Be Where You Are

I know, I know two posts in one day — you hardly know me anymore.  I’ll explain it with this complicated series of mathematical equation:

Training for a Half Marathon = Lots of running
Lots of running = Lots of time with my own thoughts
Time with my own thoughts = Notes to Myself = Blog Posts

So that pretty much sums it up, mmmkay?

Anyway I had a terrible run today which sucks, obviously.  It doubly sucked because my run on Saturday was so awesome that I felt like I was finally getting the hang of this running thing.  I was having all these grand epiphanies, feeling pretty great during the run, and fantastic afterward.

Today, however, was the pits.  I was supposed to run 3 miles and only ran 1.5.  When I showed up to the gym all the treadmills were taken.  When I went back a second time my brain had practically given up before I even got on the damn thing.  

(Sidebar:  I think treadmill running is sort of equivalent to water torture, but right now it is a necessary evil so that I can fit in some training runs in during the week and not totally kill my post-work social life.  And by social life, I mean time I spend CrossFitting, running errands, cooking dinner, seeing my boyfriend, oh yeah and sleeping.) 

Life is wild these days, my friends.  

So where was I?  

Ah yes, a sucky run.  My run was so sucky in fact, that it took me just as long to shower and clean up afterward as it did to actually work out.  And I spent the bulk of that primp time beating myself up for having such a crappy run — reminding myself that I would never get anywhere with a performance like that, and how the hell did I expect to be ready to run 13 miles by June if I can’t run 2 without bitching out on a Tuesday afternoon?  

But then do you know what I realized?  I realized that I did not sign up for this half marathon to add another item to my List of Things I Feel Bad About.  Oh, and Newsflash:  Beating myself up is not going to make me run faster.  So eff all that noise!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately since starting CrossFit and taking on a few more athletic endeavors.  He was a great athlete and super educated about all this stuff that I am bumbling around and trying to figure out and sometimes I feel really sad that he is not around to give me advice or that I can’t call him like I wanted to last night when I PR’d on my deadlift at CrossFit (255 lbs baby…Holla!)  But I know he is around and supporting me, and every once in a while I can hear him clear as day.  And today in that locker room was one of those times.

Be where you are, he said.

Don’t beat yourself up for where you aren’t.  
Be where you are.  
Own it.  
Build on it.
And you will kill it. 

Yes today’s run wasn’t my best.  But 6 months ago I made a tiny change by prioritizing fitness.  5 months ago I wouldn’t have gotten up and packed my gym bag to bring to work.  4 months ago  I wouldn’t have gone to the gym on my lunch break.  3 months ago I wouldn’t have gone back a second time when all the treadmills were full.  2 months ago I wouldn’t have run on that treadmill for 25 minutes.  

Had I not taken one tiny, seemingly meaningless step forward 6 months ago, I would not be where I am right now.  So I am just going to be over here where I am if that’s ok with you.  Not feeling a damn bit guilty.  And 6 months from now?  Who knows where I will be.

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Happy, Indeed

I am 32 today which — I don’t know — just seems so novel.  So adult, really.  I feel like I’m pulling the wool over someone’s eyes a bit. 

In my mind there are parts of me that still feel like I’m about 21 and still wide eyed and trying to figure life out.  But then again every once in a while that little old lady inside of me comes out a bit too.  In fact tonight we are celebrating my birthday dinner at our favorite sushi place because I have a Groupon.  Holla!  Yep, I’m excited that not only do I get to have my favorite sushi, but with a coupon.  Ok, that little old lady probably comes out more than I would like to admit these days.

The other night I realized that when I met Garrett I was 25 and he was 22!  “We were just babies!” I told him, “You were barely legal!”  But it feels nice to have found someone to grow up a bit with.  I love that our relationship still has the newness and excitement that it did when we first met, but we also have 7 years of history together.  We have figured a lot of life out just the two of us, and that feels increditbly comforting. 

I recently rescued some old family home movies from my mom’s garage and transferred them from 8mm to DVD.  I had to wait 3 weeks to find out what was on them and if I’m being honest I was excited about them, but mostly I was anxious.  For one, it would be the first time I had seen any video of my dad since he passed away 12 years ago and I was a little apprehensive to experience something so emotional (and believe me it was incredibly heart-wrenching just to hear his voice again.)  But my other anxiety had more to do with seeing myself at around age 12 because ohmygod, AWKWARD!  Bad clothing!  Terrible hair!  Immature behavior! OH MY!  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  (Oh wait, they probably did.)  There really should not be any visual evidence left of anyone’s adolescent years, am I right?  

