After A Long Hiatus….

6 12 2015

After A Long HiatusI’ve taken quite a long sabbatical from writing regularly on this blog.  One post in the past sixteen months has been it.  I now intend to return to at least semi-regular, if not regular, contributions to this page.

Much has happened in the past year and a half.  Our eldest daughter married a fine man from the Plains.  Both are now happily ensconced in the Deep South, surrounded by salt water and palm trees.  My wife, Kath, and I visited them a month ago.  A great trip.  They are well.

Our youngest daughter, happily married for the past two years, has moved with her husband, another son of the Plains, thousands of miles away to new tasks.  They, too, are surrounded by palm trees and salt water.

Our vacations will be superb!

Here in northern New York, we recently sold our one hundred and one year-old Victorian farm house and have a smaller apartment close to work.  We are content.  Our home of fourteen years served us well but, with our two daughters married, it was more house than we needed.  So we sold to a fine young family with adorable children.

Candidly, sheer busyness accounts for my writing hiatus, a good bit of it anyways.  But more than that, I’ve learned some things over the past year and a half.  My reading has increased in breadth and depth.  I’ve had the good fortune to be mentored skillfully and have been forced to reevaluate many of my cherished prior commitments about life, human accomplishment and foible, God, reality, and lots of other things.

I hope to share the fine authors and thinkers who’ve helped me grow.  They’ve not been easy on me.  And won’t be easy on you either.  But then again, as a mentor recently admonished me, “Do not be seduced by low-hanging fruit.”  What has value must be extricated at cost and time.

Or, as Sara Groves sings on her newest record Floodplain, “Love is a diamond hidden in mountains, covered in danger and dirt.”

Let’s do this.  Thanks for reading!

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Seven Decades and Going Strong

17 12 2013

Dad1942.  Our country fully at war in Europe and the Pacific Rim.  A time of apprehension, fear, courage and destiny.

A boy born in the Great Lake State.  He grew up learning the ethic of hard work, doing his share of chores on the family farm.  It has held him in good stead all his life.

As a teenager, he faced devastating loss with the rest of his siblings and yet survived it.

As a young adult, he  made the courageous choice, in the height of the Cold War, to serve in the United States Air Force, first in Turkey and later at headquarters for the Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, just outside Omaha, NE.

He married and adopted a young child–a boy, and went on to add two handsome sons and a beautiful daughter–siblings.  He went on to serve twenty-nine years in the Michigan State Police.

He taught his family the value of hard work.  He was always at work on some project, all the while serving his community and his state during his “day job.”  He still rarely slows down with his projects–carpentry, renovation and additions. Even after retirement eighteen years ago, he has continued his to use his skills in fire and arson investigation privately, providing for his family.

He taught his kids to love one another and get along.  He attended their ball games and school events.

He taught his kids the value of faith, providing for tuition for parochial school–not an inexpensive enterprise by any means.

He taught them to get back on the horse if you’ve fallen off.  That mistakes are not permanent.  Dust yourself off and get back into the fray.

He outworks men half his age.  Two replaced hips later, he still rocks.  He just doesn’t stop.  Serves his wife–our fantastic stepmom Debby–his  family, his Church, his community, this great nation–her values and the things that make her great.

I am that adopted kid.  And this is my dad.  James Edward Fahey.  Today is his birthday.  He continues to encourage and inspire us all.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.  We all do!





“Is This The Little Girl I Carried?”

10 08 2013

Em and Josh 2Today is a day of gifting.  Today my wife and I gift a young man with the woman of his dreams.  Today I give my little girl away to this gentleman.  It is the dream of every parent.  Today we let go, in a very real way, of our youngest daughter.  Emily and Joshua begin their own family in about six hours.

She is our youngest daughter.  We have been blessed with two beautiful and intelligent girls who’ve grown up to be amazing young women.  Anna will be at her sister’s side as she takes her vows and is wed.

Where did the time go?  It seems like yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital.  We’ve watched her grow and develop her talents, personality, and unique charm.  The years have passed more quickly than we’d have imagined they would when we first brought her into the world.  Fathers, remember that as you dandle your daughters on your knees.

The weather is beautiful and the preparations have been made.  The groom is anxious to begin his family and journey with his soul mate.  And so are we.  We could not possibly ask for a finer son-in-law.  We can’t wait.

____________________________

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When – did – they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they – were – small?

Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another
Day – by – day

They look so natural together
Just like two newlyweds should be
Is there a canopy in store – for – me?

Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness – and – tears…

Words and music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

Congratulations Em and Josh–the best is yet to come!





Mandy Patinkin, Dr. Geiger and Success

20 07 2013

Homeland Season 2In 1994, I moved our family back to Michigan where I was raised.  Our girls were quite small at the time.  For five years we were able to stay close with my family.  While there were the usual difficulties and challenges that attend such a move, it was a special time for us.

Our move coincided with the premiere of a new weekly television drama, Chicago Hope.  My larger family has quite a few medical professionals in it, so a medical TV drama was right up our alley.  Our favorite character on Chicago Hope was Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, played by Mandy Patinkin.  We would go to my mother and stepfather’s home, have dinner and watch Jeopardy and Chicago Hope.

