Lately, my thoughts keep returning to my memories about a pair of stilts I had as a child. I don’t know how old I was when I received them, somewhere around middle childhood is my best guess. I was raised in a fairly frugal home, I’m sure my tricycle was a hand-me-down, and I know my first bike definitely was, but I don’t remember caring it wasn’t new, I had a bike!
Tag Archives: dad
It was hot a few days ago, so I went out and refilled the bird bath with cold water mid afternoon, within a minute, a chickadee landed, took a sip then lifted her head high, and repeated that process multiple times while I watched her from the other side window.
Dad is often in my mind and this week has been no different. He didn’t suffer fools easily, had few words, but gave far more of himself to his family, and community, than he ever received in return. Now days, I think of him often when I read about the grief of infertility, and, how it is hard to go to baby showers and see others create families without any apparent struggle. Read the rest of this entry »
Many of you may wonder why I am so adamant that a father is just as important as the mother, and why I get so upset that a father faces laws that seem void of common sense, dignity, and fair play. Why should I care so much when my father didn’t give a damn when I was born, and still to this day doesn’t give a damn. I am in the enviable position to know for fact that he had a choice back then, despite the laws at the time that specifically excluded him from having any rights. He made his choice both when I was born, and when I was an adult, whether or not to be part of my life.
I am thankful that my story turned out that he had choices, even if the ending of our story isn’t what I would like it to have been. My father had choices, and chose to ignore the fact that I existed, shouldn’t that make me care less about fathers? So why do I care so much? Read the rest of this entry »
This is a post I wrote three years ago, about a time before how medicine is practiced today, when people relied on their family doctor for just about everything. I figured it was worth reposting today. Now it’s time to head out and pull a few weeds and get some fresh air. Read the rest of this entry »
Day 4 and my feelings on Natural Fathers? This one is easy. I wrote this poem for D, my first father. It was in honor of our first Father’s Day together. It still makes me smile. I hope you enjoy it.
“To my Father”
By Shadow June 2006
For all those years, I did not know.
Just how deep the feelings really did go.
Just how strong the bond would be,
And how so very important he was to me.
Even though we had never met,
For some reason, this man, I could not forget.
Why did this stranger always seem to have this place in my heart?
Why, in my life, did he play such a big part?
Who was this man? Did he even know,
That I existed, that I missed him so.
Did he ever wonder? Would he someday find me,
Or would we be better off to just let things be?
Although I wouldn’t admit it, and I told myself I didn’t care,
I needed to know him. I needed him to care.
I buried the feelings so deep down inside,
But the truth will come out. The truth you can’t hide.
As time passed on, the desire grew stronger.
Who was this man? I could wait no longer.
Something inside would not let me be.
The time had come to set the truth free.
For years I wondered, did he really just walk away,
Or was there more to the story, something no one would say?
Then my heart told me, I wasn’t being fair.
How did I know for sure, he really didn’t care?
I had to know. I could wait no more.
When I knocked, would he slam the door?
God took control at that point and time,
As He usually does when He has something in mind.
For on that day when I was conceived,
A gift from God was later to be received.
At that time no one realized what God had done,
All would have to wait for the right time to come,
And on that day so far in the past,
God created a bond, a bond that would always last.
That bond he placed between this man and me,
Because He knew someday strangers we would no longer be.
There are certain bonds that can’t be broken,
By time, or lies, or things unspoken.
A bond created by God’s own hand,
Can never be destroyed by mere mortal woman or man.
So in God’s perfect time the truth was revealed.
And now with his help my heart is beginning to heal.
This man is a blessing, a gift God gave to me,
And to this man I hope a blessing I will also always be.
What more can I say about my feelings on first fathers? D and I have had our ups and downs, as all reunions do. The poem still fits, is still true, and will always be.
Love you Dad,
TAO’s thoughts on the Natural Fathers prompt
From the TED webpage: “Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side — and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.
Tali Sharot studies why our brains are biased toward optimism.”
“Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event.” (Tali Sharot)
This morning as I sipped my coffee and looked out my kitchen window – I saw the following. A grey squirrel having breakfast at the bird feeder happily munching on sunflower seeds looking right at me. Songbirds perched in the magnolia tree waiting their turn at the feeder. A hummingbird flitting amongst the potted annuals on the deck sipping sweet nectar from the blooms. Then I looked down to the garden with the spring bulbs and perennials blooming, over to the white lilacs in full bloom, the best showing yet on this fairly young bush. Then back to the middle where the leafs are budding out on the grapevine dad started for me from a slip off his favorite grapevine. The same grapevine that I had at the old place, planted so many years ago, and after we moved my partner went back and dug up for me in the dead of winter because it was from dad, and somehow it survived that to grow and thrive here too. That is my morning ritual and makes me happy.
The other day during my morning ritual, I was thinking about how optimistic I really am and how so many different parts of my life were all based on optimism – then I found the Ted Talk above. If I wasn’t optimistic, I would not be talking today (literally and figuratively). I believe change can happen, if enough people start talking about things that need changing. That we can grow and evolve and remove our wants and desires when exploring a tough topic, and look at the reality of all facets of something and brainstorm, educate, and make it better for all – and that is what I want for adoption.
Yet I am also a realist, because of the hard knocks I have experienced that taught me that I too, was vulnerable to bad things, and that also ensured I grew as a human being. While I have a long way to go, I matured and gained the gift of empathy and the skills to assess the risks and ways protect me, if something happened. At work one of my responsibilities was risk management and to review contracts from a compliance aspect, and note where we could, or could not comply, or when I felt the risk was to high for the company to take, and what changes needed to be negotiated. I loved that part of my job – it made me think and assess our strengths and weaknesses, implement safeguards by processes yet not limiting productivity, and still made us stronger.
Looking back it seems I have always instinctively wanted to trust everyone and believe their intentions are good, but I also assess them, to see if I truly can trust them, and they have to show by their actions that they deserve the trust I have in them. If they betray that trust – it is never the same again as unconsciously, I wait for them to do it again, know they will do it again. I expect that is the adoption side coming out, and that too is part of me and has always been a part of me, the realistic side that things don’t always work out the way you want them to.
When I was starting to get sick and then the time spent in the hospital and recovery, the thought that I could die never entered my consciousness. At the same time my realistic side kicked in and ensured when I was able, I got my house in order, that my living will was written, that my will was updated, that despite my optimism, I understood the reality was – that things might not work out if there was a next time. That last part is also a blessing because you make sure each day counts, and the people you love, know you love them. That you live the rest of your life with no regrets.
I know I have spoken many times about mom and dad. I do hold them up as the ideal parents that all in adoption should strive to match, and it breaks my heart when other adoptees didn’t get good parents. This post isn’t so much about that, but about what the impact would have been, if I had found out mom and dad had knowingly participated in my adoption knowing there were ethical issues surrounding my surrender (there weren’t, but I have reflected often on how I would feel today, if there had been). I am specifically talking about being told the mother changed her mind within days, or the father wants to parent, there is coercion known to be happening – that kind of ethical issue. For a child to find out his or her parents knew but went ahead – just to be parents. I see ethical issues happening in different ways, shapes, and forms today and that is why I speak out, because that type of adoption is wrong.
I don’t want to give specifics, so it was hard to write about this but know these are just some of the more generic worded fond memories that would be forever over-shadowed by the stain cast if my adoption had been done wrong. I hope you consider if doing it wrong simply to reach your goal of being a parent, is worth the ultimate price your child will pay? Part of that price is what it will do to their memories…memories that may be similar to what you read below – that could be tainted by the choices you make today.
Thanksgiving dinners with both family and friends seated around the table each and every year.
Being carried up the stairs after taking a big tumble, bleeding all over dad’s shirt but knowing it would be fine now, because dad was there.
The summer road trips each year to explore the US and Canada. Playing silly word games to pass the time while riding in the car, putting up the tent, exploring the campground, eating dinner around the campfire, hiking, swimming, exploring, having our pictures taken, a magical time each summer where we formed memories of being a family – that last a lifetime.
Being dad’s shadow and seeing him as “the man” who should be president of the US, because then the whole world would be all okay. (magical thinking at it’s best – dad can fix anything)
Sitting around the fire at home you helped haul the wood in for with dad, and then built with dad watching closely, and then talking away the afternoon.
Having my picture taken on a Glacier…on one of the many summer road trips.
Baking muffins with mom to go with the homemade soup for dinner.
Going to the fair each summer, and one year saving all my ride tickets for the roller-coaster I was to young and too short to ride alone, because dad said he would go with me this year, and then sitting in the front seat and riding it 6 times in a row without getting off in between, poor dad…
Family picnics at the beach each summer, going swimming together in freezing cold water with us, that as an adult you would have to be crazy to do.
Shelling peas, husking corn, peeling pears to preserve for the winter with mom.
Cutting out fancy shaped ginger snaps at grandma’s on her old wooden table overlooking the garden, flour everywhere, the smell of ginger and molasses in the air and nibbling on warm ginger snaps fresh from the oven.
Learning to ride my bike without training wheels, with dad running along-side making sure I didn’t fall off until I figured it out.
Coming home from school to the smell of fresh-baked bread and cinnamon rolls mom had just taken out of the oven, and knowing you could talk her into a special treat before dinner.
Sitting on dads shoulders all day long, so I could see everything at the world’s fair each day we were there.
These are just a few of the more generic memories I have of my very early years – let alone all those that happened since – that I would view with a different lens, if the way I came into my family wasn’t the right way. I say this with all sincerity because I viewed them not only as mom and dad, but as the ones who taught me by their actions and deeds what was right and what was wrong. I guess I am saying what memories your child will have – would you be willing to have tainted and seen through a different lens, by not acting ethically and doing the right thing in your adoption?
