Daddy Issues: I Wish my Dad was Macgyver 

My mind is melancholy because I know soon enough it will be your day. I am reminded that another year has passed; another year of not knowing you. I am reminded of all the things we missed. The conversations we never had, the dinners, the milestones, and the fact that we never will. I wonder at times if given the choice you would have changed? Would you have traded it all for an hour of time with me? Would you have made a deal with the devil for just one week? If you had known the outcome from the very start would you have continued down the same path? I have been wondering about these things my whole life.

I can say with all honesty growing up was hard. I spent half my life not being able to relate to my friends and peers because of you. Remember that Christmas play I worked so hard at so that you and mom would be proud? I never saw you there. I watched as my friends would embrace their dads and stings of anguish and sadness would fill me up inside. As young as I was I knew in my heart that those feelings would never be mine. I remember all the dads that came to my swim meets cheering the team on and then I looked over to an empty space. I watched the dads of my friends hug their daughters tight as they cried over some “stupid boy.” I watched the look of elation on my peers faces as we graduated and both parents would exclaim “ your father and I are so proud.”  Would you have been proud dad? I can say I truly don’t know. You were gone too soon for me to ask. You were gone because of your selfish choices. You missed out on many things dad, but I was the one that missed out the most.

So many unanswered questions. Would the knowledge that you will never be there to wipe my tears change your heart? I wonder would you have let me go to Prom? Would you protectively wait for me to come home safe and sound? Would you stand with pride at my ceremonies? Would you hug me tight at my failures? Would you have chosen to give me away at my wedding? Dad would it break you to know that every second of time you wasted broke my heart? Dad did you know I kept the lion you gave me? One of the few gifts you ever bought me and I gave it a hug every night. But, there were no “tuck ins” from you and no bedtime stories. I was left waiting in my room with Lion-heart (thats his name) and the nightlight on hoping you would come back. But, you and I know the truth of the matter. You were not coming home and consequently I would never be the same.

I can say that dating was tough too. It still is actually. They say the first guy a girl loves is her father. I have spent half my time dating the wrong people and then running away from the rest. I was never shown how a girl should be treated. I was never told “ no matter what you are worthy.” You taught me the opposite in fact. I made up how you should be in my mind so many times I have lost count. You will be smart like Angus “Mac” Macgyver, funny like Magnum PI, and loving like the father from Full House. But, a girl shouldn’t have to “make up” her father. It is a cold comfort to create an imaginary parent so you can stomach the truth of reality.    

It has been 21 years without you. I have grown up quite a bit since the girl with the nightlight and stuffed lion. But, there are some things you can never grow out of. Things like wishing just for a moment I had been important to you. Sadly, as it turns out wishing is all you have left me with. So on that same vein I will simply say, “I wish you a Happy Birthday.”   

Advertisements

My Faithful Gardener 

His callous hands that are the product of hard work and diligence dig into the soil. He has just unearthed a giant chunk with his pitchfork and placed it to the side. He delicately frees the wiggling captives from the soil and places them into a bucket. The rocks that he sees go into a neighboring bucket. The rest of the soil is heaved onto a makeshift window frame that has been adorned with mesh wire and placed on a wheelbarrow. He uses the prow to carefully separate the soil and slowly sifts it free and clear of any blemishes. This is a tedious and careful affair but every year he preforms this ceremony.

The garden that blooms every year is one of his hobbies, but more than that it has become a living symbol of the person he is. The leaves he carefully collected during the fall will be placed in the giant hole he has created and then with a toss the worms join in. He will place the fine sifted soil on top and turn it over several times. The garden always yields a variety of fruits and vegetables. There are always two rows of tomatoes, two pepper rows one red and one green, squash, and green and wax beans. The strawberries are always designated a row, the blackberries line the outside of the fence next to the raspberries. The chives are always close to the gate, as a final afterthought for any salad maker.

image

The two apple trees always provide shelter for hot summer days, but the peach, and plum tree are nothing to sneeze at. The two walnut trees in the front yard do yield a good deal of nuts, but the competition with the squirrels is fierce. He has added several rose bushes next to the front yard fence, and the honeysuckle bush has attracted quite a few little visitors over the years.

The garden was always a fascination for any visitor but most especially to me. The garden was a perfect showcase of his talents. He was always dutiful and consistent, two qualities that allowed for his garden to flourish year after year. These qualities were not the only ones he was gifted with. He was always patient, loving, gentle and kind. Anything he found lost or foundling he tried to mend. My mom always said this is how she ended up with their lamb Eddy. Eddy was going to be put down, when my grandpa heard this he decided to adopt the lamb. There were other animals along the way a couple of dogs, a cat, and some bunnies.

