the categorical days: Family

May 23, 2005

My grandmother's birthday

And the building across the parking lot from the Olive Garden

I gave her a tattered book from my shelves, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I gave her some flowers too, but they paled in comparison to the lovely Hawaiian bunch from my brother. I should've taken a photo of those.

We ate at Olive Garden and I still have some Tour of Italy leftovers in my fridge.

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March 23, 2005

A funeral

My uncle died on Saturday

He was 59.

Like his brother, my dad, his shortened life was another product of Cancer. He lived many of the past years with a portable oxygen set-up — alert, participating in the lives of his wife, children and grandchildren.

I sense he was a kind man, but that knowledge is limited to interaction at family gatherings. I don't go back as often as I should, holidays usually, where we meet up at my aunt's house and eat, marvel at the youngest and laugh.

We gathered back at the church of my youth for some fellowship time, the scene was familiar as was the spread. Disposable trays instead of Tupperware featuring several versions of baked beans and deviled eggs, sandwiches and casseroles. A wall of desserts.

After catch-up conversations, my remaining uncles mused on life expectancy. There were no bets placed but eyes tend to look less dark when there's a smile.

There's a picture in my mind from the day. As we gathered around the tent at the graveyard, I stood off to one side which lent a straight view of Mike's wife and her three daughters. All in black, staring at the coffin, shivering from the cold, eyes reddened. Guns fired and taps began to play as veterans folded up a flag and presented it to his wife.

The loss seemed permanent upon this transaction.

Too soon. In general, and from the last time.

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December 26, 2004

The holiday, bulleted

Two buck Chuck is $3.50 in Ohio

THE NOT SO GOOD
• The roads in Cincinnati are still horrible with snow
• A car flipped just feet from me on the highway last night
• My pipes froze
• First Christmas without Dad
• Never enough time to put everything together

THE GOOD
• My nephew had a son, Matthew Robert Alexander, last week
• My brother works at Trader Joes and is diggin it (and we're digging his discount)
• The pipes thawed (and now water is constantly running)
• Christmas got most of the family together for a potluck meal
• Gifts were simple, and if not edible, useful.
• The turkey turned out pretty good

PhotosI took some photos.

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December 02, 2004

Warm

Extra long sleeves

If you ever met my mom, you'd be immediately jealous that she wasn't your mom because she's that neat. Okay, I'll admit, there's other great moms out there, but this one's mine.

Case in point: reaching back to high school, I would complain to her that there weren't good flannel shirts anymore. Coupled with our shoestring budget and my growth spurt(s), she decided to make a few.

We went to the store and picked out fabrics, then she went to town—crafting a handful of button-down shirts that fit me perfectly. You would not be able to discern they were homemade. She even ordered little "GLASS" tags for inside the collar. Subsequently, these tags would also be sewn into my underwear before I went to college.

Some folks would be shamed by this. I was not.

Just last week I picked up winter clothing at her house from storage. Over ten years old and they still fit with the arms reaching past my wrists and tails reaching beyond the waist. They've worn better too, much better than other shirts I own, dating back to my late teens.

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November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving

Cardinal

A delicious day.

A drive to Louisville with my mom, brother and grandma to my Aunt's place for a mid-afternoon Thanksgiving meal.

My cousins were in town on that side of the family and it was good to see them all. Spiffy dressers each one of them. I felt bad I've yet to get a proper haircut. My shirt stained. Couldn't find any "nice" pants. Oh well.

My greeting to my Aunt April included a disclaimer about the stain, just to get it out in the open. She said she probably would have never seen it had I not mentioned it.

One of these days I'll surprise everyone and be presentable.

I'm not sure the relation of my cousin's kids... niece-in-law? step-nephew? Naw. I'm not sure. Anyways, they toted their I Spy book to everyone throughout the day and I think they now know the difference between a soul patch and a beard.

We went out to the barn to see my Uncle's pride and joy. I should've gotten more details about his horse, as she's a beaut. It's the law in Kentucky that you must have at least one if you have a barn.

The day turned out to be brisk, with great light peeking from the dull gray skies as the afternoon wore on. Lots of humor and good vibes saturated the day.

