Tag Archives: my dad

The Box

19 Jul

Several months ago, my sister’s older son announced his plans to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, and go to seminary. We are all delighted, and I know Lynn would have been, too. I began to go through the boxes I still have, but a fair number of my dad’s books had been shipped off to Operation Pass Along, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Still, I managed to fill a good sized carton, but the one thing I couldn’t find was a packet of my dad’s sermons.

The Senior Warden had told me that after Daddy died, the Diocese sent out supply priests, trying to keep Holy Cross going, but one man in particular was not vey reliable. My dad had kept all of his sermons, carefully filed by scripture reference, and when they didn’t have a priest, Mr. SW would go into the files, pull the appropriate sermon, and do Morning Prayer.

I call the Diocese, but the papers were not in the archives. In absolute desperation, I called the Senior Warden, and he had them!  Insert Gloria here! He promised to send them to me, which he did, bless him.

Now, I realized that even a year’s worth of sermons was going to be a fair sized envelope, but somehow I was not prepared for this box.  It is 12 X 10 X 11, and weighs 22 pounds! Some envelope! There are sermons in there from his time at St. Mark’s, in Roxboro.  He started there in 1984, and the first pages I picked up are from 1985.  I didn’t even try to go through the entire box, but some day, some fine day, we are going to have to get them all scanned and put into some sort of order.

Wish me luck!



Could I Have a Do-Over?

17 Dec

The funeral we attended on Friday was for a long-time member of Resurrection, and a former Navy man. Considering all of the planning my dad did for his own funeral, it amazes – and dismays – me that he didn’t tell us of the services available to veterans.

He had pre-paid the undertaker, selected the hymns, told us who he wanted to officiate, and who he wanted to preach, but he never told us that he was eligible to have a free marker, a flag for his coffin, or a bugler to play Taps.  He did mention he wanted somebody to play Waltzing Matilda, but when I asked him how I was going to arranged that, he just smiled and said, “That’s your problem, not mine.”

I had some poor soul from the local high school, standing in the rain, with a clarinet!

My mum refused to have a marker put on his grave. “God will know where to find him when He wants him.” And she made it sound as if she meant if He wants him.  Daddy had been dead several years when a fellow who was a member of his old parish told me the VA would give us a marker, and got the papers for me.

When my grandfather died, my mum had some men from the VFW – I guess – give a 21 gun salute, but she didn’t mention that we could have done the same for her husband.


Maybe I’ll just get all of his friends and family and do it over. Maybe I’ll wait until the 20th anniversary. People renew their wedding vows all the time. Why not a funeral?

More Dead People

1 Nov

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

First of all, I was digging up a bunch of peanuts under the clothesline. Such a tiny plant, but there were hundreds of peanuts under it. I carried them into the house by making a basket of my skirt and was planning to put them in my sink, but my mother pitched a fit, and wouldn’t allow me to do so. “And look at your clothes! They’re a mess. Honestly, you can never do anything right.”

Even in my dreams she fusses with me!

Then I ended up in our own church, and my dad was saying Mass, accompanied by my sister, of all people, as his chalicist.  One of our daughters came in and sat beside me, and called me by the name my mum always used. I glared at her (I don’t know what girl is was) and she apologized. “They’ve saying that all day, and I forgot.”

Of all the characters in this little melodrama, only my daughter is still alive. This is the second time I’ve had this sort of dream, and – as I said before – I’m not making any long-term plans.

This is just plain creepy!

I See Dead People

6 Aug

Not that I superstitious, but over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dreaming about people who are no longer with us.

The first dream was about my sister. Our former rector, who is – as far as I know – very much alive, was hunting for me through a large building, perhaps the boarding school I attended as a child. She was calling and calling, but I wouldn’t answer, until she told me Lynn was looking for me, too.

A few nights later, my dad wanted me to hurry up and visit the Giffords, who were friends of his from St. John’s, before he went to Sewanee. Hugh and Carolyn died before my dad did, and Daddy died in 1999.

Last night, I was on my way to a hospital, to visit a fellow we always called Bowtie Bill.  He died about ten years ago.

Not that I’m superstitious, or anything, but I don’t think I’m going to start any new projects.

