Tag Archives: Fathers and daughters

Celebrating With Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dances on Cloudy Days

15 Jul

So I stood there with my chocolate cupcake and chocolate frosting stopping time. Thinking about a day filed with tropical fish, jelly fish, penguins and sharks thinking about the seven years this amazing person has been in my life, mixed in with the eight-year anniversary of an awesome person leaving.

My daughter’s 7th birthday and my Dad’s passing.

It’s not a fun thing to feel a twinge of sadness on a day marked for happiness. It helped to remember that he liked to celebrate life on birthdays. My Dad enjoyed the sweetness of chocolate cake and frosting. He battled depression, but enjoyed laughing and feeling good. He didn’t like sadness and wanted to feel good, so he did what he could to make that happen. And that hard. He had his ups and downs, but he tried and succeeded on most days. Any chance at smiling he took it.

And so … on my daughter’s 7th birthday I did just that.

Any chance for smile and I took it.

Turning seven … that was something to smile about. The adventures of this little Ninja Warrior take me beyond smiles and go deep into laughter. She’s been the Rainbow Brite of my life during cloudy days.

On the last day of being six she mastered the blue and green water slides at the pool and cannon-balled her way to the 4 1/2 feet section of the pool.

“You don’t need to catch me,” she says.

On the last day of being six I didn’t catch her. But on the first day of being seven, I gave her the squishiest hug and the funkiest dance as we listened to the Beatles sing Today is Your Birthday.

I celebrated her contagious laughter and her impromptu Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dances after something good happens to her. I celebrated the awesome softball player she grew into. I celebrated the love she has for art, painting, drawing, coloring, and anything in the Bob Ross world. I celebrated her love for Multi-Grain Cheerios as her favorite breakfast meal, Mortadella and Salami sandwiches as her favorite snack, and black beans any time of day. I celebrate her enjoyment of baking cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and laugh when she doesn’t want to eat them and just taste the frosting. I celebrated her adventurous spirit and willingness to give any kind of rollercoaster a try, as long as she meets the height requirement. I celebrated her love for hugs, that part I think was passed down to her from my Dad. I celebrated her love for the If You Give A Mouse a Cookie series of books and TV show. I celebrated her for being a caring sister who loves her brother so much that sometimes she bursts his personal space bubble. I celebrate her for being smart, strong, and sensitive at the same time. I celebrated her love for penguins at the aquarium and her first time touching baby sharks.

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We celebrated turning seven with a Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dance and that made any twinge of sadness disappear. I laughed and felt joy and I knew if my Dad was watching that day he would be cracking up too and feeling joy. His spirit still lives in me and in his granddaughter.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

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Alternate Universes with The Wire on Father’s Day

17 Jun

I haven’t been able to perfect the superpower of fending off jackasses with magic bracelets or a golden lasso. I’m not on the Wonder Woman level yet.

But I get plenty of practice without asking.

I knew Father’s Day was going to be hard, but it was a rough one today. On all levels from the early morning, until the moment I started typing this post. It’s been a day I wish would end. And the sad thing is I actually practiced some positive thinking and positive vibes this morning, but the universe sent me different energy.

Apparently I needed to brush up on those superhero skills. But instead all I felt was anger, frustration, and emotional exhaustion.

Random strangers being complete jackasses at the cemetery, the cemetery of all places! I thought at the very least since we’re all grieving people would respect the sanctity of the cemetery. But instead it ended up in a cage match battle of words with a no-holds-barred level of intensity and aggression. Then on top of that, people close to you just say the ugliest things that bring you down, knowing full well that this is a tough day.  I mean it’s no wonder we’re distant, friendship suffering and all. The toxic level is so high that I just can’t go through that again and I’m on the verge of just giving up on them.

All this negative energy and nastiness leaves me feeling teary-eyed about all the ugliness I went through today. I mean, I’m too old for this crap.

