Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Marigold Path Grid Blog: My dad

For more grid blog links, go here
Photo by Adam Walker Cleaveland

I do not think I properly grieved the death of my dad. I still ache and tears come easily when I think of him and what his life should have been, what my life should have been.

My dad was 41 years old when he died. I was 15.

It was an afternoon in the summer of 1984. My dad had begun a health kick. Exercising, eating better. He had adult onset diabetes and heart trouble that he didn’t know about. He asked me to go jogging, but I didn’t want to. I was watching a show, but when I saw him head out by himself he seemed lonely, so I jumped up and ran to catch up with him. He gave me a big smile and we headed off to the track.

We always had good times together. He was an excellent dad, very comfortable to be around, easy and laid back. We chatted in the car and he probably let me drive. He was teaching me a stick shift, but we took the automatic. Weird, the things I remember.

We got to the track, stretched a little and started off. We did a few laps, and sang together while we ran. We didn’t go long before we decided to sit down. There was a log or an old telephone pole that we sat on. We were talking about something funny and then he just slumped over.

I thought he was joking. I nudged him, told him to cut it out, then saw that his forehead was all skinned up and he was bleeding and throwing up. I started screaming and waved some people over who started CPR right away. These people told me later that they had just taken a CPR class the week before. While they pumped and breathed, I ran across the street to call 911.

Ambulances came and took him away. I don’t remember much about him being loaded up, but I remember watching the man who gave my dad CPR lean over and spit out my dad’s vomit. That man put me in his car and followed the ambulance because they wouldn’t let me ride with them.

I called Michael (who would be my husband someday) to go get my mom. Telling him not to let her drive, but to go get her and bring her to the hospital, but not really knowing what hospital I was in. I sat in a plastic chair waiting for someone to tell me what was happening.

My family arrived and we were ushered into a small room where we were told in harsh and brusque terms that my dad didn’t make it. That, in fact, he was dead before he was even loaded up in the ambulance. I watched him die and didn’t know it.

It was terrible, and it is still terrible. I cannot make meaning of it, and cannot think of one good thing that came of it. Maybe God can, but I can’t.

So, that is the bad stuff. Now, let me tell you some good stuff.

My dad was a TV and video game lover. Our evenings would revolve around the A-team and trips to the arcade. I never saw anyone who could beat him at pac-man. He had all the ghost routes memorized and I’m sure that had he been born a generation later, he would have been an amazing computer software designer.

He was balding, but never did the comb over. He was strictly a ‘slick-back’ kind of guy. He had a unique way of nudging his glasses up on his nose. He never did the finger on the bridge push, but grasped the whole outside lens with forefinger and thumb, little pinky extended. It doesn’t matter what a man looks like, but if he uses that mannerism, he always looks like my dad to me.

My earliest recollection of my dad is him combing tangles out of my hair. When he hit a snag, he would pull a mickey mouse out of his pocket and tell me it was a rat he got out of my hair.

My dad was the most artistic and creative person I have ever met. He always had a hobby going. When macrame was big, he created doll house sized plant hangers that looked just like the real thing. He painted with oils, did jig saw work on wood, baked striped Christmas cookies and thumbprints with jam. The supplies in our garage could have kept us busy for years.

He built a hot dog stand. He wanted to quit his job and sell hot dogs for a living, but when he saw the panic in my mom’s eyes, kept his job as an accountant. He was a good husband. A good example of what I should look for in my own man, when the time came.

He thought it was fun to load the family up and take us somewhere on the spur of the moment. Sometimes it would be a drive and an ice cream cone, or a visit to a new restaurant. Other times, it was to sit in line at the gas tanks so we could have the extra family time while we waited out the gas crunch in the 70’s.

Dad loved God and was faithful in our church. He had a meaningful spiritual life that was a evident to people who watched him. He didn’t just say that he loved God, it was obvious in the way that he lived his life that it was real for him.

My dad was generous, often giving people money in such creative ways that they didn’t feel bad about accepting it. One time, he put five dollar bills in balloons and filled them with helium. When someone was in need, he noticed and did what he could.

I am convinced that he would have been the best grandfather to ever live.

I miss him and I miss what life would have been with him. I feel like our family would have skipped over some of the troubles we’ve had if we would have had his insight and wisdom on matters. He was a discerning, practical man with good common sense, while still being whimsical, fun and spontaneous.

Even though I feel it would have been better to have him here with us longer, I do see God’s provision in his death. There were family and friends and church people who rallied around us. There were people who knew what to do and how to administer CPR at the time of dad’s death. My dad didn't die alone because I wanted to watch TV. I don't think I could have handled that.

I met the man I would marry at a young age. Michael got to know and love my dad, and my dad knew and loved Michael. He even gave his blessing on our marriage before I even had a clue that Michael had his eye on me. Which is a story for another day.

Even so, I still think it would have been better had he lived. Maybe not... who really knows. There are always what ifs, and could have beens. But it is still so raw for me. There is still healing that needs to be done in my heart and I’m not quite sure how that is supposed to happen. I believe that there is a purpose to everything that happens in our lives. And really, even though I feel a tad cheated, my life has been blessed. God has always taken care of me and I know that the things that happen, even the bad stuff, will be good stuff in the end.

