The Gift of My Father


*Note to Readers: I wrote this post nearly two years ago to the day. Things haven’t changed and if there was any way on earth possible, this is the gift I would choose to share with you.

If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father.  I suppose many daughters think this about their own.  The lucky ones.  Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or ever known.

My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk.  It was near a cold, dark bay of Michigan during the year of 1932.  Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during the years shortly afterward.  My father was always the only brother…his parent’s only son.

A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true.  He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life.  As a young girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry sponge dropped in a Michigan millpond.  One of my father’s most repeated  lessons was, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  Akin to the Bible, I guess.  It has stayed with me forever and always. Shortly after my own two boys learned their first few words, I passed it down to them together with tender hugs and faint kisses upon damp foreheads.   They are having their own little ones, now.  If the cycle continues it will be a lesson for their children as well.  It is the most important one of all.

Of course there were other teachings to be learned.  Important mental notes written in imaginary pencil from my father for me to follow.  Like, “How to live life with a positive attitude in spite of adversity,” or “To smile when your heart hurts,” and, “It’s okay to cry.”

Once, when one of my sons was very young and very ill,  I called my father in Arizona all the way from St. Louis.  Choking back tears I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to have him very long.”  He paused for a few seconds before finding the right words.  I don’t remember exactly what they were, but together with his quiet tone, my father calmed me down.  I hold that single moment deep down inside of me.  Today, it is here within the whole of my chest…near the inside of my heart where it will stay for all eternity.

My father has taught me lessons my whole life through.  We are both older now.  It seems he is my guide and advisor only if I ask him to be.  We value our time together more than ever before.  Like children on a playground who have been friends all of their lives or even before, we laugh and play.  Sometimes we swing on a rubber tire hanging from an old frayed, cream-colored rope.  Like babes again, feeling our heads dangling in the wind! Other days we walk slowly along a new path, discovering speckled rocks to help us find our way.

Last night, me and my father sat in a puffy, padded booth on a western patio. Surrounding us was the warmth of a golden desert sun setting deep into cocoa sand of a saguaro cactus land.  We talked for hours about nothing, telling stories while sharing jokes.  I sipped red wine from a glass of clear.  He drank more.  Older teeth opened wide revealing burgundy red.  I giggled, he laughed.  A head of thick hair…now grey, tossed back…like always…

“That’s my father,” I whispered aloud,  to no one except golden coyotes hidden in the distance of the desert there.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit

Happy Christmas…..

Celebrating Mother


rose black good

 

Five years forever whispers in my ear.  Five…five….five…five.  Warm breaths with tender lips barely brushing cheeks.  Last kisses of inevitable goodbyes.

Life-time sentiments of love between a mother and daughter.  I remember gently climbing into her over-sized bed to fluff pillows of down.  Wanting to snuggle close.  Careful now. Fragility.  With every movement of the mattress her body cried out in pain.  An agony of my own if you will yet one I prayed to never know.

Clasping hands, hers was tiny.  Blue-white from lack of oxygen, but soft and smooth. The feeling of velvet with a faint hint of lavender lotion.  I held fingers to the rose-colored lamp under the tip of my nose to breathe in the scent of her, wanting to remember it always and forever.

Looking around the room, Mother reminded me of one of her treasured porcelain baby dolls protected behind doors of glass.  So infantile she was lying in a near fetal position in order to be comfortable.  If only I could do the same for her, much like her beloved cabinet full of heart, http://wp.me/p41md8-14b.

Still, we were awarded brief moments of heartfelt joy.  Memories of thankfulness never to be replaced.   Mother’s head resting upon my shoulder while movies of color played before our eyes of four.  Laughter.  Sharing cookies and cocoa.  Crumbs in the bed.  Warm, labored breaths upon my neck.  Closeness and bonding came full circle.  Sheets of cool cotton beneath chins of two.  Understanding. ComfortAcceptanceLovePeace.  We had it all during that those last few days before she was ready to go.

When lids opened from brief respite, it was a time for conversations in the shadows of the night.  Insignificant at first, we danced around the truth before the music stopped.  “Take care of Daddy…”  Near the end of my mother’s life this was her main concern.  She feared the love of her own would be left alone.  Squeezing her hand lightly, no more words were needed.  She had her answer then.  She rested.

Prologue:

It’s ironic that today, five years after my mother’s passing my husband and I are attending a neighborhood potluck of Thanksgiving.  Before realizing the date, I searched for a special recipe to cook, one that I knew my friends would enjoy.  Digging into mother’s mixed box of handwritten 3X5 cards, I finally discovered exactly what was meant to be.  Pulling the recipe from a clear plastic container, there was her familiar handwriting, scripted in wooden pencil.   Now faded, the yellowed index card is curled in the left hand corner where it’s nearly torn.  Splashed upon it are droplets of tomato sauce, dried from my mother’s days of cooking long ago.

I’m celebrating Mother today by sharing her recipe with all of you.  An unusual one perhaps, but delicious!

Wieners in Tomato Sauce (I think my mother simply made up a name)

1 lb. wieners

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 slices of chopped sweet onion

1 large chopped green pepper

½ c sugar

Dash of salt & pepper

Bring all of the above to boil-then turn down flame & thicken with 2 T mixed flour & water.  Simmer approximately two hours, covered. *Serves 4-6

**I tend to cook in larger quantities, doubling or tripling the recipe (except for the sugar) and putting it in my crock pot to cook the whole day through.

Recipe

 

The Gift of My Father


If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father.  I suppose many daughters think this about their own.  The lucky ones.  Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or known before.

My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk.  It was near the bay of Michigan during the year of 1932.  Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during years shortly afterward.  My father was always the only brother, his parent’s only son.

A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true.  He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life.  As a young girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry sponge dropped in a Michigan millpond.  One of my father’s most repeated  lessons was, “”Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  Akin to the Bible, I guess.  It has stayed with me forever and always. Shortly after my own two boys learned their first few words, I passed it down to them together with tender hugs and kisses.   They are having their own little ones, now.  If the cycle continues it will be a lesson for their children as well.  It is the most important one of all.

Of course there were other teachings to be learned.  Important mental notes written in imaginary pencil from my father for me to follow.  Like, “How to live life with a positive attitude in spite of adversity,” or “To smile when your heart hurts,” and, “It’s okay to cry.”

Once, when one of my sons was very young and very ill,  I called my father in Arizona all the way from St. Louis.  Choking back tears I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to have him very long.”  He paused for a few seconds before finding the right words.  I don’t remember exactly what they were, but together with his quiet tone, my father calmed me down.  I hold that single moment deep down inside of me.  Today, it is here within the whole of my chest…near the inside of my heart where it will stay for all eternity.

My father has taught me lessons my whole life through.  We are both older now.  It seems he is my guide and advisor only if I ask him to be.  We value our time together more than ever before.  Like children on a playground who have been friends all of their lives or even before, we laugh and play.  Sometimes we swing on a rubber tire hanging from an old frayed, cream-colored rope.  Like babes again, feeling our heads dangling in the wind! Other days we walk slowly along a new path, discovering speckled rocks to help us find our way.

Last night, me and my father sat in a puffy, padded booth on a western patio. Surrounding us was the warmth of a golden desert sun setting deep into cocoa sand of a saguaro cactus land.  We talked for hours about nothing, telling stories while sharing jokes.  I sipped red wine from a glass of clear.  He drank more.  Older teeth opened wide revealing burgundy red.  I giggled, he laughed.  A head of thick hair…now grey, tossed back…like always…

“That’s my father,” I whispered aloud,  to no one except coyotes hidden in the distance of the desert there.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit

Merry Christmas…