Tag Archives: Kelly Veasey

Confession of a Phillies fan who left the Harper walkoff slam game early

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I have a confession to make. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan. A partial season ticket holder. I write about the team frequently here at my website.

I was at Thusday night’s game in which the team rallied scoring seven times in the final two innings to come from five runs down and win on Bryce Harper‘s walkoff grand slam.

And I saw none of it. None of the runs. No part of the rally. Not live and in person anyway.

I gave up, and I left early.

To set the stage for you, this was perhaps the eighth game that I had been to this season. After an early season hot streak, things had deteriorated, for me and the ball club.

In each of the previous two games that I had been to, the Phillies had been blown out. Not only that, but they had not even shown up. Both times they were nearly shutout, had few hits, and the games were over by the middle innings.

Thursday night was much the same. The Phillies were down 5-0 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. They had just four hits. Yu Darvish of the Cubs was dominating, striking out ten batters over seven innings.

So, as the 7th inning rolled around, I turned to my daughter with whom I was attending the game and told her that we would give it one more inning.

Really, I wasn’t hoping for much from the Phillies at that point. The club was down 5-0 on the scoreboard and showing no life. This night on the field appeared to be solely for the many Cubs fans in the stands, including one who was seated directly behind us and had been chirping all night long.

No, I was willing to stay through the 7th inning to see, of all things, the Phillie Phanatic. Hey, the big green furry guy puts on a nice show in that frame, dancing on the Phillies dugout roof. He didn’t disappoint, doing a nice number with a dance troupe from Temple University.

And so, as the action got underway in the top of the 8th, we left.

There was a good crowd at the ball park on a beautiful night. More than 37,000 showed up. Many left, both before us and as we were leaving. But there were still many who stayed. Those who stayed to the end would be the lucky ones. Well, at least those rooting for the home team.

We headed to the car, down towards I-95, and up onto the highway northbound. At somewhere between Bridge Street and Academy Road, the Phillies scored a run. I told my daughter, who was flipping through her phone in the passenger seat, that we scored a run. “Yay” she said, with sarcastic feigned enthusiasm.

I dropped her off at her house, and continued on to home. On the way, my wife asked me to make a stop at Wawa. As I drew nearer to our neighborhood, the Phillies had put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, still down 5-1.

I slipped through the dark and quiet streets of our neighborhood, my headlights streaming out and the street lamps helping light the way, and as I pulled into the Wawa parking lot a base hit by Brad Miller scored Cesar Hernandez to make it a 5-2 ball game.

Things were getting a little interesting. Roman Quinn, who has been hot for awhile now, was coming to the plate. He would be followed by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Dare we dream?

As Cubs skipper Joe Maddon went to the mound to make a pitching change, I went into the Wawa.

Got myself a coffee, and the night manager, a nice guy who I’ve seen in there many times, saw my Phillies t-shirt and cap and said “I guess they lost, huh?

I told him that I had been down there, left when it was 5-0, but now they had a little rally going in the bottom of the 9th, down 5-2. He asked who was up, and I told him that it was Quinn. He kind of nodded with an “oh well” look on his face.

As I walked through the store to find an item for my wife, a notice came over my phone that Quinn had delivered an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. I rushed back to Mr. Wawa Manager to let him know, and he said “guess I better find a place to listen.” I hope he did.

I got my items, paid, and left the store. Back in my car, I heard that Rhys Hoskins had somehow reached base – I just assumed a walk at that point – and that Bryce Harper was now up with the bases loaded.

Harper battled reliever Derek Holland during my four block drive home. I had just pulled in front of my house and was parking my car when…

You know the rest. Scott Franzke’s typically fantastic voice raised with the call “Swung on…hit high and deep…right field…and that…ball…is……goooooone!

Needless to say, finishing my parking job got a little bit tougher with that adrenalin jolt.

I got out of the car and hurried into my house. My wife, knowing that I was on my way and knowing her husband, had the game on, watched that ending, and had rewound it so that I could watch the end.

