Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unanswered Questions

I've been down with a cold. As usual, whenever I get sick I finally finish the book that's been sitting on my nightstand for months and months. This time it was "Flags of Our Fathers," by James Bradley. The book traces the lives of the six soldiers pictured in the famous "Flag Raising Over Iwo Jima" picture from WWII, of which one was the author's father.

The book provides a poignant and horrifying account of what the battle for Iwo Jima was like, but is ultimately about something else--fathers and children. His father, one of three flagraisers who survived Iwo Jima (the battle was by no means over when they posted the flag), nearly never spoke about his experiences, constantly dodged the press, and never acknowledged The Picture.

In short, there was an entire aspect of John Bradley his children never knew about. They knew he was in The Picture, but it was just something they took for granted--partly because their father didn't talk, but also because children seldom realize that anything about their lives is not normal.

In short, it summarizes the relationship I had with my father. My father was no one even remotely famous--that's not what I mean. I mean that while I knew a great deal about my father, I can't say that I really knew my father. It was not, in the case of John and James Bradley, because he didn't talk about himself. My dad was quite a talker.

I think the fault is mainly mine, because I don't think I ever viewed my dad as a normal person. I never questioned what I saw. How did he feel about working two or three jobs? Did he regret not having done something different with his life? Was he satisfied with the relationship he had with us children?

I could have found out easily enough. I'm sure he would have talked to me about it. But I never really had that kind of relationship with my dad. Not to mention it being hard to find those kinds of moments.

Part of the problem, too, was the context-gap. I didn't become a father myself until recently, and by then my dad was already going downhill. By the time I really started questioning my own life and wondering if his would offer any answers he wasn't really around to ask anymore.

Some of the questions didn't really come up until after he died. Talking to others who knew him brought up a lot of facets of my dad that I'd either forgotten or never realized were there. Sometimes what's right in front of your face is the hardest to see. When he was alive I never questioned. Now he's gone, and all I have is questions.

My mother is still alive. I still have a chance with her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From the "Gee Whiz" File

I sat in on a presentation at work today where a colleague discussed the things he learned at a design and usability training seminar recently. It was, of course, interesting professionally, but something particular caught my eye.

At one point the speaker showed a list of all the organizations that have attended this workshop in the past year. One of the organizations listed was "LDS Church." So there you have it. Our church may be "backward" culturally, but we're "with it" when it comes to IT. Or at least getting with it. I will say that I've noticed a distinct improvement in the quality and functionality of the church's websites over the past few years.

In other news, we're gearing up to go to a family reunion soon. This is our immediate family's first attempt at such, so this could be interesting. According to weather.com it's "only" going to be in the mid-nineties where we're going. Did I already say this could be interesting?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What am I...

...reading: "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde. A quirky little alternate history tale with a bit of harsh language and occasional violations of narrative style--and the occasional dash of unexpected humor.

...doing: Still working on the playhouse and maintaining the lawn--when I get outside at all!

...planning: Family reunion next week.

...waiting on: Babylon 5, seasons 1 & 2

...still recovering from: Cracked ribs mentioned two weeks ago. I'm getting better, just slowly

...wishing for: Either rain or cooler weather...or both!

...lauging about: Subject line from spam: "Cash for Women!" Sounds like a good trade to me. Too bad I don't have any to spare.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Shine Fourth

The Fourth was a good day, if a hot one. We had our annual get-together with friends from our old neighborhood, and this was the first year that all three of our kids were able to fend for themselves. It helps immensely that our friends' kids are very good with our kids. There was plenty of food, good conversation, bearable shade, and plenty to do. The event ended with a mid-summer version of an easter-egg hunt: scouring the lawn for Airsoft pellets. My kids brought home at least a hundred--and are now proceeding to fight over them.

Afterward we went home and made some homemade ice cream. Or ice soy, really. It turned out quite well, and for considerably less than it costs in stores. Eeeeexcellent!

The kids wanted to stay up to watch fireworks. We didn't really want them to stay up that late, but decided to indulge them this once. Fortunately, between the Macy's Fireworks Spectacular (odd use of the word--like calling "CSI: Miami" a television dramatic) and our neighbors who lit theirs off early so their two-year-old could go to bed, our kids were satiated and crashed before the neighborhood bombardment began after dark.

This was our first Fourth with a dog. It could have been worse. She was quite disturbed by the noise, but was content to lay next to the bed and let us soothe here until it calmed down. I'm just glad our neighborhood is comparatively tame. Our old neigborhood was like that for several days before and after the holiday. With few exceptions it's been quiet until last night.

Only the youngest child was awake before I headed out for work this morning. All things considered I'm feeling fairly good. Except when I sneeze. My ribs still don't like that.