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Things That Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and I Know …

12 May

I feel like I’m on an episode of Seinfeld.

This happens from time to time, like when I realize I have a re-giftster in my friendship circle, or my friend’s husband is a close-talker, or how you never parallel park nose-first, you always reverse it, and back in. I pick up on a lot of these cues and wonder if people don’t know this, how come someone has not told them this common information, or have they never watched an episode of Seinfeld.

The most recent incident I suppose happens to a lot of people. Still.

You know when people invite you to hang out, or go to a party, you quickly realize whether it’s a genuine invitation, a filler invitation, or an UNvitation as Elaine and Jerry would call it.

The genuine invitation is obvious, they really want you to be there. You enjoy each other’s company, and there’s no fake conversations about traffic or the weather. There’s substance. You’re friends. A filler is the kind of invite you get from someone that just wants people there, you know them, they like you. You could even be family, but they just want a crowd and busy vibe. You probably could’ve stayed at home. Then there’s the UNvitation. This is when people invite you at the very last minute, hoping or expecting that you will say no, or, inviting you to an event they know you won’t attend. They invite you just to say they made an effort. If you don’t show up, they say, well at least I invited them. It’s one of those obligatory situations that usually happen with family, co-workers, or kids’ birthday parties.

Most of the time the invite goes through word of mouth, text, or email. I usually go by the rule that if the people organizing the shindig didn’t invite you, then it’s probably best not to crash the situation. This applies to family, friends, or work functions. I mean even with UNvitations you don’t go, or if you do, it’s with a you-didn’t-really-want-me-there-well-NOW-I’m-going kind of situation.

Now that I’m older I don’t go anywhere I don’t want. The pandemic helped clarify situations like that too. Time became extremely valuable because being locked down with toxic people couldn’t be fun for anyone. So, picking and choosing whose invitations I accept is pretty simple. I mean maybe in my 20s I’d go out to parties or clubs, just to go, get out of the house. But now … eh … I’m good. I don’t need a filler, nor do I need to accept an UNvitation. I go if you mean something to me and if I value our friendship and time together. I’ve always told my kids that time is the most valuable, can’t be replaced once you lose it.

So, when a friend asked me if I was going to get drinks with some of the soccer moms, it’s on the group chat, I mentioned that I wasn’t on the group chat and left it at that. She followed up by taking a screenshot of the conversation and forwarding it to me. Now based on my Columbo observations, about half of the team parents were on that, including the coaches.

Now, I’m new to this whole soccer scene, but since my other kid plays hockey the rules, strategy, and ability to read the field became easily adaptable. I played basketball for a long time, so I still say half court, when it’s called midfield, but I could care less. My kid scored an Andres Cantor golazo from mid-court to send her team to the championship match at their last tournament we’re in good standings with the parents and coaches. I’m an easy-going parent who gets a little Coach Taylor-Ted Lasso intense during the games, but there are always positive vibes, and most people like me. So even though I wasn’t on the let’s-get-a-drink-text-thread, I was good.

But my friend asked again, ‘if you go, I’ll go…’

I’m inclined to believe she knows about the invitation rules but wanted a buddy there. Now under different circumstances, like if it was with my college buddies, or really good friends, I wouldn’t mind the tag-along to something as casual as drinks. They would probably be happy with me popping in and making them laugh. We pick up where we last left off. Those are the kind of people you can crash.

But this was not that.

Even though we had spent a couple Saturdays a month, for a few months, on the sidelines cheering our kids on, we were not at the pop-in phase.

So, I told her I probably wouldn’t go. She seemed a little disappointed, but nothing dramatic. I wasn’t sure that I needed to explain why. Normally I tell me people, oh … I can’t make it. Don’t really go into a lot of detail. I realized a while back that a kind thank you for inviting me and so sorry couldn’t make it, is a fine enough response. If they happen ask why, then I go into detail. But maybe these invitation rules are not common knowledge. Are they? Maybe it’s just something that the Seinfeld crew and I have in common.

