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July 22, 2019

I would like a copy/NOT, blurred sleepover lines, direct hit

Maybe my sis Marie had cracked the code on how to give Dad a gift. Maybe I was just frustrated because my most recent gift sort of blew up in my face.

Remember my Christmas gift to Dad? I printed out 39 pages of my manuscript and gifted it to him.  He had previously told me that he was not interested in these stories from my childhood, but I questioned that thought process. Because he ALSO told me that he wanted to read them (until he found out that it was 18 pages long - which was the length of the original doc.) Clear as mud? 

This is a photo circa 1975 of JB and I playing
hot potato in my Davenport basement at
 my birthday party.  Mom is dressed in
 her best polyester in the background holding
my little brother, Mike.  I froze this clip from a
home movie reel that we made digital. 
JB was my first best friend.
Several weeks before Christmas Dad said, ‘Oh, you sent JB stories from when we lived in Iowa?  Can you email those to me? I’d like to read that.’  JB is my childhood friend who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a 10 year old after a biking race accident and lives with his parents in Colorado. We were told in November that his health was declining. I printed out stories from before the accident that I thought he and his family would enjoy. Stories told from my young perspective.
In 2013, Coach and I stopped to visit Joey
 and his folks between touring the Grand
Canyon and Rocky Mountain National
 Park.  This is Mini hugging Joey when she
 said goodnight. My kids had never met Joey.
 His folks were thrilled with how easily
 my kids warmed up to him.  Some kids
shy away or are frightened because of Joey's
 spastic limbs and the difficulty in speaking clearly.
 The kids took turns writing to him weekly
 after this visit.  Those letters went on for ages,
and sometimes even now if I discover a bored
 kid I invite them to write to Joey who never got
 to enjoy half of what they are physically capable of.
 They never complain.
 Joey's family was there the
 night I received my 'Ernie' nickname.  Other
 than all of you, they are the only ones
 who continue to exclusively call me Ernie.

One of my favorites: I slept over at JB's house when I was 4 or 5 years old. He was the youngest of 5 boys. After the sleepover, I walked home - two doors away. Once home, I promptly got in trouble or was scolded for something. The lines of when the sleepover ended felt blurred to my young self, so I re-entered JB's house. Lots of commotion there, so entering their house was a no-brainer. JB's older brother who was about 7 told me a bit later that I wasn't supposed to still be hanging around. Joey and I ignored him. Jerk. Hours later Mom came looking for me. Then, I really got in trouble for being rude, etc. JB's folks laughed at the whole ordeal. I did no wrong in their eyes.

The actual written account has much more detail, but it speaks to how I really thought I was part of their family - or wished I was. I was doted on there - NEVER got in trouble, etc. Anyway, the stories are mostly a collection of humorous memories. Both our families were transplanted to Davenport and our families became very close. We celebrated holidays together, etc.

Back to my phone conversation with Dad about JB's health and the stories I had mailed to his fam:

Me‘Oh, yes.  I did send JB and his parents stories from our Davenport days.  It is the beginning part of my manuscript. It is 18 pages (pause) I can get you a copy.’   

Dad:  ‘Oh, I don’t want that.’  

Direct hit. 

People, can you even?  What difference does it make what form the stories come in?  Manuscript or attachment to an email? What difference does it make how long it is - to a man who reads and reads and reads? Ser-i-ously?! Christmas happened, and as always - there is more . . .

9 comments:

  1. I cannot stop laughing. I am sorry, I am being a bad blog friend. But I can hear me getting that kind of response too. Eighteen pages of memories is just too much for some, it seems and in fairness to your dad, he was there so he probably just wanted the abridged version.


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    1. My parents do NOT remember anything from my childhood (let alone what they did last week) in the same detail that I remember it - so they are often surprised at stories that they witnessed back in the mid 70s. The man was interested, AND all he does is read. I rest my case. There are layers here, my friend. LAYERS. Coach is totally not the 'give it to him anyway' kind of guy, but even he was like 'your dad will LOVE these stories. They are hilarious.' OK, now I rest my case. If my name was Pat, my dad would have been all about it. Do I need to paint you a picture?!

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  2. Maybe your dad just likes fiction? It's kind of crazy really, but who knows what someone else is thinking?
    So very sweet of your kiddos to correspond with Joey; I'm sure it means the world to him.

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    1. I guess that is possible. He is a huge hiatory buff. Mostly ready actual accounts of history- like history text book would thrill him . . . snooze fest! Maybe family history does not involve enough generals and army leaders. And thanks, yes- very proud of how my kids embraced my childhood friend and his situation.

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  4. Um, is the unacknowledged issue that your dad has been (perhaps more often than not) sort of rude and certainly dismissive of you? It does sound that way, what with the stories about "it speaks to how I really thought I was part of their family - or wished I was. I was doted on there - NEVER got in trouble, etc.". Anyway, I think a lot of females always wanted affirmation from their father and never quite got it. And, the older our fathers get, the less likely we are to get it. Just sayin. You are an amazing woman and it would be good to pay attention to all the affirmation you do get. :)

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    1. You picked up on a definite vibe here! Yes, I feel like I spent my youth trying to get both my parents attention (although mom was more tuned in- my brother did no wrong and I often felt lost in his shadow), and as an adult I have transitioned to 'I don't need their approval/attention/affirmation' but no matter what I STILL get my nose out of joint.

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    2. Ernie, you are so good and capable and interesting. I am way older than you. Here's something my shrink said (of course I talked with a professional about this stuff In any situation the only response you can control is your own. And what I struggled to accept for years was that I was the only one who felt bad about the whole thing. So slowly and quite deliberately, I just stopped. I had tried so hard and always felt "well, that didn't work, I can try this". Rookie move, none of it worked. I continued to feel badly that I couldn't reach them and make them see me and that I loved them. I could only change what I was doing. Slowly, deliberately and painfully.

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    3. Kathy,
      I really appreciate this insight. It is excellent advice. I spent way too much time fretting and fussing and trying too hard and assessing and reassessing their every move. I don't think it made me a very pleasant person. I wish I could say I didn't let them bother me at all anymore, but I feel like I have made some definite progress. I shared your perspective with Coach. I pointed out that both my sisters are needy and dependent on my folks. Then I stumbled around about what Pat's deal is. I decided he surrounds himself with them as much as possible because they fawn all over him, so why wouldn't he? Ha! My brother Mike is devoted to them, but he is not quite as tied in/sucked in. Anyway, thanks for sharing! It helps me a great deal to know that I am not alone. I do beat myself up at times, 'Why are you STILL letting them get to you?' They are family and wanting to be accepted is natural, I guess.

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