Tag Archives: Dad


This past week I was going to write a post on numbers: 3, for years since Zach died. 53, for speed of the truck that killed him. I still want to write to the DA and try to get the case reopened. Every time I stand on a sidewalk and watch traffic speeding by I think of how fast they are going. Sometimes I estimate they are going about 50 and I think how it would feel to be slammed against their windshield.

53 is pretty fucking fast for a city street and it’s no wonder Zach was killed instantly. When I went back to Baton Rouge last January, very few cars were going that fast along that little stretch. I think both drivers were driving recklessly and should be cited appropriately.

But I haven’t written that yet. Sepi reminded me that I had told her last summer I was going to let it go. I don’t remember that. I just remember that i want to try one more time.

Meanwhile, Dad was out last Wednesday with Mom and fell when she wasn’t looking. 911 was called and they spent the afternoon in the ER. Blood tests and X-rays showed no serious damage to his bones but revealed a mass in his lung. The doctor say she’s 99% sure it is cancer. Te be sure involves a biopsy and the consensus is to not do that.

Coincidentally, Tim came to visit Thursday so we were able to get 4 of the 6 of us in the same room as Mom and Dad to discuss what to do. Dad didn’t say much of anything. We’re not sure how much he understands but he really doesn’t want to spend another afternoon like Wednesday.

The doctor talked of hospice which evidently can be triggered by a six month time frame. Now we’re all coming to terms with the likelihood that, instead of wasting slowly away from Alzheimers, Dad will be dead much sooner.

Everyone was pretty calm Friday when were all discussing this but I feel sure that we are all in some kind of denial.

We will all gather again on Thanksgiving. We will rejoice in what we have and what we have had.

the best moment

Last night as she was about to leave the reception, Ashley asked me what was the best moment of my day. I really couldn’t think of just one. It was all fantastic – in every sense of the word. In the past couple of weeks, I had used the analogy of the roller coaster ratcheting up the incline before the first drop. Well, yesterday was the drop.

And, like a roller coaster ride, it seemed like it was over before I knew it.

I told her the moment when she and Jeremy pulled into the parking lot at Davies Hall was big. It meant that they were safely there. They were the last of my posse to arrive.

But there were so many more: standing under that dome on that staircase, looking into the soulful eyes of Willie Brown as he spoke those solemn words of commitment; having Ashley tell me that the song the band was playing was the song that she and Zach sang at her wedding reception using kitchen utensils as microphones; hearing the trio start as we were still down at the bottom of the stairs taking pictures; having so many people come up to me to say how happy I looked an how happy they were for me; it was all great.

(Thanks to Lolly Lewis for this photo.)

This morning I remembered a moment that I could honestly say was the best. At the reception, it was pretty chaotic. People came in bit by bit and there was a lot of milling around while they found their seats. And of course everyone wanted to talk to us. We hadn’t set up a reception line. Then I started to hear people say they were hungry and when was the food coming out. This was near to 7:30 and the food was just then starting to come out.

I went and started filling a plate for Dad but Sepi came to me and said, wait, there must be a toast. then there followed several minutes of confusion while we looked for the champagne, the best man, the band. I got a little grumpy about then because I just wanted to let people eat.

Finally it was decided that we could do the best man toast later. All I had to do was welcome everyone and say that the food was ready. I can do that.

So I tapped on the glasses and the room started to settle down. I don’t remember if I spoke first to welcome everyone but there was cheering and I raised my arms and pointed to the ring on my finger and the cheering intensified.

That was the moment.

I spoke a little bit and Sepi said some nice things, but soon everyone was digging in to the excellent food and the party moved into high gear.

Crustimony Proceedcake

Last week I was talking to someone at work and they said just do what you usually do. I said, ‘Oh, the crustimony proceedcake.’

It’s from Winnie the Pooh. They didn’t get it.

Here’s the story: Winnie-the-Pooh has discovered that The Old Grey Donkey, Eeyore, has lost his tail. (Here I am following the capitalization of Mr Milne.) So he goes to see Owl. As Pooh says, ‘. . . if anyone knows anything about anything it’s Owl who knows something about something . . .’

