I'm an extremely fortunate guy. This past Sunday was Father's Day and my wife and I were blessed with the opportunity to spend time with our two sons and daughter over the weekend. Not to mention that most of our grandchildren were there to garnish and complete the family get-together.
Having our kids living in the same area and doing well are bonuses that my wife and I don't take for granted. Whether the living close-by-us factor is a reciprocally felt sentiment is something we are just as happy not knowing about.
Reminiscing way back when … it wasn't uncommon for our daughter, Melissa, not quite 5 at the time, to be omitted from the games her two older brothers played. And, of course, she — like any younger sibling — felt the sting of adolescent exclusion. One time the boys had some friends over and they decided to play cards. Mercifully, if not miraculously, they let her join in. Naturally, she was ecstatic and jumped in head first.
This is where it gets interesting. Melissa noticed when it came time for each person to deal, that player got to name the game they'd play. She thought that each person was making up their own game on the spot. She'd never heard of the more advanced 8- to 10-year-old stuff they were playing.
So when it came her turn, one of my sons' friends asked her what she wanted to play. And my always inventive daughter proudly announced, “Doggy-Weed.”
I have no idea where the name “Doggy-Weed” came from, nor the rules she concocted in her blonde head for that game, but, some 30 years later when we get together some family members still, invariably, suggest we play a game of “Doggy-Weed” before everyone goes home.
Next: Our middle child Eric, at about 8 years old, was in the room with the rest of the family to watch a Buffalo Bills football game one Sunday afternoon. Walking over to where I was seated to grab a handful of popcorn, he casually asked, “Dad, are the Buffalo Bills playing Yurami today?”
Stumped, I looked at my wife who, just as clueless as I was, shrugged her shoulders. So I said to Eric, “Who?” And he repeated, “Yurami.”
I told him I had no idea who he was talking about. Growing impatient, he said, “You know, Yurami Dolphins!”
“Are you talking about 'Miami Dolphins'?” I asked.
To which he replied, “Yes! Your Ami Dolphins. Is Buffalo playing Urami team today?”
And now, of course, the good ol' Yurami Dolphins are part of the Doggy-Weed family legacy.
And there was the time my oldest son, Paul, was with me in the backyard. I was outside raking and digging holes in the dirt to plant tomatoes. He had just turned 5 years old. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him leaning on the swing set, staring up at the sky. I was taken aback when I heard him speak.
“God,” he said, “thank you for the new sneakers.”
Not wanting to burst with too much pride and overreact, I nonchalantly remarked, “That was a nice gesture, Paul.”
He smiled, looked at me quizzically and said, “Yeah, I guess God does everything for us, huh, Dad? He's kind of responsible for what goes on in our lives …?!”
Not being the parental version of Einstein, I simply agreed and said, “I guess so, buddy.”
I tried to be the cool-breeze (that I still vicariously try to be) and continued with my gardening. I watched him again from the corner of my eye as he turned his attention away from me and back to the heavens and asked “God, what did you ruin my last pair for?”
I was speechless. And it's a good bet, Einstein would have been, too.
I've always preached to my kids that “life is made up of memories, go out and make some good ones today.” They have certainly listened to my advice over the years. I thank the Good Lord for that.
Finally, happy belated Father's Day, Dad. We miss you. And the same to Bill, Perk and all of the others to whom it pertains. (Moms, too.)
And that's the way it looks from the Valley.
Tom Valley is a Medina, N.Y., resident reachable at: Tvalley@Rochester.RR.com .