Tag Archives: family

An open letter to my dad on his Birthday

Dear Dad,

It’s weird to call you that, for so many years we called you grandpa for the kids, and before that, I would introduce you as my father but generally always called you Chuck. Now that you’re gone and to save a lot of time explaining things I just call you my dad.

Anyway, Happy Birthday! Today you would have been 80 years old – twice my age this year, I’m not sure if that’s a big milestone or not in the scheme of life but it’s one that’s always interesting to me, it’s this little reminder of how old you were when I was born and a small comparison of where someone is in their life vs. where you were in your own life at that time. But I’m getting off topic.

I miss you! Everyday! I thought I wouldn’t so badly after a few years, but really every day still. It’s not the gaping emptiness anymore at least, I’ve moved into a dull ache from time to time and a nostalgic twinge most days. I hear your all consuming laugh when I find something horrible (and usually off color) amusing, and your quite “hey, babe” when I would call the house. And it’s not just all the big things that you’ve missed, but all the small things I want to share with you. I started planting the garden the other day and realized I wanted to put in pear tomatoes and immediately thought about you. How else would I have known about them? We just sent Francesca off to her Junior Prom and took pictures in front of your house, and I thought about you. Lenten services stared at church and soup supper and I thought about you. How is it after so many years of you being gone I still find you so close to me in every small aspect of my life?

Mom mentioned you the other day while we were getting a pedicure, she’s up at Maria’s today and wanted to make sure she marked the occasion with her. I told her to try not to make a big deal about it, of course, we both know she’s not going to listen. She was waxing on about your 80th and that it was a big deal, it was about then that I realized we’ve sainted you in some ways. We’ve rewritten history and your personality to fit into our ideas of the way you should have been and felt about things. You hated your birthday! I don’t know if you hated getting older of just the idea of a birthday to begin with but started a few weeks before your big day you would grump and fuss and make life hell for the people around you until after it passed. I think about everyone coming over to the house for pictures before Frannie’s prom and you would have hated that too, all the fuss, all the people at your house that you didn’t know, all the noise and they walking on your lawn and screwing up the parking in the street. It would have driven you crazy! And even though I know deep in my gut had you been there you would have stressed mom and I out to no end. I still missed and wanted you there.

I want to walk into the house for dinner tonight, because Friday nights were for family dinners, and bring you cheese and beer to snack on while you’re cooking dinner. I want to sit on that stool and tell you about the crappy day I had at work, the new book I’m reading or hear a story about something you did this week that was of interest to you. I want to sit down at the table for dinner with our family and eat a steak that’s just a little too rare for me, adding salt and believing it will cure the meat just enough to kill remaining bacteria. I want to hear the fighting from the kids at each other while they vie for your attention to tell you all about their days, I want the most mundane boring meal anyone’s every imagined just once more because I really don’t remember the last one we had. I have snippets in my head of different moments but I cannot for the life of me remember when we all sat together and shared a meal and talked. I’m sure had I know it would be the last time we spoke like that I would have tried to remember it more clearly.

Don’t get me wrong, life did continue for us, the kids got older, our hearts healed, dogs were rescued, jobs were lost, people got married, and split up, babies were born. I have lived an excellent life since you died, some because of you, some in spite of you, but I did still live. Sabrina graduated from high school, she got a job and moved out. She’s loved and been loved, and she’s had her heart broken more times than I’d like to count. She continues to amaze me in ways I didn’t know possible. Francesca has grown up, school and sports and boys now run her life, she moved in with mom this last year just to keep her company and to start growing on her own away from her parents. Mom? Well, mom is living, we’ve had our ups and downs, as the years progress more ups than downs. We’ve all had to learn to live our lives differently but eerily still the same – if that makes any sense. It’s a little like faking it until you make it, and then realizing you’re there.

So tonight when I get off of work, I’m going to pick up some good stinky cheese, open a bottle of wine, cook up a nice medium rare steak (the way I like it) and toast to you and the bottle of beer you left the last time you were over. Yes, its still sitting on my kitchen shelf and yes I still talk to it like it’s you when I cook. And that will be it! No pomp and circumstance, no major fuss, just some good food, some good drink and hopefully some good conversation with the hubby, just the way you would have liked it.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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The Year of Sarah

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet but I have a big Birthday coming up this year.  Like Huge!  One that makes you take stock of your life, and maybe think about adjusting your course a bit to start the 2nd half of your life on a better track. Yes dear friends, I am turning 40, and as we creep closer to the day – July to be exact, I am getting more and more excited to start this 2nd chapter of my life.  To celebrate this awesome event, I have decided that I need more than just a day, really more than a few days.  I really feel that I need to celebrate through the entire year, and perhaps beyond.

