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Tag Archives: dad

Two Peas in a Pod [Stories]

Officiant:

Good afternoon, friends. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to everyone coming out on this chilly and wet March day to celebrate the life that was Tom Jaeger. If you haven’t been to the Everlasting Gardens of Perpetual Sunset Cemetery and Crematorium before, I encourage you after the services are done to visit our facilities inside where you can enjoy complimentary donuts and coffee as well as free WiFi. There’s a spot for the kiddos to run around, too, as well as information about purchasing memberships in our floral service where, for a nominal fee, we will put flowers on your beloved’s grave on dates of your choosing. It’s a really great service, particularly for those of you who are from out of town and can’t visit often. But I digress.

We are here to honor Tom, a man who has touched many through his kindness and charitable deeds and lived in this community for more than 20 years. Does anyone know if more people are coming? No? Just us? Well, okay, then, we should get started. There’s another service after this one.

I’d like to hand this over to Raoul, Tom’s son, who will begin the memorial. Raoul? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in stories

 

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The Curious Case of the Can of Buttons [Stories]

il_fullxfull_366295235_b0w0The coffee can gleamed dully in the corner of the closet. Above it were family treasures. Below were the litre bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Beefeater. On either side were jars filled with wheat pennies, dimes minted before 1965, international coinage. The can was more interesting, filled to the brim with buttons.

Dad harvested buttons from everything, like his mother before him, saved for a day (you never know when) a button might be needed. I can’t recall a single flyaway button incident the entire time Grandma lived with us. The little ones wore zippers and elastic and Grandma preventatively reinforced the buttons on everyone else’s clothes. Flyaway buttons? That’d never happen, not on her watch.

Clothes failed before the buttons did and when they did, Grandma would snip the buttons off for later use. She died in 1989, and Dad took up her habit. There’s a Frog and Toad story about a lost button. Toad’s lost his and Frog scours high and low for one to match. Why didn’t Frog ever call my dad? We had buttons to spare. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in auto-biographical

 

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Let’s Try It

When Dad passed away, his archives became available to us. Years of records, a file folder on every child, every property, every pet, every business. Most of my folders included drawings, birthday cards, the occasional award or picture but a fair chunk was dedicated to the history of my education, non-traditional that it was.

I was a parenting experiment. All children before me attended some form of traditional schooling, public or private, skipping a grade here or there. Raoul and Linda both started college at 16 but otherwise the older seven kids were within the range of common. My parents decided to buck the industrial schooling system entirely with me: Total home education. What this meant in the 1980s is that once a year I would go to the local elementary school for a few hours a day one week a year to participate in standardized tests. Providing I performed at or above grade level, the state would allow us to continue home education.

This once-a-year testing event was my only contact with children who didn’t share my genetic makeup. All those experiences you may not even register as experiences were new to me.

The first day of third grade assessment, my mother dropped me off at Mountain View with Miss Fredericks. Mother pressed some money into my hand. “You’ll need this for lunch. Just follow the other kids.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in auto-biographical

 

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Heavy Medal

I’m a committed non-collector. That’s all you need to know about me and my willpower.

But I want to collect, so badly. Disney pins, stamps, coins, letters, postcards, stickers, crushed flowers, spices, pictures, dolls, pieces of lint that look like presidents (that’s a joke…or is it?). The only thing that might make me happier than collecting is organizing the collection into some kind of obscure taxonomy that would make sense to only the most analytical.  Collecting would give me control to create order. It would make me the Larry Page and Sergey Brin of my own little domain.

Speaking of organization, here’s a true story: In my teens, I used to make mix CDs and tapes for my friends. Nothing special there. Prehistoric cave man Grog probably did this for his long-haired Grettahilda using teeth rammed into a barrel and yak whiskers for percussion implements to make a music box filled with “Early Man’s Greatest Hits.” But for me, the art wasn’t just in the selection of songs but in their arrangement. Each song had to be connected to the next in some very precise way. Options included: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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It Goes On

I lost my first tooth March 17, 1984. I have no memory of that event, but I don’t need to. Dad made note of it for me.

Thanks to Dad, I know when every centimeter of gum released its toothy bounty. I know the exact dates I was hospitalized, every music performance and who in the family attended, every road trip taken until I was 19. He logged his activities and those of whom he was around for every day of his life from January 3, 1974 until February 21, 2012. One page a day, one pad a month, every month. Filed away in chronological order, more than 450 notepads. The aggregation of an old man’s life and of those he touched. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in auto-biographical

 

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Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Until I was 10, my best friend was a man 45 years older than I.

We did many of the things best friends would do. Most mornings we’d have breakfast together: He would have a coffee and a cinnamon twist and I would have an orange juice and a cranberry orange muffin from Dunkin Donuts.  We would reach each other’s work: He would critique my homework and I would proofread his rental contracts. In spite of the gender divide, we would allow one to choose clothing for the other: He would pick out my dresses on those rare occasions I received brand new party dresses, always blue or yellow or green, and I would pick out his outfits, always some combination of a neutral short-sleeved cotton button-down shirt and light-colored jeans.

On some nights we’d stay awake until the early morning hours talking about religion, history, books, family. Others, we’d lay a blanket in the yard and stare at the sky. He’d point out the stars and teach me constellations. Occasionally we’d be interrupted by the headlights of a passing car or the orange burn of his cigarette. Sometimes I’d fall asleep and he’d have to take me inside and tuck me into bed. If not, then he would invite me on his bed where he’d read books, passages punctuated by his deep inhalation on a True Blue filtered cigarette.

We spoke to each other about relationships. I would confide in him my frustrations with never having a playmate, with my irritation with my younger sisters or how hurt I was by how I was ignored by my older siblings. He would talk about his childhood with his parents or occasionally about the challenges of being married and how important it is to be understanding of your spouse.

Dad and I were close. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in auto-biographical

 

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No Regrets

There’s one thing I’m pretty sure of. I am mother of two, wife to one, sister to many because my parents’ 1977 Lincoln Continental Towncar broke down in Podunk, MT in May of 1988. 

In 1985 my brother graduated high school. Less than a year later my grandmother died. I hope I find the hook to write about her because she’s a person worthy of her own post. But the point here is that Raoul graduating and Annalise dying freed my parents to relocate. Fewer entanglements and, let’s face it: from a middle-class perspective, Annalise’s death meant that we were now kinda sorta rich. Dad wanted to move to Colorado.

Colorado was Dad’s heartland. Twenty-five years earlier he had briefly worked there as a deejay for a local radio station and he’d remembered it fondly since. Mother may have fed me milk but Dad fed me dreams of living in a mountain paradise where the summers were cool and the winters were quilted in snow. We would watch “Sound of Music” with Grandma Annalise and while she reminisced about Mother Austria, Dad would say “just wait until you see Colorado! It’s just as beautiful as those mountains. We’ll live there someday.”

Someday had arrived. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in auto-biographical

 

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