Tasty Buttered Toast

Quips and Quandaries from a re-employed house husband

Archive for the tag “Pops”

A Day For Dads

Today is Father’s Day.

Since 2005 this has been a difficult day for me. I try to do all the right things to keep it from getting me down, or being in a light depression for a few days; and for the most part, I would say that I’ve succeeded.  The arrival of my boys solidified that.

Becoming a dad has been one of the coolest things I’ve done with my life to this point.  Not that it hasn’t come without some stress or difficult times, but on the whole, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Simple Reminder

Kate got me this mug for my “first” father’s day, before our first miscarriage.  I thought it was a little corny then since we were only expecting and didn’t have a baby yet; but she assured me that I was a father to the little ball of whatever was growing in her so it still counted.  Now when I read this mug, which is most Sunday mornings, I take pause and usually look at the boys to try to remind myself that this is what is all about.  Trying to teach them right from wrong, be that strong person to guide them with wisdom, and to be a person they strive to be when they “grow up.”  It’s a heavy burden, but one I’m proud to carry.

Happy Father’s Day Pops.  You are greatly missed, but I want to thank you for being that person for me and everyday I strive to be better than I am.  And to G. Sluiter and G. Potter who are in heaven sharing this Father’s Day with you, give them a hug for me too.  The three of you had a huge impact on making me the man I am today.  Miss you all.

This wasn’t supposed to be a post about anything… I was going to post this picture and leave it at that; so if when reading you feel it doesn’t flow all that well or transitions are less than delightful, you have my permission to let me have it in the comments.  I encourage it.. it means that you’re out there reading what I have to share… even if it is less than once a month. 🙂  Hopefully as school winds down I can get back here to post a little more often, but until then, thanks for stopping by!

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Open Letter

Pops,

Hard to believe it has already been six years since you’ve left us.  So much has happened in the last two years alone, it is difficult to decide where to begin… but I’ll try.

Two years ago in June your first grandson was born, and he continues to amaze me with how much he is able to absorb and retain each and every day.  He is speaking more and more phrases and is able to repeat many new words on his first try.  He loves the water and is becoming more and more comfortable in his life jacket.  As he gets older, I can’t but help wonder how your influence on his growth would enhance the little boy he is quickly becoming.  You would love him, he’s such a character; he has that little twinkle in  his eye just before he does something he isn’t supposed to that makes me wonder if you somehow had something to do with it.  On the good days and bad, I really wish you were around to offer up parenting advice… or at least share some anecdote on how to handle a particular situation.

This past March I started a new job.  I’ve taken a position working for Construction Specialties as their inside sales person, and assisting with some estimating duties.  The guys I work with are great, and I really feel like I’m starting to hit my stride in this line of work.  Who knew selling truss installations would be so different from selling the trusses themselves.

Kate is looking forward to her second year teaching mainly Spanish at Park after being bumped around from her English position for the last couple years.  Speaking of Kate, she / we are expecting child number two.  She’s 8 1/2 weeks along and is feeling the first trimester blahs in full force.  She’s a trooper and has been dealing with it as best she knows how, and is beginning to know when to ask for help and lean on me a little more than she is accustomed to.

This past May I can finally say I am a college graduate, all be it a lowly Associates degree, I know that you would be proud to know that I have finished, and am still attending to complete my Network Administration degree, and potentially get a Bachelors.  Believe it or not, I graduated with a g.p.a. north of 3.8… hard to believe I know, especially considering how much I didn’t exactly excel the first time I attended.

That is a quick swoosh of what has been going on, and there is more to share, but for now we’ll leave it at that.  Know that while you might not be here in person, I feel your presence everyday.  My goal every morning is to try and do my best to make you proud of me as your son, a husband, a father, and as a man.  I wish there was a way to know your thoughts and feelings about the job I’m doing and the decisions I’m making for myself and my family. I always valued your opinion and insight on everything… and I still do.  Those old stories still find away to work their way in to my everyday life and I want to thank you for that.

Six years have past since you left us, but the pain hurts like it was yesterday.

Love you Pops.

Cortney

Happy Birthday Pops

You would have been 55 today.

I miss you and think about you daily.

Just In Time For Father’s Day

Artists Rendering

This weekend is always a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.  My wonderful wife and I were married the day before Father’s Day back in 2005.  It was a wonderful day, one that I will never forget for obvious reasons.  But at the same time, there was a grey cloud over that weekend, as there was the unspoken understanding that this could be the last Father’s Day that we would have Pops with us.

On Thursday I decided to get a tattoo in honor of my father.  While he was never in the Navy, he was definitely a boater through and through.  We ended up spreading his ashes in Lake Michigan per his request.

I’m not one who has many a tattoo, in fact, this was my first.  I had been thinking about this particular tattoo since he passed, but did not know what I wanted.  I just knew I wanted it to be nautical in nature for him, but still have the symbolism for me.

Finished Product

The ship’s wheel and an anchor just made sense.  The ship’s wheel to represent the various changes in direction my life has taken over the last 6+ years… and the anchor to remind me to stay grounded and know that I have a place that I can call home.

Yesterday, Kate and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and today we celebrate fathers everywhere… specifically those who are near and dear to use.  We love and cherish those fathers that w can still spend time with, and miss those greatly who are no longer with us.  I miss my father greatly, and think of him more now than ever, but knowing that he’s watching over my family is a comfort.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there, and to those of you who maybe aren’t Dads yet, or will be soon, there is no greater satisfaction.

