A Memorial Day Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s Memorial Day weekend and I have been thinking of you even more than I usually do, which is every single day anyway.

But this weekend, I want to thank you for your service in the Navy in World War II. You never talked about those days much, as other men do, but I have always been honored that I had a father who served. And I have always been thankful that you lived through it.

I wish you were here now. I wish that when I come to see you on Sunday, that it is not at the cemetery where you’re buried, but at your home, where I had the honor of living with you and Mom from 2008 to 2012, and helping you through your cancer treatments, mostly by doing the housework and yard work and laundry and other grunt duties, as you called them. I know that bothered you, as you shared with me in your last weeks with us—in your last days. I wish I could share everything that you shared with me before you spent your last days in the hospital and were not able to communicate anymore. I want you to know, I honored the commitment I made to you then, just as I will honor your commitment to the country, our family, and your life’s work this weekend and the rest of my life.

You were right, there is a price for our decisions, and you were right, that what you asked me to do for you would have a heavy cost attached to it. The fact that you felt that I had given enough, that I had given up enough, hurts me, because I can never repay you for what you have given me, the sacrifices you made for me, the encouragement you gave me.

We did not always see eye-to-eye throughout my life. You admitted that you were a hard man much of your life—one with high expectations of himself and of me—but in retrospect, as we spoke in those last hours of your ability to do so, and in the days and weeks prior, you did what was best for me. I would have given up so many times, and once did, but you dragged me kicking and screaming back into life.

And my life now is full, and yet empty. It is full of love for Mom, my wonderful husband, Jeff, my three daughters and grandchildren, my three step-children, my soon-to-be son-in-law, my sister, Kim, and her family, and my work. But you are not here. And to some, I am no longer a part of their family, of our family. So, in that, again, you were right. You said, “I’m asking you to be selfish. I’m telling you to put yourself first. Do this for me.”

And I did as you asked, Dad, but it is the hardest thing I have ever done. It has brought me joy, like you wanted, but it also has brought me unbearable pain. Unbearable, that is, were it not for Mom, my husband, and children.

But that is life. Like our life together—we fought hard, we worked hard together, we laughed uproariously, we wrote together, we did a lot of crying together, and we apologized to each other a lot…

I miss you, Dad. I wish you were here so we could work in the garden, so you could yell at me for hauling rocks for the front yard, so you could explain passive sentences and adverbs and adjectives to me like you did when I was little, so we could watch PBS Masterpiece with Mom, and all those horror and action movies Mom hated, so you could teach me to drive again, and then continue to do so For. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. (Stay 10 lengths from the car in front of you. Turn your signal on 50 yards before your turn. Why don’t you use two feet when you drive. Stop driving with one hand. Okay, you can back out now—no wait! Okay, go now. Why are you taking this route? Get in the right lane, no, the other right lane!)

I wish I could argue with you again, could storm away, and then come back and cry in your lap while you cried and stroked my hair.

I wish I could make you laugh again with my horrid impressions, and my commentary on movies, and my smart-mouthed retorts to something you said to me (that once would have mad you angry, but later made you laugh).

I wish, I wish, I wish…

So here’s to you, Dad. With the Father, look down upon me, bless me, and give me strength.

Thank you for every single thing, on this weekend, and every day of my life.

Hollee

Image

Published in: on May 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Plea for Sanity this National (US) Grammar Day

How will you celebrate?

 

A Plea for Sanity this National (US) Grammar Day.

Published in: on March 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Baby you can drive my car … Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

