Tag Archives: parents

The Countdown Has Begun!

27 Mar

10 Days!

The countdown is on and my Randy Macho Man Savage quads are preparing for this battle. Don’t know if my calves are ready though. But the rest of my body seems to think that I’ve got this.

In 10 days, my vitamin-D-deficient-but-glucosamine-fueled body will be sprinting, running, jogging, walking and then crawling up 63 stories,  along with hundreds of other sweaty and out of breath climbers in claustrophobic conditions to help raise money for the American Lung Association.

But why?!

Why does this insanity take place?

I’m not a morning person.

But I see his smiling face under a Dodgers hat, I hear his hearty laugh, and I smell that Jovan Musk aftershave in the hallways … and I wake up with purpose. I wake up ready to run stairs. And what kind of elevator-loving-stair-hating person does that?! What kind of person with BenGay-Advil-Ice-Pack-loving knees laces up her Saucony running shoes to storm high school bleachers or winding staircases hidden in the hills, instead of hitting the snooze button?

 

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Me … I do it … because he’s worth it.

63 stories.

Yup.

He’s worth the trip to the anti-aging aisle at CVS.

Every year I still bake the cake, even though he’s not gonna blow out the birthday candles. Every year I tell the story of why they call him Chito 7 Pantalones. Every year I replay the messages left on my answering machine just to hear his voice again. Every year I decide to make the excruciatingly difficult journey up 63 stories, painfully possible. Every year I go in believing I’m Lindsey Wagner, putting my bionic knee to the test, climbing over 1,000 steps just for him. Every year I finish knowing full well I have nothing bionic in me.

But every year I do it because I am my father’s daughter and his spirit is still with me.

It’s with me on skydiving adventurous or beach bum days, it’s there on the passenger seat when I’m hearing that feel-good song, it’s  with me when I’m chasing dreams, and when I’m trying to be a better parent. He’s there in one of his many baseball caps that I wear with a smile, he’s my TV buddy when I’m watching The Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders, or Narcos. He’s there high-fiving me when SC wins, and he’s also a member of my Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Support Group.

He’s there when I’m climbing stairs.

I got 10 days.

The countdown is on.

 

 

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Celebrating My Dad … With a Small Latte, and a Box of Betty Crocker

30 Jan

It’s a big one today. The BIG 6-5. He would’ve been 65 today.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

We definitely would’ve had a party, complete with fancy table cloths and napkins. Not the paper kind, I suppose. And steak, definitely steak for dinner, followed by a cake. A special order one from the Cuban bakery down the street, not my annual  homemade cake from a box. We’d  be surrounded by family, friends, a special slide show/montage of his life through pictures and maybe even a speech. And in truth there would also probably be all kinds of stress because of the festivities and my crazy control-freak sister. But instead I spent it with a small latte and a box of Betty Crocker.

Many people need it. They wake up in the morning in a horrible, ready-to-beat-someone-up mood, but then they smell it. It’s in the air. The aroma. It catches them and then there’s a deep breath … a sigh of relief. It changes everything. And then when they taste it … forget about it. Coffee. For some people it’s the X Factor of the day. Me … I hadn’t had one in over a year and before that, fifteen years ago when I tried it in college at a one of those “cool” coffee shops on the corner and all it did was give me a crazy, horrible stomach ache and prevent me from studying that night. I ended up with cup of Sal de Uvas. I’m a tea person myself. But today …  today I ordered something called a latte, and then another one, for my dad. A simple coffee, black with two sugars.

“Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

I said it in times of sadness or stress, mostly to make him laugh. And it worked. I don’t know where I’d heard it, probably on TV or something.

“Thanksgiving coming around. Stressed out about all those turkeys and inventory at the store, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“My sister’s getting married and not just moving out of state, but way to the other side of the country, like by the Atlantic Ocean. Hmph. You wanna have a cup of coffee and talk about life?”

