Monday, September 6, 2010

The Spy Who Loved Me.

This evening the boys and I went out to dinner. After cooking for two days in a row with family, I was ready for a good old fashion dinner out at a restaurant. There is nothing like it.

We went into Old Town, which we often drive by, but never actually take the turn off to. It is a little tourist area that has some historical importance I'm sure, but mostly a little taste Mexico, with lots of street vendors selling souvenirs at astronomical prices. It was actually kind of cute, and gave us something new to do. They boys and I were commenting on how we have always lived in tourist areas, so being among tourists, but not necessarily one of them, was a familiar feeling.

We settled into a busy Mexican restaurant, and ordered our drinks and food. Some mariachis came by the table to ask if we would like to make a request. I said no thank you, but then joked as they left that I should have asked for a nice good luck starting the new school year song. After they left I began singing along to the song that was playing in the background in Spanish. My son Dante looked up to me and asked what the song was about. I told him I didn't know, which seemed to confuse him. "How can you sing the song without knowing that the words mean?" I said that if they were written down I might be able to tell him, but in song I get lost in the feeling, and rarely really think about what the translation actually is. He then turned back to me to ask if Mike knew Spanish. (Michael was Mike to everyone else except him mother and to me.) I explained to Dante that no, Michael didn't speak Spanish.

But he knew all those other languages, are you sure he didn't know Spanish?

Yes, I'm quite sure.

"Have you ever wondered if Mike worked for the CIA?"

What? Why would you ask that?

"Well, he spoke so many languages, lived in so many countries, worked for the government, and knew people all over the world. Are you suspicious?"

At this point I'm having a bit of fun here. Well Dante, if he did work for the CIA I wouldn't be able to tell you, right?

"That's right. But because you were married, he would probably trust you. Right Dad? He could trust you more than anything or anyone."

Yes Dante, he could trust me with everything. And let me tell you Dante, Michael was many wonderful things, and I will to continue to hold on to his many secrets. You know, I did come across many copies of his passport.

"I knew it. He was a spy, and he worked for the CIA."

Kids need their heroes. They need a sense of adventure to their lives. People often comment about the dead becoming bigger than life postmortem. It's true, we tend to put our deceased loved one's up on a pedestal, and quite often forget about some of their prior annoying human qualities. But do we really need to challenge these thoughts and ideas? What's wrong with giving our loved one's some mysterious, or mythical, nuance to their time here on earth. When they leave us in death they can feel so far away. Yes, at times they can also feel so near us, but in general we are constantly trying to understand, and incorporate into our thinking, where exactly they are, what they have become, and how do we now relate to them.

For my kids the urban legend that is Michael Lowrie has begun. He was a quiet, smart, and well traveled man. He loved the good life. He liked to collect nice things. This gave him an air of sophistication, and to the kids, an other worldliness. And perhaps deep in their imaginations, he is still out there, secretly working behind the scenes to keep us safe and sound.

The spy who loved me.


  1. I love this post Dan, almost as much as I love you. In fact, it might just be my all time favourite posts of yours.

    Looking at your wedding photo, anyone could be forgiven for mistaking Michael for a 007 actually. Those eyes.

    And you know what? I think he will always be working behind the scenes to keep you safe, still loving you until you are together again.

    I love that the kids speak of him with you, unlike some families who hush everything over. It's good to tell stories, share stories (and in your case make some stories up if you want) LOL

    I love you

  2. when i saw the title of this post, it took my breath away and tears came for my own reasons. i had a hard time reading it the first time through. such a sudden rush of pain for me in your descriptions of the languages and the traveling. i read through it again and could smile.

    Boo said it well. children need their heroes and talking about those we love, especially when they have died, is natural and healthy. no one who wants to talk about or ask questions about someone they love should be made to be silent. you are a great father. the magic and mystery of Michael will be nurtured by you and your children always.


  3. I love that photo with the title of this post. Maybe the kids are right - Michael looks to have been involved in some form of espionage. The signs all seem to point that way. ;-)

    I think it's great that the kids are comfortable talking about Michael in such a neat way. And yes, this modern world needs all the good old-fashioned mystery that it can get.

  4. Love this post! Austin is starting to take on some mythical qualities in our home, though not at the spy level! At first I wondered if I needed to set things straight and remind the boys of the "truth". But then I did the same as you did. If they have to cope with their Dad being dead, why shouldn't he be allowed to be their hero, and bigger than life? Glad to know I'm not alone, as always!

  5. I agree - he totally looks like spy material.

  6. Now, Dan - are you really, really sure that Michael was not a spy? It sure sounds like it, you know. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME would actually make for an awesome book title. ;-)

    Brent has that quality around flying. He was one of the first people to see the sun rise in the new millennium as he had a client to take out on a private flight. It's a story my children found very fascinating.

    My younger son has been into flying lately. His favorite read is the FAA flying manual. I'm just glad he is interested in learning how to land them, too. Otherwise [looks left & right over her shoulders to make sure no one is looking] some real government spies would probably be looking into OUR lives soon. Ha! :-)

  7. OK, Michael TOTALLY looks like he knows something that no one else does in that picture! I'd go for the CIA story in a heart beat. What a great-looking man.
    You, my friend, (as well as Michael) have great taste!
    Keep the story alive .... stories ... and love .... make the world go round.
    Love to you,

  8. LOVE it!!!! What an AWESOME story! I have a feeling this will become a cherished family legend :)

    your Alaska friend

  9. I too was struck by the gorgeous photo of you two. And the wonderful story. Sometimes the boys will ask me something about their Dad or I'll wonder about something and it upsets me that we'll never really know the answer. I guess in life we always think there will be enough time to get to know everything important about our loves. Only now, I am cursing myself that I didn't pay more attention to all the details of the sports my husband played in high school. My youngest asked me, "Didn't Dad have knee surgery because of playing baseball?" "No, I don't think so." And then I wonder about myself not knowing this answer. Shouldn't I know it? Why don't I? I wish I did know for sure, but like Dante, for now it is okay for my son to believe he did have knee surgery. In his eyes, that makes his Dad more of a hero too.