Posts Tagged ‘teach’

Can You Hear Us?

April 18, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Do you know how we wonder where you are?
When Mom blames you, do you deny everything?
Are you with me when I listen to Marty Robbins in my car?
Did you read the poems we wrote for you?
Are you aware of our problems, of our triumphs?
Did you know Kristi got a 100 on that test?
Can you see Debi when she teaches her class?
Are you proud of Scott’s grades?
Do you still laugh and mutter “ugly dog”?
Can you see our faces when we gaze at the stars?
Do you think I look like you?
Do you step into our dreams at will?
Were you really coaching me when I was looking for the dipstick?
Do you like the way I cleaned up the basement?
Are you happy your body was buried at sea?
Do you know what your grandchildren will look like?
Are you a star or a little bird now?
Do you smile when we sit around telling stories?
Do you think I solve my problems okay?
Can you read over my shoulder when I write?
Do you know your grandchildren’s names?
Do you know how Trevor’s doing?
What does God look like?
Is He a nice guy?
Do you get to visit Colorado?
Did you sit with Mom and see me graduate?
Do you see Grandpa, Grandma and Joanne often?
Can you see the ladies that Kelli and Kari have become?
Are you proud of your children?
Do you know how we miss you?
Can you hear us?
written by t. michael pender  4/1/89
©1989 T. Michael Pender.  All rights reserved.

Pointing Out Love

March 31, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

I feel sorry for people who weren’t raised by my parents.  I mean, I know there are wonderful and amazing parents all over the planet, but my parents had special ways of doing things that were fun and loving, and taught us wee three a lot about love, simply by observation.

Back in olden times, like when I was four, fathers went off to work and mothers stayed home to raise the babies, because a family could survive on one income.  I remember eating breakfast together, and then Dad getting up to leave for work.  My parents would kiss and one would say, “I love you,” to which the other would reply, “I love you more.”  As Dad slowly made it out the door, with kids hugging at him, my folks would continue the “argument”:  “No, I love you more” . . . “Nope, I love you more!”

Once Dad was outside the closed door, and audio was suspended, the tiff continued with visual cues.  Both parents would stab their pointed fingers in the air at each other, to silently keep up the “No, I love you more” debate.  Over time, we smaller Penders would get into it.  Debi and I would point at Dad, too, and his pointings began to go all over the place, as he now had three Penders to outlove.  I recall Kristi being there, too, but she was small enough to be up in Mom’s arms, and I don’t quite remember if she pointed with us.

Snapshot memories like this remind me how lucky I was and am to have the family I have.  I have tried to continue what I learned from my parents in teaching my boys about life and love, but we’ve never quite been in a situation where the pointing came about.  We have our own personalized rituals, as all families and generations do, but something so simple and pure as this scene is always sad to lose . . . but a joy to remember!

Proper Bag Dispersal, Per Dad

October 21, 2010

by Thomas M. Pender

Children learn from their parents.  They learn by listening, and by watching.  They learn the proper ways to do things by observing how their parents do them.  This is the way of the world.

So, when my father showed me the right way to get a paper grocery bag out of your way when it was successfully emptied, I observed, noted, and followed suit.  This is the way of the world.

If my father had been a typical father, he would have shown me how to correctly fold, stack, and neatly put away the pre-tree-friendly-plastic-bag paper bags.  However, my father was not typical.  He was fun!  To his credit, Dad did wait until I was a teenager, and after I had learned the proper way to put sacks away, to show me the right way.

When a paper grocery bag was successfully emptied by my father, he would pinch the bag at the top corner, and flick his arm and wrist in such a way that the bag made beautiful spinning spirals in the air as it twirled up and over his shoulder, then landed expertly on the floor with a dramatic smack.

“Jo-ohn!” my mother would hopelessly and teasingly scold.

“I was done with that one,” Dad would respond, whilst starting to empty the next sack in line.

Observant and obedient son that I was, this is how I learned to empty grocery bags.  In no time at all, Mom had two six-foot-plus men in her kitchen, “helping” with the groceries, and spiraling paper sacks over their shoulders to land smackingly on the kitchen linoleum and scare the dogs. “To-om!”

“I was done with that one.”

She had to be proud of me, for learning by observation and practice, right?  Particularly the intricate wrist flick that produced the best smacks.

After Dad passed, there was, of course, a period of silence in our house, during which we mourned and adjusted to the way things were going to be.  Still, it was important to me to keep Dad alive and in our house as much as possible.  I loved talking about him, and whenever possible, I would do things as he would do them, just to keep his legacy alive.


“Alright, John!” became Mom’s new hopeless whine.

“That’s what you do with grocery bags when you’re done with them,” I would occasionally explain.  “My dad taught me that!”

When the world’s grocery stores slowly switched from paper to “Paper or plastic?” to plastic, I stubbornly continued the family tradition.  During the period when I was given a choice, I’d always ask for paper bags, because only they could smack just right.  After the choice was removed, I appreciated how I could now carry five or six or ten bags to my residence in one hand, but I also missed the smackness of the paper sacks.  Nevertheless, in my stubborn celebration of my youth and my father, I continued (and continue to this day, whether I’m in the presence of others, or home alone) to fling the plastic bags over my shoulder when done emptying them.  They don’t flip as fast, nor smack on the floor.  In fact, they’re quite boring in their graceful floating down upon the currents of the air.  Still, I continue to stubbornly flick.

After all, that’s what you do with grocery bags when you’re done with them.  My dad taught me that.