Her Final Mother’s Day

We knew deep down it would be mom’s last Mother’s Day. After a long battle with a lung disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis which slowly robs your ability to breathe, we knew she was close to the end of her journey in 2006. The plan was for one final Mother’s Day brunch at the nursing home where mom was being cared for. I’d fly back from Los Angeles to surprise my mom for a Mother’s Day brunch in Boston with family and friends. Only one problem.  I am petrified of flying.  I have panic attacks over flying. And I knew it was very stormy weather across the country.v I was set to leave on Friday after work to take the red-eye. I was set to fly alone.  I wanted to back out.  My wife wouldn’t let me.  I wanted to delay the trip.  My wife wouldn’t let me.  I wanted to just crawl under the covers.  My wife wouldn’t let me.  I boarded the flight.

It was one of the bumpiest flights ever. When I landed in Boston it was pouring rain, flooding rain, and it would be that way for the weekend. The city was draped in grey.  I took a cab right to the nursing home.  It was early morning in Boston on Saturday and guests would be arriving for our brunch soon. Mom was thrilled to see me.  She couldn’t believe it.  Guests arrived.  Mom wasn’t well enough to leave her room so we all met in a function room at the nursing home and then a few people at a time went up to enjoy time with mom.  It was a classic deli lunch with some of my mom’s favorites.  So many people came to share this special brunch from family, to old friends, to my sister and I.  It was a long day but a great one. Mom was happy.  I was happy.  I met my sister for Chinese food that night and we had some good conversation about all sorts of things.  We snuck an egg roll back into the nursing home for mom.  It was bed time.  I was exhausted.  I didn’t want to stay with relatives.  I didn’t want to stay in a hotel.  I knew I had an early flight out.  So I stayed in the nursing home chair.  It was just me and my mom.  There were no dramatic conversations or revelations that night.  It was just us.  I’ve often thought about the hours there and what wasn’t said.  But I think mom and I had both made our peace with things long ago.  The night passed with ease.

The next morning it was Mother’s Day.  I was happy I got to give my mom a Mother’s Day wakeup. I got up and got dressed so I could grab my cab for the airport. The plan was to make a return trip to Boston with the entire family in just a few weeks once summer hit.  I kissed mom goodbye and left with an “I’ll see you soon”.   It was still pouring rain.  THIS now became the bumpiest flight ever as we bounced all around and the flight crew stayed strapped in.  I remember tearing up in the back of the plane and just clutching the arm rests waiting for the flight to end. Six hours later we finally landed in LA.  I was so happy to be home.  I was so relieved to be getting off the plane.  I turned on my phone as we taxied and saw that I had missed a call.  I went to call my wife to tell her I landed safely.  Her voice cracked on the other end.  I asked her what was wrong.  She told me.  Mom had died that morning while I made my flight home.  How could that be. I had just seen her. We were just sitting together.  I couldn’t believe it.

A long illness, an expected ending, and still it came like an unexpected sucker punch.

I remember crying on the phone with my wife while people unloaded their luggage in front of me. I remember my seatmate on the plane realizing I must have gotten some terrible news and trying to console me. I remember the wait to get off that plane being the longest of my entire life.

I grabbed my bag and headed home to my wife and little girl Alicia. Gloria and I made plans. We packed our bags. We grabbed Alicia and our things. In just a couple of hours, instead of a Mother’s Day celebration with my wife, we headed back to the airport this time to prepare for my mom’s funeral.  All the while I was so grateful that my wife wouldn’t let me back out of my initial trip, grateful that my sister was there for my mom, grateful I had the chance to give mom a final Mother’s Day kiss.

At some point my wife admitted to me that mom had known the secret for weeks.  Mom KNEW I was coming to that Mother’s Day brunch.  Mom kept the secret and pretended to be surprised when I showed up anyway.

Mom couldn’t wait to see me.

It was her final Mother’s Day.

 

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Our Day In The 16th Century: At The Renaissance Pleasure Faire

On a sunny and hot Saturday afternoon in the middle of southern California we stepped back into the 16th century to the world of ladies and lourdes, wenches and whatever guy wenches are called.

This is the part of the blog where I say that dadmissions was given admission for the family to check out the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and to write about our experience for dadmissions.

I grew up in New England and loved the fall when the Renaissance Faire would come to town. We’ve been to THIS one several times in the past when the kids were little, but this was by far the most immersive and enjoyable experience yet. The kids went right for the crafts.

One made a rag doll.

