Sunday Post 77: Raleigh Dad Finds His Stride

Posted by Danny

The following article was published in the News and Observer on Father’s Day – a nice honor for me and the girls.

By Chelsea Kellner – ckellner@newsobserver.com

RALEIGH — The first time Danny Tanner took his oldest daughter shopping after his wife died, he thought he’d grab a chair with the other dads, like he always had.

Then he noticed the other teenage girls in the store, the ones shopping with their moms. They had someone to debate skirt length and help them match up colors, figure out which top to put with which jeans.

He’d never so much as flipped through a fashion magazine. But he got up from his chair and asked his daughter if he could help her find the right size.

 “The other girls may have moms in the dressing room to help them, but I think she’s gotten comfortable with having a dorky dad waiting for her just outside,” Danny said.

For the past two years, Danny has had to fill two sets of shoes for his three daughters, DJ, 14, Stephanie, 11, and Michelle, 9. His wife, Lisa, died in 2010 of colon cancer at age 39. Since then, Danny has been thrown into a world of ballet lessons and curling irons, boy drama and Justin Bieber. He’s now his daughters’ after-school chauffeur and fashion consultant, as well as disciplinarian and confidant.

It’s been hard, they agree. But the tough times have left dad and daughters with a deeper bond.

“He used to be out of the loop. We used to tell Mom more stuff, at least certain kinds of stuff – Mom knew all the girl-things,” DJ said. “Now he knows everything.”

‘Heartbeat of her family’

Danny is a soft-spoken man with gentle brown eyes and a quirky sense of humor. Lisa was a dark-haired firecracker, outgoing, outspoken and kind. They met at the YMCA when Lisa was 17 and Danny was 20, and married several years later.

With the birth of their three girls, the couple developed a balance in their parenting. Lisa, with her long, press-on fingernails, was the better back-scratcher, their daughters agree. Danny is a better tickler. Danny was always the nurturer, the one who would’ve been happy to have all three of his girls live at home forever. Lisa encouraged independence, Danny said, “gave the girls their wings.”

Then, in September 2009, doctors told Lisa she had stage four colon cancer. She started on a grueling regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. A surgery in December to remove the tumor brought hope, but by January, the cancer had spread to her back. Lisa died Feb. 24, 2010. DJ was 12 years old. Stephanie was 9, Michelle 7.

Danny and Lisa didn’t talk much about parenting in the last few months of her life, Danny says. They thought they had more time. But one of the last things Lisa did was write out each girl’s schedule for the summer, so Danny wouldn’t be overwhelmed and her daughters could get where they needed to go without her.

Just before Lisa died, her brother, Jesse Katsopolis, moved in with the family to help out. The men started a blog together titled “The Real Full House,” after the ’90s TV show chronicling a dad and two uncles raising three girls after their mother’s death. The blog’s tagline is “missing Mom but moving on…one day at a time.”

“He took about 24 hours for himself,” Katsopolis said. “Then it became clear early on that he decided he had more important things than himself to worry about.”

‘Party people, crazy-cool’

Danny’s daughters are typical sisters, giggling and bickering and dancing in their own choreographed music videos filmed on DJ’s laptop. Danny hashes out boy problems, relationships and girl dynamics with his daughters – “things their mom would talk to them about, but now it’s me,” he said. That part hasn’t been as hard as he thought it would be.

“We obviously respect our dad and do what he says, but we’re also friends with him,” DJ said.

“We’re like this,” Michelle said, holding up two fingers crossed at the knuckles.

Lisa had always handled the scheduling and logistics for their busy family of five. After her death, Danny had to learn fast. He’s senior vice president of development at YMCA of the Triangle, but her ability to juggle their daughters’ fast-paced lives left him breathless when he tried it for himself.

He also works to maintain traditions Lisa started, like home-cooked family dinners with cloth napkins and keeping fresh flowers around the house.

“I don’t want them to grow up watching sports all the time and eating spaghetti from a jar,” Danny said. “I’ve refocused my priorities, started paying attention to things I wouldn’t have before.”

He’s had his challenges, his daughters say with giggles when he leaves the room. Girl stuff, like clothes and hair, hasn’t come easy.

“Sometimes, he picks out the ugliest outfits for (Stephanie and Michelle), and I have to save them from wearing them,” DJ said.

“She has to say, ‘Dad, no,’ and we’re glad she does,” Stephanie said.

