Archive for Ella

Gaining even more respect for my father

Posted in Family with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2019 by macmystery

A week or so ago, after picking my kids up for the weekend on Friday evening in Columbia, we stopped for dinner at Lizard’s Thicket near the airport.

For the unfamiliar, Lizard’s Thicket is a small chain of meat-and-three style restaurants in the Columbia area. Like Cracker Barrel, Dylan and Ella are fond of their food.

As we entered, I noticed and elderly man and his wife – I assumed – sitting opposite one another in a booth near the front of the restaurant. There was a walker stationed at the end of the table, and the woman looked quite frail, leading me to believe it was her walker rather than his.

I took notice because he looked tired, like a caregiver. I recognize this from watching my father descend over the years as he cared for my mother. By the time my mother passed in 2012, my father was a shell of the man I knew growing up. He had aged 50 years in 15.

Though he tried, the smile wasn’t the same. He dealt with blood pressure issues and depression, and my mother’s situation, and stubborn streak born out of fear, contributed to the accelerated demise of my father’s professional and military careers.

But he soldiered on. I heard my grandmother tell my mother once that she was lucky. Most men would have left and my father did not.

Statistically speaking, she was right. Noted and bloated TV psychologist/talking head Dr. Phil says 100 percent of relationships where one partner is a caregiver end in failure. I don’t think that’s 100 percent accurate, but I’ve no doubt it’s close.

As I watched my father, the best man I’ve ever known, struggle, I was not much help. I just hoped the strain and stress wouldn’t win. Once when my mother was being particularly difficult about something, I told her that if she killed him before she lost her battle to the myriad illnesses that were slowly taking her, I would never forgive her.

I haven’t endured what my father did, but my divorce several years ago and, more recently, the end of a serious relationship have hit me hard. I deal with anxiety, struggle to sleep, and quite frankly, I’m admittedly depressed.

Almost seven years ago, a freak occurrence – my mother banged her leg on the pole under a table at a restaurant – led to a heart attack and, eventually, my mother’s passing.

In the seven years since, my father is again the man I knew when I – and he – was younger. He smiles more, talks more, and his wonderful, dry, sometimes dark sense of humor is back. Despite a knee replacement several years ago, he is more active than he was 10 years ago.

He was lucky. My sister and I are lucky. If my mother had lived another 5 years, there is no doubt in my mind that my father would not have. I’m not sure if that would make him among Dr. Phil’s 100 percent or not.

Back to the couple at the Lizard’s Thicket. Though their interactions went unnoticed to my kids, I watched. I do this often in public.

The woman was lost. She could barely feed herself and appeared on the verge of tears the entire meal.

He did things for her. But he was not kind. It troubled him. It was like he had somewhere else to be, something else to do and she was keeping him from it. He was annoyed. He once yelled at her that the potatoes were not hot.

Then, when it came time to leave, he stood and waited for her to get up, while holding her walker at the ready. When it took more time than he anticipated, he banged her walker on the floor repeatedly in frustration.

I wanted to cry.

As bad as a look as it was for him, I don’t blame him. I don’t know that he’s a bad person. It’s quite possible that he’s just tired. Beyond all human limits. He’s at his end, and the fact that’s he’s still going is in itself an accomplishment.

That didn’t make it better for her. You could tell she was struggling emotionally, not just physically. She just couldn’t “do” anymore. And like most people in this country, they likely don’t have the means to make things any better for themselves, to get care for her above what he can provide himself.

All of this makes me even more grateful for my father. I’ve never told him that enough.

He never bailed on my mother, though at this point in my life, I can’t say I would blame him if he had. He could have tried to make his life better. He instead tried to make my mother’s better. And is still trying to do the same for my sister and me.

If I live to be half the man my father has been, it will be an accomplishment.

Dylan and Danny

Posted in Family, Sports with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by macmystery
Two of my favorite people -- Dylan and Danny Ford.

Two of my favorite people -- Dylan and Danny Ford.

I went to the Spartanburg Touchdown Club meeting on Friday at Wild Wing Cafe in downtown Spartanburg to hear former Clemson football coach Danny Ford speak.

Dylan loves Wild Wing, and since he had a big program at school (that his grade wasn’t even allowed to attend) and then early dismissal, I took him along.

He was excited to wear his Clemson jersey and take his clemson football to have Coach Ford autograph it, even though he has no real idea who Coach Ford is. Coach of the 1981 national champions somehow doesn’t mean as much to him as to me.

He got to eat chicken fingers, hang out with the grown-ups (the thrill of missing school played a role, as well) and get his picture made with someone who his daddy liked a lot. And he loved it, especially since Mommy and Ella didn’t get to come along.

The picture doesn’t mean a lot to him, but hopefully one day he’ll understand why it does for me.

Daddy & Dylan Day

Posted in Family, Movies with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by macmystery
Cloudy With A Chance of Meat Balls

Cloudy With A Chance of Meat Balls

Dylan has complained lately to Brooke that he never gets to spend much time anymore when it’s jist “him and Daddy.”

And he’s right. Since Ella was born and Brooke has been working, almost all the time he’s been with me, he’s had to share me with the little girl.

So, with last Friday being a day off from school for him, he asked Brooke if she could get a babysitter for Ella so he could have me all to himself. She said yes, and made it happen. (Thank you to the un-named babysitter).

I had two movie passes that we get each year at work on our birthdays, so I figured we’d do a movie. Because of scheduling, the best choice was “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.”

So Dylan and I went to lunch — Chinese buffet, his choice … funny, he wants to go to the Chinese buffet, yet he eats only the French Fries, chicken nuggets (his name for the sweet & sour chicken, minus the sweet & sour) and Jello. Then we took in the movie, in Disney 3D, no less.

Quick movie review: Awesome. Clean. Mr. T rocks. Neil Patrick Harris rocks as Steve the monkey. As far as kids movies go, pretty darn good.

Anyway, this was the first Daddy & Dylan Day. And I’m hopeful for lots more.

Date night

Posted in Family with tags , , on December 3, 2008 by macmystery

A couple Saturday’s ago, I actually got to have dinner with my wife.

Just my wife.

For the first time since January.

It wasn’t the first time we’d been without the kids. We went to a Press Association awards banquet in February, but that was with a bunch of people.

Since Ella was born in January, we hadn’t managed to enjoy a nice meal just between the two of us.

The parents on the soccer team we coached (once again using that term loosely) pitched in at the end of the season and bought us a gift certificate to a decent restaurant nearby to show us their appreciation (mainly their appreciation that they didn;t have to coach).

So we convinced Brooke’s parents to take the kids for a couple of hours, and we had a date. We had conversation and we didn’t have to police anyone.

The food wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for, but I don’t think it mattered. It was the chance to eat like adults that was important.

I just hope it’s not another 10 months before we get the chance to do it again.

Check out that smile

Posted in Family with tags on July 7, 2008 by macmystery

 

Isn\'t Ella J cute?

Isn't Ella J cute?

 

 

There’s a story on MSNBC.com that says researchers have discovered that for moms, seeing their own child smile “activates pleasure receptors in the brain typically associated with food, sex  — and drug addiction.”