Watching it on TV was just as dramatic, even knowing how it ended. I rewound a little further so that I could enjoy the entire rally. When that TV coverage got to the home run, chills again thanks to John Kruk‘s now legendary “Oh my God!!” as soon as the ball left the bat.

So, I was there on Thursday night. I was at Citizens Bank Park for the game in which the Phillies rallied from down 5-0 in the 8th inning and 5-1 in the 9th to win on a walkoff grand slam by Bryce Harper.

I had a nice evening. My daughter and I ate and had a couple of beers before the game at Pass & Stow. We enjoyed each other’s company and chatted as we watched the game.

But we were not there at the end. We didn’t get to enjoy “the moment.”

You tell yourself a lot of things when you leave early, as I have done many times over the years. Gotta beat the crowd, the traffic being the main thing. I don’t believe that what happened last night has ever happened in a game that I left early before.

So, the question is – will I ever leave early again? Of course I will. Probably the very next game that I attend. And if the Phillies are losing, even losing big, I’ll hope and pray that I get to listen on the radio and/or watch on TV as they rally again.


1981: A New Beginning

All this year at my Facebook page, I have been taking a daily trip back in time to the 1980’s. Each month I am highlighting a different year chronologically.

This month have been featuring the music, tv, movies, and important events of 1981. You can also follow this little mini-series of articles on each year of the “1980’s'” by clicking on to that ‘label’ below this article.

As we all know, a new decade does not actually technically begin in a year that ends in a zero, it begins with the year ending in (1) one. So while 1981 might be the 2nd year of the 1980’s, it’s the first year of a new decade and marked a beginning in a couple of different chapters of my own life.

In late September of 1980, my little young family had moved into an apartment in South Philly. 1981 would be the first and only full calendar year that we would live there. It was an interesting year at what became simply known as ‘the apartment’ in our little circle of friends. We had many a Friday night party at the place in the early months of the year, but as the summer drew on things got a bit more crowded.

In another development of those early months, the news came to us that a new addition was expected in the Veasey clan. Having given birth to Chrissy the previous February, we learned that Anne was pregnant again. Given that she was due at the end of July 1981, it appeared that this was a post-World Series baby conceived in the immediate aftermath of the Phils’ first-ever championship at the end of October.

So leaping forward, on July 30th, 1981, Kelly Anne Veasey came into the world. We had planned all along to actually name her ‘Kerry’ rather than ‘Kelly’. But another young couple who lived on Anne’s parents block in Prospect Park, PA, were due at the same time. They gave birth just before us, and named their new daughter ‘Kerry’. That killed it, we weren’t going to be seen as copy-cats. So ‘Kelly’ it was. A fine Irish name.

Kelly’s sister Christine had been almost too good to be true as a baby. She was quiet, happy, mostly healthy, slept through the night. A dream for a young couple who already had enough on their plates. Kelly – not so much. She was sickly for much of her first year, puking up everywhere and crying incessantly. We were paying the price for the good luck the first time around.

Kelly would grow out of that illness and crying period quickly the following summer, and would go on to be a wonderful, happy, care-free joy to be around for anyone who knew her. Well, maybe except for the whole pulling-out of her sister’s hair episode. She remains that lovable way to this day. But as for that first year? Well, for the sake of the love that I have for her today, I’ll pass on further commentary.

I began to get a little more responsibility in my job at First Pennsylvania Bank as well. In those days my work mostly consisted still of duties as a Messenger Clerk, and I was also getting involved in bond reconciliation and cremation procedures. It wasn’t much, but for a kid who was still a teenager it was good, steady work with a small but livable paycheck. Most importantly for my young family, the job came with a good health care plan.

In the spring of 1981 an old friend from my Two Street neighborhood who also was working for the bank, Bob Bergmann, got me started in a venture that would change my life. Bob remembered me as a good ballplayer as a kid, and so he recruited me for a men’s softball team for which he was playing in the bank’s large intra-mural program.

