A graduation letter to celebrate Father’s Day

I WROTE THIS LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER CELINE ON THE DAY SHE GRADUATED FROM WEST BLOOMFIELD HIGH SCHOOL AND I WANT TO SHARE IT ON FATHER’S DAY

 

June 4, 2017

Dear Celine,

Today is graduation day and I want you to know that dad loves you very much and I am proud of you. My love and admiration for you began before you were born and I was so happy to go to Baby’s R Us to purchase your first outfit, a yellow jumper that you wore home for your first trip home from the hospital.

You are a fighter and activist.

You are an athlete.

You are smart and you are driven.

You are beautiful.

You even speak backwards in full sentences

The first time I saw you, you were in mom’s womb. The doctor took DNA samples to see if you were OK. I saw the whole thing play out on x-ray. You were sleep when the doctor stuck a needle into the sac where you lived.

You woke up agitated just as you do today. You angrily reached for that needle as if to say “get this damn thing out of here. Can’t you see that I am sleeping?”

You were a ball of fire even before you were born and the doctor stopped the procedure until you settled down. You remain a ball of fire and I want the burn to continue as you attend Stanford University.

I was proud of you when you brought home all A’s for the first time.

I was proud of you when you read to a second grader on Belle Isle in Detroit. I remember the girl screaming to her mother.

“This girl can read and she is just in kindergarten,” she said.

Sadly, that girl could not read yet.

I was proud of you for leading inner city kids who lacked your work ethic during the Wayne State University camp. You pushed them to finish their project even though pizza was being served in the next room.

I was proud of you for showing white kids that there is a different world and different circumstances for other kids during a tearful discussion at Albion College. You told them the world is not equal. You talked about a girl who got pregnant at 15, but realized a year later she wanted to make something of herself. Do not give up on her you told the room.

Half the room was in tears after you spoke.

I did not do a good job as a dad when I had heated meetings with your high school soccer coach, AD and principal about why you were not a starter on the varsity soccer team although I believed you were the best player on the team.

You had that Kobe and LeBron in you. You did not try out for the team to play soccer. You tried out for the team to win championships. I earned a living arguing sports, but could not keep my cool when you were the victim. I was told you did not start because you were unfit even though you are an energizer rabbit that never stops. Then I was told the coach did not like the way you ran even though you are the fastest player on the team.

And I was finally told you were not one of the top 12 players on the team. I knew that was baloney. My response was that if you became a starter that you would bring a championship to the school. That’s how much I believed in you because you did it before against stiffer competition in travel soccer.

You finally got your shot to start as a junior only because four girls were injured. And you did what Celine does. You led the team with 14 goals, five assists, made All District, All County and All League. And you scored the game-winning goal in the conference championship game against Birmingham Seaholm. Not bad for the 13th best player on the team.

That night we shared a moment when you broke down and cried: “Why did it take three years to show what I can do? I was ready to do this on day one.”

I knew that night you might never play soccer again. You did not play your senior season and never regretted the decision because you had so many other things in your life.

I was even proud of you when you punched a girl in the stomach who tried to injure you on the soccer field. You came over to me thinking I would be mad. Maybe this is not the right way to think as a parent, but I said to myself “Daddy didn’t raise no punk.”

As an 8th grader I took you Stanford University to see your dream campus. I might have said “take a good look at this because this might be the last time we see this school.” And then you shocked the world and shocked even yourself by being admitted to Stanford. I am not even mad that you are turning down a fine education at prestigious Central Michigan University.

I am proud that you have friends of every race, nationality and religion and try to understand their problems and celebrate their triumphs.

Mom and I were stunned when you called from the Crump Law camp at Howard University and said you did not make the semifinal round of the Mock Trial competition. The process began with 64 students and I knew you would make the Final Four. We don’t expect you to win all the time but we expect you to be among the best.

The next day you called and said you made a mistake. You actually made the Final Four, but you also threw away your notes for the final  competition because you thought you were out. You still won earning a college scholarship and new computer.

One of the judges wrote “I knew you would win when you said hello.”

I am excited about your future and I will do everything to make sure you realize your dreams.

I grew up poor and some of my friends still live at home. My goal was to have a family and make sure my children had better opportunities than I. You exceed my expectations. It was a really big deal that I attended CMU as the first in my family to attend college.