The food was tasty and I've one loosened button on the waistband of my (not very nice) pants to prove it.

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October 30, 2004

Halloween Party

She's not reading her fortune, she's showing off her nails

My nephews, the twins, had a party. So after night fell I drove out east with my brother to crash it for a while.

My clown costume, something I picked up at the grocery store for a whopping $7.50, was not, as the package read - "One size fits all." I could roughly manage making it a strapless haltertop-like clown suit, but that was senseless. So I tucked the arms inside the bottom part and walked around in red pants with white polka dots. Maybe I should've planned better.

Back to the party. They'd done up the place real nice, and the moon helped lend atmosphere to the makeshift graveyard set up outside.

My sister was a gypsy and niece, a french maid. Or is that just maid? I'm not sure what makes a maid french.

Good times. Great seeing all my brothers and sisters together, along with my niece and nephews.

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September 06, 2004

Food and stuff

Awaiting caption Coleus

Last minute call on Sunday revealed my mom was gonna cook up some food.

My brothers were there and we had burgers, corn on the cob (which I cut off the cob), baked potatoes that seemed genetically altered and steamed broccoli.

The best part? Tomatoes from the backyard. Perfectly red and heavy with flavor.

After dishes were done, I sat on the back porch and chatted with my mom a good piece. A nice breeze made all the beautiful plants and flowers sway a little while white butterflies flitted around.

PhotosI took few photos, and none of the tomatoes.

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September 01, 2004

My father's funeral

(insert a photo that was not taken)

My father's service went, as these things go, very well. I spent the night prior staying up til 4 am printing out photos for a collage. Less a collage and more of a gridded poster.

Rising with fright that I was late, I found a jacket and tie in my closet, by sheer luck.

The weather was wonderful. Like God wanted something to shine upon us.

Tears came and went. Never for too long as there were steady arms around the shoulder or laughter spilling over from a memory.

Family and friends filed through and my reservations about an open casket fell quiet as I saw his body look so well and peaceful.

Continue reading "My father's funeral"

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August 30, 2004

Get along

Skyla the pup, my brother and nephew

The day after my father died, there was some laughter between hugs and moments when one could catch myself or any of my siblings staring off into space.

My nephew brought over their new pug.

Death becomes distant when seeing a new life. Whether pet or child.

Aside from the flurry of activity brought on by the dog, though blurry might be a more appropriate term—this little one is fast...

I pondered.

My brothers and sis, we're all cut from similar cloth, but we're each very different in what becomes our defining characteristics.

Bob and his nurture and organizational zeal.

Tom with humor and strength.

My sister the emotional core.

And me? Aloof but bright? Perhaps.

We overlap though, one picks up when the other's not there. When all's said and done, we get along. And I'm real thankful for that.

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August 28, 2004

Robert Glass

February 7, 1942 – August 28, 2004

In a parallel scene, I was checking my brother out of the hospital and I think he's going to be okay for now.

We almost made back to the other side of town in time.

My father passed with my sister holding his hand, as he reached outward with the other. Occasionally cupping it over his eyes as if he were searching the horizon, I'm told.

Breaths became labored until there just weren't anymore left.

I'd like to thank everyone for their support over these past months.

Continue reading "Robert Glass"

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August 25, 2004

The first scan

Camping, unknown date and location

This is the first photo I scanned in tonight, trying to get the settings right.

There are boxes upon boxes of photos, albums, envelopes... This is going to take a while and I'm kinda super thrilled about it.

Digitizing family photos has been a back-of-my-mind project for a long time. I've tinkered with the idea of a family tree, but that's daunting. I'll focus on photos.

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August 25, 2004

Moonflower

The palest ink is better than the best memory.
Chinese Proverb

Spent the day with my brother, the evening with my mom, and staying the night at my sisters.

We're going through old photos.

Either cameras got a lot better, photos don't age well, or a combination of the two. Regardless, there's been a lot of laughter and jabs about haircuts and outfits. Stories crop up about events and vacations.

Makes me kinda happy that I'm trying to capture the day to day.

Sure the punctuating themes of holidays and graduations are lovely to bask in years later, but I'm just as drawn to what is happening in the backgrounds behind the people. I like the random days.

