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Filtering by Tag: Dad

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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There is a Simpson’s episode called “Lost Our Lisa” where Lisa defies her mother by trying to take the bus to the museum to see the Orb of Isis. She gets lost and then she calls her dad for help. Lisa calls him because she knows that he will be on her side, mostly because Homer is always getting himself into some kind of trouble. What follows is a madcap adventure where Homer tries to get to Lisa, which he does, but by the time Lisa is safe and sound, the museum has closed. It was the last day for the exhibit and Lisa missed it. So, Homer breaks into the museum so Lisa can see the exhibit. They have the whole exhibit to themselves and get to see something that no one else has ever seen. One of the greatest things about that episode is how Lisa experienced things she never would have had a chance to experience if it hadn’t been for Homer. I can say the same when it comes to my Dad. He was the adventure seeker, the rule breaker, the guy who step on the other side of the velvet rope to get closer. Dad was my Homer and I was his little Lisa.

My Dad would be eighty years old today. At first I thought “that can’t be right!” but he was born in 1939. So yeah, my Dad would have been eighty today. There has been no one who could bring lightness to my seriousness the way my Dad could. Not even Chris. Dad just had a way. He taught me to seek out those adventures on occasion. Sometimes it’s okay to break a few rules. Dad used to put his tray table down as soon as we reached altitude and I would always get onto him. I would tell him that it was too soon and it made him look too eager for whatever snack the attendants were going to bring us. He found it hilarious and whenever we would fly he would ask me if it was okay to put his table down. It became a great joke, but you know what? It was a lesson in doing what you want, when you want and not caring what anyone around you thought about it.

Here is what I believe. I believe that if Dad’s mind hadn’t flown the coop, he’d still be putzing around breaking rules and seeking out new adventures. Wow, and typing that sentence made me well up a bit. I did not expect that. In yoga class on Wednesday, Kelly talked about Mercury being retrograde and usually I roll my eyes at this kind of talk. Except this time Kelly said something about letting go of the emotions that will bubble up during this time of retrograde. It is a time for letting go of some shit and I thought about some shit that I was hanging on to in regards to my Dad. I have been holding on to some resentment and anger. Not for Dad, but for circumstances surrounding his last year with us. I have also been holding on to some guilt for not doing more to intervene to change those circumstances. My Dad taught me what it means to be unabashedly authentic. Those are the things I should be holding on to. Not the resentment or anger or guilt.

I am thankful for every hot air balloon chased, every tray table that was set down early, and every moment of lightness and silliness.

VETERANS DAY

Cindy Maddera

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The World War I Memorial and Museum starts their celebrations at least a week in advance. This year the building is lit with images of poppies. I’ve yet had an evening free where I could go and see it. It hits me every Veterans Day; every time I see social media fill up with photos and thank you notes. Veterans Day arrives and at first I view all of it from a distance. I don’t really remember Veterans Day being a big thing. The pastor during Sunday service might have given a sermon on soldiers and faith and then request that all military veterans stand for recognition. I don’t remember parades or fan fair though. Veterans Day was one of those holidays celebrated quietly with only a moment of gratitude taken before moving on with our day. Then I remember.

My Dad was a veteran.

It’s an easy thing to forget. My Dad’s time in the U.S. Air Force ended long before I came along. Randy is the only one of Dad’s children who was around during Dad’s service and I don’t know how much of that time he remembers. Dad never really mentioned his time in the military. He could go on and on about the camping and beauty of Michigan where he was stationed and how much he enjoyed living there. But he never mentioned anything about his actual time on base. The few things I know came from my mother. She talked only once about the tensions between the US and Russia during the Cuban missile crisis and how Dad was on call at the base. Russia was entering US airs space daily. It was a very tense time. Dad never spoke a word about it.

That was his way.

