My friend Cooper

We met on a warm spring day in 2001, you had just finished running and were full of energy and enthusiasm. The type of excitement held solely for those coming down from a runners high!  After introductions it appeared immediately as though we would become friends. I couldn’t help but admire your self-confidence, exuberance and ability to charm those you encountered!

Over time we became closer, long walks in the evening, daily runs, outings with the family.  When our eldest son was little and sad, you never balked at an opportunity to cheer him up. Good friends will do that and indeed a good friend you had become.  A look, a smile, some funny movement or action and our son would laugh, all at your expense. You never minded, when your work was done you always left with that sly smile upon your face.  A look that showed you always knew something we didn’t.

And knew something you certainly did, for you have been alongside our children for the last 12 years. Watching them grow, helping with their life changes, attitudes and emotions.  I really don’t know what I would have done without your friendship! Like a rock, steadfast and solid your loyalty never wavered.  There are times in life when no matter what you do as a father you just cant seem to get through, but you always could. With a calm demeanor, a listening ear, and a warm embrace it was always you bringing things into perspective for their little minds.

So what am I to do now?  How do I fill this void you left behind? You have gone and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. You left us all with broken hearts and endless tears.  Not for the way you left, or even the fact you had to go, but  for our own selfishness.  Our own emotional fulfilment.  The need to feel your love and to give that love in return.  Did I show you enough affection, did I tell you I loved you enough times? I will have to assume yes, as I will never know the true answer.

Yesterday at 7:30pm you took your last breath, heaved your very last sigh, relieving yourself of all the pain you had been carrying inside.  You body could no longer handle an enlarged liver, your kidneys ached under the strain and your legs had finally given to the pressure.  We couldn’t bear watching you suffer anymore as one step meant seeing you buckle under the strain. You were my wifes dear friend and companion, you were a wonderful friend to our children, and you were my friend.  You stood proudly by my side through thick and thin, in the sun and even the rain.  Camping trips, fishing, daily outings, hikes, bike rides, you participated in them all. Always a smile on your face!  You were amazing!

The day we met, my then girlfriend (future wife) had been running with you, you were her young, handsome little pup. Over the years you became one of the most important parts of our growing family, no longer the sole dog, loved by one, but the much-loved, valued member of 4, then 5, and eventually 6 of us. You have slept upon beds of the frieghtened, laid on feet of the cold, awakened us when something just didn’t seem right outside, and even chased off a coyote looking to enter our backyard.  Every Sunday we just knew you were going to catch one of the many Balloons filled with wine country tourists traveling over our house.  If you couldn’t catch a balloon, you dang sure were going to chase it away! You took credit for every one that passed over head and out of view.  There was a time when your speed matched that of the Jack rabbit, catching one only to let it go! Their wasnt a tire on our property that didn’t bear a marking from your superb aim. When we moved to the ranch you took other dogs under your wing and showed them the way.  Blitz misses you now, proof as he laid in your spot last night and would not get up for me this morning.

There are those that say “he was just a dog” but not to us, you were family.  It started the day my wife took you in, trained you and made you her very own. Smothering you in the very same love so easily given back to those you accepted into  your life.  As her family grew, your family grew and it never ended as day after day we always found a way to love you more.

We all miss you Cooper.  You are a symbol of our family. I wish I could bring you back for one last hug but I can’t, it was hard seeing you go, it was even harder burying you under the old tree by the pond last night. I wrapped you neatly in one of your favorite comforters and placed you gently upon your pillow.  A prayer was said and I cried laying the first bucket of dirt upon you.  I hope you like the place we picked, it has a full view of the valley, all the jack rabbits and coyotes but most of all those damn balloons as they pass by every Sunday morning.

May you rest in peace, you were a GREAT dog, the fields of heaven are open just for you.  Your work here is done, and for that we love you and thank you….

Cooper

cooper

1999-2013

 

 

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My Words of Wisdom for the Day

The sanctity of farm life should never be overshadowed by greed, glutton or self importance. Because as any of us who live on farms know all to well; you will never get rich farming, the animals always need more than you and there is absolutely no one standing around for you to impress.  Its perfect…  

Thank you God for bringing me home…. Carry on that is all….

