Friday, March 31, 2006
Hugs, kisses, high-fives, or handshakes all around depending on your preference! I Have a wonderful weekend my friends.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
My new job is going very well. I've spent most of the past few days in the hallways and in classrooms. I'm trying to be a very visible presence and the teachers tell me it is already making a difference in the kid's hallway behavior. I've enjoyed spending a lot of time in the classrooms. My boss wants me there, observing, finding out what is going on.
I had to go to the central office to get my new ID. When I stepped off the elevator I ran into a very high ranking district official. She was the main questioner during my interview and her questions were tough. I inwardly cringed slightly when I saw her, but it was very nice. She remembered exactly who I was, what school I was going to, and my background. She told me that she thought my attitudes, experience, and philosophy were an excellent fit with my new assignment, and that she was excited about it. We also talked about the doctoral program that I will hopefully be embarking on soon.
I am dating, but no details here my friends....for now anyway. But I am enjoying the time I've spent with...lets just call her "mystery woman." MW and I have known each other since..well, since I had hair covering my head.
I've been reading "American Theocracy" by Kevin Phillips. Its fascinating stuff for an ole poli-sci graduate like myself. It discusses the influence of fundamentalism and end-times prophecy on modern American politics.
Want to know about my new school? All of the typical things you'd read about in an urban, high-challenge school. Poverty, gang culture, drugs, low test scores, family breakdown, etc. In other words, my kind of place. In spite of all that these are children and precious children at that. They have the same need for acceptance that their counterparts at a ritzy private school do. These kids have potential and need help to deliver on their abilities. There are huge changes coming to my school and I'm excited to be part of that change. I'll write more on this later.
How good a time did Aubree have at W.W.E. wrestling? My brother told me to picture the sight of my little daughter screaming with thousands, "YOU SUCK" to the "bad" wrestler. She's still talking about it and wearing the t-shirt with her hero emblazoned across it.
Patrick participates in regional Special Olympics this Saturday. He's gearing up for the 50 meter dash and the softball throw. He has been looking forward to this all year and is VERY excited about the state meet next month. We practiced the 50 meter dash in the yard this evening. He looked pretty good! Special Olympics is a fantastic program and has been of great benefit to him.
I kept singing Eric Clapton's "Let It Grow" under my breath today. Wonderful lyrics. I thought I'd share:
I’m standin’ at the crossroads
Tryin’ to read the signs
To tell me which way I should
Go to find the answer
And all the time I know
Let your love and let it grow.
Let it grow, let it grow,
Let it blossom, let it flow.
In the sun and in the snow
Love is lovely, let it grow.
Lookin’ for a reason
To check out on my mind.
It’s so hard to find a
Friend that I can count on.
There’s nothin’ left to show,
Plant your love and let it grow.
Let it grow...
Time is gettin’ shorter
And there’s much for you to do,
Only ask’n you will get what you are needin’,
The rest is up to you.
Plant your love and let it grow.
Let it grow...
Its all about growing, isn't it?
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Soccer came to my small town when I was in my teens. Too late for me to learn how to play, but not for my younger brothers and sister. My siblings signed up to play, dad and mom signed up to coach, and I learned how to be a referee. Dad knew nothing about soccer then. That was ok...neither did anyone else here! But he poured himself into learning everything he could. Soccer books were found around his chair. He video-taped all of the games and analyzed them. He didn't think it was all that complicated. He called it, "basketball with feet." He started coaching my brother's team and they were getting destroyed by every team they played. But they stuck with him and learned the game together. By the time they were teenagers they had played together for years and had blossomed under dad's tutelage. They won the state club championship. Soccer became a high school sport here and my brother won a unique place in history, scoring the first ever goal for the new high school team.
Mom was presented a plaque on behalf of the athletic program honoring my dad for his contributions. Surrounding her were a large number of players from that championship team. All of them are men in their late 30's, brought back together again for this occasion. I looked at those men and remembered them as boys playing a game in the grass. I remember them surrounding my dad and listening to his wisdom. Once again I am reminded of the kind of man my father was. One of those men drove hundreds of miles to be here tonight. Others came from shorter distances, setting aside their evening to honor dad and remember their accomplishments. I watched their faces, seeing them smile and nod in agreement as the announcer read of dad's accomplishments and attitudes about sportsmanship. I felt tears well as I thought of him twenty years ago, still vigorous and strong, guiding young men and making an impact that has obviously stuck with them all these years.
Like so many of the ripples he started, this one still creates waves. Here's to your night dad.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Sometimes the tooth fairy gets forgetful. The recently pulled tooth just sits there without reward. My daughter? She's not taking any chances. She yanked a tooth out yesterday and decided to help the tooth fairy along.
You never know when the tooth fairy might get confused and go to the wrong room. Hence, the first sign providing directions.
My daughter doesn't like it when the tooth fairy misses a round. She claims that back tooth fairy money should be reapaid with interest upon receipt of the next tooth. She made sure the tooth fairy knew that too.
Upon arrival in her bedroom the tooth fairy is greeted with the tooth placed neatly in an envelope (along with last week's tooth) and a suggested price. Even the tooth fairy can't get too complacent around here. She came out of her bedroom this morning with a very satisfied look on her face. 'Bout time the tooth fairy got it right.
(P.S. The new job went great. More updates in the coming days on that.)
Sunday, March 26, 2006
A blog persona? Well, the idea certainly has some truth in it. I write truthfully but not completely here. Some things are too personal. Others are things that involve others and I don't feel it is proper to write about them here. And yes, there are things that I don't write about as much here because I'm embarassed and ashamed of these aspects of who I am. Surprised? You shouldn't be. This blog is like a snapshot. It reflects what I'm feeling and thinking about what is going on in my life and the issues that I think are important. It is not intended to be an exhaustive inventory of all my warts and weaknesses.
Many of my other faults have been written about here before, but I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version. Lets title it......"Brian is no saint".
