What makes a father a dad?

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads. I woke up thinking what makes a dad? I mean we all have fathers, but it seems fewer of us have dads. I login on Facebook to see so many have posted ole time snapshots of their fathers from days gone by. And I cant help but wonder if thats done out of love and reflection, or to follow the mainstream. Were these people the product of great childhoods, were their dads great men who loved and sacrificed in honor of the family? And if so, did his children recognize that when they were young, or is it only now in adulthood that memories smooth the edges, making their father something more than he was?

I guess fatherhood and its expectations have changed throughout the generations. There was a time when being the bread winner was all there was to being a good father. Today fathers are expected to participate in the home, attend Barbie bday parties, father/daughter dances, trick or treat the streets holding little hands, and laugh love and giggle with their kids. Its not a challenge every father can tackle, thus there are many more fathers than dads.

My dad had a hard life. He had a sixth grade education. His father abandoned his family of four boys. The love of his wife died in his arms, leaving him the a single parent. Later he married a mentally unstable woman and fathered three three more children. The household was poor, abusive and full of stress, fighting was commonplace. Yet despite it all, my father had moments of greatness when I felt like a kid, who had a dad. It was the simple gestures I remember the most, getting a creamee, candy & soda pop while garage saling with Gram, when he’d speed up the car going up over a hill, the only version of a roller coaster I’d know for many years. My father protected us, the best he knew how, from the angry hands of a mother less equipped to be a mother than most, and he at least tried, and had the sense of mind to know his children werent living great childhoods, but he tried to give us moments where we could simply just be kids. Happy Fathers day Dad.

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Mothers

Mothers Day is on Sunday. Everywhere you look there are commercials and greeting cards and special sales; time to celebrate our mothers. The women who birthed us, cared for us, protected us, taught us. WAIT. Ok I dont get this holiday, I admit it. Nobody protected me or loved me. There are few greeting cards that say ‘thanks for birthing me” so Hallmark get your shit together. First, not everyone is a mother or should be. Second, not every child has a mother, just because they were grown in a womb and delivered through a birthing canal. I have no mother. I was born, but I have no mother. I wasnt adopted and cared for. I wasnt given a chance, I wasnt given anything. Everything I have is because of me! No loans no gifts no guidance no jobs no trust fund no inheritance no love. My mother had sex. That sex resulted in a pregnancy. That pregnancy was me. Mother you live and walk the Earth but your heart is hollow and has left me empty. And empty is this holiday for me. I know many of you, in fact most of you, have reason to count your blessings, you have great moms, or you were adopted and found love, or by the grace of God you have yourselves become moms/thats why I acknowledge this holiday, for you. Cuz to me its just a cruel reminder of what I will never have and who I will never be. Peace.

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Sugar shack I love you

I’ve spent the past several days in the brisk winds of a Vermont winter, bundled up, seeing new sights and sharing sweet laughter of the heart. While my trip to Vermont has been short it’s reminded me that certain bonds, despite time, distance and difference can never be broken.

First, I love watching the next generation grow into unique and precious individuals. Thursday I arrived with a slight flight delay to be greeted by a brother whose strength and resolve is matched equally by his tenderness and strong sense of family. We spent a wonderful evening laughing about shared memories and I was comforted by the example he set for his family, in this throw away society how many marriages have sustained the seasons of commitment? Not many. He’s the golden boy of the family. And I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, he truly has a charmed life. I loved spending time with my eldest niece and watching her in motherhood. She’s sweet and perfect, the mom every young child would be so lucky to have as a mommy. And a real Vermont farmer, a tradition nearly invisible to the mass number in our society but noble and humble and a stellar example of hard work and tenacity and value. I was in awe at the size of her heart watching her care for her daughter Natalie, nearly 9 months pregnant with her next born, and making it all look effortless. She’s been an outstanding daughter, wife, mother, teacher, and I’m not just prejudice because she’s my niece!!!

I also enjoyed spending time with my nephew who never ceases to amaze me by his goal oriented ways and the mountains he moves to accomplish those goals and achieve his dreams. What a great kid to call nephew. Handsome and strong to the outward world, he’s such a soft and gentle soul that it’s truly a blessing to know he’s my brother’s son ever watchful over my brother, a spirit that charges his family with love and warmth worthy of a Dickens novel. He’s getting married soon and the twinkle in his eye grows with every year that matures him into the fine young man he’s become.

This visit was the first time in many years when we’ve all had the chance to spend a little time together with my Dad. Despite whiter hair and a few more wrinkles we’re all still pretty much still the same. Sharing common ground and stories and experiences unique to our lives, the chapters that have filled our pages and our hearts. I wasn’t sad to sit thru dialysis because all of life is ever-changing and it’s all a part of a much larger picture. Rather, I savored the few sweet moments when I caught a glimpse of a father filled with pride and perhaps a touch of remorse when we strolled down memory lane. Sweet and bittersweet, the cobblestoned paths of our lives, our choices, our differences, but more importantly the intersections that wove us together in a crisscross journey few of us could have anticipated but one we’re better off for having taken.

