memories

Adieu, Shit Dog.

Our Doobie, My Shit Dog

Here I sit a quivering mess and the day is not going to get any better.  Today is the day we say goodbye to Shit Dog.  The bladder cancer has finally gotten the better of him.  He was supposed to be gone before August, but in grand Shit Dog fashion he held on just to prove a point.

He’s gotten a bit chubby over the last couple of months or so because we have been saying what the heck let him eat it – he won’t be around much longer.  Leftover pancakes, roast trimmings, rice, french fries, pizza crust, chocolate cookies – about the only thing he turned his nose up to was veggies.  He would eat them with resentment when Elisheva was alive, but then that was a competition.

We knew something was up last week.  He refused a piece of biscuit.  He also hasn’t touched the bag of dog food that’s been sitting out in the open for four days.  Bashert had to hold her hand in front of his nose on Sunday for him to know she had some chocolate.  And if Shit Dog is anything, he’s a pureblooded chocoholic.

Our cat Winnie came over to lie with him this weekend.  She doesn’t do that.  He hates having his space invaded, particularly by one of the cats and they know it.  Bashert thinks Winnie was saying goodbye.  She did that just before Elisheva died, too.

We have a checkered past, Shit Dog and I.  I alluded to some of it in an entry back in July.  So it’s kind of ironic that he and I should be spending the day alone together.

He’s lying in his corner, atop his mass of appropriated blankets and pillows – he started out with one assigned blanket and dog pillow, now he has three of our bed blankets and two of our sofa pillows added – snoring away, past caring that he’s leaking urine all over himself.

I sit staring at him futilely trying to remain stoic, watching his occasional labored breath and seeing that he can no longer curl up into his tight little ball because of discomfort.  I let him out a moment ago and he peed on my foot not being able to control himself (at least I’m going to believe that – one last challenge there, eh boy?).

I know that what we are doing is right for him, but it is tremendously difficult.

Damn you, Shit Dog.  Doobie…you’re breaking my heart.

When You Wish Upon A Star

Image courtesy of NASA via The Huffington Post

A good portion of my drive home from work is done in darkness; lit only by my headlights and the night sky.  Most of my time is spent on the look out for drunk drivers and random wildlife playing Russian Roulette with two ton vehicles.  But when the skies are like they were last week, I tend to sneak peeks upward.

Wednesday I looked up and saw it; a shooting star.  It happened in a blink of my eye.  Zip and it was gone. When I told Yoda about it, he asked if I had made a wish.  I told him it took me so much by surprise that I forgot.  He said that was okay just seeing the star could be my wish. He can be pretty smart, that Yoda.

Turns out I was seeing the meteors of the Quadrantids and if I had pulled over, I probably would have seen quite a fireworks show.

Seeing that star (or meteor dust, as it was explained to be by Yoda) put me in a thoughtful mood.  I remember sitting out in the cold night long ago watching one of the annual meteor showers overhead.

Going through a rather difficult stage in my life, I sought solace in the quiet and beauty of the night. Alone out there, I felt out of time, released from the stresses of the situation. Each little piece of dust that left its streak across the sky had me ooing and ahhing as if it was the 4th of July.  I went inside only when the sun began to lighten the backdrop.

I’d like to say that the time I spent under the shooting stars gave me some profound outlook and I became a wiser human being at one with the universe and all that jazz, but it was not to be.

I awoke the next day tired and with a stiff neck from looking up from my lawn chair for so many hours. The pressures had not lifted and life would remain quite difficult for some time to come.

But what those tiny bits of frying meteor dust did give me eighteen years ago, was a memory.  A memory of space without measured time; a glimpse into the vast expanse beyond my little wretched world.  They gave me a smile.

There’s supposed to be another major meteor shower coming in late April this year, the Lyrids.  The peak is supposed to be the 21st, a Saturday. It’s marked on my calendar.  Come out and join me; create a memory.

And don’t forget to make a wish.