Needless to say, I’m probably not going to the drink session and will probably enjoy sitting on the couch watching the ball game.

Buen Camino ..




Non-Keanu Stage of Life…

2 Apr

Rob Lowe is 59. Sandra Bullock is 59. Keanu Reeves is 58. Halle Berry is 56.

They have at least 10-12 years on me but they look 10-12 years younger than me.

How are they looking so good when I’m feeling so umph … I’m thinking … I need me some moisturizer. The good kind. How IS it that they look the way they look. But it’s not even a look it’s a vibe. I mean I guess, it’s Sodapop Curtis, John Wick and Miss Congeniality. They got their ways.

Nannies, housekeepers, grandparents, chefs, dog groomers, nutritionists, personal trainers. Life coaches. They got their support systems in order to afford “me” time.

I get it. I’m realistic. I know not everyone has that and you’ve got to do what you can with what you’ve got. Comparing your yourself to others isn’t good considering you’re not running the same race. Comparison usually steals the joy and happiness out of most situations.

But this wasn’t so much comparison in terms of them being better or having more of something. It was more like an observation of whoa … I’m looking too weary and they’re looking reeeeeeewlly good. Like Paul Rudd good. Why was that?

Help. They got it when things get heavy. All angles are covered.

I mean I could probably look fantastic if I had people cleaning and cooking for me and helping me with the kids. I would totally have less gray hair. No doubt. I mean the supporting environment alone could improve the Zen vibes.

But I might have aged more this last year than in the last five. I got an extra heavy load on me. And I didn’t even ask for it

His name is Nacho Chuy.


He’s the rolling wave that’s been crashing my beaches.

This new addition was given to the kids by their dad, however I felt like I got a third kid without a vote.

He’s lovable, sleepy, and stubborn. But he also takes up a lot of time and patience. He’s like a regular kid. Eat. Sleep. Play. Poop.

It’s a non stop cycle and although I dig him and enjoy his company and hanging out, not being able to leave him alone adds stress to my daily life. I’ve been robbed of my morning runs, so I get them when I can, mostly weekends. This has been happening for the last year.

I’m weary.

I’ve noticed my mood is quick to sour now and I don’t look anything like Rob Lowe or Sandra Bullock. I have to find ways to carve out time that isn’t the crack of dawn. Sleep is important too.

Maybe I’ll be able to escape the premises soon during the week. I can’t buy one of those strollers for dogs. I just can’t. I can’t be one of those people.

So until I find another solution I’m stuck in my non-Keanu stage of life.


Buen Camino …



You Can’t Gratitude Your Way Out of It …

18 Mar

Be grateful for your health. Be grateful for your job. Be grateful for your kids, their health. Be grateful for your house. Be grateful for the opportunity. Be grateful you woke up in the morning. Be grateful for the sun, the beach, the weather …

Gratitude became something I hung onto when a sinkhole appeared on the yellow brick road. I’m sure a lot of people activate that inner appreciation vibe and give thanks.

That’s a good thing. Gratitude. Needs to happen to get you out of that funk. You can’t be a bitter and angry Gargamel. You need to open up that Silver Linings Playbook. Excelsior!

But sometimes you can gratitude yourself into staying in a bad situation, and that can’t be good either. Well at least I have my health … Health can’t be the only thing you have because what happens when the day comes that you don’t get to say that? When you don’t have your health?

Sometimes you get stuck in the moment and then you realize holy crap I forgot. I used to have more. This is not me.

Sometimes it comes to you when you see a younger version of yourself, one wearing bell bottoms with that Farrah Fawcett killer hair. Maybe it’s the one at the park when you used to watched Saturday morning cartoons in your Scooby Doo chanclas, followed by a park outing. It’s that Kodak moment that takes you back to wanting something more and knowing you deserve it.

So you snap out of it. You realize you can’t gratitude yourself out of every situation. You just can’t. Keeps you stagnant and false. You realize that when you actually can’t say “well at least I have my health..”