I joined up with the team called the Pirates managed by the head of the bank’s mailroom, Rich Quick. The team had a couple of strong hitting stars in a big lefty 1st baseman named John Dunn and a fast, strong, young outfielder named Fran Mehaffey. We were expected to contend, but fell short of those expectations. The personalities on the team never seemed to mesh, but the experience did get me back into athletics on an adult level and would expose me to my future as a ballplayer.

The fall after that season was finished, I was approached by a man from another area of our Trust Department by the name of Ed Markowski. Ed had been around the bank for a long time at that point, and was the head of a team known as ‘Pennamco’ which was usually a .500 team in the bank league and which had a large number of older players.

Their team was trying to get younger, and Ed recruited me, as well as a number of other younger guys, to play for them the following season. I hadn’t been real happy with the Pirates experience, but loved playing again, and so I joined Ed’s team. We would eventually go on to become the Brewers softball team, and the rest is a history that you will read in future months.

Out in the real world at large, 1981 saw the changeover from the national malaise of the Jimmy Carter years to the new hope of the Ronald Reagan presidency. As I have said before, I was a card-carrying fully indoctrinated liberal Democrat at the time who thought that Carter was a brilliant man and that Reagan was a dunce. I couldn’t understand how the country had voted him in to office. How time would prove me wrong.

Reagan was sworn-in to office on January 20th as the 40th President of the United States. Just minutes later, Iranian officials released the 52 American hostages which they had been holding captive in that country for more than a year since a militant Islamic regime had taken power, ending what had become known as the ‘Iran Hostage Crisis’.

A week later the entire Philadelphia region was abuzz as for the very first time our own Philadelphia Eagles had advanced to play in the Super Bowl. On January 11th, the Birds had sent the rival Dallas Cowboys packing with a thrilling 20-7 victory in the NFC Championship game. Under their brilliant young, driven head coach Dick Vermiel, the Eagles were led by quarterback Ron Jaworski, running back Wilbert Montgomery, veteran wide receiver Harold Carmichael, and a tenacious defense led by linebacker Bill Bergey.

The Eagles went into the Super Bowl as the favorites against the AFC’s Oakland Raiders. I remember the exciting buildup to the game both in the local media and among my own young circle of friends. We planned a big Super Bowl party that Sunday to match the bash we had enjoyed just months earlier when the Phillies won the World Series. A keg of beer was on ice in my kitchen, food was brought by all of the group, and the party was just getting ready to start.

It all came crashing down really, really fast, for both myself and the Eagles. A short time before the game was to begin, I got a phone call from my step-grandmother Kay. She was telling me that my grandfather Ray, the man who I grew up knowing simply as ‘Pop’ and who lived just a half block from my apartment, was having some physical problems.

I quickly left the apartment and the party and went to Pop’s house, and found him there mostly unresponsive. At Kay’s direction and with her help, we loaded him in to Pop’s car and I drove to the hospital. It was here in a hospital E/R where my grandfather was being diagnosed with and eventually treated for what turned out to be a stroke that I watched the Super Bowl.

By the time that we got Pop checked-in and I had a chance to check a TV for an Eagles update, the rout was on. The Raiders had scored two early touchdowns on passes from veteran quarterback Jim Plunkett who would go on to be named the MVP as the Raiders became the first NFL Wildcard team to win a Super Bowl in what ended up as a 27-10 Oakland romp.

Pop ended up recovering from that stroke and he lived for more than another decade. He was a great guy who was very close to my family while I was growing up, never living more than a block away from my mom. She was sick at the time, and he took on a lot of her care in the 1970’s and into those early 1980’s before I took over that role. It’s after him that I wanted to be called ‘Pop’ by my own grandkids when Elysia was born in 2002, and so I am.

