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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Eighty Laps

My father's father (Arthur Dilingham, Sr.) has a beautiful birth date: 7 • 27 • 27. It's symmetrical and palindromic, and also happens to mean that this summer marked the end of his eightieth lap 'round the sun.

Saturday his wife, his children, his children's children, his children's children's children, and a very (very, very) small percentage of his friends and extended family from around the world gathered in his honor to tell him just two things: "Happy Birthday," and "We Love You."

The party was held at Goddard Park in Warwick, RI, at the old Carousel Building.

There was a very cool tribute video assembled by my cousin Tiffany and her husband Josh (with, I think, the aid of the rest of the NH contingent of Dillinghams and their kin). It included pictures and/or video of most of the family, and a stirring, deeply emotional, recorded message from Barry Van Heerden in South Africa. (I've heard Grampa sing Barry's praise many times over the years, but I had no idea that he looked at Grampa as a father and mentor.)

Corinne shed a few tears when she saw Shane's picture in the video. Tif had written to me in advance to make sure it was ok. (Of course it was! Including and remembering him is always better than the alternative.)

They even included at least one picture of Lauren in there. That was cool, especially as Gramma and Grampa have both treated Lauren as their latest great granddaughter.

There was also an open mic on the stage, where we were all supposed to tell stories. Unfortunately, though some of us inherited some of Grampa's storytelling talents, none of us will eve be The Master Storyteller that he is. So, most of the stories were told by him! Three times he (literally) lept onto the stage to tell another story, and then hopped back off it again to retake his seat. (Eighty years old, hoppping onto and off of a two-foot-high stage! He's spry.)

He told the Bert and I classic, "I am Gagnon, Champion Moose Caller" story, but (more importantly) he also told some of the TRUE funny stories from his life, including the one about the skunk in the ventilation system at his school in Dighton, MA. I think his school principal probably went to his grave wondering who did that.

I have tons of stories I could have told, but couldn't think of the best ones until after we left so I never took the stage. Had I remembered, I certainly would have recounted the trip to Florida with him, Jed, Dad and myself (I wasn't ten, yet), to move Aunt Marrion. The highlights of that drive to FL included:

  • Arthur Fiedler's Greatest Hits (Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B!)
  • the brain teaser about the man with three sons
  • the brain teaser about the egg-laying chickens
  • Dad and Grampa acting like it was hot the moment we crossed the state line
  • Aunt Marrion freaking out when Jed and I happened to be in the vicinity of Grampa's wallet
  • feeding the seagulls on the beach

Everybody picks on Dillinghams for being... well, Dillinghams. Smart, knowing it (all of it), easily brought to tears, always having an opinion, and "talking until we think of something to say." Though Gramma had as much of a hand in forming us as did Grampa, there's no doubting the source of those particular characteristics. :-)

But, as much as we tease him and each other for those things — endlessly — we love him for them, too. We're a big family (wink, wink), and he’s been the patriarch for as long as most (any!) of us have been alive. (So it's not that we think he's perfect, or pretend that he is. It's that hearing him speak yesterday, and hearing everyone else speak about him, it's clear that he inspires us to aspire to perfection, and we're all better for it.)

Happy Birthday, Grampa. I love you, we all love you.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year, One and All

2006 was a good year for me and mine, in many ways.

To all of my family near and far, to my ecclesia here and worldwide, to all of my friends new and old, close or distant:

Happy
New Year!

Hoping 2007 will be even better, for all of us...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tuesday's Grab Bag of Highs and Lows

Tuesday was an intense day, with some very high highs and very low lows. I'm just going to brain-dump it all.

Low and High:

Perry died. This is very sad for all of us, but he lived a long, full life and had plenty of time to know even his great grandchildren. I had to call this both a high and a low... it's hard to attach anything "all bad" to Perry Lanphear.

High:

Breakfast at Snoopy's Diner with a friend and client. The business side of the meeting went well, as plans were made and progress reviewed. The friendly side of the meeting was even better. Best of all were the pancakes! Mama mia. Must take Corinne there so she can replicate those Apple-slice-filled beauties. (Oh wait, I gave up food. Nuts!)

