Notes from Napa

Sunday, June 20, 2010



It’s 5:30 am. I’m, wide awake. It’s Fathers’ Day. My favorite day of the year. I want to crack open a bottle of Champagne and light up a ceegar. I feel like Red Auerbach, celebrating another championship.

I glance over at The Goobs--curled up, oblivious. I smile. Marrying above one's station has its bennies. Evil thoughts creep into my mind. I immediately banish them--after about 20 minutes.

One of our cats is waiting for the sun in our West Window. Our Golden Lab is snoring loudly down stairs.

I am grinning like the cat. Why sleep when I can replay tapes in my mind?
I agree with that country western singer: I like the view "From the back porch looking in".

The flashbacks are random—but they begin in that hospital room on New York’s upper East Side on a cold December day 27 years ago. It was the 4th quarter of the Dallas/Giants game. Do I go into the delivery room or wait to see who wins?

Nothing would be on my time ever again.

Like all stupid first time fathers, I take Casey everywhere with me—Christmas shopping, to the office, down to T J Tuckers to watch the playoffs with the boys. She'd nap in the Stroller as we tipped Bloody Mary's and wtched our friends play.

At three months of age I meet Goobs in Central Park for my first ever picnic with my own kid. Life will never get any better.

My son, JJ, comes along a couple of years later. Almost lose him. Don’t care to remember the intensity of those prayers. Not sure I keep all those promises.

Number three, Cody, of course, flies out like a kid going down a water slide. I catch her, cut the cord, wrap her up—all without gloves or gown—we are pros by now. The other two can’t get enough of her.

Fast forward to Casey coming home from College for Easter, and Cody jumping in her bed, sleeping with her sister every night. Two teen age girls—best friends.

Sometimes we listen outside JJ and Cody's door as he administers her nightly quiz: “Name each of the 26 NFL teams, a quarterback, and their numbers”. Then she quizzes him on the World Series winners.

Flash back to Casey tossing off her catcher’s mask, hair flying arms akimbo, firing the ball down to 2nd. The Shortstop makes the tag--then fires back home for the double play. They are 11. The place is up for grabs.

Seeing them each, one by one, at age 12 go through that ritual of popping the clutch in the jeep, but sitting tall as they finally drive through the fields at the Lazy J—confident—adult—strutting their stuff.

Watching the kick of that shot gun stun them so. Then the irrepressible smile as that first clay pigeon is shredded.

“You’re looking slim, Dad”—Cody's words before asking for a favor I don’t want to grant. Cody, the youngest, teaching Casey, the eldest, how to "Schmooze" dumb dad.

Casey--then five years later, Cody in Motarboards at Cal. Grown Women. So worldly and tall.

JJ, running out of the Tunnel at Notre Dame. Warming up with the team. Passing the ball like he belongs—though (a “Rudy”), he knows he will never play.

Cody, again, telling us the proper punishment to mete out to her older sister. And she’s right.

JJ and his “Pop up”: a device which “popped” a ball up in the air so he could swing a bat at it. He plays entire games by himself—naming each batter, the runners on base, and the outs. “I’ll be right in. It’s the bottom of the 8th”. The tree is a triple, the chimney a double, over the fence speaks for itself. The defense? Oski, our golden retriever—run ragged by the nine inning games.

I remember Fathers’ Days' past. Finding funny cards for my own father. Buying crummy presents. His favorite is the year I shave off my Beard for Father's Day.

The phone used to ring around 7pm. It’s my father’s father, Papa Warren, calling from D.C. to wish a Happy Father's day to his kid--my dad. Then he thanks me for the card I send, and we talk about the hapless Washington Senators, Giants, and how next fall will surely mean roses for the Bears.

I slip back to the most poignant moment of our lives. All three kids going in to say good bye to their grandfather, my dad. He’s been in a coma for five days. Is this a good idea? We’re not sure, but do it. As we sing “Hail to California”, a tear rolls down his comatose cheek. How does he know? What do they think?

The sun comes through the window. Once again, there’s not a kid in the house, to share my day with me. Adulthood is stealing my children from me. But no one can touch the memories. I slowly savor them, one by one—and will all day long. There’ve been many better dads, but no better kids. Fathers’ Day. It’s better than Christmas.

The Moon
on a cat


My Poems


- Peter Ingestad, Sweden
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