“It’s grief… it hits you. It’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability. You feel like a three legged table. Just suddenly… the Earth isn’t stable anymore. And then it passes and becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.” — Liam Neeson on his wife Natasha Richardson’s sudden death from traumatic brain injury five years ago from (his 60 Minutes interview)

It’s a funny thing.  Grief.

Funny is the wrong word.  Sneaky.

When I was thinking of a song title for my last post, I googled “father and son songs”.  And of course, Father and Son by Cat Stevens came up right away.

Cat Stevens was one of my father’s favorite artists.  I have memories of driving to school in his Volvo, listening to Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits on the tape deck.

I clicked on the YouTube Video that accompanied the google link:

And I started to sob.

It wasn’t just the song that reduced me to tears in front of the keyboard.

Cat Stevens looks like my dad did when I was a kid.  He wrote words that would have come out of my dad’s head.

It was an immediate transport back in time.  Back to memories that are still fresh and raw.

I don’t really know how to explain these waves of grief, even 15 years later.  I think about him all the time in different ways.  Sometimes it’s just a news story on TV and I want to talk with him about it.  Sometimes it’s a memory that I can’t quite see in my head and I want to ask him what happened.

Sometimes it’s hearing about a friend battling cancer and me wishing I could do a million things differently all over again.

Those times come in and out.  It’s a brief twinge and then it’s gone.

And then there are moments when the grief feels all consuming. I get stuck.  Mired in a hole of what ifs and what should and shouldn’t have been.

Today could have been one of those days.

But I stopped and looked again at the photo that started it all.

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And I remembered that these are the times that need my focus now.

I can choose to let the grief send me down the rabbit hole.

Or I can choose to let the grief push me to see how important and precious these moments are.

Because a boy and his dad, reading a book about boats and engines?

That’s a really big deal.

It’s not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them you know not me.
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.” – Father And Son by Cat Stevens

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Just a boy and his dad, reading a book about boats and engines.

No big deal.

I took this picture last night right after dinner.  I hid around the corner so I didn’t disturb them (hence the really grainy photo and the everything out on the table and the lampshade in the way).

Monday was library day and Howie renewed his book about boats.

Tim picked it up last night and called Howie over to the table. “Show me the part in the book you like.”

Howie turned to the page with a cut away of a rowboat.  “I didn’t know you could sleep in a rowboat!” he exclaimed.

And what followed was THIRTY minutes of discussion at the table.  Of boats and cutaway drawings.  Of engines and pistons.  Of cars and trucks and things that go.

Questions were asked.  On both sides.

I took this picture and heading upstairs hearing “Could a really BIG crew fit on that boat?”

Now you know the autism parent in me wants to tell you all things autism that I see.

The joint attention.

The pragmatic language.

The shared interests.

The sitting and listening for 30 minutes (just hours after I filled out the Vineland saying he couldn’t do this).

The actual reading of a library book.

But not today.

Today I see a dad who found a common bond with his son.

I see a son who is soaking up every word from his dad.

And I see smiles from them both.

Just a boy and his dad, reading a book about boats and engines.

No big deal.

It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. ” – Father and Son by Cat Stevens

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“Mom?  Will you play football with us?”

It’s a crisp fall day.  I was outside raking leaves while the boys ran around the front yard.  Leaf raking is sort of a zen activity for me.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment, seeing the piles grow as the lawn gets cleaner.  Until the wind blows and I start all over again.

Gerry runs over to me with a small Arizona State University nerf football in his hand.  “Mom?  Will you play football with us?”

I lean the rake up against the big tree in our yard as he calls his brothers over. I was hesitant to play, partly because I was finally getting a big pile of leaves but also because getting the three of them on the same page for any activity is difficult.  Their age differences and developmental differences make physical games tricky.  Herding cats is an understatement.

The boys decide that it will be Howie and Lewis against Gerry.  The two younger kids will be on defense.  Gerry comes over to me with the ball.

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“I’ll be the quarterback,” I say.

I have an instant flashback to when I was a kid.  My Dad has the football in his hands.  We’re in our backyard on a cold Vermont fall weekend afternoon. He’s in his tuque and his sweatpants taped up with duct tape with work boots on. He was always the quarterback. To make it fair.

“Can I be the quarterback?” Gerry asks.

