To be blessed. To receive a gift that you can never repay. The thing about that gift is there in the end is no expectation for you to repay that gift. It keeps giving and changing. What was the gift 10 years ago has changed into so much more now.
Hourly hugs turn into weekly head nods. Sure turns into “You are picking on me make someone else do it.” But conversations grow, from da to dad and then “can you take us driving?” Each passing moment is a treasure. Each picture, each memory is a moment that will never be again but can’t be taken away. It is a gift a blessing that each day unfolds. There is a joy that comes from each day, each argument and from the moment they suddenly on their own create new thoughts that make you stop and realize that they are thinking creative human beings.
Some burst on the scene right before Thanksgiving and for the next well it hasn’t stopped yet, announce their presence with authority. Each milestone another wonder and joy. Those blue eyes, that were SUPPOSED TO TURN BROWN but never did lighting up the room they enter. The bean. Surely there is no greater joy on earth than holding your child and walking around a hospital. Except there are greater joys. The little smile as she walked by in her graduation gown, a nod and a smile. Or sitting behind the wheel of a car, nervously trying to figure out what everything does. Moments that drift away but are never forgotten. She burst on the scene and ruined Thanksgiving plans. But in the end they weren’t ruined they were made so much better.
First can be last sometimes. When in reverse order of course first is always last. First here with 2nd (dog) and 2nd (child). First was a transition that occurred quickly. I went from teaching kids and then sending them home to, having a child at home. I would love to say it was perfect and the transition was simple and effective but it was a learning experience for both of us. It still is. It probably always will be. Distance sometimes makes it hard to move forward. Time doesn’t always forget. But memories last forever. There are so many wonderful memories of Becca. I think my favorite was the look of sheer joy on her face when she was accepted into the Cincinnati Ohio School for Creative and Preforming arts. I had nothing to do what her talent but I was and am very proud of her always. The first may be last only because of the pictures order, but will always be first. The first lost tooth. The first tears. The first to graduate. There is pride in each one. I cannot express the pride, love and honor I feel for each of Becca’s Firsts. Each of the four kids is Unique, special and loved.
The first dog we had, wasn’t a good fit for the family. I am not sure that Gwen was a great fit either. She was a dog meant to be free with a large yard and run around and terrorize the world. She ended up in a small yard”ed” house in Cincinnati Ohio. Gwen moved with us to Willow Cove and then to Greenwood. She was never a great dog, but she was our dog.
Yes, I am a weather geek. Came by it honestly from my father. This is my manual rain gauge. I do have two more that are IoT devices. One connects to a weather station that I broadcast from time to time. The other connects to a NetAtmo station that is always broadcasting.
My father was a weather geek. He always had a weather station in his office. both at the university and at home. He taught me very early on why the reading in the city is different than in the suburbs. Living in Indiana he taught me the subtle differences between low pressures. The ones that are huge drop the barometric pressure quickly. The ones that are less powerful don’t.
I have shared before that as a small child I was terrified of thunderstorms. Dad helped me through that with his stories of giants bowling. I was never afraid of the storms after that. It always makes me laugh. Later as I was older and dad didn’t like to air condition the house, the loved Thunderstorms for the blast of cool air they would bring in the summer.
Our last Christmas in Indiana. December 2010. This is the living room of our home in Eagle Trace. It was a lot larger than than our current house. It was also cheaper than the house we are in now. DC is a lot more expensive for real-estate than Indiana.
The picture has Jakki on the right and Luke in front of the fireplace. On the couch is Fran. I miss Fran. She was our first Labrador. We raised her from a puppy and she happily moved with us to Maryland. She died two months before my dad did in 2014. It made for a really tough emotional time that year.
Jakki always put a bow on Fran’s head every Christmas.
When we moved to Maryland Jacqueline began to grow into the phenomenal person she is. I had a goal of teaching her very early on to be independent and to not be a girl/woman but a person first. She has exceeded my goal by a factor of 100.