So you move in a different direction, a more balanced version. And you have better moments, some where the sun rising is genuinely what sparks gratitude.

And you see a younger version of yourself smiling and you feel you’re making your way back. You caught yourself and now you’re making a U-turn. You’re making adjustments and finding a way back. You’re grateful that you’re finding your way back 🙂

Buen Camino…



No … I’m Not The Rooftop Killer …

10 Mar

You make up all kinds of excuses just in case you were wrong.

Tom Hanks, sitting at the keyboard wondering what he can tell Meg Ryan, about why he didn’t show up to meet her at the coffee shop.

I had a flashback of this scene as I thought about coming back and writing a post. It’s been a minute since I’ve anonymously shared parts of my broken-but-continually-trying-to-fix-it life.

I haven’t shown up.

I hated when a WordPress buddy I really liked, one that I thought, “Hey you know, I’d probably be friends with the person in real life…” would just vanish. No final good-bye posts. No reason why they went on hiatus. Nothing. They left. Their time, sharing stories, was gone, and I’d feel a little … hmph … that sucks. I liked their stories. I liked participating in their life from far away.

Then it was me.

I became what I hated.

I left without good-bye.

But I had no idea I was taking a break, or that the break would last so long. Writing takes strength, discipline, openness, and many people don’t know that. And even when you do, you’re not always on track. My tanks were on echale. All of them. So, I ended up being the storyteller that left the party early.

Well to squash any doubts that you might have had about what could have possibly happened to me … No, I’m not the Rooftop Killer. No, I didn’t win the lottery. No, I wasn’t in a crazy romantic adventure John Hughes would write about ooof I wish. No, my project didn’t get picked up. No, I didn’t go on an awesome vacation. No, I didn’t get a publishing contract … Nope. None of those feel-good vibes came my way.

I got stuck in a moment that I couldn’t get out of … and it just kept going after that. Stumble after stumble. I was in a funk with adult responsibilities that didn’t allow for a break. So, I just kept going. Bit by bit. Trying to find my way back …

And so, I’m Tom Hanks. I left you at the coffee shop … latte for one.

Bringing back the highlight (and lowlight) reels. Catching up where the conversation was dropped.

But I’m returning like the Jedi … hopeful 🙂

And so now it’s still Feel Good 5 Friday, even if it’s just for a moment. I hold onto that moment tight because sometimes you don’t have many.

  1. Watching your kid score two goals from half-court, or what they call midfield I guess, in an All-Star soccer tournament … definitely felt good.
  2. Mandalorian Season 3 … I mean c’mon. It’s Mando.
  3. Two boxes of GirlScout Thinmint Cookies left in the freezer. Yes. Yes to all the chocolate. Yes.
  4. I have a dog, and he genuinely likes me. He’s a moody one-year bulldog who’s probably bilingual by now, and I KNOW he hears me, he just chooses to give me side-eye instead.

5. Mumford & Sons … this song … this song right here gets my inner Rocky Balboa going.


Buen Camino …



My Alex P. Keaton Family Ties Moment …

30 Apr

I realized I only had about four years left …

While everyone was fascinated with the planets and stars aligning on 2-22-22 it hit me … he’ll be gone in four years. Off on his next adventure into adulthood. And I felt that twang in my heart.

The little kid who liked bulldozers, Batman, choo-choo trains, and Wonder Pets. He’ll be gone. The one that reached for my hand as we walked across the street, with his tiny feet. That gave me pause.

It reminded me of an episode of Family Ties when Alex, Alex P. Keaton that is, was going away and his mom was having a hard time with it, the good-bye part. I remember the episode, I remember how she felt love and sad and hurt. I remember.

That’s on the horizon.

And it’s more than just Spring Breaks, Easter’s, Summer Escapes, Beach Staycations, and Saturday ball games to consider. It was mustache growing and height adjustments. It’s carne asada dinners that are on the countdown because I seem to have them numbered and that got to me. The everyday togetherness won’t be together.

