Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In My Head

I have to admit to struggling greatly lately. Call it grief, depression, anxiety I don't know what to call it. I'm blessed and highly favored, but at times, miserable. I look at it as a major character flaw that has led me down all sorts of avenues of self destruction. I've always thought I'd figure it out someday and just live happily ever after. But, here I am past middle aged, riding this emotional roller coaster called life. I find gratitude is the best medicine for a bad attitude. So I try to count my many blessings daily. My beautiful and supportive wife. My three incredible daughters who love and torment me for sport. My dogs. My extedended family. My skills and gifts and ability to turn things around. 

So, like I said, recently I've been all backwards. Work has become unimaginably challenging and more than a little unfair and in it I've been unsuccessfully trying to work myself out of a hole. When I'm working really hard my head is down and I usually start driving some pretty deep ruts. Well, to be honest, I've been stuck in these deep ruts with my head down for weeks now. In this position it is next to impossible to see signs and if you can't see them you'r blind to the maker of the universe who lines our trek through life with obvious signs of salvation. So Sunday I looked up long enough to notice Suzy had brought home a Sunday paper. We let our subscription lapse a few months back and since there was no football all I really missed were the headlines and horoscopes. 

So I checked the headlines, the football and wam bam thank you mam salivation

I know it ain't scripture, but signs don't have to be. They come in all shapes and sizes and have a myriad of authors including the person who wrote this horoscope who nailed it. It was exactly what was wrong with me. It wasn't the situation it was my perspective. I had been looking at it all wrong. The extra hard work I'd been putting in had been having an effect, a positive one. I just couldn't see it. Today I got an email from one of my toughest critics and she said, "This is really good. Great job. I think we're ready to move foreword with this." I actually teared up a little bit and had to take a few deep breathes to keep myself together. Still had many more things to do before I could call it a day and head out to pick up my daughter from softball practice in Palisade. 

When I get there I am informed there was a team dinner and she had a ride. She says, "I texted Mom!" I said I am not mom, but go on. I'll pick you up in an hour and a half. It would take an hour to get home and back so I decided to kill a little time in Palisade instead. I went looking for the park by the river, but found an incredibly beautiful nature preserve instead.

Not long into immersing myself in this beauty I started thinking about the profound affect that horoscope seems to have had on me. So I start to write this post under the shade of a tree and time flew by so fast I almost forgot to leave in time to pick up Kayla. The direction on my phone took me the back way through Palisade, through miles and miles of vineyards and orchards and one breathtaking view after another. When I got there I was met by a giant Great Dane and a little, blind, Yorkshire Terrior who broke my heart. The girls were having a great time out back. Kayla had been thown in the pool in her uniform and it was a joy to see her so happy on a Tuesday night with homework still to do. 

So when your heads is up you start seeing signs everywhere. So I get home and my other daughter Chloe asks me if I knew the definition of Serendipity? I thought about it and my guess was the act of receiving unwarrented happiness. She wasn't happy with this answer so she asked Suzy "the dictionary/language master/jurious doctorate" wife of mine and she said, "An unexpected magically happening series of events that leads to happiness or something like that," and Chloe gives me this look and I say see, she just confirmed how smart I am. Sounds like unwarrented happiness to me. She didn't bother looking it up beacause between us we pretty much nailed it. Well just to make sure.

Like I thought, nailed it. 

So a horoscope, a hard day of work, a nice email from a coworker, no text from my daughter, some time alone in a nature preserve, and a vocabulary word and I found serendipity. I found some happiness. I found a conception that earlier was eluding me.

Kind of excited about work tomorrow. Have some big challenge to face there, but I guess it's all in the way I look at it! Maybe if I look at it right I will find some more serendipity! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

I had a really cool dad.

