Sunday, December 16, 2012


Well. We finally decorated our tree. We only put it up a week ago. In this house, we have an agreement. I like white lights. Jon likes colored lights. We alternate every year. This is our compromise. Truth be told, this was my year, but I let him have it.

We listened to music and danced while we decorated the tree. This is the mix I made. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One More for the Road

I am so grateful for the time we have had with Dad.  For every hard part, there is at least one good part.  I wrote this poem long ago, even before it was read by my uncle at my grandfather's funeral in 2001.  It just seemed fitting then, and now.

Sweet songs of childhood
go dancing through my head,
whispering secrets of family and friends
sung by beautiful memories.

The harmonious tunes are not of fear
but of love and happiness;
the tears shed in remembrance
are not of sadness, but of hope.

In the purest a capella, I hear voices
singing lullabies of years past-
mother, father, grandma, grandpa,
then more, now a chorus.

There all the while,
heard only by those who listen,
the songs can be found only in your heart--
listen to the secrets of years to come.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dear Dad

I remember the day so clearly. It was finals week at school. I was supposed to begin student teaching the following semester. I had a lot on my mind...I had just been to the doctor for a biopsy of my right breast and was anxiously awaiting the test results. I had just left class and was outside, headed towards the library when I received a phone call.

It was a Bolingbrook police officer. He told me that Dad had been wandering around the Kroger parking lot, looking for his car. He asked me if Dad suffered from dementia. He told me that an ambulance had been called and Dad was taken to Bolingbrook Adventist.

I immediately called you. I told you all that had happened the past couple days. You began to cry and said, "Oh my God, Beth. I think Dad had a stroke." I began to cry, too. Loudly. I felt as if my heart had dropped to my stomach, and I became weak in the knees and fell to the ground. Passersby just looked at me and probably thought I was crazy.

The next person I called was Jon. He got off work and picked me up and we went to the hospital.
It was a major stroke. Dad was lucky to be alive.

One professor was so understanding. His mom had passed away from a stroke. He could commiserate with me. Other professors were not so forgiving. They couldn't care less about Dad or what I was going through. One even told me that two of her student's parents had passed away from cancer that semester and they still did their work.

I was supposed to work the day I received the phone call. I called in and told my boss that my dad had a stroke and I couldn't make it in. I felt that Dad was more important than serving wealthy donors fancy food before a CSO performance. I was fired.

The next year was so difficult. I was so sad. I didn't want to do my student teaching, but Jon convinced me it was the best thing to do. I had two more English classes to take during the summer to fulfill my minor requirements.

The professor who was so understanding always told me, "Write what you know and the truth will come out." So, for my final paper that summer, I wrote a letter to Dad. I never read it to him. Here it is.

Dear Dad,

I miss you. I miss our talks. I may not have told you this at the time, but you always knew how to comfort me…make me feel better after a fall…after a boy broke my heart…you were there. I miss your bear hugs. Do you remember? You grew a beard by the end of the day even when I was just a child. You’d pick me up, squeeze me tight, and “swhisker” me before you went to work at night. You never said, “I love you.” But I knew. I knew you loved me because I felt it. I questioned this when I was much older…it was high school. I began to notice other parents telling their children that they loved them. I asked you why you never told us that you loved us. You said, “Of course I love you. I love all my children.”

“Then why don’t you ever say it? Promise me you’ll try to say it more often.”

“O.k., dear.”

After leaving for work the next day, you gave me a hug goodnight and then left. A few seconds passed and you opened the door and said with a big grin, “I love you.” It made me so happy that you continued to do it. Eventually, you only said it every once in awhile. But you know what, Dad? It only made it that much more meaningful.

I love you a bushel and a peck

You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle-oodle-ooh-doo



Do you remember that song? You used to sing it to us. I would always sing it with you. Jon’s mom started singing it to her grandkids one day…only with different lyrics.

I love you a bushel and a peck

A bushel and a peck and a squeeze around the neck

Oh yes I do, I love you

This upset me. I thought she had gotten the words wrong, but she insisted she didn’t. I felt as if she was calling you a liar. This was part of my childhood…a part that I cherished so dearly. I didn’t even know who sang the song originally. I didn’t even want to look it up for fear that I might be wrong. Then, one night I was watching a movie and the song started playing in the background. You were both right. Well, sort of. I was so happy. I got up and started dancing and singing. I think Doris Day sang it. I think Perry Como sang it, too.