The Sopranos is ending, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“April 14. 11:50 p.m. Haven’t filed taxes yet, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

 

I was a tea drinker, but it got him every time.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

So today in honor of him turning 65, there was no fancy restaurant, no fancy trip, no presents, and no family or friends, but there was cake. I woke up early, made a trip to the VONS, walked over to aisle 2 and grabbed a box of Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix. The Super Moist kind. Whipped up the simple recipe, looked at my own slide show, remembered old stories, and then headed over to see my dad.

But I made one quick stop. I bought myself the latte, and then bought him his regular coffee. I headed off to the cemetery to have that conversation. I’ll have to admit … it was a little one-sided, and the deer or gardeners will probably drink the coffee I left for him, but I still enjoyed the visit. I just missed his voice. His voice and his laughter.

But the cake … the cake was good. Chocolate frosting of course. I ate both pieces. Feliz Cumpleanos, Chito. 

 

 

 

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My Dad…The Filet Mignon of My Life

30 Jan

“I know you hear me, but are you listening?”

“Apoco…nooooooooo? Reeeaaaaaaally. Don’t be reee-di-cu-lous.”

“Hey…hey…hey…regaaaaaardless…”

This is what I heard most of my life growing up and most of the time my Dad would use these phrases incorrectly. He cracked me up. We’d both use these phrases in conversation and try to beat the other one to the punch.

But his most popular phrases were: “Don’t get hasty. Are you getting hasty? Don’t get hasty…” and “What am I, chop liver?”

Growing up, I was not really your best morning person (incidentally that hasn’t changed at all) and my Dad was very aware of this fact. So he’d barge in the room with his loudest Robin-WilliamsGood-Morning-Vietnam voice and say, “Hey, hey, hey…are you awake. You look awake. Are you awake?”

I’d grumble in anger. He’d continue to torment my morning-monster attitude, until I’d lose it. I wake up yelling “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!”

His response…”Hey, hey, hey don’t get hasty. Are you getting hasty? Don’t get hasty.”

“Dad you don’t even know what that means! God!”

“Hey…I said don’t get hasty.”

“Hasty? Hasty means I’m moving fast. I’m not even moving. You’re using the wrong word!”

“No. No. No. I’m using the right word. Don’t confuse me. You’re getting hasty. Hasty!”

“Dad!”

“Don’t get hasty.”

“I’m not hasty!”

“Your whole attitude is hasty. Get up, it’s morning I need you to help me wash the car. I’ll wait for you outside.”

“I’m not helping you. You’re crazy!”

“HEY!!!”

“Don’t get hasty, Dad. Don’t get hasty.”

So there it was. Our morning routine. But even well after I moved out. I still heard these Dad-isms frequently as we spoke with each other every night, either through telephone calls or in person. We’d talk to each other almost everyday. I’d see him, maybe three or four times a week, whether it was for lunch, dinner, watching football games, watching the Emmys or Oscars, watching our favorite television shows, going bowling, or just hanging out. If I was busy with some writing assignment, tired from work, or out of the house doing something else he’d say…

“What am I, chop liver? I see how it is.”

My Dad on his adventure

My Dad on his adventure

 

My dad was never chopped liver. And he knew it, because most of the time I’d drop whatever it was that I was doing and go hang out or end up in some crazy dad adventure.  He was a day-dreamer and  I’m sure he had a Bucket List. In fact I know that I was part of some of his Bucket List adventures some which were ironic, like zip lining. A) He was scared of heights and B) He did not swim very well he was more like a floater that splashed.  You would think he’d adventure this in a controlled environment with safety precautions and personnel. No. Not my Dad. He chooses zip line in Guatemala. There are no harnesses or helmets. Just some dude that says…una…dos…tres! And there’s my dad living off adrenaline, laughter, and adventure as he swings his way across a ravine.

My Dad…he was my biggest fan.

He lost his battle to Interstitial Lung Disease a year-and-a-half ago. He didn’t even smoke. He would’ve been 64 years old today. I miss our conversations. My Dad … he was never chopped liver, he was the filet mignon of my life. Feliz  Cumpleanos, Chito.