Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Perfect Moment

  A perfect moment was a note from  S**** O**ey saying she thought I was cute and could I meet her Friday night after the dance. (S***h was a Junior and I was  Freshman).
 A perfect moment was that second she grabbed my hand.
  A perfect moment was a kiss on the front steps of the girls dorm from a curly-haired girl.
 A perfect moment was my little girl grasping my hand as we went down the stairs.
  A perfect moment was me singing, "New Kid In Town" as my baby girl slept in my arms.
  A perfect moment was when she said yes.
  A perfect moment was when I finished the move and the entire cast and crew erupted into applause.
  A perfect moment was when I walked her to the door and the answer was "yes."
   A perfect moment was a cold fall night when I hit the gas and heard that turbo kick in.
  A perfect moment was when I climbed the wall of the girl's dorm for a goodnight kiss.
   A perfect moment was knowing she really loved me, but I was with another girl.
  A perfect moment was when she came back.
     A perfect moment was when he cried for the first time.
  A perfect moment was when he grabbed my finger and held on tight.
   A perfect moment was when I saw her in her white dress.
   A perfect moment was when she said,  " Come here."
   A perfect moment was when everyone clapped.
  A perfect moment was Andy Griffith and beer and pizza.
    A perfect moment was tennis and Keystone.
  A perfect moment was knowing I had it. And using it.
These are in no particular order. As a matter of fact, they are totally out of order. So don't get mad. It don't mean a thing. Except to me.

PS: One thing I forgot. This is very important- A Boone's Farm Strawberry kiss. I don't know the details but it's in there somewhere and, though some might think it was sordid it was....perfect.


Friday, December 14, 2012

And I Weep

  A cousin of mine (who's writing I greatly admire), wrote as her Facebook status today, "And I weep." I was torn up by the simplicity of this statement. This one post sums it up." I weep."  My children are my life. They are literally the reason I wake up, fill a travel mug with coffee, and venture out into the world every day. They are on my mind from the time my eyes inexplicably open until they close every night. The thought that they are at the mercy of a world full of people, many of whom don't care about them, fills me with a such a sense of dread that I sometimes get nauseous. The news today of the shooting in Connecticut has only ratcheted this feeling up by a multiple whatever. The parents of these babies whom they have swaddled, and loved, and hugged, and kissed, must be in such a state of inhuman torment that to think about it leaves me...speechless, angry beyond belief, and scared. I could be that father. My child could have been the one who wondered what was happening and where his Daddy was while that bastard indiscriminately pointed his weapon and pulled the trigger. And I weep. People have been slaughtering each other for thousands of years and the things we humans do to each other as we are flung around on this marble are truly monstrous, but children? Seriously? My mind and my heart breaks at the thought of what these parents must be going through. I don't even know how I could continue to breathe in such a situation. Many of us wonder, when something like this happens, "Where is God?" This is where faith comes in, and it's easy for me, whose children are safe asleep in the next room, to invoke the Lord, but I would hope that I would be able to hold onto that faith. Pray for these mothers and fathers. They are in more pain than any of us can possibly imagine. And keep your children close. The wolf is always at the door.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Boys and Girls

- For Kylie and Jackson.

