Sunday Post 181: My Friend Theara

A beautiful thing happened this week.  About 15 staff and former staff members at the Cary YMCA celebrated Theara’s 30th birthday.  I can’t remember when I felt any prouder of the place where I work.  I can’t remember when I felt more full as a person.

When I first arrived at the Cary YMCA, one of the branches of the YMCA of the Triangle, Theara was about 9 years old.  I was put in charge of the youth department, overseeing several after-school and day camp programs.  She was one of our kids.

In many ways Theara was like all of the other kids.  She was excited, happy, funny and glad to be alive.  She built a connection with every person she came in contact with.  Some days she might get frustrated with someone, but her anger didn’t last long.  She primarily brought joy to all she came in contact with.

There were also ways that she was different.  Sometimes she moved slowly.  We’d walk a group of kids to the park about a half mile from the building.  Theara would get tired.  When she did, she would stop, refusing to complete the journey.  At those times, she couldn’t be moved.  We discovered the best plan of attack was to simply rest with her.

Oh, and one more way Theara is different.  She has Downs Syndrome.

There are a lot of people who don’t conform to the norms of the world.  Sometimes they intentionally choose to be different.  Sometimes it just happens.

The beautiful thing about life is that sometimes those who look at the world through a different lens, from a different perspective, make others laugh, love and grow the most.

As I moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the director of the Cary Y, Theara would often drop by our office suite after her high school bus dropped her off in our parking lot.  She would fill us in on her day, share a little sunshine, and then she would line the only three men in the office up.  And each afternoon she visited, she would announce that one of us had won the “It’s Your Lucky Day to be Handsome Award.”  I often dressed up in suit and tie, and I’m proud to say that I took first place in this afternoon ritual more than not.  And I would boast to colleagues the entire next day about my recognition.

As we celebrated Theara’s life this week, I felt genuinely happy.  The memories were sweet, her smile still infectious.  On my way home Tuesday afternoon, I thought to myself, I hope my girls will bring as much joy to others as Theara has brought to me. 

If they do, they will be lives well lived.

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If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

 

 

Mr. Tanner, we’re gonna need that form.

Mr. Tanner, we're gonna need that form.

Mr. Tanner, we’re gonna need that form.

I am delinquent.  I admit it.  I have not yet completed my oldest child’s physical form for the upcoming school year.

There’s a good reason mind you.  She can only get a physical once each year, and her last one was on July 12, 2013.  She’s been working at an overnight camp in Arapahoe, NC, for the past ten weeks.  I don’t think there are doctors in Arapahoe.  If you have a tooth ache there, your neighbor extracts it for you.  We simply had no options.

She does have an appointment this upcoming week.  And I promise, the second we walk out of the office I will drive straight to her school and turn it in.

It has to be frustrating to deal with parents like me.

To deal with us, the delinquents, our school has hired a health form repo company to ensure that my child does not spread disease and that I meet my deadlines.  I was late on my middle daughter too.  Between the two of them I have received no less than 60 emails this summer informing me of my inadequacies as a parent.

This week, I didn’t get an automated reminder, I actually got a specific note from a staff member at the Health Form Repo Center.  I think his name was Guido.

Today I logged on their website to print the form, readying myself for the upcoming appointment, and at the top of the page there was a large red box.  It read, “54 DAYS PAST DUE” you idiot!!! (that wasn’t written but it was certainly implied).

I am afraid.  I am not sleeping well.  I look out of my windows at night fearful that Guido is going to snatch my child and hold her until her blood test comes back.  We don’t walk near windows anymore.  I just don’t know what might happen.  I have Michelle climb under the car, just to be sure nothing looks cut, before we leave home each morning.

I purchased a bulletpoof vest.  I wear it any time I leave the house.

Guido, have mercy!  Do I not get any credit for the forms I have completed?

Vital Health Record – took 20 minutes to complete – CHECK

Consent to Treat – CHECK

Over the Counter Medicine Form – CHECK

Prescription Medicine Form – CHECK

Psychological/ADD meds Form – CHECK

Copy of Health Card – CHECK

Concussions Form – in the event my child gets hit in the head with a ballet slipper?? – CHECK

Asthma, Allergies, Diabetes, Seizures, Mental Health Condition forms – CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!