This picture is from the cruise ship in August. Chuck’s Cellar was an image I couldn’t pass up. Jakki switched her name as she grew up a number of times. Her first addition to her name was quarter. She started calling herself that when she and I started collecting state quarters. Then she started going by the name I called her when she was little “Jaguar or Jags” as she entered middle and high school. When she moved to Maryland she picked up the nickname Chuck. Hence this picture for her, of her Cellar somewhere off the coast of Hawaii. I am very proud of all four kids. They are interesting and unique people in their own rights.
Dad and mom took a lot of pictures of little Scott. A lot of pictures.
My oldest memory that I know is real (there are a few that you wonder if they are real) is of wearing dad’s Army Uniform while mom ironed. She was standing next to a window in a fairly small apartment I’ve held onto that single slice in time for many years.
Memory is a funny thing. We can digitize all the wonderful old pictures. But in the end the memories that wrap around the pictures and make them real aren’t always there.
I know at some point in my life I was small and tiny. But thankfully the memories of that time disappear. Mom and dad as well as my grandparents have told me stories. I took my first step at Lake Ripley and promptly hit the ground right after that first step. I don’t remember that moment but my grandparents and parents did. I remember Jakki’s first step like it was yesterday. I was out of the country when the boys took their first steps. But when I got home they stepped towards me and that was magical.
Memories are such a fragile thing in the end.
There is me with my mother. Goodness knows what we were doing. Don’t they say first children are the throw always anyway? That you make most of your mistakes with the first kid anyway? I am not sure I believe that old adage. I think each child is unique. Each has something to give and needs something from you. There is a sense of love that supersedes the rest in the end.
The first child in my life (Becca) is off pursuing her Doctorate. My second child (Jakki) is a wonderful human being and is considering a career as a college professor. I wish dad were still alive to hear that. I think that would have resonated with him. The last children so far for me are the boys (Luke and Nick). They continue to grow into wonderful human beings and I cannot say how proud I am of all four enough. They are amazing people all of them.
As a parent you wrap tightly around the good memories. Those are the stories of your kids you tell at work. The bad stories slip away. The stuff you forget or place in the memory reset bin of your mind. Lost and gone forever eventually holding onto the good memories.
So four happy memories to follow:
- Becca: watching her in dress rehearsals at the School for Creative and Preforming Arts in Cincinnati Ohio. She was a gifted and talented actress.
- Jakki: watching her, barely bigger than they were pick up and manage her twin brothers. She just hopped right in and started feeding and taking care of them from the first day they came to our family.
- Nick: Being told that you were going to have physical developmental problems by the therapist as you climbed up the outside of the stairs at Eagle Valley Court. The therapist looking up and realizing you weren’t going to have physical issues. It isn’t in the end the size of the dog is it Nick? It is the size of the fight in the dog. You sir have plenty of fight in you!
- Luke: I remember when Luke learned to talk. Not more than 6 months after he was talking he started using huge words. Huge at least for him. The thing that amazed me wasn’t the words he tried to use it was that he conveyed them correctly and most of the time he used them correctly.
Go change the world my four superstars!
This picture was taken early on in probably December 1990. I was still teaching school at that time. It seems strange now to say I was a school teacher once, I haven’t been one in many years now. But at the time of this picture I was teaching second grade. I think this picture is in Hot Springs AK, taken by Barb’s mom Joan Ralstin. We were set to fly there the day after Christmas the year we got engaged (1990), The Bloomington airport was literally iced over and all small flights were cancelled for the 26th and possibly the 27th. We decided to drive to Arkansas, How hard could it be?
The answer to that was a snow storm that started as we passed Effingham Illinois. It kept snowing and got worse so we ended up spending the night in a hotel somewhere South of Illinois. Roads were much better the next day so we were able to make it on the second day of trying. Back then I didn’t care – I had a full two weeks of vacation at Christmas. It was a fun trip the three of us took. We had a blast hanging out and seeing the sties of Hot Springs. We also did a post Christmas Christmas lights tour of the village.
Driving home wasn’t eventful in the end.