When Stephanie got her thick, dark hair cut into a bob that immediately started to frizz, Danny learned to handle a blow-dryer and round brush. It took time. He held the dryer between his shoulder and neck at first, DJ said, because he couldn’t figure out how to navigate dryer, brush and hair with just two hands.

“We were afraid he would burn himself,” DJ said.

Since Lisa’s death, the Ham household has slowly regained its groove. Dance parties are back. So are funny accents. A couple of months ago, they baked a purple-frosted birthday cake for teen pop star Justin Bieber.

“We’re odd,” Stephanie said.

“We’re party people,” Michelle corrected her. “We’re crazy-cool.”

‘How grief hits you’

Danny sees Lisa in his daughters every day, in DJ’s strength and leadership, in Stephanie’s looks and nurturing spirit, in Michelle’s peppy popularity. Their facial expressions sometimes mirror Lisa’s exactly, as much of a leap back in time for Danny as finding the occasional pack of his wife’s press-on fingernails forgotten in a jacket pocket.

“It’s the little things that you don’t realize will be difficult emotionally – and then you find yourself tearing up over something like a stroganoff recipe,” Danny said. “It’s foolish, but that’s how grief hits you.”

Despite the difficulties that have sprung from his family’s personal tragedy, Danny says he considers himself lucky.

“I don’t think there are a lot of dads who get to experience the depth of connection with their kids that I’ve gotten to experience,” Danny said. “We’re a tight group. We’ve weathered the storm. We’ve got each other.”

Kellner: 919-829-4802

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/17/2142859/raleigh-dad-finds-his-stride.html

Sunday Post 75: The Bird

Posted by Danny

Does God send signs?  I’m just not sure. 

I told Lisa before she died that if it was at all possible to come back and visit, I expected her to make that happen.  She told me she would not – she said she didn’t want to be stuck between here and there.  When she went, she was diving in with both feet.

But I sure have had some peculiar things happen since February 2010.

In June of 2009, three months before Lisa was diagnosed, her father took our entire family on a trip to Yellowstone.  About every three years he plans an incredible vacation where we laugh, grow closer and build significant memories.

In preparation for the trip, Lisa had t-shirts made up.  On the front it said, “The Katsopolis Family Tour.”  On the back, there was a list of places we’d been and the year we’d traveled.  The last entry on the tee was:  Hawaii, 2012.

That was Lisa’s way of encouraging her dad to keep the tradition going.  These truly are special occasions for our family.

So in true family tradition, Pops, as all the children call him, planned an incredible ten-day stay on the big island of Hawai’i!  We just got back.

On day 5, DJ received an email from a friend who said that her mother, who was a friend of Lisa’s, had a dream the night before.  In the dream, Lisa appeared.  As they were talking Lisa said, “Kathy, I just wish I could let Bruce know that the bird who has been following him is me.”

Interestingly enough, a bird had flown into our vacation home the same day that Kathy had the dream.  The bird flew in a second time later in the week.  And to top it off, as I stood on the lava rock in front of our house, a bird flew so close to my arm that I could feel a sharp breeze from his wing.  It startled me.   It almost felt like he touched me, but I didn’t see him until after he began flying away.

In no way do I believe that my wife has been reincarnated into a bird.  And I have absolutely nothing that could make me say the dream and our three encounters with Hawaiian fowl were anything more than coincidence.

And yet, I found it comforting. 

Maybe Lisa did turn rouge bird for a week.  Or maybe it was nothing.  Or maybe in some small way it is a sign, sent to me, to let me know she is OK and that she approved of our family’s time together.

In honor of our time, my mother-in-law sprung for Henna tattoos for the girls, and yes me.   Mine is the bird.

Sunday Post 71: The Mother’s Role

Posted by Danny

The Top 10 Most Difficult Mother Roles A Widower Has To Learn:

10)  The Finder:  Lisa had a Stuff Radar.  I believe it was implanted in her breast during childbirth.  All mothers have this.  If stuff is missing, moms know where it is – period.

9) The Food Police:  I never worried about what my kids ate before my wife passed away.  Now I’m the Carbohydrate Cop:  “I think three pieces of bread with your Fettucini Alfredo and side of fries is enough.  Back away from the loaf.  Now.”

8)  The Beautician:  How does a dad tell his daughter her hair looks awful?  Moms just say, “What’s up with your hair?  Go back upstairs.”  If my girls ask me if their hair looks good, I don’t even have to open an eye to answer that question.  The answer is “Yes.”  I learned that the year after I got married.