I have also completed the Transportation to/from and at school form.  I agreed to have any and every photograph of my child be displayed anywhere the school wants to put it.  I have given them information on all four grandparents, my credit card number for school purchases and volunteered for two committees.  They know my shoe size, that I prefer boxers, and that I had a crush on Janice Middleton in 4th grade.

This week I will attend multiple orientation sessions to seep up more information.

But I will attend only, only if I get this dag gone physical completed and turned in.

What if my car breaks down on the way to the doctor’s office?  What if the doctor is sick that day?  What if their copier is broken or their pens run out of ink?

I’m going to begin investigating home school options.

 

 

Sunday Post 180: One-on-One with the Kid

For the past three years, when Stephanie and DJ head to overnight camp for a month, Michelle and I take at least one fun trip.  We did New York last year.  This year we decided to hit DC.

On the first day of our adventure, we decided that we were going to talk with British accents, even in front of others.  Typically, we’d stick to our plan for an hour or two.  But we sort of got into it for the whole blooming trip.

This is how we rolled:

“Father?”

“Yes daughter?”

“Can we speak like William and Kate for the duration of our trip?”

“I don’t see why not.  Let’s make a go of it ole’ chap.”

“Shall we speak like this alone or in front of others?”

“As we’re gallivanting around, let’s consider speaking like this the entire time regardless of who is listening.”

“Jolly good.”

I’ll have to say that it was quite enjoyable to pretend to be something we weren’t – people with manners.

We saw almost all of the monuments…

Jefferson

Jefferson

 

Washington

Washington Monument

 

And MLK.

MLK

I’d never seen that one.  It was bloody beautiful!  But by the time we got that far, Michelle was fagged out.  So I had to entice her with a spot of tea and a ride on the Tidal Basin paddle boats.

We didn’t boat too far.  I began to realize that the further we moved from the docks, the more leg power it was going to take to get back.  Plus it started raining.

“I’m tired father,” my little one complained.

“Rubbish!  Poppycock!  We’ve got much more to see.”

“But father…”

“Don’t get cheeky with me princess.  Sit on your bum a bit and rest your pins.”

She regained her energy with a lemonade and a bot-le o water, and tickety-boo we marched on to the Roosevelt statue.

Roosevelt

By the end of the day we were zonked out.  We showered and had a nice dinner where Michelle ordered surf and turf (from the kid’s menu) and sucked down three Shirley Temples.

Although the sites were amazing, one-on-one time with my girl is what took the biscuit!

 

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful:Click here. And thanks

 

 

I am Free!

I AM FREE! I am no longer a slave to their monopolous activities. They can no longer ignite my rage through their inefficient, laborious voice mail system. Yes, I have signed on with a new cable company – screw you Time Warner! You can’t see my hands, but my middle finger is in the upright position.

The night of the switch, I called the 800 number for what I thought would be the last time. I was actually looking forward to speaking with PKkflugde from Outer Mongolia. Unfortunately, the automated voice system cut me off, three different times, right after I told it I wanted to cancel my service. Each of these calls took ten minutes because prior to cutting me off I had to recount my phone number, social security number, listen to 17 options of what I might choose to do and share my inner most feelings about the crush I had on my second grade teacher and how it affected what I now watch on TV. When I finally got through, I was informed by the robot that cancellations could only be handled during business hours.

I’ll be doing 65 Hail Mary’s for my reaction to that news.

The next day I called back. Again when using the “c” word the call would not go through, so I told the robot that I actually wanted to upgrade my service at which time I was immediately patched through to PKkflugde. When I told him I actually didn’t want to add service, that I wanted to cancel, he berated me.

“Did you call us before switching to another carrier? We have better deals.”

“No PKkfludge, I didn’t. I called you last year and you gave me the best deal you had. And, for $30 less I’m getting an extra DVR box, a booster on my internet service AND HBO. Plus, I never have to talk to you again.”

“They’re only giving you HBO for three months,” I was informed by my friend.

How can he speculate what they are giving me???

“No. I believe I’m getting HBO for two years!”

“You believe?” PKkfludge questioned. “You’re not SURE? I don’t think I’d be changing services on an ‘I believe.'”

I believe I’m gonna jump through this phone and choke you! “Just drop my damn service! Now!”

He then told me he could match their plan for less than I was paying now.

“How much less,” I inquired.

“$6 less than your current payment.”

“But that is still $24 more than I’m paying them!! New math tells me that is not a better deal.”

