“'The little bit you and me might change the world,' Malloy smiled,
'it wouldn't show up until a hundred years after we were dead. We'd never see it.'
'But it'd be there.'”
~~ James Jones, From Here to Eternity
August 24th was Charles Rocket's birthday and, as many of you know, we typically do a tribute for him on that date. However, it was also a year ago this week that I first became involved with helping to get the Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye web site going. So it was really hard for me to think of only doing CABB 16 this weekend and not having anything pertaining to John. Then again... the idea of not celebrating Mr. Rocket's life was very sad. So... welcome to CABB 16/JABB 363... or JABB 363/CABB 16! Whichever you prefer! In this issue we're gonna focus on both men's contributions cause they deserve it!
A birthday message to Charles Rocket from Liz:
Happy birthday to someone who helped give smiles and peace to others through his work on TBAA.
Before I get to what I'd been intending to write for this issue, I just have to share... As those of you who are friends with me on Facebook and/or on the JABB YG know, my neck of the woods has been experiencing extreme heat and drought. As a result, our foliage is fried and our feathered and furry friends haven't been making as many appearances. I'm guessing they're sick of the heat, too! Sadly, this had made for a turkey-free summer for me. I love seeing the turkeys. They reside in our local cemetery and it just makes me smile to see them. I really missed them. Then came yesterday... August 24th. As I rode past the cemetery with my mom following work, she told me to look up on the hill beyond Potter's Field as we passed. I'd nearly given up looking for the turkeys. But there they were! Back for Mr. Rocket's birthday! It struck me anew how both ironic and appropriate it is that I go looking at a cemetery to see those goofy birds. I never paid turkeys much mind until a fictional angel of death made his case for why we should respect them. And it was only after Charles Rocket passed away that turkeys became truly important to me. They were a sign to keep laughing and keep living. When I see them there in that cemetery I also think about how even when death seems so crushing and so immense... there's life.
So that's my turkey story for this year. God bless the critters! But now for what I really wanted to write about... I've been doing a lot of thinking about how it was I came to watch Touched by an Angel. My earliest memories involve "An Unexpected Snow" and "Fear Not!"... both episodes featuring Charles Rocket as Adam. I was only 12 when season 1 aired so I didn't have a crush on either Mr. Rocket or Adam (I did not, however, believe either had cooties ;-). Yet I was fond of both. I didn't have a clue who either Roma Downey or Della Reese were but him I knew. He was the dad in Hocus Pocus and he was in Dumb and Dumber (a classic according to my peers)! And now he was playing an angel! An angel of death! A nice one! In a suit! I don't remember enough of that time period to know if he's why I kept watching the show. But it's easy for me to believe that Charles Rocket played a huge part in why I watched those early episodes. I wonder sometimes, if not for him, if I would have kept watching. And if I hadn't... I have absolutely no conception of what my life would be like had I not stuck around for TBAA's second season. No Andrew in my life. Worse yet... maybe no John in my life. Right now I'm sitting in my living room, looking at my walls and shelves, and thinking about what wouldn't be there without those two men. No turkeys. Probably not as many peace signs or doves. John wouldn't be smiling down at me from near my DVD shelf with his beautiful and inspiring words framed above the photo. Then it hits me... I might not even have these walls. I may not have a home of my own, period. How could I guess if everything from age 12 on had been re-written?
As (quite humbled) I mused over the visible nods to Charles and John, I also got to thinking about the memories I have here in this house. Naturally, my gaze turned to the TV. I've spent 5 Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmases watching Hocus Pocus and "The Sky is Falling" and "An Unexpected Snow" and "Thanks for the Memories" and all nine Christmas TBAA episodes as well as John's two Christmas movies. But, news junkie that I am, I also revisited other less enjoyable memories. I've lost count of how many mass shootings have happened since I moved into this house. And then the wars that rage on still. And reprehensible crimes. And by now you're probably wondering why I'm bringing up such things in a tribute to two of our favorite actors. This is the reason: They helped me during those times. I do not believe either Mr. Rocket or John are angels now. I am only too happy to continue to count them among our human race. Additionally, I believe that when we leave this earth maybe an angel of death is with us, maybe our guardian angel, maybe a loved one who went Home before, and always God Himself. But when I'm watching the news and my heart aches for the people who have lost their lives, it helps to have a face... someone to imagine being with them and being kind and loving amidst all the hate and brutality. And I have two faces in mind. Both kind and gentle. Both able to make a person laugh or feel safe or know that love... ultimate and true love... is just on the other side. I don't believe Charles Rocket or John Dye are in those places I see on the news. I believe they know only beauty and love now. But I'm still here and until I'm not, I imagine I'll always be imagining their Adam and Andrew, bringing grace and compassion to people's final moments on earth.
