Friday Photo Flashback

This week marked the 29th anniversary of the passing of my grandfather. In 2018, I wrote a blog about him on his birthday. You can read it here:

My dad sent a photo to me and my brother this week of my Great Grandma (Grandpa’s mom) that I’d never seen before. That got me to thinking about the last time I saw my Great Grandma. It was at my high school graduation party where today’s photo was taken.

This is a truly amazing photo, as it marked one of the few times all of these family members were together.

In the front row from left to right – me, my Great Grandma, and my brother (sporting the pink Miami Vice jacket). In the back row from left to right – Grandpa P, his sister Marietta, Grandma D, Mom, Dad, Grandma P, and my Great Aunt Rose.

This photo was probably taken close to the end of the part, as my dad and grandpa have their suit jackets off. My grandpa came wearing what we called his Century 21 coat. For those who don’t remember, the real estate agents from century 21 used to always wear these gold colored jackets.

Here is a story about my Great Grandma that still makes me laugh. We used to call her “Light Finger Louie” because she had a very bad habit of swiping things from people and then giving then to my Grandpa. They weren’t necessarily big or expensive things (most of the time), but there were watches, Zippo lighters, cuff links, and such that would miraculously appear in my grandfather’s hands (or pockets) as he was leaving his visits from Great Grandma!

I think the saddest thing about finding old photos like these is the realization that those people are no longer with us physically. The only ones still around in that photo are my brother, my dad, and me.

I get ribbed a lot about all the photos I take of the kids. This week on Facebook, when I posted about my grandpa, I stated that the reason I take so many pictures is “because one day those pictures, and the memories from them, are all we have left.”

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s been a few weeks since I have done one of these posts. I neglected to write about a pretty big event this week, so let’s go back 21 years ago.

My oldest son, Dante’, was born 21 years ago this week. It is so hard to believe that it has been that long. They say that when you have kids time moves a bit faster. I have four children now and I can tell you that the more kids you have, the faster the time goes!

This photo was taken at the hospital just after he was born. What is special about this picture is that my mom and my grandma are also in it. He was my mom’s first grandchild and my grandma’s first great grandchild.

My mom slept in the waiting room on very uncomfortable chairs waiting the arrival of my son. She refused to leave. We did not know the sex of the baby and mom was really sure it was going to be a girl. It didn’t matter that the baby was a boy, because she was madly in love with him at first glance!

She and my former mother in law were the first to see him. I was pushing him to our room in the rolling bassinette (seen above) accompanied by a nurse. My mom thought she saw me in the hall and the two of them ran to see. Sure enough, they both got a peak at their grandson.

I love the picture above because you can see the awe in my face. You can see the joy and curiosity in my mom’s face and the sheer happiness on my grandma’s face. I also love that my mom’s arm is around my grandma. The two of them didn’t always see eye to eye, but the birth of my son brought them together here.

Both mom and grandma have passed away. The short time that my mom got with my son gave her more strength as she fought those last years of her battle with breast cancer. No matter how much she hurt, no matter how sick she may have felt, she never passed up an opportunity to see him. He gave her a reason to fight harder. They had a very special bond.

All these years later, my son still speaks of her. I don’t think there has been a year that he doesn’t stop at the cemetery near her birthday or the anniversary of her passing. She would be SO proud of him.

I know I am very proud of him. He is officially a MAN now. I worked on his birthday, and I am hoping to be able to get together with him to share an official “toast” to him. I had to laugh because he went to Olive Garden on his birthday and he had his first glass of wine. I asked how he liked it. “Eh, it was ok. It was a bit much.” I told him, “Well, you can’t drink it like you drink milk or water, you have to sip it!” He told me, “Yeah, I found that out the hard way.”

Ella wanted to wish him a happy birthday and so we made sure to video chat with him on his birthday. She said, “You’re gonna be 21!” Dante’ reminded her that he was now 21 and she just repeated herself. She loves her big brothers.

It’s been quite a journey for him and he has come so far in his 21 years. He will continue to grow and mature. He is going to do great things. He is one of the kindest and loving people I know. He is funny and loves to laugh. I see a lot of me in him. Sometimes, when I hear him talking to me, I actually can see myself talking to my dad. It’s crazy.

21 years …. wow. Happy Birthday, son. I love you!

The End of Tupperware?

As a child who grew up in the 1970’s, I was surrounded by Tupperware. I’m pretty sure my mom probably hosted a Tupperware party more than a few times. For younger readers, a Tupperware party would be pretty much the same as a Essential Oils Party or Pampered Chef Party today. EVERYONE I knew used Tupperware! However, word is that they company may be going away for good.