At Owl’s house, Pooh asks him what to do. Now Milne:

‘Well,’ said Owl, ‘the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.’

‘What does Crustimony Proceedcake mean?’ said Pooh. ‘For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.’

‘It means the Thing to Do.’

My copy of Winnie-the-Pooh is inscribed with my name and the date, 1955, in my father’s hand. I was two.

jigsaw puzzles

I guess I never wrote about my jigsaw puzzles. I’ve always liked doing them. Many Thanksgivings and Christmases in Santa Clara featured a jigsaw puzzle. Mom likes doing them and had has one going occasionally. Dad thinks it’s foolishness so he ignores the whole thing.

I had talked about doing them here at my apartment for a long time. I even went shopping for a folding table but the ones I found were funky so I blew it off.

Then Rose came over one day and brought a table that she said she never used. It was nice: good support and surface and size. A week or so later she brought over a new puzzle. I was off!

That was about a year ago. Since then, I’ve had a puzzle going pretty much all the time. I’ve gone through everything that Mom has. I’ve bought a few puzzles and Sarah gave me one but a couple of weeks ago I finished one and had nothing in the pipeline. Barnes and Noble carries puzzles as does Target, but I didn’t care for the ones they had so . .  to the Internet!

I started at the website of the last one I did. It was made in USA and decent quality. That led to Puzzle Warehouse. They had some that I liked. As I put the first couple in the cart, they announced free shipping for an order over $75. Oh well, I don’t do this often. Six puzzles later, I’m done.

They came a couple of days ago and now my puzzle table is full again! Now I just have to figure out where to store the others . . .


Sarah called me the other day and one of the things she had to say was that she felt my height was not what it used to be. I’ve been interpreting that as a posture issue but she made it clear that she was worried that I might be headed down the same road as Dad.

Medical terms confuse me so I never can remember if kiphosis is the correct term for his condition or if it’s just osteoporosis. Many people have osteoporosis, I think, and don’t exhibit his symptoms. He has lost at least a foot in height in the last ten years or so. He’s badly bent over now.

Anyway, Sarah said that she thought I’ve lost some height in the last year and wanted to encourage me to do what ever I could to prevent the same thing happening to me as happened to Dad. There is some thought in the family that he had the opportunity to take action and didn’t

I haven’t had good posture for a long time, but I felt that there were a number of reasons for that. One is that I’ve never felt comfortable talking to people from a height. Since I’m taller than most other people, I find that I stoop to try to get to the eye level of whoever I’m talking to. Another is self confidence. Perhaps these are related. I think I often try to be inconspicuous. Put down here in writing it sounds really dumb – a 6′ 2″, 200 lb guy trying to be inconspicuous – get real!

One of the things I always liked while being with Zach was not having the excuse of stooping to talk to him. He didn’t stoop to me and I had to stand up straight to talk at him.

I had to admit to Sarah that I hadn’t been doing the exercises I had started with my physical therapy last year. I promised to get going on them again. Self confidence doesn’t come from a magic pill, so I will just continue to try to get good sleep and keep my work load low so I don’t feel beaten down.

Dad’s birthday

Dad turned 87 today. Teresa hosted a party at her house. All the Bay Area Woods were there. Mary called and sang him ‘Happy Birthday ‘ over the phone. He couldn’t hear her with the handset so Paul got the speaker phone going and that was better.

After dessert of lemon meringue pie (his request) he opened the cards from his children. All contained heartfelt personal statements of love and admiration. He had trouble reading them because they were handwritten, though. Jane was sitting next to him and helped out.  He was in good humor all evening and even made a couple of jokes but sometimes the conversation moves too fast for him and he checks out. Other times he makes self deprecating remarks that recognize his limitations.

I had tea and conversation with Tom V yesterday who I haven’t seen in nearly a year. He lost his mother in the spring of 2015 and many of his reactions to the loss were familiar to me. He’s still feeling the effects. All death is traumatic, even when one is older and has lived a long life. It just makes me treasure Dad and Mom all the more. One day they’ll be no more and all we’ll have left are memories.


In a lighter mode, I want to expand a little on the kvetching I did about my trip to Denver. Dad’s on the downhill side of his life. His body and mind are not what they used to be. I still treasure him and value my time with him.