He then proceeded to tell me that the new carrier didn’t yet pull my phone line over so if I cancelled I would lose my original phone number.

I cursed him, and hung up.

That was not true I discovered after talking with my new carrier.

After another phone attempt I decided to go in person to their customer service center so I could physically hurt someone if needed.

I got in line at 7:45 AM. There were 34 people already in front of me.

There was one of these signs on the door:

no guns

No firearms allowed? I put my pistol back in the car.

After number 11 in line completed his transaction, he turned to those of us waiting behind him and in a fairly loud voice shared what we were all thinking, “This is worse than the DMV.” He then added a few expletives.

As I walked out of the building I felt as if I had just signed the final divorce papers from a very bad marriage. I asked Michelle to take a picture. I wanted to remember one of the happiest moments of my life.
TWC

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If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

 

Sunday Post 179: The Freight Train of Life

It makes me sad that I don’t love summer anymore. It used to be my favorite time of the year.

In 2009, in the three months that preceded Lisa’s diagnosis of cancer, we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park, our weeklong annual getaway to Topsail Island, a couples only weekend trip to Lake Gaston with our best friends and our August jaunt to West Virginia. The day after Christmas, 2008, I began looking forward to summer. Each day brought me closer to the excitement of time with family, a clear calendar and 4 pm Happy Hour.

It hasn’t been the same since.

Although I still enjoy the beach, DJ’s absence is noticeable. She’s employed – how inconvenient. I figure Stephanie will be in the same boat two years from now.

Clearly, DJ’s not the only one missing from our June capers.

Since Lisa’s death, I’ve fared well when busy. Without dance carpool, homework and laundry for four, I find myself re-edging a border that has already been edged. No wonder Mr. Royster’s yard in Glendale Acres, my childhood neighborhood, looked so good.  He was childless and had nothing better to do.

I realize that much of what I’m experiencing has nothing to do with the loss of my wife. My kids would still grow up and get jobs with or without their mom in the picture. The pressure of carpools would lighten with additional drivers in the house. When you’re 16, you tend to get annoyed at waiting for dad to get around to doing your laundry – when you need an article of clothing, you wash it yourself.

Maybe this is why folks end up having a midlife crisis. They can’t seem to figure out how to handle the changes so they remake themselves in an unsavory way.

It’s clear I’m not going to cheat on my wife, I don’t have one. And a sports car is out of the question – I don’t have the money, and it won’t seat three children and their pack of pals.

If you look at a life’s calendar, these changes occur over a long period of time. But at times, they seem more like a freight train.

 

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

The Nobel Prize in Math

Logo_of_the_Nobel_prize

I don’t mean this in an ugly way, but Lisa was a pretty good nagger. She didn’t really stay on me about stuff cause I typically do what I’m supposed to do. But she could harp on the kids about a plethora of things: practicing the piano, completing their homework, keeping their skin moisturized, getting their thank you notes written, and more!

Since I’ve been the sole parent, I’ve had to take up the role of naggart.

I don’t mind, there’s part of me that perversely enjoys getting under another’s skin. What I stink at is remembering. I just don’t care enough to be a great nag.

I so want to excel at this task. I long to hear a child’s annoyed whine, “Daaaaad. You don’t have to tell me again!”

I long to respond, “Clearly I do!  You did not do it the first six times I asked!”

The problem is, I never asked, because I forgot.

This week we’ve been at the beach, and I have had the awesome opportunity to hassle Stephanie all week long. She’s about the head to camp for four weeks, and she has to complete a massive math assignment for her class placement for the fall. She did the work once, but the school sent us an email encouraging her to push a little harder so they could put her in an honors class.

I was excited!

“Stephanie, if you increase your grade on the placement test slightly, you can take Honors Geometry next year!”

I had visions of Harvard, a PHD, maybe a Nobel Peace Prize! My daughter, one and the same as pi.

She didn’t bite.

“Isn’t the honors course harder?”

“It IS more challenging,” I thought I was giving her a boost!

“Then why would I want to take that?”

“The Nobel Peace Prize baby!  STEM is in!”

She just couldn’t see our vision for her future (by our, I mean my).

So, we’ve spent at least one miserable hour each day of our vacation fighting about math. We’ve been here six days, I have the conversation memorized.

“Stephanie,” I start in the kindest tone I can muster. “You need to start thinking about spending some time on your math.”

