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The Last Thanksgiving – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Food, Growing Up, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships, Thanksgiving | One Comment

54cb76d69713f_-_detroit-lions-turkey-112310-xlg<Guest post from Teresa L. Thome>

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always pleasant enough, but I never quite understood what all the fuss was about.

It was a day off from school. The greatest stress involved was the cooking of the meal and that was left primarily to my mother. I suspect my oldest sister, eight years my senior, shared some of the responsibility. I’m sure she’ll let me know after she reads this. But, by and large, it was my Mom’s meal which meant we would feast on overcooked turkey, over-creamed vegetables, over-radished salad, and (surprisingly) delicious chocolate pie! (My grandma’s recipe).

This meant, for my Dad and me, Thanksgiving was more about Lion’s football and dessert than the meal itself. (Although my Dad did love turkey skin!)

As my parents aged and my siblings moved away, Thanksgiving grew even less about the food – if that could even be possible. Much like other fall days, it was a time to spend with my parents and watch the Lions with my Dad.

I vividly recall one Thanksgiving with my parents and grandparents where, as I looked around the table, I noticed that each adult had food somewhere on their face. I gagged a little. Needless to say I really started dreading Thanksgiving. It had become about aging and change. It was making me sad.

After my Mom passed, it got worse. My Dad moved into a retirement community and not wanting him to be alone on this day for families, I’d join him. By this time I was a full practicing vegetarian. While the seniors in the home dined on turkey, and my Dad the extra turkey skin he loved, they lovingly prepared me a boiled vegetarian hot dog for my protein. After a few years of that, my Dad really encouraged me to go to Detroit. “It’s just a day. Go. Go,” he would say. I went.

But after a few years spending the holiday there, I decided to once again spend Thanksgiving with my Dad. I also decided to make my grandmother’s pie.

The meal was being served at 12:30pm, which meant seating at noon and completion by 2pm. But kickoff for the game was around noon and that disappointed me. I really wanted my Dad to be able to see the whole game and I really wanted to the see the whole game with my Dad.

I arrived at 11:30am. Late arrivals always stressed my Dad, so I was unusually early this day. He was pleased. We chatted a bit.

Then I said, “Too bad kickoff is right at meal time.”

“Oh, you saw that, huh?” he said as if he didn’t want me to feel bad about missing it.

It was sweet. He knew I wanted to enjoy the game. He didn’t realize it was about enjoying the game with him. I appreciated the concern. Then I had an idea.

“Hey Dad, why don’t I run over to Meijer, grab takeout and we can just watch the game?”

“No, you don’t want to do that. You want a real meal,” he said half-heartedly.

I knew he already thought it was a great idea.

“Really, Dad? I mean the food here isn’t that great. Let’s bag it and eat in front of the TV.”

He lit up, quickly rubbing his hands together as to express excitement. Within minutes I was at Meijer and, moving as if on an episode of Amazing Race, was serving up a full meal in his apartment by kickoff.

I bought a roasted chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, glazed carrots, creamed corn, and for the first time ever… wine! I always enjoyed that with my husband’s Italian family for Thanksgiving, but we had never had it. My Dad even wanted a glass. We sat with our TV trays for the entire game. We ate, drank and laughed. The food was decent. He was happy. I was thrilled.

When it came time for pie, I asked him how big a piece he wanted. He didn’t want any pie. He told me he never really cared for my mom’s chocolate pie. Wow. Thanksgiving wasn’t even about pie for him. Just football. I was so grateful that he got to enjoy the whole game – beginning to end.

As we said our goodbyes, he thanked me and I thanked him. I didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want it to end. We kept remarking what a lovely day it was. How grateful we were that it played out as it did. How we should do it again. I think we both hoped the day could go on forever. I know I did. For the first time I realized, truly, what the fuss was all about.

It was my last Thanksgiving with my Dad. I am forever grateful.


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Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


TERESA L. THOME ® 2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNAUTHORIZED USE AND/OR DUPLICATION OF THIS MATERIAL WITHOUT EXPRESS AND WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM TERESA L. THOME, AND THIS BLOG’S OWNER, IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
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The Candy Man – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fall and Autumn, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Halloween, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships | One Comment

candy<Guest blog from Teresa L Thome>

“Pick one for me, and then you take two,” he would say.