In the continuing saga of her, so far, failed attempts to obtain a Kentucky driver’s license, we now find the hapless yet hopeful Hollee standing at the counter of the local department of motor vehicles (DMV) with the required certified copy of her birth certificate from California that took what seemed to be two decades to obtain (because they spelled her mother’s name wrong on the hospital’s birth record), and her marriage license to Jeff Jones.
The kind and overworked woman across the counter looks up at Hollee, who, lo and whoop-dee-doo, was the first person in line (hope abounds!), receives said documentation of Hollee’s existence, and then says to her, “Do you have your new Social Security card with your married name on it?”
To which Hollee, with shoulders drooping, replies that the previous kind and overworked DMV personnel did not tell her three months ago that she needed to do that first.
“Well, you do. Here is the address.”
Trying not to tear up, Hollee bemoans her fate. “But I waited three months just to get a copy of my birth certificate from the Land of Misfit Toys. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and now I find, to my dismay, that I must now drive to the other side of town and stand in a sweaty line, in order to get yet another form of documentation that indeed I do exist and have not crossed these hallowed borders illegally toting ill-gotten booty?”
“You betcha. Then you gotta wait 24 hours to come back here again so we can make sure you’re in the system.”
“I’ve been in the system for 54 years.”
“Not in Kentucky’s system! You’re a Californian. Is your California operator’s license still good?”
“Alas, I was only born there. I moved here from Ohio, about 85 miles north of here, but y’all (notice the use of the vernacular in the fair Hollee’s attempt to soften the hard heart of the DMV employee) won’t accept that license as proof of my fidelity to these here United States and my ability to drive a car.”
“Nope.”
The dejected Hollee crawls back to her car, for which she has an Ohio license to drive, calls her husband, and tells him she is going to mail in her name change request to Social Security.
The she gets a wild hair (you finish that sentence) and decides to go ahead and drive across town to the Social Security Administration Offices and give it a whirl.
She is told to take a number after registering on a computer screen. She is #194.They are now serving #174. She sits and waits for an hour in a room full of overdressed (it’s 54 degrees outside and 9 million degrees inside) and stressed, sweaty people with desperation plainly showing in their eyes.
They are now on serving #180.
Hollee rises gracefully from her seat (not really, but isn’t it pretty to think so?), hands her ticket to the Social Security security guard (yes, spell check tried to delete the double word), and says, “I give up.”
As she was leaving, an elderly couple was entering. But she heard them exclaim ‘ere she drove out of sight:  “Lord have mercy! We’ll be here all night!”


Drive My Car

Published in: on January 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Retrospective

Every year since I have been blogging at www.holleedazeink.blogspot.com, I have written a post about my resolutions for the year to follow.
I will not be making resolutions for 2013. This year I am imitating my husband, who, when I said that except for marrying him, that 2012 was a horrid year, said that he could name many wonderful things that happened to him in 2012. He then went on to name them, starting, wisely, with his marriage to me on September 20.
I was impressed with my husband’s list, which named a few large blessings, but, for the most part, named small, seemingly insignificant occurrences. Case in point, he was thankful for having seen some good movies in 2012. That thought would not have occurred to me, because, well … I don’t know why.
I think that although I have assessed my personality as being of the positive bent, I am more of the opposite.
I have been greatly affected by the tragedies of 2012, starting with the passing of my beloved dad, Harold J. Chadwick, in September. Some days my grief has known no relief, except for that of tears. It should have been relieved by praise and prayer. My father was a man after God’s own heart, and I should have praised God every single day since Dad’s “graduation” that he is now able to see the face of God. Instead, I have been feeling sorry for myself at the loss of someone I love so dearly. Forgive me, Dad, and forgive me, Father God, for not rejoicing at Your benevolence in receiving my earthly father into Your bosom.
I lost many family members this year, yet all of them are now with the Lord, and so I rejoice at their happiness, that they are in a place where there is neither sorrow, nor remembrance of pain.
Therefore, resolving only this, to be thankful for the past year, I present my list of large and small blessings. I was fortunate to:
  • Reacquaint myself with, fall in love with, and marry the most wonderful and handsome and kind Jeffrey W. Jones.
  • Acquire three beautiful stepchildren—Darby, who is beautiful and funny and intelligent; Zachary, who is quirky in his most intelligent thoughts, makes me laugh with his commentary, fascinating to talk with, and who dreams big dreams; and Blaine, who is the king of awesome, and hears everything, and is the image of his father in all ways. All three of these children make me proud and are going to make the world a better place.
  • Expand my family with my delightful in-laws: Willard and Rose Jones. I love you dearly.
  • Behold the continuing wonder that is my eldest daughter, Sarah, a mother of unusual fierceness, who does everything with her whole heart, whether it is work, love, or showing her faith. Sarah has given me two delightful grandchildren, Hannah (the darling of my heart) and Michael (my boy wonder [for years I often wondered what to do with a boy child]), and I love them with every fiber of my being and am inordinately proud of them both.
  • Watch the continuing growth of my darling middle child, Amanda, whose intelligence and charm and love for animals and soccer knows no bounds.
  • Marvel at the beauty, wit, and strength of my youngest daughter, Samantha, who also lost many family members this year on her father’s side of the family, in addition to those lost on my side.
  • Gain a future son-in-law, Alan Walke. Sam will marry him this year on December 7, 2013. She has made a marvelous choice for the companion of her life. Huzzah!
  • Garner quality time with my most beautiful mother, Beverlee Chadwick and my equally beautiful little sister, Barbara Chadwick Bentley, during the years we lived together in Batavia and Amelia.
  • See the strength of my brothers, Steve Chadwick and Thomas Chadwick, during the hard days prior to and after my dad’s passing.
  • Laugh at my older sister, Kim’s, very odd sense of humor, and enjoyed her three lovely daughters, and her grandchildren.
  • Have a cat that does not love my mother more than it does me, as my boy-kitty Dickens does (the traitor). Dickens soon became my mother’s delight after he was adopted, fed, and nurtured by me. He then decided I was not all that, and chose my mom instead. Now I have Bella, who, although she is Jeff’s cat, is easily bribed with toys and treats and baby talk into loving me more—perhaps.
  • Live in a house surrounded by Magnolia trees and Holly bushes. The first is a favorite, the second is somewhat prophetic.
  • Have five (yes, 5) bathrooms! After being raised (during elementary school and high school) in a home with one bathroom and seven inhabitants, I can now choose where I go—literally—and do so when necessary, rather than waiting in line!
  • Move to Lexington, KY, after marrying Jeff. I love it here and think it is a beautiful city and that Kentucky is a beautiful state.
  • Visit Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore (divine), the Grove Park Inn (magnificent), and Thomas Wolfe’s house (inspiring). If I had to choose, we would move to Asheville in a heartbeat.
  • Quit smoking. I am still making use of e-cigarettes, but very soon, those will be history also. I now no longer smell like an ashtray. Thank God, Dad, Mom, and Jeff for all your help.
  • Have a large and well-appointed office in which to edit and write.
  • Have a large comfortable chair in my office so my husband, and Bella, can come visit me.
  • Have new entertaining passions: Grimm (Dad and I were always so excited when a new episode came out); Downton Abbey(a passion I share with Mom, Janet Chadwick, and most of the known world); and Sherlock; the complete novels of Fannie Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, and every year, Jane Austen.
  • Discover that my husband enjoys the Hamish MacBeth series of books by M. C. Beaton as much as I do.
  • Love and be loved by my husband, family, and friends.
I leave off this humble list with this, a story my dad shared when we contemplated the various tests and trials, triumphs and tragedies of life:

Mule Sense

A farmer’s donkey fell into a deep abandoned well. It cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the donkey was old and not worth trying to retrieve and the abandoned well needed to be covered up anyway.

Since the well was deep, he gathered his farmhands and they began to shovel dirt into the well. When the dirt first hit the donkey and began to pile up on him, he cried pitifully. Then after a while, he became quiet, and the farmer wondered if he was already buried under the dirt. So while his farmhands kept shoveling, he got a flashlight and peered down into the well. What he saw amazed him.

Every time dirt piled up on the donkey’s back, he would shake it off so it fell to his feet, and then he would step up on it. He kept doing this, and with each step up, he got closer to the top of the well. When he reached the edge, he stepped over it and trotted happily off.
Has life been throwing dirt on you? Sooner or later it will. Sometimes it seems like that’s all it does. But don’t let it knock you down—shake it off and step up on it.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He knew that if you did, every time they threw dirt on you it would end up under your feet and enable you to step up a little higher.

Remember, “All things work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28)

“The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a person’s business but build up their character. The blow at the outward person may be the greatest blessing to the inner person. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is that we shall lose if we flinch or rebel.” (M. D. Babcock)

Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The First Birthday After

Today is my 54th birthday.

This is my first birthday without my father.
Dad passed away September 19 after a long struggle with esophageal cancer and its assorted complications.
I am enormously thankful that my mother is still alive, as it has been so very difficult facing each day knowing my dad is not a phone call or a few steps away. Since 2008, I had the honor of living with my folks and assisting them in any way that I could.
Dad and I became very close during that time. It had not always been so. For most of my life, I butted heads with him over nearly every decision I made or thought that I had.
We were very much alike, you see. However, in many ways, we were very different. This, of course, led to some misunderstandings, or more aptly, standoffs akin to “High Noon.”
I really started loving my dad about 12 years ago. I mean, really knowing that I loved him, not in that way that a child seems obligated to love a parent, but—to borrow a phrase I often heard at church—in a “know that you know that you know” way.
The reasons are complicated and are better written about when I am able to step back a bit more and observe them, but there it is.
In the meantime, I am at a loss this birthday. Christmas likewise will be difficult. I have trouble dealing with my grief on many days.
Today is one of them.

meanddad_zpsf63d5fa2

Published in: on December 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sometimes it is the Simplest Things in Life that Confuse Me.

