Posts Tagged ‘father’

Bundled up in my warmest clothes and wrapped in my yellow blankee with bunnies. My first big snow. I am not 100% sure of the year, but it must have been 1979 or 1980. Snow stacked at least to the knee of a tall adult. We lived at the bottom of a hill and my grandparents situated at the peak. My father carried me while my mom toted my little sis to trek up the hill to grandma and grandpa’s house. My first memory of snow.

The biggest snow of my life thus far fell when I was around 11 years old.  My sister and I were living in Charlotte with my mom and we knew that wasn’t the place to take advantage of the winter wonderland. We convinced my mom to drive us to our Aunt Tammie’s house so we could do some serious sledding. Within a few miles of Tammie’s home was a place called “The Tickle Hills”… which was in fact a long dirt road with crazy steep hills! There was woods on either side of the road with gulleys between. During the day, we went with the family, including grandparents and cousins, to take on the hills. Someone had the bright idea of placing my grandma on a saucer sled! Having no way to steer, she didn’t make it but a few feet down the hill before shooting off the road, launching airborne, and jumping the ditch. I remember the moment of “Uh-oh, there goes grandma!” The saucer slid up part of a tree trunk before coming to a halt and dumping my grandma out upside down. We couldn’t breathe! She wasn’t injured. We laughed until we cried!  She was done. No more rides for grandma. We kind of lost her trust in the activity.

After dark, my sis and I returned to the sledding site with my aunt and her husband. He parked the trucks at the bottom of the hill with the headlights beaming up and 80’s music blaring from the speakers. The light did not reach the top, so we started off in the dark. My aunt would lie on the flyer and I would lie on top of her. This made for less stability and probably contributed to the many times we wrecked. We couldn’t make it all the way to the bottom… we would get shaky, lose control, spin out, and go flying in different directions, screaming and laughing through the icy air. Then it happened. We bolted down the hill at top speed, quickly approaching the trucks at the bottom. I don’t think it had occurred to us that we may get that far, and we did not have a plan for stopping or what to do when about to collide with the vehicles. The trucks were parked closely together, it was a narrow road afterall. Tammie kept screaming, “Just hold on, don’t wobble!” She steadied the sled, kept on a straight path, and we sailed in between the trucks at top speed! Scary! Great rush and FUN!

1995 – The first snow for Precious, Black Mountain, NC. She was about 5 months old. We rented a private cabin and was snowed in for days. The most fun was watching Precious run around the side of the mountain, kicking up snow, eating snow, spinning,  jumping, and  prancing around like she was a furry ice princess. Her tags became coated with snow and she ended up wearing a frozen snow ball around her neck. I had to make her go inside. She just couldn’t get enough!

The first snow for Sebastian when he was a puppy. He was between 4-5 months old. It snowed at our house and he didn’t know how he should walk in it. He kept leaping in and out of it, much like a deer. I wish I had a video. He loved that it was cold, would move, could be kicked and eaten!

The last snow for Sebastian, 2009. Last year it snowed several inches near the end of January. Sebastian had not been as active in the months leading up to the snow. He had turned 9 the previous August and his joints wouldn’t allow him to be as playful and bouncy as in his younger days. Well, when he walked out the door into the snow, the puppy was back! He immediately started shoveling it into his big mouth, and then ran down the stairs from the deck into the yard and started kicking up his feet and bouncing around like a bunny or deer like he had when he was a pup. His eyes were wide and googly with excitement! I went out in the yard and began throwing snow up in the air. He was ecstatic! He would jump up and to catch the flakes in his mouth, and then he would patiently sit and quietly request that I do it again. When he really wanted something, he could have amazing manners (or rather offer a polite way of being bossy). He ran around the yard with me, my other dog (his plutonic girlfriend) Mica, and tried to find every way he could to use the snow, enjoy the snow, play with the snow… and he was the happiest dog. A short 6 weeks later, his legs couldn’t carry him anymore and I had to say goodbye. I am so thankful he had those last moments of celebrating life!


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Inspired by Waiting for the Click and Why Is Daddy Crying?

I divided this into 2 posts because it ended up quite lengthy.