It should be no surprise to anyone that he came to mend me. I was only six when my parents got divorced and I was 11 when my father passed. Grandpa had already raised five children he certainly had earned a chance to rest. But, I was a foundling and he saw in me troubles that he thought he could fix. He was careful like always with his first sprouted seeds. Protecting them from the harsh sun and providing them with nutrients and care. He would keep a quiet eye on their progress but never quite left them alone. He was always a constant warmth even on the coldest of days. I miss him always but especially as the spring weather arrives and the flowers start to bloom. I want to thank you Grandpa for being my faithful gardener. I am sure I would not be half the person I am without your loving care. Happy birthday grandpa.

For the Love of Coffee

I love coffee and if your like me a cup of coffee can make or break your day. I love the smell of coffee so naturally if I smell it I instantly perk up. The smell of this wonderful elixir I connect with home, family, and Sunday mornings. I think sensory memory plays a major role for me in my life. I have always connected the smell of coffee with my grandparents. My grandfather and my grandmother both drank coffee, preferably Folders Crystals. I have to say instant coffee has never been my thing. I gave it a valiant go during my various trips to Europe but alas Starbucks became my kindred spirit.

I haven’t met anyone who drinks instant coffee since my grandparents and so the smell struck me as odd one early morning in my apartment. Ironic as it may sound I only own a Keurig and I am ashamed to say I don’t use it much. It was about 3:50 am in the morning when a strong coffee ground smell filtered into my room. I am pretty confident of the time because I had gone into the kitchen to get a glass of water and glanced at the microwave and noticed it was 3:00 am. I returned to bed and finally fell asleep.

The dream that was currently playing was about a family function and someone had mentioned they were going to go make coffee. The logic of a host offering coffee made perfect sense and unlike other dreams I have had the sequence of things seemed natural. The face of the host was a blur but they brought out mugs, sugar, milk, and a coffee pot. I think it was when the coffee was being poured that the overwhelming smell hit my nose. I remember thinking wow this is some strong coffee I’m going to need more sugar when I woke up. The smell filled the room and it was intense. I woke up my boyfriend and he lay there for a minute confused.

I exclaim ” do you smell it??” “the coffee smell?” It took him a minute for him to register the question but finally he responded “yes I do.. That is odd.”

We have lived in this apartment for a year and some change now. The tenants that live in the building with us have been our neighbors for several months and never have I smelt this before. The window was not open and as I said before we do not use our coffee machine.

I lay there astounded and the conviction in my mind was clear. We were experiencing something that can’t be explained. We were being visited by someone.

I remember saying ” someone is here..someone came to see us.” “Who is it?” My boyfriend usually is a skeptic but this experience seemed to intrigue him. ” I think it might be my mom,” he responded. A fellow coffee lover herself, and certainly someone who liked strong coffee. I thought of my grandparents and wondered, could it be one of them? I finally said out loud ” well whomever it is, thank you.”

image

 

That night I slept the best I have slept in a long time. I usually struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep for the whole night. This experience however, was a calming one a sense of warmth filled me. I am not sure if my memory manifested the smell or if we were visited by someone. What I can say is that there is no way we both would have smelt the same thing without it being present in some form. Could we have been visited by someone as a reminder? Was someone in either of our families trying to reach out to us? Maybe to let us know they were watching over us? I can honestly say I am not sure. What I can say is I have experienced things like this before and every time I am left wondering about it. I suppose these types of experiences are up to the individual person to decide. I am content to think that it is a visitor. A friendly family member stopping by for a cup of coffee. ❤️

 

Thankful Memories

Perhaps it is customary at times like these to think of memories. You always carry around the knowledge that people are gone but it is never more evident than the holidays. I spent most of mine at my grandparents house. My grandparents would spend the week before cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving day. My grandmother would fret over not having enough food even though at the end we always had way to much. My grandfather was meticulous about the bird and would continue to get up and peek at it though the window.
I would watch the parade in awe on the TV and wish I was dancing on the floats. I would exclaim about the giant balloons and call my grandmother out of the kitchen to see. I would wait till the very end when Santa appears waving from his sleigh. I would smile and wave at the screen thinking for certain he saw me. These times were magic for me. The smells of food would fill the air. Rolls, turkey, potatoes, gravy, pies and more would enter my senses.

imageMy grandparents, my mom, my uncles, aunts, and cousins would sit down at the large table. I was always so happy to sit down with my family at the grown up table. I would eat my first plate super fast and then reach for more bread and munch on it while my family discussed politics, school, holidays, memories etc. I never much participated in this particular part but I always enjoyed listening to their voices. Grandpa would always finish eating last and we would all wait for him to be done. He would then help clear the table and we would all help washing and drying the dishes together.  image

Then we would all put coats on and walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes we would go down to the pond and feed the ducks, other times we would just stroll about looking at houses. When the walk was complete, we would go into the house and warm ourselves with coffee, teas, and deserts. It is these small moments that I miss the most. Over time the table became more vacant, the chairs left without a companion. Thanksgiving started to become a thing we did in restaurants. My grandparents house was sold and they both passed. We stopped cooking meals and started eating out. The things I loved so much about the holidays seemed to fade and pass too. There was no anticipation, no walks, no real conversation. We ordered ate and left, and it became just like any other day.