Anyway, so the other night I put in one of the DVDs for Garrett and together we had a good laugh.  With that 7 years behind us, he has not only gotten to know me well, but has become very well acquainted with all the members of my family so I think he was especially excited to see all of their awkward moments as well.  The 90s were such a goldmine of bad fashion decisions, I cringe, but it was hysterical to enjoy all of us at our silliest.  Well at least until I realized that we were watching video from 20 years ago and — OMG, WHERE DID THE TIME GO WHEN DID I GET SO OLD? 

One of the many home videos on the DVD from my dad’s 37th birthday.  His arrival home from work and subsequently getting the dogs all riled up and excited as he was wont to do.  My mom narrating as she filmed about all the fun things in store for the evening.  There was vido of him admiring the banner that I had painstaikingly illustrated in Print Shop and printed on our black and white dot matrix printer.  It was just a real slice of Americana, and it was so odd to think that this was our lives then.  Even weirder to think about was that on that day my dad was turning 37 — only 5 years older than I am now.  I can remember it so vividly, standing excitedly in my denim cutoffs and my Stanford sweatshirt — at the time I was sure that was where I was going to college (BAHAHAHAHA!).  

Then came the rest of the family, and of course all of it was on film, my grandparents showing up, my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Everyone spending the evening clinking glasses in celebration.  My dad was just so damn happy to be celebrating with his family, eating cake, cracking jokes, opening presents — and just being his normal happy go-lucky self around his peeps.  It was wonderful to see and remember.  Knowing the backstory, he had a lot of stuff going on in his life right then, but you never would have known it because on that night he was just so present and enjoying the moment of celebrating with the people he loved the most. 

That touched me for a million reasons that I won’t even get into, but the most powerful takeaway for me was that he was turning 37 that year — and sadly only 5 short years later he would be gone.  You just never know how long you have or how many of these precious and fleeting moments you will get to enjoy, you know?  And no matter what is going on, I want to enjoy those moments just like he did.  Today, even though I am a year older and it’s fun to whine about all of that, I am also trying to remind myself all day how lucky I am just to be here.  How lucky I am to have adorable coworkers make a big deal this morning, to have my family send cute text messages all day, to get emails from friends, cards in my mailbox, to have tweets and Facebook messages find their way to me, and to be having dinner with my favorite guy (WITH MY DAMN COUPON!).  This is a splendid life that I get to live and I don’t want to take a minute of it for granted. 

I want 32 to be a year of being present and grateful.  

 

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August 23, 1998

I will type this date over and over again today.


August 23rd.


It is a normal Monday around here, there is nothing particularly notable happening. I will go to work, I will see some friends. I will hit the gym and cook dinner. I will take a long hot shower at the end of a full and productive day and although it will certainly feel relaxing it will never wash away the memory of this day 12 years ago.


The memory of my father sitting outside by the pool in his blue t-shirt and shorts, breathing in the fresh air pondering why he felt under the weather. The way he walked into the house with a look of fear on his face. The way his 6’4 frame crumpled to the ground quicker than my brain could process what was going on, the way the hue of his lips and face changed almost instantly and began to match his clothing.

*

Panic in the abstract it seems like it would be this quick heart palpitating adrenaline rush, but in real life, though panic does lights the fire, it is a slow, steady and painful burn. Time stops when you evaluate the fact that there is a person at your feet who isn’t breathing. The seconds tick by as your protector becomes the person who needs to be protected. You assume this new role with every fearful breath your own body takes. Emergency calls are placed but it’s like talking underwater — these words that are coming out of your mouth are unrecognizable, you hear them, but they can’t be yours. This can’t actually be happening. In seconds there are strangers in your home, someone else is in charge. There are needles on the ground, sinking into the carpet. There is nothing quick about panic — time actually seems to be moving in slow motion, so much so that you become aware of everything. The smells and the thickness of the air become overwhelming, but the more you breathe, the more you are reminded that not everyone is so lucky.

