Lyrical Laughs

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day.... it's a funny thing

Father’s Day is a kind of interesting day. It doesn’t get the same attention as Mother’s Day, with its breakfast in bed and carefully thought out gifts. Restaurants are not overflowing with offspring treating a parent to lunch. I think most dads are good with the difference.

I know what First Born’s gift is to her dad for Father’s Day. It captures a moment they shared on the most important day since he first held her in his arms almost 27 years ago. I can’t wait to see him not be able to say a word when he opens it.

I also know that Second Born plans to spend some dad/daughter time that doesn’t have to include spending money on her. Maybe she will challenge him to a rousing game of miniature golf or treat him to ice cream at one of his favorite ice cream shops. Maybe a little fishing will be in the cards. There are plenty of options that, no matter how simple, will still make it memorable.

A few weeks ago I found myself hoping for a memory. I wanted the light bulb to go on, to know for a moment there was a glimpse of my dad within the celebration of First Born’s wedding day.

Our daughter made sure to display photos of her grandparents who were not with us that day – both of Spouse’s parents and my dad. Her “something old” was an ID bracelet attached to her bouquet that my husband’s mother had given his father as a gift. At the wedding shower a month earlier we were pleasantly surprised to find a photograph of his mom and other church ladies prominently displayed in the parish hall kitchen. She had been a constant contributor to church bake sales for several years, and this bit of recognition made us feel she was really a part of the upcoming wedding.

But where would I feel the presence of her other grandfather, my dad who was Papa to her and Second Born, and even to The Boy? The closer the day got, the more I wondered if I would sense the connection to him at all.

When the whole spectacular weekend was over it took me a couple of days to realize I never had that moment. I had been so wrapped up in the memories we were making that there was no time to dwell on what might be missing.

During their wonderful honeymoon the Love Couple ran into a few snags – a cancelled flight that delayed their trip for a day, temporarily lost luggage, a rogue taxi that ripped them off – but they had plenty of great stories to tell upon their return.

While wandering around the streets of Rome they stopped at will to take photos or have something to eat. First Born described one stop in particular, a restaurant where they enjoyed an authentic Italian meal. In particular she wanted to tell me about the gentleman who waited on them.

“He reminded me a lot of Papa. He was really sweet.”

There it was. Where else but in a real Italian restaurant would someone charm my daughter into thinking about her grandfather? My eyes filled and I smiled.

Maybe a lot of fuss isn’t made about Father’s Day because dads can be quiet in the way they express themselves, while moms (well, this mom) are right out there with their emotions. For example, a few nights ago Spouse and Second Born were making chocolate chip banana muffins together, and they weren’t even for him (they were a birthday request from one of her closest friends).  That’s his version of love – and he’s right.

So let me wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere. If you’re really lucky, your kids most likely won’t say it with flowers.

But maybe they’ll say it with miniature golf.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Convincing myself it's the weekend

I am curious. Can someone please explain to me why I am wide-awake at you’re-kidding-me a.m. Saturday when I could sleep in, and yet when that weekday alarm rears its ugly head I can barely lift my hand to smack the snooze alarm? Am I the only one who is baffled by this phenomenon?

A few days before First Born's wedding I took some time off to be involved in the preparation. Since the wedding was during Memorial Day weekend I also had the advantage of relaxing on Monday, sort of. All in all, I was away from my normal work schedule for 5-1/2 days.

Here’s what I don’t get. During that time I could not sleep past 5:30. It wasn’t just because, as Mother of the Bride, my head was swimming with last minute details. It didn’t have to do with packing up to go home the day after the nuptials, or even the fact that Spouse volunteered us to help with the water station at a local race on Memorial Day (an annual tradition that he couldn’t say no to, even when I gave him The Look). I was consistently up long before it was necessary, showered and sipping coffee before anyone else had even moved.

After all was said and done and married, it was back to the normal routine. Tuesday morning came along and my alarm clock was playing sweet, soothing music at 5:28 a.m. (we will discuss the oddity of the time in another post). Honestly, It didn’t matter how sweet the music was, or that I had no problem waking up even earlier than this ridiculous hour for the last several days. Something internal knew it was a workday and my brain and body were having none of it. I hit the snooze three times before I even tried to pry open my eyes. It was going to be a long four-day workweek.