“No,” I said. “I will be quarterback for both sides to be fair.”

I draw out a “play” on my right hand.  “We’ll call this ‘the button hook’ play. You go out eight steps, turn around and I will throw it to you.”

I see my dad drawing the same play in his hands.  “Go out 10 steps, then turn to your right.  I’ll throw it right to you. Watch out for that pile of dog poop over there.  And that one over there.”

I yell a bunch of random numbers and then “HIKE!” Gerry hikes the ball to me and tries to run the play.  The boys run all over the yard in no pattern laughing, trying to play their position.

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My cousins and siblings run around the yard, yelling at each other and laughing, trying to make the play.

“NO TACKLING!” I yell.

Two hand touch!” my dad yells.

Touchdown! Between the rake and the pile of leaves!

Touchdown! Between the broken flower pot and pile of hay!

We switch teams after the touchdown.  I stay at quarterback.

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We play until the sun goes down and my hands get too cold to throw the ball.

**********

In the Glee episode “The Quarterback“, the football coach and Puckerman (one of the characters) are sitting next to the memorial stone for Finn Hudson.  Puck looks at the line between the born and died years and says “You know what’s tripping me up? This line between the two years. That’s his whole life. Everything that happened is in that line.” The coach looks at him and asks “What are you going to do with your line?”

I see now my line is filled with being my kids’ quarterback.

I’m the one drawing up the plays on my hand on the fly.

Tossing them the ball as they get the glory of scoring the winning touchdown.

Guiding them through homework and relationships and teacher meetings and IEPs and therapy sessions.

All leading to their personal successes.  In their own way.

Honoring my dad’s memory with my old Target sneakers, faded yoga pants and torn fleece jacket.

Until they are old enough to be their own quarterback and figure out what they will do with their line.

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Today marks 15 years since my dad died.

I miss him every day in different ways. 

But I especially I miss him as my quarterback.

19544_1326211601980_499808_nTook this love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Oh oh I don’t know, oh I don’t know

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older I’m getting older too
Yes I’m getting older too.” – Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2013 are:

  • About 45,220 people (22,740 men and 22,480 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • About 38,460 people (19,480 men and 18,980 women) will die of pancreatic cancer

Rates of pancreatic cancer have been slowly increasing over the past 10 years.

Learn more about early diagnosis and treatment at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreaticcancer/detailedguide/pancreatic-cancer-detection or visit The Lustgarten Foundation’s website

(Three of two posts about Father’s Day.  Yes, I know.  Math is not my strongest subject.  Moving on…)

Tim was heading out the door for work.

I said my usual “Guys, say goodbye to Dad.”

“Bye Dad!” calls Gerry.

As the door shuts, Howie says “Oh good.  I am glad Father’s Day is over.”

“Hey, Howie, don’t be mean,” I snapped.  “We’re nice to everyone every day even when it isn’t Father’s Day.”

He was silent.

I continued to get the kids’ stuff ready for school but the statement kept rolling around in my head.

It just wasn’t sitting right with me.

Not his statement.  Mine.

I sent some friends a message:

As Tim left this morning, Howie said “oh good. Father’s day is over.” At first I thought he was being mean. But maybe the pressure of father’s day is what made him so out of sorts yesterday? I know I was on edge.

I thought back on the whole day yesterday.

Howie up at 3:30am.  Climbing into my bed and trying to climb under me.

Telling him when he woke up that it wasn’t nice to kick Dad out of bed on Father’s Day.

The strings of silly words and refusal to eat any food, only yogurts.

Reminding him to say “Happy Father’s Day” to Tim.  Prompted three times before he said it.

Asking to go outside in his pajamas at 8:30am to go swing on the swings.  Alone.  For 25 minutes.

Telling him we had to be on our best behavior while at work with me with all the dads coming in for Father’s Day.

Playing solo at the sensory gym with his own game.  Ignoring the other kids that he usually plays with.

Reminding him we were giving Dad space and alone time for Father’s Day so we were going to the store/farmer’s market/park.

Holding in a poop at the park because he wanted to stay there and not find a bathroom.

Telling him we couldn’t go back to the park after the bathroom because it was Father’s Day and we were going home to spend time with Dad.