“I HATE MATH! IT’S SUMMER VACATION, WHO HAS TO DO MATH IN THE SUMMER?”

“You.”

“This is rediculous!”

“Baby, you’re good at math. You got an award in 8th grade assembly for math!”

“I like math, in the school year! I don’t like math in the summer. When am I ever going to use math in my life?”

“Mmmm.  Let’s see.  EVERY DAY!”

“Not this kind of math. Do you ever factor a polynomial at work?”

“Seriously? I work at the Y.”

“See.”

And then, I get to nag. For an hour at a minimum.

“You could have been done with today’s work in the amount of time you’ve spent complaining. Shut your pie hole and get to work!”

It’s no use. I think she just likes to argue. It’s gonna be a constant battle. She’s “asleep” now. Her computer screen is black. Geeze.

I’m just gonna drop it until next week.  By then I will have forgotten, and she’ll be in basic math.

Oh well, who wants a stinkin’ Nobel anyhow?

 

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

 

 

Sunday Post 178: I Can Almost Hear

Lisa recorded our voice mail greeting at some point long ago. Over four years later, I had not recorded over it. So if you called our house, she would greet you.

However, after years of going out of my mind with Time Warner Cable, I decided to go with a new carrier. After I made the decision, I realized it would mean our voicemail greeting would be deleted. I’d have to re-record.

We worked hard to preserve Lisa’s voice, saving it on every phone and computer the family owns. And now, if I want to hear her, I just pull it up on my iPhone or Dell and listen.  Sometimes its just nice to hear.

A while back my minister talked about the importance of voices. Someone referred to your voice as your thumbprint on the world.  Man, I wish I could still hear those who are gone.

I imitate my friend Trey but I long for that slow southern drawl. He died in a car wreck several years before Lisa.

I lay in my bed the other night trying desperately to remember how each of my grandparents sounded. I almost could – my Grandmama Tanner’s laugh, Granddaddy Tanner telling me, “You have a hole in your head boy.”  I could see my other grandmother’s face – she was by me on the bed.  But I couldn’t quite remember her voice.

It’s like the inflection is there, rolling around the outskirts of my cerebrum, but I just can’t pull it out.

What a shame.

I get used to pictures, but I always had to brace myself when I phoned the house.  Not in a bad way, but I had to be ready.  Sometimes her tone would bring a smile.  Sometimes it would bring longing.

I don’t know what I miss most – seeing, touching, or hearing her.  She was a talker, man could she move those lips.  Sometimes I’d wish she’d stop chatting everyone up after church and just get in the car – I was hungry!

Now I’d give anything to stand behind and wait.  If only to hear her one more time.

 

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

I just made it up!

Where do words come from? Like who decided that a bed should be called a bed. It could have been called a snoozemeister. But no, somewhere in history, someone decided to call it a bed.

I always wanted to invent a word. Something that desperately needed a name but didn’t yet have one. And then, about five or six years ago, when I was having a conversation with one of my kids, it hit me. They were describing something that, to my knowledge, didn’t yet have a name.

“Dad, my hiney doesn’t feel good.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I don’t know. It’s wet and itchy.”

“Inside?”

“Yes.”

“Moist?”

“Yeah.”

“Well…” I needed a word, one that could adequately encompass that feeling we’ve all experienced. “Hmm… we call that… squenchy.”

“Squenchy?”

“Yea. You got a squenchy butt.”

It wasn’t until recently I realized my kids had no idea that wasn’t a real word.

“Dad, I was at camp today and one of my friends told me her butt was itching. I asked her if it was squenchy. She’d never heard that word before in her life. Can you believe that?”

“Honey, you’re 11. You need to know. Squenchy isn’t a real word. Only our family knows what that word means.”

“Like blatch?”

“Yea. Like blatch.”

We made that word up at the dinner table one night. It’s when two bodily functions occur simultaneously.

Nothing would make me prouder than to open up Websters and see:

Squenchy: squench – ee; adj.; when your butt is moist and itchy often due to insufficient wiping. Contributed by: Danny Tanner

Oh, I long for the day.

Sunday Post 177: Do You Have Enough?

I was fortunate. I had life insurance on Lisa. It wasn’t a ton, but it is enough.  If invested correctly, it can make a dent in college and perhaps there will be some left for my retirement. I’m banking on the stock market!

