Tag Archives: family

Reflecting on a Deep Personal Loss

The middle of next month will be the 30th anniversary (is that a good word for it?) of my father’s death. While 30 years is a long time and I’m quite used to his absence, I find certain little things are affecting me in ways they normally don’t. Some stories and videos on Facebook, as well as some of the dramas I like to no-brain out on with television, are having a disturbing effect on me.

I’ve been thinking about the blog post I want to write to commemorate his passing and to share a little bit of the joy and pathos that was our relationship. It was a loving and stormy one, I’ll tell you that. I suppose thinking about it has been making me a bit melancholy. I used to be able to talk to my mother about him, but she’s been gone almost nine and half years and my brother and sister and I just don’t talk about him that much. Thirty years! Hard to believe.


Shalom, Salaam, and Hallelujah

I came across a post on Facebook today and I just wanted to share the videos that were in it, along with a few thoughts about the tune and what listening to the two versions did to me. The song is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, recorded and released in 1984. It is one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard and, as you’ll see in the following videos, the words are somewhat irrelevant . . . at least for this post.

I listened to both of these in the order I’m presenting them. Both brought me to tears for a couple of reasons. The sheer beauty of the melody was certainly one of them, but the quality of the performances, as well as the identities of the performers was a factor as well. The first is a performance by a group from the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces; the second is sung by a young Arab boy, accompanied by the Voice in a Million Chorus.

The struggles of Israel and the Arab world, especially the Palestinians, and the tension they caused between my father and me, were probably significant in my response as well. This is no doubt because next month he will have been gone for thirty years and he’s been on my mind more than usual. Somewhere in my head I felt the pathos of these struggles and the frustration that they’re still going on, as well as recalled the countless family arguments and disagreements encountered over meals both mundane and special.

It’s difficult to write about the feelings this particular juxtaposition of artists and performances evoked, so let me just drop the videos below and allow you, should you care to, listen to them both. I don’t expect you’ll feel exactly as I did, but I can’t help but think you will feel something powerful.

The IDF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nt_zDQjkwY

Mikhael Mala and the VIAM Choir

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPsNr0Ih-m8

I hope you enjoyed and, perhaps, even felt something a little special. As the original poster said: “On the day that Arabs and Israelis can celebrate TOGETHER, peace may be round the corner. Salam and Shalom.”


It’s OK, Beth. We’ll Carry On From Here

Beth Thompson

Farewell, Beth. You touched a lot of lives and will be sorely missed

I posted the following on Facebook two days ago and I want to share it here as a tribute to my friend and former colleague:

I am beside myself with grief. A couple hours ago I received a message from a friend who wanted to confirm what he had heard – that our former colleague and good friend, Beth Thompson, had passed away. I started frantically contacting as many people as I could think of, all the while hoping it was just some stupid Internet screwup. It was not to be. Apparently, while preparing to leave for work this morning, Beth suffered a heart attack and passed.

Beth was one of my first friends when I joined the Program Office on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program at Rocketdyne. Her good humor and iconoclastic attitude helped me ease into the corporate world, a world I didn’t join until I was 40 years old, and was ill-suited for. Along with many others I’m proud and happy to still call good friends, Beth was family. I still have the card she picked out for me and had everyone sign when I left for what turned out to be a short stint back in my family’s business. That was about 17 or 18 years ago.

She moved up to the Seattle area with her husband, Paul, and their three children, where she continued to work for Boeing, one of several major players that passed Rocketdyne around like a financial hot potato. This is tough to digest. My kids have seen me cry for the first time in their memory. People who are younger than you aren’t supposed to die before you do. It’s just not right.

We hardly saw each other in the past few years, but we liked and commented on each other’s FB posts now and again. At least I knew she was there and I got to see a little bit of her life and happiness. That is now gone and my world is poorer for it. Goodbye, Beth. I love you and will always remember how you brightened my world and the world of so many others.


A Generation Gone

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Tomorrow would have been my father’s 89th birthday. It’s also a couple of months into the 30th year since he’s been gone. Over a generation has passed since he died a couple of months shy of his 60th birthday. I don’t think of him that much anymore, but when I do I miss him; sometimes terribly. Like so many men of my generation, I had a very stormy relationship with my father. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and had served during World War II, and survived the deadly Murmansk runs through the North Atlantic. I know his time aboard ship affected him deeply. I made the mistake – though not very often – of waking him when I was standing too close to his hands and arms. He did not wake well, especially when I was young. I learned to stand back and gently touch his foot or call out to him.

