Category Archives: Fathers and Daughters

19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay


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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.

 

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Filed under Birthday, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, HJ jr, Sous Chef, Stretch, The Cinnamon Girl

Only Three of Us Are Lucky Enough… Father’s Day 2017



The older I get and the more people I encounter in my life, the more I understand that I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone enjoys a terrific relationship with their father for reasons of all kinds and I am sorry for those who do not.

But I am blessed enough to have had a great father and I will speak for my two sisters here: we were blessed to have Dad as our dad.

Whatever I try to be as a father, I learned from how my father fathered me. When I think of the memories I would like my children to have of me when they are adults parenting kids on their own, I want them to have memories similar to the ones I have of my dad.

  • Walking across the campus of my college alma mater, Catholic University, last week, I said to The Cinnamon Girl “That’s where the bank was where I opened my first adult account. Dad and I did that one afternoon my first week on campus.” He was taking care of me as he ever did.
  • Just yesterday, the hashtag #FirstComics was making the electronic rounds and I tweeted a picture of the first comic books in my collection (comics which are framed on the wall of my office). Dad bought them for me.
  • I think of dad each time I strap on my twelve string guitar. It has a hole in it that dad fixed.
  • We bought a new car in the spring and the impulse to check in with dad on what he thought was so very strong. He always had car advice even if it was not always good advice.
  • When my mother-in-law passed away last week, one of the first thoughts I had was how would Dad respond? What would Dad do?

I could share many more memories but I will conclude with this: I love my father. I always will.

I am one of the lucky three who can call him my dad.

Family 1989

Me, my sisters, our mother and father in London in 1989. Lucky family to have Dad as our dad…

 

 

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Filed under Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Fathers Day, The Cinnamon Girl

Link’n’Blogs – 6.16.17 – Fictional Fathers


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Father’s Day is this weekend. Who are you favorite fathers in fiction? I found a list that’s pretty solid, non-comic-book-y and inclusive of my personal favorite literary character of all time (and, no, it’s NOT To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Atticus Finch, though he’s up there!)… Click the photo!

Atticus Finch

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Filed under Family, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Fathers Day, Literature

Off to College (3 in 5 Daze) Part I: Sous Chef


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Board

Over the course of the next five days, The Cinnamon Girl and I will bid farewell to all 3 kids as they head off to college – within a 120 hour period! I love how small the world is and know that we’ll all be able to remain in contact far more easily and more closely than I was in contact with my family when I went off to school more than a few years back.

Still, it will be strange to have no kids in the house… strange and sad? Strange and wonderful? Strange and… we don’t know. It’s just a new chapter for us all.

What we do know is that Sous Chef and I get in the car early this morning to make the drive from Denver to St. Louis. She is off to St. Louis University to begin her college journey.

Board K

She is the first of our kids to leave for school and the first of her friend group to leave for school. Though she doesn’t know it, she is also incredibly ready for the transition. I hope that I am!

Hard to believe it’s time, but it is and she’s ready – more ready than she knows.

Kateri Portrait

From this…

SLU Photo

… to this in the blink of an eye.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…

 

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Filed under College, Education, Family, Fathers and Daughters, Parenting, Parents, Sous Chef

He Called Me “My Man”


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Dad SunlightMy father, who was a permanent deacon for over 25 years and who died five years ago today, would have said of the Pope and the Church studying the history around a women’s diaconate:  “Of course women should be deacons. Should have happened forever ago. You’re going to study it now? Just do it. It’s the right thing. S#!t or get off the pot.”

He had a way with words.

Seems to me that, when someone has died, people have a tendency to say “Man, what would grandma have said about this?” or “Uncle Jake sure wouldn’t have believed this, would he?”

As I considered Dad today it occurred to me that, in all my reminiscences and thoughts about him, one thing I rarely (if ever) do is wonder what he would have thought about something.

I might say I’m wondering about it. I might venture  “What would Dad have thought of Donald Trump?” I might ask “What do you think Dad would say about the Rockies this year?” I might offer aloud “Would Dad have liked where the kids decided to go to college?”

There are a great many things I admired about my father. I’ve written about them pretty extensively in the years since he died (in a eulogy, on Fathers Days, on these anniversaries). One of the things I admired most about him, and it’s something I appreciate more on reflection than I did in the day-to-day moments of living with him, is how straightforward he was.

I don’t mean to suggest that Dad constantly shared his opinions on any and every subject with any and everyone who would listen. Quite the contrary. My father could be very quiet. He could be reserved. He didn’t need to always be the center of attention though he liked attention when it came his way.

Dad was quiet and still with those he didn’t know well. He could be amazingly quiet, actually. Some equated his silence with wisdom and, wise as he was, he was pleased to let people consider him something of a sage.

He was something of a sage, though when the sage is your Dad, you know more about him. His family got to experience a little more than the silent treatment.

Dad and Family

With family and close friends, Dad wasn’t always quiet and he didn’t spend a lot of time hiding his emotions. When something bothered or delighted him, the reaction would color his face, change his expression. When he believed something, he would say it. When he was pleased, he would laugh, annoyed, he would say why, angry, he would emote. When he thought someone or something foolish, he would tell you why. He would tell you in no uncertain terms.

