Category Archives: HJ jr

BLACKJACK! HJ jr Is 21


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The number of rites of passage is quickly running out.

As of today, as far as HJ jr is concerned, there are very few of them left.

HJ jr is 21.

I do not have any words for how proud I am, how excited I am and how dedicated I am to this young man.

What a blessing he is. What a man he is. What a joy today is!

A photo retrospective in 21 scene – ENJOY!

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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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The Passing of My Mother-in-Law


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In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 6, my mother-in-law, Dora Thornton Durham, passed away in her sleep.

She was 84 years old.

Dora was a character in every sense of the word and her larger-than-life personality was in complete and delightful contrast to almost incomprehensibly small frame. Dora suffered from COPD and the disease took its toll on her, to be sure, but the twinkle in her eye and the edge in her wit remained until the end.

Dora and LBC

Dora Thornton Durham and Little Black Cat, April 2015.

Compassionate, intelligent and engaged, Dora had a saying for almost any occasion and many of them were wise, indeed. She was a life-long educator (her most important student being HJ jr who she taught to read) who valued knowledge and character development and she shared many, many stories about the children she had taught throughout her career. Dora married a man whom she first dated because she thought he was Don Meredith, believed in flying saucers and tried to always see the positive in negative situations. She became more liberal in her thought and politics the older she got. She was funny as hell.

There are so many things about my mother-in-law I will miss, but I will always associate Dora with how much she loved animals.

As she lay in our home in during the last days of her life, Dora was not alone. The incredible Cinnamon Girl cared for her night and day, ably assisted by first year nursing student Sous ChefHJ jr and I were around as well, and her son was by her side, too.

But I am not talking about the company she had from any of us. I am talking about our animals. We have cats and a dog and Dora loved them very, very much.

Dora shared many lovely “last words” with us when it was her time to go, but perhaps none were as precious as two directed at our animals.

As she was losing strength one afternoon, Dora saw our dog and lit up with a bright “Hi!” The wagging of the dog’s tail spoke for everyone.

Later that same day, our lovely Siamese cat Lulu crawled onto Dora’s bed. Dora looked down and said to her “soft.”

At that point, these words were an effort for her to form and they must have felt important to her.

I will cherish many memories of Dora, but, in particular, I’ll hold on to these two.

I did not have the luck to know Dora for a very long time , but I am blessed to have had 10 years with her.

I love her and I will miss her.

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20 Memories… 20 for HJ jr.


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It’s HJ jr’s 20th birthday today.

Twentieth.

He’s 20.

20-years-old.

To say this is difficult for me to believe is something of an understatement. See, I remember when he moved into his teenage years and now he’s moving out of them.

I remember when he had a collection of sticks and toy guns…

when he tried to remember every piece of chocolate cake he’d ever eaten…

when he walked proudly across the graduation stage…

when he had a walk down a certain path and dropped his cell phone…

when he and I would sit at the dining room table and work though algebra problems…

when he has hugged me…

when he was named outstanding junior of the year…

when we went to see any number of movies that no one else in the family wanted to see (I still didn’t enjoy Elysium)…

when he almost slipped, once, and said something more than “good night” to me…

when he showed me at each-and-every stage of his life that he was the master and I was the learner by telling me about string theory or the Russian economy or any one of a number of things he knew more about than I did……

when he hugs that stupid dog we have (he loves that dog)…

when he texts The Cinnamon Girl … I am glad to be in touch even when he’s away at school…

when I think about his incredible dedication to what he wants…

when consider all the teachers at the school he transferred from lamenting that he was leaving … “he’s the kind of kid we need at this school” they said. They were right…

when I watch him in conversation with “adults” and see how he handles himself with poise and confidence

when he makes his quirky jokes; he’s just so damn funny…

when I get a glimpse into how he views the world…

when I remember the serious talks we’ve had and the difficult ones I recall what a privilege it is to be in his life…

… when he does something silly (keys in the refrigerator, anyone?)…

… when he, in his own inimitable way, lets his family know how much they really mean to him.

Happy birthday, bonus son. Happiest of birthdays.

I am forever honored to be a part of your life and forever proud of you.

 

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


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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…

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A Mother’s Day With Cinnamon


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My wonderful wife, The Cinnamon Girl, is one of the most talented storytellers I know. This is not an exaggeration shared through love colored glasses, it is a fact. I have seen her take over a dinner party with this ability, making people laugh until they cry. I have watched her take over many a classroom with it, inspiring students and engaging them with her wit and smarts. Frankly, I love when she tells stories because she’s so good at it.

She fascinates and entertains our children. That’s another statement of fact and it’s also not something that I am exaggerating. She treats them as equals, as young adults and they more than appreciate that. They like being entertained by her, by her stories and her offhanded irreverence. They understand she has important things to say to them. They feel her love for them.

We have three wonderful kids, and that’s primarily because of what a wonderful mother she is. She has helped them grow and helped them find their places in the world. What a gift she is to them.

I simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in every way.

I couldn’t ask for our children to have a better mother.

I couldn’t ask for a better wife.

Happy Mother’s Day, Cinnamon Girl!

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19 Years … My God, That’s Almost 20!


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There are more than a few things that make me feel my age, but nothing does so more poignantly than marking the passage of time by the years my kids have been on the planet.

HJ jr turns 19 today. Could anyone, please, tell me how that happened?

I’ve never met anyone like HJ jr. Intelligent and funny, he sees the world in a manner that no one else I’ve ever met does and I often leave a conversation with him thinking how much different or how much better the world would be if more people viewed it the way he does.

He is passionate about what he believes – he caucused for Bernie Sanders this year!

He is driven by his interests – he built his own (gigantic and fully functional) computer from the ground up.

He is the most reflective and thoughtful person his age I know.

He is on the journey that is challenging and necessary as he approaches his (gulp!) adulthood!

I am lucky to have HJ jr as my “bonus” son and my life would be so much less rich without him.

Happy 19th and remember, there are no cars in Australia.

Good night.

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