My Dad died seventeen years ago today….February 18th 2000. It seems like a long time ago…and yet it seems like yesterday. He was a man who worked every day of his life….up early and showered…put his sport coat on and headed to the Hallmark store up until he developed an infection that put him in the hospital where he died a few weeks later. He wasn’t at all ready to go, and we weren’t at all ready to loose him.
My Dad never really had a father of his own…so he took that responsibility very seriously, and nothing in the world meant more to him than his family. He met my Mother when they were kids….and she couldn’t stand him. Since he and his mother just happened to live in part of a big house with my Mom’s relatives….she was forced to invite him to her birthday parties. For whatever reason was in the stars, she eventually had a complete turn around and fell in love with him….and the rest became history….all years of it.
My Dad went to war after Pearl Harbor, and returned when I was eighteen months old, he hated the war, never talked about it, and never wanted me or my brother to have to be a part of one.
My friends always loved my Dad…he convinced Bill Riley that we had cows in our basement, and Cheryl Covi that his car could fly (as long as she kept her eyes closed). He loved to agree to eat the last piece of chicken on the platter…just after someone had reluctantly picked it up with their fork. The women who worked with him at the card shop actually believed that he caught a turkey every year by climbing a tree and snagging the bird with his lasso.
My Dad’s Achilles’ heel was one of us being sick..and that included our dog.
He would go from a strong…resilient…capable man to a tear stained choked up individual by a hospital bed or a Vet’s office. He wouldn’t watch a movie where the horse might fall down, and even fainted when he and my Mom had their blood tests for a marriage license.
My Dad was proud of us….and always said so. He’d go to any event that my brother and I participated in…from concert hall to ball field. He was always in the audience beaming. He adored my niece Claire, and my nephew John Robert…was absolutely delighted to be with them…read to them..and make them laugh. He inspired my brother to follow his dreams…encouraged him to take some risks, and would bask in his success.
My Dad was always proud of my social conscience…and my willingness to buck the system…even if he didn’t agree with me. When I “came out” to him…as much as he was disappointed, and naive , he never withdrew his support or respect…just asked for time to take it all in…once again being proud of me for marching to my own drummer. About a year before he died, after facilitating a really tough group of parent’s whose kids had AIDS, we talked about words that are left unsaid. I asked him if he thought we had any, and he said NO. I said however, that I did. I told him that I needed to hear him say that he knew I was gay..and that he loved me. He smiled, looked me in the eye and said ” I know you’re gay, and I love you”. Eight words that were and continue to be among the most treasured I’ve ever heard.
My Dad was a romantic…loved my Mother with a profound, rare, and unwavering commitment. They really were a tough act to follow. My Dad would have been happy with just the family and the dog…and let the rest of the world go by. He always wanted to shield us from pain…from the messiness of life..he’d take it on himself and tuck it away.
Our hearts were broken on that cold February morning, the void he left was enormous, and his absence in our lives is still painfully obvious. My family lost such a strong protector, constant supporter, and source of profound pride. We so often say ” wouldn’t Dad love this!”. There was much he loved…much he shared..and much that will never be the same. The most fitting tribute that we Marshall’s can give is to keep loving one another as we did, give those hugs of love and pride, and keep telling his stories….especially the ones that make us remember why so many people still say ” Oh, I really loved your Dad/ your husband/your grandfather. “ We certainly loved this man…and know he’d be proud of all of us
February 14th was always an extra special day for our family. My Mom and Dad were married 75years ago on Valentines Day. My Dad died 17 years ago, and my Mom still cried when we talked about him until she joined him in 2015. They were romantically in love their whole lives. He never failed to kiss her when he was coming or going, and if their song “It’s been a long long time” came on the radio or TV they’d get up and dance. She told me once about how much she missed him holding her at night.
When we were kids, my crazy cousin and I grabbed any excuse to throw a surprise party, and every year we’d celebrate my parent’s anniversary along with his Mom and Dad’s which occurred on Feb. 7th. My Mom says that they’d dread coming home and seeing the draperies all closed….a sure sign that my cousin and I had decorated the entire first floor with red and white streamers and those “chains” you make from strips of construction paper. Closed draperies meant that we’d also been at it in the kitchen, where we’d make everything we could think of…jello, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, toast, old fruitcake from Christmas with chocolate sauce, celery with peanut butter…( get the drift..?) ANYTHING we could find.