When I love someone I give them a nickname and sing about them. Do we even have time to count the nicknames and songs I made about you?

Yes I love you and am proud of you. But I am also excited.

I am excited about how you will tear up Stanford and make it a better school.

I am excited about your impact on the world.

I am excited about your career and your future.

Keep that fighting spirit. Although you will be far away you must know I will be standing beside you in spirit during every lecture, every debate and every win and loss in life.

One of my names for you is X. As a black female you must be Super X and be twice as good as your competition to be respected. You sure bought into that.

Keep it going my sistah. Daddy is proud of you and he will always stand by your side.

It takes a village

Our neighbor the Fabulous Julie Hodge stood over my son Brandon and I as we ate lunch at the Uptown Grille the other day.

She’d blown her horn at Brandon who was riding his bike to greet him. However, he did not hear her because he was blasting Drake in his headphones while riding. She lectured Brandon about how dangerous it was.

And she is right. During an age of distracted driving bike drivers need all of their senses to be sharp and 100 percent focused.

The Fabulous Julie Hodge paused briefly from her lecture, turned to me and asked: “Is this OK that I am doing this?”

Of course it is. It brought me back to my days on Detroit’s west side where the entire neighborhood raised us kids. Your family could not lay eyes on you 24/7/365 and we relied on Aunt Mildred, Uncle Joe and Cousin Sammy to watch over us.

There was about a five block radius where I knew folks were watching me.

I even had the local numbers man/drug dealer make sure I was safe.

Here is the story. When I was about nine years old my Cousin Miss Boots sent me to the corner store for milk and other items. After leaving the store two shady characters started to follow me. I knew I was about to get robbed.

My brisk walk turned into an all out run when I heard a loud “STOP!!”

We all recognized that voice and froze. It was the drug dealer/numbers runner. I don’t remember his name I just know he could have you killed or beaten up. He patrolled the apartment buildings on Colfax and nobody messed with him and his boys.

He walked over and turned to the two dudes who were after me.

“You two don’t mess with him,” he said motioning toward me. “He is going to make something of himself and we need positive brothers escaping this (bleep) and making something of themselves. If anything happens to him I am going to hold you two responsible.”

They scrambled off and they never bothered me again.

I was used to extra eyes looking at me so I was grateful that the Fabulous Julie Hodge looks over Brandon and took time to tell him he needed to be more careful.

It takes a village to watch over our families. I’ve had the drug dealer/numbers runner and the Fabulous Julie Hodge.

One will kill you and the other will kill you with kindness.

 

Pork chops, greens and the black conservative

Thursday is my favorite day to go to the black barbershop for a beard trim and catch up on current affairs in Detroit.

Thursday is not a very crowded day like Friday and Saturday. But you still get the great benefits of the weekend. This is when the guy with large white boxes filled with soul food or barbecue dinners begins to show up. You can get a meal of fried chicken, smothered pork chops or fried cat fish made out of somebody’s house for $8.

That includes black-eyed peas, greens and macaroni and cheese.

That’s usually followed by the man or woman who sells slices of 7-up cake or peach cobbler for dessert.

The black barbershop is visited by an interesting group of guys. There is the retired cop who can run the Detroit Police Department and solve crimes better than any police chief ever hired by the police department. Then there is union guy who worked for Fords (Notice I did not say Ford because we throw an s behind every motor company) who defends every move the union has made since Jimmy Hoffa was in charge of the Teamsters.

But my favorite guy is the black conservative who out shouts the entire barber shop because everybody disagrees with him. He is usually an older man who doesn’t give a damn. He’s got his views, a hostile audience, and relishes in the attention he gets.

“What did Barack Obama do for black folks besides be black,” he shouts.

“Donald Trump might be crazy but he promised white folks jobs so that is why he is president. This is not a racist thing.”

This guy was even against certain aspect of the Civil Rights movement.

“Dr. King is a great man but his movement ain’t for you and me. He’s only there to help uppity black folks. I don’t want to live next to the white man or marry a white woman. So there ain’t nothing in it for me.”

When the black conservative walks in there is a mixture of eye rolls and glee because you never know what he is going to say and when he is going to erupt.

“The Black Lives Matter group is cool but some of these (bleeps) should have got shot.”

He even comments on sports.

“I know you don’t want to hear this but Larry Bird was better than Magic Johnson.”

