Remembering my Dad on Father’s Day…..

Looking over the sea of faces I am overwhelmed by the love and support for my father and our family. Everyone here has in some way had a relationship with our Dad. It is impossible to understand the ways in which he touched your lives. I am going to share with you how he touched mine and what he gave me – a strong foundation, a deep root system and great values.

I loved my Dad. There were no disappointments in my relationship with him despite both our humanity. Neither of us were perfect but there was magic in how we were together and how we left one another.. with no regrets and a deep understanding of the connection we had with one another throughout our lives.

I admired him for his strength. There was a pivotal moment in my life where I was navigating some hard choices – that moment where two roads converge and you have to choose one that will change your life forever. At that moment he sat with me, listened, comforted me, put his arm around me and told me I would be ok, and I knew what to do. There was no judgment – just a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. That moment instilled in me a confidence, independence and self reliance that has served me well throughout my life. That strength never left him. Throughout the last few difficult weeks, he would grab your hand and squeeze with a strength that marveled the doctors and nurses who cared for him.

I respected his honest simplicity and even more so in hindsight. He was never able to tell me his favorite color as though it was unnecessary and silly. His favorite dinner is well documented as hamburger, mashed potatoes, and peas. He was happiest outdoors – gardening, golfing. Most of my life, for Father’s Day, we sent him pints of ice cream because it always made him smile. One of his favorite sayings was “Life is short – eat dessert first” and in the last weeks of his life he ate every sweet put in front of him – a whole box of Dunkin munchkins is especially memorable.
He was the Common Man’s Common Man – imbued with a deep humility where he treated everyone democratically despite his rather strict Republican views on the world. One always knew where they stood with Dad.

He could write. I loved his letters and think I am fortunate to come from parents that both loved books and words. He would share his work with me and today I find much of what I do depends on that solid foundation.

He could grow anything. One of my favorite recollections is him throwing some amaryllis bulbs in a pot one fall while he was cleaning the basement as he put the garden to sleep and pulling that same pot out in the Spring as he was beginning to plant only to find that he had grown a beautiful completely white Amaryllis. He brought it upstairs to show us just as photosynthesis began right in front of our eyes.

There are a million memories –

When he and Mom danced.

The little notes he left for Mom every morning by the coffee pot in the kitchen signed with the simple mark of infinity.

How good he smelled when he “dusted off” – his words for taking a shower.

That he loved pillows with no filling.

The other day I was drying my hair when suddenly the hair dryer exploded with a pop. I grunted – something so my Dad – and I stopped for a moment just to think of how I got that from him.

Our big adventure – just the two of us – to Alaska. It was the only one of the 50 states he hadn’t visited and was billed as a celebratory trip for his 80th birthday but the gift was really mine. A chance to spend two unfettered weeks just being his daughter. The memories will last me the rest of my life.

I appreciate the chance to have shared with you my memories of my Dad.

It has been said that 100 years after our death no one really knows we lived – the person we were, the things we did. It is the impact that we make on others that lives on through the lives we touch. By being here today I know that my Dad had an impact on your life and he will live on through each of you, just as he does through the people he touched every day – my Mother, Brother, Deb, Joe and Alex and Chuck. That brings me great comfort.

I long to be back again for a Thursday evening of watching Mash in that small “TV room” in the house in Kennett. Jeff and me on the couch, Mom in the rocker, our dog Scherer – named for my Dad, laying on the floor next to Dad’s lounger where he reclined. The smell of popcorn and apples – laughing.

Just for a minute.

Wonder

It has become one of my favorite parts of my morning ritual. Sitting on the stoop feeding the fish. I am now so trusted by my run of Koi that they nibble occasionally on my finger as they eat their breakfast. Imagine my supreme surprise when I noticed a robust frog just beneath the lily pad.

Imagine my greater surprise when I realized there were two.

spooning frogs

It tickled me and made me consider the morning. I too am a fan of curling up and sleeping with CF – lazy mornings being an indulgence too infrequently enjoyed. They looked so contented resting there – safe and happy. Out of place a bit in a Koi pond, but not dissimilar to how happy and cloistered CF and I are in our home surrounded by as yet unknown neighbors.

