My Father’s Day Wish

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There’s lots of stuff I’d love to have happen this Father’s Day. I’d have loved to have been awakened by bacon topped with bacon with a side of bacon in bed this morning. I’d love to spend the day with my kids, my Dad, and my father inlaw – fishing, grilling, and talking IU hoops. I’d love be able to announce that all of the roadblocks to our adoption of Little Man have been eliminated and that we’re heading over to Ethiopia to bring him home immediately. I’d love to be able to tell you that I’m starting a new dream job tomorrow and that it’s within walking distance from my house – and that this happened less than a week after being given the boot by my previous employer (Oh yeah. Did I mention that I was fired on Tuesday?).

I think I can safely say that none of these things are going to happen. And you know what? I’m OK with that. Because these things (yes, even the bacon covered with bacon with a side of bacon) are completely out of my control.

I can, however, share Oren’s story. That’s something I can do.

For more than a year and a half, I’ve been part of a pretty remarkable community of Dad Bloggers. And while I’ve been a bit of a lurker in the group during the majority of my time as part of the community, I can tell you that even though most of us have never met in person, we’ve got each other’s backs. We’re there to encourage, celebrate with, challenge, and even cry with each other – because we share a bond of fatherhood and know how tough being a dad can be at times.

The reason we’re together is because of Oren. He brought together this ragtag group of bloggers and somehow figured out a way to turn us into a community. And now Oren is in the battle of his life.

No. That isn’t hyperbole.

He’s fighting Stage Four lung cancer.

And so even though I’m looking for another job and things are a little uncertain right now, I know I’m going to land on my feet. But Oren?

I can’t imagine what days like today are like for him and his family. So all I can do is support him however possible. And since they live on the East Coast and we’re here in the Hoosier Heartland,  that means I need to share his story and ask you to consider giving a few dollars to support his family. It would mean a lot to Oren. It would mean a lot to me.

Whether you’re able to give $50,000 or $.50. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just hope to help make this Father’s Day a memorable one for his family. And I hope you’ll help out.

Thanks. And happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Thanks for being awesome and doing what you do.

The Todd Top Ten of 2013

OK. So we’re more than a quarter of the way into 2014 and I just realized I never did my Top Ten list of last year. There’s a long list explaining why it took so long to post this, but let’s just say that 2013 was a pretty emotional year. I wasn’t exactly disappointed to see it leave. This list of top things that happened in our family includes stuff that isn’t exactly happy. In fact some of it was downright awful. But it directly impacted our family, so it should be included in this list.

So here you go. It’s a not-so-timely look back on the times we spent up on the mountain and down in the deepest of valleys.

Adios, 2013. I’m still glad you’re gone.

Top 10 2013

10. Corporate “right-sizing”

My employer went through a layoff in June. I was the only one left from my team. A lot of good friends lost their jobs. It was a sad day. And it became even more sad for me because of another event that happened immediately after this occurred. I cried a lot that week.

9. Two Hoosiers basketball games

I got to see two IU basketball games live and in person. Both were pretty memorable for completely different reasons:

IU vs Stony Brook

8. Trips with Aiden

I wound up taking Aiden to do some pretty memorable things – just the two of us.

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game
7. Christy’s surgery

Christy had surgery. It was relatively major. Or maybe it was a mid-major surgery. It definitely wasn’t minor. But everything’s all good now.

6. Mihret’s eyes

Mihret's Eyes

After two surgeries and several months of recovery, Mihret can see!

5. Show Hope 10th anniversary celebration in Nashville

Show Hope Celebration
Show Hope is such an important part of our our family’s story. We had a great time celebrating at a giant “family reunion” with countless other families whose stories have been written through the help of Show Hope. We’re looking forward to having another family reunion with them after we’ve become a family of six.

4. Beaches and Shamu and Flamingos (oh my)!

We took a family trip to Florida with Christy’s family. Parts of it were bittersweet because Dave’s presence was definitely missing. With that being said, visiting Florida together helped ease some of the hurt we all felt.

Antarctica at Sea World

3. Gone Fishin’

I got to go back to Bennett Spring for the first time in a long, long time.
Bennett Spring 2013
It was pretty awesome. Can’t wait to go back.

