An Ode to Nowak

 

Roses are red,

Homework is a bore,

Why do my kids wait to put the massive poetry project together

 the night before?

 

She knew it was coming,

and I did too.

Her sisters made the same mistake,

The night ends with boo – hoo.

 

Due in three weeks,

 she wrote hard for the first.

Then set it aside,

Oh Lord, we’ll be cursed.

 

I got back to the house

at 10 PM from a meeting,

the project was due in 10 hours,

was even too late for some cheating.

 

She wrote haiku, a couplet,

free verse and a sonnet,

Dad, get the glue out and the hole punch,

Although late, I was on it!

 

The writing was easy,

Putting it together was not.

A nice binder, and drawings,

The presentation, a lot.

 

With colored pencils, and crayons

And glue and some tape,

She worked and she worked,

Michelle was up really late.

 

And me, well I watched.

I coached from the side,

And picked up little round papers

from the hole punch til I thought I would die.

 

This is my last child

to learn from Mr. Nowak.

He has motivated my daughters

And taught them Shakespearean clack.

 

 

Sunday Post 23: The Best Summer of Our Lives

I used to struggle to use all of my vacation days.  I guess you could say I was addicted to work.

It wasn’t that my employer didn’t encourage me to take my time – they were very supportive of me using my vacation days to recharge.  It was that I enjoyed what I did and was driven to do more.  I think I got a lot of strokes at work.  Having an incredible fiscal year or raising more money to help kids through the Y motivated me to do more. 

I remember working all weekend long and sometimes multiple weekends in a row.  It’s as if I thought things would fall apart if I wasn’t there.  How could they survive without my input?

What I gained at work, I probably lost at home.  Perhaps my overriding commitment to working harder put barriers between my children and me.  The truth was the more time I spent at work, the less time I spent with them.  And I know that I often put work before my marriage.  I’d work late or bring my computer to the bedroom.  Speaking from experience, that is not helpful in the romance department.

But over the years, I found myself spending less time in the office and more time with my family and friends.  I’ve seen the view from my office window 20,000 times.  I’ve only seen Old Faithful once.  I spend about ten days a year on the beach, I’d like to spend more.  Tonight I sat with some of my best friends in a backyard – just eating, laughing and talking.  What a beautiful, beautiful view.

The year Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, our family went to Disney World, Yellowstone, Topsail Beach, Lake Gaston and spent a romantic weekend in New Bern.  We sat on our screened in porch countless times and ate dinner with friends.  In August when our last summer vacation was complete, I said, “This was the best summer of our lives.”  That was two weeks before we found out she had stage 4 colon cancer.

It wasn’t the best summer because I’d spent more hours in the office or because I’d made more money.  It was the best summer because we’d spent time together – and with our family and friends.

I work hard.  I bring value to my job.  I enjoy what I do and I want to leave a strong legacy at the Y.  But more importantly, I want to make sure that when I die, whenever that may be, that the previous year has been the best of my life.