2019/12/07

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Da Goddess @ 08:38

From 2017, with a minor update:

Today is the day America officially entered the war against Japan 78 years ago. At 07:55. A morning that sparked a battle that lasted years, caused neighbors to look upon neighbors with suspicion if they were of Asian descent. So many of the military families had Japanese or Filipinos working in the homes or yards. Suspicion grew as the day wore on. As the attacks continued, many of these Pacific Islanders were asked to either stay under the protection of their employers or were picked up and held as possible conspirators in attacks.

I still recall the story our friend Jodie told us, one of being a little girl out playing in the yard, awaiting her friend and her friend’s family so they could go to church. Jodie was outside, playing in the yard, full of joy and unconcerned about a single thing. That is, until a low flying jet flew low over the house. The plane was low enough for he to look into the pilot’s eyes. Jodie ran into the house, calling for her dad, waking him and her mom, telling them what she saw. It wasn’t until she mentioned the markings on the plane that her father leapt out of bed and started calling out orders: “stay indoors! Call all the other families, tell them to do the same, and have them ready to send their men down to the harbor!”

As much as Jodie knew, this was no longer a drill. This was what was necessary to be as safe as possible in the middle of a war on paradise.

The weeks that followed were fraught with real, true fear.

Can you imagine a life like this?

America was now fully entrenched in World War II.

Thankfully, Jodie and her family and friends supported their Navy brethren. Everyone had one goal in mind: to live! To not have to fight off Intruders in the home.

Thankfully, the majority of the people of Asian descent were just there, trying to make their own lives better. But for those who were engaged in espionage, they were rounded up and dealt with by the Navy.

There’s so much more to Jodie’s. So much I cannot recall at this time.

More than 2,400 Americans sailors, soldiers, and civilians died during the attack and another 1,000 were wounded.

For A Day That Will Live in Infamy, it has lived up to that moniker.

Remembering all who lost their lives and those whose lives were turned upside down because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. If you see a vet, thank them with the utmost respect and sincerity.

2019/11/28

Happy Turkey Day!

Da Goddess @ 00:07

Monica with the turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

Da Goddess @ 00:05

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

I have much to be grateful for and I find myself adding to the list every few minutes. Just as I think I’ve reached the end, another thing pops into mind. I’m almost embarrassed by how many reasons I have to be thankful. But this is one of those times when you thank God for every single item on the list and hope you’re doing justice to the gifts you’ve been given.

Funny how gratitude can change your attitude.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.

2019/11/11

Veterans Day 2019

Da Goddess @ 00:03

For some reason I’m having a difficult time finding the words to express my gratitude for those who have served and are serving our country. I know what’s in my heart, But my head can’t seem to translate it in a recognizable manner.

To all our military veterans and their families, thank you.

For those of you looking for something more, for anything more articulate and/or interesting, please head over to HuffPo UK and read a piece from last year’s Remembrance Day.

And if you get a chance, thank a veteran for the freedoms we continue to enjoy in America.

2019/10/31

Boo!

Da Goddess @ 02:34

Are you ready for Halloween? I am. And I don’t think Halloween can serve up anything worse than what I’ve been through this week. Yes, I’ve already had my scares. And, yes, I said scares. As in multiple scares.

Let’s start with the winds. And the fires. They’re here. All we can do is be prepared for evacuation at this point. I am totally prepared. Thankfully, after one particularly tense afternoon, I realized we were going to be okay. Others aren’t so lucky and my heart goes out to them.

Today’s humidity stands at 4%. FOUR PERCENT. That’s very, VERY dry. And the winds are alternating between calm and the Wicked Witch is coming for you and your little dog, too.

The winds cause the weathervane on my roof to turn. Unfortunately, when it does turn, it sounds like a ghost crying about how heavy its chains are.

Also, being that my home is about 90 years old, windows sometimes open randomly. Not so much a problem for the windows with screens, but the ones without are usually the ones that pop open. And they usually have the most giant spiders and giant spiderwebs. No bueno. I have enough spiders, thank you very much. I’ve learned to jam paper, cardboard, old gift cards, and everything else I can into the gaps in an attempt to keep them closed. Most stay shut. However, one, in particular, proves difficult. The one with the most giant spider and web. Needless to say, I have been known to wake suddenly and sit bolt upright when I have even the slightest suspicion it’s opened up again. I’m not sleeping well, obviously.

