Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm 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!

Nancy P. Keith 

So I talked for a long time with my mother last night. I asked a lot of question about her father my grandfather. My grandmother died in 1973 and he had died 7 years earlier. So he died in 1966 the year I was born. I asked about him and she said he was 5' 8" and handsome. She said we got our good looks from him not her mother. He was a sweet and loving man. He drank a lot and smoked three packs a day. But back then everyone did. She said he died from neumonia. She said he always had a cough from smoking three packs a day, but one day he got walking neumonia with no fever and he kept working. Then he got the fever and went to the new hospital in Bethesda and four days later he was dead. The X-rays for the neumonia showed hot spots for cancer in his lungs so he was a goner either way.

She told me about what he did, lobbiest, lawyer, multi  association director. And because he was the boss one year they took a two month cross-country family road trip in his new Pontiac with her mom and grandmother (from my earlier research it was cool to know it must have been Lillian) he worked along the way doing association director stuff in various cities along the way. She said the only highway in the entire trip was the Pennsylvania Turn-pike and it was brand new then. Not like when we would take it from Cleveland to Ocean City when I was little. 

She also told me about taking the S.S. Penrose twin screw 35 foot cabin cruiser with a fire place in the galley up from Maryland to Connecticut where they had recently moved. She and her mom didn't go of course because they would always get seasick. 

Originally he had it docked in MD, but when my parents moved to Connecticut he and my dad sailed it out the Chesapeake Bay, up the Atlantic and down Long Island Sound. It's the first impression I've ever had of my granddad appreciating having a son in law who was Pacific theater Marine war vetran on board. She said my dad did everything on it and did all of the driving too and all the maintenance and upkeep too. It was hard work keeping a boat like that running, but it was always fun when it was in dry dock and everyone would be painting the bottoms of their boats at the boatyard in the Spring. Always felt like a carnival she said. My grandfather kept it in Conneticit the whole time the lived there. She thinks he sold it when they moved to Cleveland.

I also learned my grandfather's middle name was Alva, not Anderson. Anderson was my other grandfather's name so I at least had that part of the story right.

It's Mothers Day so when I post this I am giving her another call. So glad I called her yesterday. So grateful because this call won't be the obligatory it's Mothers Day call, but a I really enjoyed talking with you yesterday please tell me more kind of call. Well, I better get on it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

William A. Penrose

A few posts ago I pledged to research my grandfather on my mother's side as I realized I knew next to nothing about him. Worse I had a lot a false assumptions and this weird erroneous impression of who this man was by virtue of being raised by his daughter. I here by make another solem blog post pledge to call my mom soon and ask her some specific questions about him like I did my dad about his dad.

So laying here in bed not sleeping as I should be I figured now is the perfect time to to test the magical powers of my iPhone after first posting Mary's cat drawing from today on Facebook and wondering for way too long what she meant by the caption, "# Leve Me Alon !!!" was the cat saying it or her expressing her feelings or was someone bothering her at school while she was drawing it and will this sentence ever stop like my racing brane that won't sleep.

So I started searching William Keith, Bethesda Maryland. An amazingly small amount of information to go on. A shameful lack of knowing about the man I never met. Couldn't think of his middle name, year of birth or death, where he was born, nothing to add. The first thing I learned is there were and are a boat load of William Keiths in America. But I wanted to find the one who loved my mother and inspired my father so I persevered. It seems the really good data bases or search engines seem to cost a lot, but I found a free trial offer at archive.com and kept at it. I took a guess at what year he was born + or - 10 years (cool little search feature at archive.com) and holy cow I do hold magic in the palm of my hand. Hello 1940 Census data!


In 1940 William A. Penrose was male, white, 33 years old, born in 1907, Head of a Houshold, living with his wife Emma Penrose (also 33) and his daughter Nancy Keith (9) in Montgomery County, Maryland! Unbelievable. So I kept digging.

In 1930 he was 23 living with his wife Grace Penrose (also 23) no kids in Washington D.C. 

In 1920 he was the 13 year old son of William (43) and Lillian (41) Penrose in Weld County, Illinois. He also lived with his big sister Ellen (16), little sister Lillian (10), litter sister Margaret (5) and his grandmother Anna Anderson (68).

