Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Night Lights

It's Friday night, and I was trying to best to download some new pics on here for you to peruse. Last Sunday, I had a big memorial pre-gamer at my house, and my nephew Christopher snapped some cool, underwater shots of the girls in the pool. But I'm a tech dumb-ass and can't seem to get them on here. Scot is in Flagstaff, enjoying the cool weather with his siblings. So, you'll have to dig the ones I put on here. I put these two in a collage for the memorial.

The top shot was taken at the Michigan cabin last June. My SIL Cindy was "candling" my father. Not sexy, but sort of nasty and a complete hoax (go ahead, Google it.) Nonetheless, we had a good time smoking each other's ears out. We almost set fire to the whole damn place, and that kind of drama always makes for some pants-wetting laughs.

The bottom pic was snapped in Grand Haven, Michigan, in front of the hot dog stand. Can you tell Scot was at the end of his rope with all of us? Hardy hardy har.

My mom and I had dinner together with the kids tonight. We stumbled upon an open house (score!) and got the kids some Dairy Queen. Tomorrow we are off to Marshalls to look for new flip-flops. It's supposed to be 116 all weekend. Have mercy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Memorial script

Yesterday was the memorial for my dad. This is my script I used for my speech. I elaborated on this, but it's basically how it went. We had a huge turnout with lots of friends and family. My sister sang "What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line (my dad's choice) , and a probation officer sang "Wing Beneath my Wings" for my mom. My best friend Joelle came in, and her husband surprised me by flying out, too! Thank you to everyone.

Ever since my dad passed away, all I can think about are Bugles. I sat to write this and Bugles came to mind. One silly, seemingly inconsequential food item. Bugles. I haven't seen these since 1979. That was when my father cornered the market on the corn snack.

When I was little, my parents dragged me around to every flea market, auction, and craft fair in the N.J. tri-state area. I spent countless Friday nights at the Berlin Farmer's Market in Berlin, NJ. And one night, my dad bought 10 cases of Bugles. I had Bugles in my lunch bag for years. And when that got old, we mixed 'em into omelets. I know my father didn't have a thing for Bugles or Pop Rocks or broken candy bars any more than any of us. What he had was a love for negotiating a great deal. And then it dawned on me. Bugles are a tangible thing I can hold, something small, but an important metaphor of sorts. They stand for the passion that my father had.

As a child, I wasn't allowed to be sick. Sick days were to be used for traveling. And as such, I was yanked out of school every year. Sometimes the trip was work related, like the week on the gulf in Texas, and sometimes we went because the price and adventure were too hard to resist. That would have been the week in the Dominican Republic. For a couple of days we lounged by the secure comfort of our hotel. But then my dad got it in his head to visit a local orphanage. While Norm navigated, Mary drove the stifling hot car through the streets on Santo Domingo. We passed goats and shacks and things I had only read about in the newspaper. It was exhilarating, horrifying, and unforgettable. Never a dull moment. When I was 20, he funded a semester abroad, telling me to take advantage of everything. Take every side trip, see every play, and shop at every store? I thanked him for the handout then. Now I want to thank him for the experiences.

When I graduated from college, I looked hard and long for a career path. I knew my father loved his job. He welcomed the challenges and sought innovative approaches to dealing with old problems. Sounded fantastic. Sign me up! So I looked into it. And I could only shake my head. While worthy and good, getting stoked about probation was like getting whipped up about egg noodles. Where was the excitement? I asked him. I envied his passion for his job. And was mystified by it. But my father's answer was far less inspired than I would have imagined. " I wasn't dying to get into probation. I just did it, and I gave it everything I had". And he did.

My dad and mom had the most beautiful relationship. Passion begets passion. The two of them supplied enough energy to keep the room lit. My dad was content to glow while my mother shone. My father surrounded my mother with humor, and a generous spirit. I can only recall a couple of times when my father every raised his voice to my mom, and it usually involved a cell phone bill. In having this gentle, loving demeanor, he provided the best example of a great husband. I want to thank him, for it was he who taught me what a loving spouse should do and be. I knew that I would never settle That said, when I moved out, Norm proved a hard act to follow. I spent the first couple of years of my marriage asking Scot what he was going to do with me every weekend. Did he have a restaurant in mind for dinner? Was there a culinary fair in town?

Right down to the day he went into the hospital, my dad was sucking the marrow out of life. That morning, a poor timeshare saleswoman called the house. Norm pretended to be an old, eager man, and strung the woman on for a good half-hour. He feigned interest and even asked the woman if she would be accompanying him on the trip. Tim, Mary and I sat in the kitchen, peeing our pants, laughing.

My dad was a brilliant man who was capable of accomplishing large things, but found happiness in every day gifts, like a tasty burrito. He wanted to go everywhere, and try everything once. He drew inspiration from everything and everyone, and left us all wanting to be the best versions of ourselves. Frankly, he has left me realizing how boring most people are.

Norm searched for deals at home, and afar. Sometimes this resulted in cases of dog food, the World's largest collection of Vatican stamps, and bejeweled cuff links. Other times his bargain hunting provided the family with Mexican cruises. Still yet are the 5000 Life Magazines squatting in my garage. But my first taste of my dad's passionate spirit will be the one I can never forget. Those damn Bugles.

I love you dad.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Support Group

What?! What?! Oh, I'm here. Sorry. Been in a fog. Doing pretty well.

Tonight, Mary and I decided to check out a support group at a local church. Realizing I couldn't mix therapy with beer saddened me a bit, but I sobered up and prepared myself for some tears and disclosure.

The group included a 62-year old widow, a 50-something widow, a woman mourning her sister, and one guy that was disturbed by the whole thing and left abruptly. We all gave our stories, and listened and supported one another. It was an hour and a half of nose blowing and wadded tissues. One widow seemed to be doing as well as possible, moving on with her life. The 50-something woman, widowed for 7 months, has no joy, nor will she entertain the idea that joy might ever come into her life again. She has sold the couple's vacation home, and has said she doesn't want to make a new life. She wants the old life, with her husband in it. During the last five minutes of the session, one previously quiet woman spoke. She was there because she had lost someone, too. Her dog. In January. I felt for her. Dogs are family. But as she started to wail and rock, I knew I didn't want to feel how she felt next year.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. I feel for everyone in that circle, and realize that people do the best they can when dealing with death. But I like the healthy approach my mom has. When she addressed the group tonight, she said, "I've got to love myself more. More than my husband, more than our life together. I can't let myself slip away. " She said this with tears and determination. I was so impressed. My mom walked to the car and told me she wasn't sure she gained anything from the group. She might not have, but I did.