John D Dillon, RIP, 28 Years Ago Today

John as a young man handing out gifts

On 22 December 1990, my adopted father John D Dillon passed away. He was Patrick’s first father-in-law, Donna’s dad, the man I called Granddaddy when I was a wee tyke.

After my adoption when I was 12, my new parents and I sat down to discuss naming conventions. I’d been calling him Granddaddy but my mom Willie seemed too young and glamorous to have a name like Grandma and we wanted their names to be of the same pattern. Since I was already calling her Willie (short for Wilma), they became “John and Willie” from that point forward.

Meanwhile, they asked what I’d like to do with my own name. I was originally John Patrick Meador. I gave it some thought and finally suggested tacking on Dillon at the end. (Gretchen, Jennifer, and I were all born “Meador” because we popped out of Mother before Patrick discovered the error on his birth certificate.)

Now that I have a grandson, I asked the kids if I can be “Granddaddy” to baby Max. The term is doubly endearing to me: it’s an expression of love for Max, and for John as well, another one of those “circle of life” moments that will carry me through the coming days and years.

John D Dillon at the Mellon Institute about the time I was born (March 1956)




A Reminder of Stephanie

Sometimes we are reminded of loved ones at the oddest times and places.

Shepard Place Shops in Carpinteria, CA

Last Wednesday I drove out to Carpinteria to help a friend cut down a dead tree, to spend several hours turning it into firewood and sawdust.

With chain saws and rope in the back of my truck, I stopped at a nearby strip mall for a phở lunch.

The name of the strip mall, as you can see here,  is Shepard Place Shops.

Stephanie sprang to mind, of course. I imagine she would have appreciated the new trees and fresh growth planted alongside the sign.

Patrick and Nardele

I received these pictures of Patrick from Suzy a few days ago, taken at Patrick’s house in Deia with Nardele.

Patrick in Deia

Patrick and Nardele

Patrick’s Ring

Patrick’s Ring, a Gift to Him from Gretchen

Years ago Gretchen gave Patrick a small ring, red and silver, which he wore often. When he passed away she asked me to send it back to her, which I did.

A week or two ago I was surprised to see it in my mailbox. She sent it to me, hoping that I’d wear it.

This I am doing, even here at the race track where a year ago (minus two days) I received the news of his end. Like the other little things of his that I keep close, it provides comfort–a wee bit of comfort–for the sadness.