Father of the year?

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As parents we all make mistakes, its inevitable. Many times over the years I have reiterated the painful fact that parenting doesn’t come with a manual specific to you.  It is one of the hardest most demanding jobs we as a adults will ever work.  (my prevalent graying hair loss is proof) Yet despite our best intentions along with all the ups and downs, we cross our fingers and pray at the end of the day everything will work out just fine.

Over the years, through thousands of snap judgements, arguments and skull scratching moments there have been times my decisions havent been the most sound.  Be it exhaustion from the endlessmom bombardment our children’s attention requires, or just the sheer fact I really wasnt listening.   It remains a fact.  Times when I said or did something I wished I  could have taken back.  Worried I may have scarred a little ego or trampled even the best of efforts through my obvious ignorance.  It has been said; “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.  But when you consistently strive to be the best parent you can be the odds are stacked against you.

So my question is this: What did you say or do while parenting that you wish you could either take back or change?

My example:

One day my 7-year-old daughter dragged all my baseball coaching gear out onto the backyard lawn.  Now this had been an ongoing problem as repeatedly there had been gear spread across our imagesCALM26LPproperty.  Being the ever vigilant, penny-pinching father every one of those items equated to a dollar sign and over the years we had accumulated quite a bit of high quality instructional aids for little league baseball.  Having coached ball for 4 years while my oldest played, the sanctity of these items was paramount to the future success of our younger boys as they too aspired to play baseball. Up until that moment I had assumed the boys were responsible for dragging this gear out and leaving it spread across our little forty acre parcel.  But now it was obvious my daughter was to blame.

The backyard was laid out perfectly with a throwing station, batting station and bases which formed up a miniature diamond. As she pulled a baseball from the bucket and wound up to throw towards one of two targets I leaned out the backdoor bellowing; PUT THAT STUFF AWAY!

She tried to say something to me but all I could do was point towards the garage and sternly say: I don’t want to hear it honey put the baseball stuff away!!!

Lip quivering and a dumbfounded look upon her face  she began mumbling about throwing, catching, hitting, what ever, I didn’t care she was a girl, girls don’t play baseball they play softball and their was no way she was going to play with MY baseball equipment!

I proclaimed in my sternest voice: PUT IT AWAY NOW OR RISK SPENDING THE AFTERNOON IN YOUR ROOM!

girls baseball

Turning on my heels, door closing behind me I headed for a cup of coffee.  After brewing up a pot and pouring myself a cup I gazed towards the backyard once again only to notice nothing had been cleaned up! To make matters worse she was getting ready to toss a ball straight up in the air with bat in hand! Before my temper could rise or my body could clear the back door she tossed it up and actually hit the ball! That’s right she hit the ball! My seven-year old little girl not only defied my direct order to put all the gear away but actually hit the damn ball!

And it was sailing out of the backyard!

Standing slack-jawed in astonishment the “coach” in me held back as she did it time and again! She kept reaching into the bucket pulling out another ball and crushing it! Then just as I was about to walk out and see if she could throw (scouting report and all) she did theimagesCATII0SG unthinkable! She switched sides! Yep, not only had she crushed the ball hitting right-handed she was now sailing them out into the field hitting left-handed! Stop the god damn presses! Could it be we have a self-taught switch hitter living in this household?

Walking into the backyard, she turned and looked at me as if a prison sentence was in her future, but instead with a sheepish look upon my face I softly asked her to do it again! She nodded yes, hit the ball and with a smile on her face asked me if I thought she was any good? I laughed and said; yes honey I gina davisthink you are pretty good.  She asked me if I would play catch with her, so off I scurried to grab my mit with the exuberance of someone who just found out they were playing catch with Nolan Ryan!

We threw the ball back and forth a few times and amazingly she threw quite well! But what made it even better was her ability to throw both left and right-handed! Now don’t let me paint you a picture of a baseball/softball prodigy in the making, she definitely needed lots of work, but just to be able to do those things on her own without anyone showing her how was pretty cool. We ended up finishing the afternoon laughing and joking about her becoming the best baseball player around.