And of course, the worst part … it’s Father’s Day and I know that my day would have been completely different if my pops were here. I know it. I’m stuck in an alternate universe and have to keep figuring out how this ride is gonna end up without him here. I guess it’s the unfinished life and all the missed opportunities that really bother me. That feeling always increases on holidays like this.

In an effort to keep him around this week, I had a Season I and Season II binge-watching session of The Wire just to remember  what it was like hanging out with him, his commentary on Omar, McNulty, and Lester. I still think about him often, but days like this, my thoughts are extra heavy. You see about eight years ago on Father’s Day was the last time we spoke. I mean I talked to him every day in the hospital when I was on night shift, but Father’s Day was the last time we had a conversation.

It wasn’t a life talk, or lessons he had yet to teach me, or anything like that. It was about how he was feeling. And about The World Cup, that’s something that really had him excited. His prediction and his favorite teams. He had me record some games, so he could catch up when he got out. It was a to-be-continued conversation, really. Not a good-bye, more like a see you later. You see I didn’t think he was gonna die, I just didn’t. Not my Dad. But he did. So I was left with about a month-long of one-sided late-night conversations. Him listening to me, but not being able to respond. Those were the heartfelt life talks, for sure. So much was said, and I was glad I said it. And the thing is, I never wondered whether or not he heard me, I knew he heard me as I held his hand night after night.

And so I find it so difficult to get passed these days without him by side. I have no regrets because I told him everything I needed to, but I definitely wish he was still here. I wouldn’t need superhero power training and all, to fend off bad guys at the cemetery if he were around.

But he’s not.

So I keep things that he enjoyed close by and I hear his voice when I can … and so now I’m off to dreamland to dream a dream I hope he is in. Maybe we’re having a cup of coffee and talking about life, me drinking tea of course, him with his coffee, black two sugars. Or maybe we’re just watching the The Wire. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

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Happy Father’s Day everyone.

Buen Camino …

 

 

 

How The Story Ended

18 Apr

It ended the way it was supposed to.

You see, when I got there, I took a moment. During the morning rush, chaos of leaving my kids, driving through traffic, and feeling overwhelmed and nervous with emotions, I stopped and took a moment. During the whole process of rising to the top, I took a moment when I saw the poster and I had it.

I had the something-bigger-than-myself emotion running through me. I had the gratitude and humility of the amazing kindness shown to me by my supporters who contributed to my cause. They helped me raise over $1000 for the American Lung Association in honor of my father, and they helped impact someone else’s life.

I had my dad’s spirit watching over me, knowing I haven’t forgotten him, knowing that he’s part of the reason I am who I am.

As the race began, I had the why in my heart and it helped my get through the how.

You see, there’s something that’s always certain about this race. It’s NOT easy. It never is, no matter how hard I train. It tests every muscle in my legs. It doesn’t make it easier to know what’s coming. I was still anxious and nervous. But I looked up to the sky and knew the reason why. So, I turned on the music, heard Los Polifaceticos bust out Camaron Pelao and took the first step. But never fear La Chona was track #3 and Footloose was on the horizon.

Then, right there on the eighth floor was a randomly placed poster of my father, there he was smiling, sitting next to me and my sister, with the title Why We Climb. There were posters of a lot of loved ones on the way to the top, and it tugged at my heart. The Rocky Balboa spirit surged.

 

As I climbed, my breathing slowed down and my legs felt heavy, my body became acutely aware of the claustrophobic dynamics and inner architectural workings of staircases. Once again, they appeared to lack the free-flowing breeze of the outdoors, which apparently is extremely necessary to oxygenate my muscles. My Randy Macho Man Savage strength was severely tested by the time I hit the 14th floor and I knew … I knewwwwwwwwwwwwww I’d be using that CVS three-dollar coupon for a tube of BenGay and that ice packs would be my knees’ best friends. No amount of pre-or-post stretching would have helped. By the time I reached the 31st floor my calves were not happy. They were intensely screaming profanity at me … in Spanish. There were a lot of people feeling that wrath as I passed some of them on the stairs resting, sitting, hunched over, drinking water, or in need of an oxygen mask.