I don't really know what Heaven's like. My brain lacks the ability to grasp anything beyond a sort of elevated version of Earth at its best. So I like to imagine that in some beautiful little grove in Heaven there's a pub. Stick with me on this... I know most people probably don't think of pubs in Heaven but I do! ;-) One day, I hope to walk into that pub and smile up at two of the most handsome men I ever saw and say "Well, *that* was interesting!" And then I'd like to buy a round... assuming such things are done which there's probably no money in Heaven but maybe God will play along... in thanks for two men who make life on this devastating, crushing, gorgeous, beloved planet a heckuva lot more liveable. As I remember Charles Rocket on his birthday and John Dye on the year anniversary of the beginnings of the PIF site, one thought rises above all the others: I am so glad they were both born.
Well, I did say this was a celebration! And what's a celebration without some fun? Shortly after John passed away and I was desperately searching for things to make me feel better, I decided I was going to try to make John laugh. He'd given me so much joy over the years and if there was even the slightest chance he might look down from Heaven and see me... well, it was time to start paying him back. Charles Rocket, too, brought me much laughter. I've written before how his performance in "An Unexpected Snow" cheered me when my dad was taken to the hospital. So in thanks for both fellows I present the...
Top Ten Ways to Make Heaven Laugh
10. Host an awesomely 80s party for all your friends and make them watch Campus Man, Making the Grade, Modern Girls, and "Sleeping Bag." Challenge everyone to put together their best 80s fashion ensemble. Hot pink leg warmers and shoulder pads that make you resemble a linebacker have got to be funny... and (unfortunately) visible... even from Heaven. The prize automatically goes to whomever shows up sporting yellow Converses.
9. Forget "Talk Like a Pirate Day"! It's so passe. Introduce "Dress Like a Hippie" day at your work place. Who doesn't want to see Jerry in HR wearing love beads and a tunic?! Doc Hock-ify your own wardrobe by borrowing a duck head from your local butcher.
8. Spend a day dressed as your favorite Charles or John character. Ladies can look smashing in white and gray suits, too! Please note you are barred from dressing as latter-movie Manion. That's just not pleasant for anyone. Further, if Manion is your favorite character... it's time to get professional help.
7. Okay so this is more "funny awww" than "funny haha" but... I haven't done this in a while but I used to buy men's fashion ensembles and use the two guys as my mental models. Then I'd donate the clothes. It helped homeless men out and made me more than a little giggly. If they can see us from Heaven, I'm sure it'd bring a smile to their faces... especially if they see you fondling a beige sweater or flannel shirt.
6. Spontaneously start singing "I've Put a Spell on You" next time you're at a big party. Bonus points if you get two friends to dress up as witches with you when you do this... Double bonus points if you do this at a party that is NOT a Halloween celebration.
5. Carry a plush turkey around with you and demand that everyone acknowledge Alexander's presence.
4. In honor of Charles Rocket, do all handiwork around your house while maintaining a Russian accent... In honor of John, cast swoony looks at a tool belt. Sigh...
3. Walk around in light pink Lycra. Actually, that's a good way to make *everyone* laugh. What it will do to your ego... well, that's another story.
2. You know the old joke about how if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans? Well, along those lines... tell the guys your plans... in embarrassing detail. Ya know like "And tonight I'm gonna watch 'The Sign of the Dove.' About one minute in I'll start swooning over your beard... but it won't be nearly as goofy as when I make it to 'The Root of All Evil' and.do my "two hot guys with shaggy hair!!!!!!!!!!" dance."
1. Finally... laugh yourself! No matter who's watching over us, I imagine they enjoy seeing us happy!
This newsletter is dedicated to the inspiration Charles Rocket and John Dye left behind for us. While the wait until we see them again sometimes seems very, very long; that inspiration is always there for us no matter where we are.
(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)