Despite all that, I’m better off than those who are in a fire’s path. I keep praying for firefighters to gain the upper hand on all the fires and let people return home…provided they still have one. Please say a prayer for them.

On to other things.

Then there was the other evening when I returned home after having dinner with my sisters and our mom. Normally, Fletch is waiting at the door. No Fletch. I called for him. Nothing. Panic set in. If he somehow got out, he wouldn’t stand a chance against the local strays or the coyotes that are frequent visitors in these parts. Then, in a burst of inspiration, I rushed to my closet and opened it to discover a VERY upset cat. He bolted out of the closet, practically knocking me over. He’s been known to sneak into closets and cupboards and pantries and just about anywhere he could possibly get closed in. I’m usually very careful about checking for him, shooing him out, and closing doors. I missed him sneaking in behind me as I prepared to leave this time. I was gone all of three hours. He wasn’t happy to have been stuck in the closet, but he was relieved to be let out.

Unfortunately, this was the one time Fletch really really really had to pee while trapped. After tearing apart just about everything stored on the floor, he chose to pee on the two worst things to pee on: a leather backpack (KA paid $5 for it, but it was immensely useful and a personal favorite of mine) and — oh, God, this one really hurts — my camera backpack, complete with three lenses and my old camera. The camera and lenses survived, though I lost a variety of ephemera I can’t replace. The important stuff survived and that’s what matters most.

Throwing out both bags made me want to cry. It was a ridiculous reaction. For one thing, both bags can be replaced (or, y’know, not) and all turned out okay gear-wise. Secondly, I hadn’t used either since moving. Whatever importance they held was strictly (weirdly) sentimental and didn’t warrant tears. Thirdly, Fletch did what he had to do. I can’t fault him for heeding nature’s call. Bodily functions are bodily functions. In fact, I’m kind of proud of him for not getting the urine all over the carpet. Quite thoughtful, if you ask me! Actually, I’m guessing nothing got on the carpet. Every time I’ve opened the closet, I take a significant breath and can’t smell anything.

Now, my new fright is having to find a replacement camera case. I’ve started my search and am overwhelmed. Do I want a rolling bag or a backpack or messenger bag or something else? Do I want a bag capable of carrying two camera bodies, five lenses, a flash, my laptop, and the other accessories necessary for a successful shoot? I don’t have a camera shop nearby where I can dig around and try bags on for size. (I miss you, Calumet!) So, I’m trying to sort through the plethora of options online and finding myself paralyzed by the prospect of making a choice.

After all this, I think I can manage whatever Halloween has in store for me. I have candy for my landlords’ daughter as well as any other kids that might show up. I doubt I’ll see anyone else, but I’m prepared nonetheless. I can always eat whatever’s left.

Saturday is Mojo’s birthday. It’s also the landlords’ daughter’s birthday. Mojo’s gifts were sent and a card is on the way. Little Miss Tiny (Fletch’s name for her) has a couple little, inexpensive presents to open because she’s quite honestly one of my favorite kids I’ve ever met. I can’t help but pick up a book or some other little item for her. Fletch adores her and that’s a ringing endorsement if ever there was one.

I got way off track here and it’s late. This is where the post ends. Except to say:

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

2019/09/11

September 11 — 18 Years Later, I Remember

Da Goddess @ 00:01

Do you remember? I do.

Do you still feel the same shock when you think back on what happened? I do.

We can never forget how that felt. We can never forget how we turned to one another for comfort and strength, as neighbors, as a community, as a nation. For all our imperfections, we are still strong and still ONE NATION. Thank God for that.

May we find peace and understanding somewhere along the way.

This song has always comforted me, though after 9/11/2001 it also chilled me to the bone. Ultimately, I felt more comfort, thus the reason I come back to it time and time again. Even 18 years on.

So you speak to me of sadness
And the coming of the winter
Fear that is within you now
It seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you’ve forgotten
You tell me that you need me now
You want to be my friend

And you wonder where we’re going
Where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason
And it’s you cannot accept
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

Like the music of the mountains
And the colours of the rainbow
They’re a promise of the future
And a blessing for today
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading
And it’s colder than the sea

It is written from the desert
To the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

And the song that I am singing
Is a prayer to non believers
Come and stand beside us
We can find a better way

Peace to all.

Previous September 11 tribute posts

2019/07/04

Happy Independence Day!

