Sunday, December 23, 2007

O. Henry's Christmas Gift

It was only recently that I re-discovered O. Henry's moving short story, "Gifts of the Magi." For those who might not be familiar with it, it can be sumarized as follows: A young married couple, very much in love but penniless, seek to give a meaningful gift to each with their limited resources. Della who has beautiful hair, sells it for $20 to buy her husband, Jim, a chain on which to hang his prized pocket watch. Jim however, has sold his watch to buy Della a set of jeweled combs so she could brush her golden hair. On Christmas Day, when they exchange the gifts, they experience the true meaning of Christmas...selfless, sacrificial love.

O. Henry helps us put even more clarity into the Christmas story. We have become so familiar with the Incarnation, God becoming Man, that it almost seems trivial. Yet what sacrificial love the Father demonstrated. God so loved us that He gave us Himself. Really, how important are the gifts that we exchange with each other? Perhaps not too much thought was given to their purchase. It was so easy to put it on Visa. Compare our giving habits with those of Jim and Della. They gave all that they held precious. Like the story of the widow's "mite" in the Gospel.

As a Christmas mediation after you have received the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, place yourself in the stable at Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, and bring Jesus the three gifts that will validate the reason He came. Not gold, frankincense nor myrrh but the three gifts of your body, mind and spirit. The totality of your very self... a sacrificial gift that is a great token of your love for Him. And then proclaim to all you know that God is with us...for a babe has been born in Bethelehem.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Dozier Family Christmas Letter-2007

The Dozier Christmas Letter
December 2007

Laura Ingraham, my favorite talk show host, recently gave a long diatribe on the narcissistic nature of annual Christmas letters. “It’s all about ourselves and not about the One for whom the season really exists.” If you agree with her, then you need to go no farther. Here is the Readers Digest version:
Dyda is doing well. Eva is working. I am kinda working. Three kids at home, soon to be one. The other 5 are doing well, though we all have challenges. The End.

Now for those of you who might still want a few more details:
Dyda- (Gordon Sr.)- He turns 93 in March. Due to diabetes and poor circulation, he had his left leg amputated. But the man is undaunted. He handles this challenge with such grace. No bitterness. No complaining. His greatest pleasure is being around his great-grandchildren.

Gordon Jr- I work part time as bookkeeper in our parish, where I also lector, cantor and sing in the choir. Sang with the Moore County Chorus for Christmas concert. As I age, I find that I can reach base notes completely unknown when I was a “yute.” Also took up blogging. You can read some of them at

St. Eva the Good- Is the Infection Control Practitioner at Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg. Has a 30 mile drive each way.(Bummer.) She plans to retire at age 65. (Is it Chapter 9 or 11 that we’ll be filing?). She has a job…I cook and clean. It works out well.

Gordo III- Currently lives in Manchester, Conn. He is a perpetual student. Has completed one Master’s degree and working on one more in theology. Just published his first book: The 12 Great Feasts of the Messiah and the Mother of God. ( ) Writing another: Holy is His Name: Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary through Eastern Icons ( I told Gordo to work on shorter titles next time.) Is an International Training Consultant for The Hartford and travels frequently to Japan, England and Ireland. Has chance of moving to Charlotte, NC. This would put all our kids but one in the same state …not confusion but North Carolina. (Wife: Karen- Kids: Daniel, Alex and Katie)

Kristi- (Binkster)- Lives in Dallas. Works for a newspaper, North Texas Kids. She writes a great deal and in the style of Erma Bombeck. Check out her delightful family observations at her blog at She told me that after Jack’s recent visit with Santa Claus, he ran back to the jolly old gentleman and said, “Hey Santa, do you want to join us for dinner at the Pub?” What a guy! (Husband: Jonathan- Kids: Jack and Eva Jane)

Jonathan-(JJ)- Completing his Master’s degree in Management in May. Currently working as a Manager and Marketing Director for the Chik-fil-A in Southern Pines. He hopes to get his own store within a few years. Jay’s main hobby is fitness. He spends untold hours at Gold’s Gym and the First Health facility keeping those muscles finely tuned. (Kids: Jonathan Jr and Jacob, living in Atlanta with mother, Susan.)

