Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

I’m heading to France this summer and I’m taking a small photo of my dad standing in front of the Eiffel Tower during World War II. This Memorial Day we honor those who have served in war. We remember what they did. How they defended us. How they stood up for the helpless, the defeated. And now, many who have fought for our country are our elders. Their bodies are failing–and it’s our job to care for them and to give them the honor they deserve. Caregiving is more than meeting someone’s physical needs. It’s about remembering–all they are and have ever been.

Our fathers and grandfathers, brothers and mothers helped to stop Hitler–among others intent on destroying life. That’s amazing–and there are still atrocities going on in the world. People are still not free, and as flawed as we are, we still stand for justice. Maybe our government has mixed motives, but the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces have some pretty high ideals. We don’t want tyrants to take over, to kill and destroy, to obliterate the simple opportunity to live and work, marry and have families, eat and make a life for themselves and those they love.

So this weekend, look someone who has served our country right in the eye–and say thank you.

Ask them what it was like–to be “over there,” to be scared, to liberate a country, to ride in a tank. Give them the chance to tell their stories. Give them the opportunity to talk about it, for their chest to fill with pride. For them to relive their glory days. Get out those albums. Hang a flag. We’re far less patriotic than previous generations, and yet we are the ones reeping the benefits of their valiant efforts. Forget politics. Thank the men and women who protect us–who gave their time and for many, their limbs for something bigger than themselves.

I’m taking that photo of my dad to Paris with me. He was a sharpshooter and he helped to liberate France and Germany. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He stayed two more years to rebuild Paris. He absolutely loved serving our country–and now, he’s gone–but I won’t forget. I’ll tell his stories. I’ll visit Paris and Normandy. I’ll wear his dog tags.

~Carol O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle

Read Full Post »

If you haven’t seen Pixar’s UP, get in the car and head to the movies. I’m not kidding. That’s an order:) And if you are a part of or direct a care home, an adult day care or a senior community center, load them all in the van and take them to see UP. You won’t regret it.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I don’t use it as a way to endorse or promote anything I don’t passionately believe in–so I hope you’ll trust me on this.

And it’s absolutely perfect for Fathers Day! 
If you’re a caregiver, what a perfect outing and take your loved one. Sandwich Generation? Take everybody to the movies!

Oh, and take a box of tissues–and be ready to laugh, cry, smile, and leave feeling completely rejuvenated.

Yes, it’s a cartoon, but I’m not sure Pixar’s great films (Monster’s Inc. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall E) can be placed in the category with Sponge Bob (sorry, Bob).

What’s UP about? I’m not telling. I will let you know what you could pick up from the commercials–it’s about a seemingly grumpy old man who has longed for adventure all his life–and about a young boy who so needs a friend. It’s much much more than that and old and young alike will identify with both these characters, their wants, needs and fears. It’s about dreams and adventures and how we find–and lose–and find our way through life.

Oh, and if you’re a dog lover, Doug the dog is adorable! He’s my dog, Rupert on the big screen–lovable, daffy, and most of all, loyal.

It’s about time that our elders were given their on-screen debut and delivered as the complex, meaty, powerful protagonists they are. Yes, it’s super-hero status in the best sense of the word–not because he can fly or walk through walls–but because he still has something amazing to offer the world–his time, love, and experience. It’s about time that the media portrays our elders with the respect they so deserve.

No, Pixar’s not paying (but feel free). I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been deeply touched. Take your dads. Take your moms. Take your aunts, uncles, kids, grandkids, and neighbors. UP will warm your heart, unhinge your tear ducts, and boost your heart.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes we make holidays too hard. We buy cards. We buy ties, baseball caps and t-shirts for our dads. We plan elaborate parties and rack our brains for the next great Father’s Day gift when what our guys really want is just to hang out with us. 