Dad would on very rare occasions impart snippets of the serious moments of his life. Years after doing so, Dad told me about riding on a charter bus with his fellow Union members to the Oklahoma State Capitol to protest the Right To Work amendment. I was so surprised by this story. I knew my Dad was proud of his Union and attended all of the meetings, but I had no idea of his actions. Dad would tell us stories of fishing and camping. He would talk about the mischief he would get into with my Uncle Russell. Yet he never talked about the serious moments. Not even towards the end. And when I think about it, Dad was not the only service member in our family to not really mention their time in service. Pepaw, a veteran of the second World War, would tell you a few details about his time spent in the South Pacific and only when prompted.

I overheard a story on the news of a veteran’s reaction to someone thanking him for his service. This man was gracious in his response but then gave some advice. He said instead of saying “thank you”, tell a veteran “I remember". It is more meaningful to be remembered. I am grateful for those who have the fortitude to serve this country in the military, but I also want to remember and never forget those who served. We forget that our veterans serve for only a certain amount of time before moving on and living ordinary lives. They move on, have careers and raise families. They retire and grow old. Instead of thanking a veteran, maybe we need to prompt a veteran to share their story.

To remember.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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Michael and I are planning a big camping trip to Colorado with the Cabbage this summer. I have told him stories of the family campground resorts that we would sometimes stay in when I was a kid. I talked about kids running around in packs and the movie nights and the potlucks with Bingo. All of those places seemed to be stuck in the 50s and had this nostalgic Amercana feel. Dad and I would joke about how cheesy some of it all seemed at times, but we all enjoyed ourselves. I want that for the Cabbage. I want her to be able to just run off with another pack of kids and hang out around the big bonfire making s'mores. I would also like to leave some of Dad's ashes in Colorado since it was his most favorite place to visit. 

Earlier this week I had a dream that Michael and I were setting up our camper in this tiny camp spot that we were sharing with Mom and Dad. They're camper was already set up and Dad was puttering around the campsite, asking us questions about our setup process. I remember that everything was wet, like it had just rained. Dad asked me if everything was okay. I nodded. Then he said "let's get the campfire going" and we all sat around the campfire. The sun had just dropped down. Yet when I looked up at the sky, it had already filled up with stars. I stared up in amazement and I urgently tugged at Michael's sleeve. "Do you see this?!?! Do you see this sky?!" I said to him while sweeping my arms wide. It was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes and I woke up with my pillow and cheeks damp from the tears. 

I remember on that very last trip, waking up around two in the morning and stumbling to the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, I glanced up at the sky and what I saw in that first brief glance nearly knocked me flat to the ground. It was as if the sky was only inches from my face. I could feel the weight of space pressing down on me and I felt dizzy as I looked up at the wonder of all of it. In all of our many many trips to Colorado, I don't remember ever seeing the sky look so breathtaking as I did on that last trip. I imagine that it is always just as remarkable but that this time was the first time I was actually paying attention. I want Michael to see this sky. The truth, though, is that my memories might just be all memories. We might end up at Fun Valley Campground to discover that they've traded in Bingo night for how to pin stuff to Pinterest. Those packs of roving children will no longer be roving, but sitting around the Wifi router. The Cabbage is already disappointed that our pop-up does not have a TV.

The one thing I can be sure about is that dang sky. 

I am thankful for all of those memories. I am thankful for those times that Dad visits me in my dreams. I am thankful that there is a sleeve of someone that I urgently want to tug so that I can show them something amazing. 

I am thankful for you.

CREATING TRADITIONS

Cindy Maddera

I cannot carve a pumpkin without thinking of Dad. I know that I have told the story a thousand times about how Dad and I would carve a pumpkin together every year. It was such an ingrained tradition and we never carved anything fancy. This was all before pumpkin carving kits and Pinterest, back in the day when people carved their pumpkins with knives and risked slicing off digits. That's part of the fun. I did not buy us special pumpkin carving kits this year partly for this reason and partly because there are bits of carving kits of past hiding around in the back of a kitchen drawer. We didn't really ever use anything out of those kits but the scraper and even then a spoon turned out to (still) be the best tool for the job.

