Sunday, June 21, 2015

Photo Tribute to a Dad and two Grandpa’s

I posted this for father's day four years ago, but now, while traveling in Greece with daughter Eleni, her husband Emilio and our two beautiful grandchildren--Amalia 3 1/2 and Nicolas, only 11 weeks old, my husband Nick Gage has proved himself a super Papou (grandfather.) Although he still doesn't change diapers.  But he's great at telling stories to Amalia until she falls asleep.

                                                                  Nick & Christos 1972
When our three children were born in the 1970’s, my husband Nick was not the kind of dad who'd change diapers, take a kid to the park or coach them in sports. But as these photos  suggest, he was always an important presence in their lives, ready to offer support, advice and unconditional love when they needed it.
                                                               Nick & Eleni circa 1976
This past week, President Obama launched the “Year of Strong Families” to do something about father absence, which he experienced growing up without a father.  Nick experienced it too, because, as he wrote in “A Place for Us”, he never knew his father, a short-order cook in Worcester, MA, until he and his sisters arrived in the U.S. as refugees in 1949 after their mother was executed during the Greek civil war.  Nick was nine years old.  His father, Christos, was 58.
                                                         Nick & Marina, circa  1979
My father, Robert O. Paulson, was born in 1906 and died in 1986.  Because my parents lived far away, he was not a real presence in our children’s lives, but when we visited California in 1973 I took these photos of him showing our son, Christos, his first view of the ocean, and reading to him at bedtime.

I only met my paternal grandfather, Par Paulson, once.  He was stern and completely deaf and the only way to communicate with him was by writing on a blackboard in chalk. But my step-grandfather, John Erickson, my grandmother’s second husband, had a special relationship with me during the years I lived near their small town of Monticello, Minnesota. 

 I still have a small garnet ring that once belonged to his mother. I remember vividly how he taught me to shoot his rifle across the wide Mississippi river, and in the spring, when it was time to get new baby chicks for the chicken yard, he would take me down to the hatchery, pull open drawers of chirping chicks and let me pick out the ones I liked.
                                                              Ida & John Erickson circa1952
 In the current "People" magazine President Obama wrote, “I grew up without a father around. I have certain memories of him taking me to my first jazz concert and giving me my first basketball as a Christmas present, But he left when I was two years old.”

 As he knows, even a one-time memory—choosing chicks at a hatchery, showing a grandson the ocean, reading a bedtime story or unwrapping a first basketball can be a gift that a child will cherish for a lifetime.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Spring Break South Beach, Amalia Style

Since the 1950’s, Florida has been the traditional destination for kids taking a break from school, as immortalized in the film “Where the Boys Are”.  In South Beach, the week leading up to Memorial Day is a hip-hop festival known as “Urban Beach Week” which, according to Wikipedia, “has become known for its over-the-top parties and fashions, as well as incidents of bad behavior.”

Amalia took her spring break from pre-school in South Beach this year during the week leading up to Memorial Day, but her partying was a lot tamer than the Memorial Weekend antics of the hip-hop fans.  Here’s her story of

What I did on Spring Break 2015

The night before we left New York I made a really tall block tower.  It fell down by itself in the night.  I’m wearing my Big Sis top because my baby brother Nicolas was born on April 2, making me a big sister.

As soon as I got to our apartment in South Beach I checked out the mosaics in the courtyard.  The fountains aren’t running but they say they’re going to fix them.

This mermaid mosaic is near our door.

I rode my bike on Lincoln Road, which is a pedestrian mall.

And I took Papou to the alligator store (Lacoste) and bought him this shirt for Father’s Day.  He says it’s his favorite.

Here I am enjoying Happy Hour with Mommy and Yiayia Joanie on Lincoln Road. I usually order hummus.

I ordered a pink heart balloon from the Balloon Man and Lady on Lincoln Road.

He gave me an extra balloon free because I talked to him in Spanish.

I went to the water park in Flamingo Park near our apartment twice.

Papou took me in the water first.

I loved going down the slide into the water and did it a whole lot of times.

Then my Mommy took me in the water.  I'm wearing my green bikini from last year.

Another day I put on a new bathing suit.  It has hearts on it.

We took my baby brother Nicolas to put his feet in the ocean for the first time.

Here he is in a onesie with a monkey eating a banana.  I have a pink romper that's  covered with yellow bananas.

On Thursday Mommy talked about her new novel “The Ladies of Managua” at Books and Books in Coral Gables.  Here she is signing books for some friends and relatives from Nicaragua.  I’m helping.

In Florida I ate a lot of strawberry ice cream—the only flavor I like.  Here I am at the  gelateria on Espanola Way. 

Here I am eating strawberry ice cream at Dylan’s Candy Bar on Lincoln Road.

And here I am with a cone from Hagen Daz.  But it melted before I could eat it.  Yiayia said next time I have to order my ice cream in a bowl—no more cones!