Category Archives: dad

Procrastination …

is my middle name.  Deadlines mean nothing to me.  In my mind, they are made to be broken.  I used to think that they drove me, but realize now that they loomed more than drove.  This year, though, even I have given procrastinators a bad name.  For the past two months, I have done nothing but put things off.  Relationships, projects, issues … name it and I have procrastinated it.  It is four days until Christmas and I haven’t bought wrapping paper or tape.  I have considered putting the few gifts I’ve bought so far into Target bags and leaving it at that.  They are red and white, and festively the color of Christmas, so why not.

Each day I have told myself that I have things to do, shopping to complete, cards to send and a myriad of other tasks that I have put off, some forgotten completely.  I’ve done little to no shopping and haven’t sent a single Christmas card.  I am a greeting card designer, so that, in itself, speaks volumes.  I know that in times past, I have put things off until the last minute.  I’ve spent many times burning the midnight oil to complete a paper that is due the next day, one I started the night before.  I’ve been told it is because I am an “artsy” type, a dreamer and a writer that I do this.  I don’t know if that is true or not.  I know that when I was in school and had a creative writing project, I could take two or three words written on the board and  have a three page story written in twenty minutes; never made less than an A+ in that class.  Of course that was a few decades ago, but I was a procrastinator, even then, just not when I was writing.

I can’t even begin to imagine how crazy I must have driven my parents.  My sister, who is a singularly driven individual, is so different from me that if I didn’t resemble my dad so much, I would swear with blood and oath that I was adopted.  I can’t think of another person in my family that takes such a laid back approach to life.  In my mind, it will happen when it happens and if I miss it, maybe I’ll catch it next time.  Funny, though, how I always seem to catch  meteor showers, waterfalls after a rainy season or the high mountains when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

I can’t count the number of times every day that I have to remind myself to focus simply so I can complete the tasks that I have to complete in order to not be fired from my job.  That’s not to say I’m not good at my job, because I think I am, but it doesn’t come easy.  I talk to myself (out loud) and find that more often than not, I am behind on at least one thing.  Usually  more than one thing, but at least one.

In my heart, I am a photographer and writer.   As such, I find it a burden to march to the drum the rest of world beats, but in order to make a living, I have little choice.  The problem is that my own drummer beats louder than the world’s and I find that I’m following it and, as usual, procrastinating.  I could make a New Year’s resolution to change, but have been there and done that.  I just put it off.  Imagine that.  So, to all the procrastinators out there, you are not alone.  But, in my life, it seems to work for me, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing … I just think I’ll do it tomorrow.

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Dogs are man’s best friend …

up until the point when they start barking all night, every night,  just outside the window; then friend becomes past tense and nuisance takes its place.  What is it that makes dogs want to bark at air?  When I was a kid, I often heard my dad say to me and my sister that he wasn’t talking just to hear his head roar, but I have to wonder if the same is true when it comes to dogs.  Do they do it simply to ensure to themselves that they are still able to make the sound?  Or perhaps they perceive, in the black and darkened nothingness of the middle of the night, some kind of being that is unperceptible to the human eye.  Unperceptible is not, as Merriam-Webster will tell you, a real word, but in my life, at this moment, and every moment for the past few nights, it is real; I am coining it even as I write this post.

Living on a farm in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, is supposed to be a peaceful, wonderful, life-altering experience; one that allows you to get closer to nature, closer to God and just feel good about being alive.  It used to be that way for me, up until the moment when the dogs all went crazy.  I had the spotlight out last night trying to see what they were barking at, thinking that the enemy had finally infiltrated the camp and we were all destined for death.  I didn’t see anything but rocks.  So I yelled at the dogs and they stopped barking; for about five minutes.  As I tried to drift back off to sleep, the sound started up again.  This time, when I yelled at them, or mayhaps, more aptly, squalled at them, it wasn’t quite so nicely.  Again, they stopped barking for about five minutes.  I remember praying that they would not bark anymore that night, but I suppose that God had more pressing things to attend to at the moment than barking dogs.

When they started up again, I began to think of all the ways that I could murder them.  But it was dark, cold and I was still half-asleep, so the choices were limited.  I don’t own, now have I ever fired a gun, so that was out.  The cast iron skillet would have made a dent, but as I said, it was dark and cold and I was in my sleep attire, which is not suitable for dark, cold nights in the back yard chasing dogs with a cast-iron skillet.

When three AM came along and the sound of their barking woke me once again, I became desperate.  I searched my house for an adequate weapon to use upon the creatures that I had loved dearly, at least up until this moment.  I found the lids to a couple of pots and took them to the back door.  I yelled loudly words that I dare not print and banged the lids together.  The dogs, all three of them who were causing the ruckus, tucked their tail between their legs and went into the warm, hay-filled shelter that my dad makes for them each winter.  I didn’t hear another peep all night.  Needless to say, I have my pot lids close by and am ready if they start their nightly bark-fest.  I am starting to realize that while I still love dogs, it is only during daylight hours.

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Sometimes dad is just a word

I look at my beautiful, grown, college attending daughter and I can scarcely believe that she is mine.  A blessing she is, with a big and seeking heart, brains and a musical talent that I can say, without reservations, she did not get from me.  Her life, in the grand scheme of things, is just beginning and she is on the cusp of adulthood.  But her journey to get here wasn’t an easy one.  She has faced many obstacles in her short time on earth, each one causing what could have been life-shattering circumstances.  But, like the Phoenix, she continued to rise above that which threatened to consume her.  When she was only four, her dad walked out and never looked back.  She was a senior in high school when she next heard from him.  To his credit, he came to her high school graduation, but that is a small consolation when considering all he has missed, and inconsequential in the formation of the astounding person she has become.

As often happens with people, especially children, when they haven’t seen someone in a very long time, she was expecting something amazing.  I guess in her mind, he would still be young, strong and the daddy she so adored.  Instead, she found an older man who was a complete stranger to her.  There was nothing to talk about.  There were no birthdays to reminisce about, no past Christmases to remember and no bond between father and daughter to hold them together. They had nothing, other than blood, to connect them.  While she tried to make small talk and get to know this stranger, the years between the last time she saw him and the present became a chasm that was too wide to cross.  If there had been a desire to cross it, it could have been navigated, but that desire to reconcile must work both ways.  Sometimes, all you can do is let it go.

It is impossible to write this post without thinking of my own dad.  He who worked his whole life just so myself, my sister and my mom could have a better life.  There were summer vacations, surprise Christmas presents, Sunday mornings in church, trips to the lake, rides on the boat, love and punishment meted out fairly and the knowledge that this wonderful, strong man would be there, no matter what.  He didn’t stop there, though.  He became a surrogate father to my girl, giving her the male influence that she otherwise would have not had.  He cheered her on and supported her, grinning just as big as the rest of us at every accomplishment.

When I look at my dad now, surrounded by his grandchildren that bring him immeasurable joy, I think how different life would have been if he had not been such a integral part of it.  My heart goes out to children all of the world who have had to grow up in a fatherless home with the weight of the knowledge that he isn’t there because they just weren’t enough to make him want to stay.  Some of them will overcome the obstacles and others will join the ranks of addicts, criminals and the overwhelmingly confused.  I am one of the lucky ones and I thank God that I had a father who stuck around even though there were likely times when all he wanted to do was run away.  Seeing what I see and knowing what I know, I congratulate and encourage dads everywhere who stick around because their kids are worth it.  I can promise, based on my own experiences and those I watched my baby go through, it may be hard but in the end, it will absolutely be worth it.

The biological father of my daughter wasn’t, when all was said and done, a bad person, but he was, without doubt, a bad father.  He’s not the only one and he certainly won’t be the last one.  It just goes to show that sometimes, dad is just a word.

