Tuesday Thoughts

Well, it’s another day of challenges with the temporary crown that is, well, extremely temporary. I had it glued back in yesterday. By this morning, I opened my mouth to talk, and it fell out. Yep. Just glad I didn’t swallow it. I could have run to the dentist this morning, but we had some frozen precipitation (a/k/a ice pellets), and a lot of accidents. Just didn’t want to go anywhere. I go tomorrow at 3 to have it glued in again. The dentist isn’t to blame for it. It just happens. The prepped area needs to be covered to protect the nerves, which are just below the surface.

Tomorrow are a couple of appointments, writing the blog, and in between, lots of waiting. I’m reading a book by Anne Lamott called, “Bird by Bird.” It’s about life and writing. I look forward to spending time with since I’ve heard wonderful things.

Habit and routine seem to dictate our pattern of living, whether they’re good or bad. They make humans for growth and change. But, it nothing changes, nothing changes. Our patterns may be stagnant, along with our thinking and spirits. If we eat at Burger King every day, burgers, fries, malts, and we sit at a desk job, with no exercise, we may soon be uncomfortable, feel terrible, and act terrible. If we want a better situation, health, and well-being, we need to change our habits.

When our distress causes us to look for change, we go to self-help books, the gym, our therapists, our friends, anyone who may suggest things we don’t know. We need to change those habits and thinking. By challenging our thinking, our habitat, our friends, our way of life, we will stretch and grow to new heights. Change can be frightening and exhilarating, all at the same time. Once you get used to it, you look forward to it. Life is cyclical, and I believe humans grow and change with it. Learning new things is part of what makes life the joy is supposed to be. Too many people stubbornly hold on to the old way out of fear. Learning to let those fears go is key to making the changes we need for a fulfilling life.

What can we think of changing to create new, healthier habits? Better ways to spend our time? Better ways to spend our money? It’s amazing what we can do when we put our fears aside. Think about it. And we’ll visit more tomorrow.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Living a life in which you never change. You always eat meatloaf on Tuesday. You work for the same company for more than 30 years and you hate your job, but you’re scared to leave the company. You withdraw from any new person, idea, way of doing things. You criticize anyone who does things differently than you do, even if they achieve the same result. Why is change so crippling to some people?

More of the same produces more of the same. What is keeping us from trying something different, especially if we’re not happy with how things are going in our lives. The more we practice something, the deeper it’s ingrained in us. The deeper the roots, the more difficult change can be. That said, it’s not impossible to change. It takes an awareness at what may be causing a problem. If it’s behavior related, we can investigate which changes we would consider making.

Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Are we critical of others? We probably learned that growing up. We can stop that. It takes a different mindset.

Do we have a quick temper at little things? Did we observe this growing up? Holding your temper can take some time, we need to change attitudes toward these minor inconveniences before we can control our temper. Mom used to get very angry at little things. A glass of milk spilled at dinner just sent her into a tailspin. We had a real wood kitchen table which she always covered with a tablecloth. Every night (nearly) one of my little brothers spilled their milk. Mom would go beserk. It’s not like he did it on purpose. Mom lectured while insisting the wet tablecloth be removed immediately. It was stripped off, all the plates, silverware, and other glasses were moved frantically to get the tablecloth removed before the wood was ruined.

Looking back, I seriously doubt the wood table would have been ruined if the milk soaked tablecloth was left while we finished eating. She waxed the heck out of it frequently. Wouldn’t the wax offer some protection? I often wished we had a table made of some other material. Needless to say, mealtime was not happy in our house. Dad didn’t like us talking (arguing, goofing around, etc.) while eating, as he would go to work immediately after dinner. Mealtime conversation has been difficult for me to master, and I’m still working on it. I definitely know it was stressful as kids. Dad didn’t say anything, but often, he would stab at his food, and that meant we needed to immediately zip it, knock it off, cease and desist.

Mealtime wasn’t happy while I was married the first time. Kids don’t eat everything you set before them. Sometimes they do, but mosty not. My kid’s father would eat his food, then start eating the food off the kid’s plates. They were nowhere finished, as kids eat slowly. At times, they would cry and ask Dad to “Stop!” I would get mad. His take was he was right to do what he was doing, since they wouldn’t eat everything and he wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Remember, there were few microwaves before 1982. We did not have one.

Mealtime became peaceful once their dad left. Peace at last. It took guts on my part to end that marriage. I’m so glad I did it, unpopular as my decision was. I never looked back. My kids eventually understood. Best scary thing I ever did. There were plenty more scary decisions, made with much thought and risk. It worked. The change was a great one, I’m happier than I ever could have been. God gave me everything I needed to be strong and learn what I needed to.