Easy and Thoughtful Father’s Day Ideas:

  • Does your dad like breakfast? Mine does. Why not have a pancake extravaganza? Pick up 3 or 4 different kinds of syrups, maybe some bananas or walnuts and cook breakfast together–or at least pull a chair up for dad so he can sip on his coffee and read the paper nearby.
  • Is your dad a fisherman? Pick up some worms or some shrimp and find a lake or stream and hang out a bit. Even if dad is in a care home, you can usually take him on an outing for a couple of hours–or get that fishy kids game that have magnets on the end of tiny fishing poles–it’s fun.
  • Stop by the library and rent some WWII movies–you know, those classic war films with Lee Marvin. Make bowls of ice cream (don’t forget the whip cream!) and even if you’re not into shoot-em-ups, you can be for a couple of hours.
  • Make your own card by writing your favorite “dad” story. Start with, “My favorite day with dad was….” Or, how about “I’ll never forget when dad…” Write it big and clear so he can keep it and reread it.
  • Does your dad have a friend he hasn’t seen in a long time? A work buddy? A distant cousin? Why not plan a get together. Even if you have to pick the buddy up and take him to your dad’s place–or plan for them to meet at a restaurant, it will be toally worth it just to see the two of them gabbing and smiling This hanging out time with a buddy might be just the thing to lift his spirits.

No matter how you celebrate Father’s Day, remember to relax and not watch the clock. It’s so easy (espeically if you’re his caregiver) to get on such a regimine that we forget just to sit and talk, to not be in a hurry, to not think about all the things we have to do. Even if your dad has dementia, Lewy Body or Alzheimer’s, research has shown that the things we’ve enjoyed all our life (art, music, entertainment) still holds true–even after our mental decline.

In other words, your dad is still your dad, and our most precious gift to offer…is our time.

~Carol O’Dell

Author, Mothering Mother

Read Full Post »

My Daddy died at the average age men die in the US (78 years old), from the most common disease men die from–heart disease. Yet, Daddy was anything but typical. He was a big teddy bear of a guy who made my world right again.

I was adopted at the age of four. My early years weren’t easy.

My birth mother suffered from schizophrenia (severely and eventually permanently hospitalized), and addiction to alcohol and gambling choked all the life out of my birth father. My sister and I lived with my father’s co-dependent/enabler grandmother and was abused by a boarder who lived in her house.

Not a great beginning.

I don’t share this with you to make you uncomfortable or to get sympathy points because my life didn’t stay that way. I was adopted and received layer after layer of personal healing and insights that allow me to incorporate this experience into my being.

Healing took a long, long time.

My adoptive Daddy was a big part of that. He was 54 and Mama was 50 when they adopted me. That’s taking a big chance–but it also shows what a void they had to fill.

He died when I was 23 years old. Too young for him to die–and too young for me. But he isn’t really gone.

He has become a part of me now–his songs, his stories, his gestures, his wisdom–I carry him every day.

I see him just like I did when I was six and playing baseball in the backyard–he was my “seated” lawn chair pitcher. I broke his garage window. Don’t know that he got too upset.

I remember the summer we had  a contest and ate 38 watermelons. He told me vines were going to shoot out my ears. I hoped they would. Every time my nose tickled, or I hiccuped, I got excited.

I remember when I was 12 and just starting to like boys–Daddy drove me to the skating rink each Saturday night and picked me up at 11:00. I know he really didn’t want to get dressed and traipse out that late, but he did. I remember when he asked me if that boy kissed me. I lied and said, “No, Daddy.” He knew. I knew. But I couldn’t say the words–not to my dad.

I remember when I brought home countless boyfriends and the disgusting look he’d hide behind his newspaper. No one was ever good enough for his little sweety-pie.

Eventually, one was, and I married him. He loves my dad as much as I do. That’s why we’re still married. He reminds me of that honorable man who changed my life and he’s the daddy to our three girls. His face lights up when his daughters just walk into the room. His face lights up when I walk into the room.

That’s why I keep him.

The power of a great dad changes a child’s life. And it keeps changing it. Even after our dads are no longer walking on this earth. Whispered wisdom, needed advice, family traditions and that sense of security never goes away.

I never got to be my dad’s caregiver the way I did with my mom. But I promised him we would take care of her. That promise got me through some rough times.

I hope you enjoy a short excerpt from my forthcoming book, SAID CHILD.

It’s about our night time ritual and coming home after church. (Being raised in church means I have many, many memories of life on the pew). Perhaps this excerpt will spark one of your own favorite memories.

The greatest thing we can do for our dads on Father’s Day is simply to remember.

Excerpt from SAID CHILD:

Daddy slid next to us after his usher and elder duties of collecting and counting the money were complete. We’d all squeeze into the pew making room and he’d have to pull on his coat a few times to get comfortable. He’d reach in his shirt pocket and in one continuous smooth move, a gold package of Butter Rum Life Savers appeared and the fleshy underbelly of my tongue salivated. I got one, he got one and he’d wink. Mama preferred peppermint. Peppermint reminded me of the nausea of backseat card rides.