Da Goddess @ 02:43

Flag Day 2009

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

~ The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

Be safe, have fun, and remember that Freedom is tentative and we must be vigilant, that we must defend it. We cannot take it for granted. Nor can we take for granted those who protect our freedoms.

God bless our troops and God bless America!

Wishing everyone a very safe day doing whatever it is you’re doing today. Please remember to have your pets safely restrained or contained once the fireworks start. Our sweet companions are oftentimes very afraid of the loud explosions and some are prone to bolt in panic. If possible, secure them indoors to reduce their level of stress.

And now I’m going to shut up and let you go have some fun!

2019/04/28

Kalo Pascha! Happy Easter!

Da Goddess @ 00:01

Christos Anesti! ~ “Christ is risen!”

Alithos Anesti! ~ “Truly He is risen!”

Christos Anesti 2019

“Christos anesti ek nekron
thanato thanaton patisas
kai tois en tois mnimisi
zoen charisamenos”

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.

2019/02/14

Happy Valentine’s Day

Da Goddess @ 06:56

Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re taken or single, you are deserving of all the love in the world!

P.S. Fletch sends his love as well.

2018/12/15

I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying…and, Yes, Okay, I’m Crying

Da Goddess @ 17:33

I had planned on my semi-regular 12 Days of Christmas music posts, but I ended up with more pain and such than I could handle, making me forget what day I should have started and which videos I was going to use. I’ll post something, just not 12 days of videos.

Twitter has been the easiest way to stay in touch with a few people and it’s easy to post occasionally, to keep a few brain cells functioning, to find some humor when I need it most. But there have also been a few tweets that made it difficult to keep the tears from flowing.

Harry Leslie Smith died November 28. I’d been following him for quite a while and was saddened to hear he was ill. At 95, I didn’t hold much hope for his recovery from pneumonia, especially after they went to chest and feeding tubes. As a nurse, I knew how bad it likely was. But, there was still a small bit of hope…a tiny flame that Harry would make it, that his son would be able to take his dad home and eventually get back on the road, visiting refugee camps, appearing at speaking engagements, and maybe finishing another book. I felt extremely invested because of my dad. I knew all too well the way Harry’s son, John’s heart was racing and breaking. I offered whatever words I thought could possibly help, though in that situation nothing ever really helps. And I went at the news that Harry had succumbed to his illness.

— * — I’m going to ask you now to Google Harry Leslie Smith so you can learn more about this man who went from sheer poverty to soldier to author to human rights advocate during his remarkable life. I cannot do just to his legacy here. Please Google him. Quick link to his Wikipedia page for those too stubborn to Google. I’ll wait here. — * —

You’re back! Okay. So, now you know a bit about the astounding man who didn’t let the last years of his life go slowly or easily. Harry chose to do something to help others. He spoke his mind and heart. What a beautiful way to live, right?

His son, John, is continuing to update Harry’s Twitter account and is planning to continue on with the work Harry was devoted to. He’ll be in San Diego soon and then Mexico so he can see for himself what’s happening with the refugees who’ve been held by our government for simply seeking asylum. What’s happening down there is a travesty and to know that John is following in his father’s footsteps is enough to make my heart burst. Vale, Harry Leslie Smith. And to John, best to you. I know how hard it is to keep looking ahead, but you are most definitely your father’s son and you are meant for a very purposeful life.

Now on to the next item that stopped me in my tracks, leaving me teary and red-eyed. This story about a friendship no one really saw coming and how one woman’s loss brought this friendship to light. For Lin Wang’s family, especially his daughter Shirley, I send my heartfelt condolences and I send my gratitude for sharing this story. There are always surprises in everyone’s lives, but there are some that really take one aback.

For everyone missing a loved one this season, I feel you. For me this is raw and unknown territory. Perhaps it is for you, too. I’m here. Leave a comment. Let’s talk.

2018/12/07

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

Da Goddess @ 05:42

December 7, 1941 — “…a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

We’ll never forget.

2018/11/22

Happy Thanksgiving!

Da Goddess @ 08:55

Wishing each and every single one of you a very happy Thanksgiving! May you have blessings so numerous you lose count.

I’m so grateful to have made it through this rather trying year in one piece.

I’m grateful my sister has recovered from her stroke.

I’m grateful my mom is still with us.

I’m grateful for my beautiful children.

I’m grateful for my very sweet cat.