But I never stopped.

I kept my Dad on my mind, and in my heart, and when I saw floor 61, I sprinted up the stairs like Usain Bolt until I saw the sunlight and reached the roof.

I made it to the top … 15 minutes, 28 seconds.

15 minutes and 28 seconds of intensity, of hard work, of sweat, of emotion, of heart, and of will. 15 minutes and 28 seconds of honoring a man that sacrificed so much for me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

But Why Do You Do It?

13 Apr

I always get a little nervous before it happens.

Anything can happen … and some people don’t make it.

I’m lucky.

Knock on wood. I don’t want to jinx myself.

But it’s an important day for me, may be not for my entire family, but definitely for me.

Well … why do you do it?  I mean I understand it’s a race and it’s for charity, but why do you do it? Why do you have to climb all those stairs?

No one had ever asked me that. They seemed to understand the why and the girl asking me also seemed to understand the why, it’s for my Dad. She was just confused as to the why of the location. Why scale 1,393 steps? Why go up 63 floors in the name of the American Lung Association?

It’s a metaphor, I thought.

It’s for all those people who couldn’t breathe, who felt the heaviness in their chest, the gasping for air, and the claustrophobic sense of not getting enough oxygen. It’s putting yourself in their position, in people like my dad, who died from Interstitial Lung Disease, or people with COPD, or lung cancer, or asthma. It’s putting yourself in their shoes and fighting your way past the challenges. It’s about feeling an ounce of what they feel and rising to the top, because they fight for every breath, just like we’d be doing.

It’s hard. But that’s probably why I do it, and why it makes me nervous. The difficulty level of it all. But it’s also the reason why I get the strength to go forward, because I got him in my heart. I got him on my shoulder. I got him and other supporters watching my back and cheering me on from a far. It’s hard but I got a good reason behind my motivation.

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For the sixth year in ‘ll be taking on the Fight for Air Climb this Saturday, racing 63 stories, 1,393 steps, in hopes of raising enough money to help others suffering from lung disease.

It’s 1,393 steps. And I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel them every single one of them when I climb. But I make it to the top, scared, nervous, or Gatorade-Commercial ready. I make it because I think of the  1,393 times my Dad was there for me, when I was in diapers, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was kid, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was away in school. He was there … the good, the bad, and the ugly he was there. And that’s not to say that we had our fair share of blowouts, we probably had 1,393 arguments, but he was still my Dad and still my friend. And that’s why I climb.

I climb to honor his memory, his hard-working life to provide a better future, his tireless days of clocking in and out of a job he may not have dreamed of, but showed up because it’s what helped keep us afloat.

So why do I do it?

I climb because everything I am I owe to him, and it’s the very least I could do.

Buen Camino my friends!!

 

 

 

I Found My Peace Among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer and Melted Chocolate … Happy 70th Birthday Dad

31 Jan

70 is a big birthday. It’s a time to reflect on your life, think about vacation plans, hobbies, or things you have yet to try, dreams you have yet make real. At least that’s what I imagine it to be … a big cake, surrounded by family and friends, some chaos of course, but making an awesome wish and blowing out the candles anyway.

This, of course, did not happen.

I spent the early morning running at the park as the sun peaked out for its daily appearance. I took some time to pause for a moment and wonder what he would have been up to or what conversations we would have had that day if he was still here. I imagine I would have woken him up to take a morning walk and then possibly taken him out to breakfast.

Nothing flashy, but just time well spent hearing stories I had yet to hear.

My Dad would have turned 70 years old yesterday and as it happens every year his presence is missed even more on this particular day. Father’s Day and Thanksgiving are big ones of course, but his birthday celebrates the day he was brought into this world and the day his journey, and ultimately mine, began.

Birthdays are times for celebration and remembering the best parts of the life cut short, but I couldn’t help feel that nagging twinge of pain, the kind that never goes away when you lose a parent, or loved one. The thing is you’re not supposed to be in mourning, you’re just not. But there is a moment of sadness that grips my heart because he’s not sharing the same sunshine.

