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Archive for the ‘Dad’ Category

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, way up there with Halloween and Christmas. When I was really little we celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmothers’ houses. They traded off Thanksgiving and Easter every year. Eventually, the big feasts got to be too much for them. We had a couple of Thanksgivings in a noisy, overcrowded restaurant until my mom took over. She refused to spend another holiday packed in like one of too many sardines at the Red Coach Grill. She cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the next twenty or so years.

After I moved to Switzerland, I continued to celebrate Thanksgiving. I created my own traditions and gathered friends together for the annual harvest feast. I love to cook and entertain and Thanksgiving dinner became one of my trademarks.

When I moved back to New Hampshire, I was delighted to host the family. For several years, at least eight, and sometimes more, Nye’s joined me around my farmhouse table for a fun and festive feast.

Last summer my dad pulled me aside for a heart to heart. My parents spend most of the winter in Florida and he was reserving their flights. He candidly confided that he couldn’t quite handle a trip north for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Between Alzheimer’s and arthritis, travel is difficult for my mother and therefore very stressful for Dad.

I didn’t like the idea of them down there alone, having dinner in an overcrowded restaurant or any restaurant for that matter. I decided to spend Thanksgiving with them on one condition. Like my mom before me, I decreed that dinner would be at home. I would cook a turkey and all the trimmings for them and some of their close friends.

We had a wonderful time. Four of their oldest, dearest friends joined us. I knew them all, most for close to a decade and one for more than forty years. I got a little fancy with a couple of side dishes but did not mess with tradition when it came to the turkey and made my mother’s stuffing.

Sitting around the table with my parents and some of their nearest and dearest, reminded me of how thankful I am for their friends. I am grateful that these wonderful people love my mother and accept her frailties. I am thankful for the love and support they give my dad.

It looks like the start of a new tradition. Yes, I’ll head south again next year. I’ll improvise in my parent’s decidedly ill-equipped kitchen, debate how long to roast the turkey with my dad and suffer bad hair days in the steamy heat. But most of all I will rejoice and celebrate the time with Mom, Dad and their dear friends.

What about you? What are you thankful for this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you.

 

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. © Susan W. Nye, 2010

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60 Years

In September 1950, two kids in their early twenties set out to make a life together. Those two kids are my now octogenarian parents. Last summer, we toasted them at a lakeside celebration. Sixty years is a long time. Quite frankly, I am in awe of my parents’ achievement. Although, I’m not quite sure if I should call it auspicious, pure stubbornness on both their parts may have had something to do with the longevity of their marriage. That and true love.

They pledged to love and cherish each other in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer. Like all marriages, they’ve had it all, the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely wonderful.

There were times when, if they weren’t broke, they certainly felt like it. The year we moved back to Boston from Connecticut for my dad’s new job, comes to mind. The move and the job were cause for joyous celebration until the Connecticut house languished on the market for months and months and months. For almost a year they juggled two mortgages. In rosier times, my mother used to laugh and tell the story of my dad’s first order with his new firm. As delighted as they were with his success, they couldn’t go out and celebrate because their bank balance was teetering around zero.

There was the very scary summer when my mom developed thrombophlebitis and suffered a pulmonary embolism. She was one month pregnant with my brother at the time. In the end all was well and our family of four became five. My sister, brother and I are three delightful, now grown children. Mom’s grandmother bracelet jangles with two more generations, six beautiful grandchildren and two terrific great-grandchildren.

More important, there were many, many idyllic days on New England beaches and ski slopes. Plus lots of fun evenings with family and friends. We have shared jokes and stories, argued, ranted, raved and laughed. A lot. My parents are enthusiastic people and they live life with enthusiasm.

While I can’t guarantee it, I think the secret to my parents’ marital success was their ability to create a true partnership. (That and their feistiness. Both of them.) My mother stayed at home but she was no meek and mild sitcom mom. I don’t ever remember her uttering in a threatening tone, “Wait ‘till your father gets home.” She just took care of her sometimes naughty children then and there. She also handled any and all crises when they happened, called contractors, plumbers and electricians when she needed them, juggled the social calendar and entertaining, watched over everyone’s health and wellness and managed the family finances. About the only thing she refused to do, was get the car serviced. She always said the guys at the garage treated her like an idiot. And she was nobodies’ fool. She was smart, opinionated and funny, held her own in any conversation and never wore an apron. We all knew she loved my dad (still does) but she never gave him that adoring Nancy Reagan look.

Because she was so good at taking care of the home and family, my mom freed up my dad to do his job and do it really well. Dad was in sales, he was good at it. He was away a lot; traveling on business. Neither ever had to worry, they were both confident that everything, and then some, was covered. Of course they were lucky to be raising kids in a time when families could not only live but live well on a single income. And I guess we were pretty lucky to be raised that way. (Although, I must confess, when I was a teenager, I didn’t get why my mom would willingly stay home.)

About seven or eight years into their retirement, a few tables started to ever so slowly turn on my mom and dad. Maybe we didn’t realize, or maybe none of us could admit to realizing, that my mom was beginning to show the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease’s progression has been slow, steady and sure.

