Things have been pretty hectic for the last week or so with Alicia’s wedding coming up. We had the rehearsal and a dinner at my house on Saturday, then the actual wedding on Sunday. I thought I would post the toast I gave at the wedding.
What a happy day! You’ve come from near and far. We’re so glad that each one of you is here to celebrate with us, as there is no joy better than shared joy.
There is a tradition at wedding receptions of clinking your silverware against your glass until the couple kisses. When Alicia’s mom and I got married we used a slightly different tradition that we had heard about. On our wedding anniversaries, we would sometimes watch our wedding video. That’s how Alicia found out about it and decided to use that tradition for her wedding. So, if you want the couple to kiss, you or a group need to stand up and sing part of a song with the word love in it. English or Spanish, your choice.
It has been an honor to be Alicia’s father and watch her grow up to become an extraordinary young woman. Alicia, I am so proud of you. Mom would say the same thing if she could. She is here today sharing joy.
When Alicia decided to spend a year volunteering in Mexico after college a lot of my friends asked me if I was worried because of all the drug violence in Mexico. I always told them I was more worried that she would meet some guy down there, want to marry him and stay in Mexico.
So, when Alicia told us it was getting serious with Carlos, it was scary. But Debbie and I decided that Alicia had always had a good group of friends, so she was a good judge of people. Maybe this Carlos guy might be OK.
Now that I’ve gotten to know Carlos, I can say he’s way better than OK. I’m proud to have Carlos be a part of my family.
So, Alicia and Carlos.
You have two ears. Use one to hear each other and the other to hear what’s in your spouse’s heart.
You have two eyes. Use one to see each other and the other to see your spouse’s as they see themselves.
You have one heart, so love each other wholeheartedly.
Breath in love, calm and peace. Breath out and away trouble and turmoil.
My hope is that:
Que siempre peudas decir, te amo hoy más que te amé ayer.
And now, because you have lifted us up today with your love and commitment to each other, it’s time for us to lift up our glasses to you!
To Alicia and Carlos Rodriguez!
As a bonus I’ll tell you what I was saying in the Spanish part. My cousin’s daughter Maggie Kane provided the translation of my English phrase into Spanish. (Thank you!)
“My hope is that you will always be able to say I love you more today than yesterday.”
With Alicia’s wedding coming up this weekend I was remembering Debbie with our children. I’ve been working on my toast for the wedding and I didn’t have time to write. But I found something I had written about Debbie earlier, so I thought I would share a couple memories with you.
We were in church one Sunday when our son, Andrew, was little. Debbie was holding Andrew while she and I talked with some friends. Our daughter, Alicia, stood patiently waiting for us to finish. Suddenly Debbie realized she couldn’t see one of our kids and her mother instinct kicked into high gear.
“Where’s Andrew?” she said in an almost panicked voice as she turned and looked left and right trying to find him. I had an initial moment of panic based on Debbie’s voice, but it passed as I knew where he was.
Alicia came to her rescue, “Mom, you’re holding him.”
A funny little story, always a bit embarrassing for Debbie. It does illustrate her mother instinct. If something was wrong with one of her kids she would suddenly step into high gear.
The most panicked and flustered I ever saw Debbie was the time she thought Alicia was missing. Alicia had been invited to a concert at the Xcel Center with two girls from the Waldorf School and the parents of one of them. I dropped her off in St. Paul across the street from the arena and went home. A couple hours later we got a call from her friend’s parents. It was intermission at the concert and they were wondering why Alicia hadn’t come and there was no answer on her cell phone. Debbie went into panic mode assuming the worst.
I didn’t hear the full conversation because I went downstairs to get my cell phone to see if there were any messages on that. When I picked up the phone downstairs it sounded like she must have been pretty intense. As she was with me about how could I just drop her off and drive away without waiting until she had got into the arena. She calmed down a bit when I explained how Alicia had gotten out of the car at the corner where I stopped at the light and to wait for her to get into the arena would have blocked traffic.
At one point, I tried to comfort her. A hand on the shoulder and saying, “it will turn out alright.” But she didn’t want to be comforted and shook me off. We ended up getting in the car and driving around downtown St. Paul looking for her. Then going to the arena where we asked them to make an announcement for Alicia to contact an usher if she was there. They said they would, but not until the end of the show. That set me off and I went in quest of a higher up to make an announcement earlier. “No,” the performer wouldn’t let them I was told.
Further argument became moot as the concert ended. They made an announcement. A bit later they told us that Alicia had been found. She had gone to the wrong entrance and waited for her friends. After a while she realized there was a problem. But her cell phone battery was dead. As she stood there trying to figure out what to do someone offered her an extra ticket so she could go in and look for her friends. So, Alicia went in and watched the show.
After the show, she didn’t hear the announcement. But she was looking lost, so an usher asked her if she was Alicia Hillar. When she said yes the usher brought her to us.
Debbie was a tiger when it came to defending her kids.
I once wrote a story. It was handwritten and filled seven notebooks from cover to cover. Then I asked a friend to read it and give me some feedback.