I’d roll the butter rum disk around in my mouth and hold it vertical between my teeth, my tongue reading the raised letters as if in Braille. I’d lay my head against Daddy’s arm, recognizing the texture of his different suits, and then he’d put his arm around me and poke his finger in my ear. I brush it away and he’d smile without looking at me. I snuggled up waiting for my butter rum Life Saver to dissolve so I could get another one. As the preacher’s words droned on and on, I knew we’d never make it home in time to see the Sunday night Disney movie. We never did. Missing all my favorite TV shows was the worst part to me. I’d have to run a fever or throw-up to get to stay home.

Daddy covered my legs with his jacket and patted me until the sounds and lights muffled, dimming into soft shades of gold as I watched my eyelashes fold again and again, the world faded fuzzy, then black.

I barely remembered most of the car ride home on Sunday nights and Daddy would place me between the cool sheets long after I was too big to be carried, my lanky legs scraping the bed and the quilt slid in place. 

Daddy half-whispered, half-growled, “My baby done gone to sleep, Lord bless my little sweety-pie.”

He’d sing me to sleep and I’d always ask for Mr. Moon:  

Oh Mr. Moon, Moon, bright and shinin’ moon,

Oh won’t you please shine down on me.

For my life’s in danger and I’m scared to run,

There’s a man behind me with me with a big shot gun,

Oh Mr. Moon, Moon, bright and shinin’ moon, oh won’t you please shine down on me. Boom, boom, boom.

***

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

Family advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com

www.kunati.com, publishers

Read Full Post »

Children (of all ages, including grown) need a daddy.

I know I did. I needed his protection, wisdom, and manly sweetness so different from anyone else’s.

Many people who grow up with dad in the house take him for granted. Only later, or perhaps after a heart attack or stroke do we realize what a gift our gentle giants are.

My situation was a bit different. I was adopted at the age of four.

I know what it’s like not to have a loving father. My birth father gave into his addictions–drinking and gambling. He allowed those addictions to take over his life. He neglected and then gave up his children–and he died not fully comprehending what he gave up.

The impact of his choices altered the course of my life.

But I got a second chance. 

I remember the day I met my Daddy, my adoptive dad.

My adoptive mother had gone down to Daytona Beach, Florida to get me and bring me back to Atlanta. She told me about Daddy while we were on the Greyhound bus.

I hope you enjoy this is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, SAID CHILD, which is also the prequel to Mothering Mother.

“Your daddy’s a big man with salt and pepper hair,” Mama whispered in my ear when the bus pulled into the Atlanta station. I folded my knees underneath me so I could see out the window, over the heads of everybody milling around the bus. Then I spied an enormous pink teddy bear with a man’s arms wrapped around it. The man’s hair was black and silver in the sun and he had bushy eyebrows.

I knew it was him.

We had to wait to get off the bus. Mama carried me in her arms, and I watched him through every window. I don’t know how I could tell he was sweet, but I could. He looked all around, trying to find me and Mama, and I squirmed to get down.

I knew he was my daddy, and I ran straight to him. He scooped me up right next to that teddy bear and twirled me in one, two, three circles. I counted.

People say you can’t love someone you just met. I know better. It depends on how badly you need to be loved.

***

This man opened his home, his heart, and his arms to me every day from that day on.

He gave me everything he was and everything he had. 

I said that my birth father changed my life, but if that’s true, then my adoptive daddy gave me a life of family–and hope.  

Daddy passed away in 1985, and I still miss him.

But more than crying, I remember.

I remember who he was–and is. I remember his integrity. I remember everything about him–his bushy eyebrows, the folds of his knuckles, the way he’d pat my shoulder absentmindedly in church. I remember our countless nights of me catching fireflies while mosquito’s chomped at my legs, and Daddy holding the jar for me and looking up at the stars. I’d ask a million questions and he’d answer a million and one.

I remember my wedding day when he shut the doors just as I was to walk down the aisle and he said to me, “If you’re not 100% sure, I’ll take you out of here and you’ll never have to see him again.”

Always the protector.

I remember every day who I was and who I am with him.

Always his little girl.

So to all of you who still have your dads–or like me, miss your dads–Happy Father’s Day.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon, a book of family caregiving

www.mothering-mother.com

Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com

Read Full Post »