I inherited my dad's generally calm demeanor and kind manner. But I do have a dash of temper that can rear its ugly head. It erupts occasionally like Vesuvius and then its gone. I don't stay angry for long but when I am upset it is not a pretty sight. I usually feel guilty afterward. If I can find a cure for this I'll take it myself first, market it, make a fortune, and retire to Maui.
I have a tendency to be very analytical. Very is such a weak term. Sometimes I'm incredibly analytical. This tendency leads me to be self absorbed and not always sensitive of those around me. When I'm in one of those states its all about me. I don't like this very much. Maybe if I analyze myself some more I can figure it out.
I've had problems in relationships. It is no accident that I've been married twice and have a legion of ex-girlfriends ( a small legion, but still a legion). I wish I could report that I've just always been a victim of bad luck and poor choices, but alas, that would not be honest at all. That sound you hear? The ex-wife and girlfriend legion all saying at once, "NO KIDDING!". I can be sweet, generous, and romantic. I can also be petulant, dense, and insensitive. I'm more aware of these faults now than ever, but I need to be able to translate this awareness into action. I'll keep you posted.
What else? I've been known to leave my dirty socks on the floor and the toilet seat up. I hog the remote control. Sometimes I spend too much time on the computer. I don't always use turn signals when I drive. I shorted the United Way on my donation this year ($10 a month. Cheapskate!). Sometimes I wash the colored and white clothes together (Its a really cheap way to get pink shirts). I have an ego that can't resist getting stroked. I'm a shameless flirt. I don't always eat breakfast. The world's finest chefs would throw up their hands at my legendary pickiness when it comes to food. I'm a bit of a dreamer and this sometimes interferes with the practical side of life. I always hear but I don't always listen. I put off difficult decisions and in the process make things worse. I play my music too loud.
See there? The halo just doesn't fit.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Dawn is getting ready to go to Florida! Teresa is ready for spring to really be here!
Greek Shadow compares Dubya to his dad. Sarah compares contestants on American Idol.
Jerry shares information about Indiana basketball. Trick shares about her visit to a cheesy bar.
Al discusses the need for consistent leadership in schools. Carol discusses the individuality of beauty.
Lime talks about Trini cooking. Yum! Susan talks about memories of her grandmother.
Irina wonders why Fordham students don’t flush. Lip Schtick wonders if being past child-bearing years means she’ll never find a man.
Ellen discusses the idea of diversity. Sally discusses life as a series of tests.
T. Marie is broken-hearted…and its about a kicker. Inky is selling her house…and she isn’t happy about it.
Heather saw her belly move. MamaKBear saw some old friends at My Space.
Funky Cowboy shares a few laughs. Helen shares some of her husband’s fishing pictures.
Caren is excited about her soon-to-arrive IPOD. Restless Angel was excited about a dose of spring weather.
Colleen is taking a break. Walker is blogging high.
Thomai considers the pros and cons of teaching yoga in a gym.
Joe wonders what we’d do without love. Keb wonders about her dream.
Pat discusses a legendary basketball great. She sat next to him in class! Karen discusses what she did on her blogging break!
Joan shares pics of her grand-nieces. Cute! Andie shares a picture of her new blade. Oooh!
Monica’s family has some fun at her expense. Breazy was having some fun with her diet and she’s already losing weight!
Jules is having a margarita-fest this weekend. None other than the lovely Aka Monty is joining her. Let the good times roll!
Margaret has had it with some of her student’s behavior. Trusty Getto has had it with the way insurance companies behave.
Phoenix celebrates her blogiversary. Meg celebrates the changing of seasons.
Sallie shares some beautiful pictures. Cootera shares some of her thoughts on relationships.
Vickie discusses the ending of relationships. Sleeping Mommy discusses her hubby’s germaphobia.
Annabel Lee wonders about some of these online would-be-daters. Wonder what some good rationalizations are for drinking? Wanda can help ya!
New Wave Gurly shares the cast of “The Outsiders”. Ginger shares a Pepsi tale.
Show'em some love!
Maybe spring will actually come soon. I hope you all find some joy in your lives this weekend and spread it around. Have a wonderful weekend my friends.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
There is something about the mental challenge of trying to outfox the opposing coach. You see what he's doing and you try to counter with something that can stop it. He makes a move to counter what you're doing. Back and forth you go. Its like chess on steroids. There's something about it.
You're huddled up with young people, their sweat rubbing off on your clean white shirt. They're trying to catch their breath in a timeout and they are looking at you because you know what to do. You put your hands together with theirs, looking them in the eye, giving them last second instructions and encouragement. There's something about it.
You've had a tough loss and you walk into the locker room. Everyone is looking down at their shoes. You walk around and pat them on the back and tell them that its going to be ok. You know they can play better but you also know that they tried really hard. Its part of the game. There's something about it.
You've been trying to teach a certain concept and they just can't seem to do it. One day in practice it all falls into place. The light bulbs go off. In the next game they do it just like you drew it up. They look to you for approval and you give it. There' s something about it.
There is that scrawny little kid. Everyone asks why you kept him on the team. You saw something in him that no one else did. Late in the season he makes a steal and hits the game winning shot. You knew he had it in him. There's something about it.
He was having trouble in the classroom and you put him on the bench until he straightened out his act. He thought you wouldn't do it because he was such a good player. He was wrong. A month later his grades are the best they've ever been. There's something about it.
You enjoy the bond with the kids, achieved through struggle, sweat and hard work. You laugh and cry together, share in triumph and defeat. There's just something about it.
You put up with the know-it-all "fans" who think they can do it better. You wash the dirty uniforms and have them ready for the next game. You bounce along in old school buses to play in cracker-box gymnasiums. There's something about it.
