January 16, 2011

The email came through over my phone as I was driving home from an assignment Wednesday night. Logan was dead.

I pulled the car over to the side of the road and sat there for a few minutes.

Logan was just 20, the son of a good friend from a lifetime ago, one of those friends you keep, and feel close to, even if you rarely ever see them.

David and I became friends while we were both at the University of Georgia, back in the 70s. He studied marketing and communications. I didn’t really study much of anything. We had a lot of good times together, and what bad times there might have been never mattered.

David and Logan came and visited us in Gettysburg six years ago. Logan was 14, and had taken an interest in the Amish, and the trip gave the two of them some quality father-and-son time on the long drive north from Atlanta.

The four of us piled into my van and were off to the back roads of Lancaster County. We tried to avoid the touristy places. We had a great time. Somewhere, I have photos. It was a good enough time that I realized what I had missed, never raising a son.

Logan went to military school, then high school and started college. He was a member of the swim and lacrosse teams and coached another swim team. He was also a wrestler. His Facebook page shows him, fit and buff, in high-energy hijinks with lots of friends, and being cozied up to by an enviable number of attractive young women.

And then, about a year and a half ago, Logan wasn’t feeling well. He went into the hospital for some tests. The diagnosis was leukemia.

Logan and his family fought the disease like Apaches, relentlessly seeking blood and marrow donors, doing everything they could. I think it was almost enough.

On Logan’s Facebook page is one photo very different from the others. He is standing outside, holding the German shepherd puppy he got in October, when the docs told him that his cancer was gone. He looked like a concentration camp survivor. I kept flicking from that photo to the earlier ones, unbelieving. Surely that’s not the same person?

But it was, and he was cancer-free and on his way to recovery, even beginning to eat solid food.

And then, five days before Christmas, Logan and his family learned that the cancer was back. This time, there were no more treatment options. Everything that could have been done had been done. Logan went home to his mother’s house.

The docs said he had days, months at the most.

David said that when the leukemia came back, “It was almost as if it was pissed off.” It charged in full bore, ravaging Logan’s already weakened defenses. Tuesday night, it ended.

I sat there in my car, traffic hissing by on the wet highway, looking at my cell phone as though it might offer helpful suggestions. I spent 25 years as a reporter, calling families and friends of people who had died from long battles with terrible diseases, from injuries received in crashes, some of them on that very highway, or had died from gunshots and knife wounds. It’s something reporters have to do. They don’t like it, but they do it. It’s part of the job.

And here I couldn’t call one of my oldest friends and talk about the death of his son. This wasn’t an effort to flesh out a name in a police report or an obituary. This was somebody I knew, who was going through something that words really don’t cover. Words are what I do for a living, and yet I found none to use.

I dialed the number anyway. Dave picked up.

“Dave? It’s Terry,” I said. “I just got your email…”

Frankly, I don’t remember what I said, and I wouldn’t share the words if I did. It was personal, in a way few other things are. I hope the words conveyed what I felt, at least a little. There are some things that words just can’t accomplish.

I remember in one of my favorite episodes of “The West Wing,” after the senseless death of Pres. Bartlett’s beloved friend and personal secretary. Bartlett asked to be left alone in the cathedral, and spent a few minutes blaspheming and giving God hell, and called him a “feckless thug.”

It’s one of the things I have always envied in believers, that occasionally they can bristle and fume and the one in charge. I don’t have anybody at which to curse. But I can definitely be angry.

NOTE: Should you be so inclined, contributions can be sent to the Atlanta Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at www.lls.org or call 1-800-399-7312. Logan also requested that his friends register to be bone marrow donors at the Be The Match Registry at www.bethematch.org or call 1-800-Marrow-2.






© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:





January 4, 2011

My brother left his home in Georgia the day after Christmas, planning to make the 600-plus-mile trip to our aunt’s house in western Pennsylvania for a belated family Christmas.

It was our first family gathering since our mother’s funeral in September.

There are not a lot of us left. Me, David, our Aunt Shirley, a few cousins scattered around. It used to be that a holiday dinner would fill Shirley’s downstairs with people.

This year, all of us who could show up fit around a regular dining room table.

Sue and I left Baltimore, figuring we would get to Shirley’s roughly the same time David did.

We got there at 9:30 p.m., ate, drank some coffee, and waited for David.

And waited.

I sat for a couple of hours in a chair where I could see the street. Finally, at 1 a.m., we all turned in. Which is not to say any of us slept well. Shirley slept hardly at all. Sue and I awoke, I think, at every passing car, or sudden noise.

We were not especially close as children, David and I. We were not estranged. That word implies a rending. For whatever reason, we never got particularly close.

Until our mother’s final illness, that is.

First, I have to say that he was always sort of a hero to me. He always did things his way, even if doing so made his life harder.

He took care of Mom for years, though sometimes you would think they hated one another, as much as they fought. As she sank into dementia and physical disabilities, he had a lot to deal with. It was hard on all of us, but him most of all. Dealt with it, god knows how.

We talked more during that time, I think, than we had in the previous several decades.

Back at Shirley’s the phone rang at 6 a.m. on Monday.

In a stupor, I tried to get the call on my cell, though it was coming in on Shirley’s land-line. By the time I figured that out, the message had gone to the machine.

“I’ve had some trouble. I should be there in a couple of hours,” David said. That was it.

More than “a couple of hours” later, close to lunchtime, I got on the phone. I looked up the phone number David had called from – he refuses to carry a cell phone – and discovered it to be in a little town in the middle of nowhere in the Pennsylvania mountains, far from any major roads.

Did some quick estimating. He really should have arrived some hours before.

I did some quick checking on the computer and called the several state police barracks between Shirley’s home and David’s last position. No wrecks reported involving any cars of the kind David drives.

That was a relief, but 25 years working as a newspaper reporter gave me plenty of mental images to fuel my worry. Out of gas on some back road, or some other car trouble. Off in a ditch or ravine in some remote area. And on and on.

I laid on the floor for awhile and tried to think about anything else but what might be wrong. Sue had been looking out of the window as often I had been.

I could hear Shirley praying quietly as she busied herself in the kitchen.

I fell asleep, but my dreams were dark.

In the early afternoon, I awoke to find my oldest cousin and his wife walking into the house. I’m afraid my welcome was a little distracted.

Maybe half an hour later, David pulled up in the driveway. He walked into the kitchen, looking a little chagrined. Just in time for our post-Christmas feast.

I didn’t know whether to hug him or hit him.

I went for the hug. Life is too short, and we’re both on the shady side of it.

But I confess that I’m a little frustrated that he won’t say what happened. On the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. I can imagine all SORTS of adventures for him.


© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:






Thank’s to all of you, 2010 was a good one for B2G, though I hadn’t posted near as many pieces as I would have liked. I really appreciate your support. TWB

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 21 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 120 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb.

The busiest day of the year was October 11th with 109 views. The most popular post that day was Pumpkins, Ahoy!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, connect.pennlive.com, dailykos.com, and google.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for gliding lizard, world’s biggest pumpkin, burger to go, gliding lizards, and hold my beer and watch this.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Pumpkins, Ahoy! October 2009


The Gliding Lizard and the Deity in the Loud Print Shirt December 2009


Hold My Beer and Watch This September 2008
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