According to CBS news, “The Orlando-based company said it had ‘substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern’ in a press release and securities filing.” It’s also considering selling some of its real estate holdings or cutting other parts of the business, which it termed “right-sizing efforts” in its press release.

This is sad. I can’t tell you how many glasses of Kool Aid I poured from the Tupperware pitcher.

You can bet that the Kool Aid was poured into Tupperware cups, too!

I wonder how many leftovers were sealed up in bowls or canisters with the ridged Tupperware lid during my childhood?

One Tupperware staple that I will forever connect with my mom was the sugar “bowl.” It had a matching creamer container that went with it.

My mom always used a lot of sugar in her tea. I remember her pouring it out of that container like it was yesterday.

I guess Tupperware had a resurgence a few years ago with Covid. More people were staying home and cooking, and their sales were up a lot. Word is now that there are may issues the company is dealing with and it is more than likely that the company will close up shop for good.

Sigh, another piece of my childhood to become a memory …

Silly (and Spooky) Kid Stuff

If you are a parent, you know that your children are always a good source of stories to share. Here are a few of mine from the past few days:

Tea Party Gone Bad

While Andrew took a nap recently, Ella and I were in the living room playing with her Disney Princess Barbie dolls. She brought me the Mulan Barbie and she had her Moana Barbie. She sat them both across from each other and then grabbed a tea pot and tea cups. She set them in front of each doll. She then brought over this mushroom/muffin looking toy (she obviously thought they looked more like muffins). This is when things went awry!

I started to make Mulan (who she had given to me) drink her tea. I made slurping sounds and then did a loud fake burp. This made her laugh. Then I did it again. More laughter. Then I made really loud slurping sounds and the cup ended up on Mulan’s head. She started to do the same thing to her Moana. I was laughing just as hard as she was, especially when she was making her fake burp sounds.

Pausing Pap

Andrew has been using CPAP for over a week. Here’s the thing, it is supposed to help him sleep better. However, because of his age and the limited masks that he can use, the one he has works – when it stays on. Basically, mom and dad are the ones who aren’t sleeping now. Sam and I find ourselves pulling it back on his head or fighting him to get it back on. It is a struggle.

We e-mailed his doctor about it and we’re gonna take a break for a day or two to see if that helps. The good thing is that his apnea is mild, and we were only anticipating him wearing it for less than a year. The doc told us, if he lets us put it on – use it. If not – don’t.

All in all, whether he is rested or not, he is still giving us plenty of smiles!

Toddler Vocabulary Lesson

Ella did the cutest thing the other day. We had misplaced the TV remote and I asked her to help me find it. She reached he hand up to her eyes like she was looking through binoculars and said:

“Daddy, I can’t find the remote. I will have to use my ‘oculars’ and look for it!”

Hardest Part of Parenting

As a father of four children, I have taken each of them in for shots more times than I can count. There is always that look of, “How could you let them hurt me like that, Daddy?” after they get poked. It kills me every time.

Last week, Ella had her three year old well visit. We noticed that she is bruising very easily. She jumps around a lot and (as most toddlers do) bumps into just about everything. The bruising concerns us a bit, so her primary doc wanted to run some bloodwork to make sure she is ok. Sam was with her at that appointment and she was told she could just go next door to the lab to get the blood draw.

Ella was extremely scared and voiced that numerous times. I guess they poked her a couple times and could not get the draw. They were going to try to do the other arm and Sam said, “No, we’ll do it another day.” Ella had been through enough. So, today, it was my turn to take her to get it done.

I had picked out a short sleeve short for her, but she wanted to wear a dress. There were no sleeves on it and so the tourniquet the wrapped on her arm bothered her a lot. She sat in my lap and said she was scared. I did what I could to keep her calm, but after the first poke, she moved and wound up blowing the vein. The tech decided to try the other arm. In my head, I decided I would let them try one time and if they didn’t get it, we’d leave.

They found a good vein, got the poke and Ella and I took deep breaths and counted to 5 (over and over). That helped a lot! Once they were done and pulled the needle out, she was still crying, but she looked at the techs who did the draw and said, “Thank you.” They offered her a pack of graham crackers, and she was all better.

Hopefully, the test results will be normal.

Heavenly Visitor?

I’ve never been one to believe in supernatural stuff, but today something happened that made the hair on my neck stand up. I’m still scratching my head over it.