Today however, I am happy to say I am spending Thanksgiving eating with family. I ate French toast and watched the parade. I watched in awe at the floats, the balloons and the bands. I waited till the last and waved at Santa and as I started to smell the food cooking I was transported. Transported to a time and place that had been almost forgotten. I am thankful for my memories of the past because they have always carried me through. But, today I am thankful for the new ones I will have because those will be all the sweeter.❤️

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Trip to the Fair

Big E The GPS announced in three miles we would reach our destination and I was overwhelmed with excitement. The car crawled in a procession past large signs proclaiming “Big E” and arrows pointing straight ahead. The day had finally arrived, I was going to the Big E. The Big E or the Eastern States Exposition is one of the largest fairs held today and its history goes all the way back to the early 1900’s. It boasts a wide variety of food, culture, tourism, animals, crafts, history, and much more. Joshua L. Brooks the founder of the exposition started it as a place to educate farmers in new methods of farming. His hope was that this exposition would encourage an interest in farming and thus revive New England’s dwindling agriculture.
Brooks wanted to incorporate all six of the surrounding New England states and had a building built for each of the following: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The collection of state buildings make up what is known as the Avenue of States. Inside each of these buildings it houses crafters, vendors, and tourist information from their respective state. The fair along the way gained more culture by adding nine original historic buildings. Helen Osborn Storrow an exposition trustee and philanthropist decided to search the six surrounding New England states to find original historic buildings. Her vision was to add to the history and culture of the exposition, and thus has helped further the “living history” programs that go on today. The buildings are available for touring and have costumed guides that allow you further understanding about life from 1700s and 1800 era.

As I walked up to the iron gates that surround the grounds the smells and sounds of the fair illuminated me. I could see the bright flashing signs announcing delicious treats, I could hear the clomping of hooves on pavement and I could feel myself turn into a child again. I grabbed a map from the booth and I scoured the many options. I decided I should walk towards the Avenue of States first and then work my way back. I passed dozens of crafters tables located in barns and little cabins along the walk. I passed dozens of fair food trucks, Belgian waffles, stuffed baked potatoes, BBQ, popcorn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, fried dough and more. When I reached the first building a line had grown outside but we quickly moved in and I could smell the blueberry pies cooking. I had reached the Maine building first. Blueberry pies, seafood chowders and other delights were being offered about the room. After each turn there were more crafts, sweaters, flannel, leather products, and jewelry. It was fascinating to see the many types of products in each building. Vermont had a Ben and Jerry ice cream stand. Rhode Island had local foods like a giant whoopee pie. Connecticut had a Lego station and Dino exhibit inside where most of the children were found. New Hampshire had real maple syrup for sale among artisan cheeses, breads, and beer. The Massachusetts building had apples for sale in bags from local orchards, pies, and cakes. The entire process took about an hour and a half to walk through and with each turn it was hard to resist the kind people leaning over to hand me samples.

I had heard about the spectacular shows the Big E puts on and when I noticed a free circus was going on, I knew I had to go. As I headed to the big top I noticed a small sign: Clyde Reynolds & Brooke Evans “Circus in Miniature.” imageMy curious nature got the better of me and as I stepped inside I was glad this time it had. Surrounding the room were miniature detailed displays of circus scenes. The first display had a wagon parade with several horses frozen in march pulling a circus wagon. A plaque above showed the proud Reynolds positioning his creation. The circus wagon and horses were crafted and painted by Reynolds using pictures and drawings. The remaining buildings, people, and animals were hand crafted and painted by Brooke Evans. The detail captured by both these men add to its enchantment. Miniature men taming lions in cages, circus trains with animals peeking out from the inside, rows of animals marching with bright painted designs. Mini Circcus  There wasn’t a detail missed in any of the scenes. The little boy holding his balloon and even the grumpy teen waiting at a booth was added to the diorama. Miniature people serving breakfast in tents, and people sitting in the stands under a miniature big top. I left the exhibit excited to watch a real live circus.

