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Category: Family (page 1 of 4)

Items about the Family of David R. Darrow

Remembering Dad

My father died 8 years ago today, a little after 10am. I knew then that life will never be the same, and I have been right.

But that’s not a bad thing. And it’s not an entirely good thing either.

Life goes on. The pain of his death, for me, is gone. I have accepted it. Nevertheless, there is a feeling of missing that is neither painful nor comfortable, but something in between… a resolution that this is just the way life goes… chipping away at us day by day. Giving and taking.

I like the mountain tops much more than the valleys. But I have to admit I learn so much more in the valleys.

New Podcast Episode with the Late Doris Oden Darrow

Doris Oden Darrow -- June 10, 1928--December 10, 2012

This podcast Episode 3, is with my inspiration for art and my most loving critic: My mom, Doris Oden Darrow. Months before she passed away, I sat with her to record old memories of life just getting started as a young married woman of 20. “What was that like?” I learned a lot listening to her. And I think you’ll find it fascinating.

Episode 3 of the “Drawing On Experience” podcast by David R. Darrow

Part of the Adventure

Click to see larger -- Mom reacts to Chris Rice's "Come to Jesus" playing on my laptop.

You might be wondering how I am doing, what with sitting here watching my mother living out her last hours. It’s Sunday, December 9, 2012, and my mom is still fading out in her ready-to-go but still-so-resilient way. Many of my Facebook friends and extended family tell me they are praying for me through this time, and that I am in their thoughts. I am so grateful for loving friends and family.

You haven’t
lived until

I have to tell you, though, this is a wonderful experience. There are tears sometimes, but they are mostly born of happy memories, and gratitude for my mother’s influence in my life. Mom comes from a long line of traditional marriage and family caring. As I care for my dying mother, I recall the years of self-sacrifice and care I received at her hand, and realize I could never match it in 10 more lifetimes.

Something keeps ringing in my memory, told to me by Aunt Thelma Kramar some time after her beloved husband Willard had died:

You haven’t really lived until you’ve experienced death.

I was much younger at the time [my memory says high school or college days] and, having not experienced any close death in my family, I could not relate.

Now I can.

I’ve been at the hospital since Thursday morning, but for a night’s sleep on Thursday at home when I believed they had mom stabilized. My good friend Caroline Spangberg drove in from out of town to be with her dying friend, my mom, and to help her living friend, me. Caroline has a wonderful, generous and giving spirit, and hasn’t thought twice about stepping up and helping with so many of the intimate items of caring for a dying loved one. Caroline’s family and mine go way back to when her dad was my dad’s boss at a company in Costa Mesa, CA in the mid-1960s. Our family and hers became life-long friends. Her dad spoke at my dad’s memorial service, recalling all the years of friendship, bible studies, friend-to-friend counseling, and so on. For Caroline, she says, this is like helping family. I’m so grateful for her help and company, for otherwise I would be doing this alone. (My brother has been out of town with his fiancée Jen for her bridal shower, preparing in a whirlwind for their wedding which is this Tuesday, I think).

I don’t want to sound like this is hard. It’s not. I still laugh and joke, my mom still smiles… there’s lots of love and laughter still. I don’t mind being tired. Perhaps being a little punchy brightens things up.

Bill Harmon and Doris DarrowYesterday was a bit of a spiritual day. With memories of Bill Harmon stopping by her hospital room on Friday, a kind gentleman and a deacon in her church — his ministry lovingly absorbed — a pastor from her church came by yesterday, stopped in just long enough to express his love for my Mom and Dad, and to read her Psalm 31. Brian Morgan is a deeply feeling man, and an excellent teacher of the scriptures — one my mother’s favorite teachers. He’s a lover of art and poetry, an articulate speaker and deep researcher. I was delighted to have him stop in.

Brian Morgan and Doris Darrow -- Click to see LargerLater when the room was quiet, I fired up my laptop and found some soothing music to play for Mom. She smiled instantly at the opening notes of a familiar twist on a Christmas song by Chris Rice: Welcome To Our World. And after that was done, I played for her a song that was performed live at my sister’s memorial service in 2008. Officially, the song is called Untitled Hymn but has become known as Come To Jesus, also written by Chris Rice.

My mom lay smiling with her eyes closed there in her hospital bed. And when he reached the simple chorus with “Come to Jesus…” she spontaneously raised her hand to heaven.

With this kind of faith — always a part of her life, and truly instilled in me — this is most certainly not a time of sorrow, rather a time of joy. Mom is near the finish line, and the crowd waiting to greet her on the other side is much larger than that which she leaves behind — all of us cheering her on.

Waiting for Death

Death is an interesting challenge to what you always believe about faith and the nature of God.

I am sitting with my mom this morning literally watching her wait for death to come. I am no longer asking for a miracle healing, though. I thought that was a good, faith-filled approach, but I realize that I don’t actually believe that kind of miracle is possible now.

