About Me

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I taught for several years at a residential school for children with emotional disabilities before staying home after the birth of my second daughter. I returned to teaching, finished my Educational Leadership program in May of 2012, and now work as our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator. I have always loved writing and find constant inspiration from my family. Maybe someday, I will get to see my name on the cover of a book!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Slice of Life-The Quest for the Holiday Card

Each week the Slice of Life is hosted by the writers and teachers of Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Many bloggers write slices each week that you can read by following the links from the comments, or feel free to join in on the slicing!

I'm sure that there are plenty of people who can relate to the issue of finding the perfect picture for the annual holiday card. I think that the challenge becomes increasingly, perhaps exponentially, harder as the number of family members rises.
This year, my holiday wish from my family was that we head to the nearest Portrait Simple to document our family with some formal shots in time for some of these shots to be made into a card, as well. Last Saturday morning, we all got up and into our jeans and white t-shirts to head to the mall, Sonny the black lab included in the outing. This appointment had been on the calendar for a few weeks, so should I have been surprised when two of the four daughters could not locate their white t-shirts???? Fortunately, both my dresser and the Gap across the hall from Portrait Simple had some extra-smalls. 

I actually thought the session went great--the girls were funny, the dog cooperated, and we had a lot of laughs. However, the process of choosing pictures was not as easy. I loved the pictures of the girls in a pig pile. I knew that they had laughed in this pose and I loved that as the backdrop to my own experience of these pictures. "I look like a turtle," Julia declared. Personally, I didn't see the resemblance, but okay.

Sonny was a little tricky to manage, but we did get a couple of shots with all eyes straight ahead and all smiles good to go. "My eyes are droopy," Larkin said. "We shouldn't have done this in the morning before our faces get rid of the sleep evidence." I did not think of this--maybe next time? (BTW, I thought Larkin's eyes looked beautiful--drooping is not the word that comes to my mind…)

Josh the photographer caught me off guard when he offered the girls shaving cream beards at the end of the photo-shoot. They thought this was hilarious and the pictures of the girls with Santa beards are fun. Sometimes in pictures, Clare forces her smiles and I loved the authentic laughter that these pictures captured. "The shaving cream makes my teeth look yellow," she critiqued. Since we bought the disk, the girls were able to whiten her teeth using photo-shop. (For the record, Clare has beautiful white teeth and I disagreed with her observations.)

Other nominations of images were met with: "It looks like Julia is taller in that picture" (Julia is taller, but this is a truth that Larkin is not ready to admit)… "My hair is messed up"(pig piles are risky that way)…"My face looks fat"…"My smile is fake"… You get the idea.

I left the girls at home with the pictures and went to get my hair cut. My challenge to them was to use the Shutterfly templates and design a card that I could order when I got home. When I came home, they had re-enacted a photo-shoot in the front yard with candy canes and colorful sweaters. Not exactly my vision for the pictures, but they were all happy with some of the shots. They wanted to combine the outdoor shots with the ones of them holding the ho-signs at Portrait Simple. The card could read "From our 'ho's to yours." I finally had to admit that I am not ready to relinquish control of the holiday card. Not everyone is thrilled with the picture selections, but I tried to include the ideas and sentiment that the girls had begun. I wish the same to all of my Slicing Community. 






















Merry everything and peace, joy, love and fun throughout the year. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Slice of Life--Thank you Pamela Hodges



Each week the Slice of Life is hosted by the writers and teachers of Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Many bloggers write slices each week that you can read by following the links from the comments, or feel free to join in on the slicing!

This week, I have been grateful to Pamela Hodges , another slicer who gave me the idea to have an angel come to life each night in our house. My youngest daughter, Cecily, is at that cuspy sixth-grade age when children don't believe but still second-guess their non-belief. She has gone along with the mischievous angel. Sort of. The first night the angel toilet-papered Cecily's room--we needed to do something big to let Cecily know that there was some magic going on in the house. My oldest daughter, Larkin, took this on and was quite impressive with the roll of Charmin.

"I know it was you, Mom," Cecily said when she came into my room in the morning.

