Sunday, February 4, 2018

Dear Dad,

Today was Super Bowl Sunday. Football always makes me think of you.  I still remember the Raiders Vikings Super Bowl you took us to. In CA in the Rose Bowl, I remember meeting Ray Ninski and getting his autographed book, "Mean on Sunday" I remember rooting for Fran Tarkington and the Vikes because it was maybe his last chance to win one, but they lost. We went to Disneyland and one of the days you had the whole park rented out so there were no lines and we ran from ride to ride. Oh well, good times, we had a lot of them.

So I remember writing in a post not so long ago about the futility of trying to be happy. I think I said something like I finally stopped trying and have found a way to allow happiness to happen. Or some such nonsense as that, this weekend, Suzy said she had heard a Podcast (don't ask) that made the point that Happiness doesn't just happen, you need to work at it! I have learned the futility of arguing with my brilliant wife so I asked her how one would go about this work. She downloaded the Podcast on my phone, Ten Ways to Work at Being Happy (something like that). She said, first, "you do things that make you happy." Second, "you try new things that may make you happy." She asked me what are the things I do that make me happy? I said being home. Being with you. Doing stuff with the girls. Cooking for the family. Playing my guitar. Good movies. I don't know what makes you happy? I asked. She said Traveling, accomplishing things, reading, walking, traveling. I then said I knew what makes me really happy is making you happy, but that's not so easy. She knew I meant no offense. Just is. I think it goes both ways. 

Makes me think it's important for your happiness to not be contingent upon the happiness of someone else, but when it's your wife or children easier thought than done. 

I told her a friend had recently written me on LinkedIn and said he remembered I always had the biggest smile and was such a joyful person and from what he sees on social media I still am. She said that's why she fell in love with me. That's why she married me. I apologized for letting life wearing me down as I don't feel like the joyful guy I used to be. She said something like it's OK, he's still in there somewhere. You're not to old to change back into the guy I married. Maybe I am, but at least I'm willing to try.

Makes me think maybe Joyful is something you are and Happy is something you do. Anyway I want to be both and for the most part I just have to get myself out of the way and let them happen. Suzy's right too, she always is, so I'll try to do more things that make me happy. What could be the harm in that? Maybe if I do happy I will once again become joyful. Sounds like a plan. Well, sorta anyway. Love you Pops. Miss you and wish you were here. Love, Bitty-Buddy

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sorry Dad

Looks like this is my 200th post and I still don't know what I am trying to say. I'm sorry, the last couple letters to you have been a little unfair as you died nearly thirteen years ago. It's unfair because as I write them I sort of intuit your response to my prose and tho I look like you I know I will never be you. You never were predicable. I'm fact, you surprised me all the time with your reactions and responses to me and my situations and actions. I always thought I knew how you were going to react or respond, but rarely was a right. I see a lot of me in Kayla. She is always harder on herself than I would ever be. I think that was the way it was with you and me too. I always wanted to be great for you. I always wanted to win. To be the best. And now as I look back and hear what you were saying to me and see how you were when with me, you only wanted me to be me. The me I wanted to be. I wish now that I knew this then, but I didn't know who I was. I know more than anything that you and mom just wanted me to be happy, so that is the one thing I always tried to show that I was. Unfortunately, it's the one thing that never came easy to me. To this day I struggle with being happy. I'm really good at looking really happy, but the people who really get to know me always seam to worry about me. Fortunately I've figured it out. 

You can not try to be happy. You cannot seek happiness. If you do you will never find it. It's a lot like love. You have to learn to let it happen. You have to be good with yourself when it doesn't. You must learn to be OK when it isn't. You must give love when you are not getting it. You must allow joy to follow sorrow. You must welcome happiness even when you are sad. I have learned to get out of the way and let it happen. I forgive myself more easily and when I do I accept my apologies and live on. Life. Thank you for mine.

