The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘Keith Jackson’

Springtime is for awakening

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 17, 2010

and rebirth.

I have many reasons for not adding to this blog for the past 6 months.  This blog is supposed to be about my sister’s swimming career. She’s still swimming.  Last fall she traveled the world (South Africa, Germany, Singapore) to compete in the World Cup.  But it’s hard writing about stuff happening so far away.  I was stuck in Boston, so I didn’t have much to write about.  Now Lara is focusing on school and training.  I’m still stuck in Boston.

On the other hand, I’ve been inspired by so many blogs written by friends (Broccolitarian Universe, The Voice and The Song, Giant Old Lady, In the Living Kitchen, Charlotte’s Web, Dulce De Leche Swirl) and people I found through the magic of the internet (Not That Kind of Girl, Full Gastronomic Tilt, “thought gently whispers . . .” ) that I thought maybe I could expand the subject matter.

The real reason I haven’t written much, though, is: since my dad died, I haven’t the heart.  He was my sister’s greatest fan, and his enthusiasm and knowledge helped me figure out the world of swimming.

So this post is about my dad.

My dad and I contemplate the vast hole in the ground.

Last week I was dog-sitting for a friend (author of aforementioned Broccolitarian Universe). As I walked with the dog along the Charles River, I decided to listen to Grateful Dead.  When “Ripple” came on, I put my iPod and repeat and listened to it at least 10 times until we got back to the apartment. 

Listen for yourself.

I looked up the song on Wikipedia, because I had no doubt there were many theories explaining the lyrics that resonated in my brain.  I found The Annotated “Ripple” which made the comparison between “Ripple” and the Psalms.  Ah, yes that was it.  It reminded me of a Psalm.

First verse:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

Words glowing with sunshine, songs played on nonexistant strings: what better image for those ethereal communications we sense when thinking about lost loved ones?  I still lose my crap when I think about my father’s voice coming through the music.  I know he loved the Grateful Dead.  I’m sure he spent many hours geeking out– like I am now– analyzing lyrics and appreciating melodies.  So yes, I hold on to this music, and make it my own, because it feels like I’m holding on to my dad.

Second verse:

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care

Love for this hippy music was totally handed down.  He loved it, so he listened to it and shared it with me.  My thoughts are broken, because they are MY thoughts because he never shared HIS thoughts.  So am I really sharing an experience with my dad every time I listen to this song, or do I only THINK I am?  I don’t know and don’t really care.  So I keep singing it to myself, and for anyone who can hear me.

Chorus:

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

A Psalmist sense of causes and actions unexplainable by normal means.  Everything my dad was, his personality, morality, his love for certain movies and humor . . . all those things have participated in the phenomena that make me who I am.  When I read Ann Coulter or watch Lord of the Rings, I do it because he did.  But I also love those things for myself.  Who knows which of his off-hand comments have pushed me down certain paths?  I guess what I’m trying to say is, his life made ripples in my life.  Their causes are untraceable, they cannot be rationalized.

Third verse:

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

This verse sends me straight to the Bible.  “My cup runneth over” from Psalms 23.  Many times when I think about how Dad was taken from us so suddenly, without reason, I feel like my cup is empty.  Nothing matters if a good man can be taken away.  But I have reached out in prayer to that fountain of blessings . . . and I realize that my life is good, despite the heartbreaking loss.  Those blessings do not come from men, i.e., they do not come in the forms of admiration, or jobs, or good grades, or nice things.  Just knowing this fountain exists can bring me through the rough patches.  Then I look around and realize my cup is full again.

Fourth verse:

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ah yes, a road.  There must be volumes of scholarship on the use of “road” as metaphor for life.  This also reminds me of Matthew 7:13: “Enter in at the narow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction.”  A highway is wide (broad), but life is a road.  If we pretend that life is easy: on a broad, flat surface, then we fool ourselves.  We cannot know everything another experiences, so we do travel down the path alone.

Fifth verse:

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

The idea of leaders being followers seems to come from my Christian study.  Leaders only become leaders when they follow God’s Word.  I often put myself in the leadership position, and I have made my dad proud.  But now, I do strive to follow God’s guidance.  If I refuse guidance, and rely on myself, I will fall alone.  The last two lines seem to come straight out of my dad’s mouth.  Who will guide me through life?  My dad is gone, but as a mere mortal, he never knew the way either.  I know he wanted what was right and good for me.  And he would have given it to me if he could.  Instead he could only offer himself as an example, because no father, no matter how loving, can give his daughter everything.  His love was enough to help me find my own path.  So I go down that road alone, knowing he’s cheering for me not to fall.

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Aside: the “Do you know who we’re with?” thing

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 21, 2009

 
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.

I wrote in my NCAA Wednesday blog about Danny coming all the way out to College Station to surprise Lara.  I know Lara was happy to see him there, but I was more directly affected.  Danny and I were buddies all weekend.

We first made our presence known by showing everybody our stars.  See the photo at right?  Mom is trying not to look embarrassed at how obnoxious we were.  Dad is just laughing.  By gray-shirt day (Friday), Danny and I had our routine down.