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One dipped candles.

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There was the dragon braid.

Then there were the rides. Picture what a faire used to look like BEFORE electricity. The hand cranked dragon boat took them high. The man powered giant swing took ’em even higher. Even the tween let out a huge smile and we saluted with a Huzzah!

We ate all sorts of food including my first foray with a scotch egg. It was described to me as an all-in-one sausage and egg McMuffin. And it sort of was. Delicious.

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Then there were the shows-
13 stages in all.

This time yours truly became part of the routine with Broon.. a walk the line slightly not PG humorist (and totally Ok with it) and illusionist who ate fire and entertained everyone with card tricks and humor that went over the heads of those who were too young for it. Broon trusted me to throw him an apple while he was juggling a bowling ball and fire sticks. My kids don’t trust me to brush their hair. I nailed it.

We saw the washing well wenches- wicked good risqué business with a side of black teeth, dirty laundry, and even dirtier thoughts. These ladies tour the country making moves on guys in the crowd. It’s funny and flirty and dangerous. Watch out in the first few rows if you dare not cheer too loud- you will be soaked.

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Leaving the wenches is when disaster almost struck. We realized our rag doll was missing. Somewhere in the 20 acres of renfair activities we lost the doll our little girl had made. We walked towards the exit and spotted a lost and found. One last hope to prevent tears and tragedy. And unbelievably there are good people in the 16th century because someone turned in her little rag doll and crisis was avoided.

We walked out and snapped a few more pics with the fairies and the many people in costume. I went almost the entire day without checking my emails, without thinking about work, just immersing myself in family and this Renaissance getaway.

Maybe that’s why it’s such a good escape. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire isn’t cheap. It’s around $100 for a family of four to get in.  But there are specials.  Think of it as wayyy cheaper than amusement park prices for a day at a park unlike any other you’ve ever seen. My wife and I did the kids version. But there is plenty of beer and wine and reason to get a babysitter to come alone.

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is open Saturdays and Sundays, April 8 through May 21, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. For more info go to: renfair.com

Kid tested. Dadmissions approved.

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One Family, One Bathroom, Two Kids with Bathroom Emergencies (at the same time) A True Story

and then this happened on the ride home:
kid a: I need to go home and use the bathroom NOW

dad: we were just at a store with a bathroom

mom: don’t embarrass the girl.. she needs to poop

kid a: I need to go home NOW

kid b: can I pee first- I need to pee

mom: can she pee first?

kid a: she needs to make it quick

kid b: I’m not going to make it till we get home.. I’m going to pee. nowwww.

mom: hold the pee hold the pee

kid b: I need to go now (bathroom shuffle in the backseat)

kid a: I need quiet. There’s too much noise. I need quiet. We need to get home.

kid b: I’m gonna pee.. it’s coming out

kid a: I need either absolute quiet or more music to drown out everyone’s talking

kid b: it’s coming out.. it’s coming outtttt

mom: want me to tell you a funny story?

kid b: don’t make me laugh

kid a: if you make me laugh it’s all over

mom: I just remembered when you needed a diaper from your sister when you had a pee pee emergency at Disneyland

kid b: I can’t hold it. I can’t hold itttttt

mom: want a candy baby to take your mind off of it

kid b: No! I need to pee. Help!!!

dad: I remember a scene in Bridesmaids where someone successfully used the sink

mom: don’t you DARE use the sink!!!

red light.
another red light.

kid b: WHYYYY are there so many red lights in the world. it’s coming out now

dad: can we just stop at another store?

kid a: NO I need to use the bathroom at home… it’s the only bathroom I want

dad: there’s your friend’s house.. let’s stop there and tell them we need both bathrooms

mom: they’re home I see them

kid a: NOOOOOO we are not stopping at my friend’s house to use the bathroom

red light.
then stopped at train tracks

car shaking back and forth with both kids doing the bathroom emergency dance

kid b: why. why. why. whyyyyy

kid b: that door at home better open right away or I’m going on the sidewalk and there’s gonna be a big yellow stain. That’s a PROMISE.

kid a: everyone I need SILENCE!!!!

dad speeding now. home stretch.
daughter undoes seatbelt. tire screech.
home

kid b: hurry hurry hurry unlock the door unlock the door!!!!!!!

kid b: bathroom finally… pee.. ahh.. (two seconds later) ok I’m done

kid a: get out.. get out.. now

kid b: ok I’m out

kid a: door slam in the bathroom.

mom and dad on stairs to house now laughing uncontrollably

kid a: shouts from behind bathroom door: “someone needs to go out an get toilet paperrrrrrrrrrr”.

then silence

 

 

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What Movie Theater Popcorn Can Tell You About The Strength Of Your Marriage

The wife and I went to the movies and got our large tub of popcorn. Popcorn is my thing. The wife looked through the glass at the candy. Candy is her thing. We debated on Skittles or Goobers or Red Vines but settled on Junior Mints and took our seats in the theater.