Her mother signed her up for softball later that year.  She had a good season and was an average player, (no hero-worship yet) but she still practices every chance she gets and can’t wait for the new season to begin!

What do I wish I could change?

By not recognizing my daughter as a person who loves baseball I inadvertently created a gender bias. As a father that is a giant FAIL!  “It wasnt about the gear it was about some notion that “girls don’t play baseball” not even recognizing the softball cross over or the pure fact none of that even mattered if she was just having fun.  What made it worse for me personally is the fact as a firefighter working in a male driven profession I am one of those guys who believe anyone can do this job, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, etc..! Shining moment of double standards! Father of the year? It was a humbling experience and as a parent a learning moment!

So the question remains: What did you say or do while parenting that you wish you could either take back or change?

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My Words of Wisdom for the Day

There is a gigantic difference between letting your child express themselves and raising a self entitled, pompous, arrogant little heathen. Please learn it and save all of us the embarrassment for you.

Carry on that is all…

My Words of Wisdom for the Day..

Understand who you are, relish in your accomplishments, learn from your failures, accept change and dont ever be afraid to re-invent yourself from time to time.

One life to live, make it amazing….

Carry on that is all….

 

School yard blues..

 

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As a child I traversed my way through life feeling invincible.  There was nothing I couldn’t accomplish, no one was going to tell me what to do even when the advice was sound.  My path had been chosen from approximately sixth grade.  This long path, or road of hard knocks, left me mired in my own stubbornness, filled with ignorance along with self prescribed wisdom.  I chose to forge through life at my own pace, following a road map that most would never wish upon their children. Yet I survived, and even though there are many things to regret about this road less traveled, it truly bore a hand in the man created through the journey.

So why am I lamenting these days of yore?

It appears my middle child is slowly heading down the same road at about the same age as myself. As a parent I wish to protect him from this journey. He is a wonderful young man with a smile that brightens even the darkest of rooms.  He is witty, smart and incredibly charming and though these are fantastic traits to have it seems to be his crux right at the moment.  His wit, not yet so formed that most understand the silliness or images-5dryness of his joke.  The smarts, is being used for alternate goals as opposed to his education.  The charm, is allowing him the ability to slide sideways from situations most children would be held accountable for, by adults who definitely know better.

But the main reason for reflection is an issue he is having with a child at school who continues to bully him hoping for a fight.  Now having been in a few scraps myself over the years and knowing that boys on occasion will fight at this age (uncontrollable testosterone flowing through their little systems)  there is one golden rule in our household that must under no circumstance ever be broken when it comes to this particular problem.  Never and I mean EVER start a fight with anyone under any circumstance! I don’t care what the other person has done, I don’t care what the other person has said; walk away.  Tell a school administrator and walk away.  My children all understand this one simple rule and to date my son has followed it to a tee! But I still worry, for you see as he genetically has adopted quite a few of my traits he has also inherited my seething Irish temper. The irish temper is a funny thing, for we can Unknown-1travel along as the butt of your joke for a very long time, even quipping a few sporting little retorts in the process.  But then without explanation or reason one day it will have gone just a bit to far, them BLAM! I worry he is repressing that very same emotion during these encounters while remaining calm as a cucumber.

My sons have asked me if I had ever been in fights as a kid? To which the truth has always been told. Yes.  Your father (do to my overwhelming charm of course) had his ass kicked more times than he would like to remember.  Being one to not back down from a images-4challenge most of my troubles were from my mouths amazing ability to say the wrong thing at just the right time.  Something I am seeing in my middle child as we speak.  And more times than not I lost.  I was never a particularly good fighter, but I always stood my ground and hardley ever backed down.

So then why this steadfast rule for my children today?

