June 27, 2008
The words of Todd Bertuzzi are becoming a catch phrase in this part of the woods. Part defiance, part resignation, part reality, and part of the family. Today is my father's birthday. Except Dad, or the part of his ashes we cast to the sea, is no longer with us. He is resting or floating in English Bay and beyond.
My father was a wandering soul in life; he may have floated over to China. Or maybe he only made it half way- vacationing in Hawaii.
Hell, he could stay at the time share we still have yet to sell.
For a time in the sixties, he was a travelling salesman . Did he get mad and quit the steady job? Was his famous temper part of the reason for the departure? It is what it is.
He had a family of seven to support. This is a concept that is hard to fathom today. For whatever reason, he was usually gone. On the road. Home on the weekend. The Weekend Dad. Late for supper, with a friend invited at the last minute. My theory is that he needed his space. He loved his family and my mother, but he needed his space.
My mother was a quick-change artist. We grew to like our chicken white and dry, because well.....it is what it is. When your husband is late, and you keep the kids waiting for him to be home for dinner, the breast of a chicken can get a little dry.
When he came home, Dad would head to the yard to mow the lawn, or "build". He helped me build something for Scouts. I found out at the race, that he had put it together backwards. I was a bit ashamed, as he had done all the work, and here it was backwards. But we ran that race, and came in second. Backwards!
In later years, he would putter and build and buy things he didn't need, but most importantly, he would volunteer. He volunteered for the Association for the Advancement of Retired People, or AARP. One day, he went to the Governor of Washington's office to present the Governor with an AARP card, as he had just turned 50, my age. My dad had a heart attack in the Governor's office and died. But the story does not end there.
But because he had lobbied for cardiac resusitation equipment for the Governor's office, the aides were able to bring my father back to life. A defibrillator later and he was volunteering more, making sure that this type of emergency equipment was available in every senior's center in many counties in Washington. He lobbied for senior's rights and care,and even had a law named after him in Washington state, The Fred Mills Act.
In the end, which was two years ago, he drowned in his own body with a condition they call congestive heart failure. You fill up with fluids, and your heart becomes too strained to pump the blood, so the fluids continue to build, and slowly you drown. In your own body. Your own worst enemy. It is what it is.
Today is his birthday, which is a day of celebration. So I celebrate his life, as I would not be here without him. I didn't always like him, I even thought at a time that I didn't love him; unfortunately, there were times I did not respect him.
But we are a complicated beast. There were also many times I did admire him. And I will always love him, and I grew to respect the part of the whole of the man I called my father.
We are not perfect, and he wasn't perfect, but he was perfectly my dad. And in the end, I love him. It is what it is.
June 15, 2008
Some traditions never die
even though we all will someday
there will always be funny hats
and someone to take pictures
of Sons and Fathers wearing funny hats
and that is a good thing
Happy Fathers Day, Dad
I raise a virtual glass of Ballantynes to you today.
Your # 5 son
June 1, 2008
The Angry Young Man is no longer as angry or young. Like a fine wine, aged and mellow, corked, turning to vinegar, the sediment rests on the bottom of the bottle until it is stirred, not shaken. Hardstock 08 was everything and more, raising more money for Scott than even we thought we could (almost $25,000). But on a deeper level, it brought people out from the shadows and grips of the computer and television screens and lawn mowing, and bathroom cleaning that is their everyday life. People were given the opportunity to reconnect with friends in a far more personal way than even Facebook. I say that without sarcasm, as Facebook is quite amazing in its ability to reconnect, and to bring together people who really don't know each other. We now have friends, and Facebook friends. And often, the Facebook friends become real friends. This is the real gift and purpose of these shows. Networking sounds like something that only guys in suits can do; in reality, we all are linked in so many ways. Often we just need a small push in the right direction, and then the magic happens.