May 31, 2007

Reaching 200, Saying Goodbye, and Denny Crane

Hello, and welcome to Number 200. I know, I know... I insist on keeping you updated with 'milestone' post numbers, when you'd really just rather read what bizarre things have popped in my head. Alas, you are not so lucky. You see, I started this whole thing with a few simple items: About 100 Things You Should Know About the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Little Computer People, and a 'fix' for running Oregon Trail 5 on Windows XP... Those were all in August of last year. My original intent was simply to have a place where I could keep that info handy for myself. Little did I know then what an important out-let this would become, nor the things I would come to share with all of my friends that read it (and those who essentially scold me for not posting everyday, since they are checking every day...). Much like the 200th episode of a TV show, I celebrate (as it were) the 200th time I sat down to create a new entry and share ideas, laugh, cry, and share with you the generally useless tidbits of trivia floating around between my ears.

To paraphrase one of my favorite movies (Creepshow 2), "Thanks for the ride, folks! thanks for the ride!"

My cousin Nick and I (sidebar: I apologize for referring to him as my nephew in an earlier post. I fixed the post, so it reads correctly.) sat up Wednesday night until 2:30 Thursday morning, talking about many of the things that he's gone through, that I've gone through, and developing plans for the future (mainly his plans, but still...). He has had a very hard life. Some of it brought on himself by things he's done, people he's been acquainted with, etc, and some of it through the circumstances in which he found himself. I am not one to "choose" sides, but I can certainly "see" the many sides to a story. He's a good guy (I almost said 'kid' but he is almost 25 now..) who has been through things I could never imagine. He is very smart, and really has learned from the steps (and mis-steps) through life, and is keenly aware that ten years have passed since his 'current life' began.

Nick left today (Thursday). He hugged our necks and boarded the Greyhound bus. Though I don't know what I could have done any differently, I wish I could have done something, said something, maybe made some kind of difference in his life. If you're out there reading this, bro, know I'm praying hard for you and your plan B....

Finally watched the season finale of "Boston Legal" tonight (yes, we DVR'd it...). For me, the two best parts were Denny's, "I once captained my own spaceship, you know" and the toast "to next season."

I am one of those weird people that likes when a show lets you, the viewer, never forget that it really is just a TV show... :-)

Friday presents the last day of school for Shan and Tyler (Emily's last day was last week). It's funny though, how 'last day' means different things to different people - for Tyler, it is the start of summer; for Shan, the start of professional development, room-cleaning, etc... Long, long gone are the days when teachers actually got the summer 'off.'

I was going to share some of my "Yahoo Answers" with you, but I'll save that for another night, when I want to post but don't know what to say.... :-)

Last thought: Life truly is too short to hold back the things you want/need to tell someone. If you need to forgive someone, do it. Tell them. If you want forgiveness, ask. If you care about someone, tell them. If you want to thank someone for something they did or said or inspired you to do, thank them. If there is something you have 'always wanted to do,' but for whatever reason you never did, do it. Seriously. Look, I want to ride a bull. Just once, just because. I'll let you know when I do (assuming I am still able to post following the ride!). I'd like to skydive once. It's on my list. Make a list...of as many of the things you "need/want" to do before it's too late, and cross them off as you do them. It may be some simple things, some hard things. Doesn't matter. Write them down and promise yourself to do them. Especially the areas that involve saying things to people. You never know when the next time you see them is the last time you'll see them (or talk to them or email them)...

And, if your efforts go 'unrewarded,' it doesn't matter. What matters is that you said/did what you wanted/needed to do or say.

I'll even start: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read through all my ramblings. It means more to me than you may ever know......

May 29, 2007

Jerry's Body Shop

One of the local auto body shops recently sold out. As we drove past, Mom said, "I didn't know Faulkner's wasn't here anymore..." i said, "Yeah, now it's Jerry's Body Shop." Immediately, Emily gasped with a look of horror on her face, as she said, "You mean they have Poppy's body in there!?"

Luckily, (though I still don't know how) I immediately grabbed on to her line of thinking and explained what a "body shop" was....

...ah... out of the mouth of babes... :-)

It has been a busy few days, thus the delay in posting more... Nick (my cousin, not my brother-in-law) and I finished Mom's deck. It looks great, and she is going to have a plaque made to put on it in Dad's honor.

We drove out to Dad's resting place on Monday, and put a flag at his marker. We didn't have to do any ground repair work this time, though.

We also had a cookout on Monday. I nearly blew myself up... Okay, well, more like 'caught myself on fire.' In fact, anyone that came close to me told me I smelled like I had been burnt. I was adding lighter fluid (after the coals were lit) and was a lit-tle too close to the grill when WHOOSH!... I seriously don't know how I didn't have to 'stop, drop, and roll...' - Grace of God, I would imagine! :-) It was a great scare, though I probably should stick to ugly rubber masks for now on.... :-)

Emily and Tyler both had baseball games yesterday - in the rain. But, they both did very well! Emily got on base twice, and came around for a score twice! Tyler had 3 hits. The first hit of the game (he is lead-off) was a shot that found its way to the fence! On his last at-bat, he was called out at first, but everyone saw he was safe. Oh well, no instant replay in little league....

It's been fun having Nick here, and the kids adore him. He is just as wild as they are, so anything Emily thinks up, he is right there with them. LOL, hard to believe my 'little' cousin is going to be 25 soon... Yeesh, where on earth does the time go?

May 26, 2007

NBPTS and the KBR T-Wall Award

Shan got up bright and early this morning to go take her assessment to become National Board Professional Teacher Certified. The whole thing is very hush-hush (the candidates are not allowed to discuss test questions, etc). She said she is pretty sure she did well on some questions, and there were a couple she struggled with. All I can say is that I am sure she did just fine! :-)

We printed a banner and the kids colored in the letters and the fireworks. I created a little 'something', too.. :-) (attached to bottom of banner):

Mom received the package that had Dad's T-Wall Award. It is a miniature version of the T-Walls they use as barricades. And in it, they embedded a special coin awarded to select individuals for their excellence in "Management, Leadership, and Dignity" plus another emblem included by one of the Team Leaders in Iraq. The award would tickle Dad to no end! Mom and I tried to find words to express our appreciation and amazement at the award, but we left mostly speechless.... Especially when we looked at the back, which had been signed by several of the Iraqi locals that Dad had befriended... We seem to learn something new about Dad and his Iraqi stay almost every day... Turns out Dad and a co-worker talked everyday with several of the local folks that worked with KBR, and Dad was helping them with their English while they were teaching him Arabic (I believe that is the language). Dad would write the phrases he was learning on a dry-erase board and practice saying them so he could talk to the locals in their own tongues! I never would have guess my Dad would do anything like that in a million years! His "circle of influence" truly seems to be never-ending....