My friend wrote back:

And it IS a lot of pressure… ‘it’s father’s day… be nice to dad, give dad a hug, we have to make x for dad…’ Whether it’s father’s day or a birthday or any other out of the ordinary day, it’s tough. I’m quite sure Howie was not being mean at all.

You would think at some point I would get this – truly get this – for Howie.  Clearly, I had anxieties about Father’s Day.  The split between wanting to make it special while also wanting to dive under the covers and hide.  In an attempt to make it the best day ever for Tim and forget why it was the hardest day ever for me, I whisked my kids out of here for the day. Out of their routine, out of their house, and ultimately out of sorts. The whole time telling them it was in the name of Father’s Day. The exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.

And so in one short honest sentence, Howie snapped it all back into focus for me.

Not mean.  Just the truth.

He wasn’t saying he wanted to be rude to Tim now that Father’s Day was over.  He was saying that it was too hard yesterday to hold it all together to be over the top perfect.

The pressure that was too much for me was too much for him too.

We’re back to our version of normal today, Howie and I.

Someone remind of this next year.

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Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure” – Under Pressure by David Bowie

(One of two parts of a Father’s Day)

Because you are always there.

Because you see what I miss.

Because you haven’t missed a baseball practice.  Or game.  Or school show. Or IEP meeting.

Because you read the reports and read between the lines.

Because you enjoy being the “mystery reader”.

Because when I find only the negative, you show me the glass half full.

Because you understand what “he’s out of sorts” means and how to help.

Because you understand our kids in ways I can’t.

Because you get it.

And when I am done

and can’t read one more report, one more home log, one more email

or change one more diaper, fight one more clothing battle, listen to one more scream

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You are there.

Not out of obligation.

But out of love.

Showing our kids what a dad should be.

And for that and eight million other reasons.

I love you.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who makes every day better.

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You’re the best listener that I’ve ever met
You’re my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

You’ve already won me over in spite of me
And don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn’t help it
It’s all your fault” – Head Over Feet by Alanis Morisette

I took another sip of my wine and I opened the coat closet.

I was spending the evening gathering up blankets, shoes, and sheets to donate to a clothing drive for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  The Girl Scout troop in our town arranged for a large truck to be at our high school in the morning and I wanted to help fill it.

I found sweaters that were still packed up from our move six years ago.  Crib sheets that were of no use to us anymore.  Winter boots that my kids had outgrown years ago.  All into the box.

The posting came on Facebook that what they really needed were jackets.  The weather was about to get quite chilly and no power means no heat.

So out came another empty box.  And to the coat closet I went.

I moved some winter jackets around and some rain coats.  The ones that still fit my kids went to one side.  The LL Bean pullover fleece that I hadn’t worn in years came out.  As did a button down Gap jacket.

And then there it was.

My dad’s old gray Black Diamond fleece coat.

It’s been hanging in one coat closet or another of mine for almost 14 years now.  One of three articles of clothing that I have of his.

I don’t wear it.  Ever.  It hasn’t been washed since he died.

It just hangs there in the closet.  No matter what season, that coat stays.

I can still see him in that coat even after all this time.  It’s that soft heather gray color with black trim around the collar.  It was an in-between season coat – not quite warm enough for a winter coat but too warm for early fall and late spring.

A “mud season” coat I guess.  Going by Vermont seasons.

He had a gray Black Diamond vest that was just like it and he wore that all the time when he was sick.  When I think back to the memories of him those last months, he’s in that vest.

I don’t know where that vest is now.

And really I never understood the vest anyway.  How does that keep you warm?  I need something that covers me…something that envelopes me.  Something I can feel secure in.  Like a big fleece hug.

The big fleece hug hung there in the closet.

It was begging me to donate it.  It makes sense, right?  After all these years it should go to someone who really needs it. To someone from the hard hit areas of Long Island where my dad grew up.  Or to someone from the city where he first taught.

And considering how much he gave to others in his life and how much he taught us to give back, shouldn’t I give up this coat so that someone else can use it? So that a father can wrap it around his daughter to keep her safe and warm?

I pushed the coat aside and pulled out a 3T sized raincoat.

I closed the coat closet door.

The memories are starting to fade after all these years.  Some days I feel him so close, other days he’s so far away.  I try to remember things but I can’t.

It’s just a coat.  But I still need it.