Heard it in a movie tonight. It rang true with me. Upon the death of his adopted father the main character said how he didn't know it growing up, but now that he's gone he knew. "I had a really cool dad."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The View

A long time ago I was visiting my dad in a nursing home after his last amputation. I had left my bride, but brought our new dog Henry. We drove from Aspen to Phoenix in the big brown bomber, the '84 Landcruiser with big mud bog tires. It was a rough time those tears when they took his toes and then his foot and then finally the leg just bellow the knee. The heartbreak and the strokes were bad enough, but when he lost his balance and his feet started dieing things really started to spiral. I was there for ten days with the secret mission of getting him home to mom's home cooking so he would eat and stay alive. He had gotten so skinny. That skeletal kind of skinny. I think his weight when he was a freshman at Maryland was probably a buck 50 with dark eyes that had seen action in the war (I picture in my mind the team picture from his freshman year yearbook that I had looked up online when I first started this blog, I thought he looked skinny and haunted). Now he was far below that weight in bed, missing a leg, greatly diminished in size and looking skinny and haunted). He still had the presence of a great man, but most of the time that first day he seemed like he really wasn't sure where he was and he much preferred being asleep than awake trying to figure it out. Most of his awake time was spent getting used to the idea of only having one leg. He was not himself, but Henry recognized him right away. Jumped his front paws up on th bed and sniffed the stub. He gave his knee a friendly little lick. Henry loved what I lovedand and I loved my dad and man did I love that dog. Henry was a golden retriever with an incredibly old soul. He could out run, jump, fetch or swim any dog alive. He was eighty pounds of mountain bread muscle and had a blond silky main with red highlights you could bury your hands into. All this mattered little to the patients and staff of this institution, what matter to them was his huge heart and ancient soul. We'd visit my father first thing in the morning and then we would go all around his floor.

When we entered the nursing home for the first time Henry understood right away that this was a very special place full of very sick, very old people and one of the sickest was ours. He was always very serious when we were there. With my dad He would sit up right close to the bed and his chin would rest on the mattress, my dad would roll on his side and they'd nearly be nose to nose. They would look into each others eyes and Henry would give him a little head tilt. My dad would drift off to sleep, open his eyes and sort of mumble, is he real? Is he really here? Yes, dad this is King Henry! Once when he was looking at Henry he said to me, "You aren't Jay are you?" I said no I'm the other one. He'd pet Henry a few times on the head then drift off to sleep again. Henry and I would go visit some old people to brightin up their days and brighten them we did. One very old woman would slide to the edge of her bed so she could rest her hand on his big wide head. She would look at him under her hand and say, my lovely, my lovely, my lovely. The nurse told me she had not spoken a word in 2 years.

Most of the time my dad's mind was suffering from delusions and he would wake up talking about needing to drive to Alabama because he was going out for baseball in the Spring. But he would see Henry and then he'd look at me and then look back at Henry. Then he'd be back with us again and we'd talk and I start asking some tough questions. Like tell me about the war or Maryland or about your parents and he do the best he could answering and then drift off to sleep. 

I'd be sitting in the chair by the window with Henry laying at my feet. He'd wake up and realize we were there ask me, "How's the view" I'd say best view ever. You should get up and see it. He'd say, "I've already seen the best view ever." I'd say you haven't seen this one. I would say the view's so good you can see the ocean from here. And the beach. The deep-sea fishing charter boats are heading out the inlet to ketch sea trout and blues. The sun's climbing up on the horizon and the boats are cutting right into rolling, sparkling, mountain size swells of glass. And the beach, just look at all those bikinis. You don't get to see that everyday. Now that I live in Aspen don't get to see the bikinis or the beach except in my dreams. This views so good you can also see the bayside. Look at that Welcraft plaining-off and cruising too fast under the Rte 50 draw-bridge that kid's probably get in a whole lot of trouble some day. And look at that Sea Ray shooting through the Rte 90 bridge heading into Assawoman Bay like a bat out of hell. Look how it's cutting through the glass with its bow in the air and it's ass in the glass, the wake slowly spreading out for ever destine to splash both shores on either side. Must be high-tide because it's tacking a straight line for the channel with no regard for the sand bars. At that speed he's probably only drawing two feet, should be fine, I remember thinking that a thousand time. He'd say something like, thought it wrong a few times too. He'd said, "We sure hit a lot of sand bars that weren't supposed to be there didn't we? We had some pretty great summers in OC didn't we?" We sure did Pops, we sure did. He'd be asleep before saying much more, but at least he was starting to try and stay awake.

