If Your Dad’s Still Here …

This Father’s Day ends, and I’m remembering my Papa. He wasn’t famous or incredible in many ways, or anything. He drank too much and chainsmoked, and loved me and my sister, Becky,  with his whole heart. I only got eleven Father’s Days with him face-to-face before the divorce.

He stayed in our lives, supporting us financially and emotionally and seeing us a couple of weeks each summer. The ends of which I dreaded.My child’s heart waited  and waited for him to drive back up our drive.

Papa with becky and Greg on their wedding day.

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And then in 1995, he called me to come and get him. He was dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure. We drove from Oklahoma to California with him doing travelogue most of the way. He’d driven that route as a heavy equipment salesman for years. But just outside Kingman, his eyes began to roll back in his head, and when he was lucid, he told me to find a hospital.

The morning of Father’s Day that year I didn’t even realize what day it was. He’d said the night before that if he were still alive in the morning mysister and I should get him out of the hospital. We checked him out AMA,  lifted him into the back of Becky’s dust buster, and tore off for home. He said if he died before we hit the California border to pretend he was asleep because otherwise we’d have all sorts of trouble with the authorities. That’s how he was, always looking to others’ needs.

Sometime between a car full of angels who folowed us across the desert, only leaving us at Bakersfield, and an 18 wheeler tire flying over Becky inthe dust buster and under me in Papa’s car, I realized it was Father’s Day. I’d always senthim presents and cards and called him to wish him Happy Father’s Day, and I hadn’t said anything, to him or to Bake. Just drove. It was our 12th Father’s Day face-to-face.

When we made it into our cul de sac, my children’s father came from the house and carried my father in to lay him on the sofa. He lived another six months, endearing himself to my children and my friends. He’d already become my husband’s role model long before.

All that to say, if your father is here, don’t take him for granted. One day he won’t be. It will be too late to accept him as he is, to appreciate your existence because of him, to spend time he so longs for. Now, I know there are some abusive dads out there, and if you’ve got one, ask God how to handle him, and follow His guidance. But most dads are just guys who took on the gargantuan task of raising and loving children, making mistakes and keeping on going. They deserve your time, your appreciation.We still love you, Papa. Happy Father’s Day.20171126_070616

 

Experts

I’m not going to say anything about the current Coronavirus because I’m not an expert. I am an expert on a few things, though. For instance, I’m fairly certain there’s no earthquake vault under where I live in California because I checked it out when I was taking journalism in college. (Not that we don’t shake a little, but not a lot.) I think I’m an expert on managing dry skin because I have it. Gold Bond Ultimate, just sayin’. (This is not an advertisement, but a recommendation from my doc.) I’m an expert on my hubs, too. Maybe not completely because he keeps changing, but better than anybody else in the world. So that’s me, or some of me.

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Who’s an expert? Somebody who’s done the work of finding out. A scientist or MD is an expert on the Coronavirus, or maybe if you want to know what it’s like, someone who’s had it. Due to that fact, I ignore a whole bunch of what I see on Facebook. But I listen to the experts, and follow their recommendations. That’s why you won’t see me in crowds for a while, including church on Sunday, darn it. We need to give the medical people a break by not all catching it together. But I said I wasn’t going to say anything about that. So never mind.

Another expert I pay attention to is that one who’s been in the trenches. If I want to know how to be a mom, I pick a mom who has stayed the course whether her kids are considered successful or not. If I want to learn writing, I listen to a writer who publishes what I want to write. If I want to be a CASA, I listen to people who volunteer as CASAs.

Why am I saying all this? Because there are a lot of folks these days who don’t know how to pick an expert. We ask sports figures how to manage finances, movie stars how to love our kids, radio talk show hosts how to manage our love lives. We even take advice from television shows, say what? Whoa!

Evaluate people! If a sports figure is living high because s/he makes millions, what’s that got to do with you? A. You probably don’t make millions. B. That dude may easily be out of money when s/he blows out her knee or his elbow. Goodbye high life. What about your hardworking parents or neighbors, wouldn’t they be better experts? Did you know that movie stars concentrate most on how to act and look good? Why would that make them an expert on parenting? Famous isn’t informed. How about picking a couple who have raised several kids. They won’t sugar coat it or give you pat answers. They’ll give you the true skinny.

OKay, you say, so where do we go for advice? Go to people who are honest and kind, to people who are humble and wise. Go to people who are willing to help and also admit they are still learning themselves. And I know you may not appreciate this next, but go to God. He’s the expert extraordinaire, and He loves you, so you can trust Him not to steer you wrong.

One last thing. God gets a lot of bad press. People say He lets bad stuff happen for no reason. Not so. Even when God allows bad stuff, there’s a reason. We may not be able to discern it in the moment, but He knows we learn more in bad times than in good. So, as an expert Father, He allows the bad times. And if you don’t believe He loves you, take a look at the world He created for you. EXPERT

 

Merry Christmas!