And I tried not to let it hold onto me too long, because the sadness can linger all day or all week. You miss them. You just do and you’re always going to miss them because their presence was more powerful than the butterfly effect. It directly impacted your future and your kids’ future.

It wasn’t until I was alone in the kitchen mixing up Julia Child’s chocolate almond cake with hot cocoa almond frosting that a calmness settled in. I knew he wasn’t going to be there to enjoy a hearty slice or two with his cup of coffee. I knew there would be no stories and laughter at the table.

Then why do you celebrate someone who’s not there?

I celebrate because I remember when they were here and it mattered. His imprint and voice still effects how I live my life, and how I dream my dreams. I celebrate even though I’m sad. And even though I couldn’t hear his laughter that day and see him blow out his candles I knew my kids would.  I knew they would have a couple of slices and that there would be new stories at family dinner.

My Dad on his adventure

Not many people in my inner circle know how this pulls at me in different directions. I don’t speak much about my dad’s birthday with others when they ask, hey what are you doing today?

I don’t mention the cake, or balloons, or dinner of his favorite treats. I tell the kids, of course, but I keep it pretty hush-hush which is weird because I write about him and his birthday a lot. Don’t know if that happens to other people, but writing about it feels better than talking about it. At least to adults anyway. The kids just … they just seem to get it. They get that birthdays are important. It’s simple for them. Frosting is required when things are important.

And so …

I found my peace among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer, melted chocolate, butter, flour, the egg whites, and sugar. I remembered some of the stories of him playing soccer when he was 10, or of his dream of taking his mother back to Spain, I remember his affinity for corn-beef sandwiches on rye bread with a pickle for lunch, or his cup of coffee before bedtime, or his random call just to say hello. I remembered some of the stories yesterday and thought about him as the breeze blew and I felt the wind on my face as the sun shined.

I thought maybe that was his way of blowing out the candle, while we sang Happy Birthday.

But it could have been just the wind, like my kids said. And I needed to hurry up because the candle wax was dripping and it couldn’t melt on the cake … you know … because frosting is important.

 

Buen Camino my friends.

 

All Because I Dropped The Whipped Cream

25 Nov

It was the sweet, white, cloud of goodness you’d expect to melt in your mouth along with the pumpkin pie. The homemade tastiness of whipped cream, the kind that Julia Child and the whole Food Network crew would be proud to see.

And I thought it would be safe in the fridge.

I thought.

But as I opened the refrigerator door the large silver mixing bowl came tumbling down and plopping my fluffly delight all over the kitchen floor. It was like a slow motion car accident in a Michael Bay movie and all you heard was a distorted noooooooooooo coming from my mouth as I tried to prevent this kitchen catastrophe. But my reaction time was not fast enough. I couldn’t save it. It was 4:50 p.m. I’d have to go back to the supermarket and try to find some glucose infested spray can of Reddi Whip dairy topping.

And so in this defeated state, I prepared myself for the worst crowd ever. As I drove I turned on some tunes to try and find the bright side of this voyage and I caught a commercial that made me think of the most important dude on Thanksgiving.

My dad.

There I was crabby and irritated that there would be no whipped cream left on Earth and that the family would look at me with those I-can’t-believe-you-dropped-the-whipped-cream-on-the-floor-you-ruined-dessert-on-Thanksgiving look.

My dad on the other hand would have laughed about it, patted me on the shoulder, and then given me a ride. Just like that.

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My Dad 🙂

That would have been his attitude.

So it was fitting that on my way to rescue dessert I heard a commercial about the free-range turkeys my dad used to sell for Thanksgiving. Hundreds and hundreds of them stored in the large Rocky Balboa type fridge, and me freezing my butt off taking inventory and helping my dad. 10-12 pounds. 12-14 pounds. 14-16 pounds. 16-18 pounds. 18-20 pounds. All the way up to 34 pounds. Those boxes were heavy. I hated those boxes. Those boxes were my high school, college, and post graduate school life. I inventoried each and every one. I hated those inventory cards. Every year, those cards would come out and I would dread it.

