Tags: Health Topics | Alzheimer's/Dementia | barry gibb | billy martin | thurman munson | george steinbrenner

Be Thankful for Every Moment With Loved Ones

Be Thankful for Every Moment With Loved Ones

 Baseball's Thurman Munson (JerryColi/Dreamstime)

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016 09:37 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Barry Gibb wrote "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?"a long time ago for the wonderful singing group the Bee Gees. I have always heard of the great love that Barry had for his brothers Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb.

They all died of different causes including his baby brother Andy who died of long-term drug addiction. I can only imagine the pain that Barry feels every time he hears this song, how badly it makes him feel especially because of how young his brothers were.

I first started writing in 1979 when Thurman Munson, the wonderful Yankee catcher and team captain, died in a plane crash. I was having terrible anxiety attacks, and couldn't breathe. A therapist told me that it would help to write my thoughts out.

A song that helped me get through that period was Simon and Garfunkel's “The Sounds of Silence.” I remember one day getting on the subway train and seeing some graffiti on the wall which had a very bright number 15 (which was Munson's uniform number) and as in the song, the words read . . . “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.”

Whenever I think of the Boss and Billy Martin I think of the song, ”I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. In that song there is a part that talks about two guys that he loves very much. If you know the song and you know George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin you would understand. Both men entered the life of a very confused boy at just the right time.

The Boss and Billy would be two of the best friends I could ever have. They helped me to understand how much my own father really loved me.

You see, my father adopted me at the age of 5 and initially I was upset for a very long time because my biological dad had abandoned me. I could not understand why. It was funny how much alike Billy and the Boss were when it came to talking about their children.

I used to love to hear them talk that way because it showed such a different side of them then what people were used to. I felt privileged to just sit there and listen. I used to feel honored when the Boss would ask me to babysit his son, Hal or when Billy would ask me to watch over Billy Jr.

When I think of my dad, Cirilo, the song that really hits me is Kenny Rogers wonderful song, ”Through the Years.”

My father has been very sick for the last two years. He has been to hell and back. He has seen his best friend, his wife Jenny, suffer from Alzheimer's and has taken care of her all the way through. He has been in and out of the hospital I can't tell you how many times.

I can honestly say that he has never really complained about himself.

His whole life has been about taking care of his family and others. Giving to others whether he could afford to do it or not. He taught me a very long time ago not to be jealous of anyone under any circumstance.

When I used to come home and talk about the Boss or Billy or Munson or Reggie, he used to be very proud of me because these were my friends. In turn, he was proud of himself because he felt he put me in a position to succeed when the opportunity arose. In my old neighborhood in Brooklyn everybody loved Cirilo because he helped everyone there.

He had a grocery store and if someone was ever short of cash, he would always give them credit, a lot of the time knowing that he would never see the money. I can go on and on but I won't — He wouldn't want me to.

This week he went back to the hospital and they put him on life-support. Yesterday, my sisters Nancy, Naomi, and I had to make a very difficult decision to take him off. This is been the hardest time of my life. Now I really know how the Steinbrenner kids felt when they went through this with the Boss.

Each day I cry.

I am luckier than my sisters because I get to come to Yankee Stadium for a couple of hours, however each night I go to the hospital and sit in his room and smile with him and make believe that everything will be all right. With each passing day, I thank God that I had another day with him. Each night all he wants is to watch the Yankee game. I will forever thank my wonderful Yankees for being there for so many people in this situation.

It’s incredible how so many of the elderly just want to watch the Yankee game every night.

I am so very lucky that I got to be picked by this wonderful man to be his son. The way he took care of us — I will always think of him as my own personal Superman whose hope never ends.

Elvis Presley once said: 

“Without a song the day would never end
Without a song a man ain't got a friend
Without a song the road would never bend
Without a song . . . 
So I’ll keep singing a song.”

Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

 

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RayNegron
My father has been sick for the last two years, in and out of the hospital. He has never really complained. His whole life has been about taking care of his family and others. Giving to others. He taught me a very long time ago not to be jealous of anyone.
barry gibb, billy martin, thurman munson, george steinbrenner
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Tuesday, 20 September 2016 09:37 AM
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