I talked about the transition yesterday. The interesting thing about that transition isn’t that it is a sudden thing. You realize as your children get older that they need you less and less. Where once they skinned their knees and ran to you, now they deal with that and move on. They, the children, begin to have lives that aren’t around you. They don’t often include you. You, as a parental unit, now return to the origin. You return to the couple that was once separate from being “mom and dad.” The things that you loved to do in the past are the things you return to now. At which the beginning of our relationship, we walked, then with kids, we walked pushing strollers.
Now we walk again, the two of us. A conversation that began years ago and was shelved. The demand for kids of family and time was greater than the ability of the conversation to continue. So you, nervously at first, but then it returns, begins that conversation again. Touching the topics that used to drive the great conversations you had years ago. What about this, or that and beyond. Suddenly you have the time again to do things that once seemed lost. Perhaps this is the weekend you wander to that winery you’ve by since the kids were young. Or that lake you’ve seen pictures of that no one wanted to drive 2 hours to see, but now, there is just the two of you and the open road.
It is a new time. I do look back to remember the years of small children. The rush of travel. The excitement of seeing the world. Of coming home and showing my partner the pictures of the world I had taken. I look at those moments wistfully. Back then, my world was travel away from home, bringing home pictures to share the world with my parents. But suddenly now again, we can travel. The kids are old enough to be left to their own devices. They no longer need direct supervision. So we suddenly now can again do things we want to do. Life is a journey, and one you learn with age, not something that is always easy, nor something that is hard. Life is a process and a collection.
Today is the discussion, the beginnings of an ultimately the ends of a transition. Transitions, or sometimes as they called life change or life events, occurs for all parents. There comes a time when what once was is again. The funny thing about a parent is that you find that person, you build a relationship. Sometimes you begin to realize you want or don’t want children. It doesn’t matter that you do or don’t want children. You have a partner. It is what you do together. But, if you choose the path we choose, you will have children. We intended two but ended up with three. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry as the poet Bobby Burns told us.
Things change, your children get older. Dependent on you in the beginning. You do everything for them, feeding, dressing, soothing, and then suddenly, you hear the glorious words. Sometimes it is a simple “No!” A little toddler’s fist was shaking in the air. Why the little handshaking we do not know, but it is a part of what happens. Or you hear the other phrase, “I can do it myself.” Those two denote the time of separation. It doesn’t take children a week or a day to separate. Oh no, they are still dependent on mom and dad, or mom or dad. They still need us for many more years. But now the separation begins. Now is the time that they begin to pull away.
They are leaving us to the pictures today. The person with I started all of this now nearly 30 years ago, is still there. We went off to Maine in the fall of 2019. Just the two of us. We did the things that we used to do when we were dating — walking around the city of Portland, Maine. Being pals, friends, partners as we used to be all those years ago. You, the transition now, is nearly complete. Our children now have lives of their own. They do things separate from us, and we are now Automated Teller Machines (ATM) or more simply banks. Now, we start our planning of trips without children. Without the kids being a part of the plans, and later even the trip, it is back to the beginning, back to the partners!
The transition is nearly complete.
When we lived in Indiana, I ran until the last two years, and then started walking most days. After two years of walking on my own, in between we moved from Indiana to Maryland, I was bored walking alone. Our dog, at the time, Fran was older and had a bad leg. She really couldn’t walk more than a ½ mile at a time. We decided to add a dog to our family, that could walk with me nearly every day and then, because of him, every day. The transition to walking every day came from the fact that Dylan, the dog that joined our family while Fran was still alive, got cabin fever on the day she didn’t walk. It forced me to change my system and start walking every single day.
