Image Credit (Penguins mourning death of their child)
As I told your Mom in our wedding vows,
I promise to love you fiercely too.
One day, when you’re a Mother, you’ll know the kind of love that I am talking about.
A love that makes my eyes well up with tears of joy when you simply hug me.
A love that moves me to rise from bed and check on you at three in the morning mostly because I just miss you when you sleep.
A love that makes it hard for me to let go of your hand when you try to balance on something because I know you need to learn from your mistakes.
I promise to look you in the eyes when you come to me with a problem.
I’ll always want to fix it for you right then and there.
I promise to listen as to whether you’ll want a hand or just an ear.
I promise to drop you off at college and when I do, I promise to do my best to contain my excitement for you so that I won’t embarrass you in front of your new friends.
I promise to have a reputation amongst your friends as a Dad that intimidates your boyfriends.
I promise to raise you to be strong and independent.
I promise to cry when I let go of your hand when I let go of your hand at the alter…
…I want you to know that every time when you open the door when I come home from work you’ll see a smile on my face
My arms already open ready to catch you
I’ll always be ready to catch you…
For you, Rachel…
tucking the napkin
under his chin and bending
over an ironstone bowl
of the bright drupelets
awash in cream
with the sigh of a man
who has seen all and been redeemed
said time after time
as he lifted his spoon
men kill for this.
~ Maxine Kumin, Appetite
Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) was an American poet and author. Born Maxine Winokur in Philadelphia, the daughter of Jewish parents, she attended a Catholic kindergarten and primary school. She received her B.A. in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College. From 1976 until her death in February 2014, she and her husband lived on a farm in Warner, New Hampshire, where they bred Arabian and quarter horses. Kumin’s many awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1973) for Up Country: Poems of New England.
Dad didn’t like it.
Dad didn’t support it. (Story here.)
Dad gets rolled (ignored is a better word).
Daughter does it anyway.
Last night, Daughter as President, addressed Seniors and incoming Freshmen in her final official duty.
Daughter sends Mom and Dad two text messages last night.
“Everyone Loved it.”
“They all cried.”
Here’s a summary of her speaking notes:
It’s Departure Day.
Eric is scheduled on the 7:40 am flight.
Rachel is returning later in the day.
There’s the awkward milling around the kitchen.
When everyone knows what’s coming next,
yet no one is a hurry to get on with it.
He’s scurrying around with his last minute packing.
I hover at a distance.
It is Dark.
And Cold. Temperature locked on 32° F.
We’re in the car.
The Kanigan Men are short (very) on small talk.
We ride in silence. [Read more...]
“At five, I had the intuitive, instinctive faith that my cosmos, my family and the world were good and true and beautiful. That somehow I had always been and always would be. And I knew in a way of a five-year-old that I had worth and dignity and individuality. Later, when I read Nietzsche’s statement that these are not given to us by nature but are tasks that we must somehow solve, I knew him to be wrong. We all had them once.”
~ George Sheehan, Running & Being
- Related Posts: George Sheehan bio and quote - Uneasiness. Inquietude. There is work to be done.
- Image Source. Thank you Mme Scherzo
20 October 1944
US Army Air Force Base
I hoped I would never write this to you. In a little less than an hour, I’ll be strapping myself into my old plane and pointing my nose westward. I’ve seen the orders. I think it will be for the last time. And, so, suddenly I find my life stripped away, like the branches of an old, black tree. All that matters is that I write this to you.
I know that you won’t remember me. Not really. When I spent three days with you last year when you were 6 months old, and although you can’t yet understand it, I loved you more then than you might imagine loving anybody right now.