What about you? Was there something in your childhood that was a pattern of behavior where you were afraid or upset about? Whatever caused that behavior, make sure it doesn’t happen in your home, under your watch. You can change it. You have the power to do it. I support you and your effort. Take the chance, make your life happier.

Tomorrow starts a busy week. The Honor Guard always has six funerals booked through the VFW. It amazes me how many people are affected by these deaths, and the vast number of Veterans who are buried at the Omaha National Cemetery. The grounds are beautiful and hallowed. I appreciate the Honor Guard and it’s important work. I have some emails that need to go out to my new artist and events to update on the Post website. I’m going to add some pages to my website as well. What good work will you do this week? Thanks for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Heroes

We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We should be our own heroes. I grew up in a time when we were discouraged from talking about ourselves, especially as a girl, and not to get too full of ourselves. It’s a whole new way of doing things nowadays. Kids are praised for everything, constantly. Is it too much? Do they grow up thinking they are perfect? Some do, in my opinion.

How do we learn to give more credit to ourselves (the boomers) and raise kids/grandkids who aren’t full of themselves. It’s a definite challenge with the kids. On one hand, they are at all to stand in a gym full of people at the age of six and sing solo, or speak, or act. They need to be prepared though, for the days they’re told no, when things don’t go their ways, and when someone else beats them out of a trophy, or someone else gets a job/promotion/or something else they want more than anything.

Sometimes, I’m glad I didn’t lead a charmed life, and had some of the life disappointments I had. I knew things would not always turn out the way I willed them to do. I also could handle it. I hope kids learn to do that. I hope it wouldn’t immediately throw them into feeling so badly about themselves and their abilities that they may hurt themselves or worse. And I hope their parents can “take it” too. A parent putting pressure and guilt on a child can have devastating consequences on that child.

People who do the simple, everyday, acts of kindness are sometimes bigger heroes than those who run into danger to rescue us from fires and crazies. The people who work everyday to support their families during these times are quiet heroes. I think of my dad when I think of those people. He was always a steady, familiar force while we had him. After we found out about his many medals from the military (two Bronze Stars, from WWII and Korea), His status rose further in our eyes.

When we do what we are supposed to do, instead of simply doing what we want, we should be our own heroes. I’m serious! Saying “NO” to ourselves is brave. It’s how we’ll progress and how our lives will change. Others are not the only ones we should say “NO” to; sometimes, we need to say it to ourselves.

Case in point? I have finally finished taking ornaments off the tree and have them ready to put on the storage shelves. I put it off from last week. I found the couch too comfy. I found the new books I read over the weekend too good. I was not my own hero. I will be when this is all stowed, because I’ll be in much better shape than I was a year ago. Last year, things were haphazardly put away, and now they’re not. It’s all orderly. I’m proud of that small victory.

We practice detachment from the excuses we’ve made previously, and we begin to make way for new habits, new hobbies, new people. And discipline we haven’t had before. We might have weird feelings while we lose the bad habit, the procrastinating gene of our makeup, but in the end, it will feel like normal when we stick to it. We will have a surer sense of mission, purpose, and fulfillment. Great things will happen. Try it. See you tomorrow!

The Journey.

It took years, but going from a scared younger woman with anxiety affecting my health to an older woman, president of her own company, author, story teller, and deeply grateful friend of many is a great reward for about forty years of very hard work. It was lonely at first. I was late to the women’s movement, but grateful for the laws that were changed. I am not in favor of preferring women over men, I believe the opportunities should be equal. In IT they are, and that is where I was lucky to spend the bulk of my career up to 2000. The people I know now are all so supportive, teachers of my craft, and mentors for my business. Although I’m approaching another major decade in age, my world is expanding. It’s exciting!

I was unhappy for years. I was becoming my mother, which I adamantly did not want to be. She was angry all the time from raising all of us basically alone since Dad worked nights and slept days. Mine, I know for sure it was from the condition of my marriage. It wasn’t a partnership, it was a dictatorship. After my husband was gone for about six months, my neighbor friend told me, “I see you smiling all the time. When we moved in last summer, always looked angry. Now, you are happy.” WOW! That probably says it all.

The other thing showing me how bad it really was? I was on Valium for years. My stomach had spasms from the stress I was living with. It was an era of mother’s little helper prescribed by doctors and sung about by the Rolling Stones. I stopped the meds. No more nervous stomach. I divorced my stomach ache. Of course, I did love him, once upon a time. I wish him no ill will. I am so happy without him.

