Peaches

Every year around this time, the smell of the early summer peaches stops me in my tracks.  I can’t resist them.  I can’t buy a bushel but a dozen should do.  They purposely put them in a paper bag because they need a few days and the wait can be agony. Of course once they’re home the smell just keeps getting stronger.

Finally! I have to eat one immediately and they never disappoint.  Peaches hold a certain food nostalgia for me, they are a direct link to my father and his way of making them into something special.

You can read all about that in a post I did several years ago when I first began writing about all those ordinary legacy moments; FATHER’S DAUGHTER MOMENTS: PEACHES

Cherish the ordinary moments, they are truly the stuff of legacy.

A Callahan’s Mom

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Today it was all about the hot dog. And beer…birch beer. And a piece of the past that we shared so many years ago as a young family growing up in Bergen County. For Mother’s Day we dined at Callahan’s Hot Dogs. Not brunch, no cooking, no fuss just a hot dog, well not JUST a hot dog it was Callahan’s after all. The snap, the flavor, the birch beer, the music it just all came together like a time capsule broken wide open. It was simple, it was heartwarming, it didn’t include my father but enough trains passed by that we were pretty sure he was on one of them. It’s what she wanted to do for her day.

Sometimes you get there. Sometimes a father’s daughter can learn to appreciate her mother because a little dog comes along and makes her into a Gramma. The mistakes aren’t forgotten but they are relabeled into something more palatable, something more relatable.

The reliance has become endearing especially when you find yourself saying you did the right thing, out loud. Me: no it wasn’t the IRS calling. Me: yes do call the police to report it. Me: see even they said you did the right thing. Now it counts…

Most of all you admit you don’t know what you’ll be like when you’re approaching 86 years old. You admit you’re glad that you own the dog she loves as if it were a grandchild. You admit there may be more similarities than differences, our feet don’t touch the ground. It’s a start albeit a small one, no pun intended.

There is gratitude in the passing of time that allowed all things to come to the point where regrets are over taken by small moments. Like receiving the proud sticker that said Callahan’s Mom from the original owner’s grandson who called her Gramma, day complete.

Happy Mother’s Day from a father’s daughter…

Bill’s Father

 

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It’s no surprise to readers of this blog that I am a Father’s Daughter and usually you have to wait a minute or two before I post on Father’s day.  My Father has been gone for a decade, hard to believe, but I still feel the need to catch him up on all that is important to me on the four hour drive to the Cape.  The man loved to go for a ride.  I won’t have the opportunity to do that this year, my Cape weeks are all askew but thankfully they will eventually happen.  Instead I’d like you to enjoy someone else’s Father, I know I did.

Earlier this year I received an email from a friend and colleague looking to share a story on Ordinary Legacy.  I encourage all of you to do so but he took me up on it. The email was simple, “My Father wrote something back in 1952 when I was only one year old.  He passed away in 2002.”  With permission to post, he said, I believe you will enjoy it.

September, 1952

 My Walk Alone

By Walter William Stoeckel

The dark dimmed fields and woods of the countryside gathered me up in a silent welcome as I walked alone in the cool stillness of the summer night. The air was filled with the silver dust of moonlight sifting down silently and settling all around me as though caressing everything it touched. Far away – somewhere between my listening ear and the dark silhouette of the horizon – a night bird softly called and the distant muffled bark of a dog seemed to answer its melancholy call.

The road ahead mutely beckoned as it vanished dimly round the bend dragging the staggering fence posts in its wake while their strands of barbed wire struggled vainly to preserve some semblance of order in the lurching line. Only the sentinel like telephone poles stood alertly erect silently relaying their messages on threads of wire etched sharply against the powdery blue of the moonlit sky. A night sky so bright only a few scattered twinkling stars peeked through.

 A peaceful serenity caught me in its spell as I continued on alone entranced by the aura of tranquility in which I seemed to be completely immersed. The gentle touch of the dying evening breeze seemed subtly soothing to my cheek and brow. With a sigh I drank in this utopia. Then suddenly, I thought of the reality the morning would bring shattering this peaceful silence with screaming black headlines, blaring radios, and it’ cacophony of voices all vying for my attention. Repeating over and over again the stories of hate, violence, bigotry, deceit and death while trying vainly to justify man’s sins and weaknesses by linking them to noble sounding causes, rationalizing them in the name of logic and blindly believing it to be somehow synonymous with reason. Why must man forever covert and rarely cherish? How much bounty must there be to slake the thirst of greed? Why is his lust for power greater than his need?