He was raised by a very stern Russian-Polish immigrant who I never got to meet. Assuming my father learned much of how to be who he was from his father, I figure Max Wladofsky was a stern and difficult man to please. My old man really wasn’t capable of showing too much affection, nor was he capable of much in the way of praise. For years after his death, I found myself thinking (after something special had happened to, or because of, me) “I can’t wait to tell Dad.” Of course, that was followed immediately by the recollection he was gone and would never know of it, or have the opportunity to be proud of me. I wanted desperately to please him. Fortunately, in the final years of his life he and I settled our differences somewhat, and finally began building what I’d like to think would have been a wonderful friendship . . . had he not died so very young.

He really was a loving man, but I believe circumstances conspired to make it difficult for him to show affection and acceptance. He was a member of what we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation”, a generation of hard, stoic men who “saved us from Fascism” and, after the war was won, brought home the bacon. When he left the service, he was able to purchase a modest, new home in Panorama City, a suburb in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and have to say much of my life was pretty idyllic by most standards, thanks to his dedication to his family and his hard work.

He was, I believe, scarred forever by his experiences during the war as well. He never saw combat as a soldier, but he spent weeks aboard ship, in convoys being hunted by German U-Boats and sailing through waters in which hypothermia would have killed survivors of a torpedoed ship within minutes. I doubt many on those ships slept very soundly. I’m sure he didn’t.

I hardly ever saw him when I was a young boy, as he worked six days a week at the Grand Central Market, in downtown Los Angeles. He left the house before I arose and frequently didn’t get home until after I was in bed, asleep. Sundays were usually spent with other members of our extended family and, if memory serves, the adults kept mostly to themselves and the kids played together. I got to know my cousins pretty well, but I didn’t get to know my father until much later.

Because I had been told most of my life that I was exactly like my father, I spent quite a few years after his death thinking 59 would likely be the end of the road for me. Since I’m now 66, I’m thankful that didn’t turn out to be the case. Still, I think I would gladly give up a few years if I could have had a few more to enjoy with my father. I wish he were here so I could wish him one more happy birthday tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to content myself with spending a few minutes writing this post and thinking about him . . . and how much I really do miss him.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

Rick's visor

What Geordi La Forge’s visor would look like if it was designed by the British Royal Family.

My youngest daughter, Alyssa (9), says I need to write more blog posts if I expect people to visit and read. Why didn’t I think of that? I don’t know what it is, but sometime you just don’t have a great deal to say. Sure, I frequently post things to Twitter and even more to Facebook, but this is my blog. This is where I give vent to the things that are most important to me . . . or, is it?

I have to admit I’ve always had trouble writing about certain things, not the least of which is my becoming a first-time adoptive father at the age of 55 . . . and doing it again at 59. I want to write about the experience, but I also have long felt the need to protect my daughters’ privacy. It is, after all, their story to tell, and it’s far more about them than it is about me and my wife. I think there may be a happy medium, however, and I’m close to figuring out what it is.

So . . . here are a few goals of mine. I want to continue writing about some of the things that are of interest to me professionally, e.g. Knowledge Management, Social Media (especially as it affects business and civil society), Politics, and Religion/Philosophy. I also want to share some of my personal experiences, especially those I know are a bit out of the ordinary, e.g. International adoption late in life, retirement, becoming a man in the 1960s (including my political activism back then), and maybe some things for which the statute of limitations has thankfully run or for which the trail of evidence is too dry for me to worry about. :)

This is a process and involves (I think) my re-doing how this site is set up. I’ll be getting to that soon. Right now I’m busy looking for ways in which to supplement my retirement income. I’ll probably be writing a bit more about that as well. I have always been somewhat of a late bloomer. Now I’m just hoping I live long enough to see my latest “career move” come to fruition. I greatly appreciate those of you who take the time to visit and read. I think, perhaps, another goal of mine will be to see if I can’t elicit a few more comments. I wonder if writing about controversial subjects will accomplish that? We’ll see.

