Wildwood Daze – 1980 – I’ve Had It With This Town

I love the summer. I’ve been dropped here against my will by some other person. My father. I have no control over my life. I have to go to school at a new school as a stranger. I know you have a problem with my dissatisfaction and depression.

I excel in school and start a band. I thrive in this shit hole you’ve dropped me off with no concept of how that will break your son’s spirit.

Janice is off in college so you’re good. If anything is of kilter your going to lose your shit and that is me.

What did you think was going to happen?

Let’s rip the 17-year-old son from all of his friends and his band from Philly and drop him off in Wildwood, New Jersey. A retirement and resort town the you already know is a deathtrap for young people.

You dropped out of high school to get away from this hell hole. You joined the army rather than turn to crime at 17. You fucking asshole that I love.

I get it. I worked in banking just like you for 30 years. You were making a bunch of bad loans at the Provident in Philly and got out when the getting was good.

You retreated to NJ. your little safe haven to escape, but you never thought of what that would do to the children in your life.

The little ones were fine. April and Gabby didnt;t know any better. But I was a senior in high school. I never got to graduate with my friends at Frankford in Philly. I had a band. You destroyed that for your little escape plan.

But what was that. You replicated your life in NJ as the regional manager at First Fidelity Bank. You’re a great manager and a great man. But you really have a taste for some of your employees, man.

I remember telling you about a girl I met once how I was in a relationship and I told you about how I had feelings for her.

You said, “Why don’t you just move on her”

I said: “Because that would be wrong. I’d be cheating on my girlfriend and that would betray her trust in me.”

You were pleased and happy with my answer.

I knew it.. because you could never be that. I could see it in your eyes you were relived that I wasn’t like you in that respect.

That respect.

Bitch, please.

If you’re unhappy in your liffe, divorce mom and just send the check and leave us the fuck alone. Then you can bag Jennifer Sweeten or as you call her “sweet meat” all you want until her husband finds out.

You’ll figure it out.

 

You and your brother Jack were dropped off here after your parents divorced. Nobody got divorced back then.

Why the hell would you think it was a good idea to drop me off in this shit hole?

Wildwood is a glistening sand castle of magical fun and romance in the summer… and then it turns into a bleak shroud of dark depression where there is nothing going on in the winter. It is a desolate hole of isolation that is impossible for a teenager to escape.

Here I am. I know you and there is a part of you that is me. Some great. Some awful. But you have the chore of raising the shitty you and now the shitty son you don’t understand who is too much like your brother Jack.

So if there were any questions as to why Chaz wanted to load up the ’69 Volkswagen minibus and drive across the country to go live in sunny California let’s put all of that to rest right now.

I love you, you selfish, self-serving prick.

I really do.

Thank you for teaching me to read. Thank you for all of the books. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike. Thank you for teaching me how to catch a fish. Thank you for teaching me to drive a car. Thank you for teaching me about wine, art, and literature and film. Thank you for teaching me about women. (To an extent) Thank you for everything.

I’m not going to mention all of the bad stuff here.

All ready did some of that.

 

Time to load of the 69 VW minibus and head to California.

 

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My Family – The Phoenix – Part 3

Tell My Mother, tell My Father, I’ve done the best I can.

I stood at the grave of my parents with my sisters and my daughter.

Yes. I have something to say.

I read the Eulogy I had written.

I knew my sister Janice thought I wouldn’t deliver based on my track record.

 

Hello all. Thank you for coming.

To quote an artist I love: “Your bodies may be gone but we’re going to carry you in. In our minds, and in our hearts, and our souls. And maybe we’ll get lucky and we’ll all meet again.”

Over the last few weeks our hearts and minds have been filled with visions of you both.

Although your vessels are gone, you are both so much alive in us all. In our thoughts, our words and our deeds. You’ve achieved immortality in your children… and their children.

And we all have the wonderful children to prove it.

Just like all of the home movies we still have. We can watch them anytime we want. I watched some the other night. You were both so alive that I could almost touch you both.

But only almost. And I won’t be able to anymore.

I want you both to know that every time we did anything, we saw you both in front of us. Your appreciation and love accompanied us every step down the road, and our lives were always shaped by your teachings and values.