When something inconvenienced or annoyed us, (like when people were in our way, or there was no parking, or a restaurant was closed just because it was 11 p.m.) we would display our badges with Lara’s picture on them, and say loudly, “Hello?? Do you know who we are?  Do you know who we’re with?”

Like this:

The Jacksons, including Danny, display badges with Lara's picture.

Then we would turn around and point to the stars on our back.
 
Hey, it’s hard work being part of Lara’s crew.  We had to arrive early to warm-ups at prelims and finals.
We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We had to take plenty of pictures.
paparazzi-cropped
And if anyone strayed into our circle, we made sure she was fully equipped to join the fun.
My friend Rachel Davison recently moved to Austin.  She drove a couple hours to hang out while I was in College Station.  We gave her a shirt with stars, and she helped us cheer as the team left the the hotel for finals.
Though most of the time we played it cool, Danny did have a fanboy moment.  The five of us went out to dinner on Wednesday evening.  My swimmeet-veteran parents spotted some familiar faces: Annie Chandler and her parents and boyfriend Matt Grevers.
This is a blog about swimming for people who know nothing about swimming, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t recognize the name: Matt Grevers.  Click here and you will see that Matt Grevers got the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke.  Click here and you will see that Grevers was in the 100-meter free relay that got a Gold Medal.
So Danny and my mom got a picture with Matt Grevers, along with his autograph:
A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers.  Mom got his autograph.

A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers. Mom got his autograph.

Can you see his signature next to his arm?  It says, “Go Cats & USA!”
Thanks Matt Grevers.

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Texas, or NCAA Wednesday

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 28, 2009

texas-shapeI had been looking forward to NCAAs since Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to see my family — I hadn’t seen my dad or sister for a year– and to be someplace warm.

My parents drove to College Station from El Paso.  They brought Lara’s best friend from high school, Danny Motoya.  You know he’s a very good friend because he spent nine hours in the car with my parents.  My dad made him listen to Mark Levin podcasts.  Now Danny has Mark Levin on his own iPod.

Lara didn’t know Danny was coming.  My parents and Danny kept it a secret for a whole year.  Danny even sent faux “good luck!” text messages to Lara on Wednesday.

Mom, Dad and Danny picked me up from the College Station airport, the smallest airport in the universe.  It was smaller than a Wal-Mart.  There was only one gate and one baggage claim.  I’m certain that 90 percent of the people on my flight were there for NCAAs.

Aw Texas.  There’s a saying in Texas,”I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,” (I found out this phrase has been imitated by California and Montana among others, but those states are just fooling themselves.)

Well, I was born in Texas — technically.  El Paso is really it’s own place, which I already wrote about here.  But I have road-tripped extensively through North Texas and Central Texas.  This is what road-tripping in Texas looks like:

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

I couldn’t stop looking at the sky!  We don’t have sky in Boston, we have tall buildings and a gray space.  There’s something about open space that makes you feel like you can breathe.  I miss that.

The other major difference about Texas is how people talk to you.  On Wednesday night we went out to dinner and the waiter was very attentive.  He made eye-contact with every person at the table, and there were five of us!  Can you imagine a New England waiter taking the time to wish you a good night and look you in the eye?  I have yet to find one.  At first I thought he was just working for his tip, but no, that’s just how people are in Texas.

Back to the reporting: Lara’s fan club (Mom, Dad, Danny and me) were at the hotel when the team came back from the pool.  Danny hid behind a large column.  Lara came in and she hugged us.  I was ready with my camera.  Then Danny came out from behind the column.

In the crowded Hilton lobby, Lara yelled, “What the f*** are you doing here?” and jumped on him.

Here are my pictures: Danny Surprise

Then she whispered, “I said the f-word really loud and people looked at me.”

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Story from Seattle

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 12, 2009

So this post is a blatant rip-off of my mom’s blog.

gramp & nan in Seattle.jpg

To the left is a photo of my grandparents: Richard and Rosalie Jackson at the Seattle Space Needle.  My dad sent this picture via cell phone. Ah technology.

Here’s a story, copied directly from my mom’s blog.  Sorry if people have already read it there, it’s just too good not to copy.

“Do all swimmers look alike?  Carly wrote on her blog that it is often difficult to tell the swimmers apart in their goggles and caps.  And it might be the same issue when the swimmers are out of the pool in their warm up suits and their hair knotted up on top of their heads.  Well, last evening after finals, we were waiting in the lobby for Lara to come upstairs from deck.  Her very proud grandmother, Rosie, went up to a swimmer and started to hug her thinking that it was Lara, and it was not.  So Rosie apparently made some comment that hopefully this swimmer would one day be as fast as Lara.   When Rosie rejoined our group, we informed her that she had been speaking with Rebecca Soni, an Olympian with one individual gold and one individual silver from Beijing.  So sorry Rebecca!”

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Pac-10 and The Swim Meet Schedule

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 12, 2009

NCAA 2008 Champ.jpgI have only been to one of my sister’s college meets, but it was the big one: NCAA 2008.

To the left: Lara accepted her 1st place medal for the 50 free at NCAA 2008.  She’s making a “WC” with her hand, for Wildcats.