I probably had OCD; at night, every single Fisher Price little person had to be with their set, I would tear the house apart to find them. I didn’t realize it was OCD. I also had PTSD from my son’s drowning. We didn’t hear of PTSD for more than twenty years. The advice from the doctor; “you just have to think of something else.” Tell my brain about that. When I see a child drowning on the news all these 44 years later, my stomach falls. It is simply part of my life which I’m comfortable with. My son survived and is normal, no after effects. Grateful beyond measure.

There have been many, many hard months. Heck, hard years. It’s not easy to raise three kids alone, get your bachelor’s degree, and work full time. My folks watched my kids a lot, and I’m so grateful for that. Many professors along the way made big differences in my thinking and outlook. It’s all been such a growth opportunity, I don’t see autumn coming for at least another ten years or so. It’s very good.

The Babe is such a perfect partner for me. We work very well together. Sure, it’s not perfect, but you learn which battles to pick. Not the nit-picking ones. I remind myself before I criticize out loud that, “someday, I’ll miss that.” And can stop myself. Being a grown up is good most of the time.

Today, I’m emailing my children’s book to another artist. We will meet in person about it tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. Today is a catch up day for the house and the Post communications. In fact, one email I need to send is about our communications! In the meantime, it’s another cold day in Nebraska, even though they’re touting the 50 degree temp expected. It’s still January during the winter in Nebraska. The day’s are short and it’s a cold 50.

The story continues. Thank you for joining me on the journey! See you tomorrow!

Looking for Answers in New Places

Sometimes, old answers aren’t the right ones. If you do something a certain way because you’ve always done it that way before, don’t be surprised when the results are the same. We need to be brave and look for new ways to do things. Yes, it can be very uncomfortable, can’t it?

Finding different solutions to old problems and having positive results is life changing. We may feel some guilt because we abandoned the way of our parents and others, and they may criticize us for not remembering where we came from. We are at the point where we remember perfectly well where we came from. We are choosing to look for a solution, a new way of doing things. We want things to work where we have seen them fail before. When we’re successful, it makes people who settle for the old ways are upset. Gosh, you may make them look at themselves and evaluate their life and things that are not working.

It can be isolating to be the one who tries a new way of thinking, living, and solving problems. It can also be freeing, discovering your own way. Your own answers. Your own truth. It can lead you to a whole new life, new friends, and a positive outlook that sets you on a path of discovery, creativity, and a fulfilling life. Living a Great Story should be the goal of all of us.

We owe it to ourselves to be our best version of ourselves. We do that with personal growth, experiencing life on our own terms, and contributing to our surrounding communities. Getting out of our own head helps us to overcome our difficulties, heal our heartaches, and be good citizens of our earth. Thinking before reacting is new territory for us. It takes practice, over and over again. The ineffective habits we had before leave us the more we do new things, in new ways. It’s very satisfying. Try it, you’ll like it!

Sorry to be so short today, just kind of distracted. Hope you have a beautiful day and see you tomorrow.

I Formed My Habits; and My Habits Formed My Future. – j.t.

Wow! That must make me accountable for what I’ve done! Well, I guess we all are. Aren’t we? Yes, even before we knew better and learned what NOT to do. The sooner we accept that, the better outcomes we’ll have. After all, our habits, good or bad, are learned in our environment.

When we’re kids, we’re at our parent’s mercy. Really, we are. They can only do as well as they know how to do. And it goes on and on, until someone realizes the habits aren’t healthy and they need something different in their lives. The one who raises issue with “how it’s always been” is usually criticized unmercifully. But then again, they’re kind of used to it. Put downs sting, but you don’t let on people hurt you. You have a quick wit to answer all sorts of accusations. But inside, you’re dying. And it’s your family who can hurt the most. After all, they have the best ammunition to use. Old habits die hard.

Fifty-one years ago, I got married for the first time. He had a low draft number (bad reason to get married!), and it seemed likely he’d go to Vietnam, like every boy from high school who didn’t go to college. Of course, Mom was against it, but we knew better, as every 18 and 19 year old can tell you. Mom was 19 when she married Dad, and he was 25. If she could have explained why “you just shouldn’t,” I may have listened. Or not. She said if I was getting married, she would plan it or it wouldn’t happen. She planned everything. She is a person who must be in control, so she was in her glory.