I'd never want to do high-stakes coaching. But I do sometimes miss coaching and working with kids. I liked to win but I never cared enough about my record to be a "successful" coach. But somewhere in one of my boxes I have a letter from a parent, thanking me for coaching her son and believing in him. For me thats like winning the Final Four. There's just something about it.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I've been working long hours on the house project. I won't bore you with all of the details, but lets just say I have aches where I haven't had aches in a long time. My plumbing/carpentry skills (or lack thereof) are getting a nice little workout. We did get the new shower set today. Yay!
The kids are going with my brothers to W.W.E. wrestling this weekend. They are sooo excited about it! My niece is a huge wrestling fan and she persuaded one of my brothers to get tickets. They are taking all the kids out for a fun evening. Hopefully the crowd will be better behaved than when I went as a kid. Angry fans used to throw beer bottles at the wrestlers. I'm sure its much more civilized now. I tried telling my niece that its fake but she doesn't want to hear it!
I've also promised to take the kids to a movie in the next few days. Thats the easy part. The hard part? Finding a movie both of them will agree on.
There is much change going on in my life and I appreciate those of you who wrote to express concern. I'll be fine. There are a lot of changes and challenges on the horizon, and I'll do my best to meet them. Part of that challenge is the continual process of looking within myself to correct things that just aren't right. I have much to do.
I've been going through my dad's ties, selecting the ones I want to keep. Dad had such a colorful taste in ties. I can remember him wearing so many of these at different times.
I've spent quite a bit of time with my mom helping her get her affairs in order. The pure volume of paperwork associated with someone dying is staggering. My dad always did the taxes and he almost always waited until the last minute. Now I'm trying to make some sense of his files and figure out what to do about the taxes.
For now? I'm off to the mall with the kids. Aubree says she needs new clothes. She ALWAYS thinks she needs new clothes. As usual, I'm sure I'll give in.
So how is YOUR week going?
Monday, March 20, 2006
At the reception I received boxloads of mostly "gag gifts". Too funny. A plunger with a note attached to it saying, "for all the shit you're going to have to put up with". Vitamins and energy drinks. Cleaning supplies so that I could go "clean house". Cookies and granola bars for "all those days when you won't get to eat lunch." A book of teacher jokes. Packages of migraine headache medicine. Handcuffs. A police vest. An army "hardhat" with "Principal" written across it. A lot of "Sonic cards", since they know I loved to run across the street to Sonic. All presented in a hilarious way.
It was difficult to say goodbye. It always is. You've worked together, laughed together, shared in the beautiful struggle that is public education in this day and time. You've gone out for happy hour and told funny stories and shared anecdotes. You've laughed at the insanity of it all. You've puzzled over to motivate this kid or help his parents learn how to help him. You share in the joy when that kid finally "gets it". You've argued and gotten over it. You've griped about the bureaucracy and learned how to work around it.
Now I move on to a new challenge and a new group of people to work with. I can only hope it is as satisfying as my work at this school has been. There are a lot of special people there and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have shared, learned, and growed with them. Onward and upward we go.
On a more personal note, I have a parting of another kind. My relationship with Monica will not be continuing. I'm sure some of you already know about this. I'm sorry that things between us didn't work out. That is all I'm really going to say on the matter. Its really between just the two of us. I wish her the best and I hope you do too.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The large main drain line is the flow of life. Things, events, and people pass through leaving an impression as they go. Sometimes a lot of shit flows through there too. There are various places where lines come in, providing a steady flow whenever they are called upon. Everything is hooked together and inter-connected.
Like life, the structure is fairly constant but nothing stays the same. There is always movement, a flow. Sometimes it can be interrupted or blocked. Something gets in the line and prevents life from flowing on the way it should. This happens in life too doesn't it? A traumatic event happens and everything seems to stand still. But it can be fixed and life moves on again.
The pipes twist and bend in various angles so that they all fit together. The turns may seem odd but they all lead to the same place. Some of it may be incomprehensible but it all leads to a common purpose and greater understanding. The casual observer may just see a big mess of twisted pipes, but it all means something.
Its all important. We may try to focus on just one thing, just one line, just one input. But its all connected and it all counts. Our work, our familes, our loves, our history, our passions. They all feed in, keep our life flowing, and make us who we are. How do we change our life? We change what flows in. We cut everything else off and just let the shit flow? Well, we know what happens when we do that.
We'll see what I come up with when we work on the electrical system.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Colleen went looking for some birds. Irina wasn’t looking for a husband, but she was approached to get married.
Roselle talks about skin color. Jennifer talks about her new refrigerator.
Heather is having some problems with a teenager. Margaret was having some drama in her class.
Joe finds another reason to keep blogging. Annabel finds that the married men think she’s a catch.
Lime shares ten things she’ll never say…even though she wants to. Vickie shares some linky love.
Caren went on a secret trip. Carol is going to Florida!
Thomai wonders why some women spend so much energy trying to get pregnant. Keb wonders why the kids are constantly saying, “mom, mom, mom, mom!”
Sally says things are a little stormy in her world. Dawn says that there are sure signs that you are growing up.
Jerry enjoyed meeting a fellow blogger. Teresa enjoyed seeing “Peter Pan”.
Monica shares some exciting news. Joan shares some stories about her dad.
Greek Shadow reviews a couple of movies. The reviews are in and Ellen’s drug trial is open!
Sarah has been sick and dealing with taxes. Breazy has been at a church retreat.
Erin found a new drink. MamaKBear found some beautiful foliage.
Cheryl reports on some raccoons that stole the show. Babs reports on how she reads books.
Chosha shares her thoughts on tipping. Meg shares memories of her father.
Andie shares a pet peeve. Denise shares some of her favorite TV shows.
Pat is talking about lemon meringue pie. Penny is talking about spring break!
Walker discusses the differences between a blogger and a writer.
Mary Lou is so ready for spring! Karen is ready to take a break.
Julie says there is such a thing as too big. Michelle says perception is important.
Restless Angel had some fun jeans shopping.
Stephanie has a written excuse for not blogging. Funky Cowboy has been busy but still has some thoughts.