High:

After my gigantic breakfast, I drove up to see Steve Davis in MA so we could go for a ride. He had a basketball game the night before, so was worried that he'd be too tired for my pace. I promised that I would ride super hard the day before and then eat a huge breakfast to weigh me down. I did both, but neither were necessary: he kept me talking the whole time! It's hard to push the pace when you're talking so much that you can't breathe heavily. Sneaky, Steve.

This was ride #103. Stats: 36.4 miles (58.60 km) in 1h 59' 37" for an average speed of 18.25 mph (29.39 kph).

Low:

Our average speed for that ride. (Sorry Steve, couldn't resist.)

High & Low, Again:

After I left Steve's place, I went straight to Gary's & Ellyn's house in Westerly. Ellyn had invited the whole family for a "send off dinner" for Gramma and Grampa. They were up here in New England for much longer this year than previous years, because of Mandi's wedding, but now they're heading home and last night was our last chance to see them this year. I was about 90 minutes early because the alternative was driving all the way home, finding something to do for 30 minutes, then driving back again.

I had a chance to watch Grampa cut down a whole Pineapple into rings. He'd never done it before, and definitely did not like the fact that there's so much waste. Rather than just slice a little more deeply as he "skinned" it, he made shallow cuts and then worked with a paring knife to dig out the bits of rind that were left. After slicing it down, he carefully cut the inedible core out of every piece. This was all both highly amusing and rather painful to witness, but he didn't cut *himself* so all's well that ends well. :-)

Almost everybody made it to the dinner. Corinne had to work until 6:30 so she was late, but wanted to be there so she could say goodbye. Dad was there until 6:45, but had to leave to teach a class. Gary worked late but made a quiet appearance while we were still eating (spaghetti and meatballs). Katie's in Colorado so couldn't be there at all. Mandi, just back from her honeymoon for a day, showed up just before G&G were about to give up and go back to their rental for the night. (She had to work late, also.) Sarah was there but left a little early because Art, who couldn't make it due to work, needed some dinner. Everybody else in the family (Mom, Jed, Ellyn, Gramma and Grampa, Tom, and Rusty) was there, too.

Quite a day.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Welcome to Our World, Talia Kayleigh Pena!

At long last, my little neice Allison has finally gotten around to having a little sister! Took her long enough.

Talia Kayleigh Pena was delivered to Art and Sarah Pena (my sister), and Allison!, this afternoon, five weeks earlier than originally planned. She must have caught a strong tailwind on her way in (how else could she have arrived so early?).

Six pounds, two ouces. Eighteen inches long.

I haven't met her yet, that won't happen until tomorrow afternoon, but in my Mom's totally unbiased opinion, "Talia is beautfiul."

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Bounty

This is my favorite — really, my only — holiday of the year. It's not sponsored by a greeting card company, it's almost completely non-commercial. There are no stupid songs to sing. There's no false hopes attached to it, either: people don't dream of that "perfect Thanksgiving" like they do a perfect Christmas. There's no false religious basis for it: it's not a pagan fertility celebration gussied up to look like something Christian, it's not worship of the sun god.

Thanksgiving is, to me, clean, simple, and honest. It requires a little work, too. Anybody can have a Turkey Day, but to celebrate Thanksgiving you have to force yourself to think about those things you'd miss most if they were gone, and...

Thank God.

For my wife, and a relationship that makes everybody around us smile (or even blush). For my ecclesia, for my family. For my knowledge of scripture, and the faith it inspired. For my brains. For the strength to endure years of serious financial hardship, and not having to endure it alone. For family and friends who have always lent their helping hands when they were most needed. For finally having some steady, very challenging work.

Even for all those things I've under appreciated but know I'd miss. For my niece, who's growing up so fast, and the parents that are raising her. For Mark, who's finally found true love. For Jed, who's following a spiritual path in a way that so few of us are able (or choose to).

For all these things, and for everything else in my life, big and small, this holiday is this simple.

Thank God.


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