A Full C Note

Today is my grandmother’s 100th birthday.

October 18, 1911.

My older brother Stravos, the first grandchild, called her Mama, following our mother’s lead.  It was never changed so our grandmother was Mama from then on out.

All of us have our own memories and images.  Those who lived with her directly have different images than those of us who just visited.  The children have different images than the grandchildren.  All of that is the way it should be.  We are all correct and wrong, just as our children and grandchildren will be about us.

This is a true story that gave me a little insight into my grandmother.

 

The Place at the Table

 

Girls were raised up right back then; Ginia, the eldest by two years and her mother’s namesake, helped cook and clean, while Annie Caroline had to set the table.  Forks on the left, spoons and knives on the right, knives to the inside, blade in.  Plates two fingers from the edge.

Her mother made Annie set the place each night.  A plate in front of an empty chair.  Empty, negative space in the tableau of the family.   What did Annie think about as they calmly passed the butter beans around and over that empty plate?  What small talk took place to fill that void amongst the quiet clinking of silver to china?  “How was your day, Frank?  Anything interesting down at the train yard?”  “Nothing much, Harriet dear, how was your day?”  “Please pass the beans.”  Did she want to scream?

Not quite five years old and sitting next to a ghost.

My heart aches for the little girl, who had to set that plate.  My grandmother.  Mama.  The sister of the boy who carried her father’s name.  Two and a half years younger than Annie, two year old Francis died during an influenza outbreak in 1916, one day after his second birthday.

Her mother said she wished Annie had died instead.  My great-grandmother.  Mar.  The matriarch of the family I love.  Annie was four and a half years old.  I wonder at the despair that would drive a mother to wish her child dead.  Was the promise of a son so much better than that of a second girl?  Annie, the spare child; the real extra place at the table.
Her brother gone and her mother mad, was Annie allowed to cry or mourn?  Was the plate a punishment for being the stronger of the two?

Girls were raised up right in the time of my mother, too.  She was the cleaner and has no stories of setting the table.  My mother, the third to bear the name.  Mom.  Mama never told her of Mar’s words.  Possibly, it was too fresh, too touchable to set before Mom.  Or maybe the warm, crusty, but yielding Mama the grandchildren knew was too much a hard baked fortress to her children.  The distance to the plate was still too narrow, two fingers from the edge.

Mama took me in when my brother was born.  For six weeks, I was Mama’s.  I was Mama, too, displaced by a younger brother.  Another plate at our table.

Mama offered sustenance, succor and security to my parent’s second daughter, the one who bore her name.  Perhaps, the seeds were sown during that time for her revelation to come.

Fifty years had improved our family’s mortality.  My brother survived his rough arrival and my mother recovered.  I’m told that months after I was returned to my mother, I would still grab my things and get ready to leave with Mama after she came to visit.  I had staked my heart’s claim.

Mama told me of her mother’s words, while sitting on the front porch of her home.  It was set before me in a moment of time right for the revealing.  A moment between a second daughter to a second daughter.  She was seventy years old.  I was twenty.  I never knew Mama had another brother until that moment.  Her words rang flat as she told the story.  Sixty-five years later her mother’s words still served her memory.  How could she sit there so calmly snapping green beans and tell me her mother wished her dead over another?  Did Mama still feel the emptiness and hunger for her mother’s love?  In my youth and shock, I couldn’t find the right questions to ask for more.

Mama never mentioned the plate or Francis again.  It, and he were put back in the cupboard with the rest of the mysteries of her life.

I treasure the moment Mama gave me that afternoon on her porch.  A gift and memory written on my heart as indelibly as the recipe card for her famous macaroni and cheese.

Girls are raised up in this day and age, too.  My daughter.  The fifth to bear the name no longer lives in our house, but there is no negative space set at the table by my son, her younger brother.  There will always be a place, but no empty plate to pass over. Forks on the left, spoons and knives on the right, knives to the inside, blade in.  Plates two fingers from the edge.