I’m grateful for my friends.

I’m grateful for my doctors.

I’m grateful I’m still alive.

I’m so grateful for so many things I can’t think of them all!

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear ones!

2018/09/11

September 11 — 17 Years On

Da Goddess @ 02:30

This is from 2015, but I have been thinking about this particular post for the past week and there’s no better time to revisit it.

And can we just take a moment to reflect on the fact it’s been SEVENTEEN YEARS??! It seems much more recent.

_______________

When we think of this day, we often focus on the loss and the pain. It’s very natural for us to do so because it was a very painful time for our country. So many people lost so very much. But a lot of good has risen from the ashes of that dark day. Here’s a story from Bob Dotson:

He no longer put off anything that brought them joy. “If we’re lying on the floor and all of a sudden Victoria says, ‘Daddy, I want to go to the park,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to the park.’ That’s what I’m thinking, but I say, ‘Let’s go. We’re going to the park.’ ”

Robert shouted “Hang on, guys!” as the kids squealed with laughter. They were riding in a grocery cart, careening across the lot toward dad’s big SUV. “Why should I deprive my children from going shopping?” Robert said. “I see all the other mothers going shopping with their kids. Why can’t I do it?”

He raced alongside the grocery cart, jumped on its rear axle and pushed with a powerful leg. The children exploded with laughter again. “When my kids smile, the terrorists lose,” Robert said with a grin. “The people who killed Janet wanted to destroy our happy lives. They lost. We won.”

In his book American Story, Dotson also tells of a Newfoundland town that took in stranded passengers from several planes that were forced to land. It’s a beautiful story. The entire book is full of them. To say I recommend this book highly is an understatement. It’s what every American should read. Most particularly today. Go get yourself a copy and let each story remind you why America is so special, why we triumph even when faced with horrifying tragedy like September 11, 2001.

Today, while I remember the lives lost and those impacted by the the actions of hateful people, I will also remember the goodness and strength we found along the road to recovery. Neighbor helping neighbor. Children leading their parents. Strangers holding hands and offering whatever they could to ease another’s burdens. We have triumphed because that’s what America is all about.

Yes, I still remember and I still grieve, but I also see the promise of America through the veil of tears.

Always remember, and always hope.

2018/07/04

The Spirit of America on Independence Day

Da Goddess @ 00:01

Flag Day 2009

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

~ The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

Be safe, have fun, and remember that Freedom is tentative and we must be vigilant, that we must defend it. We cannot take it for granted. Nor can we take for granted those who protect our freedoms.

God bless our troops! God bless America!

And, God, please don’t let these fools playing with fireworks set the whole of Southern California ablaze. Thanks!

2018/06/17

Father’s Day Without Dad

Da Goddess @ 00:01

My dad was many things to many people — father, husband, friend, the guy who could fix just about anything, the guy who yelled, or just plain old Dick P.

He had a crusty, grumpy, gruff outer shell that surrounded a warm, kind, and also sometimes gruff, crusty, grumpy soft center. The simple truth is that Dad was a good guy, once you got to know him. There was a time when I was much younger, but still old enough to know better, when his outer shell was the source of much embarrassment; right or wrong, it’s just how it was. Because even though he was always a good man, you first had to get past the blustering crank that would let loose with racial slurs that would make your mama blush. Yes, that was part of him, but a small part. And it changed over the years. He went from Archie Bunker Supreme Insulter to Archie Bunker’s Learned A Lesson Contriteness. His first instinct was to be on the defensive, but once he got to know you and you him, you had a friend for life. It was just his way and I learned, over the years, that it was okay to let him be him and I didn’t have to own any part of it. Eventually, he mellowed…or maybe I did. Or maybe it was both. All I know is once Mojo came along (and later, LD), I’d told him point blank that he’d have to watch what he said around her because I didn’t want her hearing some of his words. It had a huge effect on him because he was careful…mostly. Ultimately, his love for his grandkids made him want to be the best version of himself possible. He wanted them to grow up knowing Papa was on the job! And that’s what they always had with him. And, by the way, while I was in the hospital having Mojo, Dad was on a plane having a heart attack! The lesson I learned that day was to never give up hope when it comes to a man who wants to meet his first grandchild! Thanks to the quick actions of the plane crew, his buddy Rex, and everyone who worked to keep him alive, not to mention that stubborn streak he has, he survived. Don’t count him out when he’s motivated!