A New Beginning, And An End, At Last

21 May

Our newest great-grandson, Austin, was baptized this morning, along with another little boy.  In spite of my best efforts to sit with the family, I ended up “on the altar” again. Not too bad a deal, as I was still able to read the prayers for the candidates.  We Anglicans tend to be a flexible lot.

Austin and his parents are on the right in this shot.

baptism group

Eldest daughter had a party at her house after the service. We had invited Rev. Kim, but she had to be in Frederick by 2:30, so that didn’t work out.

Silbaugh called earlier this week to say they had finally gotten my dad’s stone in place, so The Squire and I stopped by Christ Church to take a look at that. It’s only been eighteen years, after all.  My mum refused to have a marker on his grave – “God will know where to find him when He wants him” – and I waited until she died before I ordered it. Now, I have to figure what to put on her stone that won’t sound snarky.

ERMP stone

Baby, It’s Hot Outside

24 Jul

As of 7:30 PM, it is still 87F, down from a high of 93, and only supposed to go down to 77 overnight.

When my parents moved back to Bel Air from Ohio in 1968, air conditioning was becoming much more common, and the contractor had automatically included it in the plans for the new house. My dad crossed it off. He didn’t think it was necessary, and the contractor was only “thinking of his own pocket”, rather than what was actually needed. It took them over a year to sell the place, and even at that, they had to finance it themselves, interest-free.

When they moved to North Carolina in 1983, or thereabouts, the  Vicarage, which was a Victorian building with 20 foot rooms and 12 foot ceilings, had an absolutely ancient heating system badly in need of replacement.  My mum said if it weren’t for the fact that it was oil heat instead of coal, she’d have sworn it was original to the house. I asked if they were going to install a/c while they were at it.

“Summer time is supposed to be hot,” my dad replied.

I just stared at him. “Are you putting a furnace it this place?”


Anyway, they had a new bath installed off his study, so they could stay there indefinitely, and not have to climb the stairs when they became infirm, so they didn’t need to worry about trying to sell it.

Man proposes; God disposes.

My dad accepted a call to a parish in the UK, then developed a brain tumor, followed by renal failure (He’d forgotten to take his HTN meds.), and they had to move back to Baltimore so they would be closer to my sister and me, and then try to sell the house. It was a lovely home, the sort of place that would appeal to a business executive, but trying to sell a house in North Carolina with no air conditioning meant a replay of the house in Bel Air.

They purchased a house here which dated from the 1930s, so it didn’t have air conditioning, but the doctor told my father his medical condition was such that he simply had to have a window unit in his room.  Much grumbling about that, I’ll tell you!

Well, considering the fact that it was 103F the day he was born, I suppose he was used to it right from the beginning.



It’s Only a Flesh Wound

28 Jun

I don’t know what it is with men and medicine.

The Squire suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome (named for the two French doctors and one Englishman who zeroed in on it), which is an hereditary nerve condition. The nerves die and the muscles atrophy, pulling against the bones. If it “kicks in” when you are a child, the bones twist to accommodate the muscles, but if you get it as an adult, the patient frequently opts to have the foot amputated, as the pain is simply excruciating. As it is, The Squire often has nights when he is very uncomfortable.

His nightly routine is two Tylenol PM, which don’t always control the pain. When his feet hurt, the only way to soothe the pain is to keep the foot moving. Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. Naturally, this doesn’t do me a bit of good, but when I suggest he go sleep  in the guest room, he assures me he is fine.

That’s nice, dear. Now, go away. You bother me!

My dad used to lean against the door frame and moan, and I’m not sure which is worse. If my mum didn’t stab Daddy with a paring knife, I guess I can avoid smothering The Squire with a pillow.

I’ve recommended he ask the doctor for something stronger, if only to take on a PRN basis. “That isn’t necessary.”

When I had my neck surgery in September, I was given a months-worth of surgical strength pain medicine, to take every four to six hours, so I have loads of the stuff left over. Blithely disregarding Federal laws, I strongly suggested he take one of my little white pills. Just to shut me up, y’know.  So finally, about a month ago, he did agree to take one of them, and announced he’d had the best night’s sleep he’d had in ages. (That made two of us.) A few days later he again requested a pain pill. Maybe we’re making some progress; I even put the bottle with his other meds, but No, we’re back to the Tylenol.