 

Mama passed away in 1989, only 78 years old.  And while her absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, there is never an empty space at our tables. Her place is filled with the laughter and kind thoughts that time and memory create.

 

Happy Birthday, Mama.

 

 

 

Rules of Engagement – Don’t Bleed on the Rug

A friend posted on FB some joke definitions of what her Mom taught her. (Thanks, Michigan Blue)

What my Mom taught me:
Religion – “You better pray that comes out of the carpet”
Logic – “Because I said so, that’s why”
Irony – “Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about”
Wisdom – “When you get to my age you’ll understand”
Justice – “One day you’ll have kids, I hope they turn out just like you!!”

Moms or any parental unit for that matter, really don’t realize what power they have over their children or how literal those same kids can be.

Bashert tells the story of the time their father told her sister to “stand right there” in the store.  He moved on to the next aisle and she didn’t.  It took him several aisles to realize that she hadn’t moved with him – she stood ‘right there’.

It got me thinking about the one edict that rang loud and clear through our household:

Don’t Bleed On the Rug

I’m not really sure where this stemmed from initially.  I have visions of dastardly deeds being performed and having to remain spotlessly clean so as to not leave any trace for the CSI team to discover.

Fortunately though, I don’t think my family is that full of intrigue.

I do know that it was a rule that I took hard and fast.  I know because I was tested.

Let us return to the time my family resided in Phoenix, Arizona.  If memory serves me right – and that’s a challenge – I was about nine at the time.

Once again, most of the kids in the neighborhood were outside playing.  We lived on a cul-de-sac and as long as we stayed inside that confine we were all good to go without much direct parental oversee.

This promoted independence and stupidity.

There were only two front yards we could really play on in the cul-de-sac, ours and the Kam’s.  Everyone else either had rock yards or the parents didn’t want their grass (a precious commodity in the desert) destroyed.

So, there we all were in the Kam’s front yard doing our thing.  Chasing each other around, playing catch and popping a rake.

Popping a rake?

Ah, a game of reflex and skill that only experienced gardeners and unwise children undertake.

You see it involves placing the rake on the ground with the tines facing upward at one’s feet.  One then stomps on the tines with just the right angle causing the rake handle to pop upward.   The object is to catch the handle before it whacks you in the face.

Keith Kam (all the Kam children had K names: Keith, Kathy, Karen & Kim – go figure, maybe it saved on monogramming) was deep in the game with a steady series of successful pops.  I, on the other hand, was only marginally aware of this when I heard my mother call for us to come to supper.

Dutiful child that I was, I, ahem, ‘immediately’ dropped whatever I was doing and headed home.

As I made my way, I crossed in front of Keith’s field of play.  At the exact moment he popped the rake, I stepped into the strike zone.  The handle came up with a force, I’m sure I could figure out if I had stayed in my summer Physics course.

It struck a glancing, but firm blow right across my kisser.

Blood began to flow – steadily.

I ran the rest of the way home hands cupped under my bottom lip.  By the time I reached the garage entrance to the house I had a handful of blood collected.

I stood at the door calling out for Mom as best I could with the injured lip.  She replied for me to come in.  I yelled back that I couldn’t.

The shock on her face was quite vivid as she came around the corner to see what could possibly prevent me from entering the house. It didn’t take much to realize that I was holding fast to the number one house rule.

She dragged me into the house and the little bathroom off the garage.  I think she may have laughed a bit.

Forty years, oops, forty-one years later my lip still has a scar, but my pride stands tall.

Nary a drop of blood was spilled on that rug.

World Premiere 2003

Yoda arrived in this world eight years ago today on his exact due date.  Its nice to be punctual when starting out.

Bashert and I had just reached a song we knew during a PBS special on Elton John.  There we were humming along with Sir Elton and BAM! Bashert exclaims, “I think my water just broke!”

