Monday, November 28, 2016

I'm looking in the mirror - you look like me

Dear JJ,

It is uncanny.  I look at you and I see me, 53 years ago.  I look at your face, your smile and I remember seeing me, in a mirror, when I was six years old. 

I feel as if a younger self time traveled here. 

So what can I tell my younger six? Be a good boy, play with everyone, and it will be hard to keep quiet in school and fold your hands - but you will be rewarded for it (took me a while to learn that too)



Your photo this morning

Me when I was six

Monday, October 3, 2016

Wait- You're Six?

I still love our weekly milkshakes!

School Uniform - ready for Kindergarten
Dear JJ,

It hit me the other day as I was going through my computer and you were asking for some attention. You are six. Already you are six. Not five, you are in Kindergarten, and I was looking at my computer instead of spending time with you.

It is so easy to do - so easy to do something else besides be with you.

Here is the thing: whatever I was looking at, some quip on social media or some interaction with someone I have never met - I have so much time with you.  Social media is fine- I have real life here.

So much has happened - so I've put it in pictures.

I love you son,

Every Thursday is still Daddy's Day when I get to bring you to school. Here you are waiting in the cafeteria with your class

Pretty handsome with your backpack

We get to spend time with my dad - here was his 92nd birthday. You wanted to help him blow out the candle

Mom may have dementia, but she knows who you are

You bring joy to my parents - every time.

School requires a haircut- your mom was watching to make sure it wasn't cut too close.  More traumatic for her
You say you love Halloween, but were pretty afraid to stand by this guy - so we brought him  home. You love to scare mom.
Post haircut - you look pretty sharp!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Six Years Old

Six years old!
Collecting bugs

Getting photographs just to be with dad - photographing spiders of course
I was the first to hold your hand

And I love every time I get to hold it 
Dear JJ,
Six years old!

I love that at six years old you still like to hold your daddy's hand. 

I don't fear that you will grow up, I look forward to seeing the kind of person you will become. 

But I do cherish these times - because I know they happen once. 

I love you son.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Time Is Passing - Bedtime Rituals

Dear JJ,

Last night you crawled into our bed, you had a bad dream and we were happy to see you.  I realized that the time will come when you won't come into our bed, that our little boy won't be little anymore.

When you were a little baby I never liked the "cry it out," idea. Reports have come out and say that children who are left in their bed to cry it out and self-soothe do just fine as adults.  But I couldn't do that. I wanted to be there to comfort you, to let you I was there.

That led to me putting you to bed at about 7 pm, usually falling asleep with you, then sneaking out to spend time with your mom. Then sometime about 930 you finding your way to our bed - as you call it "the family bed."

There are downsides - sometimes I think in the middle of the night you dream you are a helicopter as your hands and legs whack your mom and I. Some nights your mom or I go back to your bedroom just to get some sleep.

But, your mom and I realize at some point that won't happen anymore. That you will be just fine in your own bed.  I joke that someday you will tell us, "Mom and dad it is time you get your own room."

That time is coming. But until then, one of the joys of a father is to comfort a little boy who hears noises in the middle of the night.  I won't forget these times, and will miss them.

I still remember my dad coming in to say goodnight to me, laying down and falling asleep in my bed. I would wake him up and he would always say, "Oh, I fell asleep," and off he would go to join mom. I hope you remember the times you got into the family bed - and the comfort there.

It's ok to grow up son. Just don't worry if you see my eyes water from time to time.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Breakfast The Best Meal Of The Day

"Egg in a hole in it." - JJ

Dear JJ,

This morning as I wake up and you and your mom are out of town I realize that how much I miss my sous chef in the kitchen. 

The hardest part about when we travel is when we don't have a kitchen that we can make our morning breakfast.

I don't believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but cooking with you makes it the best meal of the day.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mother's Day and Recitals

Bringing flowers to Grandma Simpson
Dear JJ,

Mother's Day was bitter sweet.  It is wonderful having my mom here, but it is difficult to see her slip into dementia. Thankfully she is still happy to see us and knows who we are.

I couldn't be more proud of you when we were going to the grocery store and you wanted to buy flowers, and pick them out, for both my mom and yours.

I love Mother's Day because without you there would be no Mother's Day for us. You have made our life sweet, son - and mother's day and father's day are all about how thankful we are that you made us parents.

Then we got to see you play.

I think this is my favorite time. But then again, I say that every age.



We needed to make cookies

It all started here

Your first public performance

Sunday, May 1, 2016


You've played with this doggie since you were six weeks 
Grandma enjoying some time with her grandson and Sparky
Dear JJ,

Sparky died the other day, and it made you sad. The little dog had lived 14 years as grandma's favorite companion.

He first sniffed you when you were six weeks old, after your first trip on an airplane.

When we would go to see grandma and grandpa you would sit on the floor, wait for him to come to you, and play.

He was grandma's companion, and even as she sinks into dementia she misses Sparky.

As a little boy you are seeing dementia and death. Your answer was to want to get flowers.  Two sets, one for grandma and one for us- because we all miss Sparky.

Sometimes you amaze me,



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Being A Boy Around Dementia

Dear JJ,

As my mom descends into dementia it isn't easy being around her. She has lost what little patience she ever had. On one hand she relates how she was raised to sit still and let adults talk, and how oppressive that was. At least she said that during her days when her mind worked better.

Today she wants you to sit still so she can talk, but her talk is garbled. It is tough to see that. It is tough for me to see that, but I had to decide to either try to make you sit still or to let you be just who you are.

You have to be you, son. And I have to be your dad. It is ok to see that my mom isn't who she was, and I am sorry you have to see this.

I love you son - keep chasing birds, climbing trees, and laughing. It is the light of my life.  It would be the light of her life also - as it was when she was well, and the few times now when her mind is clear.


She still likes her sweets

There is a delight in being a little boy

And I realized I never want this to change

Monday, February 29, 2016

My brother Erick

Dear JJ,

It is February 29th, and this would be your uncle Erick's birthday.  Erick was my closest oldest brother in age, but sadly he was born with such severe mental retardation that he was institutionalized from a few months of age.

I wrote about him shortly after he died. That link is here.

So today a bit of me feels the loss.


Eric, Jimmy, and Ron - my three brothers

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Dementia You Brighten Her Day

Dear JJ,

I don't know how much you will remember Grandma Simpson, my mom.  Sadly she is sliding more into dementia, having more difficulty even knowing where she is.

The decision to move her to a memory care center and away from her husband, my dad, of 67 years is hard to imagine. But she needs the extra care, and my father who has been faithfully taking care of her most personal needs has to have a break.

But one thing brightens her day - and that is you.

On Valentine's Day we went there to see her, and even though she had been in a wheelchair and sleeping, she saw you and smiled. Remarked about your curly hair. And sprung out of her chair to walk us out to the car when we went home - with a spring in her step.

You are her only grandchild. And even when she was in the hospital a few weeks ago after falling and breaking her wrist she was happy to hear that Grandpa Simpson was at our house with you. She said, "Oh, he needs some more grandpa time."

You make all of our lives happier, son.  You have no idea.
Six Years Ago Mom and Dad Frame Our Wedding
Even though her mind is going, she still has one of the finest palates I have known - skeptical about a glass of Silver Oak - she did like it ultimately 

Mom enjoying a rare glass of wine at our house

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?