Monthly Archives: June 2013

Living Under a Rock

ImageWhen you’ve lost your father, Father’s Day takes on a whole new meaning.  It is not about celebrating the presence of someone special in your life anymore; it is about treasuring the special presents they gave you.  It is not about seeing them in person; it is about celebrating them as a person.  On this day, instead of driving to see them to pay tribute to their fabulous “dadness”, you make your own personal journey to pay homage to their memory.  I like to combine the two by driving to visit him where my last memory of him exists – to where he is buried.

As we do every year on Father’s Day weekend since my dad passed in 2007, my husband and children made our annual trek to the cemetery to simply say, “Hi, Dad.”  While some think it is a ridiculous notion to think you are actually visiting someone in a cemetery, somehow it brings me comfort to know that the destination holds a marker stone that bears his name.  Seeing that familiar, strong, and memorable name permanently etched into the granite makes me feel well grounded.  That was always one of the tenants of his parenting style – that my sister and I were part of a bigger picture.  We were special, but belonged to a greater good.  Everyone and everything had its rightful purpose and place.  He truly set the example by befriending every chipmunk in the yard with daily meals of sunflower seeds, and by making sure every bird had a well-crafted birdhouse and plenty to eat as well.  Yes, my father personified kindness and opened himself up to everything around him.  From his insatiable desire to read and understand any word he laid his eyes on, to making friends wherever he went.  Whether he was hunkered down in the Korean War or traipsing around the golf course back here in America to play a few rounds with is buddies, he experienced it all.  He lived life.

I think that was the thing that troubled him the most at the end of his life.  He was diagnosed with cancer on August 22nd and died on Thanksgiving morning – exactly three months later.  I believe the swiftness of his death is what caught him off guard the most.  Never did he think his “end” would be so rapid.  No bucket list.  No sewing up loose ends.  No second chances.  But what he didn’t realize is that he didn’t need any more time.  During the 74 years my father inhabited this earth his impact was impressive.  His wake and funeral were packed.  His wife, my mom, still loved him more than anything else in the world.  His daughters worshipped him.  And his grandchildren reeled with joy at the very mention of his name.  My father loved life and it loved him right back.  We loved him.  No, he didn’t need any more time – he had accomplished it all.

So on the day before Father’s Day a few years ago, my husband, my three small children, and I took the 30-minute drive to read his name.  To lay my eyes upon the words etched in that headstone.  We were coming off a wonderful morning that included the boys’ yearend baseball picnic.  Each one of them busily comparing trophies while their baby sister happily babbled alongside them.  You see, I became pregnant with my daughter just one week after my father died.  She is named after him because we truly believe my father sent her down to us.  Thanks, Dad.

As our car turned from the roadway to meet the winding path of the cemetery drive, the boys perked up seeing that we had reached our destination.  My middle son was so excited, he said to his big brother, “E!  E!  This where Grandpa lives!  Remember?  Do you remember he lives here?  Oh!  Right there, right there!  Grandpa lives under that rock!

Yes, the “rock” that displayed his name.  The rock I was so desperate to reach.  The rock that bore witness to a person I had known for all of my life.  But no, he did not live under that rock.  Never a day in his life was he isolated, ignorant or obtuse.  My wonderful little boy had summed it up so beautifully for me – so innocently.  My father lived life to its fullest, never under a rock.  It was that simple.  He wasn’t there under that rock.  He lived in the lawn that surrounded his headstone, in the tree above his grave that provided blessed shade on a hot day, the wind that whispered in my ear as I stood there.  He was everywhere.

So live while you are living, learn everything you can, aspire to accomplish greatness, respect every moment, and perpetuate love.  My father’s life taught me this and his death made it real.  Do what you can now, because there is plenty of time when you are done breathing, to live under a rock.

Peace.


Hello? Kids?

ImageI have to say, I am quite social media savvy. That is, if I’m talking to adults. It is a primary part of my day job and I [stupidly] thought it would translate seamlessly to my night job as an author. An author who has penned a book for kids. For kids. One more time…for kids. Who are ten to twelve years old. Do you see my problem? If not, let me explain…

Sure, I’ve been working the social media channels whenever I get the chance; specifically to attract moms and dads – those with influence over my target market. I’ve blessedly made some inroads in rallying the cause of trying to help another mom realize her dream. However, 9 times out of 10, they aren’t the folks reading the book, their child is. So if their child LOVES it, that’s nice, but it more often than not ends there. No word of mouth, no Facebook posting, no Twitter shout-out, no messages blowing up their peeps phones, and no five star reviews on Amazon. Nada, nothing, bupkis.

And the sad part is…I’m DYING to talk to them. Which characters did they like? What did they think of the Monstrosities? Do they think Theo was asleep or awake the whole time? Did they see the twist coming? On and on. Oh sure, I’ve pressed my sons, niece and nephews ad nauseam, but they KNOW me. Don’t get me wrong, their feedback has been invaluable, but I’d love an unbiased chat with a bunch of kids. So much so, I’m going straight to the big guy and have officially put it on my Christmas list. In fact, here is my letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,

Growing up with the last name Rudolph has certainly had its pluses and minuses. Being part Irish, the red nose thing was inevitable (and unfortunate at times.) I powered through, though, and have come to love my name and all that it represents. In fact, it is very deer to my heart.

However, I digress. I am writing because I am now a full fledged adult per my driver’s license and I only want one thing for Christmas – to hear the voices of children who have read my book. To hear their gleeful songs rise up like the Whos in Whoville to a crescendo atop Mt. Crumpit. To see a sparkle in their eyes, their jumpy squirrel bouncing as they retell their favorite part, and their imaginations catch on fire as they play act each and every scene.

Rudolph has seen you through many a storm to brighter skies. I only hope you have it in your big velvet bag to repay the favor to his humble namesake. Please, let me hear the children.

Sincerely,

Cindy Rudolph Barlow

P.S. If you have time to throw world peace in there as well, that would be awesome.

As I sit here staring at my Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Amazon listing, I do so all the while refreshing my browser like a lifelong gambler pulling on a slot machine handle. No triple cherries and no coins pouring forth onto the floor like an endless stream of validation.

So kids, if you are looking for me, please tell me how to play hide and seek. Until I can find my way out of the “ain’t got no feedback” paper bag, know that I’m just sitting here waiting on Santa, hoping that he REALly is all that and a bag of presents. And that he’ll deliver your thoughts to me with a big red bow.

That, or your parents see this blog post and decide to get you a Facebook account based on my plight. For that you can thank me later with a “hey, girl!” direct message and a page like. But only after I’ve asked you a billion questions about the book. And possibly five more questions after that.

Peace.