And now that my dad passed away, the cards are gone, and so are the boxes. They are no longer a part of my Thanksgiving. We would have to buy the bird. Diestel of course. But everything else was gone. They usually don’t make commercials, I had never heard commercials for these birds, like ever … until Thursday.

And so I pulled over to the side of the road and listened as the universe sent me an extra hello from my dad. It was the smallest of the smallest things, but it brought him back to me again.

It was just a commercial … I know, but it was a commercial I needed to hear on Thanksgiving Day … a commercial I needed to hear as I was on my way to pick up some not-so-fresh whipped cream … a commercial that made me smile when I really needed it.

This is not to say that I wasn’t thinking about him, I always do, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s his holiday. But this was something extra. Something that might not have happened if the whipped cream disaster hadn’t taken place, and so that was something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

Whipped Cream disasters, radio commercials, a supermarket parking spot at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and a can of Reddi Whip.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

The Dodger Blues on Dia de Los Muertos

3 Nov

Heartbreaking agony the kind that brings that pang-pang-paning in my chest that only a true fan can feel.

The Blues.

When every fiber of your being is crushed because you dreamed their same dream and wished for them to make it to the top of the mountain, you’ve been wishing for it ever since you watched them take it in 1988, but it looks like you’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer.

Just a little I tell myself.

But through championships and heartbreaks I’m still with My Boys in Blue and remain a fan … always.

A fan who takes at least 24-48 hours to recover from this, a fan who was celebrating Dia de Los Muertos yesterday and feeling the Blues of a dream gone wrong throughout the day.

But things looked better today, don’t know if it was because of Friday, but the feel-goods were trying to make a comeback. They didn’t quite pierce through, but the agony is gone yet disappointment remains. And there are all kinds of people with their what-if-scenarios blabbering about on social media as if they have MLB coaching skills and experience, but no one can really predict the outcome. You can HOPE, based on what you believe to be true, on past performances. But in baseball, as with other sports, there are all kinds of variables that affect the scoreboard. All you can do is believe and give it everything you got. Grit pulls you through when every other avenue seems to be failing. My boys fell short but they made for an epic World Series run.

And as their season was laid to rest on Nov 1st, the next day came about … the last day of festivities for Dia de Los Muertos and it seemed somewhat fitting, you know … The realization of the death of a dream to fall on the Day of the Dead. And so I made my way to the cemetery, wearing my Dad’s Dodgers cap and settling in for a long talk about our beloved team and the insane ups-and-downs of the series.

I talked about other things of course, how big the kids were getting, how he would have enjoyed my son’s hockey games, or playing catch with my daughter, or the pumpkin patch adventure. He would have smiled at the sound of their laughter and exhaled loudly during their play-with-me-you-never-ever-play-with-me exaggerated arguments between each other.

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The kids bringing their best …

We brought things that might have lifted his spirit after the Dodgers loss. Purple and green jars with the festive nature of this holiday, plants, flowers, surprises, and decorative vibes all in an effort to send him messages of love and reverence. Messages to let him know that we remember him and pray for him during his spiritual journey were something we sent his way and I hope he felt that.

Buen Camino my friends … Buen Camino

 

 

 

 

Feel-Good Flashbacks, Dodgers Baseball, and Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

26 Oct

As a kid there are certain flashbacks that warm your heart and make you smile, that give you that feel-good-feeling vibe … like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Flashbacks you hope  last longer than a flicker. You try to hold onto them because they feel so good, they’re filled with love and peace, laughter and heart. You want to keep some of that. Unfortunately there were no Kodak captures of these nights, but I remember them and the pictures in my mind feel like old Polaroids. Faded, but cherished. And there are a few things that can help enrich their color and bring them back to life, to help me feel what I felt back then.

And it happened.

For two nights in a row, I felt the magic of the past.