I would divide reluctantly.

“Now pick one more for me and you take another two,” he would say again and I would do so again, despite my intense desire to defy his request.

The “he” was my Dad and the “dividing” was candy.

Halloween candy… my Halloween candy!

My pops, who at his peak weight was 340 lbs., loved his candy… and apparently mine, too.

Now the only good that comes from having to give up one’s Halloween candy to their Dad is being able to shed circus peanuts, anything with marshmallows, Necco wafers and that horrible invention called the Almond Joy.

Those I could easily remove from the pillowcase that served as my Halloween candy receptacle. He would occasionally push for a Snickers or a Nestle’s Crunch, which I would give up, but not without a fight. On the surface, this standing (read: annoying) tradition, instilled by my father, clouded my love for the Trick or Treat experience.

But more than loving to eat candy, he loved to share candy.

In his later years, after my mom passed, my Dad would send my husband or me to Costco to stock up on about $250 worth of candy (and sodas) every six weeks. He would store them in his apartment at the retirement community where he lived. All the workers there would stop by for a candy bar after their shift or at the end of their lunch.

Sometimes they’d stay and chat. Other times, they’d just grab their sugar fix and go. Either way, my Dad would beam. Half the joy in his life came when he would offer up a candy bar and someone would accept. Take two and the man would be on cloud nine for days. It was that easy to make him happy.

The first time I took him to a doctor’s appointment, I wheeled him up to the counter and from seemingly nowhere he pulled out a plastic bag filled with goodies. “Make sure you all get a piece of candy,” he said to the nurses behind the counter.

They’d chuckle and give the inevitable, “Oh, I surely don’t need another piece of candy,” just before they’d walk over and pull out a Hershey bar. Two minutes later someone would ask him how he was doing. “Crabby,” he’d answer. They all knew better. So did I.

The first time I took him to the eye doctor, the nurse said as he wheeled up to the counter, “Here comes Bob. You better have some candy for me!” He’d clearly been doing this for years.

I could easily imagine him in his apartment getting ready for the appointment, all alone, pulling just the right assortment of candy. Later, when I needed to do the bagging for him, he would say things like, “Get extra Nestle Crunches. I know Jan (the nurse) likes those.” Or, “Grab the big Snickers, not the little kind. Sally will only take one candy bar and she needs something to fill her up!” It was sweet. He was sweet. Pun intended.

A few years ago, I found my father’s high school yearbook. One of the autographs was signed as follows: “Hey Bob. I know I don’t know you too well, but thanks for the candy bars. You’re a great guy.” I cried. He’d been doing this his whole life.

Looking back, I realize my father was a master teacher. Without ever saying, “You need to share”, he held me to it (as a child) and demonstrated it (as an adult). And so, over time, I learned this valuable lesson.

This Halloween, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will serve up hundreds of children for their Trick or Treat night. This year and for years to come, that candy will be given in my father’s name. My siblings and I felt this would be a fitting tribute to the man who really was a “candy man”.

“Who can take a sunrise?
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two,
The Candy Man.
Oh, the Candy Man can.
The Candy Man can
‘Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.”


The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum11 Sheldon Avenue NE, is hosting its annual Trick or Treat Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Parents and children are encouraged to wear costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the museum, create Halloween-themed art projects such as footprint ghosts and puffball spiders and more.

Admission is $1.50 per person. Contact Adrienne Brown at 616-235-4726 or visit grcm.org for more information.


Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


TERESA L. THOME ® 2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNAUTHORIZED USE AND/OR DUPLICATION OF THIS MATERIAL WITHOUT EXPRESS AND WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM TERESA L. THOME, AND THIS BLOG’S OWNER, IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | FUBBLEENTERTAINMENT@GMAIL.COM

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All In The Family – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Daddy, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Parenting, Personality, Relationships | One Comment
download (2)BY TERESA L. THOME

I grew up in the same kind of environment as most other white, middle class kids – a modest home in a working-class neighborhood, three siblings, one dog, two working parents and a racist dad.  (Yes.  I just admitted that and we are going to go there.)

I grew up hearing my dad tell jokes about Polish people, the Irish and Italians. WASPs, Limeys, and Krauts… oh my!  He was an equal opportunity racist.   He even took aim at his beloved Catholics.