Its root is based on some very simple facts.  Today in the year 2013, our children have become so increasingly desensitized to violence I fear for the repercussions of a good old-fashioned knuckle buster.  Because there is no such thing anymore.  Some of my closest friends were people who disliked or disagreed with me to the point of a scrap.  Afterwards realizing how insanely stupid it was we became friends. Those days are dead and gone.  As an adult I have seen the repercussions of a fist fight gone bad. If you are scrapping some dude, friends of the opponent jump in, someone videos it for You Tube street cred, while another may be laying in wait with a knife to give you a good old-fashioned shanking if you beat one from their “posse”.  Violence is as acceptable as drinking a Starbucks at a sidewalk cafe.  Video games, movies, Television, MMA, UFC,  all showing, teaching our children violence is not the last resort but the first alternative.  Unknown-2You no longer try to figure out what you did wrong to upset this person, instead you just bitch about it to all your friends, shun the individual like the plague then jump that person like a stray alley cat.  When it’s over there are no apologies, nothing learned from the incident, instead friends of the beaten start scrapping with your friends and the circle of violence rolls on and on. Also in my day we just boxed or duked it out! Today Karate, Jujitsu, Wrestling (and I was a wrestler in high school), Krav Magra are treated like after school sporting programs.  So our children are becoming highly skilled fighters at very young ages.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with these programs by any means, my sons have participated in these activities with some very stellar instructors.  But it definitely changes the dynamics or social parameters of our children’s world.

Can things be changed?

No, I think we are inevitably doomed. We live in a culture surrounded by violence, protesting, warped media propaganda, criminals that receive more positive coverage than their victims, crime shows glorifying the act of the crime, shows about prisons and gangs, shows about fighting and everyone has a positive spin on where when and why, justifying the existence of what horrible acts they may have committed and we the quiet law-abiding citizens just shake our heads and wonder why.  I hate the argument: if you don’t like it don’t buy it, or let them watch it! We turn off the T.V., the kids are not allowed to watch anything with heavy violence yet ultimately it’s not our family that have become the problem.

So what do we do as parents?

We prepare our children as best we can for the inevitable.  Our children have done very well.  But I still worry as I see the path my son is following seems to be resembling the very same path I strolled down as a kid.  Where I grew up in the era of boys will be boys, and a good old-fashioned bop on the nose every now and again was good for ya, images-9toughening you up and all… We are now in the era of duck and run, don’t protect yourself at all costs, even if some kid is beating on you for fear of being expelled and then go tell a teacher. (who really have no teeth to do anything because teachers have had their hands tied thanks to our passive school system.) The kids in school know this and act accordingly.

So I ask, am I the only one who feels this way?  Am I worrying over nothing?  What have you done to prepare your children for dealing with a bully? Not an emotional bully (thats a whole different topic for a different time)but an actual I want to fight you today, right here, right now, I think you are a big fat stupid head; bully?

 

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

If you were to die tomorrow could you say you lived a life to be proud of?

I thought about this quite a bit on the way home from the firehouse this morning.

There is no right or wrong answer, either yes or no. If yes, fantastic! If you are comfortable with no then great!
But??????
If by saying no it makes you ponder, then (and this is just a suggestion) maybe it’s time to sit down, re-evaluate where you are headed and create a change that fits your lifestyle.

With my words of wisdom I am always happy to hear from people and how it relates to them. Today I would like everyone who reads this to tell me what they are most proud of in their lives.

Then pass it on! I want to hear from as many people as possible!

It seems to me we live in a world of negativity, sooo….

Maybe just maybe if enough people read this and answer that one simple question, we can awaken our feelings and create a more positive atmosphere in our lives? Just a thought.

Carry on that is all…

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

The realization that your parents were right and you really don’t know everything, is the very moment life for you will change for the better.

Just saying…

Carry on that is all….

Friend

friend

   What is a friend?

I feel as parents we sometimes skip over the obvious things that require attention when raising our children.  Oh sure, I am a big believer in “leading by example”, the number one way for a child to absorb the rights and wrongs of this world.  But sometimes we are not always there to lead by example. There are times when no is looking that our children have to make decisions without our input.

There are many tried and true statements that we as parents spew forth on a daily basis.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Speak to people the way you expect to be spoken too.