I can’t let Toenail Fungus be my last post for 2019, so I’m thinking about Jesus.

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He was God and with God until the Holy Spirit planted Him in Mary’s womb. I wonder if He knew in there. Did He know He was love? Did He remember the swimming around after He was born? Did He remember hearing the whispers as she walked about Nazareth? Did He remember coming from Heaven?

Or what about Joseph and Mary? They’re both your regular old garden variety people trying to live the lives God gave them. And then Gabriel appears. I slow down from wrapping presents and picture that. A glowing stranger standing in my house or inhabiting my dream. I wonder if Mary reached for a handy weapon or just sank to the floor, shaking. I wonder if she started thinking hard about what she’d learned of the Messiah. Could this really be happening, right now? In her town? To her? And then he was gone. Wait, did that just happen? Now what? Talk about walking with God. Did she hustle right down to the synagogue and ask the rabbi to haul out the scrolls?

I wonder what travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem was like nearly nine months pregnant. Not by plane, but by donkey. I haven’t ridden a donkey, but I’ve ridden a horse, even pregnant. It’s okay, for a little while, but not for miles. Did she get off and walk just for a break, and then get back on when she got too tired? Was she thinking about how the Rabbi said He’d be born in the City of David, or by this time was she wondering if she’d eaten  the wrong thing for dinner, or whether Joseph and Elizabeth had joined her in some kind of insanity? Did God encourage her through those days?

Did she think, “I knew it couldn’t be me who’d mother the Savior,” when the innkeeper put them up in the stable? “Surely, God wouldn’t allow His Son to be born in a barn.”

Or what if I were one of those shepherds? I’m beating the bushes looking for a lamb who’s bleating his head off when the night sky lights up with singing angels. Dude, what is up? I crouch behind a tree. Just because they’re singing doesn’t mean I’m not in trouble. My buddies are caught in the open, and the angels tell them to find a newborn baby lying in a cow manger in a barn. Say what? But I heard it with my own ears. We drive the sheep up the road to Bethlehem, through the town, drawing people to their windows to shew us out. But we’re on a mission. There’s light in a cave just outside town. We stop the sheep just outside and hear a baby cry. Must be the right place. We creep up without words and look in. Look in … your turn.

 

Next Year

Nope, not resolutions. Seems like a bargain with failure. However, great ideas, you betcha!

I’m going to invite other authors to blog here. That’ll be fun.

I’m going to let my little dog take the therapy dog test, and then we’re headed for the library, hospital, and whereve else she can share love.20191203_142027

I’m going to train to be a CASA volunteer to help foster kids navigate this crazy world.

I’m going to a few weddings and birthdays and holidays and Neighborhood Watch stuff.

I’m going to get on down to love the homeless at the Shower Shuttle now and then, and take that dog I mentioned.

And I’m going to love my family despite the fact that we are cussed people, but made in the image of God. That is all, unless God has other ideas.

Money: a Treacherous God

I am an American, a capitalist by birth.  No problem, we’re all born somewhere under some system, in some culture. I lucked out and got the richest country on earth, or did I? Don’t get me worng, I love America, and I’m not packing to leave. I love the diversity of our people, the contributions from people who’ve come from everywhere. I love the geography that includes everything from scorching desert to high mountain monoliths to storm-split plains.20190528_104251 I love the sounds of folks from the south and the north, the east and the west. I love the history: Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, the Alamo, the trails and missions of Father Serra, Abe’s log cabin, George’s false teeth, the comeuppance at LIttle Big Horn, and the cave dwellers of Arizona. I love that my great grandfather fought in the Civil War,  my father and father-in-law fought in WWII, and my husband in Vietnam. I love that my son-in-law served in the Army and their sons in the Air Force. I love the pumpkins at Halloween, the turkey at Thanksgiving, the Christmas lights, and fireworks on New Year’s and the Fourth of July. It’s us, and it’s me.

But there’s something bothering me. Our need for money has become our love of money. Too often I hear decisions made by how much money they will make. I don’t think that’s about capitalism. I thought capitalism just gave every person the right to work how they want, where they want, making whatever amount of money they’re able to – the freedom thing. But now I hear money used as a divider. “I’m not hiring that … ” or an environment destroyer, “It doesn’t matter, look how many jobs it’ll create.” We need to make a choice. Are we still one nation under God, who cares most about us loving Him and loving each other , or are we one nation scraping for the most money?

It isn’t too late to turn back. I start with myself, and you start with yourself. I don’t make money at the expense of time with my family and friends, I don’t buy things that cause me to have to make more money, I vote for government officials whose first priority is the good of the entity they serve, I share my wealth with those less fortunate. That’s a good start. That puts my behavior to the truth that God is God.