Despite the Eagles upset in the Super Bowl, this was a time of unparalleled cumulative success for Philadelphia pro sports teams. Within the same calendar year of 1980-81, the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers all appeared in their respective title games or series. The Phillies would win that 1980 World Series, the Flyers won Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. The Eagles won that 1981 NFL Championship game, and the Sixers would go on to win the 1983 NBA Finals. It was the only way that I really knew. I thought we were supposed to always win like that. I would learn differently soon enough.

On March 6th of 1981, iconic CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite signed off the air following his final news broadcast. In those pre-cable days, network news anchors were considered the kings of the news media, and none was bigger or more popular at that time than Cronkite. He had been guiding the country through difficult news times for decades, including the Kennedy assasination. He signed off just before nearly having to repeat that terrible broadcast.

On March 20th, President Ronald Reagan stepped out of the Washington Hilton Hotel where he had delivered a morning speech and moved towards the open door of his waiting limo. With a full phalanx of Secret Service officers around, a lone gunman suddenly rushed forward and shot Reagan at point-blank range. Though he was seriously injured, his lung collapsed, and he nearly died, Reagan recovered relatively quickly.

Press Secretary James Brady was not so lucky. Also shot during the hail of bullets, Brady had been struck in the head. He became permanently disabled, and the shooting would lead to the various measures and efforts to restrict handgun access and violence. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr, had been obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and claimed that the shooting was in part inspired by her role in the film ‘Taxi Driver’ and to gain her attention.

On April 12th, the United States moved into a new era in space exploration with the launch of the first-ever Space Shuttle. The shuttle ‘Columbia’ lifted off on the 20th anniversary of the first human space flight, moving America back into space after almost a decade away.

On May 13th, the danger for world leaders reared it’s ugly head once again as a Muslim assassin shot the wildly popular Pope John Paul II at close range in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope would go on to recover from his injuries as Reagan had, and eventually would both meet with and forgive his would-be Turkish assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca.

On June 5th in Los Angeles, five homosexual men were reported by the Centers for Disease and Control as having a rare pneumonia-like illness that had seriously compromised their immune systems. The men became the first officially recognized cases and victims of AIDS.

A week later, on June 12th, Major League Baseball players began a strike that would cancel almost 40% of the regular season schedule and eventually result in the first and only split-season format in MLB history. Nine days later, Wayne Williams was arrested in Atlanta. He would be eventually charged in the murder of 30 people in what was known as the ‘Atlanta child murders’.

The eventful year continued when on July 7th, President Reagan nominated the first-ever woman for service on the Supreme Court of the United States. Sandra Day O’Connor would eventually be confirmed and serve on the highest court in the land for a quarter century. On July 27th, a young boy, Adam Walsh, was kidnapped from a Sears store in Florida. His murder would spur his father to eventually form the ‘America’s Most Wanted’ program.

Two days after Walsh’s disappearance, most of the world was focused on the massive, ornate celebration of the wedding to end all weddings. On July 29th in England, Lady Diana Spencer married Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince Charles, in front of a worldwide television audience.

1981 has already given us enough of note? Not so fast. On August 1st, the now-legendary and iconic vision of the astronaut planting a flag on the moon appeared across cable services for the very first time to herald the launch of MTV, the Music Television Network. Two days later, the nation’s air traffic controllers would go on strike. Two days after that, President Reagan fired all 11,359 of them in the greatest labor-busting move in U.S. history.

The 2nd half of the year seemed to slow things down from the explosiveness of the first half, but it did serve to supply one major end-of-an-era moment. On December 11th, boxing legend Muhammad Ali stepped in to the ring and fought against Jamaican-Canadian heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick. Berbick had lost a hard-fought 15-round decision to champion Larry Holmes months earlier, and on this night he dispatched the great Ali in what would prove to be the final fight in the career of the man simply known as ‘The Greatest’.

1981 was a year of fighting on many fronts. Fighting through barriers, fighting through disaster, fighting through change on numerous fronts. The 1980’s were now fully underway with Reagan in the White House, Pope John Paul II in the Vatican, the Cold War coming to a head, radical Islam beginning it’s march, the Space Shuttle program launched, and both MTV and CNN changing how we view it all.

