Flowers From My Father

tuilps

All of the tulips behind my house.

My father had a green thumb. I don’t know if he was born with it, or if he cultivated through during his lifetime, but he was great at making plants grow. He loved planting gardens of flowers and vegetables and whatever he touched thrived. His efforts to create vegetable gardens didn’t always go well due to animals finding their way past garden defenses, but his flower beds always thrived.

While I’ve had some success growing things, I did not inherit my father’s knack for making green things grow. I’ve killed cactuses and other low maintenance plants and my annual flower gardens have been hit and miss. I’ve discovered that pansies and snapdragons seem made to survive my lack of green thumb, but I haven’t had much luck with perennials. Well, lucky for me, my father’s spirit decided to help me with that problem.

A few years’ ago, a tulip plant suddenly appeared growing next to the irises behind my house. Those irises have been here since before I moved in and they always do extremely well, but I’d never planted any tulips. I took that first tulip that produced a single red blossom as a gift from my father’s spirit and I thanked him profusely. That tulip has returned every year and I’m always amazed that the squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, skunks, or deer don’t manage to nibble it away before it can bloom.

Apparently, this year my father decided I needed a few more bulbs in my yard. The first new plants I saw were a couple of yellow daffodils growing over by my smaller shed. I didn’t plant daffodils and I’d never seen them there before, but there they suddenly were one day! When I first saw the splash of yellow next to the shed, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, especially since the weather hadn’t been warm enough for dandelions yet. I was bewildered when I walked over and realized they were healthy daffodil plants dancing in the chilly breeze.

daffodils

The daffodils by my shed.

Once again, I thanked my dad’s spirit for the gift of flowers and figured that was his new flower for this year. I soon learned that I was wrong.

Shortly after the daffodils came up, I went over to investigate my usual tulip and discovered more tulip plants growing a bit further away from the first. Again, I didn’t plant any more tulips so I was surprised to see them. I thought perhaps they were more red tulips and that they were finally growing because I’d cut the rose bush back more. I was happy to see more tulips growing and appreciated my father’s continued efforts to add flowers to my gardens.

As the weeks passed and the tulips continued to grow and create buds, I noticed that the new plant had five buds on it as opposed to the single bud on the red tulip. After a couple more days I realized that the second tulip plant was a different color than the first tulip plant and when it finally started to show its colors, the buds were a lovely combination of yellow and red. I was elated that such beautiful tulips were growing in my yard when they bloomed and revealed their stunning colors, I nearly jumped for joy. My father’s spirit had certainly upped his game this spring!

yellow and red tulips

This year’s tulip plant

tulips

The original red tulip and this year’s new addition.

I’ve been enjoying the colorful displays of tulips behind my house for the past week or so and even though the blossoms are starting to fade and wilt, I’ve taken plenty of pictures to remember them by. Plus, I know they’ll be back again next year. The gift of flowers that my father’s spirit keeps giving me is something I’m truly grateful for and I wish he were still physically around so I could thank him in person and give him a huge hug.

I’m sure there’s a lot my dad could do with my property if he was still alive and I’d welcome his help. I always make grand plans for gardens on my property, but I don’t have the time or resources. Instead, I just make my little backyard container garden around the birdfeeders and admire it from my kitchen window or when I’m outside on the deck or in the yard. The birds also help me out by dropping enough sunflower seeds to sprout at least a couple nice sunflowers every year.

Although I may never have the beautiful gardens my dad used to create, I do the best I can to keep up with my property and incorporate pretty (and resilient) flowers where I can. It’s nice to know that my father’s spirit seems to understand that I’m trying and that he helps me out as best he can. For as long as I live in this house and even after I move, I know I’ll wait anxiously for spring every year to see if my father has planted more gifts of flowers for his little girl.

flower garden

Standing by one of my dad’s flower gardens.

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Taking a Day

Father and daughter love

My father and I on his 43rd birthday in 1984. I was 7 years old.

