deception pass Washington

Category: Family

Remember and Speak Love

the originals

I love this picture. It took me a bit to come to terms with it, since in it I am a little kid and in my teen years I didn’t want to be reminded of that. But as I grew older I made my peace with it. Our family has grown much since then but this is the original bunch – minus Dad who was taking the picture. He was always there, the forever photographer.

From left to right are Sylvia, Mom, Betty, Barb, Nancy, and in the front little Bobby, as I was known then. There are only 3 of us left now – Mom died in 1979, Dad in 1987, Betty in 2010, and Sylvia this past August. I miss them all indifferent ways and at different times. Betty’s birthday is today and so I especially feel her loss now. My sisters were very good to me growing up and we shared many happy memories. We are a family and still are and I realize more each year how special that is, especially when I encounter others who did not have that.

Recently I have had the occasion to look back on scenes of the past, while going through Sylvia’s stuff. I could reacquaint myself with the gawky pictures of me in the photos of Sylvia and Don. There were other family pictures – including one of Sylvia and Barb and Mom when both sisters were very young. Mom looked great and my sisters were cute.

I have realized more and more the importance of not only recognizing the memories and sharing experiences I can have with my sisters and family, but the importance of expressing my love to them. We tend to assume that loved ones know that we love them, but we also need to express it. And realize that treasure is not contained in physical things, but in the relationships we have. No matter the relationships you have, whether family or otherwise, make sure you let those people know what they mean to you. Let them know how they have helped you along, made your life more fun and fulfilling. And let them know how important they are to you. Don’t wait to just remember. Speak the love now.


This is a picture of my Dad and his Dad, my grandpa King, during World War II. My grandfather served in the Army during World War I, World War II, and Korea. My father was classified 4-F due to poor eyesight and thus could not serve actively. He was part of the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, and did the best he could to serve his country by working hard and raising a family. I had wondered recently how it felt for him to be left behind when most of his generation was serving overseas. Military-referencing holidays, like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, must have been hard. Especially since his own brother-in-law, my uncle Phil died in the service and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and because his father had a long military history.

Dad would have been 104 this year, born when his father was over in Europe serving with the American Expeditionary Force. Sadly he passed away 35 years ago today. It seems so long ago, but I am glad I have pictures like this to remember him by. He was a good man and loved his country. He valued education and provided for his family. He and Mom taught us, kids, valuable lessons and modeled the behaviors they taught us.

During my teen years, we had our disagreements. Of course what teenager doesn’t? It takes time to mature enough to look back and appreciate what you have. Here are two pictures that needed distance and time for me to appreciate. One is of dad and me in the backyard of our house in Portland – me looking very gawky. The other is of my parents and us kids, for a church directory, with me looking all of my little kid 10 years old.

I believe that shortly after this picture was taken dad had his first stroke (he was only 48) and our lives changed forever. I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if he had watched his blood pressure and weight and avoided the stroke. It was a life lesson for me – seeing a doctor even when I was in good health, just to keep track of things. But I realize that sometimes life is what it is and you deal with it the best you can. Missing you today Dad:(


Philip Capell Wright, USN – Buried at Arlington Cemetery, October 7, 1942.

Today is a day to remember. A day to remember those who served their country in uniform and especially to memorialize those who died in the service of their country. In my family, I have nephews and nieces whose fathers served in the military. I have two great nephews who served in the military overseas, including one who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. All of those survived their tours of duty.

My maternal great grandfather served with the Vermont 14th Regiment in the Civil War and was in the middle of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge to repel Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, turning the tide of the war. My paternal grandfather served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Force during WWI, and also served during WWII and Korea with the Army, both times with the Artillery.

My Uncle Phil served with the Navy in WWII and was killed in a plane crash while training other young men to fly. He was only 24 and had just gotten married 3 weeks before. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

All these deserve recognition for their service. However, it is wise for us to remember others, such as my Dad. When a large portion of his generation served, he could not. He had such bad eyesight that he was classified as 4-F and was unable to serve. He had to stand by and watch as his father served, as many of his friends and coworkers served, as his own brother-in-law served. I know he would have wanted to serve, but a physical condition prevented it.

I can’t imagine how it must have felt, all those years on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, 4th of July, watching the ceremonies, the parades, the tributes to veterans knowing he had not served in uniform. He served his family, raising us 5 kids to be responsible adults. He served his community by supporting education, being a trusted and appreciated employee of a local company, and being a regular blood donor.  And he served his country be voting and supporting candidates that he felt were good leaders.

In all of our remembering let us not forget those who would have served if they had just had the chance. Remember that those who served took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States—to defend us so that the “inalienable rights” and other freedoms we have in America could be preserved.

And remember when others talk strategically about war, that those troops are not just numbers on a page, but real-life flesh and blood people putting their lives on the line. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t urge rushing into war, may it be the last result.  As I walked through Arlington with all of its graves, and I saw a group of teenagers nearby, my prayer was “keep them safe from those who are too eager to go to war and toss their lives aside.”

Reinterpreting Mom

Moms, we all have them, can’t get into this world without them. We love them, remember them fondly on days like today, ride the up and down waves with them as we travel from children to adults through the maelstrom of the teenage years. They mean well and want the best for us. But sometimes the communication from their heart to our minds gets a little twisted. And of course, as teenagers we all rebel, some of us in more quiet ways.

Mom and Dad were not major rule makers, but there were a few. We all ate dinner together, no TV during dinner—of course phones in those days were attached to the wall and computers were in their infancy so no need to make rules about those distractions from normal family communication. We were told to take a little bit of everything (yes, everything) on the table and finish everything on our plate. We had to finish it all, or no dessert—and everyone wanted dessert. They were children of the Depression and food was precious so you didn’t want to waste it. And you couldn’t always get everything you wanted (war rationing) to you had to develop tastes for everything. 

Unfortunately it took my sisters and me years to overcome the compulsion of ‘eat it all.’ I struggled with “I paid for it I need to eat it or I am wasting food.” I learned that my taste buds often were seeking something satisfying and they would continue seeking even if the thing I had on my plate didn’t satisfy. So it made sense if something didn’t taste right, or I was unsatisfied, not to continue eating something, even if I had paid for it. 

I also learned to choose wisely, manage portions so I didn ‘t have as much to finish. And I learned to trust my taste buds. There are foods that I grew up on, and suffered through, that I will never buy or eat again. I have had people tell me “you just didn’t have it the right way.” No, I tried and my taste buds rejected it—I trust them.

My mom was also a worrier and sometimes overcautious. I have learned to stretch myself. There are things that I have done or do that I know my mom would worry about if she were here, but I do them anyway, just so I can grow.

I have learned to look back and realize what my mom was trying to teach me (and my sisters). She wanted us to appreciate what we had and not take it for granted. She wanted us to explore new foods and not instantly reject them. She wanted us to not be wasteful. And she worried because she loved us. I can appreciate that looking back. Teen years were not the best. I loved my parents but when I went to college I was determined to go away from home to college.

One lesson that my mom taught me I don’t have to reinterpret. She emphasized to accept everyone you encountered regardless of who they were, where they were from, what they looked or sounded like. Always expect the best of everyone. And she practiced what she preached. So that lesson has stayed with me all these years.

My mom passed away 42 years ago, but her lessons live on. If your mom is still here please let her know today that you love her. And whether she is here or passed, deal kindly with the memories. Mom’s aren’t perfect, but I think the vast majority mean well Try as you can to “reinterpret” their messages and find the growth possible there.

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