Mom Was an ODD Lady…Part Two

Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in Odditude | 0 comments

Mom was an only child. Too bad. She could have used some allies. When Mom was ten months old, her real father left the family. About a year later, my grandmother married a very nice man named Jim. He was too nice. Jim either wouldn’t or couldn’t protect my mother from her mother. As the years went by and my grandmother’s mind deteriorated, only two people stuck with her: Jim, who suffered in silence, and my mother, who suffered at the top of her lungs.

Sometimes, you do not understand a book until the last page has been read. As I’ve said, Mom was one tough lady and that’s how everyone treated her, including my dad and me. Only looking back, after she was gone, did I wonder how she felt when the main man in her life deserted her at that cutie-pie, totally innocent age of ten months?

Only then did I wonder how she viewed all men when the first one in her life left her and the second one refused to protect her.

Only then did I realize I had never offered her what she always craved and never got — the totally unconditional love of a father. The kind of love that says, “I will protect you from the dragons,” “You are the center of my universe,” “It’s just you and me, kid.” That kind of love.

Only then did I wish I could sit down and just listen to my mother talk. No matter what she said, I would reply, “You’re right, Mom. You are absolutely right.” Not that I would have treated her that way all the time. But, sometimes, surely, sometimes.

Sometimes — no — all the time, it takes more courage than most of us possess to truly understand the people who are closest to us.

Love. Listen. Learn. Live.

Mom Was an ODD Lady…Part One

Posted by on Aug 12, 2012 in Odditude | 0 comments

It takes courage to be ODD. Courage is contagious. Mom was a carrier. She was far from perfect but closer than most of us will ever get.

Mom was one tough lady. She had to be. She was raised by my grandmother. Because of my grandmother, who was mentally ill, my mother was highly neurotic. Because of my mother, I’m no slice of sunshine either.

Mom always had the courage to say what she felt had to be said or do what she believed had to be done. She never shrank from challenging the conventional thinking of those around her.

Like my grandfather, my father’s father, my mother loved to sit on the front steps, too. She used to say, “The world would be a much better place if there were fewer air conditioners and more front porches.”

First Times and Last Times

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Odditude | 0 comments

Just a couple thoughts about the notion that there is a first time and a last time for everything…

  • From my grandfather: “When you sit down to dinner, look at those faces around you and cherish that moment because there was a first time and there will surely be a last.”
  • The next time “busy” becomes a burden, go to a nursing home. Hang around with some people who have nothing to do all day. “Busy” will look good.
  • One of the great lessons that children teach us is the immediacy of “now.”

First times and last times. In they’re own way, they are both now.


Don’t be anything…be more!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2012 in Odditude | 0 comments

…A world far beyond what you can now imagine…

There are motivational “experts” who will tell you that you can be anything you want to be. You already know that statement’s a lie. Those “experts” are idiots. If you are five-two, three hundred pounds, and forty-one years old, you are not going to be a Rockette. Or a basketball player. Get used to that idea.

You cannot be anything you want to be…but you can be far more than you ever imagined.

Love Letter to the Lake

Posted by on Jul 15, 2012 in Letters, Odditude | 2 comments

Recently, on July 4 in a Lake Geneva city park, my wife and I were asked to read  ”love letters to the lake” that people had submitted in response to a request from the conservancy group in our area. My oldest daughter,  Jacey, wrote one which I want to share with you. She grew up here, went to college “out East” at NYU, and is now pursuing her musical theatre career. It was fascinating for us, as her parents, to read her reflection on this particular place we call home and what it meant — and still means — to her. Hope you enjoy it.


Dear Lake Geneva,

I don’t water ski.  I don’t fish.  I’m not a great boats-woman, in fact, I’m not even sure if a boatswoman is a thing.  I don’t really like to swim very much—I remember taking lessons as a kid: being forced into your icy waters and coming out complaining of rocks and too much seaweed.  I’m not saying I hated you or anything, I’m just saying at the very most I thought you were totally fine: a completely acceptable lake, but nothing particularly special.

I never planned on staying in Lake Geneva forever.   I grew up with plenty of people who planned on going away for a while, but ultimately coming back here to settle down.  I knew that when I left for New York after high school that I wasn’t coming back to stay again, and that the committed relationship we had for 18 years was going to be down-shifted into a more casual, “I think I want to see other bodies of water kind of thing.”

New York is a very different place than Lake Geneva: and when I came here I found certain things disconcerting…You cannot see the stars from the shores of the East River.  You cannot and absolutely should not dip your toes in as they might fall off as a result.  And yet, I was compelled to do so.  During my first week in New York, I even tried to bridge the gap between my old home and my new surroundings by kayaking on the Hudson River.  I am not a boatswoman, but I can tell you this is not the same as sailing on Lake Geneva and is certainly not for the faint of heart.

I went to New York to study acting, and one of our first in-class assignments was to think of somewhere we felt safe.  I thought of my front porch.  Our teacher asked us to expand this vision: What do you feel?  I feel the wicker of the porch swing and the breeze off the lake.  What do you see?  The sun on Main Street and its reflection off the lake.  What do you hear? The tide of the lake rolling in and out.  What do you smell? The lake.  And then suddenly that memory was influenced by a thousand other memories of hot summer nights running down the beach with my friends, and the first day of spring dipping my toes in off the pier, and the last boat ride my family would take in the fall before it was too cold to go out…walking on the ice with my third grade class to measure its thickness…staring at the stars from the Riviera after Prom.  When I relayed all this to my class I was crying…sobbing actually, and I’m still not sure why.

When I left you, it is possible that I had taken you for granted. I believed you were a lake like any other lake and that you were not particularly special.  I was wrong. You are the most special place in the world to me.  And, I’m not saying I want you back or anything— I’m just saying I miss you and think of you often.  Wherever I live, you are my home.

All my love,

Jacey Powers