I guess I have a limited understanding of the nature of miracles.

I don’t quite believe the ‘amount of’ my faith has anything to do with her passing or healing. That is all in God’s hands. If it depends on my faith, she’s surely gone soon. I am looking at a woman who feels worse than she has ever felt in her life, quietly agreeing with what I hear her utter: please, God, make it soon.

My love of God and trust in Him does not change through this (at least, I don’t think so at the moment). But it sure forces the desire to have answers, this cancer that’s all but killed mom. It’s a bit frustrating, too, to see that she’s not going to pull out of this one, and also frustrating not to see my request for a soon passing being granted — a simple, merciful request.

My brother and his fiancee have been, essentially, up all night with her, and I am spelling them at the moment. A hospice nurse is due at 11:00. It’s a little after 10, now.

I can’t help but think of all the times my kids were so sick, wondering how soon they’d be well. We think of wellness when we’re sick. We tray so hard to get well again. But as my dad quipped while folding to the onslaught of prostate cancer, “Eventually something you get will be terminal.”

“True, Dad,” I nod to myself quietly, “and when Mom gets there, I hope you’re both in your twenties. You guys looked so amazingly full of life in your twenties… and I’d like to know you in your twenties when I get there.”

I also think of what my mom went through with our illnesses and injuries as kids. I know she cried over us, sometimes. I heard her. Now the roles are reversed, and tears come to my eyes as I watch this wonderful woman with a broken body feeling worse than she’s ever felt in her 84 and a half years, waiting for death to relieve her.

We both wait for death to relieve her.

Facing Reality

Mom's last months.
Photo, 10 days ago.

Despite appearances, my dear mother is very weak. In fact, she is dying. She is clearly in her last months, and she knows it, too. She can feel it. I asked her yesterday if she would allow me to tell my friends and her friends about the facts, because there’s always an awkward silence after there’s news of cancer. The silence can go on for months, even years, and sometimes forever. There seems to be, with some folks, a discomfort with discussing the end of another’s life, especially as it concerns illnesses that slowly take life away, such as my mom’s cancer. Mom agreed, and gave me permission to share with my friends and family the nature of her condition.

We’ve seen many positive comments accompanying photos of her recently. Some say that she looks good, or that she looks upbeat. That’s a credit to my mom. She insists on having a good time right up to the moment she simply cannot.

I took the picture above last week during her visit to Kaiser Hospital… we’ve had many visits to this place since January of this year, the first one revealing her cancer. As she was getting her ID out to claim her prescription at the Kaiser pharmacy, a quick glance at her driver’s license reminded me of what she used to look like just 10 months ago. At that time, in January, I considered that I might be looking at her last months on this side of Eternity, but today I am surprised how much of her has already been taken away, so slowly, yet so quickly, indeed.

The cancer that riddles the lining of her abdomen is such that surgery would probably kill her, and chemo has not been doing anything but making her weak and nauseated, [previously] bald and sick. She opted not to go a second round, rather to finish up her life feeling as good as possible. We are all in agreement that this is best, and whatever she wishes is our wish for her.

She looks well, but she’s really not. Cancer is stripping her of vitality, strength, wellness… it’s taking everything. Our trip together to the Haggin Museum in Stockton yesterday was a long, slow trip. When we got there, we walked slowly together, and walked slowly about, and left slowly. I treasured every second of it.
I only found out about this museum and exhibit of JC Leyendecker’s work a few days ago. And I immediately thought of asking Mom if she wanted to go, but thinking she might turn it down. I’m glad she didn’t.

Mom is my first art teacher, and at an early age showed me the marvelous paintings of Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker on the Saturday Evening Post covers. I grew to appreciate their skills from a very early age. In 1988 on a business trip to New York, I took a day off to drive north to Stockbridge, MA to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. It was an other-worldly experience to sense the humanity in each painting as I moved slowly from one to the next.

Until yesterday, I had never seen an original by my other Illustrator Hero, JC Leyendecker. We were there 20 minutes or so before my mother suddenly realized that we were looking at original paintings by JC Leyendecker, not photos. The wonder on her face is something I will never forget, as she realized this and her head spun around to glance at each painting she’d already seen.

This trip was an experience I will never forget. For me, the trip was one of the last I will have with her, and I wanted to build a memory with her connected to art. She and my father were 100% behind my pursuing art as a vocation. Mom’s been my biggest fan for my entire life… and holds the unique position of being the only one who has known me and loved me longer than my days “on the outside.” When mom was in high school, she was one of the strongest artists in her rather large Los Angeles high school, and she wanted to attend the LA Art Center but could not afford it. 4 years later, she married my dad, and went to work to help support him through his last semester of his college years at Caltech in Pasadena, living in a small house several blocks from where I would live 32 years later, when I attended Art Center College of Design — the same school my mom wanted to attend, but with a different name and new location.