The weekend is going by so fast, and yet still I’m getting so much in. Little things with big meaning. Sharing lunch at a favorite watering hole of Lee and Deb’s, shopping the quaint shops of Middlebury, and breathing in the fresh cold clean air has been like a spa for the mind and soul. Thank you guys for sharing some of the places and things you hold special. Visiting a sugar shack where getting there was half the fun. And the mountains, the terrain, oh how I love it so. Beauty beyond description. Rolling hills, dotted with farms and stories and legends, the true hidden gems locals probably pass daily with little regard for their significance.

It’s cool when you have the chance to spend time with your siblings in natural settings, it allows you to share their life, thru their eyes. Like going out with my sister and her friends, I see she has a safety net of people who’ve become important to her and who she’s made family. It was nice to know she’s not navigating the rocky waters alone. Not everyone is lucky like my brother, we don’t all find the right guy or gal and build a life, for some of us it takes longer, but I have to believe the rewards are just as sweet. Perserverance!! Thank you Meg for being a great friend to my sister, your presence in her life warms me like a sweet cup of cocoa on a blizzard like evening. Everyone needs that sense of calmness, clarity and acceptance.

Last night I enjoyed an Impromptu
Dinner with Brenda Brian and nephew Justin. I’m not entirely convinced a brilliant and popular high school senior didn’t have better places to spend a Saturday night, but here he was visiting his ole aunt and that made me smile. I love it when I can make him laugh. He’s often so serious and soft spoken, and smart as a whip, but it’s nice to see him laughing at the silly shit and it made me happy he came. In the Fall he’ll be off away at college and his life will be finding new paths, the familiar will fade and these moments we treasure now will become memories we later reminisce about. You ever have a feeling you can see the future? This kid is going places, in the quiet chambers of his mind lurks a genuis and I think he’s going to make us all proud one day by being the next Oliver Stone or Steve Jobs!!! Still waters run deep. So grab a life jacket and enjoy the ride!

Today it’s Palm Sunday, I haven’t decided if I’m going to church or not, mostly because I still have another 15+ hours to squeeze in some more time with family in this whirlwind visit. I look forward to playing with the youngest apples of my eye Nic and Analise, two of the cutest God children <3.

It's so deliciously wonderful to see them grow and change, no longer babies but their own personalities and thoughts and mannerisms, it's like seeing mini versions of ourselves as kids and allows us the pleasure of remembering the sweet innocent moments of our own childhoods. I can't wait to watch them run and play. Cousins. Cuteness personified!! What a great way to end my trip. Who doesn't love the echo of a child's giggle, uncontrollable joy-priceless.

I miss home and the warm hearts in Florida that make my life sweeter and fuller, but I'm having an awesome visit and am enjoying every hour. And with that said I need to steal a few more hours of sleep so I can be ready to tackle another day with full appreciation of how important these days and hours are, knowing today shapes tomorrow, and that all of our 'yesterdays' are forever gone, but for a memory that you hold the key to its definition and design. Peace!

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Mother May I

I was thinking today or better yet I was reminded of the fact that I have never had a mother. She didnt die. I wasnt adopted. I wasnt abandoned. I just wasnt fortunate in life, the woman whose womb housed me was cruel and selfish and despite bringing five children into the world, really didnt want any of them. I later had a step mother, but she too was cruel, just in a different way. No woman has known me like a mother would. No woman remembers my first step, the sound of my laughter or the sweet taste of my tears.

I guess I was thinking about it for several reasons. I work with women who appear from what I can see to be good moms, they are involved and engaged and their kids are a priority. I also have had the chance to observe a friend who recently became a mother closeup and personal, and I see what joy she finds in this new role. I also see how my biological mother’s lack of maternal instinct has shaped other siblings and in the way they feel about themselves and how they view or value love. It makes me wonder if my life wouldve been different with a mom and how. I wonder if it would have shaped my beliefs differently and if I wouldve had a family.

I remember growing up and wishing I were adopted or living in an orphanage. The way I saw it was I wouldve been able to dazzle someone somewhere into loving me and making me part of their family. But it never happened. Instead I was the byproduct of an unhappy marriage, and then the byproduct of another miserable marriage. It’s no wonder I longed but feared commitment.

Sometimes I wonder if my sexuality was shaped by my past, by the lack of a mother’s unique and unconditional love. I will never know the answer because I will never be able to turn back the clock. I wonder if she ever wishes she could turn back the clock. Probably not. She still lives and still nothing changes. Shes now a grandparent and its a title she holds, despite having no idea what the role typically involves.

John Mayer’s lyrics remind me, every son will become a father and husband. Every daughter will become a wife (partner/lover), its you ‘mom’ who shows her how and what to be. So for all you mothers out there, do your job, its more important than anything else you will ever do. You have the power in your hands and your heart really does hold the key to everything. Peace.

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My fault? My defect? My agony.