  I've got one of each. Fifteen years apart. You don't really notice the differences between boys and girls until you stay with each of them as children for an entire day. The differences are immediately apparent. My boy can dismantle an entire room in minutes where my girl used to take at least a few hours. She liked to watch Barney and Friends. Even when she was a child of one year, I would faithfully rise at five in the morning and sit with her for an hour while she sat mesmerized by a purple dinosaur.  That boy, as a child of one, likes to rise at five AM,  put a pot on his head and run into walls. He likes to get the long stick that screws into the paint roller and swing it around. He immediately makes a beeline for the dirtiest (and clearly the most fascinating) spot in the parking lot and sits in it. Not that my daughter didn't have her moments. I have a vivid memory of chasing her around the living room as she tried to stick a penny into a wall socket. She always called me "Ga Ga." From the very first. She couldn't quite get the "d" sound down, so it came out as "Ga Ga." On those nights when we tried to let her cry herself out, the hardest thing in the world was forcing myself to lie there while she cried, "Ga Ga!" At around the age of two, she climbed out of her crib and fell the three feet to the floor. Three times (Oh, she's fine). The boy is one year old and he's already done it once. I dutifully lowered the mattress and he's fine, but I don't trust him. He will find a way out of that crib.
   I was a lot harder on my daughter. I was a young father, without much patience, and it drove me nuts when she made a mess, or pulled out my vhs tapes (yes, vhs tapes), or threw her fish sticks on the floor.  I regret that now. The boy consistently destroys any sense of order or cleanliness in our house and I can't help but laugh. I wish I had laughed a little more when the girl was his age. I think I denied myself a little of the joy of being a father by being so impatient. I do remember, though, that I did try to appreciate those brief years of her childhood because I knew they would go fast. I used to rock her as a baby on the front porch of our house on sunny afternoons while her mother was at work. I remember thinking, "Right now you're mine. Someday you won't be and the world will have your attention and I won't always be with you but right now, you belong to me."  I would sing her Eagles songs as we rocked. Mostly New Kid in Town and Take It to the Limit. What I would give to have one of those sunny afternoons back. As she got older, we would sing songs together. Uptown Girl by Billy Joel was one of her favorites and we would sing the chorus over and over to see who was best at it. She called me a few weeks ago and said she heard it on the radio and I flashed back to a twenty-something young father and a four year old girl in a car happily singing along with the radio. But I also thought of some things I regret:  how harshly I spoke to her when she spilled a drink in my new car; the birthday I missed because I just couldn't, or wouldn't, take a day off from work. Things that can't be taken back and done over, no matter how many times I've wished they could. My parents bravely stepped in and filled a lot of the gaps left by a divorced, somewhat bewildered young man, but I could have done more. Hopefully I'll do better with the boy. I rock him at night and the same sentence goes through my head: "Right now you're mine. Someday you won't be and the world will have your attention and I won't always be with you but right now you're mine." He has no patience for The Eagles or Billy Joel, though. He gets Jesus Loves Me. I think he'll need it.
   When I'm back in Georgia, I often pass by her old elementary school.  I used to go there during  recess when I was off and play with her and her little classmates. These days, I often drive by that empty playground on my way to her high school. I've never told her, but sometimes I stop for a minute and in my memory still see her as a second grader, arms outstretched, running toward me yelling, "Ga Ga!" Now the world has her attention and I'm not always with her, but I like to remember those days when she was just mine. Like the boy is now.

PS- She's fifteen and she still calls me "Ga Ga."

Saturday, December 24, 2011


  When I think of my Mother-In-Law, Janet, I think of a smile, and then of a sandwich. Everything seemed to make her smile, and she was always trying to give me something to eat. She was a pretty woman with Italian features, who liked to pepper her speech with Italian phrases. My face was a  facia bello. Hands were maninas. When I first met her, and visited thereafter, I found this funny and exotic. More mysterious was the way she was able to keep her house spotless with two dogs and a husband. But it always was.
   I liked to watch her with Rebecca, my wife. Rebecca was Janet and Dennis Golland's only child, and they doted on her. Janet was constantly taking Rebecca's face in her hands, hugging her, and telling her she loved her. The love she had for her daughter was a palpable thing. It filled whatever space we were in and was renewed over and again with phrases like, "You're so beautiful Honey," or "I love you Baby." The bond between them was immediately apparent to anyone around. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a mother like Janet.
     I saw a picture of her once as a young mother. She couldn't have been more than twenty-five. She was so young and beautiful in the picture, with my baby of a wife splashing in a swimming pool that it made my heart ache. We so often see our parents as only middle aged older people that to see them as someone we could have gone to school with is a little disconcerting. I think of that picture a lot, with her so young, starting her family. She had the almost gangly look of a teenager.  I often see her in my wife's face when she smiles or in the way she laughs sometimes. She looks so much like her, just for an instant, that it's startling.  I don't always say anything, but I think, "There she is." She pops up, smiles for a second, then is just as quickly gone. I find myself looking for these little visits. They make me feel like she's still here.  
    We lost Janet just last year. Twelve days before my son, her only grandson, was born. The cancer that she had managed to hold off for six years finally became too much for her. She passed away quietly, with her family around her. Her life in the days before were so full of excitement at the impending birth of her grandson, that to have them miss each other so closely, by mere days, is like a stab in the heart.
    I watch my wife with my son. She makes him laugh. Brushes his hair back with her fingers, just like Janet must have done with her thousands of times. She splashes with him in a pool, like Janet did with her on that sunny day so many years ago. The bond between her and my son is a lot like the one between her and her Mother. Unbreakable.  Almost fiercely strong. I can see the joy he brings to her in her smile as he does some mischievous boy thing involving a stick and a mud puddle.  Mothering comes naturally to her but she also had an excellent teacher.  We will tell my son about Janet. And someday, when the timing is just right and I catch a flash of her in one of her daughter's looks, I'll point to her and tell him, "Look quick! There's your Grandmother."