And so, I fed my fish, and let sleeping frogs lie – or float.

What is it about this chair?

JP taking shot-5

The one second from the right and towards the window. Is it the light that pours in all afternoon? Or is it the protection of the back and sides? Or perhaps because the chair goes so nicely with her chocolate biscuit coloring? For whatever reason, this is her chair. I realized this weekend that the chair carries with it a vantage point over the coming and goings of the entire house – from the kitchen through the den into the living room and of the garden. On the one hand, we don’t think she notices but all cats seem aware of everything. Hours upon hours she sleeps curled up in this position with her back to the world and as we pass through the day we stop to stroke her and whisper to her. Not a bad way to spend each day.

Why 9 Koi?

feeding the fish

On a recent visit my dear friend SW counted the Koi in the pond in front of our house and declared you must have 9 Koi. Mind you, it is very difficult to count Koi (they are also very difficult to photograph). They are in constant motion. It appeared we had 8.

He explained that the number 9 sounds like the word permanence. And that Koi and benefit also sound the same. Having 9 Koi symbolizes “Always in Abundance”.

I like to think of that as a mission statement for our home. Always Abundant. Filled with love. Always fun. Abundant with hospitality and a welcoming spirit.

Wholeheartedly I believe that SW is the 9th Koi. He fills our lives abundantly. But just to safeguard, if only 8, I will go and get a beautiful #9 as an insurance policy.

Happy May Day.

Wishing on Dandelions

On the banks of the creek behind our home sat a dandelion alone in the sun. Perfectly round and inviting. It was the first dandelion of spring and sat there begging for a wish.

Dandelion, puffs away,
Make my wish come true some day.

Dandelion 2

But wish I did not. Instead, I left it there for someone else. I’m not sure if I am too content or if it was simply too difficult to edit it to one wish. My blessings are many – as are my wishes. I wish for more time with those I love here and gone. I have wishes for my family each particular and targeted. I wish for good health and well being for those I love. I wish for clarity and answers to questions that plague me.

Rather, I tell myself that in good time the answers will declare themselves. That I will continue find time to be with those I love. To do the best I can each day and trust that good things come to those that wait.

Ironic that most of what I wish for is time, and that which I lack is patience.

We love a great bottle of wine and a really good story.

And Belle Glos does not disappoint. It is full of family and history and respect for the generation that came before. Strong matriarchs play a leading role – not dissimilar to my family.
Bella Gloss
Winemaker Joseph Wagner chose the name Belle Glos to honor his grandmother Lorna Belle Glos Wagner the cofounder of Caymus Vineyards. The video that follows is a tribute to her. I chose to include it because I love the message about family and being deeply rooted to each other.

The wine brings us such pleasure. We share experiences with friends over these bottles, but mostly, it is when we crack the deep red wax for just ourselves. No small feat I might add. It means a night of sharing and talking and enjoying one another. Those are my favorite times – just the two of us – whether in our sitting room or in a restaurant.

Ironic that, with our love of wine, we have never been to Napa – something we plan to remedy next month as we head off to join the Beachrats for a long bacchanal. Whenever we are together it is an orgy of food adventures complimented with amazing wines. And, I am certain, an opportunity for some photography. I am looking forward to it for so many reasons.

For now, though, I’ll settle for a bottle of Belle Glos and two glasses and a rainy Dallas afternoon with CF.

Waiting for laughter

laughing

I didn’t take this photo – my friend and photographic mentor did. He was playing around with my Leica while we were having lunch after a morning of shooting portraits of my mother. This winter has seemed particularly long and hard. The barrenness outside is felt deep inside as all of us heal from Dad’s passing.

This photo is imbued with hope… Seeing her laugh makes me smile and fills me with the purpose of trying to do all I can to ease the hurt we share. I hope the warmth and sunshine of Texas filled her with a sense of what is possible and that she knows how much her visit helped me. I hope Hawaii does the same for my brother. And that as the flowers begin to bloom, we all do as well.