The thing is, we believe it’s probably best to let everyone know now. She is, in her own words “not long for this earth.” Her muscles are all atrophied, and her appetite is diminishing. She rallies short moments of strength — but she’s never lost her sense of humor.

I am asking those of you who know her, even a little bit, to send her off with the blessing of a kind note while she is still of sound mind and strength to read it or have it read to her. [email] [Facebook Page] You may get a response, but more than likely not. I hope that’s okay with you.

Would you simply tell her what you like about her, or how she has impacted your life in any way? Maybe you can tell her a memory you have of something that cheered you, touched you or eased your own pain? Don’t worry about making her cry. She probably will, no matter what you say. 🙂

Our thinking is: we’d like to have her be present at her own Memorial… to hear the things people say about her BEFORE she’s gone.

We have praying friends, friends who send positive thoughts, friends of all faiths, and friends with no faith at all. We appreciate the friendship most of all.

From our praying friends, I ask you to pray two things in one: Ask God for a complete miracle healing or quick passing — hopefully, she says, in her sleep. It’s okay with us for you to ask that her passing be quick. She has our permission to leave.

We also request that you PLEASE REFRAIN from typing out your prayers on her Facebook page, or that of John’s, my sister Joanne’s or my own. Thank you. (It’s something we see done by well-meaning folk, and we just don’t want it at this time. Thank you for respecting our wishes over your desire to carry out your faith in that way).

My mother loves her kids the way they are, and would not want us to change. Though the tone of this note is somber, I know that my mom would not want me to alter my daily postings due to her diminished health or demise, so I plan to do my best to share what I love and what makes me laugh right on through her passing and after — I hope that doesn’t appear to be uncaring. I just know my mom would want that. (I am calling a moratorium on my own political rants, though — really, what’s the point?)

We are a family of faith, but beyond that you’d have to really know each of us to know exactly what that means to us each. Our faith is a hope in things not seen, unprovable and non-disprovable. Based on our faith, and trust in the Scriptures, we believe that none of us measures up to what a holy God requires (Romans 3: 23), but in his mercy he provided a solution: salvation by grace — a free gift from God himself, accepted by us through the vehicle of faith and nothing more (Ephesians 2:8–9) — and based on this, we have assurance we will see Mom again outside the realm and constraints of time. We will join her again someday in Eternity.

Therefore we anticipate her departure from us with some measure of sadness, but not loss. For it is only temporary.

I want to thank each of you I have met over the years here and online elsewhere for making my mom part of your lives. For taking her in as you have me. We are grateful.

Thank you for taking the time to read all this, my dear friends.


Emergency Number on Your Locked iPhone

Using a custom image as an emergency number for your locked iPhone

Share this:
I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) Solution for Locked iPhones.

Write the emergency number down and take a picture of it. Set it as your Lock Screen Wallpaper image.

If you are unconscious no one will be able to get into your phone, but when they power it on, they’ll have a number to notify someone!

Go to: Settings > Brightness and Wallpaper > WallPaper > Camera Roll > Choose the photo, then > Set > Set Lock Screen.

Or make a custom Lock Screen image in Photoshop. Use the proper dimensions and resolution for your phone:

• iPhone 3 and older: 480h x 320w pixels @ 165dpi.
• iPhone 4 and newer: 960h x 640w pixels @ 326dpi (Retina displays)
• iPhone 5 and newer: 1136h x 640w pixels @ 326dpi (Retina displays)

Alternate: make your own: “If found, please return to {name, address and email}”

Share this!

Father’s Day 2010

The last time I saw my father was around Father’s Day 2005. He and I watched my tribute to him together. He died June 27th, 2005, succumbing to Prostate Cancer.

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Honey Bee (Zee Avi Cover, Performed by Lauren Darrow)

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Lauren and her friend Kenny got together and recorded this little tune in his home studio. Simple and cute. Lauren did all the vocals and flutes, and Kenny did the guitar and body-rhythm sounds.

Please download your own copy, free, to play on your iPod or other MP3 player. (PCs right-click here and choose Save Target As… – Macs, Option-Click here)

Tomorrowland Never Changes?

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicThe stage rises up out of the ground (note flower pots on roof). This is the Tomorrowland stage by the food court where my late sister Jan Geist and I danced in 1972 or 73 to “Let the Sunshine In” and other ‘groovey’ tunes.

It is now a ‘Jedi Training Academy.’

Putting Off: A Story of Procrastination

Drew M. Darrow, my oldest sonSometimes — no, usually — the consequences of procrastination are unforeseen at any of the myriad moments a task is shoved off the list for the time-being.

I never got around to filing my actual 2007 Income Tax forms at the right time, in April. I filed for an automatic extension. That gave me until October 15 — a few days from now. I made a phone appointment with my tax accountant for Friday October 10, 3pm. I called at 3:00 on the nose, and my accountant answered. “I’m running late on the appointment before you… give me another hour.”

