The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

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Ten Years Later

 

Can you believe that is has been ten years already?

So much has happened in that time, and yet it still seems like it was not that long ago.  Children have been born or become adults, growing up with a hole in their lives where a parent used to be.  Husbands and Wives moved on with their lives, yet never stopped thinking about the one that they lost in one of the airplanes or buildings.

So many people that might have gone on to greatness, been the next Nobel Laureate, the next great doctor or mathematician.  Souls that might have gone on to create the next great idea, invent the next medicine that would have saved millions, wrote the next great book, been a great father or mother, grandfather or grandmother… lost.

Hands that will never hold a child, a lover, a sister, brother or other family member again. voices that we will never hear speak our names or be there to listen to others speak theirs. Lost chances of friendships, apologies, loves and dreams come true.  Promises made that will never be fulfilled, someone making a trip to propose to someone they love… gone.

Then there is the hate that this has caused.  Like the world needed one more thing to divide it’s people from one another, this has opened yet another rift.  Not only creating a paranoia of anyone that looks like they might be middle-eastern, but also a hatred for anyone that is openly Muslim.  I have lost track of how many times I have heard comments like, “Any Muslim is a terrorist.”, or various versions of the same.  I have no delusions that it was Islamic Extremists that caused this, but I also do not believe that every person that practices Islam is an extremist or a terrorist.

My heart goes out to all those innocent lives that were lost on 11 September 2001.  Further, my heart and best wishes go out to all those that survived or were survived by on that unfortunate day.  The only thing that we can truly understand is that life will go on, the pain will lessen with time, but the scars and loss will remain.  We cannot bring back those that were lost, but we can honor their memories by being better people in their honor.

For my September 11th, I am not going to mourn those lost, but celebrate life in the memory of those lost.  I think that they would appreciate that more than feeling sorrow of their loss.

I am not turning this into a political debate… If anyone posts anything turning this into one, I will delete that post.  I do not do that often… so take heed.

 

Curbing our tongues

 

One of the most important things that my wife and I have been trying to do, now that we have a set of little ears around the house, has  been to watch our language.  To pay attention to the words we use and omit the ones that might find their way into his vocabulary.

We had not even realized how much swore until we really started paying attention to it, now we are catching ourselves on a regular basis using words that our parents, at one time, would punish us for.

With this realization on our parts, we started a new program in our house, and it includes guests as well.  It is called, simply, “The Pinch”.  And it is starting to show some fruit.

The way it works is this.  If you say anything in the way of a curse… words I cannot share here because my filter will change them into something else, then whoever hears it first and makes the connection gets to pinch, good and hard, the offender.  Guests are given one warning, if they are not already aware of the game, then they are fair game if they drop any foul bombs.

Granted…  at seven months, the child will probably not pick up on much right now.  But we have to start on ourselves now to train each other to find other words to use.  Something that I find very important.

One thing I have to laugh about with this whole adventure is that this was all explained to me once before.   Years ago, my wife and I had a tape of Robin Williams: Live at the Met.  In there he has a whole section about how kids pick up on language cues before we know it.  I will not go into detail, but if you have a chance, and I am sure that it is out there on YouTube, listen to it.  It will have you rolling.

 

Gifts of knowledge…

When I went through my Bar Mitzvah ceremony, when I was thirteen, I was excited.  Not so much by the fact that I was going to be a “Man” in the eyes of the temple, but more because I knew that there would be gifts.

That is not to say that the ceremony meant nothing to me, on the contrary, it meant a great deal.  While I am sure that I was a constant source of challenge to Rabbi Peskind, in that I was a lazy student, I was excited that once this was completed I would be able to take a more active role in the temple.

After the ceremony, as I expected, came the gifts.  Most of these were checks, but there was also a ring to commemorate my Bar Mitzvah and there was a package.  It was heavy and solid.  My imagination was running wild about what it could be.

A Game?  Some tools?  A Model?