We howl, slap our knees and bask in the show. This brother is non stop talk and usually outshines the union guy and the ex cop.

And by the way they are serving smothered pork chops and 7-up cake today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this what death feels like?

On the night I thought I was going to die the room spun like a washer in spin dry.

The room didn’t actually spin. It was all in my head. I could not stand and I could not hold down the food I ate that night for dinner. I did not suffer a stroke on the scariest night of my life. Doctors said it was the stomach flu.

This lasted two hours and my only hope was for it to stop. Imagine being on a roller coaster for two hours and you are afraid of roller coasters. I thought I was suffering something worse than a stroke when my mind completely became unhinged and I went on a crazy ride of the Wild Mouse I will never forget.

I threw up in bed until my stomach was empty then had the dry heaves for about half an hour. I could not control my body or mind and I thought this was the end for me.

When it finally stop I shed tears of relief.

My blood pressure sky rocketed during this attack and as soon as I was steady I headed into the emergency room for the third time in two months at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield where puzzled doctors read over my case, listened to my panicked recounting of my night and said it sounded like a form of stomach flu.

I was shocked. That’s it?

After an hour in the hospital they got my blood pressure down and I was walking and talking normally.

That night I met a doctor who practiced in China and he told me about taking natural supplements and vitamins that can cure me. He said the United States medical system is set up to treat symptoms but not cure them.

He told me about the benefits of turmeric and cinnamon and other herbs that can heal the body.

I want to live a long and healthy life and a few months later I heard a similar speech from my friends Modo and Andria who grew up in Detroit but now live in Southern California. They told me about 90 For Life Youngevity. It’s a program that introduces you to the 90 daily nutrients the body need to sustain itself and get better.

It helps lower blood pressure, prevent disease and makes you stronger and healthier. I have not been on it long enough to know if it has completely turned me around. I just know I have more energy and it is exactly what the emergency room doctor was talking about.

So I think it is helping along with diet and exercise.

I will tell you how you can obtain these vitamins for free if you email me at TerryFoster74@comcast.net. Or you can message me at this blog and we can have a conference call explaining the program with my friends Modo and Andria.

Twitter: @TerryFoster971

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new me, 43 pounds lighter

Our sons played travel soccer together. So I initially believed that the phone call from Scott was soccer related.

It was much more serious than that. He wanted to meet for lunch to tell me that he suffered a stroke also. We were the same age and Scott thought talking about our health set backs would be beneficial to both of us.

Scott suffered his stroke in the spring of 2016. I was just out of the hospital still trying to grasp what happened to me when we met at Uptown Grill in the fall over Michigan chicken cherry salads.

Scott looked great. He’d dropped about 50 pounds and was all toned and looking good. He changed the way he ate and the way he worked out.

“I am hoping that you become that fit guy everybody talks about,” Scott said. “You can do it too.”

I wasn’t so sure. I just wanted a normal life. But Scott inspired me that day. We swapped stories and talked about living a long life for our families following stroke rehabilitation.

I am motivated for better fitness because I want to live a long life for my family. But Scott also acted as an inspiration. Here is a guy who went through the same thing as I and he left the tunnel of darkness a new man.

Since our meeting last October I’ve dropped 43 pounds and more importantly have my blood pressure and blood sugar under control.

Let me pass along Scott’s words.

YOU CAN DO IT TOO.

I go to the gym five days a week for 60-90 minute work outs. And I have eliminated pop and processed foods from my diet.

I did not set out to lose 40 or 50 pounds. Instead my goal was to lose five pounds, then lose five pounds again and again and again. It did not matter if it took me four days or two weeks, I was always on track and never got discouraged. I knew I’d lose the five pounds eventually.

I began my journey at 227 pounds. I am now between 183 and 186 pounds.

I wanted to dip below 200 pounds and then 195. But I was motivated and stimulated and got into the 180s. My nickname became “Skinny” although I encouraged some of my friends to call me “Slim Goody.”

I felt skinny although the body mass index indicates that I am eight pounds overweight. According to that wacky formula 90 percent of Americans are overweight.

You need small victories to keep you going. That is why the goal of losing five pounds, then doing it again, was so attainable. I wanted to drop my waist size from 38 to 36. I am now a 34 in the waist and wear large shirts rather than the oversized XXL’s which were a bit too big but I thought made me look slimmer.

So here is how I did it.