My dad now takes care of all of those things that my mother used to cover. He handles everyday things like laundry, little things like keeping track of birthdays and big things like managing their finances and healthcare.

Their old division of labor has disappeared. But in their own way, they are still partners and their partnership is as strong as ever. Of course it could be stubbornness but call me a romantic, I’m betting on true love.

What about you? Is there a special couple or person you admire? I’d love to hear from you.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. © Susan W. Nye, 2010

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I love to read. I always have. I read every day. Every day. Sometimes I manage a few minutes while I grab a quick lunch. During more than one blizzard and rainstorm, I’ve happily indulged in an all day binge. I almost never leave the house without a book. I can’t imagine a day without a book. Alright maybe I can, but it makes my blood run cold.

I inherited my love of the written word from both my parents. When I was growing up, they read every evening after dinner. For years we traded paperbacks back and forth. When I was a teenager it was history and historical fiction. My Mom was my key trading partner. When I got older, we shared best sellers, legal thrillers and crime novels. My Dad is now my book trading partner. Reading is one more thing that Alzheimer’s, the thief, has stolen from my Mother.

Along with crossword puzzles. Mom was a crossword puzzle fanatic. She did the Boston Globe puzzle everyday and both the Globe and New York Times puzzle on Sunday. We put puzzle books in her stocking, as well as paperbacks, every Christmas.

Mom hasn’t given up books completely. She can still read but it’s hard to follow plot lines or enjoy a good yarn when your memory is fading fast. I have seen her read and re-read the newspaper two or three times in an afternoon. Each time she fusses or fumes over some crime or other, laughs at a cartoon and smiles at the “good news” news. But she doesn’t do the puzzle anymore. And her grasp of current affairs is gone.

On the plus side, she must be my biggest fan. She can read one of my stories once or one hundred times. Each time she sees it with fresh eyes and she never gets tired of my tales. Of course she is more than a little bit biased. On the other hand, she doesn’t mind or miss them when my Dad packs up the papers and magazines and carts them off to the recycling bin.

Alzheimer’s runs in families. My grandfather had it, now Mom. I can’t help but wonder how well I might cope in my Mother’s faltering shoes. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I am not a particularly fearful person. I’ve leapt into new and different challenges and adventures with hardly a quiver, shiver or shake. I’ve reinvented myself at least three times, lived abroad, traveled around the world, built an organization from scratch, rebuilt two broken teams, bungee jumped, gone a mile deep into the earth and skied glaciers. And had a ball doing it all.

But there is a hell of a lot about Alzheimer’s that scares the bejesus out of me, a long and growing list. Loosing the joy of curling up with a good book is definately on that list.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? I’d like to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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My dad was in sales for years. I suspect that he is a born salesman. He wasn’t a disgruntled, down-on-his-luck, raggle-taggle salesman like Willy Loman. No, never, Dad was loaded with enthusiasm. He was energized, not just by the deal, but by the people he met along the way. You see, my dad is a people person. He is not only charming; he is completely genuine. Dad would never try to convince you that he’s interested in your story. He doesn’t have to; he really is interested in what you have to say.

No matter where he goes, Dad meets people. When we were little, he would roust us out of bed on winter Sunday mornings to get dressed, grab our skis and head to the mountain early. On the way to King Ridge, we would stop for the Sunday papers. We soon learned that if we let Dad disappear into the store to get the newspaper we would be stuck in the cold car for twenty minutes, or at least it seemed that long. As soon as he entered the building he would start talking to someone, anyone. It could have been an old friend or neighbor or the guy who built our house. It could have been a complete stranger. It didn’t matter. He always had at least a few words, more often several, for everyone. 

And he still does it. About six weeks ago, I picked Mom and Dad up at the airport. They are snowbirds and were just getting back to New Hampshire. With a few hugs, howdy-dos and a flourish of activity, we loaded suitcases and golf clubs into the car. As we turned onto 93 to head north, I got the lowdown on their seatmates. Since they change planes in Baltimore, they make not one but two new friends.

In the space of an hour or two, Dad can learn a lot about a person and their life story. From take-off to touch-down, he learns about spouses, current, past and future. He gets the scoop on children and grandchildren (most of his seatmates are fellow retirees). By the time the plane lands, he knows where they live now and where they used to live. Maybe it goes without saying, but he’ll also know where their children and grandchildren live. He’ll have the rundown on what they do or used to do, not to mention what their children do. Schools, hobbies, any special interests are all fair game. If it interests you, Dad is delighted to hear about it. Almost without exception, he describes his seatmates as very interesting.

Maybe you’ve sat next to him. He’s that nice white haired man. If you have, you know all about me, my brother and sister. And their families. You know that my brother sells stuff that Dad doesn’t understand but it has something to do with telecommunications or software or something. You know that my sister runs a wonderful nursery school. You found out that their spouses and children are as talented as they are good looking. You know that I used to work for a big computer company and now I write and cook. He probably told you that I used to be Joe Nye’s daughter but now he is Susan Nye’s father. He’s not only a charmer; he is a proud poppa.

Happy Father’s Day! ….. Love, Susie

 

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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