When I opened it, my heart sank.  It was a book, and worse yet, it was a dictionary.  I am embarrassed to say, even now, about 30 years later, that I was angry about this.  For months that book sat in a corner of my closet.  Never getting touched or looked at a second or third time.  I was treating it like the proverbial Fifth Horseman and I would have nothing to do with it.

Sometimes, I think, especially when we are young, we fail to see the importance of a gift, even when the person that gave it to you does.  So several month later, I was reading something in a paper and I came to a work that stumped me.  While I do not recall the word now, I do remember trying to break it down for it root meanings, but got nowhere.  So I asked my Mother what it meant.  Her response was:

“You have a dictionary in the closet… look it up.”

Suddenly I needed to come face to face with the 800 pound gorilla in the closet.  The big red book that I was loathing the mere existence of for so long.  As I picked up the book, the cold sweat broke out on my brow and down the center of my back.  I opened it to the page and, low and behold, there was the answer I needed.

While looking that word up, I found another that interested me, then another, and yet ANOTHER.  Suddenly, before I knew it, I was sitting in my bedroom reading a dictionary, much like one would read an Anne Rice novel (I would say a Stephanie Meyer novel for the younger readers, but I doubt there is much in her books that would require a dictionary.)

Today, on my shelf, a mere five feet from where I sit writing this piece, sits that very same dictionary.  Yes it is outdated and they are not that expensive, but there is something about that book that I just cannot bring myself to part with it.

You know how they say that you can never forget your first love?   I think that this might be the same thing.  To this day, that book means more to me than any of the other books on my shelves, short of the Torah, My Great-Great Grandmother’s Bible, and my Marine Corps Manual.

If there is a moral to this article… it would have to be to not discount the gifts of others.  Just because it was not what you wanted at the time, it does not mean it is not what you might need very soon.

Six Months in…

I have been bad…

I have been so busy recently that I have not taken the time to write anything on this site, something that I need to do from time to time to share my observations with those of you that are interested in reading that which I choose to share.

This last six months has been incredible.  It seems like with each day that passes, I learn something new about myself, about life, about my relationship with my wife, and, most importantly, about Gideon.

Today, Gideon is a 19 pound, 27 inch long little boy that shows nothing less than a love for learning anything and everything that he can about the world around him.  He watches everything and you can see that he is trying to figure it out.  Not just looking at things to look at them, he wants to know why things are what they are.

Watching him experience the world, by itself, is a pure joy.  Living vicariously through his little eyes, I am learning to see wonder in life again.  Wonder in things that I have started taking for granted, in my old age.  When I see him look at something that he has not seen before, and I see his eye turn into saucers as he takes it all in, suddenly I see it anew as well.

Things as simple as our dogs running through the house excites his curiosity and interest.  And there is nothing more fun than watching him pay attention to them and reaching for them as they run past him.

He has done to me what all the exercising and vitamins I have taken in my life cannot, and that is make me feel young again.  Through him, I am learning to enjoy life and to appreciate little things that I had started to just not pay attention to anymore.

My life, because of this new little life, has taken on new meaning and new direction.  No longer am I doing what I do for me, I am doing for the life of Gideon.  So that he will have something the look forward to as he grows older.  It is no longer a case of my doing what I want for my wife and I, it is a case of my doing what is best for Gideon, and the considerations of my wife and I are now secondary to that.  And while at one time I would have had a problem with that, now I am perfectly fine with this.  It just seems and feels perfectly natural.

Lastly… I see a new need to live a better life, myself.

My Father passed away as a result of cancer when he was only 53 years old, granted, he did lead a rough life and was a very old 53 (if you were to have met him, you would think he was older.)  But the fact is that when he passed away, 53 was still considered young.

I do not lead the life that he did… I rarely drink, I do not smoke and I would like to think I have a pretty happy life, in spite of myself.  But I do have other vices that I need to change, which I will not bore you with.  But suffice it to say that I need to change my way of living around a bit to ensure that I will be here for Gideon for years and years to come.