Angel- Works part-time with the family business: Gulley’s Garden Center and Gulley Storage in Southern Pines. Seems like she is perpetually running a car pool to some kid event. Has her hands full maintaining her 4000 sq. ft. palace in CCNC (Country Club of North Carolina.) (Husband: Graham-Kids: Hannah, Claire, Davis) Recent theological observation from Claire: As Angel was pulling into her driveway, Claire opined, “Mommy, owah house is bwessed.” From the mouths of babes…

Benjamin- Now lives with us, occupying a portion of our finished basement. He shares it with John-Paul. We call it, The Man Pit. (Pit being the operative word.) He is working as a waiter with Chili’s Restaurant and will be attending Sandhills Community College in the Nursing program. Movies and video games are his hobbies. Despite a few set-backs in his life, he continues to be gentle in spirit. (Separated from wife Rebecca. Daughter Loralei.)

Nathaniel (Nipster)- Recently moved from living with his brother JJ in Aberdeen to Greensboro, NC. He is working full-time at The Doubletree Hotel. Will enroll at UNC-G next fall. He is engaged to a great girl, Vanessa Lopez and they plan to be married next year. Nippy is an avid gamer. He was president of the Sandhills Community College Gamers Club and is proficient in Dragon*Con. (You, of course, realize I have not one earthly clue what that is.) He attends an annual convention in Atlanta where people who are into this thing…congregate.

John-Paul (JP)- Lives in the aforementioned “Man Pit. He just received his Associates Degree from Sandhills Community College and hopes to go to UNC-Asheville in January. (Could it be his college choice was influenced by the fact that his girl friend, Rebecca, attends Mars Hill College just a few miles away?) He wants to be a Math teacher. (Let’s see: a Dozier and the word “Math” in the same sentence. How oxymoronic.) He has been working part-time at Chik-fil-A and the Sandhills Sports Center, a mega indoor sports facility. He also enjoys culinary arts, and on our phone during this last semester, he would periodically send us photos of his multi-tiered cakes and other creations.

Mary Bernadette (MB)- Just completed her last semester at Sandhills Community College and will be transferring to UNC-Greensboro in January. Her major is Hospitality Management. MB just returned from a trip to Germany and The Czech Republic. Mary has the combined organizational skills of Angel, coupled with the zest for life and the penchant for world travel of Binkster. When she leaves home, we may only see her semi-annually between trips.

May the peace of the Holy Family be yours this Christmas and throughout the year.


The Doziers

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In The Dark

I have been doing a great deal of actual "thinking" lately. Take a second and try to remember the last time you settled yourself down and just began to "think." I think bloggers are thinkers. There is one I love to read: Catholic Teacher Musings.
Laura is a "muser" ie a "thinker." So I admire thinkers and am going to try to do more of it myself.

With that as an intro, I was thinking just the other day about our daily journey. Most people do not give it a thought...most do not even realize they are on one.. .a journey and odyssey that has a beginning, a middle and an end. I am a member of the Moore County Choral Society. ( At 66 I am the second youngest in the bass section.) I sit next to the junior member, whose name is Vince. Vince is an MD, a poet, a musician but most of all, he is a thinker. He tells me a great deal about his journey. We have great conversations though I, quite honestly, just do most of the listening.

Some of his musings (my apologies to Laura)reveal the intellectual and spiritual agony that a life's journey can have. He senses that despite all of his talents, he is still unfulfilled..he questions God, his faith, his future. He thinks that God is too arbitrary and capricious in His dealings with man. "Why would He give us rules and regulations that no man can follow?" he observes.

I am no apologist and my feeble responses are less than satisfactory. But I am seeing the deep pain and anguish of a man who is In The Dark. This is not an unusual place to be. Great saints have had darkness..St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who lived more than 40 years without any sense of the Divine Presence in her life. But in the darkness, God evidently chooses to do wonderful things in souls. I think, however, that I'll take a pass on that.