*
 Being told my father was gone in a bright white hospital that had sunshine busting through every single window was like a joke with the most offensive punch line. His heart stopped, there was nothing else we could do.  They call Time of Death and it feels like a bad television show.  I look at the clock and recognize it as the same clocks from elementary school.  I wonder if they all order from the same catalog.  I am clinging to anything familiar.  We sat side by side, my mom and I, in a sad little office in leathery uncomfortable chairs as we listened to the doctor.  Here is a pamphlet that explains what happens next.  I feel sad for whoever has to write those pamphlets.  Knowing their work is going to reach people when they are at their worst.  It’s thankless.  The hospital will store the body until you can make funeral arrangements, do you know who you are going to call?


The body.


I wonder how they can call him a body while my mom crumples beside me, the second crumpling parent I’ve seen today. It is freezing and I am overwhelmed by the smell of chemicals. I am 19 with my whole life ahead of me, yet I can’t even fathom what life will look like anymore in this moment. Do people often know who they are going to call in these situations? I can’t imagine people carrying around funeral home information in their purse, but maybe I am wrong.


Though I would like to believe I am, and have spent hours trying to convince others, I am not an adult. And today, I finally realize that. Today I woke up as a child, but that chapter has been slammed shut without my consent and all of that is now changing. You cannot remain a child when you have to leave one third of your family in this cold, dead environment, knowing that you will never see him again.  You cannot remain a child once you have experienced this kind of loss. 


How do you go back to the house that is filled with him – with his warmth and his laughter, with his hamper full of just worn clothes and his pillow that still smelling like him? What do you do with his cologne on the bathroom counter, the one’s he let you pick out because you were his little girl and he always wanted your opinion? How do you look at his handwriting all over notes that he has left to you and left to himself? Notes that were once reminders and are now some of the only reminders left.


How does one do this at the age of 19?

*

For starters she puts her mother back in the car and drives her back home to the house. She puts one foot in front of the other and picks up the one remaining needle on the living room floor. She stops to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and to cry at the devastation. She gives hugs and gets angry. She protects her memories as she falls off to sleep each night. She sees family and sees friends. Eventually she goes back to work. She hits the gym and she cooks dinner. She takes long, hot showers at the end of productive days.


But twelve years later, she still wakes up and can’t believe that he is gone.

 

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A Reason to Eat Cake

He was the first man to hold my hand.
He was the first man to kiss my forehead.
He was the first man to protect me from harm.
He was the first man to call me Princess. 
He was the first man to tell me he loved me. 

He taught me to be humble while still having confidence in myself.
He taught me to be coachable instead of defensive.
He taught me to be silly and to laugh, most often, at myself. 
He taught me how to catch.
He taught me to include everyone because it doesn’t feel good to be left out.
He taught me that integrity is worth more than money.
He taught me that education can never be taken away from you.
He taught me to parallel park in a Suburban.
He taught me to live for adventure.
He taught me to be relentless. 

He told me that one day I would appreciate a cold beer on a hot day.
He told me I was smart, and I shouldn’t let guys take advantage of me.
He told me to follow my dreams whether people said I was crazy or not.
He told me I should respect my elders. 
He told me that one day I would be as beautiful as my mother. 
He told me that everyday was my masterpiece. 
He told me to always remember that family was the most important thing in life. 

He gave me the gift of gab.
He gave me a laugh that’s contagious.
He gave me unconditional love even when I was bratty.
He gave me lectures when I wanted to pierce my tongue and get a tattoo.
He gave me shit for loving New Kids on the Block. 
He gave me everything I ever asked for and never asked for anything in return.

He would love that I grew up to be a ball-breaker.
He would love that I graduated college like I promised when I told him I was dropping out. 
He would love that his nieces and nephews grew up to act like siblings. 
He would love that I FINALLY learned how to grill.
He would love busting Garrett’s chops. 

He would have walked me down the aisle with pride.
He would have hugged me tightly during the father/daughter dance at my wedding.
He would have been the world’s best grandpa.
He would have been proud of what I’ve accomplished.
He would have high fived my mom over a job well done.
He would have been my biggest cheerleader. 

He would have been 56 today.

Happy Birthday Dad. 

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Fat Girl

When my mother was 16, eagerly anticipating the independence that came in the form of a Volkswagen Beetle, she passed her drivers test. As she filled out the paperwork for what would be her first Drivers License she encountered the Universal DMV Dilemma of what to write for her weight. Ultimately she decided to lie as many of us do, and so she got ballsy and put down 112 lbs.  God forbid anyone find out she only weighed in at 104. 
 If I hadn’t seen the pictures from the hospital, I would question whether or not we were actually related.  I have never had the occasion to make myself appear less…skinny – not in real life, and certainly never on paper. I have always taken after my dad’s side of the family who embody their German heritage not only in their ability to empty a stein, but in their sturdy frames.