2. New schools:

  • Aly begins middle school
  • Mihret starts Kindergarten
  • Christy gets her dream job at a local school

All three are loving their schools!

1. We said goodbye to Dave

Man, I still miss him.
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Here’s hoping 2014 is full of happiness and joy.

 

2013 in one photo

2013 in one photo

I have found the perfect photo that best encapsulates 2013. It’s this photo of a whole bunch of clocks.
Clocks
2013, more than any year in recent memory, has been defined by time. Aiden became a teenager. Aly became a middle schooler. Mihret started Kindergarten. Christy and I celebrated 15 years of marital bliss.

There were times where the clock couldn’t move fast enough – like when I waited for Christy to come out of surgery. I hate waiting. And so time seemed to stand still that day while I was forced to wait.

In reality, though, it feels like time has gone by all too quickly in 2013. Every time I turn around, it feels like one of our kids has grown another inch or two. I know the veteran parents warned me that time with your kids disappears all to quickly and they’ll be gone before you know it. It hasn’t really hit me until this year. None of the Todd kids are babies anymore. And it feels like that happened far too soon.

And I can’t help but think of Dave as I think back on 2013. We certainly didn’t have enough time with him. I could flesh this out more, but I know you know what I mean.

Shoot, I even got to witness a last-second loss by one of my favorite college basketball teams this year.

The saying is true. Time does march on. It waits for no one. I think that’s why Scripture urges us to make the most of every opportunity we’ve been given. Because the clock continues to tick, and a whole lot of time will be behind us before we realize it.

I think that’s why the traditional Todd family motto that I discovered this year resonates with me so deeply. It’s up to us what we do with this life. In order to make the most of it, it behooves us to live! 

I want to fill every tick of the clock with a life well lived. How about you?

This post begins the #ThinkKit December post-a-day blog writing challenge by Smallbox. You interested? It’s not too late to join in!

The first time I met my father in law

My father in law

I met Dave in Louisville for about a grand total of 2 minutes. Christy and I were heading to our respective homes for Break (I’m assuming it was Fall Break. I could be wrong). When Dave picked up Christy in Louisville, he said, “You must be Matt.” He stuck his hand out to shake mine. “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.” And that was about it. Christy and Dave hopped in his car and they hit the road towards Indy. I drove to Evansville.

The next time I met him was much more memorable. It was this weekend (Thanksgiving weekend) in 1996. I drove up to Indianapolis to meet Christy’s family for the first time. I’ll never forget walking up to the door at the Ooley house. Christy met me at the door and I had a sudden fear wash over me. Dave was shouting something to someone else in the house. I quickly learned that Dave merely had a loud voice. But meeting my girlfriend’s dad for the first time? I was already thinking of someone like this:
My girlfriend's father - The way I see him before even meeting him

Let’s just say that I was a little bit intimidated. I guess it showed because Christy asked me what was wrong as she let me in the kitchen door. Of course, I couldn’t say “I’m suddenly scared of your dad. He doesn’t have a gun, does he?” So I told her I was OK and ready to meet her family. Especially her dad.

Dave was watching the IU preseason NIT game. That was a good thing. I had the opportunity to bond with him quickly if I sat down with him and started cheering for the Hoosiers with him. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. IU was playing Evansville. And it was a close game. As a lifelong fan of the Aces, they are the only team that I will cheer for against Indiana. So here comes this punk kid who has been kissing his daughter. He walks into Dave’s living room and starts cheering against the team that he’s cheering for. I guess you could say that I ran the risk of starting off on the wrong foot with him.

I did apologize to him for not cheering for the Hoosiers. I explained to him that this is the only time I ever even consider cheering for a team against the Hoosiers. He seemed to understand. And although he didn’t sit and watch the rest of the game with me, I don’t think he held it against me. That’s a good thing. Because I was kinda head over heels about his daughter. Shortly thereafter, Dave became a good friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better father in law.

I’ve thought about that first meeting quite a bit since June. I still have the urge to call him whenever IU has a basketball game, just to remind him that it’s on.  And as I’m sitting in his house in a post-Thanksgiving dinner stupor, I can still hear his voice echoing through the halls.