My cousin is coming into town today. My Mom is picking him up from the bus station almost as I am writing this! It'll be good to see him again! Hope he doesn't get too bored this week, though... Mom still has school, so there will be lots of downtime for him.... We do live in the boonies, ya know!

May 25, 2007

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho...

Warning: Techie stuff ahead.... Emily came to work with me today (Friday). We had to stop at one of the school districts that we service, and she 'helped' me with a Novell Netware issue they were having. Now, it has been at least two years since I've seen Netware, ConsoleOne, or Groupwise.... But, a little poking here, prodding there, and I had them back up and running with ConsoleOne including the Groupwise snap-ins! It was a great feeling!

After that, I drove to the office and tried to get whatever work I could get done. Actually, I answered a bunch of email, took several phone calls, and got some things done. Unlike her brother, Emily does NOT sit still for hours on end... Instead, she likes to play with something for a bit (10-30 minutes max) and then she is ready to move on to the next thing... It can be a bit frustrating and tedious, but it's worth it when she hands me a picture she's drawn, or comes over to give me a hug... :-)

I have been helping Shan study for her National Boards. I am not an educator by trade, so a lot of the things we studied were over my head, but it really helped her to go over the various pieces and parts for her big test on Saturday. Wish her luck! :-)

It's 12:20 on Saturday morning, and a bit past my bedtime, especially since my brain is full of all these Naational Board terms and concepts!

Snapshots of Life

Tonight, Emily had her first T-Ball game and Tyler had a game at a different field! We parents were scattered all over the town! :-)

Some recent snapshots:

Emily with her Pre-School Promotion Certificate yesterday (okay, so they don't "graduate," they get "promoted..." who knew!?)

Emily would not smile for her "first, real" baseball picture....

Pink and Black - the colors of choice for t-ball girls everywhere! :-)

Emily is ready for some serious baseball action!

She's on 2nd, ready to move toward home!

Tyler played 3rd base tonight. He did great!

Settin' up, ready for action!

Tyler takes a mighty swing! He had two fly-outs, and hit one screamer to the fence for a stand-up triple!

Emily goes gah-gah over Kensley!

A brief lapse

I had "one of those moments" today... Last night, my Aunt ( fame) called to talk about Idol and other things. Well, we got to talking about the Pittsburgh Spirit (a professional indoor soccer team in the late 70's, early 80's) and specifically about Paul Child. He was one of the best players of his day, and now he heads up the Pittsburgh Riverhounds team. Well, today at lunch, I started poking around, and it turns out that Paul is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame! I was so excited that I copied the URL, started an e-mail, and began entering Dad's address.... Then it hit me... I can't send cool stuff like that to him anymore.... It's the goofy little things that I seem to miss the most......

I had a call on my cell phone from a number I did not recognize. I 'googled' it and it turns out to be the number for Kaplan, an online university thing. Obviously, I filled out a survey at some point and it had my number on it. Anyway, one of the sites that came back is "WhoCalled.Us." This site allows people to submit phone numbers and company info from telemaketers etc. I found it to be very useful! And, of course, that led to a number that appeared on a whole bunch of sites: 1-800-382-5968. Nothing special, except the LETTERS that phone number spells! 1-800-F***-You. And, another number that popped up: 384-5666... What is so special about THAT number? When you dial it, it plays "Mary had a Little Lamb!" Very cool! Of course, it turns out, that the letters are..... EVIL-666... How utterly bizarre.... Not the numbers, but that people actually take the time and energy to figure this stuff out!!

For the record, tyler was HUGELY disappointed in "Idol" last night. He wanted Blake to win. Turns out he really likes Blake's singing, beatboxing, and 'style...' There ya go... One vote for Blake... LOL

May 23, 2007

We have a winner! - Spoiler, Chelle!!

Before I get to my comments on American Idol, I first want to say that Em looked so cute in her cap and gown today during her pre-school graduation. The program was very cute, and featured the kids singing, dancing, and acting out like kids ought to do! :-)

I'll post pictures over the next couple days as we get them loaded into the computer....

Em and I gave Daisy a 'bath' tonight. I have to say, she is one heck of a horse! :-) Even when Emily was flailing around (before I could stop her), Daisy jerked a little, but remained calm. I think she likes getting pampered, and Emily wants to braid her mane and tail, so I think that will make for a cool Sunday project... Assuming her mother helps, since I know NOTHING about braiding, let alone braiding a horse! :-)

After we were done, Daisy got a little treat, then headed off to eat grass and hay... :-)

Jordin Rocks! I am SO glad she won American Idol! As long as she keeps doing what she's good at and doesn't fall into the same crowd as Britney etc, she'll be around for a long, long time... (Not to say that Britney Spears won't be, I'm sure she will, but it just isn't the same...)

Of course, Shan and I agree that Melinda blew the socks off Gladys Knight AND BeBe and CeCe... Sorry, but she left those folks so far in the dust, they'll need shovels to clear their eyeglasses! (Okay, it made sense in my head, and it IS 11:50 at night!)

Luckily we DVR'd the whole thing, so we could fast-forward through the songs we didn't want to hear - which was most of them... Frankly, make the finale a 30 minute show, and be done with it.

Short and sweet tonight, folks... I'm tired... :-)

May 22, 2007

Jordin kicks Blake's ever-lovin boohonkus!

Blake started off strong. "You Give Love a Bad Name" is by far Blake's best song all season, and he did a pretty good job tonight. Though, really, I didn't like it as much as I did the first time. Jordin's "Fire" was good except for the parts where she talked so fast, you couldn't understand what she was saying. Maybe that has more to do with the fact I never heard the song before.

In any case, Jordin showed just why she is one of the most-deserving finalists of the title - "American Idol." Holy smokes, that girl can sing! And when she broke down at the end of "This is My Now," you knew she was living the lyrics she was singing... Hands-down incredible! Way to go Jordin!

At the end of Idol, Ryan was welcoming someone back or something... We missed it because DVR loves to cut off the final couple minutes of shows... If you know what happened at the very end, PLEASE let me know!

