Memorial Day and Who I Remember

I remember my dad today. He came over from England when he was young with my grandmother. He joined the Navy after high school, training to be a submariner. Up until a number of years ago, I would see me dad this time of year every year. I’d go up to Vermont and see him, bring him flowers, and say hi to him. The visit wouldn’t last very long though, and I would have to leave the cemetery where he is buried, since I was 3 years old. But I don’t just remember him on this day, Memorial Day, a day for all those in the service. I remember him everyday.

For Paul Richard Simon

United States Navy

Sailor, Father

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Get to Bed!

It’s currently 8:42pm on this fine Monday evening. I wish that I could say that everything is quiet but that is most certainly not the truth. I can hear three boys in the back being loud. Loud in the evening. Loud when they should be sleeping. Loud on a school night! Loud, when it almost an hour past their bedtime. All I can think about right now is “Ugh. Go to bed!”. They may be sweet angels when they are sleeping, but they are being a little bit devilish now. Oh how I do love them though. It’s a darn good thing they were made to be sooo cute!

“Go to bed boys!”, I yell back to their rooms.

It’s now 8:51pm.

I think I yelled a bit too loud. I can hear the baby starting to cry.

I’m sure that my wife is starting to wish that I would go to bed, just so that everything will be quiet out here. I hesitate to look over at her as she attends to the baby. I really don’t feel like seeing daggers come flying towards me from her eyes. At least the baby is back asleep. I can’t say the same for the other three boys.

When did the phrase “go to bed” lose its weight in this house?

The answer: A long time ago.

Black-Eyed Susan

They call her “Black-Eyed Susan”.  I guess it’s because of how she looks almost every day.  She’s a pretty little girl, nine years old, with light brown pigtails and a sweet smile, when she can muster one.  I’ve known her for what seems her entire life.  I’m her friend and as long as I can, I’ll be there for her, always, to wipe away the tears and hug her when she cries.

Mommy isn’t around anymore, although we see her from time to time on the way to school.  At first Susan didn’t understand why her mother needed to sleep so much in a field under a cherry blossom tree, but I think she understands a bit better now.  She doesn’t think that I can see her crying sometimes, but I always know when she has been.  Her hazel eyes can’t hide the fact that they reached their bursting point and dried all up.  Her father, daddy as we call him (among other things that I do), is why she cries so much these days.  You see, daddy is an alcoholic and Susan is at the right height for his hand to make contact with.  He’s more than just a drinker: He’s an uncontrollable, abusive drunk.

I blame myself.

If only I had the power to just stop him.  Just once, if only just once.  Is that too much to ask?  How can I be a friend to somebody if I can’t come to their aid when it is so obviously needed?  Why do I just let it happen?  What can I do?  What should I do?  What is there for me to do?

I choke back my own tears as I hear the slaps, or even the occasional cracks of leather, as they shoot their way up the stairs into our room.  After everything has finally died down and the faint sounds of footsteps are heard on the creaking wooden stairs, Susan comes into the room through the door, the only barrier we have.  Sometimes she comes in looking brave and strong and not letting what had happened get the better of her.  But that’s just sometimes.  Most of the time you can quite literally see the pain wiped across her face.  I just want to hold her, wipe her tears away, tend to her wounds, and tell her that everything will be alright (even if I don’t know for sure that it ever will be).  I feel like I’m trapped on the other side of the mirror, always seeing her but never really feeling her.

I help her as often as I can, yet strangely she refuses my offer on most nights.  Not tonight however.  Tonight I help her change her clothes and get ready for bed.  And as usual, right before she struggles her way into bed, daddy calls up to us from his favorite recliner, beer in hand no doubt, “Susan, remember, daddy loves you”.  He sounds sincere.  And sad, as if he has lost someone and knows that he’s going to lose someone else.

I look at her trying to gauge her emotions, but she’s just staring down at her feet.  Really, I don’t need to look into her blackened eyes to know how she feels.

She props herself onto her pillow and adjusts her positioning to lessen the belted discomfort on her back.  After I tuck the blanket around her into a makeshift cocoon, she turns slightly towards me and asks me to tell her a story, the one about the little girl who looks adversary in the eye and gathers the strength to get past it, letting her live happily ever after.  I always oblige, I mean, how couldn’t you?  It’s her favorite.

Susan is asleep before I even start.

I spend the rest of the my waking hours caressing her light brown pigtails, watching her, listening to faint sobs as she sleeps.  I can also hear the sounds of a person downstairs who has created all of this misery.  Too much I feel for one so young and innocent to bare.  Although she does exhibit such strength, it’s just not enough at times, not in my mind at least.  I wish that I could give her a childhood without the pain and the fear of each day.  Susan might be strong enough however to one day, hopefully, to get past all of this.  I can feel it, deep down.  She has the will to keep going.  She’s so brave.

I know that I’ll never be up to her level.  How I wish I could be.  I just never will be and it kills me to admit that you know.

