What Touched Me On This 9/11

For those of us who were alive that agonizing day, I don’t think we will ever let September 11 pass by without deep thought and prayer. Although the hideous act against humanity took place a staggering 16 years ago today (still can’t believe it), most of us can remember it like yesterday.

Make no mistake about it, time has not been able to evaporate the feelings of loss, anger, and disbelief many of us still have. Rather, as time goes by, they seem to intensify. Just by living through that day, my heart will never let me forget how I felt when I woke up that morning and watched the towers fall.

But if my memory ever starts to dull, I can thank historians and others for making sure we will never forget. Since September 11, 2001, I have consumed countless documentaries, movies, victim testimonials, photographs, and raw video of the attacks. This content, which I am borderline-obsessed with watching, always touches me in a certain way.

Today, on the 16th anniversary of the attacks, I was touched again. But this time, it was just a quote that gave me chills.

When I saw this quote on my Twitter timeline this morning, I couldn’t help but feel extremely moved.

Out of all the well-done, high budgeted, emotionally gut-wrenching 9/11 media I have seen, it was this photo that somehow popped up on my Twitter feed and really impacted me. This voicemail message from a husband to his wife instantly brought tears to my eyes.

Over the past couple years I have become a softy. By getting married and having a daughter, I have learned so much more about love. To see a man, probably close to my age and standing in life, leave such a selfless and heartfelt message to his soul mate in a time of death and terror, hit me hard. How beautiful, how brave.

This time around, it wasn’t watching helpless civilians jumping out of buildings or a contingent of heros busting into a cockpit that made me lose it. On September 11, 2017, it was something different. This time, it was pure love. Going to hug my wife extra hard tonight. Don’t Blink.

Spared by Irma

Hallelujah. Hurricane Irma decided to spare us.

On Thursday, I noted that one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to touchdown in the United States could potentially steamroll through Myrtle Beach. Thankfully for us, that won’t be the case.

Despite earlier forecasts that showed our area in the 5-day error cone of the storm and despite plenty of worry and build up, we won’t go toe to toe with Hurricane Irma. Meteorologists, who cautioned the whole time that the storm could shift, proved correct when Irma decided to take a westerly track, not only comfortably bypassing Myrtle Beach but steering clear of most of the entire state of South Carolina itself.

We are all extremely happy. After living through Hurricane Matthew last year, a storm dwarfed both in size and power by Irma, I told myself I was fine if I didn’t have to deal with another Mother Nature assault for a while.

However, as I have mentioned, Hurricane Irma is a massive storm. Because of this, although we won’t be anywhere near the eye of the storm, we will experience “fringe effects” from Irma. Starting tomorrow and lasting through Tuesday morning, the Myrtle Beach area is expecting tropical storm force winds with the possibility of tornados.

Horry County Schools, my wife’s employer, canceled all classes tomorrow. Sidney and Sloan will have the day to snuggle and rest comfortably inside our home while the wind howls. As for me, classes at Coastal Carolina University are also canceled tomorrow (as well as Tuesday) but staff will still report.

Sidney and Sloan will be safe from the fringe effects of Hurricane Irma as they stay home tomorrow.

My thoughts and prayers are with the millions of people who have and will be impacted by this nasty storm. Since my family was spared, it means another young family to the west of us who originally thought they were in the clear now will have to brace for danger. I feel for them.

Thanks to everyone who reached out over the past several days, you are all the best. Do know we are doing fine and that we are completely out of harm’s way. Don’t Blink.

Hurricane Irma Thursday Rundown

It is currently a tense time in the area of the country I live in but that won’t stop the Thursday Rundown. Time to roll with this week’s five random topics…

Hurricane Irma – My opening sentence of this blog post was meant to reference one of the potentially biggest hurricanes to ever hit the United States. Hurricane Irma, a current Category 5 hurricane, is forecasted to make landfall in South Carolina. Many meteorologists are saying that Irma will dwarf Hurricane Matthew. Although the hurricane will most likely diminish into a Category 3 or Category 2 storm before it wreaks havoc on Myrtle Beach, it is a very concerning situation. I will make sure to keep all of you updated.

