Old Friends, Opportunities and The Sands of Time

Back in the time in which my friends and I were known as college students we used to gather upon special occasions. Mind you that in those days we were spread out far and wide and very few of us understood that we were living through a special occasion.

The gang as we collectively referred to ourselves then and now was a mixed group of boys and girls who had known each other for a while. Many of us had met in elementary school or junior high. By the time our university lives began we had the benefit of years of friendship together. We had seen the first loves come and go, witnessed more than a few life cycle events and used those things to build the foundation of the friendships that we still share. 

Since we found ourselves scattered across the country we looked towards the holidays as a time when we could reconnect in person. As I sit here typing on my computer I find myself smiling at the memories, if for no other reason than the recollection that we had few of the modern conveniences to use.

 It is funny, none of us feels old but in some ways we are. We didn't have blogs, Facebook or Twitter to use as a way to stay in touch. As undergrads email was limited to those of us who were scientists. Long distance telephone charges were a serious concern that we monitored closely and cellphones were a dream that we referred to as a "car phone." And those car phones were expensive and the province of some of our parents.

Holidays became valued not only for the chance to come home and see our parents but for the opportunity to reconnect with the gang. I suppose that I was naive but I always thought that eventually everyone would move back home and that holidays would be just one of many occasions upon which we'd see each other.

But life happened. Some of us died, others got married to the men/women they met in school and ended up in places other than home. And then life, oh sweet life happened in more ways and children came. And the coming of children created new bonds, broke old ones and forced more changes than most of us would have anticipated.

And now those of us who live in the same city still fight to find time to see each other. Busy lives mean that holidays still serve as moments when we set aside our concerns and spent time together.

+++++++

In a few hours a group of us are going to reconvene and turn back the hands of time for a bit. Some of the gang have come back home for the holiday and so we'll gather those who can make it and do what we can to catch up.

It is an impromptu gathering so my own family is busy which is good and bad. I won't get to show off my kids in person but the upside is that I'll be able to focus on the conversations I do have. I'll get to sit back and watch my friends play mom and dad. I'll hold a new baby or two and admire how big the others have gotten.

Some of us will talk about Bar and Bat Mitzvah's that are approaching with light speed. We'll compare notes about dealing with the challenges of parenting and ask ourselves how we got sucked into the private school morass.

At some point there will be a moment when I'll look up and realize that we have split up into groups of men and women. I'll look around and listen as the guys talk about our stuff and eavesdrop for a moment on the girls.

I'll smile as I enjoy the time with them now because I always do. But I'd be lying if I said that I won't think back to moments long ago when we chased each other on the beach. Days gone by when we'd hope that the girls would bring along new friends that we'd hope would be "hot" and endless summer nights.

And as I sit there taking it all in I'll remember how far away this time seemed to me. I'll remember how we used to talk about how old 25 sounded, let alone 40. Opportunities were all that I used to see, endless opportunities that were uncomplicated by responsibilities.

Don't get me wrong, life is very good now, but every now and then I wonder about that one time....

Passover 2010- Grandma is Gone

"Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on"
Lean On Me- Bill Withers

It is Passover 2010. I sit down at the table and wait for my father to start the seder. My son is on my left, grandfather just to my right. It is the first holiday since grandma died and I am surprised by how hard it is.

Grandma wasn't particularly religious. She was proud of her Judaism but didn't go to shul unless it was for a family function. Didn't keep a Kosher home and really didn't do much to Kasher the house for Pesach. But she was an integral part of our lives and it is impossible not to notice that she isn't there.

It is not the first seder that she has missed. Due to health issues she didn't make it last year, but that was different. She was missed, but it was understood that had things been slightly different she would have been and that is a significant difference.

This is a first of different sorts. It is the first seder at my parent's house in several years. The last few have been at mine. Instead of running it I am back to second chair status. It is ok with me, my mother is more comfortable being at home now so I am happy to help.

My father starts telling stories about Pesach past and I am irritated. Spent the last few days doing nothing but story telling about days gone by. I don't want to hear the tales of my youth for the 23rd time, not the least of which is because none of them seem to resemble the versions that I know.

I pour myself a big glass of wine and start drinking. My daughter smiles at me as whispers, "don't be mad and don't be sad abba." I smile and am more irritated that my face doesn't hide my feelings. A few hours earlier she took me aside to tell me the story. She thinks it is important for me to know that Moshe took the people into the desert a long, long time ago, 59 years by her measure. The memory makes me smile, who knew that the Exodus happened a mere 18 years before I was born.

The family is talking about my great-grandmother, reminiscing about how in her Yiddish accented voice she'd say that she was "shikkered" (drunk) on grape juice. She died when I was 17. I remember her well and I think for a moment about how closely my grandmother resembled her mother. Both are gone now, so is my great grandfather.

Though he is gone my father tells us all again about how he refused to speak Yiddish to his children, he was an American and wanted his children to be Americans. Still he told the stories of his time in Vilna and how he hid in the fields from the Cossacks.




I smile again and remember how he used to play with me. I was seven or so when he died. He was a tall man who used a cane and had white hair, at least when I knew him. But I heard the stories of a man who had been a tailor. I heard the stories about how my zaide (great grandfather) would walk into shops and shut them down, shouting for the other tailors to leave because they wouldn't work unless they were part of a union.

Stories of the times he would have fist fights with the police, of card games at the house and how he could quiet his children down with just a look. My father and his cousins all tell stories of a loving man who was as tough as they come, tales that echo those told by my great grandfather's children.

My son asks me if I know who grandpa is talking about and I say yes.  I  realize that I have to take a moment to explain all the connections to him. My dad interchanges grandfather with 'pa' because they called him both. I called him zaide, but sometimes refer to him as my great grandfather. And of course my son thinks of great grandfather in the context of my own grandfathers.

It is loud inside house. The stories are interspersed with singing and the tales switch from one side of the family to the other. My own head is pounding from exhaustion and frustration. I remind myself that it is ok to be upset but feel torn by it all.

What is my responsibility here. What is my obligation. I have my grief, my grandfathers, mother, aunts, siblings and children, nieces, nephews and then some.

As I write this it is intentionally garbled, jumbled and filled with more emotion than I can convey. I do it because I am trying to show just how nutty it was.

The dogs are locked up for the time being, puppies are whining, big dogs are yelping. They want to be inside with the rest of us. The singing is loud and off key and all I want is to start eating. Let's eat and maybe in the quiet I'll gather my thoughts.

It is hard. Grandma is gone. All of my grandmothers, the matriarchs have gone on to wherever it is we go. I am down to one grandparent. Now it is just my grandfather. He quiets everyone so that he can say a few words. He sings softly, the words barely intelligible. A tear rolls down his cheek and I hear my daughter react.

Passover 2010, the moment when I realize that my childhood is almost nothing but memories has arrived. I am not ready for this but can't say that I ever will be so does it make a difference.