Now listen to me. This Life, know that it is precious. You’ve got to grasp it, every little whiff of it that passes by you. It won’t be easy. It won’t be certain. Not now. Not in your unimaginable future. Don’t be surprised. No, embrace the stiff winds and the lonely heights. Remember your name. Never turn away from the right course because it’s hard. Above all, love. Scrape out the bottom of your soul. And love for all you’re worth. And when you find her, risk everything. Die a thousand deaths to get her. Don’t look back. When you grow older, older than I’ll ever be, blow on the embers of that first heroic choice. You’ll be warmed, sustained.
Some day, you’ll have a son, remember, he’s your greatest gift. Tell him these things. Make a man of him. Love him. Don’t live to get money. Have a few things, but make them good things. Take care of them. Learn how they work. There is beauty in the smell of good machines and old leather.
When you walk, alone, in the autumn, down roads at night, with trees tossing in the sunset, know that I would give everything to walk with you and tell you their names. But I there, in the light, through the branches, and I’m loving you where I see you.
I must go now. All my love. For ever and ever.
Dear Rachel & Eric:
I shared the article below from today’s paper with your Mother. She’s gloating: “I told you so.” I’m snarling: “This is utter nonsense.” Mom’s espousing “Let Freedom Reign.” Dad’s fencing is well established and flashing warning signals: “Cross the line, you’ll do the time.”
You three, huddled in your sheltered cocoon, will see the light.
Hang on to this post and drag it out when your children reach adolescence, and ask the following hypothetical (NOT) questions:
- Rachel, your daughter, three days after acquiring her driver’s license, exits a parking lot without looking in both directions, and piles into an oncoming car – - causing $4,000 damage to your car. Do you blow her a kiss and tell her: “Honey, the best way to deal with this is to get back up on the iron horse.”
- Eric, if your son backs your car into his friend’s rock wall, shredding the rear of the car, do you tell him: “Son, mistakes happen. Please be sure to take more care next time.”
- Rachel, your daughter is laying on the couch watching three consecutive episodes of New Jersey Housewives. You are exhausted from being up early, frazzled from working late and from your commute home – - and you are in the midst of preparing dinner. You ask her to walk the dog three times and she ignores you. Do you walk up politely and say: “Honey, could you please help me out here? Or, are you tired from your difficult day at school?“
- Eric, your son is on his second hour of Playstation and has ignored your 2 prior calls for bedtime. Do you walk up to him, sit down and ask: “Son, could please put down the game, get undressed and go to bed.“
Do these stories sound familiar? Hmmmmm. Right.
Being a parent, your Parents, has been our greatest blessing.
I can’t wait to watch you shine.
P.S. Re: Having children. Absolutely no need to rush into things.
Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting [Read more...]
She turned 21.
Our celebration dinner was at home earlier in the week.
Family was seated together. She was at the head of the table.
Champagne glasses filled. Dad with his Snapple. A Toast.
Her favorites. Cheesy Parmigiano-Reggiano breaded chicken breasts.
Buttery mashed potatoes. Long stemmed broccoli and cheese.
Followed by vanilla flavored birthday cake with thick gobs of frosting.
Cards from Grandparents.
She opens a small box from her Brother. Beaming. She slides on a ring.
I turn my head away to keep it together.
Discussion turns from sharing stories to plans for the evening.
“I’m staying in the city with a friend.”
“You mean you’re not coming home tonight?”
Flash of anger. Rolling to disappointment. Then settling into Sad. Turning deep, down and inward.
Dad’s leaning into a gushing current.
Water rushing over, under, through.
Hopeless to stop it. Yet he keeps trying.
Happy Birthday Honey…
The image has been
a counterweight to darkness.
Every Father’s nightmare.
I call it up. The image.
To block. To deflect.
Her sinewy silhouette shimmering against the moonlight.
Waves lapping her toes on the shore line.
Her eyes closed.
Wind gently rustling her hair.
A need to believe.
A longing to feel.
Her at Peace.
That she is safe.
She’s coming home.
“Parental love, I think, is infinite…Not infinitely good, or infinitely ennobling, or infinitely beautiful. Just infinite…”
~ Adam Gopnik
ZIMMERN: …The other day I saw on Eater that someone was saying that they thought you were the next Julia Child.