As a memory of better times, I want to post this photo which as always been one of my favorites. I don’t remember ever asking but I’m pretty sure Mom was the photographer in Big Basin in 1957.


Denver part 2

Where was I? OK. Friday morning. We left the stone cutter’s and headed back out 44th Avenue to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. 44th runs parallel to I-70m that we had seen backed up earlier and the traffic coming towards us was solid for two miles. At 11:30 in the morning!

Dad wanted to confirm his burial arrangements at Mt. Olivet. There is a large stone there with several Wood’s buried there. Mom and Dad have decided that they want to be buried there.

slides_01_099  slides_01_101

It’s a little hard to see in the second photo but there is space for two names on the far end. How exactly to fit Mom and Dad’s names there is what we discussed with the stone cutter.

After Mt. Olivet, Dad wanted to see the Thaler house on Vrain. Patty is living there but has not been well so we only drove by. There are huge duplexes on both sides of that little house now! Who allowed that zoning variance?

Mom and Dad wanted to get together with Dad’s high school friend Ginger. (Urrk, can’t remember her last name!) After some negotiating, we agreed to pick her up at her house and go out to lunch. This is where Dad got the freeway exit right and I didn’t. We were a little early until the detour . . .

After a nice lunch and visit I asked Dad if we could drive by the house he grew up in. ‘Grandma Flynn’s house.’ He wasn’t wild about the idea but I persisted. It was pretty much right on the way back to the hotel, assuming we didn’t go on the freeway, which I didn’t want to do. It was around 3:30 by now on a Friday.

So we worked our way through Denver city streets until we came to the house on 1st Avenue. There was a parking space right across the street so I pulled in and told Mom and Dad I just wanted to take a good look and a couple of pictures. This I did but as I was getting ready to leave a woman and a boy came riding up on bicycles and she went up to the side of the house to put away her bike. I thought she might have seen me snooping around so I thought I would explain myself. She turned out to be thrilled that we had a connection to the house. She and her husband had lived there since 1993. She insisted that Dad come out of the car and invited us in to look around. I didn’t remember the inside at all but of course Dad did and so did Mom. They declined the invitation to go upstairs.

After many thanks we said goodbye and continued back to the hotel.

The next day we had no plans beyond going to Tim Flynn’s that evening. I looked up Lawson and found that it was only 35 minutes from our hotel. Lawson is where my great grandfather Thomas Bernard is buried. Mom and Dad declined the invitation to go there with me. I got going early and got to the cemetery around 8:30 am. It was considerably colder than Denver there at 8500 feet!


It’s a pretty spot but I noticed the freeway noise (I-70) for the first time. Unrelenting.

I went on into Georgetown for a cup of hot chocolate and a muffin. The car helpfully told me the outside temperature was 36 degrees!

Back to the hotel for an afternoon of resting and watching football. At 5 we headed out for Tim’s. Tim had moved back into the house he grew up in and recently finished remodeling that he wanted to share with the family. Tim and Debbie hosted us, Patty Thaler, Jackie and her husband Dan and their sons Sean and Brian, Michelle and her husband Steve, Mary Helen and her daughter Melissa and her husband Silvio. We all toured the house and had a fine time sitting around chatting. Patty has a very serious lung problem so had a tank of oxygen with her at all times. We aren’t what I would call close to our Denver relatives but we always enjoy each other when we get together.

Jackie and Patty had invited us to join them Sunday morning at their church. I was ready to go but Dad nixed the idea in the morning. Actually, he nixed just about every idea Mom and I came up with for how to spend the day. Finally he agreed to go see a movie so we went to see ‘Sully’. After that we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We had lunch there first but when we finished at 3:30, Dad didn’t want to go into the museum. He was anxious to be at the airport. For a 9 pm flight.

OK, let’s go. Before heading to the airport, I did drive slowly through City Park, where the museum is located. On our way out we passed an imposing building that Dad said was Denver East High School and that he had attended there one summer for a class that St Francis didn’t have. Well, that’s cool!