Others greater than I will eulogize you both, but none of them will ever have the sweet pleasure that my sisters and I have had to feel the gentle touch of your hands in ours.

To merit your words and warm embrace that was reserved… only for us.

To see your smiles and hear your laughter, told us so much.

 

But those are no longer. Only in our memories.

There is so much to say about this wonderful family that has come to Earth through both of you. We will share our stories as long as we all can draw breath.

I once asked you both, “What was the key to a happy life?”

Mother you said, “Do everything in moderation. Moderation is the key to a happy life.”

I turned to my father and said, “Dad?”

He replied, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

Well, we always went big, and our family is rich in history… and most of all… love.

Anyway, rather than go into every wonderful Christmas we ever had, or the summers at the shore, or how my mother was the greatest person I ever met, or how my Dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, or drive a car, or taught me how to read, or taught me how to catch a fish, or how to talk to girls, or art, or music or everything that is essential to living in this world and being a better person, and moving us all forward as a family.

You’ve both done all of that and so much more.

More than any words can ever describe.

Thank you.

 

I’m not done yet…

My sisters and I are left with no alternative.

Janice. April. Gabrielle.

And my only daughter… Lorelei.

We will say goodbye to you, Mother and Father. And we will ask that you rest in peace.

I know you will think about us all down here and miss us.

We will always love you both so very much, and we will never, ever forget you.

You both are all of us.

And we are you…

Until the white wings of death scatter our days.

 

I will leave you all with this:

“Life is fleeting and fragile.

Enjoy yourself.”

 

Thank you.

 

That’s it. That’s the eulogy I wrote for my parents.

I read that at their burial.

I always felt like I failed them both my entire life. But I always loved them.

 

 

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My Family – The Phoenix – Part 1

When I started writing this blog it was a bunch of crazy dates and series about past relationships. But I knew it would grow and evolve. Now that the dust has settled in my life I can get to the business of writing about what I really want to express. My life. (Don’t worry there will always be crazy dating stories!)

Last year my sisters and I buried our parents.

My mother had died the year before at 86. She was a wonderful woman who was a good wife and mother. She lived with RA (Rhematoid arthritis) for 40 years but never complained and put up with my father for 60 plus years.

She was in assisted living for the last year of her life. She was happy there and said she was never going home. She was with her peers and I know she was comfortable there in her final days.

She always said she wanted to go in her sleep. I think everybody wants that. Just go to bed one night and then just disappear peacefully and quietly. No fear. No pain. Just gone.

The day breaks tomorrow and the world does what it does and you’re just not in it anymore.

Your memory lives on with your loved ones for a while but after a generation, unless you’re famous you’re simply gone. It’s as if you never existed.

She went to bed one night in her pajamas, snuggled down in her bed and just went to Heaven. Just what she wanted. She deserved that.

My mother was a good woman who was really good at taking care of children and a house and animals that she almost seemed born to it. I don’t know if she ever wanted anything more, but my mother never even learned to drive. She didn’t need to and liked to be in her home, doing her thing and drinking her tea.

When she passed she was cremated and her remains were put in a lovely wooden box with a pretty bird carved into the top. My mother always loved birds.

Maybe she always felt like a caged bird. I don’t know.

My father kept the box on the dining room table after she died. I think that’s morbid, but maybe he just wanted some semblance of her there in the big old house with him.

Because now he was alone there. No one to listen to his stories, fears and ailments that didn’t exist or whatever.

My mother was the greatest listened I’ve ever met. The absolute apex of a good listener. I know this because my middle sister April can really talk a lot. So can my Dad. She was always sweet and genuinely interested in what you had to say. She kept her opinions to herself.

There was a surge of attention around my father when my mother died. My father loved attention. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very charming man and is absolutely great with people. He knows how to get it done in a unique and elegant way. Where do you think I learned all of my moves? I took the best of him, and have done my best to discard the worst.

Before my mother died I had conversations with my dad about how he was worried he would run out of money because the facility she was living in cost so much every month. He actually said, “I’m going to end up in the Veteran’s Home because I’ll be broke.” Healthcare in this country is a financial nightmare, but why would he think that?

