by your side

Pamela,

I’ve sewn you into my heart, painted you on my soul and tucked the mere thought of you safely away in a corner of my mind where you will always be surrounded by the places and people you love.

33 Years ago we were both getting ready to set out on a journey that has led us to this moment.
Each year, I think of many things on our anniversary and today is no different.

Memories of long walks when we didn’t worry about our daily Fitbit goal, our minds uncluttered by things we didn’t know were coming, some wonderful and awesome, some sad and bittersweet, some seemingly sent from the heavens above.
We’re growing old together and for that I thank the good Lord above.
He knew we were cut out for the long haul and I mean that in the sweetest way possible.
I think about the first night I saw you, really saw you. And I remember the staggering feeling of simply knowing; knowing that someday ‘you and me‘ would ultimately turn into ‘us‘. It was a magical feeling and one that still lives and breathes inside this old heart of mine.

We have been blessed with a life that’s been good, maybe different than what we expected but it’s been quite the wonderful ride.
There’s the love/hate relationship we have with the house we’ve lived in for 32 years, the autumn leaves that always seem to find their way back into the driveway, 33 years of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, food, friends, laughter and tears, hellos and goodbyes, songs from the heart, midnight ‘I love you’s and obviously 33 years of cats.
And a healthy dose of our ‘family’ in Australia for good measure.
And then there’s three of the most wonderful daughters that we ever could have hoped for.
Raising them has been such an incredible and fulfilling journey and one that continues.
And then there’s our precious little granddaughter, Meryl. [Insert *sigh* HERE]

I can’t imagine any part of my life without you by my side.
And I wouldn’t change a single thing.
But if I could, I wish I would have found you sooner.

Happy Anniversary to the gentlest heart, most beautiful soul and my very best friend.
I am with you always . . .

~m

Advertisements

Letter to My Dad

Dad

Hi Dad,

Yes, I’m thinking about you tonight because tomorrow is Father’s Day.
I do this every year but this year it’s somehow different.
I’m slowly beginning to forget the subtle things about you, small and insignificant as they may seem it bothers me because I want to remember all of you; the sound of your voice calling my name in the middle of a Little League baseball game, the touch of your hand on my shoulder when I was the losing pitcher, your infectious laugh, your bad singing (not so insignificant, according to Mom), your funny stories, the aroma of your homemade western omelets and the always present bowls of Quaker Oatmeal that you made on the stove on Saturday mornings, the feeling of your hand in mine.
I miss you dearly and pray that I’ve made you proud.
I like to think I’ve been a pretty good Dad myself.
And that’s because of you.
You rocked it, Dad.
And I thank you.
Hope you’re still watching over me.

Michael

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there.
Anyone can be a father but it takes someone very special to earn the coveted title of ‘Dad‘.

ps. I’m the one in the red bow tie (thanks, Mom). My cousin Tim was visiting another planet. Don’t worry. He made it back safe. 😉

M

Grandfather, still Dad

This is the first post I’ve done since Christ was a baby (seems like that anyway).
I’ve left my self posted blog and have gone back to where I first discovered blogging and the wonderful interaction with people that happens when you do it religiously.
Life happens, things change, people die, babies are born, the sun shines and the rain continues to fall and here in New England there’s the Gaad-damned snow.

For the two people that may still possibly follow my RSS feeds, much has happened since I slid off the blogging grid years ago.
After losing two parents to Alzheimer’s over the course of 15+ years, my ass was kicked, wrapped and sent to Timbuktu for inspection.
It just came back today and I am happy to tell you that while my ass was a bit wrinkled in the process, they tell me that it shouldn’t affect my writing.
Thank God for life’s small favors.
I’ve realized on my distant sojourn from the blog that I miss writing about these small snippets of my life that I can share with the world.
They seem to make more sense to me when someone else weighs in on them.
Whether I agree or not is a moot point.
It’s the human connection/interaction that makes all the difference. [or not]

I’m a grandfather now but I don’t feel that I look like one. Yet.
I’m not old and withered as many Google images would portray me to be.
I’m grey, okay?
Just deal.
I’ve earned every single damned grey hair. And then some.
My granddaughter is Meryl, a 5+month old bundle of wonder.
I love this little lamb and look forward to writing about her wanderings here at my old/new place.
She is for me a chance to share my love, my thoughts, my music, my strange sense of humor and one day my all consuming love for cooking.
I still love smoking cigars. And my pipe.
And I just got a new iPhone 6s. (you rock it, Grampa)
Stick around, this might get funny.