Dr. Geiger was a brilliant cardio-thoracic surgeon, rated top in the country.  He was also a curious mixture of insecurity, prickliness and medical distinction.  Within the larger story line, his wife had been institutionalized with schizophrenia after she drowned their son, Joey.  So this pain came out in interesting ways in Geiger’s interactions.  Mandy Patinkin played him in an outstanding fashion, which won him an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series in 1995.

Like my late stepfather, of blessed memory, (himself a brilliant physician), Geiger was Jewish.  If you know and work with Jewish people, you’ll probably have noticed that they are almost temperamentally incapable of mincing words.  To the point.  Dugriut.  This is not a criticism at all; just a fact. Geiger said once to a fellow doctor in the operating room, “That’s the thing about bluntness.  It intimidates the weak, engages the strong.”  Great line.

I’ve recently begun watching reruns of the series, now eighteen years old.  Again, I’ve been drawn to the character of Dr. Geiger.  Not that his arrogance is to be emulated.  He needed to work on his bedside manner.  But his directness and competence are refreshing.  Patinkin is a great actor.

I’d forgotten that Patinkin left regular participation in the show after the second season.  This bummed me out because I looked forward to seeing the story of Jeffrey Geiger unfold.  He made a number of appearances over the years and rejoined the cast for the final season.

What impressed me more than anything was Patinkin’s reason for leaving the show.  Poor writing? No.  Inability to get along with colleagues? Nope.  Wanted more money? Wrong, again.

He left to devote more time with his family.  They lived out east and the show filmed in Chicago—incidently, the town of Patinkin’s birth.  So he’d spent prodigious amounts of time away from them.  He was unwilling to do this for years.

Remember, this is a brilliant actor and singer who had won an Emmy.  His future was set, so to speak.  But he chose his wife and children over continued fame.  Incredible.

He’s done a lot over the years—Criminal Minds (a show he left because the content was too violent for his conscience), recording and public concerts, the stage.  But it impressed me that he looked “success” in the eye and chose, at least in his appraisal, true success.

A winner.

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Wonder

17 07 2013

WonderA few years back, my wife and I attended a party for some friends who were about to move 1300 miles away.

I had a nice talk with a friend I’d not seen in a while about our children.  One of his sons, fifteen at the time of our exchange, is a budding writer.  He wrote his first book when he was twelve, two hundred pages worth.  At twelve.  His father beamed with pride and wonder at the level of imagination and creativity his child poured into his writing—the worlds that emerged from his unencumbered thinking and exploration of ideas and marvelous possibilities.

I told him that he and his wife obviously did something right simply by allowing the imagination of his child to flourish and express itself.

What a gift…..

I am intrigued and fascinated by the title of a book by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, I Asked For Wonder (see above).  Not money.  Not intelligence.  Or fame.  Or any of a thousand pursuits we’re told will give us a happy life.  But wonder.

Are you able, like Einstein, da Vinci, Steve Jobs or any one of thousands of children you’ve seen, to let your imagination run free?  To think outside the rigid boundaries of what is acceptable or standard and find creative and beautiful realities, solutions and contributions to your world?

Ask for wonder…and watch what happens.

And Billy…keep writing!

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Surprise!

12 05 2012

This afternoon my wife and I were busy installing a screen door in the rear of our home.  Warm and sunny, an old door laying in the garage needed a new lease on life.  And modification.

So, armed with circular saw, chalkline, hammer, screws and assorted other tools, we modified the door.  And then hung it for the first time.

It cost us nothing.

After the workout, I was sweaty and smelly and tanned a bit.  Kath and I admired our work–she had the genius to repurpose an old door–and were ready to clean up.

My eldest daughter, Anna, was presumably out having coffee with one of her besties.  I just happened to be home.  I was originally going to be in town.

We heard Anna come in.  We looked toward the kitchen door and….

SURPRISE!

My daughter Emily flew in from Kansas, totally unannounced to Kath and I.  She, her boyfriend Josh and Anna have been planning this for months.  Anna went to pick her sister up from the airport.  Now we get to have her here for two weeks.  We thought we might not see her again this year.

We were clueless.  Anna and Emily are rock stars when it comes to planning great surprises.

Hugs and kisses.  And tears.  Our chicks are both home.  Momma is quite happy and Dad proud as a peacock.

Happy Mother’s Day indeed!





The Importance of Presence

22 04 2012

“Presence,” writes Eugene Peterson, “is a delicious word.”

And how.

Time, circumstance and, most of all, God’s providence have permitted me to spend a few days with the three most beautiful women on Earth.

We’ve all been quite involved in pursuing our respective callings and destinies over the past nine months.  These pursuits have taken one of our daughters to Scotland, Turkey and Cambodia.  It has taken our other daughter to the vast and picturesque Flint Hills of central Kansas.  Their mother and I hold down the homestead in northern New York.

It is a leisurely Sunday that permits me to write this appreciation.  The girls, all three of them, are at the movies.  Somehow, the unearthly hotness of Zac Efron was not enough to persuade me to join them as they watch The Lucky Ones.

I’ll survive, I think.  I’ll bide my time appreciating them.  They’re marvelous ladies.  I am a blessed guy.

Time passes more quickly than most of us imagine.  While you have your tribe in your sights, enjoy and savor their nearness.

It is one of the supreme gifts of God.

Carpe diem.