My earliest memories of Dad are of him working on Model Ts or Model As, driving around to find car parts, walking through the woods, playing in the big backyard of our first home in Strongsville, Ohio. I recall him working with a neighbor to repair the bridge over the creek that ran behind the house, watching them work while I looked for turtles and frogs. He was always there. Always doing something to make our little part of the world safer. I also remember sitting in one of his old cars, pressing the button and the car springing to life. I might have been all of 2 at the time. He came running out to see what happened. Of course he knew, but he had to ask, “did you start the car?” And being a kid, I, of course, lied, “no, Daddy.” I know he was likely more frightened than angry, but I wasn’t left alone in the car — not for one second — after that. Probably a wise decision. That might’ve been when I first began to think my name was either Jesus Christ or God Damnit. I eventually learned everybody shared those first names with me!

I remember, too, how he’d take us kids to the airport to see the Sea World animals arrive each year. It was a very big deal. We got to see the animals up close, touch some of them, and even get to hear the Sea World employees talk about the animals. Since American Airlines was a Sea World sponsor for many years, employees got discounts and we went as often as possible, not just in Ohio, but also in San Diego. It was a little like being part of a special club and something Dad liked to see us kids enjoy.

Another special club, to which I belonged, was the Daddy and I go hunting for car parts or go junking with his friend Norman and Norman’s son Ricky (who was born the day after me and, in fact, our parents met at the hospital because of us!) club. Sometimes we’d just head over to their house and spend hours in the greenhouse they had. No matter what, though, we’d end up back at our house, Dad making us breakfast. That was when I learned another lesson: I only like scrambled eggs that are completely beaten and thoroughly cooked! Yikes! You don’t need more than one breakfast of runny, egg-white lumpy scrambled eggs to make that your number one rule in life. Of course, Dad balanced the runny eggs with his grilling. In order for that to level the field, you gotta know he served everything from the grill WELL DONE. Never medium well. Never lower case well. Steaks, burgers, dogs…it was totally UPPER CASE WELL DONE. It was many many years before I learned to like my steak done to medium/medium well temp, though I will happily cop to still kind of enjoying hot dogs with a slightly darker crust to them. So many lessons from one man.

When I was about 8 or 9, we went to Magic Mountain. After trying to convince him I was brave enough to go on roller coasters, he finally relented and took me on the Gold Rush. I’m so glad he was with me because our safety bar didn’t lock and he physically held me in place the entire ride! It was scary, but it also made me want to try every other roller coaster in the park. And so he took me on every single one of them. Two lessons learned that day: 1) Dad is there to protect you. 2) Dad is there to encourage you and help you achieve your goals. Bonus lesson: if you’re tenacious to the point of being overwhelmingly pesky, Dad will eventually give in to the begging. But only at amusement parks. Or on Saturday mornings when Abbott and Costello, Little Rascals, or Laurel and Hardy were on. I’d plead to be allowed to watch before starting weekend chores. Because he liked comedy, he’d acquiesce. We’d watch together. No matter what pressing chores awaited us, he made time for us to laugh together.

But back to that whole saving my life thing.

That roller coaster ride wasn’t the only time Dad saved my life. Not long after that, we were visiting friends in Tucson and we took a big trip out to the Gila River to go tubing. Much of the river was a gentle flow of water, the sort of easy ride where the dads were in their inner tubes, beers in hand, watching us kids splash about, slowly making our way down river. Except, there was section that got a bit rough. In the middle of that section was a huge tangle of trees, and the water diverted around that was whirling and raging. Somehow, my tube got caught in an eddy just strong enough to pull me around to the backside of the tangle. Dad was right behind. My tube upended and threw me into the water, where I was almost immediately caught in the branches of the submerged trees. I struggled and knew I was losing the battle, and then…suddenly, an arm grabbed me and pulled me up to the surface. It was my dad. I could see the fear on his face, but instead of it making me more frightened, I immediately felt safer. I felt safe because my dad was there. My dad had saved me. In that moment, I knew everything was going to be okay. And it was. Mostly. While we kids seemed to only get browner and more golden, poor Dad had turned lobster red from the hot Arizona sun. Fun fact: on family trips to Tijuana, we’d always get stopped at the border. His farmer’s tan was even enough, just slightly olive enough to convince Border Patrol that Señor P was Mexican and therefore all the fair-haired kids in the car were cause for suspicion. All it took to dispel their misconceptions was for his shirt sleeve to ride up on his arm and his uber pasty white complexion to shine, nay GLARE, and prove he was most definitely not some weird guy smuggling obviously white girls INTO the United States. Fun fact lesson: either keep your tan line visible or learn to speak Spanish well enough to seem legit.