We looked a lot alike, my father and I – same hair, same eyes, same NFL lineman shoulders. If I had a brother, he would have spent his life envious.  Our legs could have been carved out of the same marble slab.  We were a formidable pair. 



“Holy Shit, Holly, he looks like Conan the Barbarian,” Garrett said the first time he saw my parents wedding photo.  The fact that he never got to meet my father was surely a relief to him in some ways.


*Obviously Garrett meant Conan the Barbarian if he ditched the loin cloth and headdress for a baby blue tux and a paisley bowtie. God I love the 70s*


I understood what he meant but the comment made me cringe a bit because I recognized my own body in that picture and I thought of the words that I hoped my one day boyfriend would use to describe me, an Arnold Schwartzenegger character never came to mind.  But I was also proud of my father’s strength, and of the physique that he earned after decades of football.  I saw the aftermath of the NFL that they don’t discuss on SportCenter — the bruises, the surgeries. 


But my career goals never involved the NFL, so I’ve definitely struggled a bit to love this body I was gifted. I’ve told you before about my childhood foray into dance, and as a dancer my body was never a perfect fit.  Despite dedication and passion, I learned at a very early age that my body would prevent any chance I would ever have at that profession no matter how many times I casually hugged the toilet, but just in case I should try to lose about 20 lbs. I think I was 9 when this sunk in.
 Though no Swan Queen, my imperfect body has done unbelievable things for me and as someone who hopes to have children one day I look to the future now and think of all the things my body is still going to do for me – what it is capable of doing for me, and I have begun to appreciate it.  When I think of the plans I have it’s hard not to feel a little proud. Sure my body isn’t perfect, and I have definitely gotten the memo that it isn’t The Ideal (Loud and Clear! Thank you, American Media!) But this body is mine, and the narcissist inside of me finds that hard not to love.  And this is mostly why I was pretty disgusted with Fat Girl, Judith Moore’s autobiographical account of her life growing up fat.

Though chock full of writing that will just absolutely knock your socks off, she spends page after page discussing herself with such disdain. She wrote an interesting commentary about why she wrote the book, and although the book is refreshing in its frankness, I am also finding it very hard to read. Writing about something that generally doesn’t have a voice deserves praise, but having that voice be so incredibly disparaging is hard for someone with my history to reconcile, and ultimately it doesn’t accomplish much.  The only place the story goes is down 30 floors to the basement of your worst shame spiral, and yet  there is nothing earned for the trip. 


I don’t need every book to have a silver lining lesson, but every few pages I find it difficult to not immediately set the book down, and whisper to that little dreamer inside of her that it doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t thinks you are perfect.  Everything will work out just as it should – even if it doesn’t end up looking quite as much like Flashdance as you once hoped it would.

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The Trip of A Lifetime

I consider myself a bit of a traveler. I mean I don’t really go to super exotic locales or cliched destinations or anything (hell, I have embarrassingly only used my passport once and it was in 1986 when my hair was in full on bowl cut mode, god I should find and scan that picture) but if I have a few extra bucks in my pocket my first choice is always to spend them by getting out of town. Usually I like exploring a new place, and usually it is someplace quaint rather than extravagant, somewhere off the beaten path or somewhere seemingly ordinary. But this year I took the trip of lifetime and of all places, it was to Maui! I’m know. You are all thinking: Holly, could there be a more cliched travel destination than Maui? And the answer is, probably not. But for a few really personal reasons, it was by far the best trip I have ever taken.

Hawaii was always this mythical place in my mind growing up. My parents had lived there while my dad was in college, and even after he graduated and started playing football professionally in Detroit they spent the off seasons on the Big Island. Growing up all of their friends and members of my family had these great stories about the times they visited my parents on the islands. There were funny stories and amazing adventures, and they all painted a gorgeous picture of a what a crazy life my parents had before I was born. First of all they were in their early 20s. Imagine what you were doing when you were 22? I know I was goofing off in college and then “Finding Myself” in Los Angeles (ha!) definitely not living it up in some exotic locale. It was fascinating to me that my parents had this offbeat life before I came around — I know that’s a little self centered, but as a kid it just seemed so weird to think of your parents life before you, but it was hard to ignore when it was a life of stories re-told in such vivid technicolor. When I was young and my parents would tuck me in to bed at night I always asked for a story, and often times my father would describe tales of surfing and swimming and hiking in the lush Hawaiian landscape with its strange sounding names — and I would drift off to sleep awaiting the day I would finally get to make sense of it all in person.

