Tag 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

Dad Was A Grandpa, Too : Six Years Later…


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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.”

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


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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

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…

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