The power of sports brought him back to me and I was grateful for the memory. I traveled through time and all it took was some Dodger Blue.

1988. That’s when it happened.

It was the biggest event of my city and everyone was watching. The world didn’t stop, but my city was focused on one thing and I was with the most important dude in my life when this happened. I was hanging out with my Dad watching the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

I didn’t realize how big that moment would be until I got much older and had kids of my own. But that game wasn’t just a game, it was a memory that would come back to me and remind me that family shares big moments, high-five moments that fill your heart when it’s on empty. They give you something to hold onto when you need a line.

Orel Hershiser took the mound and eventually pitched his way into a World Series Championship. I wanted Fernando, I’d watched Fernando for a long time and we were big fans. He was one of favorites, but that series belonged to Hershiser and I remembered my Dad’s excitement after the win. Witnessing something big like that brings you closer together somehow. You experience a magic that may not ever happen and it’s amazing.

Hanging out in our old apartment, the one with chocolate shag carpet and the television with rabbit ears antenna didn’t seem that special at the time, but it’s one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had. I remember beating Conseco and just feeling the wow in the air because of that victory. The city was behind them. Excitement was everywhere. We believed.

And I remembered it. I felt it again.

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I remembered it when the Dodgers won the NLCS Championship game this year, I remembered it after their first 3-1World Series win over the Astros and after the second game where Houston evened it up in a most epic battle going into extra innings. I remembered it, because my son was sitting next to me, and my daughter was standing in front of me. I wore my Dad’s Dodgers cap and remembered it as I sat on the bed. I remembered it as my son watched the game with me and we rooted for the Dodgers to take the lead. I remembered the moment and tried to hold onto that flashback as long as I could, but it disappeared. But I was glad to have lived in it’s presence if only for a few minutes.

I looked at my daughter and son and hoped that they’d want many flashbacks. I’d hoped they’d want to hold onto them too. I hope that 10, 20, or 30 years from now they remember the time they watched the World Series with me and it was just as good if not better than freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

Roberto Duran, Tuesday Night Fights, and Late Night Cup of Coffees on Father’s Day

18 Jun

It’s the day you think about the cool Thrifty’s ice cream cone he bought you on a hot day.  It’s the day you focus on the traffic-congested-day trips to Sea World or Raging Waters he used to take you to during the summer. It’s the day you think about him driving after a long day of work to try catch one of your basketball games. It’s the day you flip through the 1970s photo albums to try and remember the posed Kodak moments that sit behind that clear plastic covers.

As an adult it’s the day you try to hold onto good childhood (and adulthood) memories without crying, but smiling and laughing instead, because they happened and you can remember them.

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day celebrates all the dads and the adventures they led you through to make you the person you are today. It celebrates the stubbornness and adventurous spirit of the dude that sat behind those tired eyes at the end of the day and listened to my stories while stirring his cup of coffee.

 

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I tried to recreate a Father’s Day Weekend he might enjoy by heading to the mecca of golf shops and looking around at things he might want to buy but knowing full well he would probably just use them like twice a year, yet still be very satisfied with his purchase. Went to Fry’s Electronics store and stared at the big screen TVs and other gadgets for a while just thinking of what he’d say.

On Father’s Day Eve I watched a couple of boxing movies he had yet to see, but I guarantee he would have enjoyed them just because they had to do with boxing and the underdog. He liked Robert DeNiro almost as much as I did, so I imagine he would have given Hands of Stone two thumbs up. I imagine in part because it was a true story, and in part because he probably saw one of Duran’s fights on television. He would have told me about the first Sugar Ray Leonard fight, and what an amazing blow by blow battle it was. He liked Sugar Ray, but I think he would have rooted for Duran because of his upbringing and rise from nothing into something. He probably would have told me about the rematch as well, and had something to say about that Don King. He would have talked about it being on the news and how people heard Duran say “No Mas,” but wondering whether Duran really said it. We would have had an all-out-father-daughter discussion over some ice cream on that one.

