The Dash

Generally, I find one interesting story to share with you that correlates with one or sometimes two or a few people from my tree. That’s what I do, right? I tell the stories of the dead. This adventure will veer from the path of tradition I have created, if only slightly…

Earlier this week, Monday, April 10- to be exact, John Thomas celebrated his 70th birthday. Or he would have, if death had not intervened on April 30, 1993. 

In any event, I would like to tell his story today. I guess therein lies the problem… John isn’t just someone on my tree, who I researched and am now telling you about; He was my dad. 

My dad and I in the early 1980s

So. Instead of trying to pick one story to entertain you as you take a brief break in your day, I am going to tell you about the dash.

Growing up, he was called Johnny. Spend an afternoon with his cousins and you will know that Johnny was a joker, who loved to have fun. 

Some of Johnny’s many cousins…

One memorable story, I am often told is when Johnny would pull all the kids around in a blanket throughout the house. I know this was great fun,because he continued this tradition with his children- even pulling us down the stairs! I remember screaming along with my sister and brother as my dad yanked us through the hallways of our house. It’s great fun and if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend you do it right away!

At some point, this fellow met my mom (a pretty wonderful lady) and they decided to get married- lucky for me and my kids and Johnny became Mr. J. 

Johnny and Valerie circa 1980 something 

Mr. J was a neighborhood favorite. Kids coming to the door to see if Mr. J could come out and play was just as likely to occur as them coming to see if I or my sibblings could come out to play. During the summer months, he could often be seen throwing kids into the backyard pool. 

If you were lucky, you caught him eating watermelon or crabs- because he was always willing to share that deliciousness with you. 

Summer evenings were reserved for trips to Carl’s Ice Cream (you may recall me telling you that this is a mandatory bucket list item) with friends and days were packed car rides to Kings Dominion- whatever it was, it was always fun with Mr. J.

When the rains came and the weather was bad, Mr. J could be found playing an involved and seemingly unending game of Monopoly (probably where my healthy affection for board games stems from) or Tetris on Nintendo (where my sister’s video addiction probably began)

Sundays after church, Johnny would claim the most comfortable spot on Nana’s floor, where he would either be cheering on his beloved Redskins (nothing I could do about that- much as I tried), playing Gin Rummy with Grandaddy and my Uncle Bruce or sleeping- especially if he had just finished eating Nana’s good home cookin’!

As you can see, a lot happened in the dash. More than is written here and that I will ever remember. Which is why I do what I do- to celebrate everything that happened between the numbers on either end of the dash.

As much as I enjoy talking to the dead- I encourage you to spend some time with the living and create some memories that others will enjoy celebrating some day. 

I love it when you click the like button and share, share, share! Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you’re doing with your dash! I can’t wait to hear all about the memories you’re making and the fun you’re having while you’re doing it!


  1. Amy · April 15, 2017

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. He sounds like he was a terrific father and man. And he knew how to enjoy the dash!


    • dvn ms kmz time travel · April 15, 2017

      Thank you. Though I didn’t realize it then, as I was only 12, but he absolutely knew how to enjoy the dash! And as a parent now myself, I hope, I’m doing just as awesome of a job at teaching my kids (without them knowing it) to enjoy the dash…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rick Gleason · April 26, 2017

    Took me to the very end to understand what you meant by “the dash,” and then I recalled the poem by Linda Ellis, a copy of which I retain in my Evernotes.

    A very nice tribute to your father. He sounds like a man I would very much have enjoyed knowing. Loved the story about the blanket rides!

    Thank you for Sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvn ms kmz time travel · April 26, 2017

      Thank you for reading. I’m sorry the title was a bit confusing, but I’m glad you were able to understand it by the end. What is the name of the poem, I would love to look it up and read it. He definitely was a pretty awesome man and I hope you give blanket rides a try!


      • Rick Gleason · April 26, 2017

        The Dash
        by Linda Ellis

        I read of a man who stood to speak
        At the funeral of a friend

        He referred to the dates on her tombstone

        From the beginning to the end

        He noted that first came her date of her birth

        And spoke the following date with tears,

        But he said what mattered most of all
        Was the dash between those years

        For that dash represents all the time
        That she spent alive on earth.

        And now only those who loved her
        Know what that little line is worth.

        For it matters not how much we own;
        The cars, the house, the cash,

        What matters is how we live and love
        And how we spend our dash.

        So think about this long and hard.
        Are there things you’d like to change?

        For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged.

        If we could just slow down enough
        To consider what’s true and real

        And always try to understand
        The way other people feel.

        And be less quick to anger,
        And show appreciation more

        And love the people in our lives
        Like we’ve never loved before.

        If we treat each other with respect,
        And more often wear a smile

        Remembering that this special dash
        Might only last a little while.

        So, when your eulogy is being read
        With your life’s actions to rehash

        Would you be proud of the things they say
        About how you spent your dash?

        © 1996 All Rights Reserved, Linda Ellis

        Liked by 1 person

      • dvn ms kmz time travel · April 26, 2017

        Love this. Thank you.


  3. Michael · April 29, 2017

    That was a great tribute to your father, and I love your description of what we do as family historians: “celebrate everything that happened between the numbers on either end of the dash.” That’s what it’s all about!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura · September 8, 2017

    This is wonderful! What a great man and experiences with him. Thank you for sharing your memories. As a parent, it’s always interesting to know what kids remember! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvn ms kmz time travel · September 8, 2017

      I am glad you enjoyed this tribute. He was a great dad, though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t aware of how awesome he was when I was little. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you will join me on some of my other travels to the past. You’re always welcome!


  5. David · September 8, 2017

    Your father sounded like a wonderful man. Great tribute to a great man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvn ms kmz time travel · September 8, 2017

      He was pretty terrific! Thanks for visiting. I hope you will join me me on my other travels back in time.


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