Around the same time as the near-drowning, I decided I wanted to play softball. I was the first in the family to try organized sports, and surprisingly, Dad was all for it. That first year, American Airlines was our team sponsor (actual coincidence as it was a neighbor’s father who also worked at AA and got us the sponsorship) and we became the Green Gremlins. Dad was proud. And despite his work schedule, he made it to as many games as he could, cheering loudly, and encouraging me the entire time. Eventually, J joined in the softball shenanigans and he and mom split their time so we’d, hopefully, have at least one of them at every game. It didn’t always work out that way, but they certainly tried their best. I was proud to be playing, even more proud when we’d win, because I knew Dad was proud. When you’re a kid, you really want to make your folks proud. I could do that with softball.

Somewhere in this time frame, I ended up getting pretty sick. Nobody was exactly sure what was going on (Epstein-Barr, thank you very much) and there were endless trips to the doctor and the hospital. At one point, Dad was the one left at my bedside for a change. Someone came in to take blood for more tests. This was not a man who dealt with blood well at all. I watched him go from pale to green in all of three seconds. I was actually afraid he was going to faint. But he hung in there. Remember that one lesson about Dad is there to protect you? Yep, sometimes he’ll even risk puking or fainting in front of you to get that job done. Later, when it was his turn to be in the hospital bed and my turn to sit bedside — this was during his first or second heart attack — I had to talk him through the removal of the angiocatheter they’d placed. I had to hold his dressing in place and talk him through the green/ready-to-puke phase. I almost couldn’t handle the five to ten minutes of the pressure dressing hold. (This was before I became a nurse.) Seeing Dad so weak and vulnerable in the hospital was too much. But because he’d always go the extra mile for me, it was my turn to do that for him. So, we did our best to keep him from passing out and it helped us both.

Other lessons were so subtle. The kind you don’t know you’re learning until later in life.

Growing up, we always had pets. While I missed out on the horses Mom and Dad had, I did benefit from the seemingly constant parade of dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, and for a very brief time — our cousins’ gerbils. Let’s just say the gerbil sitting experience was the reason none of us asked for our own once they went back to their rightful home. Dad was brave to go in and try to rescue the babies from their cannabilistic parents. But, more than the standard pet fare, Dad had a soft spot for animals in need of help. One of my favorite memories was of him tending to Irving, the injured crow. Who rescues crows? My dad! I don’t know what motivated him to want to save this wild bird, but he did. He showed us kids that we could help, that we could make a difference in an animal’s life. The day we released Irving, I cried. But Dad held my hand and gave me a hug, reassuring me that it was a good thing to let Irving return to a natural life. Just as he had done with a bat he’d rescued and rehabilitated. (That was just a story he and Mom would occasionally tell me because I think I would have remembered a bat living in a trashcan!) Anyway, it was a powerful lesson. One I’m sure he regretted teaching me as the years went on. He most certainly did NOT appreciate the snakes I brought home, or the stray cats, or the tarantula (especially since I was TERROR with that thing!). Despite me taking his lesson a little too much to heart and a little too far, this was a side of Dad that only we — for the longest time — got to see. Oh, he’d grumble plenty about the cats and the dogs and eventually the birds, but deep down, Dad loved animals. As soon as he’d sit down, there’d be a dog or a cat right by him. I once came home to find him sprawled across the good sofa, deep in his nap, lying on his back with his arm up and under his head. In the crook of his arm was my newly adopted kitten, Theron. in the same exact pose. Grumble grumble, that was Dad’s take on pets. Until he’d sit with them for a few minutes. THAT’S when you’d see the real Dad come out: a pet lover! When our dog Rändi was hit by a car, he was devastated. He scooped up her body, placed her in the back of the car, and quietly drove her home. He took her to be cremated, after which he buried her under a tree in the backyard…a place where he knew he’d always be able to find her. After my cat, Teddy, went missing just before we moved, Dad drove back to the old neighborhood every day for weeks looking for him. When our dog, Maggie, began to have seizures, Dad was heartbroken. Even more so when she got so bad she had to be put to sleep.