Tyler's baseball team came into the final inning in a 2-2 tie. What happened next is the stuff of ESPN's SportsCenter... Tyler and his team racked up 8 runs in their last at-bat! HO-LY COW! By all rights, as soon as they got to 3, the game should have been over. But, they play until the time limit or the end of the last inning, which ever comes first. So, in an incredible rally, the boys were racking up points faster than the other team could switch pitchers. It was great! :-) Tyler had 1 hit, was walked once, three stolen bases, scored twice and struckout once. He did great, and so did the rest of his team! Way to go Astros!

On Wednesday, Emily graduates from Pre-school and moves to kindergarten! She is very excited and even got her nails done to celebrate. What a cutie! :-)

Well, I did not sell my travel trailer (a fact that Emily celebrates ever chance she gets) today. The prospective buyers just couldn't afford to pay what I wanted/needed for it. I don't really mind one way or the other. Heck, if anything, it forced me to clean it up and clean it out.... So, this coming weekend, I will probably be going through boxes and bags to see what I'm keeping and what gets pitched for good...or maybe sold on eBay...

Hey, there is a new TV series coming to Fox and it is "based" in Pittsburgh! I saw the promo during "Idol" and immediately recognized the 'Burgh skyline! I hope to remember to watch it... :-)

May 21, 2007

Noticing a few things...

Well, folks, here is another round of "popped in my head..." Hang on, it could get bumpy... has lots of music. Some of it is the original artist, though not usually the original recording you may know and love. That's not always a bad thing, but if you head over there, be warned. And, while you're at it, if you want, I can recommend a song to you (let me know) and you can sign up to get 50 free songs if I send the invite! Now, they do have a lot, I should say TONS, of 'cover' songs. Tribute to Sammy Hagar, tribute to Eagles, tribute to Doors, etc etc... Tribute means someone else is singing the songs you know and love. Some artists are good, some suck big time. Luckily, you can preview each song for about 30 seconds. They also have some really off-the-wall stuff... Like an extended dance remix of a cover of "Stairway to Heaven." Yes, the Led Zep song... remixed with dance beats and a female vocal (if memory serves)... Ouch. Of course, Tyler's favorite song of late is Cledus T Judd's "1st Redneck on the Internet" - a real hoot! Other groups are actually very good - some Supersuckers, Communique, others that I don't remember the band name off-hand...

We use a program called "Check (POP) Mail" that runs in the system tray to alert us when we have new mail. That way, we don't have to leave Outlook Express running all the time. Anyway, when you have NO mail, the icon reads "POP-E"... Notice what I noticed? It reads POP-E... Poppy... Emily's name for my Dad.... As he would say, that is "very kewl!"

Tyler, Emily and I were playing "Barbies" tonight. Tyler was the mailman, Emily was "Kensley" (a Barbie named after her new cousin, that is the 'Polly Pocket' version) and I was Blaine or Ken or whatever his name is now, though I called myself "Righteous Bob." For whatever reason, Emily always called my figure "Jim." Go figure. Tyler's job was to deliver slips of paper, which he labeled "Bill - Bob," "Bill - Kensley," "Check - Bob." That is, two "bills" (we owed money) and one "check" (I got paid). Tyler was also the bill collector, who came knocking on the door, demanding payment. While I was eating popcorn, "Kensley" paid Tyler with "Bob's" check... Did you catch that one?? Bob gets a check and Kensley pays all the bills with it... Dang, free-loading Barbie doll... For all the jobs Barbie has had over the years, you'd THINK she would have some money to pay the friggin bills with!! :-)

Sharon, the maintenance woman where I work, asked me if I was "taking a nap on Saturday evening down at St. Michael's?" That would be the hospital where Kensley was born. And, yes, as a matter of fact, Shan and I were napping out in the waiting area... Great... Man, Arkansas is such a small town.... :-) Of course, Greg and Michelle and their girls stood watching us until I woke up with that "somebody's watching you sleep" feeling... I was right, only I didn't know just how right I was!!

Every play around Yahoo! Answers? I like answering questions with my usual sarcastic remarks...Turns out, I get selected as the "best answer" a lot despite (or because, I guess) of it... Anyway, it's a lot of fun...

Speaking of mindless activities to occupy a lunch-time... Remember a while back I told you about Well, I still hop over there every once in a while to splat my way back to the top of the scoreboard... Why? I dunno, something about keeping punk-arse kids in their place, maybe? LOL... I'm sure the average age on there is about 13... I am so twisted!

How ya doin so far? Keeping up? Good... :-) Thanks for tagging along. If I lost you somewhere around the Barbies, well, I understand...

I posted some pictures to Dad's online guestbook at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and I saw that he had some more entries. I think when the 'free year' come close to an end, I'm going to order a hardbound version....

Oh, speaking of Pittsburgh and Yahoo! Answers... One of the questions I saw was something like "Does anyone know how much Cedar Point tickets are at Giant Eagle?" I responded that I did not know the answer, but at least I knew what Giant Eagle and Cedar Point were! :-)

And, I wasn't going to say anything because I wasn't sure just what TO say... But, we are losing our Computer Technician. Though, in reality, she has become much more than that at the co-op... She is very smart and skilled in Microsoft networking, and the Prescott School District has snagged her away from us. She will be missed greatly!

Did you know that if you type 'google' into Google, you get about a BILLION pages returned? Dang! Yahoo has 777 million.... Altavista has about 25.7 million. Why am I telling you this? Something that popped in my head earlier today (well, technically, it was the thought to Google "google.").

My Mom said she drove her car off into the ditch today... Wasn't really paying attention and "oops!" into the ditch... She is fine, the car is fine... But, she borrowed Super Glue from me tonight... I probably should have called to check on her... And she wants to take our daughter to get her nails done.... I have a bad feeling about this.... :-) (Just kidding Mom.. really!)

Say goodnight, Gracie....

Kensley Addison

Uncle Dave and Aunt Shan's favorite neice:

May 20, 2007

Two very different birthdays

Three weeks to the day after we found out my Dad passed away, we celebrated the birth of our neice, Kensley Addison Chalmers. Shan's sister was admitted to the hospital on Friday, and the wait began... So, we waited... and waited... and waited... and then decided to head for a hotel for the evening, as we were told the baby would most likely not be coming any time soon.

