8765 Times 6

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year, 52,590 of them have ticked off since Risa passed away.  Probably because of the timing, it becomes a strange time of year for me (and I think for my girls as well).  While the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of year,” there are probably more than just me who would stop and question that.  8765 times 6 – there’s a lot to think about.

Who’d have thunk there would come a time I have two teen-aged girls in high school – much less thriving in that environment.  16.5 is in honor roll and 15.0 is pulling a low 90 GPA.  Far better than I ever did, clearly taking after their mom.

Along with a second transition to high school, we’ve (and I say we because it’s been the three of us)  conquered an introduction to driving, a change of sport from softball to tennis, a job change for me and just getting through another 8765 hours with the rest of life’s challenges.

Reflecting this time of year is probably normal – give or take this is when people (who make them) will begin to think about New Year’s resolutions.

I was chatting with a friend who is also widowed – and we were talking about how tough this time of year can be as an only parent where you’re dealing with the family and everyone is happy.  And it’s not to say we’re not happy – but there is a part missing.

What would Risa think about her girls excelling in school? I know how proud I am of it and I know she would be proud too – but what would she think?

And would 16.5 be a different (maybe better, maybe worse) driver if there was another voice offering guidance?  I don’t know.  We don’t have that second voice, and I don’t pretend there is a second voice.

In the last 8765 hours 15.0 made a change from softball to varsity tennis.  She walked onto the tennis court just before Labor Day this year and became a tennis player and has taken to the sport with determination.  I know Risa was a very determined person as well, happy to see she’s taken on the best of the traits.

16.5 entered the working world over the summer and excelled as a lifeguard at a water park near our house.  She embraced the challenge of working and becoming responsible – maturing into a woman.  Now we begin thinking about test prep and college search.  I know those are the parts of life Risa would have cherished, and despite the challenges I know it’s a time I will cherish with her and her sister.

15.0 has also become expressive in art – a skill I only wish I had, but again its a skill her mother possessed.  I can’t help but smile when I walk into her room and see her work on display on the walls.

And because managing life with me and two teen-aged girls isn’t quite challenging enough I decided to change jobs this year too.  It was one of those situations where it was time to make a change and the right opportunity came along – but its in those moments where I try to think through important changes, don’t really have that life partner to talk to and know I’m about to make a life changing decision – the clock slows down, and a few of those 8765 hours feel like days at a time.

I wonder, what would Risa think about all of this?  Am I doing the right thing?  Would my father be proud of life I’ve created for my family?

I’d like to think the answer is yes – because that will help get me through the next 8765 hours and changes our lives will face again.

 

Related Posts:

Of April, Birthdays and (Over) Thinking

RisaThe sayings go March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb to yield way to April showers for May flowers – April is not quite that optimistic a month for me.  For me it’s a chance to mark birthdays and over think milestones – not all of which are happy but I suppose that is the fertilizer of my life’s may flowers.

April starts with marking Risa’s birthday (4/6).  I have to confess it is among the dates I could never get right.  I always knew it was the sixth or the eighth – so I was ready for the sixth and rolled with it.  The month also the marks the passing of my father (4/14) and a reminder of my mortality (4/24).

Into that mix goes the rest of life that we deal with – the comings and goings of kids, the planning for events, work, school and all of the other pieces of life.

Last weekend 15.5 had a couple of camp friends over for a night.  It’s a small group of girls that have been close for five years – and this is the first summer they won’t be all together.  Some (like mine) are working, others are going to different summer programs and a few are going back for the next summer in camp.

I took that group plus 13.5 and one of her school friends to a local hibachi place for dinner.  As we were sitting there and I looked at the girls (each of their faces glowing in the light of their iPhone) and realized simultaneously how lucky I am and wondered what if life had been different?

We got the crew back to our house and 13.5 and her friend went upstairs and 15.5 and her friends went downstairs – and I sat in the family room watching hockey.  It wasn’t long before 15.5 asked me if a couple of boys could come over.  “It’s on now,” I thought – but I was prepared for this (shockingly I’ve thought about it).

So the boys came over and joined the music and shouting in the basement and I sat on the couch – trying to figure out how to pirate the west coast games (I couldn’t) and managed to stay awake long enough for the last of the boys to leave just before midnight.

One of the thoughts was how would this play out in a two parent home?  Would Risa have handled this differently?  I’m pretty sure I handled it right and the kids all had a good time – but should there have been more rules? More supervision?  Would a mom and daughter be a different mix than a dad and daughter?

