In April of this year, my mother died. We were all there. She was only 66, just 17 years older than I am now. I know my mother had a lot of happiness in her life, and I know that my brother and I were responsible for a large portion of it. I wish she had been alive to see Burton, and to see David's wedding to Stacey. Both would have made her so happy. In a way, it's also comforting to know that wonderful things that would have brought us joy will keep occurring, even when we're not here anymore. Laura's co-workers at Disney bought us a tree to remember my mother, and we planted it in our front yard. When last I checked, in 2011, it grew there still.
I still sang this year in Alfredo's, but Laura went down to just being a sub in the Voices of Liberty.
But lots of other things happened for me this year. I started doing live appearances for Henson as one of two bears: the title character from Bear in the Big Blue House, and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear. This gig was a heck of a lot of fun. As the Coke Bear, I spent over a week this year in Guatemala, and also appeared in various cities in the US. The costume/puppet was quite a high-tech affair; a videocamera in the bear's nostril went down to a tiny monitor strapped to my chest. This was the only way to see; there were no peep holes in the costume anywhere. I puppeteered the bear's head with my hand extended over my head. The Coke Bear could also blink and smile. There was a tiny fan inside. Henson would fly me to wherever I was supposed to be, and there I would meet the "bear wrangler", who traveled with two huge rolling boxes that held the two halves of the bear. During performances, the wrangler and I were on headset communication as well. Good times.
Brian Maffitt set up Total Training in Orlando, this stemming from the release of "Total AE" last year, which I worked on in Seattle. So I was able to work there during the day, and sing in Alfredo's at night. It made for 12-hour days, 5 days a week.
In the summer, I got to play Arthur in Camelot at my beloved Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach. My third time in Camelot, and I had worked my way up to the top position. Perhaps I can play Pellinore and/or Merlyn some day.
I turned 35.
On the day after Christmas, our cat Berkeley died. We buried him under the new tree in our front yard.
1998: A year of great highs and great lows.