The feedback came back: “The 7th word on the 22nd line of the 60th page of the 4th notebook.”
“What about it?” I asked.
“It’s the only word that you spelled right.”
Good, constructive feedback. I had to change the story. Looking at that one word I realized how much I loved that word there in that place in the story. However, all the other words were bad. That was a problem. So, I took out my eraser and started erasing all the bad words. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it to save that one word.
I know you’re reading this and shaking your head. Wouldn’t it have been much easier to start over from scratch? Why go to all that work? It’s because of that one word, I loved that word. A lot.
You’re shaking your head again. This isn’t a real story, is it? Nobody would do something like that. Ok, I’ll admit to making up the story. But something like that was done before.
Everyone in the world was bad except for one person. It was Noah. And God didn’t just wipe the slate clean and start over even though that would have been a lot easier. The extra work wasn’t a problem because He loved Noah so much.
That’s how much God loves us as well. God will go to extraordinary lengths for those he loves. For you.
I voted today with Andrew. It was his first time ever to vote. It was a proud moment.
I was very excited when Hillary Clinton picked me to be her Vice-Presidential running mate. Unfortunately, when they called me to address the convention I was rudely stopped by some guy in sunglasses while an impostor who spells our name incorrectly took my place. (I might as well enjoy having the same name as Tim Kaine while I can, it’s bound to get old if they’re in office for 8 years.)
I should explain something for those who read my last post and were expecting haikus here. I talked about having written some haikus as part of my grieving process when Debbie passed away and said I would post them here later. I was not meaning to post them now. This month is reserved for celebration as Alicia and Carlos tie the knot again in a formal wedding ceremony to complete the civil ceremony that was done in March. Plus, having something already pre-written to go up on the blog will come in handy. I’ve been able to post every Tuesday since I started blogging. Although there have been some late-night postings, I’ve always beaten my midnight deadline.
I turned in my paperwork to apply for a visa to Tanzania. I’m not sure how things will work while I’m traveling in Tanzania. I will have access to the internet, I’m just not sure how my time will be filled. My guess is that I’ll be posting some during the trip, but it will be more along the lines of a travelogue of where I’ve been. After I get back and have had some time to process I’ll be able to write some more in depth.
Alicia and Carlos’ wedding preparations are continuing. I was honored to be asked to walk Alicia up the aisle during the service. I was out last night buying a new suit to wear. Somehow all my old suits seem to have shrunk while hanging in the closet. We’re also getting ready to have a rehearsal and dinner here prior to the wedding.
The Olympics are always fun to watch with its many memorable moments. This year has been no exception. I was captivated by the women’s cross country cycling. The horrific crash of Annemiek Van Vleuten, Mara Abbot trying to hang onto her lead for the gold medal had me spellbound. It was good to find out that Annemiek Van Vleuten is recovering. The story of Yusra Mardini of the refugee team and her escape to Greece is inspiring.
When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer we started a Caring Bridge site that we used to keep people updated on Debbie’s condition. After receiving compliments on the site I decided that I would like to try to write more. So when Alicia asked me what I wanted for Christmas I mentioned a writing class. She got me a gift certificate which I used for a class. Unfortunately as I took the class Debbie took a turn for the worse and passed away.
I took another class about getting into the writing habit. I wanted to keep writing but sometimes my grief left me without the energy to spend time on anything. However, I wanted to get into the habit of committing to writing and actually doing something. So I started writing haikus. They seemed like something I could write and actually accomplish something without putting in a long time.
Haikus are a Japanese form of poetry. A haiku consists of three lines. The first and last lines are five syllables each and the middle line is seven for a total of seventeen syllables. It seemed like something where I could write one poem in sitting without taxing myself.
Starting haiku was hard at first. I later wrote the haiku below about that feeling.
The Haikuist’s Lament
How can I express my fee-
It’s not nearly e-
As I worked with the form I realized it was helping me to focus my thoughts. You can’t have anything extraneous; there’s just no room in the poem. It helped me to get my thoughts and emotions on paper. It allowed me to express my grief and deal with my memories.
Some of my earlier poems were titled. It was a way to sneak in some extra syllables. After all, “Celebration of Life Service” would take up most of the poem leaving me with no room to say anything about it. Eventually I stopped titling the poems, it felt a little like cheating to get the extra syllables. As I kept working with haikus I found the answer to the Haikuist’s Lament.
You may find out that
Seventeen pieces of words
Can say a whole lot
Several months after I started I was reading a book of haikus. I read that haiku poems have a season word in them. My poems also had seasons. But not the annual seasons of nature, rather they were the seasons of illness and death. I arranged them into four seasons with an introductory haiku for each. The Season of Before is our life together before Debbie’s cancer. The Season of Cancer tells of the time Debbie’s symptoms started to appear until she died. The Season of Mourning is the story of my grief journey. The Season of After is me envisioning my future. I'll be posting each season on the blog at a later date.
Every grief journey is different, but being able to express grief in some way is important. Being able to write things down was an important part of my journey which still continues.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.