Seasons for WPC

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If I can just hold on a few more weeks…..although I noticed these photos were taken before I knew how to set (and/or remove) the date on my camera. (Should be in late May.)

Just don’t tell anyone these pictures are taken in the Northwest. We like it that everyone else thinks there is nothing but gloomy RAIN up here!!!

It’s Never Too Late….*

It’s Never Too Late….*

(Branding VS Bonding)

“Maternity is a matter of fact; paternity always a matter of opinion.” Unknown Author

When I was two, my Mom found my Dad. They got married and had my sister Eileen when I was three. They had my sister Barbara when I was six. When I was nine, I found out that Dad was not my first Dad. I don’t remember that fact being particularly bothersome. But when I was twelve and my folks divorced, well, that was definitely bothersome. When I was fifteen, being fairly exhausted by the role of Junior Mother to my sisters while my own Mom drank herself into oblivion, I left home in search of the rest of my childhood. When I was nineteen, my mother made her first (at least discernible) suicide attempt. (She took pills.) She survived, but only after being in a coma for as many days as I had had years on the planet. She woke up saying, “I don’t want to sleep anymore.” I thought she meant it and was really relieved and hopeful. Her narrow escape from death seemed to inspire her. She turned her life around dramatically…but only for a couple of years. When I was 20, my mother was more determined…no reprieve this time. It is much harder to survive suicide by gun.

When I was 24, and had a toddler of my own, the difference between a biological parent and a step-parent smack in my face, I wrote my Dad a note. It said, “Now that Mom is not alive, you and I are not REALLY connected by anything, so do you want to stop being my Dad?”

As of this writing, I don’t remember how he answered that question. I think it was something sweet and positive.

I do know that after he died in 2001, when we were going through his belongings, I found that 30 year old note from me, crusty with age, in a small box full of obvious treasures; like a very beautiful picture of my mother (his one and only love), correspondence from his father, and a very impressive letter of endorsement from his commanding officer in the U.S. Cavalry recommending him to West Point. My barely camouflaged plea for reassurance was in very admirable company indeed.

When I was 40, I received the following letter from my Dad:

Dear Kathie,

When your mother and I got married, we didn’t have much money and you were very young so we didn’t think you would mind if we skipped the legal proceedings for me to officially adopt you. Then, as it does, time passed and we just never got around to it.

Would you think it silly now, at this late date, for me to make it all legal? Would you let me adopt you?

I think you know that you have never been any different in my eyes from your two sisters, except that you were my oldest. Your other father left before you were ever born, marrying your mother in name only, at the “insistence” of your grandfather, so I knew I would be your only Daddy.

Have I ever told you when I knew you were mine?

When your mother and I were dating, we always brought you along. I knew from the start it was a package deal with her and that was just fine by me. One afternoon when we were out, I picked you up to carry you on my shoulders, as had become our routine. Well, while you were up there, you had a little accident and leaked all over my neck. That wasn’t too bad really. But when I went to change my shirt and tie later, I found that you had marked me. My white shirt and neck were stained a bright crimson, the color of my tie. I didn’t think of myself as a “red neck” but I proudly wore that red mark around my neck for several days until it finally wore off. I told the guys at work that my new little girl had branded me. That’s when I knew I was your Daddy.

Now, I would like to make it official if that’s OK with you. Let me know what you think.

Love, Dad

My response to him was a no-brainer.

So, the Christmas after my 40th birthday, my Dad flew to Seattle from San Diego. My sister Barbara was there. My sister Eileen, who had rarely seen any of us since our mother died all those years before, flew over from Hawaii, and my 3 long time best friends attended as witnesses. It was definitely official, taking place in a courtroom in front of a judge who asked both my father and I a peculiar series of questions. “Do you have any ulterior motives for taking this step?” “Does doing this help you to avoid legal action in any way?” “Are either of you doing this for financial gain?” etc.

Then the judge pronounced us legally “father and daughter” and leaned over his bench to shake my Dad’s hand. He said, “Congratulations on your new baby girl.” And to my sisters he said “She is your real sister now.” Then he thanked us all profusely saying, “Usually during this week between Christmas and New Years, we have nothing in Family Court except Child Protective Service cases or maybe the relinquishing or termination of parental rights. How refreshing it is for me to have participated in this long awaited and obviously joyous occasion.”

Judging from the things my Dad did during the time immediately before he died, my legal adoption was not the first time he had considered my sisters and I being re-united.

Although he had never uttered a single word of criticism or advice concerning our long-time estranged sibling ties, clearly he had thought about it. He simply carried on three separate father/daughter relationships. He developed his own connection with his 3 grandchildren and before his death he fixed it so that at least once more, we had no choice but to all three be together. I mean really together. We had to join up and cooperate in the dispersal of his estate. All papers had to be signed by all three of us, in person, and at the same time.

There was plenty of money designated specifically for travel expenses, eliminating that excuse. Clever, clever man. Either that or a real brat. If Dad was nearby, and we believe he was, we know he got a real kick out of it as his lawyer innocently said, “Yes, I thought this was an unusual request that there be 3 executors and that all be present in the same place. This is not how it is commonly done. Your Father must have known that you three get along really well to put you in this position as equal trustees.”

I wonder what that attorney thought of the look of shock, dismay and wonderment that passed among my sisters and me in that moment.

Dad, I’m sure, was chuckling. I guess he really believed that it is never too late.

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ADOPTION DAY–one of only two times my Dad had all three of his grown daughters together

*(published also just now at medium.com)

Oh, and Badfish? They ARE real!