At least I could say honestly that it wasn't.

Since that night, the angel has had a n umber of adventures. She has switched places with the angel that Cecily has on her mini-Christmas tree in her room. She has dumped out Cecily's sock drawer (which needed sorting through). She has also done some nice things--she folded a large basket of laundry. made some pancake batter that was ready to use in the morning, and found a boot that had been missing for a while. Cecily has started hiding her, which makes her antics a little challenging for me.

She has some plans for the rest of the month that I can't wait to see her act on. One is to take over Cecily's bed and put Cecily into the twin bed that is in her room. I might have to photograph that! I'm open to other suggestions for my little friend that are silly, and not too time-consuming during a busy month--sorry, Pam, but even on a snow day, I don't have time to clean out my pantry right now!

As always, I'm so grateful to my writing community. In this case, Pamela inspired not only writing, but also laughter and silliness in our house!

Cheers!







Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Thoughts Are In Boston

We are away on vacation this week so news didn't get to as quickly as it usually does. I had a post in my head ready to write but I will save it for another day because my thoughts are with the victims of yesterday's bombing in Boston. Somehow, writing about the silliness and laughter of yesterday's adventure seems inappropriate, although I will work hard to preserve and continue the joy we are having.

Just as images from the Newtown shooting have haunted me for the last few months, so will the face of Martin Richard, the 8 year-old who was waiting with his family for his father to finish the race. How does a family go on in the wake of such unspeakable, unbelievable, meaningless tragedy? The families of Newtown continue; I have watched and paid attention. Some are spurred on by their charge to make a difference in gun control and mental health services.

What missions will come from the bombings in Boston? I suppose that they will develop as we learn more about the motivation behind the bombings. In the meantime, I am left wondering about our safety in this country. After the 9/11 bombings, I felt an enormous sense of vulnerability and concern for the fact that I could not possibly lie my body across my four daughters to save them from the world's craziness. Today, I feel even more vulnerable.

I'm not sure that I will ever enjoy a crowded place again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#Slice 2013- April Fools' Day

On Tuesdays, Ruth and Stacey host Slice of Life on their blog at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to write, link, and/or comment!

April Fools' Day is a major holiday in our house. All of us spend time on the internet looking for new pranks that we haven't seen before. Most years, I get sprayed by at least one of the sinks. (This year, I remembered to take the tape off before I got wet!) I have sat in Balmex (bad joke), found salt in toothpaste (okay joke), found my bed short-sheeted (funny joke as long as I've opted for an early bedtime) and have found my sweaters taped together (quite funny joke, actually)--you get the idea.

Yesterday, I had to pick up Julia from soccer practice. Julia doesn't like to wait and even though I try to always keep her schedule straight and to be there on time, I make mistakes. Meetings run over, someone else needs a ride, or I forget that the time changed. So yesterday, when I arrived at the fields five minutes early, I parked at the far side where she couldn't see me and waited for my phone to ring. It rang.

"Mom, are you here?" Julia asked.

"What are you talking about?" I responded. "Doesn't practice end at 7:30?"

"Mooom. I told you 7. 5:30-7..."

"I'm sorry, Julia." I try not to have the giggle come out in my voice. "I'll leave right now."

I hung up and texted her right away. April Fools. I'm here.

Julia was smiling when I pulled up next to her. "You got me, Mom," she said. "I wasn't going to fall for Cecily's carmel onions since that was too far from her norm but you were much more believable."

Hmmm. Should I feel good about that?

We both had a good laugh.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

#Slice 2013: 30 of 31- Silliness to remember


For the month of March, I have been writing every day as part of the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Ruth and Stacey at twowritingteachers.wordpress.org. My teaching-oriented posts are at tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot, while my personal posts are here. 

On Friday morning, we took our four daughters into New York City to meet up with our friends from Spain. We have known the LaForas for almost thirty years and Larkin, our 16 year-old daughter lived with them for her first semester of her junior year. Needless to say, we were excited to see them.