When I woke up for work today, Sam asked me what my oldest son called my mom (he is the only one of my kids who knew my mom before she passed away). I told her that he always called her “grandma.” She asked further, “Did he ever call her Grammy?” He didn’t. My ex’s mom was “Grammy,” but my mom was always “Grandma.”

I asked her why she wanted to know. She proceeded to tell me that Ella had said something to her today and when Sam asked her where she heard it (or maybe it was who told her that), she replied, “My Grammie in heaven.” So this peaked my curiosity and I asked her what else she had told her. She said something about princesses, but Sam and I think she was just talking about the princesses that we got for that Tonie.

The longer I sat in the living room drinking my first cup of coffee, the more I wondered about what she said. I have no pictures of my mom hanging in the house. I don’t have photo albums that we can look through. All the physical photos I do have are in a box and the rest are digital. For some reason, this really bugged me. So I took it a step farther.

I grabbed my phone and opened up my Facebook page. I went to the photo albums and found one that contains pictures of my mom. I pulled up one from before she got sick and opened it on my phone. I showed Ella this picture:

It had been a few minutes and I was sure she had already forgotten our mention of my mom. I asked her, “Ella, who is this?” Without missing a beat, she said, “My Grammie in heaven.” I was dumbfounded. I truly don’t know that Ella has seen but one or two pictures of my mom, yet she recognized her immediately.

When we found out that we were going to have a baby, my wife bought a special onesie that brought me to tears.

Who am I to question whether or not mom and Ella still talk?

Relating to Cartoon Dogs

“Oh boy. Here goes Keith talking about that Bluey show again. Isn’t that a kid show? Why does he watch that?”

I relate to it! There, I said it. There are so many things about this show that I can relate to! For example, in our house, Sam and I cannot use the bathroom without one or both of the kids being in there with us. Bandit, Bluey’s dad, deals with that …

All he wants to do is poop for crying out loud! Look at that poor dog!

Another example which hold true in our house – the short amount of time it takes to go from clean to disaster.

I swear this just happened to me yesterday! The kids have this bowl of fake fruit and veggies that they play with. They keep all of it in a plastic Tupperware bowl. I literally walked all over the loving room picking up fake cucumbers, broccoli, onions, apples, bananas, avocadoes, tomatoes and more! I put them all back in the bowl and put them in the door of the fake kitchen. I went and got a cup of coffee and returned to the living room to find all of the contents of the bowl on the floor again!

The kids had Disney on the other morning and they were playing the episode called “Dunny.” In Australia, where Bluey lives, “dunny” is a slang term for toilet. The episode takes place in the parents bedroom. The kids are hanging out in bed with their parents and discussing why “dunny” isn’t an appropriate word for toilet.

This episode led to me thinking back to my childhood and I remember many Saturday mornings getting up and going into my folks bedroom. Many times we’d crawl into bed and just goof off. I truly wish I had more photos of those times. I have a few. First, one of my favorite photos of my mom and I (forgive me if I have posted these before).

I remember going in and waking her up. She’d always snuggle us and read books we brought in there. Those Saturday mornings were always so much fun.

My dad used to get in bed with us and wrestle with us. Sometimes he’d pretend to be Moe from the Three Stooges. There would be a “bear” we had to hide from and we’d get under the covers and hide. Sometimes he’d say he’d go check to see if the bear was still there and we’d be under the covers and he’d growl and grab at us from the top of the covers. We had so much fun when he did that!

Just the other morning, Ella and Andrew woke up and it was them, Sam and me in our bed. It was just a lot of silliness and me wrestling or tickling them and hiding under the covers.

I’m not sure what it is about being under covers that is cool. We built a fort with blankets and such the other day and they loved it. Then I started sitting on the floor and covering myself in a blanket and they’d come over and get under the “tent” with me. Sam even got into the fun the other morning!

So yeah, I watch Bluey. I relate to it more than any cartoon or kid’s show before it. The more I see an episode, the more I find myself saying, “I need to do that” or “I’ve done that!”

If you have toddlers, you have to check it out. If you’re an adult, you should to. In my opinion, it is the best.

One final example? Sure. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into the kid’s rooms after they fall asleep and just watch them. It’s not weird – only parents get it.

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s time for another edition of the Friday Photo Flashback. This one has a holiday theme to it. My best guess is that it was taken between 1972-1973. I make this guess based on the contents of the photo. Let’s Flashback to a Christmas morning ….

