Tag Archives: fathers

Three for the price of one

My husband had an early shopping day with our daughter on Saturday, so I decided to surprise my parents and enjoy my eggs and toast at their house. It’s only a three-mile drive but my timing was off. My father had just finished his own eggs, bacon and oatmeal and my mother was already enjoying one of her favorites – an ice cream cone breakfast. While we didn’t enjoy a meal together I thought our 1×2 time could still be special.

I started to tell my mother about my journey home from work on Friday night. I explained that I sometimes take a different route home to learn the area around the new office.

My mother responded after finishing her cone:

“Whatever.”

Knowing that was just her catchphrase I continued…

I was only telling you because my GPS said there was a Goodwill in the area. I knew I had her attention now because it is one of her favorite places to thrift. It was my hook.

“Whatever.”

I didn’t even get to add the punchline that I followed the map for an extra six miles and learned the store no longer exists in that location. Feeling incomplete, I had to at least finish my sentence. I cut to the chase and told her that I found a new shop that I liked in that neighborhood anyway.

“Whatever.”

Mom. I know you’re excited for James to take you to the casino but you’re not listening here and now.

“Oh yeah?”

Yes, it’s like you can only focus on my brother. I get it though. I know you’re just excited about the trip. My comment seemed unappreciated but it registered and she snapped out of it.

“What time is it in Nashville?”

They are only an hour behind us mom. It should be around 8 AM. Why?

“I’ve been sitting here waiting to call your sister Twyla. I mailed her a package and wanted to know if it arrived.”

Well that explained more. I decided not to take her uninterested comments personally. I also realized it was my brother she was irritated with, not me. He had told them he would arrive between 9 and 10 but it was now 9:10, so she considered him late.

My mother reached for her flip cell phone. I asked what time she was going to call my sister? Her response was curt and quick.

“The hell with her. I guess I’ll have to risk waking her up.”

My sister Twyla couldn’t sleep up to or past 8 o’clock if she tried. Although she’ll wish she had when she answered the phone. The unwritten rule is that you called when a package arrived, so my mother didn’t worry that her gifted parcels were in oblivion.

The heat was off James and I and onto her but she didn’t even know it yet.

“You’re up.” was the start of my mother’s conversation.

I could only hear one side of the call but her next comment was, “well, there’s not much going on here.”

I jumped on the other extension. Really mom? I thought your other daughter was here visiting?

Knowing how sensitive I am, my mother quickly acknowledged my comment:

“Oh, shut up.”

Then to Twyla:

“What do you mean several packages have arrived and you don’t know if one of them is from me?”

My sister works so hard she probably hadn’t read any of her mail from the entire week yet. Regardless, she was now required to look through the stack while my mother was on the phone. She was going to be in trouble either way. If it was there, she hadn’t reported in to the Mom tracking system. If the package wasn’t there, it would also be her fault simply because the post office had assured my mother of a Friday delivery.

Based on my mother’s mood, I was now glad the attention was not on me.

Wrong again.

“What? I can’t hear you, Donna burnt some toast and it smells awful.”

I know noses and ears are somehow connected but I didn’t realize my carbohydrate carbon smell could impact my mother’s hearing aids.

I ignored the comment as I thought ‘Whatever’ in my head. I broke my yolk to match my heart and slopped up the bright yellow gravy, picking up the emotional pieces. I washed my dish and gathered my coat and keys.

My father came back in the room and asked why I was leaving so soon?

I just thought I’d stop in on my way to getting groceries. Twy is on the line. Have a good day with James.

“If he gets here. It’s almost 9:30.”

My morning visit was complete. We did not enjoy a meal together, the timing was off and it could have been special.

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There’s a Part III ?!?!

Yes, there is. My last entry was meant to be a one part sequel. However, our summer downsizing project seems to be on the upswing. Baby girl helped Dad clean his bedroom closet!  The cleaning follow-up post-it notes  have been irritating but getting him to toss items makes her the queen of motivational cleaning!!

She knows exactly how to coerce and manage him. It was clear from the first note that she got his buy-in to approach the not-in-a-million-years project:

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I was still the one to lug them away and make the drop-off but I did it with a spring in my step and the spirit of Santa Claus.  I also have a documented audit trail so there can be no backlash!

The next note I reacted to with the same enthusiasm:

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I couldn’t take the trash out to the garage fast enough!

Of course I still inherited work from their labor…

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…but it’s nice to know they think I’m the entrepreneur of the family.