I don’t get to change the equation on the last question.  So as we mark what would have been Risa’s 47th birthday and the march of milestones go by – April birthdays and (over) thinking gets started.

Related Posts:

8765 Times 5 – Milestones Achieved

Risa, the girls and me after we moved into our home

Risa, the girls and me after we moved into our home

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the five years since Risa passed away 43,825 hours have ticked away.  Sometimes time just flies by as we go about our lives.  Other times, the hours drag as moments play out.  In the 8765 hours over this year some milestones have been achieved and moments have been shared.

Maybe the most significant was 13.0 achieving her bat mitzvah.  While I don’t think the struggle was any tougher than any family goes through convincing a 12-year-old that studying Torah and practicing prayers and readings is important – this had deeper meaning for us.  One of the few promises I made to Risa over the years she battled her brain tumor was that the girls would make it to their bat mitzvah.

Not only did 13.0 perform flawlessly – but she emerged as the young lady she is becoming.

With that goal accomplished this year it’s a chance to look back and reflect – but also to look ahead.

When I have a “look ahead” conversation with friends, somehow they all talk about paying for a wedding – I’m a little more of a realist and thinking about cars and college.

Sometimes as an only parent it’s tough to step back and evaluate how things are going.  I can look around and see signs of positive results – good grades in school, the ability for the three of us to communicate with one another, 13.0’s bat mitzvah, 15.5 setting out to become a lifeguard over the summer and accomplishing it and other tangible moments.

But sometimes out of nowhere comes confirmation that I’m sure Risa would be proud of too:

15.5 is in all honors classes and an AP class this year.  Her English teacher sent me an email last week about a moment from class that reassure’s me that there is a solid foundation to build on.

It seems the teacher’s mother is going through a health crisis and the teacher has been in and out of school.  She ended up canceling a test right before Thanksgiving, and told 15.5’s class it was due to the illness of her mother.  According to the teacher, 15.5 stayed after class that day and shared that she knew what it was like to have a sick mother and she would be there to support her teacher if she needed it.

How could a parent not be proud of the young lady they are raising?

One of the lessons I learned in childhood (raised by an only parent) is that there is no instruction manual for life.  You look at the moment, try to assess it and handle it as best you can.  You won’t always be right but if you decide with caring and compassion you won’t be wrong very often.

More than 350,000 hours have ticked off since my father passed away.  I think about him and Risa and wonder if I’m doing OK and what would they think about the way life for the girls and me has turned out.  I think it’s OK.

And so we’ll start to tick off another 8765 hours with more milestones to achieve.  We’ll build on our success and learn from our mis-steps and be able to look one another in the eye and know what is important and who we can count on – and all in, that’s not so bad.

Related Posts:

Walking Down Memory Lane

memory laneThis weekend 12.5 not only becomes 13.0 but she’ll celebrate her bat mitzvah on her birthday (Saturday).  One of the tasks I own for the event (as I did two year’s ago for her sister’s) is making the montage.  This is a romp through picture and some video of the first 13 years of their life.  Once again I dragged my feet to get this done – because walking down memory lane is not the easiest of things for me to do.

So this week, while juggling the softball schedule for 12.5, the soccer schedule for 15.0, the work schedule for the single dad and keeping the house up and running – I dove through boxes of pictures and flipped through the digital files of the last 13 years to pull together the images and moments that will help sum up 12.5’s life in about nine and a half minutes.

Along the way were reminders of the life l had 20 or more years ago.  I can remember (most) of the moments captured on film (yes film) and the happy times that seem so long ago.

Tucked away in a box is an album of pictures from the trip Risa and I took where we got engaged.  In the back of a closet were pictures from the road trip Risa and I took when we moved to Dallas.  In the basement (in a box from our move to our house) were pictures of 15.0’s day of birth and the time I took her sledding when she was maybe two years old.

Thinking back, when it was 15.0 getting her bat mitzvah I am sure I waited to the last-minute to do the montage.  I know like this time I waited to the last-minute to write my speech.

Getting the girls’ through their bat mitzvah was important to Risa – and something I want them to experience.  So even with the uncomfort of walking down memory lane, there is the reality that I am keeping the girls connected to their mother.

Standing up and trying to share this with 12.5 on Saturday (and a temple full of friends and family) is a whole other challenge.  But for today – that’s not the one I am facing.  There are people who relish walking down memory lane – I’m probably not one of them.