Four years before Lisa died, our insurance agent came to our house to review our policies. At the time, I had four times more insurance on me than on Lisa. He ran numbers for us. We had our blood tests.

I decided to increase my insurance four fold and was considering doing the same for my wife. But when it came down to it, I simply doubled hers. You know why? ‘Cause it was going to cost $350 more per year.

Yep. I could have double the money I have now if I’d have spent $1,400 over a four-year period of time. That’s less than $1 per day.

This seems sort of crass for me to share about my finances. Maybe sounds like I am thinking about the wrong things. Let me assure you, THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT I WOULD NOT TRADE TO HAVE MY WIFE BACK. I’d give the shirt off my back and the shirts off my kids’ backs to have her sitting by me right now. But I can’t.  And there is one thing that my insurance agent said to me that I can’t seem to shake.

When I went to complete the paperwork to get the insurance check, I mentioned my lack of vision for the future in deciding not to increase the amount of insurance I had on Lisa more than I had. My agent responded, “Danny, you gotta understand, you have more insurance on your wife than 90% of guys your age. You likely have more on her than most guys have on themselves. You actually made really good decisions.”

So if he is right, 90% of you are grossly underinsured. If something happened to your spouse, you’d be up the creek. If something happened to you, your family would likely struggle financially.

I have friends with two or three kids and a $50 or $100K insurance policy. I’m telling you, that ain’t gonna educate your kids, and it certainly isn’t going to support your family for the long haul.

It sounds like I work for the insurance industry. I don’t. I’m not getting a kickback! But I want folks to think about the future. I want folks to think about their family if something happens to them or to their spouse.

It’s hard enough to lose a loved one. Imagine doing it while wondering if you can keep your house or educate your kids. Don’t put yourself, don’t put your family, in that position.

Dead Crab Walkin’

coenobitaclypeata2

It’s true, I don’t love animals.  I’d like to.  I try.  And then some dog ends up humping my leg, and I land right back where I was before – one who does not love animals.

They’re cute to look at – sort of like someone else’s baby.

“Oooo.  He’s so frickin’ cuuute!”

Then he poops.  And he’s not as cute.  And he smells like my grandfather after dinner at El Rodeo.

But as much as I am not an animal fanatic, I wish them no harm.  If someone else is feeding them and brushing them and paying their vet bills, I’m good.  I am perfectly happy to sit by dogs at the outside cafe tables at my local pub.  Who doesn’t like to have their crotch sniffed while they eat dinner?  Count me in!

That being said, I think I killed our Hermit crab.

I have tried to blame someone else in the family, but I am the responsible adult.  I must admit my error.

He, I’d call him by name but I don’t think he had one, was 13 months old.  As I washed out his dookie filled aquarium, I have wished him dead.  I actually let him crawl around the kitchen counter in the hopes that he would fall to his death.  He didn’t.  He just sat and watched me scrub.

We left him without food and water when we went to the beach in June.  He’s upstairs – out of site, out of mind.  He survived that 7 day fast. Two weeks later we left again.  But this time, I thought of him.  I filled a bowl with H2O and planted his sponge right in the middle.  When we returned, I think he’d gained weight.

But the next two weeks were busy.  Kids were out of town.  Michelle went to camp.  I seldom went upstairs – there was no reason.

When I returned from dropping Stephanie at overnight camp today, I took some of her excess stuff back up to her room.  When I walked into the bathroom, I spotted him.  He was hanging out of his shell.  He had crawled up to the sponge.  It was dryer than the Atacama Desert.  His little claw was perched, open, pointing toward his usual water source.

I haven’t called for an autopsy, but I feel certain the cause of death was dehydration.

I can’t blame DJ.  It wasn’t her crab, and she’s been at camp all summer.  I emailed Stephanie tonight – I called her a crab murderer.  She’s been living upstairs.  I know he belonged to Michelle, but for goodness sake.  If you walked by a starving Hermit crab, wouldn’t you respond?  Wouldn’t you take the time to soak the sponge?

She can’t be blamed.  She got her braces off this week.  He lived in the bathroom, and the times she was in there she was looking in the mirror, enamored with her beautiful new mouth.

And Michelle?  Yes, she should have reminded meto water him in her absence.  But who can think of crabs when there are decisions to make about what to wear to the camp dance?

So, that leaves me.  I am the one.  I killed him.

I feel so guilty.

 

 

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