I take the 3T raincoat and put it on top of the box.  I slip some money into the pocket of the LL Bean pullover fleece, hoping to bring a “Hey! Found money!” smile to whomever wears it next.

Tomorrow I’ll put the boxes in the car and bring them to the high school.

I sit here now in the dark with another glass of wine.

The coat is just on the other side of the wall.

It will stay with me for a while longer.

And oh I couldn’t understand it, for I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love my mamma sewed in every stitch
And I told them all the story, mamma told me while sewed
And how my coat of many colors, was worth more than all their clothes.

But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see
that one is only poor, only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors, my mamma made for me
Made just for me.” – Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Take a moment to donate what you can to relief efforts on the East Coast.  My family and my friends who are like family need your support.  If you can’t donate money, find a drop off location for coats, blankets, shoes, and non-perishable items.

Please.

Tuesday evening, I asked Tim if he could have dinner with the younger boys so I could take Gerry out.

It had been a hard day for Gerry and I wasn’t sure why.  He came home in a mood and with every question he either yelled at me or started to cry.

Lots of “you don’t remember what it’s like to be in school all day” and “I just want to be left alone” and “don’t leave, I need help with my math homework” and “stop helping me!”.

So Tim sat with Howie and Lewis while they didn’t eat their hot dogs and macaroni.  I took Gerry to the diner up the street.

We sat together in a booth facing the TVs.  The evening news was on.  Normally, I don’t let him watch the news because it’s just too graphic and sensationalistic.  I didn’t have much choice here, though, since two screens were staring right at him.

Luckily the news was fairly benign that night.  Stories about the missed call at the Packers/Seattle football game, a quick blurb about a close mid-air collision at a Chicago airport, and clips from the presidential candidates on the campaign trail.

Gerry’s not much of a talker when we go out.  But this time the questions didn’t stop.  He asked about the football game which led to a discussion of unions and strikes and their impact, especially for students and teachers in Chicago.  We talked about the safety of airline travel, and he shared his knowledge of planes and how they fly (clearly learned from his father and his iPad flight simulator).

And we talked about the election.  He asked if he could stay up and watch the speeches and debates this year.

“Because the last time I voted in first grade I wasn’t very informed.  I just picked a name.  This time when I vote I want to know the issues.”

Every once in a while, he would stop talking to take a bite of his maple syrup soaked pancake.  And then he’d stare back up at the TV screen and ask another question.

Looking at him, I let my mind transport back to the dinner table when I was his age.  We had a small black and white TV on the counter near the table and we’d watch the evening news while we ate. We’d talk about the stories and discuss their implications and what it meant for us and the world.  And as we cleared the table, Jeopardy would come on and we’d yell out our answers in the form of a question to see who would get the higher score.

As I tuned back into the conversation at the diner, that strange feeling of came over me for the one millionth time.

I am happy that I am able to continue this connection with my own child and so thrilled with his thirst for knowledge and desire to learn more about his world.

I am sad that my dad isn’t here to see his grandson love the same things that he did.

I am angry that he left this earth way before his time.  I want him here at that booth with Gerry telling him about the world and giving me that gentle hug around the shoulders that said he was proud of me without the need for words.

Just when I think the sadness and pain and emptiness has faded, a moment like this in the diner comes along and I am right back there again.

I am grateful for his legacy carrying on in the grandsons he never met.

Spitting image

But I am missing him terribly today.

And there’s a heart that’s breaking down this long-distance line tonight
I ain’t missing you at all
Since you’ve been gone away.
I ain’t missing you
No matter what I might say.” – Missing You by John Waite

Today I saw dad over the small flat square at our house in the sky telling me we are all going to be okay…you will always be his child… forever we are his special people.” – my sister after a trip out to the the house where we grew up.

From time to time, people will ask me to pray for them.  Or their child.  Or a loved one.

I always say that I will.

And I do.

But I pray to something – someone – different than most people do.

When I ask for help, or guidance, or good thoughts…I talk to my dad.

