Category Archives: Fathers and Sons

Dad Was A Grandpa, Too : Six Years Later…


Related Content from And There Came A Day


Six years ago today, my father passed away.

Love you, Dad.

My family –  my mother and The Cinnamon Girl and me and our kids and my sisters and their kids (all the kids who can make it as most of them are not really kids anymore) – have taken an annual trip to the Colorado mountains for many years. We rarely miss a year, to the tune of only 1 or 2 in the past 20. In fact, Dad took this very mountain trip less than two weeks before he died.

It is kind of a big deal.

This year’s excursion was last week and, as we do quite often, we got to talking about Dad. It was joyous talk, fun talk, irreverent talk. It was kind of like him: laughing, smiling and saying things just a little off color, a little edgy.

At one point (and, perhaps, I was a few “pops” into my evening) I unleashed what I thought was a killer impression of Dad. It was like most impressions: not too realistic, broadly comic and capturing only a caricature. I am pretty sure I would not have shared it had Mom been in the room, but she was asleep and it was not mean spirited. It was funny and it brought the proverbial house down. I repeated it a few times to more laughs but then I realized it was so spot on it was making my youngest nephew sad. Whether it was because he missed his grandpa or because he thought it was mean, I do not know. But, thinking about my nephew today made me realize something else: that my kids and nieces and nephews know only a piece of what they are missing.

519.jpgI got to have Dad for 41 years, my older sister for, well, more and my younger sister for, well, less (I am not going to reveal their relative ages!). The kids barely got him for 10 years they actually remember… the littlest boys for less than that.

So, in thinking about them, I decided this year to put a bit of the eulogy I wrote to work in remembrance of, not just Dad, but his relationship with his grandkids.

“Our kids all love their grandpa.  But they simply cannot understand right now how much he loved them.  His youngest grandson will be told it was Dad who just a few short weeks ago went to get him his first bike.  Maybe we’ll even remind him of the time he locked his poor Grandpa in the shed.  And laughed.  His brother will remember Grandpa in his Rockies jacket sitting on the stands at his t-ball games.  Every time my goddaughter gets dressed up for a party, she’ll probably hear Grandpa asking “what costume do you have on today?”  My daughter may not have loved it when Dad would pick up a flashlight, turn it on, hold it to her ear and pretend the light showed right through from one side of her head to the other with no brain to block it, but I bet she’ll miss him doing it.  My oldest niece should know that every goal she scored on the soccer pitch really pleased her grandpa – he loved how tough she was, he was especially proud of her the day she accidentally broke another little girl’s arm.  That was the residual North Denver tough in him I think.   When my son got an X-Box, Dad drove him crazy saying to him: “X-Box?  Who cares?  I have a Z-Box” and you would have loved their arguments over the Wii video game system.  Dad insisted on calling the Wii a “They.”  My stepson first met Dad about five years ago on Halloween when Dad was completely dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow… that, by-the-way, was quite a sight, Dad really sold out for it.  When my stepson saw Dad again a few weeks later and noted that Dad still had a protruding stomach, he was surprised. He thought that was part of the costume.  Who could blame him?

It is hard for us all to believe that we were on our Annual Family Mountain Trip up in Breckenridge two and a half weeks ago, sitting with Dad, teasing him, sharing meals, sharing our stories, panicking as the power went out because of his oxygen, watching movies he loved like The Sandlot and The Natural.  It was so important to him to go on that trip.  So important to spend time with his grandkids.  So important that they knew how much he loved them.  Guys, you all know that Grandpa would do anything for you, right?  You know that he did so much for you.

Just as he has done for me and my sisters throughout our lives.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Dad, Family, Fathers and Sons, Parents

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…

 

 

Leave a comment

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

Link’n’Blogs – 6.16.17 – Fictional Fathers


Related Content from And There Came A Day


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

Leave a comment

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

20/20 Vision – Happy Birthday, Stretch


Related Content from And There Came A Day


MatthewStretch turns 20 today. 10 x 2. 5 x 4. 2 decades.

I do not know how this happened so quickly.

I do not know where kid went, the one who, as a toddler, would wake up incredibly early – we are talking before 5:00am here – and drag me out of bed to play with his “guys” (his little plastic football players).

I do not know where that same kid who wanted to play every sport imaginable for as long as the days, weeks and seasons would last has gone.

I do not know where the boy who would sit in front of a computer screen playing “Backyard Football” hour-after-hour has run of to or where the kid who was sure he was going to be an NFL wide receiver or tight end has flown.

I have been looking for the guy who sat next to me at the conclusion of a frigid cold, heartbreaking Denver Bronco loss with a tear literally freezing running down his cheek.

Likewise, I have been searching out the student who sometimes asked me to read his papers and asked for help on his homework.

High and low I have sought the 6 foot 7, red robe wearing graduate I hugged as he walked across a special stage.

What I have found in these searches – what I have found with this new 20/20 vision of Stretch  now that he is 20 – is a young man on his way to adulthood. Well on his way.

I have found a young man upon whom others rely.

I have found a young man who cares deeply about his world and those around him.

I have found a prayerful young man, a passionate young man, a smart young man.

I have found a young man who it is both honor and privilege to call “son.”

And I have found just how lucky we, his bonus mom, his brother and sister and I are that he is in our family.

Happy birthday, Stretch. Many, many, many returns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthday, Family, Fathers and Sons, Holidays, Stretch

Off to College (3 in 5 Daze) Part III: Stretch


Related Content from And There Came A Day:


Board

Day Five! The Cinnamon Girl and I bid farewell to all 3 kids as they head off to college (Sous Chef and HJ jr have already departed… and then there was 1) 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.

Board M

Stretch and I got HJ jr all set at Colorado State University following our St. Louis trek to drop off Sous Chef. I am 1832 miles into this journey which, today, comes to an end without too much travel on our end. We put Stretch on a plane to Spokane, WA (so he has another 1093 miles to go!).

 

Stretch is heading into his junior year at Gonzaga University and he’s truly begun to fill in the outlines of the man he’s going to become. Poised and confident, he’s ready for this year and for all the challenges and joys it will bring.

The Cinnamon Girl and I are most excited to know that we will be spending a week with him in Spokane this spring and will look forward to whatever trips home he makes between now and then.

DSC00563

From this…

Matthew Christmas 2015

… to this in the blink of an eye.

… plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29.11

Leave a comment

Filed under College, Family, Fathers and Sons, Stretch

Off to College (3 in 5 Daze) Part II: HJ jr


Related Content from And There Came A Day:


Board

We are three days into the five, and The Cinnamon Girl and I bid farewell to all 3 kids as they head off to college (Sous Chef down, two to go!) 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, following a trip to St. Louis to get Sous Chef situated in her new city, the next port-of-call is Fort Collins, CO. Stretch and I drive back from St. Louis and meet HJ jr at Colorado State University to move him in for his sophomore year.

Board I

 

After a summer in which he held, at various points, three separate jobs, moving from position-to-position until he found one that worked for him (Amazon of all places), he’s ready to take on this year, ready to have a new roommate and ready to roll.

It’s nice to have him close to home. I know we’ll see him for a weekend now-and-again.

Indy

From this…

2015-08-20 12.28.16

… to this in the blink of an eye.

… plans to prosper you and not to harm you…

Leave a comment

Filed under College, Family, Fathers and Sons, HJ jr

He Called Me “My Man”


Related Content from And There Came A Day


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…

Leave a comment

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