I know it’s my job to prepare them for the world and educate them into being compassionate, hard-working, kind, smart, independent human beings. I got that. I know that’s at the top of my list but I had to take a minute there. I remember people telling me it’ll go by fast, the days will seem like forever when you’re changing diapers but the birthday candles will come and go quickly. And here I am nodding my head at comments I heard more than a decade ago, with four-plus years left, now the fast-forward button seems to be on.

I find myself wanting to hit the pause button. And I made a conscious effort to do that. I catch myself ready to steam up and holler when the not-listening phase extends itself multiple times throughout the day and we find ourselves rushing through, trying to get somewhere, and daily life making it harder for plans to work out smoothly.

The fire in frustration is what I’m working on as a parent. I want to be remembered for the Coach Taylor vibe I give off when I’m headed toward progress, not the hectic and stressed-out mom who’s constantly yelling at them to pick up they’re shoes, socks, cleats, or laundry off the floor and wondering when that extra common sense is gonna kick in.

I look at the grays in the mirror and try to be grateful for how I got them, because each comes with it’s own story, and one of the chapters is closing soon.

So I marked 2-22-22 as the opportunity to step it up a notch and try to increase the joy and venturing, because those four years will go by quick and then the kids will be making they’re own choices down their yellow brick road, their own gray hair adventures.

It’s been over a month now and although it’s been challenging and frustrating at times, I’m making that extra effort as the end result matters most. Filming a weekly log and leaving digital notes for them in the future is a surprise I hope they enjoy, as every day has an impact on what they feel. The countdown is on, it’s live and interactive. But not so much in counting the days and checking them off, but more so as my buddy would say … making the days count.

Buen Camino…



Words on Wednesday

30 Mar

You just can’t shake it off … when something triggers you, you just can’t let it go.

You replay it in your head. If you see it at school, work, home, TV it sticks with you if it’s especially surprising.

Seeing someone physically attacked and humiliated on live TV and then have multiple people make excuses for them burned me out.

Everyone has seen what happened at the Oscar’s. Everyone heard a bad joke, where half the crowd laughed and one person very obviously did not. So that started a chain reaction, apparently, which ended up ruining the Best Documentary Award presentation and perhaps drowned out the rest of the show.

A lot of people talked about situations having layers, and not sure what exactly went on, and equating alopecia to cancer treatments, or about comedians not being aware of everyone’s medical conditions, or about being the butt of jokes, about chivalry, about not sure what exactly happened even though hundreds of people saw exactly what happened.

Somebody hit someone else.

They weren’t being threatened. It wasn’t in self-defense, or for protection. Someone had something ELSE going on and they snapped and hit someone.

I found it enraging that someone laughed at a joke, then realized later that they shouldn’t have laughed, then decided to attack someone on stage. Then they sauntered back to their chair as if nothing happened.

And that’s the part … the part right there.

The one that triggered me.

The entitled part.

The swagger after hitting someone and knowing nothing would happen. It would still be your night.

That was enraging. So many people have that saunter. People feeling entitled enough to think they have a right to to do something outrageous and nothing will happen to them.

And guess what?

Nothing did.

In this case they weren’t escorted out of the room. They weren’t reprimanded.

In fact they won an award and were allowed to speak. Allowed to leave and party all night, no remorse. Smiling and dancing away … until the morning when damage control needed to be done and a written apology was sent out like an unvitation.

I didn’t even know these people. But the whole scenario bothered me so much. Nothing happened to them. There were no consequences and I think that’s the biggest burn. That happens on the screen and in real life. Some people don’t have consequences.

The no consequences. There was no immediate accountability. And since the event passed there probably won’t be, I mean what could the consequences actually be… sorry you can’t come next time?

That’s it?

