Saturday, November 19, 2011

Favorite Things About Being Daddy...

  1. Great big hugs and snuggles first thing in the morning
  2. Hearing my sweet girls voice as she begins to have conversations with us
  3. Sweetest words ever: "I love you, daddy!"
  4. Having my daughters fall asleep in my arms on the couch (best sleep ever!)
  5. Looking forward to favorite routines like watching Caillou together right before bedtime.
  6. "Outside play, Daddy"
  7. Watching Nadia reach her hand up for mine as we walk down our mountainous driveway...
  8. continuing to hold her hand as we walk down the street.
  9. Watching my children learn...
  10. Hearing things repeated we have taught (i.e. look right, look left, no cars, go!)
  11. Excited little voice announcing my presence after being gone ("Daddy home!)
  12. Sharing life with their awesome mommy
  13. Watching Nadia take care of Lydia
  14. Excitement about school craft projects
  15. Playing catch with my two-year-old
  16. Jumping on the pillows (pippos)
  17. Dance parties
  18. Tea Parties
  19. Building palaces
  20. Reading to Nadia
  21. Nadia "reading" to me
  22. Talking on the phone to Nana, Grandaddy, Jor Jor, Al, Pat, Poppa, and Seph
  23. Nighttime cuddles
  24. Going on walks and looking for doggies
  25. Nadia rubbing my ear as she goes to sleep
  26. First smiles
  27. Hands grasping my fingers
  28. Lydia staring into my eyes
  29. Enjoying holidays through their eyes
  30. Kitty kisses
  31. Mimicking airplanes
  32. Going to the zoo
  33. Playing hide and seek
  34. Making our noses honk and beep
  35. Reading with all the voices, just like Mama did for me
  36. Helping them enjoy the things I enjoy
  37. Recognizing the responsibility of raising another human being (or two...!)
  38. Watching my wife teach them far better than I can
  39. Being surrounded by three beautiful girls! 
And the list goes on...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moms and Holidays

There is one common thread among all of my favorite memories of holidays: family.  As a young boy I loved going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving and Christmas while joining with 6 aunts and uncles, 6 cousins, and other relatives from my grandfathers side of the family.  The boys, of which I was the youngest, would go outside and play some kind of sport whether it be basketball, baseball, football, or golf while the girls, well...I don't know what they did.  These events most often took place at my grandparent's house but sometimes would be at our house or another aunt and uncle.  At the center of every family get together was a large meal attributed to all the families and generally prepared by the aunts and Mema.

As we got older the cousins got married and their spouses were added to the mix and not too long after that we all started having kiddos of our own.  In recent years the "whole" family has only gotten together during the moments of sadness, the passing of our matriarch "Mema", and most recently the death of my own mother.  Such is life.  We all grow up.  We get busy with our lives and time moves on.  Not to worry, we do still get together albeit not all at the same time.  Just this past weekend I saw my mom's two brothers and their wives, 1 cousin, and 2 of another cousin's children.  Of course we "see" each other on Facebook and do our best to keep up with all the happenings.

As I think about all these things and the holiday season coming up I am painfully reminded of a huge hole in my heart and a big difference that will be felt this year.  You see, this is a year of firsts.  From now to next July each event will labeled as the first _______ since mama died.  I always looked forward to pulling up to the house and walking through the front door, finding my mom usually in the kitchen, and giving her a big hug as she pulled herself away from whatever the next meal or project was.  I will always remember the way she played with my Nadia.  I was looking forward to watching her continue to do so as she would spoil my children as all good grandparents are supposed to do.  (I had another grandparent explain to me the other day that it was in the fine print of the grandparent contract!)  One of the things that brought me the most grief at her passing was that my children would not know their Gamma.  I am pleased to say that at least for now Nadia will still name her in our family picture at my and Becca's wedding.

Mama made the holidays special.  Whether it was decorating the tree with her as a kid, or all the special treats she made for the family get togethers, or the way she hid our Christmas presents from herself so well that we may not get them until Easter!  There is no way that we will be able to fill that void this holiday season or ever.  But, I know this: we will make every effort to keep her memory alive through the telling of stories, the keeping up of traditions, and the attempting to make her recipes (which I know is a challenge as following a written recipe to a "T" will not produce the nuanced meals that she actually made, just ask the key lime pie that brought me to tears because it just wasn't the same).

We all miss you, Mama!  Dance, jump, and sing, and say, "hey" to Jesus for me.