Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11

My father was strict--not always warm and fuzzy, but his goatee was and he let me fluff it around. This must have been Easter as my mom always made sure I had a new dress, fancy hat and proper handbag to match my shoes.
I used to sit on the den couch with my dad and Bijou my sweet poodle. We watched baseball when the Pirates were playing and he always called me in to watch a program if someone was dancing. He never missed one of my private tap lessons and eventhough he was short on compliments and big on how to work harder advice, I know he was proud of me.
My father never smiled bigger (unless he was with Camille) than when he was surrounded by all 5 of his sisters, Clara, Stella, Rose, Sophie and Barbara. I'm sure he did the polka with each one this day! Especially with Sophie--she taught me how to polka. She was the queen of polka!
I love this photo so much because it reminds me of what a thinker he was. It makes me imagine what he was working on in his mind. He was beautiful and so put together all the way until the end.
Today he would have been 94. Happy Birthday Daddy, I miss you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanks and Giving

My mom spent Thanksgiving with us in Palo Alto for the first time in a long while. She made her homemade cinnamon rolls (two delicious batches!) and with Camille, made her gussied up pumpkin pie recipe. She sat and enjoyed the warm fire, gave the relentless Charlotte all the love she demanded (Bouzette too!) and survived all the fast moving Labats in the kitchen. On Saturday, after all was said and done and devoured, it was time to take her home. I hadn't been feeling well and it worried her that I was going to have to drive to Ventura. We got in the car and I saw an emotional Dorothy sitting next to me. I asked her if she was ok and she said, "I don't like being dependent. I could still do this drive by myself and I feel badly that you have to drive when you don't feel well." I said that for her, I would do anything even if I didn't feel like driving. The drive, it turns out, was spectacular and we did it with the top down (she's always game for anything!) all the way!
I woke up the next morning and readied myself for the drive back. I don't like leaving my mom alone in the driveway---how I wish my father were still there standing beside her. I needed to talk with him so I stopped at the pier to have my conversation. It's not the real deal but it helps. When I was little, I was scared to walk out on the pier because I could see the ocean between the planks. One day, we all walked out there (I'm sure I was riding piggy back with my dad) and miraculously the spaces had been closed up with additonal planks. For a long while, I believed that my father had done that for me, afterall, he was such a "fix it" person!
Next, I drove through the Santa Ynez Valley vineyards, top down, playing Mozart's Requiem and feeling so many emotions. That valley drive is my time to convene with the gods. It dawned on me then that what I should have said to my mother when she told me she didn't like being dependent was this: We are all dependent on each other. I need her as much as she needs me and I am so very fortunate to still have her to hug, to bug, and to love. Thanks and giving...she provides me with that opportunity.