Rest in Peace Dad

Upon hearing that my father had passed away yesterday after a long illness, I realized how unprepared I was for this sad news. I thought I would take it more in stride. I can only hope that he is at peace with my mother and stepmother, each of whom passed away in late 2010. I am hugely grateful for so many wonderful memories of my father.

He was a kind and gentle man with a particular love for animals.  His beloved Calvin was a tiny dog. My father was large in body, spirit and mind. Seeing the two together was reason enough for a smile or two. How he cherished his furry friends.

My dad was smart and knew the importance of constant reinvention. He was one of the engineers who helped to build one of the first weather satellites for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ("NASA"), Nimbus. As federal funding waned, he went on to apply his skills to the design of a machine that would help detect breast cancer. When it was clear that a changing workplace required greater technology savvy, he went back to school to learn Computer Aided Design ("CAD") and Computer Aided Manufacturing ("CAM").

We did not have much money. when I was little but my father made up for it with Sunday drives to nowhere, ending with an ice cream cone or an apple from a local fruit stand. I could keep going for hours. My story book is big. I will never tire of thinking about his strength and valor and a sense of humor that kept things fun.

I learned so much from him. He encouraged me to pick myself up after failure, to work hard, to never give up and to be honorable.

Dad - You will be sorely missed and in our hearts forever. Rest in peace. Thank you for your love and guidance.

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A Flag of Hope Waves in Newtown, Connecticut

For those who don't know, this blogger, Dr. Susan Mangiero, has called a small town in Connecticut home for many years. We are about eight miles south of Newtown, CT. When we first moved here, we joined some 18,000 people, some cows, horses, sheep, chicken and lots of deer. We now have roughly 20,000 individuals who live here. Some commute to New York, New Haven or to lower Fairfield County destinations such as Stamford or Greenwich. Some individuals commute to Providence or Boston on a regular basis. From this corner of the Nutmeg State, life is relatively quiet. The town paper has a weekly crime column that describes events such as mailbox vandalism or raccoon damage to a neighbor's yard.

Until now...

As you no doubt know, yesterday marked an unspeakable tragedy of the death of innocents when a gunman broke into an elementary school and shot nearly thirty people. I can't even begin to fathom the heartbreak of family members who received horrific news. Like so many others throughout the world, I mourn the loss of the teachers who tried to help and the children who could not escape. Everyone has been touched with tears by the unthinkable act that robbed youngsters and adults of memories, laughs and time and reminded us all that what we have is precious and worth acknowledging with gratitude on a continuing basis.

On each of the many trips that I have made to Newtown, usually on my way to Danbury or New York to meet friends or attend business meetings, I have delighted in driving past the bold and impossible to ignore flagpole that sits smack in the middle of the main road. At night, it lights up the surrounding area with a burst of red, white and blue. In the daytime, it says hello against a backdrop of clouds and green trees. It is always a beauty to behold and a quirky reminder that Newtown is the quintessential American small town where proximity is often the same as community. According to real estate professionals Bob and Richelle Ward who researched its origin, the first public flagpole in Newtown was installed in 1876. Since then, it has been replaced several times, with the current version still standing for over sixty years. You can read more about the history by visiting the Newtown Historical Society website. The "Life in Newtown, CT" website credits the photo you see above to David Rowe in Monroe, Connecticut.

It is so hard to say what the future will hold as a result of yesterday's heart-breaking crime. If the past is a harbinger of the future, we do know that the Newtown flag will continue to fly. In a small way, perhaps this will reassure some that there are lovely reminders of a gentle, civil and steady life in this quaint Connecticut locale and elsewhere in the United States and abroad.

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