The above photo is of yours truly many moons ago. It is Christmas morning. The tree is out of the camera shot, but would be to my left, probably right in front of my mom.

As a kid, I don’t really remember unwrapping many presents. Usually, my dad played Santa and when my brother and I got up, the toys were already put together and in front of the tree. That may have been the case here as I don’t see a whole lot of wrapping paper.

Observations from the picture:

My mother is so young and beautiful in this picture. I don’t remember the robe she is wearing at all. If it wasn’t for this photo, I don’t know that I would have ever seen it before. I love that she is smiling while watching me.

I don’t recognize that couch at all! This would have been taken at the first house I remember. We lived there until the winter of 1976. I know that the tree would have been right in front of our living room window (again, just out of the camera shot).

I am obviously wearing two piece PJ’s, but only wearing the pants. That looks more like a regular T-shirt than a PJ top. It is possible, although I can’t really tell, that I am either wearing slippers OR those pants have footies on them. Hard to say.

The first thing I noticed when looking at the photo was that big boat next to me. It took me only one broad search of “Little People Boat” on Google for the toy to come up. According to Google, this would have come out in 1972.

I have blogged about Little People before, but not sure if I mentioned this set. I remember that flag so well. It was literally a plastic triangle on a long spring! I forgot about those crazy deck chairs and the life preservers. You can see one of those and the little blue boat on the floor in front of me.

To my left in the picture, was a favorite of mine – the Little People Airport.

The jet is to my right in the picture and the cars and such are scattered about. I remember that helicopter so well.

I wish I had one of those programs that brings out of focus pictures back in focus! From what I can read off the box behind me it says, “Push ‘Em Car.” I wasn’t sure if it said “cart” or “cars.” I did a search and what came up was a toybox. It is VERY possible that is what it is.

The one in the picture of me is not a Mickey Mouse one. Only two kinds came up in a search – the one above abd a generic one. The box behind me in the photo looks like it has monkeys on it. I wish I could make out what they are!

The last thing that I can make out was the book in the bottom right of the picture. I could barely make out “Zoo Keeper” so I typed that into a Google search. Imagine that, the book showed up! It’s called Zeke Zoo Keeper! I don’t remember it at all, but there it is!

I wish that I had more photos of the stuff we had under the tree. I guess without them, the proof is there that it really is never about the gifts you receive, but the experiences. Sure, I can remember some of the gifts I got for Christmas, but many of them are long forgotten. It is the memories with family that I will always remember.

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s time for another Friday Photo Flashback. Once again, today’s installment was prompted by something I noticed on Facebook.

Many of my friends are posting their child’s Senior pictures. Back in the day, you went to a studio and they took your yearbook headshot and a few other forced poses. Today, many opt to go to professional photo studios and have them done outside of the studio. I’ve seen some amazing photos of seniors in a variety of places. Some were on a baseball field, others in the bowling alley, and many outside with fall colors as a background. Then there were others that were taken outside old buildings that had graffiti on the walls, or next to classic cars. There is certainly more variety today!!

Today, you get a few photos. First, the one that I found recently of my mom. This was her high school Senior picture.

This would have been 1966, if I remember correctly. She looks absolutely beautiful in this photo. Before her cancer and all that chemo and radiation, she has such beautiful hair. She always had it done up in some way. Her smile is so subtle in the picture. The thing that gets me, though, are her eyes. Those eyes – there is so much love in them.

Giving equal time to my day, I was able to find one of his Senior picture.

I love that he is in his cap and gown here. He had completed all the requirements for graduation and opted to graduate in January of 1964 instead of waiting and graduating in June with the rest of his class. The photo is in black and white, but I can’t help but wonder what the school colors were. I wonder about it because of the mortarboard. That dark band at the bottom could have been black or blue and the rest of the cap grey or light blue. I don’t know. How can you not dig the skinny tie?

One thing is for sure, I got two things from dad: dark eyes and big eyebrows! You can see that in my Senior picture.

Urgh! The 80’s!! HUGE glasses, thick ties, sideburns, and an awful 70’s porn stache! You’ll have to take my word on the big eye brows, the big glasses are in the way in this picture. One thing I did like was the amount of hair I had back then. I am pretty sure the beginnings of the bald spot were visible at this time from the back, but thankfully not in this picture.

As an added bonus, I will add my baby brother’s Senior picture. Just three years later and he’s rocking one of my ties!

I’m not sure who wore the stache better, him or me. That tie, if I remember right was a real silk tie that my grandmother had bought for me one Christmas. I loved that tie, but one holiday I wound up dripping gravy or salad dressing on it – ruining it for good.