Growing up, we weren’t very religious.  We were raised Jewish but never belonged to a temple.  My father and my aunt were our religious teachers, holding family Hebrew school classes in our backyard or around the dining room table.  My father thought it was important that all three of his kids have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but he was the one to preside over them, not a rabbi.  We read sections from the Torah as well as portions of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  He practiced with us in the evenings and while we played outside.  He was very sick with pancreatic cancer when my sister turned thirteen, yet he still insisted on not only going forward with her Bat Mitzvah but presiding over it.  We set up a tent in the backyard, invited  family and friends, and celebrated her special moment.

The concept of God came up quite a bit while growing up, of course.  I believed there was a higher power because I loved the idea of it all. My father was clearly agnostic.  We would have constant debates about the subject, as I would say there was no way for him to know there wasn’t one and he would reply with “How do you know the frog in the pond doesn’t control the universe?”  The conversation never had an end, of course, but it spoke to the very core of his views on religion.  He loved the history and traditions and family connections of Judaism yet was skeptical of the idea of God and blind faith.

I believed in faith and fate and the beauty of the idea that someone was guiding my hand.

I still do.

But now I believe that the someone guiding my hand is my dad.

His light comes to me in amazing places. as my sister said, the warmth that comes during a time of severe pain, and I know that he is there.

And now, when I am at a loss as to how to help my boys, I look out the window and talk to him.

It is my father that I ask to give me the strength to get through the moments that leave me on the sobbing on the floor of the shower.

And when we make it through those moments, it is him that I thank for helping me through.

I asked for his guidance when marrying Tim.

The rainbow that appeared during a snow flurry at my wedding showed me he was there.

The rainbow appeared just after this…right above the sheep…

I watch the relationships grow between Tim and our boys.  I watch him teach our kids about politics and car engines and life.

Robots with Dad

It is a scene so familiar and so lovingly honest and true.  My boys adore their dad and rely on him to feed their love of learning and life.

I pray every night for my family.  I pray that we will stay healthy and strong and continue to love one another in the best way that we can.

I still believe in God.  But I turn to my dad when I pray.

I am so very grateful to have someone I know answering my prayers.

Happy Father’s Day to my husband who every day does more than 30% times three.

And Happy Father’s Day to my dad who I still miss very much…thirteen Father’s Days later.

You gotta talk to the one who loves you
Talk to the one who understands
Talk to the one who gave you
All the light in your eyes
All the light in your eyes

Yeah, thank you, thank you
Yeah, everything great and small
Yeah, thank you, thank you
For the light in your eyes” – Light In Your Eyes by Sheryl Crow

The flame on the memorial candle is starting to flicker.

I lit it last night in memory of my dad.  The candle burns for 24 hours.  This is the 12th time I’ve lit it, remembering the day he died 13 years ago.

My house is quiet.  Everyone is asleep.

This is the first time I’ve watched it burn out alone.

The wax is all but gone.  Just the wick remains.

There was never really any time to grieve, even from the beginning.  Just days after he died, I was making the decision to step into his seat in the Vermont House of Representatives.  My first answer was no, I can’t fill those shoes.  A day later, I couldn’t think of anyone else who could.  The Governor called a few days after that, appointing me to the seat.  I was twenty-six and my days were filled with getting up to speed on legislation and buying fancy clothes.

Each anniversary from there was just…busy.  I lit the candle but had my hands full.  I went from the State House to marriage to full time parenthood in just a few years.  There was never any time to reflect.  Or grieve.

The flame gives one last flicker.  Then it’s gone.

I am so angry at what the cancer took from all of us.  The years that my sister missed with him.  She was just 13 when he died.

He called her “his gal”.  I was “curly top”.

My heroic mother took it upon herself to be our rock, even though she had never had the time to grieve the passing of her own mother just a year before.

He missed my brother’s graduation from graduate school.  His wedding.  My wedding. 

He missed knowing the three most precious boys who all have names after him.  He missed watching his grandson pitch his first game. Their first steps, their first amazing words.

My boys want to know him.  Gerry asks about his political career and talks about the injustices in the world.  Howie told me “It’s too bad your dad is dead.  He can’t make Hot Wheels tracks with you.”  I know my dad would see the humor and love in that.

I am filled with such anger at the stupid cancer that took him from us.  Pancreatic cancer is the same killer it was 13 years ago.  A survival rate of just 5%. I’m angry at all cancers.  Too many members of my family have been in a battle against this indiscriminate disease: my mother, my mother-in-law, aunts, uncles and cousins.  It’s not fair.  I hate you, cancer.  You rip the innocence right out from underneath us all.