My mind wandered, as did I, alone in the night. I peered through the bright darkness of the countryside around me and listened intently to its silence. I spoke to myself aloud, and not unfervently – “If only all this could be mine. If only some great benevolent landowner would say to me: (‘This is yours, all of it, as far as you can see or hear. Yours to do with as you wish for as long as you want it’) how everlastingly grateful I would I be.” To be able to relax in peace and quiet; to be able to build a little world of my own, free from a world of tarnish and greed., free from men living too much on the misfortunes and sufferings of each other. Ahh! This would be a dream come true.

I suddenly stopped and stood still in the road as the truth struck me with a stunning force and I must confess a degree of condemnation. In a moment I became aware that a great land owner really had given me this to do with as saw fit as long as I wished. Slowly I began to walk again but now the night, the countryside and I had changed and I knew what I should have known before.

I had been walking in the night but I had not been walking alone.bills dad 2

Imagine my joy in reading this treasure.  I couldn’t help thinking that for the next fifty years of his life Bill’s father lived this revelation.  I wanted very much to know if that was true.  I wanted to know if this was written for something or merely to cement his thoughts and be used as a reminder when life intruded as it did on his walk.  I was curious to know more about this wonderful story that made him think of Ordinary Legacy. My friend did not disappoint.

I never knew my father had written “My Walk Alone” while he was alive. He passed away in 2002. I found this and several other ponderings while going through his files helping my Mom with his affairs. I transcribed what he wrote so I could save it, and share it with my family. I forgot about it till last weekend, I was going through my files looking for things to send my son.  He asked me to send what I call Billisms.

My Dad went by his middle name Bill (William). He was an interesting guy who had a great worldly curiosity. He wasn’t the kind of Dad that played ball with the kids, or went to sporting events. He would take us to plays, or symphony concerts, or the circus.  He was a very good photographer. He loved taking pictures of flowers, and landscapes and people. He took all his pictures in slide format, and we would sit around the house while dad had a slide show of his collections. We didn’t really appreciate it enough when we were kids.

He was not interested in cars or mechanics. He was an artist who did fantastic pencil drawings, and did enameling work for a while. When he was young, he worked as an artist for the Scranton Lace Company designing Lace patterns.

He was an avid gardener with a huge vegetable garden, and numerous sculpted flower beds. He was an amateur actor, and director and played many roles. He was a Deacon in the Church, yet he loved science. He was great at giving sermons. He was an accomplished golfer, and President of his golf club. He was an accomplished gymnast, and I remember he could go up and down the stairs of our house walking on his hands. 

He had a great laugh, and was a handsome man with twinkling, radiant blue eyes. 

What fond memories of an interesting man, I can see why Bill loves some of the things he does.  I can also see where he takes after his father, living his life the way he wants his story told.  This is no ordinary legacy, three generations sharing the gifts of each other carrying on and adding original links that reach back and forward.  I am deeply grateful to have been able to share this with our little community.

Ordinary Legacy loves Billism #34:

Reading history is informative.

  1. Remember history is helpful.
  2. Making history is living life to its fullest.

To all of you who have your fathers close, enjoy them, even the slide shows, they are too quickly gone but as you can clearly see, never forgotten.  Thank you, Thank you Bill for the gift of this story for us all.

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day ∞ 3PM

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I hope you will forgive me when I say that today is not the day to thank a veteran for their service.  You can do that any other day, every other day but not today.  Today is the day to remember the veterans that lost their lives in battle, our war dead.

As much as I would like this to be about all the veterans that have gone on, my father, Kyle’s father, Muriel’s father and as much as my heart aches that they are no longer with us it’s not about them either.  And they wouldn’t want it to be.  They understood that this day was about the some who gave all.