So how's the view? Best view ever Dad, you should get up and see it. He'd say, "I've already seen the best view ever." You haven't seen this one. The view is so good from here I can see all the way to Aspen. The snow capped peaks and the deep blue green of the pines and the golden reds and white of the Aspens trees turning. The sun is just breaking over the ridge line and melting the frost and sending up whispers of steam like little mini dust devils, wow the air's so clean and clear and thin. Reminds me of my wedding day. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said now that was a special day, very special. He'd ask how's Suzy and whether or not I was being a good husband. I'd ask him, are you?

I talked to him about what the doctor had said about starting the process of fitting a prosthetic leg. Even if you weren't planning on getting up and walking around it would be really helpful in getting from the bed to the wheelchair or more importantly from the chair to the toilet.

He'd change the subject by asking about the view. I'd tell him it's the best view ever. You should get up and see it yourself. He'd tell me he's already seen the best view ever. Not like this one. The views so good I can see the lights of Las Vegas all the way up and down the Strip. Remember when we'd play single deck 21 and you'd let me play with your winnings and we'd run the table almost all night long. Those were some good times bittybuddy he'd say. 

By the end of my time in Phoenix he'd gotten that new leg of his. He was able to stand up out of bed and lean forward on the walker and take a few baby steps. My last morning visit he was already up and was sitting in the chair in front of the window, unthinkable only the week before. I asked him if he was enjoying the view. He said it was the best view ever! I asked him what he saw and he said, "I see the way home." I asked if that was the best view ever that you kept saying you already saw? "No son. That best view ever is when I'd see you come through the door." 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Hero's Story

I've been wondering what this is all about lately and I have to admit not knowing. Deep inside me there is this need to tell the story. Not just any story, but his story. My dad's story. I love this blog because time and time again I've come here and tried and failed. I share a picture or a memorie that stirs in me some inspiration to give it another try. 

Recently one of those memories has surfanced from when I was really young. This memory is a faded picture. One of those 4x4 inch, rounded on the corners, 1970s, faded color photos, that may have never existed, but I think it did. Carol shooting the picture or maybe Karen took it but both are there. In the memory one of them took the picture with one of those little rectangular cameras with the plastic cartridge film that was easy load and not expose the film. One of the ones you could stick a little square disposable flash cube on and shoot 4 flash pictures with and the cube would rotate on quarter turn each time you pushed the film forward with the thumb slide thingy on the bottom. If I actually saw the picture it would have been over 40 years ago. 

We were in Birmingham, Alabama, where my father was born. It wasn't for a funeral which seem to dominate my memory of that place, but for a convention. An AMSA convention. The American Metal Stamping Association's annual convention, my dad wast the Executive Director. We were in the Presidential Suite on the top floor of the nicest hotel in town across the street from the Convention Center. We were looking down and across the street at the big sign out front of the Convention Center and it had a big flashing marquis that ran through the middle of it. The words would roll out and stop, "Birmingham Welcomes Home..." the words would roll off then the next line would follow, "Her Favorite Son..." then in all caps, "JEFF KEITH!!!"  I remember my sisters timing it so they could snap a shot of each of the sections of the message. 

That's about it. A snap shot memory. Of  my sisters taking a snap shot of my dad's hero's welcome home. There had been others before I was born. I remember a news clipping of when he came home from the University of Maryland before going off to play in the Sugar Bowl the honored him with a parade. Hard to imagine, but that's what the newspaper clipping had said. I'm sure when he came home from the war before going to Maryland there must have been some kind of hero's welcome then too I imagine. 

I remember him being a little uncomfortable about seeing his name up on that big sign. I vaguely remember him grumbling something like I'm really going to hear it from the board that that's why we're here in this sweaty little town instead of Las Vegas or New York or Cleveland. It's probably one of my earliest Penthouse Hotel Suite Convention in a big city memories of which there were a lot. Until I became a teenager and they stopped and my dad's life started getting a little rough. 

