Category Archives: About Marriage and Family

A Boston Wedding

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            Crystal and I recently attended our nephew’s wedding in Boston, Ma. It was wonderful. The wedding itself was officiated by my brother-in-law, Larry. He did a fine job. However, it was an outdoor ceremony on a very warm muggy day. I refused to keep my coat on. If I had the choice, I would have attended in my swim trunks.

            I thought the best part was the vows. I could just tell that these two had done their homework on each other, and are very much in love. That is always a great sign. They have a great chance to be in the positive fifty percent of marriages.

            The reception was in a beautifully air-conditioned venue, with great food, drink, a lot of good conversation with new friends and relatives, music and dancing. It was well worth the seventeen-hundred-mile round trip drive.

            But that wasn’t the whole story of our trip. In my youth I had done a lot of traveling, both business and with my parents. Crystal never had that kind of opportunity. I promised early on that, I would take her to places she wanted to see. On this trip that was Concord, MA. About a forty-minute trip from Boston, a lot of her favorite American writers lived, worked and were buried (after they died).

            We saw the homes of Louisa May Alcott, and Emerson, and walked the shores of Thoreau’s Waldo Pond. OK, Waldon Pond was a disappointment. For one thing, it’s really a substantial lake; and it’s overrun with swimmers, paddlers, and tourists. Furthermore, it’s not nearly the secluded, picturesque natural scene described in his eloquent prose (which I was forced to read in High School). We also visited the Lexington Concord Bridge, where the Revolutionary War began.

            Finally, Crystal made me take way too many pictures of headstones in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

            So, it has taken a few years, but we finally have a chance to do some traveling as a couple. And all things considered, I think we travel pretty well.

            My wish for Erik and Quynh’s marriage is that they grow closer through the years. Not every day will be rainbows and puppies. But together, challenge begets growth. Enjoy the journey.

Bride and Groom at the reception. 8/07/2021
We were there too.

Marriage Wows

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            Today is Mother’s Day 2021. And while this post has little to do with the holiday, the topic is related. I do want to thank Crystal, and mothers everywhere, for your dedication and service in the noblest of all causes. It should be Mother’s Month. Now on to today’s topic.

            No that’s not a misprinted title. There are times in every marriage where the only possible response is Wow. After 43 years there a few (which I feel at liberty to share), that stand out in my mind

            The first, of course, was our wedding day. I remember how I was totally relaxed, dressed and ready to marry Crystal. Then it happened. She walked down the aisle. She was as beautiful, more like a portrait than a real person. In her father’s arm, in her hand made (her mother made it) silken white dress, glistening with hundreds of hand sown beads.

            Suddenly, I was a little unsteady. Her sister later confronted me about my somber appearance. It’s not as if I hadn’t thought about that day, for well over a year. But seeing her at that moment, all of a sudden, the wow hit me. This was a permanent commitment, and all our friends and family, not to mention God, were watching. She finally got to me, and when she smiled and looked lovingly into my eyes, I knew it would be OK. Wow.

            The next day, we went on our honeymoon in Arizona. Wow! Enough said.

            The next few years, I hate to admit, had its share of ups and downs. Strangely enough, being married isn’t all bells and whistles, or fun and frolic, even when you think you are with your soul mate. There are family issues, money issues, work and commitment issues, communication issues, etc., etc., etc. Let’s just say it’s a learning and growing experience (not for the faint of heart). But you know even then, there were enough wow moments to make it all seem worthwhile. Many were small: like a walk in the wood, holding hands at the theater, having friends and family over to “our” apartment for food, and/or game night, etc., etc. etc.

            Then, just when some sense of calm seems to be returning, here come the kids. Possibly the greatest wow moment is after all the pain and suffering pregnancy (yes, I suffered too), 35 hours of labor, and a C-section birth, a new life enters the world. Wow!!!

            I had the privilege of carrying each of our three daughters out of the hospital. Proud, overjoyed, and yet somehow terrified would begin to describe it. Somehow, you carry this beautiful child and great new responsibility at the same time. It was a kind of flash back to the way I felt on our wedding day. WOW!