BOURDAIN: It’s flattering but wrong‑headed. I mean, Julia Child changed the f***ing world. I am not a particle of dust compared to her. I am flattered to even be mentioned in postironic jest in the same paragraph. But to be actually compared? No. Absolutely not. She was such an important figure, a pioneer out there …
BOURDAIN: And I don’t care if my mom approves. … Look, if I’ve learned anything—I wrote Kitchen Confidential because I didn’t think anyone would read it. That was a liberating moment. You know, writing every morning before I went to work with absolute certainty that no one other than a few cooks would read it was a truly liberating place to write a book. That was a lesson I learned in the bone, meaning the instinct to think about what do they want—What do they expect? What do my biggest fans want me to do next? How will they receive it? Who’s watching? Who’s reading?—this is a lethal, lethal instinct. I have to not think that. We all want to be loved, but I’m not going to even ask what people want, because that will … [Read more...]
Wednesday mornings are customarily reserved for my selections of fellow bloggers’ inspiring posts of the week. We’re departing from our normal fare. My Rachel shared this 6-minute clip last night. I was captivated. No more words. WATCH.
Note to Rachel. Your short email to me said: “good video about how we (women specifically) perceive ourselves.” Your subject heading was “awesome video.”
I do believe you missed a few sentences in your email. Here’s what I read between the lines:
“Dad, you were relentless and I didn’t like you for it. How many times did you tell me I didn’t need eye make-up? Hundreds, I think. How many times did you tell me that I didn’t need hair color. That nail polish didn’t matter much. That I didn’t need any make-up at all. That I was beautiful just the way I was. I’m beginning to get it now Dad. You were right. (Again) Thank you Dad.”
You are welcome Honey. You are more beautiful than you think. Yes you are.
Happy 19th Birthday Son.
Your Mother and I were looking at your baby pictures last night. We came across the shot below. You were two months old.
You and I have debated this point. (On Head Size.) Yet, the truth is now inconvertible upon reflection.
- Despite your impressive academic achievements, your head size remains disproportionately large compared to your body. (Yes, the photo is shocking. Your Mother had to sit down as she looked at the photo – I saw her shudder as she recalled the memories of the birthing process. BTW, I checked out Einstein’s head, it was normal size.)
- See the position of your head in the shot. Your neck was straining to support your head. All of your photos have you in the same profile: leaning and tilting. (Again, the cranium cargo load is daunting.)
- All 10 lbs 3 oz of you were delivered via c-section – - because you wouldn’t come out the traditional way. (Resisting parental guidance starting early – at birth. And Head size. Simply Massive. And yet your Mother still coddles you even after that trauma.)
Have a great day Eric. Big Head and All…We love you.
Related Posts on Eric:
SEPTEMBER, 2010: START OF RACHEL’S FRESHMAN YEAR
Dad: Don’t do it. Don’t join a Sorority. I didn’t join a Sorority…I turned out O.K.
Daughter: Dad, you’re a hermit.
Dad: Honey, it’s all about drinking, parties, and trouble. Don’t do it.
Daughter: Dad, you don’t know what you are talking about.
Dad: Honey, I’m not going to tell you what to do. You are 19 now but I wish you wouldn’t do it.
Daughter: (Ceases conversation on topic. Cuts yet another infuriating side deal with Mom. Does it anyway.)
Dad to Mom: If Grades tank, Katy Bar the Door. There will be a Day of Reckoning.
Kanigan Household: (Ignores Dad. And life goes on. King goes back and sits on his throne mumbling.)
SEPTEMBER 2012: START OF RACHEL’S JUNIOR YEAR
Rachel is named President of her Sorority, Delta Delta Delta (aka Tri Delta).
JANUARY 24-26, 2013: TRI DELTA NATIONAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE. MEMPHIS, TN.