So I called back at 4pm. He asked for another 1/2 hour. I gave him 35 minutes, and called him back. No answer. I called every few minutes, and at 4:50 he answered, telling me he was done, but he needed a bathroom and coffee break. “Call back in 15 minutes.”

• • •

Sometime between 16 and 25 my son Drew became a singer and guitar player. I knew he was a guitar player for years, because he would either grab my guitar and strum away the hours, or bring his own to beach gatherings, picnics or wherever it was he figured the events of which he’d like to tune out and instead focus on his guitar. But I did not know he was a good singer until recently when he handed me a CD with songs he recorded while leading congregational singing during a segment of a church service designated for musical worship. The same evening he handed me the CD, was also the evening of his first Art Show, and among the attendees was Jimmy Robeson, a fellow musician whose music I like, and so I bought one of Jimmy’s CDs and eventually both CDs and my other stuff made it to the car, where in a blurred bit of confusion I put one CD in the player and the other in a stack of my things.

I just
the voice,
the instrumentality
and musicality
of it all.
I recall listening to Drew’s friend Jimmy on the way home from the gallery and thinking what a nice, earthy, styled voice he has, kind of smokey at the right times, but with full-volume gusto when called for. Very nice voice, this Jimmy. My only disappointment was that I had just bought from Jimmy not his earlier CD which my daughter also owned and I had heard, rather a compilation of worship/church songs, which I generally don’t enjoy for entertainment’s sake, nor for singing at church either, really, but that’s more for philosophical reasons related to my ideas of what kind of worship God enjoys vs what modern routines we slog through at church on Sunday mornings — all of which I can save for another time. Still, Jimmy’s got a great voice, and handles the guitar deftly, so I listened on the way home and just enjoyed the voice, the instrumentality and musicality of it all.

The next day I got into my car again for an errand, and the CD player started up, and I decided I wasn’t in the mood for more church/worship music, so I popped the CD out of the player so I could put it back in the Jimmy case. That’s when I found Jimmy’s CD already in it’s case, and realized for the first time that I had been listening to my own son Drew all that time.

I didn’t know he was a singer. No one told me, and he’d never sung in front of me. It really took quite a bit of time for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was listening to my son sing — and that was him on the guitar, too! I wondered why I didn’t know. Why hadn’t I been invited to hear him sing and play before? When did he turn into a fine singer?

Last night, Drew was scheduled as the second act at our large church’s first annual Art, Music, Dance, Drama, Poetry event. It just happens that my son and I enjoy the same church — it’s not like we attend as a family. And on our own, he and I each submitted pieces to the art gallery segment of this art weekend. He also submitted a song, and as I learned Thursday morning, would be performing Friday evening a little past 5:30pm. I was excited to see him perform, finally.

• • •

I called my tax accountant at 5:15pm. No answer. 5:18. 5:21. 5:25. 5:30. 5:35. He finally answered. We got down to business for the next 40 minutes discussing the data, the details, the financial prognosis, as my son performed before an audience of maybe 100 to 200, 6 miles away.

I did not know I would miss such an important event when I failed to file my taxes on time 6 months ago.

There are plenty of other good reasons not to procrastinate, but I’ll get to those later.

Jan Painting in Progress

I started a painting of my oldest sister Jan on Monday night, to bring attention to the one-year anniversary of her death to breast cancer on September 29, 2007.
I was doing the painting live on the air on my Dave The Painting Guy Show, and it became clear that the painting was not going to get finished in this one evening… so I changed gears for a bit and played in impromptu slide show, using some of the images that were shown at her memorial service and 2 of the songs played during the slide show.
If you’d like to see this “slide show,” it was recorded, and embedded below Jan’s picture at Just click the white arrow to get it playing.

Hey, Dad…

What’s it like in a place with no time? Do you have any since that it’s been 3 years since you left this world at 10:00am?

I still miss you. Just so you know.

I love you, and my memories of you.

Father’s Day with No Father

I miss my dad.

It was three years ago that I saw my dad for the last time. I am grateful to God that I had that last opportunity to spend my Father’s Day 2005 with him, and to be able to sit beside him as we watched along with the family my tribute video — a short story of his life in music, pictures and video clips.

Since that time, I am aware of the seeming finality of death, through the many, countless events I have wanted to share with my dad over the phone, or via e-mail; the new technologies that I have acquired or learned; or the accomplishments of my children about which I would love to brag, as if I had anything at all to do with their skills and knowledge.

51 years ago, I was born to my mother and him on Father’s Day… my actual birthday falls on a Monday (tomorrow) this year. But Father’s Days are not what they used to be. I now own the coffee mugs and some of the other gifts that were mailed to him for this occasion, and I remember him with each cupful of my favorite morning beverage…

My uncle Willis died just a few weeks before him that year, then my sister Jan just over two years later, then my dear brother-in-law Scott a couple of months ago. Joanne, my surviving sister, joined my brother and I at my mother’s house for her 80th birthday last Tuesday, and as we rode to our favorite childhood Christian Family Camp Mount Hermon — just the four of us — I commented about how these four of us were now “the whole family.”

