What Momma says, goes

“Check this out.  Wait, the cell phone connection’s really bad in here.  I’ll walk to the front of the building and get the rest of her message.

“Okay, here it is.  I had texted Mom to ask her if she has any plans for Thanksgiving.  This is what she said:

‘No, I do not have any plans for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or the New Year.  You children are grown up and it’s time you acted like it.  My father and I are old and tired and soon we’re going to be gone.  You need to start making the decision about what we’re going to do and what we’re going to eat for the holidays.'”

“There’s only one response for that one.  ‘Yes, Mom.'”

“Yes, Momma.  Yes, Momma.  That is so funny.  That’s just like her.”

“And it’s like you, too.”

“Huh?”

“‘I’ve taught you all the dance moves.  You know all the dance moves.  It’s time you need to dance them without me telling you how to dance the moves.'”

“Haha…but it’s true, isn’t it?  That’s me!  If only I didn’t have so much on my plate right now — moving to my new flat, packing the crate for my boyfriend’s return to France, getting ready for St. Louis, DJing…I can’t believe he’s going to be gone next week!  I think I’m going to cry.”

“Can you hold it together?”

“I have to.  I have to work.  My life is my job.  I don’t take a break.”

“We can come over and help you ‘fluff your nest.'”

“No, no.  I’m good.  Now you guys need to practice what I just taught you.  Full weight on one foot, the other leg straight, toes pointed to the floor and just pivot your upper body, keeping your weight on the same foot as your lower body follows around half a turn.  I’m so glad I came tonight.  You guys are like a rock for me.  Thanks!”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you in St. Louis!”

When rocket propulsion and engineering program management met

Sometimes, the awkward, bullied grade-school nerd in me shows himself, his tiny, insignificant self-image forgetting that he’s a full-fledged grownup male who has traveled the world and negotiated multimillion-dollar deals.

As I’m oft reminded, a simple “thank you” for a compliment means more than a humorous attempt to act modest.

The awkwardness has declined with time and maturity but appeared this weekend.

So, too, saying thank you as a compliment is not easy for me in realtime, despite my frequent use of gratitude in this blog.

I can’t go back in time but I can record here my thanks for the hard work that Jenn put into not only the hours of practice she provided for our dance routine, but also the great effort she put into a costume for our performance.

It’s been rare to find such a good friend in someone like Jenn, who’s willing to play grownup pretend (or cosplay, in today’s parlance) for a public show, purely for the sake of fun exercise.

I appreciate her husband’s and my wife’s patience during the past couple of months.

Here’s our video, posted for posterity and eternity on the Internet, turned rightside-up, with titles and credits to identify us when we’re old and gray (and a little forgetful — “You mean that used to be you, Great Uncle Rick/Great Aunt Jenn?” “That’s what they tell me.”):

Lindy Hop fun!

Here’s hoping that we can find the time and energy to put another routine together.

My brother in-law’s mother’s needlepoint artwork

A few weeks ago, my brother in-law’s family graciously treated us to a Christmas morning country breakfast.

I probably gained several pounds that day but the weight was well worth the joy of eating the delicious meal.

While we ate, my brother in-law’s mother showed us some of the needlepoint artwork she had completed.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the art style she used.  It was an Oriental word — possibly Japanese…

In any case, my Internet search came up blank so far…

I wish I had photographed the needlepoint pictures on Christmas morning — they were analog (as opposed to computerised/digital) three-dimensional images that fascinate my imagination.

Tonight, I miss my father

Tonight, at the end of the day, this day being the 7th of December 2012, 71 years after the Japanese military attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, I admit my familial sorrow.

Dad, I miss you and hearing your voice.

Not that we talked a lot.

No, as you aged — as we aged — you grew grumpier, more grouchy, more angry at a culture that became less and less familiar, making our conversations a give-and-take on your views that the world was going to hell in a handbasket over the falls, up shit creek without a paddle, or a pot to sit on and shit in.

Of course you were right.

Your world did go to hell, the last months and days in your medical conditions (ALS – bulbar option?) not enjoyable — a PEG tube in your belly, a ventilator down your throat, and IV needles in your arms like quills in a porcupine — unable to speak or swallow.

At least we had that one last enjoyable drive through the countryside in east Tennessee before we took you to the hospital.