Related Posts:

The Ski Trip

Jimminy PeakAs we head into the winter months in the Northeast – my girls and I are about to embark upon what has become one of our family rituals since it became the three of us.  The ski trip.  This is something we’ve done three of the last four years – the only year we missed was when I had both knees operated on, and not surprisingly they match exactly against our lives in a one parent home.

Although it was four years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday – Risa had passed away and the girls went back to school.  The next week I went back to work.  The next week was Christmas vacation, and there was no way I was staying in the house for more than a week with all that we had been through.  I looked at Florida, I looked at Jamaica, I looked at California.  None of them as a last minute trip in December made sense.  But skiing did.

I had talked about skiing with my kids the year before – but because of the state of flux we were living in then, we couldn’t go.  I had skied for years before 14.5 was born.  But at that time, had not skied in 10 years  The girls were into it though.

With an invite from my cousin – we rented skis on Black Friday in 2010 and that Saturday set off for skiing.

I put the girls in lessons with their cousins.  I set out to recapture any level of skiing I could and we had a great weekend.

With the exception of the year I was recovering from surgery to both knees – we’ve skied every year since.  So, this year, with more than a foot falling as I type in the Berkshires at Jimminy Peak we’ll head out tomorrow afternoon to ski for the weekend.

This year will be a little different though.  14.5 is going to snowboard. So I have to put her back into lessons.  12.0 is bringing a friend.  So my hope is she and the friend will ski together, 14.5 will work on her snowboarding and I can ski for fun.  We’ll have a lot of together time as we spend the weekend at the mountain.

The ski trip is on.  First of the season.  More to follow.  See you on the mountain.

Related Posts:

8765 Times Four Living and Remembering

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year – and each of them has ticked off once again since Risa passed away in 2010.  Entering my fifth year as a single parent raising two girls and I can say we are making the best of our lives and have overcome life’s hurdles – not without challenges.  But 8765 times four living and remembering, we’re hanging in.

A lot happened during the course of the year – along with each of us getting a year older we’ve gone about living our lives together and independently – and I think each of us have learned a lot.  The memories we share of Risa are never far away, and we talk about them a lot.

For me, I’ve had the chance to do so much during the last year.  It may not look like a well planned and thought out process – but more often than not it is.  There are so many people in my life who help make things easier to deal with.  Many have been there for a life time or longer – others are new.

For the girls, the year has been full of a lot of change and transition.  14.0 is in high school now, and asserting her independence.  12.0 is growing so quickly – and is quickly becoming a young lady.  She’s deep into the circuit for bar/bat mitzvahs for friends now – with hers less than a year away.

In the middle of the year our long time sitter moved out.  A few months later, my brother (who needed a chance to re-boot) moved in.  One day we’ll get our house back – but until then, I think Risa would be happy.  8765 time four living and remembering – and we’re doing OK.

Related Posts:

8765 times 2

8765 – the number of hours in a year.  In two years its 17,531.  Sometimes it feels like there are hundreds of minutes in those hours.  Other times, it feels like only seconds go by as the hours tick off.  Either way though, two years ago today my wife passed away and time is the constant to measure just how we are doing two years later.

When applying time to the lives of my girls and I, on the whole we are doing OK.  And that’s a good thing.

Sure we miss out on a lot-but we also share in some very unique things and we have memories that allow us to keep Risa’s spirit alive.  As I was telling a friend who lost her sister recently it doesn’t get easier, it really doesn’t.  What happens though is life and we manage to wake up and make today a better day than yesterday and hold out hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Sure, I’d love for 10.0 to take school more seriously.  And yeah, I wish I could have been there to keep 12.5 from turning her ankle last weekend.  But by and large, those are small issues that we will over come-one day at a time one moment at a time.

So, into the next block of 8765 hours we will go.  We’ll share milestones this year, heartaches this year and good times this year.  We know we are keeping Risa’s spirit alive by simply doing the best we can and fighting for all we want-which is how she lead her life and we honor her that way.

I am not a huge believer in fate as a driver for all things that happen today.  A friend was telling me over the weekend that she believes if life had turned left instead of right, if I didn’t run that stop light this morning on the way to the train things would be different.  Perhaps they would be.  I really don’t have that answer, and I’m pretty happy with my life so I don’t have to worry about the zigs and zags it takes.  Instead, I’ll enjoy the ride, and hope there are fewer 180-minute hours in the next 8765.

And don’t forget, Dad the Single Guy’s new book “The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning” available now on Nook and Kindle.

Related Posts: