Tag Archives: Dad


I awakened to the first anniversary of his death. He taught me everything and he will be missed forever. Dee

ps Thank you Thailand and Vietnam, for reading.


Hello UK, Romania, Hong Kong and Belgium. Beware that if your husband says “I don’t know what kind of jewelry you like so I stopped at the airport gift shop and got you a refrigerator magnet.” “Thank you, dear.”

Yes, we got a “new” frig yesterday and the gents who installed it were amazed by my array of magnets. Hong Kong, Bangalore, many places in the US. Hey, it saves me from wearing jewelry and paying for it.

I wear several things. First, my wedding ring and a Claddagh ring on the corresponding finger that designates love, friendship and loyalty. I also wear a leather choker (longer than that) with a carved wooden guitar pick etched with Celtic eternity. I wear it every day for Dad who died a year ago right now, he was an educator but grew up as a musician.

Husband got me two magnet bracelets for my arthritis over the years. They are on all the time. Dad got me a Turkish evil eye bracelet for luck. I’m up now because he died exactly one year ago, today.

I miss him so much. Dee



Yes, I’m a die-hard one. Occasionally I turn cynical or negative if someone is acting badly toward my family. I see it as being pragmatic, seeing the other side of the coin and doing what is necessary to fix the issue. My mother-in-law calls herself “Mama Bear” and I am as vigilant with her son and our dog. I just got a dog removed from the neighborhood because he viciously bit me with no provocation whatsoever. Luckily our old dog was not with me as she may have been killed and it was so quick I do not know that I could have saved her in time though I would have fought to do so and taken that dog to Animal Control myself.

An optimist, I’ve been trying to get the owner to train that dog for years, to no avail. The dog was with an 18 year-old dog sitter, on her first day of work, and the owner never told her his dog wanted to bite any dog and everyone he encountered. Pragmatism, I finally filed a report with photos of my bloody arm. Enough is enough.

Years ago my husband would have said I was too emotional, I said he was too scientific and methodical. We were both right. Now I can look at a business or personal situation, figure out what is going on and reasons for said behavior and recommend a way to fix it.

He’s always been more into math and physics than people. I’m soc/sci/art so am more of a people person. We’ve kind of morphed as we’ve been together over 16 years.

Today I missed Thanksgiving with his family. I didn’t even cook here. The dog has plenty of food and after lying by the front door for a while awaiting his return yesterday she went back to her routine. I believe she knows that he is coming home. What freaked her out was seeing him with luggage. She hates anyone in her “pack” to leave but is used to this. She is an eternal optimist.

Now we get to Dad. When I returned from his funeral and burial a year ago I entered and found a home filled with flowers and one evergreen tree that has to be grown indoors in our weather. A year later, it is leaning to the left. I decorated it, starting said tree given to me by the women in my husband’s family, adorned by a silver star with his name and dates of birth and death. Of course husband said place all the heavier ornaments on the right, and he was correct! It’s almost straight and no longer a precious “Charlie Brown Tree.”

This year I decorated it with old ornaments, mainly ones I’ve collected for me and my husband over the years depending upon where we were living at the time, a tradition my parents started in my childhood. Atop is the silver star. My mother-in-law saw our stockings one year (they’re never filled, just decorations) and gave me another. She said our dog Zoe was family, too. So last year’s ornaments were hand-knitted finger puppets. He’s the cow (he grew up on a dairy), I’m a horse and Zoe, of course, is the dog.

Dad used to play ball with everyone in the neighborhood. He mentored a genius from across the street. I believe we both believed in people until they demonstrated that they could not be trusted.

There was always an infectious (in a good way) spirit in him that lit up a room or a street for touch football. When I was away at college he bought a small sailboat, 17′ day sailer. He had appointments/performances from dawn to dusk, got home for an hour for dinner and had to go see the ballet (or symphony or opera) and my day was just as long as at the end I handed him de-thorned roses backstage to hand to the prima ballerina. Then many evenings my parents would have to entertain donors and divas after the performance.

When he got us to go out on the boat to relax for a half-hour the wind had died down for the evening on the lake and he’d man the tiller, brother was on jib and mainsail and I was there to let the centerboard down in case we needed it for stability. He said “watch out, we’re going to go like heck any minute!!!” We never did. It was a chore to get back to the dock, but he got to relax and as an executive see something done in an hour, rather than weeks, months or years. I understand that now.

That boat escaped in storms and was returned by real sailors because they all knew to whom it belonged. It had a hole in the bottom and sank at the dock a few times. I understand that is was a respite from mayhem and a place to put one’s brain back in gear and generate great ideas. He kept it despite its faults.

I highly respect the lessons he taught me about being who you want to be, fairness, equality, humor, kindness and love.

He resuscitated moribund educational and arts institutions and also created new ones. I haven’t come quite that far but have my own share of great ideas, have been a consultant and as his eldest child whether it’s nature or nurture it doesn’t matter to me. In my retirement I still bug people to get things done. Thanks, Dad!

Cheers and hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and are taking a nice long nap. Dee


Holidays and Family

I was read by Finland the other day, France yesterday. My husband is correct in that I cannot sit all day on a plane, all night on a train or spend hours in a rental car and cook and for days spend Thanksgiving day with his family given my current condition. I tripped on the pavement outside my favorite grocery store 2.5 weeks ago and still have sore spots and much bruising. Walking and swelling are issues.

There is more paperwork to do and not much time in which to do it. Last night, however, I wanted to do something I always did as a little kid. I hung and decorated a wreath for our front door, and also an evergreen (indoor) tree given by the women in my husband’s family to commemorate my father’s life. At the top is a silver star (no, not military, he left a sergeant in the mid-fifties) but it includes his name and year of birth, and death which was December 1 last year. I’ve yet to visit his grave in another locale but am planning it.

I wanted something old-school and my husband took it away from me to finish it. Cranberries and popcorn. The needle kept breaking the popcorn but he got the hang of something I learned at age four and now am inept. We just placed a 4′ swath along Dad’s tree.

We hung two jingle bell wreaths indoors, one gold, one red and white. Those only involved one of those sticky things that comes right off with no nails.

I mentioned paperwork to be done before morning arrives. The reason we decorated for the holidays is because my husband feels guilty for my being alone for Thanksgiving. I’m not alone, I’ve old dog Zoe and a lot of neighbors.  Know how Welsh Rarebit/Rabbit has no meat? I’m making a chickducken with no duck. Let’s call it a pigchicken. Just a piece of prosciutto and a bit of grated Fontina from the Val d’Aosta, chicken pounded and rolled up with sage, teensy but of salt, and pepper. My husband usually leaves us all week, every week. He just minds us being alone when we could be with his family. If I am to be alone with my feet up on a sofa or bed all weekend I would rather spend it at our home rather than hear family talking and having fun than have them worrying about me. Don’t worry, I’ll make three pigchckens and freeze two for when he returns.

I’ve told you about the mentorships of women including my aunts, my husbands’ mother, grandmother and others. Here are some men and you know all about my husband already. Yes, he is one and I hope I am one for him as well.

S is not doing well, he has cancer and is going in for further tests today. Needless to say the family, especially his mother, our “Nanny” is concerned. My father was my primary influence in life and he died a year ago, I still keep flowers for him every week.

My father-in-law has been an inspirational challenge over many years. He no longer baits me with politics at the dinner table while his two sons remain quiet. I must have passed the test. And no, I did not personally start the Civil War, not what the South calls the War of Northern Aggression to this day. Younger brother-in-law, that was rocky. He now calls me “sis.”

I’ve two on the west coast, work-wise. They’ve been mentors for over 20 years and we keep in touch. Another from the ‘hood, W, gone now, who didn’t have to ever tell me that the Diet Coke and candy bar place down the street sold booze and I should always carry my Diet Coke so people could see it, not in a paper bag, at 8:00 a.m. walking to the office.

My brother, K. was such a challenge as a child. We were raised in different eras. My sister and I were bound to rules from Dad’s Germanic heritage. He and my youngest sister had a lot more leeway. He chose to break from all authority. I used to drive by him skipping Camp. They were sailing. What was he doing? Playing chess with an old guy.

Brother and I both think outside the box. He’s got the math genes and has acquired the artsy and tech ones. I’m good with people and also come up with some great ideas, outside the box to be sure. I don’t know how many peas are in a pod because I’ve not shelled English peas in a while, but I believe we would be there together. Cheers! Happy Thanksgiving. Dee



Ammonia, Fish and Jury Duty

I never met my father’s father. He died six weeks before I was born. He was a carpenter, a handyman hired by Sears in downtown Manhattan. The family, my Dad was an only child, lived in Brooklyn and only spoke German at home. My grandfather fled Hitler’s brownshirts in the late 1920’s before WWII. His home town became a Nazi stronghold and now is a part of Poland. Luckily Dad got to see it before he died nearly a year ago.

Grandpa retired and they moved up north to another community with many German residents, where they had a tiny home where he made every piece of furniture, indoors and out. When Dad visited decades later the family who bought it after his parents died had every stick of furniture and all his family photos on the walls. He taught their young son how to prime the oil stove, something he did before becoming the first child in his family to ever go to college. His folks didn’t stick around for his masters’ and doctorate.

At college, Dad got through this state teachers’ school by playing his violin and calling square dances. During the summer he worked in the kitchen of a mountain vacation resort. Their menu included “garden fresh peas.” That meant he placed tons of canned peas into a cauldron and added a bit of ammonia per the chef to make them bright green. Voila! Garden fresh peas!

During college I had my summer spell. I was paid minimum wage and made cashier supposedly because I was left-handed and would have messed up the line. No, Dad was president of this august institution, his first summer, so I had to let them take from my pay both room and board so I was making less than $1 per hour and slept in my bedroom in the president’s home and never ingested anything but a glass of water at the restaurant. I got three meals off per week, of their choosing, never an entire day.

The gal who totaled all the bills (all I did was make change and not steal) was 16 and had no hope for an education. Sweet girl. We took a walk after lunch hour (oh, the boys were waiters and made tips, we worked the line). We came near our home and she had to use the restroom. We walked in by the former maid’s quarter off the kitchen, where my sister and I shared a Jack & Jill bath and she said, you use it first. It’s OK, I said, we have four more. OMG, I actually said that. She lived in a trailer.

So, before lunch chef would call out to me (no-one messed with him) “what should we call the halibut today, Dover Sole?” OK, chef. And I wrote it on the blackboard before we opened. Dad did ammonia in the peas, and in order to be paid enough to buy a candy bar in a week I obeyed the chef as well.

Yesterday I found out I was late responding to a jury duty notice. I called in immediately. No-one will ever place me on a jury. Too strict or too lenient, depending upon the offense. I apologized, so don’t have a warrant out for my arrest, and said truthfully that I planted my knees and face in one of their sidewalks two weeks ago and was healing and still having trouble walking because the bruises took up most of my legs and had oozing fluid with which my M-I-L VA nurse was concerned about my condition. My husband went out and bought me a cane, which I am too proud to use.

The court gave me until next spring to recover and report for jury duty. No ammonia, no Dover Sole, just the words of a writer and truth-teller for you today. I am getting better, and my husband likes that I’m getting to paperwork with my feet up and Snow II by my side. He is a bean bag kitty who reminds me of heady volunteering days when I was young. I miss you, Dad. Dee


I see you, reading my blog and think of your country and how I wish to go there. I don’t know many languages. My version of language is menus, please, thank you, good morning, good afternoon and good night. Also where is the restroom.

Whenever one sees someone, whether family or friend, one must become familiar with the terroir, whether Greece or Italy and even Scotland, where we lived for a while. And London.

We were supposed to take a river cruise down the Rhine and Mosel rivers for Dad’s 85th birthday but he got very sick and died.

I got to see him with my husband, and my brother. Just as we got to see my mother over nine years ago in hospice. Dad and I swapped stories for hours. I didn’t wish to tire him so left for our hotel and visited the next day. He was a story-teller for all time.

Never returning until the funeral as my dear brother said he was not who he used to be in his last few days, I asked to visit the casket with my siblings a few moments before the guests were ushered in. Visiting is one of the best things one can do when one is ill or dying. Even dead. We were there for him as he was, always, for us. To those who make us proud, Dee

Dancers and Musicians

My third “Musketeer” the morning my father died was an art aficionado with eye problems. He spent an hour looking at art works and couldn’t believe that my father took up art at age 80. His wife was in the hospital recovering from hip surgery at the time and is fine now.

I brought in a charcoal sketch of dancers to my framer. My best guide, K was off that day. T made me choose everything myself and threw a Hail Mary at the last second.

When I called the next day K answered. I told her I awakened in the middle of of the night thinking I had created and paid for a disaster. Dad gave me that dancer drawing 27 years ago. I wanted him to have a photo of it before he died. It was not finished until two days after his funeral.

It is gorgeous and I look at it every day. He knows that he gave it to me eons ago but would be proud of me for making the Velveteen Rabbit real, in a real frame that honors his commitment to art, music, dance and education. That’s what he taught me. I’ve a plan that will at least bring it back to his gravesite, which I’ve not seen since the day he was lowered. They drove us all over the place so I had no idea where we were.

As for the Third Musketeer and his wife, they’re coming over for Brunch later this month. I’ve new works for him to peruse and his wife has never been here. Here’s to neighbors! Dee

Old Eagle Eyes

He was a college president when I was a young teen. They didn’t make mixed bifocal glasses back then so he had half-glasses for reading. I have the new ones and they’re very expensive and don’t work for much.

Sliding the glasses down his nose he would look out with brilliant blue eyes and stare. It was imposing and remarkable how much fear he could instill. With a marshmallow interior.

Our dog stares now, with brown eyes, until we do what she wants.

My Dad, with the blue eyes, scared the s*** out of every boy I ever dated, except my husband of nearly 15 years.

On an political campaign in the 80’s I was helping a local win an election he could never achieve. I took a vacation, stayed back home with my folks and we worked it. Election night we didn’t have computers, just a chalk board back in the office.

I was in the office alone and a call came in. He said his name was Dan. I asked “what can I do for you, Mr. Majority Leader?” He asked who I was and I stated that he would never know me. “What’s your name?” I answered and he said I know who you are. You have your father’s eyes.

In the next room, without being told, I said to the candidate to come right away, that his boss was calling. He was there for 30 years and was the most honest and dedicated elected official I have ever met.

I got the job because my father of the blue eyes called our rep, I got a low-level position but was a policy analyst, learned a lot and had a family of compatriots. Kind of a Joseph and the Multi-Colored Dream Coat. We were all smart and made the elected officials look good with working papers at a third-grade level. We shared everything for content and editing as each of us had a specific area of expertise. NYTimes is sixth grade. All hail Dad! Dee

ps In the slower season we did crossword puzzles every Friday at 5:00. NYTimes.

Ability, Doing, Thinking

Dad always said he had relative pitch, that’s a measure of one to know what note to play or hear being played and know it. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean “conflict” and started a band in boot camp. Instead of going to Korea he toured Europe’s greatest cities for the US Army managing a symphony, and arrived home to meet my mother and have four kids and play in local symphonies after work. He played the “fiddle” to get himself through college and called square dances. He was so talented.

He always told me I had perfect pitch, so did all my music teachers, some with disdain. I don’t know that I have that anymore. Dad played every instrument and taught all. I cannot manage to play piano (keyboard was in storage) or my nice guitar. I gave up violin as a kid. “Santa” bought me a cheap guitar at age 12 and Dad taught me basic chords. As I age my voice could not be in a choir, or as a child soloist.

I took up guitar again at age 50 with two private tutors, one was “Oh, Preacher, Where Art Thou” and the other was a drummer who did not care whether I learned the guitar, only that I kept the beat. I quit, after all my husband and I were paying for classes and I was driving myself there. It was my decision, and again we moved.

I’ve many books of free lyrics because I like to guess the chords. I’ve also one of Dad’s “fakebooks.” He has (had) two more for me. I bought a large binder and individual sleeves and encased every page for the first one and will do so for the rest of them. We used to sing a song in harmony then he’d go on his own riff while I sang the melody, it was a song his father taught him. I don’t remember the riff but it was Old Shanty Town, from the 20’s. “Just a tumble down shack, by the old railroad track, like a millionaire’s mansion keeps calling me back.”

A local shop that is probably known for local and other talent was the place to go for guitar restoration. I had mine done and have a personal guitar teacher and a violin professional on hand when they’re needed. I haven’t been well enough yet.

My brother and I are looking for my father’s violin, that I played as a cello at age two. I will see whether it is salvageable, able to be reconditioned by violin professionals and it will go from his family to his alma mater where a violin scholarship has been created in his name.

Music will stay in our family and in our hearts, Dee


Yes, I am female. I do not like shopping. When a girlfriend asks me to go shoe shopping I’ll do it as a friend for her wedding, but that’s it. I have short, wide feet that simply do not fit stilettos or sandals. As I age I believe I’ve 10 pair of Crocs and that is my choice. Wash & wear, like me, until the tread goes. Yes, winter boots, too.

Every five years two families got together for Dad’s birthday. I missed the first in Bali. His 70th was a sailing yacht out of Greece, tracing the steps of Odysseus. My brother used the Roman name because the voyage sounded better as “Chasing Ulysses.” My brother had time to write on board as he was very ill, having punctured an eardrum early on, under water.

I bought swimsuits, one-piece full coverage with wraps, Ralph Lauren et al. I was informed that only rubber-soled shoes were allowed on board. I bought plenty. I didn’t need any. For $4 I bought Greek leather sandals and what everyone did was walk onto the ship, take them off, toss them in a large basket and walk around barefoot. We even learned Greek dancing and I identified and pronounced all of the mezedes (appetizers) at Dad’s birthday party. Everyone was amazed and all I could say was that I’m a cook, that’s how I learn what I do.

I also bought a lot of serapes for $2 apiece which is good because to go to a Greek Orthodox church one must be covered. I brought enough for all the gals (cover your legs, cover your arms, place one over your head) to pass the censor who sits outside the Church and decides who will be allowed to see said church. I dressed appropriately to begin with, as that is what the eldest “child” does.

Back to swimsuits. I spent $500 on two swimsuits, showed up in one with a skirt, a Ralph Lauren, and greeted Dad on the aft deck. Seventy years old. He was wearing a purple bikini Speedo! Yo, Dad!!!

The last one is sad. We were supposed to sail down the Rhine and Mosel rivers from Amsterdam to Basel for his 85th birthday. I bought tour books and a bunch of clothes and Crocs for what would have been a wonderful trip.

Dad was too sick to go. He urged all of us to go anyway and I said “Dad, it’s your birthday, it would not be right to go without you.” He died eight weeks later. I got to see him for four long days and we told stories. He was very ill but his mind was sharp. At one point he asked how it was when my mother died. I never got to finish that story. I think he was awaiting death and learning how to make amends.

Before Thanksgiving I told my brother I was cancelling Nanny and my husband’s parents and coming to see Dad. He said “no, he is no longer the man you knew, the father you knew.”

His funeral was a few days later. I was suitably dressed in black in some of the comfy shirts, pants and Crocs I had purchased for the trip we never took. He still is with me every day, giving me guidance on everything but dog training! He was good at a lot of things, including parenting, but dogs, no way. Cheers, love your family and friends, as all I have are clothes, shoes and memories. Dee

ps Wait, Dad, you’re gone and now my favorite store here has been bought out and de-branded. It was two blocks away, the clothing and people were great and I’d love to have it as a designer loft. How am I to buy clothes and shoes every five years without your birthday? I guess it’s a “save the date” moment.

pps I’ve already designed the loft.