Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #3 -Gratitude

Thank you for the Food before us,

The Friends Beside us,

And the Love between us

Our niece Tara Trifiletti and her hubby Anthony had this quote (blessing) on cards at every table at their 2016 wedding. Hannah and I have passed this on to folks from sea to shining sea. We always say this blessing at meals with our daughter Molly’s family and replace the word “Friends” with “Family.”

Dan and Hannah Spend Thanksgiving Tuesday with Owen and Max

It came out of nowhere.  Middle of the night darkness made it all the more surprising.  This never happened before.  Hannah and I had no time to think.

Buck O and M Halloween

But let me set the scene.  For the last year and a half, Hannah and I have spent Tuesdays with our grandsons Owen (3) and Max (18 months).  Let me tell you, grandparenting is all it’s cracked up to be.

After driving an hour from our home on the coast of Maine, we arrive to Molly and Tip’s place in Chelmsford, a suburb of Boston.  Lunching with the boys and Tip, we are soon off on one of our weekly adventures.

Imajine That indoor playground

Imajine That indoor playground

In warmer weather we go to local playgrounds and then to a nearby library.  Last week with winter coming, we spent the afternoon at Imajine That, an indoor playground in a remodeled mill on the Merrimack River in nearby Lawrence, MA.

Today we begin at Wegman’s grocery store some 12 miles away in Burlington, MA.  Wegman’s has it all for preschoolers.  Lifting the boys into a grocery cart with two steering wheels, we arrive just before 3P to see the mechanical rooster come out of its “barn.”   Both boys are enthralled, though Owen holds his ears.

A Wegman's lobster

A Wegman’s lobster

At the back of the store, we all stare up at the model train that runs twelve feet above our heads.  Later the gracious fish counter guy pulls out a lobster to show Owen and Max.  Soon we are off to the bakery where the boys scarf down a chocolate chip cookie.

Then it’s the active indoor experience we all love – riding the escalators up and down.  Four, five, six times.  Back in the car, we are off to the Chelmsford Public Library where Max explores the book aisles with me in tow while Owen listens to a story on the computer and then another read by his Omi.

Buck Family pic

Once home around 530P it’s dinner time for Owen and Max.  As an incentive for Owen to finish his fish, corn, and yogurt, Molly or Tip read a story during dinner time.  Tonight it is Monster Needs a Party.

Then Hannah and I get to put the boys to bed.  I take Max, change his diaper, and get him into his pajamas.  I quasi-read a story to him, but soon he is more than ready for his crib.  Hannah supports Owen brushing his teeth and reads another Monster story to him.

Buck O sleeping

With the boys quickly fast asleep, Hannah and I red wine it with Molly and Tip, checking in on all our lives over the past week.  Usually Hannah makes a dinner for us all, but tonight we feast on the humongous subs from Wegman’s.  (So large that a third of one fills me up.)

By 9P we are on I-495 north heading for home.  Usually I listen to Pandora (Richard Harris or Dionne Warwick) while Hannah naps.  Tonight we both listen to a CD of Rev. Ogun Holder of Unity on the River (Amesbury, MA) that we were given when we visited that church for the first time just two days ago.

The Rev draws us both in and soon I’ve turned off I-95 onto Chases Pond Road where we live.  Still listening, I turn on our Hyundai Elantra’s bright lights to better see up our quite dark and winding country road.

Buck deer itself

And then biggest buck I have ever seen darts across the road right in front of us; so close I can see his right eye.  I brake quickly, but not so hard that we skid.  I have no time to think; I just react.  As you can imagine, the buck is gone in an instant.

Where I once might have gone to what could have happened tonight (playing the fear card), I just drive on another hundred yards more and turn left into our driveway.  I am surprised I am not shaken as I once might have been.

Tonight I just think about what happened and it’s gratefulness that I feel.

Grateful that the buck didn’t die crushing our car.  Grateful we can just go to bed without a major incident.  Grateful for the blessing that is being in the lives of our grandsons, Owen and Max.  Grateful for the friendship we have with Molly and Tip.

Not thinking in fear about what might have been, but being so very thankful.

Dan’s Day 28 of 29 Gifts – Owen’s Blue Ball

Day 28 Owen blue ball 1

At 16 months our grandson Owen motors around his apartment, climbing on tables and couches with a wide smile of joy.  Lately, chucking utility balls around the living room has been his thing.

My gift is a new blue utility ball for Owen.  The joy is first in the opening.

Day 28 Owen bb 2

Day 28 Owen bb 3

Day 28 Owen bb 4

Day 28 Owen bb 5

Day 28 Owen bb 6

Now that the unwrapping is complete, let Owen show you what happens next.  Here’s Owen………….

Dan’s Day 27 of Day 29 – Arizona State University Brother

Day 27 ASU

Heading south to Virginia from Maine for Thanksgiving, Hannah and I spend the night in south Jersey at the home of our friends, Rich and Mary.  Rich is a friend from our years as students at Arizona State University.

Day 27 Meyer photography

He and I met the first week of the fall semester in 1969 at Irish Hall.  Both Jersey boys, we had no idea he was from the town (Hawthorne) right next to Fair Lawn, where I grew up.  After college he returned to “Joisey” and created a career based on his love and talents as a photographer.  Now an accomplished wedding photographer, he makes it his mission to put the bride in the best light on her special day and to make her wedding day the best it can be.  (As politically incorrect as it may be, I believe it’s all about the bride on the wedding day.)

Day 27 ASU shirt

Rich is a “having a beer” kind of guy who keeps it real.  So my gift to him is an ASU shirt to remember where our friendship all began:  Go Sun Devils.

Dan’s Day 26 of 29 Gifts – A bag of nails

Day 26 hammer

I email this story to for our kids, their sweethearts, and Hannah as my gift for today.

Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. But gradually, the number of daily nails dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. 

Day 26 bunch of nails

Finally the first day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

Day 26 nail in wood

“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” 

 Author Unknown

Dan’s Day 25 of 29 Gifts – Real hunger in Maine

Day 25 my canned food

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving I am one of the many church members who bring canned goods for the York Food Pantry to distribute to families in need.  It is easy to think that in an affluent town like York on the coast of Maine, Really, there are hungry families in this town?  Oh, but there are and probably in your home town, too.  We as a church acknowledge that even though we often can’t always see them, they are there.

Day 25 end 68 hours of hunger

Hungry kids are a serious, sometimes invisible problem.  Locally, the End of 68 Hours of Hunger program serves kids for the approximately 68 hours that some local school children go without eating from the time school gets out on Friday afternoon until they return to school on Monday morning.  End of 68 Hours now serves nearly 500 children per week in Seacoast Maine and New Hampshire.

Day 25 canned food at church

I believe families are hungry amid our affluence though I don’t see them.  I take on faith that the problem is real.  Churches at their best get us to think of others and serve and support them.

Dan’s Day 24 of 29 Gifts – Dad’s 97th

Owen with his great grandmother

Owen with his great grandmother

Dad would have been 97 today.  My gift is a letter to Mom inspired by a conversation with our friend Corky.

What I learned from Corky is to infuse my conversation with Mom with references to how she and Dad influenced our life in a positive way.  For example, I’ll mention in my note to Mom how Hannah and I value our time together and learned from Dad’s and her example.  Hannah and I sit by a fire many evenings with a glass of wine as Mom and Dad did at Bolton Place in Fair Lawn, NJ.

Day 24 fireplace scene

Dad taught us kids tennis, a sport for a lifetime.  We saw them play bridge with their friends.  Now we get together with our kids and friends to play a 21st century variation of bridge: Mormon Bridge.  Hannah and I took our kids cross country as my parents did with my siblings and me.  Mom and Dad live on in us, and my gift is to let Mom know that – in writing, in a letter that she can read over and over again.

The Family Rothermel (brother Richard, sister Patty, Dad, Mom, and me)

The Family Rothermel (brother Richard, sister Patty, Dad, Mom, and me)

Dan’s Day 23 of 29 Gifts – 50 years ago today

Day 23 FLHS

For those of us over 60, November 22, 1963 was the most earth shaking day of our young lives.  It was the day Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.  Whereas the younger generation (and older) all remember where they were when the planes attacked the World Trade Center in New York (I was getting ready to teach a class at Eastern Connecticut State University), those of us over 60 will never forget where we were on that fateful day in November fifty years ago.

Day 23 JFK quote

I was in Dave Pooley’s tenth grade biology class at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey when the chemistry teacher, George Steinmetz, came across the hall to tell Mr. Pooley that the president had been shot.  At that moment we didn’t know if he had died.  As a newspaper boy, I had to wait for the afternoon edition of the Bergen Record til nearly 530P (when the newspapers were usually ready for me at 3P) with the news of Kennedy’s death.  I delivered the papers in a fog.

Day 23 MCAHV

So on this 23rd day of my 29 Gifts I want to find something to commemorate this auspicious anniversary.  What is Kennedy known for?  Civil rights?  Peace?  Justice?   And then it’s clear.  I’ll donate to prevent gun violence here in Maine.  Online, I find Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence.  In John Kennedy’s name and in my father’s memory, my gift today is a donation to prevent gun violence in Maine.

Dan’s Day 22 of 29 Gifts – Surrogates

Seacoast Maine and New Hampshire

Seacoast Maine and New Hampshire

Our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, and our grandson Owen live in Virginia.  Molly and Tip are local kids, having grown up on the Seacoast (southwestern Maine and the entire 13 mile seacoast of New Hampshire).  Virginia has the temperate winter climate that we Mainers can only dream of.  When it snows (they’ve had four inches in the Arlington, VA/DC area in the last two years), it melts the next day.  December snow in Maine rears its ugly head (okay I’m not a skier.) through March.

Dan and Hannah's picnic table

Dan and Hannah’s picnic table

The down side of living in Virginia is that it’s 550 miles away when big events happen.  Tip’s Aunt Pat died this past week.  The Virginia Family Rawding is unable to come so Hannah and I are their surrogates.  Woody Allen says that 90% of life is just showing up.  And showing up for calling hours in Portsmouth is what we do.

Day 10 90% quote

A popular woman, Aunt Pat has the line snaking out the front door of the funeral home in Portsmouth, NH even after two hours of visiting hours.  It’s important that Tip, his folks, and sister know that we are forever a part of their extended family.  Family shows up.  We hug, we meet Aunt Pat’s family, and just remind them by our mere presence “they are not alone.”

Day 22 you are not alone

Dan’s Day 21 of 29 Gifts – Owen’s second Christmas

Leeward Landing Thrift Store

Leeward Landing Thrift Store

In our family Hannah is the primo ballerina Christmas shopper.  But this December I am stepping up to the plate for our grandson Owen.   Today I am off to Leeward Landing with visions of Christmas plums for Owen dancing in my head.

Day 21 Scrabble for juniors

Immediately I find a gift that connects me with Owen and his mother Molly.  Forever, Molly and I have played Scrabble every time she’s home in York.  When we play, the reward for winning the game of Scrabble is that the other one has to keep score for the next game.  Let me tell you, that is quite the incentive for both of us.  Though Owen is a bit young at 17 months old for this version of Scrabble , we’ll have a game to play together for years to come.

Then it’s books.  How could I resist a book with his grandmother’s name in the title?

Day 21 Nana 3

The Little Bear series by Else Holmlund Minarik were some of our favorite read-aloud books to our kids.  From one generation to another.

Day 21 Little Bear

What parent isn’t ready for some potty training?

Day 21 No more diapers for ducky

A gift that keeps on giving.