While I sat on the bleachers under the large tent I was reminded of seeing the circus when I was a child. Men and women yelling “Popcorn, soda, cotton candy here” surrounded me and as the men set up the high wire I felt a hush go over the crowd. The circus had high wire acts of men and women doing daring tricks with bikes, flips, jumps, and more. There were trained Doberman dogs that came out on a bike in a sidecar. circusProbably one of my favorite acts was the four women balancing bowls on their heads while riding unicycles. They lined up in a row and one at a time, they would ride the bike with one foot while placing a bowl on the available foot. Then they flipped the bowl up in the air and it would land perfect on the woman’s head next to them. Chinese dancers in two giant gold and red dog costumes. A funny clown act that even made the announcer laugh in spite of himself. A juggler who juggled seven tennis balls so fast while doing flips and jumps they seemed to form one large ball. An areal silk dancer balancing with just his strength alone did flips and spirals while using two long columns of fabric to hold him up. The last act involved a pair of acrobats spinning on an elevated trapeze. As they glided through the air they did splits and balancing acts. I was so impressed by the show that I couldn’t believe it was over.

I was famished and as I ate my big baked potato with veggies piled on top I walked over to where the barns were. I observed large paddocks with beautiful clydesdales, llamas, pigs, goats and rabbits. I gasped at the giant pumpkin contest and was in awe of the carving winner. I walked through the many rows of crafters looking at the homespun detail on many of their products. I managed to make my way over to the amusement part of the fair and gazed up at the large shadow of a ferris wheel. As afraid as I was of ferris wheels I knew this was an experience not to be missed. Armed with my camera in hand I took several shots of the park. When I finally was able to get off the ride I laughed at myself, all that fear for nothing. I decided to make my way over to where the historic buildings were. History was more my thing anyway. image
The buildings were amazing from the outside and even more so from the inside. The guides clothed in costumes were adept at commanding your attention. The little school house had a school teacher who enjoyed elating us with its history. It was lucky enough to have a covered stove and not an open fireplace and an indoor necessary or bathroom. The walls were covered in chalk boards and she explained that the small room had ages from four all the way to eighteen. The Captains house across the way was brought to the exposition property piece by piece and was not replicated in any way. They had a blacksmith, and a regular farm house to tour, a quiet little church and others. I liked the historical aspect immensely, it helped me appreciate all the innovations we have had along the way.
The end of the day was closing in and even though I was sad it was over I was happy to have had the experience. I finally understood why the fair was so popular and why people flock to it time and time again. I stood for a few minutes and admired the marching band playing various songs with majorettes. The band began to file out while still playing the drums and as it left I took that as my cue to head out too. I took one last look at the signs and one last smell of the food and smiled. Until next year Big E, I will definitely be seeing you again.♥

The historical information about the Big E was found on the website. If you would like to do some research of your own about it for a potential trip the website is great. http://www.thebige.com/ese/about/history/

http://www.thebige.com/things-to-do/educational/

Family Ties

 image   Next Monday is my fathers birthday. Normally this information evokes a positive verbal or emotional response for me however, it brings about a barrage of confusing and conflicted emotions. In addition to my already stated condition the knowledge of my father’s birthday was only recently learned by me. But, before I go further into my revelation let me start where all things do, at the beginning. I am the only child of a school teacher and a laborer. My parents relationship was never perfect, but it had for the most part been civil. When my parents marriage began to sour, everything started to spoil. The fights between them were on going and endless and I felt trapped in between with no one to talk to. By the time I was in first grade I knew my parents marriage was over. The divorce that soon followed granted my mother full custody and my father was allowed visitation. Throughout my life I have learned many things about people. Some of the things that unite us are the very same that can divide us. The human condition is one example. It consists of many facets, one in particular is everyone has internal angels and demons. For my mother and I it would be my fathers demons that came to haunt us.

             The endless debts he had racked up from charging his hidden addictions caused us to collect cans on the side of the road to buy groceries. My father refused to attend his court dates and remained unemployed, the lack of additional income meant sacrifices had to be made. The majority of my childhood I lived without cable because my mother could not afford it. Cable she said ” was a luxury item not a necessity,” and at the time I remember hating her for it. Christmas and birthdays were some of the worst times for my mother. When the endless bills arrived in the mail she would sit at the kitchen table and cry. The constant angry phone calls and the violative messages he left on the voicemail were the subject of my nightmares. The final straw consisted of him showing up at my mother’s school and threatening to hurt her and kidnap me in front of co-workers. These incidents brought his visitation and communication to an abrupt end. The resolution was a restraining order and although my mother had promised this would keep us safe I still lived in fear. I had grown to fear and hate my father with enough ferocity that at times it swallowed me whole. I was angry for not only what he had put me through but watching my mother suffer put a pit in my stomach that tightened with time.

Continue reading