And there were lots of jokes about black people… too many.   He never used the “N” word, but it was abundantly clear that it was okay to make judgments about people based on the color of their skin.  By the mid 1980’s, gays were added to his list of perfectly acceptable people to joke about.

I suspect this was par for the course in my father’s upbringing.  It was not uncommon to hear my German/Dutch dad, his friends and relatives telling a racist joke at a party.  There were derogatory remarks too, but for the most part, where my dad was concerned, it was jokes.  It was meant to be funny.  And my dad was funny.  The laughter he elicited certainly blurred the line for understanding what was appropriate and what wasn’t. It blurred the line for him and for all of us.

At some point in my early thirties, I overheard my dad telling a joke disparaging Black Americans.  He was in earshot of my ten-year old, twin nephews.  It was wrong.  I gave my dad an ultimatum.  He needed to make a choice, “me or the racist jokes.”  If he wanted to teach his nephews that racism was okay, I’d have no part in it.   He was dismissive and I left with angry tears.  I called the next day to let him know, I was serious.  He responded, “Oh, I’m only joking.”  “I don’t mean anything by it.”  “I’m fat and people tell jokes about me.  I don’t care.”  As adamant as he was that he wasn’t trying to be mean, I was adamant that the intention didn’t matter.  When it was clear I wasn’t budging, he agreed to stop.

At first, the jokes ceased entirely.  Then, over the years, he’d try to slip something in to test the waters.  Every once in a while he’d land in a place that felt like good-natured ribbing.   And every once in a while, he’d step over the line.  Way over.  I’d give him a stern “Dad” and he’d stop.   As if I were the parent and he were the child.

I thought there was a part of him that really could separate the jokes from his beliefs.  On the occasion that my siblings or I dated a “person of color,” he never said a word. I also recall a vivid conversation that we had about gays in the military.  He was a Korean War veteran.  “Why do all these idiots think that just because a guy is gay, he’s gonna want them. If someone wants to fight for their country, let ‘em!”  Twenty minutes later, he’d make a joke about gay people not fit to print in this blog.

Then my own best friend came out, my dad was quick to offer up a gay joke or two to him.  My friend would laugh. My dad called him, Tinky.  He called my dad, Grandpa Bob.  My friend was, in my father’s words, “one of the family.”  My dad was an Archie Bunker with heart.

A few years after the incident involving my nephews, my mother confided in me that my father had sought counsel from a priest.  He wanted to heal the racism in his heart.  Contrary to what I was thinking, he was struggling between the jokes and his beliefs. Whether this was before or after our big conversation, I do not know.  Either way, my father never told me about this work he was doing. 

I’m grateful to have learned that he did the work.  I’m also grateful that he wasn’t the one to tell me about it.  It showed me that he understood that this was his work.  Whether or not I knew what he was doing, didn’t matter.  He wanted to make better choices for himself.  He didn’t want to hurt people.  He wanted to make them laugh.  I respect him for realizing that both were important. 

Teresa.


 

Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


Teresa L. Thome ® 2013 All Rights Reserved
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Teresa L. Thome, and this blog’s owner, is strictly prohibited.
TWITTER | FACEBOOK | InstaGramFUBBLEENTERTAINMENT@GMAIL.COM

Never Too Late – A Daughter’s Story

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Memories, Personality, Relationships, Teenager | One Comment
download (2)BY TERESA THOME

After all these years, I have decided I no longer need a Dad.  I need a friend.”

I wrote that, years ago, in a letter to my father. I was in my late twenties.  I had spent much of my life fighting with my Dad.  Too much.

While I knew I couldn’t repair the past, I could work to change the future.  I made a decision to write down everything I wanted to say to him, to be honest and clear, to put it on the table once and for all.

I did it for me.  What he did with the information would be his choice. 

I gathered all of my courage, asked him if he had some time to connect and I read him the letter. 

Some of my best childhood memories involved my Dad, but so did some of my worst.  It’s hard to articulate these difficult times without sounding trite.

My father teased me. 

He didn’t beat or abandon me.

He teased me.  Incessantly.   He would tease me about boys and my looks and whatever else was in the moment.  I would cry and beg him to leave me alone.  He wouldn’t stop.  I’d close my bedroom door and hide, and when I emerged, he’d start in all over again.  It was exhausting and painful. 