Besides my study of “apologetics” which I have described in a previous status update on my Facebook page, I have also made a life study of “fixation.”
I am of the opinion that I can fix anything—whether that is a person, the heel of a shoe, a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, a lamp, a lawn mower, a gewgaw, or, in today’s case, an outdoor decorative fountain.
(Now let me just add in this parenthetical aside that I began the previous sentence with the words: “I am of the opinion …” Please keep that in mind. My opinions are not always correct—I am so sorry to have to cause you this dismay.)
At 9-ish a.m., I donned my slogger shoes and went out front to do the daily watering and refilling of the decorative fountain and the bird fountain, which both have amazing evaporative powers.
The decorative water fountain, which looks like a big pile of grey rocks over which water spills into a wide pool of water in the shape of a rock garden (we used to have a Koi pond out front, but in a twist of fate they all died at my hand, but that is another sordid story), was not running quite as lyrically as I felt it should. You see, it sits under the river birch trees, or beech trees, I don’t know which they are—the white kind with the peeling bark—and they are shedding leaves like it’s October in Vermont since the weather is so hot and dry. Therefore, the fountain gets clogged.
I proceeded to clean out all the floating leaves, refill the pond and then … nothing. No trickling. I checked that I had not unplugged it, made sure the timer was set right, checked the pump for obstructions again and then … nothing. I took it all apart, ran water through the hose from the pump to the top part of the fountain to clear any unseen obstruction and then … nothing.
At this point, I figured I was going to have to buy a new pump. I finished the watering; checking every so often to see if the fool fountain had started working and …wait for it … nothing.
Then it occurred to me to try something so simple, it was embarrassing.
 I moved the pump’s plug from one of the six outlets on the pole, to another one, and then … Houston, we have trickle!
My eldest daughter Sarah can attest that I have passed most of my genetic anomalies onto her. We fix and build things. However, we either MacGyver them with duct tape, a paper clip, and a sweat sock, or put them together backwards before putting them together properly or asking someone else to do it. Mostly this is stubbornness, and because the only one of my children who can read Japanese instructions is Samantha.
I share this with you, dear friends and acquaintances alike, because as Jane Austen wrote in Pride and Prejudice:
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?
A photo of the house with the fountain – taken last October.
Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 10:16 am  Comments (1)  

I Thank My Publishers for Publishing My Silly Scribblings

Frances “Fanny” Burney was among the most influential authors of her era. Living at a time when it was considered very scandalous for women to indulge in writing fiction—or reading it for that matter, she nevertheless published her groundbreaking novel Evelina or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, (London: T. Lowndes) in 1778. The book was very highly praised by the beau monde.
Described as “the Mother of English Fiction” by Virginia Woolf in 1918[1], Fanny Burney was also acclaimed by Anna Letitia Barbauld, a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children’s author, a hundred years earlier:

“Scarcely any name, if any, stands higher in the list of novel-writers than that of Miss Burney.[2]

Fanny Burney helped to promote the status of women’s writing, but the introduction to her last novel, The Wanderer, reveals her lifelong ambivalence towards writing which she associated with “degradation”:

 “I struggled against the propensity which […] impelled me into its toils.”


When her first novel made her a celebrity at the age of twenty-six in 1778, she danced for joy around a mulberry tree but hid her novel from view to save herself the embarrassment of having to own up as its author.
I have recently begun reading Fanny Burney’s novels, having lately received an introduction to them through, of all places, my Amazon Suggested Reading List.
As a writer and editor, who has struggled with dedications, let alone dedications to publishers, I thought I would share with you one of the most fascinating dedications I’ve read to date—not because it was brilliant, but because it was so self-effacing.
I had to use a snipping tool in two parts to copy it from the PDF, so please forgive the huge gap right in the middle.



















Do you not find this delightful? Of course, I find this so because those of you who know me, know that I am ever so fond of Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and other so-called Regency and Victorian writers.  (Charlotte Bronte, was born the year before Jane Austen died (1817), Emily Bronte the year after, and their sister Ann Bronte was borne a few years later still. Charles Dickens was five years old when Jane died and George Eliot was born two years later.)


I suppose I can be called an anglophile as I greatly admire all things British (except for the food perhaps). 


I did mention to my mother the other day that I watch so much BBC America and Masterpiece Theater, that I am surprised when I watch a program where the characters don’t use the Queen’s English.


So there it is.