A brief back story to our vacation

Ready to go!!Before I recount our Florida expedition, I need to take a moment and explain the long journey that brought us to last week’s excursion. Sometime in 2012, Dave told us that he wanted to take our family and Christy’s sister’s family down to Florida for a giant family vacation. We found a house to share. He paid for it and planned on paying for everyone to be able to go to Disney World. Apparently you get a significant discount if you’re a veteran (and rightfully so). We started making plans and the excitement started to build.

I honestly believe that the hope of taking his grandkids down to Florida kept Dave alive as long as it did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Dave’s funeral service was the Monday before we were scheduled to leave for Florida.

This put things up in the air for us.

To put a long story very very short, thanks to the generosity of some very dear family members, we were able to drive down to Florida in a reliable minivan and we had enough money to fund the trip.

After discussing it with the children and with the rest of Dave’s family, we decided it would be a better (and more fiscally responsible) decision not to go to Disney and take advantage of a Sea World/Aquatica/Busch Gardens combo pack. I’m convinced we made the right decision. So is the rest of the family. We had an amazing time and had the freedom to see as much or as little as we wanted each day.

And Mihret still got to meet Mickey. It was at Downtown Disney instead of Magic Kingdom – a much cheaper option.

Mickey at Downtown Disney

I know the family members who helped make this vacation possible read Life in the Fishbowl. To you, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We made a lifetime of memories!

Thoughts from my father inlaw

Christy found these posts on facebook as she read through her dad’s Timeline this week. I shared them during his funeral yesterday. I think they should be shared here, too.

Mamaw, Papaw, and grandkids

March 8, 2011:

LOVE YA

Suppose one morning you never wake up, do all your friends know you love them?

I was thinking…I could die today, tomorrow or next week, and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that needed rekindling or three words needing to be said. Let every one of your friends know you love them. Even if you think they don’t love you back, you would be amazed at what those three little words and a smile can do. And just in case God calls me home, I LOVE YA!!!

Live today to the fullest, because tomorrow is not promised

Love Ya!

November 23, 2012:

Thank you GOD for: Yesterday, GrandKids, A Wonerful meal, Friends, My Sister and Family showing up, talking to my Brother on the phone, being with my wife and Daughters and seeing the GrandKids having so much fun all day. GOD you have made me one LUCKY MAN!

February 13, 2013:

Happy Birthday to the most Wonderful wife in the world. Laura, you make me want to wake every morning just to say I Love You! I have been trough some very trying times in my life and for the past 30 years you have help me to battle the Pain and Depression I have faced. God was so kind to me when he allowed you to walk into my life.. Have a wonderful day, even though you have a broken hip.

Just a few weeks ago:

Dear Lord I ask that you give me the strength and wisdom to face this new Medical problem that I now face of Throyid Cancer. You delivered me from Cancer 37 years ago and I know you will help me again. The weak man within me want’s to say “I just can’t catch a break” , but actually my new Break is I get to see things so much more clearer as I did then. In these past 37 years , I was given a beautiful and unbelievable Daughter. Who has given me two vibrant GrandKids and a Adoptoted GrandChild that God sent us from Ethopia, she may have many Medical issues but to look into her eyes you see nothing but Joy and Determination. God gave me a good wife in my Ex-Wife the Mother of my Daughter, things may not have turned out the way we would have liked but I hold no regrets. As that door closed another opened that handed me the Person who has made me so Happy, the one who keeps me safe and that is Laura. She brought with her a Daughter, Tracie Hardegree Wilson who became my Daughter and she too gave me 2 GrandKids that I also adore to the fullest. I have Friends that no one man deserves but God gave them to me. I can honestly say there is no one I Hate or can’t stand, my Heart may also have Medical issues but it is full of Love for everyone I know or wished I knew from the U. S. to any other shore. I just wished we could get a long. God you are my Everything and I will accept your every action. Praise you!

The sun continues to rise

Philmont sunrise

I took this picture in July of 1994. It isn’t that great of a picture, but it’s one of the most special and most memorable pictures I have taken from any of my five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch.