My Mom and Dad seemed to actually encourage my larger than life imagination…from the get go, while my Aunt would just keep saying things like ” Oh my GOD ! ” while my uncle and my Dad would crack a beer, and eat a hot dog. We have some of those old movies of course, and almost all of them feature one of these SURPRISE! parties. My cousin and I flit around like crazy little pixies…pointing to the giant cards we’d made, or dancing with each other…just to get everyone in the mood.
I was out this week buying cards for friends and ordering flowers for my partner…I love all the hype…all the political incorrectness of the consumerism…bring it on, I’m a sucker for all of it.
I still have to find one of those gigantic hearts filled with candy…even though I can already hear the groans of the household…”oh we shouldn’t be eating this stuff”. I will of course be undaunted….I was already looking for Irish soda bread recipes and eyeing those tacky bright green shamrocks for the front door…..bring it on…I’ll take a dozen.
Celebrate your loves today….past, present, and still to come….and always remember that it’s never too late for happily ever after….I’m the poster child.
Woof will be eleven years old next month….that’s getting up there for any dog, but especially for a Boxer. The previous five Woof’s have had life spans from a heartbreaking 6 or 7 to a fragile and very “old” 12. This Woof has some arthritis in her back leg…and a bit more gray on her muzzle every few months.
We made a deal when she was a puppy that we’d do our best to grow old together…and so far so good.
Last year we came to St Augustine in February as we’ve done for the last six or seven years…primarily because it’s a dog friendly beach..and the weather is more like spring at that time of year. I like having sunny days…maybe 70 degrees…with chilly star-filled nights to cuddle up under a blanket with a warm dog beside me. I was concerned about said dog’s normal behavior on a beach due to the issues with her leg, and debated whether or not to keep her on her leash while we walked the basically deserted shoreline…fearing that if I “turned her loose” she’d injure herself. Two of my good friends were clear in their opinions to let her go…and I did. Wow….she took off like a gazelle…running big circles around me, stopping to dig in the sand…romp in the surf, and I swear she was laughing with unbridled joy. Her leg was a little stiff that night, but after repeat performances during the remainder of our time in Florida, she actually seemed to get better.
So fast forward to this year. We arrived to an even better beach house this year, great group of friends escaping the winter, and even more anxiety for me about my dog…(more stairs…that Chris even bought pads to install if they proved to be a hazard for Woof…and one year older of course.) It was 80 degrees here when we arrived…and instead of a completely deserted beach there were probably 10 people in the whole area. Now Woof had spent 2 days traveling down here…reluctant to eat on the way, and even more impacted from our night in a “dog motel”….so I thought we’d have a “soft” start on the beach. I misjudged my best friend.
The instant I unfastened her leash she took off like the most energetic puppy in the world. Woof was prancing and dancing…leaping in and out of the surf with her now mostly gray ears flapping in the wind. While life can twist my heart around on a pretty regular basis these days, watching that dog took me to a most magical and wonderful place. In almost eleven years I have never seen her so very happy…nor do I remember my own soul feeling such a rush with such a simple gesture as unclipping an old well worn leash.
We all slept well last night…Woof snored the loudest, feet jolting me awake several times while she dreamed of chasing sea gulls, and me feeling such contentment with that warm hide beside me…convincing me once more that life with a dog makes it all worthwhile.
…..What does it mean to “put someone on notice”?
…..I hate the groundhog.
…..Can’t believe hoW good Jane Fonda looks on Grace and Frankie.
…..I want to look out the window and see a palm tree.
…..My Mom and Dad were married on Valentine’s Day.
…..I still hear some people say Valentimes.
…..Today was my Aunt Coletta’s birthday…one of her famous lines was “There’s nothing wrong with it….we’re just not used to it”.
……She fed her dogs M & M’s.
…….Her dogs didn’t live real long.
…….Hearing the president slamming The Apprentice because of it’s low ratings wasn’t all that unexpected.
…….Hearing him do it at the National Prayer Breakfast wasn’t quite what one would expect.
…….Or maybe it was.
…….I think it might be okay to start pansy seeds this week.
…….Does anyone have an extra set of large Adoring Angels?
…….We have blue draperies in our Library.
…….I have a feeling that a lot of gay people and their friends are buying poster board and getting ready to make their protest signs.
…….The only light note at the inauguration was Kellyanne’s “costume”.
……..Saw a guy dressed like that at the Women’s march.
……..Most of our nuns always smelled like Jergens Lotion.
……..However Sister Alberta smelled more like Twenty Mule Team Borax.