Here is Barb with baby Becca. I don’t recognize the chair. But I do recognize Barb. Who knew later in life the baby on her lap would be addicted to “Denver the Dinosaur.”
I still have nightmares about that dinosaur.
Seriously, horrible nightmares. I watched every single episode of Denver the Dinosaur. Some of them multiple times. Like the Dinosaur that replaced Denver (Barney) it was a horrible time to be a parent. In the old days you didn’t have to watch/hear the things kids read over and over. Comic books and other books simply didn’t make that much noise. Certainly teenagers would have loud music in their rooms but you could always shut their door. When you are making dinner you can’t help but hear the noise made by cartoon dinosaurs.
Finally – in the foreground my cousin Andy and their dog. And in the background of this picture is my little sister. Yes it is true all those years ago I originally wanted a puppy. But I can’t say how wrong I was. Barb is an awesome sister (as Lynne is also). I can’t believe what a cool person she has become.
I am very proud of my little sister on this her 25th birthday (family joke).
If I were in town for your birthday I would say let’s dodge work and go see the Paddington Movie. Since you and I used to read those books a couple of years ago when we were both whipper snappers.
I used to tell Barb stories about the stuffed animals she collected. She used to have so many stuffed animals that would tell stories. Sadly, I don’t remember any of those stories or I would post one for her today. Barbara was my last sister and my 3rd Barbara in my life.
Now we are to Barb’s pictures from before I came on the scene. In this picture off to the left side (as you see the picture) is Barb with really curly hair and her daughter Rebecca Leslie Giordano. She is more commonly called Becca.
I joined Becca’s life when she was five years old. This is her 4th birthday party. Her 5th birthday party was literally a week before Barb and I started dating in 1990. The reason I know that is the 4th Bday is that her 5th Bday was up at Chucky Cheeses in Greenwood Indiana. Bloomington had every fast food restaurant known to the human race but never got a Chucky Cheese.
In the beginning of Barb and my relationship we brought Becca in. She was a great kid. At our wedding ceremony Barb’s mother Joan gave Becca a ring she had carried with her since Joan was a little girl. At the wedding ceremony Becca got that ring from me right after Barb got her ring.
It isn’t easy stepping in and becoming a parent. Particularly when the original parent is still around. I worked very hard to make sure that Becca’s dad’s role was always supported.
This is the famous piñata birthday. Barb was helping Becca and Becca ended up getting smacked with the baseball bat. Obviously this picture is from before the smacking occurred.
Bloomington Indiana was an interesting city to grow up in. There were lots of people that were there for 1 year finding that college in the end wasn’t for them or the larger school wasn’t what they were looking for. We, those of us who lived in Bloomington full time used to relish the summers when the vast majority of students went home for the summer. The town was smaller, idyllic and frankly a very nice little city.
When the students returned there were more car accidents, more traffic and overall more noise. Years ago there was a lot of contention between those who attended IU (called Gownies) and those who were natives of Bloomington (called Townies). You can see some of that play out in the wonderful movie Breaking Away. It is one of the reasons that the two high schools (Bloomington North and Bloomington South) have a great rivalry. They cross over the lines frequently.
The skyline of Chicago from Lake Michigan. We took family vacations up to Chicago as I was working there by the time of this photo. I would leave on Monday and come up late Thursday or early Friday. I did in the end collect a lot of Marriot points.
There are a mix of pictures from this trip. Barb was using her last film camera and I had the first of many digital cameras so you can see the difference in the images. It seems strange now that Chicago is so far away. It was once before in my life (when we lived in Bangkok Thailand). It is a solid 12 hour drive now, far off to the West of where we are. I miss that toddling town and the great sports teams there. If only the Bears had a team right now I could be happy. The Bulls look good so at least that is fun to watch. The Blackhawks are the most recent title winning team and of course this is the year my Cubbies are going to burst back to where they haven’t been in my life. Yes the Cubbies are World Series bound (and this time its not because they team bought tickets for the players to attend and watch the games.)