[Begin sidebar] We leave the hotel and drive to the nearest hotel. After some discussion, I go inside to get a room. "Sorry, we're all booked up tonight." What? In Texarkana? Okay, so maybe all travelers prefer that hotel... Playing it smart, I call information and get the number to the next hotel we see... "Sorry, we don't have any rooms for tonight." Huh? What the heck is going on in T-Town? Next hotel, same answer. Well, dang, who would have thought we'd be hunting hotel rooms in Texarkana? Finally, ol' reliable Hampton Inn says, "If you come right now, I'll get you into a room." "I'll be there in less than two minutes." We were, and she did. :-) It was the weirdest "suite" I have ever seen, though... It was really just one giant room, with a couch, two beds, a TV, a very nice 'vanity' area, and a 'kitchen' area. Strange... Oh, and the reason everyone else was booked up? A multi-state middle-school girls' basketball tourney was in town... Who knew?![/end sidebar]

We wake up, have breakfast, and head for the hotel. And, we wait... and wait some more... Around 10 or so, Shan's mom came out and said, "She's at 8!" (Meaning Shan's sister was at 8cm). About an hour later, we got the word that Jess was at 10 cm, and things were movin' fast.... Around noon, we got the word that Kensley had arrived at 11:45! She is so cute, and very alert! In fact, when someone said something about "Aunt Shan," Kensley turned her head and looked right at Shan! It was one of those "Now, THAT is cool!" moments! :-)

We spent much of the rest of Saturday at the hospital, then on the way home stopped by Cold Stone for a treat! :-) Hey, I'll take (er, make?) any excuse to head to Cold Stone! Sunday, Shan, her Mom, my Mom and Emily all headed to T-Town to see more of Kensley and her parents. Meanwhile, I stayed home and finished cleaning the house, put up some trim on Mom's deck, took Tyler to baseball paractice, then came home to clean up/clean out the travel trailer in prep for a prospective buyer. During baseball practice, Shan called to let me know everyone (including the new parents and their prized possession) were heading home. After everyone was back home, my Mom, Shan, and I went to visit my Dad....

You see, today is my Dad's birthday. (Another sidebar - Why do people say 'would have been'? It is STILL his birthday - he WAS born on this day... anyway, I digress) So, we went to see Dad and to do some cleaning up of his resting place. Mom was smart enough to bring a shovel. We have had lots of rain recently, and that has caused the mound where Dad is to have some caving-in and general unevenness. So, while Shan and Mom cleaned off the flowers that had been there since Dad's service, I took to shoveling dirt around to fill in places and make things look better. And, in the tradition of my Father, I was certain the cops would come by in time to see me with a shovel, digging at Dad's grave... Luckily, I was spared that, but I have to admit, it was a little strange digging in a place where shovels are generally frowned upon.. :-) Leave it to Dad.... :-) For lack of a better term, we 'celebrated' Dad's birthday, and cleaned up his area. We also noticed that a marker had been placed! That was very nice of the funeral home. I have been by Dad's spot several times, but hadn't noticed the marker under the mound of flowers and arrangements.

Unlike the celebration of the birth of Kensley, this birthday was full of painful tears. Knowing Dad is in a much better place does not keep those of us still here from feeling an empty space in our hearts. We know we must continue on, for the sake of our children (and grandchildren, in my Mom's case), for each other, for all the things we have yet to understand. But, that doesn't keep us from feeling that empty space. Dad will always be with us. We will never understand the "WHY" of his being taken from us, especially so young, so close to seeing and doing the things he always wanted. I think the one thing we hate the most is that my Dad left this world in his room, physically alone. I say that because he was not alone emotionally, and he knew that (had come to know that, thankfully!). We know things could have been so much worse (for him, given the area he was in...for us, if he had been here when it happened), but that doesn't take away the pain, the missing, the wanting just 'one more day.' I wish I could say, "Happy Birthday, Dad." I know for him, right now, it is a very happy birthday. But for us, it is his birthday, and though we are very, very happy and blessed that he HAS a birthday, it breaks our hearts that we had to spend it without him. We love you, Dad.

May 17, 2007

Idol-ing along.... (Spoiler, Chelle)

This week's "Idol" table shows our feelings about each singer's three songs (thus three votes for each). One thing Shan and I agreed on: Blake should go home.
Idol SingerDave's VoteShan's Vote
JordinY, Y?, YY, Y, Y
BlakeY?, Y, NY?, Y, N
MelindaN, Y, Y?Y?, Y, Y

Too bad we were wrong... Way wrong. How did Melinda not make TOP TWO!? She was the best performer, singer, you name it, on the show this season! Of course, as Simon says, "It's a voting show, not a talent show..." Guess he was right again....

A couple of the folks we know have been to Little Rock to a hypnotherapist. She gave them tapes of what they are supposed to listen to in order to lose weight, etc. Well, they want the tapes on CD. Easy enough. Tonight, while dubbing one off (I hooked up a boombox to the PC, fired up Audacity to record, then once the file was saved, I burned it to CD), I happened to come in during the part where the speaker is telling the listener that she will prefer water over any other beverage. Fair enough. But, wait, what is that I hear? The sound of POURING water!? So, here we have a person in a relaxed, hypnotic state, listening to this, when suddenly, there is POURING, RUNNING water!? I was wide awake and I had to run to the restroom! i cannot imagine what it must be like to be under hypnosis, hear this and have to go to the restroom! Can you see the customer service call on that one?

"Hello? Hypnotherapy..."
"Um, yes, I would like my money back, please."
"What is the problem?"
"Er, well, you see, I wet myself while listening to your tape."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"Evidently, while I was 'under,' the sound of pouring and rushing water caused me to have to relieve myself...which I evidently the bed..."
"I'm ver sorry sir...But-"
"No, buts, lady - you poured water while I was 'sleeping,' and I peed all over the bed! I want my money back!"

I mean, come one, you just as well stick the "patient's" hand in a bowl of warm water!

I drove my Mom to Shreveport today. And, I finally got to see the 'good' side of the town. City, really. Downtown reminded me a lot of being downtown in Little Rock, really. And they have tons of stores, malls, etc. No wonder people go there to shop, eat, play, etc! I am looking forward to going back - which we will on June when Mom has her surgery. Mom and I talked about all kinds of things - Dad, my great-grandfather, my grandfather, the kids, work, and all kinds of things. It was very cool.

On the way home from Tyler's baseball game tonight, I told Shan that I believe there is a "goofy" gene that must be a dominant trait passed on from my Dad to me. And, from me to our two children. Shan said that was okay with her. There are times and places when "goofiness" are not appropriate, but Shan said that my Dad's passing has helped her realize that being 'goofy' ain't all bad, either.... We see a lot of Dad in our kids, and I'm sure Shan sees more of my Dad in me than she'd prefer, but it is part of who we are, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

On Friday, May 18, Shan and I celebrate our 16th Anniversary! It is amazing how much we have gone through in sixteen short years, and how quickly the time has gone by. It doesn't "feel" like 16 years at all. I have been blessed in ways I may never understand. I do not deserve the woman I am married to, and many of my friends would agree without any argument whatsoever.