Here’s the email she’s pecked out on her phone to her Mom and Dad late last night…
I’m in the car off to work.
I’m scanning my playlist to find a match to my mood. I’m challenged. Nothing seems to fit. Nothing that is, except the weather.
Mind pans back ten years. A sunny day in Miami. A lazy Sunday afternoon. She loves car rides. The sun roof is open. Andrea Bocelli is crooning on the cd player. We’re crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway. The City center is on our left. Biscayne Bay’s shimmering aquamarine blues are on the right. A warm tropical breeze is gushing through the windows. I look over and her eyes are closed and her hair is blowing in the wind. A portrait of youthful bliss. An indelible image that can be pulled up at will. [Read more...]
He returned home for Thanksgiving. My strapping 6′ 3” son walked into the waiting area. He had grown. Looking down on his Dad from a higher elevation. Adorned with knee length gym shorts. (47F outside.) Sweat shirt with hoody. And his hair. Wow. Only a Mother can love this slovenly look. And she does. I let it ride. For about 24 hours. Do you think just maybe you could trim it up? Dad puts up the fences and guardrails. Empathetic Mom breaks ranks. Intuitive Son notices his parents on opposing sides. Mamma’s boy digs in and expects full cover. With leverage waning, I grab the last lifeboat …when one feeds at the trough, respect the farmer. Outcome: No haircut. And, I now have a Son using hair elastics and headbands aka hair accessories.
He returned home for Christmas. There he was waiting for us at the airport terminal. Same knee length ratty gym shorts. (39F outside). Same sorry sweat shirt with hoody. And his hair. All intact. Clothes, hair, shoes…looking matted, dingy and need of a hot shower and wire brush. Mom first. Then, Dad gave his Son a hug. Zeke, electrified, and in the midst of a full head-to-toe body wiggle, finally settled after Eric kneeled down to hug him. Of course, Zeke needed to be part of the greeting party. [Read more...]
Queensland, Australia. Father. Daughter. In a canoe. Have encounter with two Humpback whales which can measure up to 50 feet and weight up to 40 tons. Apparently Humpbacks are “famously” curious toward boaters. This is a WOW. Here’s the direct link.
Rachel: Hi Daddy!
Dad: Hi Honey. What’s up?
Rachel: Daddy, I scored an 88 on a brutal Managerial Accounting Test!
Dad: Wow, that’s amazing Rachel. Well done! I’m proud of you.
Rachel: OK Daddy. Just wanted to let you know. Gotta run.
45 second phone conversation with daughter on car ride home from work. Priceless.
Image Credit: Thank you abirdeyeview
He looked taller. He looked like he had filled out. It had been less than 60 days. An illusion.
We couldn’t make it to Family Weekend in September. I could sense disappointment. His roommates’ parents showed. They graciously invited him to dinner.
It was a short 4-day week at school this weekend. A trip home before Thanksgiving wasn’t in the budget. Many of his new mates on the floor had planned to head home as they lived within a few hours drive. He didn’t want to make the call. He didn’t have to say it. And he didn’t. He wanted (needed) to come home, even if it was a brief weekend stay. And he could catch up with his sister who was home on break.
Dad and Son engaged in their customary near-monosyllabic dialogue. [Read more...]
The countdown started on Monday. My first day back from vacation. Rachel is off to school. And three days from an empty nest with Eric packing up for his freshman year. (The short week felt like repeated bouts of getting up quickly from reading on the bed. Disorientation. Stabilization. Disorientation. Stabilization. Grab an arm rail pal. Get a grip. You can’t slow down the clock.)
The Chariot was packed and ready to depart for the 11-hour journey. (No, the King doesn’t pack. The scope of his competency is narrow and deep…and some would argue not that deep. Best for him to stay well out of the way of logistics.)