Over at least (Did I say at least?), the next eighteen years, you will be responsible for what you and your spouse have brought into the world. You will lose sleep, take care of them when sick, encourage when upset, praise whenever possible, and guide/discipline as needed. All that time, you have no real clue whether you are doing it right. The funny thing about parenting is, no matter how you choose to proceed, someone will tell you, ‘you are doing it wrong’. Wow.

As they grow and “mature”, at some point your children question you as well. They will be all too quick to let you know how they know better. You might see yourself in them, and at least briefly, feel sorry for your own parents. At some point, they finally get their chance. I still remember when one daughter asked, you mean you have to pay for water and trash pickup? What do taxes pay for? That’s one I still have a little trouble answering.

Eventually, kids will leave, and if you have done your job well, be responsible adults. Then the whole cycle begins anew. Eventually, there may be grandkids as well. At home that leaves just you and your spouse (a kid or grandkid on occasion). If you are OK with that, you are among the few lucky ones. I believe Crystal and I are. Wow!

First our wedding day, then our family.

The Great Boot Fight of 2020!

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            As you know, if you have followed this site, Crystal and I are very pro-marriage. However, it occurred to me that, sometimes we come off a little too ‘it’s all good’, and not enough ‘what the heck is happening now?’ (real world).

            Through the years, we have stated numerous times that, we have a good marriage. But it is by no means perfect. Case and point, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a real Donnybrook (old people talk…look it up). Our daughter, Lisa is helping us declutter our home. She suggested I could get rid of some shoes from an overcrowded shoe rack in the hall. It sounded like a great idea, so I proceeded. I immediately recognized about four pairs of my old shoes. I knew I was never going to wear them again; so, I pitched them (too rotten for Good Will). On the end of the rack, I noticed a pair of dirty, cheap looking, pink and white snow boots. They appeared quite small. I was certain they were some of Lisa’s old ones. I pitched them too. BIG MISTAKE!!!

            Apparently, they were Crystal’s only winter boots. We didn’t get much snow last winter. I’m not sure she even wore them. But that wasn’t how Crystal saw it. The discussion quickly escalated. How could I not know they were her only boots? Don’t I even know her? Etc., etc. etc. I told her not to worry, it was going to be a surprise, but I had ordered her a very nice new pair for Christmas. That is when the fun really started. How could I order boots without her even trying them on; and in the picture, they looked like Army boots (her words, not mine). Although, to be fair, I was thinking practical not cute.

            Well, you get the idea. Additional talking wasn’t helping. While she probably had a good point about buying someone else’s shoes over the internet, it seemed like a thoughtful gift at the time. I certainly wasn’t ready to admit it at that particular time. I went for a drive instead. I’m not sure what she did. However, when I got home things had quieted a little. I checked the computer, and to my surprise, I was already getting supportive E-mails from other family members. I’m fairly certain she did as well. Sometimes I think our family is a little toooo close.

            When Crystal and I talked, and I apologized again, and offered to take her boot shopping, we were good again. Apparently, she had a lot on her mind, and the boots had been a tipping point. Details aren’t important; but in the year of Covid 19, missed plans, holiday stress, etc., little things can turn into big things. Besides I, like a lot of guys, tend to plow ahead without trying to understand the way my wife thinks. Hint: not always like I think. I get it now.

            So, we did buy brand new, Crystal approved, boots. Amazon happily took back the ones I had ordered; which Crystal agreed didn’t ‘totally’ look like Army boots. The ones she chose cost about one third as much…so win win. It also led to my New Year’s resolution. I resolve to look at Crystal’s feet more in 2021.

            The point, and reason for airing our dirty laundry, is that no marriage is perfect or without friction. How can the joining of two imperfect beings possibly be perfect? I have never been the most observant guy. The first time I talked to her at a party, I couldn’t tell you what she was wearing, except a short skirt, with a great pair of legs sticking out. She knows exactly what I wore. Crystal, on rare occasions, keeps things inside until they all come out at once. What counts is being able to work through and resolve differences. You must be able to not only accept your partner’s strengths, but their weaknesses. You help where you can, but also have to know when to back off.