They got a head start on the Cabbage's pumpkin while I was folding a basket of laundry. So by the time I was elbow deep into my pumpkin, Michael was already carving away at the face the Cabbage had drawn on her pumpkin. I could hear them behind me as Michael sat at the dinning room table with the Cabbage peering over his shoulder, directing Michael's knife. Was it so long ago that this was me doing the exact same thing, peering over Dad's shoulder and directing his carving knife? I smiled as I continued scraping the inside of my pumpkin. One of the tricks of pumpkin carving that Dad taught me, was to not just thoroughly scrap the sides of the pumpkin but to also scrap the bottom of the pumpkin. This way you roll the guts into ball as you go and then all you have to do is dump the pumpkin upside and watch as all the goop falls out. It is a lot of scraping and you should expect a hand cramp somewhere in the middle of the whole process, but it is the cleanest, most efficient way to pull out the insides of a pumpkin. 

I paused to rest my cramping hand and rub my forehead with back of my sleeved arm. I looked over at Michael who was doing the finishing touches on the Cabbage's pumpkin. The Cabbage was now dancing around behind him, no longer directing or even really paying attention. I wondered if he got it, if understood what kind of memory he was building with her. He didn't have the same kind of childhood as I did. He's never talked about carving pumpkins or participating in the same kind of traditional holiday activities as I did. Sure, he went trick-or-treating, but I don't know if he's ever been to the kind of Halloween party where kids bob for apples and jump over broomsticks. Collinsville used to have a Halloween festival at the fair grounds. One activity was to toss a bunch of money into a hay bale and let a group of kids dig around in the hay collecting whatever coins they could find. This was how we learned that I am allergic to hay, but it was my favorite thing. We didn't do this every year, but every year Dad and I carved a pumpkin. Always. Even when I was old enough to do it on my own. 

Michael asked the Cabbage about next year's pumpkin, something about maybe getting a carving kit so she could carve the pumpkin on her own. She told him that she didn't want to carve the pumpkin on her own. The Cabbage told him that she wanted to help him carve the pumpkin like they did this time around. I wonder if she has taken the lead in setting a tradition. I wonder if Michael recognizes that. I wonder if he realizes that maybe one day when the Cabbage is much older, she's going to tell stories about how she and her dad used to carve a pumpkin together every year. 

OLD STEAM ENGINES AND DAD

Cindy Maddera

While we were tooling around Science City the other weekend, I saw a group of people gathering around one of the second floor windows that faced the rail tracks. Curious, I went up to one of them and asked "What's everyone waiting for?" They told me that an old steam engine that had recently been restored would be pulling into Union Station sometime in the next ten to twenty minutes. We hightailed it out to the pedestrian bridge that crosses over the railroad tracks so I could get a good spot to set up with my camera. 

And then we waited. 

And waited.

People walking across the bridge to visit Union Station would stop and ask what we were all looking for. Once they were told of what could be coming around the bend, they would stop and our little crowd started to grow. We all took up a perch and waited.

And waited.

Then, way off in the distance, you could hear it, that slow hollow "woo-woo" sound of an old train whistle. You could just barely see a puff of smoke way off in the distance.

And we waited. 

You could feel the excitement spread through the crowd as the sound of that whistle grew closer and closer. That small maybe puff of smoke turned into a trail of smoke that you could follow and finally that steam engine huffed and puffed it's way into the station. I stood on that bridge snapping pictures (I have yet to upload and edit those) and I was a little surprised by the tears that welled up in my eyes blurring the view finder of my camera. I had started thinking about Dad. 

Dad loved all things mechanical and old, particularly cars and steam engines. In fact, I am sure that if Dad was still with us (both physically and mentally) he would have known way in advance about that steam engine visiting Union Station. He would have called me to tell me about it and we would have made plans for him to visit that weekend to see it. We would have had camp chairs out by the tracks, so we could sit and wait. And if I think about it hard enough, I can see his face. I can see the glint of excitement in his eyes and I can see his joyful expression as that train rounded the bend and came into view. It is such a clear vision in my head. I'm even positive he would have found a small train pin to put on his cap and he would have brought his old train whistle. And I would have taken a picture of him standing next to the steam engine.

That train was worth the wait.