The Ring

Posted by Danny

Lisa and I had a beautiful wedding in November of 1993.  When I asked her father for her hand in marriage, which all good southern boys do before becoming engaged, he said to me, “Son, you don’t know what a burden you’re taking off of me.  Her sister is going to be harder to place!”  He scared the hell out of me.

 Her mother planned the perfect reception with every detail covered.  In fact, rumor has it that she had the chef make up a pot of the tortellini we were serving several weeks before the wedding day.  She didn’t want to taste it.  She was concerned it would be difficult to fork and might slide off the plate.  So she went over and tested it.  Can you imagine flying tortellini at your reception?

I’m not sure if that story is true, but it makes for good fodder.

My father was the minister at our wedding.  When he asked for the rings, Lisa dropped mine.  It went rolling and I had to get on my knees to find it.  I have seldom taken it off since that day 17 years ago.

I’ve pondered off and on this year about my ring.  It is so deeply representative of my bond with Lisa.  She is gone, but I  still have that symbol of the love we shared.

I know widowers who took their ring of right after their wife died.  For them, it was too difficult to see that reminder every hour of every day.  For me, it has been comforting.  I think it has also kept me from admitting that my wife is gone.  It is emotional armor.  When it’s on, I’m still married.

Three weeks ago tonight I was in bed and it was a bit stuffy in the house.  I started fidgeting with my ring, not ever an unusual occurence, and I slipped it off.  At first, it was the typical break I’d given my fingers thousands of times before.  This time, it seemed different.

She’s been gone for more than a year I thought to myself.  At some point, the ring must come off. 

There was no rush.  There was no specific reason for it to be removed for good on that night.  But for some reason, I didn’t put it back on.  Instead, I put it on a chain I wear around my neck with other Lisa remembrances.  It’s closer to my heart – a safe place for now.

The next week I felt like I was walking around without my pants on.  I felt naked without it.

I’ve searched for an instruction book that will tell me exactly what I’m supposed to do to rebuild my life.  I’m the kind of person who would like a manual with dates, tasks to accomplish and a clear end to completing my grief.  Although there is a lot of writing, I’ve yet to find this book.

What I do know is that every person deals with grief in a different way and on a different timeline.  I’m in a support group for dads who have lost their wives to cancer and still have children in the house.  Sounds like a real upper, huh? 

It’s actually comforting to sit with a group of guys who are struggling with the same things I am.  It’s nice to know that when you spray your dead wife’s perfume on your pillow or hug her clothes in the closet that you’re not alone.  Most of the crazy stuff I’ve shared with this group has been done by one of my comrades in grief.

So we’ll move forward.  Each at a different pace.  And maybe I’ll leave my ring around my neck.  And maybe I won’t.  It’s not in the manual.

Dancing

Posted by Danny

There is a lot of writing about guilt and grief.  I think many people who lose someone harbor a great deal of guilt or have a number of regrets about things they wish they’d have done differently.  I only have one.

Lisa and I loved to dance.  We weren’t always the best dancers on the floor, but we could hold our own.  We particularly enjoyed shagging.  You learn a handful of twists and turns and you can use those moves with any number of genres. 

I remember last spring when it first dawned on me that I would never be able to dance with my wife again.  I was driving back to Raleigh from my parent’s house in Fayetteville; we were on I-95.  The radio was on and the kids were distracted.  I don’t recall the song; but I do recall the stunning realization that I would never again hold her on the dance floor. 

I could picture the smile on her face when we would master a new move.  I could almost feel her body in my arms as we moved closer for a slow song.

I could remember sitting at a table when the music started – she’d say, “I love this song.  Let’s go.”

“Nah.  There aren’t enough people out there yet.  I don’t want people staring at us.”  Or “Let’s have a drink first.  You know I move better after a glass of wine.”

And that is my regret.  We danced a lot.  But there were times she wanted to hit the floor and I resisted. 

I can’t believe I let those opportunities slip by.  Why did I care what other’s thought?  Why wasn’t I sure enough about myself to respond to her request?  If I just had one more dance –

I’m determined not to make that mistake again.  At the wedding last month in DC, I grabbed my girls as soon as the band started.  Michelle and I hit the dance floor – Jesse grabbed Stephanie.  Soon all five of us were hands in the air, shaking our booties.  When our favorite family rap came on (doesn’t every family have a favorite rap song?), we all stood in the middle of the dance floor, singing to the top of our lungs:

In New York,

Concrete jungles where dreams are made of,

There’s nothing you can’t do

Now you’re in New York,

These streets will make you feel brand new,

Big lights will inspire you

Let’s hear it for New York.

Jesse and DJ are learning the verses – the rap part between the chorus.  We’ll be even better prepared at the next event.

It’s really about maximizing your time.  It’s really about maximizing your opportunities.  It’s about not sitting out of the dance.

Wedding Weekend in DC

Posted by Danny

Top ten things about our wedding weekend in DC

Number 15 (I couldn’t list just 10, sorry):  Stephanie taught me that “sit on a potato pan Otis” spelled backwards is “sit on a potato pan Otis.  I thought she was a genius to figure that out!  Jesse says he’s heard it before.

