Happy Father’s Day

Today we are celebrating two things at the blog – my 100th post and Father’s day.  While the 100th post is a great milestone to commemorate, today I’m going to focus on my dearest daddy.

Dad,

This life has been a wild ride hasn’t it? You tried your best to make me ready for it, providing everything from music, dance, and sports lessons, to reading Dale Carnegie at us over the dinner table.  As much as I carried on then, it planted the seed to want to read it and many other books for myself later.

There are so many things that you’ve given me over the years.  You’ve always been an example of hard work, heading off in a shirt and tie everyday to a job that was at times stressful and unrewarding.  Between you and mom I’ve developed that drive to work as well.

We spent lots of time practicing music together, and some of my fondest memories with you are playing side by side in quartets and ensembles.  It is because of you that I still want to learn enough piano to accompany simple songs.  One day I will. I still have all those lessons tucked away, waiting to be used. When life eases up a bit I want to find a group to play with once again.

I remember driving along and you quizzing us on the names of trees and flowers, hawthorn, maple, tulip, Bougainvillea. You still lecture me on the proper way to plant a dahlia every year without fail. I just hope that you don’t check my flower bed too closely this year – two of your bulbs didn’t come up as hoped.

Last but not least you’ve given me the confidence to hold my head high and take charge when needs be. There were so many times when we traveled that you would find friends that you recognized from functions you organized or attended. One day, I would like to have friends around the world as well.

Love you forever Dad!

0405091310

 

When the past finds you

This past week a friend of mine posted on Facebook one of those horrible school dance pictures where two young people are posed together and pretend to be thrilled to be together. This picture was no exception. It was my senior year and a junior friend asked me to go to the dance with him.  While we were good friends and had been in the school orchestra together for the past three years, we were definitely not in love with each other.

So, when it came time for the obligatory picture and he was asked to drape his arms around me, he did and I let him, for traditions sake. While the resulting picture isn’t bad there’s no denying the lack of chemistry going on between us. 10298919_10152418402308781_6745686781271152060_n

It didn’t help that my date got food poisoning earlier that evening and spent most of his time being miserable, so in addition to being awkwardly posed, he has the added greenish hue of a bad reaction to cheap pizza.

That was sixteen long years ago. It’s been years since I’ve even thought about that night. Seeing this picture brought back all the awkwardness of high school, the uncertainty, and the desire to do things the “right way.” It’s amazing how insecure I was as a teenager.

On Facebook people commented on how little I had changed over the years.  And on the outside it’s true, minus the few extra wrinkles, the few extra pounds, and shorter hair, I haven’t changed much at all.  On the inside it’s a different story.  I’m a completely different person now than I was then, and the change is for the better. All those trivial insecurities are gone and replaced with problems that actually matter. While don’t like my current trials, I wouldn’t go back to being my teenage me for anything.

Counting Pennies

For over a decade I’ve carried a heavy shoe box full of tubs of pennies from house to house. These were not my pennies, but my grandfathers that he had collected year after year.  In his top dresser drawer he kept an empty margarine tub, Fleishman’s soft, and at the end of every day he would empty his pockets.  I have no idea how long he collected these pennies and I’m not sure why either. I seem to remember it had something to do with us grand kids, maybe for a starter college fund, maybe just for fun.

The day finally came where I knew I needed to do something about the pennies. After living on backs of shelves and under beds and in other forgotten corners for years it was time for them to go. Just turning them in to the bank seemed wrong, these pennies represented years of collecting. They deserved more than that. To me they represent far more than material worth, there are memories locked in there.

Part of me wants to keep the pennies because they hold many of those memories of spending time with my grandfather.  Memories like the process of making popcorn with his air popper, using the heat to melt a huge chunk of butter on top, then pouring it all into a 5 gallon ice cream tub and putting the lid on and shaking it until the seeds all bounced toward the lip so they could be removed. I love buttered popcorn to this day.

Grandpa was a solid man, tall and proud.  If there was a project he wanted to finish or a skill he wanted to learn, he went out and invested his time and money to learn about it.  He was a photographer, a horse man, a book binder, a wood-carver, and probably much more beyond what I ever saw. I wasn’t around when he was pursuing many of his hobbies, in fact I don’t remember much about his hobbies than what my brother and I found in his basement when we came over for Sunday dinners and the adults wanted to talk.

There were the trophies for his horses and other animals, there were the books, he had a dark room – which for me and my brother was the coolest thing ever.  Deep in the unfinished part of the basement were the wood working tools and carefully labeled boxes of supplies. And then there were the pennies which he kept on the upper shelf of a closet.  Each time he would fill a margarine tub he’d tape it shut and put it with the rest.

Every day for the past few weeks I’ve spent time sorting through the pennies and separating the wheat pennies from those with the Lincoln memorial. The heavy shoe box is gone now, and so are the brittle and cracked tubs of Fleishman’s. Of the pennies only a small box remains of all the special ones, the wheat pennies, the all nickel ones, the ones that he had set aside in a yellowed envelope.  Those I will keep, if anything to relive the memories that I have.

IMG_2375