It seemed small.

And through circumstances no one wants to face, and with a bit of irony, I am the only married Darrow child. And I am grateful to God for the many graces that have come come my way in that arena.

I, for one,
intend to
just go back
to blogging
the way I
did before
Wednesday, in celebration of what would have been Joanne and Scott’s 31st anniversary, we went to San Francisco on what turned out to be the most beautiful San Francisco day I can ever remember. It was a glorious family time with my mom and sister. Mom, at 80, can walk faster and with more energy than many 35 year olds I know.

We talked about our losses over the last three years, and decided that those heavenly incarnations of those we lost would be very disappointed to find out we didn’t get back to our lives and live them richly with every bit of the personality they knew here on earth, so I, for one, intend to just go back to blogging the way I did before: just as corny, irreverent and playful as I have been — with all due respect to those who have passed on.

Living is pretty nice, after all. I intend to enjoy it.

Happy NerdGiving

My sister and her husband in Colorado just e-mailed me a picture of the family all together for Thanksgiving. All their adult kids came together for this Thanksgiving.

I am telling you, this picture brings back so many memories of my childhood in the late 50s and early 60s… so rife with tradition. Amazing the images it brings up, with almost a “pilgrim” feel to the whole gathering.

I get a little misty just seeing them all enjoying such warm family time together.

God bless us, everyone.

Jan Darrow Geist Memorial Service

We will gather at 10:00AM on Saturday, October 13, 2007 to celebrate my sister Jan’s life and the God she trusted, and with whom she now lives. Our celebration will be at Tigard Christian Church, located at 13405 SW Hall Blvd. Tigard (Portland), OR 97223.

In lieu of flowers and other gifts, please consider making a donation to Jan and Dan’s home church for the expansion fund: Grace Point Community Church Expansion Fund, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Fund, or Hospice of Washington County.

A reminder: I am putting together a collection of her artwork online. Please visit this other post for instructions on how to send me a photo of something that Jan painted for you.

Thank you for your continued prayers and care of Jan’s family.

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone that you know Jan touched with her life.


2 Years Gone

Robert Darrow, Age 5Dad left this earth 2 years ago today. While it is something one can come to accept, even get used to for the most part, it has been a part of life I would have preferred not to experience.

Then again, it has changed me.

My dad was a rare, good soul, and if you’d care to learn about him, his childhood, his marriage and family life, his solid work ethic and spirituality, take a few moments and watch the tribute video I made for him in 2005 while he was still living.

To comply with YouTube’s imposed time limitations, I have split the whole 35 minutes into six parts which can be viewed in sequence, starting with Part 1, here. If you have never seen it, I encourage you to watch this first part and see if you don’t get drawn in.

As for Mom, it was a poignant day for her, today, but she’s doing well. She’s found a way to live life again, and does what a day demands — missing Bob, the whole time.

Tonight I will go to Pizza Port and toast the memory of my father with a beer, as I did the day he died. Why beer? Because one of the fondest memories I have of me and my dad was the day he and I drank beers together for the first time, in Solvang, CA. Growing up in a conservative Christian home, I could never have imagined such an event, but truly good people do grow and change, and as my parents got older, they learned to throw off the shackles of religion and to relax and enjoy their God-given freedoms.

These are big moments to some of us.

Memories of Dad

Dad's Last Birthday - 77I’ll never understand how people forget birthdays.

Then there are some very intimidating folks who remember everything. Every event. Every Birthday. Every anniversary. Commemorating them with a card in the mail. Several days prior. My mom is intimidating that way. She doesn’t mean to be. She just loves touching people’s lives. She can’t help it if she’s just better at it than most people. It’s her gift, and she does it with deep feeling and love. And a life-long consistency.

Today, I am sobered by my mother’s loss of her dearest friend in the world. My dad. His birthday would be on this day, if he hadn’t stopped having birthdays. And I am sobered by the idea that we all stop having birthdays, eventually.

I loved
my father
I loved my father. And I love his memory.

April 12th, for my family and me, will always be his day — even if he’s no longer physically around. He would have been 79 today, if he had lived.

This day is also an anniversary of another memory that I wish could stay fresh in my mind as the happiest of days, but that soon I will want to forget ever happened.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… –Ecclesiastes 3:1

Only the Beginning

Lauren riding next to meOut for a causal Saturday Morning Date with my daughter Lauren, last Saturday, I was awakened to the realities of this life; this world; my world.

Her world to be.

Pulling up at a stoplight in the rightmost of 2 left-turn lanes to the freeway on-ramp, I was casually talking with my daughter, my left arm resting on the open window frame of the driver’s side and the sunroof open to the gorgeous sunny day, when all of a sudden a loud shout came from my left.

A teen-man voice cut the air. “Hey, is that your daughter, man?! She’s hot!