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It was also sweet to learn my daughter wants to wear an old camouflage sweater from Dad’s younger days.

What I had a problem with was when I saw they had questioned my decorating skills:

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No, we are not getting rid of my two Currier prints in the antique frames with the original bubble glass.

No, we are not getting rid of my inspiring Soyer print.

No, we are not getting rid of great uncle Harrison’s heirloom.

I’ll bow to the queen for helping us clean a closet but I am not her court jester.

Immaculate Conception

The plan was to attend Mass at our home parish. I called my dad to say I was on the way and he said he’d since like to go to the next town.  The Deacon there had prayed for my Dad last year and helped him in a time of crisis.  I welcomed the chance to meet him and didn’t mind the change in venue just this once.

That’s not all there was to it.

I also met Father Tom and a father, Tom. Father Tom, the latter, and his wife are my sister’s in-laws. I’d forgotten they’d retired to Lancaster.

We also saw Bill whom we mutually know from different circles. Mass was being said for his own father.

Mass hadn’t even started yet and it seemed like we were there for reasons other than the Deacon’s sermon.

I also personally enjoyed the music before Mass even started. Angels wings were around us in sound and sight.  My father’s name is Ralph and as the hymn started I realized there was a picture of Raphael watching over us.

The March for Life is this week on the Washington mall, so that was the focus of the sermon. I felt inspired to sign-up for the bus from the cathedral.  I’m still considering it as I write this post.

What had the most impact for me was communion in that church. First of all, they have the bells after each time Jesus speaks at the last supper.  I remember them from my childhood but our parish has long done away with that tradition. Secondly, the Deacon’s reverence was loud and clear as the co-celebrant. It was obvious before I met him why he was a key part of my Dad’s healing. Most importantly, I can’t recall the last time the body and blood of Christ impacted me more. After communion, with the music playing from above – another thing I miss from our original church that burned down in the 90’s – a total calm came over me and I was transported somewhere. Kneeling in my pew  I listened to the hymn in total reverence  but didn’t say a particular prayer.  I told God I just wanted to take it all in. That’s when there was a really bright light under my closed eyes that only got brighter as the music sank into my soul. I knew there were tears forming but I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, control them.  Words and laureates will never be able to help explain those moments in time for me…

…what broke me from my peaceful home was Congregational laughter.  Evidently, someone’s high-pitched alarm had gone off, that nobody seemed to respond to, so Father finally asked who had to get to the fire?

I wiped my eyes but remained in complete peace while we met our friends after the final blessing. I think somehow the Deacon helped me this time.  I’m still not sure what it all means or what I experienced. The one thing I do know is this certainly isn’t the last time I’ll transcend to Lancaster.

That’s all there is to it.

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Tested Faith

My father had his faith tested earlier this year. It was painfully in front of all of us to witness and try to determine how, and IF, we could even help. One of my sisters managed the appointments and meds. We were all continually checking in at the house. I visited at night and took him to Mass on the weekends.

A friend at work had asked how he was doing. She’d met my Dad only briefly the year prior. They got along famously for those few short minutes. He is a religious man and she is a Christian life coach. I never witnessed such an immediate bond. I’d also never talked to her about spirituality until the day she inquired about my father. I told her he wasn’t good at all and to please pray for him. I let her know how helpless we all were. She told me to pray for wisdom.

I never knew that was an option. So I did. I also tried to read parts of the book of Wisdom that night.

That Saturday, my father and I went to 4:00 Mass again.

The readings included Matthew 14:22-36. It stayed with me and I wished my father had his faith at the time he needed it the most.

The next day I went to his house and gave him one of my toy boats. I told him, “Ralph, just get out of the boat.”

That was all. I knew it wasn’t a quick fix but it seemed like a needed visual.

That boat has been on his kitchen table for months. If he wasn’t focused on it, I certainly was every time I visited.

Only a short time ago, my Dad started to seem like himself again. He was less anxious. He stopped dwelling on the past and worrying about the present. The family started saying it out loud – “Dad is going to be okay.” My father was talking about the future again. Reading. Writing. Engaging. It was a long road for him and I was glad he’d finally turned onto a new path.

I went to the house to pick him up for Mass again this weekend. My father had a package for me to open. I didn’t know why he was giving me something or what to expect. When I opened the lid, I understood. It was his note of confirmation – and the boat.

When I saw it, the water was tears down my face.

It HAD helped. My father IS saved – and I AM a believer.