            Marriage is a journey, which two people agree to take together. If you have ever walked through the woods, you know that there are occasional bumps, roots, and vines which might cause you to stumble. However, it is important to get up, dust yourself off, and complete your journey. It is as God intended.

This is why Crystal needed boots. A beautiful shot by Mohawk Damn (4 miles away) Dec. 2020

Just a reminder, our book is available on Amazon starting January 12th

Vacation – To be or Not to be

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            Being a good father requires discipline, perseverance, and the ability to sometimes say no. Truly there is almost nothing I enjoy more than doing something which, makes my daughters happy.

            This year, however, was a case of ‘close, but no cigar’. We were finally going to take a true family vacation. It was to be all three daughters, along with their families: two son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. We had rented a beautiful, roomy house near a beach in Delaware. There would be plenty to do, with a nice boardwalk, boats, and wilderness to explore.

            However, was I ever wrong about this stupid virus. I was determined to go, no matter what. Then, one day before our final payment would be fully vested, Crystal came to me and told me we couldn’t go. I was devastated. Usually, I get the final say when we don’t agree, but after some time of prayer and reflection, I knew she was right. The stories were changing every day. We might be quarantined from the moment we arrived, or everything might be closed….Not part of the plan. It was too much money to take that chance.

            Truly there is almost nothing I hate more than disappointing my daughters. I couldn’t do it. So, I had our youngest, Lisa, e-mail the other two families. They had already secured the time off. I was pleased to hear that, after the initial shock wore off, within days, they had alternative plans. It is really great when you realize that you raised, and I along with wifey, take partial credit for this, survivors.

            God told me a long time ago that, I needed to listen to my wife. It’s a good thing I did this time. Not only would there be restrictions due to Covid 19; but tropical storm Isaias struck Delaware in the middle of the week. Chances are, we would have dealt with heavy winds, copious rain, flooding, and power outages. While I love my kids and grandkids, being stuck in a house, in the dark, with them, for a period of time, is not my idea of vacation.

            A younger, more fool hearty Ron, might have overruled his wife. Well, someday, God willing, we will do a family vacation. And someday, God willing, we will have more fun activities with our children and grandchildren. But in the meantime, I will just, along with the rest of the civilized world, have to learn to be patient, and SMART. This too shall pass.

The moral of the story is, first listen to God, then listen to your spouse.

We Joined Michelle, Alex, Ayla, and Ripley for a day of their camping getaway.

Memorial

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            It has been almost one year since my father passed away, at the age of 98. Today, on Memorial Day, I can’t help but think of him. He was a good father. He taught me a lot about life. I learned about the importance of hard work and responsibility, about taking care of family, and commitment (in marriage and life in general).

            In writing our memoir, I also learned about all he had to overcome in his life, through war and peace. On this day especially, I consider him a hero. When I was privileged to interview him for the book, I realized his unique perspective. While I always knew he was extremely proud to be an American, I had never before realized his pride in growing up in Germany, and in the German people. To be clear, he had no pride in anything related to the Nazis, but in his heritage. He loved growing up in a family with deep German roots. He loved the traditions, freedoms, and close family ties, dating back for hundreds of years.

            When he came to America at thirteen, while he was excited for his new life, he already feared what Germany was becoming. When he returned as part of the 83rd infantry I believe he was really fighting for two countries; America, of course, but also for the Germany of his youth and family.

            His reward came after the war, when after rounding up many Nazi criminals, he hired the young German woman, to cook and clean. That woman would eventually become his wife of sixty-four years, and my mom.

            As I get ready to grill some foods for our family, I fondly remember my parents, and appreciate all they did: their lives, their sacrifices, and their combined heritages. Afterall, today is a day to remember and appreciate all that have come before us, so that we might enjoy our freedoms, grill for our families, and continue to thrive.