Today is my father’s birthday, he would’ve been 74 years old. He died in October of 2009 and I miss him every single day. The ache of missing him gets even stronger starting about a week before his birthday and continuing through the summer birthdays of me, my brothers and my daughters and the holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because they all feel partially empty without his physical presence. Memorial Day is a hard holiday too because my dad served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, but thankfully that weekend I’ll be at the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow in Randolph, MA, surrounded by great people and lifting my spirit by dancing to the drums in the circle.

I’ve been working hard to finish up most of the week’s work so I could just take a day for myself and do what makes me happy. Although I’m sad without my father, I know his spirit is with me and that he wants me to be happy and so I focus on finding and doing things that give me positive feelings. I didn’t quite succeed at getting all the work I wanted to done so I’ll be doing some of it today, but as I work from home and no longer in an office, it’s a rewarding experience.

I have to take Jazzmin to the vet for some booster shots and I purposely made the appointment this morning because I didn’t really want to bum around the house all day. I’m also taking my mom out to dinner this evening so we can celebrate my dad’s life and be together. We’re going to Olive Garden, one of his favorite restaurants and I plan on toasting him with a cappuccino (no alcohol because I’m driving ;)). In between those two scheduled things, I’m going to squeeze in some work and take Jazzmin for a nice looong walk to enjoy the fresh air on what promises to be another beautiful day!

Taking a day to honor and remember my father is actually something I do every single day, but on his birthday I want to work a bit harder at putting positive energy out into the universe to honor his spirit and thank him for being such an amazing father to me.

Bobcat, Teddy Bear, Penguin Collector

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He's wearing the bobcat shirt I remember well.

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He’s wearing the bobcat shirt I remember well.

My father’s name was Robert W. Corbin but most people called him Bob. He was a great man, inspiring role model, and the last gentleman I knew. After high school, he went into the Air Force where he worked on the inner workings of large cargo planes. He worked at Xerox for almost 32 years as an electrical engineer and he earned several patents for his designs that improved various copier mechanisms. Before his first stroke, my father was an active member of Toastmasters, rode horses with me, gave blood whenever possible, and volunteered where he could.

Today is the five-year anniversary of my father’s passing. Even though the pain of losing him has lessened over the years, there will always be a spot in my heart that feels empty without him. I don’t wish the loss of a parent or close family member upon anyone, for it’s an anguish that is only understood by those who have endured it. I describe losing my father as a hole in my heart, a void in my soul, an area within me so hollow I swear I can feel the wind blow through it.

Visiting my father's grave in 2012.

Visiting my father’s grave in 2012.

However, my father would never want me to dwell in the pain of losing him, of that I am certain. His spirit wants me to remember how amazing his life was, how many blessings he had, and how fortunate I was to have him as my father. I don’t quite know why, but when I conjure images of my father, I see him wearing jeans and a shirt he had with the face of a bobcat on it. The bobcat was because so many people called him Bob but as I think of the face of that cat with its stripes and whiskers, I am reminded of my father.

To me, my father was a big teddy bear. Always there for a bearhug, understanding ear and a bit of loving gruffness when it was required. He even used to scratch his back against walls like bears scratch their backs against trees. Despite his softness, he wasn’t a pushover, and he showed me what true strength of character and a good heart look like in a person.

Riding on my father's shoulders. One of the best ways to travel!

Riding on my father’s shoulders. One of the best ways to travel!

My mother loves to tell the story of how my father was trying to get a closer look at penguins at a zoo and ended up bonking his head on the curved glass. From that day on, he received penguins as gifts and had quite a collection that my girls have now inherited a majority of. Whenever I see penguins now with their adorable waddles on land and stunning grace under water, I think of my father. I also think of him whenever my daughters or I bonk our heads on glass either from lack of grace or from wanting to see something closer…

With each passing year, I realize how much I am like my father. I inherited his strength, determination, and stubbornness. He showed me what a good man looks like and I will never again allow myself to settle for anything less than a good-hearted, honest, caring, hug-giving gentleman. My father raised his only daughter to be intelligent, clever, loving, and kind and I know he’s proud of all that I’ve accomplished. He has the right one picked out for daddy’s little girl but I’m not putting my life on hold for that. I continue to live my amazingly blessed and happy life, certain that the right one will be able to catch up to me and add his story to my own.