My father was also an “over-eater”, topping out at nearly 350 lbs.  Most of my tween years were spent hiding food from him and imploring, “If you loved me, you’d stop eating.  If you loved me, you’d stop trying to kill yourself.”  The more I shouted (and believe me, I was a skilled shouter) the less he heard and the less loved I felt. 

My father worked two jobs, restaurant and factory, for most of my formative years.  It’s hard to imagine that we even had time to fight. 

He did spend time with me and my siblings. He would take us to the zoo, museum or lake.  Together we would watch Lion’s football and listen to Tiger’s baseball.  He taught us to play poker. (I was rather proud, at age nine, to know the difference between a straight and a flush.) He bought us books.  Lots of books. 

By the time I reached my late twenties, I had done my therapy and started to grow spiritually. I was ready to get to know this man.  The man I had come to believe loved me all these years, just never knew how to express that love.  For my part, pleading for him to love me, usually came out as “I hate you” and “leave me alone”. 

As I read him the letter, he sat in his chocolate brown Lazy-boy wearing his standard uniform – a stained white T-shirt and worn out blue Dockers.  (This memory is forever etched in my mind.) While I read, he cried.

I was grateful for his tears.  I knew he was hearing me. 

He waited until I finished before he spoke.  He said softly, “I had no idea.”  I believed him.

“I’m sorry,” he added.  I believed that, too. 

We talked and talked and when the time was right, he challenged me.  “There were times I tried to reach out to you.  You shut me down.”  He was right.

I said, “I’m sorry.”  He believed me.

That day marked the beginning of a new relationship with my father.  We were both adults now.  We both had made mistakes and we were both willing to forgive those mistakes.

For several years following that incredible day, he would occasionally ask me, “How are you doing?  Are you sitting on anything?  Anything you want to say to me?”  It was mostly, “Nope.  All good!”

On one or two occasions, I did say, “Yes.  Let’s talk some more.”  Each time, I was met with an absolute willingness to connect and a safe environment in which to share my thoughts.   

It was remarkable that I happened to get the Dad that wanted to be a better person; that wanted to be a better father. And asking him to change required that I be willing to change. 

I believe that we are not alone – that there are many fathers and daughters who want a better relationship, but don’t know where to begin.  I say, just begin somewhere.   I am forever grateful that I had the courage to ask for change. I am even more grateful that I had a father who agreed that this was a relationship worth fighting for.

In my twenties, I asked my Dad to be a friend.  As it turns out, by asking for a friend, I got the Dad I always wanted. 

When he passed in June of 2012, I felt a profound love that I still hold in my heart today.  I look forward to sharing more about my pops in the upcoming blogs.  I know there is great wisdom, joy and more than a few laughs to come from looking at the life of this simple, beautiful, devout, dutiful, wounded, funny, tubby, loving man.


Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


Teresa L. Thome ® 2013 All Rights Reserved
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Teresa L. Thome, and this blog’s owner, is strictly prohibited.
TWITTER | FACEBOOK | InstaGramFUBBLEENTERTAINMENT@GMAIL.COM

Put Down The “Flowbee” And Slowly Back Away

By | Activities, Beauty, Daddy, Dates, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Shopping, Teenager, Toddlers | 2 Comments

If there’s one thing single dads (especially those of young girls) have to learn quickly, it’s how to style their daughter’s hair.

Shopping for clothes? Easy. A basic sense of style and a day at the mall or community garage sale can set you up for an entire season or two.

Feeding her? Simple. Men, at least a lot of the men I know, are already pretty proficient in the kitchen and can avoid the Happy Meals by preparing simple dishes with actual nutritional value.

But when it comes to styling her hair, some men run away in “shear” terror. (See what I did there?)

Personally, I love it. But I may come from a background that isn’t common.

My mother had her beautician’s license and even though she didn’t do it as a profession, the smell of someone on the receiving end of a perm wasn’t a rare odor in our house. I learned how to work with those perm rods before I was 10.

I had three older sisters so the tangled web of hair dryers, clips, scrunchies, flat irons, and the rest aren’t foreign to me.

My ex-wife is a hair stylist so once again the terminology and techniques were ever present.

