Monday, May 21, 2007

A daddy story

I took a break from lilscreamie - both mentally and physically - to take a trip to Florida to more or less close a chapter in my life that's been the hardest to deal with for the longest time. After almost two years of waiting and some inneffectual attemps at "getting something done" - my sisters and I are finally getting around to settling the matter of my father's very modest estate.

My mother passed away in early 2000, leaving my dad alone. It was an extraordinarily sad and difficult time, but we all got through it, as families do. My father lived quietly and well and finally came to enjoy himself again, walking on the beach and driving his convertible and occasionally making trips up north to visit me and the always Beautiful, but not-yet-Wife. He did get to see me married, and sometimes I think that was one of the happier days of his life - he loved talking about it, and loved Beautiful Wife. I visited occasionally, too infrequently, but when the timing worked, I'd take him flying - usually someplace relatively far away, for a breakfast in Sebring, FL or a lunch someplace north, just to get the hours in and share the delight with him, - he was proud of me, and it made me feel proud to make him happy. My father came from a time when men had short hair and nearly everyone (who was serious) wore a suit - I have a ponytail, and dress (for the most part) as though I'm getting ready for yard work or going into battle - and I work in advertising so I was always a little suspect. Over the years, we worked that out, and he really did get that I was doing something (he was never quite sure what, exactly) that would keep me and mine safe in the world. Once he figured out that I was going to be okay, we got along better and better - to the point that we actually enjoyed each other's company. I'm glad to be able to say that.

After several scares and some diet changes and my wedding and a visit or two to the undisclosed location, my father's heart finally failed him - he passed away in June of 2005, but not before he got to see an ultrasound movie of the squirming black and white blob that would be Dear Alex. I would that he had lived to see the wonderful child that she's becoming.

I write this because even though the grief has passed, it can be sad and hard to realize with certainty that this is the end of someone else's story, Cleaning out your parent's house - the accumulation of 50-plus years of life together, is an object lesson in the importance of living, and a cautionary tale about the relentless accumulation of things. All of it meant something to them, but it means nothing to me (save a nod to whatever significance it held for them) so what, objectively, am I to do with it? Let it go, I think, is the real answer. The artifacts that I've taken so far are simple and small, and will fit into the very different life that I expect for BW and myself. The largest and heaviest item by far is my father's toolbox - a bulky red craftsman thing with lots of drawers full of well-used hand tools - The sheer density of it, and it's weight say everything about how it feels to have it - I lived in awe of his ability to make and fix things, and I know now that I truly am my father's child by my constant urge to do the same. The toolbox, and a few other things I'm keeping don't begin to do justice to the life my parents led or the fun they had or the things that meant something to them.

I'm tempted to start labeling the boxes of things that BW and I have collected in our (relatively) short time together - "this box of maps and these rounded rocks are from a time before you when we were young and in love and we travelled British Columbia and walked on glaciers and rode in convertibles and rode motorcycles through rainstorms and flew airplanes for the joy of life and sharing our passions and this is how we lived - and we did, and this proves it."

That narrative and context is what's missing for me now, though it's possible to piece together a lot of life and little adventures from what my parents left behind, things I remember (the green caddy convertible, endless days at the beach... ) and the stories they told. but mostly it's a sad business, and the opressive heat and relentless humidity and the fecundity of south Florida takes it's toll - their once well-kept home is overgrown by vines and mold and it's pretty clear that there's really no one home, ever again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy mother's day

To any and all that might check in. Dear Alex has the best and most caring mother, who keeps surprising me with the deep love and joy she takes with our wonderful daughter. She makes it look so easy, and she really makes me laugh. Special thanks to Grammy for raising such a wonderful daughter, and for having such great love and care for our Dear Alex. I would that my own mother were still alive to know this great kid, and to know that she taught me well - and I hope to do as well for my delightful daughter as she did for me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mommy motorcycle

Recently I've been putting up a lot of photos on Flickr - new sets under constant revision - not pix of Dear Alex, but pictures for her. It's a great entertainment for her, and she has a real fascination with the world and things in it - and it's even better if mommy or daddy are in the picture. So, for her delight I've been adding images from our collective past - a time before Dear Alex - for her amusement and delight. The "mommy motorcycle" picture is the one she asks for by name, and I have to admit that it's one of my favorites as well - though it bears no relationship to our everyday lives. Dear Alex loves the pictures, and for some reason, I love them too - it's a reminder, of sorts, of how we got here - and what we hope to share with this beautiful child. I haven't flown a plane since she was born, and BW hasn't been on a motorcycle since we were married - but I will, and she can, and we have pictures to prove it.

Producer in training part 2

Just like Beautiful Wife, Dear Alex loves her telephones -
And what could be better than one phone? Two telephones!
A scene I've witnessed many times on the job with BW.

Producer in training

Dear Alex had a busy Saturday - A long walk down Park Avenue, and a visit to Beautiful Wife's office ("mommy office mommy office steps") where she had the chance to wander about, turn the lights on and off in the conference room, and sit in the seat of power - she's a natural on the computer, and she certainly knows how to get people to do things for her - immediately.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


A moment of Dear Alex and Beautiful Wife together.
The little black ribbon just kills me.


Dear Alex woke up in the middle of the night tonight, Something that she hasn't done in a long time, and as I was awake and working (the work thing again) I sort of tried to ignore it, but at the same time, her apparent dissatisfaction with the world matched my own, so I kind of felt her angst - and felt compelled to respond. It's a rare thing to be able to so surely comfort someone as a crying child in the middle of the night - I took her out of the crib, and held her and changed her diaper and did nothing more than rock for a while, repeating "It's all okay, I love you and mommy loves you and the world is yours" - Ten minutes later Dear Alex is asleep on my chest, and I have to conciously tear myself away to go back to work. I would that I could have done a repeat of the early months with her and simply fallen asleep to wake in the morning with the wonder that she hadn't fallen out of my arms to the floor. It was a moment of remembering the sleepless care and love that we all could use every once in a while. I needed that hug tonight, and without even trying Dear Alex came through.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Alex at work

Work: It's what we do, and some days it's harder than others, and some days it's pure joy - a concept clicks and an idea sells and all is right with the world. Every day, though, it's harder to leave Dear Alex - even in the capable and loving hands of nanny J.
Recently, Beautiful Wife took Dear Alex to visit at the office - a nice day for BW and the kid, with pizza in the boardroom and lots of new things to see and do and people to interact with, and even a baby friend born of a co-worker of BW at around the same time - Dear Alex had a good day at the office, and came back with the words "office" and "steps". She loves the challenge of stairs - always has - and the office in question has a grand internal staircase spanning three floors - that she climbed repeatedly "up!" and "down" - surely exhausting for Dear Alex and BW, but somehow apropos to the endless ups and downs and the true nature of work, especially in advertising.
What this is all about really, is assuaging the guilt that goes with working for a living while wanting to celebrate every waking moment of your beautiful child - we go away for most of Dear Alex's day - to do what she can probably only imagine as endlessly climbing stairs.

Sooooo right.