BORN 1981: Kelly Veasey, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Serena Williams, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce Knowles, Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba, Josh Groban, Eli Manning, Jennifer Hudson, Howie Day, Elijah Wood, Julia Stiles, Hayden Christensen, Justin Morneau, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Anna Kournikova, Jake Peavy, Adriana Lima, Roger Federer, Carl Crawford, Tila Tequila, Ivanka Trump, Barbara & Jenna Bush, Natasha Bedingfield, Amy Lee

DIED 1981: Bill Haley, Natalie Wood, Richard Boone, Joe Louis, Bobby Sands, Bob Marley, George Jessel, Harry Chapin, Adam Walsh, Paddy Chayefsky, Lowell Thomas, Anwar Sadat, Moshe Dayan, Edith Head, William Holden, Jack Albertson, Hoagy Carmichael

Reflections on the Fourth of July 2009

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Fireworks light the sky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Over this past weekend our country celebrated it’s 233rd birthday. We the people of the United States of America celebrated in a variety of ways.

Many flocked to the beaches along our coastlines. Even more celebrated with family or community barbecue cookouts during the day, followed by fireworks displays at night. Our family was no different.

No matter how we celebrated the day, the vast majority of Americans did indeed celebrate in some way. The reasons that we celebrated were many. Some would say that for many, like Christmas, the true meaning of Independence Day has become lost on most people. I don’t believe that is so.

As most Americans know and celebrate, Independence Day (or the ‘Fourth of July’) celebrates that date that the young American colonies declared their independence from the British crown back in 1776. Thus the massive display of the American flag, and of people incorporating the American colors of red, white, and blue into their wardrobes this weekend.

John Adams himself declared: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

He was off by two days in that letter, written to his wife on July 3rd, 1776, the reason being that Congress debated and revised the original Declaration of Independence after approving it a day earlier. The final version famously lists the July 4th ratification date. The actual signing of the Declaration, famously highlighted by John Hancock’s gorgeous signature, happened on August 2nd, 1776.

Amazingly, both Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of America’s most celebrated Founding Fathers, two of the first men to lead our nation as President, and two signers of the Declaration, both died on the 4th of July, 1826 within hours of one another on the fiftieth anniversary of that great event. Five years later, President James Monroe also died on July 4th, though he was not a signer of the Declaration.

In 1777, Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in ways that a modern American would be familiar with, including an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships on the Delaware River were decked with red, white, and blue bunting to mark the occasion.

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to adopt July 4th as a state holiday. In 1785, Bristol, Rhode Island, held the first-ever parade in honor of the date, and has held one continuously on that date ever since.

In 1791, the first recorded use of the term ‘Independence Day’ happened. In 1870, Congress made the date an unpaid holiday for federal employees, then changed that to a paid holiday in 1938. Many American businesses have followed suit.

My own family had a very nice Independence Day weekend. We began our celebrations with my oldest daughter, Christine, and grandkids Elysia and Reznor staying at our home on both Friday and Saturday nights.

On Saturday, I spent the day in our pool with my granddaughter, then fired up the grill for a cookout as younger daughter Kelly and her boyfriend Jay Dooley joined the festivities. At night we lit sparklers in our backyard, and got to enjoy a tremendous neighborhood fireworks display put on by one of our neighbors. I even got to enjoy the New York and Philly fireworks displays on television.

On Sunday, my wife Debbie and I packed up Chrissy, Elysia and Rez, and headed over to Williamstown, New Jersey for a cookout and pool party with some of Deb’s family in honor of her father’s 84th birthday.

While there we had the great fortune to watch as the Phillies defeated the Mets to sweep a holiday weekend series, setting up the finale of our own celebration. Deb and I will be heading down to Citizens Bank Park tonight to watch the Phils take on the Cincinnati Reds.