The in-between.

There are stories everywhere.

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August 13, 2004

This is something that happens

I made some horrible comment to my brother today about Dad—some careless, bitter remark, veiled in poor humor. And in some ways I wonder if I let some opinion escape.

Dad's not strong anymore.

Perhaps I'm refusing to accept that he needs continuous care, just as he refuses to ask for it.

Always, with our stubborn pride.

Wondering if fate is etched into our hands, something we do to ourselves, or merely supposed.

This is something that happens.

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June 30, 2004

Volumes

On the way home from my sister's

Driving to the hospital, the crops are doing real good all around it appears. This summer has had some favorable weather and plenty of rain out here in southwestern Ohio.

I took my Dad over for a shot of some sort. Something to bring up his white blood cell counts, ravaged by the chemotherapy.

He was chipper even though walking too far winds him something powerful.

Essentially, the chemo didn't work. He's at an impasse now, whether to do another round of stronger therapy, or focus on approaches that consider pain management.

I wrote the other day about new fun words I've learned, and they were a poor representation of the wholesome good time I had that night. But now I'm having to come to grips with other phrases with definitions rooted in reality.

Hospice.
Quality of Life.

Things of that sort. I'm reminded of a line from the movie I saw yesterday, taken completely out of context. It was the mother of a gay son bursting from denial,

"Maybe I don't want to know."

Seeing my Dad in good spirits was enough to help me block out what is feared. Personally, I've lived with Cancer long enough, that I, by no means invite death, but I do not fear it.

I can recall the good stuff.

There's volumes of it.

Life's been relatively wonderful.

Even with the lows, the stubbed toes, the broken bones, and getting lost in the corn behind the house growing up— there was relief in finding the exit.

I think the worst thing I can do is forget the good parts.

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June 21, 2004

Father's Day

Out the kitchen window

All my brothers and sister got together today to grill out and plant a garden (albeit late in the season) for our dad.

I was slow getting there, lugging all my laundry for freshening.

The weather couldn't have been better and even Dad came outside to sit under the shade for a piece as we prepped the beds and planted tomatoes, beans, flowers and other things. He'd say things like, "It's wearing me out just watching ya's" and head back inside for a few.

It probably just looked harder than it was, one Glass family trait is the ability to sweat buckets.

Overall, a really great day. I ate like a pig with snacks every few hours. Cheesecake and American Chopper rounded out the evening before I broke my sister's computer.

Spent the night, now getting ready to take my Dad to doctor for one o them scan things.

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June 16, 2004

Tiger Lily

Roadside flora

My dad and I bored ourselves to tears at the hospital, waiting for the drips to stop. Afterward, a quick trip through the e-check and my car got the thumbs up.

We passed lots of Tiger Lilies along the way. They weren't in bloom a week ago.

I'm tired. Battling a cold that has a sticky cough and makes me nauseous from time to time. Is it allergies? I dunno. I'm just trying to get over it and back on the saddle.

I'm going to try and focus on some things around the office/home this next week. Posting will likely continue to be spotty.

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June 07, 2004

Family day

All filled in

Drove out to my sisters today and enjoyed the drive. Picked up lots of supplies at the craft store and fabric store for my sewing project along the way.

Took another shot of the half grazed hill for compare and contrast purposes. Amazing what a few months can do.

Gave my brother a Coleco handheld football game I picked up at the antique toy store a while back. He instantly recognized it and the batteries seemed to work.

Hung out back with my sister and just shot the shit about life in general and it was good. If I had a million dollars, she'd so be on a beach right now having a frozen drink with an umbrella in it. She's due.

My niece is getting ready to go on a trip to Yellowstone and I'm real excited for her. Hopefully the time with her pops and first plane ride will be super great. I know when I first went out West a brief time ago, I was bowled over at the difference of geography. It'll be interesting to get her impression.

Speaking of pops, my dad's been getting around, sat outside a piece today while watching my brother repair a mower. He seems a little haggard, but hanging in there with aplomb.

Overall, ya can't ask for much more on a Sunday.

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May 28, 2004

(no subject)

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May 18, 2004

Keep the shiny side up

...