As always… thank you for reading this.

Thanks for the memories and experience…

It would be unfortunate and I would be inconsiderate if I were not to mention Mercy SouthWest in a positive light, though our birth experience.

The overall experience of giving birth, for both Father and Mother alike, is an overwhelming ordeal.  While the end result is the blessing of having a new life in your life, the nerves, worries, pain, etc… all have to be dealt with in a manner to keep everyone happy.

The doctors and staff at the Mercy South West hospital here in Bakersfield were absolutely phenomenal. At no point did they treat us like this was something that they do every day.  They treated us like this was something just as special to them as it was to us.

I have been in hospitals several times over my life, and rarely can I say that they were pleasant experiences.  This one, however, changed that.  This is one of those rare times that if someone were to ask me if there is one day that I would like to relive again and again, what would it be.  Without question, that would be January 17th, 2011.

If you live here in the Bakersfield, Ca. area and are reading this, if you want to know where you should go to give birth.  Please consider the Mercy Southwest birthing center.  I cannot express what a great experience this has been for us, and the staff there made it that much better.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Plus three weeks…

To all those that have been reading this series… I am truly sorry that I did not post this earlier.  Most of you already know this information, but there are a few that do not follow me on Facebook, so this is for all of you.

littlepicweb
littlepicweb

On January 17th, 2011, our son was born.

Name: Gideon Samuel Wright

Weight: 8lbs 13oz.

I cannot tell you the joy I felt when I first heard his crying over the din of the operating room, or the sense of pure wonder when our doctor raised the child up and showed my wife and I this little miracle that we created together.  This little person that is the product of mine and her love for one another.

As I write this, I hear this little bit of life in the other room crying as my wife changes his diapers.  Something that has become our primary hobby these days, and probably will be for some time to come.

I would like to thank all of you, my readers, that have commented to me on this, both publicly and privately.  All those who have shared their wishes with me and personal experiences.

I can honestly say that the adventure is just beginning.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 1 week

I have gone back and corrected the dates, as the decision was made to deliver the baby on the 17th of this month, as opposed the the original date.

This will be the last installment of this series, and I hope that those of you who have taken the time to visit my site and read them, have enjoyed these and shared some of your own experiences with me. One thing that I have learned through this is that there seems to be no end to the kindness of those that have gone through what I have and the help that they are all willing to provide.  It is as though a kind of unity or community exists among those who are expecting and those who have children.

In this last installment, I think I will just touch on dreams and plans. Those things that all parents think about when they have kids on the way, that I always laughed about when I saw others do it, and now am laughing at myself for doing the same.

To say that I have grand aspirations for this child is an understatement. I seriously doubt that there are many parents or would-be-parents, that sit back and say, “I want my child to grow up to be a world class douche-bag.”, though I may be wrong… who knows.

We all hope that our kids grow up to be doctors, scientists, inventors, etc. While there are exceptions, many don’t achieve this dream (whether it be their dream or that of their parents is not important.) But that does not mean that we, as the parents love them any less or think anything less of them.

I think the hardest part for me to accept, when the time comes, will be when my wife and I are no longer the center of our child’s universe. When that time comes that they stop being YOUR little girl or little boy, and discover everything that the world has to offer.  This is but a natural part of life, and something everyone goes through.

I write this now, weeks before I meet this child, yet I already want to share everything I am with it. Not so much to make it what I never was, as someone recently suggested, but to share my love of just KNOWING. Knowing about the world, asking questions, learning why things work, how things break, all these things that we seem to take for granted as adults, but through the eyes of a child, we can live through again.  To become a child again in their eyes and live vicariously through them to experience the wonder.

I have been taking great joy in sharing the pregnancy with my wife, and yes, we are sharing it. People laugh at me and make little jokes when I say that, but you do share this experience. I may not be experiencing all the pain and feelings that she is feeling, but that does not make my part any less.  All the worries, excitement, joy of feeling that first kick against her belly as the baby begins to fire up those muscles.  Those experiences are both of ours.