In all my worldly wisdom, I replied, “Get off the couch.”

I can be so compassionate at times.

We got her up and moving toward the door calling to NeNé to come on down, it was time to go to the hospital.

As we got to the door, Bashert stopped, gripped the door frame and said she didn’t think she could do this. I said it was a little late for that now.  She grimaced and said that she meant walking to the car.

We managed to get to the car and sped off to the hospital, which was all of five minutes away.  I dropped the two of them off at the front door and went to park the car.  I think I broke my own speed record running back into the hospital (this was before the Plantar’s Fasciitis set in and I could still run).

The triage nurse wasn’t too on the ball.  She got confused between Bashert and some chickie who thought her water had broken.  Triage Nurse wasn’t too helpful in calming Bashert down either, she wanted to explain procedural methods. Not a good idea.

You see, Bashert wanted that epidural right away.  She introduced herself in the hospital as, “Hi, my name is Epidural Now.”  Triage Nurse didn’t read people very well.

We asked when the doctor would be there.

Turns out as is usually the case, our doctor was not on call that night.  We joked that we would get some dashingly handsome male doctor, whom all the nurses swoon over.

We got exactly that.  Bashert groaned, but he was right on top of things, basically ignoring Triage Nurse and calming Bashert at the same time.

After the initial prep, we were shown to the ‘birthing room’.  The room made up to look artificially cozy and comfortable where Yoda was to be born.  NeNé claimed the couch and began dozing. It was getting pretty late into the night by then.

The anesthesiologist couldn’t arrive fast enough.  Bashert kept asking every ten minutes as to where he was.  She got rather insistent that I question the staff, so I went out in the hall and pretended to speak with the nurse.  It calmed me and placated her.

When the anesthesiologist finally arrived we all rejoiced. Then he and I spent the entire time he was administering the manna from heaven trying to come up with from where we knew each other.  We never did figure it out.

Bashert floated into a wonderful la-la land.  NeNé fell asleep on the couch and I maintained a half sleep/half vigilance state next to the bed.

Around 6:45am we realized that it was time for the shift change.

Into the room walked a woman with long blonde hair and a fully made up face. Great, our child was being delivered by Ken and Barbie.

Surprisingly, Barbie turned out to be very capable and competent. She guided Bashert through the delivery with great understanding and confidence.

Yoda gave us a couple of little scares when he finally came out.  First, meconium accompanied him on his way out and the doctor was afraid that Yoda might have aspirated some during the delivery process and second the umbilical cord had wrapped itself around Yoda’s neck several times.

One would think that would have prevented him from aspirating anything, but they had to make sure.  So, when the doctor cut the cord, the nurses whisked him away to verify all was clear.

I knew all was good when the nurse joked that she couldn’t put a diaper on the kid because he kept pooping.  She’d get him cleaned up and there he’d go again.

When Yoda was placed in our arms for the first time, we didn’t see all the marks his travel to us had brought – scraped cheeks, bruised eyes and fat lip.  All we saw was a remarkable little boy, who vaguely resembled Curious George and sent our hearts to the clouds.  I don’t think we’ve come out of them since.

NeNé snapped a picture of us at that exact moment. Yoda’s World Premiere, 10 August 2003.

Happy Birthday, Potato!

You Say Its Your Birthday; Its My Birthday Too

Today was the magic day.

I hit 50.

Its a tired cliché to say it all went so quickly. Its rather like the vacation we are on now.  You plan and save and it all seems so far away and then voilà there you are.

I can honestly say nothing has gone according to any plan I ever had.  If it had, I would be single, living alone in a small neat house, surrounded by books and antiques.  There would be maybe a couple of cats for company.  And I would have lots of money.

As it turns out, I am happily ‘married’ to the most passionate side of my soul, have two spectacular children, three cats and one dog.  Our house is small, but decidedly not neat and the antiques are in short supply.  Money, well…I do have books.

