Friday, January 22, 2016

First Acceptance

Your Pre-School. Every Thursday I get to take you there - it is "Daddy's Day."

Still my favorite helper in the kitchen

Your Christmas concert - you have the sweetest voice

Dear JJ,

Your mom is thrilled - you were accepted to a charter school run by Great Hearts. It is a good school, and your buddy from pre-school, Liam, is there.

Your mom and I then began the process of wondering - how will you do, is it the right fit, and all of those questions that our parents never had about our school because there was not a choice.

But then I had a bit of sadness. You are growing up son. They say that by the time you are 18 years old you will have spent 90 per cent of the time with us that you will spend in our lives.

The other day I had to spend eight hours in the hospital ER with my mom, Grandma Simpson. She had fallen and broken a wrist.  On one hand I was a bit upset that the hospital ER was so inefficient at discharging her. Then I remembered that I have spent probably 98% of the time I will ever spend with my mom.  During those eight hours my mom smiled, was lucid, was happy, and it was good to be her son and enjoy her company during that time.

Right now I can't wait to get home from my business trip and give you a big hug. I'm glad you're my son, and glad you came into our lives.



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We will always be your mom and dad

Mom and dad at our house

Dear JJ,

Over the past month we were able to get my mom and dad to move to Phoenix to be closer to us. It is never easy but among the lessons I learned was this:

Mom and Dad are still mom and dad.

I took a tumble just outside their apartment and hobbled in. Mom hugged me, sat me down and asked if I needed anything.  My dad said he had some ibuprofen. Both with concerned looks, both instantly became the mom and dad of a little boy of theirs.

We love you son - I hope to see you grow up - but no matter how old you will be, if something happens we will still be mom and dad. We will still want to help you, comfort you.  It is our nature.



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My art has changed

Dear JJ,

A funny thing has happened to my walls.  I use to get art - things that other people created that reminded me of Alaska or sometimes photographs that I took - like the bears. But now I noticed my art has changed.

What is important to me are photographs of family.

Your mom brought a something that was framed to my office and it sat in the wrapping paper for some time.  Finally I opened it.  There it was - a painting of my son! I took down some piece of old Alaskan Art and replaced it with the picture of you.

Photos of my son - my favorite artwork.


Little did I know this was wrapped up
Replacing this old Alaskan carved art- you are much better!

What is a museum piece without a photo of you photographing it?

Everyone can go to the best restaurant in London, but how many can take a photo of your beautiful mom in front of it?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Holding out

From Mom's Cupboard
Dear JJ,

As I sat in my parents home I saw the spices my mom used.  She cooked until two years ago when macular degeneration made it unsafe for her to cook. You can see that she put big print on the jars so that she could see what they were to add them to the meals she made for my dad.  She did what she could.

Then when she became nearly blind, and could no longer cook my dad would take her daily to breakfast and then to lunch.

Every day my 91 year old dad would take her out to eat.

Then it got to where he couldn't do that.

They are both in a safe place now - where they are fed, and looked after.

Forced retirement for both of them - but it is ok. It is ok to retire.

It has been a hard week to see my folks move into assisted living. When I was in mom's kitchen I could hear her tell me to taste the food, smell the food, add more flavor. I could see my dad sitting at his desk balancing his checkbook in case the bank made a mistake. But mostly I remember being a little boy in their house- with mom and dad bigger than life, being protected and loved.

You will know me as an older dad. I will retire from my job when you are still a young man.

But know this - I will never retire from being your dad. And I will do as much as I can, for as long as I can, to be there for you - to make you laugh, to encourage you to be a nice person, to let you know that your are loved.



One of the last times dad brought mom to breakfast and ordered for her off the menu - she is blind.
I suspected when I took this photo of them walking to the parking lot it would be one of the last times dad could drive her to breakfast. Now they are in a good place and dad no longer has to drive them. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Being a son

Dear JJ,

Leaving you this morning to check on my parents in their new home was tough. It may seem silly, it may not be important to you - but I won't be there for Halloween tonight. I won't be there to go around the neighborhood with you.

But today I have to be a son, but tomorrow I come home to be a dad.

But here is your pass: if you ever feel like you have to  check on me - or your mom, but you have a little one who wants you - stay home. I will be ok.



Sunday, October 25, 2015

When Dad Cries

Dear JJ,

I remember the first time I saw my dad cry.  We had a car accident when I was about your age. We were all fine. Got to the hotel, and settled in and then dad cried - and mom comforted him.

The second time I saw him cry was after Uncle Jimmy died - his second son, the one named after him, the one you are named after.

When mom had to go to the memory care center, he cried. I heard him on the phone as we were talking.

Today I left him in his rehab unit in Portland. He had been in the hospital a few days, having fallen and thankfully Uncle Ron was there to call 911.  Now in rehab to get some strength back, and then soon to be in an assisted living center with mom.  I caught a flight up yesterday, to see him and mom.

I dropped by this morning on my way to the airport, and after I hugged him he cried.

Sons do that to us. I know - I have you. I've seen my dad, a man who at 91 has aged well, but still his body is failing him. I see how he appreciates his sons. I know how he feels.

Sometime son I will see you and when you leave I will cry. I'm sure I will when you go off to college, and maybe a few other times. It is what dad's do. It is ok.

Looking forward to seeing you later today.


Dad - we always like our coffee

Looking forward to seeing you
Soon they will be together in assisted living- they have been for 67 years. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Dear JJ,

At 3:30 am my brother called to tell me he sent my dad to the hospital. Not the call you want to get at 3:30 in the morning, but calls you know will come.

You were sleeping in our bed - happy to be between mom and dad in what you call "the big bed."

I know when you get older you won't be "invading" our bed. But at that moment, hearing that - I could look at you sleeping, see the smile on your face, plant a gentle kiss on your cheek and let you know that dads feel this way. We know our time is limited. We love being dads, and when bad things happen - it is a refuge for us.

While dad has been in the hospital I talk to him several times a day. Each time I talk to him he thanks me for calling. I know how he feels.
You never know when your parents leave if that is the last you will see of them

Thank you for being my son,



My favorite assistant- helping me make ribs