Wife Not a Fan of Football – Sidney can’t stand football season. She becomes quite annoyed when male figures in her life such as her husband and father spend time in front of the TV watching it. If I am going to catch a quarter while in bed, I have to mute it because just the background noise annoys Sid enough that she can’t sleep. When I saw this Blondie comic strip this morning it immediately made me think of Sid and I.

One reason Sidney dislikes football season is because it is so loooong.

Dad Entering His 33rd Year as Football Official – Speaking of football, my dad started his 33rd year as a high school referee this past week. I have written before about his decorated officiating career and needless to say I am proud of him for hitting the field to serve the Spokane youth once again. I wish him well and I will pray for a season of no injuries, understanding coaches, and exciting games. Have fun, dad!

A photo of my dad before he went off to officiate his first game of the 2017 season last Thursday.

Return Trip to Dave & Buster’s – On Labor Day, my father-in-law said he wanted to do “something fun.” To quench his thirst for a good time, we went to Dave & Buster’s. We visited the entertainment center at around 2 p.m. and it really was night and day compared to last June when we went on a weekend night at 10 p.m. We were able to play the games we wanted to in an atmosphere that resembled more of a family center as opposed to a night club. We ate lunch as well. Dave & Buster’s offers a vast and fun menu. Although making a selection was hard, I went with the bang bang chicken. The entire experience was a very nice Labor Day outing.

Sidney (and Sloan) playing Mario Kart this past Monday. My bang bang chicken is pictured to the right.

The Latest on Sloan – Although I don’t have too much new to report on Sloan this week, I do have one of the cuter picture collages to share. The smiles keep coming and her hair does too! When we FaceTime my family, her dark hair is the first thing they notice. She was so happy this morning as she smiled and played in her new overalls. Sloan will turn 25 weeks tomorrow.

No shortage of smiles from Sloan this week!


Time to start bracing for a hurricane! I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys the weekend. I will try not to blow away. Don’t Blink.

Putting A Week of Ailments Into Perspective

I apologize for not writing much over the course of the last week, the truth is I have not felt up to it. The canker sore I complained about last Wednesday proved to be just the beginning of a string of ailments.

On Thursday, I came down with a strange shortness of breath condition. Throughout the entire day, I felt like I had just finished running 10 miles up hill. I was pretty uncomfortable and a tad bit worried.

I woke up Friday morning and I no longer noticed any shortness of breath. Why? Well, first off it was mostly gone. But the real reason I didn’t pay much attention to the previous day’s annoyance was because I now had a splitting headache. Feeling like my head had just been ran over by a truck, I swallowed more pills than I have ever taken before. It provided a little relief but the headache never left completely and within a few hours it was back to throbbing status again.

After Friday, I battled my headache on Saturday and Sunday as well. Although the pain lessened each day, I had never had a headache linger for so long. But by Monday I was feeling pretty good. Then I woke up on Tuesday…

I started off the work week with one of my signature colds. Yesterday was annoying and today was pretty miserable. I am hoping that I shake this nasty cold soon, crossing my fingers that I feel better tomorrow.

Dealing with various discomforts over the past week has reminded me of a couple things. First, it is so easy to take for granted your health. I do it all the time! Life is just so much more enjoyable without a stuffy nose and watery eyes or without a pounding pain in your head. I need to do a better job of enjoying the numerous days I enjoy when I feel 100%.

Second, I have been reminded that even when I am “sick” I am lucky. Having the audacity to whine about a cold quickly reminds me of my blessings. I know cancer patients and other terminally ill people would take a headache 10X the strength of what I had on Friday if it just meant that they were given one day without their symptoms and medication side effects. Yes, I know I have nerve writing this post.

I hope I feel better but I also hope I can do a better job at putting my “annoyances” into perspective. These days in this country, a cold certainly won’t kill you. Don’t Blink.

Celebrating My Grandma 100 Years After Her Birth

If still alive, my grandma would have turned 100 today. Fifteen years ago, I would have placed money on her reaching the century club. But things happen and she passed away in 2006.