[1] The Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. by Andrew McNeillie, 4 vols (London: Hogarth Press 1986-94), II, p.314.
[2] The British Novelists, Anna Letitia Barbauld, 50 vols (London: F.C. & J. Rivington, 1810) XXXVIII.
Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Exposing Online Dating for What It Truly Is . . . or Rather, Will Be

At some point in my later years, I am going to write a novella about my experiences with online dating services.
I figure that by the time I get around to doing so, that those particular services will be passé, having gone the way of the way of the mimeograph machine, Pong, and the Dodo bird.
However, there will be those stalwart few who through mega-vitamin therapy, cryogenics, or something new that Estee Lauder is marketing are still alive to read it.
By the time I write my expose’ and tale of woe, or knock-on-simulated-wood tale of success,  couples will be matched from birth to produce the most intelligent and beautiful offspring. Those who have slightly higher intelligence and looks will be relegated to sales and procreation only for the sake of bringing forth more salespeople. Anyone with average intelligence and looks will be servants, since no one looks at them anyway and they will be allowed procreation in order to keep up the supply of Walmart greeters (everyone knows there  are never any available cashiers at Walmart) and Steak-n-Shake waiters/waitresses.
And for all of those whose looks do not pass muster, or whose intelligence is sub-par according to the government agencies, they will be either euthanized or used in experimental procedures—like testing cosmetics or new medicines.
In the meantime, while I await all of the upcoming events, I will just say that online dating is a bit like being a cantaloupe in the fruit aisle. You are sniffed, weighed, squeezed, listened to briefly for some God knows why reason, and then may or may not be added to the cart along with the other hopeful consumables.
If, after a day or two, you are not chosen, the head of the Fruits,either chops you in half and wraps you in cellophane, or scoops you out and mixes you with other melons to make you more attractive.
It’s always about the melons.
Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 9:48 am  Comments (1)  

Those Famous Lesser-Known Editing Symbols You All Love – The Untold Story

On Monday morning, June 11, 2012, I posted a graphic I had schmooshed together in that old standby – Paint – and posted  it on my Facebook Page under the header of:

New additions to accepted copy editing/proofreading symbols. In case I ever have the privilege of working on one of your books . . .

Since then, it has been shared 6,139 times! That is only the number of legitimate shares, and not the shares from readers who saved the image and posted it without attribution – shame on you!

I am absolutely floored by this! However, I just wanted to make sure that the original authors of these updated copy editing and proofreading symbols were once again lauded and thanked, as I did in my original posting.

Thank you to Brian Klems, whose original post was read by me on Writer’s Digest page in August of 2011. Since that date, his symbols have been hanging over my desk.

And thank you to Eve Corbel, whose graphic I found on Monday morning at Angela Cothran’s Blog.

I am thrilled to have shared this schmooshy graphic with you, and really happy I can let the whole world know, or at least a few thousand writers and editors, who the original authors are.

Of Service and Sails – "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship."

Your call to service came from your desire to serve the Lord. Inherent in that call is the command by Jesus that as His representative in the world—His disciple—you must give your life as “a ransom for many.”
In Mathew 20: 20-28, Jesus explained that His life and the life of His disciples was the life of a servant:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28, NKJV).
A pastor’s life is not his own. He chooses to stand fast with those to whom he ministers, to intercede for them in prayer, to tend their mental and emotional and, often, physical needs.
To those whom God calls to serve, He “giveth more grace” as the hymn says. When you haven’t enough strength for the task, Christ is there to perfect your efforts.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).
The sails on a boat—merely cloth designed and cut to maximize use—capture the power of the wind, swelling to move the vessel gracefully and swiftly across the water.
Without the sail, the boat is still a boat—it still floats, it can move across the water slowly. Without the sail, the wind still blows, but its power is out of reach to the boat. However, once the sail is secured to the mast and raised, it becomes a vital part of that boat, harnessing the power of the wind and directing the boat’s journey.
You as a pastor are “cut” by God from a special cloth specifically to fulfill your calling, just as each sail is cut for a specific purpose. You harness the power of God and His Word as the sail harnesses the power of the wind. Likewise, you direct God’s children—the boat—on their journey home.
“But oars alone can ne’er prevail
To reach the distant coast;
The breath of heaven must swell the sail,
Or all the toil is lost.” (William Cowper)
Yes, the sail performs an important service to both the wind and the boat. And, oh, who has not been awestruck by the beauty, grace, and swiftness of a boat under sail?
And, oh, the beauty of God’s call upon your life and your service to Him and His children.
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, . . . we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” (Louisa May Alcott)
Lord,
Thank you for this call upon my life. I dedicate myself to Your service. I ask that You strengthen me and help me to guide Your children—each and every one—on the journey You have chosen for them.
In Christ’s name,
Amen
Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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