Telling the Hero's story is tough. It isn't easy to get right. You have to start in the right place. Here again I have failed. I needed to start at the beginning him leaving home a down-trodden son of an alcoholic ,16 years old, off to become a Marine, but being found out too young having to ride banana boats up and down the Panama Cannal as a Merchant Marine for two years before becoming a real Marine in the Pacific Theater during the Big One. Overcoming one adversity over another, achieving one unbelievable level of success after another and finally returning home the hero. Well, maybe I'll get it right next time. 

I remember one time we were at a convention in Dallas and Jay and I were up on the sun deck of this sky scraper hotel fooling around on these massage tables when one of them fell over and crushed my ankle. It was all swollen and black and blue but I still got to go out to the dude ranch and shoot shot guns and ride horses. Good times. Funny how writting about a memory somehow unlocks a few others. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Rabbit

Emma was chasing a rabbit and closing in on it as they reached the crest of a ridge.  Didn't capture this on film, but the image is blazin on my mind. The rabbit leaped its body fully extended slightly arched with the curvature of its tragrectory. Emma leaping a split second later. Jumping higher fully extended arcing with a trajectory, depending the length of flight would intersect with that of the rabbit. From my perspective below the ridge the rabbit sailed over the edge about three to four feet off the ground and Emma crossed over at least six feet above the edge. As they sailed the arc of a double rainbow over the cliff and out of sight I literally lost my breath. I saw it in slow motion the prey and the hunter the rabbit mid-flight turned an eye back and saw his nemisis flying in his blind spot. Then they float out of sight over and down the ridgline. I ran to the top and saw Emma about fifteen feet from the crest with her head fully jammed down a rabbit hole. For a second it looked like the rabbit maybe landed a Bullseye directly into his hidie hole and Emma just shot directly in behind her jamming her face so deep into the hole she was stuck. But she backed out and looked back up at me with a did you see it dad look? Yeah, I Saw it Em. Looked like Superman and Mighty Mouse or a sene from Mutual of Omaha. I know, Emma, your too young to know what any of that means, but trust me, it was cool. Way cool. Ask Tyler, he saw it too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm a Long Way from Home

Wish I wasn't like this, but I'm tired and really homesick. I'm training again at IHI in Cambridge and I just can't let go and enjoy myself. I wish to take it all in, explore Boston and engage everyone. But I can't. Truth is this go around feels like a big waste of time and money. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here and look forward to sharing all that I've learned with my team, but what I'm really looking forward to is being home where I belong. We have this group text going with Suzy, Kayla, Chloe and myself and on it I asked them to send me selfies on my way out. Suzy and Kayla sent these right away.

The next day Chloe sent me this.

This afternoon she sent me this.

I can just picture her gathering the pack for this picture. A lot like hearding cats I image. A selfie would have been easier, but Chloe's a little too cool for selfies these days. Seeing this picture was the bright spot of a long day in the classroom. 

Kayla sent me a few pictures too of the blisters and a bruise she got in the batting cages in MN. She's visiting her grandparents in St. Paul. 

Only one I haven't heard from is Mary. Probably going to be needing to get her a phone too one of these days. 

So lucky to have such a wonderful home to be sick over.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sometimes You Must Endure the Pain and Suffer Fools.

Something my dad said to me a long time ago has been ringing in my head recently. It's been a long time since I've heard my dad's voice. He used to ramble on in my head as I played golf and make his pithy comments and sarcastic remarks as I blundered my way through the day. He used to haunt my dreams like a ghost of Christmas past or the catcher in Field of Dreams. But it seems now he has let me go. Or I him. 

I realized the other day I had played a whole round of golf with my daughter and not once did I hear him say in my head, "Hardly worth looking up for! Or Hit it Alice!" Not a single word out of him about my lack of golfer's ettiquite or that I just needed to play my own game and not worry so much about winning. Looking back I see maybe it's because I never looked up and I hit it through the whole on every putt. More importantly I played gentleman's golf, I played my own game and most importantly we had fun. I didn't hear his voice, but I surely felt his pride. He was proud of me. As proud of me as I of my daughter. 

