Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts with my Grandma

I woke up this morning with a message on my phone from my Dad. After telling me about all the fun he had on his fishing trip to Alaska, he got down to the real reason why he called.

"Brett, Grandma is in the hospital," he said of his 92-year-old mother. "It doesn't appear to be life-threatening, but you might want to call her. I know she would like that."

My Grandma has always been very special to me and I to her. I can't imagine not having her in my life even though she lives 1,200 miles away.

After getting the phone number of the hospital from my step-mother, I called my Grandma and we talked for several minutes. Not surprisingly, the call centered around me and my girls. She had no interest talking about her health.

"How are the girls, Bretty?" she said. Grandma is the only person that I would allow to call me "Bretty".

"They probably don't remember me. I loved when you guys would come over and have lunch with me. Be sure you tell them about me and that I love them."

"I do, Grandma. All the time."

She moved out of the Los Angeles area a few years ago and I have only seen her once since at her 90th birthday party. I don't call or write her as much as I should, but she is always not far from my thoughts.

I wrote her a letter on my blog in January and I am posting it again for her. She deserves to hear how much she means to me as much as possible.

Dear Grandma,

It has been almost two years since I saw you and I can't tell you how much I miss you and our visits. I know I should call more often. I can tell you how busy I am teaching and coaching, or I can tell you how much time it takes to try and to do my best raising my little girls...but there really is no excuse. After all, a phone call takes just a few minutes to make.

I guess what I want you to know is how much you mean to me and how much I loved spending time with you and Grandpa. Over the years I have periodically been asked who my heroes are... with no reservation I have answered it has been and always will be you two. I can't imagine a greater pair of role models. You are everything I want to be in life, and everything I want to have in life.

Having been married and divorced twice, I can't tell you how much I envy you two and the relationship you had. I can't imagine being married for 60-plus years like you two were. I am not naive to think it was always easy, which only makes me respect this great accomplishment even more.

But more than just being able to make a marriage work for so long, your greatest accomplishment is in the kids you raised. A registered nurse, an aeronautical engineer, and a President of a bank. All have been incredibly successful in their careers, no doubt because of the pride in their work and desire to do everything to the best of their ability that you and Grandpa instilled in them.

Aside from what they have accomplished professionally, they have all remained close with each other and would do anything for you. What more can a parent ask for than that? You have truly been rewarded for your great work as a parent.

I often look back at the times we spent together. Spending the summer in Chicago and the summers you flew out here to Southern California were truly some of the greatest times of my life. Watching you walk off the plane every time you flew out here was a moment that I looked so forward to and one that I still relive today.

There are times when one of my daughters wants to climb into my lap when I am having a long day or just want a moment to myself. As soon as I start to push her away, I think of you and how you were always there for me to climb into your arms or rest my head in your lap as you ran your fingers through my hair. How can I turn down my daughters after remembering how you never turned me away?

I can't imagine how lonely you have been since Grandpa has passed. Please know that you have a grandson who thinks of you often and tells his children what a wonderful Grandma I have in you.

I promise you this year that I will do a better job of calling you on a regular basis. But even if I don't, I wrote this today because I wanted you to have this with you whenever you may be thinking, "How come my Brett hasn't called me in awhile?" I want you to read it so you can know that there is no one who can admire you more, respect you more, and simply love you more than I do. I also want you to know that I will always be YOUR Brett.

Your loving Grandson,


Grandma and her grandchildren

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pics from last summer trip

I am dead tired from another day of teaching, football practice and normal Dad duties at the house. However, Savannah said she wouldn't talk to me again until I posted some pics of our last trip to our little getaway place on Lake Isabella.

While the thought of no mindless chatter from my biggest talker was tempting, I promised her she would see some pictures on my blog when she wakes up in the morning. So, here are some taken by a lifelong friend who brought his family up for the day.

That's all I got, though. I never promised to write anything about the trip and I need some sleep. Fast.

Two old friends enjoying a day at the lake with the kids.

Only catch of the day... rather pathetic!

Two of our girls having fun in the water together.

Shelby eying the camera!

Savannah making her move to jump in the lake.

So, there you go Savannah. The pics are up and I am ready to hear your same stories from school over and over again!

For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A trip much deserved for Dad

Right now, my Dad is sitting in a lodge overlooking a lake after spending the day fishing in Alaska. For the first time that I can remember, my Dad is doing something for him and only him.

I couldn't be happier than thinking about my Dad finally doing something he always talked about doing.

As fathers go, I couldn't ask for a better one. He has been there for me in every capacity that anyone can hope for in a father. It has only been the last 10 years that I have realized that.

I always looked at my father as a provider and someone that I could depend on for shelter, food, and security. He was an aeronautical engineer and was one of the most respected men in his field.