I stare at the candle.  I never know what to do with it once it’s out.  It seems weird to throw it away, but just as weird to keep it.

I still have dreams about him some nights, thirteen years later.  Sometimes I’m talking to him.  Sometimes it feels so real that when I wake up, I wonder if the whole thing is just a dream.  There is still so much unfinished business between us.  So many things I still need to know.  So many stories that I need to hear again.  I’m starting to forget the little memories and I want to pass them on to my own boys.  There is a piece of him in each one of them.  I want them to know their history and it’s getting harder for me to remember it all.

I pick up the candle.  It’s still very warm.

My dad had these big giant work boots that we used to walk around in when we were kids, like most kids do.  In the Legislature, I never felt like I fit those boots.  It never felt like it was mine.  More like I was there to close a chapter for him, rather than start my own.

Those boots have always been so hard to fill.  I think of all the things he was in his short life: a child, a spouse, a teacher, a counselor, a community leader, a first responder, an advocate for children. 

The candle stays warm in my hands.  But I am shaking.

I realize that I am all of those things now, in my own house.  I am still my mother’s child.  Tim’s wife.  A teacher, counselor and first responder for my own children.  And as I find my voice in advocating for my own children, I am helping others in my community speak for their children too.

I have become my father’s daughter.  I have found my place.

I am alone with the candle.  I can finally grieve.

And now, perhaps, move on.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter

far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose” –
The Rose by Bette Midler

I really really needed something good this week.

Who knew it would come in the form of homework?

Howie’s first homework assignment was a family project.  “The turkey needs a disguise so he doesn’t get caught for Thanksgiving!  Return the disguised turkey by Monday, November 14th. “

Knowing that we had a hectic week coming up, I figured we should get this done sooner rather than later.  And by “we” I meant my husband Tim and Howie.

I figured that the vegan in the family would enjoy keeping the turkey from becoming table food.  In reality, he’s much better at all-things-crafty.  And all things cooking, cleaning, folding, etc.

Tim took one look at the turkey and said “I bet Howie wants to disguise him as a racecar driver.”

Sure enough, that was the plan.

The two of them sat down at the table and planned out their turkey costume.  Tim looked up pictures of racecar drivers on the internet and together they picked which one to copy.  A red helmet.  Checkerboard shirt.  Green pants (Howie’s favorite color).  And black boots.

They went to work.

Cutting out the shirt

Here was a kid who until just recently couldn’t sit down to do…much at all.  A kid who couldn’t cut along a line without getting frustrated.  A kid who couldn’t even hold a pencil the right way, let alone scissors.

The turkey gets "dressed"

I sat at the table with them, biting my tongue and fighting back tears.  They were working so well together, like a finely tuned car.  Tim was anticipating Howie’s every stumble and would head it off at the pass.  Howie reminded Tim of all that he could do and wanted to do by himself.

"You don't need to draw lines for me to cut the squares. I know where to cut"

Back and forth they chatted about the project, working as a team to decide where the next piece should go and why.

Now smash that glue!

Finally, the turkey was properly disguised.

Hey...where did the turkey go? Just a racecar driver here...move along...

That smile says it all.  Actually, both their smiles say it all.

Howie loved doing homework so much, that he asked to do more work at his work table before bed.  Could we say no?

Happy Veteran's Day!

It wasn’t that long ago that I thought he’d never write his name, color a paper, or cut with scissors.  And I know that it isn’t long before homework becomes a fight and a struggle, and not a joy.

But for right now, homework is a pretty cool thing in our house.  Inspired by a dad who knew how to make it fun, and not a hardship.  A “father and son thing”.  Pure cutting, pasting and coloring joy.  In my book, that’s all sorts of awesome.

I’ll take that today.

There’s a man at my house he’s so big and strong
He goes to work each day, stays all day long
He comes home each night looking tired and beat
He sits down at the dinner table and has a bite to eat
Never a frown always a smile
When he says to me how’s my child
I’ve been studying hard all day in school
Tryin’ to understand the golden rule
Think I’ll color this man father
I think I’ll color him love
Said I’m gonna color him father
I think I’ll color the man love, yes I will” – Color Him Father by The Winstons

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