I'm sitting there with my Pops, he's grown weaker through the treatments. Weight's down. Appetite gone. Hair, gone.

The spirit's there though.

In his quiet way, it's there. If anything, in his willingness to resume chemo.

People ask me if we're close, and I say yes without hesitation, but I know that I'm the distant son. The one that he doesn't see as much.

We have a strong connection though, like the rest of the world is crazy. Like the drama that swirls around us cannot penetrate, and we exist with a mutual understanding.

I look at this photo and see myself. I see all the qualities we share.

I see how easy he is to read.

A lyric swims through my mind, "Never let you in. Never let you out."

When awake from the upright nodding off, you can understand what he's feeling in his expression.

Sometimes it's blank. Sometimes it's deep hurt and confusion. and sometimes it's joy— The smiles lines you can't repress.

On the drive home, I put in the new Loretta Lynn album, and tell him way too many details about it. About the production. About the wonderful collaboration between old and new. How raw it sounds, and how her voice, though not a smooth as Patsy's, still bears a lilt all her own. A distinct ingredient.

She sings a song about missing being a mrs., and a line speaks of a wedding band.

He pulls his left hand up, as if waking from a dream, verifying that the ring's still there.

His muscles calm and relax.

I like these days most of all. When I'm out in the country and spending this time with him. Windows rolled down, and neither of us forced to comment on the news.

Memories whirl by.

I'm home, I catch myself saying. This is where I need to be.

I recall these roads, from my first times driving. The curves. The trees. The fields. The shitty K-Car I got to take out. And my dad saying, "Keep it between the lines and the shiny side up."

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April 12, 2004

Dishing

The egg dish

I'm not big on fancy wares for the table, tending to go for simple white with no ornamentation whatsoever. But I've always been drawn to this dish — the palette for eggs.

It has resurfaced for Easter as long as I can remember. I also recall perhaps wanting to use the thing for paints as a child. Heck, if I could find these in bulk, I'd probably do just that.

Easter dinner was simple and tasty, ham, potatoes, asparagus, devlled eggs, croissants and salad.

My ma filled up some of that fancy re-usable / disposable tupperware like things with a course for me to take home. I ate it immediately on return to my abode, washing the wares and stacking it along with all the other containers I've collected and never remember to return.

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April 05, 2004

Goldilocks barns

The sky was nice, but the temperature wasn't.

Unlike yesterday, the brisk weather returned for what I hope is the last hurrah. I wound the clock forward on this 04.04.04 with some dismay. I tend to be a "fall back" kinda fella. But warmth is good, I just hope Summer doesn't step on Spring's toes.

I accomplished many tasks this weekend, and continued a streak exploring the outlying neighborhoods and checking off things from my to-do list. I found a nearby Home Depot and got handy things that don't come with a new abode. Garbage cans, window screens, and some wall-hanging apparatus(es).

Picked up Ice cube trays, a baking sheet (I tossed out the old one), and other odds and ends at some home goods type store to boot.

It may read as boring, but getting things in order, and finding new places around the area is extremely rewarding. I dropped off my bike for a major tune-up, emptied my car of all the last bits of items from the move, found a sweet deal on an xbox Live connect kit, a used videogame store unearthed a copy of a car game for 12 bucks. Candles that smell like grass. Laundry april fresh and folded.

This evening I ventured over to my sister's house and found the evening light to be right enough to capture these barn triplets I pass by every time.

Dinner was tasty, caught up with the pops and brother some, traded barbs with my niece, and enjoyed the whole evening very much.

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April 03, 2004

Spring Grove

Grandma

The day was entirely too beautiful to be indoors, so I opted out of any museuming in favor of a walk outside. I called up my grandmother to see if she was game, and it was a wrestling match with the phone - my wireless connection and my mom's broken receiver.

We managed to get it together though, and met up mid afternoon for a driving and walking tour of Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, located right around the corner in Northside.