 

You Can Call Me Al

I listen to Pandora and lately it’s been adding new songs into my mix that aren’t new to me at all. Songs from my younger years like “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. Even though I’ve heard the song countless times, somehow hearing it now fills me with renewed happiness and fond memories. I remember watching the video for the song and loving how Chevy Chase lip-synced the words while Paul Simon went along with it. That song is just one of many that make me want to dance and I’ve been doing a lot of spontaneous dancing today because I’m HAPPY! 

I have numerous things to be happy about every single day such as my beautiful daughters, my good health, my adorable pup, my career as a freelance writer, the fact that I own a house solo, and so much more! Today I’m especially happy because last night I was finally able to turn off all the “noise” clogging up my energy and listen to what my heart and spirit were telling me. I had one of those amazing moments yesterday evening where something inside me just “shifted” and suddenly I knew exactly what I had to do regarding a certain situation. Once I did what felt right, everything fell back into place and the shadows on my future path cleared revealing a totally new direction.

I know how easy it is to succumb to shadows and fall into negative thinking, especially because losing my father dropped me down into a deeper ravine than I knew existed. Dwelling in those “safe” shadows would have taken absolutely no effort, but fighting my way out of them took every ounce of strength within me. Once I found the light again, I never wanted to lose it!

I’ve always tried to be a very positive person but the death of my father really put that positivity to the test. As much as being without my father hurts my heart, I know that he wants me to continue on my positive journey and to shine my light to benefit the world around me. My father always greeted me with “Hey, beautiful!” and he saw the beauty inside me that no other man I’ve loved has bothered to discover or appreciate yet. My dad has the right one lined up for me I know he does, but the right one hasn’t found me yet.

As the years since my father’s death and my divorce have passed, I’ve realized that everything happens for a reason. I never expected to be still single three years after my divorce, but I am and I’m okay with that. Being single this long has allowed me to discover who I truly am without a man by my side. I know that if I’d gone into another relationship right after being divorced, it would have turned out just as poorly as all my previous relationships. I can’t define who I am by whom I’m with and I don’t think anyone should. 

So today my spirit felt lighter than it has for a while and I wondered why I ever allowed the shadows back in. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much fun it was to dance around in my kitchen, in my chair, and with the dog in the middle of the living room. Yes, Jazzmin thinks I’m nuts when I’m dancing, but she senses my happy energy and wants to join in somehow. Dancing might not be her idea of fun, but she loves her mama and goes along for the ride. I know she won’t mind if I call her Betty and I’m just fine with her calling me Al. 😉

The power of pizza!

Love on a pizza :)

Love on a pizza 🙂

During my Friday night grocery shopping trip, I picked up a can of Pillsbury’s Pizza Crust because I was planning to make pizza tonight. Usually I buy the store’s ball of dough and fight with it until it mostly fits on the pizza pan. I decided I wasn’t up for that fight this weekend so I grabbed the Pillsbury version instead. A simple-seeming thing but with nostalgic significance.

I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember my family using that particular pizza dough to make many pizzas. It was so convenient to just pop open the can and roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and I can completely understand why my parents opted to use it instead of other dough. When I made the pizza tonight, happy memories flooded back to me the moment I smelled that familiar dough. Pillsbury dough has a distinct taste and smell, much different from the store brand of dough or homemade crust.

As I rolled the dough out onto the cookie sheet, I suddenly decided that the girls and I were going eat in the living room tonight and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Long before my family started using the Pillsbury dough, I remember that one night a week we would order pizza and watch the original Star Trek reruns on the TV in the family room. It was a real treat eating in the family room, I loved sitting on the floor with my plate on the coffee table, and my eyes glued on Star Trek. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up loving it too. Every time I watch Star Trek TNG now, I remember watching it with him and going to the Star Trek movies with him. It makes me miss him but it also reminds me that he’s always with me in spirit.