Passover 2010 is my own exodus from one place into another, into moments unknown and unseen.

The seder is over. We're home and the kids are in bed. It is almost 2 AM and I am back at the computer. I had intended to write about the night, but just couldn't make it happen. I didn't want to write a post that was overly sentimental junk. So I decide to wait until the morning.

Morning turns into afternoon and afternoon turns into early evening. So here I am with a post that is overly sentimental junk. Sigh.

Related Posts:

Sounds Of My Youth
Transitions- Passover Seder  
Struggling With Pesach
Passing The Baton- Grandma is 94
Passover- The High Cholesterol Holiday
What is Your Favorite Pesach Memory?
Some Passover Musings
Passover

Like Two Prizefighters

 (The story continues


I stood there and looked blankly at the man, my arms dangled at my side like two sides of beef. It was overwhelming me. I stood there knowing that this man had been tortured, knowing that Georgie expected me to torture him some more. And the worst part of it was that part of me was curious about what it would be like to do it. What would it feel like, would I get some kind of rush of adrenaline or would it be the beginning of a nightmare that would haunt me.

It would have been nice to say that I was a nice guy who had never done anything wrong, but that wasn’t true. It would have been nice to blame it all on Georgie and to say that he was responsible for the violence that I had been a part of, but that wasn’t true. He may have gotten me involved, but I always had the chance to walk away, to say no and I never did.

The reality was that I blamed myself for the way my life had turned out and even though I knew that Georgie played a large role in it, I still beat myself up about it. Even though I knew that had I tried to walk away there would have been an ugly confrontation I still thought that I should have, could have done better.

Georgie came up behind me and guided the hand holding the knife to the battered remains of the victim’s face. As he suggested that I cut out an eyeball I realized that this time would be different. I had had enough that much was clear by how I thought of this guy. In the past I never would have used the term victim to describe the people we had hurt. But that was a different time.

I pulled my arm out of Georgie’s grasp and flung the knife into the woods. He grabbed me by the collar of my jacket and asked me “to tell him what the fuck I was doing.”

I knocked his hands off of me and told him that I couldn’t do this. Enough was enough. He spat at the ground in front of me and said that pussies like me deserved whatever happened to us. For a moment his face softened and he asked me to reconsider, told me that the guy was going to die anyway and that we might as well enjoy ourselves.

And that was when I knew that I had to kill Georgie. There was no way that he was going to let me live. Oh, he might let me get off of the mountain, he might not do anything for a while, but sooner or later he would come for me and I knew it.

For a moment we stood there starting at each other, like two prizefighters sizing each other up we shared a moment of silence. Georgie was an animal who could hurt you badly without thinking about it. I was someone who had participated in acts of violence, but I couldn’t escape the sick feelings that accompanied it.

And I couldn’t escape the feeling of dread that was wracking my body. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I didn’t have long. Georgie wouldn’t let this impasse last for long and for all I knew the Tree Man (as I had taken to calling him) might have friends come looking for him.

I knew that in the glove compartment of Georgie’s car there was a .38 snub nosed revolver and I knew that it was always loaded. Of course I had the simple problem of what to do about the Tree Man and Georgie. There was no way that Georgie would just let me walk away and I hadn’t a clue about the Tree Man. He might not survive his wounds and given that Georgie said that he was going to kill him anyway he could potentially be factored out of the equation.

But that left me as an accomplice to murder and I wasn’t real keen on that. Neither was I happy not knowing Tree Man’s history. Maybe I had read too many books or seen too many movies, but I was concerned with whether his death might create trouble for me outside of the many legal problems it presented.

And then it happened. Georgie hit me in the head, knocking me backwards over the stump. I grunted as I hit the stump and fell face first in the dirt. A boot slammed into my ribs. Again I wished that this was a movie or at least a dream. Nightmares ended with you waking up panting and short of breath, but at least you had escaped the monster. I was not so lucky.

This wasn’t a dream, I wasn’t going to wake up and no one was going to help me. It was nightfall and the moon had not yet risen so it was dark. I scrambled to my feet and tried to run only to be tripped.

I fell down again and again I was rewarded with another boot in my rib cage. I stood up and Georgie hit me hard, but this time I fell into him. I’d like to say that I planned it, but it would be a lie. Together we fell in the darkness. I landed on top of him and began punching him, screaming and shouting I pummeled him. I don’t know how long I hit him for, but I know that it took a while for me to realize that it had all been unnecessary. When we fell down the back of his head had landed on a rock. All I had done was make him more dead.

When I stood up I was shivering. Georgie was dead, Georgie was dead, Georgie was dead, Georgie was dead.

Now what.

The thing was that Georgie had been like family to me. In some sick, twisted and perverse sense of the word he had been like my older brother, the guy hadn’t always been bad, he hadn’t always been this way, had he. I couldn’t tell, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t even really sure that he was dead, maybe he wasn’t, maybe he was just hurt, maybe he was just unconscious, knocked out like one of those cartoons we used to watch.

Maybe it was like when Bugs Bunny stuck his finger in Elmer Fudd’s gun and he would sit up, his face covered in black dirt.

Bad things Come in Threes

That's the old saw isn't it, bad things come in three's. At least I hope that is the case. If this were a twelve round fight I'd have to say that the other guy is winning.

I have been beaten up, down and around the ring. My legs are wobbly, I have two black eyes and one hell of a concussion. The only reason that I am still on my feet is that I am too stubborn or perhaps too dumb to go down.

So I keep fighting because I don't know what else to do. I stagger around the ring, trying not to collapse. I search the crowd for my Adrian, knowing that if I can see my girl's face I'll find the strength to continue.

But she's not there.

Alone in the dark I hear things, the echoes of the past and whispers of the future. She is gone. Can't say if it is for good or for what. Silly 70's songs like Just When I needed You Most play in the background, but I can't focus.

I try to buck up, be a man who can shrug it all off and maintain that edge, but I fail. The minutes stretch into days and the hours feel like a lifetime. My dear sweet Adrian, I am not too proud too beg, but I wonder will it help.

Every day there is more bad news. Every day I wake up by trying to go back to sleep. But it doesn't work. So I get out of bed and trudge over to the shower. I turn it on full blast and step into it. The water is so hot that it burns me, but I don't turn the knob.

Rather punish myself and continue to sow seeds of self destruction. I should go down. The fight should be over, but I still can't let go or give up.

(originally posted here)

What Not To Do After A one night Stand


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What You Missed- The Review

If you haven't been by recently here is what you missed:

Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 4
Haveil Havalim-The Empty Seat At My Seder Edition
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Cemetery- Who Is In the Box
Dad, I Didn't Get To say Goodbye
Back With More Bad News
Georgie in the Mountains
Hump Day Notes
Grandma's Dying & Grandpa Has Cancer
Dad, Can You Teach me About Girls

Haveil Havalim-The Empty Seat At My Seder Edition

Welcome to Haveil Havalim-The Empty Seat At My Seder Edition. This past week we lost my grandmother, Miriam bat Shoshana and as a result will have one less seat to fill at my seder.