Why would he say that?

Fear. But it seemed contrary to his character. I think she was living too long. “She’s very frail” he would say to me all the time. It’s like he needed her to go. I get that. I have a really firm grasp of what life is and what death is too.

I’ve been alarmingly close to them both and although one is priceless and precious, death can swoop in on its black wings and snatch the innocent away for no reason.

So dude… live for today.

Have you met your first-born daughter that you love and loves you more than you can even grasp?

My sister Janice.

You’re never going to end up in the Veteran’s Home, man. Not under Janice’s watch. You should rest easy and smile that you have the strongest person in the family looking out for you and Mom’s best interest.

Free of charge.

But my mom passed and it was sad, but she was ready to go. I’m grateful to all three of my sisters for being present through all of that because I was not. I was just living my life here in Philly doing my thing and popping into the occasional holiday party with one of my young girlfriends.

They did it all, especially Janice.

So once the surge of attention, mourning, adulation, cards, letters, love, and people faded as they always do. My dad decided to fold up his tent and go home.

Initially the loss of mom was sad but she was a really old lady, and we all loved her but we were all prepared for her to leave. You have to prepare yourself for that. Forgive me, but I don’t understand why I see people suffering so long after losing their parents. They lived their lives. You had them for so long but everybody has to leave. No one gets out of here alive.  You have to be ready for that.

The dead have a responsibility to the living and vice versa.

But there is a sense of relief that Mom is now at peace and not suffering with the pain of RA and old age. She was ready to go and she went in her chosen way.

I’d see Dad and he was happy and his usual jovial self. I’d talk with him on the phone and we’d be trading stories and it was amazing. He was finally telling me all of the wild stories from his past that I was never old enough to hear. It was great! I was even managing his Netflix because we both love film and that’s something we’ve alway been really close about.

 

But once the light completely went out on my mom and he was alone in that big house he started to want to get out of here himself. I still don’t full understand it but I think my sister Janice may because she was so much closer to the day-to-day grind of watching him plan his going from this world.

Something changed. He just gave up and got tired of playing onstage anymore. He just wanted to quit the band and work on his solo career in heaven.

It was like he was slowly trying to commit suicide. That’s not allowed in this country but I think if it were and he wanted to really go. I know my father well enough that if he wanted me to I would have been okay with him blowing his last breath in my face.

Because he put my sister Jan through hell that last year. No one will ever know how intense that was but I’ve heard from my sisters. It was as if he was this crazy tiger that kept all his powers, weaknesses, greatness and demons locked up in a den somewhere and then the old cat was left inside that den to suddenly deal with them. All of the things in himself that he had never been fixed came to the surface and cooked him alive.

I’ve lived with anxiety and depression my entire life. I turned it into art and sometimes turned to alcohol just to turn off the pain for a few hours. I like it, but I never let that shit own me. I have a strong sense of identity.

I know my father intimately. I understand his psyche. I forgave my parents for everything in my forties. You have to do that to move forward in your life.

 

Let go of the bars of your cell. Let them fall to the ground and take a step. Embrace who you are and how hard they tried to raise the four of you with not a lot of money. How they had challenges with each other in their marriage and how they should have gotten a divorce but didn’t to hold it together for you and your sisters.

How they became husband and wife and then parents to little new minds and did the very best they could with all they knew.

Much of it was so wrong but for the most of it was pretty darn right. My family is super normal and so are their children.

Even though I have felt much more of the scorn of both of my parents, I’ve managed to rise up from my own weaknesses and be a decent and wise father to my daughter, Lorelei.

I’m blessed with a lovely child that I barely deserve. She too has a strong identity and risen up from the flames of her upbringing with her mother to shine beautifully like the morning sun.

Tune in tomorrow.

I’m you about the day that my parents were really gone.

 

 

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Kim – 2016 – The Animator – Part 2

“I liked her. She’s pretty, funny and smart. She’s like a hot Margret Cho. Lovely hair. Luxurious dark brown tresses. She’s wearing a blue dress and fish nets and cool little boots. So I approve.”

