Sunday, June 15, 2014

Go Spurs Go!!

I almost titled this post "Suck It, Miami!"  But I decided that was not befitting of the Spurs.

Tonight the San Antonio Spurs redeemed themselves for last year's gut-wrenching loss to the Miami Heat.  I've always admired and respected the team- it's ownership, management, coaching, and players, who all exemplify leadership at every level.  So many life and business lessons to be learned from classy, successful organizations like this one.  I'm particularly struck by the relationship between Tim Duncan and Head Coach Gregg Popovich. They love and respect they have for each other is palpable (for a wonderful and rare insight, dig up Jack McCallum's 2013 Sports Illustrated profile on Popovich).

My Dad loved the Spurs for the same reason I do- they're a classy, blue-collar organization.  They don't buy championships or dream teams, they make them, from raw recruits and role players on the tail end of their careers.  If you can be successful in that bootstrapping approach to life and work, then you need never want, and can focus instead on living your dreams, and living up to your potential.

That's what my own personal Coach Pop taught me.  I scored four victories:  my amazing wife Mary, and our three beautiful, healthy, and joyful daughters (I decided to quit before winning 'one for the thumb').  I hope you can see them now, Dad... you'd be so proud.

Much love on Father's Day.  I miss you, "Coach Pop."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Play time


Danielle as Tinkerbell at Hyde Park Theatre
Today dark rain clouds teased us here in Austin. 102' and overcast, with a cool breeze and 80% humidity. Surprisingly pleasant for summer in Texas. Even more so because Mary and I took the girls out to one of the Mueller community parks late this afternoon.

As Mary and I watched from a bench, I was struck by the conveyor belt pattern of the girls cavorting on the playscape:  run, run, run to the entrance ramp, traverse shaky bridge, dash across a long catwalk, through a tunnel obstacle, climb up a ladder to the crow's nest, stop to survey the landscape, call for everyone in earshot to "Watch me! Look at me!", then hesitate for a moment at the top of the slide, a few tears, some screaming, "I can't do it!  It's too high!"  Then shoot down the slide, the sound of skin screeching on the hot plastic of the chute, pop off the end, giggle wildly- "That was FUN!!" Then run, run, run back to the ramp to do it all over again.

They never seemed to tire of it.  Until they did, of course. But up to that point, it was a laugh-a-minute.  To Mary and I, it's almost like watching dogs chase their tails. Same pattern, over and over and over again.  But of course, it wasn't the same.

Every trip up the playscape was subtly different.  This time, Niesha has to climb over her sisters.  The next time, Madeleine gets stuck in the tube.  Another time, Danielle tries climbing up the tall slide, falls on her face, and slithers down on her belly, giggling the whole way.

It was the Circle of Life we were watching.

I know, pretty heady stuff for a day at the park.  But even the clouds were playing- huge stormy clouds, a stiff breeze, lighting, and then, just when it looked like we might get rained out... the sun peaked through again.

Every time I step off the work treadmill to really enjoy playing with my kids, I can't believe how much and how fast they've grown.  I can't believe how blessed we are that they are healthy and happy, and have such a good Mommy, and are so loving towards each other.  But they're siblings, and they compete, so round and round they go, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes helping, sometimes racing for the top spot.

Dad raised (or helped raise) three kids, too.  Dad and India met later in life, so the kids were a bit older, but I'll be the same age when Niesha graduates college as Dad was when my sister Lizzy graduated!  My step-brother and sister have grown into fine adults, of whom Dad would be very, very proud.  But between the three of us, he certainly would recognize the running around in circles, the helping, the competition, and the race for the top.  He's been there.  Hopefully, he was giggling all the way, too.

The girls and I send our love, Dad.  Miss you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New day

Beautiful day in Austin, Texas.  A mild 95' F right now, which is pleasant, considering it's the middle of August.  Kids are playing, squirrels are frolicking. I'm sitting at my Command and Control Center of World Domination, looking out the window of our modest but happy home trying to get some work done.

I'm not doing so well.

Mainly, it's because my 3 year old, Danielle, keeps zooming through the room on her rolling pink car, holding a cardboard paper towel tube to her eye as a telescope, squealing for joy at the top of her lungs. She is trailed by her sister, 1 year old Madeleine (who just yesterday took her very first steps).  Madeleine, who has a VO2 max lung capacity that would put Lance Armstrong to shame, cuts loose with her patented Banshee Scream(TM) that rattles windows, mirrors, and my brain stem.  I could go somewhere else and get a lot more done, but despite the chaos, I really do enjoy being around them, especially while they are so little.  I missed Danielle's first steps while I was at work, so it was nice to witness Madeleine's.

There's another reason, too.  Today is the anniversary of my Dad's passing, in 2007.

One of my friends, Eduardo, who is the father of four, told me when Danielle was born that I would "get to relive my childhood" by raising kids.  He's right.  Even though this month is rough for me, it's wonderful being around all this new life and new discoveries.  My step-brother William and his fiance Catherine are getting married next month- another new beginning.  My step-sister Lizzy is returning to UT after a summer in Macedonia(!), starting her new semester, and possibly a new major. I'm starting some fun new business ventures, including an acting class that I've been toying with for years- more new beginnings.  And, of course, our third and final baby is due in late October- the ultimate in new beginnings.

On the anniversary of Dad's birth, and his death, I'll sometimes drive to his gravesite alone; sometimes I take Mary and the kids.  But it's harder to do now, since he's buried in San Antonio, and it's an hour-plus drive there, and another hour back, for what is usually an awkward and teary 20-minute solitary communion at his gravestone.  It feels... conspicuous. Honestly, so does blogging about it.

Neither Dad nor I, nor the rest of my family growing up were very good about that whole visit-the-grave-of-your-ancestors thing.  And that was even when the cemetery was just a two-block walk from our house!  So I guess I never got the habit.  Like church.  We weren't great at that, either.

So, when I get to his gravesite, I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to do, exactly.  Except remember.  Which I do. Every day.

There's not much point of attending church and doing the rituals if you don't walk the walk every day. But there's plenty of point to being a good person, even if you don't go to church. Similarly, I'm not big on the gravesite ritual, I'm afraid.  But I think about Dad every day.  Every time my little girls smile, and I see the Guilbot crinkle in the corners of their eyes.  Every time they read a new book, make up a new song, or take their first steps.  Every time I have to tell them "no" (either for their safety, or my sanity).  And every night when Danielle takes Ronnie Dog, the stuffed animal that Dad and India gave to her just a month after she was born, to sleep with her.  Ronnie's been #1 with a bullet on the Favorite Stuffed Animal Chart for the past month.

Several times, I almost lost my parents, either physically or metaphorically. Those are long stories. But in the end, Dad and I hung in together, and became very close.  One thing I never doubted was that he loved me, and wanted the best for me.  And for Lizzy and William.

I picture Dad when I see my stepmom, India, and I'm so grateful to him for bringing her into our lives, as well as Lizzy and William, whom have both grown to be wonderful, accomplished adults.  And sometimes when I'm alone, jogging, flipping through an old photo album, or just lying in bed at night, I think about him, too.

Even though it makes me a bit uneasy, writing these posts is also meditative, and a nice way to recollect life with my father.

I remember, Dad.

But, no, I don't get out to the cemetery much.  I hope that's OK.

Ron Guilbot, loving father, 1946-2007.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sisters

Danielle hugging on Madeleine in the media room.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stuff my Dad says

If my Dad had made it to 73, I'll bet he would have sounded a lot like this.