At a hair short of 41 I have been privileged and blessed with grandparents for longer than many of my friends. I have learned much from them and taken great joy in watching them play with their great grandchildren. Due to family obligations this edition is a bit rough.

This one is for you grandma.
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'

Israel

Rubin Reports presents The Obama Administration's Coolness to Israel is No Mirage but it is a Manageable Problem. A Soldier's Mother wrote The Vision of an Art Sale.

Yourish Shares Why no Israeli ships are hijacked by pirates. At Bookworm you can read Israel and the liberal noise machine.

My Right Word Asks In which Country Italy thinks Jerusalem is in. Perhaps they should watch this video.

Yoav shares some thoughts about a soldier's feelings on guns and responsibility. Read About Ruti's Obstacle to Peace Kit.

The always dependable Joel Katz shared Religion and State in Israel parts one and two. Shiloh Musings writes that The EU official is Right, Jerusalem is Not Tel Aviv and International Media Incitement Against Israel.

Here are 8 Ways to Improve Your Hebrew. Israelity is Hiking The Himilayas The Jewish Way.

Jessica is Celeb Spotting in Jerusalem. Want a reason to visit Israel? Go read Ok, Kids, Stop Texting for Five Seconds and Listen to Uncle Benji.

In his Jerusalem Post blog, Yisrael Medad goes "oy" over Jerusalem. Don't forget to see what Came To Shiloh.

Judaism

Schvach wrote Brain Melt. In the Insanity before Passover I Couldn't Resist, or so she said. ;)

Dov Bear wrote about The Jewish Reformation. Mottel covered the bbq with Lubavitch.com Hosts Jewish Digerati at SXSW Festival's Kosher BBQ. Don't forget to also read The End of Austin.

Reb Chaim HaQoton wrote Vayikra—Positively Burnt.

Frume Sarah is Conflicted about Kitniyot. Jacob shares 102 Cool Passover YouTube videos.

Jewlicious covered Passover, Bondage, Goofy Dancing Teens and Gilad Shalit.  Harryer Than Them All wrote The Song of Silence.

Artzeinu blog wrote A Calm View of Raging Issues.Ki Yachol Nuchal wrote a bit about cleaning for Pesach. Parsha Blog asks Should there be a petucha before Vayikra 7:22 or before Vayikra 7:28?

Tzedek Tzedek asks the important question about What Can Parents Do To Prevent Sexual Abuse.

Binyamin Miller presents The freedom of being slaves to G-d and Using Grape Juice for Four Cups.

Chabad Lubavitch presents The Rebbe in 1964: On Jewish Education, Community, Responsibilty.

TRS presents 11 Nissan approaches

Phyllis presents It's OUR Story: TweetTheExodus. Frum Satire says that some Sephardim say that Kitniyot Laws are Racist.

The Rebbitzin's husband wrote Burying a Suicide Victim in a Jewish Cemetery and Shh...the Rabbi is coming.

Chaviva,  in the midst of making Passover Haikus she also wants to know Pesach Cometh, Have You Shaken Your Books?


Personal

Have you ever considered whether there is a distinction between being a spouse or a partner? Friday Confession: I Don’t Want To Be A Partner.

Dr. Helen poses the interesting question Is there such a thing as male or female blogging?
Benji wants to see Nathan Lane as Herod.

Go read Our Heart-i-versary - The First! Part I.

Hadassa presents Thank You for All the Cleaning by Hadassa DeYoung.

SnoopyTheGoon presents In defense of my mixed feelings.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

P.S. If you have any feedback on the new design please feel free to leave it in the comments.

Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 4

2010 is the year of the daddy blogger and as such it is time again for the Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience. This is the fourth edition of our weekly series. A collection of posts from the unsung heroes of the parenting gang. Take a moment to read the posts the men have written and let them know that they are appreciated.

Cleverfather:Kids are like mint cars
Mocha Dad: Parenting By the Book or By Instinct
Daddytypes.com: A Little Monkey, Chased By The Nazis. We Have To Help Him. This Is Curious
NoobDad:She Heard That
PapaRocks6:Me and my fears
DadWagon:The Tantrum: Should You Bring Your Kids to Fancy Restaurants? Part IV
Howefitz Blog:Saturday Morning Fare: Frog In Armor Edition
Luke, I amYour Father: Recycled Humor
DC Urban Dad: Dear Pampers.....
And Triplets Make Six:Dear Elmo
Daddy Files: Her Shit Don’t Stink

Canadad:Life in a Zoo
Clark Kent's Lunchbox:A SAHD Resume
BloggerDad:Cooking With Chef Blogger Dad
It Ain't All Pizzas and Cream: Up
Tessa's Dad:#FatherhoodFriday – Elmo, I’ve got your back.
Real Men Drive Minivans: There’s a nlog in my blog
Jack: Back With More Bad News
Us and Them: Tastes Like Chicken
New York Dad: The Greatest Show On Earth…
Outnumbered is Me: Daughtry... DON'T MESS THIS UP!
Dad of Divas: Parenting in Abstentia 
Dad's House: Split Lip For a School Band Concert
Almighty Dad: Hooked on Phonics Update
Father Doesn't Know Best: 5 Lessons Learned
Sex and The Single Dad: The Pilot Show
Evan...hearing is believing: I wish


That's it for now. This shouldn't be considered a complete list of the many fine daddy bloggers, but it does provide a small glimpse into our world.

If you like what you see here then please consider becoming a fan of the blog. Have additional questions/comments? Send me an email at talktojacknow-at-gmail-dot-com.

Prior Editions:

Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience
Festival of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 2
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part III

The Six Million Dollar Man

I still love hearing this. It brings back so many good memories.

The Cemetery- Who Is In the Box

I woke up a little bit before six and slowly realized that whatever I had been dreaming about had been disturbing. Tried to relax for a moment to see if memory would serve me a few images to digest but got nothing. Nada, ephus, bubkis.

Can't tell you what it was that made me uneasy, won't speculate either. What I can tell you is that grandma's funeral is later today and I am surprised by feeling completely unready for it. Shocked by the feeling of unease and discontent, unprepared for it entirely.

As I move through the house it is a blend of morning rituals. Kids are moving slowly, getting ready for school at a snail's pace. That is no different than any other day. I am supposed to have a conference call at 7 A.M. but it has been canceled today. I shuffle into the bathroom and close the door, a temporary refuge.

I look in the mirror and see dark circles beneath my eyes, lines in my forehead and a very thick beard. As I stand there I realize I am looking for a 12 year old boy or maybe someone a bit younger. It strikes me that I am 30 years too late. The grandson I seek isn't here anymore.

