We joined relatives for breakfast and I was able to relax for the first time. I think I was more nervous about the wedding than Erica feeling an awesome responsibility to capture all of the key moments. I spent a little time wandering around Louisville before we had to pack up for the airport.

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My niece, Erica Basile, was married today to Nick Skinner. The ceremony and reception were beautiful and it was apparent to all how truly in love these two are. I had the honor of being their photographer and felt an enormous responsibility to deliver professional results. Having now reviewed the images, I am very pleased with what I shot and feel a tremendous sense of relief. Wedding photography is actually quite difficult and there is absolutely no margin for error. Although I was exhausted beyond imagination, my role afforded me the privilege of being an intimate part of Erica’s wedding.

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The family travelled to Louisville, Kentucky today for the wedding of my niece, daughter of Jeanine’s sister Lauren. Maya is a Junior Bride’s Maid in the bridal party and I will be the photographer. After a rehearsal at the church we all went out for dinner at Boca de Beppo. We enjoyed meeting the grooms family and reconnecting with family and friends from Indianapolis.

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Maya carved our only pumpkin this year, a gift from our next door neighbor, and conducted a lighting test before putting it into service on our front porch.

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After work, Jeanine and I joined Sarah Doherty and her husband Kerith, co-founders of SideStix Ventures, to watch Nicolai play soccer. He has been testing their forearm crutches and has earned a reputation as their most aggressive field tester. Over time, he has broken almost every component on the crutch which has led to a series of design improvements. They wanted to see him play first hand to better understand the kinds of forces he exerts on their product. They were both amazed by his speed and the variety of crutching techniques he employs, some of which they say they have never seen before. The game was close and resulted in an exciting 1-0 win for CCHS.

Pictured here are a set of prototype carbon fiber tubes they left with us for Nico to torture test as soon as I can fit them to his crutches.

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On my way to work this morning I paused for a quick shot of the Concord River. The muted colors due to the overcast skies fit my mood. This would be the perfect week to get out on the water but I am afraid a busy work schedule and preparations for Erica’s wedding will not afford the opportunity.

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After the memorial service, close friends and family returned to my parent’s home where the celebration of my father’s life continued. I took advantage of the gathering of distant relatives and did the best I could under the circumstances to create a family portrait.

I learned two things about my father that I did not know prior to the memorial. First, he had earned a sharpshooter distinction during his military service (something he rarely talked about) as noted on his honorable discharge paperwork. Second, as hard as he worked for and as proud as he was of earning his PhD, the occasion was never really acknowledged or celebrated by his family. Learning this made me very sad and helped me more fully appreciate just how far my father had come from his humble beginnings.

As soon as dinner was finished the party moved to, where else, the dance studio of a local community center where my parents were a weekly fixture. My dad would have approved.

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Poems for Frank

Cloudbank
For Frank Calabria

I awoke and went to the window
To see what kind of day it was
The sun was shining, but
The world ended at the river’s edge!
A cloudbank obscured my view
I knew the river was there
I just couldn’t see it
Shrouded as it was in morning mist

The phone rang and I answered
The news was sad
The message of a friend’s passage
Into his own deep morning mist
I returned to the window and gazed out
I knew Frank was there
I just couldn’t see him
Shrouded as he was in mystery

        Melinda Morris Perrin

I Feel Better Today
For Frank Calabria

I feel better today
Fingers on frets, bodies sway

Now I know memories
Not fade away.

I feel better today
So many lives burning bright
Open my eyes
He is not far from sight.

I feel better today
lessons have been taught
Right till the end
There’s food, for thought.

I feel better today
Not here but not gone
Life well lived
Energy passed on.

        Stephen Harris (son-in-law)

My father would have enjoyed his memorial service immensely. The Unitarian church he attended for nearly 50 years was filled with family, friends, neighbors, and colleauges. It included music played by his former guitar teacher, dance, and a moving rendition of Amazing Grace sung by his grandson Mario accompanied on the piano by his niece, Heather. Each of his children spoke in turn about their love for him. The words I chose to share are included here.

My father had a gift for laughter. Most people laugh in response to something funny or at the expense of others. Frank took laughter to an entirely different level using it to create celebrations.

A typical scenario would involve one of his children recounting a story about one of his grandchildren. The moment any hint of the child’s creativity or irreverence surfaced it would begin. He would first chuckle to himself. Then, as if to clarify what he found so amusing, he would repeat the storyline that got him started and laugh even harder. As his laughter increased, he could only manage to repeat small sound bites from the original story. Soon everyone present was infected with laughter. When it subsided, what remained was joy and the anticipation of what would get Frank started again.

He had created from nothing a true celebration to honor attributes he admired in others, creativity and irreverence.

Imagine growing up in a family where the reward for creative thinking or behavior was a room full of people exhausted from joyous laughter. I have never met another person who shares this gift and it is my father’s laughter I will remember and miss most.

Knowing my father well, I am sure he would have jumped at the opportunity to speak at his own memorial service. In honor of that wish, I share with you his words taken from the last two paragraphs of his book, “Let it be a Dance”.

I feel most alive when my life is:

Smooth as a fox trot
Exhilarating as a waltz
Energetic as the lindy hop
Lively as a samba
Romantic as a rumba
Bouncy as a meringue
Racy as a quick step
Pulsating as a mambo and
Passionate as a tango

One final thought; (my father writes)

As to the possibility that there is an afterlife, I go along with Woody Allen whose view is: “I do not believe in the afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.”

On the chance that there is a hereafter, I plan to take along an extra pair of dancing shoes, just in case there’s a big band bash happening
above or below.

As our family prepared for this service we searched every inch of Frank’s home for his dance shoes. They were not to be found and we all know who has them. Dance in peace my dear father.

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As is our custom at family gatherings, bocce was at the center of the action. Competition was less rigorous than usual and everyone seemed to simply enjoy being together outdoors.

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Maya was feeling rather rambunctious, perhaps the result of the three hour car drive sandwiched between her brothers. She gave new meaning to the phrase hanging around and may have started a new footwear fashion trend, the mono shoe.

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We traveled to Schenectady today where family converged in advance of my father’s memorial service to be held tomorrow. All but one of his nine grandchildren are pictured here.

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I have discovered a sure fire cure for grief. You hop into a small airplane, climb to 10,000 feet, and then jump out. When you are free falling at 120 mph I promise you it is impossible to be sad. When your chute opens you are euphoric and when you land safely on the ground you are happy to be alive.

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