As this is my 200th post I may be taking some time before I post here again. I promised myself a long time ago that if I ever got here I would take the time to go back and clean this puppy up. It's a little scary, but I plan to go back to the beginning and edit DDD. I hope it to be a labor of love. I'll let you know when I am done. I'll let you know when I am happy happy!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hi Dad,

Thought you'd enjoy this picture. If Mary isn't a chip off the old block then I don't know what one is. This was at my birthday brunch this past Spring. Mary busting out the old rabbit ears on her old man is classic DDD. 


Here are a few more of the fam.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Dear Pops, 

I miss you. I wish you were here. I started a new blog. It's called I pray to God my soul to keep. Been kind of magical what this blog has done for me. Hard to explain, but let's just say it's been good for me. One of my posts started out with Dear Dad, figured you'd understand as he's your dad too. It helped me talk with God more comfortably as my love for you makes it easier to understand His love for me. It also made me wonder about grandpa Keith, if you and him have reconciled. I hope you have forgiven him. I hope grandma has forgiven him too. You two deserve to be free and someday when I join you maybe you could introduce us. I think there is a lot of him in me and I think those are the parts of me I find hard to love. But, without him, neither of us would be who we are today. So do me a favor and send him my regards and tell him you love him. Send my regards to grandpa Penrose and Grace, and your mother too. Of course give Carol and Karen my love and let them know I think of each of them every single day. I am the luckiest  man alive to have had them as big sisters and look forward to seeing them again some day. Having three daughters I get to see parts of them in their eyes and looks and ways. I know they know all this, but tell them anyways and hug them for me. So I'm getting a little sleepy so I'll close while I still have the energy to get up and turn off the Christmas lights before I fall asleep. Sure thought a lot about you as I was putting them up. Someday I'll do it like you used to. I remember you doing all the blue and green lights and using a staple gun to hang them all. I'm surprised I haven't done a DDD post about you and Christmas. Or about back in Cleveland when you would always build a big ice skating rink in the back yard. Guess there's still time for all of that, but not tonight. 

Love always,

A

Thursday, December 7, 2017

There ain't no cure for stupid

This is something my DDD would say after he did something stupid. He'd tell us to call him Dumbdumbdaddyo if he did something dumb, but if he did something really stupid he'd come out with, "Well there you go. Guess there ain't no cure for stupid!"

I was talking with my wife the other day trying to explain how I felt at work. Seemed like, lately, I couldn't do anything right. I had been feeling really down and said, "I don't know. Guess there ain't no cure for stupid." She got really upset. In fact, she got a little angry. Said, "You are not stupid!" She said I was one of the smartest people she knows. She really set me straight. I kinda felt bad for insulting her husband. Marrying Suzy is definitely the smartest thing I have ever done. Proves a lot about me.

So I've been thinking a lot about this and I think being stupid is a lot like being crazy. Crazy people don't think they are crazy. So if I actually was stupid would I even know it? Makes me think of Forest Gump, when he's talking to Bubba's mom and says, "Momma always used to tell me, 'Stupid is is stupid does!'" And she agrees with a look that says yes-um. Anyway. If my dad were here and he was to bust out the ole, "Guess there ain't no cure for stupid." I'd set him straight. I'd tell him there may be no cure, but there are many very effective treatments.

First, do smart things. Second, learn from your mistakes. Read a lot. Acquire knowledge and through experience gain wisdom. Earn an education. Explore what interests you. Ask questions. If it takes you more time to learn things than other people, then take more time and learn it well. Hard work is the greatest teacher there is. Play games. Learn how to win. Be humble with your gifts. Be proud of the gifts of those who love you. Endure the brilliance of others. Appreciate the intelligence of your friends. Know that to love and to be loved is the smartest way to live. I know you taught me all these things Dad, but most of all, do not say stupid things. Unless you are trying to be funny.

Guess I'm just a chip off the old Dumbdumbdaddyo after all. Not afraid to sound stupid, but smart enough to own it when you are.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thank you Mary

I woke in a foul mood from a Sunday-afternoon, unplanned cat-nap on the couch. I overheard my nine year old daughter asking my wife if she'd come play on the trampoline with her. My wife, awsome wife that she is, said sure, you go out now and when I'm done straightening and paying bills I'll come out and join you. 