Janine’s grandma is in poor health. Pray for her.
Lewis writes about celebrating the coming of spring. Stationery Queen writes some random thoughts.
Inky reports on a neighborly drunk driver. Anica reports on a beautiful night.
Phoenix has had it with Blogger. T. Marie has made it through her annual physical.
Jack shares some thoughts on polygamy. New Wave Gurly shares her need for a new coffee maker.
Let’em know what you think. I found some really great posts this week.
Have a great weekend my friends. Don’t do too many things I wouldn’t do!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Many of you may remember this interview that I had a few weeks ago. Weeks had passed by, and I was resigning myself to the idea that this opportunity wasn't going to work out. Wrong! I was offered one of the prized principal intern positions today. My last day at my current job is Friday. Next week is spring break. I start my new assignment a week from Monday!
I had a lot of mixed feelings today about all this. I really like the school I'm in, the people I work with, and the kids I've gotten to know. I don't like the feeling like I'm leaving them in the lurch. I have two days to get everything done and everyone up to speed on my "things". I keep thinking about all the things I had planned in the coming weeks. I hugged a lot of people today as word spread like wildfire around the building. I'll miss them sooooo much. When I arrived at this school a year and a half ago I was going through a lot of change, personal turmoil, and cleverly disguised depression. They were so good to me, making me feel part of the family, and embracing me personally and professionally. Its hard to leave people like that.
I'm also excited. My new school is perhaps the most challenging middle school in this large urban school district. I've always been attracted to the most challenging schools and the most challenging kids. I'm hyped about rolling up my sleeves and plunging in. Coming into a position like this at this time of the year is like jumping into a pool of very cold water. You know how to swim, but there might be a shock to the system. Professionally this is a wonderful opportunity and I'm humbled by the fact that the district sees me as someone who can handle the challenges.
A lot of people said a lot of very nice things to me today. I fought back tears a couple of times. My principal told me, "you've earned this, you'll be fantastic, and you'll have a chance to display all of the skills that I see in you every day." I'm truly humbled and honored by the sentiments of my colleagues. Wow.
I wish my dad had been around for this. He asked me about it almost every time I saw him., including several times in the hospital. He would've been so excited.
Then of course there is my upcoming move to my new house. Last weekend I spent a day putting in a new sewer line. We dug up a lot of dirt in that backyard. Years ago someone had buried carpet in the backyard. Carpet! Do you know how much fun it is to try and dig up carpet? Its almost as much fun as trying to cut through a 100 year old clay main sewer pipe. That pipe just laughed at the metal cutting blade I had. Two minutes of cutting and all the teeth were worn off the saw blade and the yellow saw blade had turned to black. Uh huh. I got a different kind of blade and finally cut through it. Fun stuff. This weekend? Putting in the new sewer vent pipe, stripping old linoleum, laying new linoleum, cutting holes for a new shower, toilet, and sink, and re-routing some other water lines. I know you're all envious of the fun I'm having.
I'm not the first to do it, but I'd like to congratulate Monica on her poem being put to song in a new CD just released. Check it out!
I'm becoming a laundromat expert. I'll have a new washing machine in the new house, but for now I'm trucking down to the laundromat. Luckily, the owner likes to have basketball games playing on the TV on the wall. I don't think all the women there (and its almost ALL women) enjoy the games, but I've enjoyed them.
My head is just swirling but its all good.
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The gentleman above is one of my paternal great-grandfathers and this picture was taken somewhere around 1900. He was something of an itinerant traveling cowhand and my dad remembers him as a charismatic but hot-tempered guy. He doesn't look like someone I'd want to mess with, especially with that gunbelt around his waist. You know how names sometimes just fit people? His name was Frosty Myers. Just kinda fits doesn't it?
This is a picture of my paternal grandmother with her two sons. My dad is the one on the left. That house sits where my grandparent's house still exists, but it is not the same house. They rebuilt on the same site somewhere in the 1950's. This would've been taken somewhere during the late 1930's. This is the only picture I've ever seen where my dad is wearing overalls!
This is my paternal grandfather, Arthur Stone, and was probably taken in the late 1920's/early 1930's. I keep wondering about the car behind him. There are still several old car frames in the pasture behind the house, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of them. Any car buffs out there that can identify this automobile?
Then of course there is this.....one of the few times you'll ever find a picture of me wearing cowboy boots and a hat. A regular little cowboy wasn't I? Dad was looking dapper as always in his suit. This was taken in front of a house about a mile from where I live now. In that backyard I threw a croquet ball up into the air as high as I could. Dad was on his knees hammering in one of the croquet wickets. The ball came down and hit him right in the head. Maybe I should've just stuck to being a cowboy! Yeehaw!
Nah. For some reason I just don't think the cowboy look is my style.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows about my divorce and my move back to Oklahoma from Washington. Many posts chronicle the pain, the hurt, the depression, and the manic self analysis that came during those months before and after my move. I've written extensively about taking responsibility for my own shortcomings that contributed to the breakup of my marriage. Like a giant ship doing a 360 turn I have slowly moved into a better place in my life. This post is not to rehash all of that. I have something else in mind.
Life has a way of balancing things out for you. I lost a marriage, a job, and a home. I gained my family back, became closer than ever to my kids, and was granted nineteen precious months to spend with my dad. I saw him virtually every day during that time. Sometimes it was for conversations that lasted hours and other times it was just for a few minutes. But I was able to re-connect with him and share the twilight of his life in a way that I could never have done living thousands of miles away. I needed that time and I'm so glad that I had it.
I never thought I would say anything like this, but its a trade I would make again if given the chance. I'd gladly go through what I did two summers ago to have the chance to be with my dad in a meaningful way in his final months on this planet.
I think it was what was meant to be. I was meant to be back here during this time, planting my roots in familiar soil and being here for my dad when he really needed me. I was needed and wanted here. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was heeding destiny's call.
