Oh So Funny

Zeila

The final kid has made a decision.  Michelle will attend UNC next year!  It breaks my heart because I attended NC State and that too was an option.  But she’s going baby blue.  Her mother would be proud.

She has also reconnected with a friend from middle school who will be her roommate.  I don’t know her well, but my recollection from the early years is stellar.  One mutual friend told Michelle, “There is going to be some fun had in that dorm room.  You are the funniest two people I know.”

As I ponder my youngest kid’s personality, humor pops to mind. 

I recently ran across a note I’d scribbled in 2009.  It listed several quotes from Michelle, my then precocious five-year-old.

Each night the girls would choose a book to read before bed.  A favorite was not really reading.  It was the I Spy book.  Each page had hundreds of items and the text tested your searching abilities.  There might have been a Christmas theme and your challenge would be to find four santas, six stars and a mistletoe wreath.  One page held trinkets from Halloween, and we were searching hard. 

Michelle (reminder, she was five):  “I want to find that damn bone.”

Me:  “You shouldn’t say that.”

Michelle:  “At least I’m at home.”

On a flight back from Wyoming that same year, a Sci-fi movie was being projected on the overhead TV.  Michelle was sitting with her Nana.  At one point in the movie, a guy pulled off his mask and his head had no eyes, nose, ears or mouth.  Michelle looked at her grandmother and said, “Now that’s not something you see every day.”

On that same vacation, Lisa was working to get Michelle to stop sucking her thumb.  It was incessant, and we had tried numerous tactics to quell her urge.  At bedtime one night, Lisa said, “Michelle, you have to try to stop sucking your thumb.”  Michelle replied, “I can’t sleep without sucking it.”  Lisa responded, “You have to.”  Michelle’s come back?  “Some parent you are.  I’m not going to sleep tonight.”

She spoke as if she was 82 yet she was trapped in a kindergartener’s body.

Her humor has continued and kept me in stitches a good portion of her life.  I will miss the daily chuckles.  UNC will gain.  It will be a funnier, happier place come mid August.

Packing It Up

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The packing has begun.  I’m not 100% sure I’m moving yet.  We’re in that due diligence period where the buyer and seller have to argue about who is paying for what.  But I am beginning to organize just in case.

We moved Julie out of her house in March.  She’s in an apartment temporarily while we figure out our next step.  What we’ve discovered in the process is that we have A LOT of stuff.

Mattresses, we have mattresses for days!  Most of hers are younger than mine, so I’m tossing mine out.  The one in my guest room was in my grandmother’s guest room.  She moved out of her house and into a retirement community in 1996.  She built that house, oh, I’d say in the mid 70’s.  My best guess is that the bed was purchased upon arrival.  Although, come to think of it, perhaps she moved that one from the house my dad grew up in.  The queen set is somewhere between 46 and 83 years old.  Who cares?  My guests never stay that long.

The bed in Michelle’s room, which all of my kids have lived in at some point, is much younger.  It was purchased in 1993. 

I have a difficult time throwing things out.  When a pair of boxers no longer has enough elastic to stay up, I synch them for as long as possible.  One day I was jogging and I felt something around my knees.  My boxers had fallen on either side and the waistband was dangling below my thighs. 

I was a sad day when I tossed those little guys.  They had been through so much with me.

For the second time, I cleaned out my koozie drawer in the kitchen. 

Julie: “Honey, why do you have a drawer full of koozies?”

Me:  “I might need them.”

Julie:  “Why would you ever need 35 koozies?”

Me:  “Well sometimes Brad and Tim come over for a beer on the porch.”

Julie:  “So maybe keep three?”

We don’t even use koozies when they come over.  But I hate to see them go.

Julie has about 25% of the cabinet space in her apartment that she had at the house.  And yet, somehow, a popcorn maker the size of a Volkswagen avoided storage and made it to the new place.

Me:  “Why are you taking this enormous popcorn maker to the apartment?  Shouldn’t it go into storage?”

Julie:  “I think I might need it.”

Me:  “We have microwave popcorn.”

Julie:  “I need it.”

It’s ok.  This past weekend as I was packing, some people in my family were trying to toss the massive popcorn tub I won at the movie theater several years ago.  I told them I needed to hold onto it for all of the popcorn Julie was gonna make in our future life.

Together we have 6 hatchets and four axes.  There will be no shortage of firewood at our house.  We’re like a Boy Scout troop.

We’re gonna have to buy a big house.  Or maybe a mini-storage business.  Goodwill, here we come!

CURAD Ouchless

My fiancé, Julie, finally sold her house.  We moved her out this weekend into a temporary place in Charlotte.  Now, it’s my turn.  It’s like dominos – one step forward puts the next in motion.  When we finish, the plan is marriage and ONE house.  After five years of dating, it’s probably time.

I’ve had workmen at my house shoring up odd jobs, and I’ve been cleaning out like a crazy person.  I’ve watched Julie do the same.

It’s interesting what you find – it’s fun, it’s dirty, and sometimes it pierces a heartstring.