……..Everyone should always feel free to drop off cookies at the front door here.
…….Australians,Mexicans, Iranians,and Marshalls don’t like bullies
……The days are getting LONGER
……The furnace here sounds like a brass band.
……I’m already against the next war.
……I don’t miss running four flower shops on Valentine’s day.
…..Pro life groups really ought to fight for the children of Syria who need to be rescued.
……Praying for Arnold and The Apprentice at a prayer breakfast STILL seems odd to me.
……”A life without risk is no life at all.”
…….When my brother was about 13 I decided to tell him that I was gay….set the scene by saying I had something “really big” that I had to discuss with him.
After our talk his response was ” I thought you said it was something really big”
…….His love, support and acceptance has never wavered.
…….Lots of people kill palms by over watering them or assuming that they love a lot of sun.
…….” I glory in your success.”
…….And it’s never too late for happily ever after.
…..I’m going on a major shopping spree with my credit card. One of my friends will pay for it later.
…..All the “pro-life” people will never allow the president to break up families and deport hard working people…or refuse to let refugees come here to America.
……I know they’re also all fighting hard to abolish the death penalty.
……Sure feels like the bleak midwinter around here.
……More people read my blogs than any others. It’s the most read blog in the history of blogs.
……Mary Tyler Moore certainly left us all laughing…what a great legacy.
……Just about time to start glancing at the seed catalogs.
……When I was a teenager I remember sitting in a funeral home listening to a lot of people saying really nice things about my uncle…and wondering if they’d ever expressed those feelings while he was alive.
…..Having a new set of eyes take a look around this house that I’ve lived in for 38 years is absolutely illuminating, exhilarating, and delightful.
…..Woof and I needed a click on the “refresh” tab.
…..My friend Dan has so little faith in my mechanical skills that he actually thought I was going to try my new wine opener on the bottom of the bottle.
…..While some people think it’s time to “let it go” about the election, that’s proving to be very hard to do with each new announcement from the Whitehouse. Last night it was torture.
…..If we torture enemy prisoners the enemy will do the same thing to us.
…..An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.
…..A lot of very rich people sure got richer yesterday.
…..Me….not so much.
…..My Bird of Paradise looks like it’s going to bloom this year…I’ll need to have Gordon and Wes over for a celebratory cocktail.
…..I love Gordon and Wes.
…..Last Saturday we had a picnic on the front porch…this week it will feel like Ice Station Zebra.
……Best part of January 20th were the gowns…especially Melania and Ivanka.
……Kellyanne…not so much….that cross between the doorman at F.A.O. Shwarz and Woody Woodpecker just didn’t cut it.
…….I think Rachel Maddow is the smartest woman on TV.
…….What’s wrong with fixing a little tear in the wallpaper with a little nailpolish?
…….Sometimes we have to use what’s handy.
…….I just almost lost this whole thing when I looked up the correct spelling for FAO Shwarz. I said some really bad words.
…….Was reading a question from a 13 year old on a Catholic website…he or she didn’t want to be confirmed in the church because the priest there gave communion to two known homosexuals.
…….Poor kid needs a little more guidance before the Bishop slaps him/her.
…….The new press secretary looks as though he might last a few more days.
…….Donald Trump is using a private e-mail server. oops (here we go again)
…….The daffodils are popping up…but they’re smart enough to restrain themselves.
……..Sister Alberta once decreed that wearing a poodle skirt for the May crowning was actually mocking the Blessed Mother.
……..Dianne Carter and her daughter Renee are two of the sweetest women who have ever entered my life.
……..Putting a rose in a bud vase on every table in my brother’s restaurants is fun…and complicated.
……..His new donut shop sells one that is sprinkled with bacon.
……..AND it’s good for you.
……..”A Dog’s Purpose” sounds like a great movie.
………I gave Bill the book for Christmas and he said it made him cry.
………Last year I gave him Adele’s CD and that made him cry.
………Now Bill is afraid of my Christmas gifts.
………50% of the country liked the massive women’s marches.
………I’m not very political.
………When Donald Trump said that he watched thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating when the towers came down on 9-11..he wasn’t telling the truth.
………Things like that bother me….and often they result in more hate crimes.
………Found a letter from a substitute when I was teaching way back…it ended with ” Your lesson plans were excellent, however I have to tell you that this was the worst day of my life”.
…..A bit concerned about having someone run the Dept. of Energy when the last thing I heard from him was that he wanted to abolish it.