Pride is a sin and being proud isn't easy. But I believe it's a hard earned gift of life. A side effect of hard work and accomplishment.  My dad was a proud man and back in the day it was hard for me to take. I couldn't put many of the things he said in proper context. I just couldn't appreciate his perspective. At times he was so self deprecating and humble. And at other times he would be so bold and confident the world would step aside and defer to his experience.

On one such occasion I was at a low point in my early manhood. I was 18 years old and on my 14th day in a hospital bed. I had just received the good news from my doctor that it looks like I may not loose my leg after all. He, for the first time, sees signs of improvement in our battle against the post surgical staph infection that put me there. He said, "we have a long way to go and I expect you will remain here at least for a few more weeks, but the rest is up to you. You won't be playing baseball this Spring and your football scholarship this Summer is out of the question, but if we keep you on this new IV antibiotic and you work really hard in physical therapy you just might be able to walk out of here sometime next month. Oh, and no more morphine or pain medications, but I will allow Tylenol." He then turned away from me and asked my father if he had any questions. My dad looked right through him and said, "Son, sometimes you must endure the pain and suffer fools."

Did he just call my doctor a fool right to his face? 

If my dad wasn't between him and the door he would've walk out. But he was in the way and at that moment he did one of magic tricks by swelling up to twice his normal size and actually sucking all of the air completely out of the room (or maybe it was all the morphine and other stuff they had been pumping into me for weeks), but, he went on to say, "Nothing is ever out of the question. If you want to play baseball then you are going to play baseball. If you want to play football then you are going to play football. The good doctor just doesn't want you to get your hopes up. At times like these sometimes Hope is all we got. He has no idea what you are capable of doing. I've seen what you can do. I've seen what you have already overcome. If you want it bad enough you will make it happen."

Two and a half weeks later I walked out of Holy Cross Hospital. Three days after that I relief pitched three innings against Gaithersburg and I shut them down. Coach Manual said it was one of the most incredible things he had ever seen. Latter that summer we won two more baseball league championships. Somehow in August I survived summer camp and made the Miami University football team as a tight end and long snapper and claimed my scholarship. This is by no means a happily ever after as I went on to endure a lot of pain and suffer many fools. Or maybe it was I suffered a lot of pain and endured the fools, but either way I think I finally get it now. The fool is the one who thinks he knows it all. The one who shares his opinions so confidently. The guy who knows all the answers. The expert. The guy who knows best.

I've been that guy. I am that guy. But I see it now. I guess what's been rattling around in my head has been more like, "Sometimes you have to endure the pain and suffer yourself!" Maybe now I'll be able to move past this and not just endure the pain, but determine it's root cause and actually make it go away. Maybe I can quit suffering this fool and teach him how to be someone I actually want to hang out with. Maybe If I want it bad enough I can make it happen. 

Thanks DDD. Happy Farhers Day. Miss you.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Their Dad

Why am I here? My why sometimes makes me cry. Took me a while to figure this one out. For me the simple things usually do. My why. The Who I am. I am their dad. 

Knowing this obvious fact is different than being who this person should be. Committing to being a good dad, wanting to be a great dad, trying to be the man my children deserve changes everything. To be this man there are a few things I should do. There are some things I will do.

I will be a good husband. I will love their mother. I will show her that she is what matters. I will show them what it is to be loved. I will show her how beautiful she is and how blessed I am by her. I am grateful to God for her and will be accountable to Him for her. She is the who that made my why. She makes my why possible. She has made my ugly beautiful. She has made my crazy sane. She is the best part of me. 

I will be a good man. Not perfect. Good. Good is good enough. If I stay good great may come. When I fall I will get up. When I fail I will try again. If I disappoint I will take better aim. I will try.

I will play. I want to show them that life is fun and that having fun is something you do. Play is a great way to have fun. Having fun is a great way to be happy. Playing is a great way to say I am here with you. 

I will be there. I am here for you. I will love you always. No matter what. You are good. Good is good enough. Being good dares you to be great. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are enough. 