Like I said, I was in a foul mood. My back hurt, chores were still undone, Monday was already looming and the Sunday doldrums were already strangling me. Then I did the unexpected. I joined Mary on the trampoline! She was pleasantly surprised and said dad are you really coming over here to jump with me? We played a couple classics like break the egg, log roll, and dead lady dead lady and before long I was huffing and puffing and played dead man dead man and on the count of five I didn't come alive. As Mary jumped around me it dawned on me how truly lucky I was to be alive. I invited her to lay down with me for a rest and thanked her for getting her old man out here to play a little bit, told her I was in a pretty grumpy mood. She said, "I know." Ouch. 

I asked her if she ever heard of Mindfulness. I told her being mindful was about being present in the moment. About being in the moment. Engaged, aware, and open, while at the same time attentive, focused and able. I asked her if she'd join me in a Mindfulness exercise I had recently learned. As we lay side by side on the trampoline on a brilliant Fall afternoon we closed our eyes and we discussed what each of our five senses were trying to tell us. 

We closed our eyes and started with what we were hearing. Wind chimes way over at the neighbors, birds, a car driving by, a distant dog barking and then it became real quiet and she said I hear the wind blowing in the trees. I asked her what she could smell and she said she could smell the leaves. I asked her what she tasted and she said her mouth. I asked her what a mouth tastes like and she said hers tasted like the Lemmon tea and honey Mom had made her for her sore throat. Yum. Told her I tasted my bad breath, yuck. I asked her what she felt and she said the trampoline pushing up against her. She said they had just done something like this in dance class. We all laid down and the teacher said relax. Feel your feet melt into the ground, now your legs and back-side. Feel them pressing against the floor, now feel them melt into the floor. Now your back, and shoulders let them relax. Now feel your head. Feel the weight of your head against the floor. Now as you relax let the stress flow out of your head and feel it lighten. Feel the muscles in your face and neck loosen and relax. Let the stress flow out of your shoulders and back and feel yourself get lighter. Let your legs and feet become light like a feather. Feel the tension and stress blow away like the breeze. Feel yourself floating on the floor. Now wiggle your toes and feet and flex and stretch the muscles in your legs and back. Open and close your hands and reach up into the sky. Roll your head slowly back and forth and up and down. Take a deep breath in. Let it out and slowly open your eyes. Now what do you feel Dad? I feel wow. I see wow. I opened my eyes and everything looked different. Everything looked brilliant. Crisp. New.

I asked what she saw. She said the sky is so blue and the leaves are so gold and the sun is so bright and the shade is so dark. I see Mom. I see her too babe and she is so beautiful. Suzy said what's going on out here. And I said Mary just made me see better! You have got to try this. So we repeated the Mindfulness Dance Class Relaxation Exercises and to my surprise the sky got even bluer, the leaves got even more golden and the sun even more bright! They started jumping and I went in to get Mary a water bottle, but came back out with her two sisters! All five of us on the tramp and two out of three of the dogs. Tyler would have jumped up too, but he's getting too old for such nonsense. He was witness, however, to what I will always remember as a little heaven on earth. As close to perfect as I will ever be. 


Monday, October 23, 2017

Dear Dad,

Sorry it's been so long since I have written you. I'm sure you'll forgive me, as you know I've been busy with parenting and working and wrestling with life and all its challenges. I used to love getting a letter from you with that beautifully readable script and command of the written language that was always so clear and confident and understandable. I loved how you'd sign it, DDD. 

