Jacob Bergmeier | Westchester County New York Photographer who works in NY, CT, NJ and Travels

Defining Your CharacterApril 17, 2012

Last week I wrote about my mother and how I wondered if she would be proud of the man I have become.  Although she was a beacon of light in my life, there were many other positive, caring, and engaging people in my life to whom I attribute my character and success.  My grandfather, whom I have previously written about and is the main inspiration behind Gentlemen’s Corner, is another such person.  I learned much of what it means to be to be a gentleman from him.

When strangers come knocking:  Like anywhere, living in the suburbs means having salesmen come knocking at your door.  Maybe it’s a product, maybe it’s religion, or maybe it’s a solicitation for a public figure.  When the knock at the door came, my grandfather would tell the visitors that he would love to have them come in to talk, but he wouldn’t talk about politics or religion.   As long as they would abide by those requests, they were welcome to come into the house.  Generally the visitors would leave with nothing more than a “thank you and have a nice day“, but one religious group would take him up on the offer.  They would chat for a short while and be on their way.  Sometimes they would leave a pamphlet or two, but religion never came up.  It’s easy to say “no thank you” and slam the door in the face of a stranger, but at what cost?

Unwelcome advice: Recently I was in the supermarket with Lillian teaching her about the colors and tastes of the food we were buying  Being bilingual I was doing it in both Spanish and English.  I would pick up the item, let her hold it and tell her about it in both languages.  “The onion is yellow / La cebolla es amarilla” or “The apple is red / La manzana es roja.”.  This kid is going to be a polyglot if it kills me.  Out of the blue I got a tap on the shoulder and a very nasty “You shouldn’t be doing that.  You’re going to confuse her!”  I think I surprised her when I simply said “thank you” with a smile and ” have a nice day” and Lillian and I went our shopping experience.  I could have debated with her.  I could have carried on and raised a fuss.  But I chose to be different.

Pie in your facebook: Life sucks is hard sometimes…  for all of us.  Me included.  But I choose to post and tweet only positive, non judgmental things.  I tend to steer clear of politics and religion even though both of them are very important to me.  I try to keep my sarcasm to a minimum because it isn’t always welcome or well received by others.  Not to mention it’s easy to be sarcastic.  Try being nice to someone who really steps on your toes.  That’s hard work.  I recently read that a person nowadays changes their career every ten years.   There was also not too long ago some scuttlebutt about employers asking for their employees usernames and passwords to Facebook. Can you imaging if that actually comes down the pipe… think it won’t?  Think again.

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** Check back tomorrow for another installment of Daddy-Daughter Date Night Recap.

** Gentlemen’s Corner is a weekly post that talks about all things Gentlemen.

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My Diana, My EverythingApril 12, 2012

My Dearest Wife:

10 years ago when we started dating… I knew.  Yeah, I knew it would turn into this.  But I had no idea how good this would be.  I had no idea just how deeply I would love you and appreciate you.  I was clueless as to how amazing it would feel to share all of the joys life has to offer.  I didn’t know how great it would be to have a child… a little princess. Our Lillian.

Here we were 10 years ago at the very beginning of our relationship together.   As you were then, you are now;  My Everything.

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Mom’s MemorialApril 11, 2012

Mom, would you be proud of me?

14 years ago you left this world.  Not by choice… yours or mine.  The day cancer finally took your last breath was a pivotal moment in my life.  It was the day I was instantly a man stuck in a teenage body.  I was became “old” without the proper knowledge and wisdom to reinforce the situation I was now in.  Mom, I love you, but a 17 year old should never be asked by a doctor if it’s ok to take you off life support.   For a long time I carried a lot of guilt from that day and from that painful choice.  More guilt arose when I realized that I could have seen you the week before and choose not to, not knowing how sick you were.  Even more guilt arose from that day when Zack died.  The last 14 years have been about healing and learning from that day.  Life has been a journey…

You wanted so much for me… you wanted to do so much with me.  We talked about Europe and taking the train from country to country.  Spain, France, Germany, England, Ireland.  “How much money do we need, mom?” – “A lot – so we’ll save our pennies” you said.   You pushed me to be better and felt Saint Rose was the right place to get me there.  You taught me that home cooked meals will always be better than store bought or any restaurant.  We talked about what it means to truly respect a woman… to love her with every ounce of your heart and what that really means for both of you.  On more than one occasion you expressed concern about being a “good” parent.  It was tough being the child of divorced parents.  Two lives, two sets of rules.  You showed me that there is nothing (NOTHING) more important than family and that nothing gets in the way of that.

I traveled.  A lot.  4 continents and nearly 20 countries.   I have climbed mountains in Peru to nearly 17,000 feet.  I ate ceviche, rode a dune buggy, and saw the Nazca lines.  I experienced Peru!  I have ridden camels through the Sahara desert.  I baked bread in the hot sand, bartered for leather goods in the markets of Fes, and watched belly dancers perform during traditional Moroccan feast.  I experienced Morocco!  I drove a convertible through the Napa and Sonoma wine countries stopping at the best vineyards in California.  I visited Uncle Joe, drove down Lombard Street, and walked across the incredible Golden Gate Bridge.  I experienced San Francisco!  I sat in a cave and watched the Gypsies dance the Flamenco.   I botellón’d in the plazas, took Zack to my favorite cities and places when he came to visit me, and skied above the level of the clouds in the Sierra Morena mountains of Andulucía.  I experienced (lived in) Spain!  With my mighty strength, I held up the Leaning Tower of Pisa so it wouldn’t fall down.  I ate the best (and I mean the best) pizza margarita in Florence, rode a gondola in Venice, and sipped limoncello on the island of Capri.  I experienced Italy!  Mom, you encouraged me to travel and I did… it changed me for the better and I can’t thank you enough for that!