The three of us, minus your daughter (my sister), two parents and a son taking in the view of farms, freeways, subdivisions and downtown Kingsport where you had worked and shopped for over 40 years.

Dad, a few weeks ago, we survived our first family Thanksgiving without you.

I sat in your chair, the eldest male taking the reins but not able to fill your shoes.

A little over two weeks from now, we’ll celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

We’ll open presents, eat too much food, drink a shot of Rebel Yell in your honour and…

We’ll miss you.

You touched a lot of people’s lives.

I never knew how many people who felt your positive influence until we saw the hundreds that came to pay our family respects to you before your memorial service.

I’m still amazed and will always be so.

Dad, Mom said you were quite a good dancer.

Tonight, while I was struggling across the dance floor with my wife, watching many other couples gracefully sway, I remembered when you used to enjoy square dancing with Mom.

She misses you a lot more than I do, learning about the little things you took care of around the house without her having to know about them — checking air filters, winterising the garage door, changing the temperature settings on the heat pump, and paying bills.

I’ll never be like you Dad.

Of course I can’t tell you that in person.  Instead, I have this blog to catch these word trails that my thoughts create.  Me, the casual writer.

Many a person told me that you were proud of me but I rarely heard you say that to me when you were alive.

Funny, isn’t it, how we think we know who we are in our parents’ eyes but don’t.

Somehow, I thought you were always disappointed in me but maybe it’s just because part of me is disappointed with me for not following a track I had announced to others I had taken, a track I thought was what you wanted me to take but I didn’t want to.

Instead, I had to be the me I want(ed) to be.  And am.

Well, Dad, I guess I better go on to bed.  My wife and the cats are snuggled under the covers fast asleep while Christmas music plays on the TV during this writing session, making me sleepy, too.

Plus, I’m no longer hot and sweaty from dancing.

Also, I no longer feel a streak of envy at the ability of the dancers around me earlier tonight who appeared so light on their feet it made me hurt.

I should remind myself of the many people who are physically and mentally unable to dance but would like to.

That’s why I miss you tonight, Dad.  You would have triggered that thought in me immediately without my having to find it hours later by writing for a while on a cold plastic keyboard wirelessly connected to a warm CPU and motherboard.

Dad, I never thought about being here, writing you this note when you’re dead and buried.

But that’s okay.  I don’t know everything.  I can’t see the future through the emotional cloud of family, a weakness I’m proud to claim.

Good night, Dad.  I’ll see you again soon in my dreams.  These next few weeks are going to be tough but we’ll get through them, knowing you’d want us to tough it out like good soldiers.

Thanks for serving in the U.S. Army when our nation called you to service.

Love,
Your son

Belief systems and families

The last time the remainder of my “nuclear” family got together, my sister gladly rejected the belief systems of her/our parents, making my mother sad and me angry at my sister for emotionally upsetting our mother.

The question I have to answer for myself — do I ever want to speak to my sister again?

Do I want to keep away from her (and her away from our mother) because she resoundingly rejected our parents who sacrificed their time and love for us?

My wife’s mother died more than a year ago, changing my perspective of family.

My father died this year, changing my mindset about life in general.

My wife and I have no children, only nieces and nephews who will be responsible for our care, should we live into our senior citizen years.

They say that blood is thicker than water but now that my mother in-law and father are gone, I can consider thoughts that I buried deep inside me a long time ago.

My sister was my rival from the moment she was born.

She clung to me wherever I went for many years so, as a result of my jealousy, I did everything I could to get her in trouble with our parents instead of me (and it worked most of the time).

I could not get rid of her until I started school.

Even then, we saw each other every day after school and usually on the weekends so, of course, I did everything I could to get her in trouble instead of me (and it worked most of the time).

For decades now, our belief systems have drifted further and further apart, reminding me of my early childhood experience where my sister was a rival for our parents’ love.

Now that my sister has demonstrated she is not interested in perpetuating our parents’ teachings, should I just tell her goodbye and let her drift off and away from our family’s core beliefs?

Every generation decides what the previous generation’s contribution to society was worth.

My sister and I hold different opinions on this matter.

I have many thoughts to consider before making a major decision about my relationship with my sister while my mother is still alive, especially with the holidays coming up.

More as it develops…