History tidbits:

  • Founded in 1845, the original area of 166 hilly acres was purchased for $16,000. It was named Spring Grove because of the numerous springs and ancient groves of trees on the property.
  • It now encompasses 733 acres of which 400 acres are landscaped and maintained.
  • At first, I heard that this place was designed by the same fella behind Central Park. Not true. There's another Spring Grove Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut that has this distinction.
  • The arboretum, with over 1,200 species, has 1,000 labeled for study.
  • There's a section where Gypsies are buried, noted by red granite monuments.
  • The landscape "lawn plan" concept was created here.
  • Forty generals from the Civil War are "planted" in Spring Grove
It was a great day, leisurely wandering between things that caught our eye. At points we were on the ground, examining acorns and moss. Turns out, my grandmother (who prefers that moniker over Me-Maw) was married in a funeral home.

PhotosMore photos

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March 25, 2004

Big Boy

Boo

I put the scare in my mom and brother at Frisch's tonight. I had just gotten off the highway and was spent from the drive and hungry. They were leaving with a styrofoam container and didn't see me. I took the opportunity to sneak up behind them and open the rear car door and mumble.

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March 24, 2004

Refuel

163 a gallon

Took my Dad to his last radiation session. While waiting, I kept getting phone calls. The first, from my own doctor, saying that my scans and bloodwork are in check, I do not need to see him again until September.

The next was from an ex-client who found a page I google-bombed, dissing their practices. I wasn't in the mood to fight, I told them i stood behind it, but would disable it and for them to remove me from their vendor list.

It was off to prep for chemo with a new doc afterward and we had an hour to kill. As my pops napped, I reread a few chapters from Close Range: Wyoming Stories.

Lots of paperwork, a scare about cancelled insurance was unfounded, and we were off. Chemo starts this week, and sounds kinda heavy. My fingers are crossed.

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March 08, 2004

Sunday

A lovely one at that.

Birthday lunch for sis. In attendance: grandma, brothers, mom and myself.

Food was good. Company rushed.

Afterward, a trip to Home Depot to get blinds for the new digs. Had to order the tall ones.

The weather was incredible. A front was passing through, and the sky was a mix filled with all sorts of clouds. Reminded me of the West.

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March 06, 2004

Grazing

Along the way

Today was my swing shift Friday with the pops. I've learned some shortcuts from my sister's house to the treatment center; some non-descript single level building with few windows tucked behind a strip mall. They have lots of fake plants and electric table fountains that are devoid of water.

We're in and out in 30 minutes.

My dad and I talk about varied topics: politics, cars, jobs, Walmart, the legal system, the weather and Cancer.

"I feel tired." he says.

"You mean, not well rested?" I ask.

"No. Something else."

"Like you're a puppet on strings, but instead of being suspended by them, they're actually pulling you down — and not just at your joints but like it's your whole lymphatic system being tugged on, slowly?"

He pauses, "Yeah."

"I know what you mean."

We drive along for a while in silence.

The weather is great. We crack the windows and I show him how the sunroof works. He always remarks on the giddy-up of the VW, pleased with how smooth and quiet the ride is.

"McDonalds?"

"Sure" he says, with that slight raise in octave that means, hell yeah.

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February 24, 2004

Gush

Warm feet

A heartfelt thanks to everyone that has been in touch, left a comment or dropped a line. Try as I might, replying to everyone will be a little tight over the next bit of time, but it really means more than I can express.

I thank you.

Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about pouring all this into an online venue, but if normal media showed a shred of compassion, I really think the world would be a better place.

Where's the channel for good news? I swear there is a market.

I made it over to my sister's house yesterday, where she had miraculously fashioned a bedroom for my father with the aid of family and friends. A wall dissects the great room, providing a private area with room for a bed, tv, bedside table and sofa with a view of the backyard. Spring can't come soon enough.

My dad was released from the hospital the prior evening and is able to get around, albeit a tad slow. His speech is slurred, but improves with each passing day. His left arm immobile.

I was scared and sad before seeing him, almost making a loop around the block before pulling into the driveway, but my fears have abated some, after this visit.

Watching my brother go through exercises on his arm, I realized how better composed he is than me. His nurturing and tender demeanor - something that was always there, emerges in times like this with clarity.

My sister and brother-in-law, attendant and running the household - the smell of homecooked food, the tv stand placed just so with a pitcher of water filled at all times.