It was impossible to see out of the side windows. Every square inch of trunk and 1/2 of the back seat was stuffed to the roof top. Changing lanes was a roll of the dice. Normal humans would invest in a car-top carrier, rent a van, or borrow something larger…not this Cat. The $500 expense on top of the college tuition was the tipping point. So, we jammed it all in and off we went.
The King was sitting in a cubby hole behind the driver’s seat. (Oh, what delicious irony. My first memory of Eric was driving him home from the hospital a few days after his birth. I was driving at far less than the speed limit and slipping glances back to see that he was okay.)
Good Wednesday morning. Two missions today: sharing inspiring posts of the week from several of my favorite bloggers and blogger award nominations.
In the category of just so-very-good, is a post from Thomas Ross @ “Only Here Only Now”with his post titled: Affliction.“The worst thing, the most terrible thing, was to see the reflection of my critical gaze in the people I love the most- to understand how I had fed their self doubt all those years. How I had harmed those I loved so deeply…”
In the bucket of yanking on my heart strings, Ray Visotski @ Simple, Village Undertaker with his post “Butterfly Kisses”: I remember Kelliann playing it for me for the first time when the song was a hit. We decided that it would be the song we danced to at her wedding…It may or may not be the first song, as I cannot listen to it without sobbing…) Me too Ray. Me too…
In the bucket of growth and re-birth, Brenna Gee @ Space2Live with her post title Steven Tyler and an Introvert: Expanding Through Music, Stillness and the Inner Garden:(Steven Tyler) Just recently my dad came over to the house – he’s ninety-three now! And I sat down next to him at the piano and he played Debussy’s Clair de Lune… It was so deep and invoked so much of that early emotion laid on top of my adult emotions that I wept like a baby…(and then Brenna)…As for me, I went through a withdrawal process that started with caring for my body…”
By Mimi @ Waiting For The Karma Truck
I’m a sky-gazer. It makes for some very dramatic tumbles and some slapstick recoveries to a standing position (degree of difficulty depends upon the severity of my clumsiness – but some could qualify as Olympic-level gymnastic floor routines). This need to look up and out is not folly, it’s my dad. I’ve been aiming my perspective upwards for nine years.
There’s so much written about father/daughter relationships that I hesitate to even tiptoe around this topic. I fret that my words will sound cliched and not really offer much to a potentially tired topic. But, there was nothing tired or trite about the man – and the insistent tapping of rain on the skylights in my kitchen suggests to me that he feels quite confident that there is more to say. [Read more...]
Posted my work-inspiration video. (Was inspired. For about 3 minutes. A** firmly planted in chair. Motivation rating: 1.5 on scale of 10. Darkness rolls in. I’m sorry. That’s disingenuous. My a** is hanging so low, you can’t see where my a** starts and the floor begins.)
Slash through 50 emails. (Tension climbing with the disposition of each mail. Look down at meter count. 126 left. Standing in ocean. Neck deep. Taking in water with each wave. Gagging on the salt water.)
She left the office yesterday after lunch. A colleague. Her water broke. Six weeks early. No word. (Damn it, CALL!)
I shut down the email train. (Rationalizing again. Maybe I’ll run later. Nothing in the tank this morning.)
Little red light blinking on Blackberry. (Devil’s tool that little red light. Blinking. Blinking incessantly. It’s not even a pretty red color. Maybe it’s T. No. No, it’s not.)
It’s an email from a former colleague. He’s now in London with his family. (I haven’t spoken to Steve in a very long time. What an amazing person and talent he is. Had no idea he was even following my blog. Dark clouds fall away. Mood shifts. Amazing what a few kind words will do to my psyche.)
“Dave, I hope this note finds you well…Now, I read an article in one of our leading newspapers and felt inspired, when I feel inspired I think of your blog. It’s not the most obvious article that may be worthy of landing on your blog but I thought I would share it just in case you thought your friends would relate to it. As a Dad, it struck a chord with me. Hope you are doing well, and the family is good…..take care……Steve.”
