It was an emotionally exhausting week to be a journalist, with the mass shooting in Orlando yet another example of America at its worst. But as always is the case in these national tragedies, stories emerge that show America at its best: brave, compassionate, able to put aside differences to help others in need.
A father in Seattle talking to his 8-year-old daughter about the Orlando incident was surprised when she innocently asked, “Do the fathers still get a Father’s Day card?”
That spurred a project where 49 Father’s Day cards were created for each father of a victim in the Orlando shooting. The city got involved and over 300 people signed the cards.
It’s a difficult Father’s Day for too many families struck by senseless tragedies.
It’s a heartbreaking Father’s Day for those who have recently lost their fathers.
It’s a bittersweet Father’s Day for those with fathers who have Alzheimer’s disease.
But somehow, somewhere, we have to dig deep and be grateful for what we do have. So I am grateful for a father who has been freed from the prison of Alzheimer’s, who loved me and was proud of me and for all of the old photos and mementos I have of his life that I will treasure forever.
If you celebrate Father’s Day, I hope you are marking the day in a way that is meaningful for you.
I’ve actually been dealing with another health crisis with Mom (she’s doing better for the moment) but wanted to note that today would have been my dad’s 83rd birthday.
This is the youngest photo of him that I have, and he wrote a lovely message on the back to his dear mother.
I love the serious pose, ready to conquer the world.
Easter makes me think of eggs, of course, and how my dad avoided them like the plague. He feared having a high cholesterol level. Recent studies have debunked many of the previous reported links between egg consumption and high cholesterol, but when I was growing up in the 1970s-1980s, it was a big health focus.
As I got a little bit older and a tiny bit wiser, I thought it was strange that my dad would worry so much about eating one measly egg but smoked a pack or more of cigarettes each day. Surely the coffin nails would kill him via lung cancer before he developed heart disease.
We were both wrong. Despite the decades of smoking and the decades of egg aversion, Alzheimer’s claimed my dad’s life.
It made me think about how often our fears are misguided. We worry about x, when it’s really y that’s getting ready to do harm.
Fear is a valuable self-preservation tool, but it can also hold us back from our potential.
With both dementia and cancer prevalent in my family, I do think about what I eat and other lifestyle choices probably more than the average person.
But I also know I could get hit by a bus on my way to work.
There’s a balance there somewhere, everything in moderation, as the saying goes.
At least I’m going to enjoy my eggs.
Today is rainy, chilly and dreary, just like three years ago when I received the dreaded phone call that my father had died.
Everything else is so much different.
One of my favorite photos.
Little did I know at the time that I had taken the first of many significant dips on the roller coaster of life. Mom, always the picture of health, was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer just seven months after my father’s death. I quit my job to take care of her for the next six months. It would be another year before I secured any regular work.
I discovered that freelancing is best approached when you have time to plan and build clients, not for a sudden source of steady income. I learned that being a really good employee doesn’t get you very far in this job market.
And perhaps most importantly, I immersed myself in the world of Alzheimer’s activism, and learned so much from the stories I read.
So I am definitely a different person than the one who answered that phone in the middle of the newsroom on December 20, 2011. I hope I’m a bit wiser, and a lot more compassionate.
Tonight I will light a candle, toast Dad’s spirit with a glass of Irish whiskey and remember his wonderful singing voice, realizing that one can smile and mourn at the same time.
I had the misfortune of finding myself shopping in Walmart today. Mom wanted to stock up on some things prior to surgery, so she wouldn’t have to worry about it when she is released from the hospital after her surgery.
Any kind of giant store like Walmart makes my vertigo go crazy. The entire store is sensory overload, and then there’s the constant dodging of other customer’s carts. Mom went to get her hair done so I was left alone to shop. (And if you’ve ever shopped with an elderly woman, you know it’s preferable to shop alone!)
As I sped through the Christmas gift section, to get from the pharmacy department to the grocery side of the store, my gaze picked up a gift box of men’s cologne. It immediately gave me a pang in my heart. Every year, I would buy Dad one of those box sets of cologne. I would usually get Stetson or Grey Flannel. It was an easy to select gift that I honestly never put any thought into. Dad wasn’t into presents, so he never asked for anything specifically. I didn’t want him to feel left out so I tried to get him almost as many gifts as I would get my mom, who would gush over every little cheap trinket I would get for her.
Dad always seemed to appreciate the cologne, even if all he did was mumble a thanks when he opened it. He definitely used it every day, and the scent of men’s cologne will always remind me of my father.
I spent the whole day with Mom at the hospital. We talked a lot about Dad.
Mom has been through so much herself recently, and her memory is spotty, but she has not forgotten Dad’s last day on this earth.
It is interesting to see what the mind chooses to remember. In addition to her crystal clear memory of Dad’s death, she also remembered a bag of walnuts, double-bagged, that she had at home.
I found this dashing photo of Dad and one of his buddies back in the day. What a couple of ladykillers these two had to be!
Dad and his pal enjoy a night on the town.
Unfortunately, I know nothing else of the photo, other than it appears to be taken in a photo booth, which was common back then. I don’t know if this was from my Dad’s Big Apple period, or when he spent a bit of time in the Big Easy or when he finally ended up in L.A.
At any rate, it’s a great snapshot in time, and it allows me to imagine the day/night this photo was taken. Maybe they were on their way to meet their dates? Or maybe they were single boys on the prowl, ha. I have no idea who the other man in the photo is, but I wonder if he’s still alive and how his life turned out.
I love old photographs, especially ones of my father looking so handsome!
Well, I never thought I’d see my dad wearing tights, but I unearthed this treasure of a photo recently. Mom had mentioned that Dad had done some “Shakespeare in the park” or other community theatre when he first came to Los Angeles. I guess she was right, because now I have photographic evidence!
My dad in all of his tights-wearing glory!
There is no caption on the back, so I don’t know anything about what play it was, or what year it was, but it looks like Dad is taking his community theatre role seriously!
So he didn’t become a Hollywood star, but there was more to my dad than I ever knew when he was alive.
I came across more old photos of Dad while staying at Mom’s house. I thought this one was pretty interesting. I have no idea where or when it was taken. There’s definitely a feel of the southwestern U.S. or Mexico, with a cactus spotted in the background. It appears to be some kind of sightseeing trip with a couple of his pals.
Dad (on the left) with a couple of pals on a trip.
The story of the trip is lost forever, but I have the image of my young and handsome Dad exploring new places, an interesting snapshot of the man who existed long before I was born.