This feeling gives me strength and a sense of peace. Maybe its just my way of rationalizing how things have turned out, but I think that my place was here during this time. I do believe that things happen for a reason even if we can't always comprehend it. Pain can open a portal to happiness. Loss can open the door to contentment. Rejection can make acceptance possible. Anguish can yield to understanding. Despair can lead to hope.
Some things are just meant to be.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Every day last week I drove my our house. Its not on the way home, but its not too far off the path either. This was the house I lived in from 4th grade until I left for college. It is the place that pops into my head when I think of "home". It seems odd, the three-car garage and the huge oak tree not being there anymore. The garage that was dad's place on weekends. He would listen to the radio out there, working on one of his projects. In the "shed" part of the garage he kept "his stuff", things that didn't seem to have a place in the house, but that he didn't want to get rid of. Stacks of magazines and scientific journals sat on several bookcases gathering dust. My mom wanted him to dispose of them, but he just wouldn't. He carted them out to the garage where they took up space with his tools and coffee cans full of various nuts and bolts. The roof on that garage was dad's nemesis it seemed. He was always patching it up. You could walk underneath it and see the different ages of plywood. He would grumble about us ignoring his warnings and playing on the roof of the garage. I like thinking of dad in "his place."
Last night I took my mom and the kids to the 5A girls state championship basketball team. Mom has been going to a lot of basketball games in the last week. We had a really nice time, cheering for the daughter of a mutual friend and celebrating when her team won the title. At halftime I walked around the circular fieldhouse at Oral Roberts University and stopped at a display case. Inside the case was a picture of Anthony Roberts, a star at O.R.U. in the 1970's. I immediately went back in time to dad taking us to see Roberts play. He scored 66 points that night. Dad and I kept track, updating it every time he scored. Dad took us to a lot of games there. When I was a teenager, I often had a friend or two in tow as well.
I drove by a park a few days ago and remembered dad catching his shirt on fire there. Some may remember when kerosene was commonly used to start fires. Dad was attempting to do some grilling and the flame was dying down. He squirted some kerosene on to the open fire like I'd seen him do many times before. This time it didn't work out. The flames shot up and caught his shirt on fire. It was a brand new red shirt, worn for the first time ever. Only dad would wear a long sleeved red dress shirt to the park to cook out on a hot summer day. He dropped to the ground, rolled around, put out the fire and was not hurt. He was most upset about his shirt though.
I drove by a shopping mall the day after the funeral. It is located very near to where dad worked. We often went there for lunch when I worked there in the summers. Dad loved the Picadilly Cafeteria. He knew all of the employees from the managers to the guys who bused the tables. The manager would come out of the kitchen to shake his hand and exchange pleasantries. He would chat with the girls on the serving line and most of them called him by his first name. They teased him about how they needed to fatten him up a little, trying to tempt him with apple pie. The Picadilly isn't there anymore, but driving by that mall made me think about it. I found myself wishing it was still there so I could stop in.
Its a Chinese restaurant now, but when I was a boy it was Rex's barbershop. Dad took us there every Saturday to get his haircut and get a shave. I remember being amused by how Rex called him "young man". Young man?? He was my dad. He wasn't young! Rex would toss us pieces of candy and bubble gum while he lathered up dad's face and trimmed his sideburns. The old men who always seemed to be there knew us and dad by name. It was a ritual. I can still remember the sounds and smells of that barbershop. Right next door was "Carl's Pig Stand", an old time diner. Sometimes the waitress had cigarettes dangling from their mouths as they took your order. They clipped your order to a wire and slung it back into the kitchen. We would usually stop in there after the barbershop to get a burger and fries. Saturdays were our time with dad. A trip to the park often followed the barbershop and food.
Then there is the parking lot of what used to be a grocery store. It was the turn-around place for the "cruising" we did as teenagers. Sometimes we would park there and sit in the back of my pickup truck, waving and trying to get the attention of the carload of girls we'd been eyeing all night. One night we had parked there for awhile and got ready to leave. One problem, my truck wouldn't start. After several futile efforts I walked into the grocery store, used the pay phone, and called dad. He drove up and proceeded to give me a "jump start". He said, "let it run for awhile and see if it will start on its own." While he waited he joined us on the tailgate of my truck, watching the carloads of teenagers driving through the parking lot. He was highly amused. One carload of girls drove by and he said, "I can understand this cruising thing if you're chasing THOSE girls!" He popped a $20 bill in my hand for gas and "whatever" and went back home. My friends were amazed at how cool my dad was. When I drove by that parking lot today I couldn't help but think of that night.
There are probably hundreds of places like that around here. Places that evoke a memory of another time. I find them oddly comforting. Maybe its not so odd. They cause me to remember dad in a good way, a humorous way, a wistful way. Sometimes I seek them out and sometimes they just pop into my consciousness. One moment I'm thinking about how work went that day and the next I'm a little boy playing with my dad in the park.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Sally describes her parenting style. Teresa describes her disdain for those who would protest at funerals.
Susan enjoyed the snowfall. It doesn’t sound like Mary Lou was enjoying this winter storm.
Stephanie shares some of the oddities of her state’s laws. Restless Angel shares a song that speaks to her.
Dawn is gearing up to go to Florida. Helen is planning to give up her dog.
Carol asks for prayers for a friend. Amanda is praying she does well on her midterms.
Keb was singing in the store with a stranger. Jerry was singing the praises of Taco Bueno.
Joe picks a song for a blogger. Jennifer wasn’t trying to pick a fight, but she wishes other people would play by the rules.
Deni is making her move. Colleen is working on achieving inner peace.
Karen shares some redneck jokes. Lime shares some her son’s poetry.
Irina reports on a controversial campus speaker. Breazy reports on her efforts to begin losing weight.
Stationery Queen wonders about Reese Witherspoon and her period.
Andie had to bury her father. Caren had to say goodbye to a precious pet.