Again, as I was doing that most dangerous exercise...thinking...I had a thought. Christians give their hearts to Christ and then expect to have an easy time of it. Certain Evangelical preachers blame those in distress as lacking faith...not trusting
enough in God's providence. To those preachers, I say ...humbug!! The Christian life is oftentimes not a walk in the park, but a walk in the dark!!! God has a customized journey for each of us. And for many it includes periods, perhaps long stretches, of darkness. And this is what I hope to share with Vince. I want to say, "Vince, you are a favored soul in the eyes of God. 1000 questions do not make one doubt, as Cardinal Newman said. Question while in the darkness but hope for the light. Vince, Psalm 23 was written just for you: even though I walk in the valley of darkness I will fear no evil...For Thou art with me. Vince, though you don't see Him in these woods of darkness, feel His Hand and repeat over and over again...For Thou Art With Me...."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Change. How I hate it. I'm not talking about a pocket full of coins, although I hate that too! No, I am talking about transitions, for the lack of a better term. I look in the mirror each day and I wonder who the H$#% that is looking back at me? A graphic illustration of change. Where is that handsome 180 pound guy, with jet black hair and sensuous blue eyes? It seems as if he were here but last week but now he seems to have vanished..only to be replaced by some grey-haired, wrinkled, chubby visage that I hardly recognize. And how is it that my oldest child is 40 and my baby turns 20 in a few weeks? For not only is change apparent, it is subtle as well. While it is occurring, we are oblivious to it.

Greek philosophers were the first to study it. I think it was Parmenides who observed that even though the river is one, you can never put your foot in the same place twice. The Greeks observed that it is man's desire to be one, whole and unchangeable, but the unity and unchangeable nature of the soul conflicts with the multiplicity and decaying nature of the body. Of course, the Greeks didn't know about the Garden of Eden...about man before the fall. Some Scripture scholars tell us that before original sin, there was no chronological time and therefore, no death. So, there's the rub. Death. That is what we instinctively hate. Just as death was unnatural to the sinless man at the beginning, there is a residual loathing and fear of it in every human since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden.

Fortunately, in Christian belief, there will be an end to change and, therefore, death. At the coming of Christ at the end of time, all of the cosmos will be renewed and restored. Not just planet earth. This is God's gift to fallen man and a fallen world. For as James reminds us: Every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of Light, in whom there is no change or shadow of a turning. (James 1:17) Perhaps on that day I'll again see that handsome, 180 pound guy with jet black hair and those sensuous blue eyes. Maranatha!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Late Have I Loved Thee...

"Late have I loved thee, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved thee."
OK all you lovers of a finely turned poetic phrase. Who wrote this? Shakespeare? No! Browning? Nay! Maya Angelou (egad..parce nobis, Domine.) No way, Jose. No this beautiful phrase was written by one of my favorite Church Fathers, St. Augustine. I am a sucker for a well-crafted sentence. Just recently I was reading G.K. Chesterton. Listen to this description of a cold winter's eve: The thousand arms of the forest were grey, and its million fingers silver. In a sky of dark-green-blue-like slate, the stars were bleak and brilliant like splintered ice. Now this is a work of art. Like a sculpted piece of marble. I enjoy savoring such phrases when I find them. Smelling the fragrance and sipping them like a rare, fine wine. When I read Augustine, my heart literally...well it literally swooned. (OK. Am I going mad?)

Augustine (+430 AD) lived the first 30 years of his life as a pagan profligate. When he was converted by the grace of God, his unremitting search for Love was ended. And in this realization he continues ever so beautifully:
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unlovliness, I plunged into the lovely things which you created...
You called. You shouted. You broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone and dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me and now I burn for your peace....

Who says that saints are not sensual and passionate even in their spirituality? Only a man in love could ever write like this. As a convert at age 32, Augustine's words are my own: Late have I loved Thee...O so late have I loved Thee...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ground Rush