This year, we are celebrating by going to the hospital to be with Shan's sister and sister's husband as they are bringing their own child into this world. And I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

Happy Anniversary, Shan! I Love You.

Grief sucks.

I will eventually put up our American Idol chart and talk about who got sent home, but not tonight.

See, sometimes, I don't write because most of the things that pop in my head seem so frivolous to me, so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, that when I do sit down to write, I figure the thoughts aren't worth the space they take up.

And then, there's Dad... or rather, my thoughts of Dad. I sit with the cursor blinking at me, daring me to start typing. Meanwhile, thoughts rush in and out of my head so fast, I barely have time to let them register in there at all, let alone hammer them out on a keyboard for the world to see.

Grief sucks. Two steps forward, three back. Memories trigger other memories and thoughts pile up on each other into a huge pile of some master event unfolding in my mind. An event that ultimately ends up in the same place every time.

Everyone wants to help, wishes they could help in some way, some mystical way, and we wish they would help, or that they could help, but I don't know how, don't know what to tell them. I miss my Dad. My Mom misses him, more than anyone who has never lost a spouse could ever know. How do you take 38 years of knowing someone, all the good, all the bad, all the ugly, loving them in spite of (or despite of or because of) everything, and pick up the pieces when they are suddenly not there anymore? My answer is: You don't. Well, you don't pick up ALL the pieces anyway.

There is no time line for grieving. There is no 'rubric' or standard. We each have to do it in our own way, in our own time. I still have times that I cannot believe this is all real. It can't be, can it? And, I get ticked off sometimes because he and Mom were SO CLOSE to going to Scotland, seeing St. Andrews, renewing their vows...Dad talked about going to Disney World when he got back, and taking all of us. Why in the heck did this have to happen now? Now that he finally "got it?" And, there are times, I am so dang numb from it all that I don't remember how I got to work that morning. Times when I have to go to the men's room in order to have a 60-second total meltdown. And other times that I feel like everything is getting better.... I go through it all, sometimes over the course of a couple days, sometimes going through it all in the course of a morning, or an hour....

Grief sucks. It sucks minutes, hours, days out of lives. Sometimes, it feels like months have gone by, and other times, it's like it all happened yesterday. How many times have I felt like I have lost focus? A zillion. I know there are loved ones that are here, alive, wanting my attention, my love. People say it will get better... I know things get "better" in some respects. But, I also know that, for me and for those that love my Dad, anyway, it's perfectly okay to miss him, miss his laugh, his charm, his goofiness, his love, for the rest of our lives. That's part of loving someone, long after 'death do us part....'

May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Generally speaking, I suck at the whole "gift" thing. Really. I don't know when I was supposed to take the "how to choose a gift" class in life, but I obviously skipped it in favor of a trip to the doughnut store or something... And, with everything else going on in life, time fell away from me faster than I could stop it. I hate waiting until the last minute (or later) for gifting, though you wouldn't know it, because that is usually when I end up doing it.

Some people would say that because I end up waiting so late, it shows that I don't care. I care very deeply. I just suck, and that's all there is to it. I missed the part where men get trained on taking their kids out to buy gifts for Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Birthdays, and Christmas. I always hope to do better each year, yet, I never seem to.

This year was the worst, in my book. But, at the very last hour, I had a brain-storm. I remembered the talking photo frames we have. Unopened, untouched. Perfect. I took the kids into another room and had them record a message to their mother, each child recording into their own picture. Emily's is soft, barely audible. Tyler's sounds like a Darth Vader imitation (those are his own words!), yet when I asked if they wished to re-record, they both said no. I even prodded, begged them to redo their recordings, but they both refused. I am hoping they will record new messages throughout the years - that would be cool, I think... Oh, and Emily and I ate breakfast in bed with Shan, too. :-)

Shan loved the pictures and frames. She would have loved hand-made cards from the kids. It's the little things that count. I'm lucky, because she could be ripping my head off instead.....

My mother? We bought my mother a Polaroid digital photo frame and pre-loaded it with several pictures. She thought it was the coolest thing ever (my mother easily has more than a hundred pictures on display in the living room alone)! Shan and her siblings bought her Mom a new digital camera (very badly needed!!).

After Emily took her bath, we climbed up in her bed to read part of her bedtime story. Before we started, though, she told me that she didn't want to sleep in her bed. I told her it would be okay for her to fall asleep. With a tear rolling down her cheek, she said, "But if I fall asleep in my bed, I might not wake up...." Choking back my own tears, I assured her that if she fell asleep, I would come get her and put her in our bed before I fell asleep.

Losing Dad has affected us all in ways we still don't realize.... I emailed one of his co-workers in Iraq, and part of her reply included:
We still listen for your dad’s whistles, horn blowing to come down the empty halls ...

Mom and Dad would have been in Scotland today.

We have so many things we think about, so many we try NOT to think about, so many that we can't help but to think about... The thing that crosses my mind the most is just how much I miss my Dad, and realizing just how much I will miss my Mom (not that she's going anywhere anytime soon, I hope!!)... I hope I make the most of every day I have with all of my family.

May 11, 2007

Fishing Memory

While reading John's blog about fishing with his Mom and Dad, I remember going fishing once with my Pap (Grandfather) and brother. I don't remember much, other than it was under the Boston Bridge in McKeesport, Pa. I don't remember catching anything, but my brother cast his line far enough out into the river that the flow pulled it to the left. There was an outgrowth in that direction, so we couldn't see the end of his line. As he began reeling, he felt a tug. Reeling became harder, and my Pap helped him pull in his catch.....

As the line grew shorter, the prize came into view.... A duck. Yeap, my brother had caught a duck with his fishing line. I think Pap packed everything up and we left right after that... :-)

May 10, 2007

Great Googly-Moogly....

Explain to me how one gets voted ONTO a committee board while one is ATTENDING the meeting!? I was taught that if you're not there, you get picked. I *WAS* there, I *did* get picked! How??