I had just completed my final trek at Philmont. I thought this would be my last hurrah* at Philmont. Kevin and I had the amazing opportunity to hike down Time Ridge from the Tooth of Time together in a very cool moment of brotherly bonding. I was going to be heading away to college in a month and I knew that shared experiences like these were going to become few and far between. So I cherished that moment as much as a fresh-out-of-high-school kid could cherish.

Shortly after coming off the trail, our crew received all our mail that had been sent to us while we were in the backcountry. Kevin and I received an envelope that had been sent overnight to us, which seemed rather odd. No one had ever sent us an overnight package while we were at Philmont. It was a little too unpredictable (and expensive) to try to send something like that. So we opened the envelope, which contained a note from Dad: Grandmama was in the hospital.

We didn’t really have much time to dwell on this news because of all of the debriefing events that had to take place before we could head home. We knew we’d be calling home later that evening. It was Mom’s birthday and we had a plan.

After the Closing Ceremony, we grabbed as many people as we could and had them huddle around a payphone. As soon as mom picked up the phone, she was serenaded by a motley group of 15+ teenage boys singing “Happy birthday, dear Mom!” to her over the phone. As soon as the song was over, some of the adults from our crew led the impromptu Boy Band away as we continued our conversation with Mom and Dad.

“How’s Grandmama?” I asked, fully expecting to hear that she had already gone home.

I don’t remember what Dad said or how he said it because all I remember was knowing without him even finishing the first word that Grandmama had died earlier in the day – probably while Kevin and I were hiking down Trail Ridge together.

As I turned to try to tell Kevin what I had just heard, words totally escaped me. I hoped he could somehow read my mind because I could not find a way to make myself say the words, “Grandmama died.”

Then I felt it. It was caring and comforting and strong. It was a hand on my shoulder. Mr. G had stayed with us and was there for us. He had found out beforehand and was there to comfort us as we found out this heartbreaking news some one thousand miles away from home. I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through that phone call without him being there for us.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I got up early and walked around through Base Camp. I remember seeing the vast sea of stars high above me and feeling extremely alone and sad. Then the sun began to rise. And I realized that even though things were dark and heartbreaking for me, there was still a glimmer of hope. The sun does still rise. The day does come. And the darkness is pushed away.

So I took this picture to remind me of that moment – to remind me that light is stronger than dark, even when I hurt deep deep down in my soul. When everything is falling apart and you’re completely isolated and alone….there’s still hope. Light still wins.

I thought of this picture yesterday as I was standing in a room with my colleagues, learning that our company was going through another reduction in force. This announcement was probably more difficult to hear than the one 10 months ago because I soon realized that many of the people I worked with very closely had become casualties of this “right-sizing.” And then I felt it again. It was the strangest thing. I felt this hand on my shoulder, much like I felt when Mr. G was putting his hand on my shoulder and telling me it was going to be OK. Of course, his hand wasn’t on my shoulder.

No one’s hand was on my shoulder.

But I felt it. And I wanted to go around the room and put my hand on everyone’s shoulder, telling them that things were going to be OK. We were going to get through this disappointing news. I wanted to find my colleagues who had just been let go, put my hand on their collective shoulders, and be there for them.

As I left the office after the announcement that day, I had decided that I was going to find this picture and post it with this story as an attempt to encourage my friends who lost their jobs that there is light at the end of this darkness and that I have confidence that all of them are going to go on to do some pretty amazing things in their careers. I have no doubt about that.

Then it became clear that Christy’s dad was not going to live very much longer. And I realized that this picture that I had been thinking of for the last 36 hours was really for me and my family.

There is light at the end of this darkness. There is hope at the end of this heartache. Life will continue to go on, even as we walk through the valley of death’s shadow.

Even in the midst of this devastating series of events, it behooves us to live, and live to the fullest.

*It turned out that this event was not my last hurrah at Philmont. I returned the next two Summers as a staff member. 

Home again, home again…

As promised, this weekend was certainly a whirlwind trip!  We did manage to see lots of family (on top of visiting two churches) all within a little more than 24 hours!  We met the kids’ Mamaw and Papaw in Seymour, IN for lunch and a little bit of shopping.  Here are some pictures.  More pictures will follow – as soon as I can get them to upload (stupid dialup).