So when it comes to grabbing a brush or comb and putting Grace’s hair up in a quick ponytail, pigtails, or even a braid, I’ve got it covered. More than that, I look forward to doing it (even if getting her to sit still has become more of a challenge).

If men want to fully embrace parenthood and take part in the equalizing of the roles of a caregiver, they’ll need to put aside any machismo keeping them from styling their daughter’s hair. Don’t worry guys. You can still love football and beer all the while knowing how to pull off a decent French braid.

Daddy Daughter Time is hosting an event in August at Cheeky Strut salon in downtown Grand Rapids to help you out.

Full details are coming to the site and our Facebook Page very soon. We hope you can join us!

In the meantime, check out this alternative method of getting the perfect ponytail. It includes power tools to help ease you into the idea.

P.S. This product could save your sanity.

 

 

T.

Dates With Dad: Daddy’s Little Girl

By | Activities, Boys & Dating, Conversations, Daddy, Dates, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships, Shopping, Teenager | 2 Comments

<Guest blog from Maggie Kennedy.>

daughter-dancing-fathers-feet

Daddy’s Little Girl – that’s exactly what I was.  I had my Dad wrapped around my finger as a child and I am pretty sure my brother would still say I do.

The bond I share with my Dad is one that has grown over time.  Now, looking back, I can see my Dad really took the time to build this relationship with his daughter.

Since I can remember, my Dad and I have been doing things together, just the two of us.  When I was really little my Dad would let me clip my barrettes in his hair and would let me fake shave him (without a razor of course!).  Once I got older my Dad and I went to our first Daddy-Daughter dance on Valentine’s Day.  It was my first real date! I got all dressed up, he bought me a corsage and we went to dinner before the big dance.  We danced the night away with all of my friends and their handsomely dressed Dads in the local high school gym.

As I hit middle school I found it was not “cool” to go to a Daddy-Daughter dance anymore.  So, although it was Valentine’s Day and his birthday, my Dad still took me out on fabulous dates.  We went to my very first fondue restaurant and my Dad even set up a tea party before dinner, just for me.  We did many different dates over the years including Japanese Hibachi and dinner on an actual train.

I always looked forward to our dates, but once I was in high school and had my first boyfriend I quickly dumped my Dad on Valentine’s Day.  As a 15-year-old with my first boyfriend I was ecstatic to be going on my Valentine’s Day date, not thinking twice about my Dad.  As I write this now, 10 years later, it breaks my heart to know I dumped the one man who will forever have my heart.

Moving away to college opened my eyes to not only the love I knew I had for my parents, but the friendships I had built with them.  I missed them even more being 100 miles away.  When I would come home on weekends my Dad took me on the one date he knew I couldn’t say no to… shopping.  On Sunday mornings we would go to Meijer to stock me up on groceries.  I doubt it was the ideal Sunday morning activity for my Dad, but we both knew it was time we enjoyed being with each other.

As an adult, I feel it is my time to plan the dates for my Dad.  Every year I invite him to relish in his dream of owning an RV by taking him to the Grand Rapids RV show.  Our most recent dates included indoor and outdoor shooting ranges which surprisingly I think I enjoyed as much, if not more, than my Dad.

As my Dad hit senior citizens status this year, I decided it was time to go on the ultimate date.  I asked my Dad to go to Europe with me, just us.  No boyfriend, no brother, no mom, just the two of us.  We will be touring England and Ireland in September.  It is easy to say that the same young girl, who could break her Dad with one glance of those big hazel eyes and bottom quivering lip, is now wrapped around her Dad’s finger.

As I often tell my Dad, “A son is a son until he finds a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for life.”  Not to take away from the father-son relationship he has (which I am sure is a strong bond over swearing, scratching and female body talk), but I know that I will be my Daddy’s little girl forever.

Maggie.

Maggie and her Dad.

Maggie and her Dad.

Maggie Kennedy, born and raised in Brighton, MI, graduated from Grand Valley State University and currently serves as a Public Relations Associate for Wondergem Consulting Inc. She is the proud mom of a beautiful (extra-large) Bernese Mountain Dog.

 

 

 

 

For more information on “Dating Your Daughter” and ideas for special Daddy / Daughter Dates, check out our MAY Feature!