Baseball, Granddaughters & 2x4s

Hey Dadio,

Last week was the Padres home opener and the weather hit a soul-quenching 80 here in San Diego (there is so much pollen in the air, your allergies would be off the charts).  Did you hear that the Padres picked up Manny Machado? Remember when we sat so high in the nosebleeds at Angel stadium that I was afraid we’d fall off the edge? 

Since I know you would ask, here’s a quick granddaughter update:

Coura Joan’s two front teeth are popping through like a couple of teensy white chiclets. Her squinty four-toofed smile is the best part of my day. Her nickname of the week is Joanies, however, Maisley calls her Maya Malaya or Malanky or Makeherd (?). We have no idea where those came from. Coura climbs into every crack and crevice she can find, her favorite spot being the entertainment center. She eats each meal like I’ve never fed her before and she is most happy while booty bouncing around the coffee table, swinging, or comfortably tucked in the nook of my hip. She’s always watching and following her big sister (even if she just pushed her down) and she laughs when we laugh. She gets her helmet off in a month or so which means hard surfaces won’t go as easy on her – especially since those first steps are just around the corner.

Maisley is now dressing herself and much to my inner child’s surprise, loves anything with tulle.  The only way she lets me do “crazy hair” in the morning is by coloring it with bright hair markers. She calls popcorn, “Popcorns”, and her favorite food is a cheese stick. Her mood and energy is that of a dragon fly trapped in a glass bottle. She has challenged me in every way and I wish daily that I had a roadmap to understanding her next move and what she needs from me. Especially when she runs away from me at the aquarium and I lose her to a sea of fish and panic. She is sensitive to people and things around her, always the first to step up and help. Her preschool teachers say she is a really good listener at school. Weird…just like at home!

It’s harder as more milestones pop up and days go by because it means we are further away from how we were when you were here. But as the girls change and grow, I am excited to see your traits in them revealed.  You will always be a part of them in the form of DNA and vivid stories. So far I think Maisley has your helping hands and Coura has your go-getter determination.

I’m spearheading our mailbox renovation project on Rock Creek – although you probably already know this because I was talking out loud to you in Home Depot. “Tom the mailman” informed me that our post is about to topple over, so me and Ryan, alongside Warren and Mike are replacing it. In my first attempt at a supply run I got: 12, foot long 2x4s. I then realized I was supposed to get a 12 foot long, 2×4. I could use some light guidance for the install this weekend.

There are so many invaluable gifts you’ve given us since you left; deeper spirituality and faith, new people, greater awareness of the present moment, more knowledge about ourselves – the list goes on.  I’d rather be a girl with a dad here on Earth, but I’m going to take full advantage of these new experiences and perspectives as a form of gratitude. 

I have to remind myself all the time: our worst day was your best. From what I can imagine and what my heart knows to be true, you’ve never been happier. Life without you here is still a little like freshman year and I’m awkward and sometimes I hide in the locker room to eat lunch, but I’m slowly learning how to be in this new existence. How to honor and communicate with you in new ways.  The memories are cloudy and a little jagged, but I know one day they will come flowing out as easily as a breath.

Have you met any famous people up there like Abe Lincoln or The Great Bambino? Other than being with us all of the time, are you a guardian angel for anyone else?

Missing you every day in every way. Love you Dadio!

In a bottomless pit of gratitude and baseball game nachos (with jalapeños),

– Jen

Dear Dadio

Dear Dadio,

It’s been three months now since you’ve gone home. It feels like longer and it feels like yesterday. I try so desperately to cling onto specific words from past conversations, but everything feels hazy right now. Saying I miss you doesn’t do it justice. I wonder what word would be better. I fucking miss you? I don’t think there is a word. It’s so far beyond anything in my capacity to say or feel. We talked about saying “Altoid” when we are thinking about you a lot. It’s because your car was always stocked with Altoids, Carmex and trail mix. To soccer, from soccer, and so on.

Every day that goes by makes me wonder deeper and further about where you are and how you are doing. You are one more day into your other life and we are one more day into our life without you. More things are happening and you still aren’t here to experience them. Thanksgiving, three of our birthdays, and even Christmas. Thanks for being there with us, even though it’s not how we selfishly wanted you to be.

With Maisley’s first Christmas preschool performance came the uprising  of a new hit single to replace the “Baby Shark” phenomenon: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.  I was so proud of her for getting up in front of everyone and pretending to sing. Maisley hugs me, rubs my back and brings me ice packs when I’m crying about you. She says, “It’s okay to be sad sometimes”. I try to hide my tears from her but I think it’s okay and maybe even good for her to see me like that.  Thanks for being the best part of our nighttime routine; your star is always the brightest one.

Coura is so smiley, Dad. She is the happiest baby you’ve ever seen and I have an inkling that’s not on accident. Maisley makes her laugh hysterically by jumping up and down and doing crazy faces. Those two roll on top of each other and Coura is finally starting to hold her own. They love each other so much and Coura seems really content being a part of our family. I wonder what she will be and do and see.


Ryan is doing well, too. Work is humming along and his busy travel season starts in a couple of weeks. His parents got him a guitar for Christmas and I have to admit, he can jam out a mean “Twinkle Twinkle Poppi Star”!

I spoke at an open mic poetry night a couple weeks ago when I had only planned on listening. I know you were there because I heard those chirping crickets. Thanks for giving me that burst of courage to go up there and read my writing. I cried so hard on the way home, for so many reasons.

Since you’ve gone home, I grab the hammer more around the house. I’m growing less afraid of what people will think and less afraid of life. I am trying to be extra kind to the people around our neighborhood or at the grocery store. That’s what you did.

We never got to talk about how the Red Sox won the World Series this year or how Tiger Woods is in the thick of a comeback. Can you believe the Chargers are in the running for a Super Bowl title the year after they move out of San Diego? Bring out your rally monkey for the Angels this year!

Dad, you made and are continuing to make such a dent in our community. I wish you could have been there in person as we celebrated your life. I wish we could have seen the embarrassment and pride on your face as people poured out their respect and gratitude for you. The way you lived made other people reevaluate the way they are living. Just take the compliment, alright?

Know that when we smile and find joy it’s for you, it’s because of you. Know that when we are sad and down, it’s also for you. Thanks for infusing us with your strength during hard days and your joy during good ones.

Thanks for being with us through all of this, Dad. When I pay attention and stay present, I am able to find some peace, because that’s where you are. In the brightest stars. The gleaming sunsets. The wispy clouds. The cool breeze. The James Taylor soundtrack. You are in all that is beautiful. 

That’s about it for now. Give Grandma, Nana and Nonno a big hug for us. Happy New Year, Dadio.  See you in my dreams.

Love you so much,