I really am looking at her from the other side of the mirror.  I’ll never truly be able to reach out to her and feel her.  But at least I’ll always be here for her.  Always until the joyous day that she doesn’t need me anymore.  And that is my job; has been from the start.  It’s to be here for her until I am no longer needed.  Even though all of this has happened to her – everything she went through with her mother, everything that she is going through with her father – I know that everything will be alright when I can finally say my goodbyes to Susan.

I’ll miss her, but I know that she will be happy when I’m gone.  One day she’ll discover that she doesn’t need me.  I’ll always need her though.

My name is Abby, and I’m Susan’s imaginary friend.

© nice game of chess, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot!

Rock beats scissors.

Paper beats rock.

Scissors beats paper.

 

i find myself fondly recalling all the times Rock, Paper, Scissors helped to quell arguments and disputes during, not only my childhood, but also my adult life.  The path towards acceptance and reconciliation for youths start with this game.  It’s so perfect in its simplistic way.  Three things – one beats another which beats another which beats another.  It’s so good.

Here is where I’m going with this.  While overhearing two of my children trying to settle a dispute, I heard them begin the familiar chant: “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot”.  They repeated it several times until there was a decisive winner, one where acceptance was instilled, which I must say is incredibly hard to accomplish considering they are 5 and 6-year-old boys.  Playing with toys, or more accurately, who gets to play with which toys, is settled with these three words.

If it wasn’t for this simple hand-gestured game, they would have surely have settled things with a fight, in typical young boy fashion.  Yet, rock, paper, scissors helped to not bring that pass.  This game is a true mediation tool.  If only war was as easily resolved.  Until then, at least the war between siblings can be.

A bicycle built for one

I am a proud parent this evening because my eldest son has learned how to ride a bike. He’s been wanting to learn for a while now, and since he’s had a bike for a couple of years now, now was as good a time as any. Just to make it clear I, nor his mother actually witnessed him performing this on his own – his uncle video messaged it to us – but it doesn’t really matter because being proud comes at any time, and from anywhere. Such an accomplishment! And at 10 years of age, he learned a year before I had at his age. The timing may seem like a bit off because the two of us learned when we were older, but does that really matter? Not really. The result was the same regardless of when we learned.

The best thing about this, other than the actually ability to ride a bicycle, is that now the sayings “just like riding a”, and “you never forget how to ride a” can now mean something to him contextually. How sweet is that?! Very. Ride on my son, ride on.

Running, With Sons

I’ve decided to add another blog to my arsenal, Running, With Sons . My goal with this new blog is to write about my time with, and the experiences that come from spending time with my boys. For now it will most likely focus on running (hence the title) with my oldest son, possibly branching out to other activities with him and the other 3 boys. We’ll see how this one goes; I’m arather looking forward to this one.

My Doctor Who Experience

Earlier this evening when I was about to enter into the grocery store a most peculiar thing happened. At the end of the row of carriages just outside of the store is a public payphone. Yes, they still exist with some of them still in operating condition. As I was about to go through the entrance I heard the sound of a phone ringing, not just any ordinary phone, but the payphone itself. What makes it weird is that I didn’t know that the payphone still worked and, doesn’t this only happen in movies or on television? I must have looked like quite the fool as I stood there listening to the sounds of the bringing bells coming forth from it, all awhile looking around to see if there was anyone else in the vicinity. Normally I wouldn’t give too much thought about it, but for some reason the thought of why was it ringing and who was on the other end was just intriguing to pass up.

I only needed to walk twenty feet to the phone to find out what my imagination had started to come up with. What I eventually thought of just had to be what was really going to happen. I knew who it was going to be, and I knew why. The Doctor, last of the Time Lords, was the person on the other end of line, and that meant that somehow I was going to be a part of some wildly dangerous adventure through time and space. The Doctor, who uses a mid-twentieth century blue English police telephone call box which he refers to as the TARDIS, or Time and Relative Dimension in Space (it’s bigger on the inside), must have known somehow that trouble was about occur and that it was my help that he needed.

As I reached for the telephone receiver I began to anticipate  what was going to be the start of something extraordinary.

“Hello,” I said, waiting for the response on the other end.

Waiting for it.

Waiting for it.

And…

“Is Brian there?”

It’s not the Doctor

“Sorry,” I say “wrong number.”

“Oh, sorry about that.”

It’s not for me.

“That’s okay.”

It’s not.

Heartbroken, I hang up the phone listening to the clink of the receiver on the hook, and I begin to walk back towards the grocery store’s entrance. What was I missing because it wasn’t the Doctor who called? I guess I’ll never know. Of course I do know that it was highly unlikely that a fictional character from a British television series would be calling for me, late at night, in America, on a public payphone. Yet, if there is one thing that I can say about this event, all true mind you, is that wishing for it to happen would certainly be a dream come true.

© nice game of chess, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.