As I got older, it became less of a myth and more of a promise. You see my Grandma Marian (who passed away in 2004 and was the absolute light of our whole family) knew how much I wanted to go and was always assuring me that I would get there. Each summer all of us grandkids had the opportunity to take our own “solo trips” up to her house in Sonoma. When it was my turn to visit, she always let my fingers go walking through her perfumes and lotions — my childhood favorites always being the L’Air du Temps bottle because it was pretty (hello 80s flashback) and a metallic tube of Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater Hand Therapy. We spent our days visiting, doing water aerobics at her class, watching Jeopardy, having sandwiches at the Sonoma Cheese Factory, and of course always making time to catch up with her neighborhood buddies as they knew all us grandkids.

Inevitably during these trips we would stop by and say hi to her best friends (and my dad’s Godparents) Mert and Don, who lived down the street. Many times they would tell stories of their recent trips to Maui altogether and how the 3 of them spent their days lounging and having cocktails and enjoying the weather at at the beach. They would always laugh when I would get upset about not having been to Hawaii yet, and say that someday I would have great friends to go with when I understood the power of The 5 o’ Clock Cocktail. I would roll my eyes, of course, but they just made Maui seem so accessible. But I couldn’t, in my 9 year old mind, figure out how to make it happen. So instead I’d come home from my week at Grandma Marian’s and just nag my parents about it. They finally promised that they would take me when I turned 10, but frankly I’m not sure they ever really meant this. I think it was more of a finite answer to the infinite questions I would always ask “When will visit Hawaii? How long until I can see Hawaii? Can I learn how to surf? Where we will snorkel?”

WHEN YOU ARE TEN, HOLLY. WE WILL TAKE YOU WHEN YOU ARE TEN.

And so that was that. Except of course age ten came and went and we never made it to Hawaii. It’s not like my parents never took me anywhere, my childhood was full of fabulous family camping adventures, the aforementioned trips to Sonoma, and one incredibly exotic trip to Bermuda (which I totally didn’t appreciate a the time — God, the regret!) but we just never really made it to Hawaii like we were supposed to when I turned 10. And so as you can imagine I pretty much brought that up annually over candles and cake. It became a bit of a family joke, actually.

I think as I got older I finally came to terms with the fact that nobody was going to Take Me To Hawaii, so I went about researching the cost of getting there myself and Holy Hell are those plane tickets pricey when you are making $12 an hour slinging mochas, so I kind of gave up the dream for awhile. I was fine doing my frolicking around the mainland and exploring California’s bounty until about two years into my relationship with Garrett when he nonchalantly mentioned that his family owned a portion of a condo in Maui and would I be interested in heading out there for a couple of weeks at some point? To which my answer was, HELL-TO-THE-YES! And also immediately afterward, WHY THE HELL HAVE YOU WAITED TWO YEARS TO BRING THAT UP, BUDDY? His reply was that he had pretty much gone every summer of his entire life up until he was about 16 and so he wasn’t sure that Hawaii was anything I was that excited about.

(BLINK BLINK.)

(No really, BLINK BLINK.)

So once we had a very brief repeat conversation about my likes and dislikes (LIKES: Free Condos in Maui. DISLIKES: My boyfriend thinking I would not be interested in Free Condos in Maui. See? Easy) he explained that his parents and grandparents and some teacher friends from the bay area each owned 1/12th of a condo. We could have the condo for a month if we wanted, so pretty much immediately I began to plan. Of course as travel planning goes it took us a couple years to get our time/budget/act together, but surprisingly at the end of May this year I (FINALLY) found myself on a 5 hour flight that was Maui-bound. Only twenty years after my 10th Birthday.