In 1982, 11 1/2 years later, I told her I was getting a divorce. Her only comment was, “My grandchildren will starve.” I felt surer they wouldn’t. They didn’t. Her habit is controlling, and she reacts with anger when things don’t fall into place. I had one person, my Aunt Carol, who knew why I had to leave. I was becoming an angry person. I didn’t want to be like Mom was. I love her still, and she honed her habits out of survival in the home and environment she grew up in. She can’t help it, and may not want to at this point. I feel sorry for her inasmuch as she holds her anger like a shield, and is constantly in react mode.

The events of the last month have made an impact on her. She is no longer angry and confrontational about using her walker; she sees it as freeing, she can get around better with less physical danger. Finally! Some progress. Her habits can change. And it will impact her future by enabling her to stay in her beloved home longer. How much longer? I’d be foolish to guess, it’s whenever God decides she needs to go somewhere else.

I’ve had a lot of mindsets/habits to change in my life. Equality for women was a big thing I had to recognize and participate in. Luckily, I continued my education while working and entered the I/T field, where you are paid according to your skills. I personally disliked the old wives tale of analysts not being able to communicate effectively, I was able to show our internal customers I could communicate well and participate in problem solving while speaking to them in English, not tech talk.

I raised my kids with encouragement and support. I wanted them to be independent people, they all learned how to clean, do laundry, and cook. They also knew they would be punished if they did things that were wrong. They knew I would trust them until I couldn’t, and that would be on them. I know we were a good family. Now, we’re in three different states and rarely see one another. Sure, I miss them. I also remember I taught them to take care of themselves, and that’s what they’re doing.

What habits do I need to change? Several. We’ll talk about that another day. What habits do you need to change? Are you willing to do the work? It takes consistency towards a new behavior to change a habit. Working out, eating healthy, losing weight, lowering your blood sugar, all take a big effort. You can get there to do anything you decide you can do. Even change your life! I did. I’m so grateful for these last 40 years of not being married to the father of my kids. I would never have made all these good changes with him. He wanted everything to remain exactly the same as it was in 1970. And that just couldn’t be for me.

I’m grateful to those who are in this part of my journey. The Babe is very supportive of my writing. The kids are, too. I’m grateful for that. Yes, everything is going to be ok. I know in my heart it will. Just go to Plan B. I’m going to thrive at this time in life. You can too. Shall we go together? Let’s!

Sharing these books as the ones I want to devour in the next month or so. Women authors, a couple friends, a couple Facebook friends. Supporting each other. I finished Tammy Marshall’s “Ticker Tape,” yesterday. It was great. I’ll go into more detail another day. And I love Rebecca Cooper’s FB shares. So raw. So real. And Carol Gino! She makes me think about things. I love her stories about angels all around us. Joy Johnson Brown’s The BOOB Girls Books! I do believe she may have been my older sister in another life. Go figure! We just need to be aware. Be aware today. Let’s talk about that another day. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it. Have a beautiful day, see you tomorrow!

My Fall Picks to Read.

Really? Elvis Said THAT?

I picked up my copy of Silver Disobedience Playbook this morning and read an article titled, “Seek The Silver Lining.” Sure, I’d like to think I do. Some days are harder than others. Dian Griesel talks about learning from life when things don’t go as well as we’d like. “The bend in the road is not the end of the road.” Yes, I agree.

The next line blew my mind. As Elvis Presley said: “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” I immediately googled the comment, and several sources confirmed he did. The terribly bad ending his life had is so sad. Yes, he became addicted to prescription drugs. That was wrong. Too many of the innocent, talented people fell in with bad ones. His Memphis Mafia were not the best to have around him. Pills to make you wake. Pills to make you sleep. God only knows what else he partook in.

Addictions are tricky. You can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, electronics, sex, and just about everything. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Pain killers are good for actual pain, under a doctor’s care, and can be abused. Alcohol is another crafty substance. It can sneak up on you. With my Apple ID being locked, I’ve realized how much time we all waste on our phones. Yet, the next twelve days will still find me wanting to catch up on Facebook, playing my Word Search games, and of course, Solitaire. Who doesn’t love a rousing game of Solitaire?

People handle their pain differently. Many choose to ignore it. Then it festers and gets ugly. However it rears it’s ugly head, chaos reigns. Chaos replaces order. We might not like the feelings of chaos in our lives, but we are powerless to rid ourselves of it. The time, money, and company we spend pushes us further from order. We repeat the cycle. There is always hope for folks who are addicted. They need to be on board. If someone is making them go to recovery, it won’t work. It’s pure and simple.