Whether it’s NFL stars being excused from domestic violence, or police charges because they can catch a ball, to the privileged cheating the college admissions system, to the hypocrisy of politicians, to a greedy authoritarian ruler that bombs another country and kills innocent people because he wants to, to athletes doping up and still competing at the highest level, to people stealing catalytic converters and leaving you with the bill, to an actor hitting a comedian on live TV …

Accountability appears to be lacking on multiple levels in all aspects of life and this most recent public show of cowardice had me wishing for a future much better than that.

People in positions of influence or power constantly evading consequences that everyone else must own up to hits that pit of my stomach. The unbalanced scales still continue no matter how much progress we think we’ve made. It’s really frustrating and sad to see reminders of these when we’re all trying to find hope in our futures.



Buen Camino my friends …

Words on Wednesday

16 Mar

I’d heard the phrase before, multiple times but to see it manifested live and in person. Gave it a whole different meaning.

Be the protagonist in your own story, your own life …

Don’t know who may have coined that phrase but with earthquakes, wars, and ugliness in full rage out there I feel that phrase more so. Trying to be better because many people can’t, and some of them, for greedy selfish reasons, won’t.

Sometimes you get lost in the what could have, should have, or would have happened. Dude I spent a lot of time on that island. Stranded there from time to time. But every now and then there’s a shift that helps me tune into the right frequency.

With the Season of Lent in the House of Sports, New Year’s Resolutions, Vision Boards, and Words of the Year all combining this month for a 2.0 version, a culmination of energy flows in the right direction. Lent giving us that extra boost to Marie Kondo our life from the negative and toxic, in order to rejoice in positive steps for change, highlighting hope and a more spiritually grounded sense of self.

Marvin Gaye be saying if the spirit moves you …

So you know …

And in this 40-Day Quest to move and groove I came across that quote … being the protagonist of your own story. And it all clicked when I saw this guy … never heard of him before. But now … NOW … I know his name.

The inspirational energy and overall vibe. I dig it. I enjoy this vibe. I saw it and it clicked. Got to do better at writing my own story. Got to do better in finishing and being the protagonist in my own story. This guy he’s living it and I’m inspired. The funk is just an added bonus. Sometimes so much so that you need to take a minute.

Sometimes we just need a minute. And I’m enjoying the one I got.



Buen Camino



Sunday Night Thoughts … Sometimes You Don’t Even Plan It

6 Mar

Even if you’re dragged across state lines or need to drive 6-8 hours to a destination for your kids’ tournament, it’s still a vacation.

I mean not an ideal one, may not be the one you want, with parents you would never choose to road trip with, but you make your own travel arrangements, and you hang out for a bit and then off you go. I mean you’re out of town exploring a new city, or some new diners, drive-ins, or dives of a city you haven’t been to in a while. You’re exploring the city with new people and their perspective helps you see this adventure in a different way.

Granted referees are not always the best part of a tournament road trip destination, but you make the best of the situation and forget about the bad calls when you leave the field, gym, court, or rink. You pass by little towns and big towns on the highways and stop by to see go-to spots just for fun. And I recently returned from a quick pit stop in between games. And hanging with my kids in that city provided a Sesame Street vibe I hadn’t known before.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a spot for the clam chowder and visits to Alcatraz. Of course. No doubt but we explored two spots that were a must, and they took me back to my Reading Rainbow-Romper Room days and I enjoyed the escape. I wasn’t aware how much I needed the escape until I got there. Different vibe, different feel. And the fact that the city was empty during the week made the trip even better. Crowded touristy places give me heartburn. But luckily the crowds were someplace else. And among this crowd-less part of town we caught the most awesome old-school arcade on the pier. If you’ve ever been in that area, can’t miss it.

It was a cool retro type of arcade with old school games, some probably from fairs back in the day. With $20 worth of quarters, we enjoyed classic arcade games that used to entertain people a long time ago. Finding puppets, arm wrestling feats of strength, jukeboxes and old arcade games made for a really fun afternoon. Smiles and laughs happening nonstop. Making memories and I hadn’t even planned it. Those are some of the best ones.