We recently had a family meeting around the dining room table. 6 of our 8 were dutifully there along with Eva and Dyda- (aged 92.). Without going into all of the personal details, the purpose was to let those still dawdling in their pursuit of a college degree and a career know that they had 2.5 years to get it done. Mom would be retiring and the Bank of DAD ATM machine would close for good.
There were other issues discussed, I felt it was time that the they enroll in the ecole realite!! And the reality is simply this: the good times that the American economy has enjoyed are soon to be over. We already see it happening and with such suddenness. ---Housing values down, real estate sales down 21.5%, the dollar equal in value to the Canadian Loonie!! One does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out: the days of Americans borrowing to purchase what they don't need with money they don't have es no mas.
The times that my kids are to inherit are going to be difficult for establishing careers. My career recommendations? Health Care (all of us old people are going to need it) and Law Enforcement (I predict domestic criminals and foreign terrorists will increase exponentially.)
OK. Call me a "Gloomy Gus." I am not alone. I was reading one financial newsletter writer who recommended that we "buy gold, bury it in the backyard and buy ammo." Talk about gloomy!!
I read a great analogy that encapsulates all of this. Its called the "ground rush." Our life is like skydiving. We jump from the plane, and even though we are falling, we see the scenery, the horizon, our fellow divers and think all is just wonderful. But soon, you see the ground rush. It comes fast. You pull the chute. Hopefully, it opens and is big enough to give you a safe landing.
Oh, my friends, the applications of this analogy are almost limitless: preparing for old age? retirement funds? Your spiritual life? Living your life with no thought of the parachute: is it large enough? I even have one? Oh well..No matter. Ben Bernanke will just lower interest rates another 1/4 % and all will be well. But when we least expect it, the ground rush!!!!
My Dad closed the meeting with just a few powerful words: No matter how bad it gets, you always have your family. We always did things together and we can always depend on each other. And that, dear friends pretty well sums it up. It is like the final scene in one of my favorite movies, Moonstruck. After all the tumult in the life of each member at the kitchen table, it all ends with a toast in Italian..glasses raised..."to the Family!! a la Famiglia." The camera fades and pans to a close-up of an aging photograph of the two immigrant parents who started it all. The End...and I am in tears. "To the Family."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Mourning After...

It must be a "guy thing," but I pride myself on my ability to control my emotions when it comes to death. Maybe it is a psychological defect, but I hold back the tears. However, the mourning after Pavarotti's death was too much for me to control. There I was sitting at the computer watching a YouTube video of his last performance of "Nessun Dorma." The dam broke. Sobs!. Warm moisture running copiously down my cheeks..(tears, maybe?) It was a shameless exhibition. My daughter, Mary, came over and gave me a big hug. "It's alright, Dad." My ever sympathetic wife told someone, " I think your Dad is going through something." How could she understand? Maybe because I am a bass who always wanted to be a tenor. And maybe because the absolute best tenor in any generation was no longer able to thrill us with the majesty of his God-given talent. Believe me, no one can sing "Nessun Dorma" like Luciano.
Well its several days later. I managed to find the lyrics to "Nessun Dorma" and have been singing it in his memory. (What a desecration of such beautiful music). "Hey, Luciano. Save a place for me in that heavenly choir. Unfortunately, you will find me in the bass section." R.I.P

Friday, August 31, 2007

"You are that Roman"

Recently, all of the children (except the Binkster) came home for a visit. One evening, it was suggested that all of us, adults, children and grandchildren, watch a "hilarious" comedic bit by Rowan Atkinson. In this routine, Atkinson is dressed like a priest and reads a "spoofed up" version of the Gospel story: The Marriage Feast of Cana. And I must say, it was hilarious. We all gathered around and laughed until our sides ached.

After it was over, I walked away and began to have feelings of guilt. Was that a blasphemous presentation? Was I complicit in the comedian's blasphemy? What kind of example was I setting? After all, I am the "Pater Familias" and all that. After a 3 minute wrestle with the matter, I chalked it up to over-scrupulosity, figuring that God probably enjoyed it too.

Things were fine until Sunday morning Mass. After communion, I returned to my pew to begin my typical 45 second meditation. You know the kind: "Thank you , Jesus," for this and "thank you, Jesus," for that. However, the Holy Spirit had other plans. As soon as I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus, wearing a red robe and crown of thorns seated in the midst of a cadre of Roman soldiers, laughing and having a wonderful time. One soldier bowed profoundly before Jesus and mockingly said, " Hail, King of the Jews." His compatriots roared with laughter. But then the Holy Spirit said to me: "You are that Roman!" I wept.. Wept in repentance. This was God...and I was being chastised.

I share this with you because each of us has probably been guilty of this kind of behavior. The culture and our secular milieu encourages us to disparage what is holy. But Jesus is God or He is not. He is to be worshipped and adored or He is not. He is to be lovingly respected in His Divinity or He is not. There is no middle ground. Look how Muslims react when Mohamed is maligned. Why? because he is important to them. And so I ask this challenging question: Is Jesus important to you or, like me, are you that Roman?!

Monday, July 30, 2007

What I learned from Sister Albertine

Even though there was a time in my life when I was a teacher, I realize now that I have always been a "learner." More so now, perhaps, then ever before. And my greatest learning experiences, upon reflection, happened to me when I was in grade school, especially in the second grade with Sr. Albertine.