The pictures today are of the beginning and the end of our walk. We walk roughly the same trail every day. We start, with Dylan leading, heading from our house, and then wander towards the fire station. The Fire Station (number 22 in our country of Maryland). We moved to our house in Maryland, where we were now in 2013. Sadly, after moving with us to Maryland, Fran did not make it past 2014. It was a traumatic experience for everyone. Dylan was very lonely and moped around the house. A little over a month after Fran passed, we added Raven to our pack. Raven is a dog that does things her way. The first thing she did, getting in the car with total strangers, was to decide the twins belonged to her.Dylan rode in the front with my wife and I. Raven, sat between the twins. They have belonged to her ever since. It is a funny fact that Dylan was a Lab resource, and Raven was also a Lab Rescue. Both of them were found and placed in foster homes, in the area of Virginia around Richmond. That area was once a large instance of dogfighting rings. But neither of our two were involved in that. They were both abandoned and found on their own. Raven suffers from water anxiety, as I mentioned yesterday, as well as food anxiety. Dylan and Raven both suffer from fear of thunderstorms. But the walk, that is the territory of Labs now. Dylan starts asking to go on the walk around noon everyday!
Our favorite dog park is just a little north of our house. The Blackhills park is both a human and a dog-friendly park. Dylan and Raven love going on the various walks in the park. Dylan’s favorite walk in the Blackhills is the walk we took that the pictures are from (after the two of them). The Water’s Mill sign is down the hill from the dog park. Across from the sign, is the creek that runs now into the reservoir. Dylan loves to walk into the water of the creek. There is a gentle bend, and the water is a little over chest-deep for Dylan. He loves to get into the water after he is a Lab and Labs are water dogs. He would look at me, look at the creek, I would let the leash loose, and he would be in the water.
The area of Maryland where we are has very strict dog leash laws. So they had to be on the leash at all times. Raven the first time we went to the park, refreshed to get into the water. We think, based on her fear, that in fact, she had been traumatized by water before she joined our family. When she first lived with us, the sound of running water would make her very upset. She would pull away from storm drains when we were waring during or right after rainstorms. But, these pictures are from the 3rd or 4th visit, and Raven was over her fear of water. She walked right alongside Dylan and enjoyed the water. That was a good thing, it was a really hot day, and the water was cold!
The rest of the walk takes you alongside the developed part of the lake. One whole side of the upper part of the lake is the park. The rest has houses and lots of wildlife. Mostly deer, Coyotes and foxes tend not to be in the area around humans as much. The park is also near the new Clarksburg Outlet Mall; we wander there from time to time. The prices in an outlet mall tend to be less than in a regular mall. Plus, it is outdoors, and walking around the entire mall is quite a few steps (we got 2200 steeps the last time we walked around the mall)! We don’t let Dylan get into the Lake as much; it is very stagnant and doesn’t smell well, good. If Dylan gets in, he gets a cold water bath before he is allowed in the car (my wife’s rules)!
I was inspired to share pictures of warm and sunny places in the past few days. For me, that is partly because it is cold in Maryland now. Partially because I am sorting through the old pictures, I have shared and the old pictures I haven’t shared. Finally, because there are memories now that I can talk about again, it takes time overall when we lose someone, remembers everything, and share those memories. Today I am sharing sunsets. From three different locations, and I will dive a little deeper into the three sunsets. The first sunset was taken in flight. There were many years when I left Monday at 3 am and returned Thursday PM around 10 pm, most of my job then wasn’t in Indiana.
The second sunset was taken at the fabulous Dusit resort in Pattaya. The sunset framed by palm trees. The Gulf of Siam gently caressed by the final rays of the sun for today. The sunset was captured in the pool area; there was a huge concrete area on all four sides of the pool. My wife and I were heading out for dinner, and I was waiting for her by the pool. I walked outside the hotel and saw this view. I know sunsets are something that resonates with several people here on Virily. They resonate with me as well. They represent the ending of a day, and if it is to be, the promise of a new day. This image has been shared by me a few times, but is still a favorite!
The last sunset was taken on the backside of my daily Lab walk. I do not walk to a Laboratory; rather, I have to walk my dog a Labrador. We start our walk around 5 pm, in the winter at least until the end of December that means declining sun time. As we move into January, the sun is far down on the horizon but begins to shine longer and longer. So, I was able to capture a sunset the other day. We have what we call the front half of our walk (it goes up the hill) and the back half of our walk (which is flat). We live on a ridge, so we walk down the ridge to start the walk, and then right away, we have to walk back up the ridge. The whole backside of the walk is on top of the ridge.
Today, a happy sunset!
