Saturday, August 20, 2016

Happy Memories Only?

Long story short, my goal since August 19, 2010 has been to carry on my dad's memory. To keep him alive as much as possible, specifically for the benefit of my children. I never got to meet two of my four grandparents, and that has always been so sad to me. I never wanted this type of absence for my kids. So far I've done what I would consider a decent job of still involving my dad in our lives. Pointing out songs on the radio that he loved and food that was his favorite, and reciting things he would've said in the moment. However, a few months ago, after recounting another "Grandpa J" story through stifled tears to my three year old, he replied very matter-of-factly, "Mommy, I don't like Grandpa J".

My heart was broken. How could a three year old be so devastatingly mean? Fortunately, a deep conversation with him made me realize something key: When I talk about my dad, I'm usually on the verge of tears. What child wants to see their mom cry? And whoever's making them cry MUST be mean. That's how three-year-olds think.

There began my mission to carry on his memory in a light more fitting of who my dad actually was. Fun and clever. He certainly wasn't someone who made his kids cry all the time, so why am I portraying him as if he did? Instead, I need to make my son CRAVE knowing more about him. To make my kids wish, in the least upsetting way possible, that they had gotten to know my dad while he was alive. Because lord knows they would be obsessed with him if he were here.

The biggest example I can give of this has been my effort to put forth the love I used to give my dad, into my kids. Recently, something reminded me of my dad and I said something along the lines of, "I wish he was here to see that." And an idea was born. I quickly followed up with "You know what? If my dad were here, I would hug him sooooo tight and sooooo long. Wanna see how I would hug my daddy if I could?" I then proceeded to hug my son as if he was my father. Specifically, how I would hug him after this six-year, no-end-in-sight hiatus. Who wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that? It was so beyond cathartic for me, a great way for my son to see how much I loved my dad (he loved that amount of love), and not one bit sad. It was refreshing. (I highly recommend!)

There are other examples, but essentially, each time I end a Grandpa J story with "he's so cool, right?"  I'm trying to keep the tears out of it for a while. That's not to say I won't cry. Heck, I broke down several times on this sixth-year anniversary. And that's ok. I want my kids to know it's okay to miss someone so much it hurts, because that's how hard they should love. But for the most part, love is happy and powerfully rejuvenating. So that's how we talk about him now.

Last night, a few months after his Grandpa J apprehension began, my son asked, "Mommy, how do our cuddles get to heaven?" and my heart was repaired!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Presents From My Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. My sixth one without him. What I wouldn't give to even know what I would be buying him this year. What would he be into or in need of? I'd love to know that.

The past few weeks I've been recognizing that the best gift is one that his death has given me. I can't help thinking lately, especially each night as I lay my kids to sleep, that I am so lucky to know how quickly things could all change. How fast they, or I, could just be gone. It's because of him that I turn around, nearly every night since the birth of my first, and head back into their rooms. To touch their hair, or rub their bellies, or to just stare and give thanks for them one last time that day before I go to bed. Because I know that tomorrow could bring something totally different, completely horrific, utterly devastating - in the blink of an eye.

Is that negative thinking? Absolutely. But I use that fear in a completely positive way. I squeeze every amount of amazing, out of each waking moment, of every day that I have with them. Will I, like every other parent, exclaim that things went by way too fast when they turn 18 and go off to college? Absolutely. But I also know that I don't think I could get anything more out of this magic that is mommyhood. Every kiss they give, every hair pulling hug they offer me I live in slow motion so it can be etched into my soul. I can't fathom what else I could do to be more obsessed with their tiny little beings.

And for that, I obviously have my husband to thank, for working so hard so I can stay home with my babies, my mom to thank, for teaching me by example as she raised her babies, and my dad. My dad, who passed away so far beyond way too early. Who's last days and moments I have broken apart and analyzed and memorized just for the sake of trying to make his life last longer. What I wouldn't give to make it last longer. I have my dad to thank for so many things in my life, but quite possibly the greatest being the knowledge that time, and life, are such precious, precious gifts. For his loss makes me cherish the here and now in such a detailed, broken down, moment-by-moment way.  While I wouldn't wish this kind of loss on anyone, I do have to say it is also one of the greatest gifts a person could be given. Every present I could possibly have given him would seem so pale in comparison. Happy Birthday Daddy!!!

Tonight's dessert: German Chocolate Cupcakes in his honor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Four Years Without Him

I've been missing my dad for four years now. This anniversary seems to be a bit harder than the last. I think it's sinking in even farther. I miss his voice, I miss his quirks, I miss his stubbornness, I miss his hugs, I miss his adoration, and I miss his love. Ironically, and I'm sure he's chuckling, but lately I miss his advice the most.  And while there are several things I would love his advice on currently, I do know he would be proud even if I make a decision he wouldn't have made.

The other day I mentioned to someone that I think my son is getting a better parent out of me because I've lost my dad. I do things with my son that he used to do, which I always scoffed at or thought were dorky, because I now realize they are so important. Once again, I'm sure he's up there chuckling and gloating to all of his friends. He was beyond smart on so many levels, many of which I've recognized only after becoming a parent.

I know through small signs that he's still with us. A few days ago my son grabbed a picture of my dad, without knowing who it was, and kissed it. He's never done that before to any picture and I needed that. Whenever I'm having a bad day, the Rolling Stones still somehow come on at just the right time and I rock out, in tears, in my car. Best of all, my son is a spitting image of my dad as a toddler. I love that! I can't forget to mention the numerous dreams he's in. Those are our moments. 

The bottom line is he's still so very missed. Nothing has changed. But our lives are better because he was in them. That will never change either. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Belong On A Beach

After much contemplation I've come to realize I should be living on a beach, or at least in a beach town. While one could argue that Cleveland is on the water, it doesn't have that beach town feel. Exhibit A: the harsh winters.

I'd be happy in any number of places. Galveston, Malibu, Savannah, Charleston, Cape Cod, you name it. I'm not picky.

Unfortunately, I think I'm stuck here for the time being. But one can dream of beach views, fun activities for kids (the idea of sand-covered babies with hair bleached by the sun is soothing to my soul!), and the decorating ideas!

How much fun would it be to live in this?...

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If we had found out the gender of our little boy before hand, I would have absolutely done a nautical-themed nursery like this one instead of our current, gender-neutral "natural" theme:
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 I even found a great company on Etsy that does inexpensive, beach-themed prints like this:
You can find these prints here:

I can't get enough!