M

 

Dear Meryl

There’s a place for you deep inside my heart, a room filled with wondrous things; beryl blues, setting sky purples, soft sunflower yellows, sherbet orange velvets and vivid reds of every hue, a fractal rainbow complete but yet not fully formed, much like you.
There are a billion brilliant stars waiting to be wished upon, rivers to be crossed, oceans to be discovered and stories to be told, bedtime books to be read.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you; think about what the colour of your eyes will be, the smell of your sweet and beautiful innocence, the sheer weight of you resting softly in the safety of my arms.

You were born in love, a love that transcends time and space but still has an unknown and occasionally untimely schedule to keep.
You may not know it but I’ve already made promises to you, hidden secrets that lay bare on the waiting shelves that line this quiet room, a sacred place that whispers your name from the rising of the sun to its dipping into the distant palette of the waiting horizon.
I close my eyes and dream of the things you might be dreaming of right now.
And oh, dear little one you must dream.
My prayer is that my heart is big enough to hold all of you in it, to be a safe harbour that is always clear on even the stormiest of nights.
My heart sings to you with the softest of lullabies, maybe keeping some of the dissonance of life far away from your waiting ears . . . for now.
I realize that’s an unrealistic hope at best but it’s a hope just the same.
When I finally hold you, I also understand that I will never be the same again.
I can only pray to be better. And somehow that’s okay with me.
As A.A.Milne said, “Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
This room is waiting and you are holding the key.

Grampa

for a friend

If there was a star in the sky
I’d wish upon it
better days for you . . .
But sometimes it feels the stars
are all taken, leaving the sky dark and godforsaken; a desperate space

this self-imposed penance is just that
as is the self-denial of a solace richly deserved

the light of the soul never dies
but occasionally flickers;
a sign that things do change
black to white, night to day

there’s a star in the sky
and I’m wishing on it
better days for you . . .

if you’re left wondering about the star
i put it there
just remember I may need you to find me one someday . . .
I wish you faith, love and a belief that life goes on
because it does.

M

Walking Distance

When I was 9 years old I had a favorite paperback book called “Stories from the Twilight Zone”, a book of short stories based on the skin and bones for sketches produced on the TV program of the same name.
I had a favorite called “Walking Distance”, the story of a tired middle aged business man that leaves the big city one weekend and simply drives in an effort to get away from his job and the Rat Race in general.
His car breaks down and he gets towed to a local garage for repairs when he sees a road sign for the town he grew up in years ago.
He asks how far it is to the town and is told, “It’s walking distance.”
He enters the Twilight Zone and walks into his hometown of 40 years ago where his mother and father are still alive.

It’s funny that I was falling for these kinds of tender stories when I was ten.
Yeah, I was a weird kid, huh?
Much of my writing loosely falls into the same sentimental category. Go figure.
I started thinking about the last good day I had with my mother and father, sadly the memory has vanished deep into the recesses of my own scattered mind.
The ‘moment’ did happen though when I came to a realization that I could never get those moments back; accepting the idea was painfully difficult but I knew it had to be done.
It occurred to me that I began saying goodbye to the individual pieces of both of them, various facets of their personalities, phrases they often used and the stories they loved to tell.