Please note I am not speaking about when a parent finds out after the fact that there were ethical concerns and faces up to that reality – I am speaking about parents knowing at the time before the adoption was finalized that there were ethical concerns, but put their need to be parents ahead of their ethics and morals of what was the right thing to do and continued on…
If adoption has to happen, it has to be ethical and about finding a home for a child that needs one – not finding a child for a home that wants one.
Dad was a great listener. A long-time friend told me this story about his first real experience with dad’s listening skills. I am changing job titles but not the story. A new manager timidly asked the board to consider making some changes to the presentation schedule. All the board members except dad debated back and forth and huffed and puffed and the new manager kept looking over at dad thinking he was sleeping, or not listening, as his eyes were closed, his body relaxed, and then after about an hour dad opened his eyes and spoke. Dad said: let him do it, we go through this each time and each of you have the same arguments and finally we let them do it, and it always turns out okay. Apparently that finished the meeting.
Dad had few words but he could listen – perhaps a skill learned listening to his patients to get to the diagnosis – perhaps just his personality, but he listened to everything. He also asked probing question when necessary. He would then consider the answers and say his piece without molly coddling, in as few words as possible to get his point across. When I first started taking music lessons and played whatever song I had just learned for him, his response was usually “not bad, you need to keep practicing” and then the next night “you are getting better, so keep practicing” and finally “that was good, keep practicing, I love to hear you play”. He didn’t molly coddle but he never spoke meanly either, just truthful without all the fluff.
I was taught the Suzuki Method of music created by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. I took lessons when it was a brand new method – way back in the early 60’s with teachers from Japan. We first had to learn how to listen to each note, and really listen to all the different parts of the song, which notes to whisper, when to shout them, when vibrato was needed, when to make the music dance, or when to make it sad, and then memorize all the parts that made the song, the song. Then we had to play it for the teacher, be shown where we did it wrong, and practice it, and practice it, until we had it perfect before we could go to the next song. We had to learn how to do that before we were allowed to learn how to read music. I loved my music teachers who were all young Japanese nationals who barely spoke English, who would come for a year or two and return home and another would take her place. Now I think the lack of a common language between us, assisted the whole process because words weren’t available, only showing and listening.
Despite the grumbling of having to practice each day, I now wish it was possible for all children to learn an instrument before they are old enough to go to school. I also believe my early music training played a large part in how my brain rewired to speak on the right side of my brain instead of the left side. This article explains how musicians especially those trained early, have different brains and the plasticity that comes from it. Parts of the article are a bit technical but continue to the discussion part where it is easier to understand.
Whether I learned how to listen from dad, or from my music lessons/teachers, or both – learning how to actively pursue understanding is a lesson that has helped me tremendously, plus the memorization I had to do before I was old enough to learn to read music, were two important lessons that have helped me both professionally and personally every single day of my life.
Music aside, if you are interested in tools to help you become an active listener in daily life, this short article is worth reading. I found the quote below in the comment section of the article (he didn’t know the author of the quote).
“Ordinary listeners only listen until they have an opinion about what they are hearing or until they validate what they already know. Great listeners listen until they learn something they did not know before.”
The love of science and seeing as he was a doctor, the science of medicine. Dad would take the time to explain everything in words I would understand on how the body worked, and how disease impacted you, and how it was treated.
When I was a kid I spent many weekend hours going with dad on his hospital and nursing home rounds, and if a patient showed up in need of stitches or a broken bone I was standing there watching what he did as well. (of course with the patients approval first – if not I hung out in the doctors lounge at the hospital or sent off to do something else)
There is a looming chasm between what your brain knows and what your mind is capable of accessing. Consider the simple act of changing lanes while driving a car. Try this: Close your eyes, grip an imaginary steering wheel, and go through the motions of a lane change. Imagine that you are driving in the left lane and you would like to move over to the right lane. Before reading on, actually try it. I’ll give you 100 points if you can do it correctly.
The article above is really interesting as it delves into implicit and explicit memory. Take the test and then see if you are right or not, it might surprise you. My stroke caused me to lose bits of implicit memories – I could remember how to do things but part of the sequence of doing it was missing.
Implicit memory appears to go further back than our explicit memory. I found the video below and thought it would be of interest as he speaks about adoptees and implicit memory.
Child adaption & the role of implicit memory video by Dr. Gabor Maté from Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Dr. Gabor Maté website can be found here and includes a bio on him. There are other youtube videos of him that are interesting as well if you do a search.
Thanks to dad I love science and can remember calling him for second opinions frequently. My early exposure to his world helped me tremendously when I got sick because I had a general idea of what tests they were doing and why, and later I could research and get a concept of what had happened to me and that provided a lot of comfort and acceptance.
One of my prized possessions is the microscope dad used all those year taking care of people, and memories of him teaching me how to use it. Of course that was when doctors processed a lot of their own tests…