Confused? Let me backtrack a bit... You see, we belong to the local swimming pool (it's private, members-only - don't get me started on THAT subject....). Anyway, we showed up, expecting to hear there would be no pool this year, since the membership has dwindled and the dues keeps going up. Instead, there was a lot of discussion about a huge water leak "somewhere" (can you say ONE MILLION GALLONS OF WATER just gone!?) and a few other things. Near the end of the meeting, the guy running the show (no, I do not know/remember his name) points at me and says, "I nominate him." He doesn't know my name. How do you nominate someone when you don't even know their name!? I'll tell you - they point at you, like you are the accused in a trial and say, "It was him!" So, yeah, now I'm on the Pool Board (or whatever it's called). Let me just say one thing - I have a bad feeling about this..... :-)

I finally recharged my digital photo keychain (I had lost the USB cable), and added some pictures to it. It really is a very cool tech 'toy!' I got it as a gift for my birthday last year while at a State tech plan meeting thingy... LOL... :-)

I put pictures of my Dad in it, and now that I have it charged, I can pull them up whenever I want, where ever I go.... Part of me wishes I had done that more before, but I cannot change the past and instead must learn from it and take baby steps forward....

I can't believe it is coming up on two weeks.... This time two weeks ago, life was...normal.... A lot of people aren't sure what to say, so they ask things like, "How are you doing?" or "How are you holding up?" I tell them the truth - we have our good moments, and our very rough moments. I've heard that time is the great healer. We thought we had all the time in the world..... Apparently, time is also quite a thief......

May 9, 2007

Podcasting, Baseball and Idol (SPOILER 'Chelle!)

(NOTE: As promised, Michelle there is an Idol spoiler in here, so if you haven't watched Idol yet, you may want to stop reading right now... Then again, you could scroll down slowly until you see me mention Idol then stop reading...) :-)

Apple came to the office today to train a group of tech folks on how to use Garage Band to create podcasts, and show us how podcasting can be used at various levels in schools. When a group of friends get together, many of whom like to joke around and have fun, most of the learning comes from the side-bar conversations and the general goofiness of the day. Though I have laughed a few times over the past week and a half, today I had a very hearty laugh that went off and on for a good couple of hours. I needed it badly. Admittedly, much of my own incompetence and shenanigans contributed to the fun we were having, but just about everyone was laughing at each other and themselves at one time or another.

Speaking of laughing, on Boston Legal the other night, when Jerry said he had a song that he couldn't get out of his head, we rolled on the floor as the first few bars of the BL theme came out of his mouth - and, of course, we sang right along with him! By far, one of the funniest openings to an episode yet! :-)

Tyler had baseball practice today, and Emily had her first practice today! FINALLY! :-) She is her brother's sister. She kicked dirt, danced around, and generally played around in the field. Because her practice started after Tyler's, Tyler and I were a little late getting there, but we saw Em field a ball and hit a ball (in addition to her playing around). It brought back a lot of memories of Tyler playing around. There is nothing like watching little kiddos learning how to play baseball... :-)

For the record, we did watch idol last week. We made predictions and watched Phil and Chris get voted off. I have no idea what happened to the paper we keep track of that on, as you can imagine, our minds weren't really on what we were watching....

This week, we made our choices (which I will share in a sec), and then watched the results tonight. It wasn't really a surprise, though in a way, I was disappointed (but just not surprised). Our chart (they sang twice, thus the two votes each):

Idol Singer
Dave's Vote
Shan's Vote
Yes? Yes
Yes? Yes
Yes? No
Yes? Yes?
Yes No
Yes Yes?
Yes! Yes!
Yes Yes

We were not surprised that Lakisha was voted off. Like I said, I was disappointed. I think Blake should have been voted off. I love the beat-boxing, but there is a time and place for it. He did too much of it in the 1st song and there should been NONE of it in the second song. He sang the 2nd song wonderfully, but he should have left the beat-boxing out... Then again, what do I know? :-)

The first day back at the office was a little weird. Despite the fun I had at the podcasting training, I was still in a daze of sorts. I got lots of hugs and talked to several people about Dad. Maybe it's denial, maybe it's shock, maybe it's something else, but in some ways, it still doesn't seem real.... I mean, my Aunt and Uncle still look to me like they did when I saw them last, or for that matter, when they did when I was a kid. I know, crazy talk, right? But seriously. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that my Uncle is 57. 57?? That can't be right... I won't say how old my Aunt is - she knows how to fly standby on a moment's notice and there is NO WAY that I am going to risk getting my butt kicked any time soon.... Time really does fly by...

May 8, 2007

Wheels in Motion

I don't even know where to start this... So, I'll start with today and work backward. I guess this means you might want to start at the end of this post and read in reverse if you want it in chronological order, though, really, I can almost promise it WON'T be in chronological order, because, you see, that has the word "logical" in it, and I'm not sure I've moved up to that stage of things just yet...

So, I am posting this on Tuesday, in case you either didn't know what today was, or you happen to be reading this on a day that is NOT Tuesday... I woke Shan up so she could get ready to head to Little Rock for a conference/meeting/training. Later, I woke the kids, got them ready for school, then stopped by my Mom's. My Aunt Shari and Uncle Bill (Mom's Sis and Bro) left this morning, heading back to the 'Burgh. We said our goodbyes last night (as you will read), but there was no way I was going to just let them go without seeing them again. I have come to realize a lot of things with my Dad's passing, and one of those is that there is (or should be, for me anyway) always time to stop in for a hug, or to say "hi" or, in this case, "bye." Life really is too dang short not to.

Took the kids to school, then went to the local lumber/hardware store. Since we didn't have the right brackets for the deck (again, which you will read about in a sec), I stopped by there to see if they could help me. Brackets? Nope. Help? Yeap. It turns out, that in talking to the two guys there, they gave me two alternatives to using the angle brackets I was after. I liked both ideas, and as I get back to working on the deck, I will try them out and see which one I like better - one is to simply drive the nails at various angles to support the beams, and the other is to use a piece of 'hidden' block to attach the railings to the posts. I digress. So, I leave the hardware store and drive to Arkadelphia, about 30+ miles away. Why? Because we had the wrong brackets...and the wrong 'deck screws.' It turns out, the salesguy thought Mom wanted "set screws" not "deck screws." He gave her set screws, which, frankly, look like BOLTS to me since there is no place to 'screw' them into something (flat head, no slots!). After a bit of conversation, those folks did not have the brackets we needed, nor did they have galvanized deck screws in 1-inch length. That was fine, since all I wanted was my Mom's money back anyway... :-) On the way out of Arkadoo (our 'pet name' for the town), I stopped at Mickey-D's for a breakfast on the go. When I got back home, Mom was asleep, so I did a little bit of 'quiet' work on the deck, making sure not to fire up the drill or saw or anything else that might wake her.... We've had a rough week, and Mom needed to rest.

