Tag Archives: mother

I am my father’s son

Allegheny Mountains

I still have personal mountains to climb.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My daughter’s words cut right to the truth. In the brief silence that followed, I was once again reminded that I am my father’s son.

The situation embarrassed me. I don’t even remember what caused the unpleasant commotion. I do recall my daughter’s sternness vibrated to my core as soon as she invoked my father’s name.

I bit my tongue, preferring instead to analyze the situation mentally. Dad, God rest his soul, would have persisted in driving home his point.

It’s taken me a long time to confess my similar faults. What’s the line about teaching old dogs new tricks?

Internally confronting the reality of your negative personal behaviors, comments, and intentions isn’t easy. But it’s necessary if I want to be a better husband, father, grandfather, friend, and person. It’s just the way it is.

Being too quick to respond is only one way I am my father’s son. I had a marvelous mentor in Dad offering an opinion whether requested or not.

I’m an expert at translating an interesting short story into a novel with no climax. I might even mention the main point. That never bothered Dad’s storytelling.

photography

Shooting with my lens.

I can’t tell you the number of times my wife has chided me for wiggling my leg while sitting beside her. At church, at home, in a theater, at a concert, I’m used to a nudge, an elbow, or verbal reminder that I’m activating global seismographs with my leggy machinations, just like Dad.

Fortunately, all my fatherly similarities aren’t undesirable. I enjoy meeting new people. They have enriched my life. Dad never met a person he didn’t like until they proved otherwise.

Dad was a man with many interests. He loved hunting, fishing, archeology, family gatherings, dancing, baseball, football, basketball, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was a lifetime community activist.

My likes are just as diverse. A lot overlap with Dad’s, like sports and serving community. However, I shoot wildlife with my camera and frame my trophies rather than eat them.

Ohio's Amish country

Where Dad liked to visit.

Dad liked to travel, too. With a house full of children and all of those outdoor interests, we didn’t often traverse beyond Ohio’s borders. We didn’t have to. The Buckeye state had plenty of day trips to offer families, including visiting Amish country.

I had the good fortune to marry someone who enjoys exploring new places near and far. It’s often fun revisiting the same locations my family did all those years ago.

It’s interesting to hear my two sisters-in-law confiding with my lovely wife about how my two brothers’ idiosyncrasies compare to Dad as well. At least I’m not alone.

super full moon

Dad was over the moon for Mom.

Dad had one admirable quality that glowed like a super full moon. He loved our mother to death. Dad showered Mom with flowers, candy, and cards every birthday, anniversary, and holiday.

He wasn’t exactly jealous. Dad just knew he had a beautiful wife, and wanted to keep that relationship as secure as possible. He thought the solution was to smother Mom, which came across as control.

Given the spunkiness of each of our wives, neither my brothers nor I need worry about that. We appreciate and encourage spousal individuality, and celebrate our special days accordingly. We know we are as fortunate in love as our father was.

I’m thankful for all that my gregarious, energetic, enthusiastic father modeled even if I unconsciously replicate some of those talents that occasionally land me in the proverbial doghouse.

Maybe that’s why we don’t have a dog.

family vacation

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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A drought of a different kind

Miller farm by Bruce Stambaugh

The farm of my late in-laws, Wayne and Esther Miller, as painted by my recently deceased mother, Marian Stambaugh.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Our family has experienced a drought far beyond the on-going dryness that our area and much of the country is currently enduring. My mother died in April, and now my mother-in-law, Esther Miller, recently passed away. Both were 90.

The word drought is usually defined as a long period of dry weather. Wherever they live, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Virginia, all of Esther’s grandchildren have had to endure this drought. In some areas, the drought is considered moderate while in others it is much more serious.

Funeral flowers by Bruce StambaughThe second definition of drought encompasses a much wider, deeper meaning. Drought is a lengthy serious lack of something. When you lose your mother and your mother-in-law within three months of each other, one cannot help but sense a serious lack of something.

I know I do. My brothers and sisters do. Now my wife and her sister do as well. All of our parents are gone. We are now the elder generation. I’m not sure I’m ready for that distinction yet.

I also know the grandchildren, though they are scattered across the country pursuing their various careers, feel that certain dryness, too. They don’t have to say anything. I can see it in their eyes, their non-verbal sorrowful expressions.

