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An Excerpt from Kalinoski's New Play, "A Bear in Winter"

Richard's new play, which examines the emotional journey that coach Pete Pagano faces after he is fired from his head football coach position at a small college in the Midwest, while also struggling with his aging mother who has dementia and is placed in assisted living, is currently in its first draft.

Richard offers the excerpt below, which is from a much longer speech the coach gives to friends and relatives at his mother's memorial, to provide some insight as to the tone and arc of the play's protagonist.


The faint sound of SMILE voiced by

Nat King Cole.

PETE, in a dark suit. speaks to an audience.


I tried my best not to think about this day. The day came anyway. Mom had been away from home for almost four years. Assisted living. I think about those words: how much living do you get to do when someone has to assist with it?

(The music fades.)

I promise to be merciful and not say too much---anyway on a day like this some things should not be said. Out loud. I’m feeling grateful today…I look around the room and see cousins and uncles and some aunts and my sister, Jeannie…hello….some of you I haven’t seen for several---years. And then all these guys---my former football players—there’s like 25 of you…not that I would count—okay okay, I counted. There’s actually 23. Seriously, I am so struck…so emotional so... I don't know, touched that you guys traveled all the way here to honor Katie---you all knew her as Katie--- you remember those spaghetti dinners she cooked for you…most of you ate like monsters—which she loved. She loved that. Most of you she didn’t know very well---she loved you anyway.

My Ma was an athlete—she set records in the pole vault at her college and she ran the quarter mile and played tennis and swam….like a—like a—she was a damn good swimmer. What most of you don’t know is that she was not a fan of football---of me she was a fan; of football she was afraid. She had reason to be.

Almost everyone says wonderful things about their mother after she’s gone but I’ve spent the last almost four years thinking about those fine things while she was going---because that’s what it is with this dementia…this disease that breaks off tiny pieces of a person everyday so that the person you knew is going and going and going…then gone. You know, you know…there is so much sadness to this disease---and day to day it accumulates---like some great pyramid of---of sadness. When you’re there. Which I was.

Forgetfulness, then nonsense…then no sense then (he breaks) I’m sorry I’m sorry—then this very loud, very loud---quiet. Not a quiet quiet---a quiet without interruption…I would have loved it if Katherine would have….could have-- interrupted.


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