My daughter and I immediately started laughing, as we saw the middle passenger of 3 male occupants of the pick-up truck leaning out the window across his right-hand buddy with frighteningly hormone-crazed eyes and the biggest goofy smile you’ve ever seen.

The driver punched the gas as the signal mercifully turned green at that instant, and the middle passenger, now struggling waist-deep out the window, shouted as they stormed ahead, “I love you!” and blew a kiss.

My daughter lost it. She laughed until tears came to her eyes.

As they sped off ahead into the distance, I jokingly asked her if it would be okay with her if I caught up with them and shouted back to im, “She’s fourteen, you perv!”

She just laughed.

Beauty is both a blessing and a curse.

Out of the Teens

Greyson DarrowMy youngest son turns 20 today.

Seems like only 7305 days ago that he was born, or

  • • 631,152,000 seconds ago
  • • 10,519,200 minutes ago
  • • 175,320 hours ago
  • • 1043 weeks ago

Time flies at this age, but it’s taken him an entire lifetime to traverse the same 20 years. Of my three children, I only have one teen left.

Good grief. Time hurts sometimes.

But when I look at my son, I am grateful for his life, for his humor, his sensitivity, his artistic ability, his brilliance and intelligence. I am grateful he’s not a lost Gen-Xer, rebelling against who-knows-what. He hangs out with good, respectable young men and women his age, has a solid sense of decency, is kind, protective of his sister and mom, and is stronger and manlier than I have ever been in my life. And he makes his own car and insurance payments! How responsible is that?

There’s a lot to love about this young man, and I do.

Happy 20th Birthday, Greyson! I love you,


As Thanksgivings Go…

I don’t know if I could pick my all-time favorite Thanksgiving from the last 49 years, but as Thanksgivings go, this would rate among the best I can ever recall.

Seated with me are my two sons, Drew (23) and Greyson (19).

The afternoon before Thanksgiving Day I got the idea to call Drew and ask if he and his brother might want to have breakfast together for Thanksgiving day. My daughter Lauren is out of town this week with her mother, visiting relatives on her mom’s side over in Arizona. I figured my two young men would likely be home but have afternoon or dinner plans, so why not get together and begin the overeating early?

I accidentally called Drew’s previous home number which was in my cell-phone, and got the 3-tones that precede the “no longer in service” recorded message. Realizing what I had done, I attempted to delete the phone number by navigating through the cell-phone menu and chose Delete this Entry? which, because of the different wording from Delete this Contact, seemed like a good choice. Alas, it deleted the entire record… and I had not memorized Drew’s cell-number.

One hitch, though. I didn’t have Drew’s cell number anymore (See sidebar).
I got Greyson on the phone next and asked if he wanted to get together for breakfast with Drew and I, and he said yes and that he would call Drew, and if it worked out, he’d have Drew call me. A few minutes later, I got a call from Drew, and we were on for 9:30am, Thanksgiving Day. (Drew planned to get up early and catch a few waves first).

So, if you have followed my life for the last four years, you know that this was the happiest of days for me, a blessing beyond measure.

We ate at Honey’s Bistro in Encinitas, CA a mile or two south of Drew’s apartment in Leucadia. We had a very fun time, laughing, telling stories, catching up. We each wanted the same breakfast: French Toast with Bacon and Eggs. It was delightful in ways I cannot describe.

The French Toast was delicious, too.

Rachmaninoff and My Brother John

My brother John played the piano for Annie and Matt’s wedding last Saturday. John has been playing since he was 5 or 8 or maybe still in the womb or something. He’s 45 now, and I can tell you that I have never heard him play better in my whole life than I did on Saturday. And he has always impressed me.

He played the Rachmaninoff piece 18th Variation From Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini that became the theme song for Somewhere in Time, at Annie’s request. He’d never played it before getting the sheet music about 2 months ago, and he committed it to memory in that time. He didn’t just play it, he felt it. It was so awesome to watch my brother play this, that it made my eyes well up, I have never been prouder of him. I came this close to standing up and yelling “That’s my brother!” when he finished. He played about 30 minutes of waiting music before the wedding started, including two or three of his own compositions.

Hear John Play It
This is the actual performance of 18th Variation From Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini at the wedding of Matthew and Annaliese Beghtel, July 8, 2006.
Download the MP3 here. You may also want to Update your Quicktime Player.

Hearing him play the Rachmaninoff piece reminded me of the movie Shine and the famous “Rach. 3” that David Helfgott played for that memorable concert. I bought the CD of that movie’s soundtrack and I listen to it while I paint. The Rach. 3 is one of my favorite pieces, now. I never tire of it.

This past Wednesday, on our Road Trip home after attending my niece’s wedding, Teresa and I took a purposefully slow detour down California’s 101, and, among other sites, drove through the Avenue of the Giants on our trip back, and I put in the Shine soundtrack as a musical bed for what we were about to see as we turned off the 101 onto the Avenue of the Giants.