Met a young cousin of yours recently and decided to do one of those “proof of life” photo shoots with him.

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teenage bug (Extatosoma Tiaratum)

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Adult female Giant Spiny Australian Leaf Bug

Then Baby Badfish asked if his girlfriend could join us. I of course, said YES, curious and all. Who do these Badfish boys date anyway??

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I think she’s pretty cute, if a bit tipsy.

And a funny thing happened during our photo session. I turned my back…for just a second and look what happened!

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From out of nowhere! This one just showed up! Can’t tell if she is a bug girlfriend herself or if she is lunch for my hungry bug. (Just kidding. They are definitely herbivores!)

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Anyway, for real, they are REAL!

Dear Badfish (again)

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Crystal Pier at the end of Garnet Street in Pacific Beach…that is my sand, my original beach, my sunset place, my surfing destination, my first bikini debut (had to sneak so my Mom wouldn’t know), my first kiss (Russell Lanthorne), my second run-away-from-home spot (my first was to hike to the top of Loring Street Hill, 2 blocks from our house, so steep and high, I could see my entire world from there).

Related image

These memories came tidal-waving back, Badfish, when you mentioned the pier in a comment. Some of the pictures I found online were images as familiar to me as my own hands. (By the way, I am still learning how to find and use free photos on my blog.)

Memories, in order of significance: starting with…well, you can decide if they go most important to least, or the other way…

1) My bathing suit. I wore the aforementioned bikini on that beach.

I found my first bikini and bought it with babysitting money. A whopping $13.

It had to pass inspection by both my mother and grandmother.

 

Luckily, in this instance anyway, even at 15, I still had nothing “up top” to show for my age. As a matter of fact, my nick-name from some Junior Highschool bullies was Busty (a logical transition from my last name, Bessey), but chosen for me because I wasn’t.

Here’s how creative I was in my  pitiful to fit in.

It was camouflaged as a two piece bathing suit, with maximum coverage.

You could wear this one particular bathing suit in a modest, cover your belly button way, OR, your could pull on the drawstrings hidden on each side of the suit bottom, and Voila, decide exactly how itsy bitsy you wanted your Yellow Polka Dotted Bikini to be! (Mine was pink and green plaid.)

I opted for minimum coverage, pulling those secret drawstrings as tight as I could…once I got away from the house, that is. I was hoping, I think, to draw attention away from the also adjustable, Kleenex or Kotex stuffed bra top. (Yes, when I swam, it was a soggy mess until I switched to my cut up gym socks.)

2) Battle of the Surfer Girls and the Spider Babes. Picture a long flat sandy beach, about 15 stair-steps down the hill from the sidewalk, parking area and life guard tower. Me and about 15 other girls, with our surfboards, requisite bikinis on ultra tanned bodies and our long, straight, variously attained blond hair are gathered on the beach. We have heard the Spider Babes are coming today. I don’t think any of us actually know what that means but we are ready. Honestly, this could have been a competition over our hunky Surfer Brother’s or just a face off over make up style. Who knows?

But here they are, all lined up along the cliff overlooking our Crystal Pier Beach…only about 8 of them to our 15. They are dark haired, over clothed, pale skinned with ratted hair adding several inches to their height, and sporting exaggerated Twiggy eye make up with almost white lipstick.

Oh, and our foxy guys? They are here too. This is rare because the area south of Crystal Pier is insultingly named “the girl beach”, meaning long slow very flat waves, compared to Tourmaline canyon just a few blocks up the coast where the guys surf.

At the time I thought the boys were standing at a respectable distance, trusting us to handle ourselves, but now I bet it was that these adolescent boys were drawn to the possibility of witnessing females fighting.

What is that anyway?

3) Maynard’s–In those days, there was a tiny biker bar at the corner of Garnet street and Ocean Blvd. If you crossed Ocean your were ON Crystal Pier. The place was called Maynard’s. Amazingly good food, and they served meals 3 times a week for a quarter (25 cents) to minors (Hippies/surfers/street kids) out the back window.

Maynard’s in Pacific Beach, California

http://www.billpaxton.net/maynards.html

4) And last memory, for this post anyway, My favorite Runaway Place-As a kid, 7 to 13 years old, I would sneak away from my “oldest kid” duties at home and walk to the beach. Got in big trouble for that. Did it anyway.

As an adult (all of 19 years old) I ran away to that same beach again. This time it was after discovering I had become pregnant (my very first time out of the gate) and the love of my young life, had dumped me. At 5 months along, I ran away this time, with a fist full of hard-earned der weinerschnitzel and Fotomat dollars, to the cheapest motel I could find on Ocean Blvd. facing my same old beach.

I could only afford two nights and it was the longest 48 hours of my life, filled with anger, grief, confusion and terror. How would I ever raise a baby on my own working at Fotomat? I walked on the beach. I wrote in my diary. I watched the sun set. I ate at Maynard’s. (They actually fed me for free one night. I mean, what were they going to do? Turn away a crying, hungry, pregnant teenager??)

But my Crystal Pier Beach came through. I left knowing exactly what I needed to do.

What happened next is definitely for another day………

 

 

 

Seasons (just past) for WPC

Spotted this on our regular trail, driving through the neighborhood in Hood Canal, WA.

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We were told in order to create this Holiday Display, it takes several freezing nights in a row, out in the dark, with the garden hose trickling on the trees, bushes, etc.

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My Grandsons were fascinated and wanted me to take their picture. It wasn’t until later we discovered how the sun had lit up the piece of ice they picked up.

Seasons