Last night I was shoring up the Rubbermaid band aid container.  Does everyone have a band aid box with various shapes and sizes of stick ‘ems and gauze?  In my quest to clean out, I came across an old tin of CURAD Ouchless Bandages.  I started to toss it without looking in.  But that’s not my style.  No, I look in everything to see if there is any feasible reason I might want to save something.  I hate to throw things out – what if I could reuse it?  An old towel could become a new rag.  What if someone else could use it?  My junk is another’s treasure.  What if it conjures up a memory that I might otherwise lose?  A hand drawn card from Michelle dubbing me the “best father” of all time!  That’s like an Oscar for me.

I opened the can and there were no boo-boo strips.  Instead two bills, one dollar and a five.  On the dollar, my grandmother had written:  This bill was in my father’s wallet on the day that he died, July 30, 1965.  On the five the same message but for my great-grandmother, This bill was in mama’s wallet on the day that she died, June 21, 1970.  Also rolled up with the money was a note in my great-grandmother’s writing saying keep this bill always to remember your dad.  I was not yet 1 when my great-grandfather died and only five when his wife passed.  But how cool to have a physical remembrance of their love and our family history.

It is hard to move out of a house that you’ve lived in for nearly thirty years.  The laughs that we’ve had.  The tears that we’ve shed.  The victories and losses.  The weekly totes in of the groceries.  The fall nights on the screen porch.  All are special.  Comfortable.  Warm.

And yet, the danger of gripping so hard to the past is the possibility of foiling the future.  We have to pack our CURAD tins in a cardboard box, and take them with us as we move forward.  Our past can stagnate or add delight to what comes ahead.   I choose delight all day long!

Daddy Stories

 

It's great to be a dad.

It’s great to be a dad.

Two weeks ago I got an email from the mother of one of the kids on my Y basketball team. The season was over so I was surprised to hear from her. I thought maybe she was going to report that her daughter had been recruited to play in the WNBA, and she was going to credit me for her advancement. That was not the case.

Instead, she asked me if I would coproduce a local show with her the week of Fathers’ Day. When she told me what it was about, I jumped at the chance.

Lisa Ogburn is a documentarian and works to bring communities together through the art of storytelling. In June, the plan is to gather 12 folks to each share a story about fatherhood. The story can be read or just told. It can be about your father or about being a father.

I was telling Michelle about this venture and asked her what her favorite father or grandfather story was. She was quick to recount.

“Do you remember the time we met Aunt Sallie and Uncle Matt in the airport on the way to the Grand Canyon?”

“Yeah.”

“Remember we were waiting on their plane – they weren’t married yet.”

“I remember.”

“And do you remember what Pops said?”

“No. Not really.”

“He said, ‘I wonder where Sallie and Mark are?'”

My father-in-law actually called his daughter’s boyfriend by the wrong name, Mark, not Matt.

That might not seem so odd but they’d been dating quite a while at this point and in fact when they did show up at our gate to take the last leg of our flight out west, Sallie walked up and immediately lifted her ring finger. The night before, “Mark” had asked her to marry him.

Now in some families there might have been some sense that we keep our mouths shut and not share this faux pas with the new kid on the block for fear of instant alienation. However, with Uncle Jesse and me in the mix, keeping quiet was not even considered.

“Sallie, we’re so excited for you and Mark!”

“Mark?”

“Yeah, that’s what Pops told us his name was…”

With big bear hugs we embraced ‘Mark’ and told him how excited we were that he was joining the family. I informed him that Pops had never called me by the wrong name but I was certain there was no hidden meaning in his mistake.

We then proceeded to call him Mark for the duration of the excursion. The name has stuck and on our next whole family vacation, we even gave the other family members aliases just to ease Mark’s pain.

Jesse- Duckie
Danny- Wood
Lisa- Virginia
DJ- Lizzy B.
Stephanie- Pokie
Michelle- Brookie
Nana- Eleanor
Pops- Santa Claus
Aunt Sallie- Shush It (cause she kept telling us to be quiet)

If you have a story that you’d like to submit for for our Fathers’ Day production, or if you might want to attend to hear these tales, visit Liisa Ogburn’s website. The event will be held at Peace College on June 10th. Hope you can join us!

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

 

Anastasia and Drizella

Anatasia

I haven’t had new tennis shoes in three years.  I wore mine to play golf in this week, because I also don’t have golf shoes.  After traipsing around the wet course, they smelled like damp, sour dog.  I tossed them in the washing machine – when I got them out, they smelled like damp, sour dog with a cascade of Cheer on top.

When I run, it’s like I’m standing on hard French toast; the bones in my knees rubbing together, cartilageless.

We live off Ridge Road, that’s where I jog.  The Meredith College coeds wiz by me each fall, their neon Nikes smokin’.

“Hey, hey.  Yea you – hotty!  The one with the pink jog bra and green sneakers –  these tennis shoes are three years old.  That’s why you passed me!  Oh, and my walkmans not working either – I run slower without my tunes.”

My girls, on the other hand, all have nice new shoes for school.  As long as I can remember, they’ve always worn Nikes.  I also remember them being around $40.

This year, we walked into the Kids’ Footlocker and picked out a couple of pairs, one for Stephanie, one for Michelle.  I didn’t even notice the price, assuming they’d be around the same as previous years.  When we got to the register, cha-ching!  “That’ll be $148.00.”

