought back memories of a time that was quite different from today. My daughter lives in Vegas and says that Obama has just about killed tourism with his statement for companies to stop holding conferences there. Vegas is hurting just like the rest of the country. You may think that's good, but I don't. Vegas isn't all evil. It's a place where a performer can go and do what he/she is born to do; a place where a man or woman can make a decent living parking cars, serving in a restaurant, cleaning hotels--even dealing cards. Some of these people are among the scores who no longer have jobs. I think we need Vegas in this country. No place else is quite like it anywhere in the world. My daughter and her family rarely make it to the Strip and don't know much about what is going on down there. But the Strip keeps that economy going and that is not so bad.

By the time a fat Elvis came out and sang "Viva Las Vegas" I was feeling pretty nostalgic. "My Way" finished me off. "And now the end is near....." Wow! I remembered asking God once for him to tell me when I was going to die. I had begun to wonder if God was telling me that my end was near. Then we went to our small group meeting. Many of our group weren't there and the ones who were were in a giddy mood. We never got around to watching the video but we laughed so much for over an hour that by the time the meeting was over, my spirits had lifted. That's what laughter does for a person.

I guess the reason I wanted to put this down in writing was so I could see it for myself, and so you who read it can know that life can be better with humor. Have a fun week!

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