We're all so different, my siblings. I have to work on my handling - though the years of hug therapy from my friends has been tremendous in helping me take my hands from my pockets.

We all sat down and carved out a schedule to get dad to therapy and treatment. A daily process intended to shrink the growth enough so that he may regain full control of his left side, his arm. There's four of us and each day of the week, is covered, with Friday being a swing day, where we'll alternate.

I'm Tuesday.

Today I got him into his shoes and he grumbles, "Here you are, dressing your papi" with a rueful lilt. I chuckled it off with a shrug, blessing the makers of velcro for making the task so easy.

Radiation went quickly. Painless even.

I found out my dad loves double cheeseburgers from McDonalds. He eats them once a week.

We talked about lots of stuff and that made the fear dissipate. I'm not feeling terribly articulate in capturing everything, but I can say I'm beginning to see some glimmer of hope...

A tinge at least.

...rolling around there with all my other worries melting away.

I feel like I have to grow up for real now.

I could never do it for myself.

--

About the photo:

My niece and I have this little thing: I try to take her photo, and she blocks the camera with a hand or any object that is nearby.

She's quite good at it.

Alas, I got this image of her new knit booties and let her off the hook this past evening. My brother-in-law's mom sent down a whole box of 'em handmade for each member of their family.

To sum this all up Strangers-With-Candy-like, the moral of the photo is that: Yeah, things might not look great at first, but if they keep you warm and come from the heart, chances are, they're awesome.

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February 23, 2004

Are you sitting down?

The view from the dorm
February 19, 2004

Three solid days of work in Wyoming plus two for travel.

I got here through Denver on a twin propped plane with no restroom. It holds about 15 passengers. I have to stoop to fit through the aisle. There's a tinge of adventure every time I make this trip.

The dorm I stay in has steam heat, peeling yellowed wallpaper and narrow army-like beds. There are a row of pay-phones in the lobby, but no extensions in the rooms. My digital phone switches into analog mode and drains the battery.

It's really hard to get a hold of me when I am out here.

When I'm working, I can access email through the web.

I got several notes from family the previous day: Call ASAP, they each read, with no other detail.

Turns out my father had a stroke.

I take this news in stride and they said he's doing fine. Don't worry.

This morning, I get another note. Call ASAP.

I get a hold of my brother and he asks me if I'm sitting down.

I am.

Dad's stroke was caused by a tumor on his brain. It started in the lungs. They've found it in his liver.

It's in his bones.

It's Cancer.

The doctors say he has six months to live.

I'm writing this down, but I don't know what I am thinking. It's been hard to think of anything else, and since the news, I've been operating on auto-pilot.

I'm trying hard not to believe the doctors.

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February 08, 2004

Variations on a theme

Me and my brothers

I'm the "little" one.

Propped the camera up on a payphone as my brothers and I were waiting for my Dad. We tricked him outta his place to celebrate his birthday. I'm still not sure how old he is, but that's ok - he didn't know how old I was either.

Bad food and slow service couldn't hamper the joy of getting all the Glass boys men together. I feel lucky we get along so well.

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December 26, 2003

Time to put the elf costume away

My brother in elfin garb plays Vanna White for the spread at my sister's house

My most vivid memory of this holiday is sitting back from a pile of opened presents on my sister's living room floor. Beams of sunlight are slanted through the picture window and match the smiles on everyone's faces.

My brother-in-law punctuated the moment, "Oh my God. Look... Everyone's (slight pause) ... happy."

No one replied, save for the slightly glazed and twinkling expressions. We were indeed happy.

Hours later, the party disbanded. I loaded up my loot and headed over to Heather's parents house.

It was a surprise visit, and I hadn't been there in over a year. Her parent's are a kind, whacky, eccentric duo from a sitcom that never was. I sat at the kitchen island and joined in the eye-rolling banter over holiday meal preparation.

When it came time to decide what to do with the artichoke dip ingredients, I stepped up to figure out the food processor. After a countless (ok, seven) seven attempts, we met with success.

Went back to Heather's place, quick-cleaned the living room and hung out with Dave and some friends watching Super Troopers and enjoyed more good tidings.