Our day was full of hugs, laughs, stories, and adventures. Even though I had never met Cristina's two daughters, I felt like I knew them well. After all, Larkin had introduced them to me on skype so I have already had many conversations with them. Truly, technology flattens our world.

We had many silly moments, but one that I want to remember was at the restaurant. We were ten people so we took up a lot of room in a small restaurant. At the end of dinner, Larkin got especially goofy and was showing everyone how she can twist her arms around her head and reach her mouth from the opposite sides. Yes, she got our entire table to try and we were laughing, watching each other's contortions. What we didn't realize was that the tables around us were trying out Larkin's trick, as well. We were pretty entertaining, I guess.


As we were leaving the restaurant, the women at the next table talked to us, wanting to know about our friendship, then about Barcelona, and about all of our daughters. It turned out that the woman was a regular there and, like us, the mother of four daughters.

"Oh, so you have four girls," she said to my husband. "Just wait until they're..."

She stopped in mid-sentence. "Uh-oh," she said. "How old are they?"

When my husband shared that Larkin is almost seventeen, the woman nodded and smiled empathetically.

Uh-oh, my thoughts echoed her words. Just wait isn't futuristic any more. We're there.

We left the table of women laughing and still trying to wrap their arms around their heads, as we headed for the Top of the Rock.

Enjoy your friends and families,





Saturday, March 23, 2013

#Slice 2013: 23 of 31- Moments Matter



During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog, inspired by the fact that I've been trying to do more creative writing This post is part of a series about gifts that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives. Mostly, they are happy posts, but his accident was sad. This is the final post in this series. Thank you to those who have followed and provided feedback and encouragement. You have kept me going! Tomorrow, I promise my posts will lighten up.

For the first posts in the series, you would have to link up to tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com. 


Knowing That Moments Matter: An Important Gift

I don't know how much to write about the first few months after his accident, but I think it's enough to say that they were hard, but he improved. Initially, we were told that we should hire full-time help and be prepared for lives of care-giving. However, the doctors didn't know my dad. They were shocked at the gains he made and they credited his high intelligence. My father is one of the smartest people I have ever known. When I think about his functioning levels in terms of a graph, he improved a lot in the first six months, stayed pretty level for a few years, and has slipped over the last five years.

For a couple of years, my father returned to work. He didn't do much, but his staff was thrilled to have in back in the office and his doctors reassured us that he was fine with tasks that were routine. Surgery was out of the question because he had crushed his optic nerve when he fell so he is blind in his left eye, but his partner kept a close watch on his work with patients and reported that his practice was perfect as far as regular office visits were concerned. However, he peaked about two years after his accident.

"Any sort of brain disease that he would have gotten at an older age would be accelerated by the brain injury," his neurologist explained to us.

His father died of Alzheimer's Disease. Many people don't realize that you can die of this disease but, it's possible. Eventually, you forget how to swallow and breathe. I sometimes wonder if I should cheer for his slow moving prostate cancer that we have been treating since before his accident.

In the post that began this series, I wrote about missing my father the most when he is riding in the passenger seat next to me. He always wants to come for a ride and he rarely speaks when he comes along. Throughout the process of remembering and writing about his gifts, I have come to realize the gift that he gives us now, and that is to appreciate our moments.

Dad doesn't remember this morning and he asks several times a day what plans we have in store for the evening. But he loves what he does when he is doing it. If there's a game to watch, he wants to come. A concert to attend, he wants to be there. A play, he's in. When his bus comes to take him to his "program", he is ready and thrilled to get on.

"How was your day, Dad?" we ask.

"I had a great day," he always says.

He means it, too. His moments matter, because that's what he has, and it's a wonderful lesson and a gift for us all to remember. Moments matter.

Enjoy your gifts,




Friday, March 22, 2013

#Slice 2013: 22 of 31- The Gift of Living




During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog, inspired by the fact that I've been trying to do more creative writing This post is part of a series about gifts that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives. My posts up until now have mostly been happy--memoirs of a great dad. This one is about his accident. It was hard to write.

For the first posts in the series, you would have to link up to tworeflectiveteacher.blogspot.com. 

The Gift of Living



My father fell almost eleven years ago. My mother called our house late in the afternoon. Nine months pregnant, I was sitting on a chair in the driveway watching my three girls play. My husband's parents were in the house, having just arrived for a visit. I had the phone by my chair.

"Something's happened to Dad," my mother said. Her words were choppy and she sounded like she was taking breaths in between them.

I know it's a cliche, but my heart really did freeze for a second before she continued. I had never heard her talk like that.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

She tried to explain but she couldn't talk well.

"I'll be right there. Wait for me," I said.

Joyce and Ron came out and knew something was wrong. They assured me that they would be fine with the girls. Ron wanted to drive me down to my parents' house but I wanted to drive myself.

"I'm okay," I said. But I wasn't. "It's only a mile."

I drove down to my parents' house where my brother and mother were waiting for me. A neighbor was going to drive us to the hospital since the helicopter had already left. Life Star would get my father to the operating room faster than an ambulance.

When I got there and touched my brother, he was raw and fell onto the grass, pulling some of it out. His pants and hands were bloody and I had no idea at that time what he had been through. "I couldn't catch him," he said. "I'm so sorry." He kept repeating that he couldn't catch him as he sat up and held his head in his hands.

Gradually, I pieced together what had happened. Charlie had come over to repair my parents' mailbox that someone had hit with a baseball bat the night before. Since my father had had his hip replaced a few weeks earlier, he was on crutches. Five days away from walking without them. Five days. Dad had wanted to check out what Charlie was doing in the basement. He couldn't stand not helping fix the dumb mailbox. He was a surgeon, a doctor at the top of his game, and he liked to be in charge. But as he stood at the top of his stairs, he forgot to put the crutches on the step first and not his foot. He led with his foot and dove down the stairs. Headfirst, he landed at the bottom of the stairs on the cement. His hands were scraped and his watch was cracked from where he must have tried to protect himself, but his head took the brunt of his fall.

Charlie, having just completed his medical training, had spent many hours in emergency rooms saving people and he screamed for my mom to call 911. My father was unconscious and his eyes turned instantly black, a condition that Charlie offered a name for but I don't remember. Not a good sign.

"Stay with me, Dad," Charlie kept saying. My mom told me about this later during the many hours that we sat in the waiting room of the neuro-ICU. Stay with me.

When the paramedics arrived, they tried to intubate my father and they couldn't. Finally, Charlie took the tube from them and he did it. One of the paramedics is my friend and he told me about how unbelievable Charlie had been on that afternoon in the basement. Truly, he had saved my father's life.

A helicopter landed in our neighbors' yard and Dad flew to the roof of Hartford Hospital where he stayed for several days until he was stable enough to transfer to a different hospital that specializes in rehabilitation of brain injuries.

Dad's gift to us that day was living. He lived. He is different now, and we are, too. But, living is an incredible gift.

Enjoy your gifts and please be careful on stairs. We are.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

#Slice 2013: 21 of 31- The Gift of Honoring a Kid's Passion



During the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this serious of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over to tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com, which is where I began the series.


The Gift of Honoring a Kid's Passion


I have many more memories of my father and his gifts throughout the years before my two ending posts about him. I will warn you now, these last two posts are sad because what happened to him was really, really sad. So, this is the last of the easy to read and fun to write posts. Who knows? I may change some--all of the feedback has been tremendously helpful in that I think some of them have exactly the impact that I meant and with some, I feel like I missed the mark. This last one has more to do with my brother and my father than with me, but I think that it is an important one in showing what sort of a person my dad is (I wonder about using is here and not was) and what sort of a parent he has inspired me to be.

We moved around a lot when I was a child and I think that my youngest brother and I had an easier time with that than my middle brother did. One of the reasons that it was easier for Charlie and me to deal with moving was that we played team sports and therefore, fit right into a group of friends. My brother John preferred individual sports. When we were growing up in the mid seventies/early eighties, fly-fishing had not really taken off as a sport. Brad Pitt didn't catch trout on the big screen until 1992 when A River Runs Through It inspired many people to learn to cast. However, John loved to fish. My father wasn't much of a fisherman--he had played football and rowed crew--but he learned to fish in order to support my brother. As a ten year-old, John was the youngest student that Lee Wulff accepted at his famous Wulff School of Fly Fishing in upstate New York and I remember the two of them carving out hours to spend catching and releasing fish.

My father was never a particularly good fly-fisherman. There are many more stories about him falling into the water than about him catching the perfect fish. One time, his waders filled up with water and John had to pull him out of the river. Another time, he fell off the bow of the boat into Block Island Sound and spent the rest of his fishing day with his buddies huddled in a blanket. Just recently, he plummeted into the pond at the trout club where he now goes to scratch his fishing itch. But he loves it and he loved the time he spent with my brother.

And here's the really happy ending to the stories about John and my dad's fishing adventures and my dad's acceptance of John's individual passion. John worked for Orvis when he was getting his Master's in Urban Planning at NYU. He was a pretty coveted fishing guide since he knew the Beaverkill really well; top executives wanted John to take them fishing. Guess what? One of them wanted John to work for him, as well. One of them headhunted John away from Orvis when John was working as their head guide, taking people all over the world fishing, and he has been working for the new company ever since--not as a fisherman, but as a trader who makes enough money to take himself and his boys anywhere in the world that he wants to fish.

I have tried to inspire, nurture, celebrate and honor my daughters' passions the way my father did for all of us. What incredible gifts.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#Slice 2013: 20 of 31- The Gift of Balance


During the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over to tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com, which is where I began the series.


The Gift of Balance


I definitely looked forward to my parents' visits when I was in college. My mom would take me to the grocery store and stock up my refrigerator. She helped me with the laundry and we all went for walks around the campus. When they came, I explored campus corners that I might not have gone to otherwise, since college students don't appreciate the surroundings as much as they should. My parents would take me and usually a friend or sometimes a few friends out to dinner and then, if my dad, had his way, we would go out.

My dad still loves to talk about his college days and he still loves to tip back his glass. He has a few stories that we hear frequently about his years on campus so it should come as no surprise that he loved the whole college scene and was thrilled to re-live some of it, even just for short periods of time. The partying life was an important part. Almost always, he'd outlast my mother.

"How about if we drop your mom off," he'd say. "I think I have a little longer in me."

 I'd take the keys.

Then the fun started. Dad had been a smoker when I was a young child and had quit his two pack a day habit cold turkey when I was around ten. At a crowded house party, I was apt to find him on the porch smoking and guffawing with some of my friends.

"Dad, what are you doing?" I remember saying. 

Looking like a cat with a yellow feather in his mouth instead of a middle aged man with a Marlboro, he'd stuff the cigarette into an almost empty cup of beer. "I'm just having a good time," was his quick response. "Randy here was telling me about his plans for medical school." 

My friends would laugh and high five him. They caught on quickly that he was a lot of fun to have around. He taught them how to roll a quarter off their noses and bounce it into a beer cup and he did his best to keep up with beer pong and thumper. I don't think they played those games much when he was in college, based on his skill levels.

"You have a cool dad," my friends would say both in front of him and after he got tired and I drove him home. I don't remember that he was known as the "cool dad" when I was in high school; I think that he worked really hard and work wasn't available to him when he was on my college campus. Also, he respected rules and we weren't legal to drink when we were in high school. I'd guess that our 21st birthdays were pretty liberating for my dad, as well as for us.

My father knew how to work hard, play hard, and set a high bar. While he was that dad at night when he visited, in the morning, he wanted to know about classes. He definitely preferred hearing about organic chemistry and my fruit fly crosses in genetics, but he also wanted to know about my education seminars. He wanted to know that I was working hard,  keeping up my grades, and enjoying what I was doing. Right up until I signed my first teaching contract, I think he held on to the hope that I'd follow his footsteps into medicine, but he appreciated my love for education and his goal was to set us on pathways toward happiness and success, hard work and fun.

He did.

Enjoy your gifts,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#Slice 2013: 19 of 31- The Gift of Letting Me Live


During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over totworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com, which is where I began the series a few days ago.


I'm sure that when we think back to our childhoods, most of us can remember the times when our parents were really angry, especially if they didn't get angry often. I remember avoiding my father's hand when he groped around for a body in the back seat while he was driving since sometimes my brothers and I couldn't stop fighting. (One time, my brother was breathing on me and I punched him.) However, the maddest I ever saw my dad was when I was in sixth grade. In hindsight, I'm surprised he wasn't madder.

Cally White and I had been expecting a ride home from the local soccer field and the ride didn't come. We had been at practice and Tunxis Meade was almost four miles from my house so we were tired and only getting tireder as we walked home. After about two miles, Cally and I started daring each other to stick out our thumbs at passing cars. Really, we lived in a small town, so we were thinking that someone we knew would drive by, recognize us, and realize that walking home was not on our agenda. No one stopped. We kept walking and finally made it to my road.

"Try again," Cally said. "Here comes a car."

Just less than a mile from my house, I stuck out my thumb and a brown sedan slowed down and stopped a couple of hundred feet in front of us.

I'm sure that our eyes were wide and we really didn't know what to do. We had not expected anyone to stop and we were completely stunned that the car was unfamiliar.

"C'mon," Cally said. (Or maybe it was me...in hindsight, it's easier to blame her!) "We were hitching. We have to take the ride."

Together, we approached the waiting car and opened the back door. The man looked nice enough. If he wanted to take us far away and cut us into small pieces, wouldn't he have looked mean? Cally climbed in first and I got in behind her. I closed the door.

"You girls hitch-hiking?" he asked.

We nodded. He wanted to know where we had been and why we didn't have a ride home. Then, he dropped the bomb.

"You two are lucky," he said. "I'm actually an undercover policeman."

Oh dear.

He drove us down the driveway, parked his car, and then walked across our backyard to where my father was working. He flashed his badge at my father as he introduced himself. Yes, flashed his badge, then went on to lecture my dad about leaving his kid at the soccer field across town and not teaching her about the dangers of hitch hiking.

I think on that day, my father's gift was allowing me to survive. I was grounded for a while--I don't remember how long but probably not long enough-- and Cally and I had a great story once we got over the embarrassment of it. Tonight, when I reminded my dad of that day, he didn't remember, but he definitely laughed. Good he let me live.

Enjoy your gifts,



Monday, March 18, 2013

#Slice 2013: 18 of 31- The Gift of Gold



During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over to tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com, which is where I began the series a few days ago.


The Gift of Gold


One of the hardest rites of passage that sometimes we have to do is taking away our parent's car. For a few years after his accident, my father seemed okay to drive and we let him. But, then he had an accident pulling out of a parking place. Maybe he had turned his head to check for traffic and didn't see the oncoming car because of his crushed optic nerve from the fall. Thank goodness no one was hurt. Soon after, he got lost on the way to a concert at my daughter's school, the same school I had gone to as a child--only three miles from our house.

Losing his freedom was hard for my dad and he tried hard to find ways to resurrect a car for himself. I think that the years when he couldn't drive but still knew a holiday was coming were the hardest for him because he loved to surprise people with gifts. Dad was always resourceful, even as he struggled with memory so none of us should have been surprised when he found a way to surprise us at Christmas time.

I was in the kitchen when the UPS man showed up. We all had been doing some virtual shopping so he was a pretty common visitor at our house. Today, he had a small, heavy box.

"What do you have, there, Tom," I asked. (Is it worrisome that I am on a first name basis with the UPS man?)

"Not sure," he answered. "It's for John Cavo, though. I need a signature."

"My father?" I'm sure that my voice didn't mask my surprise.

Tom looked at the label and nodded. I didn't know that my father had any idea of how to shop on-line. He used the computer for solitaire and that was about it, but Dad had always loved Christmas and giving. Could he have conspired with my husband, perhaps, to order something? Maybe Garth forgot to let me know.