That boy's memories are...still here. And they swirl around inside. They remember going to a cousin's funeral and seeing the casket. They remember being shocked and surprised then and tears. My tears. I cried and I cried hard. They remember the frustration I felt at not being to hold it together like the men I saw around me.

My grandfather put his arm around me. Even today I can still feel it. Can still smell him. And I remember how after the funeral it was just him and I in the car. And I remember how at my grandmother's funeral seven years ago I helped him stand on the somewhat uneven ground of the hillside.

Time and age had blessed him with a cane and legs that weren't so steady. So I stood next to him and when he needed to rest he leaned against me just as I had done years before.


++++++++

Spent time talking with my son about what will happen today. Tried to prepare him for how things would go. Told him the order of things and that he should expect his aunts to cry...hard. Told him that they cry hard at weddings too, it is just how they are. Nothing wrong with it, but he hasn't seen them like that and I didn't want him to be scared.

Told him that grandpa may cry too and that I expect my mother, his grandmother to cry also. And during all this it will be ok if he cries too. He looks up at me and asks, "will you cry dad?"

It is not judgemental, just a question. I purse my lips and consider how to answer. I don't cry easily and if I do it tends to be in private. I tell him that I am not sure and excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I am conflicted.

Grandpa is doing pretty well, all things considered. He told me about how he discovered that grandma was gone. They were lying in bed together hold hands and suddenly he realized that something wasn't right. She didn't cry out or make any sort of noise. Her hand was warm in his, but he could tell something was off. So he called for a nurse. She came in and confirmed what he already knew.

When the mortuary came he made certain he was out of the room. "I can't see her like that. Can't watch them stick her in a box." He and I are sitting in the living room of my parent's house and I am listening to him talk. His voice alternates between strength and weakness.

He grabs onto my wrist and squeezes it, works to compose himself. My daughter is just across the room, entertaining herself. She is singing softly and I remember how she used to hold onto me like that too. How her little hand would grab mine as she would fight to stand up or to try and walk.

Grandma used to love watching her do that and so did I. I can hear my mother and my aunt talking in a different room, but something is off. And then I realize that I am straining to hear grandma talking to her girls, but she is not because she can't.

More images and memories run through my mind. Grandpa looks amazing for 96. No ever guesses his age, they are always about ten years off. I wonder if that will be what it is like for me. There in the silence I try to imagine what it must be like to be him. Born during the first world war he has vague memories of soldiers returning home. Stories about how he would help out one of his uncles by riding along in a horse drawn cart and delivering various things.

The kids are yelling now. My daughter and a nephew are chasing a son through the house. I want to let that go for a minute. They are reacting to the strong emotions that are stirring around them. At the same time I know that grandpa won't last with it, too much noise. I let them make another lap and then ask them to be quieter.

Grandpa looks at me and says that my voice carries quite well and I realize that he was thinking about the little boy that I can't find too.

Moments later my father asks me to help my sisters with something. Chances are that they need me to get something down, too short to reach it on their own.

The kids are almost ready for school. The funeral is in the afternoon so they'll attend a partial day. I share a few more words with them, kiss them and send them out the door. And then words come spilling into my mind, "who is in the box?"

Don't know why I think that, just that I do. The box is my grandmother's coffin. In a short time I will see it and wonder if she is really in it. I'll stare at it and wonder if perhaps she won't suddenly jump out and yell surprise knowing full well that she won't.

Monday night at the hospital she and I are alone in the room. She is partially sedated and for the moment lying quietly in bed. I bend over in a quiet voice say that I love her and that it is ok. The unspoken words lie thick in my throat and I realize that I have just said goodbye.

A short time later I walk down the hallway, press the call button for the elevator. Standing there I know that this is the last time I am going to make this walk.

The kids are at school and the house is quiet. Now it is just me, my iPod, the computer and you, whomever you are reading this. Time to eat breakfast and consider whether I wish to share any words graveside. I am not ready for this, not yet.

But some choices are made for us or so I tell my children. Guess that today I'll have to show them that dad abides by his words too. And so it goes.

Dad, I Didn't Get To say Goodbye

 

Grandma died the night of my 14th wedding anniversary. With the news of her departure a night of nostalgic reminiscing took on new meaning. As is obvious by this post and the prior one I have been thinking about it all and have decided to continue to chronicle my thoughts, feelings and ideas here.

Chicago has always played a big role in my life. It is where my grandmother and many other families were born and raised. I have teased most of the family about our great inability to find a decent pizza or steak in the Windy City so I thought that the song above kind of fit the tone. And of course I have to include Sweet Home Chicago if for no other reason than it lightens my mood and makes me smile.

This morning I told the children about grandma and received the expected responses from them. My daughter kind of shrugged her shoulders. The dark haired beauty is 5.5 and death is still a bit foreign to her. She understands that grandma is gone, but the weight and the import of the moment aren't the same for her. When she heard she smiled, hugged and kissed me.

Two comments for future reference. 1) Again this is partially indicative of her age. She doesn't completely understand. 2) She understands that I am upset and set out to console me. This made me both happy and scared. She understands me far too well. I am going to have to remember this as she continues to ply her charms upon me to get what she wants.

But I digress, somewhat intentionally. Her older brother is in many ways a clone of me. Still waters run deep. When we are happy we are ecstatic and when we are truly sad we are...sad.

Upon hearing the news he burst into tears and shouted that he didn't get to say goodbye. And that was heart breaking in itself. He understands what it means to die. He knows that it means that the spirit has left the body and there is no more communication face-to-face.

I didn't tell him that she is in a better place or that he is going to get to see her one day. I rarely say things like that even though I may believe them to be true, or at least think that it is possible. I didn't because I want him to think about some of these things and come up with answers that work for him.

Spiritual matters are very personal. It has always been important to me that my children receive a Jewish upbringing and education. And I want them to live their lives that way, but at the same time I want them to ask questions of themselves. I want them to figure out what they think and what they believe.

My job is to mentor, teach, guide and whenever necessary direct. And believe me there are things that I make clear are black and white. I may give them room for their own thought, but there is only so much play in that rope. Most of this is just training in how to pick a part a situation and find the truth of the matter.

So when the big guy asks me why she died without having a chance to say goodbye I tell him the truth, that could happen at any time to any of us. I also work on reassuring him that his immediate family is filled with healthy people who are highly unlikely to die. Thus far I think that it has worked.

But still, he is nervous about his great grandfather as well as his grandparents. Not to mention his question of myself as to whether I think I might die soon. I tell him that soon is a very broad term and that I can be specific. I run through the ages of my grandparents and remind him that we have excellent genes. It is not uncommon for us to live into our nineties.

And then I talk about science and medical advancements and how we have access to things that the great grandparents don't. He nods his head and I see that the logic of the argument is working. He get's it, he is calming down, but I know that he'll go to school with a stew of emotions boiling beneath the surface.