And I Walk The Long Road

My father has always been a strong man.  Not one to cry, even when in immense pain, he would just bear down and take it.  I wouldn’t call him a very emotional guy either, at least not on the sad end of the spectrum.  He was definitely one to be proud of his children’s accomplishments, typically one of the loudest parents on the sideline at soccer games or volleyball matches.

That’s why it KILLED me when I sat down in my dad’s office at work and asked him what he wanted for Father’s Day and he got all choked up and started to cry.  It was late May and I wanted to get him something special, more specifically, something that he really wanted but I didn’t know what it was.  I just sat there, not knowing what to say or do while he gathered himself.  He took his red handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his eyes and nose.

In between gasps for breath he said “Save your money.  I don’t want anything for Father’s Day.”  When I asked him why all he could do was tear up again and lightly say, “I don’t want anything for Father’s Day because I don’t know if I’ll be around that long.”

He was diagnosed with Stage 3 Small Cell Lung Cancer on January 24, 2005.  He had been a cigarette smoker for most of his adult life, having quit some 5 years prior after he had a fairly severe heart attack.  He had changed his diet, started to exercise more, basically doing all the things his cardiologist had told him to do to get healthy and now he was delivered this.  The whole family was there for the news and it was decided that the best course of action was to get in right way for chemotherapy and radiation since the tumor in his lung was inoperable.  He had less that a 20% chance of surviving the first year and less than a 5% chance of being cancer free.

In the face of such adversity I’ve never known him to be so strong.  I realize that someone going through Chemo typically isn’t viewed as being heroic, but to me he was.  He knew the nurses were pumping him full of poison, but he also knew that poison was his only chance to extend his life for his family.  Truly one of the most selfless acts anyone can do.  Purposefully poisoning themselves for the family, I really commend him for that.  Keeping food down was difficult; he started losing weight like crazy.  The pain would get so bad that the big, burly man that used to be my father was now a brittle, shell of a man that would yelp in pain if you hugged him too tight.

Kate and I were married on June 23rd, the day before Father’s Day.  He was there to celebrate with us as best he could.  Dressed to impress, he even made it out on to the dance floor for a few spins with Kate.  By now we knew the first type of Chemo wasn’t working and other options needed to be explored or change gears and focus on pain management.  My father being my father felt the need to try another form of Chemo, regardless of what it meant he had to go through.

After the first few weeks of this new type of drug therapy it was discovered that the cancer had spread throughout his entire skeleton and another tumor had formed on the base of his brain.  No amount of Chemo or radiation was going to make this go away and it was decided that the doctors would do their best to make him as comfortable as they could.

My father celebrated his 49th birthday on August 9th, 2005.  His whole family was there, numerous boating friends from over the years, and even a few old friends from high school managed to make it for the party.  By this time he wasn’t able to walk much anymore and could only get around on a motorized scooter.  His speech was starting to slur due to the pressure on his brain, but his mental fortitude waged on and even though he was hard to understand at times, the one liners’ rolled off his tongue as smoothly as they had only a few months prior.

He died in his home 5 days later with his family around him.  Kate and I were able to say our goodbyes before she took me to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy… but that’s a whole different post for a different time.  I believe he is in heaven, no longer has cancer and is able to enjoy all that heaven has to offer.

I take comfort in that when the anniversary of his “going home” as we like to call it, comes around.   We take a trip out to Lake Michigan, where we spread his ashes, for a little visit.  I usually have a brief one sided “conversation” updating him as to what is going on and what he should keep an eye on.  This year Ed will know that he is at the beach, I look forward to telling him all about his Grandpa Steve and explain why we had to the lake every year around the same time each August.

This post is part of the Cancer Sucks Blog Hop… Please check out the other posts HERE.

Wish You Were Here

Happy birthday to you!  Happy birthday to you!

If you were lucky enough to meet my father I guarantee you would never forget him.  He had the type of personality and charisma that would let you know that he was someone you wanted to keep an eye on; or if you were able to sidle up in order to be within ear shot of one of his many stories, you would not be disappointed.  He enjoyed having all eyes on him, especially if he had a story to tell that would result in a laugh.  He wasn’t big on telling jokes, but he knew how to tell a story to make you feel like you were there when it happened and even the most serious of events could end with a twist that would make you laugh.

My dad was not one to lose his temper or to lash out.  You could approach my dad WANTING to get into it with him, pushing whatever buttons you could to try and get a rise out of him and would take in all you said, process it, and hit you with a witty one liner that would leave you speechless and looking for the door.  He ALWAYS had a witty one  liner that would so perfectly sum up the situation or lighten the mood that regardless of the subject matter you would be ok with whatever had just happened.

If he could get one over one ya just for the sake of getting over on you he would.  Never to be malicious or vindictive, but just to poke a little fun and see what kind of mettle you had.  He was a master of wits and was never afraid to ‘go to battle.’  I really miss that about him.  He was one of the greatest conversationalist I’ve ever known.

He always took interest in whatever my siblings and I were in to, even if he had little or no idea what were talking about.  Some would say that he was just being a supportive parent, but I think it was more than that.  I think he had a quest for knowledge and wanted to learn right along with us.  He never went to college, but was able to start and grow a successful business that he had to leave when he got sick.

He would have been 54 today.

Happy Birthday Pops… I’m sure if you ask for birthday peach pie in heaven instead of birthday cake, they can probably hook that up.

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