Cool baseball arcade game I wish we had 🙂


Old School show your strength


The DJ


Before you knew it, was time to go. Getting dark and still needing to get to our destination. This little side trip to a place I’d known before felt different. And I didn’t mind it. I’d discovered a new spot in a familiar old town. A new spot that gave us a different adventure. That feeling you get when something good just happened and you know the kids will remember it, not because it was spectacular, with fireworks but because it was different and good, creative and fun, new and engaging. Classic arcade on a pier by the water. Feeling like the best part of an 80’s movie. Good Times … Noodle Salad.

But in reality, it was more like Good Times … and Chocolate at the end of the night. And I wanted it to last. Last longer so they could remember. That day was a good day.


Good place for chocolate somethings




Where the magic happens



The good squares


The important hand mixer


Because turning is crucial




Buen Camino …




The House of Sports … On A Saturday Night

12 Feb

We enjoy the roar of the crowd, the high-fives, the energy of the stadium, the players on the field, court, and ice.

We are a House of Sports.

We watch it. We play it. We groove to it.

We even enjoy it when we’re watching in HD or our old school TV. I enjoy the Madness of March, the Run in October, the Bowls in December and January, The Australian Open. The playoffs. All these are special. All the sweat and hard work. You can hear the Eminem 8 Mile Soundtrack as you cheer on your favorites. And when it comes to events that happen every so often, they’re supposed to be even more special.

The Olympics.

You see old school grainy video of the athletes as kids, playing their sport with tiny shoes and a smile. Growing up to reach the highest level of competition, they get choked up, with tears in their eyes and say Hi mom, on camera. You cheer for them and hope they empty the tank.

Now of course I prefer the Summer Games, but we enjoy the Winter Games. Hockey is our jam. Snowboarding. Speedskating. The Luge. We dig it.


We’d love it even more if they had just postponed a bit, you know … when we still weren’t in the middle of a stupid pandemic. Common sense and safety would have said, yeah let’s wait, just like we did in the Summer Olympics. Instead, you got people who showed up with clean records that ended up not being able to compete because they got Covid while they were at the Olympics. So, they’re one shot, they’re one opportunity gone. Years of training. Gone.

Should they have waited? Yeah, why not?

But no. They went on … to make money … and to have it … in China.


IOC? What happened? I’m sure Sweeden or Norway or Alaska would have loved to host. They don’t have shady human rights abuses. At least not that I’m aware of … I mean they probably even have real snow and don’t have to make 100% of the snow at the games. How are you going to have the winter games when you can’t provide snow?

Then you have the drugs.

With athletes that were supposed to be banned for their intense secret drug doping scandals in the past, to just show up again. And again. And again. Under no flag but being from the same country.


What’s up with that?

You know they did it. We know they did it. They know we know they did it. But IOC is going to pretend that these are new athletes under no one’s influence. You know, even though they’re training in Russia, living in Russia, and probably getting their travel paid by Russia. But they’re not participating under the Russian flag because they’re independent.

Which comes to the most recent drama …

Is it the Russian skater who doped it up and now everyone is pretending to be innocent? No that’s not the drama I’m talking about, but let’s explore it for a minute. Threatening reporters that break stories on it and playing innocent because she’s a teenager. How could she possibly know what was going on?

Cut it out.

Have you met a sixteen-year-old? They know what they want to know. Did she think they were Flintstone Vitamins? And even if she didn’t know, and let’s say she didn’t, the other people around her knew. They knew it was banned and that’s it. Period.

Should be no exceptions. Especially … especially being from Russia.

Just like that American Sprinter in the Summer Olympics knew marijuana was a banned substance (not that it would have helped her performance in anyway in fact it probably would have hurt her), but she smoked anyway because she was self-medicating after the death of her grandmother. She was banned.

The skater tested positive. That’s it. Period. I

The IOC is still discussing whether or not this ice skater can compete?

Dude. They’re worse than the NFL.