I think telling the story of my dad‘s death is a good jumping off point for the work that needs to be done in my heart. I think just getting the facts out, even though it doesn’t read like the poignant story of healing I someday wish it will be, is good.

Well, if you made it to the end, thanks for sticking around. I know this was long and I thank you for reading my story.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nuthin' much

Random thoughts and sights...

I saw the UPS guy and the Fed-Ex guy eating lunch together in a restaurant yesterday.

I love clean sheet day!! If I weren't so lazy, everyday would be clean sheet day.

The new Apple scented air freshener from Febreeze is very nice and autumny.

My 3rd grade daughter is singing full blast with head phones on and doesn't realize how very adorable she is just now.

My piano bench is dusty. I will take care of that in just a bit.

I walked on the treadmill for 68 minutes today. A Cary Grant movie was on, but I don 't know how it ends because I had to move on.

I found a dress for my daughter to wear to 'Knights and Ladies' day at school. It is black and filmy with an gold band under the bodice that looks positively medieval. $4.97 on the bargain rack! We rolled her hair in curls and she looked very beautiful.

The fan in my bathroom needs to be fixed.

I need to mop.

I am proscrastinating the mopping and the dusting and the....

I have kept a to-do list all week, and has made my days go much better. I will continue the trend.

We are having friends to dinner tomorrow.

This concludes the putting off of chores. Have a wonderful day!

UPDATED: I have mopped and vacuumed and made corn muffins. My house is delicious and cozy and warm. What a happy feeling.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I love books

I love to read. I love a good story. I don’t even mind a bad one. Rarely do I put a book aside; I always have hope that a poor book will turn around, that the author might suddenly learn to create an interesting sentence. Even when they don’t, I keep plugging along. Sheesh, they got the thing published and that is a feat in and of itself. Right?

After much reading of blogs, I have found that most people will quit a book if it’s uninteresting, bad or just bugs them. This is very intimidating news for someone like me, who has ‘aspirations’. I think I read too many book blogs. I'm getting a complex. Some readers can deconstruct a book, tell you the theme, recommend it or pan it. Me? I either like it or don’t, chalk it up to personal taste and move on.

Once, I thought I would like to review books as a living, or become an editor. Now, I realize that these professions aren’t just about reading for enjoyment. They are about telling people why to like something, why it’s worthy of acquisition, why not to waste time on it. I’m not sure I’m cut out for that. I would have to change my approach to books, and I don’t know if I’m willing to do that.

So, now that I’m thinking of getting on the writing train, I wonder what kind of book will I write. Will I have a book good enough to be published? Or worse, will I have a bad book that gets published? Will readers put up with my learning curve? I have a feeling I’m asking these questions as a way to procrastinate the actual writing of my book, which makes the questions silly, eh?

I’ll just have to keep writing the thing and ask these questions later.

In other news, I just received two books in the mail to review on my blog. I already know I’ll like them both. One is by someone who hasn’t had a book I haven’t liked yet. The other is a newbie, but if her book is anything like her blog, I know it’ll be a winner. I will, however, endeavor to tell you why I like them and maybe even try to find, as Frank McCourt says, ‘the deeper meaning’.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Some signs from our vacation.

Burgerville! The best place for a hamburger and milk shake. If you live in the Northwest, you are so lucky!

I saw a sign in my coffee shop that says "All unattended children will be given a free espresso and a puppy". That'll teach 'em.

I'm not sure what this guy has against elephant ears, but his feelings are strong enough for a sign.

Now, if I were like my internet friend, Shanna, I would segue into how these signs are representitive of something in my life and draw some kind of meaningful conclusion. She recently paralleled Battlestar Galactica with her writing life. That's something.

But me? I got nothing. Not yet, anyway. If I get an epiphany, I'll be sure to let you know.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I've got a brand new bag

A while back I discovered a blog called Biscotti Togs, written by Erin. The day I found her she had the cutest, little messenger bag posted and I wanted it. I wrote right away, but it had already been snatched up.

Erin said not to worry. She would whip another one right up. Not only that, but I made some requests about pockets and size, and she said I could have whatever I wanted. So, a custom bag was born. She even found a zipper that matched this crazy orangey-red fabric. I love it! Pretty shiny.

I told Erin my bag had to be able to fit my Steno, a water, my camera, wallet and all those items I have to carry around for kids. Right now it even has two library books in it. It is so roomy. I want to move in.
It is so warm looking and fall-ish. I've gotten complements already, and it's only been in use for a few hours.

So, if you need a brand new, custom bag, pop on over to Erin's shop. Visit her blog archives to see all the cool things she has made. She will even tell you the story behind the vintage or unique fabric from which your bag is made.
Thank you so much, Erin. You are a gem and I'm glad you are my new bloggy friend.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A good mommy

I got this picture off one of those internet chain letters that I get all the time. The kind if you don't forward then you really are a horrible friend and all your friends will leave you and you will be left an empty shell to die alone... you know the ones I'm talking about.