THE FOOD

I led a busy life between working at The Detroit News and at 97.1 FM The Ticket. Often my favorite stop between newspaper assignments and radio work was fast food. Now my go to stop when I am rushing is Panera.

Between the salads, sandwiches and low sodium soup I have a variety of foods that are enjoyable to eat and are healthy.

I am not on a diet. It is a lifestyle change. My dinner usually consists of grilled salmon or bass, grilled or steamed vegetables, fruit and water. I gave up pop, which was difficult but necessary if I was to get better.

I do not go to bed hungry.

My other go to stop if I don’t have time to cook is the Henry at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield. I can pick up salads, grilled salmon, grilled and barbecue chicken and vegetables. Meals are usually low sodium and are packed with flavor and I can pop them in the microwave and eat at home.

That’s it. There is no magic food or magic formula.

But I’ve made sacrifices. From Sunday to Friday night I don’t eat pizza, fries or drink alcohol. I enjoy Mexican or another treat Friday night with my son. And I splurge again on Saturday, although I mix in healthy meals on both days.

EXERCISE

Five days a week I pop into Planet Fitness in Commerce Township for three miles of tread mill and free weight exercises.

I don’t kill myself. I began my treadmill setting at 2.7 and have worked up to a 4.0 in part because until recently I was physically unable to run.

I am surrounded by people both young and old in different stages of improvement. Always remember you are not competing with them. You are only trying to complete yourself.

You can do it too. Just take it five pounds at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fun and prideful day

We walked in a sea of rainbows. There were rainbow flags and T-shirts and even rainbow socks.

I took my daughter Celine and her friend tall Grace to the Motor City Pride festival that celebrates the lives of the  LGBTQ community. She has always been a supporter because a number of her friends are Gay and she’s known a few high school kids that killed themselves because they did not get support from family or friends because they were Gay or transgender.

I also believe this was a test to see how tolerant dad was. Would I refuse to take her? Would I make excuses not to go? Would I make jokes about the people or the event?

None of that happened and I believe I passed with flying colors as a dad that afternoon. The original plan was to spend a sunny afternoon with Celine downtown. I thought we would hit a favorite Corktown restaurant, visit a friend who owns a T-shirt shop downtown and hit the new Avalon Bakery.

Celine threw in one more stop. And I was fine with it.

I learned something that day.

Celine wants to know a little bit about everybody. She has studied the LGBTQ community, joined a Muslim group and is up on the politics in England and France. Our next stop might be a Black Lives Matters rally.

During Motor City Pride we took photos with people, heard their stories and learned more about the LGBTQ community. There were no anti-Gay protests or gay slurs that I heard of. That shows how different the world that my daughter enjoys as a teenager than my world as a teenager.

“Have a prideful day,” people greeted.

There is no way an event like this could happen in the 1970s and be this peaceful. There remain people that want to do harm to the Gay community because they are “different.”. They want to murder and yell at these people. A part of me wondered if the $5 cover charge was to ensure that haters would not camp out in front of tables and disrupt things.

If you have to pay to attend an event you are less likely to act a fool.

Celine has asked me if I would still love her if she were a lesbian. The answer is easy. Absolutely yes. I am a parent for life and I’ve witnessed parents who abandoned their children because of race, religion and sexual preference.

It is no fun for either side. I have to believe there is a hole in your heart and your life if you don’t have your child in your life. Outside of my kids becoming murderers and really, really bad people I’m sticking by their sides.

I also don’t care who you love and who you lay down with at night. It is none of my business. You can do what you want just as long as it doesn’t harm me and harm my country.

I don’t care.

Celine brought her friend from high school, tall Grace, and we had an enjoyable afternoon.  Celine and Grace enjoyed their first hamburger at the Mercury Bar. We took photos by some of the art work in Corktown and by the Spirit of Detroit. We enjoyed cookies at Avalon Bakery and visited my friend James who runs DSE T-Shirts on Grand River near the YMCA.

We also hit Midtown before heading home.

“Father I want to thank you for bringing us downtown,” Celine said as we hit the Lodge for the ride home. “We really had a great time.”

So did I. It was a prideful day in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Hello. My name is Cookie

Freshly baked sugar cookies on a white backgroundNo one called me Terry at home while growing up on the west side of Detroit.

They called me Cookie. My grandmother and aunt, who raised me, said I had a big, round head that was shaped like a giant mall sugar cookie. So I became Cookie.