Today, I have a few more things to wrap up, but what I really want to do is assemble a K'nex Ferris Wheel.

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October 21, 2003

Ivana, Mrs. Trump's hair and the theme park that never was

Donald Trump's mom on TV

So here I am with double digits of channels on the tube at the hotel up in Columbus, and I'm watching Biography on A&E. It is a relatively unobtrusive look at the life of Ivana Trump.

The cast of characters seem outlandish, but flat. Even the head of hair on Donald Trump's mom fails to warm me to the story.

Ivana would be best served with an Eddy to her Patsy.

Reminds me of another made up woman though - Tammy Faye Bakker.

How many nights I sat up with my Dad. Watching the endless pleas for money as Heritage USA was being built. The sketches of hotels replete with folks for scale, swarming with activity. The conceptual drawings of the water park with the slow pan and dissolve.

Jim and Tammy voiceovers. The room at the resort _our family_ could have every year if we would just give a thousand bucks.

We stared glued at the sketches whirring by each night. Looking at each other with that, "This is a bargain" gleam. Each of us had our niche carved out in the vacations we would take at the resort/theme park. Mom and I would throw pottery. The water slides and endless pools for us boys, and Dadstuff for Dad.

Perhaps he would take up golf.

This was likely the most evangelistic our family ever got. Dad coughed up the grand, eventually - and thus began our vigil of the construction with renewed vigor.

Then it fell apart.

The look of shock that must've crossed mine and my siblings faces when we thick headedly realized, this vacation would never happen.

Was this the end of trust?

Were our religious morals corrupted at this news?

I'm not entirely sure, and by no means want to paint a picture so bleak, as there were many fine vacations before and after the Heritage USA debacle.

We have an uncanny ability to muster a smile in the face of adversity, our clan.

I could go on, but first I must see the evolution from Casino mogul to purveyor of Home Shopping Network Pant Suits.

Ivana is no Patsy. There's a lesson here, I know it.

Filed under: Family | | Comments (1)



September 29, 2003

Vegetable soup day

Ingredient roll call

I don't always eat Dinty Moore and Chef Boyardee, sometimes I cook. Today was one of those days. It was chilly and blustery. A perfect day for soup.

My mom has given me a handful of recipes, and this one stands out from my youth. We called it vegetable soup, even though there's beef in there.

As a kid, the house would be filled with the smell and I'd linger 'round the kitchen to get a taste. Thing is, it wasn't until after the slow simmerin' process that everything would blend together. It was a tease, perhaps, but for great things to follow.

When we finally sat down to eat (usually on bamboo trays in the 'family room'), we'd take crackers and slather them with (real) butter and put spoonfuls of the thick soup on 'em.

Bread now accompanies the soup, which lasts for a while in the fridge, and gets better each day. I don't put the cabbage in, it doesn't sit well. Other than that, I tend to follow the steps and it seldom fails, unless I get too generous with the pepper.

My Mom's Vegetable Soup from her Mom

Filed under: Family, Food | | Comments (0)



September 08, 2003

Grillout

Grilled pork chops, sweet corn on the cob, scalloped potatoes, salad with homegrown bell pepper, french bread and iced tea.

My mom and brother, now with grandma in tow, have made their backyard a slice of paradise. Each time I visit, there are new areas carved out with stones and flowering plants. When I first saw the house, I knew it would be lots of work to make it feel a home. The transformation continues to amaze me.

I look forward to the day when I've got a place with some land. I don't think i'd be as good at it though.

Dinner was tasty. The pork chop's amount of spice was up for discussion, but I thought they were tasty. Marvels over the crispness of the bell pepper circled the table.

Afterward, I dinked around with the first generation Bondi iMac in the breakfast room. It works, it's just s l o w. Then I had some catch-up time with my mom on the couch before some strawberry cake. I like talking to my mom. It's easy to just spout off everything I'm feeling and she gets it. It's like free therapy.

Filed under: Family, Food, Photography | | Comments (0)



August 17, 2003

Flashback

2504 Jett Hill Road

I'm at my sisters, eating yummy pork roast, scalloped potatoes, brussel sprouts, corn and some yeast rolls that were prematurely cooked.