The first memories of music I have is from my father. He died when I was 6 years old. He loved music! He played in a band during his teen years and while I was young, he had amps set up in the garage through which he would  play his electric guitar. I remember pulling in the long driveway to our house after a trip to the  grocery store with my mom, and my dad would be rockin’ out in the garage, singing songs through a microphone and jamming on his guitar. He had the presence of a rock star! He would play his albums in the downstairs den and loved to watch my sister and I dance around and bounce like jumping beans to the tunes of Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers Band, Grand Funk Railroad, and of course The Grateful Dead. I remember being so energized by the music, I could only see my blonde hair whipping around in front of my face and could hear my dad’s laughter through the fast guitar and heavy drums. One of my happiest memories of my entire life.

(I wish I had a photo of my father to include, but my sister borrowed my photo album and has not returned it. I will scan each and every photo as soon as I get it back!)

Michael Jackson – Thriller. My grandma. We had a Friday tradition of going to town to the steak house and then to the mall. My grandparents allowed me to select the first album I would own, and they purchased it for me. We returned home and played it on the turntable in the huge wooden cabinet. (I tried to find a picture but I couldn’t find one nearly as huge as the one in my grandparents’ home.) My grandma danced with me and it was all kinds of fun! I was 7. It’s the first memory I have of seeing my grandma be totally joyful and have fun since my dad had died the previous year.

Country music two-stepped in. My mother’s favorite was country and the next guy she dated after my father died was a DJ on the top country station in Charlotte. She was always going to concerts and coming home with pictures with the artists. Alabama was my first concert. I was 7 or 8 years old and I fell asleep. Their music still comforts me. I have not been a country music fan in my adult life. I never listen to country radio stations, but there are songs of that genre from the early 80’s that are so nostalgic. One summer at Myrtle Beach, it wouldn’t stop raining. Stuck in the house for a couple of days, we listened to Alabama over and over. Dixieland Delight, Mountain Music, Feels So Right. I now have some of them on my iPod and my favorite is “The Closer You Get”. I remember sitting in the white plastic swivel chair in the living room and helping my mom put a puzzle together while the rain loudly poured outside. I’m sure the puzzle was a picture of horses… or maybe puppies.

A lot of the music from the 70’s reminds me of my Aunt Tammie. She introduced me to Foreigner, 38 Special, Heart, Blondie, Parliament-Funkadelic, and The Sugarhill Gang, just to name a few. She admired Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart because they played their own instruments… didn’t need men for rock guitar. We dressed up in costumes, make-up, heels, and danced around to choreographed routines. Laughing and giggling to the wee hours of the morning.

And then there was Bon Jovi. My obsession. I was such a dedicated fan that I owned a band t-shirt for each day of the week, and in the 6th grade, my entire wardrobe consisted of blue jeans, high top Converse sneakers, and Bon Jovi t-shirts. I didn’t care how nerdy anyone thought me to be. It was about the music. It mattered more. And who are we kidding? I had a mad crush on Jon Bon Jovi. To this day, you listen to the old songs and realize why women love them so much. We all want a man to think of us and love us the way he describes in those songs. No matter how cheesy anyone thinks the music is, one should be so lucky to have another love them so passionately. “I’ll be there till the stars don’t shine Till the heavens burst and words don’t rhyme And I know when I die you’ll be on my mind
And I’ll love you always

I loved the movie Pretty in Pink. I had the soundtrack on cassette tape and played it on a Walkman. I used to spend all of my weekends at my grandparents’ home. I would spend hours driving the go-cart around their property, around the pond, the dog pens, the orchard, the gardens with my headphones blaring the soundtrack over and over, thinking about how I couldn’t wait to become a teenager and have a boyfriend. “If you leave, don’t leave now. Please don’t take my heart away…”

Speaking of boyfriends, a highschool boyfriend used to sing to me as long as I couldn’t see him. He would hold me close and sing in my ear, “Shameless” by Garth Brooks. “Well I’m shameless when it comes to loving you
I’ll do anything you want me to… I’ll do anything at all
Every Boys II Men song reminds me of those days too and of that relationship. One moment in particular was on a hot summer night. The song was playing on a girl’s boombox by the pool. Swimming at night is the best, especially with someone who is playful and sings you Boys II Men.