The older I get, the more I admire him for this.

So I don’t wonder what Dad would have thought about too many things that have happened since he’s been gone.

I know.

I can hear his voice in my head, and his comments always start with “My man,” which is what he would call me at the most serious junctures of my growing up, when I had made errors, when I took the risk of a new job about which he was skeptical, when I told him about The Cinnamon Girl, the woman I would marry.

“My man, we’ve got a lot to talk about,” he said one night when I came in well after curfew. The summer following that night was a long one.

“My man, I hope they don’t screw you,” he said when I took a new position. Spoiler alert: I got screwed (at least I think I did).

“My man, you make each other happy,” he said of my impending marriage and it wasn’t an observation, it was a directive.

Though I hear his voice in my head, though I know what he might say on a great many topics (Trump and the Rockies and his grand kids), it would be quite nice to hear him say it one more time.

“My man,” he would say…

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Filed under Dad, Family, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons

Remembering Dad on Father’s Day



We ought not need special days to remember our dads, right? But it’s nice to have this one every year nonetheless. I’ve written of my father before and I will again. I’ve talked about the man he was, the man I perceive he made me, and the man I miss to this day. I’ve written of his humor and his passion, his love and his life. I’ve written of what he meant to others and what he still means to me.

 

On this Father’s Day, 2016, I am aware of something I’ve rarely considered: not everyone feels about their father the same way I do. Not everyone had a dad who, though not perfect, cared about him, loved him, support him and made his life possible. Not everyone had a dad who connected with him, advised him and taught him how to be a man.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am.

In my father, I was very lucky, indeed.

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Yesterday, Sous Chef Walked Onto A New Road


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Yesterday, the youngest child in our household walked across The Stage after her full name (fours words in all) was called. We clapped. We laughed. We cried. We know things are changing, but we were overcome with pride.

Yesterday, before she walked across The Stage, the youngest child in our household gave the Valedictory Address during her graduation ceremony to her class and their families. She was cool and collected, warm and welcoming, funny and fascinating. She was everything her classmates know her to be – inclusive and loving. She gave a great speech.

Yesterday, before she gave the Valedictory Address, the youngest child in our household was volunteering her time at a local hospital, weeks and months after The Cinnamon Girl advised her that she could stop. She didn’t need the service hours. She did need more time in her schedule. She didn’t listen and continued volunteering because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Yesterday, before she finally gave up volunteering, the youngest child in our household was in her bedroom hanging with “The Squad,” her inseparable group of friends with whom she laughed, learned and loved during her high school years. What a lovely group of young women they are – friends of Sous Chef who’ve become our friends.

Yesterday, before she was hanging with “The Squad,” the youngest child in our household was falling down – sans grace – in Belize. Ask her about it! Sous Chef is a closet klutz. It’s one of her most endearing traits.

Yesterday, before she was falling down – sans grace – in Belize,” the youngest child in our household was doing homework. At 7:30 at night. On a Friday. The Cinnamon Girl and I (and Stretch and HJ jr) are so impressed by her amazing work ethic and its results – straight As in school, lessons learner, knowledge gained. She is an amazing student, like one of the best I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen more than a few.

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Yesterday, before she was doing homework, the youngest child in our household was trying out for softball. Why is this a big deal? Because she gave softball her best effort and came up short, bravely learned from the experience and moved on. I have rarely been as impressed by her as I was in the moments after her very short high school softball career.

Yesterday, before she was trying out for softball, the youngest child in our household was delivering the Continuation Speech at her matriculation from middle school. For an eighth grader, she was funny and confident and irreverent. She remains those things today.

Yesterday, before she was delivering the Continuation Speech, the youngest child in our household was learning to cook at The Cinnamon Girl’s side. Sous Chef could drop the “Sous” from her name. She makes amazing food and will be able to wow and impress as she sets up the “little apartment” she and The Cinnamon Girl have discussed, many, many years from now.

Yesterday, before she was learning to cook, the youngest child in our household was excelling in Spanish acquisition, at a dual language elementary school. She has retained her command of Spanish and will study it in college and make it part of her life.

Yesterday, before she was excelling in Spanish acquisition, the youngest child in our household was smiling and giggling, laughing with her brothers, lightening our lives.

Yesterday, before she was smiling and giggling, the youngest child in our household was a fixture – her brothers had left for school and The Cinnamon Girl and I could look forward to seeing her at home, to hearing about her day, to listening to her make us a laugh with a joke or a story, to watching her grow into the amazing and confident young woman she has become.

And, soon, we will have to do all of that remotely. Soon our conversations will be electronic, completed via text or over FaceTime. Soon, she will take her full ride scholarship to college, her possessions and herself out of state.

Soon she will be far away.

But, we have Yesterday, we still have a summer of Todays and, Sous Chef, YOU have tomorrow. The Cinnamon Girl and I will always be a part of your shining Tomorrow.

Yesterday, before she looked into the shining sun of her tomorrow, the youngest child in our household was sitting on my knee…

2015-11-19 07.18.01

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Filed under Family, Fathers and Daughters, Graduation, High School, Sous Chef