Why you might ask?  Well let me tell you…… I have spent the last 5 or 6 years in a real funk, I’ve struggled with the loss of my father, my body image, my girls growing up and not needing me in the same way, a dead end job that doesn’t stimulate me, but pays better than I’ll find elsewhere (for now), aging.  I’ve worried about how I’m perceived, how I’m treated, how others make me feel.  Basically I’ve spent all of this time worrying about outside forces that have no real bearing on my life or what should be making me happy and me.

A few months back an interesting thing happened, I was running into the office, late, I’m dragging my purse, my lunch box, my “work related bag”, an umbrella and a heavy coat.  I can barely stand upright and now I have to figure out how to get the first of 3 doors open to get to my cube.  I struggle to swing the first one open as far as I can and rush through before it closes in on me like a vice.  As I’m pulling my badge out to open the second door, I hear a voice right behind me say to another nebulous figure “I hate it when people can’t hold the door open for you, how rude is that?” And I quickly realized she was talking about me.  I was stunned, I was weighed down by everything I was carrying, I could barely get the door open in the first place and she was concerned that I hadn’t been courteous to her?  Me? The person that you see getting stuck holding the door for the one old lady somewhere, only to keep having to hold the door for the sudden line of people that decide to leave at the same time.  Me, the one that will rush to help someone regularly and smile all the time, brushing off any thank yous and not worying when I don’t get one.  Me! Really?  And for the first time in a very long time, I decided I was done.  I turned to her, looked her dead in the eye, and asked her if she thought I had my hands free enough to keep the door open for her, and for that matter if she was so close behind me why didn’t she offer to help? Her friend snickered – I don’t think either expected me to say anything, the woman just stared at me for a brief moment, muttered Bitch under her breath and badged past me into the building.  Stunned as I was at the experience, the first thing I thought about when I got to my desk, was why didn’t you just open the door a little wider?

And isn’t that the way we’re all programmed to be?  I felt bad because I didn’t do more.  Weighted down with my own crap, literal and metaphorical I was adding guilt onto myself because it still wasn’t enough.  So I stewed on it for a few days, and then said screw it!  I need to start thinking about me, but how?

I stared by digging into my self help library (I have a thing for books and ever more so if they’re of the self help, cooking, or of the craft variety).  I began pulling inspiration from the people I follow on Instagram and Snapchat, and lastly I started thinking if I could try a few new things, or do something I loved again, small things, and just a few a month for the next year, what would they be? Digging a little deeper, if I could do anything I wanted what would that be? Slowly but surely I developed a plan, on how to get back on track with my life, and then took it even further and added in a few things each month I wanted to do, just for me.   So what does that look like in my life?

I stared a morning routine again, I had done one previously, but gotten out of the habit  probably about the time I hit critical mass with my undiagnosed Sleep Apnea. Now that I have that relatively under control, I feel I can do more with a little less (as long as its quality) sleep. I read the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – its a little campy for me, and every few pages does try to push you out to his website to buy, join, or subscribe, but the basics are solid and very similar to things I had done at different times of my life.  Things that when I do them regularly make me feel better and get me really revved up for my day.

I took some of the smaller things from my list, things that were easy or short in duration, and worked on making them happen.  Like making sure I’m spending time with those I love and that make me feel good to be around – I scheduled dinner dates with our two favorite couple friends.  I found fun things that happen over the month and made them into a dinner party.  January was a 12th night and Epiphany dinner.  Next month aside from the obvious (Valentines Day) I have plans for National Drink Wine Day (2/18) – Groundhog Day (2/2) Pizza day (2/9) and a few others. I have some big ideas too, like Take a Cruise, visit Disney Paris, write a book, run a Disney 10k, things that I might not accomplish in 2017, but I’m really going to work toward making them happen, and just maybe I’ll surprise myself.

Lastly, as I was reminding everyone about my big 40th birthday this year, my grandpa reminded me he would be 85, and my mother will be 65, and my Auntie will be 55 (on Monday – happy Birthday Auntie Paula – I love you).  Steve’s best Friend Bob will be 35, my Cousin Kevin will be 30, My oldest will be 21 and the youngest is turning 18.  ALL THIS YEAR!  So I thought let’s try to celebrate all of those events as well – make them big and awesome and really live in those moments when they’re happening.

I want to look back on this 40th year of my life and feel like I really did some things, big, small, easy or hard, matters not. Just so long as I when I end this year and I’m reflecting on the things that I’ve done, I’m not disappointed in all the things I didn’t do.

Welcome to the year of Sarah.

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