Like my mother, Esther was a good, God-fearing person, dedicated to rearing her family the best way she knew how. She learned those loving skills from her mother, and perhaps her own grandparents.

Reality has set in for all of us. The torch has been passed. It is up to us to carry on what was modeled for us for all those years.

Esther Miller by Bruce Stambaugh

Emotion overcame Esther Miller at her 90th birthday celebration.

I remember the very first time I met my future in-laws at their 80-acre farm east of Louisville, Ohio. I hadn’t been there long when Neva’s father asked me if I wanted to see the pigs. How could I turn down that offer?

I not only got to see the pigs, but also the milk cows and the heifers, too, and the grain bins and hayloft and the tiny milkhouse. At the time I thought Wayne was just being nice. On the way home, Neva told me that she knew her father liked me because I got to see the pigs on the first visit. It took other suitors at least three visits.

Esther welcomed me with equal warmth. Excellent host that she was, she offered me a beverage and a delicious homemade snack. She could have written a book on being a homemaker. When Neva and I announced our engagement to her parents, Esther responded in a most amicable way.

“We are glad to have you in the family,” she said. “If we had had a son, we were going to name him ‘Bruce’.” I was at home away from home.

I remember hustling our young daughter and son into the Miller farmhouse one Christmas Eve in the teeth of a blizzard. Once inside, the warmth of the gracious hospitality far exceeded that of the comfortably heated home.

Farm sunset by Bruce Stambaugh

During our times of loss this year, we have experienced the kindness and thoughtfulness of many, many others. They each found their own ways to share in our mourning via food, flowers, cards, emails or calls. We felt blessed by those expressions of sympathy.

In addition, the family has found a wellspring of refreshing comfort despite our maternal losses. We rejoice that our parents enjoy an eternity that will never know any kind of drought whatsoever.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

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My mother said there would be days like this

By Bruce Stambaugh

My mother said there would be days like this. And that was when we used carbon paper in typewriters. 

Technology has come a long way since then. It is a wonderful thing as long as it works. If it doesn’t, I don’t mess with it.

Friends and family know that I could never pass for a techie. But believe me, unless you just want your flashlight batteries changed, I’m not the person to call.

My son knows this. My son-in-law knows this. My friends know this, especially the ones with technological smarts. I’ve called them all enough, sometimes with the lamest problems that seem totally unsolvable to me.

They come over, hit one or two keys or make some slight adjustments, and bingo, I’m back in business. I thank them profusely, try to pay them, usually without success. They go on their way, likely hoping I won’t call again. But they know I will.

I guess that’s really my point. I have to call my friends and family because online computer and equipment companies usually don’t list their phone numbers. Retailers do. Utility companies do. But if you enter the inner sanctum of a technology company’s website, just try and find a phone number.

Sure they’ll be glad to take your call to sell you something. I think that’s how I got in this particular fix to start with. I must have ordered the wrong item.

On the advice of my son-in-law, who has marvelous technology skills, more than a year ago I purchased an external hard drive for my laptop computer. It looked just like what I was instructed to order.

I hooked the sucker up. It beeped, lit up, whined, whirled and hummed. Finally, I had achieved success by actually connecting one electronic gizmo to another. The box said it would store up to 320,000 pictures. That number is probably close to what I have taken since I started using a Brownie camera as a kid when my mother warned me there would be days like this.

For the record, I have, or maybe had, about 5,000 digital shots on my desktop computer. I said “had” because the thing crashed, and I have yet to hear the magic words from the repair shop to “come pick up your restored computer.”

Oh, well. At least the 6,000 pictures on my laptop are backed up on the external hard drive. Or I thought they were.

Feeling a little leery with the desktop down, I decided to open the external hard drive and actually verify that all those shots I have taken were saved in the external drive.

Unfortunately, they weren’t. At least I don’t think they were. All I could find when I clicked on the icon were folders with acronyms I had never seen before.

That’s what got me investigating. I went on the manufacturer’s website, and once I finally clicked on the right highlighted phrase, I discovered that I most likely had the wrong piece of equipment.

It only took me more than a year to realize the obvious. The nice lady who answered at the other end of the retailer’s toll free phone number was sympathetic, but said I should have called sooner. No doubt.

I’m still trying to crack the manufacturer’s website code. They have lots of answers on their FAQs pages. Problem is they don’t have the answer to my particular question. Will their product work on my computer?

My mother never had that problem with her manual typewriter.

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