Carol is doing online stitching. Margaret is dealing with teenagers and snow.
Thomai shares what she is giving up for Lent. Annabel Lee shares “Get Over It Day”.
Sarah’s friend had a birthday. Diana had an “American Idol” fantasy.
Kristy has an open mind. Anne has some happy thoughts.
Sallie is greeting the arrival of spring. Phoenix is ranting about those who abuse the environment.
Ellen shares some of her weird habits. Vickie shares statistics about her name.
MamaKBear is bored. Poopie is ready for spring time!
Stacey wasn’t all that impressed with the Oscars. Inky isn’t impressed by men who criticize women about their weight.
Chosha got to see Billy Connolly. Shannon is going to go see Aerosmith!
Funky Cowboy shares pictures of the new cowboy in his house. Greek Cowboy shares reunion pictures.
Michael tweaks the Wyoming legislature. Rachel charges an “ass tax”.
T. Marie shares about her family’s “March Madness”. Dee shares her thoughts on capitalizing her name.
Denise is starting another blog. Lisa is making some new friends.
Boo has some deep thoughts. Angel had a day off.
Joan’s house is being used for a movie. Sue’s body is in recovery mode.
Simply Satisfied wants to know, “have you ever?” Michelle wanted to answer questions using Eagles songs.
Blither shares her visit to the psychiatrist. Cecilia shares her belief that the world wears earplugs.
Walker isn’t interested in sex right now. Wanda was interested in a cheeseburger…in paradise!
Babs was having a hard time sleeping. Heather was getting ready to go back to her old job.
Penny shares some weird things. Meg shares some dating humor.
Monica’s son announced he was joining the Marines and going to college. Aka Monty announces that she would like to be less covetous.
New Wave Gurly wishes her students had better attitudes. Sleeping Mommy wishes she had more blogging time, but she has been really busy.
If you get the opportunity, stop by and visit these fabulous bloggers. While you’re at it, have a fantastic weekend my friends.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I went back to work today for the first time since dad passed away. My co-workers were very kind and gracious.
I think the kids welcomed me back in their own special way. It seemed like a record-setting day in the office today. Lots of misbehaving kids kept me busy all day! It must be getting close to Spring Break.
Aubree went to a friend's birthday party tonight in style. Twelve kids piled into a limo and went out for an evening of pizza and video games. She was so thrilled! She said they cranked the music up and spent some time just driving around. She also informed me that there was a boy named "Matt" in the limo party that was "hot" and that, "he flirted with me and I flirted back." Oh boy. Just what I wanted to hear.
My mom is worried about my fifteen year old niece's (who she is raising) relationship with her boyfriend. She feels like my niece is too young to have a serious, steady, boyfriend kind of relationship. She doesn't dislike the boy. She dislikes the relationship and has taken various steps to "cool it off." I did warn her not to go too far and make this a "forbidden love" which would drive my niece straight into her boyfriend's arms. Kids are like that ya know.
One interesting thing about my dad's funeral? Chatting with a 67 year old woman who told me that dad taught her math and coached her in basketball. Then I turned around and saw fifteen year old girls that dad also coached. That is quite a contrast, isn't it?
One of the speakers at the funeral referred to a time when he helped my mom clean out dad's closet and discovered thousands of dollars in cash and savings bonds in his jacket pockets. That was one of dad's little oddities. When it came time to take a suit jacket in for dry cleaning, he simply transferred the contents of that jacket to another jacket. Hence, over the years things like large amounts of cash and those savings bonds he bought with every paycheck would just accumulate. Dad also had little stashes of cash in other places such as in his sock drawer. He's even given me books to read and I found dollar bills used as bookmarks.
I'm now turning my attention to the house I'll be moving into in a few weeks. We have a nice plumbing project to do there. You've gotta love crawling around under the house and doing plumbing. Someone has to love it.
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
We went to the cemetery to purchase a plot for dad to be buried in. There were three options: 1) a "stacked" grave where two people, usually spouses, are buried one on top of the other, 2) single plots, and 3) side by side graves, with yard coffins. Yard coffins? These concrete enclosures come complete with French drains. French drains? Yes, the theory being that they will drain off water better than a plain old ordinary grave. The cemetery manager showed us the available lots, only one set of side-by-side plots were still available. The cemetery map showed mostly green (graves already being used) with a few splotches of white (graves still available for purchase). As we sat there I wondered.....what happens when they are all full? No more multi-thousand dollar grave plots to sell. No more $700 fees for opening and closing the graves? What happens then? Where will the money come from to maintain the cemetery? Do they just pack up and open another cemetery somewhere else?
Then there is the funeral home. The funeral home director was professional and compassionate, allowing us privacy to view the roomful of available coffins in finely stained wood or shiny metal. One of the models was the "Omega"? Cost of the "Omega" coffin? $10,000 plus several thousand more for other services! I wondered about someone would spend $10,000 on a metal container that is to be lowered into the ground never to be seen again. I need to put this into my will. Do not bury me in an Omega coffin. I think I would be turning over in my grave. We picked a nice looking coffin at a fraction of the Omega cost. My mom was right when she said, "your dad would come back here and get us all if we spent that kind of money on a coffin!" I found myself wanting to ask the funeral home director how many of those Omegas he sold in a year, but good taste made me restrain myself. I wonder if they have a Mega-Omega for those who really want to go all out! Special order perhaps?
Then there are the flowers. I think the local flower shop probably took the rest of the week off. My mom's home is flooded with flowers. They fill every available table space and the floor in three different rooms. I'm not complaining. The flowers are quite beautiful and we were very gratified that people took the time to show us beauty like that in a time of loss.