It was kind of a moving experience, that flight, which I realize sounds totally cheesy, but really the whole time I just kept looking out the window and thinking I can’t believe I am finally going to Hawaii. I had not only packed my entire closet (which actually turned out to be a totally unnecessary rookie mistake) but also a lifetime of anticipation! And let me tell you when that plane finally landed I just let all those emotion loose! I actually cried when the plane landed because I WAS FINALLY HERE! I was finally able to see the places I had dreamed about as a child, to feel the ultimate relaxation with my best friend that I had heard about as a teen, and to see the beauty that I had envied as an adult. I had a moment of sadness because neither my father nor my grandmother were alive to finally hear about all of the experiences I was about to have, but in that moment it was like they were right there. The rite of passage was right there under my feet and it was so much for my little heart to take and so I just cried and cried the happy tears of joy that were 30 years in the making. Of course Garrett finally looked over at me and said “Dude, all these people are going to think I’m being mean to you if you are crying” and so we had a huge tear filled laugh, I wiped my cheeks and the adventure began.

We stayed in that condo for 12 days, and it was probably the most blissful time in my life. Garrett recounted memories of his trips as a child and I finally got to reconcile the pictures in my imagination with reality and it was truly so much better in person. I felt incredibly close to my father and my grandmother during that time, and as Garrett and I spent our days walking hand in hand on the beaches or cruising the island highways off to our next undertaking, I would think of my parents, and the similar moments they must have shared in their early 20s with the gorgeous Hawaiian sunset as their backdrop. What were they hoping their future held? I felt connected to the past, connected to nature, connected to a family history that surrounds me with wonderful memories even though we are no longer able to all sit together around the table and tell stories. Around every corner there was a reminder of the connections that I have always had with this beautiful place, and it truly felt like coming home.

The weirdest coincidence of the whole trip happened a few days before we left when I went rummaging around in the condo bathroom for some Advil. Underneath the sink amidst years worth of sunscreens, community shampoo bottles, and expired medicine, I found a halfway used tube of Crabtree & Evelyn’s Rosewater Hand Therapy. Immediately forgetting about my headache, I doused myself in it and took myself back to those Sonoma summers with my grandma and hearing about her trips with Mert and Don and enjoying the Maui Life. It was a special moment, and the coincidence was sort of overwhelming, so when I got back home I of course shared the story with some of my relatives. Through a series of conversations I ended up having with my aunt describing where we stayed and through photographs of our trip, we ended up connecting the dots to figure out that the condo Garrett and I stayed was the same condo that my Grandma and Mert and Don had stayed in every summer all those years ago. Completely unable to believe that possibility Garrett called his parents who had the original Condo-share agreement, and sure enough, Mert and Don’s names were on the contract for all those years with Garrett’s parents and grandparents.

And seriously? A moment like that not only makes a trip, it kind of makes your life.

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Football is Life

For those of you who don’t know, my father passed away in 1998 very suddenly of a heart attack. He was very well known in the town I grew up in, partly because he was a chatterbox (in the best way!) and partly because he ended up playing football in the NFL. He was a real hometown hero in that sense, and even though he has been gone a decade, I still have strangers (when they realize who my father was) share the craziest memories they have about what a great man he was.

This weekend my dad’s high school football coach is being recognized and a fundraiser is being held to raise money to build a bust of him in the local stadium. He is a bit of a legend in Fremont, and was a very influential person in my father’s life and I wrote this letter in tribute for the ceremony this weekend.
*****************************************************

Growing up, everyone in Fremont seemed to know my father, John Woodcock. When I was young, I didn’t think anything of it, it was just the norm. As a teenager it annoyed me because, well, let’s be honest, what doesn’t annoy a teenager? But as an adult, now that he is no longer here, I am grateful for the memories that others choose to share with me. Professional football made my father well-known, but it was his heart, his drive, and his dedication that made him a success. And these weren’t just qualities he was born with.

When I think of my dad I feel incredibly fortunate. Even though he was only in my life a short time, he had a tremendous impact on the way I see the world. Growing up he was not as lucky to have such an influential father in his life. Raised by his mother in a house with three sisters, he certainly knew more than most about what it was like to be a woman. This of course worked out well for my mother in the end, but ask anyone who knew him and they would certainly tell you that he was also an incredible man. Much of that has to do with his involvement with the Washington High football program, and more importantly Coach Ingram.

My mom said, Coach Ingram was not only a mentor to my dad, but he was a father figure in a way that is so uncommon today. She said Coach was like E.F. Hutton, and when E.F. Hutton spoke, everyone listened. During her years at Washington High School when she dated my dad she said Coach must have had eyes in the back of his head as he seemed to know all and see all. He always had the scoop on every guy that ever played for him and knew their strengths and weaknesses. He taught them to strive, to be something more then they were. Whether it was to be quicker, stronger, faster, or smarter he pushed them to be focused on their game.