Our family celebrates Independence Day the way that the vast majority of normal Americans do: family gatherings, cookouts, swimming, baseball, fireworks and all with the flag proudly displayed and the red, white, and blue clothing worn.

On this date in particular, we all pause to reflect on the braveness of our forefathers, the greatness of our nation, and the unity of purpose with which we must all move forward together to keep our country free. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Babies are always a blessing

Christine Veasey at The Vet, September 1980

Yesterday was a very ‘baby’ day in my life. I was surrounded by them almost everywhere that I went. After going to Sunday Mass we headed down I-95 and across the Walt Whitman Bridge, over to Williamstown, New Jersey and a visit with some of my wife Deb’s family.

Her sister, Arlene Clegg, has lived in South Jersey for over a decade now, and she and her family are pretty close with ours. We spend a lot of good times together, from holidays to road trips to simple family gatherings.

We used to live less than a block from one another in the ‘old neighborhood’ on Huntingdon Street, Leen’s husband Jim and I used to play ball both with and against one another in younger days, and Deb was in the room for the birth of both of Leen’s kids, daughter Cheri and son Jim. Growing up they were close at different times with my own daughters, Christine, Kelly, and Melissa.

As yesterday proved, those days of us being simply the parents, and them being simply the kids, are now officially over. At Leen’s house yesterday we visited not only with the folks already mentioned, but with some new members of the family.

Both Cheri (son Jake) and Jimmy (son Ayden) have had babies within the past two months. Well, actually Jimmy’s girlfriend Regina had the baby, but you get the idea. Two new babies to visit at one sitting.

Cheri also had a daughter, Danica, born just under two years ago, so now she has two in diapers. Been there, done that. The babies look great, as most all babies do, and seemed to be pretty healthy, so thank God for that.

My eldest daughter, Christine, had a baby of her own just six months ago. She gave birth at that time to my grandson, Reznor Lloyd, and after we left Leen’s house yesterday we stopped by for a quick visit with them at their South Philly home.

While ‘The Rez’, as I’ve taken to calling him, was sound asleep we did get to visit with him and his beautiful sister, my 6 1/2 year old granddaughter Elysia.

Now at this point I don’t want to intrude on my family members private lives and situations too much, or make any personal commentary. But in keeping it simple, none of these babies was brought into the world in what would be considered a traditional family. None of their parents are married, and all of them face various challenges in trying to put together and keep together their own individual families.

But despite all of the challenges, difficulties and hard work that their decisions to become young parents under these circumstances has involved there is one thing that becomes very apparent when you spend any time visiting with each of them. The babies have been a true blessing in their lives.

Watching them hold their babies, change their diapers, proudly hand them around to family members, some simple truths come flooding back from the early days of my own parenthood. Babies make you less selfish. Not completely unselfish, but less so.

They make you think about someone else, every minute of every day. They force you to become at least somewhat responsible in that you have to look in the mirror and realize that it is time for you to begin to make your own way in this life.

You need to support your baby, hopefully with the full loving help and cooperation of your partner. We even further hope this partner becomes our committed spouse, if they aren’t already.

As I visited with all of the kids and their kids it took me back to my own days as a young father, which really began 29 years ago today. That same eldest daughter Christine was born on this very day in 1980.

I am one of those guys with a fuzzy memory of many things from that far back, but so much of her birth and those early months are still very clear in my mind. Her mom had some physical problems relating to the pregnancy, and needed to be hospitalized for a short time leading up to the birth.

I remember having to stay out in the waiting area after first arriving at the hospital, and the birth took a long time. I slept overnight on the night of February 1st and into the 2nd on a very uncomfortable wood-framed couch in a ‘family room’ area.

The actual birth was a difficult one, but in the end there she was, a beautiful little girl who we named Christine Elizabeth Veasey.

There are so many stories that I could tell of her as a baby and young child, but I can condense it all down to saying that she was simply a joy as a baby. The kid slept for hours in the overnight, always had a sunny disposition, and was an extremely fast learner.