            May God bless you, your family, remembered veterans, and your country.

Remembering my parents. Shown here with their great granddaughter Jazmyn

I Think I’m Grieving Wrong

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            It’s now been 9 months since my dad’s passing. He had a wonderful Hospice group (Capital City Hospice). I almost can’t say enough good things about them. They always treated dad with such respect and great care. They explained things to us, which his doctor didn’t know. Today, nine months after dad’s death, they continue to send me information about dealing with grief. All of their advice seems to have one basic theme. Grieving is normal, and will pass. It’s not like they are trying to rush you through the five or seven (depends on who you talk to) stages. They just emphasize that you need to continue to take care of yourself: rest, talk about it, go easy on yourself, avoid negative habits, etc. They even made the Christian point that, it is kind of like the Easer journey, between death and resurrection.

            This latest flyer suggested that journaling might be helpful in expressing and working through grief feelings. But I have this web site, and know this is a helpful topic for all of us. Sadly, loss is a part of life. Dealing with it is a necessary ability.

            I learned about dealing a little with grief in nursing school. But it’s different when it’s your turn. It’s great to know about the classic stages: Shock/Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression/Detachment, and finally Acceptance. But what if you are doing it wrong?

            I very much hate to admit this, but when dad passed my overwhelming feeling was relief. He hadn’t been himself for years. He just couldn’t deal with his losses. He was a shell of his former self, physically and mentally. I did whatever I could, but it was never enough. I visited and took him out more than anyone where he stayed. I actually felt sorry for many of other residents who seemed forgotten. Still, I felt guilty, because I couldn’t make things better for him. I tried to keep him safe, but he always tested the limits. He fell so often one nurse called him the rubber man. Except he wasn’t always rubber. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to every hospital in Columbus, Ohio with him at some time. He missed mom like I missed mom. We had that in common.

            My grief for her was more of the classic variety. With dad my stages were relief followed, in no particular order, guilt, and anger. I still somewhat wrestle with what I might have done differently (guilt). And while I’m not angry during the day, my dad has shown up in occasional dreams. One of my most frequent dreams is with him driving and me sitting helplessly beside him. He drove way longer than he should have. And I couldn’t get the keys from him. Crystal was (as usual) smarter than me. She wouldn’t get into the car unless I was driving. In another dream he was walking without his cane, trying to cross a busy street. I can’t get to him. Sometimes my dreams do turn funny (sort of). One time, I don’t know how, he was driving and we wound up in the middle of a shopping mall. I’m screaming, and people are darting around. That’s usually when I wake up.

            I have talked to a councilor about this. She helped me realize who got me to realize that everyone’s grief is unique. Part of my grieving took place while dad was still alive. I’m empathetic, and I suffered along with him. I felt bad when I couldn’t give him the answers he wanted or tell him he would get better.

            Lately, and this is why I am writing this, I am transitioning to an acceptance phase. Lately, at least some of my dreams turned happier. Mom and dad are together the way they used to be. With the exception of their last days they both lived good long lives. They were always good to me. They were two of the best parents I could have had. I am lucky to have had them. That’s what I will remember.

            If you are ever in a position of grieving, just remember, it is part of life. Help is available. People have been where you are. You are doing it right. There is no wrong way. It may seem difficult, but reach out to loved ones and professionals. Take your pain to God. He understands your loss and promises peace.

Dad and me in 2012 in front of his Oak Lawn IL. house of 60 years, preparing to move him to Ohio

Dad’s Eulogy

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Yesterday was my father’s memorial service. He died about a week earlier on May 31st., 2019, at the age of 98 years old. He was the last of our parents to depart from us. I was asked to say a few words. I am a better writer than public speaker so I read the following as a final tribute:

I never knew dad when he was in the army during WW2, or after the war when he stood up in his jeep to yell at a young German woman, who had lost track of time, and was out after the military curfew. I was there, however, to see her yell back on numerous occasions during their 64 years of marriage.