Then it happened. Right then and there. In one exchange I realized just how opposite we really ARE from each other.  She looked at me with those seductive eyes and said, “Can we throw Junior Mints IN the popcorn and make it a Junior Mints surprise?

Junior Mints surprise???

I had no answer. I was dumbfounded. In the past 23 years, the wife had tried this stunt before and I always dodged it. I didn’t say a word. You know when they tell you if you ever encounter a bear in the woods you should just freeze and play dead? I froze. I played dead. I hoped the request would go away. It didn’t.

The wife responded to my non response saying simply, “you’re boring.”

It was then that I realized there’s only two types of spouses in this world: those who savagely vandalize the beauty that is perfectly buttered popcorn with some hideous add-ins that certainly don’t belong in there… and those who don’t. The “don’t” people are clearly in the right here. We just are. Popcorn should be unadulterated, undoctored, free. But she gave me the look. So I gave in.

She cracked open the box of Junior Mints and dumped them in. The movie lights went down. We started watching the movie. And a funny thing happened. Neither one of us accounted for the weight of a Junior Mint. They’re heavier than an M&M and heavier than a Reese’s pieces. They sank to the bottom of the bucket like fifty little anchors. Boom. Gone into the abyss. For the next two hours my wife was forced to dig around the bucket with buttery fingers. She foraged and foraged. And every couple of minutes in the dark of the theater, she’d feed me a Junior Mint she’d fished from the bottom. She’d mix her’s with popcorn. She’d keep mine solo.

We went home and made mad passionate love as we thought about the popcorn and the candy. Well, I made up the last part. But we didn’t get divorced either. We kissed in the morning and I realized the popcorn hadn’t ruined our marriage.

Apparently you really CAN love someone with horrifyingly bad ideas involving popcorn. Which spouse are YOU?

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On a Sunny Day in the Inner City, My Wife Made it Snow

It’s hard to imagine if you grew up in New England like me, but some kids have never seen snow. Some kids have never known the fun of throwing a snow ball, or making a snow angel, or sledding down a hill, or coming back home with snow caked on to your pants after playing outside all day.

And so it is for some of the kids in the poorest section of Los Angeles. Some of them have never seen snow. My wife decided she wanted to make it happen for the students at her school, a charter school in the middle of south LA.

One day as the wife and I were talking, she said matter of factly, “I wrote to the helpful Honda people to see if they’d make a snow day for the kids.” If you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t know the helpful Honda people, they’re part of a brilliant ad campaign which does good things for people. They raise awareness for the Honda brand by doing random acts of “helpfulness” as they call them. We’ve seen them at our pumpkin patch in town buying pumpkins for people. We’ve seen them buying gas for people and paying bills for people. And so my wife had sent them a letter asking them if they’d help make her snow day a reality.

She waited. No answer.
She waited some more. No answer.

What she didn’t know is that Honda had actually gotten in touch with ME. They wanted to make her snow day happen. They wanted it to be a surprise. I got them in touch with the school principal. They all made a plan. I had to keep the secret.

I held the secret.
I held it even longer.

They set a date for the first snow day which happened to be a Friday. Southern California was pelted with one of the biggest rain storms of the season. Washout. The event was canceled. The secret snow day was on hold.

They set a date for the NEXT Friday. Southern California was hit with one of the biggest storms in YEARS. Two Friday’s. Two washouts. The event was canceled. The secret snow day was on hold. Again.

I thought it might be canceled entirely. And then I got an email from Honda this week. It’s on! This Friday. They sent out press releases telling people about the secret snow day. Still my wife didn’t know. Still I kept the secret.

On the third Friday, the sun shined bright. It was sunny and warm and beautiful and the forecast was for SNOW. As the school kept my wife busy in meetings with parents, the Helpful Honda people showed up in South LA. They trucked in sleds, and a sledding hill, and then 40-tons of snow. 40 tons. Then they surprised my wife -and- the kids! The kids ran for the snow. They jumped in it. They threw it. They made snow balls in it. They sledded in it. They laughed in it. They laughed some more. In the middle of south Los Angeles, in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, on a sunny and beautiful Friday afternoon, it was snowing.

