A really tough Easter week

In the past.

Easter is a day to celebrate a rebirth.

We won’t get into the hard-boiled religious implications of this day that has slowly given way to bunnies, eggs and, hopefully, family celebrations.

I wish to include the spirit of Passover, too, in this tale of a day meant for signaling love, spent and to come.

We need that kind of hope this year, do we not?

People all over the world are sick and dying of a disease we are struggling to distance ourselves from on the homefronts and fighting to solve in the laboratories.

Jobs are going as businesses shutter. Anxiety rises. Even on a good day when you’re working you’re safe job from home instead of the closed location, you fret about you and your loved ones bobbing and weaving past the virus when a trip out for necessities must be made.

Yet I’ve hesitated to complain much here on my blog, choosing instead to share regular life moments that bring a more normal pace to this emergency.

But this week I’ve had leading up to Easter …

Eli Harris, before a game outside the Carrier Dome.

A Syracuse man I’ve considered a friend for decades was killed Tuesday in a horrible hit-and-run accident. Riding his bicycle, he was struck by one driver, then a second while he was lying on the street waving for help. Eli Harris, 62, was the city’s most famous street musician. I wrote about him often in the two decades I covered the music scene for The Post-Standard and syracuse.com. He released two albums as the student label at Syracuse University realized his talents deserved the recognition. He stood on the corners of Syracuse with his guitar and his voice, sharing his spirit and vision. His life was hard. He fought his demons. There were years when he’d disappear in the battle. He’d win that stage and return. He’d talk to me about this life, if not for a story, then for a human connection when we stood one of his corners when he was in the mood to share. We were the same age. We listened to each other. He appreciated my hello’s and the couple bucks I’d throw into his guitar case every time we ran into each other. I will miss Eli so very much when the baseball and football seasons begin anew and he is not outside the stadiums sharing his songs.

Ed Koolakian passed away, too, at 72 from a battle with leukemia. He was the owner of a clothing store in Hanover Square, across the way from the newspaper in Clinton Square. The dapper man would stick his head out the front door of Koolakian’s and gauge the foot traffic at lunch and other times. I know. I’d walk by plenty and we’d share smiles. And so I recall my first year in Syracuse, a Long Island lad, sure, but back to my home state after a six-year stay in Maryland. I was woefully unprepared for my first Central New York winter, clothing-wise. Ed saw this as I walked by day by day. Finally either he waved me into his store or I ducked in myself. I can’t quite pin which was, that being the early 1980s and all. Anyway, he looked at my sneakered-feet and told me I needed good boots, a sturdy tan pair I could wear to work and around the streets. Back then in my mind I called them construction boots. Ed went on to tell me of the perfect fit, sitting me down and lining up several pair to make sure he found the match that would have the right amount of air to insulate my foot for comfort and insulation. Satisfied with his fit, he told me to walk around. I smiled. He smiled. He told me I was purchasing the best pair of shoes I’d ever own. I wore them for five years, until they fell apart. Ed smiled and waved to me thereafter. He was a Pope of downtown Syracuse.

Early in the week, I developed a toothache. I fought my fear and called my dentist. Yes, they were taking my emergency calls. Wednesday, an X-Ray and poke-around revealed my need for a Thursday root canal. That will be finished with a permanent filling next Thursday. So far, so the pain has subsided.

Pe-injury ELLIE.

On Friday, we decided our cherished rescue mutt Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle was not going to rid herself of that limp all on her own. A couple of weeks ago, she did something to her left rear leg while chasing rabbits around the backyard. At first she didn’t want to put any weight at all on it, but in a day or so, she wanted to take our walks, albeit on a shorter route, and began placing some weight on that rear leg. We thought maybe nature was doing its job. But the back-and-forth of her routines led to backslides. My dear wife Karen called the vet on Friday, and secured an appointment when my work-at-home day ended. We handed our baby dog off at the front door and went back into the car to await the call. Yes, safety.

Ellie had torn a knee ligament, just like an athlete. One choice: knee surgery at a pet hospital, expensive with a long recovery. The other choice: Pain pills for two weeks with our duty of keeping her as inactive as possible to build up scar tissue. After that, exercises to regain movement. She will not regain her best 109-yard dash time, but she will regain a happy routine. Our good health insurance does not cover the dog. She is not a young pup. She rather likes the pills, and so far has not protested too much me keeping her on the leash instead of giving her full run of the backyard. Sigh.

Yeah, Easter, new beginnings.

May yours be as good as possible.

21 thoughts on “A really tough Easter week

  1. I am so sad to hear of the horrible news about these people, Eli and Ed, in your life. It’s hard to comprehend the “why” of it all.
    And a root canal is never fun.
    Then the pup… oh my goodness poor thing.

    I pray that your week is better…
    I pray that all this Virus craziness goes away!


  2. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. And when it is hard I think of my friend Mark who always has the best words. I’m so sorry friend. I am hoping next week and the rest of this year is easy on you because you’ve earned it. Sending positive thoughts your way, Bialdez!


  3. Goodness, you have been put through the wringer! I’m so sorry for the passing of your friends and your upcoming root canal (I had one about 7 weeks ago–yuck!), and for poor Ellie B. When it rains, it pours. I hope you’ve met your quota for bad stuff in 2020 and that it gets better from here. Stay safe.


  4. Oh Mark. Such heartaches. I’m sorry for the loss of your friends. It’s a gift, these words, for these men’s lives. They were valued and appreciated. Your tribute to them is lovely and heartfelt.

    I wish for you and Miss Ellie to both heal.

    I wish for our world to heal.

    I wish for all of the good things that so many are sacrificing for and working for. Here’s to our sorrows. May we feel them, experience them, and pass through them.

    Here’s to our joys. That they soothe the sorrows we’ve lived. ❤


  5. A lot of local bad news on top of bad news.
    That’s absolutely horrible that your friend was killed by a hit and run. Probably not a lot of witnesses like normal.
    What a time for a tooth 🦷 to act up.
    Can’t they use a splint on the dogs leg?
    They do have separate pet insurance. Probably costs a lot until you need it. Veterinarians are expensive too.
    Maybe Passover offers some parallel symbolism now and passing over hone who get the virus.
    Hope things improve soon.
    Be safe and God bless.


    • Thank you for your kind thoughts, Gerald. Thankfully, the police were able to bring in a suspect in Eli’s horrible death. In fact, they got both drivers. No splints were offered for Ellie. She is taking it slow under our direction. Knock on wood.


  6. Wow, it’s an ‘E’ week for you, Mark. So sorry to hear about the passing of your friends, Eli and Ed. And your Emergency calls to the Dentist. Oh, poor Ellie – get well soon! Thank God for Easter. Take it Easy, Mark.
    _へ__(‾◡◝ )>


  7. First, I wish you and yours good health. Thank you for writing such a nice piece about a couple of fine Syracusans who both added to our quality of life. Hope your root canal goes well and Ellie B recovers. Oy. I know you hesitate to complain, and it’s rare when you do, but sometimes you gotta!


    • Oh, Mike, I didn’t want to add my personal woes to the big heap of ills we are all facing right now, but, you know, Eli getting killed in a hit and run? That started the slide, so I just had to. At least police have arrested somebody in the case, by the way.


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