I hope, in the fullness of time, when this child is older, that they read this blog, and see what I have written. Every bit of this is for him or her as much as it is for me to get these feelings out in print. I have no idea what the personality of this child will be, I have no way to predict the paths that they will have open to them or the choices that they will take. But I think that between my wife and I, and all the people that we have surrounded ourselves with that will offer a positive and creative environment for him or her, that this child has every chance in the world of being a great person. Maybe not famous, rich or popular, but in the areas that it matters, a great person.

To you… my readers.  I thank you so very much for coming with me on these first steps to our adventure.  I have enjoyed sharing this with you.  I may not know who many of you are, but I hope that you have enjoyed reading my journey through the last 10 weeks of our pregnancy.  The most exciting part of the journey is just about to begin for us.

In closing, I am reminded of a line by Jawaharlal Nehru…

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 3 weeks

Part IV…. The Meaning of Life.

One of the things that keeps popping in my head through the process of getting ready to be a father is the humor in it all.  Trust me, there is humor.

You see, I was brought up in a family that dwelt on the British style of humor.  That comedy that borders on the ironic and dry, yet has the subtle flavor of dignified slap-stick humor.  Stuff that looks at life and, no matter what the situation, makes fun of it.

Throughout the stages of acceptance and understanding, I have constantly looked at each part with a detached “WWJCD” attitude.  That would stand for “What Would John Cleese Do?”  For those of you who are not familiar with the name, please follow this link, or watch “A Fish Called Wanda.”

I have always looked at life a little on the side of the jester.  There is entirely too much seriousness in life as it is to take it seriously on a full time basis.  Every now and again you need to take a moment… go to a nice quiet place and let the part of you out, a part that we all have, that is stark raving mad.  You can even share that part with friends, but I will not promise that the outcome will be what you might be hoping for.

I hope that I will get to share and impart some of this philosophy with the child.  I hope that as we grow together, we can entertain Naty with a re-enactment of “The Parot Sketch” or cause friends and family alike to groan with embarrassment by doing the “Silly Walk” in public together.

I would like to raise the child to understand, as I was raised, that there are many things that you need to be mature and serious about, but that there are many many more that you should look at and treat as a under-seasoned herring, and liberally sprinkle it with the salt of humor and parody.

I hope that by the time our child is 18, they can not hear the phrase “It’s just a waffer thin mint” or “…and now for something completely different.” without busting up laughing.  Who will be able to hear the word “Bugger” or “Buggery” and laugh when the person using it has no clue what they are saying.

Life IS too serious.  There ARE to few times, anymore, that allow us to sit back and laugh so hard that our sides hurt, and if the present administration is any sign, it is only going to get worse.  So I hope that our child picks up on my feelings and types of humor and they become part of his or her id.

While I strongly suspect that this type of humor from our child may drive my Mother-in-Law over the edge, causing her to speak in tongues and generally pop a fuse, I think that it would be grand and uniquely beneficial to the little one.  It may also make for several interesting Parent/Teacher meetings when the child starts going to school.

The time is getting closer, folks…  While I have written these at around the T-Minus 10 weeks mark, one never knows how life is to be played out.  If there is a change, and the child comes early, then I will let these articles run their course, but I will also send out a special announcement to let you all know what it is and when it was born.

Thank you for reading.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 4 weeks

It’s strange how things work out.  How you plan something, working out what you think are important details, then when you are actually at the point where the thing you had hoped and planned for, actually comes to pass… nothing you planned actually survives first contact with reality.

This is like the old saying, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”  Only in this case there is no enemy, just the realization of our dreams.

Names.

One of the things that Naty and I spoke about for years was names for any children we might have.  We wanted to have names that were not JUST names for the sake of a name.  We wanted strong, powerful or meaningful names that the child would grow into and might, through understanding the origin of their name, strive to live a live that would pay honor or respect to their namesake.