Tom handed me the package and I looked at the label. The return address was from Sunkist. Had Dad ordered oranges? I looked at the box again. It was the size of a half a brick and weighed a lot. An orange would not fit in the box. As I looked at the label more closely, I realized that the small print said 14 carat. What? Something about this worried me. My mother and I had been discussing how to manage my father's credit card since he had been suggesting that he was going to buy himself a new car. I thought that maybe a credit limit would make sense. My mother was struggling with taking away more of his power and independence. I didn't blame her.

"Tom," I asked, as he handed me his clipboard to sign. "Can we return this to the sender?"

He shrugged. "Don't see why not." He looked at the box. "Actually, I think that it has to be sent by the purchaser."

My parents were not home so Tom left the box and I waited until they returned. When they came in, I took my dad aside. At first, he did not seem to know what I was talking about. Had he ordered gold, I wanted to know.  Finally, he seemed to remember.

"I think I ordered your mother a present," he said.

"What did you order, Dad?" I asked. "Could it have been gold?"

"That's it," he said. "I got her some gold."

I nodded and I am sure that at that moment, I really didn't know what to do. A box of gold did not seem like the present that my mother would want on Christmas morning, but I understood my dad wanting to get something and I had to appreciate the guy's resourcefulness. He had seen an ad in the paper for gold and had ordered some. He couldn't remember where the ad had been or what the name of the company was. He had just liked it as an idea and had called them up. The person on the receiving end had been happy to process his order and his credit card number, I'm sure.

As it turned out, I helped my dad return the gold, after talking to my mom about it. Then, I took him shopping and helped him pick out a present for her. I don't think that he has initiated buying a present since and the price of gold has skyrocketed.

Who knew that a block of gold could have had sentimental as well as monetary value?

We should have kept it.



Enjoy your gifts,


Sunday, March 17, 2013

#Slice 2013:17 of 31- Okee from Pichokee


During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Today, I am starting a new blog inspire by the fact that I've been trying to do more creative writing This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

Okee From Pichokee


When we were growing up, occasionally, we had a strange visitor knock on our front door. Okee from Pichokee was one of our favorite guests. We never knew when he would show up but as I remember now, he only visited when we had friends. I guess he was a pretty social guy.

Okee wore a bathrobe and always some kind of hat. Usually, he wore a cowboy hat although he showed up in a sombrero once and a couple of times, he wore a Saint Louis Cardinals baseball hat. My father was a big Cardinals fan so we liked that Okee wore that baseball hat. Okee always wore dark glasses that he kept on throughout his stay and sandals that revealed hairy toes. His toes were shaped like my dad's, with the same bumps and crooks.

Okee carried a guitar and he would enter the family room and help himself to a comfortable chair. Then, the entertainment would start. While I don't think that Okee was much of a guitarist, he could get the whole room singing. American Pie was one of his favorites since he had spent time in St. Louis and he loved the part about the levee. If one of our guest didn't know the words, he would pull a printed copy out of his bathrobe pocket. The writing looked like my dad's writing when he was trying to write neatly. (He usually didn't.) He also loved singing Country Roads, an old John Denver favorite, and a random Christmas carol or two. (It didn't matter what time of year it was to Okee.) Okee also told us stories. One of the favorites was about how he had wrestled a crocodile in the Mississippi River and won, then had given the crocodile skin to the Plymouth car dealer who had sold my father his Gold Duster. (The roof of my father's car had a scale like texture that fascinated all of us.)

Okee stayed until he was out of songs and stories and until we all asked him too many questions. Then, he would ask my mother for a glass of milk and a pickle and leave out the front door. He never, ever used the mudroom door that we always used, coming or going.

My father never got to meet Okee. Inevitably, he would come downstairs or arrive home moments after Okee's departure. Part of the routine involved debriefing Dad about the visit--what we sang, the stories we heard, whether Okee had asked for something other than a pickle. Our friends always went along with the routine and then shared the experiences with other friends. Everyone wanted to be at the house to experience an Okee from Pichokee visit.

Maybe Okee is still around today, wearing a different bathrobe and singing different songs, although he has been missing in our lives for many years. He is a great provider of the gift of humor, laughter, and imagination. And, if Okee ever knocks on your front door, I highly recommend letting him in!