I have about 2.5 hours until I see him again. We'll see what other questions he has or does not have. In the interim I am off to my parent's home. There is work to be done and I am taking on as much as I can. It is an interesting role I find myself in; Father/son/grandson/brother.

Time to wear to my many hats- see you later,

Back With More Bad News

My grandmother died a short time ago. It wasn't unexpected but it happened a little bit faster than I had anticipated. And now I am sitting at the computer, trying to process it all. I don't think that it has sunk in yet, not completely.

The call came a few minutes after midnight, I didn't have to look at the caller ID to know that it was bad news, what else do you hear about late at night or early in the morning. Twenty years ago if the phone rang then it would have been a girl friend or friend with benefits. Twenty years ago it might have been one of the boys looking for a ride home or a shoulder to cry on.

Those days are gone and I have come to dread those late night calls because they almost always mean that someone is gone.

My grandmother is gone. The woman who used to take my sisters and I on long walks is here no longer. The woman who had more energy than anyone I ever met has finally run out and the world is a sadder place for it.

Across town my mother, aunt and a sister are sitting with my grandfather, who after 75 years of marriage is now a widower. My heart breaks for him more than anyone.

They met when they were 11 and spent the next 85 years together, a lifetime. It is not a tragic loss, she lived a long and full life. But my grandfather's world just collapsed into a million pieces. And there is nothing that I can offer to fix that other than soft words of encouragement.

And will I offer those. I will do all that I can to help. Every thought, idea, trick I can come up with will be his, but I know that in the end it will fall short and for that I am sorry.

Sometimes words are simply inadequate or perhaps the shortcoming lie in the person who wishes to be wordsmith. At the moment I don't know what to say or rather I don't like what I am saying so I keep deleting and rewriting.

It is not my way, at least not on the blog. Here in my corner of cyberspace the words flow like water down a rocky stream. Here is where I would give you a better description of the woman my grandmother was and why she was so deserving of our love.

But the words fail me. I cannot translate that which I see in my head to paper. So in a few moments I will shut down the computer. In the morning I will resume my role as father and I will have to tell my children that grandma has gone. I need some time to think about what I want to say so for now this will be it.

I'll share more thoughts and ideas about grandma later, for now let me say that I loved her very much and I will miss her more. We aren't given that many grandmothers and now I have none. The world is indeed a darker place.

Georgie in the Mountains

(The story continues

Three hours later we joined a half dozen other cars in a campground turned shantytown. If I had been a photographer for Newsweek I could have composed a photo essay about the working poor. The people roaming through the grounds couldn’t have been much older than their mid-thirties, but the tired and weathered looks upon their faces told a different tale. Callused hands and leathery skin spoke of untold hours engaged in manual labor.

I still didn’t know much about why we were here, other than Georgie’s comment that morning about needing to see someone. I wasn’t real happy about it either, but Georgie wasn’t the kind of guy you complained to, let alone about. So I shut my mouth and followed him out of the car.

It was late afternoon and the sun had begun its journey to the other side of the world but somehow no matter which direction we walked I was squinting. I tripped over a pile of empty beer bottles and found myself face down in the dirt. Among other company this might have generated a laugh or two; with Georgie it earned a look of derision and a muttered curse.

In the distance someone was singing along with Springsteen’s Born in the USA. To the right of me a woman was trying to mediate a fight between her children, it can’t be easy when threatening to send your child to their room means the back seat of the car. More sounds drifted in, laughter, a dog barking and something that sounded like the pop pop pop of a pistol being fired.

Georgie finally stopped in front of a beat up Toyota Camry and motioned for me to wait where I was. I couldn’t hear the conversation but judging from the wild gestures and curses coming from Georgie he was not happy. If I knew Georgie we were moments away from one of his violent outbursts. It might have been warm for everyone else, but I felt a definite chill in the air.

The man in the Camry got out of the car and walked off into the forest. I waited as Georgie followed him. Seconds turned into minutes and I became very conscious of just how long I had been waiting for Georgie. It wasn’t unusual for him to just leave me somewhere with no instruction on how long to wait so I kept waiting.

It was sunset and now there was no question about a drop in the temperature, it was getting colder. Georgie had driven up here and taken the keys with him. I began to grow concerned about how I was going to get back. It wouldn’t have surprised me to have found out that Georgie had gotten back in the car and left me here. There was only one person that he cared about and it wasn’t me.

But running off into the woods to find him had its own problems. To begin with I had no idea which way to walk and for how long and then there was Georgie. With his paranoia issues there was no way to tell how he would react. But I feared a beating less than I feared being stuck out here so I began to follow the trail that he and the other guy had taken.

It didn’t take me long to find them. I had seen Georgie do some horrific things, but this one surprised me. Georgie had tied the guy from the Camry to a tree. His head was hanging and I could see him take a shallow breath. Georgie was talking into his hand, whispering something that I couldn’t quite make out.

That was when I realized that Georgie was not talking into his hand, he was talking into the ear of the man tied to the tree, except the ear was no longer attached to him. Neither were his thumbs or the middle fingers on both hands. They were lying on a rock in front of the man. But that wasn’t the worst part of it. Next to the fingers and thumbs was a slice of bread, ketchup and his tongue. Suddenly Georgie’s mumbling started to make more sense, he was promising to reunite the man with the “pieces of flesh he had liberated.”

I must have coughed or gagged because until that point he hadn’t been aware of my presence. And then there he was, standing in front of me, prodding me to take a turn, pushing me to show him that I had learned something. I felt sick inside, but I let him press the knife into my hand.

Hump Day Notes

"And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make."
The End- The Beatles

"This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free"
The End- The Doors

A million thoughts and ideas are flowing through my mind. There are an endless number of projects and things to do that are fighting for space alongside the impending end for grandma. I find myself a mix of bemused and bewildered with an extra dose of grumpiness.

Last night I watched LOST and wondered what would happen if I were to walk around the island. It is a television show so this is nothing but the foolish speculation of a man who is putting off running some errands. But as I watched the show unfold I wondered if I walked the hills would  I find my dead waiting for me.

It is not an uncommon thought or theme. There have been many stories in which the hero encounters their dead. Sometimes they are loved ones and sometimes they are not. Oftentimes the dead bear messages that can help or hinder the hero.

So I sit for a moment and wonder who would I see and what would they say. Would it be praise or criticism? Would it matter, have I ever paid attention to it. I suppose that it is fair to say that I have acknowledged it, that I have noticed when it has come or not come.

But at the same time I have a history of doing as I will, so what does it matter.

My son is well aware of the situation involving his great grandmother. He knows that she isn't going to make it and has asked a few questions. I have begun thinking about how to address this and what to do.The docs don't think that it will be long, but no one really knows. Could be a few days or a week or two.