Mom and dad had, let’s call it, an exciting relationship. But beneath occasional friction they had a bond of love never to be broken. Dad never missed a day visiting her at the rehab center those last months. When she passed in January of 2012 he felt totally lost. At 91 he owned a nice three bedroom house, the house I grew up in, with a yard that was the envy of the neighborhood. But, it was increasingly difficult for him to take care of it. He had friends in the neighborhood but no best friends and no family.

That fall we sold his house and moved him to his new apartment in New Albany, Ohio. While life would never again be the same, he at least could construct a new life and be near family. Every day, weather permitting, he would go on a 2 mile walk through the beautiful nearby metro park, Blendon Woods. He did his own shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. Our whole family visited him frequently. He at least had a life again.

Dad was a very proud man and self-sufficiency was very important. The expression pride cometh before the fall was written with him in mind. That included the fall he took, when, at just short of 94 years old, late in the summer of 2014, he broke his hip getting out of the swimming pool in. He refused, as we had warned him numerous times, to use his cane.

Throughout his rehab, and subsequent move to assisted living, we continued to offer him all of the support we could. We visited multiple times each week, took him for walks, rides and out for meals. We included him in all of our family events. But, as is inevitable, he continued to decline. If nothing else, in the end, I could tell that I had made an impact in his life. I was his guy. Even in those last days, and in his delirium, he would be seated in his chair, stare at the ceiling, shaking, and say ‘Ron, you are going too fast’. Another time he reached out and said ‘Here Ron, take my coat’.

But that is over now, and me greatest feeling is relief. It is like a nightmare ending. Oh don’t get me wrong, it was a privilege to help him. I learned much more about my dad, and therein myself, in those last years than I ever thought possible. But the stress of watching a man I respected decline was undeniable. It’s only through the continued support and encouragement of Crystal and my family that I could continue. His suffering is now over and I am glad. We did everything we could to give him the best life and care possible. Of that I am convinced. I want to give my special thanks to the caring staff members of Sunrise and Bickford Assisted Living Facilities and Capitol City Hospice. Finally, I am also convinced that, he is finally at peace, and glad to be back with mom. Somehow, Papa without Mimi never seemed quite right.

For most of his life dad called Chicago home.

Secrets to Marriage: Part One: Dating: Crystal’s Corner

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As usual, Crystal had something to add on this month’s post. Enjoy!

Crystal’s Corner

Ron’s right; never stop dating. When we were first dating at Bradley University in Peoria, Il., we walked and talked a lot in Bradley Park, attended APO parties and dances, and went to coffee shops at night to listen to guitar playing folk singers.  Even when we had very little money to spend, we found ways to enjoy our time together.  At Bradley University which is on a hill, couples would go to tall buildings and up to the top floor or roof to watch the beautiful sunsets. 

While we were engaged and early in our marriage, we played tennis, miniature golf, bowled sometimes and participated in church activities.  We noticed sometimes that other couples, especially after becoming parents, were not having couples time together. 

Fortunately, both sets of our parents had set the example of continuing to date during their marriages. My mom would dress up to go out with my dad; and he would wear nice clothes too.  My Dad would tell us,   “I’m taking your mom out to dinner or a movie or some event; and I expect you kids to be good for the babysitter.”  The next day we would get a report usually from Mom about what happened.  As a child and teenager I always thought about the future of having a husband like my Dad who would be taking me out on dates.  My Dad also would buy my Mom a gardenia corsage for special occasions. Sometimes he would buy her candy or a present.

Ron and I have continued our dating relationship during our marriage.  Just like at school, whenever possible we still love watching a nice sunset together while holding hands or cuddling. Both of us also enjoy photography and we go to many parks, gardens, etc. to take pictures.  On our recent trip to the Alpaca Farm bed and breakfast, we first went to a garden in Zanesville to see the spring flowers.  We didn’t take photos there, but we did at the Alpaca farm.  I know about Alpacas and their wool because I am a knitter and crocheter. We always look for Alpacas and llamas while driving. There seem to be a lot of them in Ohio.

