My dad passed away.

Dad passed away last night. He’d been fighting cancer for six years.

Life is going to change a lot even if I think it won’t. He was a complicated man who never truly recovered from the loss of his wife. When mom died twenty-one years ago, we lost our family despite our best efforts to keep it. He loved his family because we were everything he never had as a child.

We were a 1970s family. Dad was a lineman. Mom raised us kids. We never lacked anything because of how hard they worked. I learned by watching, even if it took me years to understand what real commitment to a family means.

I’ve thought, over the years, about the good things that are  part of me. He taught me how to be good to animals, how to interact with the natural world, and about loyalty and the value of work.

Losing him means being honest about a lot of difficult things. My own age. Our relationship. Wanting a family that is gone. Wishing for a life that can’t come back. Thinking of him as a person, and not a personification. Being thankful, even when I miss him. With each passing hour today, there’s a lot more hurt. I miss him. I miss my family. I don’t know how to explain wanting something that’s gone for good.

You can think you’re ready for things, but you’re not ready. You’re never ready. I miss him today, but I think I’ll miss a lot more things tomorrow, and beyond.

Fitbit: My Shamespiration

Oh, Fitbit. You may be small, but your ability to make me feel inadequate knows no bounds.

 

Let’s examine how an object that weighs an ounce can impact my day.

5:30AM: Get up.

5:31AM: Coffee

Repeat.

Repeat.

Feed cats and dogs.

Coffee.

6:22AM: Glance at Fitbit, smugly judging me as I pant from animal chores. 331 steps, Terry. That isn’t very good, Terry. I’m not laughing with you, Terry. I’m laughing at you,Terry.

7:50AM: Arrive at college, park. Begin lumbering across parking lot to go teach, recall I wore boots and boots are stupid because I’m not a cowboy or a guy in a disco in 1985.

7:55AM: 1273 Steps. Now we’re cooking. A mere seven thousand-ish steps to go for my lower goal. Nine thousand for something legit, and fourteen thousand if I want to feel smug.

11:15AM. Switch into running shoes and walk at a sedate elephantine amble around the trail on campus. Sweat. Squint. Do some pushups, but out in the distant parking lot so people can’t see me and think I’m a douchebag who wants to brag about doing 18 pushups. CROSSFIT, BRUH. #no

* The pushups are so that I don’t get man-boobies. It works.*

1:42PM Exactly Get out of car after parking in pickup line to get my son from school. Begin walking around school and neighborhood to get more steps on Fitbit, which is still blinking in a judgmental way. Realize I “fit the description” for every serial killer, make effort to wave and smile in friendly manner at every car that passes by.

2:36PM Get back in car. Drink water like I just got off a raft at sea for six days. Curse that my metal cup isn’t larger. Turn on car, air conditioning, continue to sweat like a train that has cut power but won’t quit chugging. Look at Fitbit, tap in disbelief. Tap again. Resolve to walk laps through the living room until midnight if necessary.

5:18PM Go get mail. 23 steps. YES.

8:09PM Son is in bed, singing, bouncing, and twirling covers like a member of a caffeinated color guard in a marching band. Look at Fitbit. 15,583 steps? Pump fist. Dad victory. Glare at Fitbit. Resolve to do more the next day, if I don’t fall asleep after eating lasagna.

The moral of the story?

Wanna be friends on Fitbit? #Shamespiration

Cheers,

Terry

 

Carrots. Fuel for adulting.

Where I’m at in life today:

I plan on writing in the car at the pickup line. I arrive about an hour early to get Optimum Line Placement, assuring that my son gets in and we take off with near military precision.

Side note: If you told me to invade a country and gave me whatever resources I’d need, I would select the teachers who supervise the pickup line. I could have my forces in Moscow by noon. They do not play around when it comes to getting the kids on their way.

Ok, so I’ll write a chapter today– around 1500 words. The fuel I’m choosing is white carrots, purchased from the Hendersonville Produce Stand. It’s the kind of place that has fruits and vegetables that look real, rather than the polished, waxy approximations of food in some stores. I like the irregularity– it’s the same in people, I think. It’s the cracks that make us good, to quote Dozer from the book Heartborn.

Why white carrots, Terry? Welllll, glad you asked. I really dig parsnips, and these are rather like them. Add a touch of butter, salt, pepper, thyme. Roast until tender. Add protein of your choice. Boom. Writing fuel, or fuel for whatever you’re doing.

In my case, it’s writing. I’ll report back on the efficiency of carrots as Fictional Fuel.

Waking Up Kids.

There are three species of animals in this house.

Cats.

Dogs.

A manchild. He’s eight. He’s five feet tall and weighs one hundred pounds.

I am, at various times, tasked with waking/relocating these beasts as demanded. Cats are the easist; I make cooing noises in my ridiculous pet voice, they glare at me, flick their tails, and leave.

Dogs are a bit more complex. If it’s cold outside, or raining– then they’re comfortable, and that means they have no interest in moving. I may be required to physically lift and transfer them to another area. I may bribe them with food (usually what I’m eating) or I may coax them on the rare occasions they’re feeling charitable.

The kid is a different story.

For one thing, I feel an enormous sense of wonder watching him sleep. Yes, it’s vaguely creepy to hover over my spawn and keep repeating, “Aww, would you just look at him!”. If he were older, he’d most likely open a baleful eye and ask me to stop making him feel like the subject of a study on overbearing parents.

More often than not, what I feel is guilt. Here’s the kid– five blankets, all strewn about like a crime scene after a hurricane, limbs in positions that would make a Yogi proud, and gusty sighs of contentment. Here I come, ready to disgorge him from this toasty nest and ask him to go to school. I don’t like doing it. I’d rather drink coffee and let the kid sleep, then start school at a civilized hour– around ten would be nice– and do away with the feeling that I’m some cruel warden who works in reverse. Winter mornings are the worst. I certainly don’t want to be up and out among eight hundred screaming kids, why would he?

Today, he slid from bed and thumped across the floor with a half-smile. It took a little of my guilt away. At least until tomorrow, when I have to rouse him again.

Just ten more years, kid. But for now, I might let him sleep for a few more minutes. It’s good for both of us, I think.