My heart has been broken by several people addicted to one thing or another. I’ve believed too many lies, defended people who didn’t deserve it, and felt I could fix their hurts. I was an enabler. I didn’t realize it. I have learned that painful lesson. I’ve made changes in my life. I’ve set boundaries. Not just for them. For myself. Late-bloomer that I am, I’ve learned to deflect character asassination and undeserved criticism. Their weapons no longer work on me. My armour is strong. My heart is strong. You’re never too old to learn.

I’ve taken the hairpin curves life throws at all us. I’ve endured a lot. So has the Babe. That is why it’s important for both of us to have as little conflict as possible between us. We’re seasoned in what’s important and what’s not. Peace and Quiet are important. Disruption and Noise are not.

I hope this weekend finds you in a good place. We are in one. Take a look at things. If something feels wrong, figure it out. Don’t ignore it. It’ll fester. And you won’t like the outcome. Take care out there. See you tomorrow.

Don’t Look Back

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is credited with the phrase:

Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine.

I don’t know about you, but I have done this. I miss the times when my kids were little. It was one of the happiest times of my life. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done. Seriously. To help form a little human, teach them right from wrong, how to love each other, and how to be street-wise to protect themselves from those who prey on others.

I pictured life as; the Babe and me with a bunch of grandkids. The reality is; three live out of town. Two live here. We have our share of fun with them. I sometimes wish the Sunday dinners would have materialized. Life doesn’t work that way anymore. If I let it, it could make me sad.

Instead, I’m grateful. We have different good times that usually include ice cream. Addison and Gavin both request it when we’re out. Ice Cream is one of my favorite things on earth. You cannot be in a foul mood when you’re having ice cream. Right? What I’m grateful for is; my reality tells me those dinners would be hard for me to prepare. So it’s easy to dial it back. If it’s not realistic; let it go.

You can’t know what you know now if you live in the past. About how to live. About how to survive. You can’t have it both ways. We often hear, “If I knew then what I know now.” We can’t go back. We can’t take information backwards. Only forward. Our parents likely raised us as they were. We have difficulties with that behavior. Times change. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” is a philosophy that can see you arrested for child abuse. The only thing achieved by beating a child is submission, low self-esteem, and timidity. Not physically beaten, my spirit was pretty beaten up. I needed to be who I needed to be, not a clone of others. It caused me a lot of confusion. Now I revel in it. I’m different. And there’s a reason I am.

I believe it’s how God wants me to be. It’s how I can best do what I’m good at. Telling stories and spreading hope, love, and encouragement. I’m a naturally curious person. I’m a detail-oriented person. I’m unafraid now. These are all gifts from my life. Now I can use them to tell stories which help kids and women. People raised by an old standard. No one owns anyone else. We are all meant to be free. Be who you are. The sky is the limit. Join me on this journey. Kiss yesterday goodbye. It is of no use to you now. Look ahead with joy and excitement. It is all out there for the taking.

Thank you for reading today. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be who you want to be. Live your life for yourself. Be who God intended you to be. Be YOU. Observe the world. Observe other’s stories. And go out and live a great one for yourself. See you tomorrow.

Memories – 2002

In going through some old writing I had from grief seminars with the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, I found a couple things I’ve held onto. It would have been in about 2002, when I turned 50 years old. A huge mark in a person’s life, but for me it was the dawning of some premature events.

I went on disability at 48, I was unable to continue working due to the condition of my spine. I continued working for five years, and just couldn’t physically handle sitting all day anymore. My work place was more than accommodating. The Babe and I were married about four years. He told me I didn’t have to work. It never dawned on me to quit.

The header photo is a collage I made of my feelings in 2002, depicting how I felt about being placed on LTD. It was very hard to adjust to. I’d been working for twenty years, got an education while raising my kids, bought my own home, and climbed the corporate ladder. I was approaching where I would get to have the time of my life. And my career ended. All the words dealt with my medical issue, which you “couldn’t see.” “Doing What I Love?” I hadn’t thought of anything. ” I am data,” spoke to there being no data on someone recovering from what I had. I was written up in medical journals, complete with a digital photo of my arachnoid cyst squeezing my spinal cord. The pain was unbelievable. And for the big 5-0? I went on MEDICARE, for crying out loud. Fifteen years early. I was embarrassed. I certainly did not look 65. I felt I had no control over anything. I finally learned to grieve properly about that loss, and adjust to my new life. Thank you, Joy Johnson Brown and Dr. Mary Hansen! You ladies have taught me so much about living.

