The hat skips a generation

Last fall, my mother- and father-in-law moved out from California to be nearer to us in Maine. It's been a real blessing and a privilege for many reasons, not least is that the kids get to spend more time with this set of grandparents. 

The boy has been spending a lot of time with his grandfather, Dardo. 

They look more alike every day. 

And... then my heart exploded.

The Boy's teacher sent me an email this morning: 

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.33.40 AM.png

That Boy is going to get the very first, very best hug & kiss when I see him next. A hug for the ages. The Valhalla of hugs. A gold-medal Olympic sized, Pulitzer-prize winning hug. 

And when I'm distracted by what my day holds as I scurry out the door again - and it will happen - I will work on remembering this moment. Because this is the important stuff. 

Far too reflective for a Monday

Last week was one of the harder weeks I've had recently.  

My company's website was brought more or less to its knees on Monday by a combination of a technical bug and a third party service. It worked, mostly, but only if you didn't want to buy something during the day. Come back at 7pm when no one else is on the site. Then you'll be fine. But during the day, with peak traffic?  No such luck. 

This meant working with the team until late into the evening every day, and through the weekend. Except Thursday. Because Wednesday night, I managed to crack a tooth. And had to go into the dentist for a filling. Because what I need when there's a crisis in play, what I really need is a punch in the face by a lady with a power drill. And who doesn't love to return to the office with a numb face and drool on your chin? 


The same day, the Boy was scheduled for oral surgery. Because he had an extra tooth growing in right in the middle of his upper front palate. Which is just about as awkward as it sounds. There's a name for this - it's called a mesiodens ('middle tooth' - but that does sound way more medical in Latin, doesn't it?). He's 5, and is deathly afraid of doctors. However, he has no problem at all with the dentist's chair. I do not understand this. The doctor I like (except when he's got large hands, and he gets over familiar). The dentist, I dread (because it is unnatural to have someone sticking their hands in your mouth). 

The Boy came through it just fine, but we did make a family pact to try not to schedule multiples of our family in for dental work on the same day in the future. 

I also got a call the night my tooth broke that one of my uncles had passed away. A few days previously, we had learned he had liver cancer. And then, he died.  Either he had the diagnosis, but didn't want to share with the family early on, or he had avoided going in for the diagnosis.  I'm not sure. We weren't close. 

When I was a kid, I remember my mother's younger brother as a reasonably nice guy, but usually drunk. He was the first adult that I remember noticing as intoxicated. As in, can't really walk upright down the driveway unassisted to his car (where he got in and drove away. It was the 70's. The cars were big and steel. I dunno). He was also one of the first adults that I ever swore at, for showing up intoxicated at one of my events when I was 14 or 15. (I think it was a horse show. I can't remember now). I remember my mother being horrified that I spoke to him that way, and my step-father saying something along the lines of 'well, he's not wrong.' 

After that, we didn't talk much. But I learned a couple of things that day. About him. About my parents. About myself.  

A few years later, my uncle did replace the engine of my first car later on when I blew it up through neglect. He was, by all accounts, always a pretty good mechanic. Maybe that was his way of making things a little more right.

Maybe he got sober later in life. I don't know. As I said, we didn't talk much.

I was saddened to learn of his passing. I figured his liver would get him in the end. I think we all did. Including him.

But not that way. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to write about all this. It's not the fun, light stuff about eating good food or raising pigs or firing off trebuchets with the kids that I normally like to wax prolific on. And in Southern families, one does not talk about family problems. It's just not the done thing. Which (along with not being disrespectful of an adult) was what horrified my mother at the time. But not talking about the drunk in the family isn't helpful to anyone.  Especially not the drunk. And in between the temporary moments of webified crisis last week, as I drove back and forth from the dentist or to the office, I had plenty of time to think. And be - well - maybe 'sad' isn't the right word. But regretful  that   another member of the generation before me. Something there about the irrevocable loss of those connections to my mother, our family, & our shared history which has passed away. Maybe it's just because it puts me a little closer to being the old guy in the family. But I hope it's less self-centered in origin than that. 

I don't know if this story has much of a point, other than that, perhaps. And to reflect that as bad as my week was, it was ultimately trivial things like a flaky website or an extra trip to the dentist.  

Not all stories have an arc and a tidy resolution.

Sometimes, it's just... life.