I will work hard. I will work smart. I will figure it out. I will show you how to do it. You will show me how to do it better.

I will show them that fear is usually a big waste of time. Courage is not lack of fear. Being brave is moving forward in the face of fear. I will show them the more they do something the easier it gets. 

Your 1230pm United flight to is delayed due to air traffic control. UA714 now departs Denver 225pm and arrives 812pm.  I am their dad too. I am the alpha of the house. Their leader. Their Champion. I lead  them out on hunts. I keep them close in danger. 

The last paragraph is classic me. I started writing this post in the airport. The flight delay notification email I accidently pasted was followed by two more and by then my chain of thought was completely broken and my point lost ADHD completely kicked in. Fortunately I hit save and this post didn't die.

I was obviously relating being a good dog master to my role as a dad. Being the alpha of the pack isn't easy. You have to earn alpha status. It's easy to be loved by your dogs. They give love so freely. It's who they are. But respect is hard. It has to be earned. Alpha. It's more than owner. More than leader. The way I see it a dog sees you for who you are. They see everything. The see right through anything fake. They see with more than their eyes. They feel you, they know how you feel. In many respects being a dog's master is harder than being a good dad. Many times in my life I have had to make the Master's decision. To decide your beloved has suffered enough and it is time to put them down. To be with them at the moment of their death. To walk away without them. It's hard. The picture of Henry as a young dog with snow on his face. It melts my heart. His life was so special. He made Suzy and me a family. He helped me be me after Sammy D. He was the best dog ever. He will always be with me. 

So I am my daughters' dad. I am my dogs' alpha. I am Suzy's husband. I am that, I am. Writing the who I am helps me understand why I cry when I think of the why I am. Makes me glad I try to know the why. Let's me know I am a child of God. Let's me kmow He loves me very much.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Father in law

This one is long over due. When it comes to dads I've been doubly blessed. If you've read any DDD posts you know how I feel about my father. I've said before you don't fully appreciate someone until they're gone. I unfortunately have learned this with hard lived experience with loved ones now gone knowing only now what they actually meant to me. 

This post is a little different for me as the person I am writing about is most likely going to read it. Pat Mentone is a great man. Truely humble. It may be harder for him to read it than it will be for me to write it.

This picture of Pat is maybe 3X5 in a little wood frame and has been around since Suzy and I met. I picture her having it on her desk up at BC as a college freshman being homesick wishing she was paddling the 10,000 lakes back home with her Dad.

So today I'm thinking about straightening up my office and my desk cluttered with three big frames laying flat, Suzy's diplomas from BC and CU Law and her Law Liciense (there since she left her last office at Killian Davis). On top of them is a random pile of my girl's report cards, pictures I've gathered to post about, tax returns, Mary's art, old mail, old headphones, new trash, and other stuff. A Veritable    mountain of stuff. As I sit to sort through it so I can get to Suzy's diplomas to hang them as a surprise I become completely distracted by this little wood framed picture of Pat standing on the back corner of my desk. I don't remember putting it there. I can't remember the last time I've even seen it before. 

I imagine it maybe has arrived the same time as Suzy's diplomas. Maybe she had it at her old office. I imagine her working away running that crazy law firm, being homesick, and looking at this picture wishing she was home paddling the 10,000 lakes with her dad.

It's a beautiful thing. Pat and Mary still live in the home Suzy grew up in. She's in her 40's and can still go home. Home. There is probably only one word  that warms my heart more than home. Love. I love our home. We love our home. We love our family. I love being a dad. I will gladly spend the rest of my life trying to be the dad my father was to me and trying to emulate the dad my father in law is to me now. 

Pat is everything in a man I wish to be. He is calm. He is patient. He is kind. In the nineteen years I've known him I have never once seen him loose his temper. Never once have I heard him raise his voice. When he gives advice he gives it in a way I can understand and from the heart so it gives no offense. His toast at our wedding was the secret to a happy marriage, "You need to have a sense of humor and a short memory."

Early on he gave me some financial advice I strive to live up to. "You need to learn how to live on less than what you make."