It was his work ethic and desire for perfection in his own work that led me to believe that he was unapproachable for fear of disappointing him. Little did I know that was as far from the truth as could possibly be.

It took me a couple of divorces, a few dumb decisions on my part, and a custody battle over my oldest daughter for me to finally reach out to him for what I have always wanted from him: emotional support. Needless to say, he didn't disappoint when I succumbed and turned to him.

"Brett, your my son, and I will always love you no matter what you do. So, you made a mistake or a bad decision. You might not believe this, but I made a few in my time, too. And, I will probably make some more and so will you. You'll get through this."

From that moment on, I have never been intimidated by him or fearful of what he thought of me. A few more mistakes by me over the last year has only reinforced my trust in him as a father who will give me his ear no matter what time I call.

I called my step-mom tonight in hopes of getting a report of how his dream trip was going. She didn't disappoint with news that he caught his limit of salmon by 9:30 a.m. and was going to spend the rest of the day fishing for trout.

He used to always take my brothers and I trout fishing when were kids. The only selfish act my Dad did during those trips was force us to listen to Neil Diamond during the four-hour drive to the High Sierras.

He was so patient with us all. We had to drive him nuts with all the tangles we created with the fishing line, all the trees behind us we would hook into, and all the fighting between us boys over who was the better fishermen.

Looking back now, my brothers and I were wrong over who was the best fisherman. It was, and always will be my Dad.

Finally, he gets to enjoy it without worrying about what his boys are doing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to school

My girls and I started school this week. I started my fifteenth year as a high school teacher, Kern started sixth grade, Savannah is now in third, Shelby moved into first, and Alani is officially in school with Kindergarten.

We are now represented in the high school, middle school, and elementary schools in our town. All of us were both excited about the start of school and sad to see our summer of lounging around the pool come to an end.

On Tuesday, I skipped my first period of class to take the three youngest to their first day of the new year. With four daughters, I am often baffled by the differences in personalities that they all posses. One might assume that growing up with the same parents and same environment, there would be more similarities in my children.

Savannah was a veteran of the whole process, Shelby was terrified and crying the whole time, and Alani was... Alani.

She could not be more different than the other three. She is fearless, independent, incredibly intelligent, possesses a sense of humor way beyond her years, and has battled and overcome an addiction of using a foul tongue she inherited from her father. Basically, Alani has no idea she is 5-years-old.

When her mother and I walked her into the Kindergarten class on Tuesday, we were surrounded by other munchkins clinging to their father or mother's leg. Alani simply looked around the room, took a few steps away from me, and quickly turned back and looked up.

"You OK, baby?" I said.

"Yep. You guys can go now. I'll see you after school. OK, Dad?"

What? She didn't want us to stick around until class actually started like all the parents? She might have been ready for us to leave, but I wasn't ready to go.

"Well babe, I think your Mom wants to wait here with you for awhile. It is your first day of real school and all."

"OK Dad, but I am going to walk around and check it out."

After 20 minutes of waiting to meet her teacher, I left Alani and she didn't seem all that concerned with my exit. She sat down at her desk, opened a book, and started to thumb through the pages.

With that, my youngest and last daughter to enter school was ready to get started. It didn't seem to matter to her that I wasn't all that ready for her to move on to the next stage in her life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Dad, I got a bra!"

The day I have been dreading for 11 years arrived yesterday. I knew it was going to happen, but just not this soon.

I had hoped it would never happen. But, at 7 p.m., my oldest daughter's mother called me and broke the news.

"Brett, I took Kern out and we spent all the money you gave her on school clothes. . . $250 on school uniforms, socks, underwear, and a couple bras."

I often have to ask Kern's mother "What?". I was never very good at listening when words came out of her mouth. That's probably one of the reasons why we didn't work out.

But, this time, I heard exactly what she said. It didn't stop me from asking her my favorite question.

"What was that last thing you said?", hoping I heard her wrong.

"Yea, we got her a few bras. We have looked at them before because she liked the patterns on some of them. Now, she actually needs them."

I was speechless. I couldn't believe what she was saying to me.

My little girl needing a bra. The same girl I spent three years staying at home with when she was a toddler watching Blues Clues, Sesame Street, and Little Bear. From a bottle-carrying blue-eyed girl whose life revolved around when she would get to go in our pool in the front yard, to a young lady who now sends me text messages and needs a bra.

How did this happen? I know days, months, and years going by is how. But, how did it happen so fast?

You are not supposed to have a favorite child. You are supposed to love them all the same and do your best to treat them equally.

But, Kern will always be special and different to me. She was the first one. The one that taught me how to be a father, how to truly love, and how to put someones' needs, wants and desires in front of my own.

Seems she isn't done teaching me things. Now, I get to learn about buying and washing bras. Took me three years when I was in high school to learn how to take a bra off my girlfriend.

I don't think I will get that same amount time to learn how to be OK with my daughter growing up.