Back in the day, my dad would tell me, football ruled at Washington High School and it was a great time to be a Husky. He loved playing in the “old stadium” to a capacity crowd, and hearing the marching band at halftime. It was a legendary time and they had a legendary coach. His players were as disciplined as they were tough. There was no “jaking” – a term used to call out someone who wasn’t giving it their all – and there was no room for quitting. You can bet there was no sugar coating on Coach I’s team. If you weren’t performing, you weren’t playing, and he held everyone to the same standard. It was all about the team and there was no individual showboating allowed. Terrell Owens wouldn’t have made it a day playing for Coach Ingram.

Even after my father graduated and was no longer playing for Coach Ingram, he still came back to train with him in the off seasons of his professional career. It wasn’t easy for my dad to come back to Fremont after a long season and start the rigorous training all over again, but it was this that my dad always appreciated and credited Coach Ingram for — he kept him in shape, grounded and focused year after year. His expertise and advice went way beyond the high school years and extended into his adult life where they formed a friendship. Coach I became someone my dad wanted to succeed for.

Today I know that feeling well. In my own life, I often think of my father and hope that he would think of me as a success. He taught me well and I know that some of my father’s most valuable lessons came straight from the Coach’s mouth:

• Always give 100%. The minute you don’t someone else will come along who is better, faster, or stronger than you. Always be humble and always be learning.

• Be Coachable, not defensive. There is nothing worse than someone who can’t accept constructive criticism. Take feedback with gratitude because it only makes you better if you listen to it.

• But most notably – Always do what you said you were going to do. Personal integrity isn’t just important, it’s all you have.

They are rules to live by, and I am proof that they don’t just apply in football but also in life. I am the product of my father, but so much of who he was and how he was shaped is all Coach Ingram, and for that influence, my whole family is grateful.

I was a cheerleader at Mission San Jose in the 90s and although we loved to show our school spirit, our football team was never what you would call dominant –but my dad never missed a game. He couldn’t have been more supportive. In his heart he was a Husky through and through, but he also knew that he had to do what was best for his team — and at that time “his team” was my mom and I — and that meant showing his MSJ pride. I think sometimes it must have pained him to have to sit on the sidelines and root for the Warriors, but true to form he always did what he said he was going to do – and I don’t even think Coach Ingram could fault him for that.

Sincerely,
Holly Woodcock

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Dreamgirl

I wasn’t sick very much growing up, but on a few occasions when I was so sick that I was bed-ridden, I’d have the same recurring dream of balancing a checkbook. It wasn’t always my own checkbook, sometimes it was a company’s ledger, a friend’s budget, but it was always the same formula — some type of elementary math pertaining to money and the frustrating feeling of numbers never adding up correctly. It was exhausting and the sleep never felt restful. I’m sure it had something to do with my fever rather than a deep seeded hatred of math, but I like to think those dreams are at least partially responsible for steering me clear of any career involving numbers. Being an accountant, for me, literally would be a nightmare!

I’ve always had incredibly vivid dreams. I like to bombard Garrett with the detailed stories about things I’ve seen or done in my sleep right when I wake up because it’s such a unique feeling to put dreams into words immediately after having them. Most often what was just so clear in sleep comes out like a drunken Lewis Carrol imitation. Everything that made perfect sense moments ago vaporizes into absolute gibberish in a literal blink of an eye, and as someone who loves finding the perfect words in order to communicate an idea — it’s sort of an amusing exercise in futility.

Granted, Garrett is not always amused by my effusiveness, since I often do this in the middle of the night if my dream was particularly noteworthy. Most of the time he at least he plays along and acts impressed with my spectacular feats of subliminal imagination, although he usually patiently commands that I go back to sleep. For the record, however, I also sleep-walk, sleep-shower, and sleep-get dressed for work in the middle of the night, so I guess in comparison my midnight monologues sort of pale next to waking up and finding that I have turned into a zombie-like version of myself, but you know, you take the good with the bad, right?

I know, I know. Sorry boys, I’m taken.

