Sky Blue Pink with Yellow Polka Dots

by | Mar 8, 2017 | Ground Work | 16 comments

I thought I was going to write about blue today, but it’s going to be sky blue pink with yellow polka dots instead.

When I was a kid, if you asked my dad what his favorite color was, sky blue pink with yellow polka dots was his answer. Maybe that gives you a sense of what he could be like. Let’s just say that my family often put the fun in dysfunctional.

Chip off the old rock? Deb with her Earth Science teacher dad at the top of Sunset Crater Volcano in Arizona, Summer 196?. Photo taken by a kind fellow hiker with a Polaroid camera.

Chip off the old rock? Deb with her Earth Science teacher dad at the top of Sunset Crater Volcano in Arizona, Summer 196?. Photo taken by a kind fellow hiker with a Polaroid camera.

Dad Mid-1970s

Dad, Summer 1975

This starts with blue and that’s fitting, because that’s how I feel. My father will be evaluated for hospice care tomorrow. This is not wholly unexpected, he’s 95, and in the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. His disease has progressed with long periods of stability punctuated with precipitous declines. A few days ago, he began to slide after more than a year of somewhat steady state. It’s not unlike Stephen Jay Gould’s famous (among paleontologists, at least) theory of punctuated equilibrium in evolution. But rather than evolving, my father’s life and being have devolved in this way. As an Earth Science teacher, long before the depths of Alzheimer’s, I think Dad would have found that metaphor interesting. Given the starting point of this decline, it’s hard not to think it his last.

Walking March2017As I so often do when I feel blue, I walked. With little Capi in my backpack and Sandy by my side, I ventured from home into the desert. Today, the path before me recalled so many others. And my first hiking companion, my father. We hiked up Sunset Crater Volcano in Arizona, to the top of Lassen Peak in California, we wandered the Black Hills of South Dakota, he explained stalactites and stalagmites at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and with me holding tight to the back of his belt where the trail was too narrow for us to walk side by side, we scaled the heights of Angels Landing in Utah. I am who I am and love what I love in no small part because of who he is and what he loves.

Andrea's bluebirdLike so many winter mornings, a flock of mountain bluebirds rose from the first junipers the dogs and I passed, evoking a memory of my first birdwatching buddy. Dad, of course. What a contrast the Saturday morning bird walks in the woods of Staten Island are to my desert morning bird walks now. And as I was thinking that, a raven flew so close I could feel its wingbeats move the air.

The breeze freshened, ruffling Sandy’s fur, and he waved his lovely plume of a tail. He ambled back to me and nudged my hand with his wet black nose.

“I guess there are worse things than being blue,” I said to him, and one of the mountain bluebirds agreed. Perched atop a juniper, he sang.IMG_0995

“Life isn’t always easy,” he seemed to say, hanging onto his branch in the wind, “but it is sweet.”

Not just sweet, sky blue pink with yellow polka dots sweet.


Note: I will be working on a deadline for the revision of my novel over the next weeks. I’ll be back here with you in April. Stay tuned, everyone! Thanks, Deb


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  1. Julia Turney

    I’m sorry to hear that your dad is nearing the end of his life but glad that you have a treasure trove of geo-trip memories with him. ❤️

  2. Jane

    You have a serene, bittersweet voice, Deborah. Thank you for sharing your quiet reflections with us.

  3. Paul Hale

    What a heartfelt piece. You have my sympathies and if I can help in any other way let me know…

  4. Sara Eisenberg

    Triple beauty: his legacy, your tribute, your writing and photos.

  5. Michael DeLongchamp

    What a lovely story about your times and trips with your dad. Got me reflecting on my own memories of my dad.
    So sorry to hear that his time has finally come for hospice. Wishing you both peace and blessings during his final chapter.

  6. Erik

    There are some poets with the gift of song . a few , able to convey colors , if you can see’em .

    What comes to mind , fitting your occasion , is Chris Smither ” Leave the light on “

  7. Angie

    Sorry to hear about your Dad, Deb, but happy to know he will be joining your Mom soon and leaving behind the mind that gave out on him.

  8. Evey Jones

    I was drawn in right away but surprised where this story went. It is a beautiful tribute and I hope more will come, your personal stories shine through.

  9. Sharon Galkin

    I can’t say anything to top what’s already been said – except that your dad is a piece of my childhood, too. And for that I am most grateful.

  10. Nancy Waite

    So sorry about your Dad. I’ve been down your path and it is heartbreaking to see a beloved, admired, and respected Dad, teacher and friend disappear before your eyes. Be strong!

  11. Susan Wasson

    What a beautiful words about your father, Deb. Big hug.

  12. Moni Bates

    Touching piece about you and your dad, two very special people. Love to you and your family.

  13. Carol Messier

    Beautifully written memories Deb about your dad and you. My heart goes out to you about the news of your dad. I have no words to make it easy. Hold onto those happy memories even if they bring tears because they bring smiles too. Bittersweet, life is at times.

  14. Serin

    Thank you for sharing these memories of your time with Grandpa. A lovely post, Deb.

  15. Jenn Bauer

    I’m so sorry that you are going through this. Thank you for sharing a brief glimpse of your relationship with your Dad and how that shaped who you are. I’m thinking tons about you and sending lots of warm thoughts your way.

  16. Hazel

    Wow my Dad used to say that too, but no colour dots 🙂 i was just googling it, being nostalgic he has been gone over 2 years now.


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Geologists study the earth and the processes that shape it. Writers study the human heart and the processes that shape it. The GeologistWriter builds a bridge between the two. Come across it with me!

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