Just a short walk

Earlier tonight, i commented on a post by Janet… she had told of helping her older neighbors by walking their dog… that’s all i know about the entire thing, but it planted a seed in my head and the words just tumbled out, almost faster than I could write them… and my Father showed me a morning with my dad, when he was older and more feeble… anyone who knows him will recognize him… and anyone who doesn’t know him personally will recognize him… because his generation is everywhere…  we just usually choose not to see it… Father, help me treat others as I want my parents to be treated… with love and compassion, help and healing, conversation and company… let me serve you, LORD…. Anyway, without the Holy Spirit, my words alone cant possibly do it justice, so, if you’re willing, whether you believe in it or not, try to see it through the eyes of the spirit… here goes…
The wind rattled his bones just as hard as it rattled the windows, the shingles, the siding and the half-broken porch swing, dangling by one chain, that he just wasn’t able to fix.  Not thinking about the things he could no longer do… at least trying not to think about them, he took a deep breath and began the process of getting out of bed.  What, once upon a few decades ago, would have been quick and easy was now slow and painful.  He had tried looking at getting up in the morning like yanking off a bandage… quick and painful, but over soon… well, it wasn’t quick, but it was painful… and the soreness lasted for three days… so he’d stuck to slow and easy so he could get downstairs to breakfast.  He looked at his wife, still sleeping, and thought of how different it used to be… how more able he was to protect her and take care of her… of course that didn’t diminish his love and devotion to her… she was a strong and steady force in his life and he knew he didn’t want to live without her and selfishly, yet shamelessly, prayed, as he had ever since he laid eyes on her,  that he would go first…  he shook his head, a habit he’d picked up along the way, and took his first unsteady steps of the morning and went in the direction of the bathroom to wash his face and stuff before he went downstairs for the day.  He thought of the bathroom downstairs by the kitchen and remembered toying with the idea of expanding it into a full size bath.. of thinking how convenient it would be… he went back down the hall, passing his bedroom on the way and noticed that she had turned over… knowing she would be up soon and looking for some coffee, he made his way down the stairs, looking out over the foggy meadow toward the road… beautiful, he thought… he moved into the kitchen, glancing, as he put the kettle on to heat, toward the tiny, useless bathroom… but that was a long time ago and he couldn’t do it now even if he still wanted to… and that galled him some, still.  That, even though he does want to, he wants to very badly, he can’t…  he stirred cream into his coffee, then looked toward the stairs to make sure Flo wasn’t there, then put extra.. he sipped and sighed, then went back to his thoughts… he can’t expand the bathroom, he can’t fix the roof, he can’t mow the yard, he can’t drive… he can barely walk, even on level ground… sometimes, where his garden used to grow, he stands and gazes toward the mountain… longing to walk a ways so he can feel the breath of the wind on his face that he can’t get here on this flat ground… shaking his head,  he turned toward the east window and watched the day burst open… nothing he can do with it now anyway… he’s just too old… he feels the depression, always just a breath away, threatening to swallow him if he’ll just give in… but give in?  no way…  he’ll be there as long as his time lasts.. and when he’s done, he’ll go to Heaven… he’s never doubted that… no, he murmurs to himself, he’d never doubted that, but he also hadn’t looked ahead to reality… to becoming feeble… he just wished he were stronger… like in the old days…  But, there was trouble in the days of strength, as there is with anytime… and as he stood in the kitchen with the light of the sunrise pouring into the window, he realized that, though his body is weaker, his mind, his heart and his spirit are stronger than ever… He nods at the day and walks through the house toward the front door.  He heard the first bang of the hammer as he opened the screened door and walked onto the porch…  he heard the footsteps overhead as his roof was repaired before winter… he wasn’t able and he wasn’t rich… and God, faithful God, had, as always, provided… He thanked Him for the young men who lived nearby and had offered to do some work around the house… they were photographers and were willing to trade mountain time for hard labor… to help him and his wife  It was, he realized as he listened to the good-natured banter of youth, a good day to walk… just a little ways… into the mountain… he yanked on the new chain on the porch swing, now hanging sturdy and straight,as he opened the screened door then went back in the kitchen, fixed two cups of coffee, both with just a touch of cream, and creaked his way back up the stairs to see if his wife was up to a walk…  just a short walk, of course…