When my father spent his last years at the NJ Veterans Home in Paramus we had the honor of being there each Memorial Day.  It’s a solemn and nostalgic day for most of the residents who share stories of Sargent This or Lieutenant That or Ensign Whoever among themselves not with you but with each other.  To be fortunate enough to overhear these stories is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life. These men and women suffer that loss each year and it never gets easier.  They enjoy their visitors and their hot dogs but only after the most heart wrenching version of taps is played.  Live, in full uniform, no recording. With hand to heart and tears running down their faces they remember.

Only they can remember with the full respect the day deserves having been there and lived to tell about it.  They do not take that privilege lightly and they don’t speak lightly about it either.  They alone can look another veteran in the eye and speak volumes without uttering a sound.  They alone can smile at the well-intended gratitude of those around them and hope that they will also take a minute to hear taps at the local parade and understand the meaning and heartbreak in the melancholy notes.  I won’t ever be able to hear those notes without the lump in my throat or the tears on my face. I have those tears now, I have them each year.

There are thousands of families reliving the loss of someone dear each Memorial Day.  Mostly these families are enduring each day without their loved one. If you are mindful you can hear snippets all around you.  In the grocery store when a little boy asks his Mom, did Daddy like watermelon too? Yes honey he did she says in the most controlled and low voice you will ever hear. She has to turn away.  Then the volunteer collecting for the care packages to go overseas with his hand on a young man’s shoulder telling him it will be alright. There are stories and legacies everywhere begging to be honored in just the smallest ways.  It is the very least we can do to stop and truly participate in their grief if only for a moment.

From the Memorial Day Tribute site:

In 1996, a humanitarian organization based in Washington, D.C., known as ‘No Greater Love’ conducted a survey on children and asked them why they think there is a holiday on Memorial Day. It was agonizing to hear their remarks that were all associated with barbecues and extended weekend parties and celebration, while they hadn’t the vaguest idea about the sacrifices of the soldiers in whose honor it is celebrated. One of the children was even quoted as saying that this was the day when swimming pools open! Thus, the organization came up with the idea of ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ to remind and especially, let the future generations know about the real meaning of the holiday. The idea clicked with the President and Congress and since 1997, it became a standard American tradition. National Moment of Remembrance requires everybody to keep silent for a minute, exactly at 3.00 pm (local time) when ‘Taps’ is played and reflect on the glory of those who have shed blood for us. The federal government hopes to raise public awareness about the heroes and their valor by introducing this moment.

The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children. -William Havard This is your opportunity to participate for just that moment.  Perhaps someone will thank you…

 

There Is More Than One Way to Tell a Story

 

Lime and Lime Again (28)There is a thing you do, Makes you uniquely you, What is it about you?

Your special talent for keeping everyone informed and documenting life?

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Your annoying thing like bitching about a lost hour? It’s a true thing I’m not the only one.

The way you do this….DSC_0972

Or that

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Or you refuse to do this….074

Someone’s got to hold the pocketbooks.

What’s your signature dish?DSC_3284

Glasses?037

Look?DSC_1642 (2)Or phrase…just sayin.

What are the things you let people see and the things you keep to yourself.

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Your dark moments that could vanish if only…

The lives you touchDSC_5980 (2)

Who wags their tail for you, was it always so?Grooming Day (11)

What makes you laugh out loud?127

What do you collect?Adorno Spring Fair (7)

What’s your guilty pleasure? Carmel Cone Ice Cream? Butterscotch fudge? Frozen Thin Mints? You detect a trend here?DSC_0561

What’s on your list? Love?  Travel? Lime and Lime Again (20)

All these bits add up to your story even if you think you don’t have one, you do. You just have to add up all the isms and scraps and tidbits and ah ha moments and there it is. You are no accident you are a deliberate life with a story worth telling and a legacy like no other.

Slowly very slowly a trust is beginning to grow. People are sharing their stories. Some of their own, some of the one’s they love. They are recognizing legacy in the ordinary and sharing in this little community. The gift of hearing or reading someone’s story is worth more than anything money can buy; to be granted permission to share it and preserve it in the space of time is humbling. There are wonderful stories coming soon to this tiny place on the Internet. For this, and so much more, I am grateful and jazzed and encouraged. I believe I’ll make that my new word…encouraged.

Stay tuned…