Here’s a thought. Anyone interested in the intricacies . . . and the legal and moral issues . . . of International adoption should read this. It’s one of the issues I plan on writing about as I loosen up on the subject. It was not something we thought about prior to our first adoption, but was definitely part of the thought process when we adopted our younger daughter. Now it just haunts me. One of my goals is to live long enough to see my girls to adulthood. Then I’ll be able to discuss it with them. The reality is we just don’t know for sure what happened before they came into our lives. I’d much rather it haunted me, and not them.


Dream On!

I posted the other day about my vision getting to the point where it seems everything I look at has a drop shadow and one of my friends tweeted me the following:

This got me to thinking about dreaming in general. I don’t know about others, but I hardly ever remember my dreams nowadays. I assume I dream because I’ve read we all do and, sometimes, I have somewhat of a recollection of having dreamed. I just can’t seem to recall what it was I dreamed about. I think that’s likely a good thing, as I interpret it to mean I’m not terribly troubled.

Which brings me to nightmares. I suspect if I had a nightmare I would remember it. My eight-year-old has them occasionally and she seems to be able to remember them pretty vividly. On the other hand, my 10-year-old has them but refuses to tell me anything about what they are. Drives me crazy! I want to be able to comfort her, but she’s having nothing of it.

I’ve also come to the conclusion not having nightmares is an indication that I’m pretty well grounded and don’t harbor any unreasonable fears about the unknown or . . . even the known. The closest I come to a nightmare is worrying about having enough money to take care of our bills, maintain our current lifestyle, and have enough left over to send my kids to a reasonably decent institution of higher learning. Trouble with those nightmares is they keep me awake, so they aren’t really nightmares I guess.

Speaking of dreams, the last one I recall vividly happened many, many years ago. It was a couple of years after my father died in 1984, shortly before his 60th birthday. One night I dreamt I was on the beach (I had been living a couple of blocks from the ocean in Playa del Rey, CA for some time) and I ran into him. Now my father and I did not get along all that well for most of my adolescence and a substantial portion of my adulthood. However, we had begun to get to know each other better and were growing quite close when he died. Though I missed him terribly, I was happy we had left none of the really difficult issues unresolved before he was gone.

In my dream, I approached him and asked (somewhat incongruously), “Where have you been?” to which he responded . . . actually, I don’t recall what he said. What I do recall is the dream seemed to last an entire day, during which time I was able to share with him how my life was going and enjoy what was a real deep sense of peace and contentment. We joked, relived some old times, and generally just basked in each others’ glow.

I haven’t dreamed about him since, though I do miss him sometimes. I think the quality of that dream allowed me to move on a little more comfortably with my life. I know it left me with a sense of accomplishment that I still feel the residue of, nearly a quarter century later.

So here’s some unsolicited advice. If you have a parent you are a bit estranged from, make an effort to resolve whatever issues remain. Don’t take a chance of having nightmares after they’ve gone and you no longer have the chance to bury the hatchet. That is all.


Move Along Now. There’s Nothing to see Here.

Be Careful What You Say

So . . . after deciding to open up a bit and start to share a little more of what I want to share, rather than what I think I need to be sharing (mostly business stuff), I’m still struggling with how best to do it and what, exactly, I feel comfortable with writing about. It’s actually bothering the hell out of me that I can’t pull the trigger and get out some posts on the things that matter to me: My children and the circumstances of their joining our family (international adoption); my feelings about the direction our nation is heading in (backward), as well as the responses to it; education as it relates to where our nation is going (both school and life-long); and my thoughts regarding these subjects.

My biggest conflict revolves around my children and how much I can share without violating their rights to their own story. Yes, I believe they have rights like you and I and I wish to respect them. On the other hand, I’ve learned so much from raising them and from dealing with their circumstances and my role in them that I want to share how it’s affected me as well as the things I think need to be done to lessen the burden for them and those like them, many of whom I now call friends and from whom I’ve learned much.

Painful and difficult as it is, I’m determined to write more frequently, though the past few weeks surely haven’t evidenced that. Nevertheless, I intend on pressing on even if I trip, stumble, and fall. I’m deeply thankful to those of you who take time out of your precious day to read what I have to say and I really appreciate the comments I occasionally receive. I’ve sat on this post for far too long, so I’m going to fire it off even if it feels more like a placeholder than anything else.


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