As a young family we had many challenges and difficulties, just as our children do today. Some we were able to overcome as time went along, some we were not.

But one thing has stood out through the entirety of my life. Despite the fact that I was a father at 18, the father of two by 19, the births of my daughters and the challenge of raising them was a blessing from God in my life.

Yesterday I got to visit with all of the new babies in my family. Today I celebrate the 29th anniversary of the birth of my own first baby, now raising two of her own. I love her more than I can ever tell her or show her, and if she ever reads this it comes with this simple wish: Happy Birthday, baby!

Happy Thanksgiving to you, happy birthday to me

On this coming Tuesday, I will turn 46 years old. Two days later is Thanksgiving. It is the closest that my birthday ever comes to actually falling on the holiday, which it will never exactly meet.

Thanksgiving is celebrated always on the fourth Thursday in November, and if you do the calculating you will see that the latest that my birth date, the 20th, can fall is on the third Thursday.

Still, with this being my own closest confluence of the two days, which some years is almost a full week apart, it gives me a good opportunity to reflect on what exactly it is for which I am personally thankful.

Sliding towards the back end of my 40’s, with apparently no reversal of this aging process in sight, reflection is something that I find increasingly vital in my life, and here is a sharing of those things.

I am thankful for having a good career that is affording me opportunities and experiences that I could have never imagined as a young man. To tell of all the many exciting, demanding, rewarding experiences that one gathers over almost two decades as a police officer on the streets of a big city would take up volumes. Suffice it to say that they have all contributed to my personal growth and knowledge. For this career I am very thankful.

I am thankful for the educational opportunities that I have been afforded, and for the intelligence and perseverance that it takes to pursue a college degree while also working full-time at a demanding job.

Special thanks in this area goes out to Philly police boss Keith Sadler, who encouraged me to get going on my degree pursuit over four years ago now. It goes out to the Philly PD, as well as to the Community College of Philadelphia and St. Joseph’s University, for their relationship in helping cops travel this journey. For these educational opportunities, I am very thankful.

I am thankful for my home, which feels so much now like a glove-fit, but which I could not have envisioned just a little over a decade ago. For a kid from a row house neighborhood who never had two nickels to scrape together during his 20’s, to think that I could one day own a single home in a great neighborhood with a nice front and rear yard, a garage, and a swimming pool is amazing. It isn’t a mansion, and it needs some work, but it is ours, and it is home. For this wonderful place to live out day to day life, I am very thankful.

I am thankful for the people in my life, because relationships are what this life is all about. These people include friends, co-workers, my fellow students, regular acquaintances, and most of all my family. Without the rich texture and color of their own many and varied personalities and experiences, my own life would be so much less enjoyable. For the people that bring my life to life, I am very thankful.

As a police officer, then a detective, and now as a police supervisor, I have had to deal with other cops and investigators under some tremendously pressurized situations all across the city. From South Street to Red Lion Road, from Kensington Avenue to Cobbs Creek Parkway, I have first-hand, on the street experience watching some of the most dedicated men and women in the world handle fights and fires, auto accidents and homicides.

Everything that you can think of that comes under the umbrella of the good, the bad, and the ugly, the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department experience almost daily. For the opportunity to work alongside them, I am very thankful.

As a student, I have had the opportunity to sit in the classroom with some of the most dedicated individuals within those same police ranks. These are officers who do that same difficult job every day and night, and yet still find the time, energy, effort, perseverance, and intellect that it takes to also pursue a college education.

Like me, they do it in the hopes that they will one day improve their working situation, be it in their current career on in another chapter of their lives. And the instructors and professors who teach us are also doing double-duty. For these people, I am very thankful.

None of us go through life without making friends. Some are closer than others, some come and go in our lives, but once you make a real friend, they are usually a friend for life. I had the good fortune as a young man to play ball with some great guys on the Brewers softball team.