I was privileged to go to parocchial schools all the way from the first grade through high school. I therefore had the distinct pleasure to having women religious (aka-nuns) all the way through. But If you think you are going to read a diatribe about how abusive they were and how I am now a "fallen away" because of their classroom "terror" tactics, you are going to be sadly disappointed.

In 1948, at the tender age of 6, I met Sr. Albertine.... second grade teacher at St. Mary's Academy. The Daughters of Wisdom wore real habits in those days. She kinda' looked like the Dutch Cleanser lady. ( You are really old if you can remember the Dutch Cleanser lady!) Tall and slender (she seemed to be 8 feet tall to me), she wore metal rimmed glasses that perched perilously on the edge of her long, gallic nose. She spoke French fluently, and when we were disorderly, a stream of beautifully sounding though fiercely pronounced words would come forth. Whatever disarray was ongoing, immediately ceased when Sister spoke French. We new it was a danger signal.

Thirty-six children in one 2nd grade classroom. No resouce special assistants...just Sr. Albertine. It was 36 to 1, but with Sr. Albertine in charge, we were outnumbered big time. So what did my wonderful year with Sr. Albertine teach me? Several things:

1) Management skills- it is possible to control large groups of individuals simply with the force of a presence, a fierce glance and a few well chosen French phrases.

2) Organizational skills- My bookbag looked like my room when I began second grade. But Sr. Albertine would periodically do "search and seizure" missions. Ones book bag had better been organized to pass muster. God forbid a left over "PB&J" or small toy be found lurking in the bag's folds and corners. No student ever wanted to be on the receiving end of one of Sr. Albertine's piercing glances. By the time May rolled around, I had a bookbag that a bank exec would have been proud of.

3) Timeliness- Sister never bought into "the dog ate my homework," or some of the other feeble excuses we could craft.. When it was due, by God it was due! Late getting to school? Even if the d$%# bus broke down, she was not happy... No excuses! Just ask my children if the indelible time and date stamp implanted by Sr. Albertine has not lasted until this very day?

4) Line skills- Having to line up or even waiting in lines, has never bothered me. Parochial school trained me well. We lined up to go to class, go to recess, go to the boys room, go to lunch , go home at day's end. And the lines had to be straight-woe betide any rambunctious lad who squirmed out of position. "But Sistah, I got ADD" would have been useless, even if it had even been tried!

5) Last but not least, the Faith--Oh how very grateful I am to Sr. Albertine and all of the consecrated women who taught me the Catholic Faith over those years. What a gift I received, since most of those in the post Vatican II era grew up basically uncatechised! From Question #1 in Grade 1 to Question #479 in Grade 8, the Baltimore Catechism helped form a solid basis for my fledgeling Catholic Faith.

So, don't take me to a production of Nunsense..or force me to watch Whoopie Goldberg in a nun's habit demeaning the women who gave up their entire life to make sure that I not only learned how to read and write, but more importantly, that I learn Question #1 --that indeed, God is the Supreme Being who made all things. And as if that were not enough, I learned the answer to Question #2 ---He made me to know, love and serve Him, in this world so that I can be happy with Him in this life and in the next. -----Thank you, Sr. Albertine.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Confessions of an i Pod Addict

For Father's Day, each of my 8 children contributed the princely sum of $25 so that I could purchase an i Pod. This is an unlikely gift for a 65-year-old who used to constantly berate "yutes" for listening to those things seemingly 24/7, with no regard to the "existential realities" going on around them. Our culture is already too isolationist and self-absorbed. I Pods, for me, signal the end of civilization as we know it.

And besides: when would I ever use the thing? A lot of old people like me use it while jogging at the gym. But I use that time for saying my rosary...the i Pod would interfere with my already bedraggled prayer life. In the car? But I have XM Radio. Over 125 channels covering every possible taste. At home? After all my lectures about listening to an i Pod in the presence of another with whom meaningful dialogue might ensue? It would be hypocritical. "T'will gather dust," or so I thought.

Fortunately for me, my son Nathaniel set the unit up on the computer. If such an enterprise depended on me, the unit now would indeed be rather dusty. It started simply enough. One short organ Toccata by Widor. One song to which, surprisingly, I listened to again and again. I must say, I was proud of myself for at least getting it on the unit. Best 99 cents I ever spent.