Nothing like a little magic to keep you up way past your bedtime. Well there you go Mr. William A. Penrose, nice to meet you. I am your grandson William A. Keith. Thank you for everything! I look forward to getting to know you.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Karen and Carol

Ok


This picture captivates me in several respects and for many reasons. First because it predates yours truly and my big brother as well. I would guess my mother is pregnant with him at the time of this portrait making it 1962 or 3 the year he was born. So Karen is 3ish and  Carol 6ish. Karen looks so genuinely happy and healthy. Her smile and slight dimples and bright eyes she is so beautiful and perfect. Carol is beautiful too of course and smiling, but I see in her eyes a concentration on determining exactly what the photographer is saying. He obviously entertaining and great at what he's doing and has her attention, but she's not getting him and smiling to be polite. I wonder what he said because Karen thinks it hilarious.

After enjoying this photo for awhile it struck me how hard it must have been on Carol when Karen died. Sure it was hard on all of us, but what Carol went through with the menegitus and those two being so close. She was already quite isolated because of her deafness and she was on her way to college. She being such a natural empath I'm sure she felt every bit of what Karen had gone through. Makes me ache just to think about it. I do not dwell on the tragedy of Karen's death or Carol's. I do celebrate the way in which they lived. They lived in way of appreciation. They lived on in the worst of situations. They accomplished more, lived more, influenced more, created more and loved more than the circumstances of their short lives would have predestined if known when this portrait was taken.

A thought that came to me long after seeing this photo. They look like angels. Literally. I do not proclaim to know a thing for certain about the afterlife. But I do have faith there is one. What I do know is whatever the afterlife holds for us my sisters are already there. Together. With Dad. And Bootsie too. Sharing the love they shared then and sharing the love I feel now. Sharing the love of my girls today and carrying it forward forever.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The First Keith Family Portrait Without Karen

This was the first family portrait without Karen. If you can get past the liesure suits or my dad's 3 piece suit it's a pretty good shot. I remember a lot about getting it. I think J didn't want to go, but he hated all such family affairs. My mom looks great barring the pirate shirt.  My dad looks like he recently lost his daughter and a natural smile was just not possible. Carol looks beautiful just like I remember her. J well hard not to notice the giant collars that covers the shoulders. I wish I still had my corduroy liesure suit with leather should patch. I'll wear anything from 1976 and rock it. Back then it wasn't so much what you wore as how you wore it. I must say it was quite brave of my parents to pull us together and take this portrait. Guess that's what you do. You keep living. You carry on.

 

Owning the Plaid jacket and bow tie. I would bet big J still has a plaid jacket and bow tie and white Bucks too. He has always been so dapper. 


This one is pretty casual. I'm wondering who took it. Maybe Aunt Lynda maybe a friend. Judging by the amount and existence of hair this would have to be one of first family photos with Brent. What a blessing when he came into our lives. I must have been 15. Right around then he taught me how to drive stick shift in his brand new car. He was so patient and wouldn't let me quit. You don't forget a thing like that. This blog has focused a lot on the losses we've faced, but I must not take for granted all the additions that have come into this family. Brent was the first. But Suzy and the Mentone's (sounds like a band) and our girls and our dogs and I feel so blessed and loved I'm tearing up as I write this. Maybe a good place to stop.


My 51st birthday dinner last night at the club. There are always challenges and life ain't perfect, but I look at this picture and realize it's pretty darn close. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dancing with the Stars

Watched some Dancing with the Stars this fine Monday night with Suzy. The theme was your greatest year ever or some such nonsense. When I found myself having to hide my tears over Mr. T's story and dance I decided to retire earlier. I've found being as emotional and empathetic as I am it's best to pick my battles. While I lay in the tub thinking how absurd it was to have only one greatest year I couldn't help thinking of one of my greatest weeks full of tragedy and victory and love and sorrow and life and death. The week my dad died and my daughter was born and then Suzy's grandmother died and Hell of a week. Go life! 


While I'm thinking this Suzy comes in asking if I was mediating. I said sort of. She said a football player on DWTS just made her think of me and she wished I'd seen it. Said he was in college on a football scholarship when he found out his dad had a stroke, had diabetes and was in need of amputation so he left his scholarship behind and moved home to help care for his father. And still he somehow made it to the NFL. I thought more like and because of this he made it to the NFL. He learned early in life to follow his heart. It reminded me of something DDD would always say when the chips were down, "GO LIFE!" I always thought he was being sarcastic. Now I think he meant it. A lot. This picture must of been around when he was my age now. The hat cracks me up and my mom sporting a PBR, well, we are who we are. This next picture really makes me think Go Life!


The Keith's 1966/67 so much tragedy right there before us along with so much comedy. So much life! He would not have traded it for the world. At his funeral his little brother from his fraternity said a great thing, said, "Jeff had only one thing on his agenda...life. And he wasted no time living it." A whole lot of it. Go life!