This meal hits me right in my nostalgic gut and I have two helpings. It is fantastic homemade food.

My brother, sister, her husband, mom, grandma, niece and nephews are there.

I don't think there was any occasion in particular, just a good time to get together. My brother-in-law's mom is in town. She seems spry, with a hint of a wicked sense of humor.

I stayed for a couple hours and enjoyed the time just being.

I left and decided to drive by the house where I grew up.

The mailbox is still there. My father welded it out of metal after too many hit and run incidents with baseball bats.

It's impossible to determine when the house was built, but it was sometime in the latter part of the 1800s. At some point, it was a 1,000 acre homestead awarded to a serviceman in the Civil War. I wish I was better with the facts, but I'd have to get a the book on the house from my sister.

One o these days, I'll digitize more family stuff.


I sat in the driveway and reflected on the house. It was my entire world for many years. A parcel of 10 acres tucked neatly into fields of hundreds. There were no neighbors to speak of, at least, I never really hung out with them.

I remember hiding behind my parents waterbed in the nook where no one could fit.

I remember the swarm of bees that came forth from the nests we attacked in the trees out front.

Getting soaked with wet snow sled-riding down the hill into the creek.

Scraping my knee bad as the concrete truck huffed up the driveway and my coaster brakes failed on the gravel soon to be covered.

Finding clearance gifts hidden in the shed one summer, waiting to be handed out the following Christmas.

The barn where we stashed porn mags, cigarettes and the racy calendars found in the attic.

The two round stones next to each other in the hearth that we called Dolly Parton.

The cornfield out back where I realized my arm wouldn't move as the motorbike lay on it's side 15 feet away, still running and expelling black smoke.

FInding out foxes had eaten the peacocks.

Releasing the owl back into the woods after the fella from the conservatory nursed it back to health.

The blood on the stump where a few chickens were made to fit neatly in the freezer.

Running down to the front field and seeing the birth of a calf, and waiting for ages until it stood and walked on it's own. Willie I think we called him.

Hiding Heather in the laundry room while fellas from school stayed over.

Heather getting caught in the laundry room and sent home.

Jumping off the garage roof and spraining both my ankles. "It's easy! Just roll out of it!" my brother coerced.

The Husman potato chip can filled with kittens dropped off in the driveway.

The black snake up in the ceiling molding over the couch in the den. A business end of a hoe would be its fate.

The herb garden filled with smells and textures.

Hanging out in my sisters room and staring at the album covers.

The four trees that stood towering in the front. The trees that were said to represent myself and siblings.

I remember all these things, and I remember when the house went up for auction.

The heaviness of realizing it would no longer be "ours."

The guilt that maybe I should've exhausted some resources to try and get it for myself.

The quiet truth that I knew it was for another family to occupy - to create their own home.

The fact that it will always be my childhood, my teens, my pitstop during college.

The new owners have done well. It seems restored to the white house up on the hill that I grew up in. More so than the gray dilapidated place overgrown with ivy that it became in my late twenties.

They removed the trees out front. It seems fitting.

I want to go back there someday and look inside.

For now though, I'm happy with memories and the view from the end of the driveway.

Filed under: Family, Nostalgia | | Comments (0)



June 10, 2003

Meow

Kittens are soft

I went over to my mom's tonight to eat dinner with her and my brother. I sat in the breakfast room and my brother started to crawl on the floor.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

Then a little furry shadow leaped over my foot and that was how I met Magik, the new household kitten.

My mom hasn't had an indoor cat, or dog for that matter, in a long time. Aside from me not liking his name off the bat (I recommended Doug, or Bill or better yet... Sigfried!)

This little fella is spunky. One of those animals that likes people, unlike the strays my mom feeds behind her house.

He has a penchant for burrowing under pillows and stuff, then popping out to attack, paws in the air, "I am seeing you Sigfried.."

He also runs at you with this sideways gallop. I've never really seen that before, sort of like a rabbit that was just hit by a car.

He's also a purring one, will lick yer nose or fingers, and stretches out on one's tummy and naps.

Filed under: Family | | Comments (0)





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