I imagine him liking Hands of Stone for the same reason he would have really liked The Fighter. He enjoyed true stories about the human condition, the come-back kids worth rooting for.

With boxing it wasn’t so much the punching, although you couldn’t miss the combinations in each round, but it was the stories behind each boxer he enjoyed, it was the story of the fight. He was a fan of the sport, watching HBO cards whenever the big dudes took the ring. But what he really enjoyed watching were the weekly matches on USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights.

I remember, every Tuesday night, coffee cup in hand and pillows fluffed up in the right position on the floor, because for some reason he enjoyed propping up all the pillows against the bottom of the couch and lying on the floor facing the television. He didn’t enjoy the sideways angle in which the couches were situated. So he made his own comfy space, a make-shift Lazy-Boy, although with all the excitement of the fight he’d put the coffee cup down and stand up in the middle of each round, bobbing and weaving with the boxers. And then smiling and saying … Phewwww!  That was a good round ….

So I tried to recapture some of that for myself yesterday. I tried to catch some of my Dad.

Celebrating someone who has passed on is tough, they’re physically gone and you don’t hear their laughter anymore, but you hold onto to their stories the best you can and focus on the good things they left you with, like their heart,  spirit, Tuesday Night boxing stories, and late-night-cup-of-coffee memories.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

1A

 

 

 

 

Emptying Out The Tank …

10 Apr

Now I know you’re aware that I’m not the greatest morning person, I lived with that my whole life, but climbing 63 stories in the evening wasn’t something I had in mind, especially after a 7 a.m. hockey game, 10 am Jesus class, a two-hour-visit to the school carnival, and two-hour baseball game.

Nope. Not what I envisioned.

However, the Powers That Be at the American Lung Association thought it would be an awesome idea to scale Los Angeles’s second tallest building just in time to see the sunset. You know … during epic traffic encounters on the 101, 5, and 110 freeways.

They thought that after the exhaustion of scaling 1,039 steps in claustrophobic environment with close to 500 people the skyline would be one to remember.

They thought that because it was my fifth trip to the top of the AON Center that it would be a laid-back workout, that I knew what I was doing.

Whoever said, “it’s just like riding a bicycle,” never stair climbed in his life. Like. Ever. Let me tell you, scaling this monster for the fifth year in a row was not easier the fifth time. It’s never easy. I still felt just as suffocated in the enclosed stairwells as I did the first time around. I still felt my calves burning and my knees aching by the 27th floor. I still tried to not look up at the signs because 63 stories seemed so far away when I was still on the 31st floor. I still thought those volunteers with pom-poms were lying to me when they said, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there” because they were, well everyone was lying except for that chick on the 61st floor. I still felt like I was going in slow motion as it became harder and harder to breathe. I still felt all the heaviness, and weariness of every nook and cranny of my Ben-Gay-Icy-Hot loving 41-year old muscles. I felt it all with every step and every breath.

But one thing kept me going.

One.

I kept seeing my hands hold his hands at the hospital. I kept thinking I was the last one to talk to him before surgery and the last one to see him before he passed away. I kept seeing moments from my childhood sporting awesome polyester bell bottoms and moments from adulthood where talks and laughter surrounded us. I saw them all, and just when the exhaustion of the 45th floor hit me, when I thought I was losing the pictures in my mind I saw the poster. There it was taped on the stairwell, a picture of my Dad, my sister and me, “Why We Climb”.

Yup.

That was all I needed to pull whatever reserve I had remaining in the tank, and I pushed passed the I’m-gonna-pass-out-right-now-feeling. I ran by the people sitting on stairwells, clinging onto bannisters for dear life, and standing at the last water station.  I saw number 61 and pulled the Ninja-Warrior-Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy athlete out and stormed up those last steps.

I hit the roof running and the burst oxygen filled up my lungs as I stepped outside. I raised my hands up like Rocky and put my finger up to the sky. I got there in 16 minutes and 16 seconds and 16 seconds.

They thought the sunset would be a memorable one …

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🙂

They were right. I still remember it.