Tag: Family

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post


Read Part One here and Part Two here. As we pulled out of the college complex and its air-conditioned world of elevators and babies, my sister cried. She had bonded with one of the young married ladies whose card-playing circle had been so friendly to us. I internally rolled my eyes, not happy to have […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Peanut Butter Crackers, Gunsmoke, and His Rubix Cube: In Search of My Grandfather


Growing up, I only had one grandparent. My mom’s mother, who, for a variety of reasons, my dad wished to largely keep my sister and I away from, and who died when I was 7. I’m never quite sure of how much this difference from others my age affected me; on the one hand, there was little point in pining after something I had never had, but that didn’t always mean that seeing my peers bring grandparents to every significant school occasion, and excitedly report on all of the neat adventures they got to go on with them, didn’t sometimes rankle. That vague feeling of a missed connection has waned over the years, as I was lucky enough to be kind of informally ‘adopted’ by one of my best friend’s maternal grandfather, and to have been given a second family in a community of (mostly 50 and over) Benedectine monks. Still, questions linger, questions that I didn’t really feel comfortable posing to my parents past a certain age. 

Most of them centered around my paternal grandfather, Charlie. My dad was always full of stories about his mother, who he compared to me (when I maybe wasn’t meant to be there) in terms of devotion and bullheadedness to his siblings, and the little aquatinace that I had with my maternal grandmother didn’t really leave me wanting more. My mom’s dad, meanwhile, had passed in the late ‘70s, and seemed a distant, somewhat painful memory even to her. Charlie, though, existed as a kind of aura around my dad’s stories, a cheerful and mischievous but indistinct presence who bore 7 kids and 50 something years of marriage with equanimity and good humor. The most I concretely knew about him was that he drove my grandmother crazy playing with a Rubix cube at the dinner table, ate peanut butter crackers by the thousands, and died a few months before I was born.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “T”


“The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost

I love that quote. It rings of all the things we learn across life that are basic and true – finish what you started, just keep going, don’t quit, get up, endure, just keep swimming – just keep swimming. I’ve seen a fair amount of non-quitters in my time. I’ve seen some seriously tough soldiers; I know a guy who’d die before he’d quit. We all know lots of people say that but he’s the one who’d actually do it. He left the Army, became a missionary in the mountains of Burma and now he’s in the middle east saving kids in war zones. I saw guys swim underwater knowing they were going to pass out; no swimming for the side or trying to stay on the surface, they’d just go limp and start to sink. I have seen it across all walks of life well outside my military world too. Oftentimes one does not get a choice in what happens but they can choose to get through it. 10 July 1961 is a date that would affect my life forever despite not even being born. That was the day my sister arrived on the planet.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Is It the 4th Yet?’


Four years ago, my Mom passed away and I think about her last weeks with us every year at this time. She had been going downhill for six months or so, and for the last month, she was in the hospital’s CCU for three weeks, then a regular hospital room for two weeks. I guess when you’re 91, a lot of things go downhill fast. But hey, she grew up in and lived through the Great Depression and WWII, was a fantastic dancer and loved to sing, married and raised a family, and loved her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, so she’d had a great life.

Every day we’d visit her, and she always had the same question; “Is it the 4th of July yet?” We’d say “no Mom, it’s only June (whatever), the 4th is next month.” It was touch and go for a while in the CCU, but she finally stabilized and got into a regular room for a couple of weeks. Still the same question, “Is it the 4th yet?”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ave Atque Vale: Frank Zbozny, Rest In Peace


My husband, Frank Zbozny (see–I always told you I could win a game of Scrabble in one go, if only proper names were allowed), has died. Many of you know of his decades-long struggle with dementia, and of the cardiac and other physical problems that began to sap his strength in 2012 or thereabouts. But he was himself almost to the end. The last intelligible word he spoke to me was two days ago, after I enabled what I believe was one of his last pleasant physical sensations on this earth (so I did it often), the deployment of a just-warmed-in-the-dryer comforter over the top of him. He smiled. I asked him how that felt. He thought. And over the course of about ten seconds, the courtly and rather old-fashioned gentleman I married, 39 years ago on July 24 of this year (I wrote about that marriage here), managed to get the word out: “Deee–li–cious.”