Come to think of it I don't ever remember writing you. I don't even remember talking with you directly on the phone, that was Mom's department. It makes me wonder how cool it would have been if we had email back then. You would have been a voracious emailer. Even better - text. God I wish I could text you. I wonder if your sarcasm would translate in text. Probably. You were always so painfully good at it. 
Anyway, I am writing to thank you. Thank you for trying so hard with me. I know I was quite difficult growing up. Now that I have three of my own I can't imagine the balls it took to have a fourth. I know there was always that ongoing joke that I was a mistake, but I know sarcasm when I hear it. If I had a fourth kid and he was like me I would be with you by now. Fortunately, your three grand daughters are healthy and so smart and relatively happy most of the time. Kayla is 15 now. A sophomore in HS with a Learners permit and a lead foot (but, don't tell Suzy. Kayla's nervous when driving with her mom, but with me she's a regular Mario Andretti). She got straight A's in all advanced placement classes, she's a captain on the debate team, played JV golf last Fall and was on JV softball this Spring and she worked all summer at her mom's old law firm as a file clerk. It's hard to remember she's only 15 sometimes. Chloe is 12. She's crazy smart too. She just had those achievement tests and scored out on all subjects at 13+. In the 7th grade and is testing out at college level already. It's hard for me to even comprehend (she must have got a whole lot of her branes from Suzy and some bonus smarts from you). She just took a big trip to Italy with Suzy and they were able to hook up with Pat and Mary. Our Mary is 9 already! She's a dancer and a karate kid. She is the sweetest kid. She's happy all the time and friendly and talks and talks and talks. She struggles with her school work a little, but just got her first real report card from the third grade. All A's and a B+ and I couldn't be any more proud of her. I think I learned from you to always compliment and recognize hard work and effort. I think I quoted you the other day when she was crying over her homework saying it was so hard, I said, "If it ain't hard it's hardly worth doing!" I think that was one of yours. I don't think she liked me saying it as much as I didn't like you saying it, but someday she'll probably say it to her kid. I could go on and on about them, but I know you know them. 
I wish you were here and could get to know them in person. I like to think they know you through me, the good parts at least. The playing and the joking and the tickling and the laughing and the hugging parts. Also the tough as nails, protector, provider, lover of mom parts too. 
Well, thanks again for raising me best you could. I know it wasn't easy. And I know you weren't perfect, thank God, but you were a hell of a lot better dad than I ever gave you credit for while here. I am especially grateful for some of the lessons you taught me at the end of your journey. That no matter how rough the road gets, life is worth living. Life is always worth living, considering the alternative. Another one of yours I think.
Well I better sign off as it's getting late and I have work in the morning, Thank God!

Love always,
Bitty-buddy

P.S. Sorry for not mailing this, but you didn't leave a forwarding address. Hopefully Heaven has WiFi and you can read it at dumbdumbdaddyo.blogspot.com or hit the link at andykeith.com if you can't figure it out ask Carol she'll show you.

P.p.s. Facebook OMG you would have loved Facebook. Pictures and home movies all point and click! You'd've loved FB. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Facebook memories

Facebook has started putting up memories on my wall to share. I really enjoy them. Appearently I shared this picture of DDD on Facebook four years ago. It made me wonder what I was doing to inspire the post. Was probably doing what I'm doing right now. Blogging on Dumbdumbdaddyo trying to ground myself, find some peace of mind and figure out what it's all about. This picture really hits me in a lot ways so I decided to just start writing about it and see why. He looks genuinely happy. Little twinkle in his eye. He looks jovial. This is him from when I was a teenager. He looks heavy. Fleshy. Round. Fat and happy. 

This is a little disconcerting as everyone who knew him says I look exactly like him. "Oh well, we are who we are," He used to always say, among other things. 

No judgement. But neither Fat nor happy lasted much longer after this picture was taken. After the strokes happiness was a rare commodity. The judgement is on me. Fat and Happy sounds pretty good when compared to just fat, which is pretty much how I have felt lately. 

Well here I go again. Writting myself into a stupor because I shared a photo of my father with a jovial smile and a twinkle in his eye! With a beard he could've been freaking Santa Claws. He led an incredibly happy and successful life and I am living proof of it. My children are even more so. If he were here right now he'd say something like, "I know you're home where you can scratch where it itches, but why don't go tuck in my grand daughters and tell them how much you love them. Go drink the sweet nectar of your wonderful life. Smell the roses. Live your life, it's not meant to just be happy all time. It's just meant to be,"

Well alright then Pops I'll just go tell my kids how much I love them just like you used to do with us. I love you too,

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, a grown man 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're 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 got there I was 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 head 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 challenges 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."