7)  The Sex Educator:  Most of my talks start with the phrase: “Let me tell you what boys are thinking…”  Most of my talks end with:  “So stay away from them!”  I don’t know if this is effective.

6)  The Cab Driver:  I never knew how much she drove.  I never knew how much she found out while she drove.  They sing like birds when they don’t have to look you in the eye.

5)  The Top To Bottom Transferrer:  I keep a basket downstairs – I put stuff in it that I find downstairs that needs to go upstairs…like shoes, iPods, school books and interestingly, yesterday, a pair of underwear.  I keep a basket upstairs – I put stuff in it that needs to go downstairs…like my socks, my t-shirts, my slippers, my sweatshirts – all which have been borrowed by random children when they were too lazy to walk upstairs and get their own stuff.  Both baskets are full – always.

4)  The Reminder:  Stephanie hasn’t practiced piano one time this week.  It’s partly her fault – but mostly mine.  I’m sorry Mrs. Fields.

3)  The Playdate Primer:  Your kids have friends at school if you have friends at school.  Do you know how weird it is to call someone you don’t know and ask their kid to come play?  It’s like dating –  “Hey, I’m Michelle’s dad.  So…ah…I was wond – I mean ah – Michelle was wondering if Kimmey could come play on Saturday.  I mean if you’re out-of-town or busy, I understand…we were just hanging out and thought that maybe…if she isn’t going to some other girl’s house…”

2)  The Short Skirt Nazi:  I like short skirts – not something I’d notice as bad.  The Aunt tells me, “I guess it’s about time to get rid of that skirt DJ was wearing at church on Sunday, huh?”  “Does it have a stain?”  “Ah, no.  It has a butt hanging out of it.”  “Oh.  Hadn’t noticed.”

1)  The Heart Surgeon:  When they don’t get invited; when school  is too hard; when they made a mistake; when they don’t have the courage; when it’s time to make a Mother’s Day card at school –

The last is the hardest of all.

Happy Birthday to You

Posted by Danny

As a kid I hated birthday parties.  Not mine – only the ones for others.

There was just something about them – one, my mom didn’t go with me.  Two, there were often people there I did not know.  I used to be pretty intimidated around strangers.

The boy across the street was a good guy.  He spent nearly the entire summer at our house – arriving before breakfast and leaving at dusk when my mother shooed him away.  His parents were older – his father owned a funeral home.  That, that in and of itself freaked me out.

In addition, his father had one leg.  As a child, I found that perplexing and bothersome. 

I was scared to death to go to my neighbor’s birthday party.  My friend loved red velvet cake – something in my mind combined the missing leg with the funeral home, blood and that cake.  I get the heebie geebies just thinking about it today.

At another birthday party near Halloween, I dressed up like Dracula.  The white makeup ran down my fake fangs as I cried my eyes out until my mom picked me up.  If I think about it hard, I can sort of taste the bitter flavor of K Mart face paint.

I don’t guess that I hate birthdays anymore.  I sort of enjoy eating cake and celebrating my friends and family.

We found out Lisa was sick about five months after her 39th birthday.  When I turned 40, she threw me a huge party – bar-b- q and a man playing a guitar in the backyard.  A couple hundred folks came out to wish me well.  I’d asked her if she wanted a party for her 40th.  “Nah.  What I’d really like is to take a trip with just you.”

That trip never came – she died a month before she would have turned forty.

And so today, on what would have been her 42nd birthday, I’ll remember the ones we had, and I’ll dream about the ones we didn’t.

Sunday Post 67: Once, In A Very Blue Moon

Posted by Danny

I don’t exactly know what triggered it.  Maybe it was Easter.  Perhaps it’s her 42nd birthday this coming Wednesday.  Or maybe it was Jesse plunking out one of her favorite songs today on the piano, Once In A Very Blue Moon, by Nancy Griffith.  I’ve listened to it ten times in the past ten hours and every time I do, I cry.  Not just shedding a tear sort of crying, it’s the deep in your chest “I miss you” tears.

For some reason, I’ve fallen back today.  And that’s OK.  Makes me think of her – the things I liked.

She had the most beautiful voice, and yet I was the one who sang in the car.  But on occasion, a song like Nancy’s Blue Moon would gently begin, and she couldn’t stop herself.  I listened intently – hanging on every word.  It was one of those few moments in your life when you really stop and think about something that you absolutely love about someone else. 

Every time, every single time.

Her fingernails – I miss them too.  Always manicured, always strong.

I’d lay in bed, curled up beside her, and she’d scratch my head from neck to crown.  If I close my eyes, I can almost feel it.  That one slight movement of hand – love, security, warmth.

The facial expressions, seldom captured on camera, but still in my mind.  Occasionally they’re worn by one of the girls.

I was moving forward – a steady clip toward healing.  But once, in a very blue moon, I get knocked down to my knees again.

The Amazing Mule Ride

 

Posted by Danny

On Tuesday, our Nana had a significant birthday – I won’t go into which one, but it was a biggie!

To celebrate, the girls made a few decorations and Uncle Matt, Aunt Sallie and I cooked dinner.  We had a nice cake – compliments of the Whole Foods (no parmesan). 

And…we all dressed like Nana!  Some of the highlights included:

  • Popped up collar
  • Untucked shirt cinched with a belt
  • Big bling around the neck
  • Bracelets for days
  • Shoulder pads (we taped wash cloths to our shoulders)
  • Vests
  • Heels
  • Glasses
  • Baby powder on the head (she is graying a tad)

And we each wrote ten ‘memories with Nana’, presented to her one at a time.

My favorite Nana memory occurred on our family trip to the Grand Canyon.  As a surprise, the lovely in laws scheduled a mule ride down the canyon for Lisa and me.  I was apprehensive – I don’t like heights and I’m pretty allergic to animals.  But I really wanted to try.

I was surprised when we reached our destination – not pleasantly, just surprised.  You literally walked straight up to the edge of this vast hole in the earth.  There were few railings and no fences.  If you stepped too far, you would simply fall thousands of feet to the bottom of the gorge.  Twice during our stay, helicopters converged on the rim to find someone who was missing.  And to top it off, my father-in-law immediately purchased a book that chronicled the stories of all the people who died there.  It was a thick book because a bunch of people never made it out! 

In checking out the trail which led to the bottom, I realized that the six-foot wide path followed the rocks on the left side but that there was absolutely nothing on the right side.  If one of the mules decided to commit Harry Carry, there was no stopping him.  He could jump as easily as I could breath. 

I didn’t contemplate the mule ride very long.  I generously offered my mule to anyone in the family who had no concern for their own life.  There weren’t too many takers – but finally Nana agreed to take the voyage with Lisa.

We walked them to the trail head and saw them off at 8 am sharp.  The guide assured us that a mule had never jumped off the trail with a person on his back.  He said that  only a couple of the animals died on the trail – and that they were pack mules, not the ones carrying people.  And then he asked us to sign a waiver that explained that you could die at any moment on the trail and that regardless of how negligent they might be, they were not responsible for your death.  I think there was also a clause that said if you did depart on the ride, they could use your story in volume 2 of the “Stupid People Who Died in the Canyon” book.

I hugged Lisa, and assumed I would not ever see her again.  Then I took the kids for ice cream.

Eight hours later, they returned.  Both of them looked like hell:  dirty, leaves hanging off their hats, sunburned and smelling to high heaven.  Neither of them were speaking to me.  Well, Nana did say one thing, “You…are no longer my favorite son-in-law!”  She stormed off to her room.

Lisa couldn’t get her underwear off because the dried blood from her butt scabs had fused them to her skin.  Her upper legs looked like she had been beaten by Indian Jones’ whip. 

And I was looking like the smartest person in Arizona.

They eventually got over their anger at me, bragged about the incredible views they’d seen and felt proud that they’s survived this adventure.  We still have mule Christmas ornaments to remind us of that trip.

You know, that Nana is a pretty gutsy lady.  And she looks pretty good for ?0 years old!

Year 2, Still Hard

 

Posted by Danny

It’s been two years this week, and I find myself flipping through an internal slide show of the days surrounding her death.  Most of my memories of Lisa bring a smile.  This week, just tears.

One week before she died, the girls left for their annual President’s Day beach trip with friends.  Lisa said goodbye – for the last time.  She stood by the stairwell – DJ headed upstairs wearing a t-shirt and her undies. 

“Great.  My last thought of DJ will be of her butt.”

“They’ll be home on Thursday baby.”

“I know…”

And she did.  She knew this was likely the last time she’d see her children.  

When they left last Sunday, I was tossed right back.  Two years?  Or just yesterday?

I remember my parents coming to her hospital room three days before she died.  She told them she loved them, and that they had raised a good boy.  My mom cried.  I wondered why in the hell she was talking like that.  She knew, but I didn’t.

That same day, she went from walking to the bathroom in the cancer ward to not being able to stand in the neuro-ICU.  How could her physical condition deteriorate in such a very short time?  I recall the look on her face – “Danny, I can’t walk.”  The panic ensued, for both of us.

I had an anxiety attack the next day.  I had never had a situation in life that I couldn’t control.  I wanted to fix things, but I simply could not.  What a failure, I thought.  I’m a weak man.  My prayers, my actions – they’re just not enough. 

I picture the car ride to Duke for Stephanie’s last visit with her mom.  She asked me, “What if you and mom die, who would take care of me?”  A valid question from a fragile fourth grader.  Your innocence is gone.

The call at 1 am from my mother-in-law:  “Come now.  There’s not much time.”  I remember standing in my closet picking out a dress to put on my sweet wife’s body.  I chose her short black one with the little crop jacket.  She did look good in that dress.

We held hands around her bed and prayed for our Lisa.  Our nurse so touched, he cried along with us.

The morning she died, my friend Gordon stood in my kitchen, khakis and blue blazer.  I thought to myself, “Wow – Gordon’s here.  I wonder why he isn’t at work.”

Her mother typed her obituary as I recanted stories – the high points of her life – there were many.

As I walked to the sanctuary to honor my wife’s life’s work, I grabbed the hand of my old friend Mo.  Hadn’t seen her in years.  I was touched that she came. 

Michelle fell asleep during the memorial service, emotionally and physically exhausted.

The morning my parents left town, and I was alone – really, really alone.

The pain subsides – but not this week.  We relive it again, and we still miss our Lisa.

Sunday Post 58: Fight For It

Posted by Danny

I hear about more and more folks who are struggling with marriage.  There is no doubt, it is hard.  But it’s a good, good thing – if you put the time and effort into it.

Most of us get married early.  We aren’t grown – we’re not mature.  We don’t know what we want.  And yet, we establish our communication pattern with our spouse and it never seems to change. 

It’s sort of like your parents.  I’m 46, and I still like to call my mom when I’m sick.  Like it was in grade school, I  know the conversation – it’s been the same for more than four decades.  She’ll empathize, encourage me to go to the doctor, tell me how I need to take better care of myself and remind me that I’m handsome.  I’ll exaggerate my symptoms, assume I have cancer, and complain about the cost of medical care.

Hell, I don’t like to drink in front of my parents.  I couldn’t when I was 17, and I don’t want to now.  They might put me on restriction or something.

We get like that with our spouse.  We each grow up, but our relationship stays the same.  Why is that?  Why is it so hard to communicate?  Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to tell someone things need to change and grow, but it’s also uncomfortable to live in a miserable relationship. 

Lisa and I developed some stale communication habits that we really had to muscle through.  But when we found the courage to express our thoughts, frustrations and needs, and when the other was willing to listen, WOW! 

When she died, our marriage was at its strongest.  Not because we didn’t have issues; there were times we wanted to pummel each other.  But we refused to live with that uncomfortable silence.  We both knew when things weren’t right – so we manned up and dealt with them.

I lost my spouse, but not until she died.  Boy am I grateful we continually worked on our marriage.  It was worth every minute we put into it.

A Cleaner Closet and One Step Further

Posted by Danny

Lisa’s things have been fairly untouched since she died 22 months ago.  The closet, in particular, has been crammed full of her tailored couture.  I still have her makeup.

I was visiting my parents at Thanksgiving in Fayetteville and spent an hour with an old high school friend who lost his wife 13 years ago when she was only 32.  As we talked, he asked about her stuff.  I told him I hadn’t done anything about it.  He said, “It’s time.”  The words resonated.  I knew he was right.

I’d been feeling for a while I needed to tackle that project, but I found a number of excuses not to.  This week, I faced my fear.

I decided to make three piles: 

The items I thought the girls might want to keep, and the things I just could not part with.

Clothing that I am going to have made into quilts for each girl.  Most of it colorful – I tried to choose items that represented a strong sampling of Lisa’s style – or something with strong meaning, like her favorite pajamas.  These blankets will have to be dry cleaned.  I couldn’t find a ton of meaningful cotton.

The third was the give away stack – lots of black pants and white turtle necks made it there.

It seemed that each item had a story.  Near the top of the pile were the clothes she’d worn the last six months of her life as we trekked back and forth to Duke for treatment.  Those jersey pants and long-sleeved pullovers were the first to hit the giveaway pile.  Those are not memories I’m fond of keeping.  Each article took me back to a different waiting or examining room.  A doctor’s face seemed to be stencilled on each sleeve.  The gauzy underwear for after surgery – straight to the trash can – but even they brought tears.

The white jacket she was wearing the day she told me she had cancer.  It may leave the house, but it will never leave my memory.

The dress she wore at Michelle’s baptism – the picture in the bedroom stands as the reminder. 

The skirt she wore when she volunteered us to work the coat closet at the Governor’s inauguration.  An hour of work in return for rubbing elbows with Jim Hunt – a fair trade.  I’ll have to admit, she looked so good I would have liked to “inaugurate” the closet.  I asked – she wouldn’t.

Only once did she hire a personal shopper – and she did so without my preshopping knowledge.  It was for her 20th class reunion.  She proudly told me that although the outfit was expensive, I’d be glad to know she didn’t buy the $600 pair of shoes that her advisor suggested.  The pants, blouse and the shoes she did buy, I kept.  My favorite picture of us was taken that night.

The hardest part was her underwear.  Isn’t that funny?  Maybe it was the intimacy of those items.  I kept my favorites.

At one point, it dawned on me the dollar investment of all of these things.  Thousands of dollars I’m sure.  And now, 60% of them will be given away or cut into flower pedals. 

It’s just stuff I tell myself.  Lisa doesn’t live in items – she lives in our hearts and minds. 

Yeah – keep telling yourself that buddy.  You still buy her brand of conditioner and sniff it like a cocaine addict.

But this is progress – yes, this is progress.

Pepper’s Pizza and Great Memories

Posted by Danny

I got a hunkering to hit Chapel Hill tonight.  Although a N.C. State man, I have a warm spot in the heart for the Heels.  Lisa went there, and I have some very fond memories of hanging out with the ADPis on Franklin Street.

Parking was easy since the college students are home.  I nailed a spot right in front of Pepper’s Pizza.  The smell of the crust waffled through the air – it hit me the minute I stepped out of the car.

I walked in with a spring in my step.  The restaurant has been updated since I last visited.  The cramped rectangular venue expanded.  The red booths replaced with black.  The percentage of wait staff with tattoos and piercings has decreased ten fold.  But the pictures on the wall, the music and the menu remained the same.  The italian sausage with onions and mushrooms tickled my throat as it did 20 years ago.

The girls and I settled in the booth, and I began to recount how I wooed their mother on these very sidewalks.  I explained that I enrolled in a morning graduate class just so I’d have an excuse to drive to UNC each week to see her.  We’d meet every Thursday morning for breakfast.  I’d park at Cobb Dorm, and we’d walk over to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe a couple of blocks away.  I’d drink several cups of coffee and listen to her stories of life as a coed.  We’d recount our past summer together at the Y and dream of the next.

On April 19, 1991, I arrived at Cobb at my usual 7:30.  And there I sat – for thirty minutes.  No Lisa.  There were no cell phones at the time and the dorm was bolted shut – no fellas allowed. 

I was stunned.  I’d never been stood up before.

When I returned to work that morning, I announced to a mutual friend of ours:  “I am not a toy.  She’s messing with me.  I ain’t putting up with it.  I’m done!” 

“Yesterday was her 21st birthday!  Give her a break man!”  That was no excuse to me and I really showed her – I cooled things down for a while.

I later found out that wasn’t really punishment for Lisa.  She had agreed to go out with me, and I occasionally drove over on a weekend night to hang out.  But apparently after I dropped her back off at her sorority house, she’d change clothes and head out to meet up with another guy.  What was she thinking?   Who in the heck could think about another guy after a night with me?  And what was I thinking?  Geez.

I guess I was blind with love.  And as hard as I tried after that cool spring morning waiting for her on Country Club Road, I still couldn’t get her off of my mind. 

Some things just don’t change.

The girls loved my stories.  They laughed and asked questions and called me a dork, apparently the same feelings their mother had for me at the time. 

“It’s amazing she married you dad.”  They’re pretty intuitive.  She was out of my league.

When the pizza arrived, I texted Lisa’s sorority sisters and let them know I was partying on Franklin Street without them.  This time sans Jagermeister.

I guess if I had gone first, I would have wanted Lisa to keep my memory alive.  Maybe these jaunts to our familiar places and some funny stories as accompaniment will do just that for her.

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