Backing up to Monday now... Woke up at the "butt crack of dawn," as my boss put it. I went to Little Rock for a training. Yes, Shan today, me yesterday. Go figure. After the all-day training, I returned to find that Mom had gone to Arkadelphia after some L-Brackets and deck screws. As you are aware now, she was given SET screws. And the L-brackets? Yeah, should have been ANGLE brackets... I think the lesson here is - if you know what you're going after, go get 'em yourself because the people 'helping' you may be clueless... So, Brian (my brother) and Uncle Bill are dying in the 91+ degree heat, working at doing what they can on the deck. I help out as I can, but time has slipped up on us and now it's time for dinner (which is supper, for the southern folks reading this). After we eat, a storm starts moving in, but Emily has T-Ball practice, so we load up and head out. It's pouring down rain with lightning and thunder when we get to the field, so it's no surprise that practice is cancelled....again. You see, her first practice was supposed to be last week. She would have missed it for my Dad's visitation, but it rained, so the practice was cancelled anyway. We get back home after dropping off dishes at Greg and Michelle's - okay, I offered to take the dishes in the rain, but Shan insisted (I think she wanted to visit/gossip a bit, really). Back at home, we hang out and visit a while with Uncle Bill and Aunt Shari before heading over the hill to put the kiddos to bed....

Backing up to Sunday... I woke up and started building the deck with Brian and Uncle Bill, and any other unfortunate soul that happened by.. :-) LOL, no, actually, it was pretty much us three guys. Started at 7:00, I think, and worked all day. Of course, there was a bit where my Mom and I borrowed my father-in-law's "real" truck (his words - he has a Chevy, 2500, 8-foot bed, etc etc) to buy some supplies we didn't get on Saturday. In most vehicles, there is something on the instrument panel or inside the fuel door, or SOMEWHERE that says, "unleaded fuel only" if the vehicle uses unleaded gas, right? Wrong. After the trip to Lowe's (in Texarkana, 45+ miles away), I decide to stop and re-fill the truck... For a moment, I'm not sure if the thing takes gas or diesel... I don't think it's diesel... There's nothing that says "diesel" anywhere... So, I pick mid-grade gasoline, and start pumping. How far would I get if I put the wrong type of fuel in the vehicle? Not far, I figure... So, we head out - and make it home. I go into my in-laws' house and nodding, I say to Shan's Dad, "You're truck's not diesel, is it?" (By now, knowing the answer) His eyes widen, he starts to get up (though I'm not sure if it's to check the truck or throttle me), and he says, "Noooo....??" As if asking whether I had actually put diesel in his truck. "Yeah, I didn't think so, so I used unleaded mid-grade." He sat back, and we laughed.. Well, I laughed, he gave a half-chuckle, and I'm pretty sure he wanted to throttle me... :-)

Continue to work on the deck, which seems to be a never-ending process... In some ways, having a very perfectionist Uncle is a good thing... and in other ways, well, I know he wanted to get it done right for my Mom.... By the end of the day, Saturday, we have most of the decking in place, and it actually looks (and acts) like a deck. Except for railings and rails (baullists, or whatever they're called).

Back up to Saturday. Someone, and I am not sure if it's Brian or Uncle Bill, decides that we should leave the deck (hat was at the front of Mom's house before the new sidiing was put on, but moved to the back for a new deck for when Dad got home) in the back of the house, and we should build a NEW deck for the front, because my Dad wanted a new deck... For the record, Shan and I voiced objection, instead voting to simply move the old deck back. Turns out the old deck might not have survived (though, I would guess repairing it might prove a tad cheaper than a new one) another move... Off to Lowe's we go. We basically have no plan, other than we want to build a 12x10 deck with railings and steps.

At Lowe's, Shari and I go to the computer and she lays out plans and parts for a deck. Meanwhile, the others (Brian, Mom, and Uncle Bill) are looking for carts, wood, etc... If you are old enough (or simply well schooled in the art of comedy), you may remember the Keystone Cops... Bad News Bears? Well, that's kinda how things went - people flying out of the way, stuff being moved (thrown, pushed, etc), running back and forth between aisles to see if we have what we need (or trying to figure out just what the blankety-blank we *DO* need)... From the time we left the house to the time we spent in Lowe's (that is the ONLY place we went) to the time we returned home - FIVE HOURS. A decision was made (*I* did not make it) to use "maintenace free" decking. No staining, no painting - just install and go... Sounds great - costs.. well, more.... We'll just leave it at that.

Did I mention we took MY truck to buy the stuff? Not a biggie, except that the maintenance-free (LOL, I just realized it's acronym would be M-F!) decking materials also WEIGH more than regular wood... My truck was loaded down to about two inches between the wheel-well and the tires - maybe I had that much space, maybe even less. Oh, and these boards are also very SLICK! I had visions of building a new deck in the middle of I-30! But, careful driving led us home safely... We unloaded the truck and began laying things out to build a deck...

So, in reverse order, there's the gist of wheels starting to turn in our lives again. It still doesn't seem real, though. Still check for e-mails and e-cards... There are a lot more thoughts running through my head, but I'll give you a break for now.... Or maybe, I'm giving myself a break.... Who knows for sure these days...

We love you, Dad. We miss you - Always.

May 4, 2007

"You Made Us Smile!"

In less than a week, we have gone from baseball practice with Tyler to saying goodbye to my Dad. I suppose the world has clicked a few more paces into motion, though at times, it still doesn't seem like I'm moving at all...

We walked in this afternoon (Friday) and Dad lay there, just as he had the day before. He looked like he was sleeping. But, it was only what he left behind that was there in that room. Shan and I talked and thought a lot about what was 'missing' from what we saw. Dad looked peaceful and rested, but something was missing from the body of the man that lay in front of us. And we knew - Dad's personality, vitality, life... Dad left us for another world last Saturday, and as we grieved around him, we knew he had moved on beyond that room, beyond Iraq, beyond this world.

Today, we cried. We held Dad's hand. Mom kissed him goodbye. We cried. We laughed and we cried some more. And, we laughed, just as if Dad was with us all along.

The service was perfect. Bro. Perry managed to capture the very essence of Dad from talking with us and others that knew him. We told Bro. Perry that we wanted a light-hearted service because that was Dad. We celebrated his life, not his passing (though we did that, too). From the opening, "This will be a 15-minute job..." to the gathering of friends and family around us in the chapel, it was 100% my Dad.