Number 14:  Everyone in the family tried brussels sprouts for the first time.  One enjoyed them, two were neutral, two gagged at the table and spit them out in their napkins.

Before sprouts

Number 13:  No plastic bunny cups.

Where's the bunny?

Number 12:      A full cavity search at the Capitol and the White House.  Those silly secret service agents.

Number 11:      The reading of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, at the wedding.  Well, he didn’t read it but the book is by him.

Number 10:      The champagne tower.  Ideally, two waiters pour campaign into the top glass and it spills over into the next layer and so on.  Because the venue was an old mansion, the floor was a bit warped and it didn’t work exactly as planned.  But it’s a really cool idea!

Number 9:  An individual, personalized note inscribed for each guest at the wedding!  A thank you note before they get the gift!  Now that’s class.

Number 8:  Really nice handwriting. 

Number 7:  Uncle Jesse saying “spies” in a whispered tone, 167 times and around every corner at the Spy Museum.

Number 6:  The bride and her father (from a dad’s perspective, better than a bride and her new husband).

Number 5:   13 year olds who look so old they are offered wine at the reception (she’s wearing her mom’s shoes!).

Number 4:  Slick backed hair that makes you look ten years older than you are.

Oops, wrong picture - not enough hair to slick!

Number 3:  Dessert on a stick.

Number 2:  Yoko Ono, Jr. (wore them all weekend long indoor and out).

Number 1:  A big bench; a happy family.

Rehearsal Dinner

Posted by Danny

It’s a Katsopolis family tradition to compose and sing a song at all familiy weddings.  Since Kenny has been like a member of the family for the past 32 years, a performance was in order. 

Here are the lyrics, written by Jesse:

(To the tune of 867-5309)

Kenny, Kenny, you need to get married

We’re here to help you we know it can be scary

We would have thought that you’d gotten over your fears

Since you’ve been dating for like 13 years

Chorus:

Kenny we got you a woman

You need to make her yours

Kenny don’t lose this woman

K-A-TH-E-RINE, K-A-TH-E-RINE, K-A-TH-E-RINE, K-A-TH-E-RINE

Kenny, Kenny it’s not as hard as it seems

Specially since we found the girl of your dre-ams

And I don’t mean like dreams that you’ve had before

Like the one where you played on the PGA tour

(Chorus)

Just try it, Just try it

We really think you will enjoy

You’ll like it, you’ll like it

Even though you’re a Mama’s boy

And Katherine for you this could be a bit scary

Because his arms and hands and feet are so hairy

But there is no question who he likes the best

They only one to pass the Capon test

(Chorus)

Clampets Hit The City

Posted by Danny

Do you ever feel that you are in a social situation that is a bit over your head?  I will reiterate that my wife was a debutante – that must mean something.  If I can get my girls to stop burping at the table (and other things), perhaps there is hope for them too.  One of my major fears is that we have lost all refinement in our household.  Although Jesse and I are comfortable at the country club, we certainly aren’t Miss Manners.

We just arrived in DC for the wedding of dear friends, Kenny and Katherine.  They were in no hurry to wed, I think they’ve been dating for 15 years.  Katherine is refined.  That is why she chose the Hotel Monaco as the hotel for her guests.  It is REALLY nice.

We arrived in the Katsopolis family van.  My father in law keeps this ten year old vehicle just for trips like this one.  And it has come in very, very handy.  But when you arrive at a hotel and the bellhop scowls and says, “We can’t park that – it’s too big”, you know there’s a problem.  I bet if we arrived in a new Cadillac Escalade, his butt would find a spot big enough.

I know, it's as big as a Y van

The entrance was beautiful. 

When we registered, they asked if we wanted a goldfish in our room.  My response?  “Is it free?”  That’s a tacky response, but I’ve been to The Ritz before and been charged $10 for plastic cups.  And I am “cheap”, according to my first born.

He was free (or you wouldn't be seeing a picture of him)

His name was George Washington.   My kids changed his name to Toby.  Toby, really?  What about Patrick Henry or Harthacnut?  Or Edmund or Antonin?  Out of all the names in the world, they chose Toby.

Toby? Why Toby?

The room is nice and there are leopard print robes (I wish Lisa was still here).  I bet I’ll get charged for this.

 

There’s a phone by the toilet.  Now that’s convenient (how could you have a conversation with someone when you are sitting on the toilet?).

Admit it, we've all done it

There is a stairwell that looks like “Gone with the Wind”.

“Oh, Rhett! Please, don’t go! You can’t leave me! Please! I’ll never forgive you!”

Frankly my dear, I don't give a...

Their art is nice, but I think I could have painted it.

It's red and purple - pretty, but is this art?

I call this one "Yellow"

Their curtians (I mean drapes – sorry Miss Manners), are pretty and very, very big.

Nice drapes Monaco

Hallway reminds me of something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

If you look at the rug too long it upsets your stomach

But the best part of Hotel Monaco besides the fact that the shower curtain smells good?  Free Cabernet in the lobby!  I feel more refined than ever.

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