Listening can be more valuable than speaking

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Put the toilet seat down

Wash your hands

blah, blah, blah,

etc….

One of the most important decision-making ventures in a young childs life is who will become their friends.  There is no manual for this aspect of childhood! No ability for us as parents to interview prospective candidates thusly weeding out anyone who is not up to snuff! At times we as parents may or may not have a say in this matter as many “friends” are nothing more than names we hear a little about during conversations away from school.  These are kids our children spend the day with but don’t socialize with outside of school. If you think because they don’t spend time with these children outside of school these children are not molding your childs ideals you would be wrong.

Very much like an office, we have people we socialize with inside and outside the office (inner circle) then there is the “filler” (outer circle)those people who you work alongside, go to lunch with but when its quitting time the relationship time clock has just punched out.

The “Fillers” still have a profound impact on our day-to-day mental acuity.  From idle conversation to gossip, to full-blown “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” bullshit! These people are there preying upon our very emotional survival!

So how do we go about guiding our children in selecting and keeping quality friends? Helping them to spot the “Real Housewives” of this world?

Once again it may be left to setting the example.  Over the years many people have come and gone in my life.  Some needed to go, while a few were the product of life changes.  There are those who I miss dearly and there are the core few who are still a constant in my life today.

So what is the secret? How do we continue to guide our children without disturbing the natural order of things? Listen I know every person they meet and interact with will help mold, change and craft who they become as adults.  But I still want a say, I still want to be there giving them just a little guidance, using my years of experience in this particular arena!

Maybe I worry too much.  Maybe I should just trust them and be there when things go to hell!  Maybe, just maybe leading by example really does pay off in all aspects.

So to my children, someday when you read this story (and you will).  I have many friends, people I care about and would do just about anything for; It is not in my nature to miss an opportunity to help someone in need or to make a new friend.  So I have created a list of what it means to be my friend. Some are true heartfelt descriptions while others are a mixture of satire and actual events that solidified a few long-term, diehard friendships. Hopefully this list will be of some help to you all in the future.

What it takes to be my friend

  1. Willing to drop what you are doing no matter the time of day or night to help.
  2. Can bear each others burden without judgement
  3. Understands we may not always see eye to eye but in no way does that diminish the respect we hold for each other.
  4. See’s my wife as my equal and understands she comes first.
  5. Gives me shit when I screw up but will defend me to the death if someone else jumps on the bandwagon.
  6. Takes my car keys away when I am drinking.
  7. Lets me vent and doesn’t take offense if I become passionate about my point.
  8. Isnt disappointed in me for being a life long Cowboys fan.
  9. Has no problem reprimanding my children or with me reprimanding theirs. “It takes a village”
  10. Has my back, period.
  11. Continues to keep secret the time we stole a police car!
  12. Understands that “going fishing” is code for; we are gonna throw some lines in the water and drink a shit load of beer!
  13. Forgives me for the time I let you go upstairs with a really drunk girl who threw up on you.
  14. Pulls me from a garbage can after getting thoroughly tossed
  15. Understands I am a complete smart ass and appreciates me for my efforts.
  16. Lets my narcissism flourish because well; lets face it, I am great, to know me is to love me!
  17. Allows me to stand between them and some mouthy jackass, preventing a fight even though the jackass really needed to have his skull thumped.
  18. likes me even though musically I am still trapped in the 80’s
  19. Never lets me forget the time I got sea sick in some of the worst weather on record while salmon fishing!
  20. Know and I mean know, if you are my friend I will cry when you cry, I will laugh when you laugh, I will bleed when you bleed, if you are angry I am angry as well! You have made it past the thick layers that form who I am and for that I will remain like an old blood hound, on the porch waiting for the chance to hunt by your side again.

snoopy

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

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Teaching your child the right way to perform a task then correcting them when its not completed to your standards is of the utmost importance.  Allowing your child to “half-ass” that same task and walk away is setting them up for failure as an adult.   Dont worry thier little self -esteems you are so frantically trying to protect will actually thrive from the feeling of a job well done..

Carry on that is all….