Watch this video of Vladimir Horowitz playing a bit of the Rach. 3. Give it at least 57 seconds of your time—see if it hooks you. I love watching a master, maybe you will, too.

Road Trip – Arcata, CA

Crescent City LighthouseWe’re getting ready to go to sleep at a hotel in Arcata, CA.

We jumped off the I-5 onto the 199 out of Oregon toward Crescent City, CA. What a fantastic, beautiful drive! Though the entire drive is 360-degrees of wonder, we did try to keep moving. We did however stop for a picture or two at the bridge over Myrtle Creek. We arrived in the coastal town of Crescent City, CA at sunset, which, this far north is about 8:30pm—which is a delightful time to see the old lighthouse.

Drove through Trinidad, and finally at well-past-dark, landed in Arcata, CA. We’re at a Super 8 Motel, and for the money they offer a lot, including high-speed wireless Internet, continental breakfast, in-room coffee, a little fridge, microwave and free massages.

I lied about the massages.


Road Trip – King Theme

Burger King SloganWhile we were in Bakersfield, we ran into King’s, claiming top honors as the Leader of Pastrami. We, of course, had no reason to doubt it.

While screaming into town in Tigard to catch the last of the Rehearsal Dinner, we drove by the Water Heater King, and today, we had breakfast at Burger King. I got a chill not unlike that of being in an empty room but feeling another presence when I looked down and saw the slogan on my little box of Cini-Minis.

reduce men
to trivial morons
Actually the chill was not from any spookiness about yet another reference to something King, it was entirely based in the recollection that I had ordered six miniature cinnamon rolls in a box by the name Burger King assigned to this pastry product.

I hate cute food names. I shuddered at the memory of uttering the phrase “…and I’ll have some Cini-Minis.”

Trademarks reduce men to trivial morons. I found myself stumped as to what was synonymous with “six tiny cinnamon rolls that had better look like they do in the picture when I get them or I am writing your name on my Carl’s Junior Famous Burger with Cheese Pictorial False Advertising List” and out of sheer laziness defaulted to “Cini-minis.”

“And what would you like to drink with your Cini-minis?” she mocked.

“Uh… Milk sounds good,” I nonchalanted.

“Regular or Chocolate Milk?” she probed.

If I had already been drinking the milk, I would have blown it through my nose at that question.

To my surprise, even the “regular milk” was made by Hershey. I wonder how Hershey became a producer of milk? Hershey Dairies? Do they de-chocolate their chocolate milk and sell it as regular? And why with regular milk do I have to shake before using?


What do they think I am going to do with regular milk besides drink it? And that brought me full circle on the King Theme: Clearly they thought I might want to bathe in my 6oz of de-chocolated milk, like a King.

Road Trip – Redding

Truck StopWe took the drive up 99 believing that since it has been there longer than the 5, it was probably going to be peppered with old barns [you’re supposed to cllick that] and beautiful sites. We were right. It is FAR more enjoyable, and probably only adds a few minutes to the trip length. We’ve seen so much nice scenery, getting out of the car to take pictures, taking a side trip to see my wife’s house in Atwater from when her dad was stationed at Castle AFB (which has since been converted to Castle Airport and Castle Air Museum). She found her old house after having not seen it for the last 45 years! She called her mother (who lives in Riverside) from the curb in front.

We finally decided to quit driving at 9:30pm, we checked into a Howard Johnson’s, of which I cannot give a positive review. In short: Spend your $13.95 somewhere else.

Road Trip – Bakersfield

King's -- The Pastrami LeaderNo. We’re not vacationing in Bakersfield.

Teresa and I are slothing our way to Tigard, Oregon for my niece Annie‘s wedding Saturday. We got a late start yesterday and took a little time to stop by and say hi to our friends Bill and Julie in Valencia last evening. We got out of their place around 10pm, I think, and headed on up the road. We considered bedding down in Gorman, CA… which is basically an exit off the I-5 mid-Grapevine. Not many options there—though among them was the choice to keep driving right on by, which in our wisdom we chose.

We considered
bedding down
in Gorman
Now, for years, when driving to my folks’ house in Northern California, there has been a running joke about my strong tendency to misnavigate the I-5 and -99 junction, intending to follow the 5, but instead accidentally getting onto the 99, which heads NE, instead of the desired N.

This time, partly as a matter of autonomy, partly a sense that there were not a lot of motel options in Coalinga, CA, we chose to—get this—purposely take the I-99, and purposely find a hotel in Bakersfield.

As good fortune would have it, we found a Quality Inn with a room available, and when we awoke in the morning—oh my goodness—we found our room’s picture window was directly across from the King! What amazing luck, huh?

And he’s not just the King, he is a Leader of Pastrami!

We’re definitely coming back here some day.

On Becoming Mortal

I became mortal a year ago today.