There are many things I would have rather not gone through to get to this point in my life. Really – many things, but as the other really exhausted cliché goes, I wouldn’t be the person I am now except for those experiences. (Sometimes, I would like to have known that person – the one without the other stuff, but I don’t want to be visited by three creepy guys in the night on Christmas Eve just to see what might have been.)

But here I am, pudgy waisted, greying of hair and happier than any solitary life would have ever provided.  I have 50 years of life and wonderment to reflect on.

Bashert gave me a book of memories and letters from friends and family.  It is wonderful.  Its a treasure for me and those who read this and contributed will be getting thank you notes…eventually.

Bashert gave me a special memory today to put in a new edition. Get your mind out of the gutter, its not that type of memory (at least not yet – day’s not over).

We had been touring Colonial Williamsburg all morning.  We were tired and hot. Yoda had reached his limit and was getting a bit, shall we say vocally high pitched about something he could not have.  So we thought it best to come out of the midday heat and get some refreshments.

We stopped into Chownings Tavern for lunch.

Our waitress was quite delightful and quite the salesperson.  Before you knew it we were all quenching our thirst on some of the tavern’s homemade root beer and dining on the recommended house specialty sandwich (which I will not reveal because I am now going to rot for eternity because I broke the one kosher law I have kept since 1999, but man, was that sandwich worth it!).

We saved room for dessert, but before it arrived at the table, Yoda had to visit the ‘necessity’.  So up the stairs we went, with me explaining the entire way up that he was lucky it was in the house as the lavatories were outside back then, blah, blah, blah.

When we returned, a man appeared at the table side and proceeded to ask who it was who had the birthday.  Yes, they do this even in 18th century Williamsburg.

I was treated to a rousing rendition of “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” followed by a lovely tin whistle serenade of “Brian Boru’s March”.

They even brought out my piece of apple pie with a huge mulberry candle in the middle of it.  They let me keep the candle. Yoda asked if we can use it on his cake in a couple of weeks.  Cool.

The waitress then took our picture with our ‘shutterbox’, making sure to move all 21st century items out of the way first.  Except the visitor tags we were wearing and the San Diego Zoo baseball cap I was wearing and well..we have a great shot of the three of us to remember the occasion.

It’s a memory I will cherish. I’m smiling even as I write this.

Thank you, my love.

Here’s to the next 50 years. May the memories keep coming and may I remember at least half of them.

Huzzah!

Who Is She Today?

One might think that my daughter suffered from dissociative disorder, with all the personalities that spilled forth when she was a child.

One never knew at any given time who might pop out.

The woman who always checked us out at the grocery store was known to ask who she was that day.

Once it happened, there were generally clues, such as dress or demeanor as to who had appeared, but length of time the other personality made reside was always a guess.

In the morning she may have been Dorothy complete with gingham dress and ruby slippers, but by the afternoon she may have transformed into Laura Ingalls, with bonnet and pre-braces (the polite way of saying bucked toothed Melissa Gilbert).

Her personalities ran the gamut from Shira, Princess of Power to Atreyu, the Warrior of The Neverending Story.

Atreyu was actually pretty impressive. AURYN was an old peace sign on a leather string. Her costume was a one piece jumper that she could unbutton to show AURYN. She used an wide suede watchband of mine from the 70’s as Atreyu’s armband. Falkor, the luckdragon was a stuffed dog with floppy ears.

Once when I had to send her to her room she went in as a rather pissed off NeNé, but when I went to check on her a bit later, I found Sleeping Beauty asleep in her reading chair.

I think by far her best personality was Arielle, the mermaid.  My mom or sister, not sure which anymore, made her a mermaid outfit that she eventually wore slap out.  When she donned the magic costume, she also added her well worn Blankie as her long hair.

I would pin it under her chin and she would toss it back in the manner of Cher.  Arielle would then mount the rock jutting from the ocean and sing the most heartfelt rendition of “Part of Your World” one had ever heard.  I would wait with bated breath for the moment when she would rise up with the music crescendo.  I could see the waves crashing all around her.