Well, normally I delete them all, (I'm risky that way) but I thought this was precious. What a sweet example of selfless motherhood.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Alright, already

From the time that school started, I have had two goals:

1) To get the rooms of this house in shape, closets organized, drawers de-junked, clothes gone through, clutter abolished.

2) To continue on past chapter three of the book I am trying to write.

I have done neither. However, my mail is trying to get me off my duff and get me going. Freaky, or what?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Knitting 101

Here is my first completed project from my class. A bufonda and a gorra de lana. Not sure if I spelled that right, but that's scarf and hat in Spanish.

Here is my little sweetums modeling for me. I hope she doesn't lose the set on the playground. The scarf is wrapped twice so it's longer than it looks. The hat only took an afternoon. I was so pleasantly surprised.

Next up, Irish wrist warmers and then maybe something a little more challenging or at least larger. One lady has finished a whole sweater and is at least half way finished on a second.

Even though I don't understand everything said, I am at least getting some of the gist of the conversation before it is translated into English. Regardless of language, this is a comfortable place to spend a couple of hours on a Wednesday morning.

Our Instruments

It's Show and Tell Thursday, so here are my musical instruments. Some of which are not actually used to create any music, but to hold various odds and ends of a boy's life. I think that is a Santa hat on the floor. Time for a mommy overhaul in that room, I think.

This keyboard belongs to the number one girl. She likes the Seahawks. She is good and uses her instrument regularly. She sings along with her playing and makes me very happy.

The guitar and the piano belong to me. The guitar gets more use. I use it to make up songs for my kids that make them blush with glee as their names are immortalized forever. Or for as long as the song lasts.

The piano has not had it's fall makeover yet and it's summer do is looking a little sad. I did find some painted pumpkins to quick put on there, but they will not be staying. I have gourds and leaves in mind. Our cat also likes that piano so we tied a little toy on the knob for her to bat around. Classy!

Below is a little 1/2 sized violin that my 3rd grader is learning on. It is only a rental as she will most likely outgrow it by the end of this year and need a 3/4 size. We will purchase a 4/4 when her arms are long enough. She is so adorable and I wish she was home so I could snap a photo of her holding. Her posture and technique are something to behold. {{{Beaming!}}} She has a little alarm clock on the handle to help her to remember to be on time for her lesson, provided during Social Studies time, every fifth day, at her school.

We also have three trombones in their cases that are not pictured. One from hubby's high school and college days. (He had a partial scholarship!) And two purchased for middle school band that have been soundly rejected. Thus, the violin rental.

Also not shown are various and sundry items, such as recorders, kazoos and other noise makers.

Wow, I didn't realize how musical we were. Thanks, Suse!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Go Here

Go read Reason #63. I promise, You. Will. Laugh! Then, write Heather a nice, encouraging note. Motherhood Rocks!

My first meme

I've never done a meme, never been 'tagged', don't know what meme means and wouldn't know how to go about 'tagging' someone else (does it involve a can of spray paint?). But, this one from Sarah Louise, via some of her friends, looked a little different than the norm, so I'm gonna do it. I just might learn a little bit about my own self.

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says. "al.le.giance (e le'jens), n. loyalty to a government, sovereign, person, group or cause." The Random House Webster's Dictionary.

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can...what do you touch first? My tea, extra milk, two splenda's.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? Half of Boston Legal, before I fell asleep.

4. Without looking, what time is it? 2:06 pm

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time? 2:10 pm

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? Our dogs barking.

7. When did you last go outside? It's early out day from the elementary school. Went to pick up my girls. Very fall-ish and beautiful.

8. What are you wearing? New-to-me courdoroys from the thrift shop, t-shirt, cardigan, flip-flops and a smile.

9. When did you last laugh? With friends at knitting class.

10. Seen anything weird lately? I cleaned out the fridge the other day, so what does that say?

11. What did you dream last night? I don't remember last nights dream.

12. What's on the walls of the room you're in? My cork board full of pictures, writing guidelines, quotes, doo-dads from the kids, etc. The usual suspects.

13. What do you think of this survey? I'm having fun. It's my first meme, you know.

14. What's the last film you saw? Hollywoodland. Eh.

15. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A house on some property and a nice vacation.

16. Tell me something about you that I don't know. I am a sign-language interpreter, but as there is a very low deaf population where I live, I haven't worked in this field for a while. I hope I don't get too rusty.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change? Hate.

18. Do you like to dance? I like to embarrass my children with all my happenin' moves.

19. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? We named her after family members. I think if I had to do it over again, I would have a theme, like maybe give everyone a flower name, or something.

20. Boy? I wouldn't change his name. His name fits him.

21. Would you ever consider living abroad? I would live in Vancouver, B.C, but don't think that counts as abroad. If I did live somewhere, I would want to be fluent in the language before I went.

Okay... I feel like a more official member of the blogging world now. And all it took was the amount of time to drink a cup of tea. So, since I don't know the real protocol, consider yourself tagged.