Saturday, April 11, 2020

How to Live


Bonjour, dear friends--

My father just celebrated his 96th birthday.  A wonderful milestone--still joyous in the middle of the Corona Virus Pandemic.  Yes, really.


(This photo was taken before the Pandemic hit and we had to practice social distancing--in case you were wondering!)

My dear papa was born in Brooklyn in 1924 and came of age in the middle of The Great Depression.  His grandmother had escaped the cruelties in 19th century Ireland where she had lost her parents and home at age 14 sailed all by herself to America, with basically nothing but an address for a cousin on the lower East Side.  She met my great-grandfather, married and they lived to see World War I and survive the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.


(That's my Dad on the left, with his younger brother, Billy, on the right).

My Dad had just graduated from high school when World War II broke out.  He was working as a mail boy at Texaco and attending Brooklyn College at night, when the Navy recruited him into the prestigious V12 program.  He was sent to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he trained to become an Naval Officer, eventually landing on Okinawa Island in 1945.


(My Mom and Dad in New Haven, circa 1945)

But before he embarked on this dangerous voyage, he met my mother at a USO dance at Yale University and after the war, they married and had two children.

When I talk to my father about what's going on in the world today, he seems so calm and philosophical.  He doesn't panic.  I ask him if he's worried, and he says, "no, I never worry.  That takes up too much energy.  And besides, I don't have the attention span!"

That's my Dad!

Growing up, through the tumult of the sixties when I was a teenager--(where we argued a lot!) and later when we lost my mom to breast cancer, and we witnessed September 11th, and so much more-- my dad has remained an inspiration to me and an example of how to live, how to stay steady and keep an even keel.  He has set an example of how to be the captain of my own ship.


And while it's true, this is the first pandemic in our life time, I do believe that if we take a step back and look at the long view, and imagine our 96 year old selves, we can see that this is now a new thread woven into the fabric of our own unique life story.  It will be a part of our personal and universal history.  And it's what makes us human and fragile and vulnerable.  It makes us deep and complex.  It makes so wise, and it will be what makes us strong.


We are living in an amazing time.  This time will be lauded in poems and songs and stories and paintings, film and art, not to mention scientific journals and nonfiction books, exploring what went right and what went wrong.  And we can already see that our scientists and medical professionals are heroes. 
 But, there are everyday heroes too.  My Dad is my hero!



And speaking of everyday heroes, my dear friend, Susan Dunigan brings my dad milk and orange juice and Entenmann's coffee cake (which he loves).  My dad's next door neighbor comes by every other night, with a homemade dinner.  (My Dad says he is now living like a king and enjoying gourmet meals!) 

Honestly, he is just about the happiest person I've ever met.  When I was a teenager, I remember he would quote John Denver and announce with all earnestness and not one bit of irony: "Sunshine makes me happy!"



What's he doing during the Pandemic?  Well, he's very busy, designing plans for how to make schools and offices continue and thrive after the pandemic is over and still stay safe.  The other day, I told him, "Dad, your plans are great!  You should write an editorial!"  But he says no.  He doesn't need to write an editorial.  And that's because it's just the joy of doing this that makes him happy.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my Dad.  I hope you're staying safe, dear friends.  And, I'd love to hear about what you're doing these days and how you stay strong and positive.  

For me, aside from calling daily and checking in on my Dad, family and friends, I've been working on my novel, "The One and Only Parisian Charm School for Exceptional Girls and Boys", as well as drawing and painting the characters in my book.  I recently discovered "My Talking Pet" and I've animated one of my characters, Mademoiselle Veronique.
  
I hope you are also finding ways to be creative and happy and positive! 
Love, 
Jamie.  

7 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday John! What an incredible man you are, what a big and fantastic life you have. And what a special daughter too! I wish you cont'd health and love and happiness. I will always remember our amazing road trip to FL! Much love now and always, Laurie

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    1. Dear Laurie--Thank you for your birthday wishes to my Dad. He's going to look at the blog tomorrow and I know he'll get a kick out of your message here, dear friend! Stay safe and healthy! Love, Jamie

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  2. Your father is a wonderful guy for sure. I'm so glad he's coping well. More than well, it sounds like! Many Happy Retturns, John! And I love the video you've made. SO talented. I'm going to take a look at My Talking Pet...

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  3. Thank you, G.C.! My dad is going to read the blog post tomorrow, so I know he'll be excited to hear your birthday wishes--all the way from England! I hope you enjoy the talking pet app too! Stay safe and healthy, Jamie

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  4. Love this post Jamie!
    What a terrifically positive guy your grand dad is ❤️
    Mille merci Carolg

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  5. A Happy (belated) Birthday to your dad and thank you for sharing him with your readers and fans. This has brightened my snowy day.

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  6. I do believe your father is inspiring us all! Thank you for sharing all these beautiful souvenirs, and the very charming Veronique! Bonne journée!

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