She always put on a fabulous show.

NeNé began to integrate around age 6.  The other personalities made less and less appearances until I noticed they came no more.  Being someone different was now regulated to Halloween, theme days at school and costume parties.

I still have the little mermaid and Atreyu’s outfits.  I keep them stored with the last thin remnant of Blankie.  Every now and then I run across them when cleaning out closets.

All the organization gurus say that I should get rid of them, but I wouldn’t trade that closet space for anything.

As soon as I see those costumes, I am transported to the days of NeNé’s multiple personalities and the magic they created.  Sometimes I can even hear Falkor’s hearty laugh or the ocean crashing around me.  Magic indeed.  That was one psychiatric diagnosis I could live with.

Happy birthday, Munchkin.

Dancing with my Children

I have two kids, sixteen years apart. Yes, 16 years. Both of their odometers turn over within the next three weeks. Neneé will be 24 on Tuesday and Yoda 8 the second week of August. (We have lots of spring/summer birthdays.)

There are vast differences between the two in addition to their ages, genders and family circumstances, but one thing remains the same – how I feel when we dance together.

Dancing with my children is a delight I will never tire of.

I danced with my children before they could do anything more that eat, sleep and eliminate.  With each month they grew, the rhythm and movements took on more shared emotions.

We went from comforting motion that put them to sleep and soothed my frayed nerves, to dips and swings that brought forth joyous giggles and belly laughs.

Mostly we dance in the living room, but we have danced in super markets, elevators and down sidewalks.

My daughter and I danced to everything from Glenn Miller to the Footloose soundtrack. One that stands out for me is Johnny Nash’s classic I Can See Clearly Now.  We would twirl and jump around to that beat over and over again.  I still have smiling visions of her beboppin’ about the living room, wearing her pink dress with the puffy sleeves.

My son and I get funky with everything in our 78 single collection to the most recent Lady GaGa. Last night we were doing our version of some saucy dance to Bette Midler’s cover of Rosemary Clooney’s Mambo Italiano, complete with dip at the end.

I’ve held both of my kids tightly, crying while dancing to Nilsson’s Can’t Live Without You.

One funny thing about dancing with them – they’ve never been embarrassed by it. I may on occasion be the meanest mom in the world, but each have grabbed me and waltzed me down the grocery aisle on their own volition.

Even when I not allowed to kiss my 8 year old in public anymore, I can count on him to accompany me in an impromptu, made up disco dance in the store.  The boy has rhythm for sure.

My daughter and I have a mending relationship right now, so I was caught off guard and thrilled when she pulled me into a dance in the aisle of Trader Joe’s one visit. My heart beats a little faster even now with the joy that she remembers.

Dancing with my children means love to me.  Its a shared and cherished experience that touches the deepest part of my heart even when we are just being plain silly.

So be kind and don’t think me crazy when I am out and begin to hum along with the satellite music, doing a little jig with a distant smile on my face.  I’m just dancing with my children.

Bastille Day a.k.a Dad’s Birthday

Daddio

Happy Bastille Day!  La Fête Nationale. The day the celebrating the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and setting in motion the French Revolution.  Around my house it was always known as Dad’s birthday.

There are 30 years difference between my Dad and I.  As I turn 50 this year he hits 80.

When we were over at the parents house last month Dad asked me to go through a box of items he thought may have belonged to me at some time.  What I found was the letter he wrote to each of his children on the eve of his 50th birthday. Talk about karma.

This is the section he wrote to me:

Some of the memories I have kept of you my little big-eyed rugged tom boy who was the youngest auto driver in the family.  In 1981 dollars the 50 ft drive would cost about $225,000 per mile ~ the strong silent one on the stage who would not say a word – okay- then there were the first day of school – we became well known as the only father going to in school in the first grade ~ then there was the little one who made sure she was available to ride anywhere, anytime, anyplace on the motorcycle even out running the cop – remember tapping me on the tummy and saying Dad I think he wants you to stop!  Things tripped along with a few bumps until an Afro hair style and Joe, the gear jamming and contact lens. College and a grown up job how time flies ~ your Dad loves ya very much.

