Wednesday 24 August 2011

pause: 22 months and 3 days

sweetie grin
Almost two years old and it just gets more interesting. It is so nice to be able to have a conversation (of sorts) and make each other giggle. Our boy is outgoing, strong, remembers the weirdest (and forgettable) incidents for a long time, like buying a new broom or seeing a dog swim in the river.  Remembers people he's met and says bye bye to the taxi, the house, the cat on the street or the checkout lady at Tesco.  He can cling to my apron (literally) or run off with to the swings without a second glance, depending on mood.  He gets car sick after 15 minutes, loves to push his own pram, and still has the prettiest blue eyes.
  • understands pretty much everything you say, possibly I am sure even the swear words
  • comfortable chatting away: favourite words ''tiny', 'winnow' (window),  'oh dear' and 'wow' and 'what's daddy doin?', 'lewie do it" and 'home'  and noo neeee (for fire truck noise)
  • loves diggers, dirt, water (drinking and pouring) swimming, books with diggers, Peppa Pig (daddy pig especially), throwing balls, climbing (especially ladders), spinning things, his friends Kit and Jamie, splashing in puddles in his boots,  sticky tape, going to the cafe in the park, and blowing raspberries on mummy's tummy
  • before going to sleep, recounts highlights of his day to himself, processing people he has seen, the story lines of Peppa Pig, particularly exciting trucks or events like mommy breaking a cup.
  • likes to choose his clothes and is very particular about his shoes
  • loves dried apricots, cheese, toast, peas (frozen and cooked), sausage, noodles, ice cream, apples cooked in butter with cinnamon and brown sugar
  • fights naps and bedtime sleeping and loves cuddling
  • pushes kids big or small when he is tired or frustrated (we are working on this!)
  • is very attached to his parents, his pram and his little man cap
  • very much wants a bike or a scooter (shhhh- 2 year bday is coming!)
While they say it doesn't get easier, after spending the morning with 2 friends who have 2- year olds AND 6-7-week old babies, it sure feels easier than that. I need to relish Lewis walking up the stairs, pulling off his own socks and having an opinion about what's for snack.  His smallest independences are all victories. We are still learning so much together. Parenting is getting more fun and more rewarding (like the requests for "hand mummy"), I realise the stakes are getting higher. He is a squirmy, adventurous, curious boy. Keeping him safe and letting him explore are proving a tricky act to balance. 

May I continue to be the best parent I can be and may Lewis forget the swear words, or at least use them only at home.

Friday 19 August 2011

our quiet hero, now rest

My Dad died a few weeks ago on 27 July.  He had a rough few years with his health, battling (and winning) lung cancer and heart surgery, with long, hard won recoveries. He recovered enough to enjoy a bit of this summer, taking a coach trip with the Korean War veterans to Washington DC, seeing a few local baseball games with my Mom, riding his bike, eating McDonald's ice cream cones.  But it was an infection from his surgery that got him in the end. He died in no pain, with no mental anguish, with my Mom, 2 of my siblings and the nicest nurse with him.

I am fresh back from my visit home to say my final good bye to my Dad at his funeral. It was a hard, loving, emotional visit that had flashes of normalcy and many sweet laughs as Lewis entertained and provided a tender elixir to the heaviness of the days.

Along with my Uncle Dave and a fellow Gray Beard, Korean War veteran friend, all of my brothers and sisters and I spoke at my Dad's service. The service was fitting to the man, simple, lovely with a military respect of the 21 gun salute and buried in his favourite green fleece.  It was an honour to speak of my Dad and I share my words here.

We have heard so many themes today about Frank, solid, loyal, kind, dependable and fun.

Until now I haven’t realised what a quiet force my Dad was. He was often in the background but he was always there ... steady, strong, available.

In my job, I often ask people what they want people to remember them for.
I can’t help but think Dad would be so happy and proud to hear that his small and large kindnesses, his friendly and warm company and his steadfast presence made us all of feel loved, safe and taken care of.

And I don’t think I ever got to thank him for that.

So now I take my moment to say thank you, Dad.

  • -     For being the man that drove me to endless tumbling and random events all my childhood, with Sports Talk on the radio
  • -      For being the best looking Dad in the pack
  • -      For always smelling like clean aftershave
  • -      Magically changing all my crumpled singles and big pile of change waitress tips into nice, clean 20s
  • -      For wearing his kid’s logo wear with pride, or at least making us feel like he was proud.
  • -      Playing with my fingers in church when I was little
  • -      For being the man who documented things like the date we got a new toilet seat
  • -      And taking pictures of things on TV
  • -      For showing me that being a dad often means eating burnt toast and the black jellybeans
  • -      Having the perfect architectural penmanship
  • -      Hiding $50 bills at my house, for me to find later
  • -      With limited success, trying to teaching me and Gary to bowl – shake hands with the ball
  • -      Showing me that arguing bitterly with you spouse over Christmas tree lights is an annual event that your marriage will survive
  • -      For forever cementing that lunchboxes should always smell of bananas
  • -      For walking me down the aisle at my wedding
  • -      For making me feel safe
  • -      Driving us home from the lake and feeling so utterly secure that we always fell asleep that 45 minutes
  • -      Insisting on filling up gas in  your car
  • -      Hearing Mom and Dad’s low murmur voices in bed talking at night
  • -      Warming up the car and scraping off the snow for you on cold mornings
  • -      For being there when Lewis was born … 16 days late, and being the first person to call Lewis “sweetheart”
  • -      For the example of hard work  -- like the rings he made for all his kids and for Mom, taking silver dollar coins and painstakingly pounding them into simple, string silver rings… much like Dad himself.
I know Dad was always so happy when he and Mom were on their annual vacations in Florida. He would go for long solo walks on the beach, in search of sharks teeth, sand dollars, and maybe a bit of chat with other folks he’d meet along the way, collecting scraps of information to report back to Mom.  He was tanned, happy, relaxed and utterly in his element...

I like to imagine he is on one of those adventures now – enjoying the view, collecting unexpected treasures, and forever basking in a beautiful sunny day.

So now we are all back at our respective homes. Back in the business of living. People have been heart-breakingly kind. Death does that. It shows our underbelly and our collective circles of friends and even acquaintances rally to hold our net. Makes us feel very very human and very alive in our pain. Now we are all sorting this through and feeling the soft spot where my Dad lived in each of us. Feeling lucky to have had him in a way we never acknowledged before.  Feeling just that much closer to each other than before. Feeling what's missing and holding on to what's not.

Our quiet hero, my Mom's rock ... now rest.