buen camino, ace’s dad.

andrea and dad, 1970

Here is a picture of me and my Dad, taken, well – a long time ago. And here is a brief story of why I consider him a hero.

On December 7, 2010, I had to take my mom to the emergency room, and they told us she had cancer. Both of us somehow knew, even before that date, that something was terribly wrong – it was hanging in the air but had remained unspoken. Until that night of 12/7. My whole world as I knew it just dropped away and fell on the floor that night – never to be recovered…I remember calling my Dad in California and telling him. And I told him I didn’t know how I was going to get through this. I had no other family in Oklahoma; was separated from my husband. It was just me and my mom…
By the next day, he had offered to come out to Tulsa to be with us. He’s remarried – has been for many years . But he offered to leave that life behind for a while, and come help me get things in order. At first he was just going to stay until she could get some treatment for pain and things settled down a bit. But things never really settled down, and 13 weeks later she passed away. Those were the most awful, and longest, yet quickest 13 weeks of my entire life. I can’t even imagine what they were like for my mom.
My Dad essentially put his life on hold for 3 months and stayed with us – first through Christmas and New Year’s, when he was the driver who got my mom to her radiation treatments, doctor’s appointments, and pharmacies, while I tried to work. He then stayed through the blizzard in January, which left us essentially trapped, with no home health care help for a week – just him and me taking care of her in shifts. He stayed once we got her into Clarehouse, an end of life facility here in Tulsa. He stayed when it got to the point where I had stopped working completely because we had to be with her 24 hours a day and we both slept in the room with her – he slept in a chair, I slept on a day bed. He stayed till the very end. Then he stayed a week after her death, to help me try to start putting things back together again.
My parents were divorced when I was maybe 3 – so I don’t really have any memories of us being all together. He and I were never really very close while I was growing up. Maybe there’s been resentment on my part over the years for the fact that he left…but I can honestly say, any issues we had or feelings of resentment are completely gone. When I needed him the most, he was there for me. In a way that I cannot ever repay.
I think all 3 of us tried to forgive each other for any pain we may have caused, although my mom held on to a lot of resentment and anger up till the very end, and we were never able to talk about it. I don’t want to live my life that way – I won’t wait until I’m on my death bed to let go of things that no longer matter anyway. How great to forgive and be forgiven. Now, between me and my Dad, it’s all good. We have shared a pilgrimage.
Buen Camino, Dad.
mom and dad
**note: there are A LOT of other people whom I’d like to thank for their help during this time also, including but not limited to:
M Neil, for letting me borrow my Dad for 3 months
S Torrez, for the late nite shift
J & D Zaremba, for the best last Xmas & New Year
Clarehouse staff, for their patience & calm presence
All the family out there (Tiff, Tanya, Lisa, Bill, Chris, Jesse, the Coppolas) for checking up on me
M McClendon, for listening
T Libasci, for that harrowing ride in the snow
C & T Crowe, for the food deliveries
D Workman, for being SuperDayl
K Bates, for the kind words
Y Maruoka for the love, cranes & cookies from Japan
K Yutani, for the present from Berlin
J Umansky & parents, for the flowers to brighten the room
All my mom’s friends & past co-workers who reached out to us to offer support and condolences
Everyone who donated to Clarehouse (www.clarehouse.org)

back in tulsa.

So I made it back to Tulsa late Monday night. I haven’t felt so great since I’ve been back, but I’m sure that’ll work itself out soon and I’ll get back in the swing of things.
I have to say – everything looks different after this trip. In a good way.
I don’t have too much to say about it right now – but know I had a great time. Parts of it were difficult, other parts were really fun, all of it was good. I made some really good new friends, saw a lot of old good friends, and I got to spend plenty of time on my own, just relaxing, listening to the waves and some good music.
Here are a few pictures from the trip.

new friends

los angeles

sunset beach selfie

sunset beach

beach life

sunset beach seagull

sunset beach laundry

calder at the beach

family photos

sunburned feet

back yard

andrea and kim

andrea and david

getting another tattoo

traveling home


tattoos and the single girl, part 1.

I have a tattoo. Lots of people have tattoos. How carefully do you think all those people think about what they’re doing before they get their tattoo?
I admit, my tattoo was a kind of a quick decision. I remember exactly where I was when I realized what I needed to do. I was vacationing in Sunset Beach last summer, driving up PCH to go grocery shopping. On the bridge between Sunset Beach and Seal Beach, stopped in traffic, I looked at the guy driving the old beat up Volvo in front of me (I know, seems like an unlikely source of inspiration for much of anything, really). I saw his arm – it was covered in tattoos. And all of a sudden it hit me. I need a tattoo! To come home from vacation with a permanent reminder of my time at the beach seemed like a very good idea.
And so here it is:

If you can’t see it very well, it’s a tiny ‘OM’ symbol. The sound of the universe. I chose it so that I would remember that even when I may feel alone, I’m always connected to something that’s bigger and more important than myself. I chose my wrist so that I could see it easily. But, I’m not allowed to show it at work, so I have to wear a watch over it most of the day. Not that you can force the concept of time on the ultimate nature of the universe, but you know, I try.
How you feel about tattoos could be an indication of how you approach relationships. Well, it’s plausible, isn’t it?
First off, do you even like tattoos? If not, why? Do you think they’re unsightly? Perhaps you think they’re ugly; you’re more of a clean livin’, no fuss, no muss kind of person. Do you prefer a relationship that’s the same way? Clean and simple – no drama, no fuss. And in some cases, no meaningful length of time…
Or you don’t want to mark up your body with anything permanent…? How come? Do you not want to commit to it? Is there nothing that has enough meaning to you, to have it permanently inked on your skin?
Do you like tattoos but are afraid to get one because it’ll hurt? Scared to try something new?
OK so if you like tattoos, how come? What about them? Do you like the idea of carving something into your body because you like the way it looks? Does it have personal meaning to you? Do you want a permanent reminder of something, to carry with you? You’re not afraid to make that commitment?
It’s pretty obvious that many, many, (many) people get tattoos that most likely weren’t really thought out very well ahead of time. Well couldn’t you say the same about relationships?? Um, HELL yes…