Wandering one more time, that short fly-by visit with my folks when they were in Bangkok. I was only there for four days, and it was packed with lots of fun activities. Unlike the last time I visited mom and dad in Bangkok, I was already time zone adjusted. I had been in Malaysia for three weeks before arriving in Bangkok, though south of Thailand, Malaysia is in the same time zone. That meant I was able to stay up later. On the first trip, between watching the Twins and making sure they were ok, I was exhausted. This time, it was the first time in many years that I took a vacation for just me. I haven’t done that very often over the years. That it was one of those very rare personal vacations made it more memorable.
I love Thai food; we ended up visiting my folk’s favorite restaurants near IPST. IPST is off one of the Soi’s near downtown Bangkok. When we lived in Thailand, our apartment was on Soi 12. I think IPST is on Soi, 1, or 2. Maybe it is on Soi 3. I don’t remember now, and I am sure my mother does. But that information has slipped away from me. The first night we wandered to a wonderful fish restaurant, and it was beyond amazing. I didn’t like the taste of non-lake fresh fish when growing up in Indiana. I did love the taste of fish at my grandparents (but it was fresh- lake fish). In Indiana, a landlocked US state, there isn’t as much fresh fish, so I fell out of liking fish.
When back in the early days of living in Thailand, I tried to fish, I realized I liked to fish. That opened a door that closed when we returned to Indiana. Many years later, when I was traveling (often to Seattle Washington), I started eating fish again. I don’t like fish that has sat for 72 hours and has that slimy fish taste. I do love sushi. As a parent, I made two horrible mistakes in life. The first was I convinced my daughter to try the steak. I was lucky to be able to finish the steak I had bought; she decided she loved it. The other thing that was a bad mistake is I made the kids try Sushi. It is, sadly, now a go-to part of everyone’s diet. In the early days, I could enjoy Sushi without worrying. Now I have to put a fence around my Sushi!!!!
I was doing a project in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, on my last trip to KL, my parents were also in Bangkok. I decided to stop by Bangkok on the way home and spend a long weekend with them, and I knew I was going to have to pay extra for my airline ticket. Except, adding a leg, and a layover, reduced the airfare by nearly 1000 US dollars, my boss said to go ahead and book the ticket. Here I was out of pocket planning to put in my own money. Instead, I saved the company money! There were several reasons to stop by and see my folks. Not the least of which was that in that period, they were often in Thailand for 2 or 3 months during the winter in Indiana.
My parents were snowbirds! (My grandparents were also snowbirds. They would leave Wisconsin in November and travel down to Florida; then they would return to Wisconsin in April. Snowbird is a US phrase that means something that winters where it is warm (Florida or other places). Mom and dad had become snowbirds. The other reason was more selfish, and I was also avoiding the cold weather in Indiana. Dad was working at the IPST (where he was a consultant) during the day, so Mom, Miss Hart (long-time family friend), and I wandered around. We ended up going to lunch on the river, which was a lot of fun. On the weekend dad didn’t have to work.
He wanted to get a USB key on Saturday, so we ended up going to the tech mall in Bangkok. I didn’t buy anything, but dad wanted the USB key. Had I known then what I know now, I would have stopped dad from buying that key. I cleaned out his desk at home after he passed away, and he had more than 30 USB keys, all of them with ten pictures, 100 pictures nowhere near capacity. USB keys, like videotapes and slides, do die eventually. Then we went off walking around Bangkok. Walking was a tradition that I had previously with my grandfather. It was wonderful to have the chance to walk around Bangkok with dad. It’s funny how things become more important over time. I will never forget our walk that day.doc
I want to spend time today on the last picture shared. The pictures are all from Thailand. The first one is of a father/daughter, uncle-niece, or just a child and a man on the steps of a Wot waiting. Wot, in Thailand, is a temple. The other two pictures are not specific to anything; just pictures my father took around 45 years ago. There is no special intent or magic in the picture. Just that he took them, Dad was a good photographer, honestly in time, when there were either bad or really good photographers. Now, in the modern digital world, we have introduced the concept of OK photographers. If you, in the days of the film, had 200 pictures to one good picture ratio, that was very expensive.