What sort of prep work do I do if any and how do I tailor it so that both of the kids are covered.

And I sit here wondering about myself. What else do I want to say to grandma, if anything. I told her that I loved her and I may tell her again. But she is really out of it, so much of this comes back to what is important to me. What do I need to do to feel good about this? Not real sure yet, but I'll figure it out.

And now, on to the next post.

Grandma's Dying & Grandpa Has Cancer

Grandma's Dying & Grandpa Has Cancer. That should be the name of some sort of country music song shouldn't it. Really, I can see Tim McGraw doing it. He has more than a few songs that I like but this isn't a song title, it is my life.

How is that for drama. Not bad, huh. If you are among the 17 long time readers than none of this is that much of a surprise. My life is just like your life, filled with a tapestry of good and bad. Stories about those we he have lost and those we haven't are scattered through it. Some of them make you smile and some of them make you cry.

This morning as the kids got ready to head off to school I told them that my grandmother had fallen and needed to go the hospital. They looked at me and said, "again?" I smiled and told them that she had fallen again and was besieged with a thousand questions about how and why it happened. It was a bittersweet moment.

What I didn't tell them was that she broke her hip and that due to her age and heart condition surgery is highly unlikely. I didn't tell them that their aunt, my little sister, looked to her big brother for guidance on whether she should get on a plane because grandma is dying. I didn't tell them that my mother, their grandmother asked me to help do some research on hospice and other end of life issues. I didn't tell them about my visit with my grandparents on Sunday.

Because, I was there. Not when she fell but several hours before. I sat with her and my grandfather and chewed the fat. I intentionally went without the kids. It was a chance for me to focus on being a grandson and not a father. Both are important, but had the kids been there it would have been difficult to focus on the grandparents the way that I wanted to.

You see, my grandfather turned 96 last week but I was unable to be there. I had some sort of stomach bug so I bugged out but promised my grandpa that I would come as soon as possible. And let's be real at 96 you never know how much time you have left so you do what you can to take advantage of the time when you can.

Last year we helped them celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary and watched them dance one last time. Anyway, my grandmother's health has been declining for a while now and while that is to be expected, the dementia that has accompanied has not been. Maybe we should have anticipated or expected it, but if you knew how strong and energetic my grandmother was you'd understand why it is surprising.

She carried a laundry basket up and down a flight of stairs into her eighties and until a few years ago still exercised regularly. The change may have taken a few years, but the decline is still shocking to us. But to my grandfather it has been heartbreaking.

So in addition to spending time with my grandparents the goal is to give my grandfather a little help. So when grandma asks the same question repeatedly there is someone else to help.

I wasn't upset with the children when they asked why grandma keeps falling. Nor was I upset when my son asked if getting older means that you break frequently and easily. But I was sad because they will never know the grandmother that I know. They won't have a real understanding of who she was and still is.

They weren't there on Sunday when my grandfather held onto my arm and fought back tears about how hard it is to see his girl like this. How he told me again that the worst part of aging is being robbed of the ability to take care of her the way that he wants to. About how he used to give her piggy back rides and listen to her laugh or so many other memories that he shared with me.

I sat and listened and did what I could to make it easier for him. And when my grandmother called me by mother's name I didn't flinch, even though I have a full beard and stand close to a foot taller than she does.

In a short time I am going to leave the office and head over to the hospital to visit grandma. She is sedated and barely awake. It is unclear whether she'll be cognizant of my being there. I don't know if this visit will be the last time I see her. The docs aren't entirely certain, it could go on for a while.

But this is not a long term proposition. Regardless of how long we have Grandma will not be at the seder or at my sister's wedding. And you can say what you will about her being there in spirit, but there still will be an empty seat that should have been hers.

And in the not so distant future I will have to have another discussion with my children about death and what that means. But I'll save that moment for whenever it may come because for now she is still here.

Dad, Can You Teach me About Girls

Slowly but surely the wheels of time are moving closer to the day in which my son stops pretending that he hates girls and admits that there is something intriguing about them. At the moment most of his comments are of the appropriate sort for an almost ten year-old boy.

He wrinkles his nose and looks upon them disdainfully. At school they don't play the same games as him and his friends and when they do get involved there is almost always a disagreement. He tells me that he sees them in groups laughing about stupid things, but just what those stupid things are he isn't really sure. When I ask him for an example he looks at me like I am crazy and tells me that "they're girls."

Periodically I'll find two or three chasing him and his friends. I am not really sure what the game is other than the boys run and the girls chase them. I have told him to be careful because one of them just might decide that they want to catch him.

He doesn't quite understand what I am saying, but he knows that there is something going on. He tells me that his sister has become quite adept at getting him in trouble. I ask why and he tells me that girls are good at figuring out how to get boys in trouble. I laugh and tell him that he has no idea. He doesn't understand why I am laughing and tells me that something has happened to my old brain.

It seems that he can't quite figure it out, why I like girls that is. I ask him how he knows and he tells me that he knows that I have kissed at least one other girl besides his mother. And for a moment, just a moment his curiosity gets the best of him and he asks a question that is sort of related to intercourse, breasts and female curves in general.

I pause and consider how to respond. I am not sure that he really wants to know all this yet. He knows how to be direct, but he was awkward in his phrasing. It is more akin to how he acts when he is embarrassed then uncertain.

It leaves me with the question of how much information will satisfy his curiosity because I don't want to say one word more. He is approaching the age but certainly not ready for it. And even if he said that he is I am not. Dad won't ignore the question, but not going to go over it in detail.

I have a good friend whose daughter has already partaken in the festival of the flesh. He walked in on her and her boyfriend and I have seen the scars on his eyeballs. That was enough for me, but I digress.

So I give him a short answer that one day he'll realize that he appreciates them, girls that is. And that is when he asks me if when that day comes I can teach him. I chuckle for a moment and ask him what he needs to know.

He tells me that he wants to know everything about girls so that if he does decide that he likes them he can be an expert. Now I laugh out loud and tell him that part of the fun of life is figuring out the mystery of people. He glares at me and tells me that he wants a real answer.

I smile at him and say that I don't have a uniform answer. Girls are a different sort of animal. It is the sort of expression that will get me in trouble with his mother and grandmothers, but I live for trouble so I move on with my explanation.

"Some of them will do things that make no sense to you. You'll think that it is dumb, but you'll find yourself doing the dumb thing with them. And maybe you'll decide that the dumb thing is kind of fun."

He says ok and tells me that he has another question. "Do they all get fat when they're having babies?"

I almost fall out of my seat with laughter, but somehow stifle it. "We don't tell them that they are fat," I start to say. But before I can finish he shouts "you mean we have to lie to them about the dumb thing and the fat stuff."

This is not going where I want it to so I remind him that we don't lie but that doesn't work for him. I just told him that we don't call them fat when they are pregnant. So now I find myself dealing with nuances and expressions, or trying to explain them to a 9.5 year old boy.