But even Widor gets old after 45 renditions. So lo and behold, there was this entire album: The Last Night of the Proms. Only $9.99! 15 songs by the BBC Orchestra. Well, at least I'll have something more than Widor to listen to. And so I did it. A few buttons and my American Express bill was just a little bit heavier. OOO, so easy. Too easy.

I was finding I had lots of opportunites to listen to the thing. But then again, one cannot live on "God Save the Queen" forever.! More exploration on what was becoming my favorite place to shop, the iTunes Store, opened up a whole new world of opportunities. And presently, in less than 6 weeks, I sit with $114.00 on my American Express card and 20% of my "gigs" used up. I was getting am hooked!

And what do I use it for? Well, it has become a dandy aid to my prayer life, oddly enough. I pray the Office and have spiritual reading selections each day and so:

I have the monks of Solemns Abbey chanting Gregorian during Morning Prayer.

For my "spirtual reading," The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Clement), I listen to the the energetic chanting of a choir of monks from a Russian Orthodox Monastery. You haven't lived until you have heard the bass line sung by a Russian Orthodox monk. It defies description!

Evening prayer has become a real delight. I have two albums of "New Age" music by Steven Halpern. They are designed for peaceful yoga meditation, but, heck. Throw a little holy water on them and claim them for Christ, I say! Since the electronic piano and organ is generally centered around one note, I can chant the psalms and create some pretty good harmonies. (Why is it that my wife frowns when she walks past? I'm having a great time.)

And even though it probably violates some law, I find myself listening to my array of 44 Country hits when behind the wheel. (Allison Kraus, Toby Keith and even a couple of Willie Nelsons, et al.)

So there you have it. My true confession. Who would have thought that this device would be such a vital part of my life? I only hope that this blog might be read by the holy monks on Mt. Athos. With an i Pod they could make such quantum leaps in their prayer life!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What I am learning from my Dad

My father now lives with me and has for the last 2 years. Before that time, he lived in Norfolk, Va in the same house for 62 years, had been married to my mother for 53 years until she died and had worked for the same company for 46 years until he retired at 65. As one can see, consistency and constancy are the bedrocks of his character.

Even though I lived in the same house with him until I went to college, I can honestly say, I really didn't know him very well. He was quiet, laconic and very athletic. I was loud, verbose and couldn't hit a baseball if my life depended on it. We just didn't have a lot in common, or so it seemed to me. And so life went on. I moved around a great deal and contact with him was only 25 words or less during a periodic phone call.

As I mentioned before, Dad was a man of steel..physically and morally. He wasn't a church goer, but having been raised in a Masonic orphanage in Richmond, he was grounded in Christian values. It was these values that formed his solid character, a character that I have only now begun to fully discover and appreciate.

Since Dad is a diabetic, circulation problems recently cost him his left leg. It has been a struggle to adjust to this challenge, but he never ceases to amaze me. Using his prosthetic leg, he has astounded the Physical Therapist with his progress. But then again, Dad is a "jock." Even at 92. Here is a guy that shot his age (83) until by-pass surgery forced him to give up golf.

Seeing him in his present circumstance has been painful for me. But he continues to teach me, even as he did when I was too young to appreciate it. And what have I learned from him? Many things:

Never complain--Dad has yet to ever complain that he has gotten a raw deal. On the contrary, he quietly adjusts his life to his challenges and simply does what he has to do to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Appreciate each moment-- "It looks like its going to be a great day," he tells me as I help him to his potty chair.

Be patient-- Patience has never been my strong suit. It has always been one of his virtues. If he is lying on the bed wating for me to wheel him to dinner or elsewhere, he doesn't call out or fuss about the delay. "I knew you'd be in here sometime. No problem."

Love--and this is the big lesson. When you are around him, you know you are in the presence of a man who loves. We were never affectionate with each other. No hugs. Men of his generation just didn't do that. But I always knew that he was there for me..he would support me..he would encourage me. Although I would not have verbalized it then, I now can say he loved me. And so each evening as I give him his last dosage of pills for the day, I pull the covers up under his chin. "Snug me in," he says with a smile. I pat his right leg as I walk from the room. "Thanks, Big Guy," he says. "See ya tomorrow."