Last night, he said he got up at 1 AM, took two more Tylenol, and slept in the other room. I never noticed he was missing.

But I did sleep well.




23 Jun

The Squire, quite frankly, is as deaf as an old shoe. Oh, he swears I am too soft-spoken, but the truth of the matter is the man just plain can’t hear.

We have five birdfeeders in our yard, plus one we sit on the ground for the squirrels. It’s bad enough the blue jays try to eat us out of house and home, but the bloody, bloody grackles also swoop down and grab whatever they can get their beaks on. I don’t mind them coming in the winter when it snows and bringing their side-kicks, the starlings, along with them, but it annoys me when they hang around all summer, too.

To the best of my knowledge, grackles were the only critter that could make my dad angry. When they lived in Bel Air, he would occasionally sit on the patio and snipe at them with a B-B gun. “I know they are God’s creatures and they need to eat, but they just don’t know when to quit. A bunch of bloody vultures.” He trained men to go overseas during WWII, so I suppose that’s where he learned to shoot (it never occurred to me to ask) and he seldom missed. It wasn’t a constant thing, but from time to time he’d pop off two or three.

This morning I was fussing about the grackles in the front yard  and mentioned that my father didn’t like them either.

The Squire turned to me in utter bewilderment. “Your dad didn’t like jackals?”

A Larger Can

5 Feb

It has been said that when you open a can of worms, you always need a larger can to put them back.?????????? All of this mess on this end of the table came out of one of my mom’s tubs. Even at that, it’s not as bad as it could be, as I have tossed a lot, and mailed off scads of pictures to various relatives.  Just to add to the  fun, The Squire decided this was a jolly good time to go through his genealogy pictures.

We are both handicapped by the fact that nobody thought to label the back of their photos. My dad had a scrapbook dating from before the time he met my mom, with lots of pictures of Carol and Mary, but no last names. There is also a small mountain of pictures from pre-war Pearl Harbor. The landscapes are all labeled, but who does he mean by “the three of us”?

The poor Squire is doubly frustrated because his aunt kept a perfect scrap book, with names, places and dates, and when she died, her daughter promised faithfully to send him “all of mom’s pictures”, which she did. By ripping every single one out of the book. When he received this lumpy package, he called her, and she was astounded that he wanted “ahl thet ol’ wrahtin’ an stuff. I just tossed that in the far.” (You need a strong Tennessee accent to do that line properly.)

I’m down to the last one or two inches of this second tub, and I may just dump it into the third tub and go do something more productive, such as catch up on my ironing.

In the Name of the Father

4 May

This morning, Fr. M, the organist, and I were discussing plans for the service on the 25th. He will be away, and we will have a supply.  I always serve as chalistist on the last Sunday, as it is Rite I, which I infinitely prefer to Rite II.

This will also be our Memorial Day service, as it will be in places of worship all over the United States. I asked the organist, that if she was going to do Eternal Father, to please use it as the recessional. I explained that I had followed my father’s coffin to the cemetery to that hymn – and began to cry.  M+ put his arm around me and asked if I really thought I could make it back down the aisle without falling to pieces. I nodded, and mumbled “If we hurry”. He promised he’d have the supply “keep an eye on me”.  He had had to follow me into the narthex last Veterans Day, and put me in his office, out of sight, until I was fit to be seen in public.

My dad died fifteen years ago, on the first of May. You’d think I’d have managed to keep myself held together after all this time.

I talk a lot about my mum, simply because she was such an “odd duck”, to be as kind as possible. Dealing with her was like watching a bird feeder. You never knew what was coming next, and her foibles make good fodder for funny stories.

I don’t have a lot of stories to tell about my dad, simply because his kindness was so constant. One time I offered to scrub the kitchen floor for my mum; I was probably about eleven, and the job had to be done on hands and knees with a scrub brush and bucket. I got about three-quarters finished and was totally wiped out, and nearly in tears from exhaustion. He quietly tapped me on the shoulder and silently nodded his head, then got down and finished the floor for me.  I used to get earaches, and he would hold me on his lap and blow cigar smoke into my ears to melt the wax. Was it the warmth of his breath or just snuggling up that made me feel better?

My dad was like a big old wing chair. Always there, steady, comfortable, soft where he needed to be, and firm when he had to be.  And I still miss him. Dreadfully.