Shortly after my father passed away, a number of people who surely intended to be a source of comfort told me I should “watch for him” in my dreams. I kind of chuckled at the hippy-dippy thought of all that, but 11 years after the fact, my father and I have had a remarkable number of very spirited sub-conscious interactions while dreaming. One of the most memorable dream encounters with my father found me sitting at the kitchen table in my grandparents old house (why, I have no idea?) looking for relationship advice about this new found crush of mine named Garrett. It was shortly before we started dating and Garrett was being Mr. Mixed Signals, so obviously I must have been having a frustrated moment. As an aside, when my dad was alive we were totally prone to these “Girl Talk” chats, so it was no surprise to be table-side with him listening to my romantic woes. Though I can’t even remember what dramatic thing I was complaining about, what I do remember is my dad just laughing hysterically and in a clear throwback to his University of Hawaii days, giving me the Shaka sign and saying, “Calm Down, Holly,” in his oft-used Hawaiian Pidgin. “Everything’s gonna be alright.” And every once in a while when I realize Garrett has yet to kick me and my crazy night time behavior out of bed, I think to myself — it totally is.

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Good Romance

One of my favorite stories I remember hearing while growing up is how my parents began dating. They were both Freshmen in high school and my mom was a letter girl and my dad played football. I know this story starts out so All American you want to be sick now but fret not, the mob tactics and bribery come later.

At the high school they both attended in Fremont, it was only the seniors who got lockers on the patio. This was the place to be apparently, and both my parents had older sisters who were seniors. My dad was lucky enough to have a sister who was willing to share her locker with him, and it was conveniently located right next to my mom’s older sister Yvonne. At this point, according to my father side of the story, he was already a smitten kitten. He had spied my mom painting some football poster in the hallways one day and basically instantly fell in love with her and her “long, luxurious hair”. Yes those were his words, and no he was not raised by parents who wrote romance novels or scripts for shampoo commercials. In his infinite quest to get my mom to go out with him, my dad offered to buy his sister Martha a new skirt if she would put in a good word for him with Yvonne. Apparently the fact that my dad told Yvonne daily, “You know your locker doesn’t lock” hadn’t gotten him very far. Go Figure.

When I ask my mom about it, she’s not even sure Martha ever did put in a good word with Yvonne, or if she did, whether Yvonne ever passed on that good word. What she distinctly remembers is all his junior high friends (aw…junior high…they were such babies!) used to come up to her with newspaper clippings about him and his football prowess. Apparently everyone was trying to mack on my mom on my dad’s behalf. He was working all angles. Now, whether my dad had orchestrated this or not is still debatable, but for my mom who views humility (and vaccuum lines on carpet) right up there next to Godliness, this was not doing the trick. But something about the whole sitaution did strike my mom. I mean, it must have, right? They dated for the next 8 years — through high school, when my dad went to college in New Mexico, when he transferred to college in Hawaii. Through everything. When he was drafted to the Detroit Lions in 1976 and another big move was on the horizon, they finally decided to get hitched. To this day, even though my dad passed away in 1999, he is still the love of my mom’s life.

“So what the heck was it?” I asked her this afternoon, “What made you finally go out with dad?” And do you know what her answer was? What it was that made my mom love him to begin with, and love him to this day:

“He was relentless.”

Relentless.

That’s it. I’m sure in the end it helped that it wasn’t like creepy-stalker- weirdo relentless, and that he actually called her and was actually nice to her — but on a day like today, when candied “I Love You’s”, predictable floral arrangements, and dinner reservations abound – I am reminded of how much better real love is. Love that cannot be expressed by Hallmark. As far as I’m concerned very few relationships hold a candle to the kind of love my parents had. It’s funny, because looking back, none of those material love-markers were really around when I was growing up. My dad was never the big romancer guy. I mean he was big, and a guy, but that’s really where the similarities end. He rarely brought home flowers, my mother was never dripping in jewels representing birthdays past, and if there was chocolate around it was more likely that my mom had baked something delicious than my dad stopping to pick up some sweets for his sweet. But as a child even, I never had any doubt that my parents loved each other. Because none of those things are what love is about.

I think that when it came to my mom, there was nothing that my dad wouldn’t do for her, and I know for a fact that the feeling was mutual on my mom’s end. That’s just the kind of people they were. To me, to everyone, but especially to each other. When it comes to really loving someone, I think both parties in any relationship would agree there is really only one thing you ever want your significant other to do for you. And its not bring you flowers, or buy you diamonds. It’s not buy a stuffed animal, or pay for an expensive dinner. Those things are nice, but they sure don’t make you feel comforted. It’s about being relentless. It’s about knowing that the list of things you would do for that person begins and ends with ‘anything’.

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