“Say what?  Last year it was less than $100 for two.  What’s up?  Nike move their plant to the US or something?”

“Well, both of your daughters are now a size 5.  That’s an adult size.”

“But this is a kids’ store.”

“Well, we sell adult sizes too.”

“And charge adult prices.  Can you shove them in a 4?  Stephanie, Michelle, act like Anastasia and Drizella.  They’re bringing out smaller shoes.  Cram that foot it!”

Geeze.  Pretty soon no more child menus either.  And just think.  At one time I wanted four.

Buy Danny’s Book:  Laughter, Tears and Braids

Sunday Post 141: Sanford and Son

One of my favorite lines from a TV show was from the old sitcom Sanford and Son.  Fred Sanford enters a house in an upscale neighborhood, something he hasn’t encountered before.  He walks in the front door and takes a deep breath. “This house ain’t got no smell!” he quickly observes.

When Michelle went to camp last summer, she pulled me aside on the night we were packing.

“Daddy.”

“Yea baby?”

“Can I take one of your t-shirts to camp?”

“I guess.  Is there a particular one you’d like to borrow?”

“No.  I just like your smell.”

I’m glad she’s fond of my odiferousness.  She may be the only one.

I’ve always had a strong olfactory sense.  Jesse would use a towel until I could smell the sour as I walked down the basement steps.

“Dude – what is that smell?”

“What are you talking about?  I don’t smell anything.”

“Burn it – I’ll buy a new one.”

It’s amazing the memories that are attached to the nose.

One day I smelled my grandmother, Idee, in the drugstore although she’d been dead for years.  As I sniffed down the aisle, I came across a familiar round box.  Inside it contained her Coty powder.  Mmmm – it brought happiness to my soul.

At the Y, there would be a distinct smell on the first day of summer as 300 sweaty little kids began tromping through the halls between games of kickball and swimming.  A nice mixture of chlorine and gunk – just like when I was a child.

Recently I put Lisa’s perfume in a drawer.  It had been sitting on the dresser since before she died.  I imagine its five years old.  When she first died, I’d make it a point to open the bottle of Cocoa by Chanel and take a deep whiff.  At the time, it didn’t bring joy.  Instead that scent represented the gaping holes that had torn through my life.

There is a difference between accidentlly running into a smell that fills your soul with memories and aggressively seeking out ways to retrace your grief.  I’m sure there’s a place for both, but it’s important for me not to allow myself to linger in Chanel.

Part of growth is figuring out how to pack up the perfume.  Then, when it pops up unexpectedly, perhaps it will bring joy.

Sunday Post 140: Better Than OK

When Lisa was diagnosed with colon cancer, a man from work came up to me and said, “My son had cancer.  It was the best thing that ever happened to our family.  It brought us closer together than we’d ever been before.”

You’re a nut!  I thought to myself politely noddingHis son did live.

I found myself in a similar position to that man this week.  I had a conversation with a friend who was going through a very difficult time.  The table had turned.  I was now the encourager.  And I did my job.

But the interesting thing was that I believed, because of my experience, that she would be OK.  Although her situation seemed dire, I could genuinely see her bad news as an opportunity.  A time for her to turn over a new leaf, to move forward.

THAT’S NOT ME!  My glass is half empty.  What’s going on here?  I can’t take all of this positivity.

How in the heck do you suffer, tremendously, and come out thinking that others can perhaps grow through their trials?

I guess its because –

1)  I made it through and didn’t wilt, which I, and perhaps most other people, thought I might

2)  Good things have happened to me since Lisa died

3)  I have grown significantly through this process

I don’t want to blow smoke up someone’s behind telling them with hollow voice that “everything will be OK.”  I don’t want to be that glass half full guy who says “God will take care of you.”  But I think that I’ve grown to sort of believe that stuff.

Life isn’t always happy.  I have tough days and better days.  In many ways I’m not as fulfilled or content as I was when Lisa was alive.  And yet, I’m OK.  Yeah, better than OK.  And I believe my friend will be too.

Two Dads One Mic

Two dads one mic

A month ago, I was fortunate enough to spend an hour with two really interesting guys, Jake and Joey.  These dudes do a weekly podcast:  Two Dads One Mic, and they look at parenting from a father’s eyes.  It’s actually pretty interesting.

Their site describes their perspective as follows:  Two dads talk parenting, beer, babies, news, sports, food, and more, and they bring unsuspecting guests along for the ride. 

I was fortunate enough to be one of their “unsuspecting guests” and the ride was interesting.

Catch our conversation when you have a few minutes to listen  Two Dads One Mic, Episode 15  (click on Podcast Episodes, choose Episode 15, and be prepared for a 60 second intro).  Oh, they use my real name, Bruce, not my Real Full House name, Danny.

Wanted to give a little shout out to Jake and Joey for inviting me to tell my story.  Oh, and thanks to Uncle Jesse (Hayes) who helped line up this interview.

Finally – in the interview they talk about my upcoming book, Laughter, Tears and Braids.  I got the formatted proof this week – should be out soon!

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