My name, Samuel, was given to me for two reasons.  First, it was the name of my father and second, for Samuel the Prophet.  I am sure that my mother considered other names, but to her, she saw the name Samuel or, in Hebrew, Shmu’el, for me.  Likewise, my brother was given the name Benjamin, The Patriarch.  While neither of us became anything special or worthy of the history of the names we were given, they were strong names none the less.

When we spoke of naming our child, we thought, ever so briefly, of naming a boy Samuel.  But then we considered the lineage.  My Name is Samuel; my father’s name was Samuel, and the same with my Grandfather and great-grandfather.  Needless to say, there was some repetition in the choice of names.  So we decided that subjecting our child to the doomed title of the 4th was not an option.

One of the names that we thought of early for a boy was Ellery.  I have always liked that name, and I used to read the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine on a regular basis as well as watch the TV series of the same name, back a few years ago.  In spite of the popular and literary history of the name, it too has a good past and meaning.  So we were happy with that.

For girl’s names, there really was never a question about that.  It was always going to be one of two names.  It was going to be either Lydia Elizabeth or Daisy Faye, both names that paid homage to our families.  Lydia was for Naty’s mother and Elizabeth for my mother’s middle name.  Daisy was also to celebrate Naty’s mom by using the name she had as a child and Faye was for my Grandmother, on my mom’s side, who passed away when my mother was very young.

I am not sure why choosing a boy’s name was so much more difficult that picking a girl’s name, it just seemed like nothing worked until we found Ellery.

Reality sets in…

Everything you see written prior to this changed the moment we discovered that we were pregnant.  Prior to that point, it was all purely speculation, just thinking about what we would do if it actually happened.

We had been trying for some time, but since nothing was happening, we were getting to that point that most people get to at some point where we were just accepting that it would not happen to us. It was one of those things where we were not ready for our wish to actually be granted.  Suddenly the names that we had spent so much time thinking about and considering for their meaning and strength, we called into question.  “Did we really want to name a child this?” We asked ourselves, and then set about to rethink all our plans.

Looking through our past and through the various names we liked, we came up with our choices.  I will not post these here, the people who need to know what they are, know.  When they child is born and we know what sex it is, then we will name the child.  At that time, I will add a post welcoming the child into the world and sharing this new life with you. Let it be said for now, that the naming process… the selection of the names was not as easy as we thought it was.  There was a lot to consider, but I think we have some winners that will be strong names and will celebrate the family.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 5 weeks

I smile when I hear people tell me about how much my life is going to change with a baby on the way.

Not because I do not believe them,  I have no doubt at all that things are going to be turned asunder for us. but because our life has already changed in more ways that I can even count.  Naty’s life changes go without saying, those are and will remain obvious to anyone that comes around right now and to anyone that visits after the baby comes along.  But there are so many things that have changed in both our lives that are not readily visible to the outside, but any parent will recognize once we start talking about them.

As I had mentioned in a prior article, there are things that just are not that important any more.  Things that at one time needed me to give them my main focus, have fallen to the wayside.  If I were to go into details, this article would become long and very boring, but suffice it to say that I am laughing at the changes I have gone through just since I found out.

I am sure that anyone that experiences fatherhood for the first or fifth time goes through these same things… these feelings or changes of feelings.  Their minds start going into that “Nurturing” mode, where they start thinking about the welfare of the family over their personal needs.  They start thinking about how they can make life good for the child at the expense of the little things that they used to like to do.

That is where I am now.  Where both of us are now, and this is where we should be.  This child is going to be the center of our universe for a long time.  Suddenly there is nothing else in our lives quite as important as this little mass that is growing in my wife right now.

As always… I would love to hear any stories or comments that you might have and would like to share with me.

Merry Christmas and Happy Channukah!

Thank you for reading.

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