…..Watching Les Mis again….and still hoping that Russell Crowe isn’t going to sing.
……Like Watching Carrie Underwood in Sound Of Music and whispering ” They’re behind the tombstones”.
……The crocus are up on our front walk….premature of course but very very welcome.
……I can’t tell a Honda from a Mercedes sports car.
……Ben is no Brady…..(How’s that for butch?)
……Saw the gay dance party in front of Mike Pence’s house last night…loved how some of the neighbors joined in.
……Lovely dinner with Chris and my brother and his wife tonight at Altius.
……Not a cheap night out on the town.
……Why do I feel like crying when I see the Obamas leaving the Whitehouse?
……Started reading again….finally.
……The Johnny’s seed catalog is about to be opened with great expectations.
……I wonder if I’m at the point in my life where I can think about calling myself a writer?
…….I sure have a big stack of stuff that I’ve written.
…….My family went to see La La Land and the fire alarm went off before the movie began….and not one person in the audience would agree to leave…until they were forced out.
…….Somebody cries WOLF a little too often.
…….If I remember correctly, this is usually the coldest time of the year around these parts.
…….I love my house…..38 years later.
…….Bob’s mother always hugged people when they were introduced…and over the years I’ve found myself frequently doing the same thing.
…….Rented the third floor apartment to a really sweet guy….Woof approves.
,,,,,,Seems like Paris and Venice are on the agenda this year.
……Lots of people will be marching this weekend….always a good feeling to feel surrounded by kindred souls.
……No Cliff…it’s still to early to start your tomato seeds.
……My brother’s donut shop opens on Monday…..way too cool looking…details to follow.
……I am so very very proud of my little brother.
……Trip to Costco this week….apocalyptic supplies of toilet tissue and paper towels.
…….Happy for all the circus animals who will no longer have to perform for people.
…….Absolutely love the new Suburu commercial with the dog waiting for the other one to come out of the beauty parlor.
…….Please come over and finish up the Christmas cookies and candy.
…….My talking scale says ” PLEASE one at a time!”
…….Heard that it was unusually cold in Rome last week and Pope Francis opened the Vatican as a homeless shelter.
…….You go Francis!
…….I hope President Trump speaks to all of us tomorrow…and not just his supporters.
…….The juxtaposition of his recent news conference with Barrack Obama’s was astonishing.
…….Nice compliment from a client last month ” You absolutely changed my life”
…….We all need a pat on the back sometimes.
…….I once planted a thousand daffodils…..and in spite of my absence, I’ll bet they’ll still bloom magnificently.
…….Ray once organized a “cough in” when we were in the eighth grade. At exactly 11:00 AM , 40 of us started the “incident” that caused Sister Alberta to spring up from her desk like a jack in the box.
……Reminds me of the guy who wanted a closed casket funeral…and requested that the organist play Pop Goes the Weasel.
……Trying to take Christmas lights off of a tree that an un-named friend decorated ( Al Snyder) had me thirty seconds away from taking a pair of scissors to it.
……Note to self….(be selective about decorating help).
……I seriously think that Donald Trump will enjoy this weekend…and then really not want to face the challenges that will follow.
…..I’m sure I’d rather relax at Mar A Lago.
…..Gonna watch Girl on the train this week….liked the book…easy read at the beach last year.
……I used to like Dennis Miller.
……Now I can’t stand him.
……How’s about Santorum on CNN……yuk yuk yuk
……Witch Hazel ought to be coming out soon.
……So should a few members of congress.
……I have a secret.
AT LEAST………we had a respectful election process this time….the debates were intelligent with well prepared candidates…serious discussions of critical issues that the country faces, and powerful but gentle disagreements.
As a country we held pristine voting periods…with every possible opportunity for all Americans to vote as easily and conveniently as possible as well. Each of us cast our vote for our preferred candidate, and of course the one with the highest number of votes naturally was elected.
We are lucky that our elections are free….untampered with by anyone from foreign countries or entities. We don’t need a UN team to monitor us!
Lastly we have elected the best this country has to offer. The wisdom, poise, knowledge, experience, honesty and compassion of the person who will represent us to the entire world is unquestionable. We will once again see the world embrace our leader with open arms.
We will be safe at last….treated equally regardless of our social status, religion, or “lifestyle”.
Our planet will thrive….nourished by a deep respect for science, medical research and new immigrants will surely continue to add to our marvelous diversity.
Our new president has already displayed a rare ability to bring out the very best in all of us.
God Bless America.