I left work early, got our own kids, and let them in on the secret. I wanted to bring them to the snow day to see for themselves. I wanted them to see what mom had done with a letter of selflessness. They grabbed sleds and went down the hill themselves. Again. And again. And again.

My wife made it happen… she made it snow… with a very cool random act of helpfulness from the Helpful Honda people.

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A Warning For Parents: Beware, Pics Of Your Kids Are Being Stolen

Nelson updated his Facebook profile with the cutest pic ever. The CUTEST. It was a little kid wearing an oversized sweater which had mistakenly gone through the dryer and no longer fit her dad. So dad had given the sweater to his daughter and it fit just right. She had the biggest grin. How’d I know all this? No, Nelson didn’t tell me. Nelson didn’t write about it either. In fact, I don’t know where in the world Nelson is. We’ve never met. But I know that kid. She’s MY daughter. And somewhere around the world, someone I’ve never met has been using her photo as his Facebook profile.

Creepy? I’ll say.
Disturbing? You bet.
Worrisome? Absolutely.

So that’s how I found out. I woke up last week to a notification from Facebook alerting me someone may be using a profile picture which really doesn’t belong to them. They asked me to confirm it which I did. I had the option to block him which I did. Facebook said it would investigate.

Who was this guy?
I don’t know. The account had no friends and few posts. Just a couple of pictures and the one front and center was MY kid in the shrunken sweater.

It got me thinking about all those photos I’ve shared over the years. All those stories I’ve shared. On my dadmissions page I stopped posting most pics of my kids a few years ago. I don’t even use their names on my dadmissions page anymore. On my personal page I still share. But now I’m wondering what the cost is for all this interconnectivity we’ve all created. What is the unintended cost to my kids of my social media footprint that THEY never bargained for. We’ve all seen bogus accounts pop up with friend requests. This somehow felt different to me. Invasive. Probably because it affected MY family, and MY kid, who has never even been on Facebook.

Luckily, Facebook was very proactive and notified me about the photo. Or so I thought. Because I woke up this week to another alert from Facebook. This time someone named Williams was using the same pic. Same thing. New profile. Again I replied back to Facebook. Again they said they would investigate. Again: annoyed, disturbed, creeped out.

Sure maybe it’s just some automated account. Or maybe it’s some overseas scammer. Or maybe it’s someone who has NO place having any types of pictures of any children. It very unsettling.

So on a Saturday morning I sat down with a cup of coffee and one by one started to copy and then delete the memories I had been sharing on Dadmissions over the years. One pic. Then another.

Delete.
Delete.
Delete.
Delete.

And I couldn’t help but gulp back a tear, sad to be looking back through all these great memories I had shared, sad that I may have put my kids in this situation, sad that the world can’t always be trusted to get a glimpse into your life.

In each of the cases, Facebook has now replied to me that they looked at the profiles created and they “don’t” violate Facebook’s community rules. I don’t really know what that means. I’ve already blocked both accounts and reported them and I will continue to do so. And I’ll certainly think twice before posting public photos of my kids. Moreover, I’m going to look at my security settings on ALL my social media accounts to see where things might be tightened up to be more secure.

I hesitated to even write this. Sometimes it’s better to just ignore things and leave them alone. But sometimes there’s an important message other parents need to hear. This is the latter. Watch what you post online. Watch your security settings. Be vigilant about who has access to your life. Not everyone out there is a friend.

imageBelow are a couple of good articles with tips on how to protect yourself online:
The 411 on online impersonation:

http://jerad.blog/someone-impersonating-online/

How can I stop online impersonation:

https://www.google.com/amp/lifehacker.com/5902295/how-can-i-stop-someone-impersonating-me-online/amp?client=safari

protecting your online photos:

http://www.photoattorney.com/five-things-you-can-do-to-protect-your-online-images/

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Finding Hope In The Year We’re FINALLY Getting Rid Of

In a year that seemed to be such a downer, I found hope.

In a year that saw me lose my job of 16 years, I found a new job, and hope

In a year that saw America ripped apart at the seams by politics, still, I have hope

In a year that saw so many deaths, we got a new baby nephew, and hope

In a year that saw me jump fifteen pounds, I recently lost ten, and gained hope

In a year that seemed to be such a downer, I have my family, my kids, my wife, my life.

I have great hope for 2017

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