The simple act of buying that pizza dough transformed tonight into a tribute to my father’s memory and I was inspired to arrange the meatballs on the cheese in a heart shape. My daughters thought I was loopy of course, but that’s okay. As a further tribute to my father, I had a glass of the root beer in my fridge that went flat long ago. My father would always drink the flat pop and that’s another of his traits I inherited. There’s something to be said about not having bubbles going up my nose making me sneeze. 

Sitting on the floor of my living room with my girls as we watched the first episode of the second season of TNG filled me with happiness and contentment. Carrying on traditions, even ones as silly as eating pizza while watching Star Trek, help me keep the memory of my father alive and insure that my girls never forget their amazing grandfather.

Okay, October, let’s do this!

Gorgeous clouds today!

Gorgeous sky today!

The first day of October started out dreary, foggy, but pleasantly warm for autumn in Upstate New York. To help get the month off to an exciting “bang,” I had my first ever Family Court appearance this morning and I had to attend it without my lawyer. Apparently, she never received the court paperwork and was, in fact, out of town. Thankfully, it was just a preliminary meeting to set up the future hearing date and I spent a whopping five whole minutes in the courtroom, but I still think I was rather “rawr!” for going alone!

Considering how stressed I’d been over the appearance (especially since I only learn yesterday my lawyer was out of town) it was a welcome relief that it turned out to not be a big deal. After the court appearance, I met my mother for breakfast at the little diner next to where I was having my car inspected. I ordered my usual French toast, but instead of taking half it home as I usually do, I wolfed it all down as though I hadn’t eaten in days! After the stress of the past few days, I’m surprised I didn’t eat my plate too!

Thankfully, my car passed inspection without any issues and I drove home praising it for being such a nice little Toyota Matrix. Once home, I did some college work, but when I started having trouble staying awake, I realized a nap was in order. Apparently, all the recent anticipation and anxiety wore my body out and it needed a recharge. Two hours of being dead to the world later, I woke refreshed and ready to tackle more college work!

I took my usual college work break to walk Jazzmin and our jaunt up the farmer’s road was quite lovely today. The sun had finally come out, there was a nice breeze, and the trees were changing in a wash of yellow, orange, red and burgundy. As I walked, my mind was going a thousand miles a minute thinking of all the possible blog post topics I could explore this month.

These little wild daisies grew through gravel. Proof that strength is beautiful!

These little wild daisies grew through gravel. Proof that strength is beautiful!

You see, I’ve decided to make October one of my “post every day” months. It seems a bit crazy to me to do that, especially when I’ll be busy finishing my last three weeks in this college term, but October is a significant month for me and I refuse to sleepwalk through it just wishing it would end. On October 21st, it will have been 5 years since my father died, and while that doesn’t seem possible, denying the truth has never changed it. My father wouldn’t want me to muddle mindlessly through this month; he’d want me to honor his spirit by doing one of the things he always encouraged me to do: write! So it is with an eager, determined, and uplifted heart that I say, “Alright, October, let’s do this!”

The fall color is increasing daily!

The fall color is increasing daily!

Just a day

One of my favorite pics of my dad and I

One of my favorite pics of my dad and I

I don’t speak for anyone else who has lost their father, I’m only sharing how I feel. Father’s Day is hard for me. My dad died in October of 2009 and I miss him every day. He and I were about as close as a father and daughter could be and he loved and accepted me unconditionally. His passing left a hole in my heart so big I’m surprised I can’t hear the wind howling through it sometimes.

Seeing all the commercials and advertisements for Father’s Day hasn’t made things any easier and I’ll be relieved when they’re done. When my father was alive, I happily celebrated him with gifts and cards and he appreciated whatever he received, even if it was just a hug. But now Father’s Day is just a day I do my best to get through by remembering my father fondly without shedding too many tears.

I encourage everyone who still has their father to cherish every moment with him, hug him tighter and tell him you love him as often as possible. Never take anyone you love for granted because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, all we can be sure of is today.

Visiting my father's marker, 10/21/2012

Visiting my father’s marker, 10/21/2012