My brother in law Brent who married my sister always so comfortably called my parents mom and dad. To this day I call Suzy's parents Pat and Mary. Now that they are also my daughters' grandparents we all call them Pop Pop and Grandma, but I'm sure Mary would prefer me calling her Mary than calling her grandma. Since our youngest is also named Mary and is no longer Baby-Mary, we discussed maybe calling them Little Mary and Big Mary, but Big Mary made it clear she would much prefer just Mary. 

Pat is really tough. You couldn't tell by talking or walking with him or by his demeanor. You have to know all he's been through and the amount of pain he has had to deal with in his life. Recently he got his second hip replaced and how he was able to get around this last Spring break and hit balls at Pro-golf, tour an aquarium, and drive from Phoenix to Saint Paul with bone on bone in his hip shows some serious tolerance for pain. As a college kid he was blown up when his chemistry lab exploded. He almost didn't make it, but fortunately his mom's prayers and his will to survive carried him through.

It's ironic I'm posting about him here on Dumbdumbdaddayo because he's so smart. He's a PhD chemist and an engineer and an MBA and really good at figuring things out. He's naturally curious and really good at adopting new technology. He was using Skype before I had ever even heard of it. Sent us  this little laptop camera like 14 years ago and said plug it in so we can Skype our grand-daughter. I think back then we were still on a dialup modem, but it still worked.

These pictures from Spring break show the real story. I am so blessed to still have a dad in my life. Pat , I really appreciate you and Mary. I love you Mom and Dad. Looking forward to seeing you again soon.  Hope you are healing well and have a great time with Suzy and Chloe in Italy this Fall. I'm so happy for Chloe. Who better to experience Italy with than your Italian Pop Pop!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Dad

I make a lot of typos. The one I just made in the title is maybe a Freudian typo. I meant to write Mothers Day, but Mothers Dad may be a little more appropriate as I just got off the phone with my mom after a very long conversation about her dad. I appropriately learned a bunch about my grandmother Grace by way of asking my mom about her dad on Mothers Day. 

Turns out Grace Penrose was really smart. My mom said her dad was really sweet, shy and loving, but Mother was really smart. During the war Grace worked at the National Institute of Health (NIH). She had two years at North Western (where she met William) and earned her teachers degree and had become a teacher, but when the war broke out they needed her at NIH. As my head is spinning with the toppeling of another long held assumption now about my grandmother she says, "My parents met in Chicago as my dad was finishing his first year at North Western, but his dad died so he couldn't afford to go to any longer. His dad had a stroke. Died at 59."

I choked up. Literally. Lump in throat, tears, breathing gasps like when I try to hide I'm crying durning a movie. My wife lying next to me could tell I was crying, but was able to hide it from my mom on the other end of the phone. She was on a roll and I didn't want to interrupt her chain of thought. Suzy would ask me about it later and I explained I thought they were poor and could only afford one year of school. Having your dad die while you're a freshman in college is a completely different thing. I was emotionally rocked by the idea that my great grandfather died from a stroke while my grandfather was just starting to take off and I knew nothing about them. 

Turns out the job he had to take because of this tragedy is the reason for his considerable successs in life. Fate is so insane. Because of this job he earns a law degree and because of this job he and his young wife move to Washington DC and have a baby who in the end seems to have an uncanny ability to cope and love on through the many tragedies life seems to be able to dish out. So I pulled myself back together emotionally and am able to pick up the story again somewhere around my dad being the captain of the S. S. Penrose. See my dad actually didn't like to drive the boat. He like to just sit on the back deck and drink and smoke and socialize and was just thrilled that Jeff could just make it all happen. Including the big trip when he moved the boat from D.C. up to Connecticut. He basically just gave the keys to that boat to your father.

OK. Wow. Where was I? Oh yah, Mothers Day. My mom is a really great mom. And my sister was a really great mother too. Here's a picture of my dad with both of them on a very special day.

The day Carol graduated from Hood College with a degree in interior design. They a two very smart, very beautiful women and my dad appears to be glowing inbetween them. He was one lucky guy. As am I!

Happy Mothers Day 2017!