After the divorce, my dad said no more pets. And yet, he ended up with Tweety, the weird, but wonderful cockatiel. He doted on that bird. I mean, he let him have full run of the house! Every time you turned around, there seemed to be another perch or toy or something he got for the bird. They had their moments, to be sure. Tweety would get cranky and start biting more. Dad would get cranky and say he was ready to fry him up like chicken. Eventually they’d make up and Dad would be back to spoiling him. Whenever he’d dog sit Rexx or Max for Ron and Kathy, he’d watch to see how the dogs would react to the bird. Once he was certain everyone was cool, he’d relax and then laugh as the dogs would give Tweety a wide berth. No way they were taking a chance getting bitten!

The day J got her first horse was probably the happiest I ever saw Dad when it came to us and our animals. I think he really enjoyed seeing her and Smokey Joe together, reminding him of his days with a horse. He took great pride in watching J learn to ride and jump, hauling her and the horse…and us…to shows, pointing to them in the arena and saying, “look how well they’re doing!”

Yes, our animals were an added expense he’d grumble about from time to time, but he enjoyed having them around as much as we did. And they didn’t talk back to him like we would.

Growing up with a dad who yelled a lot, who worked odd hours, and who had absolutely no trouble putting us on restriction (oh my God, I think I was the MOST GROUNDED KID IN HISTORY!), it wasn’t really that awful. Deep down, we knew he yelled and got upset because he just wanted us to be safe and he wanted to provide as a father should. We didn’t always make things easy for him, but that’s what kids do. No matter how bad things got, he was always there for us. Maybe not in the form we would have chosen, but he was there. Plenty of people in this world never had that. We did.

He taught us to be curious and creative, encouraged us when times got rough, and bailed us out of trouble when he probably should have let us fail. So what if it all came wrapped in a crabby, thorny package? Dad was there.

Dad also taught us how to make lemonade from lemons. When he was laid off (with three growing daughters needing oh so much!), he could have been bitter and angry. He probably was. But he not only went out and found work, he started a business! In a way, that reminds me of a photo of him as a baby. Learning to walk, he always held someone’s hand and that became his preferred method of getting around. Of course, at some point, his parents knew they had to let him walk alone. He didn’t like that at all! What they did, however, was kind of genius: they stuck a bar of soap in his hand. The photo, which we can’t seem to find, shows a teeny tiny Richard with his arm raised up, soap in hand, ambulating. He didn’t get what he wanted, but he got what he needed to get the job done. It wasn’t that he settled for less than he wanted, he figured out what he wanted and made it happen with what he had on hand. Whether it was a bar of soap or starting his own business, he made good things happen when others might have thrown in the towel. He didn’t like giving up on anything or anyone. Thank God for that! We girls certainly gave him enough reason.

He could also surprise us. Once I got caught with an open beer in hand. The cops brought me home. Mom was livid, Dad was uncharateristically calm. The cops told my folks the beer was warm and probably had only been sipped once (really accurate, by the way. I didn’t much care for beer). While Mom wanted me grounded for weeks, for once, Dad was the one who advocated for a much more lenient punishment. One week grounded. Plus, I had to go along with whatever the cops recommended, which turned out to be either me washing their cars for a full day or me writing an essay as to the dangers of underage drinking. I chose the essay. He insisted on reading it before I dropped it off at the police station. Apparently he thought it was good because he told me he was proud that I’d learned my lesson (yeah, my lesson to never get caught with a beer I didn’t even want in the first place), and then he surprised me by saying he wasn’t worried about the beer. “If you’re occasionally going to take a sip of beer, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I just don’t want you out there drinking and driving and getting yourself or someone else killed, okay?” Honestly, that was the chillest moment ever for a teenager, especially this one!

Whatever and however hellish our teen years were for us and for our parents, we got through them and came to appreciate what Dad was all about. He was our protector and champion. He was our worst critic and best friend. He let us make our mistakes and try to comfort us as best he could when things went sour. And when it was time to give us away at our weddings, he was there, beaming with pride! I know he was proud that C had found D, and with D he ended up with not just a son-in-law, but a son, a friend, and someone who would be there for C no matter what. He also got a gearhead, car enthusiast, and a photographer! All things Dad loved! With J, he saw her husband, JL, as someone who was a good balance for her. He really appreciated how hard JL worked, how capable he was with his hands and with tools. He could relate! With me, he was glad I’d found someone who loved my daughter as much as he loved me. And soon it wasn’t just the DG, P, and Mojo show, because then there was LD! He had a
granddaughter AND a grandson! Watching him with the kids was really something. When they were small, I swear, I had to beg him to stop spoiling them. But he couldn’t help himself. He loved them both so much! He loved all of us, much more than he could or would put into words.