She was on time for lunch. She looks good. A bit thick, but forgivable if she’s as interesting as she seems in her profile.

We meet at one of my favorite lunch spots, Misconduct at 18th and JFK. She’s excited about it. She texts too much for a woman her age. Seems juvenile and desperate, but I think that’s an Asian thing.

I liked her. She’s pretty, funny and smart.  She’s like a hot Margret Cho. Lovely hair. Luxurious dark brown tresses.  She’s wearing a blue dress and fish nets and cool little boots. So I approve.

Here’s the intel I gathered from her over chicken tenders and sliders.

She has her own animation studio located in Langhorne, PA.  She specializes in all types of animation, and is currently creating 2d, 3d, and flash animation, motion graphics and graphic design for various clients, ranging from small businesses to Hollywood studios, media companies, and pharmaceutical companies around the world.
A little bit of background on her…. When living out in L.A, she worked in Children’s TV for Cartoon Network as an Art Director, Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Character Designer for popular TV Shows (“Dexter’s Lab” and “Power Puff Girls”).  Her own pilot appeared on CN, was optioned by Disney, and was critically acclaimed.  Once moving back East, she moved into Commercial Animation as the Creative Director for a company in 3D Pharmaceutical Animation, and then Creative Director and head of Marketing and Interactive Design for a Clothing Manufacturer.  She started her company to continue with her passion for all types of Animation.

The premise of the show she created is roughly based on her life as a Korean adoptee; the main character had previously been featured a comic strip by her.  The pilot aired in August 17, 2001 on the network as part of their Big Pick competition, a marathon of ten pilots with viewers selecting one to be produced for the network’s fall 2002 season. The series lost second place to Codename: Kids Next Door.

The pilot was created by she and her husband who is also a Korean adoptee. Kim, an adoptee of American-Jewish parents, based the main character on her life experiences as an immigrant. In years prior to making the pilot, she had started a nonprofit organization for helping adopted children locate their biological parents. Her husband felt much of the impetus for the pilot came while searching for his birth family in Korea. However, Kim later remarked that the pilot “had nothing to do with” her life.

The pilot was optioned by The Walt Disney Company  before being turned down. Cartoon Network first approached Dunn in Los Angeles, then a comic shop employee who had just moved in. The network, impressed by her work in independent comics which had spread through word of mouth, landed her a job at Cartoon Network Studios, and a few years later, she and her husband produced the pilot.

 

This all seems amazing but why is she in PA nad not L.A?

She created all of this little greatness with her husband in L.A. He apparently banged his assistant while they were married. Cheated on her with her for a while. Got said assistant pregnant.  Kim was already pregnant with a daughter. Kim divorces him and moves back to PA to be around family to raise her little daughter. Career in ruins. Pilot’s a fail. Doesn’t get picked up.

Pregnant assistant has an abortion and leaves Kim’s husband. (Piece of shit) He’s now remarried and has some other kids. Don’t know what the child support number on all that is but I’m sure its steep.

Red flags are waving proud at this lunch but I’ll order an Old Fashioned to steady the nerves.

That was 13 years ago and now she is living here in PA with her daughter. Apparently the kid is amazing and I’m hearing nothing but good things, so as a parent I’m always jubilant about that kind of success.

She said her 13-year-old recently just got boobs but still looks like a little girl. My dark side is struggling with the evil here but I hold fast as a parent and don’t fall into an Asian human trafficking fantasy. I wish Kim hadn’t told me that shit on a first date. It’s just a little weird.

Her daughter is an amazing child who is an A student and a pianist. Dad is out of the picture. I guess that POS is still in L.A. and I can’t believe he isn’t even a presence in his daughter’s life, because even when I felt like I was on my ass I saw Lorelei every other weekend.

Kim hates what’s she’s doing right now. It’s probably some animation/graphic design bullshit because she keeps asking me if we need anything like that for the gym we’re opening. It sounds like she’s on her ass.

(Red flags are still waving proudly in the May afternoon sun outside Misconduct)

We leave the restaurant. The lunch has been good. I walk her to the car park and give her a kiss. She’s hesitant because there is a fat black woman sitting in the lobby of the check out. I don’t care. I wanted to kiss her. I like her.