Could you imagine what my byline may have looked like in the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News all these years?

By Cookie Foster, Free Press Sports Writer

Or

By Cookie Foster, The Detroit News.

How about the Valenti and Cookie show?

None of my friends called me Cookie. I was plan old Terry to them, although a number of them tried to figure out if my real name was Terrance. It was not. I am just plain old Terry Foster. I am one of 10 percent of the nation without a middle name.

My family could not decide on a name. Some wanted to name me Ronald or Eugene after my father. They settled on Terry, the name of a great grand father I never met or knew about.

My grand mother, cousin and aunt must not have big fans because I remember being called Cookie when I could barely walk.

What if the name had stuck. Could you imagine meeting LeBron James or Michael Jordan, extending a hand, and saying “Hi. My name is Cookie from the Detroit News?”

 

 

 

 

JD Martinez a Tiger for life if Mike Ilitch were alive

The Tigers are telling people that they might not be able to afford slugger JD Martinez and may trade him before he becomes a free agent after the 2017 season.

If Mike Ilitch were alive we would not hear such silly talk. JD would be part of the Tigers long-term future. Whether the moves were right or wrong, Mike Ilitch made things happen as Tigers owner.

When Ilitch died earlier this year a part of the Tigers died along with him.

He did what he thought was best for the Detroit Tigers and their fans. He did not always do what was best for the bottom line. Now his son Chris Ilitch and wife Marian Ilitch are making the decisions. And no matter how many times Chris says things won’t be different you can bet things are going to be different for the Tigers.

The bottom line will play a bigger role which means General Manager Al Avila must make better baseball decisions with a budget engrained in the back of his mind if the Tigers are to remain contenders.

Mike Ilitch’s mentality was I am a billionaire. I can take a few financial risks because this is best for fans.

Bringing in Prince Fielder did not make sense or dollars and cents, but it happened under Ilitch. There’d be no JV and Miguel Cabrera on the same team and under the same payroll without Ilitch.

There would not even be the added expense of Tiger statues at Comerica Park if not for Mike Ilitch.

And soon it looks like a 29 year old slugger is going to get away because times are different. The Tigers don’t want to hit the luxury tax. I get it. But with Anibal Sanchez ($16.5 million), Ian Kinsler ($11 million) and Francisco Rodriguez ($6 million) coming off the books, the Tigers could make JD a priority.

Of that group Kinsler is the only guy you want to keep.

That’s if this was just about getting under the luxury tax. However, I believe the Tigers want to turn a profit in this age of declining attendance and revenue. The best way to do that is to set a payroll budget, which they do every year, and stick to it, something Mike Ilitch did not always do.

I’d hate for Tiger fans to see JD Martinez in a San Francisco Giants or New York Yankees uniform saying they wish they had a guy like this on their roster.

That’s what they say in Houston. You don’t want to be like those people.

 

 

 

 

Drive time

yellowstoneMy sister in-law Denise will drive to Michigan for the weekend and think nothing of it. Then she will repeat the process the following weekend.

She lives in Charlotte and has arrived on a Friday night and is back on the road for home by 4 in the morning Sunday. I am the exact opposite. If I don’t see the word Delta on the side of my ship I’m not going.

My longest road trips are to Traverse City and Mackinaw Island. So quite naturally when we take my daughter Celine to Stanford in Palo Alto, Ca. I want to drive instead of fly. I want to go to Jackson Hole, Wy, see Yellowstone National Park and swing over to Seattle before heading down to the Bay area.

My family thinks I’m nuts and quickly nixed the idea. They want to fly into the Bay area, head to Target, set the dorm room up and leave. That makes more sense but is not as fun.

Yellowstone is the only major national park I have not seen and Seattle is one of my favorite cities. I want to see more of the country. One of my favorite family vacations was a driving trip.

We drove to Indianapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, Louisville, the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and home in 10 days. We were within 4-5 hours of our next destination and I did not get worn down by the trip.

Driving from Michigan to Wyoming is a haul but I’m willing to do it once. My family is not. I’ve always been interested in Yellowstone and the cowboy towns that surround it. I might even wear cowboy boots and a hat.

You can just call me Quick Draw Terry.

Seattle is a great walking town, has great restaurants and natural beauty. And I’m willing to bet it has a Target too.

Let’s do it.