My youngest daughter, my last baby, has been to me a constant source of wonder and joy. She has beenmy muse, my companion, andmy challenger…and she has always been Daddy’s Girl. I enjoyed photographing this pair together for almost 17 years. Now, as she is sharing her life with a very special woman who never got the chance to meet him, she is eager to have these images to help her show and tell about her dad. My birthday project for Emily is to digitize these photos so that she can keep them close. Of course, it was Jim who bought me the camera the second Christmas we were dating, when I was 17. So this project is from both of us. Happy 25th, my dear!
The longest day of sunshine in the whole year…and it’s Father’s Day. You have hours and hours to spend with your dad today! What will you do?
– go camping, go sailing, have a picnic, play on the beach, go to the zoo, take a walk in the woods, play in the back yard, snuggle on the couch, climb a mountain, go out to dinner, eat ice cream cones on the porch, sing silly songs, read stories, play with his beard, watch the sun set….
Spend time with your Dad. All you can. There will probably come a day when you have no more hours of sun or darkness to spend together in the world. In those days, you may spend time with your photographs and memories of him instead. It’s not a bad time…..but it’s not the same.
Dedicated, with love, to my dad (George) and the father of my four children (Jim). I miss you this long, sunny day.
1984 – It’s my wedding day. The weather is chilly and foggy in Northern California. I am too excited to sleep late. I have a date with my fiance for a morning meeting. He comes to pick me up at my parents’ house. My grandmother is aghast that we are seeing each other before arriving at the church; it’s just not done. But we know what we want. We want to focus on each other, on the meaning the day has for us personally before being caught up in the ritual. We park the car under some oak trees in the foothills. We decide it’s too damp and cold to walk, so we sit in the car and talk. We are calm and happy. He drops me off at the house. The next time I see Jim, he is standing at the altar, grinning. I take his hand. I notice it’s cold and clammy, so unlike the warm bear paw I expect. I smile at him. He’s caught up in excitement. The wedding mass is a long event. We emerge from the church and see sunlight for the first time that day. It doesn’t last long. The reception in the Parish Hall is intimate and bustling. It’s dark when we leave. I get home and change. My mother takes care of the dress. The station wagon is packed with my belongings, gifts, and leftover bottles of champagne. We drive south to Pebble Beach. I’m hungry. I hope the restaurant at the inn is still open by the time we get there. We find we are able to get sandwiches at the bar. We retire to our room. I feel so incredibly grown up; in one day, I’ve suddenly matured. I’m married. I’m 21 years old.
January 7 – this morning
The sun comes in the southeast window, and I begin to stir. As my mind brightens, I remember the day. Steve is sleeping beside me. I pull out the battered photo album from the box in the corner and settle back on the bed. Was it really cloudy that day? I flip through the pages in front of me, my mind turning over more leaves than my fingers. My phone beeps. My daughter is texting me to let me know she’s thinking of me today. Her baby face smiles at me from a photograph. She will be turning 30 in a few weeks. Steve begins to stir. I look at his face as his eyes open. “What are you doing here?” he asks. That’s a good question! “It’s a long story,” I laugh. But that doesn’t really answer the question. I am living. I am aware now of the present moment. As I look around, I see the beauty of this day, this year. The air is cold and dry. The trees outside are bare, the branches dusted with snow. I look down at my left hand. It is lined by swollen veins and wrinkles. There’s a brown spot just there. I have a ring on my index finger with a blue topaz heart set in it. No other rings. My fingers press Steve’s arm. “I am waking up. And you?” “I am Steve-ing.”
The birthday project continues. Yesterday’s was a rather heavy topic. I had to take a nap after writing it! So today, I’m offering Silly Sayings to lighten things up a bit. My mom was an English major in college and has always exhibited a droll, rather British wit. She loves word play and puns and arcane literary allusions. So here’s a list of some of her rather unique utterances. We’ll start with terminology and end up with occasional quips.
1) Zans. This is a kitchen gadget commonly known as a bottle opener, but thanks to Dr. Seuss, my mother refers to it as a Zans. “Have you a Zans for cans? You should!” (from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, of course)
2) Doo-hickey. This is a twist-tie for closing a plastic bag. She saves them in a little dish on top of the oven to re-use.
3) Cupeliar. It’s like peculiar, only more so.
4) Slip-go-down. This is any food that you can eat without making an effort to swallow it. It’s served when you are sick with a very sore throat. An alternative for brand-name gelatin, if you will.
5) Posbiculate. Otherwise known as brain-storming, logistic cogitating, or ‘work-shopping’, if you speak Biznish (that one’s mine; I came up with it when my IT husband would start using computer terms at home). How it’s used: my brother is now engaged, but there is no wedding date set yet. We’re still posbiculating.
From this sampling of terms, we now move into occasions.
6) The one great hour of swearing. This is when my mother feels an urgency to clean house. She swoops down on us in a flurry of instructions, frustrations, and activity making everyone uncomfortable…but only for a short time, because it’s all accomplished quickly and efficiently. Then she can say…
7) “It’s all a merciful blur.” I get this response a lot when I ask her to recall the details of how she managed something painfully emotional and/or difficult. She prefers to remain positive.
8) “I haven’t had this much fun since we nailed the baby to the floor!” Now, calm down. Mom’s not got a sadistic bone in her body. Picture this instead: a baby dressed like Swee’ Pea in a Popeye cartoon with a trailing nightie. Nail the nightie to the floor, and the baby will crawl forever and not get into any mischief. So, now you can!
9) “Enuff zis luff-makink. Let’s eat!” This is how Mom moves a gathering of chit-chatting guests into the dining room to actually sit down and begin the meal before it gets cold. I kid you not, she said this as we were standing around in the courtyard of the columbarium at my father’s memorial service, too. Dutifully, we all burst out laughing and headed in to the Parish Hall to start the reception.
10) “Here’s champagne for our real friends, and real pain for our sham friends!” This toast comes out periodically. She said it over the phone to me on Christmas just a few days ago. Now you’ve heard it just in time for New Year’s Eve, her birthday. I leave it up to you to quote…or not.