Upon closer examination, it looks like big eyebrows run in my family ….

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s time for another Friday Photo Flashback. 42 years ago this week, the movie Somewhere in Time was released. I blogged about it here:

The film was shot on Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel played a big part in the movie. For this week’s Friday Photo Flashback, here are a few photos from a trip to Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.

I love that the date is stamped on this photo – July 1981. Here is my brother and I, locked in the stocks with my mother standing behind us with a huge smile! It is one of my favorite pictures of my mom.

The stocks were obviously a big part of this fort, as my brother and I were locked in yet another set of them.

What is up with my socks in that picture!?!? And I am not sure where my glasses went.

Because Fort Mackinac is on Mackinac Island, we had to take a boat over. There is only one photo from the boat trip that I have and it was taken by my mom.

We must have went to the island two days in a row, as my brother and I are dressed in different clothes. I love the fact that my dad is looking very “Burt Reynolds/Bandit” in this picture!

The last time I was anywhere near Mackinaw was over 20 years ago. The day I was there, it was extremely windy and rainy and they were not running the boat to the island. The last time I was at the fort was 40 years ago.

My wife and I are hoping to get up there very soon. It’s been too long.

Friday Photo Flashback

For this week’s edition of the Friday Photo Flashback, we go back to Spring Break of 1989. I had graduated high school, was working at my first radio job, and my high school band was heading to Florida to perform at Disney World. My brother was still in band at the time and my parents and I tagged along on the trip as chaperones.

My grandmother and aunt had moved to Florida. At some point on the trip, my grandmother met up with us. If my memory serves me correctly, my friend Steve also came on this trip, and we were hanging out together. I wish I had spent a little more time with my grandma on this trip, but you know how 19 year old kids are …

I love this picture of my mom and my grandma. They both would be diagnosed with breast cancer and their lives would be cut short by it. In this picture, they are both healthy. This is the way I will always remember my grandma. She always seemed to wear her hair that way. It was the late 80’s, so both her and mom have those big round lenses on their glasses. I can see the watch that she always wore, too.

My mom is wearing a T-Shirt with the Kiss-FM logo. That was my first radio job, and I am sure I was still working there when this was taken. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those shirts today! Blonde was not my mother’s natural hair color, but I always loved when she wore it that color. Her hair seems to be a bit short in this picture, too.

The more I look at this photo, the more I think that this was taken just before we all loaded up the busses to head back home, or maybe before my grandma was heading home. Mom is holding shopping bags, so we had probably all just come back from one last trek to buy souvenirs. It is hard to say.

I don’t think this was the same trip (mom’s hair looks longer), but it could be.

When I found out my grandma had cancer, I avoided seeing her. I regret this. A lot. It is one of those things that comes up a lot in my mind. If I could turn back the clock, I would. I didn’t want to see her sick. I remember someone had taken some pictures of her after she had gone through some chemotherapy or radiation and she was a shell of her former self.

Those pictures sort of assured me that I was doing the right thing by not seeing her. Well, at least I thought so. I know now it was not. I should have seen her. I should have called her. I should have held her hand and said I love you. I should have had the chance to say goodbye. In Sinatra’s “My Way,” he says, “Regrets. I’ve had a few…” This is one of my biggest regrets. The only good thing about my not seeing her sick is that when I think of her, she is just as she was in these photos.

I think of these two brave women every October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I miss them both very much.

Friday Photo Flashback

It is time for another installment of my Friday Photo Flashback. I had originally planned to post a photo of my parents at my aunt’s wedding. When I saw the date, however, I knew I had to go back and grab one from another wedding – theirs.

53 years ago this week, my parents were married. The above picture is one of many from their wedding photo album. There are other photos of the two of them together, but this one is my favorite. As I looked through their album, I saw a few people I didn’t recognize. This is where I wish my mom were still alive so I could ask who they were. I doubt that my dad knows them.

I love how they are off center in the picture to allow for the train of mom’s dress to be included in it. She is absolutely beautiful. I love that my dad is wearing a white coat with his tux. I always thought that looked sharp, and he looks dapper here. I am a bit surprised that he is not wearing spats. He did wear them to my first wedding.

I want to say that this photo was in a frame that sat in my grandparent’s front room for the entire time that they lived in their house. It may have made the move to their condo, but I don’t recall it being out on display.

9 months later, the lives of these two young lovebirds would change forever. I arrived in May of 1970 bringing them much joy and happiness.