My hypothetical bet is not the biggest loser, however. Rather, it is all the people, both those who she had met and those she would have met, who would have gained a lot from having her around those 11 extra years. She was an amazing lady.

Before my grandma was an “amazing lady” she was just a girl. Here is a photo from her earlier years.

I know most of us idolized our grandparents. I know most of us first came to grips with the fact of death when our grandparents passed. I know most of us look back with a great sense of nostalgia at our grandmothers and grandfathers. So I don’t want to romanticize my grandma’s life because I know I would probably get eye rolls. However, I do want to just point out a couple things about Virginia Fazzari.

My grandma holding me when I was born.

A strong, Italian woman, my grandma grew up in Walla Walla, Washington. She married my grandpa right before he went overseas for World War II. During the war, my grandpa would consistently send letters and money back to his new wife. When he finally returned from the service almost four years later, my grandma said she could barely recognize him…he had lost most of his hair. But with the money my grandpa had sent home, they had enough to build their own house.

From that point on, my grandpa joined my great grandpa in the restaurant business. They owned a successful Italian restaurant in downtown Walla Walla. My grandma would help out at the business but throughout her life she spent majority of her time at home raising a family. She was a proud mother to two boys and three girls. My own mom was the youngest; my grandma gave birth to her when she was 40, a medical feat at the time.

Once the kids were out of the house, my grandparents spent time traveling the country/world when my grandpa could step away from the Pastime for a few days. As they got older, my grandma spent a lot of her time sitting in her favorite recliner reading books, gazing out the big window in her living room. However, no matter if she was in the middle of the best page turner ever, her first priority was always her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

My grandma was a quiet woman. She didn’t say much, but when she did everyone listened. I learned from her that in life your credibility isn’t enhanced by being the loudest person in the room. The wise use words only when necessary.

My grandma was a God-fearing woman. Completely devoted to her faith, she was deeply involved with the church and was probably the best Catholic role model I knew. Again, it wasn’t about her being loud and boisterous about her beliefs, it was her demeanor and actions that established her as a true disciple of Christ. It was inspiring.

My grandma and I before we went to the church for my First Communion. My grandma was a strong disciple of God.

My grandma was a giving woman. She spoiled us grandchildren rotten but she helped the downtrodden as well. With my grandpa, the two of them spent their lives practicing generosity.

A photo of us three kids with grandma and grandpa. They spoiled us rotten.

My grandma was a loyal woman. Married to my grandpa for 60 years, they served as a great example to my parents who in turn served as a great example to Sidney and me. But she didn’t just stick by my grandpa. She was there for all of her children, grandchildren, friends, other relatives, etc. through thick and thin. She didn’t hold grudges and would welcome anyone over for Sunday dinner.

A newspaper clipping from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin announcing my grandparents’ 60th anniversary.

Finally, my grandma was a STRONG woman. God tested her. She went through a long stage where the doctors said she and my grandpa wouldn’t be able to conceive. She suffered through the agony of her middle daughter suddenly coming down with a mysterious illness and passing away. She watched as her oldest daughter became confined to a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis. She battled cancer. She went through the unthinkable parental nightmare of burying a second child when her daughter with MS eventually passed away. She watched her husband of 60 years go in for a pacemaker only to return not fully the same, dying shortly thereafter.

My grandma was strong with several hardships. Before she passed away, my mom was the only daughter she had left (my mom is in the black and my sister is in the jacket).

But as the Book of Job tells us, God does test the just with suffering. However, like Job, my grandma responded to it bravely. She kept herself together in order to bring comfort to others. In fact, I only saw her cry once. It was when they closed the casket prior to taking my Aunt Becky (the oldest daughter) from the funeral home to the church for her funeral mass. I understood true sadness at that moment. My grandma was a rock.

But believe me, when I think of my grandma I don’t think of sadness. Rather, I think of a woman who was quiet, yet really funny; a lover of books, yet always open to watch a comedy that we picked out; a health nut in her later years, yet the best cook I have ever known. I think of one of the finest human beings I have ever known. Many others will say the same thing.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! I am so happy I got to be with you on earth for 19 years. Cant wait to see you again one day. Don’t Blink.