From there I spotted the dome of the Capitol building so I drove down by there and then through the downtown area. I sort of half heartedly looked for Union Station but failed. I guess I was ready to go home too. Going to the airport, I drove through city streets again just to look around. The day was lovely but taking a walk was not in the cards.

We got to the Avis place at 4:45, dropped off the car with no hassle, got through ticketing and security and to the gate by 6:30. Once on the plane, there was a delay for reasons never explained. We left about 20 minutes late. Arrived SFO 11:15, got back to pick up Mom and Dad with the car at midnight, got to Santa Clara about 12:40, turned right around and headed home in my car, arrived in Pacifica at 1:30 and couldn’t sleep. Urrr. Ibuprofen to the rescue. Attained sleep about 2:30 but had to get up at 6 for an 8 am call at Davies which lasted until 2 am.

But that’s another story.

the Denver trip

I went to Denver last weekend with Mom & Dad. We had been planning it for several months but it kept getting pushed back. They didn’t want to wait so long that the weather turned crappy and I kept having work conflicts. Anyway, about three weeks ago Mom & I sat down and hammered it out. We ended up booking through Priceline.com about which more later.

They bought the tickets and paid for the hotel room and I paid for the rental car. I think they want to reimburse me for the car but I will resist.

The trip actually was OK overall, but there were difficulties with practical issues.I did a pretty good job of slowing down my expectations of what Dad can do. Spending 4 solid days with him gave me a new appreciation of what Mom has to deal with. He’s just enough on the ball to surprise you once in a while but more often he’s just not quick enough to do what he wants to do. And I can see he wants to do all the things he’s always done.

Especially traveling around Denver, his home town. He knows the streets but not necessarily the best way to get around. I ended up using the GPS in my phone most of the time but one time he was right and I was wrong and I gave him full credit. At all times I tried to treat his directions with respect.

Traveling is tiring under the best of circumstances and even though it didn’t seem like we did much, he was worn down. Sunday night at the airport going home, Mom told me (out of his presence) he said to her, ‘Never again!’ That makes me sad as he has always been a great traveler.

The weirdness started Wednesday night. I went down to Santa Clara for the night. Mom and I had agreed when we did the booking that we would fly out of SFO instead of San Jose because there were more and cheaper flights. Oh you fools! Well, that meant we had to get from Santa Clara to the airport and back during a time when everyone in the local family was working. I decided to drive Mom and Dad each way and just use long term parking. Expensive, but simpler.

When I got to Santa Clara, Mom was concerned that they hadn’t been abler to check in for the flight so I went straight to the computer. There I found to my horror that the airline we had chosen, Frontier, charged for baggage on a sliding scale. The closer you got to the gate, the more it cost. Not only that, they charged for carry-ons!  This discovery was after we all had packed in small bags for our 4 day trip. It was actually cheaper to check the bags than to pay the fee for carry-ons.

Then it turns out that if you want to sit together, you have to pay extra to get a seat assignment. What??!! I had to do the same thing on the flight back so that added almost $200 to our trip costs.

We got up the next morning and got to the airport in good order. Got on the plane, got to Denver pretty much by the numbers.

Our plane landed at 3:20 (I kept notes for all of this). At 4 pm, after thrashing around with different carrels, our luggage came out. Then we got on the shuttle to the Avis rental place. Arrived there at 4:30 to find a line of perhaps 50 people to rent cars. I got to the head of the line at 5:20 and showed the clerk the timer on my phone. He said, yeah that’s about right. then he hammered me with all the stupid extras that I never want; tried to upsell me to a larger car. Jeez, just give me the goddamn car, would ya?

At 6pm we were driving out of the lot. We never did get lunch. I spotted a Denny’s on the way to the hotel and we went there (6:30 pm).

I realized after I got home that I had paid Priceline ahead of time for the rental so when I returned the car I had evidently agreed to a $30/day loss damage waiver so there was another $100 I hadn’t counted on. Priceline, Frontier and Avis – you can all piss off. Never again.

Well. it’s only money. The hotel was fine (Holiday Inn Express). Friday morning we ate breakfast late, marveled at the stopped traffic on the freeway at 9:30 am, and headed along surface streets to the stone cutters. That was the main goal of the trip and it was perfect.

I’m going to finish this story later.