I start panning down the article. I finish the article. I’m rubbing tears from my eyes. I put on my running gear and head out the door.
“It’s not the most obvious article that may be worthy of landing of your blog.” (Right!)
The story consumed me the entire run. (“You will wish for terrible things; you will pray for your newborn baby to die — not just once, but a thousand times. Go with it, don’t judge yourself, and the storm will pass.”).
If you read nothing else today, take a moment to read the story below.
Running Time this morning? 39 seconds ahead of last Sunday’s pace. A new personal best. Steve, I owe to it you for bringing the light back. Thank you.
Enjoy your Saturday. That is, after reading the story below.
“How’d your day go Dad?” (For 19 years, I’d come dragging through the front door at the end of a long day. She’d be lying on the couch watching continuous loops of reality TV. Not a peep from her on how my day went. Now she’s asking. Hmmmm. Until you walked a mile in a man’s shoes…)
“Let me tell you about my day Dad.” (She proceeds to jabber on and on and on about her day…giddy almost…youthful exuberance. Anxious. Yet excited. Learning. Being stretched into new territory. Unsure footing. No worries Honey. It will come. It will surely come…)
“Dad, did you read about the Greek vote in the Wall Street Journal?” (Read what, where? Rachel reading a newspaper? The WSJ? I’m getting woozy.)
Eric (son) and I concluded our college visits last week. The May 1 final decision date was banging on the back door. He has 2 excellent choices. One close to home. One a plane ride away. Son like Father is not long on words…and Son has been close to the vest on the final call. I roll out of bed in the wee hours of the morning today. Look at the clock…3:50am. Flip open my smart phone. Email from Eric. A rare occurrence. I sit down. I rub the sleep out of my eyes. I take a deep breath. And I read.
“So after giving it some thought I have my mind set on W. Here’s my reasoning:
- W is more expensive but W’s school rank is higher than B.
- W is more appealing in terms of the small class sizes.
- I feel that it would be easier to stand out when applying to med/grad school in a smaller school with a reputation for exceptional academics.
- I found the living and food situation at W to be a lot better. Air conditioned dorms. And I’m GUARANTEED to be on campus. Which is a short walk to class.
- The major drawback to W is the distance from home but I feel the educational experience is superior. I will just deal with the travel and deal with being further away from home.
- I felt a greater sense of community at W, and I warmed very much to the southern hospitality. So this is my rationale. I’ve been getting pretty excited at the prospect of going to W the past few days, so I think my mind is made up.
So, it’s done. Mr. Independent has pulled the trigger without so much as a 10-minute discussion with Mom & Dad.
Vanessa tripped into my blog post “If you are stuck, listen up.” Apparently it resonated with her on a less-than-sunny-day. She left a comment on the post that led to a bit of back and forth between us – - two bloggers not previously acquainted – yet connected in this community that continues to amaze. I learned the following:
Vanessa and her sister Dion had wanted to create a blog as a tribute to their Dad and keep his memory alive. However, re-living the sorrow of the loss of her Father was “a reality she had difficulty confronting.” However, as she proceeded to build the blog, the effort actually became a celebration of his life and his art.
The blog is titled “Vincent Farrell Artist.” It is dedicated to the art and life of Vincent Farrell 1928-2008 who Vanessa describes as “my maestro and my inspiration.”
On April 20th, the Home & Hearth Magazine will feature an online gallery of Vincent Farrell’s work. According to Vanessa, the magazine has put in a “huge effort in creating this online project which will also be written about in Yahoo.com.’” Everyone is excited about the exhibition.
Vanessa permitted me to share two art works in her Father’s collection: “Study in Blue” and “In the Garden.” His work is magnificent. I encourage you to check out Vanessa’s blog to see more of his art.
This heart-warming story is a life Study in Blue. Bravo Vanessa. Your Father must be looking down and beaming.