You used to clean houses in Downers Grove. Oftentimes, you would have to bring us kids with you. Sometimes we would help, but I remember one particular occasion where you gave us money to go see a movie. I was about four or five-years-old. Ryan and Matthew didn’t want to hold my hand. You told them they had to if they wanted to see the movie. I was so excited. A real adventure with my brothers!

The movie theater was right down the street from where you were. We passed by a candy shop first. We went in. Matthew and Ryan bought some candy for the movie. I marveled at all there was in this candy store. They had those gum cigarettes…not the stupid sugar sticks, but the ones that were rolled in paper and when you blew, sugar smoke would come out. They were my favorite only because they were my brothers’ favorite. I think it made them feel cool. I wanted to be just like them. We got to the movie theater and they realized they only had enough money left to buy two tickets. I remember they turned to me and asked me if I remembered how to get back to the house you were cleaning. I was so scared.

“But, I thought we were gonna see a movie?”

“How about we give you some of this candy and you go back and tell Dad you changed your mind and would rather stay with him?”

“Can Daddy come, too?”

“No, you’re going to walk back right down the street there and help Dad. Do you remember which house it was?”

“I think so.”

“O.k. we’ll see ya’ later.”

I began walking down a street. I’m not sure if it was even the right direction. There were a lot of people on the street. It was a Saturday. I felt like I might get trampled. I began to cry. I was just sitting there in the middle of the sidewalk crying. And then you were there. You picked me up and hugged me and asked me what had happened. I told you all that had happened. I asked if I could go help you clean now. I don’t know how you knew I was there, but I was so happy to see you. You were furious. That was the most angry I had seen you. You put me down. You asked me to wait outside the movie theater, but I wanted to come inside with you. You asked an usher to watch me for a couple of minutes, and you bought a movie ticket.

A couple minutes later, you dragged Matthew and Ryan outside and started yelling at them. “I asked you to look after your sister and you leave her here? How could you be so irresponsible? What if something had happened to her?” You started spanking them right there in front of the Tivoli. You may have spanked them all the way back to the house. I felt bad. I felt guilty for not remembering where you were, which caused my brothers to get spanked and grounded, and you got so upset. You made them apologize to me and had them turn over the candy they had left. I felt like you had rescued me that day.

I miss your stories. You would always talk about the past. Sometimes it made me think you weren’t happy with the present, but maybe you just wanted to remember. You told me that your brother used to call you “Burdock” because you always wanted to be around him. He was so much older than you. You would always tell me that I would’ve liked him. Do you remember what you’d call us? “Bud”, “Missy”, “Forsooth”, “Rye” or “Ryebread”, and “Beth” or “Macbeth”. You taught me how to drive in the same cemetery you taught mom how to drive. She was so much younger than you.

Do you remember life before your stroke? I do, Dad. I remember it so clearly that it used to make it hard for me to see you. I kept thinking, “what if?” What if I would’ve noticed something different about you that day? You came down the stairs so slowly that morning. What if I would’ve stayed just a little while longer? I may have seen it. What if I came over to your house when you had called me and said your car wasn’t working? I told you that you probably left the headlights on and to ask a neighbor for some jumper cables. What if I never moved out? You’ve never lived alone a day in your life. What if?

I’ve stopped that now, Dad. I keep thinking, “What now?” I’m so happy you’re in my life. I’m so grateful for all that you are and all that you’ve done to ensure I had the best life possible. No material possession could ever replace any moment we’ve shared together. Right after the stroke, I sat there in the hospital room and I asked if there was anything that you needed. Do you remember what you said?

You said, “Just you. I need all my children.” And I need you, too. So, what now, dad? Shall we play some basketball? Do a crossword together? Laugh together? How about a song? I know a good one.

