Category Archives: Me

Memorial Day

Today, I delivered a paper to everyone on my route.  Regardless of normal delivery schedule.  Then, I worked my other job for an extra hour.  Not where I wanted to be.

Did I want to be home?  To enjoy a cookout with friends and fam?  That’s a given any other day.

No.  I had somewhere else I wish I could’ve been.  I wanted to go to Alger.

Alger, Ohio.  The center that draws my family back again.  A small town you may never have heard of.

I wanted to go to Preston, to walk the stones.  Too many for a man my age.  I’d recall the military first, then the civilians.  My grandfathers, grandmother, great relations, my father, and uncles.  One in a grave far too small.  I never knew him, but would’ve liked to.

Onward into town, I’d pass my great aunt’s old place.  I’d hang a right and pass ‘tween the funeral home and the church.  I would not see the school you see.  I would see the school that was.  With a playground that never closed, full of swings and slides.  Of merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters.  Monkey bars and balance beams round out the set.  I’d see myself and my sisters, rolling in the grass, down the hill out front.

I’d turn left, onto the red brick main street, and pass the old Shadley place, Grandma’s former dwelling, the Waughs, and so on.  I’d soon reach the memorial of those from the town who had served.  I’d park at the general store next door and walk to the decommissioned cannon holding it’s eternal vigil over the village.  I’d sign the guest book and search for a grandfather’s name etched into the stone.

Soon, I’d come to the strange gravel path that leads beyond sight in either direction and remember the tracks that once lay here.  I’d turn around before I reached where my other grandmother lived.  She’s since moved, and will move again soon.  She will be close to mom.

Did I ever mention that as a child, my imagination was once so vivid, that it bordered on hallucination?  I remember dreaming of a circus, only to wake to the nightmare of a tiger in my room!  He wasn’t there, of course, but I saw him all the same.  I could point to him in the room.  These days my imagination pulls no such trick, but it would come close as I slowly cruise my way back.  Scenes of what was, memories of the past.  They would impose themselves over the scenery as I drive by places from my youngest days.

I would turn left down the alley, though the next street was only a house away down the empty streets.  Old habits, I guess.  As I pass grandma’s garage, I remember the Smurf face that was once painted on the faded and peeling orange paint.  Right at the next and last street.  I’d go until I saw the single-story place where my uncle lives.  I’d pull in the drive, and as I got out of my car, I’d not see what you would see.  For a briefest moment, I’d see the two-story green place that burned down.  I’d see the treehouse too.

In I would enter, welcome and unannounced.  I’d sit and I’d talk with my aunt and my uncle.  He never served in the military, but he is the last surviving member of the original local EMS.  He was the oldest of his siblings, and as such would remember grandpa better.  Grandpa was in WWII.

If you thought I’d have I dry eye, or if I would cry, the truth I will not deny.  I would choke up, I would tear, as I remembered yesteryear.

Dad Stories – The Last Christmas

I gained a lot from my father, including my love of science fiction.  My fondest memories are of sitting with him on the couch, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  These were my best bonding moments with him.

One of my favorite science fiction movies to watch with dad was the original TRON.  It wasn’t on often, but now and again it would make the Saturday night movie.  I was fascinated by the concept of a brightly colored world inside a computer.  It made me curious as to just how computers and other electronics worked.

I grew older, until I went to college and fell in love.  As I was on my honeymoon, dad had a test that revealed his colon cancer.

Cancer.  It brought me face to face with the mortality of my role model.  My emotional rock.  My sagest advisor.  My father.  No one ever wants to think that one of the people who has been there their entire life won’t be there anymore.  Human nature resolved my dread the only way it knows how, denial.

Oh, I knew on an intellectual level the gravity of the situation.  But as I kept on living, I kept operating on an emotional assumption that dad was somehow immortal.  All evidence was to the contrary.  Dad did defy odds.  He was given an estimate of months, he lasted years.  But dad was able to do less and less.

Dad got to not only attend the weddings of all three of his children, he danced at the receptions.  Unless you’ve seen a cancer patient on a bad chemo day, you just do not know the full impact of that statement.  Dad also met his first grandchild, the only one he would ever meet.

When the news from the San Diego Comic-Con had all of the comic, movie, and science fiction blogs abuzz with some test footage of lightcycles for an upcoming TRON sequel, I got excited.  More and more news came.  It was going to have original actors returning to original roles.  It was going to take place 20-30 years after the events of the original.  It was going to be a father/son story.  Then the release date was announced.  It was in December 2010, right around the Christmas celebration with my folks.  Dad’s health waxed and waned.  I took a small financial risk, I bought two tickets for TRON: Legacy to a theater near my parents via Fandango.  I knew there was a chance dad’s health could prevent him from going.

Fortunately, dad’s health allowed him to attend.  It was the first 3D movie he had seen since the days of red and blue lenses.  It was the first time in a long time that he’d been to a theater.  We had a blast.  After the movie we were excitedly talking about all of the easter eggs we found from the original TRON hidden in the background of Legacy (with one of my brother-in-laws who had come along).

Dad wasn’t feeling well the next day, but he insisted on crawling around a hardwood floor on his hands and knees to play with my daughter.  She was delighted.  I honestly thought that there just might be one more Christmas left in him.  There wasn’t.  He passed away at the close of the following summer.

In Legacy, Kevin Flynn dies.  His son, Sam Flynn, and Quorra have to move on without him.  So, too, did I have to move on without dad.  To this day, those last scenes always make me cry as I am doing while typing this.  I keep on keeping on, living up to his example as best I can.

Now I am the father.  If I retain only a portion of all he taught me, my children will still have a better man for a father than most children do.  I struggle to provide financially, but they will never want for love.

Every time I watch an excellent science fiction movie or show, I hear of a great theoretical concept, or I see the science fiction we watched become reality (as with the announcement that NASA is working on a warp drive) I get moment of “I can’t wait to share this with dad!” followed by an “Oh, wait.”

My children now watch things with me, my daughter in particular.  We watch old Adam West Batman reruns, Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, Classic Star Trek, the new Star Trek movies, and among other things, yes we watch the TRON movies.

And Daphne seems to remember the man holding her in old pictures.

Baby Belly

When my wife and I were expecting our second child, we attempted to acclimate our daughter to the idea she wasn’t going to be an only child anymore.

We began by pointing to mommy’s growing belly and saying, “baby”. Eventually she would giggle and point, saying, “baby”. Whether or not she understood, this became her favorite game.

One day, we were standing in a line at the DMV. She looked up at me, pointed at my belly, and loudly exclaimed, “BABY!”.