At the gravesite service the funeral home owner walked up and patted me on the back. We know each other, this man and I. I've been involved with him in burying a couple of in-laws, my sister, and now my dad, not to count all the funerals of friends I've been to that were provided by his funeral home. He had known dad for many years and was quite gracious and kind with nice words to say about a man he personally knew. He's been in the business for close to forty years. I thought about what it must be like for him, burying generations of families. I thought about the kind of professional detachment he must have to be able to bury friends and acquaintances. He'll never run out of business. Last weekend he was preparing nine bodies to be buried. This has to be the most recession-proof industry in the world.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I would like to welcome you all here to celebrate the life of my dad, Dale Stone. My dad had friends from all walks of life and all over the world. I know that many of you loved him like we do.
Dad grew up on a farm, dreaming of the big world out there. He told me stories of sitting in the woods, reading books, dreaming of the life he wanted. You know what my friends? He found it and he lived it. He said days before his death that he had lived “a privileged life”. Many of those “privileges” are sitting in the audience today, and I’d like to thank you all for enriching my dad’s life.
I could talk about so much today, but I’d like to talk about the things and the people that my dad loved. He had a combination of an intelligent, curious mind and a heart as big as this room. There was room for a lot in his life, and many of you out there can attest to that.
One way I could honor Dad today would be to tell some really bad jokes. My dad loved bad jokes. He didn’t so much like clever jokes. He liked the kind that made you wince. When he told a joke, if you didn’t groan at least once he was disappointed. Ok, I can’t resist doing one of his favorites. At a conference attended by hundreds of scientists he told them about an
My dad loved science. His work at Seismograph Service Corporation, a company he served for so many years was more than a job for him. It was a passion. This is one of the lessons that I learned from him. Don’t just have a job. Anyone can have a job. Have a passion for what you do. All of us in my family can remember those seismic charts spread across our kitchen table, dad with felt tip pens, making marks and writing notes on legal pads. His mind was always working. Like most great scientists, his passion was in the work, in the challenge, and not in the reward. Dad passed up opportunities for riches out of loyalty to his company and his desire not to disrupt his family and uproot us. It wasn’t worth it to him. He was a prolific author of books and scientific articles. I still can’t understand a word of them, but for those who could they were valuable resources. Dad was a giant in his field, known in the geophysical community all around the world. Scott and I were talking the other day about our trip to
I was a teenager when I realized my dad was a “big deal”, not just my dad. I spent four summers working at his company. I worked with the data processors, the secretaries, and the guys who loaded the trucks. All of them had such respect for him. He seemed to know everyone in a company with thousands of employees. When they heard my last name they would always ask the question. “Dale Stone’s son?” When I answered yes they would look at ME with newfound respect. I didn’t deserve it, but it was obvious that my dad surely did.
My dad loved sports, especially basketball. On the afternoon of his death I was shooting hoops with my brothers in the back yard. As I released shot after shot I heard dad’s words ringing in my ears. “Keep your elbow straight. Draw your strength from your legs. Release with your fingertips. Always follow through!” How deep was dad’s passion for the sport? He coached high school teams in Kellyville in the 1950’s. He coached my summer league teams in the 1970’s. He coached my brother Matt’s and my sister Missy’s elementary teams in the 1980’s. He was coaching Kristen’s AAU teams as recently as a year ago. Just a few months ago he was drawing up plays and giving them to me, asking them to deliver them to a mutual friend of ours, my colleague Dwight Holdman. When he was too sick to attend games he watched recordings of them or caught high school games on TV. His analysis, as always, was astute.
He loved other sports as well. He lived and died with the O.U. football team. I remember him listening to games in the garage when I was a boy as he tinkered around with one of his never-ending projects. When my brothers got into soccer, he embraced that game with a passion as well. He read books and watched games on TV. He developed strategies and applied the same zeal he had for basketball in teaching young boys how to play soccer. He was extremely proud of my brother Kerry’s state championship team, which he co-coached with my mom. He attended my brother Scott’s junior high football games and could recite every play from memory. When Matt took up wrestling, he plunged himself into that sport as well, attending meets, and advising Matt on strategies.
Did I mention that dad had projects? He always seemed to have projects. He could often be found tinkering with something or building something. Does anyone remember the great church pew project? My mom acquired a collection of church pews. One of them fit in the living room which was large enough to accommodate it. The rest? Dad spent many days cutting, sawing, hammering, and converting those church pews into benches. I wonder if anyone out there still has one of those benches in their home.
Then there was education. Dad spent his early adult years teaching and coaching in the public schools. Even after he left he retained a love for teaching and learning. He served for many years on the
Late in his life dad became interested in drawing and painting. He took lessons and read books on art. He painted dozens of landscapes and portraits and showed a flair and talent for art. Many times I would come by after work and he would be busily sketching and proud to show off his latest creation.
I could go on and on about his other passions. Science fiction and old western movies. Sherlock Holmes and Victorian Era
But what dad really loved was people. He loved the kids he coached in high school, the students he taught math to, and the elementary kids he introduced to his beloved basketball. He loved the friends around the world that his travels allowed him to meet. In
He loved the God that he worshipped and whose goodness he exemplified in his everyday life. I not only heard Christianity preached from the pulpit when I was growing up. I watched it being lived by my father in our home in his quiet, dignified, unassuming way.
At the center of it all, my dad loved his family. He adored my mother, his wife of over 45 years. She was the yin to his yang, the fire to his ice. They balanced each other and he loved her for it. He loved his kids and none of us ever doubted that for a moment. My dad had a special talent for making you believe in yourself. I have gone through some difficult times in the past few years and my dad’s strength and faith helped carry me through some very dark hours. My brothers and sister could all tell you that at difficult times in their lives, dad was always there if you needed him. Scott, Kerry, and Matt? He was so proud of you guys and the kind of men you became. Kristen? You were the apple of your papa’s eye. He wanted you to master the pull-up jumper and I’m going to make sure you do! Patrick and Aubree? I am so gratified that you got to really know your papa the last couple of years. He loved you both and I want to be the kind of dad for you that he was for me. Tiffani? He fought so very hard to be part of your life and I’m glad he was able to do that.