It’s ugly. And the House of Sports is sad about the whole situation. Sports. We loved watching them, but people are dirty. Letting things slide to appease some powers that be … that be selfish and greedy.

But my main drama was Leslie Jones. The highlight … the one x-factor that made watching some of these Olympics enjoyable was Leslie Jones commentating on The Games.

I thoroughly enjoyed her commentary, play by play, natural reactions, and epic enthusiasm. That’s the kind of friends you want with you at any game. Her vibrant energy and support for the athletes. I watched through her posts and reactions. Good commentators work their magic to make the games even more enjoyable. But now … that’s over.

NBC did something behind closed doors and all of a sudden, she wasn’t posting any highlights, and there was no more spice in the air.

The Olympics from all angles proved to let down The House of Sports. We cheer and support the athletes though, we always do, not the cheaters, or their enablers. Just the athletes. We hope they find their way to gold. We hope they Pump Up Their Jam.

Jock Jams — Various Artists




Saturday Thoughts … Traces and Happy Birthdays

29 Jan

I know very little about him, but he’s important. He has answers to questions I’d like to know, but now I’m just filling in blanks the best I can.

He was born on a coffee plantation in Guatemala to a mother of Mayan decent. He was taken from his mother by the owners and sailed off to Spain where he was raised.

My grandfather.

I don’t even know his mother’s name or what she looked like, or whether she spoke Kaqchikel or Quiché. Don’t know the color of the textiles she wore, or whether she was born in The Highlands, or Coban. That’d be my great-grandmother. Most people search the internet and find answers on a dot-com site. But there are no records or traces for that side of my ancestry.

This family tree questionnaire quest was brought to me by my son who asked about my dad’s family. He’s known stories of Papa for some time as I continue talking about his life and try to fill his heart with memories of good times, hard times, silly times, and adventurous times. Storytelling keeps my family alive.

I’d share about his never give up attitude and dislike for fast food money spending. I’d tell him about the time I told Papa I wanted the crunchy popcorn shrimp from the Sizzler and he was like you don’t want none of that. Then he’d make a giant mess in the kitchen with hot oil, smoke, and flour everywhere. He’d emerge, hair disheveled, holding a plate of fried shrimp and dipping sauce that looked nothing like the commercial but still nodding his head with pride … See, eh? See eh? Yeah …

And he was right … it was good. Then I’d have to wash all dishes before my mom came. Or else.

The kids know everyday stories of him dropping me off to school if I slept in late, or of his MacGyver ability of fixing the VCR-DVD-TV-Cable-Box connection with three separate remote controls. But they didn’t know much beyond that … of their great grandfather or great-great grandmother, or even beyond that.

I remember doing a family tree back in the day, but who knows where that circa 1980 Crayola crayon masterpiece ended up.

I knew my grandfather grew up in different parts of Spain but probably met my grandmother in Extremadura. I knew he died when my dad was 10, and my pops had a hard life after that, as did his siblings.

I know my great grandfather looked stylish in his black and white wedding photo, and he probably had many stories about his life, my grandma, and my dad. Stories I’d like to hear now that my dad’s birthday is coming up. Stories that celebrate his life that go best with birthday cake and coffee that he doesn’t get enjoy because he’s passed on, but we think of him as we blow out the candles.

And sometimes you don’t get answers after the smoke is gone. You have faded pictures of people that don’t look like you but they lived their life and you’re here because of their choices.

And sometimes you get partials, like pictures of your dad when he was 10, the empty bottle of his aftershave you keep in your drawer, the Parker pens he used for work inside his Samsonite briefcase, or the last message he left on your answering machine. And on days like his birthday you hold on tight to the memories you got. You keep telling stories so you remember the details, you sing happy birthday to a papa that would have been alive, and try to fill in the blanks of a grandfather you never knew. And you still search for clues because his story can tell you more about your own dad …

Happy Birthday to my pops. He would have been 74 …


My Old Man — Zac Brown Band