Living with the weight of the ancient pyramids has been a long standing quality in my life. I was responsible single handedly for my mother’s hatred of children, of the married life. I spent the greater part of my childhood fabricating a family I didn’t have, filling in the blanks where the pages lacked. It was consuming and exhausting. Looking back, was I trying to fit in? Was I trying to create an alter life to fill some deep seeded need? Or was I ashamed of my family, my life and of myself, who was afterall a part of it all? I don’t know if I ever really answered that question. I do know it has made me a loner, forty years ago it did and it still continues to.

Today I carry different burdens, heavier weights, in a more complex and unforgiving adult life. There is no time of year when that’s more apparent, visibly on the surface than Christmas.

Despite trying to find the glory in the moment, and blessings in the things I do cherish; I experience a profound emptiness, a sadness, a pain I can’t stop, can’t fix, and can’t accept. But it’s not about me accepting, that’s not a choice. It’s the pain of a lost child, a lost opportunity, a lost future. It’s a burden I carry always. It’s a burden I feel more on the holidays when the heartache is in every ornament, every tinseled tree, every gingerbread man. In every family I see, every proud parent who rightfully so boasts about the child(ren).

Tonight is no exception. There’s the snow on the ground. No stockings on the hearth. And nonetheless a heart broken, its spirit stripped, its lights extinguised. It’s me alone. Unable to understand or explain. Unable to shake the profound unhappiness I feel and that I see in the one I love. I can offer no help when I am utterly powerless to console even myself much less others and her.

You always think its going to be different. Baseball, tshirts, jeans, hugs during thunderstorms, kisses on the bruised knee, help with homework, up all night when their sick. Sports. video games, toys, movie night, the coolest Nikes, the hippest haircuts.,And you think love is enough. Love makes you make choices. To protect. But its not always enough. You don’t always win, despite following the rules, playing the game with heart. Sometimes you fall flat on your ass and fail miserably!

Merry Christmas Jared. For someone with hate in your heart, you are still loved by the hearts of others. I know I will never see you again and that your mother will die with a broken heart. That’s a burden I carry tonight, tomorrow, Always.

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When do you stop trying?

In the past several years I have come to terms with so many things in my life, one of them knowing when enough is enough and knowing when to give up. It’s hard to remind yourself not to care, not to cry, not to reach out. But there really is a time to stop trying to get thru, when its time to find peace in where you are and what you have. Nobody can fix everything, nobody is loved by all. And everybody stumbles and falls, its getting up thats important. And sometimes when you get up there are fewer people around, the more you fall the smaller the group is. On the final fall, you will be alone.

Recently I tried to reach out to my father, but it didnt work out the way it was supposed to. Recently I tried to reach out to a boy who has become a man, but it didnt work out the way it was supposed to. Recently I tried to learn the truth about a family member’s behavior and actions, so I could try and understand them, but that didnt work out either! I began to think maybe it was me.

I used to be so hard, if you screwed me over, you were dead to me. Then somewhere along the path of life I got soft. Too soft. And that made me forget some people cant be saved, some people arent meant to be in our lives, and there always is a point when letting go is the greatest accomplishment you can achieve for inner peace.

So as we approach Thanksgiving next week I shall give thanks for the things and people in my life who bring me joy. I hope I return that joy to you also. As we approach the end of another year, I will remind myself more frequently not to let disappointments get the better of me. Living a life with stress and regret and anger isnt a life blessed. And I have many blessings to be thankful for, so to anyone struggling this season, let the dead remain dead, there was a reason things turned out as they did.

Do you struggle during the holidays? Why? Are you missing something or someone? Who? Is there anything you realistically can do to improve the situation? If the answer is ‘no’ then do yourself the biggest favor and move on. Because there really is a time when you throw the towel in. The fight isnt worth it. This isnt a lesson you learn once, instead its like algebra, just when you think you get it, its right there on paper confusing the bloody hell out of you again. So you relearn it, and every time it sticks with you a little longer.

When you think about it, dysfunction is just as genetic as blue eyes or blonde hair. You just cant escape your own destiny, and sometimes I wonder if we really have any control over it at all. The harder you climb, the less height you achieve. So for Pete’s sake, take a different path and save yourself the trouble of a broken heart and a troubled soul.

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? Family ?

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How is it you can feel alone in a house filled with family? I came to conclude family isnt something you can join, its something you have to genuinely feel. And in many situations I feel like an outsider looking in, I always have. Have always kept a safe distance between myself and others, never losing sight of the door. Its not that I dont love these people (well most of them anyways) I just feel hollow when it comes to family, its not something I embrace easily or without great apprehension, so I suppose that creates a wall, or several, and therefore Im most likely doomed before I even begin. You might say then that I am a Loner, always have been, always will be, quite possibly.

So then how do the masses do it? Is it genetic, do we learn it as children, through exposure, through the love we feel from our parents and their nurturing? How do you forgive all the things you feel, all the secrets that you know, erase, like they were never spoken, the ill words? How do you forget-forgive? I search for answers and meaning, not to please others, but to quiet and comfort my own soul.

In the interim, I watch with envy at the ease most feel, yet I stand paralyzed on the diving board, wanting but unable to jump in.

Peace!