Your loving daughter,


Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Decade

In so many ways, your trip reminds me of ours...  My (now) husband and I went to Manhattan just three weeks after 9/11.  Soot was still hanging over the city...but, the people were already getting back on their feet...resilient as ever!  It was already impossible to get theatre tickets (luckily, we secured our seats for "42nd Street" in advance!).  We had the most amazing time!  Unfortunately, I don't have any easily accessible pictures, since that was B.D. (before digital) and I am not G.S. (good scanner).

Some of our group (I was traveling on business; but, we stayed longer on our own) went down to the World Trade Center site.  I could not bring myself to do that.  I was still sad. 

I was one of about 5 people on our plane from Chicago to NYC...that was crazy.

When I arrived, I ended up sharing a cab into the city, with a textile representative, after we both needed a distraction and conversed the entire plane ride (nerves!).  My (now) husband flew in a couple of days later...on a much fuller, less nerve-racking, flight.

One of our events was supposed to have been in the WTC.  So, we had it at the New York Bar Assocation instead...and, no, they did not give us any breaks on the price (I still think of that!).

The city was alive everywhere we went.  One of the neat things was that our group had some connections.  My (now) husband and I rode to our Broadway show with a retired appellate court judge (in NY, these are the "courts of last resort").  He parked a few feet from the door (I am serious) and joked that his children don't care about his money when he passes...they just want his parking pass!

We saw a comedy show...not memorable, but still cool.  We went to Grand Central Station.  We went to the science museum near Central Park.  We went shopping (tax free...a frequent occurrence in NYC)!  We went to the most amazing jazz club.  We went to Times Square...we saw a movie at a theatre there.  We took a lot of pictures.  We love the vibe!  The energy!  Everything!  Thank you, NYC, for showing us what you are made of!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Birthday Trip.

NYSE #1 must-see on Jon's list / he's a bull / outside LaGuardia / "perfume" / about a ten minute walk from our brownstone in Harlem / the very best fried chicken we've ever eaten @ Red Rooster / inside Red Rooster / Harlem street / the set of Grace - intense, wonderful play! (Paul Rudd, the most likeable guy in Hollywood, was very UN-likeable in this play) / yummy tofu @ Danji / Times Square! / New York's finest / a slice / our view of Nice Work If You Can Get It (Matthew Broderick was amazing! I loved this musical and was humming it the next day) / lobby of Empire State building / 86th floor / what a view! / a stroll through Central Park in the fall / inside The Dutch (where Jon ate the very best burger) / a face of eggs, chorizo, and grits / inside Russ & Daughters (amazing bagel and lox! Thanks for the suggestion, Rachel!) / Hey there, handsome! / Brooklyn Bridge / "Well, when I get it (the reds) the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away." / Ed Sullivan Theater / Where I ate the very best burger / inside Prune / if only I had thousands of dollars... / presents! / Happy Birthday, my love.

A couple months ago, Southwest Airlines had a half-off deal for a few dates this year. One of those days happened to be Jon's birthday. I asked him where he'd like to go. His answer was, "New York." In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we were uncertain of this trip, but decided (the day before) to make the most of it and flew there on his 30th birthday...which was Saturday.

We could not have been happier with our decision to go to the "Big Apple". It was our first time. Besides the occasional uprooted tree and a few businesses still without power, we didn't see the extent of the damage. However, we only went as far south as the financial district.

We stayed in Harlem, saw a play and a musical on Broadway, ate the most fantastic food, went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked through Central Park (during the unofficial NYC marathon), marveled at Andy Warhol originals, shopped in SoHo, saw a taping of David Letterman (Ricky Gervais was a guest, so funny), walked the Brooklyn Bridge, and I met my first celebrity, Matthew Broderick. (who is just as charming in person) We would love to go back sometime soon. There's so much more to see!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Wedding

130...that's how many days it's been since our wedding. It was such a magical day that I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from Ben Pancoast Photography, as well as our wedding video (the one I've watched a hundred times) from the folks over at I Do Films. I fell in love with their work even before we met them at Indie Wed.

Ben and our filmmaker, Louis, did such an amazing job. We are forever grateful for their hard work in capturing the day. Not to mention, they are probably two of the sweetest guys you'll ever meet in the wedding industry.

And you can find our wedding video here!