How does this happen? Does the universe send out different signals on the days you can sleep in, so that you get such a good night’s sleep you don’t need to stretch your consciousness into daylight? I don’t think so – I was up since 4 in the morning the day before the wedding. I was desperately in need of a nap by the time we got to the rehearsal at 3 p.m.

Of course, we do have to take into consideration the magical powers of the sofa, which can somehow lull me to sleep no matter how intriguing a 2008 episode of NCIS may be. Not that I fall under its spell often, but Spouse does, his head bobbing up and down in rhythm with his snoring (we won’t discuss the drool). I try to just hit the sack once my head starts to bob (mostly because I don't want social media to be gifted with a picture of me drooling).

I envy people like Spouse who can sleep through anything. Anywhere. Anytime. Usually I let him snooze away on Saturdays because I do actually enjoy a little time to myself when I don’t have to march to the beat of a schedule. If we ever have summer here in Maine, I’ll be sitting in the back yard with my coffee, reading the newspaper from three weeks prior.

First Born is very much like me, crawling through the weekday mornings. But when the weekend hits she and The Groom (it’s been three weeks - time for an update) are strolling the streets of Philadelphia by 8:30 or 9 on the way to one of their favorite breakfast places.

Second Born is fine with not waking up until 10 a.m., and on a rare occasion, later... though due to an early work schedule this summer, her body is now convinced 9 a.m. is late, much to her annoyance. She does have the going-to-bed-early thing down pat at the moment, due to her work schedule... and it also may have to do with how boring her parents are after 7 p.m.

Maybe I’ll try not eating after 6 or not playing card games late at night, and see if that helps me to sleep in.

Or maybe I’ll just take my pillow and move to the living room sofa and soak in its magical snoozing powers.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Trusting those old maps - and instinct

As a two-car family of three, we will have to make some adjustments this summer. Second Born was on her way to meet me in Portland one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, so we could drop off a car for Spouse who was working late. I was just leaving my office to head in the direction of the hospital where he works, knowing she had been on the road for almost a half hour and should be there any time, when my cell rang.

“I’m going to be really late,” she informed me in a frustrated tone from a parking lot somewhere very north of Portland. She had managed to miss the exit to Route 295 toward the hospital. By the time she pulled over she was past Portland and Westbrook. Realizing nothing looked familiar, she decided to exit the highway. By the time she called me she was heading toward the Falmouth spur.

After hoping to get some type of sense of direction from me, she chose to GPS her way back.

Remember the days when we read maps ahead of time, or more often on the way to our destination instead of listening to an almost motherly, yet demanding voice telling you to make a legal u-turn?

When I first got my license (back when cars were newly invented, of course) I had a rule of thumb. If I wasn’t completely familiar with an area and I saw three or more cars make a turn, I would follow them. In my mind, when that many drivers made the same decision, they must be going somewhere important, like a major intersection or a Dunkin Donuts. I discovered many helpful shortcuts with this method, and I will fess up to a few dead ends that weren’t quite as beneficial.

At the wise old age of 16 and newly licensed, a high school friend and I would occasionally take day trips on weekends, unbeknownst to either set of parents. Our habit was to get on the highway and drive for an hour or so, then stop for lunch or a snack. When we were done and had taken a sufficient break we would simply ask someone – a waitress or a store clerk - how to get back to the highway.

Most of the time we didn’t stray far from the main roads so it was an easy turnaround.  It still felt like a daring adventure to us. At 59 cents a gallon for gasoline, I’m sure it would have been considered a major waste of fuel for us to take such a trip. But we always managed to scrape up five or six dollars to fill the tank before we returned, so we were covered.

As of the writing of this column Second Born managed to drive a friend to Lewiston and find her way back home, guided by the GPS. She mentioned that the voice seemed to take her the long way back to the highway, but she continued to follow and eventually came upon signs for the highway. I had to give the GPS voice the benefit of the doubt, considering I’ve never even been to Lewiston. My directions might have had her aiming for Nova Scotia.

I don’t know if I would recommend following three or more cars to find new routes, or driving for an hour or more and asking someone how to get home. I also won’t kid myself into thinking my own driving daughters have never had their own little adventures that I’m clueless about. Naturally, they are related to me (their father has his own daredevil stories, most never to be shared), and I don’t mind a little bit of history repeating itself.

But if history is going to repeat itself, let’s start with going back to 59 cents a gallon for gas.