I remember fruitlessly trying to pull my mother back into my world with my “remember when” queries that all too quickly lost their magical powers.
If I’ve learned anything at all from their tragic situation it’s that life is about seizing moments, grabbing them by whatever means possible and never ever letting them go.
I only wish I’d realized that fifteen years ago, wish I’d accepted their fates sooner, if that makes sense.
But I’m only human and I desperately wanted to believe otherwise.
If I could have several more hours with both of them it would be spent on the back deck of the Goodbye House’.
It would be a warm but comfortable summer night with nothing but a cricket soundtrack and a deep, orange creamsicle sunset off to the West.
My father would be standing by the grill wearing his signature wrinkled Bermuda shorts (or were they seersucker? God forbid), sans shirt with his pot belly exposed to the world with a can of Busch beer in his hand as he flipped burgers and hot dogs.
My mother would be flitting around the kitchen like some culinary Tasmanian devil putting the finishing touches on one of her ‘signature’ desserts.
We wouldn’t be talking about anything in particular; it would just be like it once was.
But it would be different to me because I would mentally file away and lock every smile, every laugh, and every taste and smell living inside that one bittersweet summer evening.
And I would remember all of it again, if I had one more chance.
Maybe the truth of the matter is that those memories are never very far away; in fact they’re easily accessible because wherever I am, ‘home’ is always close by.
Actually, it’s walking distance . . .

~m

A Beautiful Goodbye

It was in this post that I mentioned a moment of clarity that I’d experienced with my mother when she was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.
I like to think that there are times in our lives when, for whatever the reason, we are deserving of a small gift of the soul; something that catches us off guard and lifts the spirit; an experience that simply says, ‘carry on’.
If you’ve visited Smoke and Mirrors before and have read any of my writing, you could conceivably finish this post for me.
I think.

Lately, I have been keeping close tabs on my father (my sister, as well) for reasons I have chosen to keep private.
That said, I visited him last Sunday around noontime to feed him lunch.
He tends to eat well whenever my sister and I feed him simply because we’re able to be patient. It’s a wonderful feeling to know he’ll nap the afternoon away with a belly full of food and that we had a small part in it.

He ate well for me on Sunday: pot roast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, vegetables and the softest dinner roll I’ve ever held in my hand.
I wasn’t sure if he would even finish his dessert but the bastard ate all the Banana Cream Pie and didn’t even ask if I wanted any.
(I tried it and yes, it was very good)

I cleaned him up and we sat by the window in his room.
A slice of winter sunshine found him and I think he enjoyed the warmth of it.
I spoke with a few of the nurses on the floor who told me that he’d had a very good night.

“Walter? Oh, no problems with him. Sweet man.”

With my questions answered and my father fed, I went back to his room and bent down so we were face-to-face, and kissed his forehead.

“I love you, Dad.”

He just stared at me.

“I know, I know,” I said, “You love me too, right?”

He lifted his tired hand, smiled and gently stroked my cheek.
No words were exchanged but no words were really necessary.
For a brief second, my father was really ‘there‘.

When moments like this happen you have to soak them in because they’re oh, so rare.
It’s the stuff of the soul.
Small gifts, my sister said.
Maybe they’re not quite as small as I’d originally thought.
I walked out of the nursing home and felt the winter sun on my face and I smiled because it felt a bit warmer than it usually does.
Maybe that was a gift as well . . .

~m

12 things my daughters have taught me

Having three girls, there are things that as a man you just know, or don’t know.
I’ve been thinking about this for sometime and have come up with a list of things they’ve taught me.
Sometimes it’s just observing their bizarre womanly ways and sometimes I get a hands-on lesson.

  • I can spot a Vera Bradley handbag from 100 paces. (yeah, I know. Scary)
  • Orlando Bloom is hot, but Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) is way hotter.
  • Folding laundry is quite natural now except when it comes to folding a bra.
  • “I love you, Daddy,” loosely translated means, “I need something and you will get it for me.”
  • Girls can be downright nasty to each other.
  • Nothing dries tears quicker than a trip to Hollister.
  • They know the ins and outs of Itunes way better than I do.
  • They can use the T9 word when texting on their cell enabling them to send me the “Gettysburg Address” in less time than it takes me to text the word, “Ok” and hit send.
  • There are countless stars in the sky, but every one has its place.
  • Never honestly comment on a new hairstyle. Just say, “It looks very nice.”
  • Not all facial moisturizers are created equal.
  • Patience. (4 women getting ready to go out for a Saturday evening is excruciating)

Look for a future post and update.
Learning about women is an ongoing process and I’m still a beginning student, apt but beginning.

~m