I know I shouldn't have been surprised by now, but I was still amazed at just how many people my Dad managed to touch in his life - sometime in only the span of two weeks or a couple hours... I think it would have surprised him, too.

In a way, I think everything happened the way it did because it was the way we all needed it to happen. The time it took for Dad to get here (though fast in calendar days, forever in our hearts), the time we had to grieve, to reflect, to remember, all worked together for a greater plan. Dad was doing a job that he loved doing, and in the process, touching lives, touching people. He came to understand a different set of priorities than he had been used to. He touched people thousands of miles away that would have never known him. He brought comfort to people in the midst of their personal hard times (several of those people came today and told me just how Dad had helped them). He made sure that we knew how much he loved us and missed us. He had made plans to do the things he always wanted to do - visit Scotland and St. Andrews, take the family to Disney World.

Tyler and Emily drew pictures that we placed in his casket. Emily's had hearts and a picture of herself and she had her brother help her write "I love you Poppy" on it, with grass and trees and "Emily H." Tyler's was a picture of himself with a mansion and a swimming pool and a garden. It says, "I love you!" and "Wait for me in your mansion!" But, of all the things that he wrote, Tyler said it all in these four simple written words:

"You Made Us Smile!"

Though our hearts are still very, very heavy right now, and we miss you so very, very much, Dad, we hang on to those words with all our hearts - You made us smile!

A guestbook for Dad...

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a guestbook that visitors can sign. It has been so up-lifting seeing how many people, in how many ways, Dad touched lives...

He would have been very surprised. He always said that when he died, they could prop in a corner and no one would come... It's wonderful to see just how wrong he was about that...... We had a LOT of visitors last night and LOTS of plants and flowers from those who couldn't make it; many who knew him, or of him and his 'charm and goofiness.' He touched more people than we even knew about, in ways we could have never imagined without the stories of things he did, things he said...

May 3, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Here is a link to my Dad's rememberance in the Pittsburgh post-Gazette:

About my Dad (from a co-worker of his...)

We received the following email from Deborah in Iraq. She is the woman standing next to Dad in the Team Photo in the slideshow below. The message has been edited so that it makes sense out of the context of the rest of the email...

I have attached a picture of the "T Wall award" that will be sent to you from the Project Management Team here at USM-I Central. This T Wall award is an honorary award issued only to a handful of people that exemplified leadership. The circular coin is only given out by the Project Manager here at USM-I, John Attebery, and the other coin was given by Karen Nolan the Deputy Project Manager on the Support side. Karl Schmidt the Deputy Project Manager Operations side offered up the T Wall which represents USM-I here in the IZ.

So many of us have been gathering and sharing Gerald stories ... I didn't know if he shared this with you, but he was deemed "Mr. Rogers" here. He was always so upbeat and cheery that we all wished we could be more like him. He was the man that everyone wanted to have around and have as a neighbor. He kept us all entertained with his quirky sounds, horn blowing and dancing. He was our rock and is deeply missed.

May 2, 2007

Dad, Remembered

(You may have too click on "hide captions, wait a moment, then click on SHOW captions to view the captions....I did...)
Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

One click at a time....

11:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The Wednesday before we see Dad for the first time since he flew out of the Little Rock airport about five months ago. Five months. I never stopped to think about that. Just five months, and so much has changed in our lives. It hasn't even been a week since we found out about Dad. Not even five days, let alone five months. These four days have been like four years. It is like being at the end of some kind of "Matrix time," where suddenly everything is about to coming rushing back into full speed... Normal speed, some would say. Normal....

What is normal? In the grand scheme of things, everything that has happened is 'normal,' but in the much smaller confines of the lives that were touched by my Dad, and those that knew him well and love him still, 'normal' doesn't compute. Like walking in a daze, being in a movie or something - what casket do we want? Do we want a casket? What kind of flowers do you want to send? Which plot of cemetery do you wish to bury your father in? Will he wear his glasses? Do you need a drink of water? Can you believe the DHL guy just brought a box with Dad's glasses and top teeth in it (because Dad left the bottom ones in the Houston airport bathroom not so many months ago...)?? That is what has become OUR normal lately....

We visited with Bro. Perry so he could get a feel for what Dad was like... You sit around and sum up someone's 61 years of life in a few laughs, a few tears, a few words, a few hours.... If we had a month, maybe, a year perhaps, we would see something that further jogged our memories (like a photo of Dad eating his favorite candy - circus peanuts, you know the orange marshmallow things?), or a word he used - 'boogity-shoo, boogity-shoo', or a movie he loved - Ben Hur.... Which, by the way, NONE of the things I listed had we thought about or talked about when we tried to help someone understand what Dad was like....Okay, it turns out, the others DID mention 'boggity-shoo' to the preacher... You'd have to know my Dad... You see, well, he had no inhibitions whatsoever, and my Mom tells us that he would run from one bathroom to the other (they were on opposite sides of the house, crossing in front of the front door to get there), calling out 'boogity-shoo, boogity-shoo' while doing some kind of 'naked happy dance.' Look, I can't make this stuff up....

I'm sure my Dad would love to know that I just told world that story.... Then again, he would just say I beat him to it.... Many people try to sleep through their time of heartache and trouble, but I seem to be unable to sleep these past couple days... Afraid, perhaps, that by going to sleep, I ensure that tomorrow will arrive after all, and that by not sleeping, I can somehow keep tomorrow from coming.... Ludicrous, I know. But in the world of what is now our 'normal,' there is no logic, no making sense of reason. There is only the heartache of knowing that when I do go to sleep, I will wake up (unlike my father) and I will have to go to the funeral home and see him for the very last time ever....

In our 'normal' world, we cry because we see his smile in a photo (or see him in a photo giving a high-five to a much younger Tyler). We say things like, "That sounds like something Dad would say (or do)" when someone says something a little 'off' or sarcastic, or when my brother gets down on the floor to play with Mom and Dad's dog like my Dad used to. Up until now, I have been as 'outwardly strong' as I can be, and as I felt I had to be for me, but that will all go out the window on Thursday, and I have no shame in it at all. I told Tyler and Emily that it's okay to cry, or be sad, or be angry... It's okay to laugh when someone talks about Dad because they are remembering some goofy thing he said or did.... Thursday, the world that came to a screeching halt will take one tiny click forward....

As painful and sad as it is to know that my Dad will never, really, come home to his house, I can smile on the inside because I know he is out there somewhere, doing his crazy little happy dance, and entertaining everyone who is around him. We love you, Dad.