We encourage both of our married daughters and their husbands to go on dates with each other and even have getaway weekends together.  Sometimes we give them gift cards for restaurants. Sometimes they return the favor.  We are glad they are following our example.  Life can be difficult, really busy and exhausting.  You get worn out with work, housework, child care, etc., so it is important to plan time together to just concentrate on each other.  I always have told the girls,  “Your Dad is my husband, but he is also my boyfriend.”  And they say something like,  “Oh, Mom.”

I’ll never forget Michelle and Elizabeth, when they were little girls, watching me get ready for a date with their Dad.  They were fascinated with my makeup, jewelry and dresses.  Sometimes they would ask me,  “Are you going to wear the red shoes?”  These were my red high heels which were very uncomfortable that I only wore for special occasions like Valentine’s Day.  If I said yes they would have big smiles, and tell Ron that this was a special date because, Mom is wearing her red shoes.

I can say after 41 years of marriage to Ron that he is still worth wearing the uncomfortable red shoes.  He’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.

Three daughters and three granddaughters

I know the picture has nothing to do with the article, but isn’t it nice that, earlier this month, Lisa and Liz dropped everything in their lives to support their sister Michelle for the birth of new baby girl Ripley. Great kids!

Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree: A Liz and Brad story

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By Crystal Meinstein

            Every year Elizabeth and Brad and their five children go to the tree farm in Coshocton, Ohio to cut down a fresh Christmas tree to display in their home.  This year they are moving around the middle of December (YIKES), so they didn’t know if they were going to cut down a real tree.  On a very warm day early in December, Liz decided that they should go get the tree.  She mistakenly believed that only a few people would be getting their trees this early. Also, she invited her friends with their new baby and foster children,her sister in law and mother in law to go.

            Approaching the Christmas tree farm, they saw the longest line of cars they had ever seen in all the years they have been cutting down their own tree.  The line was slowly moving forward.  Elizabeth, Jazmyn (16), Bradyn (10) and Elijah (8) decide to go look for trees instead of waiting in the line with Brad.  Elizabeth has Addy, who is one, along with Jazmyn and the boys climbed the hill to look at trees.  Jazmyn, who is very artistic, found the perfect tree right away.  The problem is you have to use an electric saw to cut it down and they were all being used.  So Elizabeth followed someone else(feeling like a stalker) who had one of the saws, and watched them cut down their tree and then asked if she could use the saw.

            Elizabeth ended up with her friends’ new baby in one arm and Addy in the other, waiting until they could move the tree to the car. Then she got a text on her phone from Jazmyn. I guess she used her third, ‘mother arm’, to answer it. Apparently, Jazmyn had gone to the out house on the farm and the door stuck.  She couldn’t get out.  Elizabeth didn’t know what to do.  So with both children in her arms, she tried to find one of the adults to help.  Jazmyn, who was nervously waiting in the outhouse; was stunned when a strange man kicked the door open.  The man was also surprised and apologized.  But Jazmyn thanked him for saving her and letting her out of the outhouse.

            Brad and the boys carried the tree to their car. They strapped it to the roof and transported it home.  However, because they are moving soon before Christmas, they decided to not decorating the tree.  So according to Elizabeth, Brad is trying very hard to keep the tree alive so they can move it to their new place.

            Ron used to take the girls for tree cutting when they were young. However, recently its been strictly artificial for us. Ron and I bought a new tree a few years ago.  This tree comes in three parts and you have to “fluff” it, separating the branches to make it look like a real tree.  It is much smaller than our oldtree which we had to build one branch at a time before fluffing.  I had trained all of our girls and Keylan and Jazmyn to help put together our old tree. I come from my parents’ philosophy: Everything you teach your children and grandchildren to do, they take with them to use in the future. 

