Thursday, January 29, 2015


To my son Tommy,

The frequency of my letters to you seem to be decreasing. I don't know why.

Now more than ever I want to constantly tell you how much I love you. I want to tell you to enjoy every moment of this short life. I want to tell you not to get caught up in the details. I want to tell you to focus on the important things in life, God, family, friends, love, compassion, forgiveness.

For some reason, I have just lost the words. Perhaps I am tired. Perhaps I am busy making sure I focus on the important things in life myself. Perhaps I have just enough energy to just put in practice those principles, thus leaving no energy to write words of wisdom and love to pass on to you. Hopefully the hug and cuddle will be a sufficient replacement for those days where the lack of time and energy cause me to miss my letter to you.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Define Cool

To my son Tommy,

One of the best thing about a six year old is that you can convince them things are cool that, later in their life, their peers would quickly inform them it is decidedly not cool. We do this to you. Some six year olds, however, have parents and grandparents that teach them how to avoid developing a liking for those "cool" things that will cause them ridicule in the future. You definitely do not have those people in your life. You can tell that by the gift your grandfather gave you last night, a straw that wraps around your head into a pair of eye glasses and finally into your mouth. You think these are the coolest. Your teenage years are destined to be in the "not that cool" club. I okay with that because it will teach you to have pride in your genetic dorkness and to spurn superficial "coolness"

Sincerely with love from your dad,

Monday, January 19, 2015


To my son Tommy,

As reported by your Great Uncle Kevin about your Great Grandpa Leo.

Last night  0100 hrs. Dad wanted to get up and teach all those who do not know - about JESUS. Then he said "read your bible, and if you do not have one, go buy one and read it so you know what to do. Any questions?"   He was a messenger at that moment. 

I am not sure what to make of this. I am sure the skeptics would say it is his mind, filled with years of catholic tradition, trying to make sense of dying and death, be it his own condition or news of his older sister's death. But unlike most things in life, on this issue I am not a skeptic. True and simple words from a man we all love dearly. I worry though when people get semi-prophetic when they are 93 years old and on home hospice. But if this is a harbinger of what is to come, at least your Great Grandpa Leo has read his bible and will know what to do. I'd follow his advice if I were you.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Great Great Aunt Jule - Rest In Peace

To my son Tommy,

I don't think you ever got chance to meet your Great Great Aunt Jule Slagle nee Downey (pictured above with her brother your Great Great Uncle John Downey above). It was always on our to-do list but regretfully there it will remain in perpetuity. Aunt Jule passed from this world on Friday 16 January 2015 at 11:20 PM. They always said Aunt Jule was two years older than your Great Grandpa Leo (Her other brother) so that would put her at the age of 95 or there abouts. Your Great Great Aunt Sheila, who has been taken care of Aunt Jule, called this Saturday to tell us. Aunt Jule was in hospice care facility so this wasn't unexpected, but sad none the less.

My fondest memory of Aunt Jule was going to her house in Cumberland. She lived on the Mason-Dixon line and even had a marker on her property. For some reason the ability to jump from one state to another, to one second be in Maryland and the next in Pennsylvania, makes a young lad feel like a superhero. I also remember her having a little ankle-biting yapping dog that your Great Grandpa Leo wasn't too fond of, but as a young lad I could ignore the dogs faults thus wearing the dog down.

Aunt Jule donated her body to science, so there won't be a service or ceremony for a month or two until the white coats get finished with whatever they do. I wonder if they are aware of Aunt Jule's drinking history because to make it to 95 and to cocktail like she did, well there has to be something they can learn about liver protection or the likes.

Anyways, after such a long life, we pray that God gives her the rest she deserves, and we pray that God comforts us left grieving, especially as we face the very real potential of more deaths in our family this year and next.

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
Sincerely with love from your dad,

Monday, January 12, 2015


To my son Tommy,

Here is how to entertain your mom with a conversation.

T: "Daddy, look at the two /snō-gərs/ I made."
Me: "What's a /snō-gər/?"
T: "These are."
Me: "Oh silly me. Are they snow girls? Like snow men only different."
T: "No grrs, like grrrrr, like when you're mad?"
Me: Blank stare trying to figure out how a growl has been made into a Lego man.
T: Losing patience "You know, grrrrrrrrrr" as if the extended growl will make me understand.
Me: My last ditch effort "Is it an ogre that lives in the snow?" Please oh please be!
T: "Yeah that is it!"

Then I heard your mom laughing from the kitchen. Glad our communication problems can entertain her. Actually I am really glad it ended amicably between you and I. My next guess would have been a snow tiger, but from there I'd be lost. And you get so mad at me when I can't understand you. Probably get that trait from me.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not Yet

To my son Tommy,

Here is what you would have overheard if you were a fly on the wall at our house on the last day you will be five years old.

Me: "Gosh, you are growing up so fast. You even look older. Do you feel older?"
T: "Not yet daddy. Tomorrow. I will feel older tomorrow because it's my birthday tomorrow."
Me: "You don't even feel a little bit older, not even a day older?."
T: (Getting somewhat annoyed) "Nope. I will feel one year older tomorrow."

Ahh the innocence of a child who does not understand the progression of time. One day, you will learn that you do not age a whole year in one day. According to our previous conversations, you think that day will be when you are 29 and 364 days old. And learning that, will age you a whole three decades in one day and gray hairs will pop out almost immediately, especially if you are already a father. From there on out, aging becomes mostly a day by day thing. Stay young, my son. Happy almost birthday.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

Sunday, January 4, 2015


To my son Tommy,

You had your first surprise birthday. Your Aunt Debbie threw you and your cousin Charlie a surprise birthday party this past Friday. Uncle Jack caught this awkward cake moment on his camera. You look like you were shorted a candle or something. Though you wouldn't be able to tell by that picture, you really enjoyed yourself.

Before the end of the month, you will end up with three celebrations for your bday, maybe more. One was the surprise party, then we will probably do something special and low key on the day of, then we have your birthday party at the bowling alley at the end of the month. Plus I imagine an impromptu party at your Grandma Roro's house, assuming we can all get well and get back over there soon.

Yeah that was the other surprise. Your mom and I got ganked by some illnesses. Yesterday, I caught the stomach bug that put your Grandma Roro in the ER on Wednesday, and your mom got floored by some congestion thing today. I will spare you the gruesome details, but we are both barely managing. Luckily, our ebbs and tides in how we feel have been alternating well, so we have managed to take care of you. We did have to have someone cover our door greeter shift at church today, but that was more for the safety of the congregation.

But this too shall pass. And it seems you have been spared the brunt force of what we have. And with Christmas and the surprise birthday party, you are stocked up with Lego projects and toy figurines and enough imagination fodder to keep yourself somewhat self entertained.

Sincerely with love from your dad,