Wednesday, March 29, 2006

File under "Happy Parenting Moments"

I really hope he loves reading, and spending time with his dad, this much for years to come.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday in the park

The view...
...from the top of the hill.
We tried to fly a kite.
And tried.
She rolled.
They ran.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"My name is Glenn. I'm a widower."

The view from my dad's lanai (Florida-talk for "back porch").

My dad has entered a new phase in his life. He is slowly figuring out how to live in this world as an independent being. He is not a part of a couple – he is just Glenn. He is so used to the roles and tasks that he and my mom had assumed that it becomes overwhelming for him, at times, to take them all on himself.

For example, the mail fascinates him because he never opened it before my mom died. Never. Last week, as I was trying to watch some mindless TV and decompress after a really long day with two overtired, whiny kids, he gave me a play by play of every piece of mail he received.

Dad: “This is the second time I’ve been invited to Norm Coleman’s fundraising party. (Names the address) I wonder where that is? Who are these people? They probably live in Port Royale. How did they find me? Look! (shows me the envelope) They first sent it to Minnesota. Oh – they make sure to tell me how much I can contribute…”

By this point I have stopped looking up at him occasionally and started to completely ignore him and stare at the TV screen. He is oblivious to this and just continues on.

Dad: “Oh good, my checks came. Deluxe. Haven’t heard of them.”

I begin to perk up because this just blows me away.

Me: “What do you mean you haven’t heard of them? They are one of the largest distributors of checks? Hell, they’re based in the Twin Cities.”

He interrupts my frustrated tirade in the same tone that he was in before I berated him. Again seemingly oblivious.

Dad: “What I want to know is where the bill is? When I ordered these online there was no mention of any charge.”

Me: “Dad, I told you that you will be charged. No one gets free checks.”

Dad: “So where is the bill?”

Me: “Dad, they’ll just take the fee out of your checking account.”

At this point is truly hits me how sheltered he’s been from the every day ins and outs of living independently. My mom must have done absolutely everything and he never bothered to take an interest in the details. I couldn’t handle it any longer. I had to tell him how I felt.

Me: “Dad, I truly care for you, but right now I don’t care about the details of your mail. I just want to watch a little television.”

Luckily he took this in the vein intended and laughed at himself. He then waited about ten seconds and started telling me that Sprint was “no longer” and was changing its name to some word he couldn’t pronounce, but desperately tried to pronounce for another five minutes. This quickly turned into a synopsis of all the details of the free address labels he received from the American Heart Association. “How can anyone use all these?” he added.

I am trying really hard to adjust to his new role. When I was with him through my mom’s last days and death, I helped him a lot. I took care of meals, thank you notes, the details, etc. I needed to because my dad has always been the one we have taken care of. He accepts help easily – hell, he loves it. Now that he has been alone in Florida for over a month, he seems to be finally starting to adjust. He still can’t accept that he is able to go anywhere, or do anything, he wants, but he does seem to be adapting to the single life.
Since we have been here, I have offered to do some things for him – laundry, deep cleaning and running errands for him – but he keeps refusing my help. I think it’s his way of exerting his independence. As if to say, “I’m old, but not helpless.”

I’m willing to accept this “new” Dad, but I’m not sure I can accept the new, single Glenn. He keeps bringing up the interaction he had with this woman he is somewhat interested in. He was seated next to her at a “Minnesota Night” dinner and learned that she was from a suburb next to his in Minneapolis. After further investigation, he discovered that she was raised within a mile or so from where he was raised in Chicago. They played in the same park and even attended the same junior college. My dad can’t seem to get over the “connection” he seemingly has with her. A comforting familiarity.

One evening during our visit my dad had plans of his own, so we took our time coming home from the beach. I was surprised to find the door open, when we returned, and my dad sitting in his regular reading spot with his Journal. His plans were cancelled at the last minute and since he wasn’t sure when we’d be home, he did something outrageous – he called the other woman – Ms. Humboldt Park/Wright Jr. College. He started to tell me about the phone call right away as if I were a buddy of his. I got the complete play-by-play – how he got his nerve up, dialed the phone to invite her to dinner at the club, and…a male voice answered on the machine. He hung up, without leaving a message, confused. I got to listen to speculations for about five minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave the room to get away from his rambling on about whether the voice was her live-in beau, a new husband (not listed in the community directory) or the voice of her late husband.

The next night we all went to the club and, as fate would have it, we sat at a table right next to Ms. Humboldt Park/Wright Jr. College. She was eating with a young couple and their two kids. It was kind of weird to see her, but not as uncomfortable as I expected. My dad declined greeting her and apparently she didn’t recognize him. She had her back to us and I caught my dad glancing her way a few times. He was curious. What’s her story? Who are the young people? Is it her daughter or son?

Throughout the week I noticed that my dad continues to refer to things as if a part of a couple. “We” went there. This is “ours”. He keeps everything exactly the way that my mom had it. He clearly is not at peace without her in his life. He doesn’t miss the misery she was in. We both shared remembrances when she struggled physically (i.e. getting in and out of the car, or shuffling down the hall with her walker) that we didn’t always empathize with her enough.