There was a session about expressing grief. It was through poetry. As nearly as I can remember, I must have written a poem about My Dad’s Hands. I’ll leave you with these thoughts.

MY DAD’s HANDS

Big, Outstretched, and Warm

I always felt safe

When Dad reached down

and took my small hand in his.

Crossing the street

Into the Doctor’s Office

Upstairs a million steps to the dentist’s smelly office

I knew he would protect me.

As I grew, I noticed

the nicotine stained fingers,

the Pressman’s ink,

the Mechanic’s grease,

and I saw some of his many talents.

His beautiful signature

The thousands of books he’d read

The golf clubs he treasured

The grandchildren he’d held after

He was sure they wouldn’t break.

How cold and small they seemed

With the IV’s inserted

As that modern plague Cancer

Sucked the breath from his lungs,

But not the love for him from my heart.

Dear Dad,

Things are coming along here. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen how crazy this planet is, and especially the country we live in. I’d love to get your opinion on all the goings on, from the Pandemic to Politics, to our Military, to technology. I’d love to linger with you over a keyboard and show you what you could read, right at your fingertips.

I know how you loved Kaiser’s Book Store in downtown Omaha. You’d most likely still want to hold the books in your hands to read, I prefer that, too. It’s an option, though. As quickly as you read, you might enjoy it. Speaking of books, I’m writing several. Too many ideas that seem good. I couldn’t pick a favorite, it would be like picking your favorite child.

I’m also working with an attorney to establish a publishing company. I want to have control over my publications. I’m concerned if I publish traditionally, I’d may not recognize my work. If someone makes me an offer, I can’t refuse, great. Otherwise, I’ll go it alone. I think you’d be proud; I am. That’s hard for me to get used to saying; I’m not used to saying it. It’s not ego talking, it’s confidence. I’ve gained more of that since you died. I remember where we all came from. Humble roots. I thank you for all you provided; not just physical things, but also the example you set every day. It is one I try to follow, and one I hope my kids remember.

Writing a book or several has been a dream of mine for a long time. My Becky encouraged me to get going. She’s a wise young woman, married with two beautiful children, a girl and a boy. You would love them. Nick married and lives in Kansas City. Frankie still lives in Omaha, he’s still cooking. He’s quite good at it. They’re all good.

Today would have been your Happy 97th Birthday! What an accomplishment it would be! Maybe I’ll make it to that age. I’m hoping. You weren’t born yet during the Spanish Flu, and I can tell you, living during a pandemic is scary. I don’t need to tell you that. You always kept us away from harm, in your own way. Even though other kids went barefoot and wore thongs, oops, Dad, thongs now refer to underwear, I mean sandals or flip-flops. Yes, I’m serious, Dad. You wouldn’t believe some things people are doing.

We’re actually wearing masks when we’re around other people; I know with your medical knowledge, you’d be all for that. Masks, questionnaires, drive up testing sites, and people just staying home from March last year through December 31, 2020. It came from China, and I know you wouldn’t approve being friendly with them, or with Russia. Even North Korea. Yes, that god-forsaken place where you served your country during the “Conflict.” I know a couple Korean Veterans, and I tell them about you. I’m still proud to be your daughter. You left an imprint on my heart and my being, and I miss you, but not weirdly. I just wanted more good times with you. Conversations. Sharing. And you seeing your grandkids grow up. They’re up there in age now (but then I am too!)

Mom let me send for your military medals. You were a badass! Sorry, I know I shouldn’t talk like that. It’s true. Yes, you never called attention to yourself. For anything. I didn’t know you carried a black rosary in your trouser pocket every day, just like you did in WWII and Korea. You were deeply spiritual, and no one knew. It was between you and God. I like that. You always were a very “do it, move on, and don’t brag about it.” That is one of your best qualities. I hope to be that way, too. I don’t enjoy talking about myself and the Babe. He’s got to be the one you pulled strings for to meet me. It wouldn’t surprise me. He has a lot of your qualities, including loving me unconditionally. You’d love him, too. Thanks.

I’m going to keep writing in 2021. I want to publish some books. It would be so cool to hold a book with my name as the author. It’s not to make a living, it’s to make something in my life. It’s the achievement I’m going for. You taught me well; I’m just going to go for it. Doing my homework all along the way. Learning all I can. It’s enjoyable. I love it. Stretching, reaching, serving. Thank you. Happy Birthday, Dad.

The Babe and I Wish You All a Happy New Year!