Sort of.

 

After the date, we texted over the next few days.

“Morning!”

Loves to text.

“Hi Kim! How are you?”

“Good. You?”

“Doing well. Just going to work. I have some stuff to do this weekend with friends and the business.” (Bold Faced Lie)

“Is there anything that I can do to help with the business? I can always use extra work if you’re comfortable with that.”

(Sounds like she’s out of work)

“But we could meet up again next week for lunch and/or I was thinking movies next weekend? Sorry we’re on different subjects here. How could I help?”

I’m trying to make a second date. Kim is obviously looking for a meal ticket.

“Yeah! That would be fun! Sorry! Promotional video for your online marketing video efforts, maybe working at the tanning salon?”

Now it’s just nuts. I went on one date with this woman. I get her trying to sell me some shit. I’ve been in sales since the 80’s. Suck it. But work at the salon? We have people for that. How fucked are you in your life?

(This is starting to sound like that chick that tried to sell me Amway on a date!)

“We have a video that’s running on a loop monitor in the salon. We’re all staffed up at the salon. (Bold faced lie, Trish is fucking history) I was thinking of us hitting Mac Mart     (Awesome mac and cheese joint in Rittenhouse where I know the owners.)

“Oooh Mac Mart. Sure!”

A few days later…

“What are you up to?”

“Sorry. Busy weekend with the sisters and daughter! (Bold faced lie) How are you? Hope yours was good despite the rain.”

“Yeah you don’t text much?”

“No.”

WTF? I’m an adult and I don’t need to be constantly texting anyone. It’s fucking annoying!

“I was kind of sick but it was nice.”

“When I’m with family I’m a bit off the grid. (True. But in this case, a Bold faced lie)

“Sick? What happened?”

“My throat hurt, coughing but I’m doing ok.)

This courtship is amazing romance.

“How are things otherwise?” (Being nice)

Good. (Sends me some drawing of her and her daughter. It looks like daughter drew it and it sucks)

“So Mac Mart?”

I figured one last-ditch effort just to see.

“Oooh You’re not going to come out to me!”

Here we go…

“Great drawing of you and your daughter.” (Bold Faced… oh fuck it.)

“I mean are you ever leaving the city?”

This is when Rittenhouse Bubble phicklephille kicked in.

“What’s the point? I could rent a car or do a Zip car to come see you no problem.”

“Oh. Well then it was nice knowing you.”

(Really, washed up animator who would work in a tanning salon?)

“Oh ok.”

“If you can’t try to see me… Then.”

 

And that was it. I never heard from Kim again.

Do I care? Not in the slightest. But I think we could have had some fun going to see some films at the Ritz.

*YAWN

Onward we go!

 

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Kim – 2016 – The Animator – Part 1

“Looking for: Single Men, near me, ages 36 – 50 for short & long-term dating and new friends.”

I met Kim on OkCupid. She had an interesting profile and we matched. She reached out to me first. I told her I had read her profile and she seemed fascinating and fun.

“Well then let’s meet up and see.”

“Sounds good. May I have your number?”

We exchanged numbers and that was that. It happened that quickly.

So I set up a lunch date and we meet up at Misconduct Tavern.

Here is her profile on OkCupid:

 

My Self Summary

Animator who likes most music. I can’t see likes.

What I’m doing with my life

Designing stuff and trying to make things nicer in the world.

 

I’m really good at

Feeding everybody

 

Favorite books movies shows music and food

I love comic books, indie stuff, wonder woman stuff, software manuals, Dexter, Curb your Enthusiasm, SNL  30 Rock, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, New Girl, Shameless. Hannibal, Dark Crystal, Double Indemnity, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Rosemary’s Baby, Harold and Maude.

 

Music. I’m a vinyl collector. Old jazz, soundtracks well almost everything. Sometimes just for the album art, XTC,  Nina Simone, Iron and Wine, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, New Order, Morrissey, Donovan, Dylan, Lennon, every kind of music on my iPod, I am open to checking out any kind of music.

(Sounds great, right? But not really.)

Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, sushi, Indian, Ethiopian, seafood, pizza, edibles, mostly seafood. No pineapples or mango – I’m very allergic.

Six things I could never do without

Communication

Good stories

Music

Something to draw and write with

Delicious things

I spend a lot of time thinking about

Work, animation, comics, software love

On a typical friday night I am

Watching a movie (out or at home) trying a new restaurant or revisiting favorites, hanging out with friends. I love to be at home if I had someone special to spend time with.

you should message me if

You’re not looking for benefits or games. Serious inquiries only. Laughter often required.

Looking for: Single Men, near me, ages 36 – 50 for short & long-term dating and new friends.

 

And there is her profile. She seems nice, and I want to meet her!

Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you how our first date went!

 

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Thanksgiving Tradition

The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bold-faced lie)

My family has always celebrated Thanksgiving, but Christmas was always our big holiday. I’m always welcome at my older sister Janice’s house every year. She has a big house and we refer to her place as Holiday Headquarters. There was one year many years ago when I was invited to go to my other sister Gabrielle’s house all the way down in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Back then I was newly divorced, and I just didn’t feel like making the drive all the way down there. My daughter was little then and with her Mom and that side of the family for Thanksgiving. I was just happy that my ex-wife was out of the house and out of my life for that matter. I was looking forward to a day of listening to music, watching movies and eating and drinking. I like to be alone. I’m a very social animal, and I get my energy from those around me, but I just wanted a day of sweet nothing and solitude.

I lived in Woodbury, NJ back then. I drove over to the local convenient store and picked up a box of frozen Ellio’s Pizza. It’s a cheap and tasty treat I have loved since I was a lad. The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bold-faced lie)

That night I happily sat on my sofa watching some cool movies, drinking Ketel One vodka and tonics, and eating my delicious Ellio’s Pizza. I had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. I was grateful to have a family that cared about me and most of all that little Lorelei was in the world.

So I joked around with my sisters about that day, and of course they felt bad for me. They didn’t want me eating frozen pizza and drinking liquor by myself on Thanksgiving, but that’s what I really wanted to do that day. So it’s sort of become a family joke every year for Thanksgiving. It came up again this year, when I declined my sister’s invitation. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her, but I’ve seen her a lot lately, and my parents have passed, so what’s the point? Once the main anchors of a family die, usually the children retreat to their own little families. She understood and we’ll all get together at her annual holiday party in December at Holiday Headquarters.

I went to the Midtown Diner and had a huge breakfast at the counter. Scrambled eggs, bacon and french toast. It’s too much food, but I crushed it all and it was delicious. I went back to my house and did some writing. Lorelei escaped the clutches of having to spend Thanksgiving with her mother. She went to her boyfriend’s mother’s house. She’s a hard-core vegan and made some really creative dishes. I’m glad she’s happy and I’m sure they were glad to have her there for the holiday.

I finished a chapter, and wanted to get something to eat around 4:30. I left the house and walked down to South street. Everything was closed, but I didn’t feel like going into Walgreens where I’d have to get something to heat up or bake in the oven. Then I looked to the left and remembered there was a new 7-Eleven a block away.

I stopped in and was surprised at all of the people in there buying stuff. Maybe I could start a little Thanksgiving club with them. They could come over with a load of 7-Eleven food and I’d supply the booze. I picked up some things and headed back to the house.

The city was deserted. Dark and eerily quiet because everybody was off doing their family things. I got home, went to my desk and fired up an old episode of Columbo on Netflix. I poured myself a vodka and club soda. I don’t drink Ketel One anymore at home. Too expensive. I only have it out now in a martini, straight up with a twist. My current brand is Platinum X7 by Sazerac. A 1.75 bottle is $20. My favorite thing to mix it with is Polar club soda with lemon that I buy by the liter at Walgreens. I tore open the small bag of Lay’s potato chips. Then opened the box that contained the quarter pound 7-Eleven hot dog, and spread mustard along its length.

Changed it up this year! Wanted to send a pic to all of my sisters but decided against it.

A man who can sit in a room alone and be satisfied is a man that has found inner peace.” – My Dad

 

 

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