My Dad is not necessarily a very demonstrative person.  He would rather do for you than talk about how he feels, so these letters to us were really amazing.

Dad was born in 1931 to a couple of people, who probably shouldn’t have had children.

His mother, Betty gave him and his younger sister up to an orphanage after she divorced from their father.  His father rescued the two from there only to separate them, putting my Dad on his Uncle Stetson’s dirt farm and sending his sister Gloria to be raised by aunts in the town.

Dad doesn’t talk much about those days.  He has a few good memories of his grandmother Rebecca (she has a strange resemblance to the Wicked Witch in the one picture we have, but he says she was really a nice woman) and of the animals he took on as pets.

He worked hard to get out of his lot in life.  He joined the Army and spent a couple of years in Alaska.  We have a great photo of him standing waist level in snow, but in short sleeves!

Just when he finished his tour, his beloved younger sister was killed in a car accident at the age of 19.  I don’t think he ever really recovered from that loss. They were each other’s touchstones while growing up.  He speaks of her with such love, I wish I could have met her.

He met Mom when they were both working in downtown Savannah.  They married in 1953 and have been together ever since.  They raised four kids together and they just celebrated 58 years of ups, downs and love.

He worked hard to support us all even when putting himself through school.  He was a great example of never stop learning or trying to improve on yourself.

Dad and I have not always seen eye to eye.  I think its because we are so much alike.  Both stubborn and quietly determined, we tended to butt heads as I grew up.  But as much as we would argue, I always kept two incidents in the back of my mind.  I was very young, under five, but the impressions are so important they are memories I will hold forever.

Both happened when we lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

The first thing I remember is the night of the day I ended up with a concussion.  The four kids had been playing out in the backyard – remember when we used to do that sort of thing? – we were running and jumping off the concrete slab patio and landing in the pile of leaves at the end.

To protect the not-so-innocent, I will decline to give the actual circumstances, but suffice it to say that I don’t think my older brother ended up happy that afternoon as I ended up with a concussion after hitting an object that suddenly appeared in my path as I sailed through the air expecting to land in the leaf pile.

I was upended and my head struck the pavement.  Instantaneous concussion.

The doctor said not to let me fall asleep that night.  My Dad stayed up with me all night, letting me into the inner sanctum of his home office sipping pear juice and I’m sure talking his ear off.

Forty-five years later and I can still feel the level of importance he elevated me to that night.

The second instance took place at a carnival or fair that was operated by the Shriner’s.  Somehow, I ended up alone with Dad and we decided to ride the Ferris wheel.

We climbed into the swaying bucket seat.  I have memories of excitement that can only be experienced by a child as the safety bar was locked into place.  I sat close to Dad and waited for the ride to begin.

As the bucket began to rise, so did my anxiety level.  Excitement turned quickly to panic as I realized how high up and exposed we were.  I began to scream for my Dad to make it stop.

Now, my Dad has not always been the most patient with small children and their immature ways and he will cheerfully own up to this.  But this time, this time he more than rose to the occasion.

He made the Ferris wheel stop.

My Dad made them stop the Ferris wheel.

Dad doesn’t get around as well as he used to these days.  Arms that could one lift two to three kids at a time are suffering from arthritis and his back is showing the results of degenerative bone loss. He prefers the company of his books and my Mom to visiting with others and we still butt heads occasionally.

When I call and ask how he’s doing, he always replies, “fair to middlin’”.

I’m sure each of my siblings have their own special memories of our father, but to me he will always be the man who made a little girl feel important and loved.  Loved enough to stop the world from spinning.

I love you, Dad.  Happy birthday – Sam