I thank you all again today for coming to honor my father. I feel privileged to stand before you today and tell you that he was the finest man I’ve ever known. I miss him terribly already and I know that many of you do too. But he really isn’t gone in a larger sense. He lives in me today. He lives in my mom and in my brothers. He lives in his grandchildren and the values that we’ll pass down to them. He is in a much better place now, free of the pain that has plagued him for so very long. He is watching over us all, and you know what? He is smiling. That sound you hear? Groans from heaven . I think even angels groan when they hear jokes like he tells. Somewhere in heaven there is kid who never learned to shoot a proper jump shot. Dad is teaching him. I’ll tell you something else. If there is any oil up there, he is going to find it! He has his arm around my sister Missy, and is trying to find out where all the good books are.
When I was a boy, we often accompanied my mom to the airport to send dad off on one of his business trips. We would walk him to the gate and watch him disappear down the walkway. Once seated on the plane, he would wave out the window to us. We would stand and watch as the plane backed off, taxied, and took off. We stood there until the plane was no longer in sight. We stand here today dad, waving at you as you take your last flight. Just like we did back then, we know where you are going, and we know you are there even if we can’t see you anymore.
Rest in sweet peace dad. We all love you so very much.
- We decided to do the funeral a little different than is traditional around here. We will bury dad in a private ceremony at the cemetery. Then we will go to the church and have a memorial service, followed by a reception. The reason? We want to be able to see our family and friends, many of which have travelled long distances to be here. When we buried my sister, we saw some of those people at the church but never had the opportunity to talk to them.
- I was amazed by the amount of flowers at the funeral home. Just unbelievable. They filled two fairly good sized rooms.
- The retired superintendent of schools came by the house. His voice shaking, he said, "your dad was the finest man I've ever known." How far do they go back? They coached against each other in the early 1950's.
- Monica has been of enormous help to me this weekend. She has kept the kids entertained while I spent the day running around attending to the myriad of small details that needed attending to. I'm very grateful. She has also listened to me give my personal eulogy for my dad several times. I have this theory that if I keep practicing it, things will be easier when I actually get up there to do it. I guess we'll find out tomorrow. I will post my eulogy here sometime tomorrow.
- Two delegations from my school came to my mom's house. I was touched by their thoughtfulness and kindness. I work with special people.
- I spent a lot of time preparing the slideshow for dad's service. It was a labor of love, and quite an emotional thing to do. I cried and cried while I sorted the pictures, memories flooding back. I'm glad I did it though and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
- My mom, brothers and I, have been in constant touch the last few days. We've discussed every tiny detail of dad's service together. I think we all feel like we've made our imprint on the service and the way we've worked together is so gratifying.
- I must once again say how incredibly touched I've been by the blogworld's outreach to me. I feel your love and support and it is important to me.
- There was a gigantic boquet of flowers at the funeral home. The card was signed by 6-7 people. The card said, "our coach and teacher, now and forever." All the signatories were students of dad's from the 1950's. Amazing.
- I've been to the funeral home three times, the last one being alone with dad for awhile. I just needed to be there with him. We selected a very bold red tie for dad to be buried in. He always loved very bold, splashy ties, and to bury him in a conservative tie just didn't seem right.
- We are going to do everything we can to make tomorrow's service a celebration of dad's life. We know there will be sadness, but we know that dad would not want a depressing service. Different people are going to tell funny stories about dad, and there is a lot of material to work with!
Friday, March 03, 2006
Another brother called my uncle Tuesday night. He told him that dad's situation was dire, and if he wanted to see his brother again, he had better hurry and get there. My uncle told Kerry, "no matter what has happened I still love your dad. Please tell my brother that I love him very much and that I'm coming."
On Wednesday morning the hospital called my mother's house and told us that we'd better get there quickly. I called my brothers and we all dashed to the hospital as quickly as we possibly could. My brother Scott was at work, the closest to the hospital. He raced through traffic, parked, and ran across the parking lot and through the hospital. Just before he reached the hospital my brother Matt called him and said, "if you reach dad before I do, give him this message from his brother." Scott reached my dad's room, took his hand, and told him of his brother's message. "I love you very much and I'm coming." My dad stopped breathing a couple of minutes later, shortly before the rest of us arrived.
The nurses believed that my dad heard these last words. The last measure of redemption. The last piece of unfinished business. I think dad always knew that his brother loved him, just as he never stopped loving his brother. I also choose to believe that this message was a comfort to him in the moments before he died.
I know that many of you out there are estranged from someone you love. In many cases it is for a good reason. Maybe it can't be resolved. But I know something else. My father would've wanted his brother by his side. His love was important to him.
So I'll make a personal plea of my own. You have someone out there you haven't talked to in years? Had a misunderstanding that grew into a permanent estrangement? Had an argument that went too far? Pick up the phone. Put away your pride. My uncle's pride is of cold comfort to him now. If it doesn't work you've lost nothing. You're where you are right now. It isn't weakness. Its strength. Strength to heal the wounds and love each other like you should. The day will come when it might be too late.
Just ask my uncle.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I'd like to thank all of you that have commented, written emails, sent IMs or tried to call the past couple of days. I haven't had much time to spend responding, but I want you to know that I am sincerely grateful for your support, your warmth, your sympathy, and wise words. Combine this with the off-line outpouring I have experienced in the past two days and I am humbled and awed.
I have much to write but I won't be doing that this evening. I am working on a eulogy that I will personally deliver at my dad's funeral on Monday. I am also working on a slideshow that we will show at the funeral. The past twenty four hours have been a blur of grief, loving support, and the practical details one must attend to in something like this.
One of those details was to choose a picture to accompany my dad's obituary in the local newspapers. We chose this picture which is how many brothers and I remember dad from our childhood. This is the dad we grew up with. Handsome devil isn't he?
Plans have been made. Monday morning we will lay my dad to rest. More details will follow in the coming days.
Once again, I love y'all and thank you so much for everything.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006