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Entries in Dad (7)

Saturday
Sep032011

A tour of my old haunts in Ridgefield

Have you ever taken your kids back to visit your old haunts?

I grew up in a small town in New England that was most recently in the news for being 100% without power for days after Hurricane Irene blew through. As a teenager I remember complaining that there wasn't much to do there. There was no movie theater, no skate park, no bike paths, and the closest shopping mall was 30 minutes away. Yet I have only wonderful memories!

The House Where I Grew Up

The homes where I grew up vary from historical colonial homes, to ultra modern works of art. Ours fell somewhere closer to the contemporary side.

My 'neighborhood' did not have sidewalks. My closest friend lived almost a 1/4 mile away. But we had woods, and streams, and...a lake.

Mamanasco Lake

Unlike my kids, I did not have the luxury of learning to swim in a nice, clean, chlorinated pool. "Luxury?" you ask. Why yes. Because the lake thing is only glamorous when it's spring-fed and crystal clear - which our lake, was not. This was where I learned to swim.

It was also the place where every Wednesday in the summer all the families would bring something to grill, and other picnic necessities for a communal dinner. It probably wasn't meant to be communcal but as a kid I remember running from table to table getting handfuls of Doritos, Cheetos, and more from all of my friends' families.

This is the photo I posted on Facebook and said, "One guess where I am right now."

Because this was the view you had JUST before jumping and free-falling for 2 seconds then landing in what hopefully was not a belly-flop! You can still barely see an outline of the white paint that once said NO JUMPING.

Turtle Pond

One thing you do have growing up in New England is real, outdoor ice skating. The kind where you have to ask your mom 1000 times if the pond is frozen enough to go skating. The kind where it's bumpy, weedy, bubbly, and makes a CRACK then BOOM! sound every now and then just to give you a little extra jump in your step. Turtle Pond, named after the snapping turtles that lived there, is where I learned to skate.

Now overgrown with lilly pads and weeds and algae (I'm guessing), this pond once had real snapping turtles (it may still have them) that would come after you, albeit .135 miles an hour.

Natural Oddities - The Balanced Rock

We may not have had sidewalks, (heck - if you continued on our road about a mile past our house the road wasn't even paved!) but we had 10-speeds and we knew how to use them. Driving the narrow, windy roads of my town recently I was shocked that my parents took us on these REALLY LONG bike rides. I'm guessing the roads had less traffic and at least some kind of shoulder back then.

One of my favorite places to ride was to see The Balanced Rock.

 

A great formation left by the powerful glaciers as they receeded, this natural oddity sits, unassuming, just off the side of the road as you head past the many horse farms into North Salem, NY.

At first I thought it was my imagination that the girls were actually enjoying this little tour, and then detour around town. I was enjoying it so much, I couldn't imagine they were too! Then I realized, my face must have shown what was going through my head. All my childhood and teenage memories swirling about. These little bits and pieces I had completely forgotten until I was right there: at my house, at the lake, at the rock.

It's no wonder the last time I treated myself to this tour was right after my dad passed away. I was in charge of driving my mom's car back from the hospital and before I knew it I found myself going 'the back way' on auto-pilot, and straight to my old house.

Tuesday
Jun142011

8 Years

 

Dad as a Badass Marine

Today it has been 8 years since my dad passed away.

I still resent the fact that he only got to be a grandpa to my twins for one, brief weekend.

I still wear his USMC t-shirt and sweatshirt when I need to feel him close.

I still remember the feel of his hand that I held during his very last breaths.

 

Dad doing his 'mojo' dance at my wedding

I have his "cankles", his sense of humor, and his mad dancing skillz.

My daughters each have a 'look' they do when they are being silly and I have to do a double-take to make sure it isn't him.

 

He still comes to me sometimes in my dreams to let me know he's ok, that he's in a good place, that we will be reunited some day.

I still wake up from those dreams with and empty feeling and burst into tears.

Eight years ago today

I realized how precious life is.

I stopped sweating the small stuff.

