Sunday, April 10, 2005

Thanks, Dad

Like everyone else, I think my Dad is the best dad in the whole wide world. He's always been there for me, even when he was across the country or even in another country. He celebrated 90 years of living this past January and he is just now beginning to show his age. He and my mother were both in the Navy and I was born and grew up in a small town in southern California called Coronado. It was perhaps the most wonderful place to grow up...right on the beach across the bay from San Diego. Coronado, an island in almost every way, was a small town (approx 18,000 back then) and had that wonderful 'small town' feel to it. At its widest point, it was one mile across. We walked or rode bikes everywhere. The ferry boats would transport you across the bay to San Diego and if you stood at the bow of the ferry, you could see the dolphins playfully swimming along with the boat. It was cheap fun at 10 cents for a round trip!

I grew up privileged. Not in a monetary way, but I had opportunities to do things most people probably never have the chance to do. My dad would take us grunion hunting. What's a grunion, you say?? A grunion is a small, silvery fish and at certain times every year, during a full moon, thousands of them ride the waves in onto the beach, flop around in the sand laying their eggs and are then swept out with the next wave. The kicker is that you can only catch them with your hands. NO NETS. And it's usually midnight when they begin their beach assault. We would all stand there, sometimes hundreds of us, looking left and right, watching for the telltale sparkling on the wet sand, signaling us that they (hundreds of the little fellas) were there and then run like crazy trying to reach that group before the next wave came in and whisked them away! Of course, they never ever came ashore where you were standing. Murphy's Law. I couldn't tell you if my mom really ever enjoyed cooking those grunion for us.

My dad was a fireman and every year, on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus would ride on the big red firetruck down the main street, Orange Avenue, ending up at the huge decorated Christmas tree. Since the event was sponsored by the fire department, some of the firemen's kids got to ride with Santa on the truck. When I was 5, my brother and I got to ride on that fire truck. I can remember thinking that I was the most special 5 year old in the world. I remember that feeling, several decades later!

When I was 11, my parents returned from a vacation in Mexico City and announced we were pulling up stakes and moving south. Talk about an adventure! Living in a foreign country is the best thing anyone can do. It gives you a whole different perspective on how good we have things in our own country and a greater respect for other cultures. I will be forever grateful for my father and mother's leap of faith in pulling up roots and embarking on that adventure.

A couple of Father's Days ago, I was in a quandry as to what to get for my dad. He has everything. I had given him pictures of his grandkids and me, cool shirts, Old Spice. As I sat thinking, it occurred to me that maybe I hadn't thanked him for some things he had given me or done for me that back then, I so dearly appreciated. So, I sat down at my computer and began to write my dad a letter, thanking him for everything I could think of that he had done for me in my life. Things like making me and my brother stilts and how much fun it was walking 6 feet tall all over my block. For getting the bubblegum out of my little wool skirt that mysteriously got out of my mouth, into my hands and on to my skirt as I waited my turn at "Show and Tell" when I was in kindergarten. I thanked him for deciding my older brother would not be an only child. I thanked him for working so hard when I was a kid so that we could have everything we needed and half of everything we wanted. I thanked him for pushing me to learn to play golf when I was young. I thanked him for his love and support during my divorce. And most of all, I thanked him for falling in love with my mom.

There are 2 messages to this story. First, do things with your kids (or grandkids) that will give them the opportunity to someday document in a blog. Second, when in doubt as to what to get a parent for their birthday or Mother's or Father's Day, simply thank them. As my father read that 2 page letter, several times he had to wipe away tears. The things I was thanking him for were things he hadn't thought about in years and watching him as he remembered them was better than any gift I could have bought for him. I remember, as a child, asking my mom what she wanted for her birthday or other holiday and her response was always the same... "I just want your love." She was right.

Sometimes love comes in the form of a bunch of words on a piece of paper.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Source of My Inspiration

This morning I contemplated what I would write about here today. Nothing came to mind. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Then the mail came. Sometimes the mail brings bills, offers the sender hopes you just can't refuse and, because we just can't stop them, unwanted junk mail. Today I got a little of each, but as an added surprise, there was a letter. A thick letter. From my son. If you've been reading my posts, you'll know that my son, Bob, lives in Hawaii. And I'm going to visit him in June.

My son had quite a journey getting to where he is today. He and I didn't always see eye to eye. We had obstacles thrown in front of us at every turn, some by him and some (hard to believe) thrown by me. Or at least that's what he probably thought. All the times I said no, the times I yelled, the times I cried...every one of them was for a reason. There were plenty of times I could have turned my back, thrown up my hands and said goodbye. Lord knows, he sure tempted me! But, that's all ancient history. My son has grown into a most wonderful person. He had help along the way from some wonderful people in California, to whom I will always be so very grateful. But more importantly, he helped himself. He decided which road to take when there was a choice. And he made some good choices.

I'll never forget what he said to me when I visited him in Hawaii in 1998. I had just arrived that day and we were talking late into the night. He said to me, "Mom, how can you still love me after everything I did to you?" I looked at him and said, "Because I knew this day was coming."

OK, back to the mail. In the envelope was a wonderful letter from him, pictures of him and his beautiful girlfriend Nicole, who I can't wait to meet, and some great shots of the big island. But there was something else that fell to the floor. When I picked it up and saw what it was, it brought tears to my eyes. It was a business card. With his name on it. Bob now has his real estate license! If you or someone you know needs help with buying or renting property on Kauai, go to Mention my son, Robert Galchutt, so he can help you. Can you imagine selling property on Kauai??? What a dream job! I may have to give serious thought to being a customer of my son's!

So, for a day that started out with little or no inspiration, it's turned into words that were a joy to write. Hearing from my son was inspiration enough for me to sit down and write this. The love and pride I feel for him is because...he is my inspiration.