Without further ado I pull out the trump card and ask him if he wants to learn how to kiss a girl now. He shrieks something about no way and is silent. I nod my head and pull out a Lego set down from a shelf and we start building.

Somehow I survived, but I think that I need to think about how to approach this when it comes up again because it will be back.

Dad's Drinking Again Because He Just Doesn't Care

The following story is fiction in the sense that it is not based upon one person's story. However it has elements of truth from many and that lends itself to a certain reality. Take it for what it is worth.

"Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad"

The Ghost of Tom Joad- Bruce Springsteen

It was almost noon, the first Monday of a new spring and the last week of a month he needed to forget. He was three beers and two shots into the day and there was no bartender yelling out last call. The train had left the station and there was no doubt that at some point it was going to go off the tracks.

Deep inside his head he could hear the laughter of the demons he had once overcome. They knew that their jailor was on the verge of giving up. It wouldn't take much more to push him over the edge and once that happened they would be released from their bondage and set free to do as they will.

This wasn't what he had planned for. It wasn't the life he was supposed to lead. This kind of thing didn't happen to people like him. Educated, hard working upper middle class people who paid their bills and gave back to society. They didn't get railroaded by the banks. They didn't have to tell their children that because daddy couldn't get a job they couldn't stay in their home.

They didn't tell their children that daddy had tried his best but that wasn't good enough. They taught their children that if they worked hard good things would happen. They taught them to hold themselves to high standards and that if they did they would reap the rewards of those efforts.

No, they didn't tell them that it didn't work for daddy. They didn't want them to think that all their time and effort was for nothing, that the system was built upon a lie. But that was the thing of it, the system was the reason that they were losing everything. The system was the reason why the world was collapsing upon them.

It didn't make any sense when he was sober and far less when he was drunk, but he didn't care anymore. It was a nightmare that was unending and inescapable. It followed him even when he closed his eyes.

He started to laugh and he knew not why. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe not. Better find out he thought and with that he popped open another bottle. Two gulps later the bottle was sent flying into the mirror in the dining room. The crash of the bottle and the sound of glass breaking were surprisingly pleasant.

He had read about the angry men who burned down their soon to be foreclosed homes or went crazy in public but never understood why. Now he did. He was a very proud man who had been forced to his knees by this. Forced to do things that in the past he never could have imagined doing.

And now he was on the verge of something else. Another swig of whiskey made it easy to envision his standing right on the edge of the precipice. Would he be dragged over the side kicking and screaming or would he choose a different route like the jumpers from 9-11.

He had witnessed more than one person fling themselves into the air and had wondered if they had held out hope that somehow, someway they would survive the fall. Had they prayed for wings or that somehow they would land in the palm of God's hand. Or had they just resigned themselves for the horrible ending that was coming at them with ridiculous speed.

It didn't matter, not really. Even though he was drunk he knew that there really wasn't a comparison between them and him. The one thing that they shared in common was that none of them were in that situation out of their own choice. But they would always been seen as martyrs and he would not.

Damn. The alcohol wouldn't rob him completely of logic and reason. It wouldn't make him forget and it wouldn't make him do the unthinkable, at least not yet.

He sighed deeply and wondered again how it was he found himself walking through hell. And then the demons broke free of their cage. He wanted to fight. He wanted to slam his fist into someone and to feel the rush that would bring.

With a loud roar he sprang to his feet, grabbed his house keys and walked out the door. He knew that there was no way that he could drive so he marched by the car and headed up the street. The local dive bar was the destination.

He had no idea who or what he would find there. Just knew that somewhere in the distance trouble was calling and he wanted to answer. For just a moment he thought that he heard someone saying no, but he shrugged that off and muttered Dad's Drinking Again Because He Just Doesn't Care.

What You Missed- A Quick Review

If you haven't been buy in a while here is a short review of recent posts:

Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere-Haveil Havalim #261
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part III
I Won't Back Down
Talent- A Heavy Bag & Dad's Medicine Cabinet
Dad, What is Prostate Cancer?
Jack Sings to You
Georgie
Five Years Later
Words on a Page
Conversations With The Kids

Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere-Haveil Havalim #261

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
It has been a busy week so my apologies if this is not up to my usual work.

Israel
Cosmic X blogged about the King David Hotel and Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations and the Jblogosphere. Eric covered it as well in United States and Israel Squabble Over New Homes. Don't forget to read The United Nations: Let Us In!

Esser Agaroth wants to know Why Doesn't Anyone Seem To Be Embarrassed By Joe Biden Now

Batya asks Where's Your Backbone, Bibi, The U.S. Deserves A Slap Back.From The Muqata BERKELEY STUDENTS VOTE AGAINST ISRAEL.

Over at Israelity they're Volunteering for Rhianna and driving up and down the countryside. At Daled Amos The Simpsons Beat Obama To Israel

Yoav is back after a hiatus for his officer's course. The dependable Joel Katz offers Religion and State in Israel - March 15, 2010 (Section 1)and two.

This is worth celebrating, Reopening of The Hurva Synagogue. Check out WestbankMama's You Can Be A Victim, Or You Can Build.

Over at Artzeinu he shares thoughts about the Negative Responses to his making Aliyah.

Go see Snoopy to learn more about Tammy Obeidallah: a self-portrait of an "anti-Zionist."

Mrs. S. has a guest post from a mother whose oldest just joined the army. Go give her some support. At Good News From Israel we have Photos of the Mister Zol Supermarket in Canion Adumim.

Lady Light has the very cool story Israeli Company Develops Bio-Retina to Restore Sight.

Bookworm blogged about Obama and Israel.


Judaism

From A Chassidishe farbrengen we have Learning Chassidus before prayer. While you are doing your Pesach prep you might want to stop and read the Passover Humor Files.

You might ask Who Arranges The Seats. Yechezkel and I have a difference of opinion on the Conservative perspective of halacha versus Orthodox.There is literal and there is divinely inspired and that provides a world of difference, but we'll address that at a later time.

My friend the Rebbetzin's Husband shared This Is a Shul Rabbi which reminded me of some conversations with my father about what is appropriate and what is not. He also wrote How To Lynch Your Rabbi which also helped to remind me why I chose not to follow that path.

In The Pink wants to talk to you about selling Chametz and the Pesach Master Shopping List. And finally posts like this make me want to scream and berate people who exhibit sheep like behavior. Really, it is ok to help, Chazal said so. Ugh. People need help, you help.

Lo yodeya shared mi.yodeya - An online community for Q&A about Jewish life and learning. At Fear No Question they discuss how to determine if religious innovation is heading for the slope.

Frum Satire is handing out the Best of Shul Awards. What do you do when Rabbonim Defend the Indefensible. Maybe we aren't Frummer Than the Pope.