The last picture is of my dad sitting on a wall with the Gulf of Siam as a background. I would love to be able to tell the story of the picture. But I don’t have one. Instead, what I have today is the story of my dad and pictures. Dad took pictures in the days of film. You choose between a print or a slide, and dad started taking pictures as slides, while he sometimes had his pictures printed, (there was around 11,000 total) most of the pictures were slides (around 35,000). Now I know for a fact that my dad threw some of the slides he didn’t like away. He also threw some of the pictures he didn’t like away as well. My mother flew across the country with a suitcase full of pictures!
Dad used to do slide shows for friends and family. We used to make fun of dad for doing that. Now many years later, I wish I had recorded those talks he gave, as he showed the slides. I miss the jokes, the stories, and memories, some of which I have. Some of which my mother has, but not all of them in one place, recorded for later consumption. A good friend of mine always says the following, and I find it to be partially true. “The measure of a parent isn’t the success of their children. Their children’s success belongs to them. No, the success of a parent is when the child still talks to the parent many years after they have left home.” I agree and disagree with the statement, but it remains interesting to consider.
Memories of parents often fill our heads as we move out into the world. There used to be a sign at the Kinko’s near the Campus of Indiana University that made me laugh. When I was five, the sign said my dad was 10 feet tall. When I was ten, my dad was the best. When I was fifteen, I often wondered if dad could tie his shoes. When I was 18, I just knew dad was wrong. When I was 25, I realized dad wasn’t the smartest, but he wasn’t the dumbest either. Then my first child was born. I found myself asking, “what would dad have done?” That transition is one that many children experience. Sometimes we don’t even think about it, and it just happens as we grow through life.
But the memories those, evolve as well. I know I was a difficult teenager for my parents. I was the oldest child. I am the reason my parents had to make rules about many things because I was the first to do those things. As the oldest, I was often the one that was caught, more because, like the first, I was often an easy target. But as the oldest and a big brother, my job was to break the rules. At least with the reality of time and the passage of time, I tell myself that. I have many faces of my father in my memories. I have faces of my mother in my memories. The face of approval, the face of why did you do that, and of course, the face of well you screwed up.
But I know now that I also knew the face of love. Early in my life, my dad was a person that always had time for me. Later he was gone often, but we would play catch with a small Indiana University plastic football in the back yard. Or we would put on the baseball gloves and throw the ball in the backyard. I was never the athlete my father was, but my father was never the athlete I was either. Where he was someone that was a runner and football player, I was a swimmer. I beat my dad in a footrace when I was 30. I beat my dad swimming when I was 9. I grew up in the land of Basketball (Indiana is famous as a state that loves Basketball). Dad stopped paying me when I was 12. But he could outrun me well into my 20s!
I do not know for sure who is in the first picture; the second picture was against the brick of our house in Sycamore Knolls. We moved from Sherwood Oaks to Sycamore knolls after returning from Bangkok. People, ok I, wonder why most of the subdivisions in the town of Bloomington after the 1960s were focused on naming them for groves of trees. A good friend of mine was a City Planner for Bloomington, Indiana; his joke was always “put names in a hat and draw one.” I always wondered why they picked the names they did. Moving to Cincinnati, there were also names, but they tended more to be the name of the major street that was running through the housing area.
Anyway, the last two as wells, my father took the first two pictures. The first two were in the US, most likely somewhere in Bloomington, Indiana. The second two are different. The 3rd picture is I think of road salt, but it could be something else. I don’t know. The disadvantage of scanning all these pictures after my father’s passing is that I don’t have a reference to go back to. Hey dad, what the heck was this a picture of? It is the hard part about some of the pictures. My dad spent a lot of time away from Bloomington. One of the reasons that we packed up the whole family for a year and went to Bangkok was so that my dad wasn’t traveling and away the whole year.
He did travel to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sydney Australia, and other countries over the years. The last picture is of a Buddhist monk. My father grew up in a small church in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. My grandfather was buried in that church — his WWI service budget on his grave marker. Grandpa never left the country during WWI but was in the last group of the 101st Cavalry that trained to go overseas. My father, later in life, moved closer and closer to Buddhism. It felt more comfortable to him. But in fairness, my father loved Thailand. His love of the people he worked with, the country, and everything else, pushed Jim to embrace new ways of thinking.