You took me to the College of Saint Rose for an interview shortly before you died.  I told the admissions counselor everything I had done, experienced, and even about you.  Before I left the admissions counselor told me that he was proud of my journey, that I had been accepted, and that I should be expecting a formal letter in the mail any time soon.  Soon I found a professor who believed in me, supported me, and looked out for me for four years.  She guided me to Spain and shared my experiences with her classes.  I participated in Division 2 athletics on the Cross Country team and was a conference runner-up… twice.  I found friends who I hold dear to my heart to this day… and even the woman I would ask to be my wife.  Saint Rose changed my life for the better as you told me it would.  I can’t thank you enough for that!

More than 14 years later and I can still taste your homemade chicken lasagna.  Pasta made from scratch with your Kitchen Aid mixer (which I still have and use), sauce from tomatoes and basil that you grew in the garden, and cheese from local farmers.  You made the best dumplings, muffins, and fresh coffee.  The kitchen is my favorite place to be in the house.  Learning to cook methodically but adventurously, I have learned to enjoy foods from all over the world.   You gave me the love to cook bug and I can’t thank you enough for that!

10 years ago (tomorrow to the day), Diana and I officially became a couple.  We became a couple during a trip home from college… we visited with you at your grave. She simply sat next to me as I pondered in my thoughts, gently holding my hand while placing her head on my shoulder.  She played with a 6 year old Creszenz as though she were her older sister, never holding back.   She embraced our family and all of our quirks without judgement.   Soon my girlfriend became my best friend who, 3 and-a-half  years later became my fiancée, and another year-and-a-half later became my wife.  I cherish Diana… every moment, every experience, every strife and accomplishment.  I love the way she dives into something she feels is important and does endless research on it so she can completely understand it…  I love everything about her and our lives together.  I love the family I married into and the family we have become together.  You set me up for this kind of compassionate and respectful love for a woman from those talks we had, and I can’t  thank you enough for that!

Every experience you and I had together coupled with all of my experiences that I have had since you died have prepared me for my life now, 14 years later.  I truly believe it has prepared me for my life as a father to a daughter.  To Lillian Jane.  I carried that terrible guilt with me that I didn’t see you the weekend before you died… I was selfish when you asked if I was coming for the weekend. I said no because I wanted  to (would rather) be with my girlfriend who was leaving for a week of vacation. For a long time I was angry that you didn’t tell me you were that sick.  Mom, nothing would have stopped me from seeing you had I known you were THAT sick.  But then I became a father… it all clicked and the guilt melted away.  It was 3:45 am and I miserably got out of bed beyond exhausted to change a wet diaper.  She was 2 months old when I realized what you had done for me.  I stood there looking at her… loving her.  In that exact moment I completely understood what unconditional love is and what it means.  There is nothing I would not do for that little girl and there is so much I want to show her, teach her, and give her.  That is what you gave me.  You gave me a foundation and a direction… and I ran with it.  AND I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR THAT!

So mom I ask you, would you be proud of me?

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  1. […] the sting out of the memories that surround the death of a loved one. Over the years I have written meaningful blog posts about my mother, celebrated Mass (a friend even offered to go to Mass with me to support me), […]

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Daddy-Daughter Date Night Recap #10March 29, 2012

Oh dear God, a monster ate my daughter!

I’m not sure if you are teething or having a growth spurt… or maybe even a little of both… but you are on fire lately.   Our weekly date night changed… what was once sweet fun, turned into a real side-show circus act on my part to keep you entertained.  Dancing dubstep to Bassnectar like Marques Scott, doing sit-ups and kissing you on the forehead each time I came forward, and practicing walking with your pushcart kept you occupied for a good portion of our evening together.  Getting you to go to sleep was rough too.  I just kept saying to myself, “Oh dear God, a monster ate my daughter!”

If you don’t know what dubstep is… check out Marques Scott!  He’s arguably the best!

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXO-jKksQkM’]

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** Daddy-Daughter Date Night Recap is a weekly journal that shares our adventures and special times.  Check back each Wednesday to read more.

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Daddy-Daughter Date Night Recap #9March 23, 2012

What’s this, Daddy?

Your thirst for all things new has brought you to new places, new heights, new experiences.  It seems like you only want that which you should not have.  My phone, the tv remote, a glass… all things safely out of reach, yet within sight.  We buy you a phone, you want mine.  We give you an old remote without batteries, you want the only one that controls the Tivo and telelvision.  We buy you a sippy cup, you want my glass of [insert beverage].   “What’s under the couch, daddy?” or “What’s this cord do, daddy?” …. “What’s this, daddy?

I now understand baby-proofing.

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When I picked you up from daycare for our date, you and I went for a nice, long run.  For the most part you generally look back and forth and take in the scenery, But every so often you let out a giggle or shriek when we hit bumps and cracks in the road.  Eyes forward, you old onto your foot like you are stretching for the big race as if to say, “OK dad, my turn.”  When we got back, we played in the living room.   Besides practicing walking and playing with things you shouldn’t be, you scooted off the matt to the entertainment stand.  Your inquisitive nature led you to play with the drawers that house our videogames and random living room junk .  Open, close, open, close, open, cl….. “OUCH!”  Whoops!  Sorry about your thumb.  Can’t wait to explain that one to mom.  With your battle wounds healed and my embarrassment subsiding, we wrapped up our night with dinner, a book, and bed time.

I love my nights with you.  I love each and every one of them.  I know you won’t remember these times when you are a teenager or adult, but I will.

Forever.

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** Daddy-Daughter Date Night Recap is a weekly journal that shares our adventures and special times.  Check back each Wednesday to read more.

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