Parsha Blog wants to know Is the Samaritan spelling of Yimatzei (with an aleph) correct? Do Chazal have the same? and Introducing the Absolut Haggadah, 2010 Edition.

The Ima is Tweeting the Exodus. Frume Sarah blogged And on the 7th day…


Personal/Miscellaneous

Elms In The Yard Me and My Big Mouth. Chutz Mizeh is Redefining Success. Ricki's Mom shared The Hidden Garbage Can.

Batya wrote Traffic Will Only Get Worse, Until... and Unpleasant Memories.

Lady Light says goodbye to Uncle Jack. It is a JBlog Surprise, Almost Like Family! 

Speaking of surprises you might want to Watch Out!!!! And while we are on the topic of surprises we have another MOT who is celebrating a birthday and is interested in a special gift. Anyone want to help.

Seraphic Secret continued Friday Footwear. Ann's Rants shared The Saddies. Don't forget to check out Ilana Davita's Weekly Review with Butterfly.

Therapy Doc wrote about Sandra and Jesse.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part III

I am Jack and I'm pleased to welcome you to the third edition of the Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience. It is a collection of posts from throughout the daddy blogosphere. It is a diverse group of men of varying backgrounds and experiences.

Though we may have our differences we share the joy and challenges of being fathers. Take a moment to walk through and learn a little bit more about some very fine men and how we handle fatherhood. I also want to say thank you to the kind hosts who allowed me to serve as guest blogger this week.

PapaRocks6:Dad’s Represent
DadWagon; Which Way Home
PDX Dad: Though it be madness there be method to it
And Triplets Make Six: Triplet Standard Time
Random Thoughts: Dad, What is Prostate Cancer?
Elisson: THINGS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME
Clark Kent's Lunchbox: Washeteria
The Daddy Files: I Hear Dead People
Tessa's Dad: #FatherhoodFriday – My first gut check as a dad
Sex and The Single Dad: March Hotness
Toner Mishap: King of the Wild Frontier RIP 

I Won't Back Down

For Fragments of Fiction

"I've been tryin' to get to you for a long time
Because constantly you been on my mind
I was thinkin' 'bout a shortcut I could take
But it seems like I made a mistake

I was wrong, mmm, I took too long
I got caught in the rush hour
A fellow started to shower
You with love and affection
Now you won't look in my direction"
Expressway To Your Heart- The Soul Survivors


There are more than a few stories about the experiences we have with the people who change our lives. Part of the beauty and majesty of the world is that we are given a lifetime in which to go find them. And if we are lucky we recognize them for who and what they are while they are a part of our lives and not afterwards.


But sometimes circumstances blind us. Sometimes life gets in the way or maybe it is our own fear of the future and the unknown. I suppose that you could say that it really doesn't matter what the reason is because once that moment has passed you don't always get a second chance to try to do it again. At least that is the rationalization that some people use.

Not I. I see the distinction between the two. No I have a perspective that claims that circumstances and timing can  blur those moments and create the appearance of an unmovable object. Yet when studied more closely you often find that there are multiple ways to get over, around or under it. You don't have to be a Faraday or a Newton to find it.

All you need is time and determination.

"Your love's a gathered storm I chased across the sky
A moment in your arms became the reason why
And you're still the only light that fills the emptiness
The only one I need until my dying breath
And I would give you everything just to
Feel your open arms
And I'm not sure I believe anything I feel"
Without You Here- Goo Goo Dolls

I caught a glimpse of Jericho today. For a brief moment in time I found myself staring directly into her eyes. It was unheralded, unexpected and without fanfare but that isn't surprising for Jericho. The woman tends to glide in and out of the room. If she heard me say that she'd probably blush, but that is ok. I have always been good at bringing that out of her.

The fire and the rain. I told her way back when we first me that where I walk storms follow. She threw back her head in laughter and told me that she wasn't afraid of me. For a moment I was confused, wasn't sure whether she was making fun of what. I must have looked away, can't tell you if it was in sadness or anger, just that I did it.

And then she did something that caught me off guard and completely disarmed me. She put her head on my shoulder, squeezed my bicep once and then took my hand and intertwined her fingers in mine. Such simplicity tore down all the walls that I had erected around my heart and destroyed any resolve I had to stay distant.

It was endearing, charming and exceptionally frightening. To know that someone had decided to accept me unconditionally, to love me without exception and without question was among the most powerful moments I have ever experienced.

But that was then and this is now. Back then there was never any doubt that we would find a way to live the kind of life that others read or dreamed about. We were the couple that you hated. The man and woman who would couldn't stop smiling at each other. The boy and girl who would tickle, tease and wrestle. The couple who couldn't keep their hands off of each other.

We were all that and more. We were in love and on fire in the best possible sense of the expression.

And then....life happened. We got caught in a whirlpool of chaos and craziness. Pulled in a dozen different directions we found ourselves pulled apart. Separated by circumstances we found ourselves lost in unfamiliar territory.

We tried to hold on. We tried to keep it all from tearing us apart but life happened and we got lost in it. Mistakes were made. Things that under normal circumstances would have never affected us took on greater magnitude than normal and we slipped further.

Eventually we reached the place where we no longer spoke. The pain of the separation was significant. I was so very angry. I had always been there to protect and care for you. How many times did you see me go to battle for you. How many times did I wade into the thick of it and take on the hordes. I never cared how big or how many because I had your love to support me. No matter how badly I was battered or bruised I would come home to your arms and know that I was safe.

Oh did that fire burn inside of me. Woman, you know how brightly it burned. I waded back into the wars more than once knowing that the battles would keep me busy. Only this time was different. Now I fought to forget and more than once I intentionally bit off more than I could chew. It was part punishment, part crazy and two-thirds stupid. I know the math doesn't work, but I don't care.

"Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

No I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
... and I won't back down"
I Won't Back Down- Tom Petty

After a while the anger and frustration faded and my head cleared and I began to carefully consider the situation.  You used to tell me that you were impressed by how calm I was under fire. Until you came along that was how it had always been.

I couldn't help but laugh at my own stupidity and with that laughter I began to heal. Not just heal but recognized the little signs you had left for me, the simple notes that told me that this wasn't forever. Oh, there was no guarantee that there would be another opportunity, but there were plenty of reasons to suggest being optimistic.

But you used to let me see you and I learned a lot about you, about me and about life. And because I know you love your puzzles I won't say any more than that. 

"I thought that I was over you
But it's true, so true
I love you even more than I did before
But darling, what can I do?
For you don't love me
And I'll always be
Crying over you, crying over you"
Crying- Roy Orbison

You never saw me lose a fight. That is not ego talking, it is the truth. So you remember that and remember that I know that the fire still burns for both of us.

Words On A Page

 Added a few words on a page, some well written, some less so but all with purpose in mind. Can't win the Pulitzer every time, for certa...