The Brewers won a half-dozen championships on the ball fields of Philly between 1983 and 1996, We cemented our friendship over post-game food and drinks, post-work get-togethers, and family gatherings. Now over two decades later, I can say these were the best friends of my adult life.

I ran into Dee Sweeney, one of the Brewer wives, in a local store a few years back. She commented on how during the conversation she could still feel our friendship, even though we hadn’t seen one another for a few years at that point.

Dee and her husband, George Sweeney, had a few young kids at the time, and so my response to her was that “we could not talk to one another for over a year, and you could call me up at two in the morning to come watch your kids and I would”. Those are good friends, and for them I am very, very thankful.

For anyone who has their life in order, there are no more important people than family. These are the folks for whom I am most thankful. My extended family has been great throughout my life. The richness of the experiences that my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents have brought to me has been unforgettable.

Whether at a shore house, or in a family gathering, or on a bus trip to a ballgame, even at a funeral, these people have brought fullness to my life, and an appreciation of the extension of our lives out into the world that a good family brings. For them I have always been and will always be thankful.

There are none more important than immediate family. My wonderful wife, my incredible daughters, my inspiring parents, my brother and his own family.

My parents had many challenges in their lives, especially my mom who died far too young after far too much suffering. My dad’s life as a Marine, a dedicated law enforcement professional, and the enjoyment that he has found in retirement.

These people were my foundation, and for the example they set through all their own challenges, the opportunities they afforded me as a kid, and the love they showed me throughout their lives, I am eternally thankful.

My brother, Mike Veasey, is “the Man”. If he weren’t, I would be, but he is around so the title is his. If you don’t get that idea, don’t worry, it’s a bit of an inside thing. As a kid, he and I had the typical big brother, little brother, combative relationship. As adults, we bonded into a closeness that I will forever cherish.

Mike was my partner for a few years when we were both young cops trying to survive on the streets. While I probably would have survived without him, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. His family, my dedicated sister-in-law Diana and my wonderful Goddaughter Meghan, may as well be my own. For this family, I can never express my full thanks.

Then there are my kids, Christine, Kelly, and Melissa, and granddaughter Elysia Bellina. My kids have brought me so much joy and pain over the past three decades that I simply would not be the same person today without them. Only other involved parents can understand how the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the smiles and tears, the triumphs and tragedies of another person’s life can affect you so much.

To say that my three daughters have been a challenge would be appropriate. But to say that they are my pride and joy would be an understatement. That joy extends to my granddaughter, who puts a smile on my face and in my heart every time I see her. I can only pray that they all have children of their own one day, and pass along these family ties, bonds, history.

My wife, Debbie Veasey, is quite simply the best human being that I have ever personally known in my entire life. The gift that I was given when this woman came to my life, which was at an extremely difficult time in my life, is one that I did not deserve, but for which I am forever thankful. We have traveled together, grown together, and shared almost everything, almost every day.

Deb has stood by me through all of life’s difficult challenges, a couple of which were my own creation. She has loved me during every season of my life. She is truly my partner, my best friend, my love. For her, there is no level of thanks to truly express how I feel.

None of these people and experiences would have been possible without the blessing of a loving God. Saying that I am thankful to and for God Himself just doesn’t seem to say enough. The experience of His love in my life, the way that He has listened to my prayers.

The gift of his own Son, Jesus Christ, to my world. His death for my sins. His teaching that has begun to penetrate my consciousness more fully over the last year. I only pray that my own children will know this kind of personal relationship, this ultimate relationship, as they continue on the journey of their own lives. In fact, I pray for nothing more often and deeply. For the positive answer to that prayer, Lord, I would more thankful than anything.

Give thanks, all of you, for those people and things that are most important in your life. Give thanks for the joy they have brought you. Give thanks for the challenges they have brought you. Give thanks for the ability to enjoy the people and events, and the ability to battle and overcome the challenges.

And when you do give thanks, remember where that thanks should be directed. The full and final thanks goes to your God.

Happy birthday to me, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.