            This year I was fluffing and decorating the tree with lights and ornaments all by myself.  Our new cat Ella, tried to help me by knocking the ornaments off the tree. She played with them all over the downstairs.  Her favorites are a stuffed yellow Woodstock and a small green stocking.   The other day she brought the green stocking back to me so I could put it back on the tree and she could knock it off again.   Ella also likes to put the small decorations in our shoes.  Ron made her a seat on the window ledge, right by the tree. This helps her to reach more ornaments.

            We recently visited Lisa in her house in Kentucky. She has a new tree this year and guess who helped her to fluff it out and put on the lights?  Yes, it was me.  I must have been an elf in a former life also a psychiatrist, chauffeur, baker, teacher, nurse, janitor and more interesting occupations.

            Good luck decorating your house and/or office this year.  I don’t seem to have the energy to take everything down until the middle of January. Now I am in the process of wrapping the presents, sending out the cards,and making cookies.  Where are those elves when you need them?  “Meow”   No,Ella, not you.

Our Tree and our Christmas cat Ella.

Taking Care

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My dad is the last of our parents still surviving. He will  turn 98 in November. He is in assisted living and I visit on the same days every week. Consistency is important. Crystal comes with me about once a week. The girls visit whenever they can. Visiting him has apparently led to a new topic of conversation between our daughters. When our time comes, it has been decided that Lisa will get Crystal. That makes sense since they talk on the phone for hours every week anyway. Liz will be stuck with me. Michelle, obviously the wisest of the three, will just be available when the others complain.

I do find it interesting that in no scenario do Crystal and I stay together in our approaching old age. We’ll have to see about that. But, if the girls have their way, Liz gets me. Sorry Brad. Liz is smart, organized, very compassionate, and can out stubborn a herd of goats. Crystal insists that Liz reminds her of someone. When I ask who, she just smiles and rolls her eyes. I’m still not sure to whom she was referring. Except for the final trait, she might have meant me. I, however, have never been stubborn a day in my life; and I would fight anyone to the death who said I was.

Liz, however, was born that way. She was also born a daddy’s girl. I remember coming home from a hard day at work ready to crash in my favorite chair only to be greeted at our front door by an adorable two year old wearing her winter coat on backwards (easier to put on that way). She turned her head briefly to her mom and said her two favorite words “Daddy, Out”. Inevitably there was something I thought of that we needed at the store or something for dinner, or just a walk or a couple of pushes on a cold swing. She had me trained.

On rare occasions, her well tolerated manipulations backfired. She had to be around three years old and we had just finished some errands. It was time for a little treat. We stopped at one of my favorite restaurants, Pepe’s Tacos. Picture a classy version of Taco Bell with actually good Mexican food. I can’t remember what I ordered, but I always ordered a side of pickled Jalapenos. I just liked a little extra spice. Unfortunately, Liz loved pickles. She immediately reached for the peppers. I unceremoniously pulled them out of her reach. What followed was at least five minutes of discussion about what Liz insisted were the pickles I was hoarding. Somehow, I was unable to convince her that she wouldn’t like them. Tears were shed. Finally, after I wiped my eyes, I gave in. I cut off the tiniest piece of a pepper I could manage. She quickly popped it into her mouth and chewed. Her face changed in a matter of moments from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. The little green temptress wound up on the table cloth. And I fed her some chips to sooth her burnt palate.

It was one of those rare teachable moments you get as a parent. When you are a kid, you promise yourself you’ll never say certain things when you are the parent. But temptation was too great. I believe my next sentence began with the phrase ‘maybe next time when I tell you’.

By now I’m certain that with her five perfect children, Liz has more than once, repeated similar shallow words in an attempt to maintain some measure of control and authority. That is just what you do with kids, try to keep them safe, sometimes in spite of themselves.

And someday when Liz and I return to Pepe’s Tacos and I ask for a side of Jalapenos; Liz will take them away and try to explain that they are no good for my ulcer. Who do you think will win that argument?

Spoiler Alert: Next post will contain details of progress on the publication of our memoir. Yes, there has been progress.

The girls visited this weekend. Liz and I enjoyed a couple of Jalapenos. They had no idea why I poised them like this. Can you guess?