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This is a dreary, icky, melancholy day. It is the week of Thanksgiving and what is on my mind most is that I miss my Aunt Tammie. Her birthday is November 28th, and so she is on my mind. She died at the age of 37, car accident. My dad, her big brother, died when he was 27, car accident.

It felt strange when I outlived my father’s age, and it will be weird to live longer than my aunt did, unless something happens to me. I guess there is still plenty of time for something to take me out early… for what little bit of family I have left, I hope not.

I want to think about all of the fun and crazy times I shared with Tammie. She was a character! She was boisterous, animated, hysterical, and the list goes on and on. She was only 12 years older than I, so we did some really silly things to pass the time. When I was 11 or 12 and she was in her early twenties, we would stay up all night finding something to entertain us. We made videos pretending we were MTV VJs, made up dances, dressed in costumes… she taught me how to twirl a baton and how to do “The Bus Stop” and other dances from the late 70’s. She introduced me to music that was before my time. We watched countless 80’s movies over and over. She taught me how to play poker… and lots of other things. But most importantly, Tammie would tell me stories about my father… funny, silly stories… memories that would really give me a sense of what it was like to hang out with him. She painted pictures for me that I so desperately needed. No one else did that in my life.

Tammie was so loving and she just wanted to feel loved and appreciated in return. Unfortunately, people found a way to take advantage of her good nature and she did not have the best relationships with men in her life. She had the potential to do anything in the world she wanted to do. She was mad smart and could get any room rolling with laughter. She also had a multitude of talents. The thing is, she got bored really easy… so she tried out a variety of occupations. She was a passionate person. She loved animals and gave that to me. I looked up to her so much. Even though she was unstable a lot of the time… she was artistic, crafty, wrote poetry, painted, had a beautiful voice, could play the piano by ear, was a fabulous cook… and was also good at math, computer work, and interested in science. I thought she was amazing! I wish that she had felt amazing… I am certain that she never really did.

Tammie never recovered from losing her big brother, my dad. I didn’t realize to what extent until I went to her funeral. I won’t go into details here, but she carried that broken heart around her entire adult life. I later learned that she spent a significant amount of time at his grave site. When we buried her, she was placed beside him.

Back to the fun stuff… she used to dress me up like I was her doll. I was 5 and she would paint my face with make-up, complete with a beauty mark – always – and curl my blonde hair into ringlets with shiny ribbons tied in bows. She taught me how to roller skate and we would go to the rink in the middle of the day and skate under the disco balls and flashing lights until dinner time.

One of my fondest memories is being on a cruise ship docked in Mexico… it was incredibly windy, and the band played “American Pie” and “Brown-Eyed Girl”… Tammie, my sister, and I twirled around and ran around dancing for what seemed like forever. It was one of those magical moments in time. We had a blast! I am so thankful for that. You couldn’t be around Tammie and not have fun!

Okay, now I am ecstatic! I just stepped away from the computer to try and find a picture of the two of us… and I found one from the night in Mexico!!!

One summer at camp I went by her name instead of my own. It wasn’t on purpose exactly, but I played along. I had an old t-shirt of hers that was black with gold sparkly letters that spelled her name. I wore it to camp one day and the girls I met there called me “Tammie” for the next couple of weeks. I never told her that.

She took me to the beach several times while I was a pre-teen. We would take our floats out past the wave break and float and talk all day long. She took me to my first Bon Jovi concert. I was 10 and obsessed with the band. She stood outside in the rain in line for hours so we would get good seats. She also drove me an hour away and stood in line so that I could have my picture taken with Kirk Cameron (you know, the kid from “Growing Pains” back when he was cute and before he went crazy).

I wish that I also had a picture of her before my father passed away, back when she took better care of herself and still had her dreams alive for a bright future. When I think about it, I carry on a lot of things I picked up from her. She absolutely loved Halloween, made a big deal out of birthdays, always wanted to learn something new, and she treated her pets like her children. I hope that she recognized, even a little, that she gave me so much and influenced me in some pretty damn cool ways!

I just had to get out the mixture of thoughts and memories swimming around in my noggin today. I miss my big “sister”… I always will.

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