That was kind of the thing with Dad. Words weren’t really his milieu, his jam. His way of letting you know you mattered to him was in what he did.

Sometimes it was something as little as grabbing a burger together or sometimes it was as grand as buying you a decent used car because he was concerned about your safety. It could be seen in how frustrated he’d get when you told him you were sad (he only wanted to see you happy again) or after spending a couple hours together you’d come to find a twenty in your jacket pocket. Dad was a doer, not a sayer. Though he could surprise you there, too.

When he and Mom were divorcing, he was taking it pretty hard. If C was around, they might talk about the financial aspect of the whole thing. C was the analytical one, the one you go to when you want someone capable of taking charge of the minutiae. If I was around, he’d occasionally open up and tell me how much it hurt and how lonely it felt (mind you, he’d never said anything like that to me before, so I just shut up and let him talk). He knew I was the one who’d hold his hand and just let him feel what he was feeling. If J was there, he’d find a way to get her to do something…move things around the yard, do something with the horses. As long as they were doing something that required physical strength, they could work together and he’d feel better for it. With the three of us, he had different ways of communicating without necessarily spilling his guts. As I mentioned before, he opened up to me so briefly, and to this day, I’m honored that he did and even though he never really did again — not to that extent — he knew he was safe with me if he revealed his vulnerable side. Rarely did it manifest itself verbally, or rather, directly, because he’d talk about feelings, just in an indirect manner. He was of a generation and class of workingmen who believed in hard work and that’s how he expressed his love. For my dad it was about getting up, working hard, and making a better life for his kids. And that’s what this he did. Again, it was the same, but also different for all of us.

Mostly, he knew where each of our strengths were. He found a way to get across whatever he needed to say in a way we could best deal with. It takes someone who really pays attention to his kids to know how to do that. While we weren’t looking, he’d gotten to know us as people…as adults…and he acted accordingly. It was such a gradual occurence that we never noticed. Chalk it up as another lesson from Dad.

When I was recovering from back surgery at the skilled nursing facility, he came almost every day. Even though I appreciated his presence, I actually had to beg him to go do other things besides visit with me. When he was there, though, it was truly lovely. It was during those three weeks that I learned more about him than I had my entire life! I learned much more about his time in the Navy (and yet, after his death, we discovered even more!), about his lifelong love of photography and how he came by his first cameras. He told me stories about his friends, people we grew up knowing as if they were part of our family. While not always directly about himself, his stories revealed so much of who he really was. The person inside the Dad wrapping, you know? The sort of thing that takes forty years of knowing someone to surface. It floored me. It still does. Amidst the In n Out burgers and shakes, the simple conversations painted a more complete portrait of a man I thought I knew so well.

As I think of all the lessons Dad taught us through the years, the most valuable one came at the very end. When we were hurting the most, when we’d lost the one man who’d meant so much to us, he taught us that we can get through this together, that we are stronger together than we are apart. Knowing that, knowing that my sisters and I are all capable and strong in various ways, when we come together and work together, we become even stronger and more capable. From the moment Dad died, I knew we’d be okay because we still have one another. We don’t have to be anything other than who we are. We’re Dick P’s girls. And if that wasn’t enough, as C and J and I sat in together in C’s yard, discussing how to proceed, several crows flew overhead. Silently, at first. When are crows ever silent in flight? I said something referring to Irving, Dad’s rehabilitated crow. The crows flew overhead again, this time one of them let out the strangest sound. It wasn’t a typical caw caw…it was mournful, lamenting, it was muted and definitely not a caw. It felt like a sign. It felt like everything happening between us girls was good and right and what Dad always wanted for us, from us…and part of that final lesson.

I’m going to miss my dad for the rest of my life. There will always be a place in my heart just for him. But instead of being sad, I’m really grateful to have known him and I’m proud to have been his daughter. I’m proud to be one of Dick P’s girls.

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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Kids, appreciate what you have while you still have it. It goes by so quickly.

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