Today’s news:

Neighbor to Neighbor: Some nice surprises end ‘09 despite airplane terror fiasco

Hopefully, some nice things happened in your life before 2009 came to an end. I had my share.

Early one Saturday morning, I received a phone call from a friend absent from my life for many years. Police Officer Bob Reimertz was an important part of Laurelton’s recovery from major crime during the 1990s. A strong, healthy-looking man, he had a sudden symptom that sent him for a physical check-up.

A brain tumor was discovered but was said to be easily corrected, so he could soon return to work. Sadly, that did not happen and Bob had to retire. We kept in touch for a few years and then Bob called one day and told me he and his wife, Kathy, and their baby boy were going to move.

I dropped him a note, included my phone number and asked that they keep in touch since we were always like part of a family during those difficult times. As the years went by and I had no word from them, I continued to worry. Luckily, a couple of weeks into December, Kathy unpacked a box of long-forgotten Christmas decorations and found my note.

Bob called and said they are doing well and now have an 11-year-old daughter. Their son is now in high school. What a delightful surprise. Bob sounded happy and questioned me about many of the folks who had been on his old beat on the southside of Merrick Boulevard. We plan to keep in closer touch from now on.

My second surprise arrived in a small box that same day. It was from my California cousin’s address. Her husband, a retired dentist, now pursues his first love: water coloring. He does spectacular work, often showing in galleries. He had one of those lovely ocean scenes reduced, color-copied and imbedded in glass with tiny bubbles, making a paperweight that looked as if it was part of the sea itself. I was absolutely delighted.

Good news from another member of my NYPD family kept me smiling. Kevin Czartorsky, who is awaiting a double lung transplant as a result of his work on Sept. 11, 2001, has finally begun to see some encouragement from his insurance and medical team. Besides that, I recently met a gentleman who has been recovering from a lung transplant operation and he looked terrific. He said the recovery had been difficult, but to see him one would never know he had been sick at all. Talk about health care miracles.

Come Christmas Day, I spent a marvelous afternoon with the Kress family. Good food, good company and a chance to relax.

The next day, I was alone with my radio when I heard U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explain that all the safety procedures for air flights had “worked perfectly — just the way they were supposed to work.” I was tempted to punch the radio. If that was truly the way they were planned, anyone who took part in that plan should have been fired on the spot. As a result of the incident, another attempted bombing of one of our aircraft, air passengers will be prohibited from leaving their seats for an hour prior to landing and will be strapped in their seats.

Had that brave Dutch citizen — who leaped out of his seat, grabbed that terrorist in a headlock and put out the fire with his hands — been locked in his seat, Napolitano would have had to invent another tale to cover up gross ineptitude.

What in the world is going on? That seems to be the most-asked question these days. Our leaders do not want to pay attention to people who want to express thoughts differing from theirs and they keep telling us they are doing what we want in spite of the fact they know we know they are not telling us the truth.

Dare we hope for the change that will bring us a safe, happy and just 2010?

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