We started out our married life quite poor, at least in financial terms. I was a Teaching Assistant, and Frank was an Assistant Professor of English, at a time (early 1980s) when a liberal arts career path was beginning to be deprecated in favor of a business education, so he wasn’t terribly well paid. We lived at the very end of a dead-end street, in a run-down little house picturesquely situated just above the exhaust vents of Pittsburgh’s Liberty Tunnels. I was assaulted once, going home after work as I walked up the hill from the streetcar stop. I was fondled by the disgusting creep (kneed him in the crotch), and my purse was stolen. Our house was ransacked one evening when we were out, and the very few items of value, both real and sentimental, that we owned, were taken. (I remember, on both of those occasions, feeling utterly violated. It was three-and-a-half decades before I felt anything else as wrenching, or even remotely comparable in terms of being flayed alive in a public space.) One day, I drove home from work to find gangs of thugs in the middle of the street watching a couple of pit bulls fight in the back of a pickup truck. I had them arrested and carted off to jail. It required a bit more moxie than it might today, as this was well before the days when cell phones were in widespread use. So I parked my car in the middle of the street above them (so they couldn’t leave, because dead-end), walked through and past them, while they jeered and insulted me, walked up the steps of the house, and called the police. Frank’s comment? “You would have made a good United States Marine.” Made me proud then. Almost makes me proud now.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: A Representative and His Duties


“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” — Edmund Burke

I knew a man, one of many pleasant anachronisms in my life that I did nothing to deserve. His friends called him “Bill.” We, his family, called him ” Papa.” He was born exactly 88 years ago, but I only first met him 59 years later. He was my mother’s father, the leader of an 11-member clan, and eventually a grandfather of 18. Things haven’t been the same since we lost him two years ago; such a man is not easily replaced. I might not go so far as to call him “great” – there will not likely be any institutions named after him, no statues either (thank goodness!) – but a good man is hard to find, and William Joseph Taylor was an especially good man.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Music To Bury My Mother By


June 24, 2020 would have been my mother’s 92nd birthday. She died in September 2014, at the age of 86 after a long struggle with the effects of fronto-temporal dementia. Her death was, in the eyes of her children and others who loved her, a release and a blessing. And for her, peace at last.

She’d fallen away from the faith of her childhood decades before, and her children wished only a celebration of her life, and to say farewell to Mum with words and music that she’d have enjoyed. (I’ve often thought that, in an earlier time, Mum might have lived as a wise woman, or a white witch, in a pretty little cottage in the middle of the forest primeval. She’d have liked that, I think.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What do I owe you, dad?: A Letter


Dear Dad, 

We don’t talk much about feelings. Well, that’s actually not fair, I don’t talk much about feelings. That’s not on you, you’ve always been the person to cry at weddings and say ‘I love you’ with no hesitation, I guess I just turned out a little different. Doesn’t Stephen always say I was perfect to move to England because I’m so absolutely emotionless and taciturn? I do, though. Love you. A lot. A ‘I would kill for one of those bone crushing hugs at Logan Arrivals Gate E’ lot. 

Check out the video on my Youtube Channel!

Join me as I make a mask at home out of one of my t-shirts!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mother’s Day: No Laughing Matter


I realized something for the first time when my kids were of an age for sleepovers and birthday parties: dads are funnier than moms.

I might have noticed it in my own house if it wasn’t right under my nose. My husband was the one to get on the floor and wrestle, start sock fights, and make jokes when it was time to get serious. That’s not to say I could never be found on the floor with kids crawling all over me, but there’s something different about mommy wrestling as opposed daddy wrestling–a certain lack of abandon and goofiness. My daughter would come home from a party or church event with stories about how Cheri’s dad had made them laugh while driving them to the skating rink, or how Leslie’s dad had played a stupid trick that backfired. It was never the moms. Mothers could certainly be fun (I’d like to think I was. Maybe. Sometimes.), but seldom funny.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friday Digging (and Cooking) for Victory Post: V-E Day +75!


Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I bring you across-the-pond greetings from Auntie Pat (97 in July, may she live forever). She wishes you a very happy V-E day, thanks those of you with WWII service members in your families, hopes you are well, and that you have a very nice summer and Fourth of July. She’s currently locked down and holding her own in a facility in Birmingham in the UK.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Elder Scrolls’ a Virtual World of Possibilities

A scene from Elder Scrolls
A scene from Elder Scrolls

My husband and daughter have been playing the video game “Elder Scrolls” for a few years now (yes, they take breaks to eat, go to school, go to work, etc.). This virtual world is stunning in its detail and sprawl. When the weather is bleak outdoors, the digital forests with sun filtering through trees, birds singing, and wildflowers blooming give me a lift. Sometimes–although I would never publicize this on an online forum–when weather doesn’t permit walking, I jog in place in front of the screen, pretending to “run with” my daughter’s screen character. It is cheering, if there are no nightmarish beings attacking, to imagine I’m taking some air on cobbled paths winding through woods, or on a beach, or over a boardwalk. As my daughter works her way through the game, with its stiff storylines and stilted dialogue, we are building our own family lore around it, which to me is more amusing than what the Tolkien-wannabe scriptwriters offer. Here are some absurdities you can only get from the blending of real and programmed worlds:

Virtual Clutter: In Elder Scrolls, players constantly acquire objects and carry them around in their packs or whatever their digital conveyance is. If I understand it right, these items come in handy later, or give the player an edge in fighting, or extra food for recipes, or clothes. At times, it gets to be too much, so you can sell off items to people in the game, or you can dump them somewhere. Apparently, my husband has taken to dumping. My daughter discovered this after she spent some time buying herself a house and furnishing it how she liked. It was tidy and cozy, a calm retreat from battling mutants. One day, unsuspecting, she selected that area on the map to visit her home. My husband had been there before her. He had been busy cleaning out his gear, leaving items strewn around the medieval dwelling. And in the middle of the floor was a sacrificial heart.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Brothers and Sisters


I have a baby brother. Well, he’s not a baby anymore. At 68, he’s two years my junior. My mother used to tell me that he and I were close when we were very young; he would wait on the doorstep for me to return home after school. Neither he nor I remember that, but I was always pleased to take her word for it.

Over the years, my brother and I have not been close. There was never a formal breach, but I had expectations about how a brother and sister should treat each other and he wouldn’t comply. I was glad to initiate our communicating with each other, but not 100% of the time. He was supposed to reciprocate at least occasionally. That wasn’t his way.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I’m a Woman and Don’t Need a Female President to Empower Me


Will that doggone glass ceiling ever break? Will women finally get their champion in The White House?

This was the much-repeated question for many in 2016: Hillary Clinton, the long-awaited heiress to the presidency was ready to make history, giving millions of young girls the role model they deserve, because as she explained at a NYC luncheon in 2017, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Scrubbing Away What’s Not Important


As a property manager, I look after beach properties for part-time owners. I received a text from an alarmed Atlanta client, saying that security encountered a strange individual who claimed he paid $2,400 to someone on Craig’s List to rent his home. Police were called and the dude claimed he drove from Michigan to Florida to move in.

He gave two numbers of the person who “rented” the property to the police, both of which were disconnected; clearly a scam. My client was alarmed that the person claimed that he entered into this agreement with someone who had the same last name as the owner, a very unusual last name. They also had a private gate code. So scammers are well at work during the worst worldwide event since World War II – why take a day off?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Not All Is Manageable, But All Must Be Managed: A Lenten Rant


Rod Dreher said a friend texted him the following about Covid-19:

When you have lived for several generations in a powerful and wealthy country untouched by deep tragedy and awash in the deep-seated belief that you are both the Chosen Land and Master of Nature, the belief that everything is manageable becomes the biggest article of faith. And the biggest blind spot.

Rafael Mangual joins Kay Hymowitz to discuss evidence suggesting that children are often better off when criminal parents are imprisoned—the subject of Mangual’s story, “Fathers, Families, and Incarceration,” from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal.

A common criticism of incarceration in the United States, notes Mangual, is that it harms children by taking parents or siblings out of their homes. But recent studies show that children living with a parent who engages in high levels of antisocial behavior may be worse off than kids with incarcerated parents.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Family Second, Faith First


Recently I had the pleasure of listening to Lt. Col. Allen West speak during the service of a local church. His presence and purpose, as much as the words of his excellent message, brought to mind something that I had been mentally digesting since the recent death of the British philosopher and writer Sir Roger Scruton. Both Col. West and Sir Roger serve up mental meals far richer than this poor cook can scramble together but I do have a few beginning bites partially digested enough to serve up a notion or two from them.

It was Scruton’s reflection on faith and family that I had been pondering. He had taken to task the need for government to tout so-called “family-friendly” policies. He contended that when the health of a nation’s faith was solid, the fate of the family was secure. He did not discount the importance and need of a strong family culture for the nation to flourish. But the foundation of that family culture was not in policy but the strong faith of individuals. A nation with a strong culture of faith will have strong families which keep the values of the faith, culture, and nation alive.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I Get Why the Kids Like Bernie


My children are in their early twenties and just starting out. Neither one of them studied anything particularly lucrative (Film; Art). They take after their old man that way (Drama). 

But when I was starting out, I had little trouble getting a job with a Chicago restaurateur who gave me all the work I wanted tending bar and waiting tables. I did not have to deal with a 29 hour per week limit to avoid Obamacare requirements. I could get 40 hours no problem. After 40 hours I would work off the clock for tips only, which was just fine with me. All in all, I could count on about $700 per week.