My parents, as I have mentioned before, are experienced swimmeet cheerleaders.  By 2008 Lara was a junior and Mom and Dad had the schedule down pat.

This week, Lara and her teammates are swimming in the Pac-10 Conference in Seattle.  When you click on this (fourth photo in), you can see a picture of the 200 medley relay team, Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson and Lindsey Kelly.  Click here for UofA Pac-10 coverage.

If you’re very excited about Lara swimming, or if you don’t have anything else to do, you can watch live streaming of Lara’s best event, the 50 freestyle.  Just go to this website, and a screen will appear during the meet at the bottom right-hand corner.  Lara’s 50-free will begin at approximately 10 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 26.

Here’s what my parents’  Thursday will look like:

Early in the a.m., Mom will gather with other swim parents to assemble gift bags for all the doing goodie bags.jpggirls.  Parents collect little things like headbands, worry stones, removable tatoos, other goodies.  Anything in school colors is highly valuable.The parents leave the gift bags outside the girls’ hotel rooms.  This is a picture of me and the swim moms.

Mom and Dad will go to preliminaries and sit through many many heats.

From this glossary I found on the USA Swimming site:

 

 

Heats 

After preliminaries, Mom and Dad will go out to lunch.  Sometimes Lara goes too, but she won’t on Thursday.  So my parents will get food and bring it to her at the hotel.  During a meet, the swimmer’s needs come first.  I didn’t realize this when I went to NCAAs.  I didn’t realize that I would have no access to any food until Lara had everything she needed.  This year, I’m bringing a stash of Kashi bars.

Afternoon is rest time.

 In the evening, all the parents wait for the swimmers to come down to go warm up before finals. Parents cheering.jpg

 To the right is a picture of U of A parents cheering, waiting for that first swimmer to step off the elevator.

 The parents sing the Arizona fight song, wave pom-poms and generally try to embarrass their daughters.

 Finals will begin at 6 p.m. in Seattle, on Thursday.  They may continue until after 9 p.m.  Then my parents will congratulate Lara and the other swimmers and parents, collect Lara’s first place trophy, and only then can anyone who’s not a swimmer get dinner.

I’m bringing lots of Kashi bars.

– the division of an event in which there are too many swimmers to compete at one time. For example, an event with thirty swimmers in a six-lane pool would require five heats.In other words: there are eight lanes in a pool.  An event is the stroke and length (e.g. 50 meter freestyle).  A heat is a round of eight swimmers within an event.  The fastest 16 swimmers will swim in finals that evening.

 

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Bad-Ass

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 11, 2009

No high school athlete can get very far without her parents.  parents shirts front10.08 003.jpg

My parents have always hovered over the line between “supportive” and “pushy.”

In high school, it seemed like Lara wanted to quit swimming every few months.  She wanted to hang out with friends or visit her horse rather than go to practice.

My father knew what potential Lara had, he knew that if she toughed it out, the glory and recognition would come.  You try to explain that to a 16-year-old.

When Lara found it especially irksome to go to practice, they would let her have some time off.  My parents wanted her to succeed, but they didn’t want her to burn out.

When Lara was 18, I came home from college for spring break.  I watched her compete in a city meet.  I remember watching all the swimmers step onto the blocks.

Dara Torres lots of women diving.jpgCan you tell them apart?  I wished there was some big distinguishing mark on Lara’s back so I could pick her out from the bleachers.

Later that week, Lara disappeared for an afternoon.  When she came home, she showed me her stinging-new, blue, star tattoos on her shoulder blades.  I promised not to tell our parents.

Here’s a little background about my father and what he calls “body mutilation.”  When I was 12, I really wanted my ears pierced.  My dad refused, and my mom agreed.  I kept begging.  Finally my dad said I could get my ears pierced if I wrote a report on the infections and allergies assoiciated with cutting holes in one’s flesh and driving bits of metal through.  Well, before the internet, it was too hard for me to find research on “The Dangers of Ear Piercing,” so my father finally relented.

Nevertheless, you can imagine what he felt about tattoos.

Lara didn’t tell my parents about her tattoos.

Lara at block in Tucson.jpg She let my mom discover the tattoos when they went on vacation together the next week.  I was safe at school.  None of the Jackson womenfolk knew how Dad would react.

 He took it pretty well.  Lara was 18, there was nothing he could do.  He said as far as tattoos go, there are worse things she could have gotten, in worse places.

 When Lara joined the Arizona Wildcats that fall, my parents met other swim parents at orientation.  Swimmers are generally cleancut; Lara has a lipring, her hair was dyed black, and she had tattoos.  The swimmers and their parents didn’t know how to react.

 When they told the others that Lara Jackson was their daughter, the common response was, “Oh, she’s actually pretty nice.” 

 My parents responded, “Well, we always thought so.”

 When my parents went to the first dual meet, my dad noticed that families of swimmers wore Arizona t-shirts with their names on it.  Dad said to Mom, “We don’t have to put our name, we can just put Lara’s tattoos.”  And the brand was born. 

parents shirts back10.08 004.jpg

 So much for the rebellious teenage act.

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