But I also expreienced true regret - wishing I had said, done, been

more.

 The first and only time he held the Twofer, a week before he died. Happy early Father's Day Dad.

Miss you forever and always.

For more posts on my dad read:

Happy Flag Day

What it's like to get married on Halloween

Monday
May302011

Memorial Day

My dad was a Marine.

He fought in the Vietnam War.

He earned a Purple Heart.

We celebrate Memorial Day not just as a day off from work or school, but it's a day to say thank you to all those who are or have served. And I'd like to thank their families too.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arlington National Cemetary

Thank You - for all that you do.

Monday
Jul122010

Saying goodbye to a pet....this time, it was for real

So, a few weeks ago I took a break from blogging.

The week before that we were on vacation.

Well two days before we left for vacation, we had to put our 14 year old cat/friend/brother to sleep.

How to say goodbye to a pet

Photobucket

It was heartbraking.

It was an easy decision that was made by the vet.

It came down to quality of life, and life was a matter of days.

It was a relief.

This is how it played out:

I picked the girls up from their playdate and took them home and told them Sampson was very sick and he wasn't coming back from the vet. They've known for months he wasn't a healthy cat. For years we called Sampson "Fat Cat" but he hasn't been fat for about a year. They asked if he was dying. I said yes.

Then I explained what the vet had said, and that it would be best to put him to sleep where he would not feel sick, and not have any pain. Then I had to tell them we were driving there that night to do it.

uuuugh

The Mister drove to meet us but hit traffic. I called the vet and they said they would stay open as late as we needed them to. I headed off to the vet what I thought would be perfect timing but no, DC traffic never makes it easy. We had to wait for my husband to get there. Waiting and waiting and waiting....the girls lost it.

Then, he got there. And we went into a private room and got to say our goodbyes.

This was hard for the girls, but surreal.

What do you say? How long do you hold him?

How. Do. You. Say. Goodbye?

The girls were in tears.

I was detached. I didn't feel sad. I just felt empty.

My husband too was sad, but calm, and just dealing with it.

We both have had to do this before.

We both have had to say goodbye to people who were very close to us....our fathers.

Once you've had to find the words to say goodbye someone you love, to someone very close to you, to someone who will never see your children grow up or be there to give you important advice, and hug you when you think you've totally screwed up as a parent... saying it to a cat seems, well, easy.

That may seem harsh, but I just couldn't go there.

Not after where I've been.

Not yet.

But I had to BE there for my girls. And we did it. Together, as a family, we said goodbye.

And I'm so proud of them, and proud of us for how we did it.

Death is part of life, and everyone deals with it differently.

And that's ok.

The important thing is to deal with it.

And a week later, after we came home from vacation, I missed Sampson and I cried.

I finally said goodbye.

Janine

Monday
Jun142010

The World's Best Grandpa that Never Was

I try not to 'go there' but I'm human.

I try to look at the bright side of things. I try to focus on the positive. I really am grateful for what I have.

But birthdays and Flag Day are the days I can't help but think of what a kick-ass grandpa my dad WAS to my neice, and would have been,

could have been,

SHOULD have been, to E & E.

Seven years ago today my father passed away.

The Twofer were three weeks old.

(Grief and sleep deprivation combined feel like the worst hangover you ever had... times 10.)

For three weeks he got to shine as their grandpa, although mostly on the phone.

Many of us feel the only reason he kept fighting on was to see them,

to meet them,

to hold them.

And he did get to do all of that.

My Dad holding The Twofer. He died a week later.

For one, brief 48 hour period he got to be there for them in person and he packed a lifetime of grandpa into those 48 hours.

He took them for a walk in the stroller.

He gave them a painting he did of lavendar fields in Provence for their room.

He helped bathe them.

He played with them.

He fed them.

He burped them.

He consoled them.

He sang to them.

He rocked them.

He cried holding them.

He was human.

He once told me, "I'm not afraid to die. I'm just sad about what I'll miss out on."

Me too Daddy.

Love you and miss you always,

Nini