He likes being in an environment where he can run into one of her bridge buddies and they will go on and on about Mom’s charm and smile. He isn’t eager to sell the house in Minnesota – he keeps saying that he wants to wait for things to settle down.

I know he loved her the best way that he knew how. Seeing him, this week, in his element I believe that. He isn’t going to replace my mom. He only wants a friend. And if that friend happens to be from the old neighborhood – more power to her.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Adios! Paradise

We are drinking coffee trying to wake up. It is comfortably tepid this morning as I look over the golf course waiting to wake up the kids. This will be a long day for many reasons, but I will try to savor every minute of my last day on vacation.

This was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself. I have felt very blessed, in so many ways, during this trip.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sunny and 80 degrees

Another wonderful day in paradise.

I'm currently working on a post that actually contains more than a couple sentences. I don't know how I'll get it done though, I'm pretty busy....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pure bliss

I think Florida agrees with her.

P.S. I hear that 7 inches of snow fell this morning in Salt Lake City. Will someone shovel our driveway?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Father Knows Best?

Dolphins! Real dolphins!

I love my dad. He’s incredibly intelligent and has a great, dry sense of humor, but when it comes to tact – or how-to-get-close-your-daughter-quickly genes – he needs work.

Heard this morning as I was trying on some pants I found in my mom’s closet with the tags still on.

“Wow, Mom must have bought those when she had gained a lot of weight.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Heading South

Picture I took from the back seat, driving home from the airport, during my trip to Naples last March.

It has already been a long morning and I just got out of bed. I’ve been awake since about 4:10 A.M. Chris predicted that this would happen – it always does before we go out of town. Today (in about 6 hours) we leave for Florida to spend a week with my dad. The reason that I have been awake is because I have been packing via visualization.

I am not packed. Not one suitcase is out. There are piles around. We have a snack pile on the kitchen counter along with a DVD pile.. I have a summer clothes pile for me on the floor of our bedroom. I’m pretty sure all the kids’ summer clothes are under the bottom shelf in their closet (a sort of pile) and I have some Teva’s piled by the back door. On the dining room table, we have a marker-tape-scissors-activity books-drawing paper pile. Somehow, in my little mind, I felt comfortable watching and hour and a half of “What Not to Wear” last night instead of packing. As if gaining any last minute knowledge on dressing correctly would help hide all the weight I’ve gained since right before my mom died. Ha! I don’t think straight-leg, medium-rise, dark denim jeans will hide the girth of my thighs in a bathing suit this week!!

It will all get done. It always does. And I will fall asleep in my dad’s condo tonight where the temperature will be warmer at midnight than it gets here on a warm sunny spring day. I’m excited to see my dad, but curious as to how I will be able to handle not having my mom around. In some ways it will be freeing. My mom couldn’t enjoy my kids the last year. They were too loud and raucous for her. This trip they will be able to run and play pretty freely. (I will probably just have to shush them during “The McNeil-Lehrer Report” – one of my dad’s favorite PBS business shows.) But in most ways it will be another transition. She won’t be there to greet me at the airport, and wait for my luggage as my dad circles to avoid parking fees, as she has done for years. That first hug, that I always had to stoop over for, was actually one of the highlights of all of my visits. She would be waiting for me, upstairs right on the edge of security, in a sea of a million other retirees, smiling so big that her eyes were almost shut. Her lipstick was always bright coral and she usually had on a classy straw hat of some sort. It was my sign that she was relaxed and at peace in one of her favorite places.

Hopefully that’s how she feels right now. I miss her desperately.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Harry playing "hide and seek" in my parent's living room the morning of my mom's memorial service.

I’ve slept on it. I’ve tried to push it to the back of my mind. I’ve analyzed every rationalization. I’ve tried to ignore it.

I’m just not ready to accept the fact that my dad is thinking of asking another woman on a date.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Today was one of those days when the weather COMPLETELY shocked me.

Yesterday we were running around without jackets - thinking of spring. I noticed that some of my bulbs are sprouting.

This morning, however, the sun was shining, the temperature had dipped and the view was spectacular.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New rule: No balls in the house

Harrison seemed a little tired on the way home from an errand last weekend. I took off his seatbelt, but couldn't carry him in (due to the GIGANTIC hole cut out of my back) so I brought some things inside and then came back out to find this.

I'm posting this picture to remind me of his positive qualities. Yesterday he pulled a Dennis the Menace. He was goofing around with a little nerf-type ball in the living room. I asked him to take it downstairs, but he wasn't exactly compliant. "Just a second, Mom..." then I heard a crash. A loud crash. The kind that sounds like something extremely delicate has been broken. Actually it was more like LOTs of somethings extremely delicate were broken.

As we ran out of the kitchen, I went left to check on my grandmother's china set that sits in a glass curio cabinet, while Chris headed right. There it was - shards of mirror everywhere. The very large mirror that sat on our fireplace mantel was now on the floor in a million pieces. Harrison was crying and apologizing. He knew it was bad.

He was so upset that it was hard to get too upset with him. I was actually pretty calm about the whole thing. Chris, on the other hand, got the lovely task of vacuuming. It took about 30 minutes to get everything up...there were mirror shards over 15 feet from the scene of the crime.
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