Prior to that, and unknown to those around me, including family, I was truly superhuman. Many of my unearthly powers are still with me: I can balance rocks, vanish coins and then retrieve them from the ears of astonished children, and move oil-impregnated globs of colored pigment on canvas substrates in an arrangement that looks just like someone you know. No, seriously!

Becoming mortal was a painful and slow process, and to this day, I am still realizing the intrensic limitations of my new condition.

is knowing
when you’re
not even
First there was a jolt I could feel both in my head and deep in my soul. Somewhere, Someone with Omnipotence had this shocking initiation delivered to me through—get this—an ordinary cell-phone. It was precisely at 10:15am on June 27, 2005 that my very own mother unwittingly delivered the anesthetizing frequency, apparently traveling within the soundwaves of the phrase, “Your father passed at 10:00am.”

I am sure she did not know that at the same moment I was being stripped of the immortality with which I had shrouded myself for as long as I could remember, which, to me was forever.

Much of the rest of the phone call is a blur. But soon a pressure built up behind my eyes causing an overflow of water.

And what followed in a day in which my whole body numbed was the realization that I was dying. That I am not going to live on forever. That, in fact, if I live as long as my father did, I have only 27 years left. That’s just 1400 weekends.

Becoming mortal is knowing you’re slowly dying when you’re not even sick.

And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

Just a Monday

Pizza Port AleMy wife caught me lying in bed staring at the ceiling this morning.

“What are you thinking about right now?”

So I told her. I was thinking that one year ago on a Monday just like today, I got a phone call from my mom to tell me my dad had died. Well, she used a euphemism. She said he passed at 10:00am.

It was actually a year ago tomorrow, June 27th, but the date doesn’t feel quite like this Monday does. It was that Monday, that had followed a weekend—as they all do—that changed my life forever. And this very Monday brings back some of those feelings.

Later, in an annual tradition I hope never will end, I will go to the local micro-brewery and make a toast to my father as I did that day. One of my fondest memories is sipping an ice-cold, hand-crafted beer with my dad.

I hope there is beer in Heaven.

“Here’s to you Dad.”

Read my description of that day in my entry A Day of Celebration.

There are many euphemisms for death: pass away, pass on, final rest, crossing the great boa… Many of us Christians refer to death as a Homegoing, when our spirits are finally home with our Heavenly Father. My dad was sure of his place in eternity.

We’ll see each other again.

One Less Dad

This is the first Father’s Day in my entire life that I have not had a father on Father’s Day. And yes, it does feel different.

A year ago today was the last Father’s Day I would ever have with my father. I kind of knew it because of his declining condition due to prostate cancer, but there’s that darned blinder called hope that gets in the way of the obvious sometimes.

My wife and I made the trip to my folks’ house beginning at about 4pm on Saturday afternoon. I had finally finished and successfully burned a DVD of my tribute video of and for my dad. It was to be my present for him, and it went way over time-budget.

made sense
We called my mom to let her know were were on our way—having not really planned anything with her or them for our visit. We were already 125 miles into the trip when we called her, and for the first time in my life, my mom didn’t sound joyful that I was coming to visit.

Everything made sense later. She was dealing with my dad’s last days, and couldn’t fathom house guests.

We got in around 2 or 3am and went to bed, early that Father’s Day. Mom and Dad were asleep in the family room, where Dad slept in his hospital bed, and mom on the couch.

In the morning, when Teresa and I finally arose, we walked into the family room, and my Dad was dressed in slacks and a purple Hawaiian shirt, and sitting up in his recliner to greet us. My mom had gotten him out of his hospital bed and dressed him up, combed his hair, and washed him up to look presentable.

She did such a good job that I had no idea how close to death he was. Later in the afternoon, we watched my video for him. The picture above is of us watching it together. My brother captured that moment on his camera, and I will forever be grateful. My father died eight days later. I had no idea his death was coming that soon.

My own Father’s Day, today, is spent with just Lauren, the youngest of my three children. I made a good “man breakfast” for us; bacon and eggs and toast. Just the two of us all weekend. I’ve been loving it!

Father’s Days are just different, from here on out.

Sculpting a Future

Greyson R. Darrow If you’re not reading my other blog at then you probably don’t know I have a painting of my son Greyson up for sale on eBay at the moment. It’s a 5 x 7, impressionism.

You can read the story about it at

78 Years Ago…

To pay homage to my mother on this day, her 78th birthday, seems a bit cyclical. Had it not been for her birth, mine never would have occurred. And I would not be wishing her a Happy Birthday today.

Her day, unfortunately, was taken up by some hosting duties at a get-together and attendance at the memorial service that preceded it. One of her closest friends for the past 29 years, a neighbor down the street, passed away suddenly last month. Just wasn’t feeling well that afternoon, and she died a few hours later.

Life is so unpredictable.

Mom has outlived my dad in birthdays. She’s made it to 78, and is still going strong, give or take a couple of rusty hinges and tired batteries.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you dearly.

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